Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Liberal Outrage

As a town full of lefties, we're usually happy when our Democratic president visits, whether it's Obama or Clinton or... whatever other Democratic presidents we've had lately. But last night, we flipped our shit.

Obama blew into town to attend a fundraiser. Okay, fine. Politicians do that. And his motorcade and security detail slowed traffic here and there. Again, that's the sort of thing that accompanies presidents. But the key phrase is "here and there." Last night, for reasons no one quite knows yet, "here and there" became here and there and there and that other place and way back there and so on. In some parts, it was a nightmare of apocalyptic proportions. Bloggers on laist.com report that they couldn't get home for hours. Some abandoned their cars to walk home. Some couldn't even do that: Pedestrians weren't allowed to cross some apparently president-free streets. (If this sounds like lame-ass, secondhand reportage, it is. I live and work in the Valley, the New Jersey of the L.A. metro area, where traffic was completely unaffected by all of this.)

It would be easy to say something like, "I'm all for fundraising, Mr. President, but let's use some common sense and better planning when you visit a traffic-heavy city." But that's not how I feel. MONEY IN POLITICS IS THE BIGGEST PROBLEM WE HAVE RIGHT NOW. It's the source of all corporate-friendly legislation and court rulings that have allowed the BP disaster, Wall Street corruption, the real estate crash, and pretty much every other large problem we have. Cap campaign financing, and you'll not only see real grass-roots reform take hold, but you'll see the true emergence of third and fourth parties.

Then Obama will visit L.A. and tie up traffic for other, more important reasons, like attending the Oscars or going to Disneyland.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A New Sign of the Old Apocalypse?

People sometimes like to disparage L.A. by citing our palm trees in their invective. Good call, shit-slingers. As trees go, palm trees are generally ridiculous.

Most trees have unique combinations of turns and knots and bark patterns and branches pointing in random directions. Palms have none of these. It’s as if some pretender strain of tree decided to do as little work as possible to become a tree: a denuded trunk and a top featuring a heap of fronds not unlike the hairstyle of a rebellious teen. Palms provide little shade. Rats nest in them. One species in particular is simply very tall, as if craving attention. Most are transplants from other regions and most are lacking in character—just like some of the people here.

All other trees are unique in their own way. Spiritualists who tell you to observe the uniqueness of everything in the universe tacitly exclude palm trees. Within each species of palm, every example is a cheap imitator of the one next to it—just like some of the people here.

The thing with palm trees, however, is that they never fall over. Every winter when we have (use finger quotes for the next word) storms, a few trees around town get uprooted and block a street or crush an occasional car. None of them are palm trees. We have—or had—mighty oak trees that surrendered to Mother Nature during strong winds or heavy rains. Since palm trees seem to be thriving in our brown air and nutrient-free dirt, it would follow that they’re impervious to extreme weather. When the wind blows, palm trees just sort of wave back and forth. They’re either laughing or too stupid to know that they should be afraid for their lives. Actually, they’re the only tree that looks better after a good storm; they’re the only ones that hold onto old fronds unless given a compelling reason to shed them.

Finally, a few weeks ago here in back of my Valley palace, I went out to my car to see this:

Lest you think that it was some poltergeisty event, no, the chairs and table at right did not arrange themselves like that. A neighbor thoughtfully arranged them like that so residents wouldn’t accidentally hit their heads on the tree. And that's the same Orange Cone of Nearby Hazards that he puts next to his 15-foot ladder when he sets that up.

Nonetheless, it has happened. One of the countless indestructible, ridiculous palms of L.A. has had enough. The wind hadn’t even been blowing.

What does it mean when our hardiest trees start committing suicide?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Deep Thinking About the Silver Lake Walking Man

Three weeks ago, we lost an icon named Dr. Marc Abrams. He was famous in these parts for a very peculiar activity.

He walked around a lot.

Our fair city is so spread out and thus car-oriented that anyone who walked around as much as the Silver Lake Walking Man reaches near-iconic status. Abrams had been immortalized on two murals and in at least one documentary. His facebook remembrance page has about 3,500 members, and his public memorial—which included a five-mile walk—was attended by 400 people.

I’ve been trying to figure out a way to pay homage to the most famous pedestrian in L.A.’s history—by making some lofty connection to the death of pedestrianism itself, for example. But his death does not mark the death of pedestrianism. I wish I could offer up some personal recollection, but I never met the guy. I wish I could say what it was like to see him walking around, but we lived in different parts of town. Finally, last Thursday night, after two weeks of wondering what to say about the Silver Lake Walking Man, I got a sign from Mother Nature.

I ran over a squirrel with my car.

It’s probably best that I don’t dwell on the Silver Lake Walking Man anymore.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Clyde Langtry Speaks... and Speaks... and Speaks

Holy mother of god shit fuck Christ Jesus you have no idea.

Of all nights for me to treat myself to a homemade martini on an empty stomach.

Back when I was acting, I developed something of a reputation for memorizing dialogue. I may have lost the touch, which is tragic because, on this night, wackjob neighbor Clyde Langtry, he who takes up 15% of L.A. Nuts, ERUPTED IN A GUSHER OF GOLD, OIL AND LIQUID PEARLS! (If you thought I meant cum, go read another blog, you fucksickfuck.)

Precious metals, but in audio form. And me full of gin and without a recording mechanism.

On my porch. Martini half-gone. Clyde stepped out of his apartment and talked.

Did my best. Here ya go.


Clyde: “I made a third of a million dollars in 2007—on just two trades.”
Me: “Why don’t you own a house?”
Clyde: “I wasn’t in my head back then.”

Question: How do two adults with no kids in a rent-controlled one-bedroom apartment blow over $300,000 in three years if they never buy stuff and never go on vacation?

Answer: Clyde is probably full of shit.


Me: “You look like you’re walking better.” Clyde had a hernia operation, which is only amazing because he actually found someone he trusted to practice medicine on him.
Clyde: “I’m fine, just gotta lose the 15 or 20 pounds.” If Clyde lost 20 pounds, strangers would offer to buy him food. He protested my contention, then added, “All I gotta get is a ruler.”
Me: “You mean like someone who runs an empire or a 12-inch piece of wood with markings on it?”
Clyde: “Well, one longer than that, but yeah.” He gestured to his dick.
Me: “Did you just point to your dick?”
Clyde: “Yeah.”
Me: “Are you telling me that your recovery from hernia surgery can be gauged by the length of your penis?”
Clyde: “Sure.”
Me: “What does one have to do with the other?”
Clyde: “Well, the hernia’s connected to the hormonal system and when that’s compromised, it affects everything about the male. Testosterone levels,... there’s an increase in estrogen...”
Me: “I don’t think the length of one’s penis has anything to do with testosterone levels.” (Read whatever you want into that statement. You know you’re gonna.)
Clyde: “Well, I think it does.”


I was so drunk that I actually headed back in to grab another chair so he could join me for an extended visit on the porch. At that moment, his wife stuck her head out, wondering why he hadn’t left yet.
Priscilla: “The library’s gonna close.”
Clyde: “Watch what you say or I’ll go pick up some young redhead.”
Me: “No he won’t. If I walked into a bar with him, they’d throw us out.”


He told of this guy he knows, a higher life form with some funny name. The name escapes me, so let’s just call him Harpo.

Clyde: “Harpo can channel people. Some channelers take a long time to get into a frequency match, but Harpo can step in and out of it immediately.”
Me: “Umm....”
Clyde: “Harpo’s from a place that’s so amazing that no negativity is allowed. Can you imagine that?”
Me: “He lives in Pleasantville?”
Clyde: “He promised me that he’d take me to another place, someplace really special.”
Me: “Vegas?”
Clyde: “No, not on this earth.”


Me: “What is your goal with all this?”
Clyde: “To become a higher life form. Then I’d fuck with the government.”
Me: “Wait a minute. How would you do this?”
Clyde: “I’d show up at the door of The White House.”
Me: “To do what, exactly?”
Clyde: “Well, I’d be able to get past security because I could dematerialize and then rematerialize wherever I want. So I’d just show up in The White House and they would have to accept me.”
Me: “And whenever the Secret Service tried to grab you...”
Clyde: “...I’d just disappear again.”


Me: “What do you say to people who tell you that you’re...”
Clyde: “... full of shit?”
Me: “Yeah.”
Clyde: “I don't give a shit.”
That I believe.