overhaul / undertow

Friday, April 25, 2003

Die-In At Mr. Noodle

I had never protested before now, but here I was, running down Wilshire at full tilt with some guy I didn't know very well, trying to get audio from a roving breakaway contingent of black-clad protestors at the Westwood Federal Building.

I had been wary of this protest from the beginning. It was at night, unlike the recent marches I'd attended; there had been rising tensions with the LAPD for several weeks now at this location; and for some reason, despite its being the busiest intersection in LA, the cross-streets near Wilshire and Sepulveda seem devoid of the usual safeties afforded by a busy location. Unlike downtown or Hollywood, the buildings and streets in Westwood near the main artery of Wilshire are empty of people when night falls. The marble, metal and granite office-building walls seem to crowd in over the street, making a person on foot feel dwarfed and imprisoned. And if the street is shut down, no one can drive by to see what happens to a little crowd of protestors hemmed in by cops with teargas and rubber bullets.

I told myself this was just some apocalyptic thinking on my part, but nonetheless stopped in at a surplus store and picked up a mask for my eyes and a bandanna, if I needed to cover my mouth. I didn't really believe for a minute that my presence at this protest would make a whit of a difference, but I knew another night of sitting home and hearing reports of impending war would only leave me feeling depressed and impotent. At least I could say I was doing something, I thought, if I went to Westwood.

Once there I almost immediately ran into Brian. Brian works for the same little web-radio station as I, and had brought a mike and recorder for field recordings of the protest, the police (and, it turns out, the sheriffs as well, who had appeared only a hour or so into the event), and anything else of interest. It took us forever to work our way back and forth between barriers, crossing lines of cops and closed streets, to reach the intersection of Wilshire and Veteran where the protestors had congregated.

By this time their numbers had dwindled to a creepy forty or so--creepy because the group looked so small and alone, surrounded by a closing net of police and sheriff officers who clearly outnumbered them. I nervously tied the bandanna around my neck.

Nearby, a balcony of a small apartment building had been hung with a homemade banner reading "Support the troops / Hippies go home."

I do support the troops. I just happen to think a war in Iraq at this time, especially against the expressed wishes of the world population, is bad foreign policy. And I'm not a damn hippy: if I have to hear another fucking off-key rendition of "We Shall Not Be Moved" I'm gonna haul off and clock the next pasty fiftysomething schoolteacher singing next to me.

See? I'm not against violence. I just don't think war is a real smart move right now.

As the police opened the intersection the protestors began to dwindle more, and small groups of them began to break off and wander away from the main corner until almost no one was left. Brian looked slightly deflated. He switched off the microphone: no good audio here, with the cars blaring by and no one there.

We walked east on Wilshire. The cops stood around, nervously shifting, holding their long-snouted rubber-bullet guns with both hands rigidly across their chests. There was no sound. Just cars whooshing. Wilshire here is a wind tunnel.

Suddenly fifty walkie-talkies crackled and spat to life and the cops came unglued from their poses as six cruisers shot by us heading east towards the next major intesection at Midvale and Wilshire. Over the hiss of the walkie-talkies we heard "...breakway....front ot theatre...lying down in....now...several..."

Apparently a theatre nearby in Westwood was hosting a premiere; the diffusing protesters had discovered it, regrouped, and were staging a die-in on the street in front of it, stopping traffic and freaking the well-heeled premiere attendees out. Brian's eyes sparkled: here was some good audio.

"You wanna run for it?" he yelled at me over the sound of sirens as two more cop cars careened by us on Wilshire. "Sure," I yelled right back, and we were off. The mask around my neck bounced against my chin with each stride.

I was running down the street in the middle of normal everyday LA.

Cars were trundling past, their drivers staring at us, nonplussed. Somehow all the protestors had found the movie premiere and it was just us left on Wilshire. I abruptly felt very stupid, melodramatic, and...euphoric.

And then I felt winded. I realized I hadn't run anywhere in years. I'm not the running type. For those who like to divide their world into arbitrary distinctions of "types," I've always felt that there are two types of people in this world: those who run, and those who don't. Those Who Run get up at five in the morning, eat enriched corn flakes, drive smart cars and look askance when someone lights up a cigarette next to them. They consider marathons. They grab a bran muffin from the coffee cart at work. They work busily and when the day is over they stop at a California Chicken Cafe and bring home a nice square healthy meal for their kids, who have just been picked up from tutoring and soccer by their equally industrious other parent (second marriage).

Those who don't run are...well, like me. Face it, people. Running is undignified. We've evolved for aeons to a place where we no longer need to run to ensure our survival. Let's embrace that. Let's go with it. Yay for Darwinism, for enlarged cranial capacity, for more walking and less frenetic spinning of our spindly little legs which, if you've ever seen a cheetah or a horse at full tilt, you will notice are clearly NOT MEANT TO RUN WITH.

I mean, come on, people. As I've always pronounced, The only time I run is if something big is chasing me.

And here I was, running. What on earth was I thinking? My feet suddenly were bricks in my heavy-heeled boots. I found myself slowing against my will. A sharp pain stabbed me in the left ribcage. Not wanting to appear less than fit in front of Brian (who was still sprinting ahead), I kept panting on. We were almost to the corner. I could feel my brain rattling around against my jaw with each jarring step. These running-types--they must be insane. This is not fun. How is this fun? There is nothing good, nothing "zen," about this. It's miserable. I can't breathe, people.

We are now the only visible activists left on Wilshire and, as such, are vulnerable. I look positively disturbing and Black-Bloc-ish in my black bandanna and goggles. A gargantuan forest-green Cadillac Escalade slows as it passes and the man inside leans toward us to shout out his passenger-side window. The Doppler Effect morphs his voice as his speed picks up: "Fuuuuccckkkkk yoooo-ooo-ooo-oo-o!" From a distance he gives us the finger. I feel angry and infantile all at once.

I stopped at the corner. Up the block, back toward us, bravely marched the dinky little batallion of remaining protestors, waving their flags and hand-printed signs, shooting back insults over their shoulders at the cops behind them, further down the street. I notice abruptly the remaining activists--now parting ranks as they swarm around us, apparently headed back where we just ran from--all appear to be under 20.

I stand there panting, my shoulders feeling twenty pounds heavier than they usually do. Brian has vanished. I am worried about the police and do not like that I am alone. I join the crowd and head with them up Midvale into Westwood. At least there are plenty of people here, a factor that seems to dull the agressiveness of the cops.

Brian materializes somehere about a block and a half up. We are quiet as we watch the kids, primarily little punk types, dressed in black with patches pinned to their clothes and inauthentically shiny and clean Doc Martens, mill back and forth in front of a few other theatres. Someone still has a bullhorn and is shouting commands and protest rhymes, but the whole crowd begins to fracture as college students in front of restaurants and bars pass, looking nonplussed.

When the few remaining protestors stage a die-in in front of Mr. Noodle, I look at Brian. He looks at me. "I'm ready to go if you are," he says. "I think it's time," I agree, eyeing the kids as they gingerly get down on the street in front of the noodle house, and the diners sitting at cafe tables out front stare at them, horrified.

I give Brian a ride home and we sit silently in the car as I drive east on Sunset. I pull off the bandanna and mask. I was glad I went. It got me out of the house, gave me something to do other than just sit at home. I am reminded once of how a friend mentioned his assessment that people's political beliefs mirrored their own emotional issues and ways of handling authority.

I wonder what audio Brian got.

I hope it was the Cadillac driver's "fuck you."

Thursday, April 24, 2003

happy birthday Lola

Went with the gigsville crew to Sanamluang for Thai food last night, and then right across the street to Jumbo's Clown Room (which has to qualify as the most bizarre non-sequitur even to serve as a moniker for a strip club).

It devolved into a huge party as one of their headlining dancers, whose name was Lola, celebrated her birthday that night:

DJ: "...now she's finally old enough to dance here!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

what NOT to do:

Be in a horrendous emotional state because you've had a terribly trying day. It's probably one of the worst days of your life. Get a message on your cellphone from a friend with an innocuous, information-gathering type question. Don't listen to the whole message, so you don't realize that it's not necessary for you to call back when your world is falling apart. Instead, call her in hysterics and demand why she called you. She immediately notices you're freaking the fuck out and is very worried about you because she cares about you. Inbetween gasping sobs, tell her frustratedly that you don't want to talk about it. When she haltingly tells you the question she had to ask, yell out the answer and get off the phone right away, leaving her nonplussed, terribly worried, and upset.

Don't do that, 'cause I can't deal.

Now granted, if you do this, you ARE having one of the worst days of your life and have a helluva lot more to complain about than the fact that you feel emotionally unbalanced after fielding a phone call from a hysterical friend who didn't want to talk to you at all. But still.

argh. I feel all weird now.

Just say No to drunk blogging.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

The weird food rundown

I Can't Believe It's Not Butter...Lite: I can.
Shrimp Chips: Un-fucking-believeably Good.
squeezable butter in blue and pink: Wordlessly, indescribably wrong.
SpongeBob Squarepants Macaroni and Cheese from Kraft: Alarming. It looks normal until you mix all the ingredients together--then it abruptly becomes a stomach-turning shade of cerulean blue. It's marketed to parents as being Fun For Kids. What I want to know is what on God's green earth could make it turn from normal "cheezy" yellow to blue so fast? What sick fuck of a parent would want to feed this to their children? And what masochistic exec over at Kraft came up with this one? My roomate brought this home from the 99-cent store, and we had fun watching its amazing transformation.
Green ketchup: Highly disconcerting.
Pheylalanine: An artificial sweetener. Highly addictive. Yum.
Peeps: A reason to live. Probably one of the most artificial-seeming "foods" you can ingest and survive. And so, so so good. Added bonus: after two weeks exposed to air, they become hard, like little chick-shaped bricks of sugar, and are then of infinite use in weird art projects. One could prolly tile their bathroom walls with them in a very Pop-art kind of way. In fact, someone should.
Fat-free cheese: How, I ask you--how do they do it? But it is an acceptable substitute for real cheese.
Wow! Chips, any brand name: The risk of anal leakage is unappealing, yes--but here is a quote from Vanessa:
"I love Olestra. I have loved few things in this life of mine, but one of them is Olestra. I would be their spokesperson, if they let me. I'd love to rub it all over my body. Olestra--mmmmmm."

You heard the woman.

Got any to add? Throw 'em in the comments, I want to compile a resource volume on these things.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

I am not alone

The Onion Domesticorner presents

For fresh, disinfected air, pour Lysol into the humidifier.
Have you had it with the drudgery of constantly scrubbing that dirty kitchen floor? Boo-fucking-hoo, Toots.
Once a week, tell yourself, "Man, I really gotta clean up this dump one of these days."
Keep a range-top burner on low flame at all times to eliminate airborne kitchen germs.
Jesus Christ, there's a thing called shelves, you pig.
If you are female, don't clean a thing. Cleaning promotes sexist stereotypes about women.

...and I'd like to add:

That lint-roller for your sweaters works damn fine on the carpet, too.
Gross kitchen floor? Cover it up with your trusty rug.
Got dirt in the corners? Bleach it. That way no one will see it.
If you don't have enough paper towels or 409 to clean the oventop, that's ok. Just wipe the grease in an evenly-dispersed manner over the whole surface. That way it will look clean. And so shiny.
Carpet spot? Scissors cut it out right nice.

and my personal fave, although not household-related:

Shoes scuffed beyond repair? Worry not! One word: Krylon.

hungover haiku

tired this morning
gay cowboy bars are fun but
not on a work night.

Monday, April 07, 2003

one of the good ones

Every street is dark and folding out
Where lies the chance we take
to be...
Always working,
Reaching out for
a hand that we can't see...
Everybody's got a hold on hope.
It's the last thing that's holding me.

Look at the talkbox in
mute frustration,
At the station,
There hides the cowboy--
His campfire flickering
on the landscape
That nothing grows on,
But time still goes on,
And through each life of misery:...
Everybody's got a hold on hope.
It's the last thing that's holding me.

-guided by voices.

Someone gave me one of the kindest and most meaningful compliments of my life tonight.
I think I shall spend the rest of my life striving to make it true.

.even the rain bows down, let us pray...
...dance with a sufi and celebrate your top ten in the
charts of pain...
lover, brother, bouganvillia, my vine twist around your neck as
even the rain is sharp like the day as you
shock me sane...

I can be cruel.
I don't know why.

-tori amos [the queen of the personally-referential non sequitur, but i love her still]

Sunday, April 06, 2003

the physics of...pasties

Yes, I am.

I am auditioning.

I can't fucking believe I let Normal (aka Danielle) talk me into this. But I gotta agree with her: I've always nursed a shamefully secret desire to do it. To command the attention of a room is one thing--to do it THIS way is another level entirely. It is so formidable, so unapolagetic, so brave, so proud, so ebulliently blossomingly blusteringly aggressive. It truly is an aggressive act, and any woman (or man) who disagrees with me is free to comment.

I'll be using my Chinese sword routine, so that'll be my gimmick. I only have a layman's (laywoman's?) experience with striptease, so I'll have to let the sword be my schtick.

It's quite a schtick (sorry, bad pun), after two years of studious practice.

In semi-related (that is, physically-oriented) news, there's finally a photo of me on the net that I don't hate. i still think I look....fluffy...in it, though.

Here, it's from the Twine show: http://www.monkeyview.net/id/491/twine/index.vhtml we're photo 18...this is my friend lydiadeetz's site. She's awesome. So are Mark and Greg, who I ended up hanging with 'til I comandeered lydiadeetz's camera.

Anyone who can get a photo of me where I don't look fat or drunk (in real life I am not fat, but often drunk), I'll pay you some serious cashmoney. Yo.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

the thrill and the joy of art openings

Went to a very hipster-ish event tonite, and figured out a clue to how to function in such situations.

In order to succeed at that discussion with random people that is an inevitable part of such events, you must possess the firm belief that what you are saying is Very Interesting.

If you’re worried you’re being boring or crass or mundane or gauche or trite, you will shut up and look like a deer in headlights. You will also feel like one. Then you will drink too much. If there is enough booze left. Which there never is, 'cos you arrived fashionably late.

If, on the other hand, you are firm in your conviction that your blather about your little brother’s difficulties with his bike is Very Interesting, others will believe your little glamour and be unable to leave your side, their attention rapt.

Fascinating. Once again, it all comes down to swagger, and perhaps a bit of narcissism: you gaze in the mirror long enough and other people lean over your shoulder and peek in, sure that you're enraptured by something truly enthralling.

Interestingly, one of the featured photographs on display was one the artist had taken of two of my friends, Sid and LuckyDave, from Fireplay LA. Before we got kicked out of our most recent practice location we'd meet every week to practice firebreathing, firespinning, fire-eating, etc. It was interesting to see that this tres-chic photog had gone to our practice, thought we were cool, and taken shots. And here I was looking at his work, feeling squashed by the omnipresent and stifling Cool in the room.

All in the eye of the beholder. What do they say about glamour--that it cannot exist without the sense of exclusivity?

I'm reminded of the lyrics from a song I heard a long time ago and forgot the name of the musician--forgive me:

LA artist, LA artist
we eat 'em for breakfast, eat 'em for breakfast
Whadda they know? Whadda they know?
Where'd all the dip go? Where'd all the dip go?

Wait, it's my birthday.

[at least, it was on Feb. 15th. I just got around to posting this, pulling it from my perpetually open word doc on the computer here:]

after working myself to the bitter and teeth-gritting bone tonite preparing for a brunch tomorrow, which people will be attending in honor of my birthday (and then we're heading out to Hollywood Blvd. two blocks away for an anti-war march) I’ve realized some things:

I am certifiably insane.
I am very much like my mother.
I am desperately in need of drugs, a vacation, and time spent alone—not necessarily in that order.