Dinner With the Hollywood Advisor.


The other night I went to dinner at the home of The Hollywood Advisor, “Jason” who owns a little cabin (“Worst home in Malibu” his wife calls it) nestled into a canyon, mockingly rustic, but worth millions.

They had just returned, from their yearly six-week jaunt across several continents. The family skied in Switzerland for a few days, then dad flew them to Peru, and they ended up in Brazil and came back home to Malibu.

“By the way, the food sucks in Peru. Bourdain is fucking wrong,” Jason told me.

Wife is Selena, a toned, Bulgarian born woman in her late 40s fond of red wine and yoga. Her stunning daughter Samanatha is 13 and goes to school at a private academy near the Pacific. The boy, Igor, is also handsome and quite scientific, showing off his new telescope on the back deck within the gurgling sound of the creek.

The aura of the evening, sounds, on paper, relaxing, yet Jason, who directed an Oscar winning film in 2000, had clenched teeth and some annoyance at what’s been happening with his life. He was tense, perhaps because he strictly abstains from alcohol.

“This whole town is fucking nuts. I take meetings, sometimes two a week, and I meet with A list people, and then projects seem to get off the ground, and I’m attached for big bucks, and then they pull the rug out from under me,” he told me as he stir fried tofu and organically harvested shrimp.

A doorbell rang and Jason commanded aloud, “Alexa open the front door!”

The front door opened by wireless butler, and in walked Carla, a tall, long-haired actress in her early 40s who was carrying a small white dog in her arms. The dog and the actor excited Selena who hadn’t said a word to me yet ran up to Carla and the dog and embraced them.

“Do you love Fergie? Isn’t she amazing?” Carla asked blue-eyed Samantha.

“Yes! She’s like the most amazing dog ever!” Samantha responded.

Selena, the wife, who had been curled up on the sofa, jumped up and asked Carla if she wanted something to drink.

“Do you have any red wine?” Carla asked.

“Yes, try this. It’s so amazing!” Selena said as she poured two-buck chuck into a glass.

Selena patted Carla’s hair. “I love your hair. The color is so amazing.”

“Thank you. I go to Ronnie. Your guy in Venice. He is so amazing,” she said.

“I know. He is just like the most amazing haircutter ever. Amazing,” Selena said.

“Is Pushkin coming?” Carla asked.

“He’s supposed to,” Jason responded.

Pushkin was their friend, a 5’6, NJ born, reality TV producer who reinvented himself mid-life, painting $7,000+ artworks out of Crayola crayons, which featured renderings of 6 foot high, childlike disciplinary commands from grade school, “I promise not to throw spit balls in class!” which were drawn 20 or 30 times on one oversized canvas and were now beloved by all of Abbot Kinney and that 30ish crowd from the Church of Amazing.

“Pushkin just spent $40,000 on succulents at his new house! And then they had to rip them all out because his new girlfriend hates them,” Jason said as if he were recounting a story of horrific tragedy.

“This is my buddy from Reseda,” Jason said to Carla, introducing me.

“Oh hello! I heard about you. Don’t you do watches or something? You design them and sell them online?” she asked.

I had given Jason a wristwatch in November, which somehow was now on Carla’s wrist. “I love this! Jason gave it to me! It’s your company right?” she asked.

It was the watch I had given Jason as a gift, which he re-gifted to Carla.


It was like that with Jason, you found out about something he did by accident, his duplicity was never an outright lie, just an omission of fact. You were never quite aware of the whole honest story with him.

A few years earlier we had been together on a Sunday morning for breakfast in Santa Monica. I asked him what he was up to for the rest of the day. “Oh, nothing. Probably go home and crash on the couch,” he said. A few days later on Facebook were photos of his daughter’s birthday party that day with some of our mutual friends.


“It’s such an amazing watch. I wore it to the art show and Pushkin complimented it. If Pushkin likes it, it must be gorgeous!” Carla told me.

We nibbled at various small plates that Jason produced. He was enamored of a certain French butter that came in a small straw tub and he insisted we all dip our potato chips into the butter and savor its exquisite foreignness.

“This butter is amazing!” Carla said.

Selena and Samantha also dipped their potato chips in and said, almost in unison, “Oh my God. This butter is amazing.”

Carla spoke about her home in Sardinia and she invited Jason and his family to come visit her in July. “We probably will stop over in Sardinia because we are going to Egypt, Russia and Japan in August.”

“Do you think Pushkin will be in Sardinia too?” Carla asked.

“I know he is going to the art show in Rome so I assume he will be able to go. But “The Slob” is going into production in August so I’m not sure he will be able to.

“The Slob” was a new reality show with Britney Spears where she transformed slobs into stylish men and women. It was, sadly, going to be Pushkin’s final Executive Producing job in Hollywood. His art career was taking off, and he was starting to sell each Crayola creation for $15,000.

“I think the concept is so fucking brilliant. I mean it’s so amazing to take a slob and make him look great. Only Pushkin would think of that!” Jason said.

We drank a few more glasses of wine and then Jason took out a jar of olives. “Try these. They are so amazing!” he said.

Towards the end of the evening, Igor came up to me, rather empathetically, and asked if I wanted to look up at the moon through his high-powered telescope.

We went out onto the deck and peered into the heavens, contemplating a universe above and beyond Los Angeles.

Option A: High Level Cabinet Meeting


Peter Scholz

Los Angeles is the second largest city in the United States, but aspects of it can seem almost small town. A sprawl built of people who came from somewhere else, infamous for its superficiality and temporality, it sometimes, surprisingly, produces individuals, deeply rooted in its soil, who live and work here their whole lives, sometimes in an area a few blocks wide.

Such is the case with Peter Scholz.

He was born in Van Nuys, 53 years ago. He lived at 5812 Lemona Ave in Van Nuys, CA. in a German-American family along with Michaela, his younger sister.

His parents, Heinz and Herlinda, had met in Vaduz, Liechtenstein in 1954. They married, and in 1959, emigrated to Los Angeles, where they found work, as driver and maid, in the Sidman Family estate in Beverly Hills. They stayed there only briefly.

Liechtenstein

Motivated by ambition and hard work, Heinz left his chauffeur job to work as a baker. Meanwhile, they had two kids, Peter and later Michaela.

In 1968, Dad opened Scholz Cabinets on Aetna St. in Van Nuys, a location where he did business for the next 20 or so years.

Peter worked part-time with his father, graduated from Notre Dame High School and then enrolled in Pierce College “because that’s where the best looking girls were.” He attended two years and graduated in 1984.

He continued to work part-time with his dad, closely learning the craft of custom cabinet wood making. He was, in effect, going to school overseas, by learning the German way of doing things here in Van Nuys: precisely, exactly, and diligently with strict attention to quality and integrity.

Yet Peter had other ideas and passions in his head. He was excited by art, by creative people, by wealth and Hollywood, and by that whole rich world, over the hill, where sculptures, luxurious homes, paintings and grandiosity were on display.

Remarkably, he didn’t try and become an actor. He didn’t intern at William Morris. He didn’t affect affectation. He still built cabinets. He used his skills in making them to enter a rarified world.

It was the late 1980s, an era of big shoulders, fat cigars, overpowering perfumes (Giorgio, Poison, Opium), Joan Collins, The Brat Pack, Wall Street, Greed is Good, and the explosion of personalities in the art world.

He wanted, somehow, to take the modest and self-effacing excellence he embodied and make custom cabinets and custom showcase podiums for architects, designers and clients in Beverly Hills, Hancock Park, Brentwood, Pasadena, Malibu and Westwood. He was introduced to notables who became clients, such as Eli Broad, real estate mogul, art collector and philanthropist; and Robert Graham (1938-2008), sculptor, born in Mexico, married to actress Angelica Huston.

Jean Michel Basquiat (1960-88)
Eli and Edyth Broad at home with Robert Rauschenberg

Still only in his early 20s, he started Showcase Cabinets, a name reflecting that his creations, his products, were showcases (custom pedestals and bases) to display art, objects, sculptures.

In 1984, at age 20, he married ( eventually divorcing after 20 years), had two kids, Niko and Jessica, and he has two granddaughters as well.

Annie, his girlfriend of eight years, also works in the shop. They live with their son Erik, 14, in a 1950s modern house near Valley College which they gutted and remodeled. It has white walls, a backyard pool, orange front door, and solar shades. The house is filled with a cacophony of eccentric and colorful artwork, sculpture, bright colored chairs and, most imaginatively, a graffiti painted bathroom that seems inspired by the interior of a NYC subway car, circa 1985.

He seems to have started everything, work, marriage, fatherhood, at an early age. In 2009, he also bought the building where he now headquarters Showcase Cabinets, Inc. He and Annie travel, often to her home country, Bulgaria, where they use her family house as a base point to explore Europe, including Greece, Italy and Germany and everything two hours or less from that point.

Annie and Peter

He employees some 10 people in his bright, 4,200 SF, well-run shop. Last year, they invested in a $30,000 Striebig Compact Vertical Panel Saw, made in Switzerland, which is accurate to 1/100 of a millimeter or 0.0003937008 of an inch.

His business, which is very healthy, is all word-of-mouth. In an era of social media, of pretending to be successful by posting doctored images and endorsing products, Peter earns his money in the real world of tangible, material substances made out of trees. There is no need for Photoshop when you rub your hands over a smoothly buffed, 30 foot long, walnut bookcase.

His location, 20 minutes from Beverly Hills, and within easy distance of the 405 and the 101, is ideal for clients, designers and architects who often want to drop by the shop to choose finishes, to see the craftsmen at work, to witness what they are paying top dollar for. And Peter welcomes them. He has everything to show and nothing to hide.

His raw materials come predominately from Valencia Lumber in Lake Balboa and Phillips Plywood in Pacoima. He also sends work to GL Veneer, Inc. in Huntington Park. Showcase gets the orders and this is passed up and down the economic food chain.

He deals with stress through kickboxing, the gym, and yoga.

He has some very nice bottles of Japanese whiskies lining an office shelf, in a room built of concrete block, anodized steel walls, and a one-way detective style mirror to keep an eye on the shop floor.

The wall facing his long desk is decorated with large format photographs of drug busts, tattooed gangsters, guns and illicit substances which his son-in-law, a cop, shot from an Iphone.

There is an air of bad boy badness in Peter Scholz but it seems to be more artistic expression than real life activity. But one would not care to incite him. He acts formidable…. and it doesn’t look like an act. If he were an actor, he could play a felon or a cop convincingly. He exudes menace and kindness equally.

Because he is happy in his life and work he projects his good fortune onto Los Angeles. “There is no better place to live,” he said, without irony.


Option A: Metro Plans to Demolish 33 Acres of Industry for One Big Rail Yard.

 

Ed Kirakosian, Peter Scholz, Ivan Gomez, Daniel Gomez.

Hanging over all this is the “Option A” scheme by Metro Los Angeles which might condemn Peter’s shop and 185 other small businesses, covering 33 acres, in an area north of Oxnard to Calvert, from Kester east to Cedros. This is ostensibly for a future light rail maintenance yard.

Opposition to the scheme immediately sprung up and Peter produced big yellow banners against Option A now hung all over the area.

Boldly, by instinct, in his customary manner, Peter marshaled his creative connections to hire artist Guy Ellis (#dcypher_dtrcbs) who painted a long mural on the exterior wall of Showcase. It is in the style of 1930s social realist protest. It is powerful and jarring, screaming, in deathly ashen gray, and living bright yellow, a cry against the potential destruction of the area.

If Option A is withdrawn, and the area is permitted to continue existing, Peter has plans to keep the mural up on his building, and even more plans to revitalize the district with the help of his neighbors, friends, investors, architects and innovative developers.

Showcase Cabinets, Inc. and the life and work of Peter Scholz, is yet another reason to drop the idea that wiping out a section of Van Nuys, and scattering her most creative and productive class, is progress at its finest.

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We Left Our Families


We Left Our Families by Here in Van Nuys
We Left Our Families, a photo by Here in Van Nuys on Flickr.

Motto For a City

I was driving west on Hollywood Blvd last week. Stopped at a light, right near the 101, I saw this poster in the window of a small shop.

Applicable to many who migrated here, it sets in words, the struggles and dreams, both won and lost, of men and women, defeated and determined, working and surviving, to transform their lives into something more significant.

I found the words poignant and sacramental, holy and human, a unifying testament of we the people, a city of angels: fallen and sinful, redeemed and reborn, for all time.

At the bottom of the print is the word cyrcle, a link to the art community that created the poster.

Books and Poseurs.


tumblr_mc60lu1Li51r12aa1o12_1280At LA’s first art book show at the Geffen in Little Tokyo yesterday, all the skinny people known to exist in the city of Los Angeles, all 2,000 of them, were gathered inside a large hall of ramps and rooms, to inspect and gather and pose, amongst the Instagrams, hundreds of homemade and craft printed ephemera, posters, books and many penis pictures provided by the coffee cupping community of handsome and intelligentsia.

Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born after Dynasty went off the air, tempered by texts, disciplined by hard drives, proud of their smoky perfumes, determined to create and propagate nihilism.

Within eye and hand reach, the brilliance and magnificence of our artistic world, the modern culture of Los Angeles, here it stood proudly, the Van Goghs, Picassos and Michaelangelos of our era gathered in one room.

There was JIMMY, self-described as “An LA based queer zine with beard appeal…published in the hills of Silver Lake and the heart of Hollywood, inspired by the classic fag mag format…”

Aaron Krach, based in NY, was “an artist and writer who collects stuff and gives stuff away.”

Little Joe, from the UK, was about queers and cinema.

The Austrians were represented, not by Maria Von Trapp or Adolf Hitler, but lower case springerin, a quarterly magazine “which addresses a public that perceives cultural phenomena as socially and politically determined.”

And Susan Mills’ books “reflect an interest in language that is not written for publication” and she asserts, blankly and clearly, that she is “drawn to a tabula rasa quality”.

Finally, there was Strange Attractors.

It explores investigations in non-humanoid extraterrestrial sexuality.

We know that there may be life on other planets. But fantastically the possibility exists that it may not come from a vagina and penis. The orgasm may be fired by ray gun. Zero gravity and floating upside down might assist oral copulation. One-eyed cyborgs, reptilian monsters and their love life inspires these romantic artists, filmmakers and visionaries.

If that cums to pass, and sexually obscure visitors from another universe descend upon the City of Angels, humans may learn that a penis may not represent all possibility and potential. And the art world as it exists in Los Angeles will be doomed.

L.A.’s Homeboy Industries Needs $5 Mil; Lays Off Employees. //Picasso Sells for $106 million.


L.A.’s Homeboy Industries lays off most employees – Los Angeles Times.

L.A.’s Homeboy Industries lays off most employees

The institution dedicated to helping gang members quit lives of crime has been unable to raise the $5 million it needs. A quarter of the staff will remain.

May 14, 2010|By Hector Becerra, Los Angeles Times

Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles institution whose mission for more than 20 years has been to turn jobs into a recipe for saving the lives of gang members, laid off most of its employees Thursday because of crushing financial problems.

Father Gregory Boyle, who started Homeboy Industries in Boyle Heights during the height of the city’s gang wars, said 300 people were laid off, including all senior staff and administrators. Boyle said he has stopped taking a paycheck.

Other recent headlines in Los Angeles:

The $106.5-million Picasso and the Bel-Air house where it hung

LA TIMES

May 5, 2010

The art world is buzzing over the sale Tuesday night of Picasso’s “Nude, Green Leaves and Bust,” sold at Christie’s in New York for $106.5 million, making it the world’s most expensive artwork ever purchased at auction. The 1932 painting came from the estate of Frances Lasker Brody, wife of Sidney F. Brody, but it’s not just the Brody art collection that’s up for sale.

Brody2 The couple’s Holmby Hills estate, pictured here with the Picasso on the wall at right, has gone on the market for $24.95 million.