Friday, May 28, 2004

Things About LA That I...

... Won't Miss: (7.) The Endless Unforwardable Mail

Carlos, Adalin and Erika... I will miss your bales of mortgage offers like I would miss oxygen.

Oh, Gayle, don't even look at me like that. You know those monthly Capital One pitches for your alma mater's MasterCard have meant the world to me!

And Benjamin, Benjamin, Benjamin... Anywhere somebody's trying in vain to recycle a tin AOL mailer or get off their mailing list, ma, you'll be there. Haha! [SNIFF] It has always been "all about the Benjamin."

All of you. And Richard. Michael. Robert. And Grace. We may never have shared this apartment in person. But every Social Security Administration letter, IRS threat or manufacturer's recall we've marked up and dropped back in the mailbox has only served to make our bond stronger than mere roommates could feel.

Now, I told myself I wasn't going to cry. But look at me! Well?! Don't just stand there and let me be a wreck by myself! Get over here, you all. Come and get your love.

And to all you who called our phone number, endlessly looking for Paco, or Tran, or that botanica-slash-fertility clinic... It's my own stupid, stupid fault we'll never talk again. I'm sorry. Damn my Caller ID for only holding 99 calls. Damn those engineers -- would a hundreds column kill them? Just one lousy extra digit?

You gave me every chance, when you would call five times in a row, waiting for some stupid idiot to stop picking up the phone so that Paco, or Tran, or Santeria MakePreggers could. We may not have spoken the same language out of our mouths, but our hearts were fluent.

And now, mine is breaking.

... Will Miss: (7.) Super-Fast, Reliable Mail Service

My Netflix Spider-Man 2 just showed up. It's that fast.

Today's FOCR: "Mailman," Soundgarden, Superunknown

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Things About LA That I...

... Won't Miss: (8.) Being Underemployed

Freakouts. Cash advances. The 25th of the month. Looking at the doctor's office with the same dreamy face Charlie Bucket wore passing Wonka's factory gates. Having plenty of time for vacations, yet being unable to leave town, because I need to be available for anything, which usually turns out to be nothing. Needing to spend more time answering "what I'm working on" than I would if I were actually working on something. Being asked "what I'm working on."

... Will Miss: (8.) Being Underemployed

Walks in the neighborhood. Knowing the "mail's here" dog barks from the "meter reader's here" barks, indistinguishable to the untrained, employed ear. Coffee in the yard. Extremely clean dishes. Clothes dried on the line. The thrill of the doorbell, even if it is stuck on chiming "Twelve Days of Christmas" instead of "Hail, Hail, The Gang's All Here." Never missing a single UPS package. Pajamas at 3 PM. Slip-on shoes. The 4 PM matinee at the Vista.

The birds who show up at the same time every day on the telephone wire just off our porch. Together, we watch the sun go down. None of us say anything. No one need say a word. It's just our little Five O'Clock Flock.

Today's FOCR: "Work To Make It Work," Robert Palmer, Pressure Drop

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Things About LA That I...

... Won't Miss: (9.) That Guy Next Door Always Revving His Engine

Some people care for their fixer-up vanitymobile by buying parts, then adding said parts to their car or replacing similar ones therein. Others take their ride to a person or establishment who can pimp it by proxy. Then there's the guy in the house across the way, who has hit on the secret of building your dream wheels: just rev the engine a whole bunch.

Which he does like clockwork, all weekend long and weekdays after three. Given his early afternoon start time, I picture him holding some kind of factory job. 'Round about 2:30, he feels the call of the rev. His right ankle starts to twitch. He involuntarily futzes with his watch. "Uh, guys, can we wrap this up? I gotta punch out. There's something at home I really gotta do."

His buddies chortle and make the international fist-up-and-down wanky motion. As he walks out, he chucks his keys from his left hand to his right. He smiles. Even better, my foolish friends. Even better.

VRAAN VRAAN VRAAAAAAAN VRaaaan. Repeat. For hours.

His timing: regular. His technique: tightly honed. Three big revs, die off on the fourth. If it were some big old LTD, It'd almost be powerful and soothing. It's not. The metallic farty sound would seem to peg it as either Twiki's burrito post-mortem or a late-80s Datsun.

Unfortunately, the model can't be verified from our vantage. Mr. Footwrench has constructed a lovely tar-paper carport for the lil' beauty. Also, it never actually leaves the driveway.

Without even laying eyes on it, though, I know one thing. Dollars to donuts, that sweet, sweet ride has got a "Powered by Deez Nuts" window sticker.

... Will Miss: (9.) The Sweet, Sweet Ride I Never Got To Own

On the other hand, why put up with a place that insists on its own nowhere-else-in-the-fucking-world bed size if you don't take advantage of a climate that allows even the oldest cars to totter along until such futuristic day that gasoline is no longer a viable energy source? (Ha, ha. Just kidding. Merely a crazy make-em-up. Go, Dubya!)

Almost hours after moving to LA, I saw the Sweet Sweet Ride destined to be mine. A blue 1963 Ford Falcon Ranchero with sweet-ass round taillights and, more importantly, a "For Sale" sign.

When researching the model, I stumbled across the owner's web site. In loving detail, he catalogs every angle, feature (original and improved) and quirk of the machine. He frankly describes how sometimes the passenger window gets stuck, there's a bit of Bondo here... he even photographed two spots of rust.

I altered my neighborhood route to pass by it regularly, cooing softly to it about the day we'd turn heads as I fanned its steaming radiator on the shoulder of the 105. I hushed its protests as I told it of the lover's errands I'd run, heading up to Big Sur to trade illicit services of passion to a hoary mountain man in return for the ancient, brittle distributor cap resting in his junk heap.

On occasion, the "For Sale" sign would come off for a few weeks. Then, apparently fighting a battle with a partner or even within himself, the sign would reappear.

For months -- nay, years -- this chariot remained for the taking as I passed it nearly every day. As it stayed there, every calendar page that passed was further proof I was the only one to pull this polluting Excalibur from the stone.

Then earlier this year, it was gone. And with it, my everything.

Oh, I still service that mountain man. But only to remember what might have been.

Today's FOCR: "Kickstart My Heart," Motley Crue, Dr. Feelgood

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Things About LA That I...

... Won't Miss: (10.) Premature Evacuators

Dodger games are one thing. If you know anything about baseball, you know that Dodger Stadium follows up the hallowed Seventh-Inning Stretch with an Eighth-Inning Exodus. Fine. They punish no one but their own fans and team. All the more aural elbow room for that drunk Chicago guy behind us at every game (regardless of visiting team) who ends every bellowed sarcasting with "buddy."

(Nomo misses the plate: "It's the thing that looks like a house, buddy!")

But it gets absurd. We saw "Urinetown" on Friday at the Wilshire, and people were getting up and leaving during the final number. The cast assembled onstage to accept their curtain call, and wound up looking at more backs than Wilt Chamberlain in a road-game hotel.

People in LA avoid endings like Godzilla avoids non-cardboard buildings.

Yet they would only feel terror of the apocalypse if shuffling off this mortal coil somehow involved waiting in line to leave a parking lot. If the Book of Revelations had been revealed here, it would have been a lot less intimidating.
GOD: "... The heavens will blacken. The dead will rise. Thy flesh will melt from the bone. Thine eyes will be as pools of blood. Rivers of fire will-- Hey! Where are you going? Come back... I'm foretelling your doom! Don't you want to know how it ends? There'll be... [WAVES DISMISSIVELY] Feh.

... Will Miss: (10.) My Molar

Goodbye, recently extracted molar. I will miss you.

I will miss the songs of pain you sang to me over dinner or glasses of water. Our intimate late nights as you gently massaged my face with surging nervous lava. Your implanted chip tracking my whereabouts, as you assured the government that, no, my boring life was not just a front.

Fare thee well, Toothy.

Today's FOCR: "Since You're Gone," The Cars, Shake It Up

Doughnut Chain to Cat: "It's Just You and Me, Mr. Fuzzers."

Krispy Kreme announced a first-quarter loss, and blamed the Atkins diet for its problems.

Feeling really bummed, Krispy Kreme then went home. It got into sweatclothes, and ate a bunch of itself.

The next day, swearing new resolve, Krispy Kreme decided to go on the Atkins diet.

Then Krispy Kreme remembered that was the problem in the first place. So it went home and ate more of itself.

And then it cried.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Everything That Panders Must Converge

Vivendi, GE Complete NBC Universal Deal

Separately, Variety quotes the announcement's promotional video, which calls the new NBC Universal alloy "a 24-hour cross-promotional machine."

Great. Not enough of those these days.

If you MTV-producing-CBS-Super-Bowl-halftime know what I mean.

If you Tonight's-Fox-News-top-story-"American-Idol-Is-Awesome" know what I mean.

If you...

Today's FOCR: "57 Channels (and Nothin' On)," Bruce Springsteen, Human Touch

... know what I mean.


Friday, May 07, 2004

Bi-cycle, Bi-cycle

I admit grudgingly that there is something worse than a bicycle thief.

A thief on a bicycle... who steals a three-million-dollar cello you left on your porch.

Yet I am conflicted. For I am a fan of the thief who scores AND still has time for the funny:
The grainy video shows the thief pedaling away with the silver cello case under his arm, then has the sound of him crashing into trash cans before getting away.
Don't forget the screeching cat. [GLEEFULLY KNEADING HANDS] There WILL be a screeching cat, right?

Today's FOCR: "Cat Scratch Fever," Ted Nugent, Cat Scratch Fever

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Doo Dee Doo Dee Doo Dee

Hmm... what's in the news today?

New missile in North Korea could target Guam bases
North Korea is preparing to deploy a newly developed intermediate-range ballistic missile that has a range sufficient to reach U.S. bases in Guam ....
Wow. Don't like the sounds of that. Hey, what's this?

Air America Radio chief resigns
The departures of [Evan] Cohen, a former Republican political operative from Guam who was among the network's initial investors, and [Rex] Sorenson, an investor who owns radio stations in Guam...
Um, anybody want to tell me why the hell I just read about Guam twice in the same day?

Today's FOCR: "Destroyer," The Kinks, Give the People What They Want