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March 06, 2005

Being Cool

Friday was a good day. I am exiting the funky mood that has stressed me out for the past fortnight over the collapse of the China Deal. In fact, I've got my own joke about it, which is that I'm completely over it, just don't mention the number 2.8.

Since I am becoming immune to the heartache of debacles, I had the foresight to think of a Plan B, C and D. Yesterday afternoon I recieved word that all of those plans are looking good. So I decided to treat myself.

My new hangout is The Grove, the insipidly happy upscale shopping village on the eastern edge of Farmers' Market in West LA. I can't tell you what a jolt I get just eyeballing the international shopping set - the people who have afternoons off during the week to shop and look downscale fabulous. I came to understand 'downscale fabulous' back in 98 in Silicon Valley.

I was wasting an afternoon buying a new pair of slacks and Ecco shoes at the Nordstrom in Palo Alto. As I was right there in the mecca of VC money, something Mill Road, I happened to wander into a Banana Republic. I was utterly perplexed at why anybody with that kind of bling would spend money on clothes that were totally uninspiring. Banana Republic is the anti-style, it just screams mediocrity. Something about this completely boring and non-functional $200 sweater just smacked me. Then I realized that Banana Republic clothes are those that rich people wear when they don't want to look rich, but still look rich. It is the Switzerland of fashion - neutral. Uptight with goo-gobs of money, but utterly, purposefully neutral. On the other hand, if your hair, skin or teeth are in miraculous condition, wearing Banana Republic is a very sly way to show off. I get it now.

Since the China Deal had to do with catering to this very crowd, the upscale who are still not so rich that they hang out in public, I have been having a great deal of fun thinking up market strategies that would attract them to our attraction. My job would have been wiring that place, which means I have been channelling Gizmodo and thinking a lot about what the iPod of Beijing might be. So I've especially been scoping out the fashions of swanky Asian youth and checking out what kinds of cellphones they sport. More than a few have the very same green and silver Motorola bluetooth earpiece as I, so I knew I wasn't far from the right track.

Alas, there is no China Deal, but I can still enjoy the Apple Store. Plenty, I'd wager, has been said. I second it. Apple has done it perfectly. Their store is overstocked with young, helpful, hip people dressed in black. If you've ever stayed at the W Hotel in San Francisco, then you know how seductive it is to be serviced by young, helpful hip people dressed in black. Give them headphones with boom mic, and it's practically erotic. Greater still is the Genius Bar, with Men Over 30 (tm) who actually answer complicated questions. At least they appear to, my question about why Darwin is a piece of shit couldn't be answered before my 4:45 appointment time, and I had a date with a 4:15 show.

But my entire excellent move began at the other end of Farmers' Market at LA Korea. This is, by far, the best Korean BBQ I've ever had. It's so good that it makes me think in cliches. I could eath that stuff forever. What kills me is that I have no idea which piece of beef that is. I simply don't understand the cut which is Kalbi, I just love what it does to me and my breath. And yes I have long developed my tastes for Kimchi. Theirs is simple, pretty mild and very fresh. By the time I got into the new massive Grove theaterplex, I was prepared to laugh at anything. Which is a good thing considering the calculated ripoff that is the new Travolta flick 'Be Cool'.

It is perhaps with some irony that I remain positive about the Hollywood Suit. For it was in the Hollywood Suit that I met the cat who promised me the China Deal. And even though there is a slimy amount of self-referential Hollywood smirk in 'Be Cool', Travolta's Chili Palmer still looks good in the Hollywood Suit. So there's something timeless about it, but this film is pretty much forgetable. On the other hand it can be a boatload of fun if you have a little more to drink than I did.

Everybody who wasn't in Ocean's Twelve was in Be Cool, but they were all saying the same kinds of lines. You know, the kind of deadpan double entendres that are at once kinda cool and kinda kitschy at the same time. Hold it, wait. Black hiphop-speak is the new Yiddish. I should not say 'kitschy' but 'wack'. Yeah, this was the movie with the straight wack dialog, which is most certainly the argot of the music business. I must say the wigger in this flick out wiggers Rappaport from Bamboozled, no mean feat. And Cedrick the Entertainer of all people, gets to deliver what is probably the first runner up to the best monologue before busting a cap right behind Christopher Walken's trailer scene from 'True Romance'. Yeah I know I said that last week about the Devil in Constantine, but this time I really mean it. It's going to go down in history if there's any justice in this world.

But the rest of the film was forgettable. Well maybe not. Either way it was embarassing fun, and I'm glad I saw it. Then again I liked 'Swordfish'. Bottom line, I'm cool. I have stared the loss of great fortune down. I swear I am so glad I have family.

Posted by mbowen at March 6, 2005 10:17 AM

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I liked BR better back when its clothes reflected its name, the proto-'40s third-world traveler look. Not particularly stylish today, but at least then it did have a distinct look, feel and style, what with all those oil-cloth drifters and crush felt hats. Plus, the clothes were just made better. I've still got an old pair of BR cargo shorts I mow the lawn in.

Posted by: submandave at March 9, 2005 03:03 PM

"Kalbi" means rib in Korean. Although beef-kalbi BBQ is traditional in Korea, this type of kalbi BBQ (sliced with bones and marinated in sweet sauce) is not traditional; it actually started from Koreatown in LA. Then, such kalbi BBQ is called as "LA kalbi" in Korea and in Japan.

Today I ate kalbi and doegi-bulkogi (spicy pork grill) at La Korea, and totally agree with you.
I have experienced kalbi of this quality several times in Tokyo, but it costed US$20 or more with that portion --- I envy you. I hear the secret of such tender taste of LA kalbi is to dip the chops in kiwi juice.

Posted by: A traveler from Japan at March 25, 2005 11:56 PM

Amazing. I was just there today as well. I brought my oldest daughter. She liked the glass noodles and the meat, but didn't touch the seaweed. She liked the kimchi but got a bit too much of a spicy piece.

Posted by: Cobb at March 26, 2005 05:27 PM