Category Archives: City Unseen

Tuesday morning at 9 o’clock

Ahh, beatles reference, nothing beats it! It is of course late afternoon and I am sitting in my uncle’s office with a torrent of water pouring down the little waterfall, it is quite incredible what some rain will do. Today on the train back from Glasgow I saw a rainbow between Paisley Gilmour Station and Johnstone and it made me extraordinarily happy. I do not believe that rainbows represent God’s promise to Abraham never again to destroy the world by flood…even if they are nothing but a refraction of light and water they are miraculous, but I like to believe they are promises of something, pure beauty flung across the sky, living colour against the darkness, a call to remember that life is fucking marvelous and to be lived as deeply as possible. My ipod was presenting a classic rock moment as I watched, a little Marshall Tucker band and led zepplin, it was perfect.

I have this ring I wear all the time, silver with amber set into it. I was sitting on the rapid bus down Wilshire in L.A.next to this guy who was tatted and pierced and covered with jewelry and scarily thin. He liked my amber earrings so we started talking and I was telling him about all of the wonder and magic of the Tucson gem and mineral show, and as we approached La Brea his friend sitting across from us pulled out a rubber tourniquet and wrapped it around his arm, then a little vial and shook some heroin into a spoon and held his lighter under it and then he pulled out a syringe and filled it up and I know my face changed. The pain of his addiction hit me like a hammer for some reason even as I pretended not to see not to know not to feel, I raged at the sadness of the human life before me because every human life is beautiful and I wished there was something inside of me strong enough to stop him, to make him choose life, to give him hope as a gift without judgement…I wished I were more like a rainbow than a girl. He sat there, hand with syringe in pocket, veins bulging beneath the rubber, leg nervously bouncing up and down from the balls of his feet, waiting for the bus to stop so he could shoot up. The guy I was talking to leaned over and said it’s alright, there’s nothing anyone can do but him, but us. And then he pulled this ring off of his pinky finger as he stood to go and gave it to me and it was so unexpected I took it without thinking and then protested but he was already on his way out the door…it’s a prized possession though I don’t know why looking at it makes me happy…

Friday in Edinburgh

The old man burst out of the door of the old tenement building, wearing cropped silver hair and nylon navy track suit. A track suit with shorts no less. He stood a moment at the top of the steps, chest out, proud surveyor of a city waiting to be conquered and impervious to shafts of curiosity or laughter. A deep breath and he was carefully, quickly down the stairs, an old roller suitcase bouncing in offended protest behind him. It appeared empty, a brilliant battered red against the day’s muted grey. As the old man shuffled in a determined jog down the main street sidewalk the battered case trundled behind him yielding reluctantly to the afternoon’s adventure. I stood a moment and thought, but of course I followed.


The unlikely pair moved slowly down the street, taking the most direct route in and among and around the masses of Friday’s pedestrians. From time to time the old man’s thin legs would slow to a walk, the suitcase slowed its wheels, confronted with an impenetrable wall of prams or hooded teenagers travelling in packs. A breath only. The old man would slow to a walk but looked neither to the right or the left; he looked always straight ahead and picked up his shuffle as soon as he was able. The suitcase rolled confidently behind him, its wheels trapped in the rut of the road most taken. My own feet were delighting in the absurd and the new and the unknown. Smiles blossomed along our path like flowers, and heads turned to watch him like blades of grass before the wind.


Why would an old man go jogging pulling a roller suitcase behind him? Training for the great roller suitcase derby, senior division. Training for his next holiday with its short layovers and mad rushes from train to train, train to bus, bus to plane. Specialized training for the muscles in his arm and lower back. Perhaps the suitcase wasn’t actually empty, perhaps it held dirty track suits, microfilm, a kilo of cocaine, the maltese falcon, the novel he’d been writing for the past 40 years, the last piece of his wife needing disposal, a hot meal in Tupperware for his granddaughter, his vintage porn collection rescued from diligent housecleaning, smuggled Russian cigarettes, a genuine Renoir, a bottle of chocolate milk to be shaken, black-market watches for sale, pink lingerie, crisps, an entire flea circus, a lock of his lost love’s hair, brilliant poetry on crumpled up paper, the answer to life’s greatest question which he had just resolved through physics and that he now needed to urgently deliver, the winners of tomorrow’s horse racing, his wig collection, cabbages…


And so I followed him, slowly, for my walk was faster than his shuffle. Rain fell. It fell lightly all across the great fucking beautiful city, a web of silver spun silk to shroud ugliness and hide tears and awaken a deep throbbing loveliness of colour in the world. It cleaned the sky. People hurried through their afternoon, hurried through their lives and I exulted in rampant loneliness and adventure, following an old man pulling a battered suitcase. The ordinary become extraordinary. I love how that happens every day.

remembering the Morrison

Sitting at home, watching the documentary Jeff Kauffman did for us on the Morrison Hotel…such a crazy time of my life, all-absorbing life-changing really, I am watching Maria Rivas open up her phone and seeing it crawling with roaches, one of my most disgusting horrific memories…the hallways with their boarded up doors, Mark talking about pulling himself up four flights of stairs, Mark pulling himself out of his wheelchair, he lost a leg because of that damn building, when you’re paralyzed you can’t feel the roaches crawling over your legs, your genitals, can’t tell you have an infection that will mean amputation. I remember the smell, the mold, the fleas that attack you as you walk in and you know are from the fucking rodents, puppy rats the tenants called them because of their size… I remember sneaking in late at night to take photos and document conditions and talk to our folks, the fear and adrenalin as I walked past security dressed in ridiculous clothes. And damn, I remember the day we had our first action and got into the building after months and I have never in my life been so happy, so high really, it lasted for days. I remember the manager sitting on the floor on the 4th floor rocking back and forth with his head in his hands…a small payback for threatening tenants with his pit bull and throwing people into the street but it was something…the remaining tenants cheering us as we roamed the hallways like champions.

I’m sadly one of the stars of the documentary…I wish I spoke better, I feel things so deeply but can’t seem to express myself well out loud, perhaps that’s why I’m a writer I suppose. I am fueled on pure fury, much more so than hope, and I think there’s no way to tell that, funny that you can’t tell how angry I am all of the time…And I look tired, I think I’ve been tired since I first started working, first started fighting with every ounce of strength for a little piece of justice. It’s funny to watch yourself speak. I am so glad, though, that there is some living record of such a long struggle, so glad to see everyone I love, everyone I worked with. Even John Krusynski, he makes me laugh because he is just so ridiculous at times, he’s a psychic you know, and Nasa has been picking up his thoughts by satellite for years. He actually said in his interview that we were a bit annoying at times, that somehow didn’t make it into the finished film. I’m going to miss him. Nor did my stunning analysis of the role of property rights over human rights but that’s alright. Elvis is also missing, he sold out early on and bought some beautiful new clothes we heard…His room was like a tunnel between stacks of papers and sheet music and plastered with music posters of Elvis and the Doors and even a picture of the real Elvis’ mother. he came to all of our meetings with his guitar. Mr Brown is there at the protest, a crochety old veteran who was lost as well when he lost his room, his own place, his home. It was a horrible day the day we had to move him out, I cried. And Sebastian is there at our meeting, an old Italian fisherman, he will never know how much I loved him and I think he left believing we had sold everyone out by taking a deal and that hurts like nothing else. We would have fought all the way if the other tenants had wanted us to, I wanted to fight…but with their kids getting assaulted in the hallways and 90 boarded up rooms and drug deals in the bathrooms…they couldn’t fight anymore. And who were we to demand it when legally we were finished?

The documentary is almost done, nice to see Mark as he was, without his home shithole as it was, he’s lost. He’s been on the streets since then, in and out of the hospital, looking worse every time I see him, how hard is it to understand that a home means more than money and cannot be replaced? There was another tenant with severe mental problems who lived there, we tried and tried to talk to him, other tenants tried to help him, but he would never accept it. he was the last to leave and I don’t think he got any money…He’s homeless now and lives on 30th street near the freeway, only blocks from our office…I wonder if he knows it. I pass him on my bike coming to work in the morning and it makes my soul hurt.

I wonder if the Morrison has given me more hope or less…I know I didn’t have much left inside to give after it, still don’t, definitely need to rest, to recharge…the ending of the Morrison with everyone moving out, a small win more bitter than sweet…and the shooting of Maria’s son, those two unconnected things together have killed a piece of me I think, I wonder if it can come back.

I’m packing this evening, getting rid of more stuff, I suppose it’s a good time to think on all that has been. I am sad, and nothing seems real this evening, even all that I have done, the documentary proves it happened, the tiredness in my bones does as well, and I suppose the hole inside me that appears whenever I cry. My ipod is magically matching my mood on shuffle…shutting the cover on years of your life requires a good soundtrack, did I say I was fucking sad as all hell?

mango hookahs

I highly recommend…they’re quite lovely, and habibi’s is a cool place, a bit far but I wish I’d known about it when I was at UCLA because i might have wasted a few less hours in class listening to stupid professors in black turtlenecks and v-neck sweaters telling me how to think. Not that I’m still angry about that or anything…anyways, here we have the best shot of the evening…Gauri

I might never be forgiven for posting these, but gauri at least despises myspace so I think I’m safe…here’s sumaiya

I don’t think I am yet able to smoke a hookah with the same je ne sais quoi as them, but one day perhaps…And finally, me at the end of the evening…I’d had quite enough by then…

I might have a silly grin, but god damn I shall miss my folks here! We didn’t get a group shot because I was busy smoking, about 10 of us and dinner was delicious, but here’s some faces I shall miss

Kique, Evelin, Jackie, and Baby Steve. Right, definitely bed time..

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LA Adventures

They’re winding down…a month to go exactly, and I have never loved LA as much as now when I am about to leave it…it is an amazing city. I only have 4 weekends left before I leave, and they are full to overflowing with plans already…This is more of a journal entry for me to look over when I’m nostalgic in Sctland, so apologies…yesterday spent the day with meo and her unborn, haven’t seen her in ages! We went out to brunch and then walked about Silverlake a bit, went to Secret Headquarters, the new comic book store and it’s great, I got Love and Rockets which was madness because i am supposed to be getting rid of all of my material possessions, but i swear i am going to read it on the plane. I also realized that a few blogs ago I stated that men only look good in boxers…the Tomatoes episode, a classic LA moment…and I have to now partially reverse this sweeping statement and say that to ME, men only look good in boxers. Apperently, to other men, men look much better in small colourful briefs or thongs…this thought gives me a shudder, but as proof I offer the following view into Rough Trade:

We wandered on in, it’s quite tame in the front room, you can see the hard core bondage stuff peeking flirtily from the back, and there’s an upstairs as well, but meo wasn’t feeling like stairs so we scarpered. We also found a great T-shirt shop, and I bought one featuring “chelvis,” or che crossed with elvis, it’s ridiculous…

We then headed over to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, i cannot believe in all my years here I had never gone the 20 minutes down sunset to see it. It’s quite beautiful

though they would allow no photos inside the bastards. I even went to look for a picture to scan of the inside because it is quite glorious but actually found jack all on the internet and I realized my big art books are almost all sold…hooray for that! It was beautiful, if a bit cold, and sadly I discovered that Mr. Wright did not understand plumbing or allowing for rain so apparently most of his 28 roofs leaked…anyways, it’s highly recommended in spite of a slightly annoying tour guide. The views over LA were incredible as well, and since it’s been so windy the sky was incredibly clear, and you realize what a difference the absence of smog can make in your life…

Saw Pan’s Labyrinth, everyone must see it, and on the big screen if at all possible, it is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. With the possible exception of you Chris, if you’re reading this, given it is a bit of a fairytale. Still, it’s an anti fairy tale really, and the previews are crap as it is only partly goth fantasy and the other half you might not be able to resist – the Spanish civil war and the splendid facsist step-father. It’s all about disobediance and doing what is right, has incredible characters with actors to match, and I loved it. I believe i will even buy the dvd as I think it requires a couple more viewings. I have also have discovered I have a bit of a crush on Dave White who writes reviews for movie.com; here’s what he says: “What’s the Deal? Do not, I repeat, do not take kids to this movie unless you’re somehow convinced of their innate worldliness, knowledge of the Spanish Civil War and its dour aftermath and ability to withstand nightmare-inducing horror. Because more than anything, this is a frightening, brutal adult fairy tale that really takes its cues from old-school fairy tales in which something evil never fails to befall hapless innocents. It’s violent, creepy and unlike anything you’ve seen in a while. It’s also insanely imaginative and beautiful. An awesome movie, but not for little kids. At all…And Another Thing: I want to send writer/director Guillermo Del Toro a thank-you note for not being afraid to go down the darkest, most heartbreaking path toward his movie’s ending. Anyone have his address? I might send some chocolates, too.” Alright, so this isn’t the funniest review, a good one was blood diamond, which I was also contemplating: “What’s the Deal? It was high time Hollywood stopped trying to make people care about genocide in Africa with stuff like Hotel Rwanda and simply embraced its natural impulse to exploit. Now it’s just a really exciting and gory backdrop for a chase movie about a hot smuggler chasing diamonds who then falls for sexy American journalist Connelly.

Who Hates Jennifer Connelly? My guess is that it’s director Edward Zwick. I have no proof of this, mind you, other than the little problem of her performance being world-class awful. It’s the kind of sore thumb that makes you think careful editing and a grudge was involved.

When to Check Out: The last scene, when the guy from 7th Heaven is talking and the diamond industry gets to tell you that they do not condone the sort of “conflict diamonds” the whole movie is about. Then there’s uplifting dumbness with Hounsou. If you just get up and go, you’ll save yourself from a big inappropriate laugh in a crowded theater.”

he’s brilliant, I shall be reading all of his reviews from now on.

Today, chinatown with Ruel, haven’t seen him in ages either. We had dim sum at the Empress Pavilion, and it is the best in town…this morning’s feast was worth every second of the hour wait to get a table. Here’s a view of the restaurant, it is huge and packed to overflowing so that the poor servers with their carts full of hot steaming deliciousness can hardly move around…you really have no idea what you’re getting because English is in short supply, but you can see it…we passed on the tentacled thingie that looked somewhat alive, and the shark fin was a surprise but not bad at all if a little chewy.

Go here too if you’re ever in town. 15 pounds heavier than before, we stumbled out the door to get coffee and dessert (managed that somehow without unbuttoning my trousers), and amble around chinatown, saw groups of men standing around playing a complicated game involving concentric circles and white game pieces, a woman playing the something something, I’m really betraying my ignorance today, but the stringed instrument she was playing was heartbreakingly beautiful, a nine year old Mongolian contortionist who did amazing things that made my stomach turn a bit, as you can see:

a woman who could balance absolutely anything…she had 3 raw eggs balanced on a stick on her nose and made it look remarkably easy…I might try it myself later, though I’d be happy with just balancing an egg on an egg in the palm of my hand. Apparently almost no one else can do this 3 egg balancing act, and I quite believe it.

I shall miss this place just a bit I think.

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Tucson Christmas

Christmas was marvelous, all three of my brothers at home, folks doing well, reunited with the dog and the cat…thought I’d just give the highlights though, it was eventful:

Friday went to Berky’s Bar with Mike and T, only 5 blocks from my house and full of crazy bikers in black leather, where you can hear all of your favourite classic rock tunes played live…an eventful evening but I am writing a story about that so I shan’t share here. I did rediscover my love of classic rock and motorcycles however, especially given the Bush bashing from the lead singer between songs which restored a little of my faith in america.

Christmas eve spent making cookies, wrapping presents – I love to wrap presents, apparently that’s strange but so it is. Played hearts with the family and I WON! It was unprecedented, and I now have the confidence to take on the whole world. Also played Oh Hell, and I came in second and that’s a bit unprecedented as well.
Christmas was lovely, opening presents is always lovely, I love opening presents as much as I love wrapping them. Some of my tags included:

To: Everything sucks, give me a beer (somehow they all knew that was me)
From: Dan

To: The revolutionary
From: George W. Bush’s Biggest Fan (that’s a joke btw)

To: The Beast’s Id
From: T’s Ego

To: Andrea
From: Santa

It’s nice to know Santa is still around. We played boggle before dinner and I WON! Again, unprecedented. Not that we’re a competitive family or anything. I drank steadily after the small family spat at the beginning of dinner, tension was high…the boggle rematch after helped to calm things down, and i discovered I play dismally while drinking. Luckily while drinking I don’t care. Went out on the town after, to Ray’s houseparty first, huge bonfire in the backyard, a keg of Killians, and his band filling up the whole front room of the house so that everyone had to kick it in the kitchen to listen. This particular configuration has only been together a couple of months but sounded really good. After Ray’s we headed over to the Buffet…another dive bar, absolutely packed full and everything on tap was sold out, suppose Christmas is a popular day for drinking. They are called the buffet, but the only food they sell are hotdogs cooked in Coors, luckily I wasn’t quite drunk enough to try one of those…and on the way out some guy grabbed my hand and actually asked me, “Hey beautiful, where have you been all my life?” I smiled, patted his shoulder and thanked him for a marvelous line never yet directed at me, and continued out the door. T was behind me and he said, “hey man, that’s my sister,” upon which I cursed under my breath and turned around, but luckily all went well, the guy responded, “then you can be my brother-in-law,” everyone laughed, shook hands, and we were off.

Boxing day…fucking huge ass hangover. We watched the dvd’s we’d gotten for Christmas, the daily show, boondocks, father ted…we weren’t good for much else I must say.

More dvd’s the next day, went down to Hotel Congress to see another band, they were accoustic and cheesy. The first is alright, but the second really unforgivable when the singers are actually taking themselves seriously. We contemplated following up with more beer at the Hut, but T was off at 4:30am the next morning so we called it a night.

T left the next day with only one emergency and one tantrum, to Scotland the bastard which is where I should be, and I was sad, but we had an amazing thunderstorm…I sat outside in the porch and wrote and the lightening cracked impossibly across the sky and the thunder rumbled deep and the mountains were cloaked in black and grey and then it began hailing. It smelled of life itself, nothing smells as good as the desert in the rain, and I do believe I achieved enlightenment…well, at least I realized that in the midst of a thunderstorm I am entirely happy and alive and…can’t describe it, but the cold whips through you until you are entirely tingly and awake and nothing exists outside of the moment and the flashes of light and the wind and thunder’s sounding and you desire absolutely nothing more but to be there, to be…

vacation settled down after that high point, a little shopping, lots of eating, more games none of which I won. Final Thursday night at Berky’s, grateful dead night with Ray and his dad’s band…it was rocking, they play in front of these huge tie dyed banners and have their die hard fans who dance their pot smoker dance to every song. We were there talking and watching the 50 most ridiculous moments in sport (muted which made it even better) it was incredible, needless to say, and we drank ’til the bartender kicked us out. Today was again a bit painful, low key…and here i am home again. I’m off once more tomorrow on grand adventures and the new year festivities appears to hold tents, a bonfire, music, and a beach in Mexico so life will be good until Tuesday morning.

1st downtown beer and bike crawl

It all started at Theosophy Hall, but if you want to hear about that you’ll have to ask me, I was planning a hilarious expose but though I shan’t convert I did like the folks there too much to mock…or maybe I’m just too hungover to remember much…or maybe it will end up in my great novel for the ages…can’t tell.

So, we started it all at the infamous Golden Gopher. I remember in my baby days in LA accidentally walking down 8th street between Olive and Broadway in the early evening, a never repeated error as it consisted of the sketchiest bars imaginable complete with hostess dancing and hotels above renting rooms by the hour…I was propositioned twice in the space of one block and found the experience a bit traumatic. However it has changed a bit, the Bristol Hotel was actually a residential hotel and the current asshole owner when he bought it emptied it of all 120 tenants within 24 hours, some at gunpoint. I’m not saying all of the tenants were lovely, but they did deserve to have their rights respected and some time to remove their belongings and themselves to somewhere other than the streets of skid row. The owner has since mostly paid for his criminal activity, though certainly not enough, and his bar the Golden Gopher is open for business, and amazingly full of slightly obnoxious hipsters. Happily Club El Gaucho complete with hostess dancing is still open next door…funnily enough we didn’t consider going in, though the steps down into it were lit up purple and inviting…

It’s not too bad, the coolest thing about it is the exterior, though if you get there early enough you can actually drink your beer while listening to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, though that sadly transitioned into some techno pop as we finished our beer and ran out the door.

Next stop the Broadway Bar, very cool interior and almost empty…

they had the most entertaining bartenders, we ended up drinking two beers there instead of the one as planned, as we were bribed to stay with happy hour prices long after happy hour was done and three dollars for the jukebox. The only bar with a jukebox btw, and it was indie-rific, they actually had the Kaiser Chiefs and the White Stripes and the Smiths and a bunch of other good stuff. So two quick stories, one of the bartenders was an aspiring actor (surprised us, that did), and had gone to an audition for an infomercial with the scientologists…they weren’t give any of the lines before they showed up, and when they did arrive were given pamphlets that looked remarkably like propaganda for the scientologist cause, when our friend (drunkeness has erased his name, everyone’s name in fact, I apologize) went into the room he began reading, and the woman stopped him and asked him if he understood what he was reading. He was surprised, but actually there were a lot of words that he knew but were used in a completely different context than he was used to, so she began explaining things to him in a preachy sort of way…starting with the idea of becoming clean…she stopped after a short while and asked him to come with her into an adjoining room where she showed him these two metal rods hooked up to a machine that you were supposed to take into each hand, and they ran an electric current and you sat there while you were asked very emotional questions about abuse and such, supposed to measure the amount of emotion you registered upon hearing each question, the more emotion you felt the less “clean” you were. She suggested he should join up and then he could really do justice to the part…he said he’d think about it and then ran. Scientology really is the most ridiculous thing, much worse than theosophy I must say. Second story is much shorter…the other bartender used to work for R.J. Reynolds, the big tobacco company as a rep selling cigarrettes to bars, and he said that for a while he had to try and push these “smokeless” cigarrettes, which essentially were designed to smoke inside without bothering those around you. Needless to say they were total crap and never made the big time, though I should have dearly liked to try one.

So, now 3 beers later we got back on our bikes and headed to the Redwood recommended by our new friends, but on the way we passed La Cita and made the split second decision to stop…and damn, I am so glad we did! Undoubtedly the best in terms of ambience and general coolness, here it is from the outside:

Not much to look at, a bit divey in fact though I’d never hold that against a place, but inside…

It was fantastic, it’s been there for decades, it had red velvet, all the lights were red, the pillars holding up the ceiling were covered with small mirror tiles, you know I’m going to go back on the weekend for some serious ranchera action…on this wednesday evening however, it was all but empty, one or two hipster folks, Hendrix and Black Sabbath playing. Some pasty faced guy wandered in wearing a suit and told the bartenders that his uncle was the owner and then he wandered out again…ridiculous git. Anyways, me and Jose downed another beer, a smooth Bohemia for me this time, I was pretty happy by then, probably because I’d gotten to play with a tequila bottle shaped like a gun though mercifully I was sober enough not to sample its contents…

He was playing it cool as befitted his surroundings of course…and we were off.

The Redwood…we had high hopes, had heard good things…

Sadly, we walked in, and first thing that strikes you is the ridiculous fake pirate decor…and it was ridiculous. A big plastic skull and crossbones over the bar, fake ropes everywhere, a non-functioning canon…second strike was that Jaws 3 was playing on the flat screens…i personally do not care to watch people getting chomped by sharks while drinking my beer. third strike was that the place didn’t even smell like a bar. And fourth strike was the clientele, the two guys sitting near us atthe bar were rating the women in the movie on a numerical scale – “now she’s a hot seven, what do you think?” “Oh, she’s a four, definitely a four.” And then one of them told a story about how he was in a bar and some girl slapped him in the face, fucking idiot, i felt like slapping him in the face myself, I would of done it too if it wouldn’t have revealed my horrible habit of evesdropping in public places…so we downed our beers and took off.

We had been planning to end up at the Gold Room, Echo Park’s safer kind of dive bar, we had talked about El Chubasco, but weren’t drunk enough to dare given the quantity of blood and teeth mopped up outside every morning. But no dinner and five beers and 1 am and work in the morning and the bike…I had to call it a night because I’m a bit of a lightweight and five beers is a lot, even when stretched out over a period of happy hours and vigorous excercise. We went in search of the taco truck at the end of my street and the bastard wasn’t there…the only disappointment of the evening. A fantastic night all around, and the echo park bike and beer crawl will be scheduled for January…or finishing up the bars downtown, but all that are left are the really super shi shi ones, so perhaps we’ll give it a miss.

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Joshua Tree and the Salton Sea

Went camping the last two nights at Joshua Tree and it was beautiful, beautiful! Just look at these plants, they are amazing.

I haven’t been camping in so long, forgot how much I loved it! We arrived Sunday and went for a short hike then up to Keys Point for the sunset

The wind was blasting and we were chilled to the bone and stayed that way for approximately 24 hours, I have never been so cold for so long. As I lay in our tent shivering with no feeling in my feet the guys at the campsite next to us were drinking beers, talking loudly, farting, talking loudly, belching, talking loudly…that was the worst bit of the trip though the funniest thing to think back on since both bev and I were lying awake listening to these assholes, some quotes are “have you ever had the palpable taste of shit in your mouth? I mean, so thick you can actually taste it?” he was talking about staying near an outhouse…”I can’t believe you forgot the mayo! You know why this shit is so good? It’s 100% saturated fat, that’s why, nothing better.” “I fucking hate the lakers! I can’t believe you hate the lakers too!” “Hotdogs! God damn I love hotdogs.” And on, and on, and me shivering all night long and the marrow of my bones beginning to ache…

So the next night we went over to walmart and bought some fleece – a purple princess blanket for me and little booties, stopped over at the crossroads cafe where we were able to rationalize breakfast every morning in fact, and back to hiking. Here’s Ryan’s Mountain…

and then over to Cap Rock…when Gram Parsons died in the Joshua Tree Inn, his parents sent for his body to be shipped home. Two friends stole it from LAX airport and brought it all the way back to be burned here

Now, there isn’t even a plaque or anything to let anyone know this facsinating piece of musical history, but if the park rangers had an ounce of humour, they would use the following sign

Cap Rock

But they don’t…ah well, I suppose it might be considered in slightly bad taste. Second night was better, very quiet and toasty, took a last drive through the park, through the cholla gardens which were incredible

and then we were off to the Salton Sea in search of Salvation Mountain and Slab City. We found Salvation Mountain…it’s amazing!

Mr. Leonard Knight has been building this thing for years, and lives right behind it, right on the edge of slab city…which used to be a government outpost. When the government left, the people moved in, and now it is an outpost of people who are united in their dislike of civilization, here’s a view over Salvation Mountain

Salton Sea is an eerie place as well, made famous by the Val Kilmer movie which I must admit I have not seen. We were on the North shore which was abandoned to all intents and purposes. It was filled in 1905 when the Colordao broke through a levee, and now filled with pelicans and herons and gulls and other birds…but along the shore we found these

Never a good sign, and this picture frightens me even though I took it. There were hundreds of them, I have no idea what could have happened to kill them all, and there was no one to ask…

So that’s the photo bit done…I really wanted to go to the desert because I am thinking thinking all of the time, cannot stop my mind, it runs on and on and will not cease as my future looms up and the past looms up as well and i feel like I’m in some kind of trough between the two and I do not like it, it’s like treading water or walking up an escalator that’s going down, i cannot progress and I hate this effort to do nothing but stand still, like Alice in Wonderland I am tired and out of breath at the end of the day and have not left my square. I wrote, a lot.

Some places when you arrive you feel welcomed, held by the hills and the earth itself, a homecoming. Even though this is desert, not so far from my very own desert where i know every rock, every cactus, love every line of light and wind that breath and sing over the stones…still, it is foreign. There are no answers for me here, and so emptiness wells up a bit, the familiar and much loved song of the quail in the dusk, the coyotes in the dawning, they bring tears to roll silent down my cheeks. Some places comfort you like a mother would, and that is what I wanted. I lie awake, the wind is buffeting the tent and moaning across the mouths of the empty bottles on the table, I can hear it pouring over the rocks like water. It picks up one corner of the tent then another to send canvas against first my feet, then my side, I wonder if it could dislodge us entirely, send us bouncing across the desert the way I have done in my dreams, unhurt, almost flying, spinning and weightless. The flap speaks to me ceaselessly, rattling back and forth, and sand hits the tent, in waves like the sound of bees, and sometimes clumps, like a mischievious child dumping a small bucket of pebbles over us. Grit interferes with the slight scratching of my pen and the marrow of my bones hurts, my heart hurts…and the words still spin in my mind memories of the past and fears for the future, great excitement and great sadness and a great wondering of what exactly I need to be happy and fullfilled. What exactly I need to be able to jump out of bed glad to start another day. I shall find it I think, but not here, and forget all those sages who say that it lies only in yourself, because I think what I did find today was that some places hold you, keep you, make you well just being there, and the place I am, this place I have been? It does not.

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Sunday Morning Golf

Beautiful day today, even though I got up at the crack of dawn to play…golf!  My first time, got home to find that the Sunday after I left on holiday, Davin, Tafarai, and Chris had started going out Sunday mornings to play…coincidence or did they need something to fill the void I left in their lives?  When invited I thought I would go, after all, I have never really understood the lure of golf and found it quite curious…and my internal clock is still waking me up abominably early do what I will…this is what the world looked like on the way to Davin’s in Lincoln Heights:

Sunrise over the scenic LA river and the assorted school buses and factories that line its banks…must say, they almost look beautiful in this light!

Went to Pasadena, bumping the Young Jeezy (It’s understood, I do it for the hood) in Chris’ “new” truck, I think we made quite an entrance.  Had breakfast first, then hit the driving range for a warm up.  Chris showed me the ropes initially, but the guy next to me was hitting the hell out of his balls, straight and all the way to the end of the range, more impressive than I can say and making me feel quite low.  Until that is, I had what can only be called a “beautiful girl” experience, though I was unshowered and not especially nice looking this morning.  Now, I’m sure everyone knows what these are: beautiful women get the special treatment wherever they go, and men carry their things and do things for them and help them when they just stand around looking like they need it.  Needless to say this never happens to me.  But this lovely Japanese man stopped his practice, fixed my grip and stuck two tees between my thumbs and forefingers so I could tell I was holding the club right, fixed my stance, watched me hit poorly and gave very helpful suggestions, and even lent me his glove.  Would have let me hit some of his balls too when mine were done, but by then the others had finished our buckets so I had to bid him adieu.  He said he really hoped I came to love golf…and I think I do!  He’ll never read this, but I’d like to thank him because he really did make a world of difference in my swing!Went to the shop which was open by that time and bought my own glove…feeling like a cross between Michael Jackson and hot professional golfer, we started the first hole.  First shot went 10 feet to the right directly into a large bush, but I remained uncrushed.

Anyways, here is Chris…he is the only one of us who actually knows what the f$%k he’s doing and came in at 11 over par…

And that’s in spite of the fact that he had to work all of last night.  He gets to wear his name on his shirt, I’m a bit jealous, and shall add it to the criteria of what I’m looking for in my new job.

This is Davin, his fourth time playing and he came in second, shan’t give you any more scores cause they’re a bit embarassing…still, he came in second after hitting three balls into the water, so that gives you some idea.

And Tafari in third on his third Sunday, though I beat him on the first 9!  Was feeling like a prodigy until I really started playing like crap.

No photos of me, sorry to disappoint…but I shall never more talk shit about golf as a sport, and must admit I’m feeling it a bit in places I didn’t know I was supposed to have muscles.  Though the fact I hit the ground rather hard a couple of times could explain the sadness of my right arm, especially going into the second 9, I would have been quite happy to call it a day before that.  The good news is that I can hit straight, just not far – that will come, right?  And I don’t like putting, it makes me feel like Happy Gilmore with the cursing and breaking things, but shall work on it.  Because I can think of few things that feel as good as getting a clean hit on a good swing and hearing that sound the ball makes when you hit it square and watching it sail away (not too far away in my case, but still)…it’s like that perfect shot in soccer when your foot catches the ball in that sweet spot and it feels absolutely effortless though the ball rockets off and goes exactly where you want it to go…I miss that!  I should try and start up soccer again…

It was quite extraordinarily entertaining, I admit I was a bit dubious, but think after all I shall be joing the Sunday ghetto golf brigade.  Might even buy myself a polo shirt.  I shall wait on the shoes, what right have they to charge $150 for golf shoes?  Makes me want to liberate a pair, but my conscience makes me keep pretty well to the straight and narrow.

Glasgow

Last day in Scotland?  Perhaps I’m staying here tomorrow as well and leaving Tuesday but who can tell?  I have to call the relatives and match up plans, we shall see how that goes, i have been truly terrible at communicating with my relatives so hopefully we all stay relatives at the end of this trip…mm, its only friends you can lose through lack of communication isn’t it, i’m just being very silly, possibly the massive hangover has something to do with that, erm, anyways, thought i’d do a little pictorial tour of Glasgow, I love this city!

Cool museums, though I’m not a hige museum person, but this is Kelvinhall, recently opened and FREE!  Also has Dali’s crucifiction on display…

And the People’s Palace, also FREE!  Where you can wear the displays!

Mm, we have great streets and great buildings, especially since i was lucky enough to have generally great weather

Everyone knows I like grafitti and some of the work here is great, we have one piper piping:

And one rogue

Also dragged the little brother to McKenzie’s Willow Tea Room…not happy…

He was hating until he discovered the joys of scones with cream and jam, then he thought it was all right…I must admit, pink and grey and tea rooms full of old ladies don’t do it for me really, but the billiard room was brilliant…Finally, St George’s Square…lots of other streets I loved and good times had and pubs enjoyed but they might have to wait for another day…

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