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INSIDE STORY

Party Crashing

October 18, 1998|MARY MELTON

The signs are scrawled with thick Magic Markers, on poster boards of neon yellow and Day-Glo green. Staple-gunned to telephone poles and tied around eucalyptus trees, they could easily be mistaken as directions to a nearby film location, only they read "Jordan's B-Day" or "Rachael Straight Ahead." Follow a sign's arrows into celebration-clogged Griffith Park, and you may feel as if you've just crashed a party for which the whole city showed up.

ALEX

Alexander lives in Echo Park with his father, Cesar, who delivers room service meals at the Mondrian hotel, and his mother, Ana, who takes English lessons and watches over Alex and his older brother, Jordan. A friend of Cesar's from the Mondrian is barbecuing cacti and steaks for Alex's first birthday; the toddler sports a new Tommy Hilfiger outfit his cousin Elizabeth gave him for the occasion. Cesar would like Alex to be a pilot.

RACHAEL

Rachael, who will celebrate her bat mitzvah next year, is mulling over a career in marine biology, inspired by her love of dolphins. Her friends are dining on pizza, because, as Rachael puts it, "it's fair to all the kids," and an elaborately layered cake that her mother, a former caterer, made with "13" spelled out in cherries and pineapple rings. Rachael, who lives in Hollywood, confesses that she bought her new birthday bathing suit at "about 10 till 9" the night before at Sears.

KELSEY

Ask Kelsey what he wants to be when he grows up and he'll shout "a music player," like his dad, Marc, a drummer. When his parents asked Kelsey what he wanted for his fourth birthday, he said "a party!" with, for the most part, his friends from day-care. Kelsey's grandmother picked up the western-themed cake and long subs from Lucky. They chose this picnic site, not far from their Burbank home, because it's near the pony and train rides, although they did not realize, until everything was set up, the downwind ramifications of that decision.

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