Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I Am NOT a Hipster, Really I’m Not…

Published 9/26/2012

In the past few months, I’ve repeatedly had to tell people more and more often that I am definitely not  a hipster.  I’m not a hipster. Never mind the fact I can often be found wearing a scarf when it isn’t cold, talking about buying a Prius, perusing dresses with abstract floral patterns and ambiguous waistlines  at Urban Outfitters and planning eco-friendly, vegan cookouts at which to play some newly acquired records when I’m accused of this common Hollywood affliction.

I feel that I must stress that I’ve always loved vinyl and character lenses and indie bands with small but devout followings. Why is it then that only recently my friends have pointed out with increasing regularity my faux oxford shoes, my closet brimming with striped shirts and my attraction to men with tragically tight shorts? 

Then someone reminded me that one of the most readily identifiable traits of the hipster is their unwillingness to be labeled as such- obviously, because labels signify conformity to a mainstream, capitalist society- and I began to be slightly concerned.  This conundrum has forced me to devise the following quiz-slash-drinking game to find out if I am in fact a hipster, or not. Feel free to take it as well. FYI, if you know what PBR stands for, you’re already in deep trouble my friends. You’ll see what I mean…


For every “A” answer, you must drink a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon, increase the volume on your record player or outdated hip hop album that you’ve recently “discovered” (maybe I should turn down this Andre 3000 from 2002), or read another chapter in whatever Kafka book you’re pretending to be inspired by.  Enjoy, or whatever, don’t enjoy, just be.

1)On movie nights you and your friends watch

a)a French documentary about the influence of Kubrick on the new neo realism wave.

b)The  Artist.

c) a super hero blockbuster.

                2) The most coveted item on your Amazon wish list is

a) a fixed-gear bike.

2)a pair of harem pants.

3) a pair  of patent leather Louboutin pumps

3)Handlebar moustaches are atrocious.


b) True

4)Your Saturday shopping trip consists of a visit to

a)a vintage/consignment shop.

b) American Apparel or Urban Outfitters.

c)The Grove.

5) When you’re trying to be cool you

a)throw around some French phrases or  arbitrarily quote The Seagull.

b) wear an ironic tee shirt, perhaps one with a picture of an owl on it.

c) name drop.

6)You think a man should smell like

a) Tom’s of Maine and home-grown marijuana.


c) Axe body spray.

7) You always have these things on your grocery list:

a) quinoa, organic alfalfa sprouts, sake, spirulina and locally grown honeycomb.

b) a Trader Joe’s summer salad kit and soy milk.


8)To stay in shape you do

a) transcendental yoga.

b) a cardio barre workout.

c) whatever Blake Lively’s trainer’s cousin’s friend recommends.

Well how did you do friends? If you answered mostly Bs and Cs, then you’ve barely touched your PBR and you’ve only been slightly affected by the time you’ve spent living in LA (or Portland or Brooklyn). If you’ve chosen mostly As however, then I suspect that you’re lighting up an American Spirit with a match, or drunkenly stumbling in your Toms and ridiculously low v-neck shirts around the coffee table you made from salvaged recycled wood behind your bff’s start-up microbrewery.  I’m not going to say what I scored, but I think it may be time for an intervention. I just hope I get to keep my record player when it’s over.


Monday, September 10, 2012

On Discerning When Going to Happy Ending is a Bad Idea…

Published 9/10/2012

I’ll give you a hint: the answer is most of the time, unless of course the promise of hearing all the Rihanna songs you heard on the radio in your car on the way there thrills you. This will most certainly happen while you’re there. But alas, a coworker was having a birthday gathering , and partly because I’m making a serious effort to be less misanthropic , but mostly because no one wanted to see Manhattan in the cemetery with me, I decided to go.

Now to be fair, Happy Ending does have a few great qualities, like awesome fish tacos, cheap valet parking, and a vending machine with beerpong balls in it. As much as I am loathe to admit it, I actually have fun when I go there. But yet…

The people who frequent this place are just… One of my friends was deciding what to wear and I was having trouble convincing her not to waste a dress, and not until I told her that the guys wearing plaid shirts were dressed up did she acquiesce and throw on some jeans.  When we arrived and she saw that I was not exaggerating, she was a little surprised. That however was nothing compared to the shock her  lungs were experiencing as they tried to breathe the dense fog of unfiltered Axe body spray. On the opposite end of the Joe College spectrum there was a guy, there’s always one, in a serious suit. Like, Barney Stinson serious. This could have been an honest mistake, as I too put far too much effort into my ensemble the first time I went there, but as he was exuding an air of newly-promoted-talent-manager pseudo importance, I could do nothing but laugh. Didn’t he know that Happy Ending is where you come to get sloppy? You are not Chuck Bass sir; take that ish to Soho House!

Aside from the demographics, Happy Ending, and all establishments like it for that matter, are a snare for reasons that cannot be explained. Like the Overlook Hotel in The Shining,  these buildings  posses people to do things that under normal circumstances, or at least without alcohol, they would never, ever do.  As I have temporarily sworn off the devil’s  juice due to the inauspicious manner in which my last outing ended, I had the pleasure of observing all of these strange happenings as they transpired.

 There were of course the requisite coworker hookups between people who barely speak to each other in the office, which made me feel like I was in a depressingly unsexy episode of Mad Men. I’m always torn between simply laughing or documenting these indiscretions for blackmail purposes, but  my fellow employees weren’t content to find love in hopeless places. One of my associates felt the need to intervene in a near girl fight in the bathroom over a misunderstanding of who was first in line. I don’t really know if her sense of decency  and civic duty is much stronger than mine or if she was really toasted and therefore empowered with a false sense of heroism. My first thoughts were I’m uninsured and I don’t know these hoes! I had no intentions of getting hit and messing up the face that I’m currently trying to make a living off of. You can’t buy cheek bones like this. Well you can but, anyway… (Who says actors are vain?)

After extricating myself from the would be perpetrators of girl-on-girl violence who were apparently doused in Britney Spears’ newest fragrance, I decided that it was time to depart. There’s only so much Rihanna one can be expected to endure in one sitting and escaping that den of fist pumping, cat fighting, and NSFW “ team building” was the only happy ending I had in mind.


Venue: 4 (It is the best of its kind.)

Alcohol Situation: N/A (I didn’t drink, but judging from the revelry I witnessed, I’d guess that saturation was sufficient to say the least.)

Actual Beneficial Networking Achieved:0

Personal Victory/Dignity Retained: 4

Atmosphere: #meh




Thursday, September 6, 2012

When Cheap Headshots Are Too Good to be True

Published 9/6/2012

I recently embarked on what turned out to be an epic journey to get new headshots and  I have to say, it was less than pleasant. I probably got what I deserved for Googling “cheap headshots” and picking a name , but as I remain without fame and/or rich benefactors, my options were limited.  What follows is my Yelp review of Monesson Photography, which I advise you to take as a cautionary tale of headshots gone horribly long:

Joshua Monesson took the most gorgeous headshots I’ve ever had… but it took almost a month to receive them, a month in which I was subjected to gross unprofessionalism, unanswered emails, returned payments and a general aura of sketchiness. I shall elucidate.

As a struggling actress I was thrilled to find Josh’s 125 “summer special” promising unlimited looks in an hour. This was great since I needed four new looks. After my  initial email inquiry went unanswered (which I should have heeded as a warning), I called Josh and he assured me that he would be able to  execute the number and style of headshots I wanted and we proceeded to arrange a shoot date. 

The day of the shoot arrived,  and the previous reviewer may be slightly exaggerating about black fingerprint smudges on things, but messy his studio definitely was. Despite all that, Josh is friendly and  efficient and I felt extremely comfortable with him. I’ve worked with photographers who have a singular vision for their clients and don’t care at all what they want, but Josh listened to my ideas and incorporated them for beautiful shots.

When the shoot ended, Josh offered the retouched images at 15 each, or the CD with all the images from my shoot for an additional 125, which included five retouched images.  I have to admit that after reading the ad and after our initial conversation, I was under the impression that I would be able to use and have my selected photos edited for super cheap, but  whatevs, 250 for what turned out to be SIX, yes six looks, is still a great deal.

 This was Tuesday, August 7th.  Late that night, Josh sent me a link to view my photos. On Saturday I emailed him and indicated the photos I wanted to have retouched and asked if I should pay through the link that he sent me, even though there was no way to select my images.  I also wanted to avoid the lengthy transaction times of Paypal.  I did not get a response, so on Monday I paid the for the CD through the link he sent and listed the photo numbers to be retouched. In less than an hour, Josh emailed me and said that he refunded my payment because “there is no way to select the images you want to have retouched.”  Wait, what? That is EXACTLY what I said in the email  I sent him.

I was then told that he would send me a Paypal invoice and that I should send the payment again.  I told him that I didn’t feel comfortable paying him again until the first payment was refunded, which could have been avoided if he had simply responded to the email I sent. After many phone calls to Josh and my bank, which had no record  of any reversal of charges for at least a week, it was finally processed. Before I had a chance to tell Josh and proceed with the Paypal payment however, I received my five edited images on Wednesday the 15th. This was perplexing to say the least, one because at that point in time, they were technically not paid for,  and two because it proved that Josh could have edited my photos and sent my CD AS I REQUESTED IN MY ORIGINAL EMAIL. But alas…

I proceeded to process the Paypal invoice and entered into the next phase of this unending saga.  After sending multiple emails, all of which went unanswered: to let Josh know that I sent the invoice, when it was estimated to clear, and ultimately that it did clear, I heard nothing and received no CD with the remainder of my images.  On the morning of the 23rd, I called Josh and he assured me that he had put my CD in the mail. Friday, Saturday and Monday came and my CD did not. It does NOT take more than two days for anything to be shipped from Venice to Burbank. On Monday I called yet again and suddenly Josh wasn’t sure of my address, or if my CD had been mailed on Thursday or Friday.  He promised to look into it and after securing my address once again, which by the way was on the original payment form, he said that he would put my CD in the mail the next day. I FINALLY received my CD on Thursday the 30th, but there is absolutely no reason it should have taken that long.

I blame myself for being pulled in by the dubious summer special, the dates of which continued to be extended . Again, the pictures that I eventually received are great, but the majority of my experience consisted of unanswered emails, emails that were not at all capitalized, and payment arrangements that bordered on suspicious and were unorganized at best. As a photographer, Josh is pretty amazing, but business man he is not. Ultimately the superior quality of his photos do not outweigh the near-month of unprofessional shenanigans I had to endure to get them.  Patronize him at your own risk and only if you have no immediate need for your headshots. Otherwise steer clear.