Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I am leaving for Portland tomorrow night. Work all day, then drive as far as I can. I am very excited about hitting my second favorite American city (you're still No. 1 New Orleans!), but very nervous about my trip.

You see, some publication is paying me an ungodly amount of money to write 3,000 words about the city. I know most of the things they want me to cover, but there are a few I don't know, so it's up the 5 I go. Luckily I have my Sirus Satellite radio, so I'll have Howard Stern, Bubba the Love Sponge and Ferrall to keep me company.

This is my first big travel writing story and I don't want to blow it. Pray for me Argentina.

If you know me, I'll be back next week. If you don't, then you don't care. I'm bringing a camera and hopefully will be blogging in my free time, assuming I have any. I'm sure my devoted readers in Internetland can't wait to hear all about the yummy vegan food and smog-free skies. I know I can't.

Please God/Jesus/Moses/Noah/Virgin Mary/Guadalupe/Buddha/Jah/... don't let me fuck this up.

Friday, September 26, 2008


Getting home from the bank today when I saw two dogs running down my block. Didn't recognize them, but still...

I tried to get one to come see me, but these two were running as fast as they could down the street. They came charging at me and I almost ran, but stopped. Running might not have been good.

They crossed the street, so I did too. Then my neighbor two doors down asked if they were my dogs. "Why the fuck would I be out here not calling them by their names if these were my dogs," I thought. She told me she would have helped, but she was too busy drinking a beer with her toddler and friend. Nevermind the guy trying to do a good thing. No, don't bother helping him. Just keep drinking your beer, which, by the way, was in some froo-froo glass. If you're at home, it's straight out the can or not at all.

Finally, Max, the larger one, came up to me. They were camped underneath a tree that I hoped was in front of their house. I petted his head while looking for an address on his tag. No dice. But there was a phone number. I didn't want to leave them, but I had to go get a cell phone.

I walked back to my car when a loud crash sent the two scared dogs racing down the street in the opposite direction. I ran to my car for my phone and chased after them, all the while wondering what the yuppie two doors down was thinking of me.

I turned the corner and they were gone. Like 100 percent missing. I hoofed down the street a little longer, but they were out of sight. Slowly I walked back home and looked over my shoulder every so often. I got to an intersection when I heard the clanging of dog collars. There they were, coming right at me.

Max got into a woman's front patio while the other got in the shade of a car. From her window, the woman yelled "scram" real loud. I told her they weren't my dogs and she came to her senses. She offered food, which calmed Max. We saw he was bleeding, but couldn't tell from where. He was happy and able to run, which were two good signs.

The woman brought water and Max drank it like a champ. This gave me the opportunity to get the phone number from his tag. I made the call. It went like this.

"Hi. Do you have two dogs?"
"Do you have two dogs?"
"Because they got out and I've got them."
"Max is bleeding, but he's ok. Your other dog is underneath a car."
"Where are you?"
"Corner of CENSORED and CENSORED."
"I'm right around the corner."
"OK. I'll be here."

A white car pulled around the corner. It wasn't the owner, but his neighbor. I have no idea how this guy knew what was happening. Maybe he saw the dogs. I don't know.

The owner came about a minute after I hung up. He got out and I asked if these were his dogs. Max's face lit up and he climbed on the guy. "I guess these are your dogs," I said. The guy looked like he saw a ghost. He stuck out his hand and thanked me and the woman. Then he grabbed them by their collars and threw them in his car before thanking us again and telling us he was taking them to the vet.

I'm the first to admit that I don't care all that much about people, but I'm also the first to pull over whenever I see dogs running loose. I was very bummed when I thought I lost them and even more excited when I got them and found the owner.

Life can be good sometimes.


The only thing worse than being busy is being bored, so I guess I shouldn't complain. But shit, I have way too much going on.

PS Portland, here I come.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


I walked into work, something I don't normally do on Fridays. They needed a sub and I needed the cash, so there I was. Open the door and there's a student about three feet away from me. He's got his back turned because he's talking to the young Mexican girl about something. Keep reading and you'll find out why you need to know she's Mexican.

I get closer and this wifebeater-wearing blonde kid, no more than 20 years old, scrawny little fucker who looked like he had just started lifting weights, has "White" tattooed down the side of his left bicep. My initial reaction is it's his last name. I look to his right. Down the side of the bicep is "Power."

Both were written in that really creepy old English style, the one that is reserved for white supremacists.

He turned around and we were face to face. We looked each other in the eye. For a second, I thought about confronting him, but didn't. We were but two ships in the night and he probably had no idea the venom coursing through my veins at that moment.

"Interesting student," I said to the Mexican girl.

"Yeah," she replied, totally unaware of what the hell I was talking about. I thought about telling her, but I decided not to. Let her think I was a weirdo; she didn't need to know why.

I took my seat and thought about what kind of an asshole this kid was. Not only was he such a racist douche that he tattooed that on his arms, this motherfucker walks around a college campus -- stereotypically known as the most liberal places on the planet -- with that shit hanging out for all to see. I work in a very racially diverse environment and prayed a group of Mexicans, blacks, Jews or Asians was a mere moment away from seeing what I saw and poudning the shit outta him. I don't make a habit of condoning violence and I'm all about free speech and free thoughts, but not when we're talking ignorance. I have zero tolerance for that shit. Sure, I don't want to be the one stomping this kid's head into the pavement, but I wouldn't break it up if I was walking by.


I was outside King Eddy Saloon near the corner of Los Angeles and Fifth streets when a guy wearing a beat-up Dodgers hat started yelling at me. “Why’d you have to come to my bar?” he repeated three times before I knew he was talking to me. There I stood, minding my own, wondering what his problem was. Then it hit me: Between bites of a juicy red apple, without thinking, I took a picture of the bar’s logo, a tell-tale sign that I had something to do with the tour bus parked out front and the nearly 50 patrons who commandeered the watering hole without warning.

More drinks in me and I’d have considered punching him, but he was right. What was I doing at this dive? And on this tour? I’m not a photo-snapping tourist from the heartland. I was born in Torrance, raised in Lomita and live in Long Beach. I’ve been downtown more times than Angeleno transplants name-drop theater groups.

But there I was. Camera in hand, I sat in the bus’ back row for a two-plus-hour trek through Bunker Hill in search of author John Fante’s old stomping grounds. Born in Colorado in 1909, the late writer moved to the neighborhood and penned some of the best books you’ve never read. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps you’ve heard of Charles Bukowski. He called Fante his god and that’s got to count for something.

The luxury ride sat out front of Skylight Books before loading up a group who looked like they could have been this 28-year-old’s parents. Stocked with air conditioning, clean seats and televisions showing pictures of the author-turned-screenwriter, the journey began with a reading by Fante’s daughter. Armed with a first edition of 1938 novel Wait Until Spring, Bandini, Vickie Fante Cohen shared an amusing blurb written by her mother Joyce about her father’s penchant to begin his process fully clothed and ending up naked by the end of the night.

Our guide instructed us to look left, for what I can’t remember. Perhaps that had something to do with the modern-day view of the 101 north interrupting what was supposed to be of some significance to the elder Fante. Next was a stop at the Old Plaza Church, where our leader read a passage from the criminally neglected 1939 novel Ask the Dust, recently ruined on film by director Robert Towne and stars Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek. Fante protagonist Arturo Bandini sits at the steps of the holy site while a hooker asks for a date. He turns her down and the dichotomy versus good and evil was more profound as I looked toward Olvera Street for a sea of fanny pack –wearing weekend warriors overthrowing city culture. This summed up the entire trip: Amazing tales and pictures drowned by the drab concrete that come with redevelopment.

The remainder of the tour was focused more on Bunker Hill and how it related to Fante. Unfortunately, I was hoping for the opposite. We hoofed it to the new Angels Flight before heading to the third floor of the Angelus Plaza for a showing of Kay Martin’s 1950s paintings of Bunker Hill. Exquisite as they were, one guest summed up our stop when she asked if any of the featured works had any Fante connection. No, they don’t, she was told, and we were off to Pershing Square, where we were given a treatise on the poor planning of this supposed public space.

The website ran by Esotouric, the company that hosted the event, mentioned stops at important Fante-related places such as the Goodwill, Clifton’s Cafeteria, the library’s reading room and the Terminal Annex Post Office. We got none of those. In its place were complaints about the heat, a stop at a massive hole where the Hippodrome used to sit and dangling a carrot regarding the location where Dust was written. Organizers mentioned the address and said the tour visited the spot last year. But not us. Omitting 826 Berendo Street felt like flying to Memphis and not going to Graceland.

A blend of disappointment and appreciation struck as I exited the bus. I longed for more Fante, but was content with any morsel I was given, which is exactly how I feel about his work. The Buk tour is in December, but there are no less than 10 bars within walking distance from my apartment. Hitting those would be a more fitting tribute to Fante’s most well-known disciple.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


bitching, moaning, complaining
it’s all a bunch of bullshit
nothing more than masks to hide behind for the downtrodden
too afraid to confront life,
look it in the eye and say
“let’s go, you and me, right now”
this sinkhole exists in our heads
we created it
now it’s time
to dig our way the fuck out

3:10 A.M.

One of the best parts about not having to set an alarm is not having to go to bed at any given time. It helps on nights like tonight. It's just after 3 and I can't sleep. I got what my gf calls "the Jimmy legs," which has nothing to do with my name. I feel like I could run a marathon right now. Unfortunately, there aren't any to participate in on a Tuesday morning. Thankfully, Howard Stern's on, so I got something to do.

Been sick since Thursday. Better now. I think. I puked a little and man, does that suck. My stomach muscles ached for days after the first vomit. But my flat stomach is worth it.

Had a 102 temp. That really sucked. I got this flu from the gf. She owes me.

Saturday I did nothing except watch a Project Runway marathon and then the USC/Ohio State game. Thank the lord for both of those. At some point I'm going to give a Project Runway roundup, but that's for another day.

Cats are wild in the living room right now. People sleep and the cats...who the hell knows what they do while we're dozing off.

Haven't watered the garden since Thursday. Probably doesn't look good. That's ok. The end of summer has put a stop to the amazing tomatoes I've been eating from my backyard. Anyone have any suggestions for some fall/winter crops? I've got plenty of room.

That's all. Let's hope I fall asleep before tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Today I got this really depressing email from my bank. Turns out I'm not totally broke, but I live next door. It really got me down and I felt like writing to get it off my chest. Sometimes I feel, ah fuck it. Project Runway's on.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I was going to rant and rave about how awesome the Night Marchers were last night at Alex's Bar, but this guy beat me to it. He's pretty good if ya ask me.