A Man About Town

By Phillip William Sheppard

The Oscars - what a show this year.  The only thing that could have made me happier would have been for the movie, Selma, to receive more recognition.

It is times like these when I wonder what it will take for a movie like this to be recognized.  The creative talent was there in every category of movie making and yet here we are.  All right, I won’t belabor the point.

After all, I did enjoy the other movies up for consideration and having the opportunity to have a press credential for a weeklong pass for the preparation of the 87th The Academy Award Show, was fantastic.  I have met Michael Keaton, here in Santa Monica, a few times.  Frankly, I thought his performance in Birdman was absolutely incredible, as was the rest of the cast. I could not say enough about The Theory of Everything, with amazing performances by Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, and Still Alice, showcased an amazing performance by Julianne Moore. John Legend and Common performance of the amazing song, "Glory,” from the Selma soundtrack gave me goose bumps and brought me to near tears.

February was also Black History Month and many of the happenings around the city honored the legacy of Dr. King, but I have to say that none conveyed this legacy more poignantly than the movie, Selma. Although the movie was locked out from receiving an Oscar Award, its Director, Ava DuVernay, won a Golden Globe, for Best Director Motion Picture. As the Civil Rights Act of 1964 legally desegregated the South, discrimination still occurred.

As a boy, I can recall Dr. King visiting our neighborhood in Kirkwood, GA a few years later. One of my older brothers even met him in person.  If Dr. King were alive today, he would have loved this movie as much as I did.

Press week for the Oscars allowed me to be up close for the set-up and preparation for the the Academy of Arts production.  Several of the events were amazing but I have to say the African American Film Critics party at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, CA was spectacular. I got to hang out with stars like Sheryl Lee Ralph, Natalie Cole, David Oyelowo, Beverly Johnson, Vanessa Bell Calloway and many other actors, musicians, writers, directors, producers.

As a two-time past contestant on the CBS show, Survivor, I was invited to the 30 Seasons – 15 Years celebration at the The Paley Center in Beverly Hills, CA.  It's unbelievable that after 15 years, Survivor is still the number one reality show in the world with over 80 Million Fans World Wide.  Many remember me as The Specialist.  It was also great to be included in the first Official CBS Collector’s Edition for a behind-the-scenes look of 15 years of amazing reality television with host and Executive Producer, Jeff Probst.

I'm happy to report the reopening of Hollyhock House, a National Historic Landmark— and one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s most magnificent masterpieces, marking his first foray into architecture in Los Angeles. Hollyhock House is known for its "lyrical and poetic style of architecture" called California Romanza, or “freedom to make one’s own form,” which complements LA’s significance as a trendsetter in the arts and architecture space.

Hollyhock House is now amongst a very select group of 10 Frank Lloyd Wright buildings to have become some of the first works of modern architecture nominated by the United States to the United Nation’s Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List.

Walking around and viewing the home with Eric Garcetti, the Mayor of Los Angeles was like taking a trip back in time; and overlooking the city from different angles within was beautiful and fascinating. Kate Devine Brady, his daughter, attended the reopening and made a statement on behalf the family. “ Aline Bansdall and Frank were free thinkers, pioneers, and idealists which through their collaboration created the architectural treasure.”

I had an amazing experience at the hot trending Artesian Coffee House Bar, at 600 Main Street in Downtown Los Angeles. There, I met a new author of fiction, Devon Henry.  Her collection of short stories, Kaijin, ranged from scorned banshees, to co-ed demon reimaging of age old myths. Inside the book are five distinct short works of short fiction, a blend of dark humor and modern feminist prose.  I had to chuckle at the dedication “For all the monsters with pretty skin: Bare your fangs, don’t let them win”.  Devon is a young gifted writer. I appeared in one of her short films called Development Hell and loved the writing.  I'll let you read her latest work at you own risk.

One of my favorite spots is BOA on Sunset, in West Hollywood.  It's one of the best places for great food and to mingle with people from all over town. I’ve never not met a stranger in there, and at the bar everyone, including the staff, go out of their way to be friendly.  If you want incredible food and yet a different kind of dining experience, you have to go to Church Key on Sunset, just about a mile down on the same side of the street. The food is off the hook “OMG” and you are going to pay for it, but I have to say it is incredible.  The drinks are made so very good.  I’ve never had cocktails like the way they make them there.

I ventured into the Annenberg Museum on Pacific Coast Highway, Santa Monica, CA and met several writers including Samuel G. Gailey.  His first novel, Deep Winter, is a masterful nail biter; P.G. Sturges, author of The Shortcut Man is a very good writer, and in person he is unpretentious and interesting.  I could listen to him talk about his stories all day. 

I met an author, by chance, at a local coffee shop and I am so glad I did as he offered me a copy of his book an insider’s guide on how to protect wealth and growing wealth. Roger C. Davis has a book for any investor or citizen who wants to understand why Wall Street Is Just NOT That Into YOU and offers an approach that outlines an insightful way to invest for life.  The fact is, if you have money in the stock market, you might want to read this book.  His twenty years of experience explains how “Wall Street One Size Fits All” approach should make even the wealthy wary.

Here are my Top Pics for the Westside of Town for dinner and night life: Arts Table, Venice on The Beach, Casey’s Irish Pub, O.P. Café, 213 Night Life, Café Luxxe, R&D Kitchen and Scopa Italian Roots. Each month I’ll let you know of others. The Specialist, is A Man About Town.

Photo Credits: Phillip William Sheppard

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