Friday, October 29, 2004


It’s Halloween weekend and that means today is the day that kids, and many adults, get dressed up in costume for school and for Halloween parties. This morning when I took the trash out I paused to look through the chain link fence at the playground next door. The kids were more squealy than usual because it’s really fun to be out in public wearing a costume! I saw butterflies and ballerinas, firemen and baseball players, and some kid that was wearing a square, bulky cardboard contraption that will inevitably make this a really long day for him before it falls apart completely.

Adults like to dress up for Halloween too. I have a friend, R. who would dress up as woman every year. He’s an architect who is married and straight, but he sure makes a purty girl. His best female rendition ever was when he came as a stewardess complete with jaunty cap and rolley bag. No matter what kind of girl he dresses as he's really into the garter belt action. I've got lots of pictures of R. flashing his various garter belts. He BUYS these things! Consequently anytime I see a guy dressed up as a girl I think that he’s probably a closeted transvestite enjoying his one night of “free” girl time.

Halloween has always been the corner I turn into fall. It's true, the actual first day of autumn was back on September 21, but living in California, summer doesn’t seem to really be over until Halloween rolls up on us. Historically Halloween is based on a pagan celebration of the end of the summer and the beginning of the dark nights. They also believed that loved ones who had died would come back for the bonfire and a last meal with them on this night and advise them. A sort of last day of summer/farewell bonfire that was called Samhein.

Is it an accident that we turn our clocks back around Halloween, plunging ourselves into darkness at 4:30 in the afternoon? Or are we just acting on a dim pagan memory?

The Catholic church celebrates All Souls day November 2nd, unless that falls on a Sunday and then it’s the 3rd, and I do believe this is where the “ghost” stories come in – the belief being that everyone who died the year before, who still have a little sin on them are barred from the “beatific vision”, which I think means heaven, and they’re stuck in purgatory, which even I know is a horrible and scary place (not so very different than this week before the election) and they need a little help from the folks back in the land of the living via prayers. The night before All Souls Day is All Hallows Eve. Get it? All Hallows Eve! Halloween! Say it with me, "Ohhhhhhhh!"

I love how Mexican culture has kept a little pagan flavor in their celebration of All Souls Day, or Day of the Dead. They honor their dead loved ones by heading out to the cemetery with flowers and a feast and have a party to remember and reflect on those who are no longer with them. They also build altars or shrines in their homes to commemorate that person. People in Mexico have been doing this since 1800 B.C. I love to go out to East L.A., to Self Help Graphics where they have the coolest Dias de los Muertos festival. The altars are amazing works of art and the food is off the hook.

Because I am not Catholic or Mexican I grew up thinking of Halloween as the grand night of candy! And dress up!! When I was a kid I liked the candy yes, but more than that I loved the opportunity to dress up. An opportunity to creatively express my inner fantasies in costume. I loved being a ballerina, a queen (never a princess), a cowgirl, a flamenco dancer – pretty much anything that called for fabulous dresses and lots of make up. These were the years when mom was a total buzz kill and made me wear a sweater over my tutu so I didn’t catch a cold. When I got a little older it was all about high heels and sexy outfits and lots of make up. Tomorrow night I’m going to a Halloween party and I haven’t got a costume. I went here for some ideas, and Jenna’s liver is looking like it would be easy and still allow me to be warm and comfortable, my current priorities when it comes to costume consideration.

Oh my God! I'm pretty sure that means I’m old!! That’s scary.

Thursday, October 28, 2004


I spent most of today running various scans on my computer. Trendmicro found six viruses, none of which could be "cleaned", so I deleted them and hope that they are gone for good. Panda software found two viruses and disinfected one. The other one is not disinfected but I have no idea what that means. I've done three Ad-aware scans today and removed 90 "items" - and after all that my computer is working a little more efficiently. The Norton antivirus that runs periodic scans hasn't indicated that there were any problems - I'm not impressed with Norton anti-virus. It costs a lot of money and it seems like all kinds of things slide past it.

I also didn't sleep last night. I don't know why, but it was one of those nights where you lay there aware of the fact that you aren't asleep, but you're not awake enough to get up and read. I probably should've taken an Ambien, but by the time I realized that sleep wasn't going to come it was about 3 a.m. and I didn't have eight hours to sleep. I had to get up in about 4 more hours. Note to self: renew Rx for Valium.

Anyway, I just basically wanted to give a shout out to the Boston Red Sox who made their fans so very happy last night. I didn't watch the game. I am just not a baseball fan. And I also got involved in a conversation and didn't realize they were even playing until the game was already over. I watched a couple of the playoff games and game one. I realized that waiting for a hit, waiting for the outs, it just gives me anxiety and angst. And I also get grossed out when they show the guys sitting in the dugout spitting and I start imagining what it's like in that dank hole with all the tobacco scented saliva. Yuck.

But still way to go Red Sox! Congratulations on sweeping the world series. After 86 years the curse is broken!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


Last weekend I decided to explore the L.A. transit system. There’s a bus stop right around the corner from where I live and I wanted to go downtown to check out the Dios de la Muerte doings at Olvera street. I have lived in Los Angeles for almost 14 years, but I have never taken the bus or the Metrolink train anywhere. Ever.

This is mostly because when using the transit system in others cities I have ended up hopelessly lost. I have ended up in scary neighborhoods where people looked at me funny like, “What you doin’ here bitch?” Like the first time I ever attempted to use the subways in New York City and ended up in Harlem. This was about ten years ago, before the recent gentrification of the neighborhood and when I climbed to ground level I found myself in a neighborhood full of burned out buildings covered with grafitti. Then there was the time, more recently, when I decided to take the bus to get around San Francisco because all those hills intimidate me when I'm driving a stick shift. Plus, I didn't want to lose my parking place. Everyone said it was really easy to use the bus system, but I still ended up in the Tenderloin, a neighborhood where I once watched a pimp chase a ho through traffic with a machete.

So while I had often thought about what it would be like to take the bus around Los Angeles, I also worried that I would end up in crack alley near the lofts inhabited by the artsy and bohemian. An area that I am scared to drive through in my car with the windows rolled up, much less walk through without a clue about how I got there. Plus, I’m so used to the convenience of my car there was never a good time to give the bus a try. That’s why last weekend I set aside Saturday, found a friend who was willing to go with me, and did some research to reduce the chances of getting lost.

There’s a great website provided by the Metro Transit Authority where you can type in your starting point and then where you want to end up and even the time you want to leave, or arrive by, and it will tell you exactly where to go, the number of the bus or train and how much it will cost. It’s a very cool tool. I plugged in all the pertinent info and printed out instructions because I am way more interested in not being lost than I am in looking cool. I don't mind walking around with directions damp with nervous sweat. It's way better than running around hyperventilating because I'm lost! And besides, the fact that I consider taking public transportation an interesting and entertaining way to spend my day pretty much puts me at the head of the class in the school of uncool.

Alex and I walked to the store to get a disposable camera with which to document our journey on the LA Metro, because, you know, it might be like the only time I ever ride the big red bus. We also got lots of singles and quarters for the $1.25 fare. That seems really high to me, but then the last time I was taking the bus, was in 1975 when I rode it down to Seal Beach for 50 cents. Or at least I did until we discovered that we could meet cute boys by sticking our thumbs out when we saw a car with surf racks approaching. But anyway, armed with my instructions and lots of bus fare we went to the corner of Wilshire and Dunsmuir, just around the corner from where I live. And sat next to Bill, the homeless schizophrenic who is my neighbor, as he read and talked to whoever it is that talks to him in his head. If you didn't know Bill he would be scary to sit next to because he occasionally shrieks and moans and it's really loud.

The bus arrived right on time and it was almost empty when we boarded it. As we hurtled east on Wilshire Boulevard I realized something, and that is that buses really do drive fucking fast. It’s not just an optical illusion that I experience while driving my car due to the disproportionate size of the bus vs. my car. The bus we were on was going so fast that I couldn’t even see the names of the streets as we blew past. This was a bad thing because the red bus only stops when you pull the cord and the “stop requested” sign lights up. We wanted to get off at Western so that we could board the Metro Red Line train that would take us to Union Station. We were flying down the street at about 50 m.p.h. and I was so busy trying not to be thrown from my seat that I almost missed Western. Actually I did miss it. Alex yelled out, “Western!,” and we pulled the cord causing the bus to come to a quick stop which almost left me sprawled on the floor.

We got off the bus and found ourselves at Oxford. I figured Western might be up a ways. When I’m driving my car I use the Wiltern theater as a landmark for Western. And I didn’t see it. So we walked for a mile or so, during which time I felt more and more bewildered because the Wiltern is hard to miss, so where did it go? Alex finally asked someone which way Western was and we were told that it was seven blocks west – basically back in the direction we’d just walked from. So basically I had gotten off the bus and walked the wrong way! Luckily for us we figured out that we had already passed THREE metro stations so if we could find one we could get on the train. By now my feet hurt and I was hungry and thirsty. When I do things like this I find it amazing that I've lived this long without getting into serious trouble.

The train station is underground and it’s weird because it is almost entirely devoid of people. Like it’s a secret or something. You buy your ticket from a vending type machine and you must have a ticket to go into the train area. At least that’s what the sign says, but there’s no security or train cops, or anyone who looks like they’re enforcing that rule. And in fact, once we got on the train we started chatting with a Red Sox fan who said that a lot of people don’t even buy tickets. I wouldn’t want to screw with my karma like that – I mean you’re underground. In a hole. In earthquake country. And besides that random bit of reasoning there's a sign that says you'll get a $250 fine for riding the train without a ticket.

This guy said that he used to live on the west side and he had a car, but that as a transplant from the east coast he couldn’t take all the driving. Plus he found the westside boring. So now he lives at Wilshire and Normandie and takes the bus and the train everywhere. It can be a hassle but he feels that the quality of life is much better. He told us that you can take the bus all the way down Wilshire to Santa Monica. Where the parking sucks if you’re driving a car. I was dying to ask him if he’d lost his job or something because I’m all about quality of life, but I’ve been to Wilshire and Normandie and those aren’t the words that come to mind when I drive through that area. But then I also grew up in the the suburbs and when I first moved to L.A. I was afraid to leave my apartment in Beverly Hills, so I suppose it’s all relative. I just can’t imagine voluntarily giving up my car. My car is like an extension of my home. It’s like my purse on wheels.

Like I said it’s all relative.

The train ride is fun, kind of like something you’d find at Disneyland. It travels along very quietly at quite a clip, and unlike the bus there is no jerking or swaying. It glides to a stop at empty terminals that have sci fi lighting and signs flashing the location. It's really a shame that no one is using this groovy way to get around town, especially when you consider what it cost to build it. But on the up side the lack of people has rendered the train stations the cleanest public spaces I've ever been in. It's like Singapore down there. When we arrived at Union Station there were a bunch of people waiting to get on and this time when I got off I was determined to figure out where I was exactly as opposed to wandering off through the tunnels.

One of the nice things about public transportation is that you actually get to interact with the public. And for the most part the public is really nice. We asked for directions to the street and a charming man escorted us up to the main waiting room at Union Station and once I was there I knew where I able to orient myself by spotting Trax restaurant. Having arrived it was time to take a picture to commemorate the event – at this point it was feeling pretty eventful, you know, like FINALLY. I asked an older gentleman who was sitting there waiting with his suitcase and a bouquet of flowers that looked like they had been cut from his yard, as they were wrapped in wet newspaper, if he would do the honors. He jumped up and said, “Well I directed your favorite movie when you were a child I suppose I could take a pretty good picture of you now.” Wha?

Mel Stuart took not one, but three great pictures of us in Union Station, AND he directed Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory back in the early 70s, so he was right on both counts.

By this time both Alex and I were dehydrated, and I was starting to get hungry/cranky, so we found a restaurant and slammed about four glasses of water, then we ordered margaritas, chips and salsa and enjoyed a leisurely lunch. It was a lot like being on vacation because we were at a tourist attraction and we had no car!! It’s a little sad that getting around without a car is such a big deal to me when I think about it, because there’s a sense of freedom to not having to think about your car. But I say that as person who has a choice and maybe that’s where that feeling comes from.

The trip back was fairly uneventful. We met another homeless guy who wanted to sell me the ticket that he'd bought so he could sleep in the station. Like I said you gotta have a ticket to go past a certain point. I figured I'd give him the money since he wasn't going to use his ticket for train riding. He said we had made his day. Us and Jesus. Um, okay. I got disoriented on the train because it felt like we were still traveling east even though we ended up at Wilshire and Western. The bus ride from there pretty much sucked because the bus was full when it arrived and there were a whole bunch of us waiting to get on. I don’t have public transportation “skills” so everyone just kept pushing past me like I was holding the door open or something. I finally got assertive and hauled my ass up the stairs with Alex following in my wake and there was no place for us to go. We stood in the aisle clinging to those metal poles as the bus once again went flying down Wilshire. I stood there trying not to think about all the germs I was being exposed to, all the people who didn’t wash their hands after they went to the bathroom who gripped the same exactly pole that I was precariously hanging onto. I tried to banish the vision of the bus crashing and rolling with all those people on it.

Luckily for me a very small Korean woman barreled into my midriff, her head connecting with my diaphragm, and that pretty much distracted me from catastrophic thinking. I braced myself so I wouldn’t fall onto the tiny Latina woman that was standing over her sleeping child. And that crazy old lady hit me again butting me like a billy goat. She jammed her way past me and knocked Alex off her feet. The driver hit the brakes and she shoved her way through the guys standing on the stairs – in that area that you’re not supposed to stand in for safety reasons – and got off the bus.

We were almost home, but I wanted to get off that hell ride so we disembarked at La Brea and walked the three extra blocks. That was a little more of the public than I wanted to commune with and I was a little too cranky for intercultural experiences like getting gut punched by a small, but very strong, Asian lady. I walked in the door and collapsed on the couch. There was some discussion about going out, but I was overcome by exhaustion.

My first thought was that I’d caught a cold from all that exposure to the public. Which is completely ridiculous.

I don't have this kind of reaction when I travel to other cities or countries so it was weird to be wiped out by a day in a L.A. When I think about it I realize that I have a perception that I have some kind of control over my life and my experience and when I go outside my known realm of experience by doing things like taking public transportation, thereby immersing myself in a lot of unknown public, I end up spending the day much like the gazelles on the Serengetti Plain. Those animals that graze around, but they’re never completely relaxed because they're always on Cheetah alert. I was never consciously worried about anything bad happening, and in fact, when I think about it what I liked best about using public transportation was that I got to talk to all kinds of great people. People that I wouldn’t ever normally get to chat with. But subconsciously my primal brain went into fight or flight ready alert mode and I was one exhausted gazelle at the end of the day.

I can’t wait to do it again.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


I arrived late and did the potty dance all the way up the stairs. The meet and greet with Bobby Shriver was in full swing and the downstairs bathroom at Elizabeth’s house was too close to the party for my shy bladder. So I went upstairs. And by the time I came out Bobby had been introduced and was in the midst of what he had come to say to the citizens and he was standing right by the landing. I froze at the top of the stairs. Elizabeth has no railing on the open staircase and I usually need to wave my arms for balance as I descend like a 2 year old just learning to walk. It’s not graceful and it’s not an entrance that would go unnoticed.

What to do?

Tom came running up the stairs looking for a way to turn off the music that was booming out of the speakers on the deck and in the bedroom. Unable to find a volume knob he settled for closing the doors and then headed back downstairs. I was going to follow him, but he tripped on the way down and almost took a header out over the dining room table – having no hand rail is very stylish, but is it worth the liability risk? Oh geez. I decided to just sit down at the top of the stairs and listen from there rather than make like Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard in the middle of the guy’s speech.

Bobby Shriver is a good speaker. Very natural, well organized, stays on point and he makes eye contact which is how good speakers connect with their audience. So I had to wonder what the people downstairs were thinking, those who couldn’t see me copping a squat at the top of the stairs, when they saw his eyes stray up toward the ceiling as he spoke in order to speak directly to me. I know I would’ve been wondering, “Who is he talking to? What’s he looking at?” I would’ve been distracted by that. So my attempt at stealth probably only served to make me more of a distraction. Way to go!

As I listened to him speak I was really impressed when he stated that he isn’t good at multi tasking seven or eight projects at one time so he was going to focus on, what he saw as the three top areas affecting the quality of life in Santa Monica. The reasoning being it’s better to actually get something done about three issues than to just talk and talk and talk about all the things that need to be done. Now that's a level of self awareness that you usually don't find in a politician, or in most people, when you think about it. It makes sense, but it’s not something that an aspiring politician will usually cop to. Most people who want your vote will tell you whatever you want to hear, kind of like a guy who wants to get laid – they have the ability to make you feel like you’re the most important person in the world and that what you think and feel matters and it will be addressed.

And then after the election, or the seduction – well, you often find that you’ve just been fucked.

So what I liked about this guy is that he identified and acknowledged numerous problems and challenges that are confronting the city of Santa Monica and the people who live there, but he is actively looking to find solutions for a select few: the homeless situation, the traffic issues, environmental challenges and funding for schools. Those are some big issues and if he can make any dent in any one of them that would be doing more for the community than the current city council has done.

I am one of those geeks who listen to the Santa Monica city council meeting on KCRW on Tuesday nights. They are incredibly monotonous meetings, but being an eavesdropper who is fascinated by all that is mundane I find myself sucked into the drama of mediocrity. I don’t know if it’s because the meetings are featured on NPR, but everyone seems to speak in that sleep inducing public radio drone. Except for the, shall we say, more excitable residents who’ve worked up a head of steam waiting three hours for their two minutes of speaking time. And the city council members usually shoot down whatever that person is saying in the most pompous manner evoking images of the city council in a production of The Music Man.

Pick a little, talk a little.

In other words the terms “contemporary” and “action” do not come to mind when listening to the activities of the Santa Monica city council on Tuesday nights. I imagine that this is probably true of all city councils to some extent, but the Santa Monica city council consists of six members, currently all white men, who are basically volunteers. They do not get paid to do the job. And they are somewhat hindered in doing the job because the city rules, or charter, is in my view, antiquated. For instance no member of the city council is allowed to talk to the head of any department like say, housing, or urban planning, because it could lead to graft and corruption. There are no districts in Santa Monica, although anyone who has been there can tell you that there are certainly areas that are delineated by economics, at the very least. The city council has no office and no phone, just an e-mail which leads me to the question – what service can the city council actually provide in its current incarnation?

One factor is that the citizens of Santa Monica are predominantly renters, because it costs a lot of money to buy a home there and you don’t get much real estate bang for your buck. Renters have different wants, needs and desires than homeowners do. And Santa Monica is famous for “rent control” that allows people who were living there years ago to continue to rent apartments that are hundreds of dollars below market value. These people are easily manipulated by fear, which the powers that be capitalize on whenever there is an election. Thing is that real estate values have gotten so high that a lot of landlords are selling their buildings and a lot of developers are buying with the intention of tearing down that charming building from 1920 and building condos. So you have tenants not only losing their homes, but a quality of life, urban blight issue at the same time for people who own homes on the street where these charming buildings stand. Who wants to own a home next to a huge cement condominium?

Yeah, if I had plunked down $800,000 for a charming 3 + 1, 1200 square foot craftsman cottage I’d be pretty bummed about having homeless people bathing in my hot tub, and getting $30 parking tickets every time I parked my car anywhere in town, and getting pink eye from swimming in the ocean where 24 storm drains dump garbage from L.A. proper. Or a staph infection. That was what put me off of swimming off the beaches in Santa Monica.

Santa Monica is a beautiful city, but I don’t want to live there. The quality of life, the ride, isn’t what it should be for the price you pay. I hope that when people vote a week from today, they take the time to pay attention to the municipal race in Santa Monica and that they vote for Bobby Shriver because he’s about more than just identifying and talking about the problems. He’s about finding solutions and that’s the kind of person you want sitting on your city council.
And maybe, if he's elected, Santa Monica might, one day become a city that I would be willing to spend lots of money to live in.

A week from today we will all have the opportunity to make some changes when we do our civic duty and vote.

Or as our president said this morning on the radio - our doody.

God, I'll be so glad when it's a week from tomorrow.

Friday, October 22, 2004


I read today that Ann Coulter was speaking in Arizona and two people came out of the audience and hit her with pies. And they were arrested. I have received e-mails from friends who were jubilant at her public humiliation. I don't like Ann Coulter. Quite frankly I think she's a little unhinged and possibly diagnosable. She espouses hatred and seems to have zero respect and compassion for people in this world who think and believe differently than she does.

Perhaps that is why she is so unattractive.

Perhaps people throwing pies at her is just the manifestation of her own negativity, what she creates with her talk of treasonous liberals and death to muslims.

But I am appalled by the juvenile bad behavior of the pie throwers. I really cannot countenance rude and graceless behavior. It makes me irritated and uncomfortable. To throw things at someone, to spit at someone is to act childishly and it pretty much destroys any credibility that one might have. I understand the frustration and even the rage that would motivate someone to do something like throwing a pie at someone in public, but at the end of the day I think less of the people who did that than the person they were aiming at.

I might not like her or agree with her, but no one deserves to have things thrown at them. It's uncivilized.

She has a right to speak her mind. It's an inalienable right that people died protecting. Yes, she supports a government and an ideology that would like to censor that right, but we've all still got it. The way I look at it the more she talks and spews her bile the more sane people will be able to discern that she is not one of them. Did the pies stop her from speaking? Did the bit that hit her on the shoulder make her audience less receptive to her message? Probably not. If anything they probably felt sympathy for her.

Hell, I felt sympathy for her. She's a human being with feelings and even though she may not acknowledge that the feelings of all people have equitable value, I do. That means that when people I don't like or don't agree with are wronged I will still say, "Badly done," to those who have wronged them.

So badly done pie throwers - all you did was make Ann Coulter a sympathetic figure in the eyes of many and that's saying something since she's pretty much this adminstration's version of Joseph Goebbels with tits.

Thursday, October 21, 2004


Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t particularly like baseball. But I love a good story. And last night the Red Sox win over the Yankees was a fantastic chapter in a really great story. So for the rest of this season I’m officially in. I also have a crush on the hairy Damon guy. I don’t know why because I’m not particularly into the hirsute, but he looks a little bit wild and I like it.

My favorite book, The Brothers K by David James Duncan, addresses the obsessive love of the game by a true fan. It’s a book about a family, but their love of baseball and each other is woven throughout the book. They’re Yankee fans and it was in this book that I learned about Roger Maris and his record of 61* homeruns. There’s actually an interesting conversation between the characters about whether the * belongs there or not. Baseball fans are different from fans of other games. Their dedication and love for their teams run deep. I they can discourse passionately about things like that asterisk. They remember all the endless stats from over the years and they never ever forget. That Cubs fan that accidentally deflected the ball – I don’t know his name, but every single Cub fan out there does. I guarantee it.

The last time I watched a World Series was probably in the late 90s. I think it was the second year in a row that the Yankees won. And while I’m not a Yankee hater like some, that’s part of why I got bored with baseball. Kind of like the Lakers and basketball. You know let someone else win every once in a while.

Like the Red Sox.

I love the underdogs – when they win. Watching a team lose badly year after year gets really old. But the Red Sox were apparently cursed. And they just won. So I’m keeping the faith that they will go all the way.

On Monday night I was watching the game, well THE game and also the St. Louis v. Houston game and Monday night football as too. I realized that baseball is slow and therefore more suspenseful. There is suspense around the pitcher going against each batter trying to make it through the inning without giving up a hit. Which leads to the suspense of waiting for a hit to happen. Or a stolen base. Or pretty much anything. There are only short staccato bursts of activity in baseball. I am easily bored and distracted. It’s not a good match.

Last night I watched the game as long as I could and then started channel surfing when the tension of waiting got to me. I would flip back and forth and was lucky I caught the grand slam. Woohoo! That was cool. I also tuned into ESPN later and just caught all the highlights which was just as good.

And I still have football on the brain because after the game I called the friend I watched the Monday night game with and left a message, “How about those Redskins.”

Oh well, I got the first part right.

And he knew what I meant.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004


When I returned to college there were a couple of classes that I was very challenged with. Like I didn't think I was going to be able to graduate. One of these was philosophy. I thought it would be a piece of cake because I had smoked lots of pot and done all sorts of hallucinogens. I'd sat around for hours having meandering conversations and thinking deep thoughts. But none of the classes I enrolled in, and there was more than one, ever came close to approximating those exhilerating experiences.

No. Philosophy 100 was boring. This may have been because I was attending a commuter school by the beach so my fellow students were like 19 and totally tan dude, wearing their dayglo beachware and a visor because they'd just rolled in right off the volleyball court. And because they were there to primarily memorize and vomit the information required by the syllabus, the professor was not all that excited about philosophy either. And you could tell.

Like totally.

So after my fourth semester with a "W" in philosophy I finally decided that I might do better with some kind of linear context upon which to frame the various and sundry ideas. I signed up for a political philosophy class and whadda you know? I not only got it, I really enjoyed it.

The class was taught by an Iranian man who had grown up under the oppressive dictatorship - a form of fascism - of the United State's very own puppet, the Shah of Iran. That's my editorializing not his. Although he didn't disagree with me when I raised the point one day in class. I think he liked having me in there amongst the 18-20 year old Republicans because I would say things he could only think. Like, "I bet you all vote the way your parents vote and have no idea what the party platforms or ideologies are. Why don't you think for yourselves?"

For the first time in my life I really studied and got to understand the philosophy that a democracy is built on - part of the reason I get so upset by this administration and the fact that our government is beginning to approximate a fascist dictatorship. I got the low down on socialism and the fact that although Russia had always been spun as a communist threat, they had never actually achieved communism, or pure socialism in the USSR. They didn't have the industrial foundation that was necessary for it work.

I also found Nietszche in this class and developed big love for him. He has been spun as an anti-semite (that was his sister) and a mysoginist, but neither is true. His ideas challenge the foundation of traditional morality and Christianity and affirm life, creativity, health, reality. And this world can't handle that so those who are most threatened make the thinker wrong in order to get people to dismiss the ideas.

And it's astonishing that today's media still functions to do the same thing to those who would disagree with this president and his cabal, I mean cabinet.

According to this site me and Nietszche still got a thing going on. I took the test and was 100% in alignment with the dude. Of course I was 80% in alignment with Ayn Rand, and that's just plain distressing. So I don't know how accurate the ethical philosophy selector is, but you should check it out. See where you fall. If you like Nietszche too, give me a call and let's share a bottle of wine, maybe a puff of pot - just for fun.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


I love Public Access television. And it’s only available on cable so I no longer get to watch it. Luckily for me, back when I had cable I had a tape that I would throw in the VCR in order to record “classic moments” over the years. Even though I believe there is some kind of schedule for programming it was pretty much hit or miss because I would only find stuff when I went surfing past it - and if it was odd enough I'd stop and tape it. I recently watched the tape again and the following are some of my favorite “shows” on public access:

Francine Dancer – Ms. Dancer is of an indeterminate age, although there is a black and white photo of her as a younger and more nubile young woman sporting a pancho over what appears to be a leotard. Her make up and hair indicate that it’s sometime in the late 60s so I’m guessing Francine is in her late 50s. She’s still wearing her blonde fall from the good old days but she’s now pushing about two hundred pounds. Her show takes place on the Public Access set in Eagle Rock, basically two chairs and a coffee table, but in the back there is an easel set up with a painting of, I guess Francine herself. Although she looks kind of like a cartoon Cinderella. Francine’s whole show features her singing along to music and dancing in various outfits like a white dress made of crushed velvet accented with silver jewelry like you’d buy in Albuquerque. Then she moves onto a mini dress, apparently a left over from her golden years. It’s about 4 sizes too small and you see a lot more of Francine than you’d really like, but it’s still better than the harem girl outfit, which is basically a bikini with some gauzy scarves hanging off of it. Francine shouldn’t wear a bikini. She especially shouldn’t roll around on the floor while wearing a bikini. But she does. And she accompanies herself as she sings off key to the music, on various instruments, like the symbol from a drum set, or a badly strung guitar, and sometimes she just shakes her charm bracelet as the fat under her upper arm swings wildly in time to her beat. Francine looks like a very large 6 year old so I can’t help but feel affection for her. Plus, she’s having the time of her life.

And she’s got her own cable access show.

Lately I’ve been seeing Francine on the streets of Hollywood. She’s obviously homeless and she sits in a wheelchair and propels herself around with her feet. I think there’s a good chance that Francine may be mentally ill. And I guess that’s why her show fascinated me so much. How often can you just sit and observe someone who is a little nuts? These are people you don’t normally want to make eye contact with.

Like Billy Ray who tapes his show in his living room with his three computer monitors on the desk that surrounds him. He wears what appears to be a shirt pulled up over his head, but not taken off, so that if flows down his back. He also wears sunglasses. And boxer shorts. And that’s it. He’s hocking the CDs he makes. At least I guess that’s what he’s doing because I think he’s on crack and I can’t really understand what he’s saying. He has a hard time getting the words out. He keeps saying something about Bungo’s CD sales and He has a really hard time spelling Klarity. The letter 'K' comes out Klay. He gets up and moves out of frame for a minute and then comes back and sits down and starts chair dancing to his “beats”. They sound like noises you’d hear in a submarine. I think Billy Ray is hitting the pipe.

Next up is Mutant Press and their presentation of some weird sci fi cartoon where bald people with red eyes and fins for ears have a human baby as a pet. This precedes the introduction of a band called 500 Feet of Pipe. They’re standing in someone’s basement or garage. It’s paneled. And the guys all have long hair. It looks like 1975 stopped here, in this place. The guys start to play and a smoke machine goes off and it’s a truly horrible noise. Worse than Billy Ray’s music. These guys are all playing power rock, but they’re not playing the same song. With the smoke machine and the paneled walls and the bad 70s hair it looks and sounds like hell.

The Who’s Next TV Show is hosted by a guy named DJ who is the head of the "theater department". He informs viewers that it is a thee-ater of party or disco. DJ sits on a very low couch and there appears to be tie-dye art on the wall above him. He has a couple of awards, one of which is a Black History trophy that he received for this very TV show. Or so he says. It's hard to tell exactly what is on the trophy. He is looking for people who don’t “have any projects going on currently” in hopes that they would want to come and be in a play with him. The current skit that they’re doing is “My CD Player is Broken.” Although he points out that his CD player is currently working. When I first saw this it was at about this point that I realized that DJ was probably stoned – like all the time. As the “show” progressed there was no doubt since the next choppy bits featured him playing the bongos the way that stoned people do. Hearing a rhythm that only he can hear. There are lots of very rough special effects on this show. Yep. DJ’s a stoner.

Next there is a very gay guy naked from the waist up in front of a fake fireplace who tells viewers that he’s going to go get made up in drag. I thought this might be interesting. But it’s not.

Bill Right is a black man in a white suit standing at a podium in front of an American flag thanking voters for making him the first black president of the United States. He particularly wants to thank all his white brothers and sisters for voting for him and giving him a chance to rule the country. He rambles on for a while outlining all of his plans for making American beautiful by chopping down cherry trees and getting counterfitters off the street. This is one crazy dude. But evenso, he is still more articulate than our current president.

The last thing I taped was a show called Enslaved Souls, "your S&M B&D show", as introduced by a Latino man who is shirtless and tattooed with big nipple rings. He tells us that today we’re going to visit Torturella who has an internet TV show that airs every Tuesday. I only got a few minutes into it because Torturella has some guy completely encased in a rubber suit. I mean he’s got on a rubber hood and she’s in the process of duct taping rubber mittens on him. I couldn’t watch it without feeling like I was going to hyperventilate. Torturella looked like she was very good at what she does and she was very concerned about what the camera was recording because this is a lady that doesn’t want to give anything away for free. A fascinating look at a dominatrix and her, what? Customer? Demo volunteer? I’m not sure who the guy was, but he kind of looked like Iggy Pop and she does some really crazy stuff to him. I kept having to run from the room.

This was the most professional production on my tape. Apparently I was more intrigued by the nuts who sit in their homes and videotape themselves rambling insanely and inanely. I really like the productions that are reminiscent of those performances that children do for the neighborhood. Unorganized, improvised, just for fun foolishness. And a glimpse into some really strange and different worlds. There is a lot more public out there than I could ever imagine.

Friday, October 15, 2004


The other night I was having dinner with a friend. She was telling me about a guy that she had gone out with a couple of times. Among the numerous things he had said and done to turn her off, it was his comments about Halloween that I found most strange. He was talking about how Halloween was his favorite holiday and then said two things that pretty much snapped the rope that was holding up her interest in him.

He starts going on about how being born Catholic the whole "Devil" thing has always been so scary! She asked him what he meant. He explained that Halloween is when the devil can get you. What? She believes in Evil, yes, but a humanoid manifestation of evil, some guy named Satan who chases you around on Halloween. No! And we sat there and laughed about how ridiculous it is that a grown man believes in such a silly fantasy. I mean, everyone knows that Halloween is the "dress up and get candy from your neighbors holiday," right?


Apparently there's a whole bunch of people in this country who consider Halloween to be a celebration of the devil, or something. And since it's on a Sunday this year, which is the only day of the week they give it up for God, they're all freaking out. So there are kids all over this country who aren't going to be able to go trick-or-treating on Halloween. This logic is so insane to me. So it's okay to celebrate Satan and go trick-or-treating on any other day but Sunday? Because you're so God fearing? If that's really what you believe then it stands to reason that it's never okay to go trick-or-treating and "Satan celebratin" EVER! And if you REALLY think that Halloween celebrates Satan, well, in my opinion - you're just a dumbass! And it explains a lot about why this election is so close.

What I think is scary and wrong, is this guy goes out to the valley on Halloween night, and he and his best friend like to drive around and look at all the kids in their costumes. I stopped my friend when she told me this. What do you mean? Like two grown men? Slowly cruising the streets? Looking at little kids in costumes? Yes! But his best friend's wife goes with them. So that makes it okay? Why don't they stay home and hand out candy where you can actually see the children under the porch light. Oddly enough what bothered her more was the fact that he's a grown man who refers to one of his grown man friends as his best friend. And people say I'm picky!

But now I can't stop thinking about three adults slowly cruising the dark streets in their car looking at little kids. Because that's scary!

Thursday, October 14, 2004


This week’s episode of ANTM revealed Amanda to be not just annoying, but the official crazy, evil bitch, a role previously played by Robin in season one, and Camille in season two. There’s something kind of twisted about making the girl you love to hate a blind girl, but I like it!

Last night’s episode started with J. Alexander teaching the girls to walk in really high heels on a runway. I love Miss J. He has pretty, pretty legs. Prettier than most of the girls. And his legs are being displayed because he’s wearing a white dress shirt and high heels and that’s about it. Actually J. is wearing a number of ensembles as he goes about his day with the girls. He must travel with a rolling rack. The girls all put their high heels on and start strutting their stuff and they all pretty much suck. Frankly, I was surprised that Cassie didn’t do better than she did – I mean she’s a stripper. Those high heels shouldn’t present a problem for her but she doesn’t look at all comfortable. In fact they all pretty much sucked except for Ann who grated with her know it all comments and, of course Eva, who is just fierce.

Oh, and Yoanna, the winner from last year showed up to tell them all about how fabulous her life is now. Yoanna really needs to take some of her model money and buy herself some boobs. I mean she is flatsy Patsy – there ain’t nothin’ there but nipples. Why is she wearing Ugh Boots with her yellow summer dress?

I can’t help but like Eva the Diva. Even when she’s obnoxious at least she's got integrity – and she’s nice to Ann who has a not so secret crush on her and wouldn't be functioning at all if it weren't for Eva. I wonder if Eva knows that? It could be a factor in coming episodes, this is a competition after all. From staggering down the runway class the girls go immediately to a Heatherette fashion show where they are going to model the creations of the two gay cliche designers. In a dark room. On a skinny runway.

Uh-oh Amanda – doom-doom-doom!

Amanda is being made up and expressing great anxiety about the fact that in the dark she is completely blind, as in blind as a bat blind. And none of the girls will tell her how many steps to the runway. Those bitches. All she wants is an even playing field. Um, Amanda – the modeling world isn’t about affirmative action for people with disabilities. I thought for sure she was going to fall off the edge, but the glitter that was strewn all over the runway saved her like moonlit pebbles on the path helped Hansel save Gretel.

No it was Norelle who was walking in 7” heels for the first time in her life that fell ass over teakettle. Poor Norelle. She was so excited to be modeling for Heatherette her very most favorite designers. That was the best. Falling down while doing it. Not so great. Norelle is like nineteen going on twelve.

The rest of the girls do somewhere between mediocre and just okay. Although Tocarra elicits loud applause and she definitely works it. But can I just say that it looked like she was going to knock herself out with one of her bouncing boobs. Damn!

When the girls get home Amanda has a conversation with her roommates about how she’s missing $100 and her laundry. Which apparently Eva distributed when it came back (why don't they show that kind of stuff?). So of course Eva stole. I mean she’s loud and she can be a bitch so that makes her a thief right? J. Alexander shows up to let the girls know that Eva won the strut contest at the Heatherette fashion show. Even though she didn’t work the cape she was wearing. She gets to pick two girls and they’re all going to go on a yacht with Yoanna and get spa treatments. Eva does an “in your face” dance in front of the all the girls, shouting that she showed all those tall girls. Boy, Eva can sure be obnoxious, but I'm not buying it for a minute that she would steal. She's not stupid. She chooses Ann (duh) and Kellie (huh?) to go with her on the boat trip.

Amanda HATES it that Eva won. She has left bait in the form of jewelry and a $10 bill on the dresser in order to “catch a bitch”. She does an evil little dance as she sings a little song. Amanda says that if anyone takes her crystals she’ll really lose it. And then she bodychecks Eva in the hallway, where she stands ironing. God, I hate Amanda. Eva tells Amanda that she can’t do that and not say excuse me. Amanda won’t say excuse me to the girl who has been stealing from her. And Eva tells her “it’s on”. Then out of left field Jennipher starts spouting off, in a really loud voice, about how glad she’ll be to have the bitch out of the house for a few hours. And now Ann jumps in and they’re screaming in each others faces and Jennipher bodychecks Ann who gets all L.L. Cool J. and says that if Jen touches her like that again, “I’m gonna knock you out.”

The rest of the girls all kind of huddle, ducking their heads, wanting to stay out of the brawl. Except for Kelle who just keeps walking around like a dumb blonde wondering where she could get some sunglasses. And then she finds them. Poor Kelle she looks like a dumbass in those sunglasses. Yoanna shows up and the winner and her three pals go for finger sandwiches and massages and cruise around the harbor in New York. And back at the apartment guess what happens? Amanda’s crystals are missing. So she goes and snoops around the family room, looking under the curtains. God she is so blind.

Which is why she misplaced her crystals.

And probably everything else she lost. Amanda you’re blind. You keep telling everyone you’re blind so why no one has said to you, “hey, you know since you’re blind you might have misplaced these things that you accused Eva of stealing" is beyond me. But no one says that. And Amanda who is pretty much the personification of a two faced bitch, which oddly, she also accused Eva of being, cops to jumping to conclusions and apologizes. I wonder if this will be a theme. Each week Amanda will do something else really shitty and then apologize for it in her sweet “mommy” voice. And expect everyone to be okay with it because she's blind.

Eva’s like, “whatever” – she says to the camera, “I may be loud, but I’m not a thief.” You gotta love Eva. Even when she’s obnoxious she’s pretty funny. Her response to Amanda calling her out about being all sweet in front of the judges and a bitch at the apartment - “I can’t help it. I am cute.” Heh.

Next event – a Lee Jean photo shoot where the girls will be topless and pose together sprawled on the floor. The point of this is to see who can stand out in a crowd. Norelle is very excited to take off her top and run around because she “loves her boobs” and that gets old pretty quick. I still like Norelle – she’s this season’s quirky Shandi, and also the only one of the girls who is odd looking and coltish enough to actually do runway couture. The rest of the girls are also pretty comfortable with the nudity. I guess after the previous two seasons you pretty much know if you get on this show, at some point you’re going to have to take your clothes off. Kristi, it seems had no idea, and she’s just completely thrown. She lies there all clenched and it’s not pretty. Yaya looks amazing, as always. I think she’s this season’s Mercedes only she has acne instead of lupus. Ann is lying next to Eva so she’s finally able to bring it and her photo looks great. Kelle looks scary and I’m starting to see what she meant when she told Tyra she thought her lips made her look like a monkey. Tocarra is all voluptuous and beautiful and how cool would it be if she was in the final three? Nicole looks good, but she’s not getting much screen time. It makes me worry for her. You gotta give good drama, or fall on your face to stick around here. Which is why I think Cassie may be the next to go. She’s pretty but she’s not a stand out and she’s not a drama. Uh-oh. Methinks it will be back to the stripper pole before she knows it. Jennipher? Also, going to go soon. Amanda looks like Draco Malfoy. Or his sister. And she’s staying because, well, she’s blind and she hates Eva and she’s the resident bitch you love to hate in season three. But I will be so happy to see her go.

At the elimination ceremony the girls are made to walk in shoes two sizes to small and wear bright pink tube tops that they are able to pull down to just cover their butts. The judges laugh and smirk as they totter in. Hell I laughed when Norelle tottered in. Watching them all made my feet hurt. And when Jennipher turned around and lifted her dress to reveal the letters ANTM printed across her ass cheeks my mouth fell open. Wow – she just brought a whole new meaning to the term dumbass. Janice told her she would get fired pulling that on a fashion shoot. Nole said he couldn’t find anything positive to say about Jennipher or her photo.

And that’s why she found herself with tears streaming down her face, standing next to Kristi and her huge man jaw, praying that Tyra would turn her photo over and tell her that she was still in the running to becoming America’s Next Top Model...

Which she did. And Jennipher about sobbed with relief.

And Kristi went back to the apartment and packed her American flag prom dress saying that she’s just too conservative for this kind of thing, and that she thinks she can better learn to be a model at home. And then she rolled her suitcase out the door, and I’m thinking, uh huh, one more uptight, repressed “Republican” proving that they really can’t be fun and sexy. They just don't believe it's right.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Today is Allison's birthday! Yay! Happy birthday Allison!!

Over the years Allie has become one of my dearest and best friends. The kind of friend you can tell all your secrets to. Or anything at all. The kind of friend who sends you surprises in the mail that always seem to arrive just when you need them the most. The kind of friend whom you can cry about the guy that broke your heart with, or laugh your ass off with about the perils of internet dating. She was the one who told me, "meet them as soon as you can and just know that most of the time you'll be looking at the guy walking toward you who doesn't even resemble the picture of the guy you thought you were meeting and there will be a voice in your head going - not him, not him, please not him, but it will be." Boy was she right. I can tell Allison anything and she will not be shocked or judgmental. She is always supportive and loving and even when she's cranky she's still a great friend because she clues you in to the fact that she needs alone time. We can talk on the phone for hours and we have and this is notable because neither one of us like talking on the phone. At all. She is a terrific and talented writer/photographer/artist. She's a great cook who loves food as much as I do. She loves to read and knows all about the best books. She even knows great books about cooking and food. She's very independent and needs alone time which made this past year hard when she was recovering from surgery and had to let people help her.

But she's really smart about learning stuff about who she is and is constantly integrating new observations and behaviors to her repertoire of being so she is able to make lemons into lemonade and keep the recipe. She has made her life an ever more lovely place and continues to do so to this day.

So much so that she's made room for love and a man that she will marry next year. A good man.

I am so thrilled and happy for my friend Allison. She is a blessing in my life, and I marvel at our connection and how much fun we have knowing each other because we've never actually met!! I can only imagine how much fun we'll have when we finally get to hang out!

Happy day. Happy Year. Happy Life. Girl, you are the best!

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


The lack of flu vaccine is much in the news lately. It’s also coming in e-mails from my chiropractor who thinks that vaccines are evidence of Satanic evil here on earth. He has chosen not to vaccinate his child with smallpox or polio or any of the other vaccines recommended for kids before they go to school with other virus bearing children. I’m really glad that most people do vaccinate their kids because to have a child die of small pox in the 21st century would be really tragic. The show ER did a story along those lines and other than the fact that the parents came off as being really arrogant and pompous it was still very powerful to consider the ramifications of rebelling against the accepted public health recommendations. Especially when it’s parents making a decision for a child who is doesn’t get a say in the matter.

The flu vaccine is recommended for everyone, but especially very young children and very old adults. Every year when you hear about deaths from the flu it’s usually a baby or an old person who has died. And yet for all of our awareness about the flu and the flu vaccine, I find that most people don’t know the difference between a really bad cold and the flu. I didn’t really know the difference and I never got a flu shot – I thought they were pretty much worthless since they only protected against whatever the 4 or 8 strains of virus they were formulated for were, and there are way more than 4 or 8 strains of virus.

But then I got the flu.

It was different from a cold in that rather than feeling a little tired and having a slight runny nose and a little sore throat that join together over the next few days to become a raging cough and completely clogged sinuses, I was overcome by a profound exhaustion that laid me out flat on my back. And after that it was mere hours before my temperature was hovering around 103 degrees and my head hurt so bad I was sure I had a brain tumor. Except that the brain tumor pain seemed to extend all they way down my spine and into my hips so maybe it was meningitis. In any case I was sure that I was dying.

And then the vomiting started. And when the flu makes you puke it’s unlike any kind of puking you’ve ever done. It’s worse than food poisoning hurling, which is, as I have mentioned before, very violent. When the flu makes you puke it’s only after lying there feeling all the above mentioned pain and then your stomach has started to hurt, a dull ache to go with the throbbing in your head and your bones and it swells into a nausea that makes you moan out loud. And you know how normally when you’re nauseated you get that extra saliva in the mouth warning so that you bolt from the bed and make it to the bathroom just in time? Well, you still get that warning, but there will be no bolting. It’s more like hobbling down the hall clutching the wall for support – and after you don’t make it to the bathroom and the dry heaving begins the cool tile bathroom floor seems like a really good place to rest your fiery cheek.

Until the chills start.

Because your temperature can keep going up, as mine did, to about 104 degrees, sometimes higher and this brings on what feel like convulsions. And because you’re dry heaving you can’t keep any fluids down and your body gets really dehydrated which only magnifies the pain. And when you cry for your mommy because you want to die, you have no tears. You have no extra fluid in your body at all. And if you’re unlucky enough to have come into contact with a particularly virulent and ass kicking strain of the flu, this goes on for FOUR DAYS! After which you have about as much energy as a wrung out rag and then it migrates to your sinuses and chest. And because your immune system is completely exhausted this hangs on for a good month or two.

And after 10 days off work you finally go back but at the end of the day it’s all you can do to get yourself home. You cannot remember what it was like to feel good, to feel well, to have energy, to enjoy life. And after that experience you get that flu shot – just in case. After having that flu I totally understood how people die from it. There were two whole days where I was praying to die so that the pain and misery would end.

And I have never missed a flu shot since because I don’t know that I could survive that again. No matter how bad I feel from a cold, even the really horrible one that turned into walking pneumonia and hung on for 3 months, I still dread the flu more. This year I won’t be getting a flu shot because there needs to be enough for the babies and the old people and those with diminished immune systems.

I will be avoiding people, especially children, and washing my hands like someone with OCD until cold and flu season is over. And although I’m pretty sure that you would know if you get the flu, you can go here for a good description of flu symptoms vs. cold symptoms.

Be well!

Monday, October 11, 2004


Saturday night I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Norah Jones. The opportunity came up when a friend called and said that someone she worked with had offered her tickets because he was going to the Dodger game instead. He said "they're really good seats." He lied. As far as sound goes there is no bad seat at the Hollywood Bowl, and at the newly remodeled bowl there are 18,000 seats so that's saying something.

But the level of audience participation, or involvement lessens dramatically the farther up you sit. It lessens to the point that it seems that people sitting in the back half of the bowl are simply there to sit under the stars and watch the musical entertainment on the big screens, but are so disconnected from the actual live performance that they don't clap at the end of songs. They don't sway back and forth to the sound of music. They don't hum or sing along. They pretty much just sit there. Quietly.

And they shush you if you have a hard time sitting quietly when watching live music.

I have never been to the Hollywood Bowl and not been shushed. It's why I don't like the Hollywood Bowl. Well, that and the parking. But, and I know this is a glaring generalization, for the most part that people that frequent the bowl seem to, by and large, have sphincters so tight it's like they're sitting there squeezing out diamonds as the music plays. Once someone asked me if I couldn't "puhleese chew my popcorn more quietly." As a codocil I have to say that this has only happened to me when I'm sitting in the nose bleeds. Probably because the closer you sit to the stage the louder the volume and the less likely the people around you are to hear you whisper. Up in the heights of the bowl you could hear a hummingbird fart.

My friend Alex and I got shushed on Saturday night and admittedly we were having a very hard time being quiet. This is most likely because we got stuck in horrible traffic and couldn't find a place to park for about an hour and a half. So while we rode around in the car, and sat in traffic, we drank a bottle of champagne and ate the picnic that we brought to eat under the stars. And if it weren't for that food and the 2 mile hike up Highland and then up the hill and then up to our seats, we probably would've been much more lit up than we were. As it was we were just kind of winded and silly. And chatty.

Because it took so long to find a place to park and then to walk to the bowl and then our seats the Norah was already playing though I think we only missed one song from what I can tell from reviews of the show. Ms. Jones sold out the bowl which is quite a coup, but I would not recommend seeing her in a huge venue. Her performance and her voice are so intimate and nuanced and if you're sitting more than 50 feet away you're going to miss the textures. At one point she said, "how're you all doing up there in the back? I can't even tell you're there, but I can see that you are a lot of people - a buttload of people!"

And it was right after she made that comment that I became aware of the fact that after she'd finish a song no one in the whole upper sections was clapping. Except me. I mean I started looking around and everyone was just sitting there. And I commented on this fact sotto voce, "Hey! No one up here claps!" And the balding man in front of me, in his members only leather jacket shot back over his shoulder, "Yeah, and they don't talk either."

Alex and I looked at each other and she said, "did we just get shushed." Um, yep. We sure did. So we stopped talking and sat quietly staring dumbly at the jumbotron like the rest of the masses. But after every song that followed the shushing, I decided it was up to me to clap and woo-hoo for the whole sections. I was the lone voice of approval and exuberance ringing from the nosebleeds.

And she was done with her show by 9:30pm.

And I'm really hoping it wasn't because the audience was a boring lay, because she was really good and I loved her show. I have a theory that for a lot of performers the buzz comes less from the adulation than from the interaction and appreciation one receives from the audience. I mean think about it - how would you like to be performing to dead silence and polite and sporadic clapping. When I go see someone sing I like to move to the music and sing along. I'm not one of those who drunkenly bawls, "I love you!", but I appreciate where they're coming from. The bowl with it's excellence acoustics is not a place for people who like to go to shows like I do. So I won't be going back there. And I'm sure everyone in my section would be happy to hear it.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


Today is National Poetry day and this is one of my favorite poems, by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins.


You are so beautiful and I am a fool

to be in love with you
is a theme that keeps coming up
in songs and poems.
There seems to be no room for variation.
I have never heard anyone sing
I am so beautiful
and you are a fool to be in love with me,
even though this notion has surely
crossed the minds of women and men alike.
You are so beautiful, too bad you are a fool
is another one you don't hear.
Or, you are a fool to consider me beautiful.
That one you will never hear, guaranteed.

For no particular reason this afternoon
I am listening to Johnny Hartman
whose dark voice can curl around
the concepts on love, beauty, and foolishness
like no one else's can.
It feels like smoke curling up from a cigarette
someone left burning on a baby grand piano
around three o'clock in the morning;
smoke that billows up into the bright lights
while out there in the darkness
some of the beautiful fools have gathered
around little tables to listen,
some with their eyes closed,
others leaning forward into the music
as if it were holding them up,
or twirling the loose ice in a glass,
slipping by degrees into a rhythmic dream.

Yes, there is all this foolish beauty,
borne beyond midnight,
that has no desire to go home,
especially now when everyone in the room
is watching the large man with the tenor sax
that hangs from his neck like a golden fish.
He moves forward to the edge of the stage
and hands the instrument down to me
and nods that I should play.
So I put the mouthpiece to my lips
and blow into it with all my living breath.
We are all so foolish,
my long bebop solo begins by saying,
so damn foolish
we have become beautiful without even knowing it.

Billy Collins

My favorite poem when I was a little girl was The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes and I still have the tattered book of poems that my mom first read to me from. There are illustrations of all the poems, and the illustration for that poem is of a beautiful young woman tied to a bedpost with a musket shoved between her breasts. And in the distance at the top of the page is another illustration of her lover, the highwayman riding toward her through the night. And he's totally hot. In retrospect probably not the best poem to read to an impressionably 6 year old with a predisposition for romanticism.

Other poets I love, love, love are Pablo Neruda, William Shakespeare, Shel Silverstein, Roald Dahl, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot (The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock rocks! - check it out), Leonard Cohen, e.e. cummings, Dorothy Parker and Dr. Seuss, who may not be considered a poet but he played with words and did so very well and that is, in my opinion, what makes a poet.

If you have a favorite poem or poet that you'd like to revisit, or if you'd just like to cruise around and see what appeals to you I highly recommend a visit to Poem Hunter, a great place to reconnect with old friends and make new ones!

Happy National Poetry Day!

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


How the Koran defines martyrdom?

I thought I knew based on what the media has presented to the general public since the events of 9/11. You know, the whole bit about all the virgins and the free ticket to heaven for like 40 of the martyr's relatives. To me, that sounds like a fairy tale that rivals the heaven that waits for righteous Christians where they get to sit at God's feet and sing Kumbayah with Jesus. In my opinion both sound like a crock of shit sold to people who aren't capable of critical thinking. But there are noted scholars and theologians of both faiths who are down with those respective plans for the afterlife. And I believe that my soul is never ending, that it's ridden this mortal coil before and it will again, though it comes back in a different form every time, a belief that Patrick has pointed out to me cannot be empirically proven, so it's as full of shit as any other version of an afterlife.

A belief is simply an agreement by one or more people that something is true. Then you go on faith, if you have any. And I don't discount faith because it has sustained me through so much in my life.

But like all religions that are based on written word, the book of rules, an instruction manual,
Islam is open to interpretation. And just like the biblical which has been used by haters to rationalize horrendous crimes against humanity, so to is the Koran. Sunday as I was sitting in traffic driving home from San Diego I was listening to Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet, who has a really fun name to say out loud. Say it. You'll see. Anyway, her guest is Vincent Cornell, an American Muslim and the subject of the show is Violence and Crisis in Islam. The whole conversation was very interesting and enlightening, but the thing that he said that I remembered the most, the thing that would be most devastating to me if I were a Muslim, was his description of how the Koran defines a martyr.

According to the Koran a martyr cannot choose his own death. A martyr cannot create the circumstance of his martyrdom. A martyr is made when a person makes the decision to give his own life to save that of another. And we're not talking about the spiritual life of another, we're talking about the physical life.

If I were Muslim it would be devastating to me that my spiritual touchstone would be considered by so many who lack the understanding of what Islam is, to be a religion of hate. A religion that condones the taking of innocent lives because of the misinterpreation, or manipulation of the words in our instruction manual by a group of fundementalist extremists, for use as justification for murder. I would be deeply saddened by the fact that in standing up and saying I am Muslim there are people who would think that I was a hater. I know people who believe that all Muslims want to see non-muslims dead. A position that may be held by a few, but doesn't represent the beliefs of the many.

In western culture we call someone who gives makes the choice to possibly lose his life in an effort to save another, a hero. A fireman who gives his life in the course of rescuing someone. A soldier who is killed in an attempt to save a fallen brother or sister. A total stranger who pulls over to an accident on the freeway to attempt to rescue people from an overturned car. We see these stories all the time and these people are described as heroes. Yet if those stories were reported in the Muslim world the same people would be called martyrs by virtue of their selfless behavior because in the Muslim world everything you do, your behavior and your actions are part of the minute by minute practice of Islam. You're not just Muslim when you're in the mosque.

Living in a secular world it is very hard for me to understand the level of fundamentalism that exists under religious governments. Although, this country does seem to be heading to a kind of religious fundamentalism that is insidiously creeping into our culture, it is not yet as overt as say, that which existed under the Taliban. No - we won't even realize it until the police are writing tickets to women with exposed kneecaps and unmarried couples are being stoned for making out at traffic lights. And we're all listening to the Four Freshman and the Best of John Ashcroft. Major segue here - but go see The Yes Men.

Anyhoo - I was really taken aback by the manipulation of the martyr law by the whack jobs that flew the planes into the world trade center and all the rest of the suicide bombers. It's much like the whack jobs who bomb abortion clinics and kill people who aren't in agreement with their interpretation of what it is to be Christian. There are so many layers to Islam, many of them good although you'd never know from the way the media covers terrorism and practically makes the word interchangeable with Islam.

And even though I don't believe in hell - I'd like to think that they're all suffering unspeakable and unending pain for the crimes that they've committed against humanity and the core values of their respective religions. However it's manifesting for their neverending souls.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Last night I went to watch Monday night football, which in and of itself is not an unusual thing. What was unusual was that I went to Schatzi's on Main where Oktoberfest was in full swing which lent an air of surreality to the viewing of the game. First of all, when we got there we found a long line of people waiting to get in. And then when we got to the front of the line the smiling German women in their colorful dirndl's didn't seem to "get" that we had a reservation so I found myself standing at someone named Hans's table, but he told us that we couldn't sit with him because he had so many people coming he didn't even have enough chairs. Um, whatever, I don't know you I'm just doing what the hostess told me to do Hans.

It was weird - like one of those things that used to happen when I was stoned. And I'd think it was me, but it wasn't. It's just random weirdness that in retrospect was easier to roll with when stoned.

We moved back through the massing throng of mostly men all shouting over the sound of the polka band, to the hostess who finally checked her list and found that, yes indeed there was a reservation in our name! And so we followed another woman in lederhausen to a small table that was squeezed into a small spot on the patio with a perfect view of the big screen AND the polka band. I immediately ordered a martini from Claudia the adorably sweet waitress from Romania or Bulgaria I forget which, and settled in to watch a bit of the game. It was a good game, a close one, but I kept getting distracted by the crowd. The women all seemed to be sporting over processed hair and big fake boobs. The men were all white and thick around the middle, much like the men you'd find in the midwest. Lots of people were speaking German.

And then there was the band. Grown men in lederhausen and knee socks. And these leather shorts were pretty much short shorts and tight. They weren't the usual chubby, jovial, red cheeked and balding men with paunches that one usually sees in an ooompah band at Oktoberfest - no, these guys were in the 20s and 30s and I think they were all from the motherland. They played "Sweet Home Alabama" at one point in the evening and that accodian player really rocked his squeeze box.

Dinner was pretty much meat: ground beef patties with gravy, roated pork with gravy, roasted chicken, breaded and baked chicken, bratwurst, nachwurst, and smoked pork; and white carbs: potato salad, roasted potatoes, spaetzle, dumplings. But there was also sauerkraut - both red and regular, and I found some sliced tomatoes and some sliced cucumbers. It was very much like dining in Wisconsin.

With all that food and festivity I kind of forgot my two drink limit. Plus I was smoking a cigar an activity that really should be done with a drink in hand. So after my second martini we talked Claudia into having a drink with us - she suggested a shot of vanilla vodka with some lime juice - a twist on the classic kamikaze. Well sure, why not? Excellent suggestion. It was very tasty and it didn't make me feel much different than I already did. It was one of those experiences where the situation is a little bizarro so you can't tell if you're buzzed or not. Bizarro enough that when Rick left to go put fuel in his lighter and the lech at the table next to me leaned over and said, "You know when you stood up and turned around a minute ago, my friend Joe commented that you have a really great ass and I just wanted to let you know I think so too." I just smiled and blithely replied, "Oh thank you, I was just at the gym working on it this morning." So I must have been drunk because my normal response would've been a withering stare and maybe the word "oh." But I swear I didn't feel the alcohol.

At least not until this morning - when I woke up with a time released hangover. I may not have been swinging from the chandeliers and doing the chicken dance, but I was definitely buzzed enough to pay today. Despite the aspirin and the litre of water I woke up fuzzy and I am currently brain dead which explains why this post is what it is.

I know my limit is two. But I was having a surreally good time at Oktoberfest.

Monday, October 04, 2004


I have been cleaning out my closets for the last couple of weeks and I’m proud to say that I’ve gotten rid of a massive amount of crap that I don't need anymore. Inspired by The Learning Channel show, Clean Sweep I applied very strict rules when it came to what to keep. If I haven’t worn it in two years it had to go. And this rule is necessary because I have a lot of clothes. There are things that I probably shouldn’t wear anymore, so maybe I need to watch that other TLC show, What Not to Wear and go at the closet again. Seriously though I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff and it feels good.

The only item I’m struggling with is Jeannie’s sweater.

It’s made from brown and beige poly acrylic yarn with big plastic marbled buttons. It’s very long – technically more of a sweater coat. There’s a hole in one elbow and when I have inquired about getting it repaired I am told that the only thing that can be done is to put a leather patch over the hole, which wouldn’t look right. It would look wrong.

Jeannie’s mother knit the sweater for her about 1965. She was 27, married to Art and had two little boys, Jessie, who was 3 and Cory who was 18 months old. She brought the sweater along on a trip to Mammoth where her husband and my father were serving as chaperones, counselors, the responsible adults for a group of teenagers on what was a church trip - I think. We all stayed at a big old mountain house called Laurel Lodge. I was 5 and my brother was 3 and I don’t remember much about the trip except for one day when I came upon a whole bunch of albums that the "big kids" had been listening to and didn’t put away. And I thought it would be great fun to slide around the room on them – and it was until I cracked a couple. I remember knowing that was bad and getting the hell out of there before anyone caught me so I wouldn't get in trouble.

The other thing I remember about this trip was waking up early one morning and going to the kitchen to find my mom crying as she did dishes at the sink. I sat on a chair at the table and watched her quietly before I surprised her when I asked, “why are you crying mommy?” She turned around quickly with the dishrag in her hand, she hadn’t heard me come in. She took a breath and wiped her eyes on the dishtowel.
“Shhhhhh, don’t wake your brother up.”
“Why are you crying?”
Her eyes welled up again.
“Because Jessie and Cory’s mommy died.”
“What do you mean she died?”
“Well she went to sleep last night and she didn’t wake up this morning.”
“What are Jessie and Cory going to do without their mom? Are they going to be okay?” “Where’s their mommy now?”
“They’re going to be okay. An ambulance came and took Jeannie to the hospital and Art went with her so we’re going to take care of Jessie and Cory today.”

Jeannie had an aneurism that blew and that’s why she didn’t wake up. My mom didn’t tell me that then, I mean I was five. But I got the gist of it. Jessie and Cory didn’t have a mommy anymore. I still remember how that made me feel when I was five – to imagine my mommy not waking up. To think about my mommy not waking up made me feel incredibly sad. If I stop and think about that right now it makes me really sad. My mom would have been 28 at the time and that seems very young to me now. Too young to die for sure.

Art couldn’t deal with packing Jeannie’s clothes and going home without her so he gave them to my mom and that’s how we got Jeannie’s sweater. My mom wore the sweater as long as it was fashionable and then when it was no longer fashionable she still wore it, but mostly as something to throw over her pajamas when she had to drive us to school because we were late.

One day I came across it in a pile of stuff in the front hall that was going to Goodwill. My mom doesn’t have a problem getting rid of stuff, she cleans her closets regularly. At this point I was an adult and the sweater was less a memory of Jeannie and more something that I associated with my mom. But somewhere, tied up in that association was the memory of mommy loss and I just couldn’t stand to see the sweater go. So I took it home and I wore it over my pajamas when I had to run out to the 7-11 for creamer early in the morning. And sometimes I wore it to the movies if I was going to see something sad and it was cold outside.

I have emotional memories around this sweater. Weird I know, but I’m too old to have a blankie so I’ve got Jeannie’s sweater and it’s sitting in my front hall with a lot of bags of stuff that are going to the Salvation Army.

But I’m seriously thinking about hanging onto it because I'm not ready to let go of Jeannie's sweater just yet.

Friday, October 01, 2004


I didn't watch all of the debate last night. George W. Bush makes my skin crawl and I just couldn't sit and watch him be shifty for 90 minutes without getting sick to my stomach. So I just wasn't going to say anything about it all. However I have been reading the massive amount of coverage of the debate and I will definitely be watching the next one. I'll just sip on a bitters and soda so I can stomach the shrub and all his lies.

I am loving all the commentary from all over the place, mostly so I just have to share two great pieces. The first is by Jane Smiley, one of my favorite authors, for so many reasons. I am working my way through everything she's ever written. But check out her piece on here.

Also this piece here:

Running scared

The ever-cautious mainstream media is mostly calling Bush-Kerry Round 1 a draw this morning. Perhaps they don't trust the instapolls or the folks in Ohio. Perhaps they are CBS.
But a number of conservatives are calling it like they saw it -- and it ain't pretty for their man.
Jay Nordlinger, managing editor of the right-wing flagship National Review magazine, wrote up his thoughts immediately following the debate, without talking to anyone else or listening to other commentary. He said that an effective, relaxed Kerry "spoke clearly, and at a nice pace," while Bush, "a little desperate," pulled a Dan Quayle. (Ouch.) Here is part of his take on the president's quagmire in Coral Gables:
"I thought Kerry did very, very well; and I thought Bush did poorly -- much worse than he is capable of doing. Listen: If I were just a normal guy -- not Joe Political Junkie -- I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate, I would. If I were just a normal, fairly conservative, war-supporting guy: I would vote for Kerry.
"Kerry went right to the alliances. He emphasized the importance of such relationships. At least you can't accuse him of succumbing to Republican mockery on the subject, of shucking this core conviction of his. Bush, throughout the evening, as Kerry spoke, had that pursed and annoyed look. I think it must have driven many people crazy. ...
"Bush said, 'We're makin' progress' a hundred times -- that seemed a little desperate. He also said 'mixed messages' a hundred times -- I was wishing that he would mix his message. He said, 'It's hard work,' or, 'It's tough,' a hundred times. In fact, Bush reminded me of Dan Quayle in the 1988 debate, when the Hoosier repeated a couple of talking points over and over, to some chuckles from the audience.
"Staying on message is one thing; robotic repetition -- when there are oceans of material available -- is another… I hate to say it, but often Bush gave the appearance of being what his critics charge he is: callow, jejune, unserious. And remember -- talk about repetition! -- I concede this as someone who loves the man.
"Bush was weary -- harmfully weary, I think. He let a million opportunities go by."
(Did we say, ouch?) Read Nordlinger's entire lengthy analysis -- it's honest, and it's brutal.
This morning Nordlinger had some company on the Dan Quayle point: Fox News icon Bill O'Reilly, on his morning radio show, also berated Bush for saying Iraq was "hard work" over and over in the debate. Then there was Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol (Republicans are "deflated"), and conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan (a "Carter-Reagan rematch," with the two parties flip-flopped).
And how about those critical women voters? "Bush blew an opportunity," was the assessment of Janice Shaw Crouse, spokesperson for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee:
"Bush was inexplicably unfocused; he lacked energy and seemed distracted. He didn't seem prepared. He struggled to talk knowledgeably about his record -- his clearly outstanding record. Bush virtually sleepwalked through the debates, only occasionally mustering up the passion to hammer home his points.
"The president allowed John Kerry to set the agenda and ended up on the defensive. He simply needed to be presidential and stand on his record; instead he repeatedly answered his opponent and bowed to Kerry's agenda. …
"The net outcome is that Kerry exceeded expectations; he skillfully, if not honestly, addressed all the accusations against him. Bush did not live up to expectations; he did not even seem presidential. The Bush campaign had hoped to seal the election with the first debate; instead, it is going to be a long road to November 2."
While the mainstream media trips over itself today to be "fair" in its post-debate assessments, at least some conservatives know reality TV when they see it: "The Bush Blowout" has been cancelled.
-- Mark Follman

And then there was my favorite Kerry quote from last night in response to Bush's accusation that Kerry is "uncertain" in his policies, and that uncertainty was no way to lead the country.

Kerry said, "It's one thing to be certain. It's another to be certain and to be wrong."

Can I get an amen to that.

This morning at 3:43am I was awaken by sobbing from upstairs. The sobber was Teri, my neighbor who have been skidding downhill ever since I moved in. She's really loud no matter what she does - walking, talking, watching television. It's like living beneath an old person who is deaf. But Teri is not old and she's not deaf, she's a tweaker and she's inconsiderate. And I don't think it's the tweaking that makes her inconsiderate. I think she'd be inconsiderate even if she wasn't doing the crank. Heh. That's such a 70s term. In more contemporary slang I believe it's now just meth. Whatever, it's speed for the white trashies. And Teri has become a total white trashy. Right before my very eyes.

When I moved in she worked for Ralph Lauren. I think she was in charge of production, something I'm familiar with because my friend Jare used to do that for Marc Jacobs. You cannot be a dumbass and do the job - it's hard. It involves traveling to foreign countries and sourcing fabrics and finish items like buttons and zippers and dealing with manufacturers and making sure that whatever line is being produced is delivered on time. Teri used to drive a 5 series BMW, it was her company car. She used to spend tons of money on Jimmy Choo shoes.

Her boyfriend, Ron is a musician and was in that band War when she started dating him. But he was no longer in the band and was going through some hard times. She would scream at him - horrible, racist things. I hated her for it. Not only because she was waking me up, but because she was mean and degrading to a man who did not deserve it. I think this is when she started to do cocaine. Because she was up all night vacuuming and doing projects with power tools.

And then she changed jobs and went to work with the Marciano brothers at Guess. And they loved her. She was really into the drugs now and she would sometimes just not show up at work. They called Ron and asked him what was wrong? He was gone a lot so he had no good answer. They should've called me. I would've told them that her bitchy butt needed to be bounced into rehab p.d.q. - but they didn't. They did kind of know what was going on and they offered to pay to put her through rehab, but she said she didn't have a problem so they had to fire her. Then she started having all the yard sales. This was two years ago and I think that she's got to have sold almost everything she owns by now.

Ron has moved out. And he's got another woman. A woman he loves who loves him back. He started a cleaning business and he gave Teri a job since she's pretty much unemployable. But the company has done really well and he's ready to sell it so she won't have a job anymore. He's also told her that she has to move, but she's not paying attention. The other morning I woke up and there was a beat up old car on the driveway behind the building. It belonged to Teri's "friend", a bald, white guy who looked like the leader of some inland empire neo-nazi group who'd just cooked up a fresh batch of meth for distribution. I talked to Ron last weekend and told him that he was enabling her by not kicking her ass out and telling her that he was in love with someone else. She said he can't stand it when she cries and that she threatens to hurt herself and he'd feel responsible.

Um, she's already hurting herself. This is just the slow route which is bumming out the rest of us who have to live in close proximity.

So this morning when I heard her sobbing I was annoyed at being awakened, but I was glad, because I'm hoping he told her she's got to go. And that she really will.