Thanks to all of you who made it out to the Gaylord Apartments and HMS Bounty last night! I got to meet several of you for the first time and reconnect with others of you. (Special thanks to Pat Saperstein for loaning me her camera -- can't believe I left mine at home!)
I arrived at the Gaylord/HMS Bounty at around 7:15, and the line was already down the red carpet. (Yes, red carpet -- indeed, this was a much more stylized event than what I had originally planned with my wake.) The crowd in the Gaylord lobby was thick but manageable -- most of the people were outside, near the open bar, natch.
Out on the patio I ran into Joseph Mailander
and Lynn, as well as KFI's Justin Levine... and several other people who recognized me from Franklin Avenue and The Ambassador's Last Stand. Moving to the HMS, I met 5th and Spring
's Celia for the first time, and Trained Monkey
's Jim for the second time. I think they recently started dating -- guys, true? (Update
) Later popped in LAist
's Carolyn, who recounted her terrible mugging experience a few weeks ago right around the corner. Also, met LARitz
's Jessica Ritz -- whose father, I later found out, co-wrote Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Healing"!
Also, thanks to Blogging.la and Wildbell's Will Campbell
for figuring out how to use the flash on Pat's camera; and his wife Susan
, who took several pics for The Ambassador's Last Stand via her job's vantage point across the street. Also met Losanjealous
' Ryan, and Josh from Curbed LA
Can't forget Shannon
from Sha in LA, and her pal Eric Lynxwiler, the co-author of the fantastic "Wilshire Boulevard: Grand Concourse of Los Angeles." The book's other co-author, LA Observed
's Kevin Roderick, was there, as was Los Angeles mag's Mary Melton (who wrote about our Birthday Race
in 2003, you may recall). And LAVoice's Mack Reed, who wrote up
the best coverage of anyone. A tidbit:
The loveliest tribute came from Carlyn Frank Benjamin - daughter of one of the Ambassador's first caretakers, and a 16-year resident of the hotel from the time it opened in 1921: "I'd always hoped the old girl would put on some new clothes and some comfortable shoes and some rose-scented moisturizing lotion, and that she could have had a new lease on life. ..."
And then she conjured the image of the Ambassador's ghosts rising up, filtering up through the debris and inspiring the LAUSD students who will occupy the school soon to be built on the site.
If that can happen, the death of the Ambassador won't have been a huge waste.
Besides getting to speak before Diane Keaton (who I stood next to on the stage), the highlight was meeting Mrs. Benjamin (the subject of Thursday's LATimes cover story
about the Ambassador). Don't let her age fool you -- she was one of the liveliest attendees at the event. Not only did she give the best speech, but she and her sister (who also lived at the Ambassador in her youth) remember the hotel like it was yesterday. (Her husband was also an agent back in the day, and she told me she got to know Army Archerd very well. I told her Army was now blogging as well!)
Most amazingly, Mrs. Benjamin reads the blog! And knows all about me and Maria! I can't even get some of my friends to check it out, yet here's a woman who not only outlived the Ambassador but is still going strong! She was an inspiration. Here's a pic of me with her:Me with Carlyn Frank Benjamin, who grew up at the AmbassadorSome other shots:Diane Keaton speaksLongtime Ambassador P.R. manager Margaret Burk, who wrote a fantastic history on the hotel, "Are The Stars Out Tonight?"5th and Spring's Celia, her friend Kathy and Trained Monkey's JimLAist's Carolyn KelloggMartini Republic's Joseph with wife Lynn and KFI's Justin LevineSha in LA's Shannon, with "Wilshire Boulevard" co-author Eric LynxwilerLAVoice's Mack Reed, Los Angeles mag's Mary Melton and LAObserved's Kevin RoderickLosanjealous' Ryan, with Will and Susan CampbellRobert Peate, who also sent us a lot of great shots over the past few months, and his wife RobinIn the HMS BountyCrowd in the Gaylord lobby listen to speakersMore HMS Bounty crowdRed carpetOther recaps:Caroline On Crack
wishes it was more of a wake, less of a party but notes the impressive turnout.Sha in LA
hates to admit it, but perhaps Adaptive Reuse just wasn't possible with the Ambassador. She has a great rundown of who was there, and some cool pics here
at Martini Republic doesn't quite get the hullabaloo surrounding the Ambassador's demise.Jim
at Trained Monkey also briefly checks in and lists some of the blogger attendees.LA Observed
also mentions a few highlights in its Friday roundup.
Carolyn at LAist
has some last words for the Ambassador -- and is relieved that Hilary Duff didn't show up.Jorge and Claudy
took some great shots, and note that one-time "Melrose Place" and "Growing Pains" star Jamie Luner was there.Celia
from 5th and Spring tells a bittersweet story of meeting a onetime Cocoanut Grove musician with some great stories to tell -- but sadly, none of his former bandmates to reminisce with.
Thanks to the L.A. Conservancy and Ken Bernstein as well. Were you there? Did I meet you? Let me know!