Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Song!

I hope you get everything you wanted, and a few things you'll have to return.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

TV on DVD Will End Your Mind, or "I'm Not Bored I'm Just Wasting Time"

There are only 24 hours in a day and not all of them are completely useful.

If you know Jack Bauer, or a recent fan of his like I am, you probably love Jack because he might be the only human ever to really make the most of his day. He takes 24 hours and really jams them full of activity, every minute of which is so emotional, so physical, so...sexual?* If he's not fighting terrorists, he's making important calls on his cell phone, or discovering important facts, and goddammit if he ever takes a minute to eat, or pee, or breathe. Heroes don't need that shit, and I love him for that.

I guess I don't love him as much as I love the idea of him. He's just so productive, you know?

And now that I have a job and spend most of my day on very unproductive things, I find that now more than ever I want to maximize my free time. I really do. Truly, madly, deeply do. It is a precious gift, to be spent wisely. So a few weeks ago I decided to watch all of the first season of '24'. Because it makes sense. Also because spending (not wasting) time watching '24' doesn't feel counter-productive. It feels like I'm helping, so it may as well count as community service, which we all know is very productive.

If sitting on the couch for hours at a time witnessing one man save the world from mayhem and destruction is wrong, then I don't want to be right.

Of course, while exercising my talents in voyeurism can be both stimulating and fulfilling**, there are times when even I, the most dedicated of TV on DVD viewers, can step outside of Jack and his swashbuckling world to realize that Hmm, maybe my muscles haven't been used all day, and whatever alcohol remaining in my system will probably be converted to fat before my very eyes. Maybe actual exercise is actually necessary.

So I get up, and I run.

Or jog. Whichever. I don't have enough money to join a gym.

This familiar cycle of TV-induced anesthesia followed by guilt followed by exercise most recently happened over the weekend. At 2:00pm on Sunday I was halfway up 26th Street, jogging my way back toward San Vicente, pondering the nature of time... what it means to spend it, what it means to fill it, to use it wisely, to waste it. Is 24 hours to me the same as it is to a child laborer in Indonesia? Is time a discrete series of snapshots, or do we all exist on some sort of continuum the way Kurt Vonnegut writes in 'Slaughterhouse Five'? Am I real? Is any of this real? Am I still high?...

I continued jogging.

I was proud of myself for choosing genuine productivity over my distorted version in the half-world I had created on my sofa, right in that perfect ass-shaped dip between the cushions...Right where I wanted to be sitting.

I needed to know what happened between the hours of 6:00pm and 7:00pm on the day of the California Presidential Primary.

Jack, I'll never let go...

This is where I noticed something quite peculiar. So what if I was busy philosophizing the nature of time and existence, far be it from me not to notice the details. It was fascinating: All up and down 26th Street, on every electrical box, every manhole, every available non-concrete surface, written in what appeared to be industrial strength whiteout was this simple phrase:

"Satchmo '07."

'What.. the... fuck?' I asked myself; the first in series of questions, followed by, 'Why, God, did this person choose to tag his name in whiteout on every available surface for the full length of this Santa Monica street?' 'Who is Satchmo?' 'What does he want, and why has he declared '07 to be his year?'

I'm pretty smart, but I had a hard time with this. Ordinarily I guess I'd just overlook something so retarded, chalk it up to a crazed jazz enthusiast trying his damnedest to make sure the legend of Louis Armstrong lived on forever, and focus on the pain in my hip. But something bigger was happening inside my pretty little head. What this phantom tagger made me realize was how selfish and pompous I had been. Here I had spent all this time congratulating myself on finding new and exciting ways to waste time, when really I'd missed the boat.
Satchmo's boat.

Whoever this guy was, whether his name really was Satchmo or Bill, or Ted, He had figured it out. Not me. I thought that spending the best years of my life plopped on a caved-in sofa in front of a pathetically small television fighting off feelings of guilt while an overpaid actor pretends to stop humanity from ending itself was the time-waster to end all time-wasters. What I had attempted, he had achieved, and all I could do was bring myself to a reverent stop in the middle of 26th Street and thank Jesus for creating a human who truly knows how to waste this precious gift we call


*Did I take it too far with that? I don't know anymore.
**Ah. I wish everything was both stimulating and fulfilling.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Are Those Melons For Real? or, The Fruit Is Always Sweeter Anywhere But Here

If there's one thing about Los Angeles I can't stand it's how artificial everything feels.

No, I take that back, it's the traffic.

No. Maybe it's the shallow people I meet everywhere... Wait, is that the same as what I first said?

Dammit I'm confused.

It never rains here, so from the perpetual sunshine distracting you from the fact that the planet is indeed in orbit, to the fugly blond trophy wives that clumsily drive around in their absurdly large Range Rovers, very few things and people give you a sense that you're living in a real world, and that you all actually exist. The city itself is arbitrarily stitched together with concrete and asphalt, and the only thing that distinguishes a "good" part of town from a "bad" part of town is that someone, somewhere made a decision a long time ago that Beverly Hills would be a place that should make you want to vomit, and anywhere east of the 101 should make you fear for your life.*

Speaking of the 101...

Not long ago, after drinking a few beers and singing a few tacky karaoke songs, I found myself abandoned on the curb in front of the Pig 'N Whistle in Hollywood very late on a Thursday night--a very unfortunate and distressing situation that more or less forced me into taking a cab back to the west side. This sucked. Also, it cost me $35, which sucked even harder.

And it's too bad, because it was a really fun night...

The full-length story leading up to my cab ride home is actually pretty entertaining, but lucky for some people, that is not the enlightening life-anecdote I've chosen to try to learn from tonight.** Rather, I'd like to discuss the cab ride itself.

It was a very average looking cab, yellow on the outside and musty with the scent of hundreds of other weepy, abandoned late-night karaoke addicts, with a very average looking Armenian driver. I sat in the backseat, so as to spare this quiet man the pathetic little display of tears I was indulging. Also, because I think sitting in the front seat of a cab is one of the most uncomfortable situations a person can find him or herself in and should be avoided at any cost.

I was pretty upset, but even in the throes of childish whimpering I knew there was nothing more girly and pitiful than crying in the back of a cab. Upon realizing this somewhere between Fairfax and La Cienega, I figured it wouldn't hurt to sack up and make some friendly-ish conversation with my driver. I was sort of drunk and disheveled, and ten minutes earlier a nicely dressed but rather short businessman had seen me crying on the sidewalk approached me offering money (for a cab of course, you asshole)... so I was hard up for a ride, but at least I wasn't in the driver's seat of a Yellow Cab at 1:30 AM, you know. If anything I was doing this guy a favor.

"So where are you from?" I asked.

This wasn't rude of me. It was a good question. He was clearly not from America and there is absolutely nothing racist about that. I just wanted to know which kinds of generalizations I could make about him and whether or not I could guess what he'd eaten for dinner that night.

"Iran," he replied.

Fuck. I thought he was Armenian. Oh well, close enough.

"Oh wow, that's far," I said, like a complete moron. "So do you miss it?"

This question also made me sound like a moron. I guess since I miss living in Northern California, I falsely assume that anyone not from here would naturally pine for the place they call Home. Even if that's Iran. Remarkably, he responded the way I had predicted, mentioning that Yes sometimes he did in fact miss living in Iran, mostly because he missed being close to family, but in 1989 when he left the country it had gotten too dangerous to stay...and after having been a soldier in the Iranian military for two years, moving to the United States looked like a good option...

Hmm. Iranian military...I guess he needed a change of pace?

We continued down Sunset, the boulevard of broken dreams, and the snot on my cheek was almost fully dry when he mentioned one last thing he missed about his homeland, in the form of something he didn't like about LA:

"It seems like nothing here smells good. Flowers are all pretty smell. Same with the fruit. I go to Ralphs, buy very big apple, but I not smell it."

Dude. That was deep.

Sitting in the back seat of that musty cab, I thought about my life, and all of my fruit buying experiences. I too have purchased many a very big apple, and it's true that even at Whole Foods they are almost never fragrant. In all their bio-engineered goodness, even fruit loses it's authenticity living in this city.

LA is all about size and style. You can't even buy an everyday watermelon without having to purchase it leather boots, leggings, and a pashmina. Even then, it's probably not the right pashmina...

Oh, and by the way your melons better be huge. And expensive.

Perhaps on some level I have an "If you can't beat 'em join 'em" mentality. I mean, I do have more than 2 overpriced purses (I just love them!), and maybe I care more than I should about how I look when I go out, but fuck you if this place doesn't give you a complex.

But even I, the eternal pessimist, can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I won't live here forever.

Plus, what would I blitch (blog+bitch) about, if not my scorn for Southern California?

Today it was all of 78 degrees.

Nothing here feels real.

Except maybe for my melons.

*Ew, I hate everything east of the 101.
**For those of you who've never read my blog, that's what I do. I learn from my life. You should try it some time.