You've Lived in L.A. Long Enough When...


...Facebook starts suggesting directors of blockbuster R-rated comedies and sitcom stars as "people you may know."


Meanwhile, at Literati Cafe...


Leslie Mann window shops for a sweet treat and studies the refrigerated desserts in the glass display, only to end up settling for a mocha latte (probably with soy, she looks like the type).

I, sitting at my corner table, am tempted to purchase a chocolate chip scone after scarfing down a bland turkey melt. I also envision myself tapping the Knocked Up actress on the shoulder and asking her if I could score a meeting with her husband, Judd Apatow, so that I could pitch a few ideas to him. I then have to remind myself that I am neither that obnoxious nor tactless when it comes to approaching the celebrity spouse of a Hollywood bigwig.

Back to work...


Nine

I lived through the Trucker Cap Takeover of 2003. I survived the reign of The Governator. I participated in the historic marches for NOH8. I witnessed The Great Pinkberry Explosion of 2008...followed by The Great Pinkberry Implosion two years later.

And later this summer I shall experience the aftershocks caused by The Giant Closure of the 405 Freeway, or Carmageddon, as locals are calling it.

By now, there's nothing besides that long-awaited Big One that will shake me like a proverbial Polaroid picture and force me to leave my Southern California haven I call Los Angeles.

When I moved here nine years ago (today) I could not have imagined the things, the people, the events that would shape me, inspire me, and help me get to where I am now (Heads up: there's going to be a lot of talk about journeys, reflections, and continued aspirations while I celebrate this personal anniversary of mine).

Nine years ago I didn't know what a blog was. I never heard of a smartphone, but I did think highly of my little Nokia cellular. I didn't have an iPod that enabled by music download addiction. Nine years ago I wouldn't have placed my money on a cranky Brit named Simon Cowell. I would have scoffed at the idea of having cameras follow a group of guidos (or housewives) in New Jersey (actually, I still do). I would have thought that Gaga was the name of a line of baby toys and not the surname of a viciously talented Lady with whom I would literally brush shoulders on the set of one of her iconic music videos. Nine years ago I didn't think I'd work on stages where television history was once made, sit down with celebrities to talk about their "inspirations", and randomly play Charades with the creator of Desperate Housewives one fateful night in Burbank.

Nine years ago I would have never imagined that I would be nurturing my narcissistic tendencies through something as simple as a status update.



What I did have nine years ago was this: big eyes, big dreams, and big debt. The eyes are still big, although they get that way whenever I get a glimpse of the lunch spread at the Four Seasons Hotel during a press junket. My dreams are still big, although I have learned to reassess my priorities and discipline myself more (that television pilot ain't gonna write itself). And that debt? Still there, still big, still annoying as shit.

I'm not sure if I could dignify the question, "What would you tell your 22-year-old self now?" with an answer. He had to learn and enjoy everything as it came. Otherwise, he wouldn't be the jaded, thankful, enlightened, honored, educated, humbled, and loved individual who speaks to you now (although, I might warn him about rear-ending that Ford Explorer back in April of '03 and tell him to avoid buying that ugly blue shirt he'll never wear from that douchey store on Melrose).

I could go on, reflect some more, analyze the crap out of my life, and fall into the trap of nostalgia, but I have a life already in progress that I don't want to miss.

It's time focus on the now and the next nine years...trends, fads and Mother Nature permitting.

Happy Anniversary to me,

H.P.M.


Searching for Christopher Pike, Part 2

God bless Facebook.

My blog entry and video from earlier this month, honoring the literary idol who had quite the impact on my life as a writer and an all-around bookworm, generated a few reactions and comments online, most notably this one:



As you may recall, Kevin McFadden is the real name behind the pseudonym Christopher Pike, the reclusive author responsible for dozens of young-adult novels that kept a generation of readers in suspense and entertained.

The moment I found this message in my FB inbox my jaw dropped. Could it be? Had he seen the link I posted on his fanpage? Naturally, I had my doubts and feared an impostor setting me up for humiliation.

And then there was this (click on it for a closer look)...



...followed by this response:



This could possibly set a personal record for being the most geeked-out in my life. More so than the time I waited in line with J.J. Abrams at a sushi buffet during the afterparty for the Revenge of the Sith premiere. More so than the time I shook hands with Alanis Morrisette at Barnes & Noble back in the summer of 2004. More so than the time I interviewed Wes Craven on the red carpet for the Scream Awards at the Greek Theater...

Truly. Not. Worthy.

H.P.M.


The Burning: 2011 Summer Playlist - Vol. 2


Because one mix is not enough to keep you quenched and satisfied while things are just starting to sizzle...

Here are thirty (30!) more tunes to load up on your iThingy and add to what's proving to be one megasoundtrack for the Summer of '11:

1. "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 feat. Christina Aguilera - First, a little electro-funk from a pairing I didn't know would work so well.


2. "Marry the Night" by Lady Gaga
3. "Dirty Dancer" by Enrique Iglesias feat. Usher & Lil Wayne
4. "Super Bass" by Nicki Minaj
5. "Helena Beat" by Foster the People - The alt-pop anthem of the year. There, I said it.


6. "You Make Me Feel" by Cobra Starship feat. Sabi - Irresistible Red Bull-fueled trash.
7. "Hypnotico" by Jennifer Lopez - From her latest CD, this bonus track was written by Lady Gaga and deserves to see the light of play.
8. "Unfriend You" by Greyson Chance - I've said it before, and I'll say it again: This kid kicks Bieber's ass. How come no one's talking about this underrated single? Listen here.
9. "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall" by Coldplay
10. "Save the World" by Swedish House Mafia - And the video just makes it better.


11. "Notorious" by The Saturdays
12. "Sexin' on the Dancefloor" by Cash Cash
13. "She Ain't You" by Chris Brown
14. "What a Feeling" by Alex Gaudino feat. Kelly Rowland
15. "Love Love" by Take That
16. "Still Got Tonight" by Matthew Morrison
17. "International Love" by Pitbull feat. Chris Brown
18. "Right There" by Nicole Scherzinger feat. 50 Cent
19. "Little Bad Girl" by David Guetta feat. Taio Cruz
20. "Best Thing I Never Had" by Beyonce - The best thing she should've released as a first single from her forthcoming album.
21. "Whiplash" by Selena Gomez and the Scene - Britney wrote it, and although one may prefer to hear the Femme Fatale sing it, the Disney princess does an admirable job.
22. "Glad You Came" by The Wanted
23. "Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes feat. Adam Levine
24. "Hair" by Lady GaGa - The other uplifting pop anthem featuring the late and great Clarence Clemons.
25. "What I Know" by Parachute
26. "Wonderman" by Tinie Tempah feat. Ellie Goulding
27. "Not Over You" by Gavin DeGraw
28. "Golden Train" by Penguin Prison
29. "Burning Up" by Nick Carter feat. Briton Briddy Shaw
30. "Scary" by Britney Spears - Sure, "I Wanna Go" is the single du jour, but try this Japanese import on for size.

Till next time,

H.P.M.


Searching for Christopher Pike

"Nostalgia is denial of the painful present." - Paul, Midnight in Paris


Having developed a tendency to frequently shuffle the 90s playlist on my iPod and honor the anniversaries of certain movie releases, it's been brought to my attention that I have become the King of Looking Back. And if it's because I refuse to accept and face the "painful present," then...oh, who am I kidding? That's the reason. My bank account shames me whenever I glance at the balance on my ATM receipts, a diet of Diddy Riese cookies and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese has done nothing for my health, and the pressure to do that whole "figure out my place in the world" thing is a struggle I face almost every day.

But I continue to revisit the past. This month I have decided to dig up old copies from Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series and reread the fifth and sixth installments, Evil Thirst and Creatures of Forever, for a couple of reasons. First, the bestselling young-adult author has recently released a seventh Vampire novel after his publisher capitalized on the whole bloodsucker craze and repackaged the first six books as two mega volumes titled Thirst (an eighth book, or fourth "volume," is expected to hit shelves in the fall). Needless to say, this piqued my interest, and I wanted to refresh my memory before I dived into these new stories about our immortal heroine, Alisa, and her epic dramas involving Egyptian gods, nuclear espionage, reincarnation, and becoming a mother to a creature as deadly as her worst enemy.

The other reason was to see if these books held up fifteen years after I first read them as a 16-year-old working at an amusement park on the shores of Long Island Sound in New York. And they do. The engaging first-person narrative of these particular novels far surpasses the writing in most of the YA thrillers that were popular at the time. And from what I remember, the more mature content and three-dimensional characters in Pike's other books made his stories all the more compelling to read. There were no contrived tales of terrorized babysitters, teenage fatal attractions, or other cliched adolescent fodder. Sure, his characters were in high school, but he went beneath the trendy surfaces and touched upon themes - both cosmic and existential - rarely seen in demographically similar novels.

My rekindled relationship with Christopher Pike actually came about last year when I was inspired to track down the ever elusive author (his real name is Kevin McFadden, and he's known to be somewhat of a recluse). I even spent a good part of last summer putting together a pitch for a documentary about a struggling writer's quest to meet one of his literary idols (guess who was the protagonist?), and I turned to a few friends and acquaintances for help:



It's clearly a work in progress, just like the rest of my life. Speaking of which, my 9-year anniversary of living in L.A. is quickly approaching, and I have much to reflect upon...but more on that later.

Searching and searching,

H.P.M.


15 Years Late But...

I finally bought a copy of The Score by The Fugees. For a dollar at a library book sale no less.

Listening to the album now in 2011, the beats and rhymes seem so quaint and...organic. Lauryn, before she allegedly went batshit crazy. Wyclef, before he sunk deeper into irrelevancy, especially after ruining last year's remake of "We Are The World." And that other guy...whoever he is.

As the CD jumps to "Fu-Gee-La," I'm transported back to my sophomore year dance at Iona Prep, grinding and getting my proverbial groove on in the school cafeteria which had been turned into a nightclub with vending machines, the scent of lunchmeat lingering above a throng of 15- and 16-year-olds dressed to the nines in baggy jeans, Tommy Hilfiger tees, and Air Jordans.

Being killed softly,

H.P.M.


Theme Song of the Month: June

Who knew that it would take an episode of The Vampire Diaries and two listens on L.A.'s alternative radio station to get me attached to this unique rock jam? It's Foster for the People's "Helena Beat," a surprise summer anthem that just might earn a slot on my Top 10 Songs of 2011 (and yes, that's a dude singing). Take a little bit of MGMT and a little bit of Spoon, and voila:



By the way, it was the Free Download of the Week on iTunes. Congrats if you were lucky enough to grab it.

H.P.M.