Thursday, June 29, 2006

Konijn Eiland

Apparently, Coney Island was once an island with nothing on it but a whole load of rabbits. So, the Dutch named it Rabbit Island or Konijn Eiland. The English sounding equivalent was Coney Island. That's how it got its name. This is true.

Martha, my oldest best friend Megan's girlfriend, and I, went to Konijn Eiland today, not to chase down rabbits or trade with the Dutch, but to enjoy a day on the tawdry boardwalk and to get on those rides!

The new subway terminal at Coney Island is swanky. Like an American version of Gare d'Austerlitz. The first thing you see when you get off the train is Nathan's. So, you just have to eat, immediately. (Notice the Steeplechase above Nathan's. That used to be the parachute ride.)

After shoving down the dogs and cheese fries, we decided to play a little Skeeball. The game was in disrepair. Martha's Skeeball had trouble keeping score. I actually got a ball into the 100 hole in the upper left hand corner. It didn't register. While the fix-it lady was taking care of Martha's scoring lights, I told her what happened to my unscoring 100, she said, "Oh yeah, that one does that," and she gave me a few tickets to make up for it. After we amassed our huge sum of Skeeball tickets (about 80) we headed for the rides. Time for the Scrambler.

I can assure you, this woman started to look much happier once the ride got going. We loved it. The torque was wonderful. The air breezy. We followed it with The Tilt-a-Whirl. You pull on the lap bar, and that thing twirls like a dervish. Pukey. Off. The Cyclone beckoned.

Look at happy Martha daringly making her way through the quaint painted chain link entrance to the ride. This roller coaster is so old and rickety, you have to wonder how many people have died on it.

Up the Hill.

Down the Hill.

And that was one of the smaller downhills. The Cyclone is a world wonder because it's really compact. Every track is right next to each other. The drops feel vertical. The bumpy factor is high.
And look at these ancient tracks, all wobbly and bent. Supported by salt-air weakened wood.

We played some in the arcade, cashed in our Skeeball tickets for very cheap stuff and took a rest.

Lest you think our day was all hot dogs, cheese fries, games and rides, one must not forget, this whole thing began because of the Atlantic Ocean for the Dutch, the English and for us. You can take the D or the F or the N or the Q trains to the sea. Do it. It's invigorating.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Cult: Old Bricks and Big Windows

It’s all Federal Greek to me. I had a nice dinner with old friends, Kathy and John and their lovely daughters at a Japanese restaurant in the Village and afterward, I walked West on 11th Street. Come on. These Federal-Greek Revival buildings are frigging gorgeous. I stopped and stared at almost every one.

Okay, people in New York are insane and stupid over real estate. They obsess about it night and day. It’s the predominant subject you overhear in conversations on the streets. But last night, having been on the edge of Chelsea Square and tonight walking past all these four and five story buildings built in the West Village, I see the allure. Everyone gets their property addiction. I guess these beasts in this style would be mine.

Could it be because they, like my body, are shaped like refrigerator boxes?
Or, is it because of their super simplicity with their subtle ornamentation that reminds me of what exercising restraint might be like?
Or the huge, long windows, where everything can be seen, nothing hidden from view, the size of a full adult who can stand there and look out and feel they are not boxed in, at all?

Lovely buildings. You can imagine the Nineteenth century, what it must have been like. All those windows wide open. Girls in poofy dresses playing the piano. Men smoking. Horses walking by. Suffragettes. Anarchists. Carpet Baggers about to go South. More horses. And the sweaty noise in beautiful architecture!

As I walked up Eighth Avenue to get to the subway, I passed by a real estate storefront advertising their properties for sale. There were lofts and condos for 1-3 Million. But the picture that grabbed me, that struck me as a bargain, and a great beautiful one, was a completely renovated Federal-Greek Revival townhouse for 4.9 Million. Worth every penny.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


There is a transition when one is in New York. I arrived and I had this nasty back pain, so I was feeling vulnerable. New York seemed sinister to me. Like, it was a place that really wanted to mow me down. Of course, it’s never fun to have any sort of illness when you are alone and “traveling”.

So, all I could feel was the harshness of the environment. People were too close. The air was too thick. The subway was too dirty. Queens was too filled with immigrants.

But then, my back got better. And suddenly, the perception has changed. The people seem fun. The air seems breezy. The subway seems convenient. The Indians and Peruvians in Jackson Heights seem like the best people on earth.

Chronic pain seems like a bad thing. But if you can ride through it, the other side gives you a different glimpse of living. So, a little chronic pain, as long as it eventually goes away, is actually kind of interesting.

Sidebar: The Indians have hooked up with the French and they are making wine. It’s very good.

Another sidebar: Susan Golomb, a very good agent, passed on my book today. She liked the writing but can’t seem to find the “hook” or the “universal appeal”. Well, who ever can, really?

Honesty, in its most un-mucked-with form, seems to be so hard to sell. This American culture seems, to me, so silly.

I love my Danish Modern Desk.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Gay Pride

Feeling like a vulnerable old man with my bad back (damn luggage), I did manage to get out today for a couple of hours and caught the tail end of the gay pride parade at the bottom of Fifth Avenue. I felt so old and not quite present. Luckily I was with my closest and most awesome friend, Megan, and my new friend, Martha, Megan’s amazing girlfriend.

There I was, kind of feeling like I should not be standing, but rather, safely wrapped in a full body cast, when floats of fit, tight, barely clad young men (and some hot women) slowly rolled by.

I was proud of them, sure, but more than anything else, I wanted a time machine.

(I did see a woman across the street with a sign that read, “The Rosary cures all spiritual ills. Perhaps, she should do a Novena and learn how to be more accepting?)

Friday, June 23, 2006

What is it about the Middle Seat?

Hilarity on Flight 20 from San Francisco to New York. I had to connect through SFO because of a frequent flyer situation. When I got on the plane, and I was happily sitting in my aisle seat in the middle section, a yarmulke-man maniacally stuffed his bag in a compartment that was already full, the whole time tossing pillows onto his seat that would soon be his, right next to me. He got in the middle seat, put a pillow on each arm rest and mumbled, “I need them for my elbows,” and took over way too much space for a man his size. The guy to his right (I was on his left) was annoyed, pushed the pillow off his arm rest and looked to me for support in disliking this man. I actually found the little pillow nut amusing.

We began to talk. He was very warm, this Orthodox Jew with the light blue eyes and sandy colored hair and small hands that almost looked like they were deformed. He is a venture capitalist for digital start-ups, “Some rise, some fail, it’s what I do.” He lives in Israel, between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It’s only thirty minutes in either direction. He lives in one of those settlements that if the wall is built, it will cut off Palestinians from their olive orchards. Completely Zionist and having moved to Israel for ideological purposes, I found him fascinating. I liked him. But I did notice that he was a little nutty.

I fell asleep and I woke up to his rustling. Apparently, it was time for him to pee. Instead of asking the guy to his right to get up so he could go, he just jumped up onto the arms of the seats and crawled right over the guy. This woke me up. The crawled-over guy stood there in the aisle and looked at me for support in thinking this guy was an annoying fool. I had to give him the eyebrow lift, “Yeah, he’s whacked.”

But I still liked that wacky Israelie. He was open and articulate. And, he was pretty calm, though firm, in his Zionism.

The kicker at the end of the flight---the woman behind us in the middle seat got very drunk. To the point of passing out. When we landed, a fireman escorted her off the plane. On the gangplank, the airline made sure she was helped. As she was wobbling into the portable hallway tube, the flight attendant said to her, “We just want to help you. Sometimes the exit can move and we don’t want you to get hurt.” From the tone, I could tell the flight attendant was trained to avoid lawsuits.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Salty and Sweet

Off to New York tomorrow to our little place in Queens.

For ten days.

There is something fun about this bicoastal life. Ever since we got the place in Queens, I’ve come to like Los Angeles a lot more. Probably because I know that at any time I can escape to another dimension.

Seems like the mind needs things to be mixed. The pretzel always tastes best right after the chocolate. The salty and the sweet go very well together.

What is sweet about New York and what is sweet about Los Angeles---well, it’s all very sweet. The people in New York are more interesting, more open, and can be instantly warm. The subway is a better way to get around. It’s a nighttime city. People are not embarrassed to go watch musicals. The feeling of the sea and the Hudson River is all around you. It’s a place of old friends and great art. And then, there’s Central Park, probably the most civilized outdoor space in the country. You can hop on a train at Penn Station or Grand Central and be deep in New England, or well on your way to the deep South in just a few hours. And, you can always go shopping in Paramus. This is all very sweet, very enlivening.

What is sweet about Los Angeles is the Mediterranean weather and having a yard that really is a garden where you can sit, at sunset, and have a Campari and soda and feel like you are the luckiest person alive. You can have a dog and just let it out in the yard. Your friends are all great hosts with special recipes for guacamole and Margaritas. Live oaks and sycamores have this magical way of letting you know that nature still exists amid the asphalt. In some neighborhoods, you can hear the coyotes yapping. You can go to great places like Mendocino, Napa, Palm Springs and Yosemite. And then, there’s the Arclight, the best movie theatre in the country, if not the world.

What is salty about New York is people are just more obviously sexual.

What is salty about Los Angeles is people are just more obviously into their hair.

What is neither sweet, nor salty, but merely unbelievable is the amount of square miles of hell between these two places.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Secret to Enjoying a Hollywood Movie

Go infrequently.

I haven't been to a movie in many weeks and I really needed to sit in a dark theatre.
So Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, and I went and sat through The Omen.

It was not great. But it was fun. And if you do something that's fun that you don't do that frequently, it seems like a real lot of fun. They say, the road to enjoying something is to do it infrequently. The French know this. They just love their monthly baths.

The Omen was shot beautifully. The acting was serviceable. The camp factor was huge. The overblown rain was silly after a while. But I loved all the hounds of hell and 666 stuff going on. The adrenalin rush, you know.

Also, and this is true, I happen to live next door to the son of Lee Remmick, the actress who played the mother in the original movie. Could I be living next door to Satan?

Monday, June 19, 2006

Garage Sale

Mary and Dan and I had a huge garage sale on Saturday to raise money for The New Theatre. It was ridiculous. In a great way. Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner and John, Mary’s husband, and Bradford, our great friend, were all there plying their incredible talents.

Thank you to everyone who donated all that stuff they no longer needed:
John and Frances and Marcia and Dan and Leslie and Bart and Susie and Mary Walsh and Adam and Maggie and Gary and Dan’s big family and Trish and all the other people who donated that I haven’t yet heard about from Dan and Mary.

WE MADE $1,612.00 And another $200 from a previous sale of Dan’s and about another $300 should be coming in from Ebay sales. So, useless crap brought us $2,000.00

Some call it landfill. I call it cash. A photo tour:

The street view in Monterey Hills at Mary’s house. You may very well recognize some of your wonderful garbage up on that hill.

I’ve moved Bart’s bed at least four times (Oregon, Valley Village, to my house, to Monterey Hills). I say, if you move someone’s bed that many times, you eventually get to sell it in a garage sale. It fetched $90. After it was sold, but continued to lay there on that hill until it was picked up, people were salivating over it. Man. The joke is, during the final move of this bed from our house to Mary’s, the headboard broke. We rested the curvy part against the wheel well in the pickup and laid the mattress on top. The pressure did it in. After that piece broke off, I simply wood-glued it back on. And, there it is.

Adam used to work in retail at Boston University to pay for his clubbing at 80’s Fenway clubs. He put his talents to great use. He was the haberdashery department. I’ve never before seen him make so many latin ladies so happy. And can he fold! He gets a lot of practice at home. I think he’s really cute in that hat.

Look at Mary up on that hill (in black) cheerily selling to a customer. Far right, you can see all the dining room chairs and office chairs that were donated to us by Frances, Mary’s sister. They were sold in a frenzy.

Our great friend, John, who also happens to be Mary’s husband, is a natural salesman. He could sell ice to Eskimos. Oh, wait, that comparison may not hold up any longer, poor waterlogged Eskimos. John was amazing. He really knows the value of things and he could read people very well. He moved the most product. An expert. Every time I would ask, "What happened to the--" The answer was, "John just sold it."

Bardford is a genius in merchandising. He runs a garage sale every year at his house. A great boy from Wisconsin, he is loved by everyone. And look at what he did with those Academy screeners donated to us by Marcia. At first, we sold the big collections for about ten or fifteen bucks a box. Later on, they went for about two dollars. By the end of the day, well, read on.

While Mary Walsh was hiking to the top of Mt. Baldy, we sold her old television stand. This was another hot item. Furniture is a must at these things.

After a few hours, a lot of the best stuff sold. Bed-o-Bart, Trish’s brand new mountain bike, all those Frances chairs, the skull ring of John’s, Bart’s old ski jacket, the boom box, the dog gates, the Maggie and Gary air compressor and stereo stystem, Margot’s dog bed, Louise’s old carrier, the best Marcia screeners, the best CD’s, the Perry Ellis hat, the knock-off Louis Vuitton bag, the Judge Joe Brown Knapsack, Dan’s relatives’ unused expensive Italian shoes, the old Panasonic microwave, all five of the old phones, the watch, the pretty tea pots, the beautiful plates, Dan and Leslie’s black decorative shelf, the French horn case, the dinner napkins, all the kiddy stuff, Bradford’s grab bag of little office and household goodies (stickers and sponges and glue sticks, Oh My), wooden spoons, large covered glass jar, brand new gardenia candles, a comforter with duvet, scarves, Still Standing bags and a Still Standing camping chair, the wine bag picnic thing, the nice table runners, all the art work, the wonderful Mary and John frame and of course, pounds of clothes.

Look at Dan count the money. At the end of the day, we sat there at Mary’s kitchen table all sweaty and I said, “Look at us. A greedy Armenian and a greedy Wop.” And Dan responded, “Acting like Jews. I know that’s what you want to say.” And I said, “Well, sure.” But what I was really thinking was that there is nothing more disgusting yet somehow life affirming than watching people of Mediterranean descent counting money.

See that little gray box on the left. That’s Margot’s camping television. Somewhat bought it, we brought it inside to plug it in to show that it worked. It didn’t. Margot wins for donating the most broken and stained crap. We joked about her all day long.

My two favorite things that happened that day (besides counting out $1,612.00):

1) During the morning rush, a very lovely woman with a medium Mexican accent finished buying the knock-off Louis Vuitton bag and she was a bit flustered by the ten bucks or so that she spent and I said, “That bag is brand new. It was my mother’s. It's never been used. You got a great deal.”

And she responded with the bag on her shoulder, twisting her kittenish self in my direction to show it off, her eyes all lit up like the beautiful woman that she was, “And it’s just my style, too!” I almost cried.

2) By 2PM the sale was dead. It was very hot outside, some sort of soccer was on television and what we faced was the island of misfit garage sale junk. Like an angel, a sweet man in a pickup arrived and he started pawing at the leftover Academy screeners and bought a few at rock bottom prices. He was about to leave, yet I saw that he was still interested. I cut him a deal, “You can have the rest of the stuff on that table for forty bucks.” He bit. He cleared off the entire table of DVD’s, CD’s and books (and my complete Elton John set of four tape cassettes). After we boxed those up, I tried to push the brand new Epson printer with three new ink cartridges on him (which I hawked all day with no success) for twenty-five bucks. He wasn’t so interested. I then said, “You can have everything on the electronics table for forty bucks.” He cleared off that table.
Then, we had two tables left, you know, of plates, candle holders, what-have-you’s. He was happy to have cleared off two tables. I looked at him and he looked at me and we both knew where this was going. I said, “Forty bucks for the other two tables.” He said, “Thirty.” I said, “Thirty-five.” Sold. Mary and Bradford and Dan and I wrapped those breakables up in no time at all, like we had all been working at the Fulton Street fish market for years. He hauled away our leftovers for $100.00
The sale was over. (Well, once Adam got the final woman out of the clothing department: A drunkard talking about her innocent son in the pokey, "He's innocent.")

I learned from John: People need to feel like what they are buying is of value, that it will enhance their lives. This value must exist in a monetary way, yes, but also in a humanistic way.

I learned this from Bradford: Display and location of items is everything. Make it so people see it. And, as soon as you start moving something, people want it. Objects in motion catch the eye. As soon as I moved the art work to the main area, it was snatched up. As soon as the dinner napkins were nicely folded into a wooden holder, GOODBYE.

I learned about Adam: The Bitch can move used Schmatas. If he ever gets out of television, there’s a job for him on Seventh Avenue.

After the magic angel drove off with $100.00 worth of garage sale leftovers, and Dan and I counted out the money like diamond dealers, Adam and I brought the remaining clothes to Out-of-the-Closet. And then, we all spent the afternoon swimming in Mary’s and John’s aqua-marine pool.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Pastrami, Garage Sale, Exhaustion

Good King Jeffrey is off to visit the inner Southwest tomorrow. So we went to Langers for a Bon Voyage Lunch. I got the #19: Lean Pastrami, fresh coleslaw, melted cheese on this rye bread with the crunchiest crust you've ever had. Jeff got a classic pastrami on rye. Spirits were high. Pie holes were filled.

Pretty much delicious. Langers is super old world. Near MacArthur Park in a funko neighborhood. It's only open from 8-4, Monday-Saturday. Worth the lunch trip.

And, this theatre company that's begun that I've rustled up with some friends called, The New Theatre--is raising money this weekend. We've been doing real well with fundraising. We're having this garage sale...but the problem is, it's gotten way out of hand. There are literally MOUNTAINS of shit. Bags and bags of clothing. A microwave, stereos, Boxed DVD sets, CD's, a heater, suitcases, trays, poker chips, all kinds of electronics, an air compressor, baby clothes, a dining room set, a huge bed with headboard and footboard, a mountain bike, skis, all kinds of unused Italian shoes, kitchen items, books. Mary's house is filled to the rafters. It got bigger than us. I hope most of it sells, because man, it's a huge load.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Calling All Pharma Sleuths

Someone gave me this pill. I can't remember what it is. It has HYL engraved on one side and CM engraved on the other. It's light brown (beige), a bit speckled.

The only memory I have of this little thing is that someone gave it to me and my reaction was, "Hm, I'll try that."

It sits alone in a bottle waiting for ingestion. Yet, I do not know what it is.

Anyone have any ideas?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Where IS Love?

My parents were visiting and the subject of my playing Oliver in the Eighth Grade came up. My father, ever the nostalgic Irishman said, "You had the voice of an angel. Whatever happened to that tape of you that I had? I bet you took it."

Of course, I did take it. My brother taped the dress rehearsal with my cheap little cassette recorder and this tape is among my things hidden in the file cabinets in the back of our guest shack. I thought, "I'm going to make a CD for my father for Father's Day."

I have this at-home-recording-studio (M-Box with ProTools) and it's pretty easy to use. You input the analogue plugs from your source into the M-Box. The M-Box digitizes the source material into the music software, ProTools. You then tweak it and bounce it from there into iTunes in a wave format and from iTunes, you burn it to CD. I had to get adaptors so the RCA plugs of the cassette deck (the red and white ones you see at the back of your stereo spaghetti mess) would fit into the microphone inputs in the back of the M-Box. What would we do without Radioshack? I actually used a series of two adaptors...but I ultimately realized I only needed one. The M-Box inputs actually take a variety of plugs. Then, I spent a couple of hours figuring out how to pay for and download and utilize the MP3 Option for the Protools software so I could make an MP3 file. But the website was under maintenance and was very slow and annoying to use. And finally, the download was just some coding with instructions to reload your original software with a certain box checked and then the code was to be entered at the bouncing point. It went on and on.

I realized, late in the game, that I didn't need the MP3 option for the CD I was making for my father. The free Wave option is what you want for the CD Burning format and I had that. But having the MP3 option is good for other things, like, you know, for making MP3's, which, of course, don't play on CD Players. It's the Tower of Babel out there. All the different plugs, formats, machines. I don't know how these recording artists do this. But, I was able to figure it out. And I have a CD ready for my father. And I posted the song.

It's actually fabulous and sort of sweet. I was thirteen. I was very little. I had a thin, soprano voice. And an amazing Cindi Lauper New York accent. Girls loved me. Boys called me faggot. I wore very heavy eye makeup in this production, I guess because that's what orphans did in those days. I smoked cigarettes and pot and loved Led Zeppelin and the soundtrack of Jesus Christ Superstar. The girl behind me is Dara, who was my girlfriend. We're still close. The doctor taking my pulse is Vinny Stanzione. He now lives at the Jersey shore and my brother is still friends with him. The guy in the white wig is the character Mr. Brownlow. He was the rich man who saved me from a life of thieving with The Artful Dodger. This was all just a wee thirty years ago.

Click Here, Click on Listen--Where Is Love--But not in public


The Orange metro line gives me a little angina. I was driving out in the valley today, doing unusual errands, when I crossed Chandler and also the BUSWAY of the Orange Line. What a treat! To see this odd alley-type road that is designated solely for busses does a heart good.

But weird thing is, this line has been open for months and though I've been in the valley many times since the fall, this is the first time I have crossed the busway. Why?
Because it's so damn North of the main commercial spine of the valley, Ventura Boulevard.

Oh friends, friends, friends. Just dig up this city. Dig it up like the sewer that it is and bury trains under the real sections of town. Shoot under Fairfax and Santa Monica Boulevard and Ventura Boulevard and Wilshire and Sepulveda and do a circle line all around the South basin and another circle line all around the North basin.

Like a mole, tunnel through Beverly Hills.

Like a prairie dog, dig through Santa Monica.

Like a mir cat, bore your way through all those hills of Hollywood.

Be brave! Be Woodchucks!

Official Site of the Orange

Check out the Fixes for the Orange

Monday, June 12, 2006

Friday, June 09, 2006

Sit N Spin

Tonight, Adam and I both did our Sit-N-Spin pieces. Comedy Central Hosts it. The people involved are wonderful and lovely. We have established ourselves as a team...It was so interesting. And the response was fabulous.

I enjoyed that performing experience one gets by being in front of a crowd. Afterward, we all went out and frankly, it felt like a very important night. Agents. Television people. Etc. Hollywood...what an acid trip.


It all started in bed. My Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner Don and I were in blissful harmony there. That is until the day Don came home from the doctor, eyes swollen, head clogged, and declared, “That’s it. The cats are no longer sleeping with us.” Naturally, I was upset. Oliver and Juanita were twelve years old and I’ve had them since they were tiny kittens -- two years longer than I’ve had Don. Depriving them – and me – of sleeping together was unthinkable. But I had to admit, Don’s allergies had gotten worse. So much so that he became “unable” to do household chores involving cat hair, or pollen or mildew or dust, lest they cause a “reaction.”
I don’t have allergies. I have a strong, stable constitution, much like our country’s. Don’s constitution is like that of Iraq. And, because I’m always healthy, my tolerance for those who aren’t is low – at least according to Don. So when Don dropped the cat bomb, I pretty much had no choice but to agree. The cats are very dear to me, but people come first. So, with only a hint of passive-aggressive resentment, I followed Don’s explicit instructions and stripped the bed, washed the bedding, zipped the mattress, pillows and duvet into their new, anti-dust mite hypoallergenic plastic slipcovers ($340), dusted and vacuumed the whole room, plugged in the new HEPA-filtered air purifier ($289) and remade the bed. Then we got in it and closed the door on the cats. And Don slept great. None of the usual snoring, wheezing, hacking, coughing, honking, horking or spitting. But I lay there and listened to my poor babies meowing and scratching at the door, my heart in my throat.
Eventually, the cats found new places to sleep, and my bitter resentment toward Don diminished. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for his allergies. The next strategy he proposed was for me to cover all the furniture the cats sat on with dust cloths, and for me to keep the dust cloths clean by washing them regularly. We also bought a fancy, HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner ($650), which Don instructed me to use every couple of days. But alas, the cat hair tumbleweeds continued to roll.
Now, we also have a dog – Louise. She’s an adorable little terrier and the apple of Don’s eye. Mainly because when he’s around her, it doesn’t burn and ooze. However, that started to change. Don decided that all Louise had to do was sit where one of the cats had been and – according to the pet chapter in his bible, My House is Killing Me -- she got covered with cat hair and dander. To combat this, Don determined the dog and cats should have as little contact as possible. Since Louise liked the armchair in the office while the cats preferred the living room couch, we bought several pet gates ($115) to keep Louise out of the living room. Of course, the gates made it considerably more difficult for us to navigate our own house, and the pets had now successfully taken over ever piece of comfortable furniture we owned, but Don seemed appeased, and a tenuous peace returned.
That fall, the Santa Ana winds arrived with a vengeance and Don got horribly sick with flu-like symptoms and a sinus infection. It lasted for ten weeks. Toward the end, he made a fateful proclamation – “The cats are leaving the house.” My reaction was no way in hell, as it is with pretty much all new ideas. But Don put it in simple terms: it was either the cats, or him. His idea was to move the cats into the garage, and he would park his car on the street. Our garage happens to have two separate stalls and Don reasoned that his stall would make a nice pussy home. Although I couldn’t deny that it was doable, I absolutely hated the idea. My babies had done nothing wrong, why should they be so severely punished? And how would I pet them and hold them? Don wheezed, “As little as possible. And make sure you wash your hands after.” I burst into tears. But I realized I had to be reasonable. Don was sick as hell, and he had come up with a workable compromise. People come first, right? So with a heavy heart, I reluctantly agreed.
The first order of business was to put down linoleum on the floor of the garage ($250), as no cats of mine were going to live on concrete. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, installing the linoleum only took half a day. We still had time to shop for furniture and accessories, like an upholstered cat tower ($89), a window ledge seat ($50), a recirculating drinking fountain ($59, an electric heater ($39) and a couch ($299). My angels were used to sleeping on a couch, and I wasn’t going to deprive them of that. Plus I figured I would be visiting them quite a bit, and I’d need somewhere to sit. We loaded everything in, and luckily the day, and the weekend, was over. I got another week with Oliver and Juanita inside.
The following Saturday, Don was still deathly sick, so the renovations continued. However, I held out hope that this whole thing would be an exercise in futility, because the hardest part was yet to come -- a collar-controlled dog door to allow Louise access to the yard while keeping the cats out of the house. And lucky for me, Louise is both incredibly dumb and incredibly lazy. She would just as soon piss and shit on one of our antique Orientals. But alas, for $495, Don found the Rolls Royce of pet doors . I didn’t make that up, it’s their slogan. All Louise had to do was get within a few feet of the thing and a plexiglass door magically slid up. As soon as she walked through, the door slid back down again. She was the doggy Get Smart.
And there were no more impediments to my cats being permanently banished. Several weekends, much foot dragging, a horrendous fight, a few blisters, a near electrocution and $3261 later, it was going to happen. I begged Don for another forty-eight hours for the cats to have access to both the house and their new home, and he kindly agreed. Each night I spent an hour or so sitting in the garage, with my little friends purring contentedly on my lap. Of course, when I left to go back inside, they followed me, as they always had.
Don agreed to do the final transition while I was at work. There was no way I could be there. As soon as I left, Don was up and out of bed like a shot, the bloom of health returning to his cheeks, as he eliminated all evidence of my cats from the house. When I arrived home that night, I found them sitting on the garage couch, looking dazed. After a quick hello to Don, and a less-than-genuine show of appreciation for how clean he’d gotten the house, I high-tailed it back out to be with them. I sat with them for hours, petting them, holding them, apologizing over and over.
When I finally left them, their pitiful cries ringing in my ears, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt so low. I went into the house and approached Don for a consoling hug. He exploded. “Get away from me with those cat hair-covered clothes! I’ve just spent an entire day cleaning every nook and cranny of this house to make it habitable for me again, and you come in like that? Throw those clothes in the wash immediately, and take a shower.” Fuming, I protested that I was not going to change my clothes and shower every time I wanted to pet my cats. Don argued that I was certainly not going to come into the house covered with cat hair every night, either. “When you’re with the cats, wear this over your clothes.” He handed me a stained old bathrobe. “And wash your hands up to the elbow after every time you touch those death beasts.” Fuck. Once again he’d managed to find a compromise to what I considered an unbreachable impasse. And I was not happy about it. I snatched the robe from him, threw my clothes in the wash and went to bed, furious and unhugged.
The next several nights were pretty much the same. I came home, said a quick hello to Don, then headed out to the garage, put on my bathrobe and sat with my cats for the rest of the evening. The only problem was, cats are boring. I started bringing books and magazines to pass the time. Then I bought a bookcase ($179) to hold them. The next weekend, I bought a TV ($349). And I had the garage wired for cable ($150 set-up, and an extra $9.95 per month). A few days later I bought a mini-fridge ($99). It was a pain to keep getting up, taking my robe off, and washing my hands up to the elbow every time I wanted something from the kitchen.
Once I started sleeping all night on my garage couch, Don raised objections. I agreed, it wasn’t fair. So I took my cats and moved to the Oakwood apartments. Did Don think I enjoyed spending my nights in a drafty garage in an ugly bathrobe while he got the comfort of our lovely (and, without cats, shockingly clean and fresh) Spanish bungalow? But I was wracked with guilt about my cats, and every moment I was in the house without them I missed them terribly. I wasn’t happy anywhere and I blamed Don for ruining my life. Well, for once, I was solving the problem. My cats and I got a lovely, furnished one bedroom ($3120 per month, plus a $300 pet deposit). All I had to bring was my garage TV. See ya.
Two weeks later, we moved back. I reinstalled the cats in the garage and agreed to divide my time equitably between them and the now totally healthy Don. Ever gracious and reasonable, he welcomed us home. Bottom line, compromise hurts like hell, and I suck at it. But in the light of day, I realized that Don’s health improved, I was able to keep my cats, and our relationship would survive. And, as much as I adore my cats, there was clearly no way I could live without the real true love of my life – Louise, our dog.


“I hate you,” I said to Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, as I snatched a shiny silver toothpaste box from his bathroom garbage and threw it into the wicker recycling basket in the kitchen.
“I hate you more, honey” Adam smiled lovingly, not caring about recycling, as he crossed to the television to turn on an annoying cooking show.
“I hate you completely,” I gnashed completely as the glinting toothpaste box bounced off an empty wine bottle piled on top of an empty orange box of laundry detergent and black plastic broccoli trays. I picked up the blinding toothpaste box and wedged it between the orange cardboard and the side of the basket so it would not bounce out again.
Silently, Adam sat on the green sofa, watching the butter melting in the pan on the television.
This goes on many nights. I look for fault. He retreats into a world of television. I shut off lights he forgets to turn out. He blithely turns them back on as he walks down the hall to grab our outdoor cat that always breaks in, the one I am allergic to. I remember what has to be done this month so the roof won’t leak, the collectors won’t come, there will be money for retirement and I put sweet pickles on the shopping list. He forgets to buy the pickles.
I patrol and control by wagging a shiny toothpaste box.
He sits with his show, lost in a world of virtual green beans.
I wash the non-fat yogurt containers so they can be recycled.
He asks me, “Why are you always washing garbage?”
This goes on night after night. For over twelve years.
I said, “Tomorrow, I’m going to drive to Palm Springs and have sex with someone who has a worldlier, more considerate scope than you. Someone with a thicker purpose.”
“Go ahead.”
“I’ll need your car.”
“I need my car.”
“Why didn’t you put the toothpaste box in the recycling? You always tell everyone how much you care about the environment and then you throw this shiny, awful box into the trash in the bathroom.”
No answer.
“I hate being the recycling police.”
No answer.
“Humans are the cause of entropy. We are the Armageddon. Fine. Do whatever you want like everyone else. I guess a free country means free to not care about fucking anything. You don’t care about me.”
He looked up, away from the television meal, and sweetly grimaced to let me know that I am actually a better person, in the grand scheme, than I was being at that moment. Fuck him for loving me.
I insisted. “We have to conserve. You never turn out the lights and already twice this year you left the stove on when you went to work. Are you trying to kill me?”
I retreated into myself in the dining room.
I thought, “I hate him. He’s a hypocrite. He does whatever he needs to do in the moment that requires the least amount of physical exertion. He is just like his doddering father who trips over every edge of the sidewalk because he’s too lazy to pick up his feet. He doesn’t pay attention to me. I WILL take his car tomorrow so I can have sex with someone else. Someone who is lean and picks up his feet, someone who makes an effort to use air when he speaks and will recycle and shut off the lights not only because he says he is a recycler and a conserver, but because I want him to do it.”
My house felt like a filthy prison of landfill. I needed out. I just want a rice bowl and a sturdy spoon. I just want to wear a onesy every day.
I looked for something to do that did not involve products or the television. I could have gone outside for a walk but I needed to avoid an additional spike in my cortisol level that would arise from being hit in the face with spider webs. The television blared on.
I yelled, “Put on the headphones. I don’t want to listen to that smug bitch cook.”
He put them on. I looked out the window at the palm trees.
I thought, “I could sneak out of here forever. Away from the loud television and all these scary cereal boxes. There’s all this garbage I do not want. Where are the other people like me? Oh, Jesus in the cave, I’m the minority. I’m the minority. I’m the minority. I need a break. I need something fun and pure. Like a pretty daisy or an amusement park ride at a trashy carnival. The scrambler burns diesel. I could do my part and bring a few gallons of corn oil!”
Oh, how I want to go to the carnival. Instead, I stay home and worry about waste.
“Goodnight,” he said with his hand on my left shoulder, assuring me, patting me how I don’t like to be patted.
“I love you,” he said, kissing me.
“That doesn’t change the fact that your lips are wet. I told you, I hate to kiss you when your lips are wet. It’s like, I just hate it.”
He said, “Calm down. You know how you over react to things. It was just one little box. You’ll be happy again. Tomorrow is another day.”
“Another day filled with garbage and you don’t care about it. And get those lips away from me. Don’t you hear anything I say?”
Gone. I thought about the Scrambler again. It was not enough. Then, I thought about his death. To kill your life partner over a shiny toothpaste box seemed somewhat reasonable. Though extreme, it had the snap of excitement I was looking for.
I went to the kitchen and I took out the expensive cleaver from the knife drawer and I slinked into the bedroom where my sweet little love was lying in the bed and I said to him, “Little did your mother know when she bought this for us that I would use it to chop you into pieces because she raised you to be the most hypocritical, lazy, uncaring person on earth. You should recycle.”
“Put that away.”
I said, “I’m going to chop you into pieces.”
“You can’t pull out the cleaver every time you’re mad at me.”
“The cleaver enjoys getting out. And dry your lips, no wonder they’re always chapped.”
“Leave me alone. I’m going to sleep now. Go chop someone else.”
“On one condition. Promise me you’ll recycle. Don’t throw a huge silver toothpaste box into your bathroom trash. Just save it and recycle it. Bring it into the kitchen and put it in the wicker basket. Do it for me.”
“I’ll try to remember. Goodnight, honey, I love you.”
“I hate you.”
“No you don’t,” Adam said, “We’ll have sex tomorrow and everything will be better.”
“Really?” I said. “Sex with you is at best a chore and at worst a punishment. Besides, I’m leaving you. I’m joining a carnival.”
And Adam said, “No you won’t. It’s filled with carneys.”
“I’ll leave you anyway.”
“You won’t leave me, ever, we’re too compatible.”
“We’re nothing alike. You went to a bad college. And you don’t recycle. I have to chop you into pieces.”
“Don’t chop me up.”
“I have to chop.”
“Stop chopping. You’re ridiculous. Put away that cleaver. Look at what you’ve become.”
I closed the door and I went to the kitchen to put away the cleaver. It’s a nice cleaver. It has a beautiful white handle and a leather sheath. It has only been used twice to cut up chickens. I went to the living room and looked out the picture window. The dirty cat snuck back into the house and came over to the window and looked outside with me. No carnival in sight.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I went to Itunes and purchased the Video of Christine Aguilera, Beautiful.

I've never received so much for $1.99

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Hollywood Lotto

My Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner Adam won the lotto today.

Sitcom work has been steadily shrinking. Reality Shows (Is American Idol reality?) and crime (like CSI:Albany) have been taking over like that great fungus in New Hampshire.
Sadly, many comedy writers are rendered obsolete in this television climate.

There were almost no jobs available this staffing season and it all looked so grim. Adam volunteered his services on a television pilot, Big Bang Theory, with a former boss of his, Chuck Lorre (Creator of Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg and Two and a Half Men)---and Chuck was duly impressed and offered Adam a job on Big Bang Theory. Announcements were not yet made when we received the news that Big Bang Theory had been picked up. Adam scored a great gig. We celebrated for five hours. Then, it was announced that it wasn’t picked up. Very Al Gore, 2000. We sulked.

But then Adam’s genius agent came up with the idea: If Chuck liked Adam so much, why not give him a job on Two and a Half Men? He pursued it. Warner Brothers loved Adam’s spec script. Chuck was in Australia but gave the go ahead. And today, the official phone call came in.

Adam got the only job in the only slot open on the only hit comedy show on television.

When my old friend, Sarah, nervously asked today, “Did he get a job?” And I told her, “He sure did.” She responded, “Oh, that is so great. I’m happy for him. But call me selfish, I was so worried that you would have to go back to work.”

Aren’t old friends sweet?

Hollywood is hell. Unless you’re having a good run. Of course, the run could stop at any time but by then you just have to hope that you will have purchased enough property so you can open a cannery to generate income when that time comes. I’m thinking Eureka. Humboldt County is still affordable.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Paris Under Ice? Very Inconvenient

Look, it's no big deal. With some changes, we can solve our global warming crisis. Go to ClimateCrisis.Net
and you can figure out lots of things. Like how much carbon you are putting into the environment. And what you can do to decrease your load. I was at about 12,800 lbs. Lower than average, but still, what am I? Some kind of belching ruminant?

A few things really hit me about this movie, An Inconvenient Truth.

1) All scientists agree that global warming is happening at a rate that is out of synch with the natural cycle of the earth.

2) Al Gore is doing an amazing job.

3) The ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland really are breaking up, heat boring through the glaciers making them look like Swiss cheese, and if huge chunks fall off, we will have flooding across the world that will create a refugee catastrophe.

4) Changes in ocean currents can cause an ice age.

5) This is all happening now.

What is wonderful, though, is the earth takes care of itself. You know, people think it's so awful when millions of people die. But if a system is out of balance, it will naturally correct itself. So, if we cause this out of control warming situation (much like dinosaurs might have done with all their living) then, eventually, the system changes. It seems to me that we, as a species, are motivated by acquisition. It's ludicrous. And if people won't stop overpopulating and only spend their lives trying to figure out how much crap they can acquire, how much they can build, how far they can go, how many births they can cause, then severe storms, floods and ice ages are possibly the perfect barriers to slow them down!

The natural cycle we are in could be one of overpopulation followed by a massive die-off. It's horrible yet kind of interesting.

The balancing act, however, can be brought about by our own intelligence and will to change instead of by violent forces of this planet’s atmosphere pushed to its limits. What are we going to do? It’s fascinating.

Tell all your intelligent friends to go see this movie. But then, do the hard work. Tell your not-so intelligent friends to see it, too.

Friday, June 02, 2006


There is something very satisfying about being productive.

But I must add, it makes for very simple thinking.


“Did I finish that thing on my list? Oh good. That’s good. That’s done. That’s good.”

And the inner emotional life is something like this:

“I’m so tired. I could really use a nap. I better not sleep now, though, because I want to get to bed early tonight because I have to get up for that lunch tomorrow, so I better just power through it. What’s on the list here? Okay, I better get to it. I have to. Um. I deserve a treat. A few cashews. I guess I can eat a little.”

And the occasional moments when you feel like you have inspiration and you want to work on some writing, you just think:

“I’ll do that later. I have to send out the email to S.C.. And I have to call John. And there are people coming over at seven or are they coming at six-thirty? I’m always so bad with time. I don’t mind days, but I hate hours.”

This dizzying speed. This requirement to get things done, “If I send out this funny email to Joe, he’ll think I’m cool and maybe read my other stuff,” and this push. This push.
It’s a bit much.

I’m not alone.

---Adam, my Recognized-by-the-State-of-California-Domestic-Partner, is in an end game of getting a job on a hit sitcom. If he gets it, there will be rich, fat days. If he doesn’t, there will be nothing.

We move fast. We win, we lose.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Less Black, More Life

I am a big fan (okay, and big friend) of Megan Karlen, New York City artist. Her latest paintings are in keeping with her theme of life forms trapped both dead and alive underground. But now, with less black dominating the paintings, the colors are vibrant, exciting and beautiful. You feel so alive when you look at these colorful images. And then you grow sad these living beasts are trapped underground. But then, you get so happy because being trapped underground has not destroyed their life force (okay, not everyone survives). A true affirmation of spirit. And I mean spirit in the best sense of the word. I love these paintings.

Make your offers:

Underground Series: Click here and then Scroll down and click on UG May