My Oscar Adventure



I didn’t have to go far to have an Oscar adventure today. I was walking Tanner this morning when my German neighbor, a hair and makeup artist, approached me on the sidewalk in a panic.

“I am 10 minutes late to do hair for my Oscar clients, and my car won’t start, and I cannot get the Uber app to work,” she said in on breath.

I had no trouble believing this. She has a classic convertible, and it often takes a while to start in the morning. That car is probably responsible for one-fourth of the smog in the LA area.

“You want a ride?” I asked.

Today is the Super Bowl of the hair and makeup world, and she didn’t hesitate.


I grabbed my keys, scooped a very confused Tanner (um, what about breakfast, dad?) into the car and picked her up. As we sped down Santa Monica I asked who her clients were. She’s working on the folks from Citizenfour, the Edward Snowden documentary. I can’t tell you how happy this made me. She’s also doing hair and makeup for German director Wim Wenders, whose work I must now familiarize myself with. She was very kind and very thankful. As repayment, she offered to cut my hair, which sent both of us into hysterics.

Now, I’m not saying I saved the Oscars today. And I’m not saying that if Citizenfour wins and so many people become aware that their government is acting illegally that we finally elect the right folks to run this country and peace breaks out globally that I have helped save the world today. Let’s leave that for the historians to decide. What I can say is that you don’t get a ton of chances to help your neighbors in LA, because we’re an independent and private lot, and it was nice to give her a hand.

(Tanner survived the trip and got his breakfast and is now resting comfortably on the couch.)


How I’m Preparing for the Big Rainstorms Coming to Los Angeles

How one simple, humble man is preparing for the rainstorms coming to Los Angeles.


Rain is a rare sight in Los Angeles, and we have a big storm moving in. The news reports all say to be prepared, and that’s what I’m doing.

I started prepping today by taking my life-coach-hike on Runyon Canyon on Monday instead of Tuesday. My life coach and career guru Tapan said that rescheduling our weekly walk is the kind of proactive maneuver he’d like to see me take more often at work. As a result, I plan to make pro-activity the theme of my evening meditation.

On the home front I had our housekeeper Esmerelda shut all of the windows, weather-strip the doors and climb up on the roof to check for possible leaks. Many Angelenos hire young, cheap domestic assistants, but you can’t beat having an experienced housekeeper. At 70-plus-years-old she knows exactly how to spot a roof leak among our Spanish-style ceramic tiles.

Over the weekend I asked my driver Gary to replace all of the wipers and put four new radial tires on the Escalade. I also asked him to make sure that we had an E-Z Pass for the 406 in case we need to use the freeway. (The 406 is an exclusive, invitation-only freeway located underground and adjacent to the 405.)

With torrential rain expected, I had my dog and dog walker flown to a sustainable canine spa. I can’t recommend “Paws And Reflect” of Phoenix enough. Our pooch is always so centered upon return. So focused. So Zen.

My wife and I will miss Chartreuse, our Pomeranian-Doberman rescue, but we won’t be alone. We’ll batten down the hatches with Verisimilitude, our Japanese land penguin, who is unable to travel due to a recent tough mudder injury. We will also be joined for the week by Giacamo, our crossfit trainer, so we don’t miss any sessions.

The panic room, where we will ride out the storm, is stocked with a fabulous array of Napa reds, French whites and gluten-free gluten cubes, which contain no gluten.

Now, of course, it’s just a matter of waiting for the rain to fall, fall, fall! (The rain will not be falling on our house, thanks to the drone-tarp, but it will be neat to see what it does to the rest of the city. We’ll get through this together, Los Angeles!)

Joe Donatelli is a journalist in Los Angeles. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo by AudioVision, Public Radio


Sorry We Stole Your Stuff

Los Angeles airport employees stole a lot of flyer baggage. On behalf of LA, sorry we stole your stuff, world.


I’m a cautious person. I check the oven every single time I leave the house. For the record, I’ve never once left the oven on. I hardly use my oven. It’s not like I’m cooking so much that oh-geez sometimes I lose track of when I’ve activated a major appliance that starts controlled fires. But before I can walk out the door, I have to make sure there aren’t four blue flames leaping from the burners threatening to engulf my kitchen with slight warmth.

Cautiousness extends to other areas of my life. I sometimes park my car, walk into Ralph’s grocery store, start shopping, walk out of the store and check to make sure the car is locked, which it always is. Making matters worse, when I go outside to the parking lot I’m also worried that someone will see my unattended grocery cart and go, “Hey, I want all the exact same stuff” and then check out with my food.

Longtime readers know my policy on backup shirts.

So naturally I don’t pack anything of value in checked luggage, which I assume will be ransacked by thugs the moment the conveyor belt rolls it out of sight behind the ticket counter. My packing strategy has always been to bore would-be thieves with earth tone shirts and cheap tennis shoes and socks that once contained elastic. There is even a name for the way I dress. It’s called Normcore, which is the style of intentional blandness. Thanks to my lifelong commitment to Normcore I own absolutely nothing worth stealing.

Anything slightly valuable I bring with me. My laptop is old and slow and heavy, and it’s missing the letter J on the keyboard, which is why my byline is sometimes Hoe Donatelli. If I didn’t carry my laptop onto the plane, I know with absolute certainty it would end up for sale in the back of a van filled with laptops purchased by down-on-their-luck screenwriters in Silverlake.

Normally my caution is a burden—a waste of time and energy. I know this. I’m totally aware of it. I act this way because that’s who I am. But every once in a while my mania is vindicated, as was the case recently when police revealed that as many as 25 Los Angeles International Airport baggage handlers had stolen thousands of items in what Los Angeles Times reporters Richard Winton, Kate Mather and Dan Weikel call “one of the largest property heists in airport history.”

“Basically everything of value — be it electronics, jewelry and items — that could be stolen in seconds would be removed from bags,” LAX Police Chief Pat Gannon told the Los Angeles Times, guaranteeing that my paranoia will continue for decades to come. “They’d just open up the suitcases and rifle through them and pocket valuables.”

The baggage handlers were employed by Menzies Aviation. The company said it believed the alleged thefts were “limited to a handful of employees, acting independently,” which means, in my legal opinion, they probably won’t face RICO charges.

I can’t say with certainty exactly what RICO charges are, but I’ve watched enough detective shows to know that when a group of people conspire to do something bad, the cops back at the station usually have a meeting with the district attorney where the cops say they don’t have enough evidence to nail the guys, and the DA says, “We’ll nail them on RICO charges,” and the cops are excited that they can interrogate these lawbreakers, but then later the local cops get all bent out of shape when the feds come in and set up in the good conference room and muck up the case.

Los Angeles owes an apology to the travelers of the world. I personally did not take any personal electronics or jewelry, but I’m sorry that someone stole your stuff. I’m sorry that this will be a worry people have every time they fly to Los Angeles. There are already so many things to worry about here—earthquakes, mudslides, traffic, whether LA is going to get a pro football team, etc. When people come to Los Angeles, they should expect to have their money taken by our muggers and car rental taxes, like normal cities.

My advice to anyone flying here: carry on your valuables. Most airport employees are good, honest people, but you’re going to have a few bad apples in any bunch. LAX employs 45,000 people.

On our honeymoon to Italy I remember being so relieved that our bags had arrived in Rome. The thought of dealing with a lost or stolen bag on foreign soil filled me with dread. We were going to be traveling all over the country, and our phones were turned off most of the time to save money on roaming. (Telecommunications companies should definitely be busted for roaming charges under RICO.)

Even if our bags were found, how would they get to us? They wouldn’t. I’d have to buy all-new Italian clothes, and I can’t pull off that kind of look. Our honeymoon photos would have shown a beautiful woman in nice clothes with a man dressed like a Las Vegas nightclub owner from the year 2019.

“Nice photos, Jen,” our friends would have said to my wife years later. “Too bad your husband didn’t go with you on your honeymoon.”

Oh, that’s him, my wife would say, it’s just hard to recognize him when he’s not wearing jeans and an Ohio University sweatshirt.

Then our friends would have pretended they knew it was me the whole time, ha-ha-ha, but they would just be acting polite, and on the car ride home they’d say, “It’s odd that Joe didn’t go on their honeymoon.” “Trouble in paradise, I guess.”

Somewhere in Japan right now there is a couple who got married in Los Angeles trying to explain to their friends that the man in the Mickey Mouse T-shirt standing next to the woman in a bridal gown is the groom, and their friends are just sitting there and nodding politely and silently judging the groom for going Normcore at his wedding.

That’s on us, LA.

Joe Donatelli publishes The Humor Columnist. You can follow him on Twitter: @joedonatelli.

Photo by Prayitno/more

UPDATE: In Canada they don’t steal your stuff so much as they do drop it 20 feet in the air.


The Great Los Angeles St. Patrick’s Day Earthquake of 2014

My St. Patrick’s Day earthquake story was boring and fairly typical of all Los Angelenos, but I’ll share it anyway. It was 6:30 AM, which means I had just finished Pilates and was stretching for yoga, which I do for an hour every morning before hiking Runyon with my dog. I felt our home roll, but I managed to keep my pomegranate smoothie from spilling on our coffee table, which was purchased at an antique store and crafted by Peruvian artisans in Puerto Maldonado and would be very hard to replace if something spilled on it.

I ran for my wife, who had been up for several hours already working on her latest manuscript, a memoir about the summer she spent building an aqua duct in Central Africa.

“Are you OK?” I asked her.

She calmly put down her organic dried cherry pecan scone and said, “I’m fine, but I’m going to need to meditate for an hour to realign my chi.”

I understood.

I told her, “If there are aftershocks, I am going to try ride them out on my balance board as a calf workout.”

In my haste I had completely forgotten about our Tibetan Mastiff, Lord George. I half-expected him to be cowering in the corner, but he was quite busy communicating with his friends on Dog Twitter, which is a secret Twitter for dogs that only well-to-do people in Los Angeles have. He had just retweeted Jimmy Kimmel’s dog’s reaction to the earthquake when he went into the kitchen and fetched himself a dried cherry pecan canine scone.

I walked the perimeter of our home and checked for damage. Our BMW and Range Rover are fine. All of the security cameras are still attached and functional. A little water splashed out of the pool, so we’ll have to have the pool guy come out and replace it. A few lemons fell from our lemon tree, but that might have happened before the earthquake.

My neighbor, Kristof, came  over to the fence and asked me if we were OK. Did we need anything? Papayas? Grass-fed free-range beef? Wheatgrass juice? I told him we were well-stocked and thank you.


(This was the extent of the devastation. We’ll have our gardener Rulon clean it up later.)

I returned inside, said, “Television On” and watched some of the local news reports, which mainly consisted of news anchors describing what the earthquake felt like to them. I turned it off and logged onto Secret Drudge Report, which is a premium version of Drudge Report that reports what is actually happening in the world. I saw that we were not in any immediate danger, so I returned to my yoga stretches and my day.



May Your State Fall in the Ocean

You hope California fall into the ocean? Well, I hope your state falls into the ocean too, buddy.

I don’t want to alarm anyone, but we’re experiencing a nationwide increase in Hitlers. Everywhere you go online, someone is being called Hitler. Or a Nazi.

Story about President Obama? Check the comments. He’s the new Hitler. Profile of Sen. Ted Cruz? That guy is a Nazi. Did the school board ban gluten? It’s Munich all over again. (Munich, for those of you who did not study WWII, once banned gluten.)

In these modern times, there is no escaping Hitler.

He’s everywhere.


(I will not buy this evil tea kettle, JC Penny.)

There is a reason for the resurgence of Hitlers, and it’s called Godwin’s Law. Godwin’s Law is named after its creator, Mike Godwin, and it states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches.”

In case you have not noticed and need me to point it out, Mike Godwin, with his fascist penchant for forcing accurate labels on things, is quite the Hitler.

My job, freelance writing, requires me to spend a lot of time procrastinating. Every day while I am supposed to be working on important articles about  conversations between beer and tequila, I surf the Web. I can confirm that when you hang around Internet comment sections, you spend a lot of time either disagreeing with Hitlers or agreeing with Hitlers or being called Hitler.

california-fall-oceanIt is within these comment sections that you also inevitably cross paths with a large number of people who believe it’s awful that California hasn’t fallen into the ocean. This happens far more often than you think. When a news story from California makes our state look bad, which is usually all of them, some wise guy inevitably comments, “I hope California will fall in the ocean!” This comment is greeted with up-votes and likes and other digital high-fives from people usually named “Bill” from places called “Alabama.”

Personally, I oppose California falling into the ocean. Not just because I live here and would drown. I think that when most Internet commenters wish for California to fall into the ocean they’re being shortsighted.

If California fell in the ocean, the United States would lose 12 percent of its population and 13 percent of its economy, including sizeable portions of the technology, entertainment, defense and food industries. The national supply of Baldwin brothers would take a serious hit. What’s left of the West Coast would be defenseless against the Russians, Chinese and possibly the Canadians, who are entirely too polite not to be up to something. America would be in trouble.

I don’t think I’m being dramatic when I say California falling into the ocean is exactly what Hitler would want.

That is why, in the national interest, I am taking this occasion to encourage Internet commenters to wish alternative states into the ocean.

Take Vermont. Vermont has the smallest economy in the country. Heck, it might not even have an economy. I don’t know anyone who’s ever seen it. It would be weeks before anyone noticed Vermont was missing. Added bonus: New Hampshire would finally have the room it needs to develop as an individual.


Mississippi has the most gonorrhea in the country. (Hey, congratulations.) I like everyone I’ve ever met from Mississippi. If Mississippi fell in the ocean, I’d miss it. But let’s be honest. No one would miss all that gonorrhea.

And what’s going on in Tennessee? It’s the most dangerous state in the union, much to the shock of New York and disappointment of New Jersey. It would be irresponsible not to consider sinking it with our navy.

How sad would anyone be if they never heard from another Boston sports fan again? Exactly. Massachusetts, sorry, but we liked you a lot better when your sports teams were cursed.

Utah. Ever tried to get a drink in Utah? See you, Utah.

You, too, Pennsylvania. If a man wants to buy a six-pack and a bottle of whiskey at 10:01 PM on a Tuesday, he shouldn’t have to drive to Delaware, which is another largely unnecessary state.

New York and Washington, D.C., you are responsible for our sagging economy. May your next bailout be from a raft.

And Florida.

There comes a time as a responsible, adult nation when we must ask, “Do we really need Florida?”

Sure, it serves some purpose, but what? Can anyone say anymore?

Sorry, Florida.

Predicting natural disasters is difficult business. What if The Big One hits and the fault line cracks and it’s the rest of the United States that falls in the ocean? That would be awful for us Californians, because it would make the baseball regular season pretty boring, but we would still have the ninth-largest economy in the world, plus army, air force, marine and naval bases as well as Hollywood, Silicon Valley, Napa and, most critically, the remaining Baldwin brothers.

We’d be fine.

Even the Hitler-loving Nazis who run our local government can’t Munich that up.

Joe Donatelli publishes Follow him @joedonatelli.

UPDATE: Musicians who think California will fall into the ocean. Let me know if I missed any. I’m sure I did.