Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Belated Donkey Animal of the Week: Cocky Ass

Calm the fuck down, man, it's a damn fencepost. Over in people-land we got dozens of those for a buck. You don't want to end up on that blog where they mercilessly take the piss out of conceited-ass domestic beasts like you, do you? Then fucking chill.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tom's San Francisco: Uncentered

San Francisco is several different cities occupying the same space at the same time, separated only by the frequency at which they vibrate. To aimlessly walk San Francisco, letting your vibrations move you between these cities, is to become drunk on a psychogeographic charge. It's almost disappointing to find your orientation, but if you need to do that, there is the Transamerica Pyramid: the huge, non-vibrating obelisk marking Downtown's hub. No building has ever put me so strongly in mind of how, as a four-year-old child, I was vaguely unsettled by the first time I heard the word "skycraper", and no building has ever been better suited to the title.

In the daytime, the Pyramid rises from its burly ring of foliage, spiking deep into the fog or scraping like Babel against the blue-glass sky. At night the effect is even more impressive: standing at the Pyramid's base, a simple yet effective bit of trompe-l'œil propels the building's top into infinity, marked only the beacon of its blue glow in the evening fog. While it's impossible not to mark your passage through San Francisco by your relationship to the Pyramid, yielding to its forceful pinning-down of your orientation feels in a way like capitulating: like giving in to a very old-world power, in this city that thrives on diversity and decentralised self-conceptions.

It's probably only if you resolutely refuse to submit to the Pyramid's reasoned centering that you allow yourself to be in Vesuvio, at the strip-bar end of Jack Kerouac Alley, densely-packed and covered in beautiful old-time pro-alcoholism propaganda. And nervously watching as a well-dressed yupster stands up in the crowd and screeches, urgent and terrified: "THERE IS NO PEACE WITHOUT JESUS CHRIST! NO PEACE! WITHOUT! JESUS! THE UPSIDE-DOWN CROSS IS THE MARK OF EVIL! NO PEACE WITHOUT JESUS!". He's escorted out by his embarrassed friends, who tell him, "it was good, man: you said exactly what you needed to". On the way out he grabs a patron - most are ignoring his little show - by the lapels, and you'll never guess what he yells at the guy! Oh, "NO PEACE WITHOUT JESUS"? Yes, actually.

A similar resolute uncentering may even take you down the road to the Dreaming Room, a space that frankly I am still unsure really exists. While Haight has its imported Buddha-geegaw shops, their brand-new layer of authenticating dirt perfectly rubbed through, the Dreaming Room is a large space on Columbus filled with artifacts, ritual curios and tribal offerings, some of them apparently 4000 years old. The guy behind the counter - who seems to hang out on the street until someone decides to come in and look around - assures me it is all for sale, even the owner. To this end he shows me a picture of the Dreaming Room's best customer, a Mr N. Cage of Hollywood, CA, shown purchasing some mysterious-looking doodads (though presumably not the owner).

I'm not sure on what frequency you need to be to visit the Saloon, but it's one that certainly predates the Pyramid. Apparently San Francisco's oldest bar, the Saloon is where we watch the dancefloor being utterly owned by a 75-year old fella and his 69-year-old companion, without a doubt the hottest sextegenarian I have ever met. The man, whose name I am surely misremembering as Neil, tells me he has "had some wild times". He tells me about the time he had Liz Taylor in his car, back when he lived in Hollywood and would just drive around picking up girls. (He thinks he had Marilyn Monroe in there too, back when she was Norma Jean, but isn't sure).

One time Neil shut down a casino out in Reno: "We didn't like the way they were treating a fella who won some money! So I went up to the bouncer" - Neil makes a sweeping motion with his foot - "kicked his legs out from under him! We ended up in the parking lot, you see, so I knocked the lights out, and I had the guy down and showered him with stones!" Neil makes a little shape with his thumb and forefinger to show the size of the gravel-stones which which he showered the unfortunate. "Well we got out of there" - Neil's eyes grow wide - "I found out later, the guy was a gangster! So I never went back to Reno".

Neil shows me the powder he carries between clubs to spread on the floor to make dancing easier. He throws some on the Saloon floor but explains that the floor there is so bad it doesn't help his dicky leg. He explains the woman he is with is not his wife. He tells me her husband is "a real Jekyll and Hyde, you know that movie?" (I reply, "sure, it's one of my favourite books", and instantly hope I haven't placed the emphasis on books, as that would make me sound a right wanker). Neil stays away from the husband when he's in that way. She keeps saying she'll leave him but never does. Neil pushes me out onto the floor - "get out there!" - and makes me dance with his not-wife, and I do, which is difficult as I have no idea how to dance at all, which I tell people whenever they compliment me on my performance, which I think they are doing because I did not trip her up and break her 69-year-old spine.

But I'm glad the Pyramid is there today, as it marginally reduces my chances of becoming utterly lost when I go to a movie. Marginally.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tom's San Francisco: Hippie Hand-Me-Downs


Traveling from Los Angeles to San Francisco makes you acutely aware of California as a place: the differences in distance, space, size, weather, and topography all draw into focus the geographical dimensions of the state.

Where LA is huge and sprawling, San Francisco is compact and traversable. You can walk from Northeastern North Beach, where I'm staying, to Haight Ashbury in the Southwest, in a few hours. A comparable LA journey would take a day, if it were possible, which I doubt.

And while the heat and yellow air in LA are by all accounts ubiquitous, San Francisco varies by the hour and by the suburb. As a woman tells me from behind the counter at what must be California's most tightly-focused retailer of kitschy sunglasses and handbags, San Francisco is like Wellington in that the best way to ensure it's sunny is to go out with an umbrella. (Maybe in Koreatown I was mistaking the cause for the effect).


But just as stark are the similarities and differences in the cities' mythic presences. It's not until walking San Francisco that I realise - and I know how trite this sounds - just how much mythic baggage both cities carry. LA's history is that of migrants and chicken farmers who decided to try storytelling and changed culture forever. San Francisco is a gold-rush town, a spark that ignited into a city, an exodus of gamblers and prospectors and Oriental labourers that turned into a culture.

LA is where the Mob snuck into movies and pop music and vice and tax dodges and drugs-to-the-stars, where even the water is implicated in nefarious history. San Francisco is where immigrant populations and folks with no history anywhere else were squeezed together into steel-band neighborhoods so tough the flatfoots were paid extra to walk their streets. LA is where they worked out how to perfect the art of artifice so neatly that all storytelling is compared (more's the pity) to Hollywood cinema. San Francisco is where the Beats happened, Kerouac and Ginsberg and Kesey and their shamanic trips and brilliant/culture-redefining/nonsensical-bullshit ramblings.

LA is where young kids go to become Discovered and become Lost: disappearing into porn or drugs or cut in two and left in a public park. San Francisco is where the Zodiac Killer was never caught. LA is where the Manson Family prowled the hippie scene for new recruits, hanger-on kids who dug the mission statement of the New Age cults but would never have the high-status glamour of a Jane Mansfield or (reputedly) Steve McQueen. San Francisco is where canny carnie Anton LaVey made his home base, promulgating Randian Objectivist selfishness from behind a veneer of occult notoriety, roping in the same kids who couldn't make it down to the Yucutan where former Scientologists had got old-time religion horribly wrong.


I went to the Museum of Comic Art, which features an exhibition on hot new movie Watchmen. Their biography of fictional supervillain Moloch reads pretty much exactly the same as that of LaVey offered by a Book On Deadly Books I thumb through at an alternative bookstore at the bottom of Haight. I go to the Public Library, where they have facsimiles of the original manuscript for Howl. Child-eating greed-demon Moloch rampages through those pages too. If the Age of Aquarius has left any impression that I've picked up, it's that the hippies knew Fearful Symmetry better than we care to remember.

On Lower Haight, a poster in an upmarket restaurant window proclaims the imminent age of Maitreya. A fly caught between the poster and the glass buzzes frantically. I chat with an old feller in a 60s-curio store. I ask him how long he's been there. He looks at me for a long time before nodding, "Long enough, don't you worry."


Haight Ashbury is where a coffee shop promises "The Best Coffee On Haight Street". It is actually the best coffee I have ever tasted. Strong and spicy and nuanced and kicking like a mule. It propels me further up Haight, through the centre of the hippie movement, now preserved in small boutiques selling Grateful Dead knick-knacks and Ken Kesey tchotkes. They're dwarfed by American Apparel stores and record chains and import retailers and a million off-brand Hot Topic clones. I chat with a longtime area resident, who looks for the word to describe the area, makes a face like he's forcing out a malformed turd, and finally lets the Big G - "Gentrified" - fall out of his mouth. It's a relief to hear someone else say it first. Moloch has been usurped by Mammon, paid tribute by swarms of angelheaded hipsters.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tom's LA: Danger In The Schisms

I just swore at the guy who I bought coffee off. I'm surprised he didn't clock me.

He handed the coffee over and I said (as is my custom), "thank you, Sir!" I immediately regretted it, because "Sir" is somewhere between "bitch" and "retard" in terms of Things Not To Call People here. Nothing brings out the class tensions in everyday American life like the casual, surgically-precise connotations of the word "Sir".

"Sir" means "Eloi". "Sir" is an incapable, effete tower-dweller, and to address a person as "Sir" clearly places one at the bottom of that tower, holding up the pillars, one weary sigh away from throwing up one's hands and walking away and letting the whole fragile edifice fall down, crushing "Sir" as he plummets.

"Sir" is a silly, frivolous matchstick-man of a citizen. The world is an elaborate spectacle constructed for the benefit of "Sir", and when "Sir" is addressed as such, "Sir" is reminded that the people of iron and gristle and plain-thinking and starched workwear could, if they so chose, painfully divest "Sir" of all his comfortable misapprehensions regarding the security of the platforms on which he walks.

However, given the choice, "Sir" is still better than any term that calls attention to race or gender.

Downtown, I'm waiting at a crosswalk (that which we in the Antipodes waste perfectly good syllables by calling it a "pedestrian crossing"). A guy crosses toward me and grins urgently.

"Behind and to your left", he barks at me.

"Behind and to my left?" I turn to face him.

"Behind you now."

"Behind me?"

"Directly behind you. Look directly behind you. Look where I'm looking".

"Behind me." I turn to follow his gaze, spotting an unremarkable-looking woman with a nice dress and a confident walk approaching us.

"Huh??" The guy's grin is scarcely fitting on his face. Honestly, I've seen far more conspicuously beautiful women enjoying LA's neverending sunshine and heat, but I don't feel it's appropriate to be nonplussed when my man has gone to such an effort to share his girl-watching joy with me. Objectify or disappoint? Misogyny or antisociality? Make your choice!

"HelLO!", I say to him.

"That is what I'm talking about!", I add, with an enthusiasm that I hope doesn't sound forced. After all, the woman's all the way down the street, but my boy's right here. He looks at me expectantly.

"Yes!", I finish. I am rubbish at this whole wenching thing!

He grins, perhaps a little disappointed somehow, and walks off. The woman passes us, oblivious to the wedge she has driven between two fellows who otherwise had no quarrel nor warmth between them. Up close, she's actually quite attractive.

*

I think I saw George Takei walking out of the toilets at the Arclight, but the last thing I want to be is one of those white people who think every Asian guy looks like George Takei, so let's not chalk it up for sure.

*

I accompany my host to an open-mic poetry night where a fairly legendary LA beat poet is meant to be reading. He doesn't, but a guy who does read is a pro boxer who turned Delta Force before being honourably discharged and turning to black-ops private contracting in the Middle East. He tells a story about how he shot a guy who asked for it and that's when he knew he had to leave the life of the mercenary killer for hire. I talk to him later and he explains his growing discontent with the military-industrial complex and how it played out in microcosm during his final op.

When I talk to people like this my gut is always to process the conversation through two separate mental programs simultaneously: in the one window, I have the "this is one of the most fascinating people I have ever talked to" program, making the most of just what an amazing chat I'm having; and running parallel to that, the whole conversation is being put through the "this person is almost certainly a pathological liar and by extension in all likelihood a dangerous sociopath, so keep your mental distance" filter. I have a couple of friends who provoke in me this split quite strongly.

Walking down Lincoln, Venice, at 11pm on Friday night, I tell my exploration-partner about how Abraham Lincoln is one of my favourite American figures; how I like when I get a $5 note, because Honest Abe is riding about in my back pocket with me. She agrees that Lincoln sure is a pretty cool dude. I tell her that what I like about him is what a huge contradiction he was.

How he kicked slavery's ass despite being a pretty huge fucking racist. She agrees that there's something quite noble in that. How he was a lifelong melancholic prone to fairly massive bouts of depression. She tells me that's not the Lincoln people are brought up with, but sure. How strong evidence points to Lincoln's most heartfelt relationships being with men - oh good, a man's man! - but how their letters reveal that he was unwilling to go full anal, instead being praised by one lover for his "perfect" thighs* and the pleasures they afforded.

Apparently this is not the way Americans talk about Abraham Lincoln, though my co-explorer is suitably impressed by the possibility. I shrug. I tell her when deciding whether to believe something, I often just believe it if it makes the world a more interesting place. What difference does it make whether one guy believes Abe Lincoln liked it between the thighs? Or whether that guy thinks he went to an art exhibition opening with a boxing champ turned soldier of fortune, or whether that guy probably saw George Takei coming out of the toilet at the Arclight?

"Sir" can believe what he likes.

* Coincidentally, I had read that morning in the appendices to From Hell that femoral intercourse was a common "trick" among Victorian prostitutes, and that one longtime streetworker boasted she had been penetrated less than five times over her career through careful use of this method.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tom's LA: The Colour and the Taste

In movies, LA is yellow. (If you say that in the right accent, can it be a nifty rhyme? The stereotypical Australian may, if trying to make a song work, say "yellow" to rhyme with "LA", but it's a stretch. However, as has been discussed in more depth than the issue requires, statements are not required to rhyme in order to be true; and this one is true).

Movies tend to depict America as outdoor-stock blue-white in the upper regions - the cold crispness of an Insomnia, the white-balanced snow-tones of a Fargo - moving into warmer tungsten-grades as you move down the country. (It's a shame Dorothy Gale's Kansas wasn't depicted in the lurid tones of Oz, as its position in the exact center of the whole affair ought to mean that no other state would be as gorgeously technicolour-realised. The only recent movies I can think of set in the American heartland are true-crime stories like In Cold Blood and The Laramie Project, suggesting that the Flyover States aren't really interesting until someone gets killed there in scandalous circumstances).

By the time you reach movies set along the bottom of the States, the palette has gone out the freaking window for warm tones. Miami is required by law to be depicted as swaying between blood-red and neon-flamingo-pink; Texas is all red bricks and Presidents' brains; to my (lack of) knowledge there are no buildings in Arizona, just majestic and forbidding geological structures, looming into a background offset by a solitary cow-skull and/or rattlesnake in FG.


However, while lots of things in movies aren't true, it certainly is true that LA is yellow. Not only the light, but every window of every transportational vehicle I have been in is yellow. Looking out the window as you pass by the various suburbs, it looks almost like everything's under the honey-toned filter from the opening of Zabriskie Point; but on foot, the effect isn't much less. Yellow and impossibly bright. Step out of a doorway and your retinas blow out like 9mm film; it takes some time before the glow of yellow sunlight on white objects isn't an act of ocular aggression. As the sun sets on the Hollywood Hills, the Valley divides into the orange light and purple shadow that, my host points out, form the LA Lakers' team colours.


Cinematographers ought to welcome this violently bright light, as it should mean they could close the aperture right down and see for miles; however, the other thing that is a true truism about LA is that the smog is ridiculous. On the ground it serves as a diffuser - sending ubiquitous yellow everywhere, be it sunlight or street-lamp - but get up out of it, on Mulholland Drive or the Getty Centre or Griffith Observatory - and it's almost hard to credit so damn much smog. My host tells me that LA is sometimes actually rated the cleanest city in the US in terms of air pollution. This strikes me as a bit like how people with nits always say only people with clean hair get nits. (My host does not have nits).

On my first day here, I do not wear sunscreen. I forget; halfway through the day, I think to myself, "oh, well, the hole in the ozone layer back home is what makes the sunlight so deadly; I'll be fine here". I am not fine. On my second day here my face is more sunburned than it has ever been. I look like Freddy Krueger. I don't blister, because that would imply that the edges of some of my skin are healthy; I just melt.

Many clever locals carry umbrellas to combat what I am experiencing. I have never seen people carry umbrellas when it's not raining. (This is odd because I am from Wellington, where if it isn't currently raining, it was two hours ago). Curiously, the areas where people are cleverest w/r/t umbrella-carriage are Koreatown and South Central. White people don't seem to be clever enough to work out that an umbrella can shield you from the sun. White people tend to be either utterly obsessed with matters dermal (moisturiser, shaving balm, insisting they don't notice skin colour) or utterly oblivious (carrying an umbrella when it's sunny).


The neighborhood I'm staying in has Gungans, but not many white people. Having lived in Christchurch, I know what white people look like and how bad they can ugly up a place, whereas Hispanic folks make a fairly good go of carving a decent enough suburb out of the solid yellow smog-and-sunlight miasma.

Whereas I come from a country with four three official languages and 95% of all media in only one of those languages, here I'm in a place that's a bit strident about officially only speaking English, thank you very much, but where most of the billboards in my area are in Spanish. My phone came with two sets of documentation, one in English and one en español. Some would say this reflects a positive pragmatism whereby you don't prate about multiculturalism in your Government-contracted ivory tower, you just go onto the street and do it; others would retort that apparently English is the language we speak round here until you might be buying something off us, at which point ¡bienvenida a América, hermano!


But the glut of Spanish advertising I've seen would seem to be a positive spinoff of the libertarian ethos that plenty of Americans would have agreed with, before libertarianism got a capital L and became Applied Selfish Cluelessness. The market demands that Big Whatever make itself available to this large market; said market would prefer to communicate in its native tongue; hence, McDonalds' speaks Spanish now where appropriate. Is this the Free Market doing something culturally progressive without noticing? There are a lot of factors at play, and I'm sure I don't know enough about any of them to comment.

In the spirit of engaging in things I know very little about, I ate at a pupuseria the other day. The streets of East LA are studded with pupuserias and carnicerias: the former serve pupusas, which are basically little corn pikelets filled with meat and cheese; the latter, I am informed, are just the Latin version of butchers. "Pupuseria" always puts me in mind of pus and/or feces (hence the strong desire to eat at one, obviously); "carniceria" seems like it should have something to do with cancer, but it doesn't, because whenever anything has anything to do with cancer, a large, severe black-on-white sign will tell you, "THIS AREA CONTAINS CHEMICALS KNOWN BY THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA TO CAUSE CANCER". Airports, cafes, toy shops: they all got cancer! Whereas carnicerias just have the dodgy direct-to-video-grade chicken that is the least impressive thing, thus far, about America.

Anyway, so, a pupuseria will, in my experience, be more helpful to new orderers than a Taco Bell, though the young man in the Dimmu Borgir shirt will not look as wholesome as he brings you your complimentary jar of slaw; the pupusa itself will not be as satisfying as a Taco Bell taco, but then again, the meat will be more likely to be what it says it is. I have been favoured by the Critter populace of LA thus far, having seen both an opossum and a squirrel (a lifelong dream of many New Zealanders), but let's be honest: having sampled Taco Bell, Jack in the Box and Carl's Jr, I've done far more than see those animals by now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tom's LA: Off the Wall

Before my last post descended into what I laughingly call hyperbole, I had made it to Hollywood Boulevard! Yes, Reader Gentle, I found and rectified my error and was soon back on the road to memorialising.
Though Koreatown and South Central had seen no small complement of commemorative t-shirts, the amount of New Jackson Swag on show on Hollywood took things to exactly the right level of crassly sincere ridiculousness. T-shirt stalls were three to the block, either side of the street.

A line outside the Chinese Theatre was headed off by a barking traffic guard, valiantly trying to enforce a strict policy of Eastward-walking foot traffic only outside Grauman's.

The Chinese Theatre always has performers walking the street in the guise of various movie characters: Superman, The Joker, apparently every Johnny Depp character ever except for The Libertine. The characters alternate seemingly at random. This evening, stalking the line by the Jackson Memorial, was Chucky from Child's Play. I hope that the decision to mark the memorial for Michael Jackson by paying a person to dress up as a gnarled mess of plastic, the twisted corruption of a beloved childhood icon into an object of primal terror, at least occurred to someone at the planning stage.

While the pile of memorial detritus wasn't unimpressive or lacking in heartfelt schmaltz, the vast majority of people in the line were there to photograph, take pictures of each other in front of the Jackson Heap. News crews, documentarians and looky-loos alike, everyone was on camera and everyone had a camera; declarations of grief were measured not in their depth of feeling but in the reach of their communication.

On the most culturally-overanalysed day in 2009, lulled by the staccato rhythm of flashbulbs, there grew outside Grauman's a sense of unstressed, shared experience: that here we are at the singularity of fame, the white noise at the high end of the sine wave that flows from performer to audience. In the dying light on Hollywood Boulevard, we are all subject and object, seer and seen. We all blaze in the spotlight and we all sit silent in the darkened crowd; we are all the singer and the listener, the beaten child and the child-bedding superstar, black and white, ape and man. We are good because we call ourselves bad. We are made all of skin and all of plastic: beyond life, undying, Creatures of the Night, Lost Boys and Girls, statues floating into History. We are sunshine and moonlight and good times. We are man, and man-in-mirror, and mirror itself.

Michael Jackson, look what you've done.

Tom's LA: Spiraling in a Straight Line

My brother Danny likes to tease me for my lack of geographical nous. No matter how good I get at all manner of things, he says, no matter how much I learn and how worldly I become, his sense of geography will always be better than mine. This is true, because my geographical skills are the absolute worst in the entire world.

I can lose track of the points on a compass when walking in a straight line. Given the opportunity, I will always confuse East with West. I will reverse the locations of things based on the sound of their names - New Plymouth and Palmerston North, Napier and Nelson - or on the mental image they evoke. I discourage friends from meeting me at either Olive or Plum, popular Cuba Street cafes, because I know that I will invariably go to the small-purple-fruit-named location we didn't arrange to meet at.

So I don't have a chance in LA. Though, according to Will Self, no city is as rigidly gridded as this one, the traffic on that grid moves the opposite way to how I instinctively expect it to. I've not yet stepped in front of any cars, diligently scanning to my right as traffic bears down on my left, but I have boarded a bus operating under the assumption that it will carry me West, then been spirited several blocks East before I realise my error.

It was this keen sense of no geography whatsoever stood me in such good stead on Tuesday the 7th of July. I'd decided that it would be poor form to be in LA the day of the Michael Jackson memorial and not go downtown to check it out. Ticketing for the event was free but raffled; I didn't have a ticket. I decided to wander down Sunset, onto Hollywood, and check out the impromptu shrine that had been set up outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre. All that was required was to make one turn, follow Silverlake onto Sunset, and proceed from there.

It was when I was about to cross Slauson that I realised I was headed in the wrong direction entirely. (Slauson is the South Central street where Max tells police he hit an implausible South Central deer. Thanks, Collateral!)

Folks back home had placed South Central pretty high on the list of places you don't want to end up. But my apocryphal-boiling-frog immersion had rendered it less frightening than it was depressing. There was no NWA video gangland swagger here: just lots of fairly nice folks looking fairly run-down and often gleefully ridiculous because nobody's paying them not to. A lot of folk laughed at each other on my walk through their neighborhood. (Nobody laughed at me.)

No, eagle-eyed Angelinos, this is not South Central. This is Los Feliz. I am not quite enough of a rube to wander South Central shutterbugging furiously.

A homeless black veteran asked me for a couple of bucks for a burger and told me about his military career. I told him I was roaming town looking at the Jackson memorial proceedings. He smiled and asked we had Michael Jackson where I came from. He asked if I thought Jackson was dead. He said the whole thing was probably a coverup.

"You're right", I said. "And Elvis is probably watching the whole thing going, 'He's not so great!'" I'd always thought I could do an Elvis impersonation as good as anyone's David Attenborough or Bill Clinton, but as soon as I started talking I realised I sounded more like a white person providing a disparaging approximation of Michael Clark Duncan. I gave the guy some money.

American money is ridiculous. Chief among the ridiculousness of American money is the continued insistence on pretending like physical bits of money carry value. In the Antipodes there's a clear sense that the money is in the bank and you can write a cheque or hand over an Eftpos card or - if you're backward - some bills, and that will communicate that the bank will recognise your purchase. But in America, everyone carries cash! As if the value of the money was in those little bits of paper! Not remote and universally accessible, like the trust of God, but immediate, weighty and materially-divisible, like the trustworthiness of Gold! Wealthy magnates tote huge billfolds of the meager scraps, dispensing them huffily in exchange for a too-large small coffee or a pornographic-size regular coffee; young men saunter the streets of Hollywood with dowried princesses in tow, slim of pocket but flush with a successful trade; farmers lead livestock, bells clanking, down Sunset Boulevard, fatted for the market to be exchanged for a heft of the wagon-wheels that serve as currency in backwoods outposts like Venice and Culver City.

Eventually I give up and take a fucking bus to Hollywood Boulevard.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Actual Donkey Animal of the Week: Explodable Donkey


If this was a screenshot from a first-person shooter video game, that game would have to be the best thing you ever saw.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

In Which Our Hero Talks About Talking.

My podcast, Like a Mad Dog Running Through a Puddle of Gravy, is featured this week on Access Radio. I was interviewed by co-host of Tues with Laura and Yenping, whose name - dig this for a coincidence! - is Yenping.

Radio superstar Yenping in what is probably the best picture of her.

Yenping's blurb for the podcast calls it "variously astounding, amusing and incomprehensible", and explains the theme as "the world’s most average guys, expressing their innermost average thoughts". Which is all I ever wanted to convince anyone that I was!

In Which Our Hero Is Paid To Tell Nerds To Shut Up.

Interested parties should know that I have an article published over at the fine video gaming website The Games Radar, and that it is readable by you and all your friends.