What I've learned thus far in LA - Celebrity Lookalike Edition

I'm in Los Angeles. West Hollywood, specifically. WeHo - as the locals have deemed their (relatively) young City. There's a confluence of issues and sources here that fascinate me - book research, I assure you. And my first day spent on the job here yesterday was incredibly insightful. The things I saw outside of my central pursuit were equally - maybe even more so - interesting. If you live in LA, I'm sure the daily absurdities wash over you like just so many hours spent in a car struggling to get from place to place. But for this visitor, I simply can't let things go unmentioned without being something of a tourist as I allow my eye to wander. I'll offer a few choice moments. Starting with something smack in the middle of my quick tour.

Few places seem busier than Whole Foods around dinner time in a city now entirely obsessed with the sorts of goods for sale there. The parking lot is total mayhem - a small piece of what I imagine Baghdad looked like just after the American invasion. But with much nicer cars. Once inside, it's readily apparent that everyone shops like they just stole a credit card from their parents. I had one of my few celebrity sightings of the day there - Mena Suvari, buying a somewhat reserved version of the grab bag of goofiness all the rest of us seem to need to survive. Outside of that entertaining but overlong errand to fill the fridge in my hotel, I had cultural pursuits that put wind in my sails. A great conversation with one of the booksellers at the cool indie store Book Soup in WeHo - I often ask how unwritten books (wink, wink) would be shelved in the mindset of this shop or that. Later I made a valiant attempt to get in for a show at The Groundlings - I should have bought a ticket online when I looked over the weekend. Everyone's curiously circling around that comedy troupe as the farm system for stardom. Vaguely recognizable faces mixed in with us rabble. Along with that of Cedric the Entertainer who waltzed inside with a happy looking group just before those of us in the rush tix line had our short wait ended in vain. No worries - thereafter I followed the LA Weekly's "best o' the day" suggestion and headed to Skylight Books in the Los Feliz neighborhood. My LA experience isn't that deep - I surely wouldn't have gotten there were it not for my iPhone. But I'm so glad I did. It was a tribute to a departed local legend - Scott Wannberg - by a cast of characters Charles Bukowski would have lovingly conjured up had they not collectively and individually beaten him to the punch.

After that soul-edifying and bookstore-validating showcase, I was in the process of killing some time before a late showing of "Shame" at the Los Feliz Theatre up the block (it's a movie I recommend, if you can somehow imagine drawing comfort from watching horrible things happen to questionable people - portrayed in full frontal artiness). A curious fellow started chatting me up. Or vice versa. He being of the meandering line of thinking and the appearance of someone who spends plenty of nights on the street. And me being of the killing time variety of the uninitiated. He'd been asked to come up to speak at Wannberg's tribute. Although he often trailed off into mumbles and finding his charm was something you had to work at, it was obvious this man had many stories to tell. After a series of back and forths, he complimented me. Well, that's what I'm calling it. Because it was so beautifully random and dated that I can't see it in any other way. He said I had the look of many men. The list - and this is for real - was as follows: Sting, John Glenn, Ken Berry, and Dean Jagger. Given that yesterday was the 50th anniversary of John Glenn's mission to be the first American in orbit - I'll take it as a karmic compliment while still hoping he meant the younger, Right Stuff-ier version. And when I Googled Dean Jagger, I also hoped for the younger. Much, much younger. Putting aside that obvious vanity, I was reminded later by searching that Ken Berry was a character actor I saw countless times in the 70s. It should be noted that in delivering the "compliment" this fellow said most people these days don't remember people from the decades he recalls best. I didn't thank him for that. Which I should have. I can actually see some of those hints and resemblances (sorry, Sting). We all have our celebrity lookalikes - some more au courant than others. For everything else I've seen here already and hope to see, that's the conversation that floats to the top of what I'm brewing up currently.

With that spilled out and my thinking freed up, the time comes for more exploring. I hope to offer up more here soon in this or an equally random vein, if you care to check back. But thanks for doing so.