Sunday, January 30, 2011

Soul Trapper Launch Party

Thanks to everyone who attended the Soul Trapper launch party on January 16 at Musso & Frank Grill.  It was great to seeing so many friends gathered together at my very favorite place in all of Los Angeles.  Thanks to everyone who purchased a book.  And many thanks to Skylight Books, for being on hand to supply the copies.

Fatherhood and fiction writing has turned me into a bit of a hermit these last few years, so it was wonderful to catch up with everyone. 

And special thanks to Mark Echeverria and the staff at Musso & Frank Grill.  It was a night to remember.  Ruben Rueda and Mario Aguirre are, hands down, the greatest bartenders in L.A. and Sergio Gonzales, 2008 California Waiter of the Year, is a legend.  Collectively, these fine gentlemen have 115 years under their Musso & Frank belts.  That tell you all you need to know about what kind of place this is.

I've been going to Musso & Frank since the first week I arrived in Los Angeles in 1996.  While I've never had a personal paranormal experience at Musso & Frank, I can assure you the place is haunted.  You can feel the history, the presence of spirits (not just the 80-proof kind) the second you walk through the door.  Plus, Ruben has a few good ghost stories about the place that are pretty convincing. 

Little has changed since Musso & Frank opened its doors in 1919.  No face lifts or plastic surgery for this old grand dame.  In a town rooted in make believe, with little to no tolerance for anything old, Musso & Frank stands alone--a monument to old Hollywood, a genuine article.  Great food.  Great drinks.  Great atmosphere.  If you're a ghost, why the hell wouldn't you hang out here?  When I'm dead, I may just cozy up to that bar myself. 

And for any would-be writers, a pilgrimage to the bar at Musso & Frank is like a journey to Mecca.  Greats like Raymond Chandler, Ernest Heningway, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Orson Welles and Charles Bukowski drank and worked at that very same bar.  It became their unofficial office.  The bar crackles with a creative energy that all writers must experience.

So go to Musso & Frank, let Ruben pour you a stiff drink, and be blessed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Haunted Hollywood, Part 1

Since the events in my recently released novel, Soul Trapper, occur in L.A. and center on ghosts and the paranormal, I thought I'd share a few of my own ghost stories and tell you about the locations where they occurred.  This is the first of six paranormal experiences I'll share from my years in the city of angels.

The Pig and Whistle, dating back to 1927, is an old Hollywood gem.   A dim, well-stocked bar, cozy booths, rich mahogany woodwork, and a mesmerizing vaulted ceiling make it unforgettable setting.

It's also the location of one of my most recent paranormal experiences.  Following a meeting I had in October 2010, I stopped into the Pig N' Whistle for a late lunch.  By mid-afternoon, the place was almost empty.  Just before I left, I went in search of the men's room in the basement.  Though I was completely alone down there, I had the distinct feeling that someone was hiding in the stairwell.  While I was washing my hands, someone tapped me on the shoulder--hard, aggressively.  My first reaction was that I was being mugged.  I shot around in an instant and tried to grab the arm that just touched me.  No one was there.

I went back to the bar and shared my story with the bartender. She told me I wasn't the only person who experienced the feeling of being touched in that basement.