I realize I've been a little lax about blogging lately. But I have an excuse. My good buddy Ben Pedersen's birthday was this week. And I'm a firm believer in celebrating birthdays at length.
Day Before the Birthday
Ben and I were hanging out, watching a terrible old horror movie called "Popcorn," which I highly recommend to lovers of bad movies. The movie ended and it was 11pm. We were thinking of what to do next? Should we play a video game? Watch another movie?
It occurred to Ben that he only had one more hour in his twenties. So I asked him, "what's something crazy you've never done before?"
All he could think of was "streaking." "But," he said, "nobody would even care if I did that in L.A."
So I asked him, "is there a place you've always wanted to go, but never gone?"
He thought for awhile, and said, "The Bonaventure Hotel downtown has a revolving restaurant with a view of the whole city."
So we hopped in the car and drove downtown, hoping to get a drink in his hand by midnight.
The Starbucks in the lobby was pretty packed for late at night.
We took the elevator up to the 53rd floor.
Ben got a drink just in time, and we celebrated the 30 year milestone in style, spinning around L.A. At this point, I was actually pretty sick, and was feeling a little spacy and weightless, so the fact that we were spinning (albeit at a slow speed) made me feel much more drunk than Ben.
Day of the Birthday
Ben invited several of his closest friends to the Gaucho Grill in Brentwood. It was wonderful to catch up with people he and I both haven't seen in ages.
He introduced me to Moe and Starla, with whom he's currently working on the film "Deadland Dreaming." He knew that Moe was Mr. Hollywood Film and that I am Mr. Indie Film. He knew that worlds would collide. He knew that we're both opinionated people.
But he didn't know what he was getting into.
Ben was hoping we would just talk about Oscar politics. Instead, we got into a big discussion about "I Am Legend," "Crash," and "Gladiator," all movies I don't really like, but Moe loves. Granted, no punches were thrown, and it wasn't really even heated, but Ben was really hoping we would talk about anything other than "Crash" (sensitive subject). Hey, I didn't bring it up.
After the meal, we had a last late night round of drinks at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey.
Day After the Birthday
I had set up a big surprise evening for Ben. All I told him was that he had to bring a photo ID, he couldn't wear flip flops, a hat, or light colors, and that it was a very exclusive invitation-only event.
He was very curious.
We drove downtown, and he was narrowing things down. "It's probably not a movie if it's downtown...", etc. We got into a line outside of a cathedral. I told the people in front of and behind us in the line not to say anything about what we were seeing.
Then we waited out in the cold for nearly an hour. That part...not so great.
We got into the cathedral, and Ben could see cameras on big cranes, and of course, the big Grey-Goose-Vodka-sponsored bar. I told him, "We might end up on film." Now he was really confused.
I bumped into my friend Bobby, AKA incredible singer/songwriter Big Phony. Small world. I also saw G4 host and writer for Film Threat, Chris Gore.
After another hour of waiting in the bar, they herded us into the main hall of the cathedral, which was all lit up with orange and green lights, with a marquee over the top that said "Artists' Den."
Ben was still in the dark. And I was amazed that no one had ruined the surprise yet.
And out came Aimee Mann. Ben was thrilled. She performed about five or six songs from her upcoming album, "Smilers," which is due out in April. Great stuff. And she also played "You're With Stupid Now," "Amateur," "Goodbye Caroline," "Save Me," "Wise Up," and "Today's The Day."
She had a little bit of a cold, and had to stop in the middle of a song a couple times. This made me feel a little better. If Aimee could do it, than I wouldn't feel so bad at my show if I had to stop.
It was a brilliant night, and Ben was completely surprised. They were filming it for the new Artists' Den show on the Ovation network, which debuted that same night with a Crowded House episode. The Aimee Mann episode will premiere March 23rd. Look for us in the audience.
Oh also, "Smilers" is gonna be great.