Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I SUFFER FOR MY ART

I shaved my head a few months ago. I did this for a few reasons and I'm really glad I did. But one bummer of not having hair to dye black anymore is that I can actually see my gray hairs. This sucks.

What's worse is, about a month ago I got an idea for a great Halloween costume. What is it? You'll just have to wait and see. But I will say that it requires a bit of hair. So I haven't had a cut in a while and I don't plan on trimming it until October 31 (my costume involves a particular hairstyle and that's all I'm gonna say).

With the fuzz atop my head growing in, it seems like I find a new gray hair everyday. Today I noticed one right in the front of my widow's peak. That's in addition to the bunch that seem to be taking over the left side of my head and a rebellious bunch in the dead center of my head.

There's not really a point to any of this, but someone in Internetland must feel my pain. Right?

Sunday, September 20, 2009

KIDS SUCK

The neighbors are having another kids party. One of the little monsters is blowing on some horn and it's really fucking annoying. There I was, reading a book of Raymond Carver's poetry on a beautiful afternoon, not in a bad mood, and this failed abortion goes and fucks that up.

If you are a parent and you are reading this, don't let your kids be assholes. When they make noise, tell them to shut up. My mom did and I turned out just fine.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

JIM HALL AND THE CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

After 29 years of lying to myself about how totally lame New York City would be if I ever went, I finally had the chance to find out if I was speaking the truth or if it was a West Coast jealous thing. Turns out, it's the latter.

Manhattan is by far the coolest place in America. In fact, it's one of the coolest places I've ever been. Top three at least. Too bad I was there for less than twelve hours.

The flight from Long Beach to JFK was pretty awesome thanks to Xanax and JetBlue. I landed just before 11 p.m. and had a choice to make: $40 for a cab to my room at the YMCA or be a real man and hit the subway. When I discovered the subway from airport to room would cost $7.25, the choice became clear.

The ride was slightly more than an hour and it was everything I imagined it would be. About ten feet from me were six Puerto Rican/Dominican/black/some sort of race we don't have in LA girls passing a bottle of what appeared to be wine. Saying they were loud, rude and obnoxious is the understatement of the year. The Spanish tourists sitting across from me couldn't keep their eyes off the girls, who couldn't have been a day older than 17. I got tiny glimpses, but I didn't need to get shanked by a drunken New Yorker, so I made minimal eye contact. Anytime one of the girls caught someone staring, they'd tell their friends (and everyone else on the train), then one of the girls would say something like (and I'm paraphrasing here), "I don't give a fuck. Let them motherfuckers stare and shit. We partying!" If I wasn't Xanied up, I might have been more upset. Besides, this is exactly what I expected on a Saturday at midnight subway ride through Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

I wish the rest of the ride was as memorable, but you see one subway stop, you seen them all. The only thing that kept me sane was crossing stops that I recognized from Beastie Boys lyrics. There was Mike D's "every morning i took the train to the Hyde Street station/doing homework on the train/what a fucked up situation" and Adrock's "Penn Station/up on 8th Ave/listen all a yall/you get the ball bath." After an hour and fifteen minutes, we came to my stop: 59th Street/Columbus. I walked up the stairs to the street and did what every person in every movie I've ever seen set in New York does: I looked up and spun my body in a 360 degree motion. I didn't even know I was doing this, but the sight is that awesome. Especially on a Saturday.

Walking to my room, I couldn't help but look up. Then I remembered these New Yorkers I met in Vegas a month ago. I asked them about what not to do in the city and they all said, "don't look up." Apparently, New Yorkers are used to skyscrapers for as far as the eye can see. Tourists aren't. I decided to do what I do at home, which walk with my eyes tattooed on the ground, until I hit my room because my luggage was an open invite for a mugging and I definitely didn't need that.

The walk from subway station to the Y wasn't far, but it was far enough for me to recognize that I had no real reason to be concerned because Manhattan was safer than I expected it to be. I saw two homeless people (who were actually really friendly. They asked me to help them carry some of their bags and didn't even bother to hit me up for change. They even smiled after I left.) and one woman living out of her car. Shit, we got worse than that in Long Beach and I live in a good part of town.

I dropped off my bag at the Y and hit the streets. BTW...it was 80 degrees past midnight and the Y didn't have air conditioning. I thought to myself, "how very New York of this building."

First stop was food. I found a 24-hour diner and took a seat at the bar. A veggie burger and Corona was $16.50. New York, New York. The burger hit the spot and the beer was good, but once I stood up, I realized why people suggest not mixing alcohol with Xanax. I easily could have fallen asleep on the counter, but I had to be a trooper. It's New York ferchrissakes.

I'd love to say I did some real awesome shit like clubbing or talking to hookers or anything, but the fact of the matter is, I just walked. Other than the inordinate amount of cabs, the thing that jumped out at me most was the fashion. Every female, and I do mean every, was wearing a cocktail dress. Even the girls at the Irish pubs were dressed to the nines. This is very unlike LA. Sure, we got some places like that, but you can always find a dive bar with girls in jeans. Not in Manhattan. I felt like I was in Sex in the City, except I'm a straight male and have never seen the show/movie.

Another thing I noticed was how so many of the buildings on the numbered streets had stairs that let down somewhere. Many of the bars' front entrances were in the basement. And the apartment buildings like this all had teenagers hanging out in them. Just like tv.

I got back to the room around 3-ish, but didn't fall asleep until 4:30. I'm a night owl and with West Coast time, sleeping was very difficult. Knowing I would be out of the city around noon, I got up at 8 and hit Central Park. Pretty effing amazing. You know, there's all this shit about New York and the debauchery, but the only time I was approached for anything was in the park. A white guy in his early 30s wearing a tucked in plaid shirt stopped me and said, "we're about to start service soon. Would you like to attend?" I looked at him funny and maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I couldn't say a word. Then he said, "do you go to church?" I smiled and said, "no thanks." He wanted to keep talking, but I high-tailed it outta there. Even in New York, where I hear there's plenty of drugs, prostitutes and who knows what else, my square-looking ass gets hit up by God.

You can read the photo captions to find out what I thought about the park...

My dumb ass decided to bring chanclas instead of flip flops on this trip. I thought I had a room with a private shower, but I was wrong. So I bathed at the Y with nothing to protect my feet. It's nearly a week later and there's nothing green growing on them, so I think I'm fine.

As I dropped trou, I saw that the white curtain in the shower did a real poor job of hiding me. So there I was, naked at the YMCA, waiting to get into a shower that was not only going to give me foot fungus, but wasn't going to hide my junk. And what song was playing in my head? The Village People's "YMCA," of course. I just knew a train of gay dudes were going to barge through the door thinking I was trolling for ass. I'm very lucky that I didn't catch a foot disease, but I'm even luckier that I was the only person in the three-shower bathroom for the duration of my stay. Granted, my shower took all of forty-five seconds, but still.

The rest of the trip was not nearly as exciting as Manhattna. Whodathunk that New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada wouldn't be as awesome as New York City?

I left Newark Airport at 10:30 a.m. Sunday and got home Tuesday around 11. For one man in a fifteen-passenger van, that's gotta be some sort of record. People ask if I saw anything cool and the only thing that jumps out at me was a 60-year-old man driving a truck with a large Air Force sticker on the back. He was towing a ten-foot missle. Everything else has already turned into a ball of green pasture mush.

I experienced a few moments when I thought I'd go crazy before making it home. Once in Nebraska, a state that decided to put its two largest cities thirty-four miles apart. After that it's five hundred miles until the next city, which is Denver. The next was when I got on the 91 from the 15. Sure, I've done this drive countless times, but the idea of seeing the finish line caused me to want to be home right then. I couldn't take the extra hour. Keep in mind, I'd been on the road for seven hours without a break. The radio didn't work and my phone needed to be re-charged.

The drive is a story unto itself, but I'll save that for another day. For now, let's enjoy the beauty that is New York. Like the Beastie Boys said, it's a helluva town.
Here are some photos to help visualize what I'll never be able to put into words.


The view from my YMCA window on Saturday night.


I think this is the Lincoln Jazz Center. But I could be wrong.


When you own a shitty camera, good pictures can be hard to come by. I learned this in Manhattan because the first twenty photos I took all said they were blurry. I knew it was either one of two things: 1. Either my camera, which has been tripping balls lately, was on its way to the great photo lab in the sky or 2. There was so much action in the city that I couldn't get one clear shot. So I decided to take a picture of something that wasn't moving. This is that picture. And yes, my camera, while shitty, is fine.


Somewhere in my attempt at becoming a fancy photographer is a sign that says "Jerry Orbach Way." Seriously, he was my favorite actor on Law and Order too, but naming a street after him? He must have a backstory that I know nothing about.


And here we have a $4 orange juice.


Next door was the Unethical Cultural Center.


Central Park is the coolest thing I've been to in the United States. You walk through some trees and then through a sliver of an opening is the most amazing view of skyscrapers. The contradiction is 100 percent New York.


I'm no fan of animal slave labor, but I gotta admit that the horse buggy through the park is pretty charming.


More skyscrapers...


...and more skyscrapers...


...and even more.


Central Park (or should I say, the tiny section of Central Park I roamed for two hours) has these strange rock formations that look prehistoric and are a pain to climb when you're wearing chanclas.


This busy street just ends at the park. How ruling is that?


Of course there's a jazz saxophonist playing under a bridge.


Just when Central Park seems to have everything, you stumble upon a carnival.


Close up of the rides through a crack in the fence. No was I spending money, but if I was six, I bet riding the Loop-de-Loop in the park would be a killer way to spend a Sunday.


A few months ago I realized I own nothing but white t-shirts. Now I'm on a mission to buy shirts that aren't technically underwear. Unfortunately, I don't know what to buy because I don't like feeling like a walking billboard. Plus, I'm almost 30 and I won't wear band shirts anymore. So what's a boy to do? Be a tourist and buy shirts of places I've been. In this old dairy factory is where I scored a Central Park shirt because not only did I need some new gear, I enjoy looking like a pretentious asshole who's been to places the little people haven't.



My first job was working at a park two blocks from where I lived. My first duty was to keep score of adult softball leagues. When you're 15, it's pretty cool. I even got to play a few times when one team was short a man. The park had this fence built that I shit you not was forty feet high because directly across the street were homes that didn't like getting softballs rained on them. When you're an old man reliving your glory days in Manhattan, your view from home plate is this.


Central Park West. I didn't have time to walk any farther than this, but it sure seems like something cool is going on.


It's fun to stay at the YMCA.

video
After driving for twelve hours on Sunday, I decided to sleep in the van. I'd never done this by myself and I figured it would be very Kerouac-ian of me to do so. Sleeping with a seatbelt in my side took a minute to get used to, but then this massive storm (seen here) hit. I swear, the weather was super nice from Newark to wherever the hell in Illinois I was. Then, BAM! Thunder, lighting and more rain than I'd ever seen. It lasted about an hour and was gone. Needless to say, I was scared shitless. This video doesn't do the storm justice, but I filmed it and it ain't doing no good sitting on my desktop.

Monday, July 27, 2009

TAMPONS AND A SIDE OF EMBARRASSMENT

Today's been kinda shitty. Out of nowhere this afternoon, a wave of anxiety hit and I've been jonesing for a Xanax since. I think I'll have one in a few minutes.

But something just happened to me that made me entire day.

I was standing in the 15 items or less line at Ralphs. It was taking forever and one of the things I've learned about anxiety is that for some reason, it hates standing in lines. I was on the verge of bailing of my three items when I turned left to get out of line and saw the guy behind me. He was black, mid-20s, baggy basketball shorts and an Ed Hardy t-shirt. Then I saw what he was purchasing.

Behind the stick that separates people's food was a large package of tampons. And nothing else.

Poor guy. At that moment I knew I had to stay in line because whatever fucked up shit my mind was putting me through at that moment was nothing compared to what he was dealing with.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

LONG BEACH GAY PRIDE 09

I'm sick and what better way to pretend like I'm productive than to update photos and semi-silly captions to my blog?

Last night it was the day trip to Carpinteria. Today it's more pictures of gay pride than you'd ever want to see.

The parade takes place a few hundred yards from my apartment, so I have to go. This year (and last year) the girlfriend couldn't make it, so I went with my friend John, who is gay. He showed up wearing a white V-neck shirt, which is exactly what I was wearing. I asked my girlfriend if I should change and she said no one would even notice. Continue reading to find out if someone noticed or not.


This is from the porch of the house John takes me to every year. The dude's super rich and has an open bar and breakfast buffet. This year he actually had someone at the door asking who you knew. John said the right name and we were in, but we got there so late all the booze was gone. So we left. Anyway, we're standing on the porch when two guys John knew started talking to him. One of them looked at me and asked John, "is this your partner?" We laughed and John said no. Then he replied, "oh. Well, you're wearing the same shirt..."


This (and the next four) show how many people come out (no pun intended) for the parade. And this is just a very tiny sliver of the route.







Dykes on Bikes always begin the parade because if there's one thing you don't do, it's say no to a lesbian. Especially a biker lesbian.


The house with the big party.


"Oh my god! He walked right past me!" Really doe, this is Gavin Newson, San Francisco mayor and California gubernatorial candidate. Homebody has to win because I've never seen someone who radiates politician like this guy. He's got that smooth character that comes off as genuine but probably isn't. In his defense, he's got great hair and he supports the gays. I don't vote, but I think it's awesome that he's not only in favor of gay rights, but he's marching in a parade. Sure, it's a political move, but even in 2009, it's not a popular one.


Speaking of politicians, here are two people responsible for making Long Beach a great place to live: Robert Garcia and Suja Lowenthal. PS Sarcasm doesn't come across on the Internet.


That takes talent.


These were two of the three DJs who came on after Howard Stern when he was on terrestrial radio. So of course I yelled "Baby Booey" at them from across the street. After four shouts, they looked around and found me waving my arms at them. They saw me, laughed, looked a bit uncomfortable and turned away. John didn't know what I was doing. Neither did the 300 people standing near me. But these radio people knew and they knew I knew and knowing is half the battle.


The pigs were there and I booed them. I take that back. I didn't just boo. I raised my hands above my head and gave them two thumbs down while sticking out my tongue. John grabbed me by my shirt and said, "ohmygawd. Will you knock it off?" I replied, "They might be gay, but they're still pigs." Then he booed them too.


Gay or not, hippies are still irritating.


I'm willing to bet my left pinkie that she was born with a vagina.


John said, "ohmygawd. I'm afraid of them."


That's one helluva sun burn. And a massive overhanging gut.


His dad is very proud of him.


??????????


Not after drinking all the alcohol in the state of California, hopping to Nevada and drinking all their booze, then jumping on a plane to Germany and downing all their beer would I be fooled into thinking this was a real chick.


I gotta be honest. This girl was standing directly across from me for a few hours. From my side of the street, she looked gorgeous and I had to take a pervy shot. I swear I'm not that guy, but when there are 30,000 gay dudes around you, tell me you don't zone in on the lone hot chick within your line of vision.


"Right to reject religion." Amen.


Seriously, straight guys, there are like four straight women at this event and each one is a ten. All you have to do is deal with fat dudes in blonde wigs and buff dudes with better bodies than your fat ass will ever have rockin' a mermaid costume.


Pervy pic of a nice ass.


Damn you Johnny Depp and your mainstreaming of pirates.


Back story: This is NOT a cock shot. Rather, that plant just fell off the float and I was taking a picture of the hilarity. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.


I snapped this pic because I've never seen so many people in/on such a tiny car before. It's a two-seater, but the marketing team might want to check out this picture and re-tool their image. There are no fewer than five people riding in this car.


This guy was...You see he kept...And then my friend...fuck...I can't even come up with a joke. Make your own.


This disco car is in the parade every year. Or at least for the past five years. That's how long I've been going.

OK, so maybe I busted some balls here, but in all seriousness, I love the gays and the gay pride parade. It's really an uplifting feeling to see lots of people who get shit on every day just be who they are in the public. And I'd be lying if I said I didn't get goosebumps whenever the friends and family of gay people walk past.

There are plenty of straight spectators, which I think is nice. We need to show our support for people being themselves and if that entails watching what is easily the best annual event in Long Beach, I'll gladly participate every year.

Friday, July 24, 2009

DAY TRIP TO CARPINTERIA

The ol' ball and chain and I headed to Carpinteria a few months ago. I've been lazy and didn't get around to posting these til now. But that probably won't matter by the time you read this.

Carpinteria's a great day trip for Angelenos. It's about an hour and a half away and is amazingly quiet. There's even a restaurant with plenty of vegan options. What's not to love?

We began our day on Linden, which I suppose would be considered downtown if there had been more than 12 people walking the streets. Traffic moves slow and the people who are out are very friendly.

After a few hours of window shopping at a handful of antique stores run by grandmas, we headed to a secluded portion of the bluffs where there's a nice hiking trail and supposedly a killer view of seals. But we're dumb and couldn't find any. The hike was still nice.

If you're in the LA or Santa Barbara area and have a day to kill, hit Carpinteria and tell 'em Jim Hall sent ya. They'll just look at you funny, but getting weird vibes from strangers can be entertaining in a pinch.


The Worker Bee Cafe. I am too afraid to crack a joke about this one for fear that some commie will behead me in my sleep.


The Chamomile Cafe. Plenty of vegan food.


The sign in the window at the Chamomile Cafe. But don't let that fool you. There are some vegan options for breakfast and lunch and plenty of vegan baked goods.


Looking down Linden toward the Pacific Ocean.


Chinatown? What Chinatown? I wish I could say I was trying to get this blonde teenager's ass in my shot, but I wasn't. But it sure makes the picture a helluva lot better, don't it?


Linden looking toward the Santa Ynez Mountains.


Linden has this killer old timey barbershop. Black and white checkered tile and really old sinks. But they were closed.


Carp (that's local slang, ya dig?) has lots of seals, hence the statue. It's located near a grocery store and a makeshift visitor's center comprised of a few bluehairs and a guy who's probably gay sitting on the sidewalk. Pushy lil fuckers too. They wouldn't let us leave until we signed some mailing list.


No explanation needed.


The train drops off passengers about 300 yards from the water and 200 from a taco stand. You can't see that from this picture, but they're there.


Each palm tree on Linden (trust me, there are plenty of them) is dedicated to someone. I wonder if I could get this when I die. Someone look into that for me, will ya?


A plaque of some sort. In journalism school, they taught us never to use lame photos like these, yet it's all I ever take pictures of. Go figure.


Cool hiking area where you're lucky if you pass three people in an hour.


The train runs right through the hiking area. Pretty cool. This shot almost makes me look like I know what I'm doing with a camera.