Friday, December 31, 2010

Another "Nuts" book... by an ELECTED OFFICIAL

Yeah, happy new year's eve, hello 2011, blah blah. Thank you.

Someone else has written a book about eccentrics et al in L.A. It's none other than city councilman Greig Smith, reflecting on his three decades in city government, with a special emphasis on the more colorful employees of and visitors to city hall.

At first, I was a bit piqued. I'd like to think that I thought of Angeleno make-funning first. But I've since realized that there's plenty of room for other books on the subject. THAT'S how many eccentrics we have here.

All of this has reminded me of "Reminiscences of a Ranger," a semi-autobiography by Horace Bell, a lawman who looked back on the do-badders he encountered during his tenure.

The book was first published in 1881.

Ah, shit.

There's really nothing new, is there. Except 2011. 

Happy new year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Very Different Kind of Author Interview

I love when I get to do shit like this and they print it:

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Dec. 11: Author Sort of Reads from Book

In this case, the author is me and the book is mine. But it's so much more than a reading:

• An installment of "Suspenseful Moments in L.A. City Council"
• How to make friends in L.A.
• Clyde Langtry does improv
• An original song -- the idea of which is even funnier if you already know me

The Last Bookstore in L.A.
400 S. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90013

Saturday, Dec. 11
8:00 p.m.


(Not) Bitching

Maybe it's just human nature to complain about shit, but whining seems particularly endemic to L.A. For every person who praises L.A., we have 10 or 20 who are never short of criticism. And I guess I'm one of them, but at least I've tried to make money off it and entertain people with it (prioritized in that order).

The latest prompting occurred this week. Our oh-so-wild, unpredictable weather changed. It's gotten cold -- relative to L.A., I mean. We're talking nighttime lows in the 30s. So at work, everyone within earshot seems to try to one-up each other the instant they miraculously make it through the inhuman climate to the office.

"It was 31 degrees outside when I woke up."
"I had frost on my windshield this morning."

That's pretty much the extent of the commentary. No ruined rose bushes. No frostbitten animals. Just "fuck, it's cold" and similarly imaginative observations. It's actually more pleasant than the summertime heat complaining; since it's hot all day in the summer, the bitching lasts all day too.

This little screed is actually part of a larger problem I've been dealing with the past year or so. I've decided that my lofty position in life (there is sarcasm in that clause) is a direct result of my crap-ass attitude, so I've made a conscious effort to improve it. That alone makes me feel better. However, until I end up as elevated as Deepak Chopra or the Dalai Lama, I find myself downright irritated with the confederacy of bitch artists that claim the space around me. I'm getting better at tuning them out, but it's difficult not to be affected by them.

With that in mind, I'm actually starting to notice more good in L.A. -- as well as people who feel likewise. My friend Carrie won't fuckin' shut up about how much she loves it here. My friend George has lately taken to spending his spare time on hikes, including repeated trips to Mt. Baldy. One L.A. blogger I read yesterday made a list of things he likes, including a charming-looking tavern I'd never heard of.

So here in my unfunny, uncranky way are a random handful of aspects of L.A. that I'm happy about and grateful for:

-- Most of the people I care about are here.
-- Diversity in entertainment, culture, and geography. There are some places I've never been in L.A., and I've lived here my whole life.
-- Intellectual diversity. Could you imagine living someplace where you disagree with everyone about politics and social issues? Or worse, living someplace where you AGREE with everyone?
-- Not having to worry about snow, flash floods, or any of the other murderous weather that's affecting nearly everyone else in the country.
-- A farmer's market every damn day of the week, even if I don't visit them as often as I should.
-- The Foxfire Room, my neighborhood dive bar, even if I don't visit it as often as I should.
-- Lardon, the bacon-themed catering truck, which sometimes parks outside aforementioned bar
-- Occasionally seeing a celebrity: surrealism without hallucinogenics or being subjected to a pretentious art exhibit.
-- Invites from really talented friends to see their play, band, or whatever their talented asses are doing.
-- My below-market rent, which not only affords me luxuries like cable and occasional travel, but makes me feel like I'm in on some secret, which is important in a city where alienation is an easy trap.

I think above all else, I'm drawn to the same thing that others are drawn to: the endless sense of the possible that you can experience here. It makes me optimistic that my next book won't suck, seeing as how I've apparently turned into one of those glass-half-full pests that until recently made fun of such people.


I wrote all of the above during Thanksgiving weekend, then sat on it for a couple of weeks just so I could go back and re-read it.

Didn't change a word.