Category Archives: Everyday

California Dreaming

January 2007, god damn but time goes fast, no? Back at work now, so so so sad, but I don’t mind so much because I’ve only 33 more days to go before my move and the count down has begun! Work makes it go faster at any rate, most of the time I hate my days passing as frantic blurs behind me, slipping away into mist. With something so looked forward to however, they can race as fast as they please. I’ve a feeling 2007 will be brilliant anyways, I’m doing something absolutely mad to start it off, and a year so well begun can only promise great things. I’m leaving all of my baggage and material possessions in the states, I’ll have quit the mad crazy rush of work at the height of my powers, I’m single again, I’m moving to the UK which I have been thinking about since I sat in a kitchen at the tender age of 5 and contemplated a bucket of fresh milk and cream on my Gran’s devonshire farm, and all these things are inspiring a million thoughts and dreams to rocket about my head, who knows what I shall do?

I don’t fucking care at the moment in the general sense of the word…as long as I grow and grow and grow, break out of shells, ruts, and habitual ways of being, it is what I am demanding of 2007. I love New Years and its reflection on the past, dreams of a better future, it’s a good time to think once you’ve gotten over the hangover…not that it should be the only time. But life is so short, so short…and it goes by so fast. If you don’t take stock and push yourself, whatever time of year you may choose to do it, how can you live without regrets? This is all a build up to a couple of stupid new years resolutions, but I take mine seriously and you all can hold me accountable. I do not want to conform to low level misery and boredom, a world narrowing about me, a hollow in my couch cushion that conforms precisely to my ass.

1. To be bolder, wilder, and live life to its fullest. I’ve been getting better and better at that, and my shyness is going, going, perhaps it shall be gone?

2. To bring out the best in those around me (a bit hokey I know, but how better to move the revolution along?)

3. To make approximately one million new friends in my new city and have people i can always call up to go out with, travel with, laugh with, go to pubs with, dance with, see live music with, play cards with, be football mad with, take random day-trip adventures with, go hiking with, talk crazy politics with, walk the city with, rebel against the world with, watch movies with, be a bit lazy on Sunday mornings with, cook with, try new things with, bike with, build a beautiful world with…because these things make life so so good to me.

4. Clearly doing much more of the above list of activities

5. Write as I’ve never ever dreamed of writing before

That’s it, not a bad list I think, I shall enjoy fulfilling it. If I could sing I’d scrap all the above and be a long cool blues singer in a black dress, but as it is, I think I shall have a damned good year. As shall everyone lucky enough to be my friend.

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.

Save

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.

Save