Category Archives: City Unseen

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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Welcome to Tijuana

Left thursday night for San Diego and a Friday presentation for the Southern California Technology something or other, and stayed at the…at the…damn, it was a good weekend! my only excuse, but it was a hotel, on San Diego’s hotel circle no less.  Who thought it a good idea to build hundreds of hotels on a mile long strip beside the freeway I ask you?  Ensuring that you must get into your car and drive if you wish to do anything but sleep or eat, I suppose it is the American way and the reason we’re the fattest nation in the world.  Still, our little hotel was a 1970’s paradise with a fake stone interior, fake tropical foliage and, I am happy to say, home to the Waffle Spot and a host of engaging breakfast characters such as the Waffle King, Sir Up, Squire Browns, the Court Eggster, Sir Robin of Flapjack, Sir Waffleot, and the Banger Brothers.  They were quite tasty.  The conference went well, I didn’t choke, and then we were off to Tijuana.

Tijuana…hard to know where to even start, I can’t…perhaps I shall just give random impressions.  The smell first of all, I think all big border towns smell the same, TJ, Nogales, Juarez…a mezcla of urine, roast meat, chiles, cheap perfume, hints of rotting garbage and sewage from time to time, sweat, leather and fresh cut wood from the shops…Naco doesn’t smell quite like that if anyone cares.  If you like cheap, colourful, shiny things this is paradise, base silver jewelry, bead bracelets, statues of every character you can imagine.  Christ and the Saints and la Virgen de Guadalupe in bottles, on towels, on shirts and ponchos, on blankets, pasted on wood plaques with shiny acrylic painted over them, as garish painted statues.  Right next to obscene T-shirts, right below the bars and strip clubs lining la Calle Revolucion.  Liquor stores everywhere.  Most of the women are sadly bulging out of skirts that are far too short and halter tops that are far too small.  Or sunburned tourists wearing flowy “vacation in mexico” clothes.  It is common practice to look a woman from top to bottom and then back up from bottom to top, and while emancipated, I have to admit myself quite glad of Jose and Ryan walking around with us because when every man does it I stop being furious and begin to be a tiny bit afraid.  But that was later really, I suppose an all night fling in TJ requires sterner stuff.

Every visitor is quickly drunk, because all the bars sell buckets of ice and beer – 10 coronas for $10.  Or shots of course, and caballitos for the unwary.  I tried one of those on my 21st b-day in Guadalajara, everyone poured out of the kitchen banging on pots and pans while a waiter tipped a shot of tequila down my throat, covered my mouth with a hand towel and shook my head roughly while blowing loudly on a whistle.  I have never been drunker. This is background, because on Friday, I saw them pour 5 shots down people’s throats and even though the poor souls were begging for mercy, shake their heads all around. We saw cops wrestling this huge pelon to the ground, handcuff him, and throw him into the back of their pick-up.  I think it must have been a slow night because the dance floors were pretty thin of dancers, and so you were able to watch some rather disgusting displays, and I am really afraid that if hear another raggaeton song playing ever again it shall bring with it incredibly disturbing flashbacks.  Every strip club had men in front to bring in the customers with a variety of propositions for ladies and gentlemen alike…the place is just a mad mixture of drunkeness, sex, mad catholicism in bright colours, desperate poverty, falling down buildings and rubble, clubs blasting out cumbias and reggaeton and hip hop from all directions…

Highlights were the lucha match, that was awesome.  Sobering up a bit in the early early morning with tacos 3 for a dollar and Vicente Fernandez singing Por Tu Maldito Amor and Volver Volver Volver on the juke box and me singing along with him – I like singing with a beer in one hand and a taco in the other.  Our taxi driver who taught us the fantastic new phrase hijo de la mañana.  Really good tapas at a Spanish restauraunt. Wandering old men carrying guitars and accordeons and bases, singing us rancheras over a late and delicious breakfast.  A Darth Vader marionette.  Playing pool at 4:00 am in a sketch bar, where there were only 3 solids yet two cue balls, only two cue sticks one of which was sadly cracked, and the table felt was stained and still wet from, er, something or other…I played brilliantly though with an incomplete set who can care but me?  It happens from time to splendid time though how I make almost every shot I really have no idea since in general I am pretty bad.

Of course the best bit was just a memorable weekend with good friends.  Hope Britain can compete, only 4 to days to go and I’m off!

death

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Impossibly heart-breakingly achingly sad…sadness sits as pain in my stomach and behind my eyes.  I hate viewings and funerals and guns.  I hate for the people I love to suffer like this, what do you say to someone who has lost their son?  Think i might cry after all, embarassing thing to happen at work.

In the desert when I was little I used to watch the sunset every night, watched the light dancing through creasote and across rock, the orange sun sink down red behind the mountains, the sky would turn blue and pink like the inside of a shell, the stars would come out one by one to burn so close to my face I could almost reach up and take them with my fingers.  You are always something bigger and greater and wiser than yourself when standing before them…head thrown back, proud, alive.

You can’t see them in LA, they’re something I imagined.  Like I imagined peace and quiet and content.  Is there a world without helicopters and sirens and violence and poverty and addiction and pain?  Sometimes it seems that everyone is broken, carrying shards of themselves about in their hands, razor edges that cut others, constant collisions of broken glass.  Joel Zuniga shot in the head on a Sunday morning Compton Street.

Tomorrow I might return from the darkside.

Thinking on Thursdays

I like to think on Thursdays.  Today, for no particular reason, I once again asked myself the question, who am I?  I’m not sure I’m any clearer than the last time I asked, though i am currently quite sure that I do not like uncooked vegies, I need a shower, my eyes are green, and they do not function as windows to my soul – why couldn’t it be that easy?  I do not think I am who I love, or what I do, or what I write, or where I live or where I was born or the language I speak or what I believe or how I conduct myself or how I dress or what I fear or the music I like or who I know and what I own…am I really none of these things, or a piece of all of these things?  There has to be a bit more.  I know different people who seem to pick one of these categories and define themselves by that…actually, they don’t seem to ask the question at all and so fall into one by default.  It seems much easier, every now and then i feel like giving up on the inner discussion and picking one of them too yet can’t quite manage it…perhaps I should just read more of my junk mail from astrology.com and do some myspace surveys.  In short, I could talk about myself all day but that doesn’t seem to help answer the principal question, and I want to know!  I also asked myself what I really want and damned if I know that either, apart from Mexico to beat Argentina, general justice for all, my parent’s mortgage paid off, enlightenment and a mini cooper (not much to ask for really…). The only good news is that after all this thinking I am reasonably certain that I do in fact exist, though I now have a headache and a sudden desire for a cigarette.

Well well, this is getting a bit too serious for me…I’m currently kicking it with Ozzy, a large german shepard who seems to exist solely for lots of attention, food, and two walks a day, perhaps I should try that out.  This morning I went down to Commercial St in the heart of the Italian neighborhood to catch the game…superb!  Even if it was standing room only at Cafe Roma and my feet were hurting!  The aftermath was mad celebration and a partial blockage of the street

The sessions at the conference we wanted to go to were full so we ended up wandering again…but here’s a shot across the bay

And a view from the top of a very high building…

Some cool public discussions…I’m thinking of trying this in LA, but wheatpasting is quite frowned upon by LAPD unless you work for Nike.  I have never been arrested, though, it might tell me something more about myself, so perhaps it’s time.

And finally a woman who actually knows what she wants…still don’t think I want to be married myself but I do find it much easier to live with myself than with other people, so perhaps it makes sense…

I’m off to take that shower now, I might think better when I’m clean. I imagine the general dirtiness of philosphers to date is the reason that none of my above questions ahve yet been answered…

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Tuesday in vancouver

Ahh…i feel like I’m on vacation though I’m really not.  I’m working, really, I swear!  And the alcohol is really helping my schmoozing skills.  I was just sitting on the back porch and the night is close to balmy, and I saw my first specimen of Canadian wildlife.  Alas, it was not the majestic bullwinkian moose.  Still, a live skunk is not to be sneezed at, given that to date I have only seen dead ones!

The conference is going well, today was a pretty good day and just to prove that I was here, I took this:

Lovely sunny day, no?  There is a view out over the water which is beautiful, but a little too cold for the likes of me.  Still, I saw my first Chevron on a lake.

The first forum had the irrepresible Vice-president of the Phillipines who spoke on the voluntary relocation of thousands of people, and that those same people were happily and voluntarily dismantling their own homes with the goodwill and support of the police…I believed every word of course, and when the world bank representative spoke of the “captive” bank, severely and sadly restricted in their disbursement of funds for good causes I believed him too, it might even be true in the alternate dimension both of them are clearly living in.  Luckily one of the other speakers was an inspiring speaker and tiny man from India, head of the Interational slum dwellers alliance, he reminded me strongly of Don Toñito an old FMLN guerrillero I used to work with and miss a great deal…that and the fact that the speaker’s comments were called interventions for some unknown yet very humorous reason helped me get through the morning.  I also discovered that Spain has a minister of something or other who looks just like Tim Robbins.  Shawshank Redemption – genious!  Lastly there was an exhibition before the last panel and the Swedes were living it up with wine, cheese, and crackers, and we indulged heavily before someone noticed we had no invitation…damn sweden tying it up with England!  They definitely owed me!

Wandering the city streets before eating we found very cool things and thought-provoking things, i was trying to decide which to start with, and cool seems to be in order.  We found a game shop which contained within its walls every game known to man, and a number of old arcade games known only to the sovereign few…can you feel the magic?

They had all the games i remember and more…for example, I don’t believe I ever played any of the following (but would be willing to now!)

Snifty snakes – looks like some fun times!  And these?

Smokers wild looks particularly fun, though Mid-Est Peace (from 1992) comes a close second! They also had vintage star wars action figure games, an old miss Pac-Man arcade game and one of those funky love metres that used to be down at the Peter Piper’s Pizza, I’m trying to decide what I actually want to buy, or could afford…an almost impossible decision!

Thought provoking was the street art – this is all to be found on the east side, the skid row of Vancouver…I am amazed to find that Canadians are amazed to find that Los Angeles has it much worse.  I don’t think they believe us though it’s true.

I liked this poster as well

There’s more to come knowing me, but here’s a pretty shot of the city for balance:

It’s good to be here, though strangely enough I am going through i-pod withdrawal complete with shakes since I have not worn headphones for three days together, I’m about to remedy that so no fear.  We also just found out there’s a party on Saturday night at the clothing optional beach and we’re going…though it’s not quite so balmy that clothing really is optional and I’m not too sad since in my experience those not wearing clothing at such places are generally the people you really wish were wearing clothing.  Life is unfair.

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Vancouver’s Prettier Side

First day in Vancouver and I love this city!!  Had a great day today…after the games (accompanied by mad brazilians with drums and cowbells and tambourines and shakers), my coworker Davin and I wandered the Vancouverian streets and found these…

untempted we moved on…what were tempting were the lizards on a stick.  Don’t belive me?

In fact, there were some other yummy unknown things all dried up and for sale, squids I think, and eels maybe?

There was also this guy…very tempting if you ask me!

And the bars!!

and this one…

and this one…

and for all of your meat needs (apart from lizards, squids, and eels)

And finally a store closely akin to my own heart with everything ridiculous in it, hanging in the window…can you see them?  out of focus I know, i apologize, but look closely!

You got it, Nietzsche and Ghandi finger puppets…guess who’s coming home with me to LA?  If I can only smuggle him past immigration…

I might post some nice pictures of Vancouver tomorrow!  Most of the city is beautiful, i forgot how much i like flowers and the color green!

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Rent your own Hermit

This book is brilliant! I am learning that back in the day wealthy Englishmen actually hired hermits to come live on their lands in specially created faux ruinous grottoes, adding a picturesqueity (I made that word up, but super muppets are allowed to do that), and a certain special something which must have been above and beyond the smell…just imagine…a steady income AND no more wondering what to wear today, no more cooking, no more shoes, no more dental floss? Paradise I say, I might even have time between prayers and the 5 hours of required crazy talk about the coming apocalypse to live my dream of teaching a crew of black squirrels to sing Beethoven’s fifth while dancing the cancan. To be honest, I don’t like bathing in cold water which could be something of a challenge, but a hermit’s idiom requires dirt so I think I’ll be fine.

I can submit a resume and references to anyone who is hiring, and I’ll even buy my own plane tickets…my motto is, *have bible, will travel*, so text me!