Thursday, April 1, 2004

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My La-La experience

On Tuesday and Wednesday, your trusty blogger was in LA to give a talk at USC's Center for International Studies. It was quite the experience.

Have any readers experienced a moment during which they realized they were in a place that was way too hip/cool/edgy for them? That's how I felt when I checked into the Standard Hotel in the downtown. The place looked really fab -- clearly they had checked out Virginia Postrel's The Substance of Style. As the Guardian put it last year:

Bright red vibrating circular water beds in Star Trek-esque space pods, orange banquettes, white 1950s plastic furniture, red Astroturf and a rooftop swimming pool (complete with nightly skinny-dippers) - this isn't the kind of thing you expect to come across in the downtown business district of Los Angeles.

Alas, I witnessed no nighttime skinnydipping -- I had evening plans (I found out later that there was a private runway show and they booted the hotel's regular patrons from the rooftop bar anyway). Plus, I had dinner plans anyway. I can confirm the Star Trek-style waterbeds that would have made William Shatner proud.

However, the highlight of the trip was eating a fabulous lunch on the rooftop, and then noticing that the guy sitting at the next table bore more than a passing resemblance to Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer!!

Regular readers know that I'm a big Buffy fan, and I always identified with Xander -- the smart aleck who never had any superpowers. [That, plus his character got to make out with Charisma Carpenter, Alyson Hannigan, and Emma Caulfield's characters on camera!--ed. Er, yeah, that too.]

I've been told repeatedly that the residents of LA never ask for authographs -- it's considered gauche. Well, I'm not from LA, baby!! So I asked Mr. Brendon, and he gladly obliged with an autograph on the only blank piece of paper I had -- the back cover to Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate. Not entirely coincidentally, star blogger Megan McArdle is reading the very same book.

So I now own the ultimate academic geek artifact -- a copy of The Blank Slate autographed by a Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast member.

Oh, and the talk went well, too.

[Why are you posting about all this?--ed. I'm trying to provide this guy some genuine blogosphere gossip.]

posted by Dan on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM


Strangely, I didn't hear about your talk -- even though my wife and I get notices from the Center, since we're helping to coordinate the LA Chapter of the Nathan Hale Society. Otherwise, we would have gone and said hello.

Next time you're in town, and you have some free time, let us know so we can throw you a bash, like we did for David Adesnik and Joe Katzman!

posted by: Robert Tagorda on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Dan, name one Star Trek episode from any of the series, that featured waterbeds in any configuration.

posted by: Zathras on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Zathras: It wasn't the waterbeds per se that evoked Star Trek -- it was the "space pods" that encased them. They looked like they'd been lifted from "Mudd's Women"

posted by: Dan Drezner on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Ever read the white-paper on the "Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer" strategy for handling WMD proliferation? If was way-cool!

posted by: JD on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

As an 'SC alum I'd like to hear some details on the talk/your impressions of the IR department at USC

posted by: Walter on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Here are my brushes with celebrity. Celebrities can all go and fsck off as far as I'm concerned.

It's too bad you gave no advance notice. If you had, I would have suggested a field trip to Koreatown to see for yourself whether Samuel Huntington is wrong or not. A stroll down Broadway in "the" downtown, a leisurely nighttime traipse down Alvarado and through MacArthur Park, perhaps a side trip one mile south, west, or east of USC.

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Odd, Dan, that you should come back just as we hear about an 80 some-odd car pleup on the 15 through Cajon. Apparently, Fog was the problem.
I've driven though that stretch, (rail fanning) a few times and can well understand the problem.. and I hear it was equally bad over at Tehatchapi this morning, as far as the fog went.

Glad you liked it, I rather enjoyed my visit.
LA's an interesting place, so long as someone else is paying the freight; Which is perhaps why leftists predominate, there. In my case, as with yours apparently, my employer paid my way.

posted by: BitHead on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Re: gossip

I hope you at least tip the waiters well.

posted by: Scott on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Thanks for being a good sport, Daniel. Let's go fishing sometime.

posted by: cmonks on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Okay, I admit it - I'm a diehard fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Willow and Spike are my favorite characters. Angelus when he get's let out of the bottle isn't bad. I'm hoping Whedon will come out with a Willow based chronicles on the magic side of things. Be a nice parallel story arc to the slayerettes.

posted by: Oldman on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

Nicholas Brendon was great on Buffy. I hope he makes buckets of money from residuals. Congratulations on the autograph.

posted by: Michael on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

It's very pleasant to find wise people here.
Good job, Michael!

posted by: Paul on 04.01.04 at 11:01 AM [permalink]

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