Thursday, November 27, 2008


Eleven years ago today (ok, maybe not on this date, but you get the point) I gave up eating meat. It was supposed to be a one-day thing, but here I am more than a decade later with no regrets.

I had turned 18 years old a few weeks prior and was the furthest thing any living (or dead) person could have been from a vegetarian. I absolutely despised vegetables and fruit. I ate hot dogs, hamburgers and chicken taquitos all the time and was so far removed from any semblance of healthy eating that I didn't put lettuce or tomatoes on my burgers -- just bun, ketchup and meat.

I don't remember how or why I decided to give up turkey, but I vividly recall the word "protest" being a major force behind my decision. This was very similar to why I never drank or did drugs in high school; if everyone else was doing it, I wanted to be as far away as humanly possible. This motif continues today.

As long as I can remember, animals have always had a soft spot in my heart and the thought of thousands -- if not millions -- of turkeys being slaughtered just for selfish reasons was enough to turn me to the dark side. In fact, one of my earliest memories is going to the LA County Fair in kindergarten. My parents took me out of school (which turned out to be the ONLY time they ever did that) and I had what I remember was a bonding experience with a horse. Before you get your mind in the gutter, I'll explain...My memory of this day is nill except for how much I loved petting the horse's head and talking to it. My parents probably thought I was strange, but you know what? They still do. Anyway, leaving the horse made me very sad. I don't know why, but I felt some sort of connection with the beast, all cramped up with no movement for anything other than his or her head. Somewhere there's a shrink analyzing that thought, but I don't care to do such a thing.

I got to my aunt's cramped Torrance apartment (I have a large family) and shoved everything on my plate except turkey. This meant taking more potatoes and stuffing than normal, but I was fine by that. As far as I could tell, no one noticed and my turkey-free Thanksgiving went off without a hitch.

I woke up the next morning and had challenged myself to see how long I could keep up the no-meat diet. Trust me, it wasn't easy. My family is not veggie-friendly and I had no idea what I was doing. The first month or two was filled with more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and grilled cheese than I'd ever consumed before. When mom microwaved a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, I did my best not to eat the chicken, but I enjoyed the noodles and broth. Like I said, I was lost.

I don't have an exact date, but roughly two weeks into my vegetarianism was the last time I purposely ate meat (there have been a few times when someone swore there wasn't meat in something and there was, but I don't count those as I unknowingly ate flesh and threw away the food once I realized that). Mom threw some chicken taquitos in the oven and I put a few on my plate. As I was doing so, I told myself it was ok because the vegetarian experiment was over. "I'm not a vegetarian," I said to no one but me. I thought of my friends giving me shit for it and how, until then, I never told anyone I was a vegetarian because a few days of something is not long enough to start labeling yourself.

Like always, dinner was served in my bedroom. I took one bite and the taste was fine. Then the food hit my stomach and I knew something was wrong. I didn't vomit or have crazy poop, but the best I can describe this moment would be like this: Imagine a balloon expanding in your gut and not stopping. I felt like my belly was about to explode and there was nothing I could do about it. I writhed in pain, tossing and turning on my bedroom floor. This lasted a couple of minutes. Once the pain subsided, I put the extra taquitos back on the tray for someone else to eat.

It's been a pretty fucking awesome ride ever since.

Instantly I dropped 10 pounds. My diet was not what anyone would call healthy, but I was trying. I started buying veggie burgers and they tasted like shit. Just a big onion, which was definitely not what I wanted. But I kept at it. Veggie dogs? Yuck. More shit taste. But I kept at it.

I hate to be a sappy boyfriend, but it wasn't until a year later, when I met my girlfriend, when I was exposed to proper vegetarianism. She was a veggie too, which was a huge reason why we hit it off. I've heard of lots of couples in which one person converts for the other. That's noble, but ours was different. She knew way more about the subject than I did and started cooking me food that I'd never heard of and taking me to the now defunt Papa Jon's on Second Street in Long Beach. Oh how I miss you and your mush and tofu balls, Papa Jon's...

Our first visit, she ordered stir fry broccoli tofu. I looked at the menu and the dreadlocked hippy waiters and wondered where the hell I was. On paper, the food looked very unflattering and I went with an old standard -- a plate of black beans. Her dish came out and I was glad I didn't order it. Too much green for the young me. My beans were bland and dry and I pushed them around the plate more than I ate them. A while later, she cooked me falafel, something I'd never heard of. She promised I'd love it -- and hummus -- but she was wrong. I couldn't finish it and she made no bones about how this upset her. But she had the last laugh as I would inject falafel and hummus into my veins if I could. Her, on the other hand, she's over both of them. More for me!

I won't bore anyone with the details, but once I discovered fruits and veggies, there was no turning back. Tofu was and still is an awesome thing and my palette and awareness began cutting out more animal-based foods. Unfortunately, I don't have a vegan anniversary date, but my best estimate is about five years.

Like I said earlier, I gave myself a one-day challenge and upped the ante to see how long I could keep this up. Once I had a few months distance between me and meat, I was still telling people how one of these days I'd eat flesh again. Eleven years later, I say the same thing about dairy. But you know something? I can honestly say I'll never be a carnivore again, and if history tells me anything, I probably won't go back to milk, cheese and milk chocolate either. Not only is it the right thing to do on a compassion level, my body is much happier without all that shit in it. And if they could talk, I'd bet the animals are in favor of my decision as well.

Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not the type to preach my beliefs. No one forced vegetarianism or veganism on me and I don't wish to do the same. Now, when people ask, I give them honest, blunt answers. But it's not for me to tell others what to do. I came to this on my own and I believe people who make choices for themselves have a greater shot of sticking with things for the long haul. Veganism is right for me. On so many levels, I'd say it's right for you, the Jim Hall Sleeps All Day reader, but that's just my opinion. It's up to you to decide what you put in your body and why you do so.

Just yesterday a college student told me the thought of eating Tofurkey disgusted her. I told her she could think whatever she wanted, but I explained how there is no way she was more grossed out by fake turkey than I am when I think of the blood, guts and flesh of a formerly living creature entering my mouth. No thanks.

I still get crazy looks for non-believers and I don't care. Diets are not pissing matches, but I can always walk away knowing I'm doing what's right for me and for the greater good of humanity. I'm amazed at how many so-called religious people condemn me for my hedonistic ways (and trust me, there are plenty of them), but they still can't comprehend how they are contributing to torture and murder by eating meat. Again, I get the last laugh because religious nuts are destined to live a miserable life anyway.

And now it comes full circle. I am in the (incredibly slow) process of moving to Portland, Oregon, where veganism has taken over. As a vegan, I never thought I'd move somewhere because of food. That just wasn't possible until I went north. I'm not saying that's the only reason I want to live in the PDX, but it's a pretty big part of it. Even greater is knowing that I'm surrounding myself with like-minded people who don't think I'm weird for caring about fuzzy little creatures who can't speak up for themselves. Well don't worry my animal friends -- I'm here for you and I'm not the only one. I don't think we'll win this battle (or the war) but we can't go down without a fight.

Geez...this is one of my longest posts ever and I didn't even get into the raping and pillaging of Native Americans. I'll save that for next year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


perfection lies in the eye of the beholder
but for me,
it’s going to be difficult to beat
an evening alone
free of responsibility
and the ability to do as I please
the Lakers won and I cooked a plate of pasta,
washed it down with vino
sat in my favorite chair with the lights low
listening to the first rainy night in a long, long time

Friday, November 21, 2008


I was going to review this reading, but this asshole beat me to it. So instead, here are some photos.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Day trips are fun. At least that's what I tell myself. So when the opportunity arose to head up north to Berkeley to catch my friends' bands, the Taylor Texas Corrugators and JAMBANG, I said what the hell and made the six-hour trek all by myself.

I'm learning that I need to get out more. It helps keep me sane. Repetition has never been a friend of mine and hitting the open road is a perfect remedy for the Groundhog Day blues. Plus, I hadn't been to Berkeley in years...

I left Long Beach Friday at 11:30. The goal was to leave around 8 or 9 a.m., but we all knew that wasn't happening. I hit no traffic anywhere and was on Telegraph around 6 p.m.

The drive up was fairly uneventful. Highlights include stopping at Taste of India in Buttonwillow for killer samosas and a massive vegetable biryani wrap. Vegetarian food in truckstop towns is the modern day oasis, but this place exists and I make sure to stop there every time I'm on the 5. Sometimes I'm not hungry, but the food is bomb and I like to support them to make sure they're still around for my next trip. The second highlight was the gray skies caused by massive fires in Montecito (Montecito -- isn't that a hotel in Las Vegas?) The first three pictures are of this.

Berkeley was GOING OFF when I arrived. Literally a thousand people walking, talking, having a good time. I found a good parking spot and strolled around, taking in all that the college town has to offer.

It didn't take long before I began to feel strange. Not like I was gonna puke strange, but more like "holy shit, am I old or what?" kinda strange. Kids passing me by talking about the most ridiculous stuff. Two pimple faced punks were singing "I Saw Your Mommy" by Suicidal Tendencies, a group of high-heeled girls were pontificating the merits of Wet Seal, two gay guys were sharing horror stories of their respective hometowns and these three computer nerds were waxing poetic about the good ol' days of the Internet, back when AOL 2.0 was a big deal.

I was invisible to these kids. Maybe that's why I had such a good time. I never thought I'd be 29 years old, but I am and I'm learning to deal with it. It pains me to call college students kids, but for the first time in my life, I see that they are. Stuck between childhood and adulthood, away from mom and dad for the first time and exposed to things they only read about online. What I wouldn't do to be 19 again.

I thought about that last statement and realized I wish I could be in college again, but only because I am older. What I saw was no different than the Berkeley I saw when I was 18. You think I'm angry now? Try me a decade ago. I didn't want the college experience and that's probably why I didn't move away to school. Yes, now I see how this might have changed who I was and who I am, but I wasn't ready to participate in the herd mentality that seems to be ever so popular. The whole thing was a large cliche, the kind that made me feel like I was watching "Felicity" and not living real life.

The homeless punks and hippies are still bumming change. So are all the cleanest crazy people I've ever encountered. And there's the sweet sweet smell of weed EVERYWHERE. In the bookstore -- weed. The vintage store -- weed. The three headshops -- weed. The three guys standing in front of that plot of land that's been empty for 15 years -- weed. Not sure how cool the rest of the town is, but I'm ready to pronounce Telegraph the marijuana capital of the country.

Ate dinner at Blake's on Telegraph, where the show was held downstairs. Got a vegan burger. Usually these are nothing special, but this was really tasty. Highly recommended.

The sound guy was awesome. Not only did he give the obligatory history of the venue speech, he later offered us a bag of weed for sale. He didn't normally sell, he told us, but just this once...Sure dude.

First two bands were what I'd call college bands. Five guys who don't have much in common other than they want to play music. Maybe that's where the expression "the ol' college try" comes from. In any case, these groups had a strong following and girls were screaming for them, so they musta been doing something right.

The Corrugators were first. I've seen them a few times now and this might have been the best show yet. It's heavy, it's mellow, it grooves, it rocks. For a three-piece, they sure sound like a full band to me. Not that three pieces aren't full bands, but you know what I mean.

Luckily for me, the band had fun at some wineries the day before, resulting in drink tickets galore for me. Hooray for other people's hangovers!

JAMBANG closed the night with by far the best performance I've seen from them. I should be better at explaining bands' sets, but I'm not. To me, groups are good or bad. I don't see why anyone would ever go on and on about nuances and minutiate. Just believe me when I say JAMBANG was killer.

After the show I eyeballed this group of girls on the street. They were smoking, so I figured they must have been at least 18. But the more I looked, the tattoos and smokes hid nothing. The man in me knew they were attractive, but I was not interested because they were goddamn children. I wondered what I'd do if one of them approached me and wanted to party (this is assuming I didn't have a girlfriend of course) and I gotta say I think I woulda turned them down. Fuck. I'm old.

Went to bed at 3:30 and got up at 9:30 to head home. I wanted to get some work done and a different set of friends were having a shindig that I wanted to attend. For most of the drive home, I was flying around 90mph. There's no one on the 5 on a Saturday afternoon, which made that incredibly dull trip more tolerable. Then all hell broke lose.

Somewhere near Castaic was one of those neon signs telling me to expect a 75-minute delay due to the 5 being closed. I called home and asked the ol' ball and chain to get online and see what was up. "Fires," she said and it was then I knew I was screwed.

I got within ten minutes of Magic Mountain in Valencia when traffic came to a screeching halt. As in dead. No movement. At all. For two hours. I had one drop of water and two stale vegan donuts which tasted like shit. I rolled up the windows. I rolled down the windows. Changed the radio station. Made more phone calls. Anything to break the monotony.

This guy next to me was playing a mandolin. I thought about busting out my harmonica, but this cat could play and I totally suck. So I took some pictures instead. I was officially in hell.

Traffic was diverted onto the 126, a freeway I'd never heard of. False hope sucks even more than honest hope. Everyone thought this shift would get us moving, but it didn't. More traffic. Two hours more in fact.

I began to curse humanity, cars, people, fires, freeways, the strawberry stands we crept past on the 126, my radio, my phone, the heat, idiots who live in these fire-torn areas, the cars driving 80 mph in the opposite direction and life in general.

The 126 is a five-lane road. Two in each direction and one turn lane in between. I said fuck it and drove down the turn lane, which was pretty dangerous considering how fast traffic on the other side was moving. But I wasn't the only one. Lots of us did it only to get shitty looks whenever we had to merge into the regular lane. Yes, it's a shit move, but it was a shit time. Whaddyagonnado?

I'm amazed I didn't get hungry or have to pee, but that's the frustration kicking in. There was nothing but hate and anger. The animal was unleashed. If ever I could have done real bodily harm to a total stranger, it was yesterday on the 126 freeway. Every person glancing over at me was dead if they looked just five more seconds. Then I realized they were just killing time too and I decided to let them live.

The 126 turned into a town with min-malls and Taco Bells all over the place. I got a bean burrito and fries at Green Burrito, which, by the way, was the shiznit before they were converted into Carl's Jrs. Then I got some gas because I was at a quarter tank and had no idea what to expect.

I coulda ate at CJ, but I got it to go because there was no way I was going to wait any longer than I already did. The fries went first to let the burrito cool. One bite and there's beans all over my shirt. Each chomp was more food on me and less in my mouth. Oh, did I mention I was now driving in total darkness on a windy two-lane road that was supposed to take me to the 23?

My car seat was littered with beans and my steering wheel was sticky from all the food dropped on my hands. But I did not care. Like a commando trooper longing for peace, I pushed forward until I hit the 101. Finally, something I recognize.

An hour later and I was home. I dropped my shit at the door, took a shower and was done. Normally I unpack first thing, but my day and night were over. No friends' party. No nothing. Just my bed.

If I had a piece of paper and a pen, I woulda wrote the best shit ever while this was happening, but a day later and I'm afraid to really tap into the details because I am finally in a good mood and don't want to ruin that. So I'll say this: When people ask why I want to leave Southern California for Portland, I'll have one more reason to give them: the fires, terrible asthma conditions and chapped lips caused by a goddamn motherfucking shit ass piss bitch whore cunt called the Santa Ana winds. And you thought Santa Ana was just a terrible place to live and socialize...

Friday, November 7, 2008


I cannot feel it
I cannot see it

the gun must be there

why else would I voluntarily put one foot in front of the other,
head toward the bathroom for a shower
and walk out the door
through the driveway
and down the street
to get to my car
turn the key and
to the freeway, on the freeway, change freeways?


it’s all too much
my mind is screaming “NOOOOO”
but my feet keep moving
the screams get feet move faster
there is no stopping this avalanche
something takes control of my body
and it is then when I am no longer me

I belong to them,
the gun-toting invisible criminals
threatening my life
all for pity wages and mercy raises

I thought I was smarter than this
I am starting to think I was wrong

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I could write for days about this election. But I won't. Let's leave it at this...

Whether you're for Obama or McCain or voting yes or no on Prop 8, we can all agree that it's time for this election to be OVER.


Sorry, no pictures or video this time...

Saturday I caught Jubilee's second American show, which was also their first Los Angeles performance. The crowd was much larger than the Chino show and, in a very obvious statement, the sound was 100 times better. The band played nearly an identical set, which was fine because I didn't have any complaints about the first time I saw them.

Jubilee's strength lies in its ability to shy away from repetition. They play fast songs, slow songs, heavy songs, mellow songs and songs that have a bit of everything. Right when I think they are the best power-pop band in the land, they break into a feedback-laden jam that rocks.

Usually, bands have more than one lead singer because one guy just won't shut up about how he HAS to sing his songs. Well, Jubilee isn't like that. The combination of singer/guitarist Aaron North and singer/bassist Michael Shuman gives the quartet options that don't leave audiences waiting for the other guy to reclaim the mic.

Mid-set, North told the crowd that they didn't like playing LA because Angelenos suck at behaving properly. I couldn't agree more, but in this case, I had to give the shoegazers and arms-crossed crowd some slack because it ain't easy spending an hour of your time listening to a band you've never heard before. Hell, I can't do it. There was an apparent contingency of those who came out to see not necessarily the band, but the band members and that's fine too. I think that's called having fans, but judging by the lack of comments I get on this page, I have no idea what that concept means. By the time they were finished, Jubilee got the naysayers and the too-cool-for-school crowd on their side. At least I think so. Who the hell knows with those LA types?

I've decided Jubilee should sign to Sub Pop because they really are the culmination of what that label produced (and maybe still does, I don't know). But my guess is they'll stick to releasing their own stuff, which I can't argue with either. Sometimes it's nice to be the boss.