Literary Aperitif
"Lucking Out" With a Nice Dry Riesling at ArcLight Hollywood Cafe

Having recently moved from New York to Los Angeles, I’ve been devouring James Wolcott’s memoir, Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York. It really makes you feel what it was like to be a young writer in New York during that period, which I find fascinating. Wolcott, who’s long been a contributing writer for Vanity Fair (as well as a novelist and a political essayist) started out at the Village Voice, having landed a job (without even completing college mind you!) on the recommendation of Norman Mailer, who was taken so with an essay Wolcott wrote for his college newspaper. I wonder if that could ever seriously happen in today’s New York. It seems like you need a degree from Yale or Harvard to get anywhere in that city, especially in publishing. One reason I moved to L.A. is that I feel that this city is much more open that way…

Anyway, the book is filled with all kinds of anecdotes and tidbits about the glittery writers and personalities Wolcott saw on a regular basis, being at the Village Voice - like Wallace Shawn and Anais Nin. He was a regular at CBGB and wrote a great deal about Patti Smith; he was rather fascinated by her. And he became close friends with Pauline Kael, probably the most well-known and highly regarded film critic ever. Much of the first part of the book is about her, what she was like, where she hung out, how she took criticism, what she liked and didn’t. If you’re a film lover, that part is gold!

I haven’t been in L.A. long, but the ArcLight Hollywood soon became my favorite movie house. It’s located right in the heart of Hollywood, it’s pretty big with stadium seating, and you can purchase tickets in advance and choose your seat. So no standing in long lines for general admission. Instead, you can get there early and people watch (and there are quite interesting-looking people there) in the cafe / bar where they have a decent wine / cocktail list. Or you can browse in the book shop across from the cafe, where they have a very nice selection of glossy coffee table books, like this one, by Patrick Ecclesine, about the different neighborhoods of Sunset Boulevard and the characters who inhabit them:

Or you can look at the art work located throughout. The last time I was there they had an exhibit on Michael Jackson impersonators.

They also have original costumes worn by actors in various films. Below are costumes worn by Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law in Sherlock Holmes 2. Jude Law seems rather tall!