June 29, 2019

Celebrating My 17th L.A.nniversary with a Bang


The impact, like many impacts, was sudden.

I heard the crunch of metal, not as loud as those bang-ups you see in the Fast and Furious movies. Maybe because it came from behind, out of nowhere. Maybe because my windows were rolled up.

And maybe because Huey Lewis was singing "If This Is It," a result of Spotify shuffling my 80s playlist, possibly to demonstrate the algorithm's twisted sense of humor.

And because it came from behind, I was thrust forward, my right tibia (shinbone) hitting the console of my Honda Civic's dashboard, my upper thigh pressing into the lower half of the steering wheel.

Next, the recoil: I fell back in the drivers seat, the backrest falling with me, reclining until it could recline no more. The headrest broke off its rods and tumbled onto the backseat. My head didn't know where to go. Meanwhile, I could hear the screeching of tires, another impact, metal-on-metal...

If this is it indeed. After all, I was on Santa Monica Boulevard. A road most traveled. Three westbound lanes. Well trafficked, even at one in the morning. Other cars could be piling up on top of each other...

Then, another thought: My car is still moving. Lifting up my head from my awkward driving position, my right foot was able to find the break pedal. I pulled over to the right, bringing the Civic to a stop next to the flower bed-lined median that separated the main road from the frontage lane where two cars were parallel parked in front of an office building.

I glanced in my rearview mirror. No other vehicles were behind me, barreling down my lane. I looked to my right. On the other side of the median, a wrecked BMW came to a stop. In my stunned haze, I saw a woman stumble out of the driver's seat...and walk away.

Where she was going, I didn't know.


The concept of a hit-and-run accident didn't automatically register in my head. I wasn't immediately concerned about the driver (and passenger) who hit me and proceeded to flee the scene on foot. (Assholes.)

My first thought was to find my phone. While my entire body vibrated from shock, I frantically searched for my phone, not realizing it had projectiled from the dashboard upon impact, in its cradle, to the backseat.

The first three words out of my mouth were "What the fuck?" I figured the moment warranted such a reaction. Quite apropos.

My right calf muscle ached, like it was torn or pulled, as I carefully opened my door and slowly stood up to survey what had just happened. Thankfully, despite the late hour, there was a pedestrian witness.

Apparently, after rear-ending me at a high-speed (approximately 70 mph), the red BMW lost control, jumped over the median, knocked out a parking sign, and sideswiped a parked Subaru. The owner of the Subaru, who happened to be working in the office building, came outside after hearing the crash.

After seventeen years of living in Los Angeles, I just survived my first major car accident. 

And the proverbial salt in the wound? I was a mere three blocks away from my apartment, coming home from a late showing of Rocketman. Oh, and I had just purchased this 2019 Civic just five weeks prior.

Needless to say, the days that followed were a pain in my neck...my back...and my leg.


After explaining what happened to the police, I had to explain what happened to my insurance agent. After that, I had to explain what happened to the doctor at the Urgent Care the next day. I had to explain what happened to my concerned friends. And then my coworkers after taking a day off to recover. And then the insurance rep and mechanic at the body shop that received my smashed car. And then the receptionist at the chiropractor I was assigned to. And then the technician at the imaging center where my body was X-rayed.

I was prescribed muscle relaxers. I got my spine adjusted by said chiropractor, a handsome gentleman who is probably younger than me (ugh). I had electrodes taped to my back and electrical pulses sent to my "problem areas." I visited a pain management specialist. I experienced slight PTSD as a passenger in other cars, flinching if we got too close to other vehicles. Now carless in a city full of cars, I rode in countless Lyfts, grew familiar with the number 20 Metro bus route, and increased my steps by several thousand. For a brief time, I saw familiar neighborhoods in Los Angeles like a tourist, noticing things I wouldn't have had I not been on foot.

And yes, I realize that all of this could have been worse. A lot worse.

My car -- remember, I had just bought it five weeks earlier -- wasn't totaled because its value was still relatively high. An investigation is still open as I write this, although they have found the culprit, a 20-year-old twit who was smart enough to leave behind her drivers license in that BMW and apparently lie to the police about what really happened. (That's another story for another time.)

For now, I can't express enough gratitude for the support and help I received over the past three weeks. Thanks to Ricky and Pearl for the loaner Hyundai. Thanks to David for sending a care package across the country (even though I didn't need the calories). Thanks to the friendly bus driver with the warm smile who let me on for free after seeing I was struggling with my TAP card. And thanks to the other friends who gave me a ride, sent concerned messages, and reminded me that I have a kickass network of people who got my back in a city I have proudly called home for the past seventeen years.


This wasn't the anniversary blog I was hoping to write this year.

I had originally planned to write some bullshit about how competitive Los Angeles is, which is nothing new. Something about how living in such a sprawled-out metropolis that keeps reinventing itself is always an exciting adventure. And sure, that may true, but what's really exciting is knowing that my life will eventually get back to its regularly scheduled programming: finishing the edits on my novel, enjoying the Fourth of July weekend in Palm Springs with my friends, attempting to get back in a cardio routine, catching up on my podcasts, catching up on my summer reading (currently: The Woman in the Window), and continuing to tell my loved ones that I love them.

Then, the warm fuzzy feelings will fade away, and I will find something trivial to obsess over or complain about (or both in one). And all of the above -- along with the additional details of the stressful aftermath I haven't even mentioned here -- will eventually turn into an anecdote I'll share and laugh about in the future. Perhaps over some vodka martinis...or some Metamucil shots at the retirement home.

Such is life.

@TheFirstEcho

June 12, 2019

Catfights, Cleavage and Carrie-Anne Moss: 'Models Inc.' Turns 25


In the early 90s, as anyone familiar with the oeuvre of uber-producer Aaron Spelling knows, the successful Beverly Hills, 90210 begat the successful Melrose Place, which then begat the gloriously campy trainwreck that was Models Inc.

"If you missed the series premiere of Models Inc. you missed a night of temptation, seduction, and murder," boasted the TV Guide ad for the drama's second episode, which aired shortly after the 4th of July holiday weekend of 1994. How do I remember? I still have in my possession the magazine clipping, straight outta my scrapbook of primetime soaps, of course.

A rather limp murder mystery kicked things off when been-around-the-block supermodel Teri Spencer was pushed off the balcony of a Los Angeles high-rise. Whodunit? Who cared? But if you must know: it was the agency's receptionist...with the candlestick...in the...nevermind.

As a die-hard Melrose fan, I consumed this forgettable piece of Clinton-era crap with relish. I read every entertainment article that publicized the spinoff's anticipated debut on Fox twenty-five years ago. And while other 14-year-olds were shooting hoops down the street, I was obsessing over catty lines of dialogue and studying cheesy plot devices for the development of my own primetime soaps I had kept handwritten in small spiral notebooks (Titles included: Shadow HillsMiami Heat, and Sutton Heights).


The titular modeling agency in the show was run by Hilary Michaels (Dallas alum Linda Gray), mother of Melrose's main villainess, Amanda Woodward. According to Ken Tucker's review of Models Inc. in Entertainment Weekly, Farrah Fawcett was once considered for the role of Hilary, and naturally I would have killed to be a fly on the wall in the room where that casting decision had been made. As for the rest of the cast, they were unknowns, and executive-producer Aaron Spelling promised "a great deal of backbiting" on the sudser.

Hilary's bevy of babes was, by 2019 standards, as diverse as a sorority at White Girl University. There was the newbie, the waif, the bitch, and the has-been -- at age 27. Then there was dead Teri's lookalike, Monique, played by the same actress (Stephanie Romanov), appearing out of nowhere and throwing all the characters for a loop. Monique fell in love with wealthy nightclub owner and widower Adam Louder, played by 90s actor James Wilder. Fun fact: Not too long before appearing on Models, Wilder also played evil Reed on Melrose Place, getting Jo (Daphne Zuniga) pregnant before she shot him in self-defense while being held hostage on his boat. Which begs the question: If Models existed in the Melrose universe, could Adam have been related to Reed? Or did Reed fake his death and reappear with this new identity? But why stay in the same city?

I digress...


After five months, and nearly halfway through an enormous 30-episode order, producers were not satisfied with Models Inc.'s Nielsen ratings. Co-creator Charles Pratt once said, "I'm willing to try anything to keep this show on the air." A new direction in the writing ditched implausible storylines and promised "more romance, more modeling, and more personal traumas." Brian Gaskill, who played Hilary's lame son and dated doe-eyed Sarah (Cassidy Rae), was written off, and Haitian-American actress Garcelle Beauvais was hired to play the alluring Cynthia because, well... #ModelsSoWhite.

But the biggest addition was Emma Samms, another Aaron Spelling vet, brought in as the sociopathic Grayson Louder, returning from the grave to win back ex-husband Adam. With Fox promoting her as the Heather Locklear of Models Inc., Samms told Entertainment Weekly back in 1994, "I will do the best I can, but I can't concern myself with whatever expectations there are."

And she did do her best; the last batch of episodes demonstrated just that. After all, what's a desperate British broad with ample cleavage to do when she fails to rewrap her legs around the man who fathered her child? Hire a hitman (The X-Files's Mitch Pileggi!) to snuff him out along with his new bride...at their wedding. What turned out to be the series finale ended with a cliffhanger in which said hitman took his shot, leaving viewers -- and one frustrated boy in New Rochelle, New York -- wondering who received the bullet. Luckily, when E! reran the series in the fall of 1995, the broadcast included several scenes that tied up some of those loose ends: Grayson, in an ironic twist, got shot, and Hilary, after probably realizing her models were way too involved in all this crazy shit, shut down the agency for good.

However, if there was anything this piece of primetime trash was good for, it was delivering Carrie-Anne Moss to audiences. Even though her character, Teri's older sister Carrie, was last seen being sold in sex slavery "somewhere in Central America" in the final episode, all of us fans were happy to see actress star in hits like 1999's The Matrix and 2000's Memento.

And who could forget that awesomely 90s opening theme song? I didn't. I have it saved as an mp3 in my iTunes library, filed in a playlist called "Primetime Soap Themes."

In other news, I'm still single.

@TheFirstEcho

Celebrating My 17th L.A.nniversary with a Bang

The impact, like many impacts, was sudden. I heard the crunch of metal, not as loud as those bang-ups you see in the  Fast and Furious ...