Last night, the two bad boys of L.A. lit, Bret Easton Ellis and Jonathan Gold, sat down to discuss culture, cuisine, and this fair city of ours. This meeting of minds was orchestrated by the Armand Hammer Museum’s “Conversations” series, which pairs notables in fields such as science, music and art to discuss current events.
Now, I don’t mean to dis Los Angeles–this is the town that birthed Raymond Chandler and John Fante as well as the two authors in discussion–but literary events don’t always draw the largest crowd in town. However, I barely made it in the parking last night to catch the chat as the show was sold out. Those without proper seats inside the Hammer auditorium kicked it outside in the courtyard, where the museum graciously set up a large movie screen and broadcast Ellis and Gold’s discussion live. It was a particularly balmy night and though we had tickets, we decided to chance it under the stars with a bottle of wine. After all, hanging outside at night in the middle of November is one of the many perks of living in L.A.
The scheduled topic of discussion between Gold, the only food writer ever to win a Pulitzer and Ellis, the reigning enfant terrible of lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous-literature, was the city of LA. However, Ellis kicked of the night by stating, “I don’t want to talk about Los Angeles,” as he handed Jonathan Gold a can of Four Loko, a malt liquor with DUI-inducing level of alcohol with a shot of caffeine. (According to Gold, the beverage tasted like, “Beer with melted Jolly Ranchers.”
This seemed to suit the uber-mellow Gold just fine. Rather than stick the topic at hand, the two writer’s conversation meandered and touched on topics ranging from Joan Didion to reality television shows such as The Hills and To Catch a Predator to Ellis’ recent trip to Australia to the worst dumpling joint in New York to the $3000 sex toy for sale at an unidentified upscale restaurants’ gift shop. (My bet’s on The Bazaar by Jose Andres but no names were given.)
Throughout the conversation, Gold who settled naturally into the role of interviewer asked Ellis about his literary career, the fame of his first novel Less Than Zero, his opinion of writing classes (Ellis is not in favor) his latest novel Imperial Bedrooms, (which Ellis stated was based on the time when he was making a movie out of The Informers, his book of short stories) and the difficulty of writing numerous pages on the musical ouevre of Phil Collins for American Psycho (Colinns allegedly declined to meet Ellis when they were both scheduled to appear on the same televsion show) when they finally and almost accidentally touched on the topic of Los Angeles. As it turns out, after approximately twenty years in New York, Ellis has moved back to town.
The conversation ended with a Q&A session, in which audience members asked Jonathan Gold for restaurant recommendations in the area. A good sport, Gold recommended Flame Restaurant, located just down the block. We talked about going (who doesn’t love persian food?) but decided to grab another L.A. institution–the chili burger–instead.