Thursday, January 31, 2013

No Holds Barred: Fleeing My Flu

By Blair Sabol

I felt like Sarkozy fleeing France. Except I was fleeing my Arizona home for flu epidemic reasons not millionaire tax issues. My state got hit hard with The Bug and both of my over-ninety- year old -parents came down with it (along with every person I knew) and I Tamiflued and chicken-souped them for over a week. I remain dressed in Michelin Man gear of mask and rubber gloves while insanely hand washing till my cuticles disintegrated.

None of us got flu shots. Few people I know actually did. Even those who did get inoculated got sick anyway. Who could make that right decision? Once my folks got over it (both have amazing immune systems but are left with the infamous "100-day cough"), I decided to fly to California where the flu has not arrived.

The immune "support" for current epidemic: masks and drugs.
Besides isn't Los Angeles (Beverly Hills in particular) where everyone goes to get "rejuvenated?” It is the land of plastic surgery, detox fasting, high colonics, not to mention all the lip, pectoral and hair implants. Even the hotel scene is interestingly divided up according to clientele. Only in Los Angeles do the hotels become deluxe assisted living facilities. More than in any other city, Los Angeles (Beverly Hills specifically) takes its "accommodations" seriously and competitively.

The breakdown goes something like this: The Wilshire is for Russians and Japanese. Beverly Hills Hotel is mostly Arabs and Persians. Bel Air has lost its vintage crowd since its recent boring remodeled "minimal" décor, and is now populated by very young "minimal" moguls. SLS is for hard core rappers. The Four Seasons is for entertainment interviewees and interviewers. Sunset Towers gets the gays and Jennifer Aniston.

The Peninsula is for Harvey Weinstein and his older "tribe "with some media and business heavyweights. The Luxe Rodeo is for the fashionistas. The newer Montage has no fan base except for The Kardashians. Any hotel at the beach is for weddings and locals on an extended getaway weekend while the downtown hotel scene (though supposedly "happening") is really for corporate conventions and some ignorant "frequent flyers."

I took my germophobic self (I travel at all times with a bottle of Lysol) to the Peninsula because I knew it would be quiet in between this season's "awards" shows, and no kids. Besides I like seeing Kirk Douglas in the lobby. He is still standing vertical and that gives me hope. Also there are less raging Russian hookers in the bar (the threat of flu might have put a damper on that body count).

Hotel bars are currently what makes or breaks an entire L.A. hotel. Unfortunately,the younger and louder the better. When I arrived I was encouraged to see the Peninsula maids wiping down the elevator buttons and my "show-you-to-your-room" manager sterilized the TV remote while I was in the room.

While everyone in LA LA land seemed oblivious to the current epidemic (I wouldn't expect anything less from a town that lives and breathes on unreality — Reality TV programming) certain social service people do manage to put on a good show. The Peninsula is master at THAT!! Also I was warned to stay out of all gyms and steam rooms ... even without an epidemic going on.

On my Southwest flight going over I was laughed at (kind of) by the stewards and stewardesses for wearing my mask. But when I asked THEM how they deal with planes being giant viral petri dishes they admitted that they use Airborne religiously, wear rubber gloves and take "Purell antibiotic body showers" every night. Most insisted they had been exposed to every germ and were immune to it all.

How about those front airplane seat pockets filled with used tissues and rot, not to mention the toxic plane ventilation system. No comment.
Me in "Michael Jackson Mask" and Southwest Airline stewards "in flight."
What the airline stewardesses recommend for flu protection.
As I said people come to L.A. for all sorts of "recovery." After all Roxbury Drive is the home of Michael Jackson's (speaking of masks) coterie of doctors.

One medical building alone houses more plastic surgeons than anywhere in the country; and next door to that is the famous Mickey Fine drugstore. Fine is famous for its quick drug "deliveries" (Jackson ran up a $25,000 unpaid tab in months) and a marvelous old fashion coffee shop with real tuna melts and sodas. I think Mickey Fine is now featured on the Hollywood Star-line Tour.
Famous Mickey Fine drugstore and "435 Roxbury":  THE Plastic surgery medical building  in Beverly Hills
In L.A. you can choose your resources for healing. I headed for Palmetto (1034 Montana Ave, Santa Monica) and its wonderful owner Jane Kennedy. Palmetto has been a beloved neighborhood institution for 25 years. Before there was NK Space there was (and is) Palmetto. NK Space may be glitzier, but Palmetto is tried and true. A hip semi-apothecary and "feel good" all-glass enclosed corner geographic. Everything from natural beauty products (that you can't find in Whole Foods) to candles and soaps, oils and some eye-catching original baubles.
Palmetto  in Santa Monica ... natural health boutique and beloved neighborhood "resource."
Palmetto best sellers: Bath salts and natural herbal antiseptic wipes.
But it's Jane Kennedy’s recommendations that I have come to appreciate. I believe it was Jane who made Montana Avenue into the "must "stop-and-shop destination that it is today. There is nothing and no one, in health and healing, that Jane doesn't know about because she herself has either bought it and sold it or tried it herself.

Palmetto owner and "healer/resource" maven Jane Kennedy.
She never considers herself a "health practitioner." I DO! Simply because she has seen every L.A. health fad come and go for sooo long. And she's still here!!! Just walking through Palmetto with its amazing uplifitng scent and shelves of goodies is a cure-all.

I crossed the threshold and immediately blasted Jane with all my flu fear factors and she fixed me up instantly with some rich bath salts, real decent herbal hand wipes along with bottles of therapeutic Plai, Sage and Pine oils as "protectants."

Then she lead me across the street to her favorite organic snack/juice bar Kreation. She insisted I down their shots of "Feel Better" — two ounces of lemon juice with cayenne, ginger, Himalayan salt and turmeric. It was an instant jolt into another reality and I am not talking about Red Bull.

I was hooked immediately. It tasted like it could kill the flu virus as well as any Cancer, gas, and depression all in one fell swoop. The Kreation "juicer" Jose told me that turmeric is their hot (literally) herbal ingredient. They put it in everything because it is "antibacterial, anti viral, and anti inflammatory." All my fave "antis." If only it would work on keeping poisonous people away from me as well!

Juice bars have become huge in LA. They have moved way beyond Jamba Juice. No wonder ... who wants to spend the time chopping and blending all that "organic" produce. Thus they are NOT cheap. Neither is Starbucks.
At Kreation juice bar ... their latest  anti-flu best seller ... "Tumeric is HOT!"
 A shot of "Feel better" remedy.
Next Jane insisted that I get the latest pillow for neck, cervical and back pain. It's called "Pillo1" made by a doctor in Malibu. It is carried online or at Bed Bath & Beyond. It is a foam special contour design (forget the old Tempur-Pedic neck rolls) that "cradles" your head and not just "girds it" for proper back AND side sleeping. I got it and tried it that night at the hotel ... a win! But trust me ... you have to "work with it."

I left Palmetto with an arsenal of survival goodies and one of Jane's great "positive thinking" pep talks. I promised her I would try to positive "think" and deep breathe (without choking) my immune system into a "super shield," and let my innate "acceptance" of whatever happens (oh yeah, easier said ...) do the rest.
For full body repair ... Pillo1.
On a more superficial note my next "healer" visit was to Jeffrey Serra — my sacred hair colorist. Two months previous in Arizona my hair was dyed into an "accidental" eggplant hue. Along with my flu fear I had to retreat to L.A. to get my hair back to my normal — a "highlighted caramelization" via Jeffrey. As Vidal Sassoon once said (of his products — actually the line was dreamed up by advertising guru Peter Rogers): "If we don’t look good, you don’t look good.”

Giuseppe Franco and Jeffrey Serra on Canon Drive: Biker chic "extraordinares."
No, if my hair doesn't "look good? ... I want to commit suicide. It's just one of those things. Jeffrey is a master. It took him four and a half hours to cover my color resistant locks. I learned that most grey hair becomes difficult after awhile. Any colorist who says they can do it in an hour or two is a fraud. "Old Hair" has its toughness and some grey just won't TAKE. So you end up with "Joe Franklin orange" hair or it all fades in a week.

Not if Serra has anything to do with it. I consider hair color a high art (sorry, no drugstore Clairol touchups for me or faking it with mascara tinted roots) bordering on a medical procedure. Serra is at Giuseppe Franco salon (350 N. Canon Drive).

Actually Giuseppe Franco is an L.A. hair celebrity himself. He "works" his salon and his street all day. He is another neighborhood treasure and a wonder to watch cut hair ... so electric, wiry and talented and hilarious.

He kind of looks like an Italian version of Sammy Davis Jr. He wears (and most of his salon hairdressers do too) all black, tight biker leather chic with his Ralph Lauren "children's sized" Polo shirt (that is how tiny he is). I asked him about his favorite tight jeans he always wears ... and he said the label is "WTHK" — Who The Hell Knows." By the way Giuseppe, Jeffrey and Angel (the shampoo guy) kept sanitizing their hands and salon chairs and floors. I was grateful.
Three days later I was cured of most of my flu paranoia. As I was checking out of the hotel, I overheard a well-dressed male guest carrying an elegant briefcase say to his companion, "Lately all I ever need to carry with me are my guns and my cash."

Now why didn't I think of that as the ultimate immune remedy?
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