Cool Hand Fluke

Our bedouin swan song before LouLou starts high school next year wasn’t gelling very well in Saphan Khwai, Carrizalillo nor South Beach. Seemingly out of nowhere I asked Jeanette to check Palermo of all places; within seconds Airbnb magically brought before our eyes an array of sweet and affordable apartments near the city center Ballarò market.1508549338802154589829.jpgAbout an hour or two later, Jeanette screamed, “Oh my God.”

By her frantic tone, I was positive someone we knew had met their tragic demise.

“What happened Jeanette?”

“Guess who’s hosting that apartment I emailed in Palermo?”

“Who?”

“You’re never gonna believe it!”

“Who?”

“Mario’s daughter, Alessandra; she immediately recognized our Airbnb avatar, saying she’d love for us to stay there!”

Summers ago before Facebook was commonplace, Mario and famiglia di Schiavo met in Castellammare del Golfo; we instantly became human magnets. He was taking some vacation time for himself, forty-five minutes from his family home in Carini, on the outskirts of Palermo. A week into Mario’s semi-private hideaway, Alessandra drove over to see him on her birthday; he prepared an exquisite lunch, I found the perfect gelato torte and accompanied candles, minutes thereafter, sang her buon compleanno — well the rest is as they say history.

Logistically it doesn’t make a great deal of sense for Jeanette and LouLou to accompany me every eight weeks traveling from Italy if not absolutely necessary. Therefore, this coming January I’ll be joining the big boys club, working like any other husband and father does, without spouse and child. The average work commute in the United States is about ninety minutes each day, thirty hours monthly, sixty over two months. I’m optimistic justifying these upcoming thirteen thousand mile roundtrips by telling myself it’s only thirty hours over two months, half the time most Americans experience in that same period — thanks to Malpensa’s Moxy Hotel, easyJet, Ryanair, Alitalia, Air France, Delta, Swissair, Southwest Airlines and Uber.

It’s official amici, I wanted you to be the first to know; our nine month Elective Residence Visas were given the stamp of approval by Rome’s consulate this past week. Between winding down this LA pop-up space, LouLou’s woodland fairy Halloween plans, and visiting patrons in San Francisco, alongside New York early November, I’m quite certain this blog won’t reappear again until sometime shortly after the clocks once again revert to standard time.

Anybody coming our way? — we know people.

15085494694611971292263.jpg

Cinque Notti

Last weekend Jeanette and LouLou overheard some Los Feliz backyard barbecue tittle-tattle, “Jehr’s just a hairstylist, he’s not an artist.” Others in the catty clique shared similar sentiment, “Jehr’s no performance artist, he’s merely a haircutter.”

Few sculpt while steeped in conversation; a Jehrcut is an interactive study in personal nature, christened through mutual consent. Placing patron, seat and Jehr Schiavo out of ordinary context, positioned instead onto a proper gallery floor, instantly settles the art or not matter. An ancient ritual then blossoms, becoming conceptual art, continuing in Yoko Ono’s footsteps.

A haircutting exhibition in such complementary manner is unprecedented, not only for Mr. Haute Coiffure, but for that yet revealed gutsy gallery as well; one who also thrives on an unorthodox limb Leo Castelli, Mary Boone and Larry Gagosian’s strategy. Refusing any financial payment whatsoever for gallery representation, under these particular circumstances, would be paramount. In lieu of commission, Jehr Schiavo would rather donate 100% from an art event’s earnings to a non-profit organization.

images (8)

Opening night — accompanied by pleasant pairing (money no object) the subject perches on a stationary Hermès Allegro saddle, alongside artist, both swathed in Suzhou silk, Golden Akhal Teke stallion peers over as cutting commences, gleaming Persian sword tool of choice — hail Caravaggio; calloused fingertips of Senegalese harpist helps fill this gallery space.

Night II — an abbreviated mariachi band’s string section wearing authentic regalia strums their vintage instruments; the enthusiastic subject sits upon a Mexican folk art side chair — hommage Frida Kahlo.

Midweek — world-acclaimed Icelandic cellist, Saeunn Thorsteinsdottir steers her beloved bow across four glorious strings; a stainless steel gurney supports this night’s trusting subject — shout-out Damien Hirst.

Fourth evening — a downtown jazz quartet wistfully pleads; the subject relaxes on an outdoor chartreuse chaise lounge — nod to David Hockney.

Final night — piped in from up above, Lou Reed delivers The Velvet Underground’s, “Loaded;” a clunky electric chair awaits — gotta throw Andy some love.

Whether polishing the hair’s minutest ends with precision Japanese cobalt shears or lopping off an entire ponytail in one fell swoop by garden hedge trimmers — going once, going twice….some art never gets old.

images (7).jpg

Long on DIS

I was killing time waiting for Jeanette and LouLou at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset (two Los Angeles boulevards which will never intersect) in front of California Adventure’s Hyperion Theater. A bustling spot where every walk of life passes by in seconds flat. Female Japanese tourists posing for pictures, going-gaga-over costumed Daisy Duck, doesn’t necessarily faze me; it’s expected. Japanese ensembles appear as if catechism class were just before or immediately following Tinkerbell’s shuttle dropping or picking the girls up. Parents ignoring their little one’s irate meltdown is commonplace, for certain toddlers Disneyland isn’t “The Happiest Place on Earth.” Entire families rushed around me, bombarded from all directions really by those wearing Disney t-shirts identifying who’s who: Momma Mouse — Daddy Mouse — Aunt Mouse, yaddy, yaddy ya. If not a t-shirt, many guests feel the need to don furry Goofy top hats, Captain Jack Sparrow headdress, Chewbacca backpacks or any other form of Disney motif in 95° scorching heat. Visitors meander gnawing on whole turkey legs, others eat fifteen dollar popcorn sold in kitschy Disney personality containers. Every ticket sets back each full paying guest about a hundred bucks, approximately the price of one Disney share. The park last Saturday was one ginormous retail sardine can. Anaheim is muscled by Disneyland; Shanghai’s $5.5 billion Disney Resort opened in 2016; ol’ Walt’s dream became an unstoppable cash cow. Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion burned up two valuable hours standing in line. I lasted seventy minutes; Jeanette and LouLou, on the other hand, soldiered through an obnoxious drunk behind them, alongside repetitive eerie music blaring from overhead speakers, interspersed by Vincent Price’s ghoulish gab. I was taken aback by ZZ Top bearded biker guys, adorned with chains attached to their back pocket bulky black leather wallets, gothic font inked upon clenched hands holding metal dividing rails; a stark contrast to their lanyards festooned with Disney pin memorabilia. A stand-out hardcore outsider stood near me at the Hyperion Theater waiting for Frozen’s 3pm live performance. He epitomized an MSNBC Lockup Mexican Mafia figure who’d been hitting San Quentin’s iron pile — early-forties, shaved head, Pancho Villa moustache, white wife beater under a XXL white pressed t-shirt, grey Dickies shorts four sizes too big (new of course) white knee-high tube socks, spotless white Nike low tops, wrap-around mirrored shades (worn backwards) and jailhouse serpents tattooed on each arm. Sprinkled with pixie dust, only within Disneyland’s magical kingdom — “Love is an open door.”

Walt-Disney-Chart

20171004_154043.jpg

Untitled II

A few weeks off the blogging groove leaves an author such as I somewhat tongue-tied. There’s no shortage of current events to comment on, but who hasn’t heard enough already? Usually I’ll select at least one topic worth the effort to pen an essay about, however, I’m bent out of shape by our globe’s unsmiling affairs. Before now, I started writing early Monday morning; began last Friday afternoon, I’m already four days out of sync. No way this particular piece would’ve been ready last Sunday morning, my former posting date.

I don’t know, maybe it’s this crazy weather, just days ago most LA outdoor thermometers reached 105 suffocating degrees; practically overnight Autumn Equinox happened, what the heck? Enough crisp air filled the atmosphere we decided to reschedule LouLou’s fourteenth birthday celebration another five days until Anaheim hovers 90° again. Splash Mountain’s refreshing finale is always a welcome soak during Disneyland’s Indian summer midday heat.

On an ultra-personal note: the years are moving much too fast — one minute it was Easter, suddenly we’re planning a Thanksgiving menu. I can’t quite pin when life accelerated this rapidly. I guess there’s a chance it could slow down in years to come after drive met purpose and lengthy contemplation shall consume me. For the Warren Buffet and Donatella Versace types worldwide, reflective days may never arrive.

Which reminds me — this morning Jeanette and I were discussing life insurance policies and my inevitable lukewarm corpse. A casket deposited underground or within an austere mausoleum wall seems terribly wasteful. A Buddhist cremation I once felt acceptable, not any more. I’m giving all of me away in separate pieces. Not for Jeanette nor LouLou’s listening pleasure hearing my heart pulsate inside a stranger someday; it’s the satisfaction I’m having while alive knowing how much someone else may benefit by my closing curtain call.

There is, believe it or not, quite a lively cemetery not far from here — Hollywood Forever Cemetery hosts an annual Dia de los Muertos shindig; this 1899 burial site has more glitterati per square foot than any other place on earth. Many view this iconic Los Angeles destination as a museum of sorts. My cigar or pipe smoking, depending on the day, Uncle Tony offered frequent one liners, his easily rivaled Henny Youngman’s shtick. I haven’t driven past a cemetery without hearing Uncle Tony long ago jokingly say, “People are dying to get in there.”

http://www.jehrschiavo.com

20170925_081229

The Nth Degree

Whenever we attempt booking flights to Southeast Asia; it’s a muddle: should we fly Korean Air, indulged aboard their Tiffany coated planes — thirteen hours later laying over in Seoul at Incheon International Airport or another carrier?

If someone forty years ago spit on Mother Teresa’s face, then called her an illogical vulgar phrase, another person nearby might’ve intervened to rescue this 5 ft. woman of cloth. Eighty-five years ago, another disturbed individual could have possibly assaulted Mahatma Gandhi, punching him square-faced, knocking out this 5 ft. 5 in. Father of the Nation. Undoubtedly a crowd would’ve gathered to assist either prophet, meanwhile others showing concern may have chased and detained those perpetrators bringing them to justice. Both Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi would not have pressed charges, rather, quite the contrary, each would’ve chosen to display compassion toward their violent assailant. In a sense, most humans are not so forgiving. Attaining consciousness of the Dalai Lama and Jesus involves an infinite ability mastered through countless incarnations — tranquil Buddha no exception.

IMG_20170910_065247_539

Following Pearl Harbor’s bombing, the Oval Office had four ample years to ponder a decision: deliver fierce retribution or absolve Japan? There are on occasion isolated circumstances whereby maniacal leaders appear wickedly sinful, Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin another.

San Francisco’s rock chanteuse, Angel Corpus Christi, wrote and sang a memorable track on White Courtesy Phone entitled, “Big Black Cloud.” Three decades ago it was au courant; an ominous, though catchy tune concerning fate left in the hands of irrational power. Regrettably such a historic period seems just on the horizon. Wherever the rage of Kim Jong-un’s folly will be targeted, that country and its victims shall indeed receive aid, as throngs would’ve rushed to Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa’s side.

Most every country and their people, alongside the United States of America do not spend decades devoted to capturing nirvana through heightened spiritual awareness. Under severe circumstances (beyond the point of no return) to remain unscathed by an oppressor’s trigger happy finger unfortunately requires grave preemptive action. I’m far from clairvoyant, however, lately native wit is nudging me; swayed and crushed believing Angel’s “Big Black Cloud” will soon become global breaking news.

IMG_20170910_065025_048

Happenstance in G Minor

During notable cusps in Los Angeles, concerning my places of business or home, temporary and permanent, a certain actor, the very same man, keeps reappearing. Before Downtown Los Angeles morphed into DTLA, about that time Nolita earned its name: east of SoHo, south of NoHo, west of the Lower East Side, north of Little Italy and Chinatown — twenty-five years ago this west coast enclave could solely take ownership for LA’s seedy Skid Row.

Ninety-eight percent of Grand Central Market’s former Mexican vendors vanished; they were replaced by a rather diverse sprinkling: Eggslut, Wexler’s, Clark Street Bread et cetera. The adjacent Grand Central Square Apartment complex has residential units on its upper floors. Well before DTLA’s transition, I was offered an exquisite two bedroom penthouse in that iconic building by a long-standing patron who facilitated LA’s downtown revitalization plan. As we walked through the apartment, she mentioned Nicolas Cage just moved out. I was more impressed by this corner unit’s gargoyle exterior ornamentation framing what was in those days an unobstructed vista. Years later, when the Beverly Laurel Motor Lodge was my base in LA, I would often see Nicolas Cage leaving his offices a block away on North Laurel.

IMG_20170903_091558_204

Jeanette and LouLou returned a rosier shade from our rooftop pool here days ago, promptly informing me, none other than Nicolas Cage occupies this new building along with us. I wouldn’t say he’s a favorite actor of mine, yet particular roles he selected were characters in twisted tales bordering reality and illusion; storylines which intrigued me more than his onscreen persona. For some strange reason a script epitomizing Nicolas Cage’s oddest of films seem as though this actor’s surrealer moments have come to life and I’ve inadvertently stepped into another realm.

As a nephew of Francis Coppola, Cage probably does speak some Italian; maybe I’ll use one of two stereotypical Sicilian hand gestures that directly relate to “ma chi fa?” upon an upcoming elevator ride together.

IMG_20170903_091102_934

Upcountry

A few weeks ago Jeanette received another invitation for famiglia di Schiavo’s long awaited visit to Ruby and Dylan’s farm in Covelo. Awhile back a naturalist posse formed their tight-knit clan four hours north of San Francisco in Mendocino County. It’s been several years now since Ruby began frequenting Hotel Kabuki for her Jehrcuts. Gradually a group of her goddess friends also took the plunge. More often than not, before or after their Jehrcuts, Ruby and entourage enjoyed favorite eateries around town, Mission Chinese being one.

Whether February snowflakes dusted Ruby and Dylan’s property or genuine farm to table feasts posted on Facebook, what enticed us to accept Ruby’s latest invitation were photos of the Covelo gang having a blast floating, swimming, and diving off boulders into an unspoiled Eel River.

True-Grit-Bagbys-General-Store (1)

Ruby is a renaissance gal. Aside from tending their idyllic fruit trees, vegetable garden, pigs, and constructing artful dwellings on site, she’s also a culinary educator in preparation, cooking, alongside food preservation. Ruby has no idea what I’m about to say, but I’m hot for her highly sought after herbal body wrap; another skill she’s mastered using a line of beauty, health and wellness products called, It Works. Call mine an unwanted spare tire — my excuse is not hitting the pool, doing laps thirty minutes a day since May. In any case, my blubber should be reduced by a significant degree following Ruby’s It Works treatment.

Yesterday Jeanette emailed Ruby on my behalf asking if there were any six-shooters around; whereby I might take a crack at a few True Grit moves. Ruby’s response was warm, yet an adamant, “no” adding, “Jessy Jane has horses if anyone wants to ride, alongside several bucking bulls nearby.”

One other significant tidbit that Ruby and Dylan are currently unaware of: we’re inviting ourselves back (Spring, 2018) to celebrate Jeanette’s birthday on April 29, followed by the Covelo bi-annual Jehrcut rendezvous, April 30 and May 1. We’re just making ourselves at home ahead of this September 11-14 Covelo pow wow; I reckon that’s how Ruby and Dylan prefer things.

truegrit1 (1)

Glamping DTLA

IMG_20170820_080345_809Ten years is a respectable span out of the mix. The long-term effect living a global bedouin lifestyle became apparent recently replanting roots tapping our toes on U.S. soil again. Passports at the ready aren’t necessary anymore; pockets turn cumbersome filled with keys, along with fob for home, car and garage. Mundane household chores weren’t pleasant to begin with embarking on an unorthodox path a decade ago, nor are they today, perhaps even less so.

More than one Los Angeles Uber driver (former teachers) describe their inner city public school system as county jail. Another urban aspect I’ve noticed which seems awfully strange, how oblivious the haves and have nots coexist together. The unfortunate souls look and smell as though they were targeted by urine-soot bombs; tangled, matted hair, grimy clothes (shoes, maybe none) toting stuffed plastic bags, ingesting rubbish, conversing with mid-air. Feet away the fortunate soul wears a white starched button collar shirt, matching Brooks Brothers loafers and slacks, scanning The Los Angeles Times, assisted by tortoise shell spectacles, sipping his Blue Bottle coffee, eating flakey French pastry.

I’m unclear, what are the socially responsible options from this point forward? Elected city, state, alongside federal government officials don’t have concrete plans to address America’s elephant in the room. Churches barely make a dent. As for America’s powerful private sector: young tech billionaires aren’t motivated to help alleviate human suffering underfoot.

Before beginning our odyssey abroad ten years ago, certain readers complained how somber my blog had become. My response then is exactly the same now — “I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.” Metropolitan San Diego, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area are hosts to frightening exponential statistics. One hundred and twenty thousand unfortunate souls are perishing on California sidewalks. I am curious — is it me being hypersensitive or are others shattered observing this hell on earth?

 

San Diego Mayors

Jerry Sanders 2005-2012

Bob Filner 2012-2013

Kevin Faulconer 2014-present

 

Los Angeles Mayors

Antonio Villaraigosa 2005-2013

Eric Garcetti 2013-present

 

San Francisco Mayors

Gavin Newsom 2004-2011

Ed Lee 2011-present

 

Oakland Mayors

Ronald Dellums 2007-2011

Jean Quan 2011-2014

Libby Schaaf 2015-present

 

California Governors

Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003-2011

Jerry Brown 2011-present

 

California Senators

Barbara Boxer 1993-2017

Dianne Feinstein 1992-present

Kamala Harris 2017-present

IMG_20170820_080044_496