Sunday, November 2

Cincinnati Cincinnati Cincinnati

Last winter I got a Los Angeles visit from Rocawear, and on one early evening we took the bus out to Santa Monica. We walked over to the pier, saw a fisherman catch an octopus and some albinos unraveling cotton candy, and then got back onto the bus to go home. When the bus was in Westwood, the bus driver, who had a high and hyperactive voice, addressed one of the women on the bus.
"I'm sorry ma'am but I'm going to have to ask you to not eat on the bus."
"Why?" she whined, extending the remaining half of a Snickers bar forward.
"Because those are the rules."
The woman was extremely hurt by this and made a cell phone call. "Yeah," she yelled into the phone. "Looks like I'm gonna be late, again. I'm going to miss my transfer - because I got the slowest damn bus driver in the fucking world! Every time I have him the bus is late. EVERY TIME."

After it was clear that she had ended her phone call, the bus driver addressed her complaint. "Ma'am, bus drivers are REQUIRED to show up late to the stops. We're not allowed to be early." His voice jumped an octave. "If we're on time, we're ahead of schedule!"
"I DON'T CARE! I DON'T CARE! I DON'T CARE!" It was getting ugly. The woman pulled the chord to request the next stop, at which point it became clear that her rage was based in being asked to hold off on eating candy for less than five minutes. "I MISSED MY TRANSFER I HOPE YOU KNOW."
"Next time take an earlier bus." The bus pulled over.
"YOU'RE A FUCKING ASSHOLE," she said as she descended the bus stairs.
"So's your face!" The door shut but it sounded like the woman was still yelling at him.

Rocawear and I moved from the middle of the bus to the open handicapped seats in the front so we could tell the bus driver that we had been on his team during the whole thing. He started pleasantly talking about himself and explained that his son is on the Cincinnati Bengals for the NFL.
"He always asks me, Dad, why you still drivin' the bus? And I tell him, it keeps me occupied. But they never win. That team can-not win."
When we got to West Hollywood, we wished the bus driver a good evening and good luck on everything.

Two weeks ago, after a night of working at the Smell, I waited on Broadway for the 4 Bus, which runs from Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica along Santa Monica Blvd. I leaned against a pole to read some of the last pages of the 33 1/3 book by John Darnielle about the Black Sabbath album, Master of Reality. The 4 Bus came and I stepped on.
"Remember last time I saw you," chirped the bus driver, "you said you were gonna give me a kiss. Do you remember that?"
"Oh," I said, rolling my eyes with a smile, "must have been my sister. She's always getting me into trouble."
I quickly sat in the handicapped seat and then immediately placed his voice.
"You were my bus driver!" I exclaimed. "You got in a fight with a woman because she was eating on the bus-"
"Which time?"
"Like 6 months ago."
"Black lady?"
"No, I think she was white."
"People just don't understand. You can get roaches on a bus."
"Your son plays for the NFL, right?"
"Cincinnati. But they can't win. I'm going to fly out to Phoenix to see him play this week. You riding with me out to the beach tonight?"
"Nah, West Hollywood."
"What's that you're reading?"
"It's a book about Ozzy Osbourne. It's written by a musician I like, who doesn't play metal music. And it's written from the view of a 15 year old." I ommited the, "who's in a mental institution," for social reasons.

I told Terry about the coincidence, and Terry, who gambles heavily on sports, said, "That's kind of a sign. Guys who are superstitious about these things would think it was a sign."

Half a week later Terry said, "I put money on the Bengals twice and they lost both times."

Today when I walked in front of the TV and Terry said, "Cincinnati finally won," as though I hadn't forgotten about the whole thing. Very superstitious.

Kiiiii -- (The World According To) Carp And Sheep [Tide Is High cover]

Friday, October 24

Beverly Hills Medical Center

Monday morning I went to Terry and Mia's doctor at the Beverly Hills Medical Center. It's on Robertson Blvd, which is where a lot of Britney Spears-Starbucks sightings take place. Despite that, I dressed like a Maury guest: stained sweatshirt and the yellow Sperrys that I got into a habit of wearing in the rain. Soaked, the yellow dye from the shoe would always stain my feet [welcoming jaundice jokes] and whatever leather-derivative they're sculpted from was warped tremendously. They're pretty uncomfortable and very brown.

I had heard stories about this doctor. Because of the high gay population in West Hollywood, which borders Beverly Hills, Terry was recently administered unnecessary Hepatits vaccines because the doctor had assumed my father was playing the anal-field. When Mia was prescribed a daily upper to combat her narcolepsy, the doctor recalled, "Yeah, this stuff is fun. One time I took it and had a little wine and I was a very cheap date."

I was happy to meet the doctor and liked him quite a bit. He had a soothing low voice and a calming demeanor. He was quite a silver fox, too, gay with a big diamond ring. He asked me why I was getting a check up and I didn't want to embarrass myself by saying, "Because I have a hypochondria that is crippling me and haunting my alone-time," so I said, "Because I'm going to Paris and I wanted to go to the doctor first."

This sent him into a long, pleasant story about an 18th- & 19th-century-piano collector he knew in Paris and the drunk adventures they went on. "Typical Parisian," he purred, similar to the way Ben Stein had always purred innuendos at Jimmy Kimmel on Win Ben Stein's Money.

Then he stuck me with the gynecological tongs, which weren't cold and he never referred to them as "duckbills" [the way bad female comedians say that they're cold and get weird nicknames], all of which walked that line between pleasure and inconsequential pain.
"That's a healthy cervix," the doctor complimented.

Afterward the nurses gave me a flu shot, which I obviously won't need in this desert weather, and then a pneumonia shot, which I'd only ever need if I had AIDS [but they can't take any chances, it's WeHo]. Immense heaviness and ache set in on my arm quickly. The nurses then brought in eight shorties to be filled with blood. The first nurse had problems finding my veins [two pricks]. The second nurse also had trouble finding a vein, and then had trouble finding a vein that would reliably stream blood [4 pricks]. Both nurses had huge fake nails, which were uncomfortably dug into my inner arm.
"Remember to put ice on it when you get home," the second nurse said, listening to me whimper. "You're going to get big bruises"

Years ago, I thought the death of FAO Schwartz had come; the Toys R Us in Times Square had installed an enormous, indoor ferris wheel that was attracting all of the tourists and around that exact same time all of the FAO's I knew were closed. The Roosevelt Field Mall one [ha!] remained closed and became an Apple store. However, I had been wrong about the fall of the classy, overpriced-toys giant, and sometime prior to a Christmas, the FAO Schwartz on 5th Ave, across the street from Central Park [and next to an Apple store] re-opened. My friend Tamara and I went to it to steal candy and watch toddlers waddle around on the "Big" piano. On the second floor of FAO were all of the dolls and Barbies. One section was made so little girls could pretend they were picking out a newborn baby; all of the plastic infants were behind glass and wrapped in pink or blue, just like a real, late-eighties hospital. There was even a nurse manning the area, except that of course she was really just a toy store employee in a lab coat. And like most women who work in urban toy stores, the FAO nurses had long, acrylic nails.
"So funny," I pointed out to Tamara. "She's supposed to be a nurse, but look at her hands!" But there I was, in Beverley Hills Medical Center, receiving care from nurses with long, acrylic nails.

After a few hours in the Beverly Hills Medical Center, I was let go. Moments after putting my shoddy Sperrys back on, I pulled some sort of muscle in the arch of my foot. I limped back to our apartment, through West Hollywood, covered in track marks and cradling my left arm. I fit right in.

Meryl Streep -- Mamma Mia [cover]

Monday, October 20


In a continued attempt to find on-foot/by-bus employment in Los Angeles, I recently went in for a retail job at a company that I probably shouldn't name just yet, in this blogosworld of Google Alerts, should they still consider hiring me. I can refer to them as Anonymous Attire for now.

Thursday was the big group interview for hiring at the AA Factory in shadeless downtown Los Angeles. The open call held opportunities for retail employment as well as modeling for their ads and website. However, it is common knowledge that the company's clothing models are their retail employees, so it was clear to me, and unbeknownst to a cafeteria full of hopefuls, that the modeling call was a big, fucking joke.

Sometimes it was easy to differentiate the aspiring models from the aspiring clerks. The first one I saw was a tall, lanky girl wearing something stupid and complimenting it with big, red knee-highs. Two girls who had come together wanted to be models, and weren't horribly off-base by virtue of being attractive women but were obviously 25. They both came with sprayed-crispy pompadour hairstyles, which is obviously better suited for a BCBG ad than the comedic, sensuous, and natural AA ads.

For others, it was harder to tell. The girl sitting across from me at the cafeteria table was homely, with corny facial piercings and had brought along her mother. Her resume, as I could see on the table in front of her, had her headshot printed on it. Her mother and she would whisper about people, about who would probably, "get it," about which they were always wrong because they obviously hadn't properly interpreted the company or its advertising. When the mother-daughter team started bickering about driving directions, I tried to visibly make it clear that I wasn't with them. Girls with Monroes and reverse-Monroes and septum piercings and choppy, MySpace haircuts and perfectly even bangs and lower-back fat and Converses and military fabric messenger bags all were undeserving of AA retail positions and were aiming to be shown in a bra on a billboard or the back cover of Mice Vagazine. One girl, who looked like her intestines had problems absorbing nutrients, had a [fake?] sun tattoo on the skin that covers her larynx and someone [youth counselor?] had accompanied her to the open model call, too.

From my seat I was actually mouthing, "What the fuck," because I was surrounded by freaks and had no one to actually talk to. The only people socializing with fellow interviewees whom they didn't previously know were the people whose resumes were wrinkled from palm sweat.

The actual interview portion was limited only to those interested in selling clothes. We were put into groups of three and made to stand on the side while the interviewer pretended to organize something. Standing there, pretending I couldn't see where I was and what I was resorting to, I was asked for the directions to the model sign-in sheet by a bulky, platinum blond, orange-skinned dude, who would clearly be better fit for a Ford commercial.

The two people who interviewed with me were very embarrassing. The boy seated to my right was surly but fat and had worked at American Eagle for two years; the girl to my left had braces and a backpack in the shape of a bat and didn't have a chin. When the interviewer asked where she had heard about the open call, she blurted, "I've wanted to work here, at this downtown location for 2 years! I have actually interviewed here before, and I called and over the phone they told me about the open call," which all sounded a bit crazier than me saying, "on the website," and "I worked at music shows."

The reason I'm hard-pressed to get a job, as an international playboy now living at home, is in part because I'd like to make some friends. People in Los Angeles are friendly, and they seem even friendlier once I've had a few, but most of the people I've met here have been loony or have not recognized when I'm joking or don't like any of the intricate things I like. The other reason, which is far more important, is because I'm moving to Paris in January. If I raise the funds to afford $700/mo, I can live with a 45 year old woman whose girlfriend is out of town for 6 mo. If I can make 900/mo, I can get a walk in closet with kitchen and fold out couch, which sounds and looks cramped but it's near the Eiffel Tower! Plus if I live alone I could have sex at night.

Tiny Tim -- I Got You Babe [cover]

Friday, October 10


The Purchase email account is accessed through Microsoft Outlook, which, aside from being unattractive, is a bad system because on certain browsers you have no choice but to open the emails received, even when you know you want to delete them. I don't know if computer viruses still exist but I've heard arguements that this could make you susceptible to digitally transmitted disease.

The Purchase email account had some sort of system that would identify spam emails by adding *SPAM* to the subject line but not delete them or hide them in any way. Sometimes they were wrong and it would be an email from Sam from the Windish Agency and I would respond and he'd think that I considered him spam. Quite the opposite, Sam from the Windish Agency!

When I was at school I sent a lot of mass text messages [roughly 6x the amount I sent over the summer]. On weekend afternoons they were about going to the dining hall with 5+ people and on Thursday nights they were advertising Cheese Club. Sometimes I would have a show that I organized in the city and I would mass txt ppl for that. A grouchy girl was on my mass txt mailing list and one day she wrote back, "Girl can I not get your spam? Thx!"
I took this as an insult. "W/e," I texted back.
"Whatever," she wrote back, which isn't better than "W/e," so I basically won that one.

After that I started beginning my mass txt messages: *SPAM*

I'm glad Gmail has been hiding these from me. A lot of them have exciting subject lines or intriguing senders, even though they're all viruses and human traffickers and identity thieves.

The Mountain Goats -- The Sign [cover]

Wednesday, October 8

Busca Trabajo

I am having trouble finding employment. I know in a week or so I will surely be hired for seasonal work at a cheese shop or an American Apparel, the only two things I'm qualified to work with, but I've been looking for a job since I landed in LA.

It's hard for me to get hired because I don't know how to drive. Should I learn soon, I still wouldn't have regular access to a car. Most jobs I've inquired about have required a reliable car and a show of a valid license and car insurance in an attempt to keep out ex-pat New Yorkers, illegal immigrants, and all the fun-loving drunk drivers. Because of this automotive prejudice I was turned down for a job as a pomegranate juice ambassador to supermarkets, and everyone I told that to felt no sympathy for me and was instead very disappointed that I aspired to hand out samples.

I had a paid-internship interview late last week with a guy who records soundtracks for documentaries. I went to his apartment building in Little Ethopia. His buzzer didn't work so I had to call him with my phone and wait downstairs for him. The building was pale orange and surrounded by palm trees. Near the door was a saucer covered in wet cat food, and the wet cat food was covered with flies. A small, frail woman was haunting the lobby of the building and opened the front door when she saw me standing there. The old woman had long, dry gray hair and big, dark pupils, not unlike Willie Nelson, and was wearing light, thin jeans. I stood in the lobby with her, which wasn't as hot as the outside had been.
"How are you doing today?" I asked the old woman.
"Terrible," she sighed. "I have burns from radiation on my throat."
"Oh," I said, trying to look sympathetic and not horrified.
"I had cancer," she explained, not looking at my face, "and would you believe it, the cancer's gone. Thank God. But I still have burns on my throat." She put her hands to her glands. Her neck looked normal so I assumed the burns were internal. She began slowly walking in a circle. "And you know what?"
I didn't want to know what.
"I never smoked. I ate fast food, sure, drank soda. But I never smoked."
"That's terrible," I exclaimed, trying to see if the soundtrack composer was coming down the staircase.
"Well, I used to eat fast food. Now it hurts so bad I can't eat."
The old woman continued to pace the lobby and avoid eye contact with me. The composer came soon, and he awkwardly said, "Hi," to both of us.
When we were out of her earshot, I asked him, "Does she live in the building?"
"Yeah," he said in an accent that I was placing as Australian, "in that unit." He pointed to a door. "I think she has cancer."
"She said she got over it."

I really wanted that tax free $12/hour. The job description was promoting his two bands, one of which was solo guitar work that I had listened to on MySpace. It was boring, but no worse than Jon Brion's album. His other band was jazz but I didn't know anything about it beforehand. I spent the entirety of the interview trying to explain how much fliering and other promotional work I've done without mentioning that I have always done it for free. Afterward we chatted about where he had lived; his accent was South African - or Afrikaner or whatever because he was white. He had moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco. We got into a long discussion about why the class wars are less aggressive in Los Angeles than in New York and London. He seemed to like me quite a bit and told me that he thought I was great. Unfortunately, the interview had probably been over soon after I had met him in the lobby. He had asked me if I had had trouble finding parking, and I told him that I had taken the bus.

Today Rocawear called me, which I figured would be kooky because he never calls me. He was in a Salvo and saw a hunting jacket, presumably in Realtree-style camo. I've owned two of them because they're super warm and inexpensive at sporting goods stores, and both have been stolen. The one in the Salvo had probably been mine. He was calling for permission to buy it because hunting jackets are technically one of my signature apparel pieces, and because it's cold in New York. I granted it.

In 2004, when we hung out more regularly and would go on the subway together, he noticed that there were these small fliers in Spanish that were stuck behind the plastic of the subway ads. It still happens now, but the more current fliers are about weight gain and loss. The ones he would see were about finding employment and read, "Busca trabajo?" He copped that phrase and swore to make it his band name. He never started the band, and today I'm using it.

Atlas Sound -- I'm So Lonesome (I Could Cry) [cover]

Saturday, October 4

Giving the Finger

Somewhere between the realization that I lived next to a recycling center and the second time I saw New York Magazine publish full feature articles on internet fights, I decided it was time to move somewhere else. I lived in Brooklyn, in a part of Bushwick that most people don't refer to when they say Bushwick, because most of the people who talk to me are affluent and some of them are white and a lot of them don't consider the McKibbon lofts to be in a nice neighborhood. But anywhere you can buy bottled Kombucha is a nice neighborhood. And even though they are dicrepid, lead painted, cockroach-of-many-sizes-infested dormatories, the McKibbon lofts are too expensive for real poor people. I'm not a real poor person, but I would not pay 800/mo. to live in Joe's Apartment. So I lived in what Prarie calls, real Bushwick.

On a normal day, when I want to feel comfortable and look, by my standards, attractive, I wear a big t-shirt and sheer stockings; I try to make sure my asshole is covered. In the circles I run in, this is normal and in Manhattan, this style goes unnoticed. But in Bushwick, I am a rude and offensive thing. One afternoon, wearing tights and a XXXL, I was scaling the stairs to the J train as an obese woman was climbing down. The stress was too much on her body, and she had stopped in the middle of the flight to catch her breath. It gave her a chance to look at me.
"Where are your clothes?" she asked, not smiling.
"What?" I hadn't heard her and thought she needed help.
"Where are your clothes?" she repeated, very serious.
"I'm sorry, ma'am," I said into her eyes, "I don't know what you're talking about."

Later that afternoon I was a block away from Silent Barn, which lies on the border of Ridgewood, Queens, and my kind of Bushwick. I had bought bags of ice or a case of something heavy, so I was struggling and walking quickly back to the Barn. Little kids that live on Wyckoff Ave were tricycling around and throwing rocks at each other when they saw me. One of them yelled, "Ho!" at me, and when I didn't respond, thought I hadn't heard her. "She's a ho," another or the same girl yelled after me. I turned around and gave them the finger. When I turned around again, I could hear them gasping, baffled that I could swear at such small children. But it was already too late for them, and I wasn't teaching them anything new.

This aggression continued; not the neighborhood's, but mine.

And on my last day in New York, I borded a rush hour Queens-bound N or W train from whatever station the Q ends at; this is apparently a popular transfer, and the Astoria area obviously deserves more frequent departures. The two people who were exiting the train got off and then everyone on the platform trickled on, all wading in that slow, shuffly way commuters walk when their feet are too close to the feet of the person in front of them. One kid, though, wearing big headphones, thought he was above this gait, and slung his arm in front of me, grabbing for a railing on the inside of the subway car. Reflexively I slapped his arm out of my way and kept my place in line. He was stunned, the people already on the train were stunned, but I felt normal. And that's why I needed to get out of New York.

Nick Cave -- In The Ghetto [cover]

Friday, October 3

I couldn't hide forever

The industrious and thorough people at Names Directory know I'm out there, right between Alaina Stanley and Alaina Spiessmalmstrom.

Edith Massey -- Big Girls Don't Cry [cover]

Monday, June 23

The Filth And The Ferocious

I went to dinner with my father and my boyfriend Colby in West Hollywood. Restaurants in Los Angeles county are graded in an academic style by the Health Department, and it is required that the grade received is placed boldly in a window, facing the street: A is what you would want and expect for food preparation, B is what you would want and expect but sometimes a cockroach runs over the silverware, C opens the possibility that loose fecal matter runs over the silverware, and unlike in New York, no restaurant can stay open that is dirtier than that.

Although we had been on our way to a Lebanese restaurant in Thai Town, I had instead insisted on a "continental" restaurant in West Hollywood because it is close to our apartment and because I love it. Whereas the mention of mung beans in New York is followed by the phrase, "fuckin' hippies," or a joke about Hari Krishnas, this restaurant dresses the mung in something delicious and excitedly places them in an attractive light; a similar light to the one that shines upon clear skin and firm stools and other signs of good living.

When my father and his girlfriend Mia had first moved to Los Angeles, we went to this restaurant regularly and it was an A. It was dropped to a B sometime later, and in retaliation, the restaurant closed and remodeled the kitchen. It reopened to an A, then was given a B, at which point Mia, whose heart had had enough, swore never to eat there again. Upon my arrival to West Hollywood last week, the restaurant had a big blue A in its window.

A few days ago I did a Google search for "filthy restaurant" and came to the CitySearch page for a Denny's in Miami. Beneath the Denny's phone number and a map of its immediate neighborhood were a string of User Comments on this specific location. The comments were what had attracted Google. "Ususally FILTHY with horrible service," read the first comment. "Only good for the wee hours when people are too inebriated to notice the FILTH." Another read: "I definitely do not recommend. The couple times my friends and I have gone to Denny's the service is terrible and the food is really unpleasant. There are better places to have breakfast than this one."

It was then that the people who work there began to post. "Good food at a good price," one wrote; "most servers in miami are rude, but this dennys is different!" exclaimed another; one post went so far as to recommend the ambience. If I hadn't considered that employees were dominating the message board, the comment, "grand slam is an excellent value and also filling and delicious," would have given me suspicion. [The Grand Slam is $5.99 and has 1128 calories, which is almost two calories per penny, which is kind of a score.]

Lucky enough to not live in Miami and to not have seen a Denny's in years, Colby, my father, and I sat down to a high-fiber, grade A dinner. Each of us was dressed as we normally are: Colby had a plaid shirt buttoned up with a tie; my father in an American Eagle tee shirt that had somehow evaded Mia's quest to dispose his collection of American Eagle tee shirts; and I was wearing shiny, white, spandex pants.

Looking through the menue, I was reminded that I also love the restaurant for their use of organic vodka in the drinks, which Mia and I would assert fucks us up more than normal vodka. The only one to drink, I ordered a greyhound [vodka with grapefruit juice]. The greyhound had begun to cloud my brain when I felt a hand on my arm.

"I love your legs," whispered a raspy voice directly into my ear. When I turned to look, I caught sight of an old woman as she hurried toward the exit.
"Thanks, shorty," I said reflexively.
"What just happened?" asked Colby.
"I don't know," I shrugged. "I thought that was a gay guy."
"She said, 'I love your tights'?"
"No, 'I love your legs.' Something about that being an old woman made it filthy."
Still, it was the kind of filth through which I maintain an appetite.

Lyle Lovett -- Stand By Your Man [cover]