Wednesday, June 30, 2004


When Cecilia was three we went to the school playground by her house one Saturday. She played on the jungle gym and the swings and that was pretty fun. Three little girls, probably about 6 or 7, showed up with a bike and a couple scooters. As they zoomed around the playground Cecilia watched them. She stood on the black top and every time they swooped by her she'd yell, "Hi!", but they didn't say anything. After a couple circuits she couldn't stand it anymore and chased after the girls yelling, "Say hi to me! Hey you guys, say hi to me!" Although she was littler than they were they did eventually play with her because kids are like that.

There is a security guard that I have to walk by anytime I leave my office to venture anywhere on the lot. Everytime I walk by him I smile and wave and say, "hi", or "good morning" and he looks right at me but he doesn't respond. The other morning I thought to myself, "well maybe he just doesn't hear me" since there is construction going on and it's loud - groundshakingly, maybe we're having an earthquake loud - so I kept saying, "good morning, good morning, good morning" completely possessed by my inner 3 year old, getting louder and louder as I got closer and closer. His face remained impassive but finally I saw his lips move and he said...something. He spoke in such a low voice I decided that it was "good morning", but it could've been "shut up" for all I know.

The poor man. Doesn't he know? If he'd just play with me and say good morning I'd quit chasing him around the parking lot.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004


I spent some time with my Nana recently and we got to talking about when she was a young woman. We both grew up in Long Beach, as did my mother, but my nana and I probably had more in common – we were both party girls.

Nana is an only child, born in 1908, and her parents moved out to Long Beach from Marshall, Minnesota sometime just prior to 1920. Her father had been the superintendent of schools for Marshall County, which means all the rural schools, but when they moved to Long Beach, he got involved in real estate. He actually owned a fair amount of lots on what is now known as Signal Hill. Shortly after they sold them oil was discovered. I hate thinking about that. Anyway they lived at 435 Cherry Street – 4th and Cherry. Her best friend in school, Thelma lived at 545 Rose. They both went to Polytechnic High School where they were known at Brickie and Bobbie. Thelma was a red head and that’s how she got her name. Nana was known as Bobbie because she had very long hair until one day she went to the Pike, had all her hair cut off in a fashionable bob, and sold it for 75 cents.

Up on 10th and Cherry there was a soda shop where Nana and her friends hung out and had cokes. There was a real good lookin’ young man named Gene Vadits who would hang out at the shop too and my Nana ran off and married him when she was 18! He was 24. They lived all over the place, at one point moving up to Pt. Arena so he could work in the oil fields. His mother was a dialect coach for actors in Hollywood who lived in Malibu – she had a beach house – with Gene’s little brother. His sister lived in Santa Monica and she and my Nana were good friends even though Nana ultimately left Gene after six years. She said he would make stuff up all the time and brag about things that weren’t true – she couldn’t take it anymore so she split. I kind of wonder if the depression didn’t make it that much harder on the marriage though – as she said, “those were hard times.”

She returned to 435 Cherry to live with her parents and started working at the soda shop. Edith was already working there and she and my Nana became life long friends. The soda shop was owned by a man named Freed Hare who was sweet on my Nana. He was ten years older than she was, but they kept company for a while. He took her out to the wrestling matches and sometimes she would go over to his apartment and fix dinner for him and his sister.

Shortly after her return to Long Beach Nana was working at the soda shop and one night her friend Thelma came in with her boyfriend. They were headed to a party in Southgate and needed to bring along some extra girls. Nana didn’t want to go, but they assured her that they would bring her home. This party was kind of wild, with illegal liquor and lots of basketball players – guys from the Firestone plant across the street who played in a company league. At one point she walked outside and the guys were tossing women over the fence where they were caught by guys standing on the other side. She went to the bathroom to fix her hair and a big redhead came in to try to fix his bandage. The redhead was my granddad, he asked her for help and that was it. They spent that whole evening together and when it was time to go home she realized that Thelma and her boyfriend had left. My granddad arranged for the guys from the opposing basketball team to give her a ride back to Long Beach and upon delivering her home they all got out and demanded a kiss on the cheek for their trouble.

Red and Bobbie went together everywhere and he even got a house with a bunch of guys right down the street on Cherry so that he could be closer to her. Her mother would make a big dinner and send her down to get Red to come and help eat it all – her mom and dad liked him just fine. He got a summer job life guarding at the Pacific Coast Club, a very posh private beach & fitness club that was part of the LAAC. When I was a kid we used to go there and I loved the trampoline that was at sand level over a big pit in the ground. The Pacific Coast Club was about a half mile east of the Pike and right next door to a fabu building called the Villa Riviera.

It was about this time that Nana started working as an extra in Warner Bros. movies. Gene’s sister was connected and introduced Nana to the smarmy casting director who hit on her continuously, but gave her jobs even when she told him that she was taken.
Red had to go back to home to Missouri to take care of some family business and Nana was spending time with Gene’s sister in Santa Monica when she heard on the news that a big earthquake had hit Long Beach. Gene happened to be in town and he drove her down to Long Beach to make sure that her folks were okay. The house on Cherry had been knocked completely off its foundation though so it had to be rebuilt. Red was crazy with worry that something might have happened to her.

He eventually told her that she had to get a divorce because he didn’t want to be keeping company with a married woman. So she did. And then he proposed although it was already a fait accompli – they were crazy about each other. They had a quiet wedding at 435 Cherry and that day a huge bouquet of roses was delivered from Freed Hare wishing Nana all the best in the world and she said that she cried and cried because she didn’t want to hurt him.

She and Gonga (that’s what I called him because I couldn’t say Grandpa) moved to a house up on Lime at South Street and had my mom in 1937 and my aunt in 1940. They briefly rented the house out in 1936 and moved to LA so that Gonga could go to USC. He got a job working at the Coliseum so he could see all the Olympic events. I remember sitting on lap when I was a little kid and the Olympics were on and he would tell me about those games.

I don’t think that my mom or my aunt even knew about Nana’s first marriage until they were adults. And she couldn’t believe all the memories that came back when we were talking about the “good old days”. I was tickled to hear all about it because she’s seen so much in her life but we rarely talk about it. She’s still a beautiful woman, even at 96, but back in the day she was spectacular – it was so much fun imagining the pretty girl from the pictures living her life in the same place that I grew up and did the same thing.

Monday, June 28, 2004


This phrase takes on a whole new meaning on the internet. I just spent my day doing research and was amazed at how many websites there are that sound so authoritative, but are really just crackpots expressing their opinions. And that's fine except that I have to wade through all that to separate the wheat from the chaff - and man, there's a ton of chaff.

Last week I discovered Rance - the guy who is most likely a hairy psychotic whacking off in mom's basement while flirting via his website comment box with all the women who think he's George Cloony. The guy has got a way with words, but I just don't buy that Mr. Clooney, or any of the other actors whom many have speculated that Rance might be, would have the time. Rance seriously spends a great deal of time reading his commenters e-mails and responding to them. The claims of an administrative staff wear thin when he switches back and forth from first person to third in the announcements from same.

And then there is the whole Plain Layne story. This is a blog that I lurked at forever because her life had all the drama of a runaway train heading for disaster. And she wrote about it in an incredibly entertaining fashion. But a few weeks back Layne disappeared and now if you go here, you can read all about how Layne was made up by some guy named Odin (isn't that the name of a God?) and I find myself wondering if he's even real. Although if you go to his site you can read about why he did it.

So now I'm left wondering who's real and who isn't. Like for instance, this chick. This site is addictive, not because the writing or content is great, but because I literally can't believe she's for real. My mouth drops open at how twee she can be as she dispenses her "wisdom" on how to be a great person, or a creative person - just like her. She is constantly editing out posts so some of my favorite bits are now gone forever like the one about how her "best friend" Emily and she had an apartment together, but problems soon arose when Emily's insecurities caused her to want to be just like her - so she told her best friend that she had to move out. What I got is that she didn't dig the competition and when Emily no longer wanted to be an ass kissing sycophant she had to go. She runs her website the same way. You can be on her mailing list, but don't ever say a negative thing about, or to her, or you'll be get kicked off her mailing list and you will no longer receive her petulant missives. Her world is truly one of her own design. Another favorite is from recently, when her camera broke and she asked people to give her money to buy a new one, because, hey - it never hurts to ask. And after all she is super pretty and perfect and shares her wisdom for free on her multiple websites (where she self publishes). That post quickly disappeared and was replaced with the offer to sell her "prints" for $15. Now, since she reportedly has 90,000 unique hits EVERYDAY to her websites you'd think that her goal of selling 100 prints in 10 days would've been easily reached, but no. She eventually got the dough from her loyal readers and then immediately had to take time off from posting and responding to e-mail so she could learn to work the camera. How's that for a Fuck you very much?

Yeah - everytime I check in with Alex I find myself wondering, is she for real? But then I can't imagine that someone would go to all the trouble of making up a person and then not make them interesting. Plain Layne was way interesting. Rance is interesting and has quite the way with words. Alex is just sanctimonious and insists on using words like "whilst", as well as the Olde English spelling words like shit - she spells it shite, because she's just so completely continental. I saw someone who had her linked under the heading "Chicken Soup for the Souless".

Indeed. Snort!

Real or not, at least attempt to write well and entertain as you enlighten the masses.

Friday, June 25, 2004


Those wacky Republicans in Chicago!! I've been hearing about this "scandal" since before the documents were released. Once the details became known I, for one, was completely underwhelmed. I mean what's the big deal? I don't even know why Jeri Ryan would state in her divorce papers that this was such a horrible thing. I mean it's not like he forced her. If he had she'd definitely have a point - there is a line. But just to ask? I think it's a shame that Jack Ryan who seems like a pretty nice guy, is all of a sudden too sexually deviant because he asked his wife to do it with him in a nightclub in Paris. With people watching.

I've been asked to do all kinds of freaky shit by various men in my life. I've said no A LOT. No harm, no foul - you go on. Unless you're a Republican running for office. I mean the Democrats might replace a candidate for being freaky - look at all the trouble that bit freak Bill Clinton got them into, but I kind of think that if that guy had all the merits that Jack Ryan does, they'd probably let him run anyway.

But not the Republicans - no way. No freaks allowed in that party. At least no "outed" freaks. If you're a Republican and you have sex in anything other than the missionary position, and with anyone but a human of the opposite sex, why I think they probably come after you in the night and you get disappeared. Or, like Jack Ryan, you get ex-communicated. No sir-ree. Republicans are fine upstanding MORAL Americans who like their candidates to be having daily conversations with Jesus.

And as long as he does that it doesn't matter if he tells LIES and makes up shit and sends their children to attack foreign lands. It doesn't matter if he destroys the foundation of democracy and subverts the constitution - because he's doing it to protect the moral and Christian people that are the REAL Americans - or at least the only ones who matter. What's the big deal if he's alienated this country from the rest of the world? They're all heathens who are going to hell anyway.

And although to a lot of us, sending American kids to slaughter on the basis of lies and fearmongering, shitting on the constitution and isolating this country from the rest of the world seems a whole lot worse than asking your wife to have sex with you in a public place - apparently the freaky sex thing, Jesus will not forgive you for, and neither will your consituents. And they don't even care if it's true or not - all someone has to do is say that you did it. Maybe you didn't but if the paper prints it, it must be true.

But you know what sucks is that the Democrats didn't think that their candidate Barack Obama could win the race on his own merits and so they sunk to the depths of the MORAL Republican party did when they went after Bill Clinton for being a bit freaky. I know, I know, it was the "Chicago Tribune" and other media sources that actually sued to have the divorce documents unsealed - but who do you think slipped them the info? They went after the documents that related to Jack Ryan's divorce, where, as anyone who's ever been through a divorce knows, things get down and dirty and what's said isn't necessarily true (just look at what Lionel Richie's wife wrote in her divorce papers about how much it costs her to live every month - I mean puh-leeze).

Bad show assholes, seriously. That's why I'm no longer affiliated with you pussies. I suppose it could be argued that if you choose to go into public office this is what comes with the territory, but that doesn't make it right.

Some days man.

And I haven't even seen Farenheit 9/11 yet...

Thursday, June 24, 2004


One of the reasons I started writing here was so that I would get into the practice of writing everyday, and maybe even come to enjoy it! I would probably enjoy it more if I didn't have this mental governor that keeps me in line, so to speak, by causing tremendous self castigation when I fail to do so. I am the same way about exercise. I do it five days a week and most of the time I fucking hate it. Even though I feel so much better and stronger because I do. I came into this world a master procrastinator. My whole life I have always waited till the last minute to get stuff done and I have suffered the anxiety and drama created by waiting until the very last second.

In school when I had a huge paper due I would do all the reading and research, but I wouldn't actually sit down to write the damn thing until the night before. Once I wrote all night and then went to school in my pajamas to turn it in - this is what happens when you return to college "later in life" - you don't have to participate in the fashion Olympics. You can also date your professors, but that's another story for another time. So I'd type up the paper the night before and turn in the first draft and get an A. If I was getting Bs or Cs I probably would've been motivated to do it differently. But I got As and so I never developed the kind of focus and discipline that I need right now.

Hence this exercise in writing everyday, and although I have done it, I am still a supreme fiddle-farter. This may be due to the fact that currently I have nothing to keep me on task, e.g. a deadline by which work must be completed, or a big, fat paycheck. And I'm not one who responds to manufactured deadlines or even the tempation of a fine dining experience (shout out to Sal - thanks for trying), although usually that works with me. I am wrestling with that demon procrastination and sometimes it wins.

Like today.

The new issue of Entertainment Weekly arrived and inside was a blurb about this blog. Supposedly it is being written by a celebrity who claims to be a big swinging dick of an actor - my words, not theirs - who is privy to all kinds of Jugo de Hollywood. He is pseudonymously known as Rance. Entertainment Weekly "slogged through" the entries - their words, not mine - and they speculate that it may be one of the following hot shots: George Clooney, Jim Carrey, Ben Affleck or Owen Wilson.

So this morning I perused the site myself and I'm kind of leaning toward "hairy psychotic guy who lives in his mother's basement drinking his own urine" - his words, not mine. This is mostly because of his knowledge of the anti-psychotic medication Seroquel mentioned more than once in his posts, as is the allusion to the fact that he might just be a guy who is sitting in his mother's basement voraciously consuming all the entertainment magazines and Tivoing Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight so that he can talk the talk. Of course, I am cynical and not so willing to suspend my disbelief because this is, afterall, the internet where crazies abound.

Regardless, this guy, hairy psychotic, or fabu A-lister is a very good writer. He clearly loves languages and exhibits a facile way with the big ass vocabulary words. I find myself wondering if he uses them in conversation and it makes my heart go pitty-pat. If I were ever to meet a man who could toss off words like pedant, vitriol and nihilistic, casually and in the correct context I think I would do him in the parking lot. He writes in long, run on sentences (similar to my own) which are descriptive and endearing at the same time. Sometimes you can tell that he's been drinking when he gets creative with the spelling, e.g. discretion as disgression. He throws out challenges to those who comment like "what would you do if you were made the head of Fox Studios for one day" and the responses that were posted were quite good, so he's attracted at least a semi-literate comment box group of blog stalkers.

At any rate he is my current provacative procrastination destination and I am totally crushing on him. This fact alone tilts the scales in the direction of hairy, psychotic, Seroquel taking, basement dweller - because history has shown that my picker is pretty fucked up. So actually he could be an actor - you'd have to be crazy to fall for one of them!

Either way - he's good entertainment.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


The four most frustrating words in the world when the person saying them doesn't really mean it. For the last week this person has been located somewhere in India where they work for Directv! Who billed me $70 when they sent someone out to correct an installation error. For some reason this "issue" didn't compute with anybody I talked to, and believe me, I talked to quite a few.

They all gave me the standard response which is, "Directv is not responsible for work performed by contractors whom you hire." Okay. Fine. But I didn't hire anybody! I ordered Directv and you guys sent someone out to install it and now it doesn't work. "Well you have to call that company and talk to them because we're not responsible". So I did that and was told that I needed to conact the manufacturer of my equipment because Connect Television isn't responsible for equipment malfunction. I already knew that and my equipment isn't malfunctioning!!

So after a week of perching at the precipice of a cardiac accident I gave up on actually getting any service from customer service. I apparently was speaking a language that no one understands, although I must say that those people in India are incredibly polite when a customer is screaming obscenities at them. Unflappable really - do you think it was all those years of British occupation. Seriously I don't think they'd say shit if they had a mouthfull.

So anyway today I sent this letter out to Connect Television, a company that I am just sure is owned by Directv, though I bet they'd deny it.

Connect Television, Inc.
1110 East Dominguez Street
Carson, CA 90746
Attn: Accounts Payable

RE: Service charge dispute

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am disputing the $70 service charge, which appears on the copy of the bill herein attached. I am disputing this charge for the following reasons.

1) I ordered Directv in January of 2004 through the Friends and Family program.

2) The equipment was brought to my house and installed by Connect Television, Inc, a vendor sent by Directv – NOT HIRED BY ME. See attached copy of receipt from Connect TV for that day.

3) From the date of installation I had image breakup when watching television, but thought that it was normal because I was used to crappy cable service so even the occasional hiccup was acceptable.

4) Because I am rarely home to watch television on weekend days I was unaware that I was unable to receive my premium HBO service until I attempted to watch a movie one Saturday. What I got on all HBO channels was a black screen and a message that said “searching for signal”. This problem occurred only during the day, not during evening hours.

5) I called Directv and again they sent a Connect Television technician to my house necessitating that I take four hours off work.

6) The technician upon inspection of equipment determined that the satellite dish had been aligned incorrectly at the initial installation. His comment to me after re-aligning the dish was, “it was so out of alignment I don’t know how you were getting any reception at all.” Please see attached copy of that receipt of service and note that in the description box he wrote, “Realign dish – reconfigure family room a/c ok.”

I refuse to pay any amount of money for service to correct an error that occurred at the initial installation. I have no control over the skill level or ability of your installers. When I tried to resolve this problem over the phone I was told that I had to contact the MANUFACTURER of my equipment; that Connect Television was not responsible for whether or not the equipment worked!!! This may be true but then who is responsible for the angle that my Dish was aligned at? Yes, when the installer left the television was working but apparently he had aligned the Dish incorrectly so that I was not getting good reception 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now that the Dish has been aligned correctly I get perfect reception – ALL THE TIME! So it’s not that the equipment doesn’t work – it works great thanks. And I’m very happy with the reception that I’ve been getting since the Dish was properly aligned.

I would very much appreciate it if this charge was removed from my account immediately and this matter quickly resolved. Please respond in writing to the address noted below. Thank you for your time and attention.

And just for good measure I decided to give the CEO a little feedback on my customer service experience. It helps that just yesterday I read an interview with Mr. Stern that was in the Hollywood Reporter - Directv is celebrating it's 10 years anniversary...

June 23, 2004

Mitch Stern, CEO
2250 E. Imperial Highway
El Segundo, CA 90245

RE: Directv customer care

Dear Mr. Stern:

Attached please find copies of my correspondence regarding service issues that I have with Directv and their contractor Connect Television, Inc. (this is the vendor that Directv uses for Family and Friends installations and service in the L.A. area).

I am disputing what I believe to be an inaccurate service charge. I do not believe that I should have to pay for a technician to come out to my house and correct a misalignment of my Dish that was due to work performed by the first technician who installed the equipment. I have been attempting to resolve this issue over the phone with both Directv and their vendor Connect Television and at this point I am so frustrated I felt the need to give you some feedback about Directv’s customer care department. I am very pleased with my Directv service – now that the Dish is properly set up – and I have referred many of my friends to Directv as a result of my mostly good experience with the company.

However, I cannot express to you how frustrating it is to speak to not one, but numerous customer service representatives located somewhere in India! These people seemed unable to understand my complaint, not because they don’t speak English, but because they weren’t listening! Maybe I was deviating from their normal customer care “script” but they were unable to help me at all. In fact, they were “unable to transfer me to a supervisor” when I requested it!

When I contacted Connect Television, Directv’s vendor, I faced the same issue – a customer service rep who didn’t understand what I was saying, because he was so used to repeating the same thing to customers, which was that I needed to contact the manufacturer of my equipment because Connect Television wasn’t responsible for whether or not the equipment worked!! Well my equipment works just fine now that the installer error is resolved. He finally told me that I needed to send a letter outlining why I was disputing the bill and said that it was “my word against the installer.”

I read your interview in the Hollywood Reporter and the introduction of new services is definitely a positive for Directv, but in order to keep this massive base of customers, which has grown due to the excellent marketing plan, I do believe that customer service must improve – drastically. This is now, more than ever, a competitive market with the Dish Network and digital cable providing viable alternatives and ultimately I look at how I am treated as a customer to determine whether to do business with a company. In this instance I have to say Directv and their subcontractor should definitely reassess their customer care policy. Listening and comprehension are important qualities in any area of business but they are key in customer service.

Thank you for your time and attention to my “feedback”.

I had to go back in and edit all the sarcastic commentary about how nice it is of Directv to support a struggling economy like that of India - because God knows we've got plenty of jobs to go around here in the good ole USA - but that ultimately you get what you pay for and, while they're very polite customer service agents, they aren't actually able to provide satisfactory service. And that pretty much sucks.

When I need help I like to go to the top and since no one in India was able to transfer me to a supervisor, heck I'll just go to the CEO. I doubt he'll be able to help me either, because it seems like most CEOs don't actually do much beyond accepting massive paychecks and taking the heat when the stock price suffers a downturn.

But hey, you never know, and the most important thing is that I feel better.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Spending so much time in Long Beach last weekend brought back lots of memories from my time living there. That time was split into two periods, or epochs if you will. The first one was growing up and living with my family and the second was living on my own in Belmont Shore and the environs which began the summer I graduated from high school. I had a job which started as an internship when I was a senior in high school, working at a family planning clinic. My parents subsidized my paltry salary and me and Cathi, best friend from fifth grade who also didn't go away to college, got an apartment down on Ximeno and Division. Cathi had a job at Judy's and didn't plan to go to college at all.

This past weekend as I was back in my old stomping grounds I had all kinds of memories, but one in particular jarred loose a set of memories of events that were surreal and gross at the time, but I remember laughing about it then. Could be that I was more tolerant, or maybe the world was a less scary place but these three events all involved "men who masturbate in public places". There are actually more when I think about it, but these particular memories are location specific and I was in all of those locales over the weekend.

The beach that is Long Beach is long and wide and covered with white sand. There are no waves because of a break that was built a long time ago. My nana grew up in Long Beach and she has stories of the seaside amusement park that was the Pike with the rainbow pier and the wooden roller coaster. This was before the shorebreak was put in and there were shark attacks and surfable waves - two things that don't go together so great if you think about it. Anyway, for most of my life the Pike was a dilapidated and run down ghost town, infamous for the real corpse that was discovered in the abandoned Funhouse during the filming of an episode of the "Six Million Dollar Man", and the beach has always been a long expanse of sand against which the neutered Pacific Ocean calmly lapped upon quietly. If it weren't for the salty smell of red tide it wasn't much different than hanging out on Lake Michigan.

On the weekends I loved to go down early and fry my front and backsides to an even blister. I didn't get the melanin to bronze but I could achieve a sort of auburn/brown color brought about by extensive freckling, with enough effort. So one Saturday morning I was laying on the beach, pretty much all alone on what I fantasized was my private beach. I was reading something that wasn't all that entertaining and nursing a hangover because at that time my drink of choice was Tyrolia wine which came in the green jug bottle. I drifted off to sleep for I don't know how long, but I awoke to sounds of panting which gradually worked their way from my dream to my conscious awareness. The sound was coming from behind me, near the brick wall that separated the sidewalk from the sand. At first I was just vaguely annoyed that out of all the available real estate someone had decided to camp out with their dog, or whatever thing was making that noise, like totally in my space! I slowly turned over to give them the evil eye and stopped mid-roll at the sight of a blonde guy, about 25, with his bathing suit trunks around his ankles, sitting there jerking off!! Because I was just waking up it gave me a jolt, but at the same time I remember noticing that he looked like a normal guy. Not some gross, pervy, drooling, unwashed sexual deviant in a trench coat. This guy was kind of cute - well as cute as a total stranger can be with his pants around his ankles, pulling his pud and panting. I quickly stood up, grabbed my stuff and vacated, leaving him to it. I just hoped I never saw him out and about in the shore - how embarrassing!

About six months after that I pulled into the parking lot at Vons a few blocks from the house and I went in to do my shopping. When I came out there was a large land yacht type car parked so closely to my driver door that I was going to have to climb through the passenger side to get behind the wheel. I cursed as I unloaded the groceries into the trunk and then I noticed that the car that was parked so closely was rocking a bit. A closer look revealed that there was a man in the front seat, which was one of those upholstered bench seats that you'd find in 1970s model, gas guzzling sedans. This middle aged gentleman, he was like 30, was hunched up on his knees and I could see the piston like action of his arm as he worked to "shift gears". I briefly thought about running to tell, but my groceries were in the trunk and it seemed wiser to just beat a quick retreat. I ran to the passenger side of my car and tried to quickly fold the entire length of me in and over the gear shift as the rocking of the car next to me got more and more violent. This distracted me - because it started to feel like I was playing beat the clock - and I became more clumsy than usual, fumbling to get the keys in the ignition and giggling nervously, trying not to look. I got the car started and was attempting to get it in reverse when buddy achieved lift off -all over the passenger window of his car. I burned rubber backwards and screamed - eeeeeuuuuuuuwwww all the way home. What was it with me and the masturbators? I was like some kind of magnet for those obssessed with self love.

In the spring Cathi and I started running, training to run a half marathon. Everyday after work we would don our dolphin shorts and new balance running shoes and head out to the Seal Beach pier. The round trip of our circuit totaled 7.5 miles and as we were running up Second Street at the end of mile 6 having just run over the big bridge that spanned the marina, we had to cross the little bridge that spanned the bay which seperated Naples from Belmont Shore. It was here that we would usually "hit the wall" and want to start walking. Cathi and I would urge each other along over that bridge and through the last mile and half, but it was almost Pavlovian - still in pain from the last big climb, I'd see that bridge and run out of gas. One night as we ran down Second Street through Naples we noticed that a guy on a mini-bike was shadowing us. He would circle each block so that he right there as we crossed at each corner. He couldn't have been more than a teenager, but it was hard to tell because he was wearing a helmut. As we approached the little bridge we started to flag and were jogging so slow as to be walking with a jaunty gait and just as we stepped on the curb to go over the bridge, there right beside it, in the dark recess of the structure was our mini-bike buddy wearing his helmut but not his pants, willy was free and he was going to town pumping his pole. We squealed and in a burst of adrenaline ran home really fast. Where we laughed at him and ourselves. Because we ran at the same time every night he started to show up in his little masturbatory corner of the world pretty regularly. At first we appreciated the motivation to get over the bridge, but then we bacame blase to the point where one night Cathi yelled at him as we passed, "You know that looks like a penis only it's a lot smaller."

We never saw him again after that.

It was like an epidemic that year and I've really never had to deal with it since except for a pathetic, crazy homeless man in Santa Monica who seemed more confused than anything - like he wasn't sure if he was going to pee in public or choke the chicken, or maybe changed his mind in the middle of getting it out. Anyway - I look back at that year and wonder why I never felt afraid or assaulted or offended. Maybe it was my age and a level of naivete that comes from being raised in the suburbs of Southern California. Maybe it was being raised by parents who were fairly open about sexuality and sexual behavior so I knew what these guys were doing. My initial reaction almost always was surprise and then embarassment and then the next thought was pretty much...

What a jerk!

Monday, June 21, 2004


I had another busy weekend which took me to Long Beach not once, but twice. Friday night I got together with friends I hadn’t seen in a loooooong time and we laughed our asses off over online dating stories. We may not have found love but we have hours of entertaining anecdotes. Saturday was about running errands and getting things done and then getting things together so I could go back to Long Beach where I would spend the night at Matt and Leisa’s after going to see Matt’s band, Wax Apples, open for X at the House of Blues in Anaheim. The plan was that I would get up early the next day and drive to San Diego to meet my dad at my brother’s house.

I love the band X, check them out here - they’ve been rockin’ for over 20 years and they still get better every time I see them. I had never been to the House of Blues in Anaheim, which is technically at DISNEYLAND! I think the whole House of Blues franchise is very Disneyesque with it’s folksy faux Bayou art and bad paintings of blues legends. When I go to the HOB on Sunset Blvd. I always expect to one day find animatronic dead blues heroes propped up in the wannabe swamp shack that houses all the gift and merchandising items. It’s pretty cheesy, but they book great bands and have excellent sound so I suppress my snotty girl attitude and usually have a great time.

Thankfully we didn’t have to drive, Matt had gone earlier with his music stuff, so we hitched a ride with the neighbors, Nancy and Russ. They are, I swear to God, the real life Dharma and Greg. So it was an entertaining drive, Nancy drove, and I heard the story about their first date to Lollapalooza which she attended both days so she had already staked out the parking situation, thus when they arrived she skirked into the best parking spot and effortlessly handled the security guard who gave them a hard time about “the smell of marijuana”, by offering to give him the roach. How could he not fall in love with a girl who could score great parking, diffuse security and smuggle a fatty into the show for Jane’s Addiction?

Going to the HOB at Disneyland was just plain weird. Okay, I took a puff of pot in the car and I’d had a margarita, but I was by no means altered. Something about Disneyland always takes me to this weird acid flashback state. I don’t know if it’s that everything is sooooo manufactured, or if it’s all the tourists, or what, but from the minute we stepped on the property I felt like I was out of my body. Then when we got to the House of Blues the first person I see is an ex-boyfriend from 12 years ago who hugs me a little too closely, a little too long. Why is it when things are weird they just get weirder?

We entered the faux shack that is the HOB Anaheim and ordered a couple of the most God awful margaritas EVER! Note to self, do not drink mixed drinks at HOB. Stick to straight alcohol or beer. Wax Apples took the stage and started to play. They are such a rockin’ band. I can’t even really define their music – groovy punk? Matt plays saxophone and the band shreds. We stood on the floor in front of the stage and noticed that there were lots of youngins in the house. Yes indeedy, it was an all ages show. The three little boys in front of us were tripping Leisa out because they looked just like boys we had gone to Junior High School with. One of them looked exactly like Bobby Brady.

After the Wax Apples set even more children came down to the floor and Bobby Brady told me that the crowd would get kind of wild for the next set by the Smut Peddlers. “Do you mean a mosh pit?” He looked a tad taken a back that such an old person would know the term, but yes that was what he meant. I told him I could mosh with the best of them back in the day, and then when he wasn’t looking I told all my other elderly friends and we left the dance floor for the upstairs bar in the faux shack.

I had finished my second cocktail and was now ready to wave a cigarette around while talking excitedly with my hands. It’s what I do after two drinks. So I scanned the bar, also full of children to see who was smoking and looked like they’d have an extra for me. Leisa came up and handed me my third cocktail – some very expensive tequila with an unrecognizable name, on the rocks. I spotted a tall young man with a cowboy hat perched upon his skinny head standing with two other guys, all smoking. I sauntered up and asked if I could have a cigarette and he said, “sure, if you introduce me to your cute friend.” Leisa! She’s still got it even after 2 kids and 9 years of marriage. Of course she was sporting a super cute poncho in pink, her signature color as well as a Wax Apple sticker on her cute butt. We chatted with tall boy who claimed to be in a band called Pennywise. Ah, it’d been so long since I’d been bullshitted by a twenty something in a bar. A visit to the Pennywise website revealed him to be full of shit, but I think of him fondly for making the effort.

We asked them if they were here to see X, and they said no, the Smut Peddlers. “Oh you mean the band that’s playing right now?” They took off running. The Smut Peddlers worked the teen and tweens into a sweaty, moshing froth. I wasn’t too impressed since it sounded like regurgitated punk music, nothing too original. We hung on the porch and chatted it up with various and sundry strangers whose names I don’t remember while I waved my cigarette. The Smut Peddlers completed their set, so I went down to find a good spot to watch X from – there are no places to sit and it was getting to be about the time when I wanted nothing more than to lay down and do some William’s flexion exercises to stretch out my back. The last time I saw X I danced as I did twenty years ago and threw something out in my neck which caused numbness and tingling down my left arm.

I’m getting old.

Ran back upstairs to find my peeps and luckily for me ran into Jacqueline and Rudy who are well connected and had seats and passes for the loge area. Yippee! I slapped a pass on my arm and headed for my front row pew in the sky. Actually not that high, but over the crowd of swirling youth who crammed the floor below me. I lost Matt and Leisa somewhere, but I was sitting down and I was stoked. Just in time too because the curtain went up and X started to play “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline”! Jacqueline exclaimed, “Good Lord, what happened to Exene?” This is the lead singer who used to be a tiny little thing with wild hair and a pale face with a slash of red lips. She is a wonderful, intelligent writer, but the aging process hasn’t been so kind. Sometimes in the last couple of years she appears to be doing her own impersonation of Betty Davis in Whatever Happened to Sweet Baby Jane? She’s got all the same gamine moves but she’s also got a gut and seems to be just a tad bloated. If you close your eyes though her voice soars the same as it always has.

The rest of the band hasn’t really aged, John Doe is still a babe, and they sounded awesome. They haven’t really written a new song in the last two decades, but it’s always good to hear the old songs, “Los Angeles” “Riding with Mary” “Have Nots” and most excellent covers of “Soul Kitchen” and “Breathless”. They didn’t play “Fourth of July” and the talk from the stage didn’t political, but it was a really great show. About one third of the way into the show I spotted Leisa’s totally cute pink poncho shimmying behind the band. She was backstage! Go girl! Jacqueline and I were waving like fools, but she couldn’t see us – you can’t really see the audience from back there. She danced the whole show and it was so much fun to watch her having fun.

After the show was over Matt came up to the loge looking for me because they were my ride home from Disneyland. He grabbed my hand and we slipped backstage followed closely by Jacqueline and Rudy – who know how to follow and not stop -better to apologize than ask permission. We mingled with the sweaty band and got to use the bathroom in the dressing room courtesy of John Doe’s wife who was kind enough to let me in. By this time I was out of gas and wanting to go to lie down on a couch in there and take a nap.

So we left – stopping at Alberto’s for some rolled tacos and guacamole at 1:30am,
because it helps to soak up any alcohol that might be left in your system with grease. We stopped and picked up their sleeping child, who was no longer sleeping by the time we got to the house. I passed out on the couch and woke up 6 hours later feeling quite tired, but just in time to watch Fuel on TV with Ryan as Leisa cooked up some pork products for Matt, since it was father’s day and all. I dragged my tired old ass off the couch and down to San Diego to spend the day with dad and bro.

And all in all it was a very good time, but I’m getting a little old for all this fun.

Friday, June 18, 2004


I tried to get to bed at a reasonable hour last night, but I got sucked into an HBO show called "Middle School Confessions". I think it was because I just talked to a friend who's daughter graduated from elementary school yesterday and next year she will be headed to middle school, or Junior High School, as they called it back in my time. Her daughter is 11, and although she's a very mature little girl, she still seems to my eyes to be very much a child. We were talking about how much things change from elementary school to middle school.

Middle School Confessions certainly drove that point home. And it made me really glad that I don't have kids, nor do I plan to. Oh my God! The children that were interviewed for this show were mostly 13, though some were 11 or 12. The show started with a look at sexual activity amongst middle school kids. That's right sexual activity! One little blonde girl with big blue eyes was talking about how she made out with a boy and he put his hand down her pants and fingered her and while she was initially taken aback she did enjoy it. But then her mother got an annonymous letter from another parent who told her that her daughter was gaining a reputation and, well, that sucked. But she and her mom were able to talk about it and that made them closer. Her mother was interviewed and discussed how shocked she was by the whole thing. When I think back to Junior High School I know that this kind of activity was going on - we were making out and there was definitely discussion about "banging" or fingering as it was referred to by these kids. Girls who did that were considered loose, so I guess things haven't changed that much.

What shocked me was when the little blonde girl and her friend Amber started discussing oral sex and how they give boys blow jobs so that the boys will like them! And they don't consider that sex! They also went into how much they do not like it if the boys try to touch them "down there". Then there are a group of girls discussing "oral" and how it makes them feel closer to these boys in their relationships. Huh? Then we're at a party and we see these same girls interacting with boys, dirty dancing on each others legs, and it was just too creepy because while a lot of these girls had clearly developed early and some, like Amber, were incredibly articulate as to seem older than her years, the boys looked like they were a bunch of tall 8 year olds. None of them seemed to have even brushed up against puberty yet. I tried really hard to remember what the boys looked like when I was in Junior High and that seemed about right - they still seemed like boys to me, fun to kiss, but not adult enough for sex. I was curious about sex, but only in theory - in reality it terrified me.

These girls are blow job pros at thirteen! And the boys they're blowing look like they all play little league. I thought about calling my friend and telling her to tune in, but then I imagined her laying awake all night in abject terror of the day she drops her daughter off at middle school next September. Better she should just enjoy her summer.

Next up were a group of 11, 12 and 13 year olds who are gay! They know they're gay and they've talked to their parents and friends about it. We go with the to LIGALY - a club for Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth where they play pool and talk and hang out like kids. These kids were so articulate about their feelings and thoughts. Moreso than most adults, but what they were saying is that they feel isolated and alone in their schools, that they have no friends and no one to talk to about what they're feeling as they become aware of the sexuality. The parents are interviewed and thank God every one of them was accepting of their child, but at a loss as to how to make it better. One mom gave her daughter permission to leave her classes 5 minutes early so she doesn't get picked on in the halls. She goes to school a bit before it gets out so she can pick her up and take her home. This little girl looks like any other little girl - she's slender with red hair in ponytails and wire rimmed glasses. Her skinny legs amble along as she heads to her mom's car under a huge backpack. She is so accepting of who she is, and not for the first time before this show is over, I start to cry.

And it only gets worse when we go into the next segment on depression and suicide in pre-teens and teenagers. It opens on a photograph of a bunch of smiling, happy boys and then we hear the story on one of them who, upon entering middle school, was shunned. He could not figure out why his "friends" no longer wanted anything to do with him and why, if he joined them at their table in the cafeteria, they would all get up and walk away! I wondered why too! He didn't seem like he'd changed that much over the summer. Anyway, after he started going on crying jags for no reason in the middle of his classes his parents finally took him to a psychiatrist, who pointed out that since this boy's father had been suffering from depression since he was a pre-teen odds were that he'd inherited his father's biology. He started on meds and started feeling better and was able to make new friends. One of the things that I thought was so interesting about this kid is that he stated that when he saw the psychiatrist with his parents in the room he didn't feel comfortable opening up about how he'd thought about killing himself because he didn't want to upset them. He did however write on a questionnaire that he had had those thoughts. His parents were flabbergasted. I was flabbergasted. But then, I have a friend whose child is 8 and has Asperberger's and he has talked about suicide. I just cannot fathom being in that kind of psychic pain when you are only a child.

The next kid featured is Jordie, who comes from a poor, single parent family in Vermont. He is 13 and about 6 feet tall, his head and hands seeming to large for his lanky frame. He's like a puppy that's acheived full height but has yet to fill out. Except this puppy is more like Cujo. Jordie is violent and angry - he gets in fights. He looks like one of those kids that shot up Columbine and it seems that is the direction he's headed. He drives an ATV that flies the confederate flag and proudly refers to himself as a redneck. It's easy to imagine him in 4 years, having been recruited by the Aryan nation, covered in swastikas, burning a cross at a white power pancake breakfast. When they interview the kids he goes to school with they say things like, "he smells like he rolls in manure before he comes to school". Jordie lives on a dairy farm. The kids comment on his clothes, "he wears cheap stuff from Wal-mart and places like that." Jordie's mom is barely making ends meet. The kids go on and on about how they wear Abercrombie and cool shoes that their parents drop $125 on and I find myself wondering if there is some kind of Lord of the Flies phase that kids go through when they enter middle school these days. I wish I could slap this one arrogant little prick who trash talks Jordie. He looks like one of those little weasels who's a trouble making tattle tail suck up. Luckily Jordie goes to a school where he has connected with a counselor, ironically a black man, who cares about Jordie and gets him into classes and programs where he can experience success. We sit in on one of these sessions and watch Jordie cry as he claims not to care about what people say. It's so clear that he cares a lot and is hurt. His counselor has placed Jordie in a culinary class with high school students where he does really well. He has been getting in less fights and is feeling better about himself.

We move on to kids drinking - back to the blow job queens and their milieu. They've all been busted drinking in the park - one of the boys, Casey, his mom caught him. She called a meeting of all the parents and the kids were included so they could talk about how this was bad decision making. It was so interesting to see how out of it a lot of these parents were as far as their knowledge about what their kids were doing. But I have to admit I'd be out of it too since these kids are engaging in activities that I didn't start until I was 15 or 16. I mean sure there was the time that Lori drank about 8 oz of whiskey out of Marcia's parents liquor cabinet and poisoned herself so badly that Mr. Spivy had to practically give her mouth to mouth in the girls bathroom during the spring carnival - but that was an anomaly. We didn't start drinking really until we were in high school.

Casey and his dad are at home getting into it about how dad never spends any time with Casey anymore and Dad says well that's a privelege that Casey is going to have to earn. He also mentions that Casey is unpleasant to be with. Can you say self-perpetuating cycle of drama? I'm thinking that dad needs to shut up and listen to what his kid is saying and respond appropriately, not send him up to his room because he's yelling. Thankfully this family gets into therapy, after Casey starts talking suicide, and for the last year they've been doing much better.

In fact, all of the kids that were featured in the documentary are doing okay. Except for maybe Amber the blow job queen - her family moved her from Colorado to a small town in Kansas.

Because they don't like blow jobs in Kansas?

Thursday, June 17, 2004


I was driving on the 101 Fry, actually inching more than driving and as I was maneuvering to change lanes I saw two helicopters in the sky moving along the westbound lanes. Initially I thought, "oh shit, an accident", but then I noticed how fast they were approaching, heading east in the sky, so I figured it was nothing in front of me that was causing the clog. Their silhouette in the sky was different from the normal helicopters we usually see hanging over traffic or other newsworthy events and I found myself riveted and a little unsettled.

Very quickly they were directly above me and I saw that they were military helicopters. Blackhawk helicopters! And they were going fast!! I could feel the thrum of their rotors just under my heart. It's a completely different sound than that of a normal helicopter. The sound combined with their speed and lean, mean build definitely gave an impression of power and stealth.

I wondered where they came from first. I don't know of any military bases near the Burbank area where they would be housed. There's Pt. Mugu, up the coast and they could certainly make the trip from there so then I wondered where they were going? Were they on their way to a film set, making a flyby as featured players? In this town that could certainly happen.

But, at the time I was listening to the recordings that were played today by the 9/11 commission of conversations that went down when the planes were hijacked so then I started wondering if something was going down on the west coast that required military attention. Two helicopters seemed an inadequate response for that! So since no danger felt imminent, I started thinking about how much it would suck to be stuck in traffic on the 101 at rush hour during a terrorist attack. Like traffic's not bad enough...

Ultimately I just kept inching along because really what else could I do?

But, how bizarre!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004


I was driving to work this morning listening to Kevin and Bean - KROQ's morning DJs. There is a guy named Ralph on the show who does the showbiz report, but he has also reported on his various activities - like going to a swinging party and what he did there, e.g. he had sex with several different women. When he did that report I sat in my car upon arriving at work to listen to the whole story because rather than being some really cool guy he was the total tourist. I could almost see him wandering around through a room crowded with writhing sweaty bodies wearing a Hawaiian shirt and a camera around his neck. I loved his comment about how there were some real scary looking people there - hee!

Another time he tried to break the world record for the most ejaculations in a 24 hour period. The number to beat was something like 37 and he figured how many times an hour he'd have to go at it in order to beat - heh - the record. He got a bunch of magazines and porn tapes and Kevin and Bean called him at home to see how he was coming... er, doing. He had started the night before and was going along at a fairly good clip, but he fell asleep and missed out on some vital hours that he would need to break the record. I think he ended up about 11 short of his mark.

This morning, on the show, they were talking about this reality show where Ralph plays the host, Derek Newcastle and all the contestants are portrayed by improv actors and comedians. All of the cast except for the two contestants who have no idea what's going on. They played clips from the show and I was laughing out loud - Ralph, as Derek Newcastle delivers all of his lines in a pompous, Shakespearean british accent and they have an elimination round almost as soon as the show starts where all of the minorities are kicked off the show. Because if you've ever watched one of these shows the minorities, are in fact, the first to go. I thought it was so Bachelor (loser quarterback version) that they had an elimination 10 minutes after these people laid eyes on their choices, because you know you can tell so much about somebody just by how they look.

This show is a "Last Chance for Love" game where the two clueless contestants, Joe and Jane Shmoe, are looking for love among this motley crew of options, and it sends up every aspect of every one of those dumbass - For love or Money, The Bachelor/Bachelorette, Unchained Love, Elimidate - shows. Like for instance, in the first elimination, instead of the people who get to stay getting a red rose, those who have to go get black balls. About halfway through they have a huge Falcon who comes flying into the room to land on "Derek's" leather gloved arm carrying a message with the latest "twist" - another elimination! And Derek sends him on his way with a, "Thank you, Montecore!" Montecore - hee! My favorite, favorite part - because I am hopelessly immature is this next elimination where the Joe Shmoe picks the women who get to stay and go live in the mansion with him. Derek tells the guy in booming oratory tones that he will give each of those women a pearl necklace. And he keeps reiterating it in various ways, always working in the phrase pearl necklace, till I am giggling uncontrollably. I'm giggling now - it just cracks me up - because you know my dirty mind is someplace else altogether. When the Joe Shmoe tells the women he wishes he could give them all pearl necklaces I lose it completely.

They have taken every "personality" that you've ever seen on a reality show and each actor plays it to the nth degree. Like the "stalker" guy who tells the other potential suitors that he's really excited to try out what he learned in hypnosis class. And then there's the "drunk girl" who gets hammered immediately and lurches around, the "spygirl", the guy from the Gallo wine family who is filthy rich. In the part of the show where the potentials had to give "gifts" to Jane and Joe - the rich guy's gift is that he has sponsored a poor, hungry child, for everyone there. Ahhhhh.

It's sad that these two innocent people have no idea what's going on, but it's also sad that they're not catching on! Maybe that's the saddest part, that reality TV has made people accepting of the most ridiculous behavior and now, truly, anything goes.

All I know is that this is my kind of reality TV and I am absolutley thrilled about Tuesday night at 10pm (that's 7pm PST) on Spike TV. At last a reality show that will keep me occupied on Tuesday nights...

Until America's Next Top Model Returns!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004


When it comes to television service it's either cable or digital and after years of being tortured by cable suppliers I finally bit the bullet and got me some Directv. Today when I went to pay the bill I saw that there was a $70 charge for a service call back in May when a very cute boy came and adjusted my dish which wasn't getting the proper signal. The picture had been breaking up during the day, but I thought it was wind, or rain, or leaves and it worked fine at night which was really the only time I watch tv.

The cute boy told me he was surprised I was getting any picture at all because the dish had been set too far. Since the equipment had all been installed by Directv and there was nothing wrong with it other than the fact that the dish needed an adjustment I thought it would be a no charge visit. Wrong! I called Directv today and told them that I dispute the charge and I was told that they're not responsible for anything except sending the signal.


What about the guy that came out and installed my dish? How did he find my house, or know what to do unless Directv told him? Was he some random dude standing out in front of Home Depot looking for work? How can a business not be responsible for the work done by it's subcontractors? Joshua, the voice on the end of the phone over at Directv answered the phone like I just woke him up from his nap. He wasn't very helpful but he did transfer me to Julio over at technical so I could dispute my bill.

So even though the subcontractor is a business whose work Directv is not culpable for, they are able to transfer phone calls to them. So I explain to Julio that I am disputing the charge because my equipment works fine, it was just set up wrong according to the cute boy who fixed it. Sadly for me he didn't write anything on the work order. I mean he wrote nothing - didn't write what the problem was or how he fixed it or anything. It's just a blank piece of paper that I signed to verify that he was at my house.

So now I have to go and dig through all my paperwork and write one of my special letters to, I'm not exactly sure who, I'm only sure that they are not Directv, because Directv isn't responsible for anything their subcontractors do - although they do bill customers on behalf of the subcontractor. The company I remit payment to is Directv.

It all sounds a bit like a racket to me. But evenso - you couldn't get me to go back to cable for anything. Even though I miss the weather channel and public cable access programming, even though no one at Directv seems to want to claim any responsibility for shoddy work done by ???, I hate cable so much I would rather spend the evening making shadow puppets than depend on them for service.

I really wonder if it's worth the aggravation? There's nothing worth watching on tv and getting it to work right always feels like some kind of ritual torture.

Do I want my MTV that bad?

Monday, June 14, 2004


Went to Mexico this weekend - down to Baja as I have done for years. I love Baja and the Baja fever that I get the minute I cross the border. It used to be a much more foreign place than it is now. My friend the fabulous Christina and I drove down on Friday night. We left about 9 and hit the border at 11pm. I don't love driving into Mexico when it's dark because I always get lost in Tijuana, but Christina just followed the road and we ended up on the toll road to Rosarito Beach. I tried to pay close attention for next time I go.

We were headed to Los Gaviotas, a walled and gated housing development south of Rosarito and just north of Puerto Nuevo, home of the historically inexpensive lobster dinner - more on that later. I had never been to Los Gaviotas, but a friend of Leisa's owns several houses there and he was letting us use one for FREE. I love free and when you add it to a weekend in Mexico there's no way I'm passing that up. When we got to the house it was almost midnight, but I could hear music coming from inside and entered to find Leisa and Sharon nursing a most excellent buzz. They had gone to dinner at Calafia where the food sucks, but it's charming, and then headed out to Papas and Beer, because Sharon had never been. They already had photos of Leisa with a Papas and Beer sticker on her butt riding a mechanical bull. Can you say una mas margarita?

Christina and I unloaded the car, as usual I brought too much, like I didn't really need to bring my own bed, but you never know when you go to Mexico and I am a bit of the princess and the pea when it comes to mattresses. We whipped up a couple more pitchers of margaritas and turned up the stereo despite the request of a woman a couple doors down who was there with her four year old, to keep it down. Leisa had left her kids at home which is why she was enjoying a big old buzz and getting noisy. Woohoo!

Finally got to bed about 2am and slept until 10 - bliss!!! Christina had brought lots of food leftover from a party last week so we feasted for breakfast and I got started on my first Bloody mary then began the process that is tanning in my world in preparation for going to the beach. First I tie my hair up and then I dry loofah my whole body, next I use a sea salt scrub in the shower to remove even more layers of skin. After I rinse all of that off I lube up my ankles, knees and elbows and then I apply the self tanning lotiion which takes about 20 minutes to dry. Only then can I apply #30 sunscreen from the top of my head to the tips of my toes, put my bathing suit on, and head down to the beach where I proceed to turn a golden color in an hour or so.

The weather was beautiful, about 75 degrees so that it was warm in the sun, not too hot. Christina was already down there because she has a natural gorgeous Ban D'soleil tan and never burns. At least not in the angry, bright red way that my white girl skin chars under direct sunlight. It was a bit of a trek from the house down the hill and around the bluff to the stairs to the beach. Along the way I noticed that most of the people at Los Gaviotas are white. In fact, there is not a lot of difference between Los Gaviotas and Monarch Bay or The Beach Club in Malibu - both enclaves of well off white folk who don't want to share their beach time with the rabble.

When I got down to the small, crescent shaped beach all of the palapas were taken so this white girl had to sit her slowly bronzing butt down in direct sunlight, risking scorching and skin cancer, but I was on my second Bloody Mary, so I threw caution to the wind. Plus, it's not like I had options. Directly behind where we were laying were a group of twentysomethings and I eavesdropped on their conversation which sounded a lot like dialogue from the O.C., only more content free. I wondered if me and my friends sounded like that back in the day. I also wondered why all these twentysomething boys were FAT! What is up with that - men are not supposed to look like that until their 20th high school reunion. Maybe it was the beer, maybe it's that they came of age in the time of video games so they aren't physically active, but for whatever reason they were out there cavorting around like little Pillsbury doughboys in bathing suits that hung way too low. I was glad I had moved from buzzed to drunk because it was kind of icky.

Eventually I had to go to the bathroom which meant a trek back the way I came and I almost waited too long so I kind of had to run. I won't pee in the ocean. Heck I won't pee in a gas station bathroom. I need to be "home" where ever that might be - I have restroom shyness unless my backteeth are floating. Since we'd come all that way Christina and I decided to take some beer back down with us. I had been maintaining medicinal levels of alcohol in my bloodstream all day so it was nice to slow down a bit - though the beer went down like water so I'm not sure that chugging a cold beer counts as "powering down".

As golden hour came around 'bout 5:30 we headed back to take showers and get ready for dinner. The shower head in my bathroom was really high, hanging on the wall at about 8 feet, but the water sprayed from it in a circle. If I stood directly under it the water cascaded around me, not on me, so I kind of had to run in little drunken circles to wash my hair and scrub off the sand that was imbedded in the layers of sunscreen and self tanning cream. In the process I swallowed quite a bit of the water. In Mexico, this can be a problem.

We headed out for lobster dinner in Puerto Nuevo - back in the day there used to be only one restaurant where everyone would go and you could lobster dinner for about $8. This included beans, rice and salad and Abuelita was in the kitchen cooking. That was at the first Ortega's and it was about 25 years ago. Now there are 2 Ortega's and about 30 other restaurants in town where you can go get lobster dinner, only now you pay $20.00, though you still get the beans and rice and soup or salad. There are tons of tchochke stands on the streets and in many ways it reminds me of what old Tijuana or Nogales were like before American corporations came in to capitalize on the overflow of Americans into border towns.

But I didn't get to wander around and explore any of it because in the middle of dinner I was hit with a bout of Tourista that caused sweat to break out on my upper lip. I needed to go home. I needed to do that immediately and thank God my girls were okay with that because I was way too sick to be in public. I ran, hunched over, to the car as they laughed and teased me. I have never been happier to get home on a Saturday night in my life! I continued drinking because, well, I was enjoying myself and there's nothing like a cold, icy margarita to distract you from cramps and bowel sounds that are just all wrong. I was exhausted too because I'm not a big drinker and when you drink all day in the sun it can really wipe you out.

The next morning I skipped breakfast poured another bloody and headed back to the beach sans self tanner. As it was a bit overcast, the waves were flat and most of our fellow white people were leaving, Christina had gotten a palapa for us to hang out under. As she cleaned the area she accidentally threw out the beer and grapes that one of our neighbors was having for breakfast, but you know he really shouldn't have just left them sitting there.

Christina went exploring and found a bunch of tide pools teaming with hermit crabs and anemones. We couldn't tell who was eating who, or if the two creatures have a compatible relationship, but it was fun to hover overhead and watch the crabs dance along the surfaces and get involved in faux fights. The beaches in Baja are wonderful and wild and, if you surf there is no place better. The sets just keep on coming in beautiful symmetrical rhythmic pulses - although this day was a slow one for waveriding. All along the beach are rocks and stones that have been rounded and softened, lending their crumbs to make up the sandy beach. I love these rocks. They are beautiful colors when they're wet and when they roll in the white foam of the waves they make a sound like applause.

I can spend hours wandering around, bent at the waist trying to find that color or surface that appeals to me. I always come home with the most beautiful stones and this weekend was no exception. Christina found a sea sponge and the vertebrae of a large sea animal, probably a porpoise because there are tons of them in the water there and you can watch them body surfing and playing in the waves every day.

Too soon it was getting to be late afternoon which meant we had to go home. I was now completely relaxed and my stomach had calmed down and we were going to have to go over the border. I have done this numerous times in the past and it has taken hours, or I was riding in a car that got diverted to secondary - not fun, not fun, not fun. We were lucky in that it only took us an hour to get over the border, but the commerce that goes on between the lanes of cars edging their way back to the U.S. can be unnerving.

Vendors walk between the lines of automobiles peering in windows beseeching you to buy their Spongebob Squarepants piggy banks, woven blankets featuring an Aztec God with his virgin sacrifice, bloody Jesus on a cross with puncture wounds that show seepage. They all have badges dangling from their shirts or pants and most wear a grey smock as a uniform - I guess they have to have permits now. The police patrol the lines of idling vehicles on little Honda motorcycles that are not much more powerful than a mo-ped. I wonder if they are there to oversee the vendors or to watch the people in the non-moving vehicles. Scuttling around the traffic are the beggars; Indian women with their babies and small children who stand there looking starving and helpless holding out plastic cups and begging for change. It is impossible to look at these little children, born into poverty and probably hungry and not feel anything for them.

As we get closer to the actual border crossing cops with dogs move around cars sniffing for what? drugs? bombs? There is a big sign with pictures of members of the Arrelano-Felix Organization who are still at large. Twenty five percent of all the Cocaine that enters the United States comes in at this border crossing. And even though I no longer have any reason to be concerned - I'm not carrying suitcases filled with drugs over the border, I always get nervous crossing.

I love Mexico and one day I will live there. Although there is poverty and corruption and Tourista - it is one of the most beautiful countries I've ever been to, and the Mexican people are really lovely. Once again I've gotten out my flash cards from my numerous attempts to learn Spanish because I want to be able to speak the language I love so much. I feel so lucky that it is close enough for me to get to for a weekend trip, but I am sad to see how America is leaking into the border towns and now there are McDonald's and Carl Jr. popping up amidst the taco stands. Every state is different in Mexico, much like here. Baja is beautiful in a ragged and wild way, and the light and the ocean are different there. I relax and sleep there in a way I never do at home.


Friday, June 11, 2004


Man, it's been a looooooooong week and I am wiped out. I've been doing stuff at night that has me up late and then I don't sleep well because, well, I don't sleep well. I was discussing this with someone last night, how I go to bed and watch TV and lose consciousness and wake up at 4am to the sound of the TV that is still on and I've had enough sleep to qualify as a nap so now I'm awake and now that I've turned the TV off, I'm awake with an active and busy mind. Or, like last night, I go to bed and open a book and fall asleep almost immediately and wake up at 5am because the light is seeping into my dawning consciousness and again, I can't go back to sleep. So I'm basically functioning on about 5 hours a night which is doable when I'm not busy.

But I've been busy.

So today I'm just having passing thoughts like why are there ads in Variety and the Reporter featuring various reality shows for "your consideration"? I thought the emmys were about recognizing creative achievement? The only people in the world of reality who are creatively achieving anything are the editors! I know there's a reality category that was created last year, but my question is why? Is this the second sign of the apocalypse?

There is a very nice guy where I work who has been delivering packages to the office since I arrived. He wants to be a writer and he has just gotten a new job here that will move him closer to the "inner sanctum" that are the television production offices. He's from the south and uses terms like "generous woman" to describe a fat girl. He's very sweet, but when he comes to chat with me he takes his sunglasses and puts them in his earholes, allowing them to swing beneath his chin like a feedbag and I find this distracting and kind of annoying. I want to tell him to stop. It's gotten to the point that when he comes in the door I start counting to see how high I can get before the glasses swing down - today I made it to 15. I want to tell him to stop. I am a shallow girl.

I cannot wait until they bury Ronald Reagan. I mean seriously put him in the ground already! It's like the whole damn country has alzheimer's disease when it comes to his presidency. I think he was a really likable guy, like someone's sweet old grand-dad, and his optimism about America was welcome, but c'mon! He was riding a moral slip'n'slide when it came to social and human rights issues. Not exactly a contemporary thinker. To him the best of times were 1955 and it seemed like he was trying to continue to live in that most boring, yet prosperous of decades. His presidency gave birth to the neo-con movement that informs much of the current administration's ideas and policies. Hey you guys - the 50s are over, they were boring and the music sucked. I find it ominous that music is sucking so hugely again. Looking forward to the next revolution.

Speaking of crimes in Latin America... I'm off to Mexico tonight and I'm really looking forward to it. Got a lovely house to stay in, good food, good company. I'm feeling a little trepidation about driving down late at night because I inevitably get lost in Tijuana. Border towns pretty much suck and are not good places to be lost when it's dark. Since I don't speak Spanish I can't understand the directions given in response to my query, "donde esta Las Gaviotas?" I should probably ask in English so that it's clear that I'm not a Spanish speaker but I can't help but want to flex my very little language muscles and show off my excellent accent. So anyway, I'm feeling a little anxious because I'm tired and cranky and heading south of the border in the dark. Not a great combo. I wonder if you can drink while you drive down there? I'm too tired to take a Valium.

Last night I went to see Lawrence Kasdan speak at the Writer's Guild. He was wonderful in that he seemed firmly grounded in reality and very humble for a man who has achieved quite a level of success in Hollywood. He talked about how this is a business that works hard to keep newcomers out, because who needs the competition. This is a man whose first professional screenwriting gig was writing Raiders of the Lost Ark! It took him a long time to break in but he did with his first original script "Continental Divide" being made into a feature in 1981, the same year that he directed "Body Heat" which he also wrote. I love pretty much all of this guy's work. He first came to my attention with "Silverado" because I'm not a big fan of the western, but he wrote one that I not only enjoyed tremendously, but I've watched multiple times. And I absolutely loved his analogy of his film Wyatt Earp about a good guy who goes bad and becomes like the fascist hand of the law in the west perhaps being released a bit too early since there are some parallels between Earp and, well, our President. I have to say that the movie I love best is "The Big Chill" because there are times in my life where I have been blessed to be part of a group of friends that felt insulated and safe, like the very best dysfunctional families. Mr. K had some very insightful things to say about the process of writing as well. The one I remember the best because it is the most germane to my life right this minute is "you are either writing, or feeling badly about not writing".


Thursday, June 10, 2004


When I go to the movies I am one of those people who likes to see the trailers for coming attractions. I like to arrive with enough time to get my popcorn with butter, milk duds for caramel corn in your mouth and a medium beverage. I like to arrive when the theatre is still empty enough for me to have my pick of seats because I am particular about where I sit. According to this guy I know who is an expert on theatres because he engineers them for rich people's homes, the best place to sit is two thirds of the way back in the center of the row. And he's right.

I often go to the movies by myself on the spur of the moment because I live quite close to The Grove, a new mall that I was quite resistant to because they tore down part of my beloved Farmer's Market to build a gaudy shrine to consumption complete with dancing fountains and a concierge. My feelings changed completely the first time I entered the movie theatre at The Grove. I love this place with it's high vaulted ceiling and ticket agents wearing retro 40s style uniforms complete with jaunty caps. It reminds me of what I can only imagine were the good old days before television when going to the movies was an event and you got dressed up and they had ushers to make sure everyone stayed seated and didn't talk.

When I was growing up going to the movies was an event because we went to the drive-in! My dad would pop popcorn and my mom would get my brother and I into our pajamas. In the back of our white Buick station wagon my dad would make a comfy bed, the idea being that me and my brother would fall asleep shortly after the movie started since it was mostly adult fare that they were taking in and they also wanted to make out. We would drive over the waves of asphalt while my dad looked for the optimum spot with the very best speaker that was close enough to the bathroom - just in case. The bathrooms were located near the snack shop but we brought our own popcorn and snacks because my dad refused to pay those inflated prices for "the crap" at the counter. I think popcorn was $1.25 - those were the good old days for sure.

There was also a playground near the snack shop and bathrooms. And there was something kind of subversive about playing on the swings and the jungle gym in my pajamas after dark. It felt like I was getting away with something even though my dad was the one pushing me on the swings. When we walked back to the car I would look curiously into the private world that existed in every car we passed. A few filled with families, like ours, but mostly adult couples, and teenagers in groups and couples. Because the plan was that the kids would fall asleep my parents would go to see movies like Rosemary's Baby and the Thomas Crown Affair. Since I didn't fall asleep in movies then, like I do now - I also saw those films. Or at least most of them, I usually couldn't make it all the way through to the end. I would finally succumb and doze in the back of the station wagon, laying next to my brother and the next thing I knew my dad was lifting me out of the back of the car and carrying me into my bed. My eyes too heavy to open all the way, I'd ask in a mumble, "What happened to Rosemary?"

I miss going to the drive-in.

But I LOVE going to The Grove and sprawling in the big cushy seats, enjoying every bit of the leg room. However there is a very disturbing trend occuring in movie theatres lately. I mean it's just plain wrong. It's advertising! They run commercials at the movies! Bad ones with Fanta chicks. And ads that make joining the U.S. army look like an outward bound vacation. The ads are bad, but there is something that bothers me even more and that is the stupid PSA where this guy who is a stunt man goes on and on in his plain folks voice about what the different stunts are and how they work, and when I first saw this I thought it was going to be one of those weird L.A. Times ads where they show completely unrelated stuff and they throw up the L.A. Times banner and you sit there and go, huh?, but this guy then goes on to talk about movie piracy! That's right. He states that when someone downloads a movie from the internet or buys a pirated DVD they're hurting all those people who put all those hours, and some who even risked their lives, making that movie. And I'm thinkin' WTF? How does that line of reasoning work exactly. Dude, when the movie wrapped you got your last paycheck and went out looking for your next job. The producers are the guys who take it in the pocket when someone steals a movie! The producers who are more and more going out of the country and giving those stuntman jobs to guys just like you in Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the like.

If you want to proselytize to the people held captive in a movie theatre why don't you tell them to make sure that the movie that they are about to view isn't a product of runaway production? Because that line of reasoning from a stuntman I get. Let the movie producer or the studio head or the director or the actor with points on the back end make the plea to stop piracy - because they are the ones who have something to lose. But I don't know how sympathetic the audience is going to be to say Tom Cruise getting out of the swimming pool at one of his many homes and asking people to not steal movies because it's going to hurt him in his wallet. So they get this guy who is "relatable" to make the plea.

They think we're stupid.

I wouldn't download a movie from the internet, mostly because I can't be bothered to figure out how, but I just hate it when things don't make sense and/or feel manipulative like that message from Mr. plain folks, risking his life for the movies, stuntman guy.


Wednesday, June 09, 2004


The mail has been piling up on the dining room table now since April. It was becoming a huge pile, a mountain in fact. All of these envelopes from institutions wanting to extend me credit. I get two or more a day. They should just send me a gun. I mean really - me and credit cards have been having a nightmarish relationship for years. It's like that guy that won't go away and, even though you know he's really bad for you, your longing for immediate gratification takes over and you open the door and let him back in.

I am down to two credit cards now. One is an American Express that gets paid at the end of every month and the other is a Master Card for emergencies. Problem is that emergencies pile up and so does debt and I'm standing in the hole still paying for the 2001 ultrasound performed on my sweet, darling cat. That I had to put to sleep last year.

Every one of those letters is like a note from the Devil. But I have learned my lesson. I will never respond to one of their tempting and deceptive offers. There is the issue though of disposing of these missives from hell. For a while I would open them and cut up the offers and then fill the postage paid return envelopes with some of the resulting confetti mixture and send them back. But that takes time and thankfully I do not yet have that kind of free time in my life.

I have a deep fear of just throwing them away unopened because our trash cans are on an alley that the general public can access. And they do. The bottle bums come through regularly, like at 4am on Sunday mornings. And while most of them seem to befuddled by alcoholism or mental illness or whatever it is that has placed them on the streets to actually steal my identity - you just never know.

So the pile has been growing. Until yesterday. I finally broke down and got a document shredder. I spent 3 hours tearing open envelopes and shredding everything. Filled up two large size trash bags with pieces of shredded credit offers.

Turns out I really enjoy the process of shredding. It's satisfactory - like chopping vegetables with my Santoku knife. It's a feeling of uber-efficiency. I wish I could think of some environmentally friendly way to recycle the shred, like stuffing pillows or compressing it into material that I could build furniture out of, but until I come up with that brilliant idea I am happy to find the positive side of junk mail - bring on the credit offers! I'm shredding!!

Tuesday, June 08, 2004


Or at the very least a manual of etiquette. Cell phones have turned people into a mass attack of the uncouth. I say this, of course, as one who doesn't really enjoy talking on a regular phone, much less a tiny little device with even tinier buttons and bad reception. I feel that phones are really not conducive to great conversation being that you cannot see the person you are talking to which leaves you clueless as to the subtext carried on in nonverbal communication.

I think that telephones are best utilized for the exchange of information or the giving of news followed by a brief discussion and an arrangement to meet and have a real conversation. That's what I use my cell phone for: I'm late, I'm lost, I'm in trouble, or I'm here where are you? I must admit that cell phones are awesome when you're meeting someone and you can't find them - especially at the airport.

But most of the time my friends use their cell phones to call me because they are driving in their car and they are bored. I doubt very much that they are aware of this, and many of them might say, well I'm so busy and when I'm driving it's the best time for me to catch up with people. To this I say "bullshit". And I say bullshit because they don't have anything to say when they call me, usually when I'm at work and the conversation goes something like this:

Me: Hello
Them: Hi - what are you doing?
Me: I'm at work, so I'm working, writing, staring at the ceiling trying to catch an idea.
Them: Oh.

And then they launch into some story or other blather that doesn't really interest me and only serves to occupy them until they arrive at their destination. I had a friend who used to do this EVERYDAY! Sometimes twice a day. We don't talk anymore and I must admit that while I miss him, I don't miss the bullshit cell phone conversations I used to endure that always ended with this line once he'd arrived at where he was going, "well, I've gotta run, I'll let you go." It was like code for alrighty then, I've goteen where I'm going without having to spend a second alone with my own thoughts so I'm hanging up now.

It seems to me that a lot of people wander around Los Angeles talking on their cell phones because they think it exudes an element of importance. Like they're in demand! They're a mover and shaker baby! Things are happening in their careers and they're "taking a meeting on the go!" I'm a huge eavesdropper and I can tell you that most of the people walking around screaming into their cell phones are talking about nothing of any consequence. Even those who are using them for business are pretty much not talking about anything.

I worked for a man who used to do the "I'm driving and I'm bored so I must talk ont he phone" thing. He'd call me and then have me place calls to people who were either not available, or not doing anything and they'd have the most ridiculously banal conversations. I'd feel like screaming into the phone - please put the top down on your insanely expensive car and turn up the stereo and enjoy the day! Or how about this novel idea - pay attention to traffic. I do not get blabbing on a cell phone and giving a running commentary about how bad the traffic is that you're driving in, or how some guy just cut you off and you almost got killed.

How's this for an idea? - hang up the fucking phone and just drive! I don't care that you're driving up Hwy 5 and you're bored. I know it's boring. That's what book on tape are for, for Christ's sake!!

And why, why, why do you keep calling me back when you're driving through an area with crap reception? We weren't talking about anything important - you're just bored! Don't keep calling me back so that you can lose your signal and I can sit there yelling, "can you hear me? Are you there?" into the phone.

I wish I had a sorting system on my telephone where callers would have to listen to a recording that would give them the following options:
Push 1 if you're returning a call and need to respond with requested information.
Push 2 if you're calling to make a plan to see me.
Push 3 if you're calling to ask a question that you need an answer to immediately.
Push 4 if you're lost and need me to look up directions on the computer for you.
Push 5 is you're just calling to shoot the shit, if so the first words out of your mouth should be, "is this a good time to talk?"

Because maybe it's not. Maybe it's a day like today when I'm riding the hormone highway and may not be capable of civil speech over the phone. I love my friends - I just don't always want to talk to them. Especially about nothing!!

Monday, June 07, 2004


This weekend I went to a bridal shower for my friend the gorgeous E. who will be featured in Maxim's Hottest 100 Women. I really really hate showers for many reasons, but mainly because they always take place in the middle of the day on a weekend day thus effectively destroying any chance I have of getting anything else done because I don't really have time in the morning and when I get home I have a couple hours before I have to leave again for the evening. And, indeed that's how it went down this weekend.

This shower had it's positive points though because it was at darling V's house which is a lovely place to be, and all the women who came were really fun. No mean, catty sorority girls standing around in judgement of each other. It was a crowd of actresses for the most part, and models, lots of skinny beautiful women. Who didn't really eat all the fabulous food, but that was okay - more tea sandwiches for me! And cherries and berries in chocolate fondue, yum!

I had thought that because E. is a non-traditional kind of girl that perhaps I would be spared games, but no. Inevitably I found myself with a pen and paper answering questions and whoever got the most right wins. I usually don't win, but this time I did, and it was only because when she arrived I commented on the giant beaded toe ring she was sporting on her big toe and she told me that her fiance had taken her shopping and bought her everything she was wearing. In fact, he had put her whole outfit together so when it came to playing a game about what she was wearing, well, let's just say I had an advantage over everyone else. Next we all put on a horrible shade of red lipstick and played a version of Pin the tail on the Donkey that involved kissing a black and white headshot of Keanu Reeves. And then I thought we'd be done. I though I had dodged the toilet paper wedding dress game. But no. Out come the rolls of toilet paper and thank God I've done it before because I know how to make a badass wedding dress out of toilet paper after years of showers.

We wrapped our model tightly in toilet paper to her knees and then created a mermaid skirt by tucking streamers into the bottom loop of toilet paper. It's kind of a Morticia Addams look, but with the right accessories - a nosegay bouquet and a 20s style veil C.C. looked awesome and was a really good sport about not being able to move. I think the fact that she is the bride's sister may have hurt us in the judging though since E. would never want to be seen playing favorites. The game is a lot of fun when everyone's drinking, but this was pretty much a non-alcoholic shower.

These events are always more fun when there's alcohol. Especially when you get to the present opening. I'm sorry but it's just boring. But it's part of the ritual - the bride opens her gifts and someone writes down what everyone brought and it take sa really really long time. At this particular event the groom to be decided to show up and join his bride. Which just seemed kind of weird, but as long as she was happy.

When he began giving commentary on all of the gifts - I decided it was a good time to go. There's a reason why guys don't do showers. One they're lucky and two they're not up on the rituals and if he got to skip the toilet paper dress making game, he shouldn't get to sit around and make snotty comments about the gifts out loud.

I just focus on how happy E. is - because that's all that matters and that's why I spent my Saturday making a toilet paper wedding dress instead of watching Smarty Jones lose the Belmont - to celebrate her happiness.

Seems like a strange way to do that, doesn't it?