Now, normally when you do a review of the year, and you’re splitting it in two, you’d do two spells of 6 months, right? But when I looked back on my year, it took me about 30 seconds (if that long) to work out that apart from one event in May, not much happened for the first 8 months, then a hell of a lot happened in the last 4! So to avoid a 500 word blog tonight, and a 3000 word one tomorrow, I’m doing this on an 8/4 basis this year.
In truth, the highlights of the first 2 months were getting the news I’d passed probation period at work, and getting my first passport in my new name, and gender. I know, I’d lived about 7 years as a woman before then, but all the same, that was a special moment when it was made official. Oh, and around the same time, my first moments of DWP fame, in a transgender sense, with an interview from work, about life as a Transgender woman in the Department. Which of course led to something that will be mentioned in Part 2, but for now…
No, diplomacy means I’m not mentioning a certain event that happened in the US, in January, but you all know what I think of him, and his actions, so lets leave it there.
Of course, my first flight as a woman, was in May, going back to Hollywood, or more strictly, Los Angeles. Lets just say the whole apartment thing this time around wasnt the success of the previous trip, both in the sense of initially booking an apartment, and then the landlord deciding he wanted to decline the booking, because he hadnt put in his price rise for the New Year. Fine, I thought, until he told me it was done, and suddenly the price had risen by over 20%, nearly 25% in fact! So I started again, thought I’d found somewhere decent as a replacement, but it didnt live up to all its claims. Dont get me wrong, it was nice enough, just didnt have all the facilities it claimed it had.
The funniest moment was a delightful Thai takeaway I had found 18 months earlier, and the lady still remembered me the moment I walked in, despite that. Its sad to think that by the next time I visit, she will almost certainly be gone, as it will be a few years before I get there again (unless I get a role offer), and I doubt she was that young this year, so…but she was amazing!
The other big highlights that will stick with me, would be 2 Louise Brooks silent films, viewed at the historic Egyptian Theater, a guided Hollywood walk given by a wonderful lady that I like to see as a friend, a ‘better than I would buy’ seat at a Dodgers game, thanks to another friend, with the added bonus of it being a game that Kershaw pitched at! Lastly, there was a wonderful Harlow display at the Hollywood Museum, which was a delight to see. Oh, and thanks to the Metro, getting to Santa Monica far easier than ever before!
In truth, I have no idea when I’ll be back, unless I get an offer, which I would have to say is pretty unlikely. But never say never… Certainly, due to something that will be mentioned shortly, walking up the hill to where Harlow rests at Forest Lawn would probably be beyond me now, but anyway…
In July, 2 things happened, one good, one bad. The good one was, that knowing that Clara Johnson’s middle initial was E, and finding a few images of a chorus line dancer/Goldwyn Girl, and putting two and two together, when you find a dancing match, named Elaine Johnson, who has a career that seems to tie in to Clara’s, well I jumped on the issue, and joy, actually found 3 pictures of her from a credited movie promotion shoot. Of course I cant be 100% sure its one and the same, but enough coincidences for me to say it is. In fact, as you’ll find out tomorrow, this isnt the end of that story! Yes, a few new pictures, wow! I’d still love to find her married name, so I’d have a chance of paying my respects if, and when I get back to LA.
The bad thing, my back, after giving me support for about 59 years, decided it had had enough, and snapped. Quite literally, though not in too severe a way, fingers crossed. Yes, osteoporosis had taken its toll on me! Painkillers, and other meds (been tweaked a couple of times) keep it bearable, but yes, its fair to say old age is beginning to catch up with me. It eventually led to me cutting back to 4 days a week at work, with which I can just about get by financially, but holidays will need to be cut back on now, for sure.
August marked 1 year in the new job, and in truth, apart from a dream acting offer, I cant see me leaving before I get to retire in just over 6 years time. Yes, I really am that old lol! The rest of the year, and a few landmarks, tomorrow!
Right, the video. One of the few modern groups I have much time for, are The Killers. I now love them even more now I know that each Christmas, they record a song, and give all royalties to charity! This is the 2013 song, which is apt given where I was in May, and even more so when you see something I post tomorrow!
Though I must admit Harlow, Johnson and Brooks could very easily sound like one!
In truth, there are very few places left in Hollywood that you could trace back to their days in town, but yesterday I managed to visit two of them, though one is no longer used for the purpose that they knew it for. Oh, and I passed a couple of others too, the Chinese theater, and Musso and Frank’s being the famous ones.
I always planned to visit the Hollywood Museum on this trip, seeing they’ve got a special Jean Harlow display this summer, and yes, its really good, if you get the chance, which I suspect a lot of my readers wont! Back then of course, this was the Max Factor building, the man behind the movie make up of many famous actresses, and judging by the pictures there, a few chorus line dancers too! Its a well known fact that Harlow would have gone there, and ‘supposedly’ thats where the platinum blonde look was created. That I’ll question, but anyway…? Kept going, quite possibly. Created, hmm?
In truth, I always assumed that Factor only did the make up for the stars, but yesterday I saw a few pictures of chorus line dancers, waiting their turn to be made up by him, and thoughts turned to Clara. Was she one of them, who knows? Did she at some point have her make up done by Factor, seemingly almost certainly. One thing is for sure, they wouldnt recognize the building today. Not just because of the change of nature of the building, it lost its front seemingly when Highland Avenue was widened.
There is one seriously wonderful helmet type thing, that was seemingly used to measure imperfections in faces, which I would love to have used on me, but it would find plenty of imperfections lol.
Oh, one fun moment, signing the visitors book in my name, especially given who the main display was about, though I doubt they even look!
The evening was spent in the company of the last of our trio, Louise Brooks, at the Egyptian Theater, which is 5 years short of its centenary! I wonder if you’d told Grauman that, back in 1922, whether he would have believed you that it would happen? Looks very different in places now, to then of course, but so much remains, though mainly restored, but all the same…
I found out shortly before coming here, that there were 2 of her films on last night there, neither of which I’d seen before, beyond glimpses of one. Beggars Of Life is probably one of the better known Paramount ones that survives, with ironically Louise playing a girl pretending to be a boy. Some of the shots were amazing, especially when you think there was no CGI back then!
The other was the second film she made in Germany, Diary Of A Lost Girl. I’d seen brief scenes from this, but that was it. Personally, for all the fuss made about Pandoras Box, I found this the far superior movie. The cast seems stronger, in deeper roles, and benefits from that. In modern eyes, its amazing how much censorship was used on this film originally in US (Yes, I saw a restored version), as some of it is daring, but not extreme. But its not hard to imagine that in 1929, things were seen very differently to that. Oh, and the ending is delightful.
So yes, yesterday was a look back to Old Hollywood for me, this afternoon I’m off to see some new, at a female playwright festival. Just watching, nothing more, unless…? No, I doubt it somehow! More on that in next blog, I suspect.
The video. Well, I couldnt think of anything more apt on a California Sunday Morning. Cant believe there will be many who know this already.
Fine, today I proved to myself why I dont bet, and its because I’m a lousy gambler. More on that shortly.
Yesterday, the first target was to turn my little phone into an active one, by getting its umpteenth new Sim card over the years. Basically, they last 90 days, and apart from 2 occasions, everytime I travel to the US, I need a new one. And so, choices, choices…
Because I wanted to go back to Pasadena at some point on the holiday, and there was an AT&T store near the metro station there, I went over there to do it. I could have done it locally, but it would have needed a fair walk, so fine, excuse made. Pasadena is a lovely place to visit, except for this weekend, when I gather it will be chaos there, with pop concerts, museum tours, and roadworks, all adding to the racing at Santa Anita, so yes, glad its done.
After finishing there, I did the opposite to the Pet Shop Boys, and went East. The line has been extended eastwards to Azusa, so I took a chance to travel on it. A bite of lunch, then back to Pasadena for the bus journey home. Apart from 4 people each travelling just one stop (one may have had health issues, the other 3 definitely didnt), it was a fairly dull affair.
This morning is when I gambled, and got it wrong. I walked down to the Metro station to get a train downtown, to find that an ‘every 10-12 minute service’ wouldnt be along for 21 minutes! So fine, I thought, I’ll walk down, get the bus to Santa Monica, and get the train back. Yes, another new line I wanted to go on. Oh fine, I picked the crazy bus, clearly! So yes, with all the delays with those folk, I could have waited over 20 minutes for the train downtown, gone back out to Santa Monica, and still have been quicker!
I did my stroll around town, stopping off for a coffee, before heading to the biggest Santa Monica landmark, the pier! Which supposedly is the end of Route 66, halfway down its length, according to the sign. I strolled to the bottom, said my close up farewell to the Pacific, in case I dont go down there at Pacific Palisades, though I will see it as I fly out, but thats not the same thing. Lunch on the pier, then finally I got that train I could not miss, back to LA.
In truth the most memorable bit of the journey was 2 teenagers being ‘tough’ until some guy actually stood up to them, and then they quietened down! They had reminded me why I’m not a fan of modern music at least!
Tomorrow evening, is dress up time, as I’m off to the movies at the Egyptian Theater. I know, I dont have to, especially nowadays, but it will be fun to put a dress on, so I will. Sunday afternoon, a Women in Media event, so a chance to try and sell my talents, maybe? Other than that, I’ll see what the morning brings!
I’ve given a couple of clues to the video, so hopefully you know what it is, without looking!
In the last week or so, I’ve actually got around to starting to look for options, beyond the ones I already knew about, for my trip to LA. Sadly the only thing that the Rooftop Cinema was playing, that was old enough for me to be interested (in other words, early 50’s at the most modern) was already a sell out, so no go. I would say the one modern film I’d love to see, and havent yet, is La La Land, for obvious reasons, and ironically, thats playing there the weekend that I come back to the UK. But fine, it was sold out already, anyway!
So, play Plan B, which I probably would have looked at anyway, which is the Egyptian Theater. Bit further away from where I’m staying, but still only about a 20 minute walk, and…oh joy! My only Saturday evening in town, not only is there 1 movie there that I would love to see, but 2! And all for 1 price!
These wont be the first Brooks films I’ve seen on a big screen, Pandoras Box, in Leeds, was the first. And now I get the chance to see 2 of the 3 next most famous Brooks movies (Prix De Beaute would be the other for me) in Hollywood, in a historical setting! Fine, I’ll advertise it too much, and it will be a sell out, and …No, sadly I’ve failed to find any Harlow movie being shown on a big screen in town, while there. If anyone knows differently, second half of May?
I did think about taking a flapper style dress with me, and trying to find a black bob wig, but in truth, these 2 movies are pretty removed from Brooks, and the flapper look. One is a pretty dark movie, the other has Brooks trying to look like a boy, so…Besides, I’m not sure my knees should be seen in public!
But yes, I have now got 1 definite date on my holiday calendar lol! There are numerous things I will do at some point, but no planned date yet, including Dodgers baseball!
No, I havent gone for the obvious OMD, Louise Brooks video here, which might surprise some. And in truth, this is more 30’s, than 20’s, but fine, its catchy, and when I might get to use it, if not now…?
Apologies for the lack of the obvious video here, but seemingly his purple-ness doesnt like them up on You Tube, so I discover. In truth, given the eras I’ll be talking about, this might be more apt, anyway.
Earlier today, I got a message about an event being arranged at the National Rail Museum, in York, which not surprisingly, appealed to me greatly. This one, for those interested, and at least gives another clue to the year in the blog title.
Yes, not hard to see why it appeals to me, is it? And free too! At the moment, the fact that its a Thursday evening isnt a problem for me at present, its the issue of the fare to get there, and back, and the expenses of the evening, that however restrained you are, there are going to be some! Even more so, as “The Flapper” would need a taxi back from town, as the buses would be long stopped by the time I got back. And if you think I’m walking up from town, at 11.30 at night, in a flapper length dress, no chance! So, even being good, I suspect not much change out of £40, and could easily add £10 to that, given I’d probably want to get my hair done, and everything!
The only consolation is, there is no need to buy tickets in advance, or even reserve anything, so I can think about it, at least. But being practical, and being broke, not going to happen, I’m sure. Unless some dashing beau, or girl, wants to take me…? You’re talking just over £25 of that cost is travel, so without that?
I know, but if any generous person wants to whisk away a poor, broke Flapper, for the night, would be nice! I’ve even got a headband somewhere, though I have no idea where at present! But I could find it, I’m sure…
Talking of irony, and mentioning 2 people I talked about in the last blog, I discovered tomorrow is actually a major anniversary. Yes, one year ago today, I was excitedly preparing for my first trip to Hollywood, 10 days, starting the next day. I know, if you’d told me then that my work situation would be as glum as a Flapper’s in 1929, I might not have been so excited. But back then, in those glorious days…
And yes, I was getting ready for, and excited at the thought of a night, in vintage style, back then, as well. Yes, slightly more modern, the 1940’s, but a vintage party, all the same. That delight was an incredible birthday present, from James, and Kate, and included a meal, some dancing (no, not me, 2 left feet), and a film, all with a vintage feel, at the Egyptian Theater, in Hollywood. Wow, that was some night. Even more so, as I think that walking back to the hotel afterwards, is the furthest I’ve ever walked in high heels, and will hopefully stay that way. Nearly a mile, in high heels, not used to wearing them, ouch! Actually, it wasnt as bad as I expected, but dont tell everyone that! Even so, normally, if I’m walking far, it will still be flats, or low block heels, at best.
But, yes, if someone wants to enable me to party like its 1929, a fortnight from now, I’d love to!
The video, as I say, I couldnt get the “more modern” Prince song. But I found this random gem, which is probably more apt!
OK, and now for part 2, the long weekend, Friday through today.
Friday started off with a tour of the city, on one of those open air tourist bus things. Alright, all the stars homes they were taking you to see were the modern ones, not those from the golden era, but lets face it, I’m the awkward customer on that front. As one of the guys doing the trade said to me today, there are people on those trips who dont know who Eddie Murphy was, let alone Jean Harlow, Clara Bow and Myrna Loy!
But it enabled me to get a good view of the Hollywood sign, to be able to get down to Beverly Hills with ease, and other things, so was well worth doing. On my return, I managed to get in front of the Chinese Theatre, and find this
I tell you something, I havent got large hands, but compared to hers…as to her feet, well, miniature isnt the word!
Friday evening was my baseball fix, down at Dodgers stadium. I went down by standard bus, thankfully the stadium is well signposted, so I knew where to get off. Quite a haul, up a hill, but anyway, I got there. Game was good, and at least I can now say I’ve seen Kershaw pitch, even if I was pretty much up ‘in the gods’ to do so. I thought I’d be clever coming back, and get the special bus into LA, and then get the metro out of town, far easier. Well, it was until we hit a road blocked off, and chaos ensued. But eventually, I got to Union Station, found the metro, and got home.
Saturday morning started off at the same point where the big event of the day would happen, the Egyptian Theatre, with a guided tour around the building, and the surroundings. Then a film about the history of Hollywood followed that. Well worth doing, should you get the chance.
Yesterday teatime, I went to a salon, just across the road from the hotel, and had my hair curled, 30’s style, by a delightful woman named Elizabeth, at the EA Salon. Then back to the theatre, for the evenings big events. The film had a wonderful twist at the end, that I certainly didnt see coming, though it wont be winning any awards. But it was only recently restored so that the public could see it, much appreciated.
Then to the party, which was great fun, and I had a wonderful evening. OK, for those who want it, a picture of me dressed to the 9’s!
Apologies for the quality, but I didnt take it, obviously.
At the end of the evening, I did a crazy thing. I was in high heels, and it was just under a mile back to the hotel, so I walked it! Yes, my feet complained (especially as I had been on them, in heels for nearly 6 hours) but I made it, quite easily.
Today, I got to meet up with someone who I’ve known on Twitter for quite a while, but never met, a delightful lady named April. Together we went to the Hollywood Museum, and she showed me around the many Harlow mementos stored there. Oh, and the Max Factor rooms where her hair, and make up was done. I hadnt got this photo, so very quietly I took this photo of Jean, at home in bed
This is her, actually at home, not from a film shoot.
And now at least, you’re up to date. Tomorrow, the plan is to go up to Forest Lawn, and pay my respects, as close to Jean as I can, which depending on how fortunate I am, might be very close, or nowhere near! It seems from reports to be very pot luck as to who you get, but fingers are crossed!
Lastly, the video. Well, the film last night was called The Guilty, so this came to mind