Monday, July 31, 2006

Traveling to The Great White North

Lucky for me, I enjoy going to Far Northern Idaho for the weekend. My in-laws (most of them) live in Sandpoint, Idaho...a beautiful mountain town snuggled against a forty-mile long lake.

And, also lucky for me, I enjoy the company of the Warings. A fun bunch with big hearts and good minds.

And the huge plus side of all the flying around over such a short period of time is: I had a wheely bag! Made by Charlie Sport and purchased in Jackson Heights, Queens, for thirty dollars. This is the first time in my adult life that a trip has ended and my shoulders are not killing me. I have oft eschewed the luggage on wheels. It just seemed so weak. And whenever you go to the restroom, there your wheels sit, on floors of piss. The shoulder duffel is not that kind of victim.

But dirty wheels are a small price to pay for happy shoulders.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Points of View. Gathering?

The truth is out.

People are coming around to agreeing that we have an ecological nightmare on our hands.

Many religious people feel they have to take care of God’s Planet.

Businessmen are realizing that it makes good green-financial sense to be green.

And intelligent, conscious people have known this for years.

Why is it that it takes people so long to come around? (To Galileo, to Newton, to Darwin?)

My hypothesis of why the religious and the mercantile groups can’t agree with the academic-humanists and why they must wait until it hits them in an entirely different way.

1) The Religious find thinking people to be very cold. As awful as Religionsists are, there is a certain zing in their connection to God, Church and Man. These Religionists want everything to come to them through God—what really is nothing more that warm fuzzy opiate that Marx so often spoke of. If it isn’t warm and Godlike, then it can’t be real. Once they see God’s handiwork being destroyed, however, they start coming around.

2) Businessmen just find the thinking man to be lazy. If a thinking man was any kind of man, he would get off his ass and do something. Build something. Bully a widow into giving away her last fifty-thousand dollars. The businessman has no respect for the thinking man unless the thinking man is coming up with another widget that the businessman can sell. Once they see their empires crumbling because of unsustainable business practices, they start to come around.

Though thinking people are always reviled for challenging the status quo, would it not be so much easier for the Religionists and the Capitalists to accept that most change, at least before and after the dark ages, has been fomented by thinking men? But then, that would require really thinking about it.

I don’t care how smarmy out next president is, as long as he can bring these groups together under a platform of change. We wait.

THE SECOND COMING—William Butler Yeats

TURNING and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of i{Spiritus Mundi}
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Train those Punims!

What is it about traveling by train? Why does it make the heart beat faster, the eyes glow brighter, the fun seem bottomless? Here we go!

And look at the smug joy on Jeff’s face as he takes his first ride on the Gold Line to Pasadena. Does one not see god in that expression? The god of joy and mystery?

Me and My Curly Tale

Many fine people I spoke with today wanted me to get back into acting.

A very odd experience, indeed.

Someone I know is writing an Indie feature for me to be in. I don’t know if this person is just very foolish or afraid to find someone better or thinks I'm just the perfect bulldog for his picture. (Or if he will ever really get down to finishing.)

A very good director and associate of mine in The New Theatre asked me today, “When are you going to do your one man show again?”

And, a producer I had drinks with on La Brea, a lovely friend who has made some very good movies filled with deservedly famous people said, “It’s time for you to do another show like American Air (my one man joint). I’ll do everything I can to help you. You are dynamic, not many people can do what you do, you are a deep thinker with lots of things to say about our culture, and the type of performance that you do is very underrepresented. Plus, it will help sell your book. You should adapt your book.”

And I said, “Okay, I’ll do it!”

This is not the first time I’ve been in a bar and exclaimed, without too much reflection, that I would do something. Sometimes, I follow through.

It was one of those puffy ego days when everyone was feeding me. And oddly enough, I was just recently saying something along the lines of, “I’m so sick of being a brown haired, middle aged guy that no one notices.”

All comments from the you-oughta-be-in-pictures crowd are suspect. Who knows why people ever say anything? But that it came at me today so concentrated makes me think that maybe the hammy pig that lives in me might feel trapped and so he is subconsciously oinking. Does he need a little free range action?

Perhaps I should just go do some karaoke and be done with the urge. Come home and put my flat nose back in my laptop. Tap my cloven feet against the floor. Eat my own crap.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Dan Has the Coolest Job

So, my good friend, Dan, works at Southern California Edison in the internal communications department. He really knows what's going on. And truthfully, Southern California Edison really is trying, in a very public way, to help with this whole energy crunch. Interesting tip:

Consider unplugging consumer electronics when they are not in use. Even
when turned off, CD players in the U.S. consume enough energy in one
year to power the Las Vegas Strip for six months.

I cannot say that I've done this. However, I do think it's a good idea. Maybe just click that power cord for the whole mess of media boxes to the off position when not in use?

What a world.

Los Angeles is so hot and humid, it feels like New Jersey. Interesting. Many people are complaining. Honestly, I just find it very interesting. What's next???

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Real and the Imagined

All of it, all of it, all of it, all religion and philosophy seems to be the tug between the material and the imagining that we are not material.

Now I have no idea what we are. A puppet show for Zeus? Highly evolved plankton? Aliens living in a war torn Matrix? Whatever.

But it does seem true that human beings are very sad that they are material entities who must one day cease to exist. And so, all these ideologies are invented in order to placate the pain of being temporary.

And what seems to be the mental construct that hits the center of this problem is a denial of the material. If the material world is denied, then one cannot be so upset if one is no longer in it one day. Religion certainly does this. It seems to want to deny the material world for some made up situation at the end. But as we all know, pushing an idea away only makes it stronger, so in the end, very religious people become extremely attached to real things, like land.

Extreme intellectuals try to deny the material, getting lost in a world of abstract thinking. This can only lead to anxiety, since the body does want to live a material existence. And usually, the person trapped in his own mind tries to use his thoughts to control others to do his bidding. Material bidding.

The human animal is a driven beast. Territorial. Competitive. Hungry. And all attempts to quash these drives, to deny our material nature, ends up causing ourselves and everyone around us so much pain. And certainly, by denying others their drives, by saying they do not deserve to have their needs met, like the poor or like others who don’t act and behave American, then, nothing but earthly conflict can ensue.

So, one must accept the material world. The material self. And live it. And to accept that life is material for others, too. And to not worry about the end of your particular living body. And to not worry so much about what you own, but to own just enough so that you aren’t miserable. And to hope that others own enough and have enough so they aren’t miserable either. And to stop imaging that one is so much more than an earthbound animal, albeit it, one with a sense of decorum.

The world is material. One must stop denying this. One must take care of the world. One must acknowledge that each individual is grabbing their own goods for their own use. But we can remind each other that each person needs a sense of proportion. And finally, one must understand that life is temporary, for sure, and nothing can be done about that. So, no need to worry, no need for all these religious and other alienating constructs. You weren’t here one hundred years ago, you didn’t worry about not being alive then.

Friday, July 21, 2006

America's Year of the Museum: Spotlight on Sarah Schultz

Why not check out Sarah Schultz, one of my oldest friends on the earth? You know, these little Quicktime videos online are going to be gems twenty years from now. Like watching a Steve McQueen movie. I love the production of this little piece which is part of a collection of museum celebration promotionals for America's Year of the Museum. And I love that Sarah, the last museum official of the piece and the director of education at the Walker, is mostly in voiceover, starting with a visual of Jackie O., and they don't cut to her until she's almost finished when she mentions the importance of using the voice. You have to wonder why, though. She looks so great with that long hair.

Also, I love how the whole thing is very earnest and forthright, which makes it all seem so venerable. And the directness gives it the tone of a Saturday Night Live skit about ernest, forthright, venerable museum people. It reminds me of that little cartoon elk that walked in the snow with classical music playing in the background in the 1970's---promoting real estate in The Poconos. Bravo.

Walker Arts Center

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Midweek Party: Hollywood Whores

Tonight, our friend Randy had his going away party. He is leaving the Judge Judy show and moving to Chicago to go to film school.

As the night became more alcohol infused and the drunk karaoke girls became louder yet somehow more tolerable, someone pulled out Bradford’s Emmy from the Ellen Show, Bradford is the host and he was recently fired from being a producer on Ellen, and held it over his head while he wailed on the microphone Radiohead’s Creep.

Yes, Radiohead is now available in kareoke. And it made me very happy to see the silly Emmy used in this way. Those wings on the back of the Emmy are very pointy. Like letter openers or weapons.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Congratulations to The House of Representatives

For voting against the ridiculous Federal Marriage Amendment. By a large margin.

No surprise.

But still, who would have thought Bush would be voted into a second term?

You have to be wary.

In this case, rational men prevailed.

Rest peacefully. A time is gonna come.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Pedaling Against the Spiders

If it’s global warming, so be it. Let people die as they must for the culture to be shocked into understanding what we have done to the earth.

People only understand pain.

Los Angeles has become humid. This is very strange, indeed. And this change of climate has produced so many pests. When you sit in the backyard, you get eaten by mosquitoes. Huge cockroaches come into the house in search of a cooler place to be disgusting. Tiny gnats die in the dog’s water bowl. The refrigerator has dead gnats along the top inside edge of the door, above the butter dish.

But what is the most disturbing is when you have to walk the dog. Spider webs across the sidewalk. It’s like something out of a scary ride in a bad carnival in the 1970’s. Every twenty feet, that sticky little string plants itself on your forehead. And all you can do is wipe.

I’m no arachnophobe, but I don’t like that feeling of spider webs on my face. This is my pain. For my part to combat global warming, I only use my car once each week. I blog about energy use and subways. I close the curtains in the middle of the day so the sun doesn’t turn my tiny bungalow into a solarium. Of course, I could do more, like figure out how to split the water molecule into Oxygen and Hydrogen gas without using any energy except for maybe what I can produce by pedaling a stationary bike. Wait, that’s it.

So, soon, I will be setting up gyms where you can split water. Please join one. It will be called The Hydro-Gym. And then, once all of our fat asses are back in shape and the earth starts cooling down again, then maybe I can walk the dog without that miserable thwack of spider silk sticking to my greasy brow.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Future is in Trains

Having passed the weekend by subway and by foot, I feel happy to be a part of the ever growing possibilities of living in the future Los Angeles.

Who wouldn't want to go to Rosemead if you could get there from Silver Lake on the
Metro Silver Line?

And look at all the ideas people have come up with for the future of Los Angeles:
The Transit Coalition

I particularly like the Westside Smorgasbord However, I would move the Crenshaw line two blocks West to La Brea and let it go all the way North to the Red Line.

It's going to happen. The Expo Line opens soon.

I can't wait to take it to Culver City, and then stand there in the middle of nowhere and wonder, "When is this thing going to go all the way to the beach?"

Friday, July 14, 2006

What the Hezbollah is Going On?

I mentioned the Israeli who sat next to me on the plane from San Francisco to New York. We talked about the house he was building, using Palestinian labor (“Because it’s so cheap, what other choice do I have?"), where he and his wife and four children will live very close to the future “wall” that is being built around Israel. It was clear to me that his Zionist ass is never going to leave Israel. He is one of many.

So, you just have to say to these Hezbollah-Hamas-Godzilla people, “The Jews ain’t leaving. Go home, eat your chick peas and thank Allah for whatever dust patch you have.”

These people.

In the early 1970’s, while attending the primarily Jewish public school, Bluefield Elementary (which is now a private Yeshiva for Hasidic offspring), sharp girls like Janet Diatlo and Julie Fishkin would give oral reports on the many wars of Israel. 1967, the ones in the 1970’s, on and on. And there was this reverence in their Ashkenazi miens. Their suburban parents taught them to have a strong melancholy sentimentality for their homeland...stronger than anything the Irish or the Italians had naturally, even though the Irish and Italians actually did come from Ireland and Italy. I sort of felt bad for these girls. They didn’t look quite convinced about their connected love of the homeland, but they acted all dewy and caring. They were filled with passion and confusion at once. But it was clear: they were going to obey the cult of Zionism. And, they were going to feel all tingly because they, too, had an “old country”. Note: The Jewish boys were too busy talking about boners to have any sort of idea of what Israel meant to them. Except for maybe Jerome.

The indoctrination of these post WWII minds, of the adults and the female children, was complete. This land was theirs. They felt it in their hearts. They taught it to their daughters. These daughters will become mothers and so the perpetual machine has been invented.

Now, I don’t give a flying matzo who lives there. You can have that strip of sand surrounded by angry lunatics. And I think we can all agree, these Israelis really did have a rough couple of thousand years. They have been pogrommed for eons, and they have an enormous need and they are never leaving.
And these Arabs---some hate that the Jews are there, but some actually don’t care. So, the Israelis, with their greater absolute value in caring, will always prevail. Especially with all of our American money. And frankly, I’m all for the state of Israel, if for no other reason than when all the Jews return to the homeland, all the Right-Wing Christians get to have their Rapture. What a party!

But until the Rapture, I do think this: The Israelis need to push the Palestinians out of their country and then completely close and militarize their borders. And they need to cease using the Palestinians for cheap labor. Because frankly, no matter what the nice Arab worker says to you while he’s hammering nails into the two by fours that are the skeleton of your new three-thousand square foot house right next to his olive grove, as soon as you turn your back, he’s going to call you a dirty Jew.

Oh you Jews, stop giving them work. Stop thinking you will ever get along. Even though you fled Germany as if there was a Holocaust going on there (oh, right, there was) it doesn’t mean you can’t learn a thing or two from the Germans: Hire Turks to do your dirty work.

You will never get along.
Stop mixing economically.
Build that wall.
And have your peace.
I've been listening to this crap since 1967. I'm bored.

Adonai help them all.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Call Me Nellie Forbush

But I have this cockeyed optimistic feeling that my book will be published.
Hell, the first editor is still interested once I get an agent and a hook.

After the despair of a little rejection from some big hitters (with a lot of kind compliments about my writing, but not necessarily the book), I think I just need a good sit down with my manny. I just have to give it the clear-eyed once over with an open mind and just let the editing answer come to me.

Sure, I wrote a memoir with pieces of fiction interweaved and maybe that was a silly idea (though I thought of it as a being constructed like a record album). And I could take out the fiction and leave a straight up memoir and change the title to Open Trench: A Man Abandons Suffern in Search of Fame and Immortality and All He Gets is a Lousy Domestic Partner. A Memoir.
Or just leave it as it is.

But I bet I do a tweaking, settle on a descriptive title and then make sure the pieces relate to the title.

The publishing industry is just as hook obsessed as the film industry. Who knew?
This learning curve, however, is pretty fast. And I feel up to the challenge. Why not?

I think I’ll call my second book something completely unrelated to the pieces within, something like, How to Carve a Beaver.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Gems of Ebay: Your Future Restaurant Awaits You!

My very close friends, Mary and Dan, and I, have begun a little theatre company called The New Theatre. It's actually very exciting though occasionally daunting. But what has been interesting is the fundraising. I thought I would hate it, but I kind of like it. You gather crap and sell it. You send letters to your friends and beg them for ten bucks. It's kind of funny. And in this manner, we have raised about Six-Thousand Dollars. Which is pretty good, considering six weeks ago we had zero.

And now these incredible gems are for sale. I cannot imagine anyone living without them. Don't miss your chance to own this lovely Limoges swag from Judge Judy. It's so frigging gorgeous, you take one look at it, you wish I was selling the whole lot.

And when you're done putting your pills away while contemplating justice, you can invite your friends over for a friendly card game and use this wonderful Fancy Poker Chips and Game Set from Judge Joe Brown.

How do you measure up? Buy this Golden Ruler from Judge Judy and find out for yourself.

There are so many things to sell. Every day. Look around your house, you can sell all of it. At our garage sale, our friend Bradford brought post-its. Guess what? They sold. People will buy anything! It's fantastic.

If you want to start a little endeavor and need a little nest egg, do what we did. Sell stuff on your lawn and ask your friends for nominal sums. You can take advantage of the fact that Americans refuse to save money. Of course, this means we will all have to work through old age or end up in the poor house. But there will be so many of us there it will be quite social.

We're up to 6k. 4 more and we'll be in amazing shape. Maybe I should sell time shares to the guest house in the backyard...

Monday Night at The Movies: Water

Sometimes, when we're feeling all rebellious and wild, we go to the movies on a Monday night. I've been wanting to see WATER for a while now.

"Deepa Mehta's Water is a magnificent film. The ensemble acting of the women in the widows' hostel is exceptional: intimate, painful, wounded, jaundiced, corrupted, tender, tough. The fluid lyricism of the camera provides an unsettling contrast to the arid difficulties of the characters' lives. The film has serious, challenging things to say about the crushing of women by atrophied religious and social dogmas, but, to its great credit, it tells its story from inside its characters, rounding out the human drama of their lives, and unforgettably touching the heart."
- Salman Rushdie

It start's off very slow. I had a feeling it was going to be good. Basically, these women who are widows in India, because of financial reasons, get thrown into a widow's flop house where they are expected to live until they die. Based on some ancient Hindu tradition, a woman may not marry if she is widowed. And often, these women were married at the age of 7, so they could easily be pushed into living in this awful place for most of their lives. It was a devastating movie. It starts with a little girl being hauled off to live with these ancient, bitter widows, and a few sympathetic widows who help her out.

The story takes place in 1938. And Ghandi even makes an appearance. What is so interesting is how the women get small bits of information from the outside world, mostly through local gossip.

The filming is beautiful. The soundtrack is a delight. The story, by the end, is so powerful, you just kind of have to cry. It's summer. There's not so much to see out there. If you have this playing anywhere near you, check it out.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Interestingly, my book has been rejected by a publisher and an agent and though, at times, I feel like throwing myself off a bridge would be the most appropriate response, I have decided to live, instead.

Why, I thought the vicissitudes of the publishing world would not apply to me is even beyond my basic artistic narcissism. Somehow, I thought I would not have to deal with the agony of rejection, rewriting, possible failure, etc. Ah.

So here I am. Human, with all the other people who are writing, hoping to get published. I have decided to make the rewriting and the continuation of submitting a positive experience as opposed to the affirmation that what I have to say is without value.

Here I go.

Despair is not an option. Okay, maybe a resting place, but not the ultimate destination.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Norbert: Welcome to Hollywood

Jeff, our very close friend who lives right down the street, picked his rescue cat at the Pasadena shelter and now Norbert has a new home on lovely Sycamore Avenue, right across the street from Petco and Ralphs. Should the cat food at Petco become tiresome, there are cans of tuna at Ralphs. Should the cans of tuna prove to be boring, then right across the street is salmon from Trader Joes.

Cats, as we all know, sleep a lot. Norbert is very sweet and when he isn't resting or sleeping off the sedative used to aid in removing his ear mites, he is extremely affectionate. Norbert is a mutt of a cat, and in the mix is Manx. Apparently, Manx cats are very friendly. Norbert, not being completely Manx, has a tail. This is good. It means he should not have spine problems later in life.

Nobert lets you rub his chest. A true sign of a dog-like cat. And of course, Norbert plays hard and then goes right back to sleep.

Welcome to the neighborhood, Norbert.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Orwellian Time Zones

This, I do not understand. When I travel to the East Coast from Los Angeles, I set my laptop computer and my pocket PC handheld three hours ahead. I leave the setting for both computers as Pacific Time, otherwise, appointments in the handheld get changed.

So, for a few days everything is fine. Then, somehow, either the computer or the handheld figures out that the Pacific Time is actually three hours earlier than what I have set. And the laptop adjusts itself to the real Pacific Time.

How in the world does it know? From emails that arrive? From the cell phone being attached to the laptop as a modem? From government spies sending signals into my computers, into my brain?

Whatever happened to being able to control the time on the devices that you own? Are those days over?

Also, isn’t it amazing that when you walk through security at the airport, the pocket PC is automatically switched to Flight Mode so that its wireless capability is disabled?

Who sets these things up? Where’s my papyrus? Where’s my stone tablet and chisel?

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Liberty and Justice for All

Happy Independence from Independence Day. We had our first little dinner party in the apartment tonight with none other than the Chrissy (of Chrissy Caviar fame, Google) and her boyfriend, Dave. Both, Right Wing. Moderate. Not crazy. No more racist than I am. But, Dave IS in the Marines Reserves. And Chrissy, well, she’s Republican by birth.

From our fourth floor window, facing west, we could see the random fireworks over Manhattan and the even bigger (yet smaller appearing because of distance) fireworks over New Jersey. And eventually, listening to all that booming and since I do have the actor gene and I can play the moderate, I dove in!
The big questions to the Marine: Why didn’t we put enough people in Iraq to get it done? Answer: We did have enough, the Turks just didn’t let us use their country and so we couldn’t clean up the Northern Rebels.
Next: Why did they show us some stupid trucks and pretend they were filled with WMD?
Answer: The French and the Germans and the Chinese all agreed that they had WMD.
Next: Bush is so hated, and I admit, it’s mostly a gut reaction from people, they can’t stand looking at him. So, really, I think people are more against his style than his actions. He’s loathsome and plays so stupid. Don’t you think?
Answer: Clinton was a great speaker. After him, anyone would not look so good. Plus, half the country believes he stole the 2000 election so no matter what he does, they hate him.
Next: It’s quite a swing from LBJ’s Great Society to Neocons. It’s been hard to swallow. Don’t you think?
Answer: What is a Neocon? If Wolfowitz’s name was Smith, no one would call him a Neocon. He’s a genius. Saying that the government is controlled by Neocons, it’s the extension of the Jews controlling the media. Neocons are the new Jews.
Next: Well, I’m not Jewish, so, I didn’t go looking for the Jewish thing.
Answer: It’s there.

We did not get heated. In fact, I kind of respect the idea of the grand gesture, the Neocon bluster. Why not? It’s refreshing if not ridiculous. Go blow up a country, sure, why not? Have a great time. See where it ends up. End of empire, maybe?

We landed on a subject that we could definitely agree upon: the poor black folks and how are they ever going to change. And we both agreed that it had to come from within their own community.

Then, we packed up all the leftovers (If you are ever in Jackson Heights, order the chicken from Pio Pio. It’s Peruvian, it’s tasty, it’s cheap, it’s on the corner of 85th and Northern Blvd.) And Chrissy and Dave left the apartment with the food in a big bag, plus the bouquet of carnations Adam bought a couple of days ago.

It’s nice to stay home on Independence Day.