Lantern Lift-Off


It’s been about three months since I’ve made a post. You know it. I know it. No, I’m not dead. No I haven’t stopped writing. I just stopped caring for a minute or two. Sue me. But let us continue as if nothing bad has ever happened between us please? Great. And let us never speak of this again.

LANTERN *****/*****

423 West Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
Author’s note: I’m aware this isn’t part of my standard L.A. restaurant review formula. Yes this review is for a North Carolina restaurant. North Carolina is my home state. Deal with it you louts (I’m bringing back “lout”)

Something you may not know about me: I hate flying. I hate it. I hate the process of getting to the airport. I dislike the actual airport. I dislike all the people. I find the place to be a center of disease. The meeting place for germs and viruses from other states and countries. I dislike security (what will they find? Did one of my friends put a bunch of molly in my duffel as some sick joke?). And I dislike waiting to board my flight, looking out on the plane as it’s being refueled and wondering…. is this the one that goes down? If a mechanic will not spot that missing bolt in the plane’s undercarriage.This sounds terribly dramatic but unfortunately that’s one of MANY morbid thoughts that zip in and out of my brain. During boarding, I even wonder if the jet bridge will suddenly collapse. Can’t help it.

Anyway, it was end of May when I was on my last flight. I was heading home to Raleigh, North Carolina. To see family and attend the wedding of one of my best friends. I’m officially of an age where my nearest and dearest are getting married off to wonderful gents, most of whom I barely know.

The lovely soon-to-be newlyweds

The lovely soon-to-be newlyweds

Living in California away from all the people you left behind makes that possible. I also had to read from the Good Book. Lauren, the bride to be, insisted this be the case. Despite my objections of being a wonderful sinner with a lack of enthusiasm for public speaking.

Another fun reason to be home was that another friend Julianna (Ghoulianna / Droolianna), former ice queen, had her heart melted by a prince charming recently. Therefore she had lost a bet which we had made months prior: “whoever gets a boyfriend first has to pay the other $50.” Certain she would win this bet (the loser being the one to get a boyfriend/pay up) she simply laughed it off. Cut to more than several months later and she’s all booed up and shit. So I told Julianna, “you can just buy me dinner.” So the night before Lauren’s wedding we traversed to our college stomping grounds to dine at Lantern in Chapel Hill. Also known as “Chapel Thrill” in some cases.

The restaurant although located in a small college town has several awards and distinctions on its proverbial mantel including Gourmet Magazine naming it one of the 50 Best Restaurants in America. Not to mention the chef, Andrea Reusing, has been raved about — from the New York Times, to Food and Wine, the Wall Street Journal, and has a James Beard for best chef in the Southeast.

Lantern existed ever since I had come and gone from my alma mater but never once did I venture into the restaurant for a meal. My low brow taste (mostly late night Jimmy John’s orders and shitty fried tofu from a place called Jade Palace) and a rather thin wallet precluded me from such extravagance. Although I did happen in on their bar (accessible via an alleyway) many times to sip on more than a few of their innovative cocktails.

Luckily for us our mutual friend Katie O. (Gemini, raccoon, tastemaker, and horror enthusiast) had been working there until just recently, and since Katie was joining us for dinner too (joy!) there were hints of preferential treatment. And if you know me: my preferred preference is preferential treatment.

The bar which glows a warm blood red was jam packed at almost 9pm on a Friday. Julianna and I greeted Katie who sat relaxed at the bar like she owned the place. Handing us drink menus, we picked our poisons. I opted for a “Windy Village” a concoction I hadn’t indulged since my college years: Meyer lemon + cucumber gin + fresh lemon juice. Served up, it’s a beautifully transparent but milky green cocktail that’s tart, not too sweet, goes down smooth, AND refreshing. Not to mention just one will get you shnooked.

Julianna being surly

Julianna being surly w/ her Late Blossom Martini.

Droolianna on the other hand opted for Lantern’s variation of a martini, the “Late Blossom”. This pale pink drink has Luksusowa vodka, Lillet Blanc (a french apertif wine), lychee juice and orange flower water shaken together for a perfect mix. Not to mention the succulent lychee fruit as a garnish.

A few gulps into our drinks, a table nearby was cleaned up and waiting. Sitting down, we looked over the menu. Katie helped guide us through the pan-asian fusion fare with confidence — stating she’d eaten the entire menu twice over since working there. And no, she’s not obese. She’s thin and petite.

Ordering up a couple appetizers, our entrees, and then going for a bottle of red, we eased into catching up and talk of the past + future. As long-time friends do. Katie was soon to be moving over my way to L.A. and Julianna was thinking of following suit. Our first courses came out. A soft shell crab drizzled with a chile-lime sauce, a  bundle of grilled asparagus bowed by a fried egg, and a trio of crab cakes (the last two dishes were compliments of the kitchen). Then the incredibly diverse charcuterie board: pork terrine (I love a good forced meat), crispy rillettes (think pate poached in fat then shredded and crispified in this instance), thin slices of spicy air-dried beef, crusty bread,  and pickled radishes. OH and pork rinds (not that there wasn’t enough pork).


The Soft Shelled Crab Appetizer

Complimentary Crab Crakes

Complimentary Crab Crakes

Asparagus w/ poached egg

Asparagus w/ poached egg

The frighteningly unique charcuterie board.

The frighteningly unique charcuterie board.

Another angle of the Terrine, Rillette, Rinds, pickled radishes, and air-dried beef.

Another angle of the Terrine, Rillette, Rinds, pickled radishes, and air-dried beef.

If all that wasn’t heavy and filling enough (which it was) our main dishes came out soon thereafter. Katie had opted for an ENTIRE FRIED FISH. Not shitting you. When the waiter put the plate down, the pescado was staring at me through a perfectly crispy membrane and nearby: the jasmine rice and carrot salad it came with.

Katie and her fried fish

Katie pleased w/ her whole damn fried fish

Julianna and I both being water signs opted for the same dish. THE BEEFY ONE: A Red Poll ribeye steak (the Red Poll cow is the oldest cow breed in the U.S. and one of its finest). The meat was seared Japanese Steakhouse style — think Benihana, but also fuck off Benihana as you don’t come miles near this (Although, I’ll see you in a couple weeks probably). The side dishes were just as murderous: flash-fried spinach, a ramekin of yummy ponzu sauce, green tea sushi rice, grilled onions, and a sprinkling of sea salt.

After one bite of the steak that dissolved in my mouth I knew we were in for something special. The crispy spinach was another winner. It crunched with every first bite then quickly melted savory and decadent down into my stomach. Nothing was saved on my plate. Everything consumed. Which is a rarity. I could not be stopped. The food just kept going in.

Japanese Steakhouse style steak

Japanese Steakhouse style ribeye

So, in a haze of gin, wine, and the perpetual conveyor belt of food, almost the ENTIRE dessert menu was brought out for us to dig into. A jiggly delicious panna cotta with pistachios and strawberries, a butter cake with PEPPERCORN ICE CREAM (????), and something else I don’t remember. I think some mint ice cream sundae + cookie.

If you don’t believe that dreams come true then I don’t know what to tell you. After this meal I BELIEVE there is a heaven and that place is at Lantern. And if you think this is over (I thought it was) — it wasn’t. Katie insisted on an after dinner drink. Cynar. A liqueur made of artichokes that I had yet to ever try. It’s dark brown in color and very sweet. But it’s a sipper. Not to mention Cynar is one of the world’s greatest aphrodisiacs. Something to keep in mind for date night.

The Panna Cotta wiggle

The Panna Cotta wiggle

The aphrodisiac apertif

The aphrodisiac apertif

The rest of the evening was a whirlwind. A stop over at an old haunt The Nightlight for a noise convention called Savage Weekend. There I slurred through conversation with old friends, got free drinks at the bar (heyooo it’s good to be back), pointed at drunk people sitting down and declaring them “way fucked up”, then passing out later at Katie’s.

Austin and Adam were two friends I got to see while home.

Austin and Adam were two friends I got to see while home.

The next morning. The day of the wedding. I was hungover. Oh god. Not to mention oh GOD: I had to READ out loud in front of more than a hundred people in three hours. Julianna raced me home (not before stopping at bojangles for some fried chicken) and I quickly got my act together for Lauren’s big day. My mother was my date to the ceremony and we were late. But given the bride’s family is Italian nothing was expected to go on time.


The happy couple about to say “I do”

Needless to say the reading went off without a hitch. My voice echoed across each wall of the cathedral, the guests nodded approval at my words chosen by Lauren. And I wasn’t struck down by well placed lightning bolt.

Screen Shot 2014-08-05 at 11.39.34 PMAs the ceremony ended, after the new couple said their eternal vows, we moved on to the reception (which Julianna joined me for). The mood looped from happy to bittersweet more times than I could count. Then night enveloped the day and when the dancing winded down, we took part in (ironically) a lantern lift-off. These paper lanterns would be lit from the bottom, and as the hot air expanded the cocoons, we’d let them go and they’d rise up. Into the dark sky, each one a positive thought for the new Mr. & Mrs.

I said my blessings for the newlyweds under my breath and watched the paper balloon lazily levitate up and up, joining the other words and well-wishes. After reaching a certain height, I couldn’t tell the lanterns from the stars in the sky.

Cross-country moves. Quitting jobs. Getting new jobs. Getting new boyfriends or girlfriends. Fiances. Husbands. Wives. Getting older. Changes. Things were moving fast for the people in my life. That’s why it’s most important to be present sometimes. Like dinner with Katie and Julianna the night before. We may or may not remember the food as the years wear on but we certainly will not forget each other’s friendships — the love and support which we’ll have wherever life might take us.


Holy Crap.


After eating some intense Penna Arrabbiata leftovers … I needed Talenti’s Southern Butter Pecan gelato to cool down. Easily the best frozen sweet thing that I’ve purchased from the grocery store in recent memory.

photo 1 photo 2



I banked the curves along the stately, pine tree-lined streets of Beverly Hills, the sun’s beams splintered by branches and needles. I wanted to admire the antiseptic beauty of the neighborhood but there was no time really. I was late for a shoot. My pal Chef Megan Mitchell (remember from my CLEO review?) was filming a one-off cooking show promo, and she wanted me to be one of her guests.

The star!

The star! Chef Megan Mitchell.

It figures that I would be the only person that could please Megan, her producers, and the show’s future audience. After all, don’t you want someone tall (6’0”), dark (almost all year round), handsome (arguably) and polite (anyone?) to come cook with you? I’m also single, so any attractive strangers please leave comments with your cell number.

Winding a residential road, I couldn’t help but catch glimpses of the opulent homes – some seemingly plopped down by a crane or helicopter onto the manicured, jungle-like slopes. Others appeared old enough that they might have been carved right out of the hillsides. There was also no parking. My Honda rolled up slowly to a tight spot where one end was a driveway, and the other a lipstick red sedan. I could fit. But it might be a little tight. Inching forward, I slid in nicely, but I love-tapped the vehicle in front.

“Oops.” I murmured, feeling slightly bad, yet again, in city where parallel parking is status quo, it happens. So I was going to go about my day when – VROOM — the sedan roared to life.

“oh… shit.” I grumbled. Now I definitely had to do the whole “hey I think I hit your car there” thing. I glanced at the bumper which already looked dinged up to begin with but didn’t see anything glaring. I knocked on the window and a chirpy woman rolled it down. On the passenger’s seat, she had a basket with a yapping Chihuahua in it.

“I nudged your car.”


“I hit your car when I was parking.”

“Oh I thought that might have been what happened. I was like, did the earth move or did someone crash into me?!” She stated with performed bewilderment. I was immediately not in the mood for this.

“There isn’t any damage I don’t think, but you should take a look.” The woman stepped out to inspect.

“I think this is you.” She decided pointing to a huge, scrapey dent in her bumper.” I almost laughed.

“That is most certainly not me.”

“Then here.” She said again, pointing to another massive void of red paint.

“Um, I don’t think so.” That mark didn’t even line up to my front bumper.

“Definitely this one” She points to some serious scratch. My eyes rolled so hard it hurt.

“Listen, I barely touched your car.” I declared.

“Okay. Well, I’m not gonna worry about it.” She replied studying me.

“Sorry about that.” I departed down the street to find the right house where the shoot was taking place.

Arriving at the large and white, smoothed stucco home, I sauntered onto the property with swagger. Clearly, the talent had arrived.

“HI!” A sweet, shorter woman came out from the massive front door, “are you the pizza guy?” She continued.

“Pizza guy?”

“I ordered some pizza.”

To be fair I kinda did look like this dude:

“No. I’m Alex. Alex Rose? For the shoot. I’m the talent.”

“Oh! Megan’s friend. I’m Cat the producer. How are you? Sorry, I thought you were the…”

“Yeah. The pizza guy. I wasn’t even holding any pizzas.”

“Come inside.” Cat exclaimed, kindly ignoring me.

As I entered the tall ceilinged home laid out with marble floors, fun paintings, expansive mirrors, and vintage trunks, I went into the kitchen and was immediately handed a glass of wine by James – my friend and good ol’ Chef Megan’s Bae-thing. There was a round of other greetings. One was to a lovely young woman by the name of Dianna. I had to get her name a couple times as I was actually trying to focus my character in my mind for my scene. Turns out I wasn’t the only talent there that day.

Going out onto the porch that looped the home and stared over Los Angeles, I got the idea that this was all going to be way more epic than what was initially led to believe. Creeping up to where the crew was filming Megan – she was flanked by two guests and they were grilling chicken. Behind them a pool and then open-air. We were cliff-side baby.

photo 5

Our Backdrop

Someone passed by me with some props.

“Excuse me, do you know what I’m cooking with Megan?”

On set!

“Ummm, you’re making cauliflower.” The prop-person went on their way.

Cauliflower? I thought. I don’t even like cauliflower. I downed my cup of wine, found a nearby bottle, then poured another. Suddenly, Katie Danza, wearing a makeup apron and a smile darted over to say hello.

“Thank god you’re here.” We both said to each other probably at the exact same time. “I’m doing makeup.” I looked at Megan who looked natural and radiant.

“She doesn’t even look like she has on makeup.”

“That’s the point honey.” Katie purred.

Katie D.

Katie D.

“Are you going to do my makeup?” I asked fanning myself, “I want to look perfect for the camera.” Katie looked me up and down.

“I could probably powder your face so you’re not so shiny.” Megan called her name and Katie darted off to take care of business. Shiny??? Was I shiny? I looked up at the sun then down at my drink. I cleared the cup.

When Megan’s grilled chicken / arugula salad scene was done, she hurried by me, quickly giving a hug, a smooch, and saying “I’m so glad you’re here!” before sprinting away to get her hair fixed, Katie trailing not far behind. I emptied the wine bottle into my solo cup.

The arugula salad that would later be consumed.

The arugula salad that would later be consumed.

Then the pizza came. Thank God. I grabbed a couple slices and talked to that girl Dianna while she munched on some pita chips. We talked about how we both knew our talented chef, and as our conversation continued we moved onto how good pita chips were, and then we had a pita chip photo shoot because I thought the blue bag perfectly matched her blue dress. Throughout this entire time and until Dianna left not soon after our pita promo, I had no idea it was actually Dianna AGRON (Hello, Glee?). Clearly I had been so blinded by my own delusions of grandeur to notice actual important people.

Dianna hitting the perfect note while singing her love of pita chips

Dianna hitting the perfect note while singing her love of pita chips.

Megan and Katie came out to take part in pizza, and while they ate, I gave them a slightly dramatized rundown of the lady whose car I clunked earlier.

“… and THEN she started pointing out all these ridiculous scrapes and saying I had done it!” Everyone agreed that I was being treated unfairly. Of course, right as I finished, I turned around to find the Chihuahua woman talking to the producer. My mouth dropped.

I can literally hear the crunch of Meghan biting into this pizza

I can literally hear the crunch of Megan biting into this pizza

“Excuse me!” I whispered to Megan and Katie, grabbed a beer and ran away. What was Chihuahua Lady doing here?! Who did she know? What did she know? In a panic I found a pack of someone’s cigarettes, grabbed one, and smoked it. I was stressed. And my part was coming up soon, and I wasn’t even in character yet. Who was I? Had I known Megan long? Where was I coming from? Was this “her home” that she was cooking at? So many questions. Not to mention I was apparently a human-shaped reflecting pool (sans powder) and grilling possibly the worst vegetable of all time. When I put out the cigarette I saw the Chihuahua staring at me. It yipped menacingly.

I had two enemies. and one was a chihuahua

I had two enemies that day.

Perfectly timed to ease my anxiety, local blogger, life coach, and friend Sherry Levine arrived with two bottles of white wine and some lovely wedges (shoes that is). She was playing the role of one of the Dinner Guests.

“This house is aaaaamaaaaaziiiing” She sang. We couldn’t chat long about our lives since the time came for Megan and I to grill some albino broccoli. As I got mic’d the crew explained to me how this was going down. I’d enter as Megan’s friend (I was playing myself unfortunately) and I was bringing a bottle of wine. More wine? OKAY!

My chopping station

My chopping station

Sherry handed me one of the grigios she picked up. Katie coated my face with powder, and someone else told me that I’d be roughly chopping parsley and capers. I had to get focused. Looking over, I saw the Chihuahua woman eying me from back of set. ::GULP::


I strolled up to Megan medium-drunk and offered the wine like some goon-server of an upscale, waspy restaurant. We poured glasses for each other and talked about how we were going to cook cauliflower.

“I hate cauliflower.”

Megan looked at me: “Okay…” She smiled at the cameras. A pro and quite versed in improv as well, Megan went with it, thus creating a narrative where her idiot friend who hates cauliflower would then make cauliflower under her tutelage, eat it, and eventually fall in love with the vegetable. IMMA STORY GENIUS.

This charming grillin' and grinnin' couple

This charming grillin’ and grinnin’ couple (well me not so much)

Anyway, as the cauliflower prep continued, there was a dressing: lemon zest, juice, parsley, olive oil – you can check out the whole recipe here on Megan’s website:

When it came off the grill we showered the plate with parmesan, jalapeños AND roasted pine nuts. The best part was how incredibly delectable the cauliflower turned out to be. I didn’t have to fake any enjoyment. And as it happens out cauliflower CAN be delicious and not just look like some weird, pallid growth.

Meghan's perfect grilled Cauliflower

Megan’s perfect grilled Cauliflower

The cameras stopped rolling. The scene was over. Quick, fun, and very painless. Not to mention we got plenty of laughs. But I wasn’t through yet — there was the final dinner scene where all of Megan’s guests would congregate to eat the food they had made with her, and of course, that was going to be the best part. I snuck away to see if more pizza existed, and as I picked at the last slice, the Chihuahua woman was again nearby sipping a bottled water.

“Didn’t think you’d see me again did you? After crashing into my car.” She said grimly. I could only laugh nervously, and I didn’t know what to say except:

“Did you taste the cauliflower? It was so good.” She didn’t smile. I stuffed a pizza crust into my mouth and disappeared into the house to hang out with this dog:

photo 2

Eventually the sun was setting and all of us chipped in to set the large patio table outside and fill drinks: a Megan-made berry + vodka cocktail, more wine, and James handed me a Corona, because for some reason he thought I needed another drink.

Sherry and Katie are table-ready

Plates of food landed on the table: the grilled chicken topped with dressed up arugula and tomatoes, avocado toast with chopped boiled egg, and finally the familiar cauliflower perfectly presented with a layer of melted parm.

The Avocado Toast

The Avocado Toast

We toasted Megan, which I think sounded more like slurred yelling than an actual toast, but more embarrassing was that we were filmed eating for a very long time. I’ll only speak for myself when I say that cannot possibly be attractive on tape. But whatever, the food was dank as hell.

Cleaning up, I admired all the hard work that the crew, the director, Cat the producer, of course Megan, and the rest of the team had put in on a Sunday. Megan is one of those people that pushes forward, a goal in mind with a plan on how to reach it. Not to mention her talent as a chef and a personality.

Grilled Chicken -- or what was left of it.

Grilled Chicken — or what was left of it.

The entire shoot was really special and I can’t imagine someone not being thoroughly entertained by what was put together. In a sense, it was the essential L.A. day: the sun was bright, the temperature arcing from hot, to mild, then disarmingly cool. There was unrivaled food and wine, wonderful people to be surrounded by, and of course a production crew filming it all — the ultimate example of the dualistic nature of Los Angeles.

photo 3

It’s a city that’s the center of performance and habitat of the performer, hosting both the face and the mask, existing in reality and also interpreting it for the rest of the world. It’s what makes the metropolis one of the most bizarrely unique places ever. And here I am just lucky enough to eat in it. And that’s fine by me.

P . S .

Before parting for another time – I’d like to mention other hard-working people I know, and who hail from my Alma Mater UNC-Chapel Hill. Daniel Rego, Ryan Haskins, Ben Sahle, Tim Tippens, along with others are raising funds through Kickstarter to tell a poignant tale that takes a tragic story and morphs it into something awesome.

DESERT BLOOM hopes to follow a young-man named Tyler who’s stricken with a unique syndrome which gives his life a knowable timestamp. So far my dudes have raised almost 9,000 -nearly $3000 short of their $12000 goal. Watch the trailer here and help these guys make something that fills us with inspiration and gratitude.

As always, word up. And eat up.

The Prince and The Poppers


CROSSROADS *****/*****

8284 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 782-9245

I last posted anything more than a month ago and since then we’ve all passed through a ghastly mercury retrograde. This well-known but often misunderstood astrological occurrence had me dealing with debilitating emotions amid midnight anxiety attacks, eating burrito bowls in bed around 3x a week, visiting graveyards, freaking out at a Spiritualized show, never going to the gym, promising first dates that ultimately lead to ominous third dates, and mysterious mishaps at work like missing Fedex packages. Therefore I wasn’t eating out at dank restaurants and I didn’t want to see that many friends or make any new ones.

Nearing the end of what I consider the worst month (February is both hard to say and spell), I bucked up and re-joined my gym and cut down on the Chipotle to 1x a week in bed (we have to set limits people). I started going out every weekend too. I was going to make shit happen to write about. So, as of late, I’ve been going the opposite direction in reaching my goal to be a full-blown hermit by 2015.

But my apartment does try to get me to stay in every night. It’s just so comfortable. Actually, as I sit here looking around my home, I’m pretty sure it’s the closest thing I have to a boyfriend right now. He also is a little possessive.


::Alex grabs his tote, setting off to leave his apartment. The lights dim, a presence has entered::

Apartment (Sexy voice) :”Hey, where are you going?

Alex (staring at the ceiling): Out. I’m going to meet my friends.

Apartment: Oh who? Mary and them? What’s that girl’s name Kay-Li?

Alex: That’s Kalee. I know it’s spelled weird. And no, you don’t know these people.

Apartment: When should I expect you back?

Alex: Late. Don’t wait up.

Apartment: I’m going to be worried sick all night.

Alex: You need to chill out.

::A spotlight shines over Alex’s bed and then on his laptop on the couch::

Apartment: How about you stay in tonight and watch some Netflix.

::Alex considers it::

Alex: Hmmmmmm.

::His refrigerator door swings open casually::

Apartment: And beer! And leftover eggplant and sausage pizza…

::Alex is almost drooling now::

Alex: OooooOOOo… What about some weed?

Apartment (disappointed): Uh. Hmmmm. No… We’re fresh out.

Alex: Oh. that’s too bad… Well, I’ll see you later.

Apartment: Hey! Don’t leave me.

Alex: I think you need to get out more dude.

Apartment: Oh, you’re hilarious.

Alex: bye.

::Alex slams the door shut as he leaves::

Apartment: asshole.


I figure y’all are wondering — so ALEX, since you live in K-Town, don’t you have to drive to go out because the nightlife pretty much sucks around there?”, and I’d say YEAH. BUT parking is SO shitty in K-Town, when I find a good spot coming home from work on a Friday evening, I’ll be damned if I’ll be driving myself somewhere later. This means I take Sidecars to like Echo Park all the time. That also means I can have more than two drinks and cast my inhibitions to the wind. WEEEEEEEEE~~~~

There was a lot of fun to be had. Mostly involving video head cleaner.

At one point even my mother called me to be like… “Alex, what are POPPERS?!?!?” She even asked me if I was involved in “sex games”? I don’t know what those are but sign me up!

Poppers are pretty much the symbol of the meta-modernist lifestyles we lead (Relax ma, it’s LEGAL). They go in and out quick. Like our attention spans. I brought them to a recent Nasty Gal bash at The Lash celebrating the launch of some magazine called Galore that’s for like Club Kids? IDK — can Club Kids even read?

Photobooth action With Peter

Photobooth action With Peter — they projected your shots onto the walls of The Lash

Their smutty covers were adorned by Brooke Candy and Azealia Banks. So I shredded them into confetti and tossed them at the crowd. There was crown royal involved and apparently I sat on Chris Brown’s girlfriend and started telling people to leave the party because it sucked (a bouncer was quick to say, “don’t do that or I’ll throw you out”). Truthfully, I was having a great time but was just in the mood to be contrary. After sneaking into the VIP area and giving poppers to a few beautiful strangers, (one Jersey girl had to hold herself up against a wall for like ten seconds while screaming “WOOOOOOO”), I was in bed by 1am, and up at work the next day bright and early. You see it’s all about BALANCE, people. — Photobooth-in-motion

See if you spot me in here:

I’ve also had plenty of mornings waking up in not my own bed. And no I wasn’t getting lucky, instead I was lucky enough that my main Mary would usually let me sleep on her Queen sized mystery mattress (as in it came with her room but we trust it). Those nights usually went like this: a late stint at Little Joy in Echo Park, then Mary and I would speed to McDonalds.

Little Joy moment

A moment of Little Joy

Then sitting in her bed, after eating some breakfast sandwich, we would both agree that we’d rather sleep than continue to disagree on what we’d watch on Netflix. Clearly, both of us at 26, our priorities have changed.

Throughout all this, I practically forgot I had a blog until my eating disorder psychologist friend (how appropriate) and I reminded each other that we needed to get a lavish dinner sometime soon. Since Danyale is vegan, our options were narrowed to one specific place that I’d been wanting to try — the trendy, raved-about, West Hollywood vegan mecca CROSSROADS.

Danyale -- psychologist extraordinaire!

Danyale — psychologist extraordinaire!

I had heard about it’s blinding-fast rise to prominence in the glam West-Side scene and was aching to try it out. To me, vegan food done extremely well is always satisfying. It can be way healthier, extremely innovative, and usually there’s no guilt associated, like that time I ate cow’s brain from a back of a van on Santa Monica Blvd (which happened not too long ago).

Since it was a Tuesday night and I had requested an early reservation I expected the crowd to be minimal, and I was completely wrong. It was packed and everyone was all decked out in elegant black. Here I was straight from work wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and running shoes (I really took that NormCore thing to heart that day). Sitting down, Danyale and I were immediately thinking about cocktails.

Hendrick's is FINE I guess.

Hendrick’s is FINE I guess.

I went for my usual starter of a dry, dirty gin martini but with Hendrick’s (they didn’t have Tanqueray and I was little offended). Danyale opted for a Crossroads signature cocktail called LA FLACA which translates into “the skinny girl” and I don’t think I have to point out the irony there given her occupation. Decidedly sweet and fresh, the drink was compromised of vodka, root of dandelion, agave, lime + cranberry, and soda.

Fumbling a bit with the menu given Crossroads deals out small, complex plates and there were a host of worthy specials, our server was delighted to guide us through the menu. We settled on three main menu items and two specials.

As we waited for our food, Danyale and I recalled our first meeting — in a port-a-john line at Fuck Yeah Festival. At the time, I was with my friend Spencer that she had once dated (I also ran into someone I had gone on a few dates with in that very same line. It was a wildly serendipitous queue). Since Danyale is a Virgo, we immediately bonded, and also I just have a habit of befriending girls that Spencer had been involved with.

We also discussed her new long-haired, bearded bae-thing that she had met that very same day WE had met. I’m a good luck charm after all… Then our food came — first the “oysters” and the “crab cakes”.



The oysters were in fact oyster mushrooms with an artichoke puree and kelp caviar which is what gave the ocean taste to the dish. Served on an artichoke leaf over a bed of salt rocks, Danyale and I grabbed our shares and devoured them quickly.

"Crab Cakes"

“Crab Cakes”

The “crabcakes” which ended up being my favorite was a concoction of heart of palm, apple, and beet, drizzled with a horseradish aioli.

The Winter Flatbread

The Winter Flatbread

As our winter flatbread (chewy and crispy) topped with fingerling potatoes, arugula, butternut squash, and topped with a rosemary-sage cream hit the table, our conversation steered towards life, our ages, and where we were headed.

While I talked about the my accomplishment of finally living alone, Danyale was more on the wavelength of “I’m looking for a house to buy.” Of course my jaw dropped, because when anyone is looking for a place to OWN in L.A. they are doing more than well. Granted, Danyale is more than a few years older than me, but it was nonetheless impressive. It was then that she offered to buy us a bottle of wine, and I really couldn’t argue with that at that point even though I pretended to. The waitress suggested a Pinot Blanc (some mutant baby of a gris and a sauvignon blanc I suppose?), which was probably the best white wine I’ve had in a while. It was followed by our roasted tomato risotto and the loaded potato skins (one of which was topped with vegan cheddar and mushroom bacon). We ate everything off each plate. And we had dessert: a banana rum cake.

The bottom dish are the potato skins!

The bottom dish are the potato skins!

Roasted Tomato Risotto

Roasted Tomato Risotto

Amid the flashbulbs announcing the arrival of a couple celebrities, our dinner together ended beyond satisfaction. We both came to the conclusion that each plate was more than just “good” but fresh, filling, and combined various familiar flavors in astonishingly unique ways.

As we parted each other that Tuesday night on Melrose and Sweetzer Ave. I couldn’t help but think of the restaurant’s name: “CROSSROADS” as I walked back to my car.

Britney+Spears+-+Crossroads+-+VIDEO+CD-221868A crossroad is an intersection. It’s being able to see the past and future from the now. It’s looking at where you’ve come from and where you want to go. But the thing about crossroads is you gotta leave something behind to take in the new. And while you may be able to look back and see behind you, eventually it fades out completely.

Which is where I am in my life. IN the in-between, the transition, the liminal space of my mid-twenties. The big transition from young-adult to just regular adult. Crossing over can be both a voluntary choice and question of time. On one side is physical youth, but also the choice to be young and make bad decisions, act irresponsibly, go out sniff video-tape cleaner, not care what time it is, eat all the Mexican food you can, etc. On the other side is the knowledge that our bodies are not eternal, that we have (or should have) boundaries, that there is a ticking clock, that we might want to be successful, respected, and comfortable. Wow, comfort. What a radical notion.

The real question, and real challenge of traversing this life intersection is if we can really “have it all”, and will we be okay with it if we don’t?

While not entirely sure if I’m 100% ready to forge the murky waters of future Alexander, last weekend a few visiting senior friends from my alma mater showed up in Los Angeles for their spring break (what is a Spring Break tho?). I met up with them on a slow, Sunday night in Silver Lake. At Akbar, we sipped on drinks we really didn’t want. Nothing made me feel older than knowing all these young things were about to do Ketamine, and all I could think about was my bed (not to mention I can have de-personalizing experiences sober, thank you). I wasn’t going to be completely zombified for a Monday morning at the office. So I left. I had to. It wasn’t a life I understood anymore. My spring break life ended almost four years ago, and I was just realizing it. Driving home, I thought I was sad, and maybe I was. But when I got back to my comfortable mattress, in my own little personal paradise, exactly where I wanted to be, I realized, it didn’t matter all that much.


Dial “D” for Diarrhea


SOOT BULL JEEP *****/*****

3136 W 8th St
Los Angeles, CA 90005

If you’ve been living under a slab of pavement, or maybe you don’t know who the hell I am, or maybe you do and you don’t really care that much (which is fair), I recently packed up my belongings in my Silver Lake bungalow and parted ways with my roommate Giuls, who was embarking on his own journey with his band Incan Abraham which started their first ever cross-country tour this past weekend. But enough about successful friends, what about ME.

First off, I HATE moving. It takes up all your time, you lose important life-memorabilia, it always costs more than you think it will, and by the time you’re re-settled in whatever new spot, you certainly could use a beer and a nut shot to shock yourself back into the same plane of existence as everyone else who hasn’t moved their entire lives recently.

After my college-era, Virgo friend Eric (creative consultant/stylist/music video director) and I carted my art out of my apartment during the night-hours a couple weeks ago (which he said resembled some east-side heist), we hunkered down at the gay leather bar across the street from me. It was a celebratory drink and a goodbye drink to my time living in Silver Lake. As I scanned the clad-in-black crowd, a stage full of naked men being whipped, girthy cigars being sucked on, and general bearishness, I thought “wow, I really should have come here more often.”

Currently, I’ve shifted South West into the dense, seemingly impenetrable neighborhood that is Koreatown. Or known by the rest of Los Angeles as K-Town. Trendy hipness aside, I was elated to be moving out of the sheeny, fantastical locale that is Silver Lake because honestly, there are only so many times you can stomach grown men on big wheels, motorized unicycles, long lines for coffee, overrated restaurants, and discussions on moving from soy milk to almond milk to coconut milk and ending up at hemp milk. Yes, Lake of Silver, I DO think you’re beautiful, but your verdant surroundings simply masks the inanity of the characters inhibiting your deranged paradise.

My real life American Horror Story apartment.

My real life American Horror Story apartment.

My new place is something that I’d hafta sell a kidney for to even DREAM of in my old ‘boro. Now, instead of a Home Depot inspired fixer-upper, I’ve got an Art Deco’d out charmer that’s affordable and MY OWN (I feel JUST like Carrie Bradshaw except instead of looking out onto a perfect New York street as I write my next piece, I’m looking out on Los Angeles dirt, chainlink fencing, and cute stray cats).

My illegitimate cat babies

My illegitimate cat babies

No doubt, living on your lonesome can be a scary experience. My anxiety reared its ugly head only a week or so before I was moved-in and most definitely flaring up as I live here now. It’s normal you know… Who WILL save me when I overdose on frozen pizza and collapse on my beautiful hardwood floors?  Do they have life alert for that? Another fear is my first floor placement. While it’s cheaper sure, I don’t have curtains yet, and I’ve already imagined waking up at 4am to discover a lurker peering at me from the outside. I even have a barred door over one window which acts a fire escape (and looks like a cage) which I may use at some point for some sexual fantasy best left unexplained (although when I opined this idea to my most recent hot date, he simply said “not with me you won’t.” but we’ll see about that).

Nerves aside, Koreatown is known for more than a few things, but mainly two: terrible parking and EXCELLENT, authentic, BBQ. While I had only been set up at my chateau for a few days, one of my close friends Katie had arrived from NC to approve L.A. for her future move come June (and Katie, now that I have mentioned you on my blog you have no choice but to abide by this timeline that I have set forth so help you God). So she and I, along with our NC contingent ventured to SOOT BULL JEEP.

Just a 15 minute walk from my apartment, it’s the perfect BBQ house to work up an appetite on the way there, then work it all off on the way back. What’s even more great, is the teeming streets of K-Town in route to Vermont & 8th. It’s cart-to-cart street vendors, all grilling ethnic street foods which probably taste as insanely delicious as they smelled. I’ve even seen the option for BUGS to eat. So you know. This is real. This is happening. Koreatown 2014 + edible insects = Alex’s new America. And it looks crunchy.

We drunkenly glided into Jeep’s unassuming entrance which was uncrowded (given it was a Monday night). What you’ll first notice upon entering is the smell of burning coals. You’ll feel the heat too… and it can get a little hazy. Basically, it’s just hazardous eating here, but it’s worth it. The grills at Jeep are built into each granite table-top, with huge exhaust ducts funneling out the smoke from above .

Taking our seats — six of us in total — the gruff (and always gruff) all female, all Korean staff took our orders. Immediately I was given control of the menu. Regardless of what you may think about KBBQ and it’s status on the chain of cuisine, a good joint will always be on the costlier side. With that in mind, four plates of meat for our group would suffice and not cost an arm nor a leg. I suggested three plates leaving the fourth up to whomever else had a strong opinion. We ended up with the marinated short ribs, marinated chicken, marinated shrimp, and more beef — the marinated spencer steak. soot1While we waited for our server to unload the food on our grill, an assortment of small plates were (and always are) dealt out onto the table like playing cards: garlic cloves, spinach, kimchi, steamed rice, a big bowl of salad (two big bowls in our case), some vinegary cucumber thing, Doenjang (a fermented soybean paste), and other vegetables. But of course, who can forget the beverages.

While selection isn’t astounding, if you don’t know much about Koreans, know this: they can drink. So we drank. A couple bottles of Soju, some bottles of Hite (think of it as the Miller Lite of Korea) and we were set.

We weren't too full to snap a quick shot and Katie looks like she just stepped away from the Salem Witch Trials to attend dinner.

From left: Mary, Katie, Me, Brendan, Steph, and Helen. Katie looks like she just stepped away from the Salem Witch Trials to attend dinner.

When the meat reached perfection (you can BBQ it yourself but the staff comes by to turn it if you wanted to be less independent), we all dug in, consuming every morsel without even thinking. At one point, when I looked down at my vacant plate, the only evidence of a once existing meal being a smear of grease, I truly thought I had blacked out. Not from the alcohol, but from the sheer richness of the beef, chicken, and shrimp I had sucked down.

Inflated, we split the bill and then split back to my apartment to celebrate the new digs. On some sort of BBQ high, we burst out more beer, went through and endless number of bad Buzzfeed quizzes, popped out my platonic poppers (see: inhalants), and took pictures of Helen (whom we stuffed into my sex cage/fire escape).

Buzzfeed Quizzin'

Buzzfeed Quizzin’

The following series is Katie trying to do poppers and me laughing maniacally while dancing around her already high off poppers. I am 26 years old:

photo 5

photo 4

photo 1

photo 3

And then I darted off

And then I darted off into the night and Katie was still inhaling chemicals.

Helen was so wasted we put her behind bars and took embarrassing photos of her.

It was there that I realized, while I did adore my new place, and it was a marker of a new chapter in my life, my true home was wherever me and my friends could gather, be happy, full, safe, warm, and to enjoy one another and forget our individual problems (AWWW, he DOES have a soul after all).

“So is that it?” You may ask.

And I’d say, “maybe,”

and you’d respond “well, Alex, why did you mention ‘diarrhea’ in your title? Did you have diarrhea later? After all this BBQ? I expected diarrhea.”

And I’d tell you, “No… My title wasn’t referencing a past diarrhea. Or even a present diarrhea… but rather, a diarrhea of the not too distant future.”

Meaning, as I write this post, my stomach grumbles with all the steak from a recent trip to the Jeep circulating (I have been twice in one week). Therefore, I can’t help but think… how in the hell am I going to make it out of K-Town without destroying my digestive system? And while my mind spins with concern, the sound of beef roasting not too far off reaches my ears. Then I lose myself to my imagination and the bliss of being swallowed by a swirling tornado of marinated meats.

A Streetcar Named Emotionally Unavailable


Cafe Stella ****/*****

3932 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029

It was a Friday night, and a little past 8pm. I was pacing my living room. My eyes quivered with a wavering confidence. I was fearful, to be honest. Was this is actually going to happen? 

“Are we going to do this? Can I DO this?” I asked aloud. And no, I wasn’t talking to myself. I wasn’t alone. My one and only hetero-dapper-bro-male-partner-in-crime Dan W. was sitting on one my of ruddy crimson couches crafting a perfectly rolled joint. With a final lick he held it up.

“Alex, calm down. Smoke this.”

I shook my head. I didn’t think a joint was a good idea…

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 1.26.24 PM

My Ride or Die Bitch

Probably one minute later: I took an extreme-sized hit from the joint, my eyes going wide, and exhaling with a series of terrible, frightening coughs. My usual way of smoking.

“Are you going to be okay?” Dan asked.

“No.” I wheezed.

So what was all this anxiety about? Well, people. It’s called drama. And probably drama that I built up in my own head because at the time I had nothing better to do. But the facts are facts, I was screwed over (and not in the good way), by a dude, and this was my chance to confront him.

This dude happened to work down the street from me at Cafe Stella, one of the more lively spots at the Silver Lake junction. Even knowing he was a couple blocks away, working, hitting on other more attractive (but probably far less wittier men) made my IBS flare up like a late-day thunderstorm in the American South. And Dan and I were going to eat dinner there. Of course, you’d think that a good, logical friend would dissuade me from such a course of action, but Dan was completely supportive (and probably for the entertainment value).

Dan killed me once too.

Dan is always looking out for me.

“We don’t have to go! Let’s not go!” I shouted suddenly, thinking about the awkwardness of running into someone that had been diddling you for months and then decided to stop returning your texts and phone calls. And I mean complete radio silence, as if he’d passed away in some biking accident (AND YES, I know I sound psychotic but at the time that’s how I was feeling and it SUCKED, and I’m over it now, which is why I can catalogue this whole ordeal quite clearly and hilariously).

“Uh, yes we do.”

“Why? Because I need to run at this head-on, confront my feelings by occupying the same space that he does while pretending to be fine?!?!” I almost screamed.

“No, because I’m hungry and I want some escargot.” Dan whistled.

We're actually somewhat known in the L.A. area.

We’re actually somewhat known in the L.A. area.

Ugh, fucking Dan. Always eating some liver, some snails, beef brain, human hearts or what have you. He takes on in-n-out cheeseburgers as starter courses and slurps down martinis like it’s rainwater in the desert. If anyone dies first from cardiac arrest, it’s this guy.

Dan as a child

Dan as a child

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 1.31.12 PM

Dan as a man (jury is still out on this one).

But whatever we all have our THINGS to deal with. And more importantly, this is the guy that’s been there for me through thick and thin — states of internet insanity, death, bouts of wailing in his office, escapades at East Side parties where we stole a bunch of wine from people we didn’t know, burying things in the desert, and we’re the first to tell the other that maybe we’ve “packed on a few pounds in the face”. There’s no one better than Dan. 1 part entourage and 1 part Buster Keaton, the kid is a genius, and if he doesn’t make my career I’ll kill him myself.

But enough about him, WHAT ABOUT ME AND THIS BULLSHIT STUPID GUY. As Dan and I made the stroll up Santa Monica where it dumps out onto Sunset Blvd (for some reason the Junction is a “big deal” although it’s really nothing to write home about unless you want to see an orgy of alt bros unicycling aroundwhile sipping Americanos and high-waisted jorts-wearing bimbos fawning over them) I rehashed to Dan the story for probably the hundredth time. I had met (we’ll call him “Joe”) Joe at Stella when I was drinking a negroni and looking for a cigarette one night last spring. He had one. I smoked it. We exchanged numbers. He was hot. Great. In this day and age, meeting anyone IRL first is kind of weird and exciting, so I was naturally intrigued.

After a series of texts, a date, a makeout thing, another date, more making out, another date, some other stuff, date, more other stuff, before I knew it had been a couple months. Nothing was official and nothing was spoken of but clearly this would be going somewhere right? WELL first warning sign I should have taken note of (but didn’t in my delusional phase of actually LIKING someone for the first time in a while) was the age-old “let’s take things slow.” OKAY, so if anyone ever tells you this, and again I was new to the whole “he doesn’t like you but won’t tell you straight up” game, RUN AWAY. Especially if you have feelings out in front. Just pack it in, get out, and wish for the best.

But I didn’t do that, instead there were party run-ins, more hang outs, more scenarios where it clearly was ending up in some sort of union. But as you know, that didn’t happen. So there we were pretending like this was some mid-season episode during the second-year run of my yet to be produced TV series documenting my life, and hiking over to this forsaken restaurant to stake my claim as being A.OK with everything. Strong. Valiant. Whatever. Obviously, I was about to have a panic attack. I think there was even a point before entering, where I grabbed Dan by his jacket collar and PULLED him close.

“Alex, let go of me.”

“I’m FREAKING out!”

Dan grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me to my senses.

“Get a HOLD of yourself, damn it!”

As I tried to calm myself down, we entered the establishment. I think I was wearing a porkpie hat. WHAT A DUMB IDEA. I PROBABLY LOOKED LIKE AN IDIOT.

Naw, I looked cute. Jus' playin'.

Naw, I looked cute. (photo courtesy of @dannyweeds)

The space was slam-packed as it usually is on a Friday night. Walking in, it’s as if you’ve been transported into a bustling eatery in the French countryside — lights hang from the ceiling, old wooden french doors, massive portraits of dead people hanging on the walls and other crap. But I wasn’t paying attention, I was scanning the room for this sinewy, handsome fuck-face. But I didn’t see him.

We were seated in a secluded side room that over-looked the dining patio. Some sad couple was sitting next to us, but we were separated by a rather large window, like they were zoo animals. They glumly ate their mussels and french fries. Our server came up, a lovely girl. But knowing what I heard about Stella from other frequenters of the french spot, the service is notoriously awful. God, I couldn’t wait to give the place a shitty review. MUAHAHAHA.

We quickly ordered martinis then got to ordering grub — Dan took the lead here. He swore to me that I would like escargot, so we went for that, the tuna tartare, and then finishing it off with the moules frittes — all to share (WE WERE ON A BUDGET OKAY).

Dan wiping out his martini

Dan wiping out his martini

Getting our martinis quite fast (which was shocking) and also receiving helpful advice from our serving lady about what wine would pair well with our order (i think we opted for a sauvignon blanc, but my memory remains foggy) I was still on the lookout for that piece of shit.

Dan was too busy to notice my anxiety because he was studying the couple beyond the glass next to us. They were both on their phones not talking to each other and finishing their meal.

And another "Dan Drinking" photo. He went off to rehab shortly after this post.

And another “Dan Drinking” photo. He went off to rehab shortly after this evening.

“Jesus, can you imagine? I would hate to be in a relationship like that…” Dan laughed. I stared at them. They DID look depressed. I could only feel sorry for them… until I saw the guy had like flap-pocket jeans and then I decided they deserved all the unhappiness. And then Dan and I both pulled our phones out and probably tweeted about it.

The tartare came out just after the snails. And while the tuna was a wonderful way to cleanse the garlic-y awesomeness of the invertebrates, I cannot believe I hadn’t done escargot earlier in life.

EscarGOT 'em

EscarGOT ‘em

It is buttery and perfect to mop up with some french bread. I completely forgot that I was even nervous about anything. When the server came back to check on us, we mentioned the weird couple nearby. She giggled and leaned in.

“Those people were so fuckin’ weird. First off, they didn’t speak once. Secondly, they ordered the mussels right? And they DUMPED the fries into the sauce. Then when they ate all the fries, they ordered MORE fries and put them in the sauce AGAIN.”

The Tuna.

The Tuna.

Dan and I chuckled before looking seriously into each other’s eyes.

“We’ll probably do the same thing.” I stated.

“Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea” Dan piped in.

“Well whatever floats your boat.” Our waitress departed probably thinking we were classless idiots. And to her credit, she’s mostly right.

Because floated our boats we did! When those mussels came out, we doused that shit with the french fries and went to town.


After all the mussels were done we sopped up the sauce with every piece of bread we could find.

Sucking up every bit of food, by the time the dust had cleared, our stomachs inflated, and kind of drunk, I completely forgot about the whole reason I came here. Critical revenge. But not only was Joe not there, and not working that night, but Cafe Stella actually provided a fantastic meal, so it was kinda like cafe STELLAR. HEYO. and GOD DAMNIT.

As we left the restaurant, I kicked at the rocks on the pavement. I couldn’t help but feel a little bummed about A) not getting a chance to see this dude in the flesh and maybe throw a drink at him and get escorted out but more importantly B) my review couldn’t be as delightfully scathing as I’d hoped.

But this just parallels life and my situation. Sometimes, things just don’t end up the way you hoped. Am I still bitter about the whole thing? A little and I am a Scorpio, and I have a shit-list that I will unveil on my tombstone, but there were lessons learned and a story to tell.

It’s about respect and it’s about honesty. And this is something that everyone can adopt in their lives so they’re not complete dickheads. If you screw around with someone for a good chunk of time, chances are feelings are involved. Communication is key, and even more important is telling the truth. It’s hard to do. I’m not saying it’s easy when I have to let someone down, but if it isn’t right, it’s your responsibility to be real about what you desire and what you don’t. Or else, you’re just (for a lack of a better word) a coward. AND you’re doing that other person a favor.

One day on the internet, I looked up “emotionally unavailable” and the “signs” of this condition were shockingly accurate in this instance regarding this dude and his actions. Now, whether “emotionally unavailable” is a buzz term or something made up by bloggers to write about is beyond me, but it was all there — how could I have not seen it before? I was blinded by his beard and tattoos most likely. Ultimately, while I’d like to play the blame game, I think it’s always important to know what you’re playing with and what you have on your side. I pride myself on my observation skills and they just didn’t come through this time around.

Regardless, this guy didn’t like me, he probably thought that he could do better, and that’s okay too — God knows there are many people out there looking for many different things, and I’m sure I don’t check some of those boxes. But please, please, if you take away anything from this, just know, you can’t get time back. Money is money, things are things, but time won’t ever come around again. So don’t waste yours or anyone else’s… and go eat some fucking snails when you get the chance because those little shits were tasty.

Au Revoir, babes.

and seriously though, who can resist this?

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 6.10.46 PM(Don’t answer that)

The misFortune upSeller


Cleo ***/*****

1717 Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Ah yes, the holidays — where I actually do nothing, except eat, drink and be merry… which also means taking advantage of each and every party that I was invited to this season. Case in point:

Post Little Joy Cocktail Lounge Holiday Party (Thanks for the invite Mary!)

Post Little Joy Cocktail Lounge Holiday Party (Thanks for the invite Mary!) and yes, that is my living room floor. And that is Steph Russ in my loving arms.

At some of these soirees, I looked a little more coherent than in others — even spiritual:

Praying for my Secret Satan  to bring me everything I wanted this year (and he did!)

Praying for my Secret Satan to bring me everything I want this year (and he did!) (Instagram by @Pearfect)

But for most of the Jesus break, I was back home in NC, reuniting with family, catching up with friends and going to an intensely insane alien-themed XXXMAS party thrown by Kat St. Kat and her girl, Sass…

gleaming beauties we are.

My besties. And we is Extra-terrestrially Exquisite. (photo by Sarah Sassafrass)

I was a conehead, and Kat was the Virgo constellation, while Mary pretty much played herself. IDK the other guy but I like those platforms

I’m also going to start wearing graduation robes as regular clothing. (Photo by Sarah Sassafrass)

Staring at the stars, or maybe taking a break, but either unflatteringly fat photo of yours truly.

Staring at the stars, or maybe taking a break, but either way an unflatteringly fat photo of yours truly. (Photo via @Droolianna’s Instagram)

… but not before getting filmed for Ghoulianna’s own ultra-short feature, “Alexander ConeHead Rose does Christmas”:

Even after all the holiday cheer-factor (which basically means countless empty bottles of cheap chardonnay from the gas station down the street from my parent’s house), I was itching to get back to the sunny side of the country. Mainly because at the inviting, but nevertheless exclusive, paradiso that is the Danzavoort, Katie Danza (official Seaworld hater and lover of all things whale) was going to let me and the rest of her friends ring in 2014 like it would never go out of style (and the way we did it, it never, ever will).

Rex Hennessey + Megan

Rex Hennessy + Megan

So as a group of youthful twenty-somethings grinded into the new year to Gaga’s Do What U Want (“it’s a call to prayer” says one fiery L.A. socialite whose last name rhymes with Gernstein), I stood by the hors d’oeuvres table doing what I wanted with my body and inspecting the dozens of finger foods available.



From classic prosciutto and fig jam, to assorted cheeses and candied bacon plus bacon wrapped dates (and to whoever brought these you’ve clogged my arteries and I applaud you). Nibbling at each luscious tray of food, I locked eyes with a pair of gleaming orbs across the room — it was one of my darlings, Megan Mitchell.

Hi, Megan!


You might recognize her as the host of Yahoo’s GRILL NEXT DOOR series that first aired this past summer.

The show with its punny title, provides serious (and incomparable) dishes via her culinary expertise. While a lot of her fare is intricate and nuanced, that doesn’t mean you can’t do them at home. Step-by-step instructions are accessible online via her finely manicured website:

The fabulous and tasty recipes are labeled as “doable” so I guess that means you can take them to bed with you.

I mean... If you died and went to culinary heaven, this is what awaits you.

I mean… If you died and went to chef heaven, this is what awaits you.

With a perfect set of gleamy white teeth, legs from here to there, and enough goofiness for a whole improv troupe, Megan is always a welcome addition to any kitchen, living room, backyard, pool party, nightclub, taxi cab confession, etc. The point is she’s awesome, so we caught up:

“where have you been?!?” She asked.

“oh you know… around… doing nothing.”

“I looked for your blogpost about our dinner but I didn’t find it.”

Oops. the truth is, the lovely lady and I had taken our friendship one step further when she sacrificed a Friday night to scarf down food with me at CLEO, the restaurant within the Redbury Hotel in Hollywood. I just hadn’t had the time to write it up. Yes, SHOCKER, these “little reviews” actually takes hours to compose. I’m amazing, I know. No need to say anything.

But as I popped a few of those fat covered dates into my mouth, I recalled our time together at the chic, black+white tiled restaurant with ostentatious velvet drapes encircling the dining floor — presenting the ignis fatuus of a magical dining experience waiting in the wings. While the setting was comfortable and spellbinding, the real trickery was far more nefarious.

On that November evening, while I was dressed as if I had just come from work (and yes, I had just come from work), Megan was clad in mostly all black and a floppy hat. So here we were, me looking kinda dumpy (and maybe smelly idk), and tall girl with a nice outfit. Clearly, anyone seating us, must have been thinking, “well this schlubby straight dude really lucked out with his date” or “awwww this schlubby gay dude has a BEAUTIFUL friend.” Either way we were seated at a wobbly table that was quickly adjusted with a sneaky sleight of hand by our server — channeling George Clooney mixed with Michael Vartan (and yes, I really went for it on that description).

Immediately, we were both enchanted with our server’s sparkle and confidence. When ordering beverages, we asked our smooth waiter his preferences. Opting for a Bourbon cocktail (as I like bourbon), I was pointed to the “The Old Hollywood”. I should have known fig almond syrup was cause for alarm, because the $14 drink was far too sweet.

Vinebury in hand.

Vinebury in hand.

So I sent it back, choosing “The Vinebury” this time around which was a concoction of vodka, St. Germain, cucumber, lemon, and basil (and at Megan’s suggestion). It was crisp, tangy, and strong, and nice way to start slurring the night away.

As we divulged war stories on the dating scene of yesteryear, my new sexual prospects (*crickets*) and Megan’s current sweetypie, we barely looked over the menu before it was time to order. After selecting their “deconstructed” brussel sprouts, naan-like bread with a feta yogurt dip, samosas, chicken tagine, and a lamb shawarma, we thought we did a damn fine job at plucking the best of the best. But our sultry waiter said “it’s not enough food” and we were like… “oh.” because it sure as hell seemed like a lot… Not wanting to be underfed, we added a seasonal  mushroom flatbread pizza as well as ravioli with brown butter and an egg on top.

Once devouring every bit of the dip, samosas, and sprouts — my baby shawarma arrived as well as the tagine.

idk there was something wrong with my camera but there's Megan's middle finger and the brussel sprouts

idk there was something wrong with my camera but there’s Megan’s middle finger and the brussel sprouts

While they didn’t look large, the dishes packed a gut punch because we were straight out laid UP after that and I still had TWO WHOLE ENTREES COMING OUT. As the minutes wore on, we prayed that they had forgotten about these two dishes. But of course they hadn’t, and my rich, creamy ravioli, and cheesy flatbread arrived. Cheezus Christ.

Now, IDK about y’all, but when you’re already feeling kinda obese, there isn’t anything worse than two steaming piles of carbs arriving in front of you, and not being able to eat them (without exploding like that dude at the beginning of David Fincher’s SE7EN). And I didn’t eat them, because this is L.A. and I WILL NOT cry when I eat. So I took it to go.

There's a theme here.

There’s a theme here.

Not surprisingly, our bill split, exceeded 80 dollars a piece. This Houdini of a waiter had scammed us. WE’D BEEN HAD. SWINDLED. ROBBED. In what world does someone order two entrees? It’s the world where the SERVER TELLS YOU TO because APPARENTLY you didn’t get enough shit to stuff into your face. Do I look like I can eat that much??? I know Megan sure as hell can’t***.



Regardless, It’s 2014 people, and while we may not yet have robots to make sweet, sweet love to us (or even genuine, sentient beings for that matter, and I apologize but I’ve just seen HER), can’t we at least expect HONESTY, from the FOOD SERVICE INDUSTRY? I guess that’s too much to ask, especially since I was everything that was wrong with food service when I waited tables (barely coherent? check.  Always just said no? check check. Bacon dropped on floor and still gave it to child? check check and check).

Needless to say, it’s ironic that the fortune teller Miss Cleo was exposed as the lying cheat that she was, taking advantage of the hapless folk that pleaded for her phony prophecies — and there I was, dining at a restaurant that shared her name and similarly getting ripped off.

Bravo, Cleo. Bravo. While your food was delightful, your service was nothing more than an illusion, lead by a swarthy, scruffy, siren-thief masquerading as a charming server.

SO we drew a dick on the table and left.

photo 5

Spot the two penises and win my respect.

Abracadabra, bitches. And a Happy New Year.

Screen Shot 2014-01-04 at 10.02.50 PM

P.S. if you were wondering about that fabulous song in that dumb video of me, look no further than below.

String Beans & Bacon Fat (For Doris)


Doris Gurley was my mom’s host-mother when she visited the United States for the first time in 1969. It was Eastern NC. Wayne County. Nahunta, North Carolina to be exact. Home to the Nahunta Pork Center, which still exists to this day (have you ever seen how a pig is slaughtered up close? I have. They do it with a rifle). It goes without saying, this part of the state wasn’t exactly the most exciting or forward thinking location. Or even now, really. It’s a myriad of farms, brushing up against one another, grassy pastures, cows, hogs and hog pens, endless fencing, and the open sky. Why my raven-haired mother (her name is Martha), at the time clad in knee-high boots and mini-skirts, was sent to this neck of the woods, is beyond my comprehension.

This is Real.

This is Real.

Mrs. Gurley (although, growing up we always mispronounced it ‘Garley’ because we sided with my mom’s accented manner of speaking) took in my mother, fed her, gave her a wonderful home, and even set her up on dates, against Martha’s wishes (at the time she had too many boyfriends as it was back in Bogotà or something). With a name like Gurley, and it being Eastern NC, you might assume a lack of intelligence. But Doris was a college graduate, with degrees in English literature and French. She loved language, and books, so she became a teacher. Additionally, she and her husband, Molton, owned a farm, where they specialized in dairy. Mrs. Gurley had chickens. She also had Dachsunds (which would kill and eat the chickens, much to Martha’s horror) and she remained a loyal and a close friend to my mother, even as time wore on. When my two older brothers and I were born, when it was too far for my Abuelita to travel from Colombia, Mrs Gurley was always there to help and take care of us. She provided the same love and care that she did with Martha.

Since I was old enough to remember, we’d take trips to visit Doris at the old farm (since sold off, her husband passed away long before I came into this world from a heart attack). We’d count the cow herds from Raleigh to Nahunta, and when the counts rose, we knew we were getting close. Since she lived off Gurley Dairy Road, I always thought she was famous. MOM! She has her own street named after her?! and as a young child, I marveled at the expansive property, and her little white house.

Her home in reality, was nothing spectacular. Aged, vinyl siding, a relic of early 20th century model home creation. A screened in porch, red wine carpet, one of those huge wooden TVs that sat on the floor and you had to change the channel by turning a hulking steel dial (she doesn’t have the batman channel! I’d complain). There were also pictures. Tons of sepia-toned photographs of relatives, ALL over the paneled walls. People I never recognized or would never know. I recall the way her house sounded. Rather, it was almost silent, except for the sound of clocks ticking.

We often went to Gurley’s to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection (which also meant not having to go to Mass, score!). There were so many Easter egg hunts she planned with my mother. It usually turned out the same. One of my older brothers would hold me back while the other found all the eggs and they’d split the loot. The hunts mostly ended with my tears.

More prominently, I can still taste her sumptuous Southern lunches. Her kitchen was always in the midst of baking, boiling, or simmering something. The mashed potatoes and gravy, her casseroles from asparagus to mac ‘n’ cheese, fried chicken, creamed corn, pecan pies (she had her own tree) and the best green beans I ever knew. It remains my first favorite vegetable and only Mrs. Gurley knew how to make them perfect. My mom, bless her heart, could never make them quite like Doris. At home, when I’d complain about it, she would snap back — “she cooks them with bacon fat!” while throwing her hands up in the air frustrated. Because of Mrs. Gurley, at a very young age, I appreciated and loved food. Loved the way a table was set, always simply, but pristine. And it’s imprinted in my memory, the way my entire family would grow quiet while eating her meals. It was too good to ever talk, really.

After our lunches, Doris would talk to me about literature because she knew I was the nerd alert of the family that loved to read. She knew I liked scary stuff (My 8 year old self always had some R.L Stine handy), but she gave me REAL literature. An aged copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s collection of stories. The Pit and The Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Murders of the Rue Morgue — all gruesome, and I digested them as quickly as her food.

My mother told me yesterday, that last Friday, Mrs Gurley passed away at 95. I didn’t have a chance to say goodbye. Thankfully, my mother was able to sit with her, during one of her last days, and express how grateful she was to have this wonderfully generous woman bring her in as if she was her own, and that she would miss her. Doris said she’d miss her too. Even as an elderly woman, without one of her eyes, and blind in the other, she continued to analyze poetry (her favorite) until her death, headed the gardening squad at her retirement home, and never missed asking about me and if I was still reading and writing. She always remembered… her memory, unlike her body, never aged.

When we’d leave the Gurley farm, whenever our visits with Doris had ended, our bellies full, and our spirits high, my mom would carefully back us out in our green Plymouth mini van. Mrs. Gurley would, without fail, stand at the end of the driveway, waving us off. As we rolled away, and as Doris got smaller in our wake, she never stopped waving. She always waved until I couldn’t see her anymore.

Me (left) with Doris and my brother Nick on his First Communion. I miss you Mrs. Gurley.

Me (left) with Doris and my brother Nick on his First Communion. I miss you Mrs. Gurley.

An Oldie But Still Not A Foodie


Terroni Downtown ****/*****

802 S Spring St
Los Angeles, CA 90015
Neighborhood: Downtown

A spike of fear hit me, piercing my chest, then clamping my genetically and ethically compromised heart — it pounded so heavily, I thought it might pop, or just give out. I was on the elliptical at my local gym. And I was struggling. It was a combination of sudden anxiety and lack of physical activity. It had only been a week since my last workout, thus countless dirty martinis and cigarettes later. So, ten minutes into my cardio, while Katy Perry sang through my earbuds about “Walking on Air”, I simply just needed some to breathe.

Stepping off the machine, I tried to set my mind straight. Panic had been seeping back into my life lately. It was November 2nd and my 26th birthday was the next day, November 3rd. Yes. Yours truly, was getting old, and I wasn’t too thrilled about it. It was around this time of the year, that I began asking myself the tough questions.

What am I doing with my life? Do I know where I’m headed? Do I have the respect of those around me? Do I respect myself? Do I even like myself? And more worrisome, do I even know who I am?

I lay down on the gym mats, and instead of doing sit-ups, I stared at the ceiling and ruminated. I was fortunately still in my twenties, but I had become aware of  a few damning things.

A) Partying had now begun to take its toll. Case in point: I was in a gym. In retrospect, beer is never a good choice, especially when you can’t have less than four when you’re out for “just one”.

B) Trying to eat healthy at Chipotle is not impossible but incredibly boring. (However looking a Chipotle worker dead in the eye and ordering from the kid’s menu AKA getting the perfect amount of food for AN ADULT and eating it all, feeling fine, and only spending $6 is a completely rewarding experience).

Kid's Menu @ Chipotle

Kid’s Menu @ Chipotle

C) Working generally sucks. So if I could be paid for just being me, and report to no one, that would be amazing.

D) I am getting dumber at a frightening pace(but is realizing my degeneration into idiocy a form of high-intelligence? hmmm)

E) You can always say “screw it” and just throw a rager for your birthday when you’re pretty much shit out of fucks to give.

Scorpio Empress

Scorpio Empress

So yeah, I was having a party later that night, which would eventually roll over into my birthday, thus I was at the gym, trying to get my swole on, and look as studly as possible for a night that was all about me (and some girl named Shmophie, pictured here).

Even more special was a birthday dinner that I planned with some very close friends – after all, what’s another year closer to the Great Unknown without a decadent meal to celebrate? So, I made a reservation at the recently opened Terroni Downtown location.

Having had Terroni for the first time, almost exactly one-year prior, at their Beverly Boulevard location, I found it an ironically perfect choice to kick off my birthday weekend. Though, tbh, my excessive fun began the previous Saturday when the Halloween festivities commenced. I ended up in my finest costume yet: a fabulous rendition of Michael Douglas AS Liberace. For the most part, I wasn’t recognized as the closeted piano player, but rather “Gay Dracula”.

Regardless, I looked flawless, so un-pop-cultured douchebags everywhere can suck it.

Regardless, I looked flawless, so un-pop-cultured douchebags everywhere can suck it.

Arriving at Terroni via Sidecar — chauffeured by the slowest, most talkative, former mall Santa — I gathered with my 8 other pals (making it a total of 9, my lucky number) and entered the establishment. The interior was that of an old bank (gargantuan arch-windows, patterned ceiling, white marble floors) which now had been re-purposed as a sprawling dining hall.

Met by the hostess, wearing a gold lamè trench, and an afro, channeling Foxxy Cleopatra, I came to the conclusion, that even though we all dressed impeccably, the service staff somehow outshined us.

Leading us across the restaurant, for what seemed like five whole minutes, and finally to our large, round corner booth, I was visibly upset that our waiter wasn’t the man-bunned, burly dude with the fitted, designer cargo pants. You can’t win them all.

The Chandelier above our table.

The Chandelier above our table.

Our actual waiter, while not as sexy, was quite capable handling the nine of us, and my big mouth — that immediately ordered a dirty, gin martini. What seemed like an army of servers peppered a massive lazy susan at the center of our table with rustic bread and olive oil, and we all tore into it, gnashing our teeth, like hyenas. Funny, that even by now, we all hadn’t learned the valuable lessons of not gorging on too much bread prior to a hearty meal, or y’know, chewing before swallowing.

Dani looking radiant with her salad. Kalee looking bored.

Dani looking radiant with her salad. Kalee looking bored.

There was even one low point where someone in my party asked about the possibility of Mac ‘N’ Cheese as an entrée while perusing the menu. “Don’t EMBARRASS ME.” I scowled, probably with my mouth full, and      breadcrumbs all over my face.

I lost some parmesan in my chest hair. I was dared to retrieve it.

I lost some parmesan in my chest hair. I was dared to retrieve it.

After our rounds of drinks, rounds of starters hit the table – from fresh arugula  topped with mushrooms and sheathed in paper-thin slices of Parmesan, to raw calamari salads.



Mary enjoying her bread

Mary thought the Anchovy Pizza was TOO salty.

The whirlwind of dishes persisted: an anchovy pizza (deliciously salty), a few “capunti al Ragu d’Agnello” (a pasta with a slow-cooked lamb sauce), a simple but sublimely prepared linguine with clams, a couple dandelion and sausage rigatonis, and finally a quail stuffed ravioli special, which was by far, the best of the lot.

Quail Stuffed Ravioli

Quail Stuffed Ravioli

Even better, was the ample sharing involved at our table, feeding each other our different plates, comparing flavors, and of course, ordering up more booze.

Sophie is about pounce on Spencer's pasta.

Sophie is about pounce on Spencer’s pasta.

As dinner was coming to a close, a potted tiramisu (with candle) was escorted out of the kitchen, and into my mouth. I think there was possibly a sloppy, self-conscious rendition of “happy birthday” sung. But more importantly, as I peeked at the time on my iPhone, I realized we were late. To my own party. It was 10:15 – and I told people to arrive at 10:30. Oops.

Racing out of Terroni, we all high-tailed back to Silver Lake, just in time for the first guests arriving at my home for the celebration. I hurriedly lit the torches outside, put on my newly gifted John Maus vinyl, cranked up the volume, and cracked open a beer.

I wish I could tell you what happened throughout the night, but I can’t, honestly. After my front, jungle-esque patio transformed into a teeming milieu, filled with birthday well-wishers, some strangers, a Power Ranger, and even a bipedal bunny, I simply surrendered into the present moment. But here are some pictures to fill in the gaps:

Ego Bday Cake

Ego Bday Cake

It was THAT kind of party.

It was THAT kind of party.

Shmophie and I

Shmophie and I

When the good-times winded down in the early morning, I found myself alone among the after-party debris. I lay down on my living room couch that I had placed outside earlier, amongst the over-hanging greenery. I was comforted by the silence. Thinking back, I recalled a friend who recently told me: “I believe people, on their birthdays, are particularly wise.”

So, I thought about my last few birthdays…


21 (I don’t have a clue)


22 (Funeral / Karaoke Birthday)


23 (Laurel Canyon 4Loko Party)

Chola Dani on Drunk patrol

24. (Chola Dani on Drunk patrol)


25 (San Francisco)

And I couldn’t disagree more with that statement. Firstly, I knew no one on their birthdays that shared any wisdom. Unless we’re classifying “wisdom” as vomit and “sharing” as throwing up inside my car.

There was so much pressure, by this new age, to have some sort of answers to the way the world works, how I was supposed to fit into it, or meaningful revelations about my identity. Instead, what I really understood at the moment, as a 26-year-old was that I didn’t have any solutions to any problems, answers to any riddles, or conclusions to any stories regarding my life thus far — and that’s okay.

As I gazed at the messy remains of what 70+ people left behind on my rented property… there was ONE thing I KNEW…

… I’d be damned if I was going to deal with this mess later.

So I started to clean. At 5am. Fifty-six minutes I noted in my head. Fifty-six minutes until my mother, twenty-six years ago, had popped my ass out on the street known as life.

I re-arranged the overturned patio furniture, picked up the empty beer cans, bouncing them into recycling bins, nabbed up hundreds of cigarette butts stained with tar and lipstick, and delicately collected the shattered glass of what few cups and wine ware I had to my name… all as the sky brightened into day.