Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Silicone Does Not Discriminate
I try not to bitch about LA. It's too easy to bash stereotypes, especially when there are so many enjoyable things about this town. It'd be like saying Ryan Seacrest is vapid and soul-less and masquerades as metrosexual to prove his masculinity, when in fact he's gay as a trumpet.... somewhere this analogy took a wrong turn.

Anyway, occasionally I see signs that are unmistakeabley LA. Bad signs. Like today on my way to work. Driving through Beverly Hills, this boney elderly woman crossed the street in front of me wearing a skin tight black spandex-y outfit that was especially flattering on her fake boobs. Only in LA, I guess.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Thank You, Deadly Cobras
Okay, so no bears attacked us. I can only attribute this to the long-held belief that bears are scared of deadly cobras. Of course, I'm speaking of my biceps. I'm sure our skewers contributed something, too. And for your records, barbecued Morning Star Farms dogs are better than Smart Dogs dogs, in that they're generally more beef-like. That's my new criteria for food testing: how beefy is it?

So camping. Big Sur may be my favorite place in California. Because when you're not driving on the 1, watching cliffs over the Pacific, you're looking at dense forests, and when you're not doing that, you're hiking through redwoods or along peaks watching waterfalls, and when you're not doing that, you're laying on a small secluded beach, and when that's not happening, you're drinking retarded amounts of beer and challenging yourself to eating contests (I had no illusions of beating the precedent set by Chachi Mueller who, while camping in Joshua Tree several years ago, ate and drank his weight, respectively; I merely wished to throw my hat in the ring). Our site was sunken. A stream gurgled. Bluejays screeched. Goddamn those birds are obnoxious. Nary a mosquito bite. Thank you, DEET. And deadly cobras.

Something else I learned. Central California is crawling with poison oak. Marah had superhero powers of detection for the stuff, as a result of being traumatized by it as a kid. It's pretty nasty, actually. Up close, most of the leaves look red and infected. Kinda like this.

After 2 days, we finished off the 1, ate in Santa Cruz at a glorified Denny's, got lost in downtown San Francisco because of some kind of trolley celebration, and ended in Marin County at Marah's parents' place. Their rad house sits in less claustrophobic Hollywood Hills, and has a view of many a bridge in the San Francisco bay. We ate, drank, Muir beached, toured Mill Valley, ate, drank, picked up her parents, ate more, drank, drank, ate breakfast, slept a few times, and then went home. Not necessarily in that order.

And then I blew a tire about 15 minutes from LA. But at least we didn't have poison oak. Thank you, deadly cobras.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Sports Chaletttt... We take you to THE LIMIT!!!
Turns out that that catchy radio jingle is no joke. In preparation for part 1 of Rad Summer Vacation '04: Camping in Big Sur, Marah and I hit up SC of Burbank, in which the following was purchased:

-Tent tarp
-Flashlight-lantern combo
-Skewers (Seems like a waste of money when nature's tentacles, sticks, are available for roasting. But we figured they could double as knives in case bears and/or snails attack. Okay, I figured that)
-Tooth brush containers
-Bug spray (Apparently bug sprays have their own brand of SPF, called Meed or something. Anyone know what the deal is?)

The double-edge sword of being taken to The Limit, of course, is there's so many things you want to buy that could be useful. And we're not just talking one of each item. When you're riding The Limit, you can pick from different sizes, shapes, models, colors, Meeds, etc. But we're poor. So the coffee maker, fold out chair, and mini grill, were regretfully left behind. And the tree-chopping axe. Admittedly, that was more of a vanity item.

But we're good to go. Five days of whoopin' it up in the woods and Marin. Vacation, how I've missed you.

(We don't have no fancy pants digital camera, but if anyone cares, this is where we'll be).

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Modern Art Alarm Clock?
You know how when you wake up at 7am to the sound of a man screaming in the alley behind your house? Things like, "WAKE THE FUCK UP!", and "FUCK ALL Y'ALL!!!", delivered with gutteral, throat-scratching force, in the key of Fuck You. No? Well I don't recommend, 'cause frankly it's creepy, especially since my delightful Miracle Mile neighborhood is usually so tranquil. What's even creepier? Experiencing this after hearing last night's tale of the homeless guy who decapitated a 96 year old man and stabbed his neighbor beyond recognition, only ten minutes from my home. I saw on the news that they caught him. But still, I kinda tossed and turned until the "conventional" alarm went off.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Some Nonsense About Art
The main thing I took away from the Southern California MFA art show is that contemporary art appeals mostly to contemporary artists. I'm not sure if this is due to its apathy with more traditional, easy to digest, forms, like painting and sculpture (at least, that's what I was lead to believe from this show, which showcased mostly installations from roughly 8 MFA programs in So. Cal.). Or if we just don't have the patience to tolerate the odd. Some of it was just bad and full of air. But there was a lot I liked. I'm just not sure I can tell you why, which isn't a bad thing, necessarily. But at what point does the unexplainable, or barely explainable, stop being art and start being masturbation?

So we left wondering about this line between innovative/profound and bullshit (something I've also wondered about the writing of Dave Eggers, incidentally). Lisa was all, "Check it. If I can do it, it doesn't count as art!". And Stacey was like, "Shut yo mouth. Modern art always makes me feel dumb". Turns out they were both wrong. Some of the installations seemed way more inspired and deliberate than others. Which brought me to this. Seems to me the value of an artist, and the value of the art, is its ability to articulate something specific. I don't think that abstract, random, and lo-fi means untalented. The raw talent lies in the mind that envisions the final product. Perfecting the means to get there varies in importance, depending on the medium. But as a spectator, you have to give it a chance. If it evokes something for or in you, then it's done its job, even if you can't necessarily spell it out.

So there. Bam! I've cracked the nut that is modern art. Anything else you need explained? (No chemistry questions, please).

When Beefiness Isn't Enough
Me and ribs have to call it quits. For years, ours has been a one-sided relationship. Though dazzled by the tang and deliciousness, I've always resented the effort it takes to get just a little meat off the bone. And don't even get me started on the mess. So Friday, after smearing sauce on my cheek and pants, despite my willingness to accomodate its needs, we had The Talk. I'm moving on to brisket. I think it's for the best.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

UPN, Here we Come!
This guy in a suit came in to the office today while I was answering phones. He leaned his elbow on the counter and smacked his gum.

Me: Hi, can I help you?
Him: I have a meeting here.

Long pause.

Me: So... who's the meeting with?
Him: Dunno. No one told you about it?
Me: They try and keep me out of the loop.
Him: Huh. That's a joke?
Me: Yes. Do you have a name, or a case...?
Him: I'm an attorney. Someone just told me I had to show up here at this time for a mediation.
Me: Right.

While I checked the calendar, he plopped on the lobby couch, his knees falling to either side, his arms collapsing, like he'd just run a marathon. It reminded me of Kona, my 300 pound Samoan roommate in college who couldn't get more than a few feet without exhausting himself.

Him: (from across the lobby, pointing at the firm's name behind me). Hey, that looks familiar. That name right there. Yeah, seems right.

By kooky deduction, we figured it out together. Oscar to Felix, Batman to Robin, Mindy to Mork. And then I realized we'd make a great sitcom pair. Every week he and I would try and figure things out, like what time an appointment was, who called earlier, etc. And at least once every week our boss (we also have a boss) would sternly tell us, "You're off the case!" (we solve cases, too), and one of us would yell back, "no! you're off your case!". But, you know, in a funny way. Because it's a sitcom.

Monday, June 07, 2004

The weekend passed. Marah had a rad barbecue. Not too big, no one lame came. Enough beer and pork products to go around. Ken showed up and brought Alamo. Neighbors emerged we didn't know existed. And to top it off, Muso was unleashed on the public like a rock virus, infecting all casual stand-arounds and grillers alike. A warning to all witnesses. You may experience the sprouting of candy from your ears, an inability to control the extension of your middle finger at The Man, and overall swelling of Total Awesomeness. I dare say that, save for a forgotten bass line, a flubbed lyric, and my refusal to look anyone in the eye while playing, we SERVED those fools! In a good way. And by "fools", I mean "gentle 'cuers". People apparently liked us, 'cause, much to our genuine surprise, we got requests to play again later. We were out of songs. This didn't deter anyone. Important note 1: everyone was drunk. Important note 2: so were we. Thus, the second set commenced. No cops came. Lucky for them.

Friday, June 04, 2004

One For The Surrealists
I've had about 15 hours of sleep over the past three days, and now I'm in this weird, happy state. Consecutive late nights always deliver me into bursts of floating euphoria during the day. Waking dream, party of 1. My perception of things isn't altered, but there are trains of thought speeding in every direction. Perhaps the 12 tabs of acid I drop every time is responsible. Who can say for sure.

After dark, though. That's different. See, the reason behind the sleeplessness is my furious late-night writing schedule as of late. Kinda feels like college when I'd stay up drinking espresso (didn't like coffee 'til grad school for some reason) and studying for an exam. Only the exam is the deadline for my play. And the espresso is beer. Add to this the isolation of my bedroom with only a continuous-playing stereo as white noise companion, plus a play that operates like a myth/fairy tale, and stuff can get a little fuzzy.

Case in point: the other night's episode when I found a roach in the bathroom. (This is definitely NOT a pot story, I swear). Past roach encounters have gone like this: 1.) I see roach, 2.) Roach instantly scurries away to its dark underbelly roach dwellings. But this asshole rose up on its gargantuan legs and sped towards me. A fucking confrontational roach! I grabbed a shoe and it hung a sharp left. Now I was chasing his ass. I swatted as it ran into my closet, ducking under a guitar case, a shoe, a hamper. I tossed all these things out one by one, and each time it got away. Finally, I had it cornered. All that remained in the closet was a small TV. I lifted it, and the bitch was GONE! The "logical" explanation is it ducked into a small crevice in the wall. To me, however, we threw down and then he magically disappeared.

A few minutes later as I lay in bed, I was convinced this whole episode meant I'd next open my eyes to a Kafka/Burroughs waking nightmare, changed. I didn't exactly picture myself as a roach, but I had visions of Kevin and John knocking on the door, and me giving them transparent excuses about why I couldn't come out. "Uh... sorry, I got the shits". All the while disguising my raspy-turning bug voice.

Thankfully, the play will be done soon.

(I didn't wake up as a roach, by the way).

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

The Dwellers of Crest Liquor
Spent the holiday weekend in San Diego. We did stuff (Marah picked a bumper boat fight with rowdy 10 year olds), but mostly we were drunk. Gloriously, holiday weekend drunk (she was not drunk during said fight). When we needed drunk people food or more beverages, we trecked down the sand-paved sidewalks to Crest Liquor.

Now, the thing about where we stayed (our gracious host, Annie, has a sweet apartment overlooking the bay) is it's right on the border between Mission and Pacific Beach. Mission Beach is nice. Chill, not too crazy. Pacific Beach, on the other hand, can most accurately be described as 24 Hour Meat Market: The Town. The bars have names like Moondoggies and Moose McGillacutty's. It's Hermosa times 10. If you don't live in LA, it's like the bar scene in Top Gun. Or the volleyball scene. Or the scene where Iceman almost chomps Maverick in the locker room. But not like the scene where Goose dies. That's just sad. You get the idea.

So Crest Liquor is the unoffical city hall of Pacific Beach. Everyone converges there to see to the business of the town: partying. Over the course of the weekend I saw a shirtless dude with a severe wife-beater sunburn mock the cashiers while buying a 36-er; a girl with hot pink leopard-print tube top sloppily hanging on the shirt of her drunk, indifferent boyfriend; two guys crack up after slyly substituting "butt" for "bud-weiser".

Mind you, I was happily in the mix.

And the cashiers. The administrators of city hall. I'd feel bad about mocking them if they weren't such dicks. They huddled comfortably together behind the counter and got really put-out and bitchy every time they had to ring someone up. One guy had a tie with flames; another had a long pony tail; and yet another had traces of zig-zag facial hair. Characters, all. You have to be when you're the District Attorney of Chillin'.

But once again, happily in the mix. Gettin' loaded is what this country's founded on. Or whatever.

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