What is it about Friday's and pizza?

by Lorin Michel Friday, March 14, 2014 11:11 PM

I realize that the above question may be a bit rhetorical but these are the things I wonder about. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about it; it doesn’t keep me up at night or anything. And the truth is, I probably even know the answer to the headline’s question. That’s not going to stop me from writing an entire post about it, though. Don’t think you’re going to get out of this that easily.

Here’s my theory. By the time Friday rolls around, people are tired. Younger people go out drinking after to work – bar hopping in certain cities – to release the stress of the week and to prepare for the weekend. I’m not sure that drinking on Friday is a good way to prepare for days off since drinking too much can lead to little enjoyment of the next day. But that’s between those people and their chosen glass.

For those of us who aren’t into bars, and long ago outgrew the going out on Friday night and fighting the crowds thing, we like to celebrate the end of the week by simply kicking back on the couch, maybe watching a movie, having a glass of wine.

After a long week of working 10 hours a day, I’m in no mood to cook. The easiest thing to do is order a pizza. Hot melting cheese, garlic drenched sauce, fresh sautéed ingredients, preferably only veggies, atop a hand-tossed pizza crust. Pizza is also the easiest to eat. If the place we’re ordering from delivers, even better.

So that’s it. Pizza is easy. And it tastes good, especially since we’ve discovered Rocco’s Little Chicago.

When we used to have Fritini, the late afternoon would roll around and I’d be tired. On one hand, I’d dread the evening a little just because I was exhausted from the week; on the other hand, I looked forward to unwinding with good friends. Laughing and talking, having some great wine together. We always cooked though usually something exquisitely easy like pasta. Or we threw something on the grill. At the end of the night, I was always glad we’d done it. The ultimate way to release the week is through laughing with best friends.

The second best, then, is ordering a pizza and just rockin’ the couch. I know Roy and Bobbi used to always have pizza on Friday nights. When we had Fritini, that stopped. But now, without Fritini, I think they’re back to ordering pizza. I’ve gotten chats that say simply: gotta go. Pizza’s here.

We don’t have pizza every week. In fact, sometimes we still cook. But I am particularly tired today. It’s been a long week of 11 plus hour days, five of them in a row. The sad part is I didn’t even have enough 11 plus hour days. I could have used one more. Maybe I’d be further along on my to-do list.

So I’m pretty beat, as well as hopelessly behind. And it’s Friday. And we’re having pizza tonight, from Rocco’s because it’s easy, it’s good and it’s fun. Which is ultimately what it is about Fridays and pizza. As they say in Italian, finire di mangiare. As they say at Rocco’s, eat up. As I say, live it out loud. 

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live out loud

Repping the artist

by Lorin Michel Thursday, March 6, 2014 11:01 PM

Our friend Roy is an artist. He made his living for years as an art director and illustrator, but he is truly a fine artist. He sketches constantly, paints daily. His work is amazing. I know I’m biased but I also believe him to be very talented. Like so many talented people, though, it’s hard to break through. It always seems like a case of right-place-right-time in order to make a name for oneself. How else to explain Thomas Kinkaid?

Several years ago, Bobbi created a website for his work, and put said work up on additional fine art sites for people to order prints. She and I recently started a blog called The Artist’s Loft, which we post on Roy’s site but that also appears on Fine Art America. We’re working on getting the word out.

Kevin has also gotten in the act as an artist’s rep. Bobbi designed a postcard and Kevin has been talking to local galleries and putting out feelers online. We believe it’s a matter of persistence, of getting the art out.

Tomorrow we’re delivering a packet of information to Agua Caliente Park Gallery, an oasis on the far eastern side of town. It used to be a ranch but has since become a place to see water in the desert, all types of birds and wildlife, and visit an art gallery that showcases works of nature as well as the great desert southwest.

Bobbi sent us the paintings they want to show, placing them in a great layout. Kevin is going to print them on regular 8 ½” x 11” photo paper, along with artist information, the postcard and contact information for contacting the rep, meaning Kevin.

Repping an artist can be a full-time job. Much like a writer has an agent, ditto actors, fine artists have representatives that do the same, namely pitch the artist’s work to galleries in order to get the artist a showing. With a showing comes potential notoriety, not to mention possible sales. Sales are good because money makes the artist’s work more appreciated, not to mention provides money to buy more canvases, more paints, more sketch pads. It also has the added benefit of helping with little things like food and the mortgage or rent.

Eternal Dance, commissioned for Lorin Michel, 2013. For Pam.

Kevin is enjoying this a great deal. I think, in many ways, it’s easier to be the rep than the artist because for the artist, it’s highly personal. Even though Roy is probably Kevin’s best friend and Kevin wants nothing more than to see him succeed, he’s still removed from the work because he doesn’t do the creating. The hardest thing for an artist to do is represent him or herself. It requires two different types of personality: one who’s into sales/marketing; the other who’s … not.

Artists can be reclusive. They see things differently and thus think and react differently. This is why they can’t represent themselves. Because they don’t think like business people, in terms of dollars and cents, or logistics. They think creatively rather than linearly.

Which is why we currently have Kevin, a businessman, who has dusted off his sales/marketing hat and is starting to pimp Roy’s art everywhere he can. We’re determined – we’re committed – to get this fabulous art into some galleries. It starts with one. That’s all it takes and then hopefully it snowballs. If anybody deserves the accolades, it’s Roy. Anyone who knows him agrees. Anyone who doesn’t would if they knew him and knew his work.

Celebrating art and especially the fine artist Roy Guzman. Keep your fingers crossed for some showing soon.

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Coloring outside the lines

by Lorin Michel Thursday, November 21, 2013 11:40 PM

One of the things I love most about my best good friend Roy is the way his mind works and the way his eyes interpret what he sees in the most artistic ways. Artists all have this ability, of course. It's what sets them apart from mere mortals. Leonardo da Vinci imagined flying machines in the 16th century and drew them, taking inspiration from the birds he saw flying outside of his Florence studio and his imagination. Picasso saw women and painted them how he interpreted them, in altered shapes that defied explanation. Freda Kahlo saw her surroundings in vivid colors floating inside a surreal world.

Roy is an artist. He draws, he paints, but perhaps more importantly than those, he imagines, he dreams, he wonders. He’s curious and he translates it all into his art. He colors outside the lines.

When we’re little we’re taught that one of the most important things to learn to do is to color without going over the lines. When we’re very little, we scribble. As we get older, we become more disciplined. It becomes hugely important to us as well as to our parents and teachers that we stay inside the lines. This is how we learn to conform, to become like everyone else.

It’s not the parents’ or the teachers’ faults. They’re simply trying to teach us structure and children need structure. They need to understand how the world works and functions. We need to learn that there are some limits to what we’re allowed to do, to be taught what is permitted in a civilized society. I understand that and on some levels I even applaud it. In this country alone, we are more than 330 million people who must peacefully co-exist when we’re from different backgrounds with different beliefs and different philosophies.

But ask any adult about coloring when they were a child and I suspect they will talk about staying inside the lines on whatever coloring book they had. I certainly remember coloring inside the lines. I remember lying on my stomach on the floor, with my box of Crayolas on the floor next to me, my Santa Claus or whatever coloring book spread out in front of me. I would carefully choose the appropriate color. Brown for a reindeer for instance; red for Santa’s suit; green for a wreath. I would then, just as carefully, start to color. I would begin at the line, making a thick line that followed the contour of the drawing and work my way inside. My coloring was perfect. If I nicked the line, if a color went outside, I was mortified. I have no idea why. It’s not like I was going to get in trouble. Maybe it was my control freak tendencies.

I also kept my Crayolas in their box, never dumping them on the floor next to me.

The point is, I learned to always stay inside the lines and unlearning that takes time and perseverance. I haven’t colored in a long time though I still have two boxes of Crayola crayons in my desk. Again, I have no idea why. Maybe it’s because I secretly want to color. I wonder if I would be bold enough to color outside the lines.

Coloring outside the lines means giving yourself over to possibility, to chance, to opportunity. It means opening yourself up to seeing things differently and perhaps more importantly to interpreting them differently. It means thinking outside the lines because thinking beyond what is normally accepted, what is supposed to be the structure of life, means coloring way outside the lines. Roy does it every day. Creating amazing art, imagining the world around him in a new ways. It’s something I aspire to; to scribble again.

I aspire to think like Roy.


live out loud

A brief history of December 3

by Lorin Michel Monday, December 3, 2012 8:51 PM

Today is the third day of the twelfth month of the year. It is also a Monday, a bit cloudy and cool, and still early enough in December to consider the approaching holiday manageable in terms of the time that remains. I think as long as we’re in single digits, we can do that, even though we shouldn’t. On December 10, panic sets in.

But let’s not talk about that. Let’s stay nestled here with December 3, a lovely day and one I’m celebrating for a number of reasons. For instance, in 1621 on this date, Galileo invented the telescope, a modern miracle that allows mere humans to see to the stars and beyond, to realize how close we are to the universe, and how far away, to understand how big we are and how insignificant. It puts things in perspective.

Then in 1775, the US flag was raised for the first time, aboard the Alfred. 1818 saw Illinois being recognized as the 21st state of the US and in 1828, Andrew Jackson was elected the seventh president. Shortly thereafter, in 1833, Oberlin College opened. It was the first truly co-educational college in the country, offering a higher education to both men and women. In 1834, the first US dental society was organized. Smile and say cheese.

The first neon lights debuted in the city of lights in 1910 at the Paris Auto Show, and the first successful color movie debuted in New York City in 1922. It was called Toll of the Sea, and in it, a young woman named Lotus Flower finds an unconscious man floating in the China seas. The man’s name is Allen Carver and the two soon fall in love. Carver wants to marry her and take her to the United States but his friends discourage him, and so he returns home alone. Years later, Carver returns with a wife and discovers that Lotus Flower has a young son. She would like Carver to raise him in America, so Carver and his wife take the boy, leave and Lotus Flower wades into the sea behind them and drowns. It’s not very cheery, but is to be celebrated for the era of Technicolor that it ushered in.

In 1930 the Rodgers and Hart musical Evergreen premiered in London and Otto Ender formed the Austrian government. I don’t believe there is any correlation other than coincidence. Luckily, the following year, Alka Seltzer was invented, just in case.

1947 saw the premiere of A Streetcar Named Desire in New York City in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. It starred Marlon Brando, Jessica Tandy, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden and it played for just over two years. When the last line was uttered by Rudy Bond’s Steve (Stanley and Stella’s landlord), “This game is seven-card stud,” the audience erupted in cheers. They cheered for thirty minutes.

Paul Harvey started his national radio broadcast and the Cleveland Browns, the last NFL team with a no-pass game, beat Philadelphia by the score of 13 – 7. Both happened in 1950.

Television was broadcast for the first time in Hawaii in 1952, LA’s KTVE started broadcasting as an NBC station in 1955, Wilt Chamberlain played his first collegiate basketball game in 1956, and in 1961 the Beatles met their future manage Brian Epstein. In 1964, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer aired for the first time. The first human heart transplant was performed by Dr. Christian Barnard in 1967, John Lennon was offered the role of Jesus Christ in Jesus Christ Superstar in 1969 (he turned it down) and the US performed a nuclear test at the Nevada test site in 1970.

By 1979, Christies, the great auction house, was auctioning a thimble for $18,400, Cleveland recorded a record temperature of 77º in 1982 and in 1984, the world’s oldest groom, Harry Stevens, 103, married a woman twenty years his junior, Thelma Lucas, in Wisconsin.

So many other wonderful things happened on this day, this December 3, in history, but one of the most important was that our best buddy Roy was born.

Today, I’m celebrating him, his artistry, his humor, his love of life and love of wife; his generosity, his spirit, his perseverance. Happy Birthday, dear, dear friend. We’ll celebrate in style next weekend!

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Celebrating hug-your-furry-family-members day

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, April 11, 2012 8:16 PM

The hug is that most human of responses, one we use in both joy and sorrow. We reach out our arms to say hello to a friend we haven’t seen for months, or just since last week. We reach to comfort. We hug our family close, our children closer. We give a perfunctory hug to colleagues. Sometimes we pretend to be so happy to see them we also throw in a little pretend air kiss. But perfunctory hugs are different than other hugs. The arm motion is wrong. The hugger sort of loops his or her forearms through the huggee’s to apply just the smallest amount of pressure to the huggee’s back. A hug given to someone you know and are happy to see is a full-blown expression of love, a big wrap of the arms accompanied by a squeeze.

This is also the kind of hug most people give to their creature-comforts. You know, those of the four-legged and furry variety. Hugging a dog or a cat, or gently giving a squeeze to a puppy or kitten is one of the great joys of being a person, in this writer’s humble opinion. It’s one of the things I miss most about Maguire. I miss so many things of course, but not being able to sit on the floor and put my arms around him is what made National Hug Your Dog day so heartbreaking.

Yes, I’m a day late on celebrating this wondrous day, a day when it’s OK to hug your pup, as if it wasn’t OK any other day. That wondrous day when you shouldn’t wear black because you’re going to be wearing your animal’s fur after engaging in that hug and the person behind you in line at Starbucks will smile knowingly and ask: “How many pets do you have?”

April 10th was National Hug Your Dog day, per Beneful dog food, but according to a survey of U.S. dog owners, 68 percent of respondents actually hug their dogs more than they hug their people. Thirty percent admitted that they hug their dogs more than any of their other family members and 26 percent said that they hug their dogs more than they hug their best friends. Except that dog is often referred to as man’s best friend, so I think that statistic is a bit suspect.

The most cuddly breeds of dogs are evidently cocker spaniels. They require a great deal of human interaction. Retrievers, specifically of the Labrador variety, are also extremely loyal and loving. Beagles, gentle, sweet, sociable creatures that they are, are also highly affectionate. A Bichon Frise is happy to be hugged and hugged often, as is a boxer who gets five out of five paws for affection by WebVet.

My personal feeling is that it doesn’t matter what the breed – Maguire was, after all, a mutt, an adorable concoction of golden retriever/Australian shepherd and maybe some Akita and perhaps a bit of Chow Chow – they’re all infinitely huggable and fabulous.

And if you have a cat, that hardly matters because cats are dogs, too, just more aloof versions. As the saying goes: dogs have owners; cats have staff. But you can have wonderful relationships with people who work for you. Cats love their people and cat people love their cats as much as dog people love their dogs. I had a cat before we got Maguire. I lost her to cancer but I loved that beautiful little girl; I was devastated when she died and I couldn’t hug her anymore. She actually liked to be hugged, to an extent. When I would get home at night, to my townhouse, I would stand in the entrance way and wait for it. Sure enough, after about 30 seconds or so, I’d hear the soft thud as she jumped down from her sleeping position on the corner of my bed. Soon, she’d come slinking down the stairs, meowing the whole way, and then do that great little cat strut over to me, rub against my leg while stiffening her tail. I’d pick her up and she’d put her front paws around my neck, one on either side, and bury her gray and peach-colored fur head under my hair as she purred. She hugged.

Roy and Maguire

Maguire hugged too, by putting his head under my chin and pushing up against me. He was a hugger from the moment we got him, all 10 pounds of stinky fur, burrowing up against my chest and pushing his head up under my neck. As he got older, he did the same thing, though usually when he was sitting and I was sitting next to him. He hugged. I miss those hugs.

Today, I’m celebrating hug-your-furry-family-members day. I celebrate dogs and cats every day, and I celebrate the memory of hugging my boy. I still think he’s here with me sometimes, laying his head against me, hugging me back in the only way he knows how. It gives me a bit of creature-comfort just thinking about it, thinking about him, hugging him still if only in my dreams.

Guzman, Roy Guzman

by Lorin Michel Saturday, September 24, 2011 6:26 PM

Our great friend Roy has a gallery opening tonight, his first in a number of years. It’s in North Hollywood, an area that has transformed itself into what is called the NoHo Arts District and it is teeming with galleries, small theatres, restaurants and bars with live music. We can’t wait.

Suspicious Mind. Acrylic on canvas. Artist: Roy Guzman

Roy has actually been a friend for years, so many I’ve almost lost track. He was the first person I met when I started work at Sebastian International back in 1989. I had been hired by the HR department after an interview with one of the ladies in PR, but I had no idea where I’d be working or who I’d be working with. I was still fairly young, in my twenties, and all I wanted to do was get paid for writing. Sebastian was my first true writing job.

I sat in the lobby of one of the company’s office buildings, in Woodland Hills, long before they moved to their grand Pyramid-style building, waiting. For whom I didn’t know. As it turns out, it was Roy. He was the art director and had been for some time. He was in shorts, and a t-shirt, with long black hair hanging in a ponytail down his back. He had a goatee. He just looked creative, if creative can have a look. It took all of five minutes for me to consider him a friend; maybe not even that long. He was just fun and open and honest and funny and didn’t take any crap from anybody, putting people in their place in the most disarming way. He was just Roy, and I have been grateful to have him and his wife, Bobbi, in my life ever since.

I blame them both – though mostly Bobbi – for my current marriage. It was them that put Kevin and I together. We’ll celebrate 13 years of wedded bliss on Monday. We travel with them, we Fritini with them, we wine-taste with them. They have doted on Justin for years becoming, as Justin calls them, Aunt Roy and Uncle Bobbi. We love them both dearly.

Roy, Bobbi, me, Kevin

Tonight we’re so honored and excited to be with them, all of their friends; their daughter Michale and grandson Zach. Roy is always scribbling, drawing, painting. His studio is at once a disaster and a haven for anything artistic. Thousands of musical CDs are crammed into shelves, along with record albums. Art in progress lines the counters, hangs from the ceiling, is taped to the wall. His drawing table, a near relic from his early years at Art Center, has been renovated time and time again. It is in front of this table, leaning forward, pen or brush in hand, brow furrowed, where he makes his mark, his art.

Tonight he will be one of several artists to show at NoHo Gallery LA in a show entitled Latin Fusion. As a celebration of Latin Heritage Month, this show will highlight “some of L.A.’s most talented Latino artists… representing a beautiful blend of art mediums and styles.” Roy has chosen eight paintings, all acrylics on canvas. And in our estimation, they’re a perfect representation of his talent and an inadequate display of what he is truly capable of. I wish he had the whole space, the whole of gallery to hang more of his work, to shout to the world that he has arrived. Of course, that’s just me. He’s way to modest to shout. He prefers to simply create, and he’s so very good at it.

State of Mind. Acrylic on canvas. Artist: Roy Guzman

Yes, I’m biased. I’m allowed. But I’m not the only one who thinks that he’s quite special, Bobbi notwithstanding. His art is getting out to the masses. He was asked to do this show; he didn’t solicit it. That speaks volumes. In a city of talent, he is standing out. I couldn’t be more proud.

From the first day I met him, he has been my friend. He’s funny, warm, loves his cats and Maguire, has a quick wit, likes his martinis shaken, not stirred, and possesses a mind that can see art in literally any blank space.

He is Guzman, Roy Guzman. Tonight, my friend, live it out loud!

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live out loud

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