FYF Day 2: Backstage By Mistake

Floppy felt hat -- check. Unitard -- check. Cut off jean shorts -- check. Exposed philosophical tattoo -- check.Ah, Sunday. Sweet and calm. A day of rest, relaxation, and maybe some light worship.

I start with a shot of whiskey. I’ve got a big day ahead of me. I have to keep my wits about me. Be light on my feet. I’m about to enter a gated area with thousands of anemic teenagers.

But I’m going to take it easy today. Tomorrow is Monday and I’ll have to be back at work. Besides, I’m too old to really lose my shit on a Sunday night and then drag myself into the office five or six hours later.

So I have another shot of whiskey and then a beer, and I think I’m basically going to take it easy from this point on. Just needed a little something to put the wind in my sails.

Today we drive to Exposition Park because it’s a casual Sunday and the likelihood of being too impaired to drive, six or nine hours from now, is not great. But because we are driving, that also means we have to park.

What I missed yesterday is the staggering poverty that surrounds all the dudes with top heavy flat tops and beards that are rich with whatever is in beard oils. We cruise down Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and it looks like every over MLK Jr. Boulevard in America – fucking ghetto. The first two lots we see are thirty bucks to park in, so we pass, thinking we’ll find a cheaper lot.

RIP, yo.

There’s an open spot in front of a gravesite/memorial, complete with the Virgin Guadalupe candles from the grocery store. I don’t know if the spot was left open in “Memory Of” or simply because no one else is willing to park right in front of where someone was recently shot, but I’m happy to take it. I stride north on Vermont and I get catcalled by a small black man who is sitting on the curb drinking a Clamato Budweiser. He thinks I’m a handsome woman. He says so.

We pass two liquor stores and probably the most packed Carl’s Jr. in America. I don’t know if it’s packed because of FYF, or because it states clearly that they accept EBT. However, you can’t go through the drive-thru. EBT is only available inside.

We glide into the festival. There are no lines to speak of. The result of which is people are drinking their contraband at a much faster rate. Sweaty teenagers chug handles of vodka paired with Simply Orange in broad daylight. Guys with neck tattoos take pulls of something brown out of a Crystal Geyser bottle. They wince and offer me some. For some reason I say no. Which is weird because I’m eating a Balance Bar, which is disgusting in its own right, but almost impossible to consume without copious liquids. Regardless, I survive the Balance Bar. I also survive the sort of heavy groping from security that some people are willing to pay good money for in massage parlors.

We get inside and make our way to the Main Stage just as Mac DeMarco is starting. He’s wearing a toque, as I believe they call it in his homeland, and strumming along, making jokes about how much he loves New York City and how he’s so happy to be here.

white people

Later on, Blood Orange comes on stage and I’m shocked that they’re old and they play instruments. Lately, I’ve become accustomed to just watching teenagers spin knobs and dance. But the novelty of a band that plays actual instruments wears quickly. The sun is setting behind them and from my vantage, they could be playing doubles ping pong for all I can see.

Festival goers gain momentum as the sun drops. I see a pregnant woman dancing two feet from a girl who is taking key bumps and refusing to share with her friends. She’s dancing aggressively, even though at that exact moment, Tanlines isn’t playing a song. They are actually just talking, sans melody, about how much they like LA or this festival or something else that’s unmemorable. This is the problem with “doing it for the fans.” The fans aren’t actually listening. They’re hoarding their coke. They’re getting ready to go into labor.

We end up following a guy holding a sign that says “Here”. I follow him because he’s easy to spot. However, he’s not easy to follow. The route is behind food trucks and between trash cans. At one point there is some shuffling between the hood of a truck and a pillar that anyone with a waist size larger than 33 would not have fit through. We continue to follow the guy to the gate of the Arena where we are squeezed like toothpaste through turnstiles. Everyone is talking about getting crushed, toppled, stomped to death, this fear is common I learn pressed against panicked strangers. I’m wondering if they sell beer inside.

Apparently, I’ve wondered this aloud because a woman turns to me, and says that they do. She gives me detailed directions, but the current of humans pushing inside takes me where it sees fit. This happens to be the lower level beer garden.Darkside

The area in front of the stage is packed, but where I’m standing is spacious. Plenty of elbow room. So much in fact that a couple aggressively make-outs right next to me while moving their hands around as if they are search for a door handle in the dark. I admire how much this couple loves each other. The guy takes his shirt off, then takes a step back so she can have a look. She squints her eyes, shrugs, then walks away. His buddies come over and slap him on the back. They tell him he had a good run.

The Darkside puts on a good show, but as the set wraps up, the pressing issue is there aren’t any bathrooms. This seems odd for a place that dispenses liquid, but I’m no Event Planner. We decide to leave. I make my way to an exit, but get denied, so instead I walk past another security guard just as the show is breaking. My friends follow me and when they catch up, they inform me that we’re backstage. I crane my neck, and there in fact, right in front of us is the stage, and we’re definitely behind it.

We decide to further press our luck, but we get denied access to the next level of security. But we’ve got nothing else to do, so we open another door and there’s Nicholas Jaar and the Darkside band, hanging out, drinking water in the Green Room. We debate joining them, but then a security guard demands to know how we got in, and then ushers us outside.

tanlines

He sends us out and into the Artist Area with all of the bands trailers. We walk past band members of The Strokes, Tanlines, Blood Orange. It’s a little confusing because we thought we were getting kicked out. Instead we’ve been upgraded.

We end up drinking ciders, which are disgusting but free. And then I’m taking a pull of mescal with some guy who is handing me his business card. It’s all interesting enough, but we came to watch some shows. We did not come to stare at dudes in bands play with their phones while girls take selfies next to them.

We leave the Artist Area and walk through another set of security. We tell each other that we had a good run. It was fun. Then we realize we’re not in the general population, we’re in the VIP beer garden. The VIP Area is now seemingly endless. There’s no way out. Rather than fight it, we accept it and get some of the same beers they sell the regular folk at the same prices. It does not feel VIP, except for the girls back here are prettier and everyone’s eyes are super dilated. People seem friendlier and they seem to talk a lot faster. We’re among friends here.

As it’s Sunday, I’m supposed to already be gone. But now the last band of the night is on stage. Eighty-five percent of the festival going population is wearing a black shirt with the chrome logo of this band from 2002. The shirt is so ubiquitous (except for in VIP where it is entirely absent) that I think they must’ve given it away for free outside of the gates. Or sold it at Target when all of these kids were in middle school.

Yet, here I am, still watching them. Still drinking beer after beer on my casual Sunday night, which according to a stranger’s phone – mine died hours ago – is actually now a casual Monday morning. But everyone around me is so happy. They’re overflowing with endorphins, smiling, fist pumping, dancing while they stare at their unseasonable boots while gritting their teeth, and listening to a band whose last hit came a decade ago.

As we depart, and I’m inhaling a slice of pizza in the Monday morning twilight, I think, I should be thinking something deep and philosophical right now – about youth, the appropriation of indie music, the uniformity of haircuts, the predictably of an evening with drugs, teenagers and dudes singing over drum machines. But instead, I’m thinking about how even though it’s burning my mouth, I’m still eating this pizza.

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FYF Day 1: A Quiet Afternoon in Exposition Park with 50,000 Teenagers on Molly

The kids are on drugs

FYF: Day 1

Our Lyft driver doesn’t speak a word of English. He also has no idea how to follow the directions on his phone. What he does have going for him is a picture of a boy, presumably his seven-year-old son, gripping a basketball ball with the words “Keep Out” written underneath.

The man, who is in his forties and has a tongue that won’t move in the ways the English language does, grunts, points out signs, and misses turns. Which is to say, we take the scenic route to Exposition Park. Upon arriving, our driver uses his little hands and his little feet to abruptly turn and stop the car in a crosswalk that feels only slightly safer than being let out in the middle of the intersection. We thank him and I give him a five star review.

We get some bad advice from two oiled up teenagers who look anxious to fist each other, and then we end up waiting in a line that wraps around the street and blocks an intersection. The line has overflowed from the sidewalk into Figueroa, and I swear one of these South LA drivers in an unregistered Buick is going to death by vehicular manslaughter an art school kid from Costa Mesa. It won’t be a huge loss.

A cop pulls up and on an airhorn, he tells the line that there’s another entrance on Vermont and there’s no line over there. Suddenly tens of people start running, then hundreds, eventually there’s a thousand of us moving up the block, stomping to death all signs of plant life.

Human cattle

Among the stampede are tall and skinny white guys. Every one of them is twenty-years-old with thin wrists and teeth stained exclusively by Blue Bottle Coffee. The white girls all wear the same floppy, black felt hat. They’re in jean shorts that the bottom half of their ass drops out of with each stride, and the sleeves of their t-shirts have been tailored to accentuate side boob and often the tattooed quotes on their ribcage. They are all very skinny.

A large swath of Hispanic teenagers are wearing black t-shirts featuring punk bands that broke up before they were born, black jeans that look painted on, and leather jackets. The Hispanic girls are dressed like pin-up dolls. They’ve spent hours perfecting their make-up, which in this heat looks like a landslide coming off of their faces.

There are Asian guys wearing short-sleeved collared shirts that fit well and prominently feature dozens of fish. I don’t know why, but this shirt is incredibly popular. The Asian girls also wear floppy felt hats, jean shorts and crop tops. Their color palette is more muted. There’s emphasis on black.

I rush into the Arena, surprised to find out that at an outdoor festival, Chet Faker is playing where I think USC’s basketball team plays. I make my way to the bathroom where I take a piss in a trough that spits back at me, leaving everyone’s shorts with the effect that they’ve just urinated from on themselves from pocket-to-pocket, and knee-to-knee. Two guys sidle up on each side of me and we all pee into the Niagara Falls of Troughs.

The guy to my left peers in front of me and says, “Looks like we’re on the same Pee Schedule, man.”

Before, I can answer, the guy on the other side of me says, “Haha. I know, right?”

They continue to talk over me, over roughly forty-eight ounces of Eagle Rock Brewery’s Populist IPA that I’m sending back to the LA River, or probably a Dasani bottling plant.

“So,” he says to his buddy, “You feeling it?”

“Yeah, man. It’s mellow, but I’m definitely feeling it. Like—” They both nod knowingly, because they both, well, know.

I leave the bathroom, jealous. Then join my party to watch Chet Faker. It’s so dark inside that it takes a few minutes for my eyes to adjust. The room is thick with smoke and smells like a locker room that is doused in aerosol sunscreen, pot, whiskey, starched cotton and hair balm.

Chet Faker

After that, we lose hours in the beer garden with Little Dragon and Slowdrive in the background. I see a friend who just returned from two months in Asia, and he convinces me in seconds that I need to stop what I’m doing, like fucking immediately, move to Vietnam and never come back.

Several more hours are lost. It’s a lame block of bands. Who am I supposed to go see – fucking Interpol?

Then I’m on The Lawn for Grimes. Thousands of people are having a great time, but all I can see is a girl with blue hair, wearing her dad’s t-shirt and dancing like an early nineties R&B back-up dancer. Which I’m sure is exactly the look she’s going for, but coupled with pre-recorded vocal loops, I’m not interested.

Grimes

By now, the crowd is sweaty and brooding and drunk. If everyone here weren’t gluten free, fists would be flying. I’m ready to bail.

We board a super packed train to downtown that is made up entirely of twenty-one year olds white dudes with scraggly beards wearing brand new Vans. I hate all of them. 

Standing in the middle of our train is a tall girl, dressed like a frumpy substitute teacher. She announces to all the passengers that she’s tripping balls on molly. And that this train is a bad place to trip balls. And she’s on molly. And is anyone else on molly? She says molly eighty-seven more times. Then she announces there’s going to be a party in her suite at the Ace Hotel. Room 716. Everyone is invited.

But instead of thanking her for this bizarrely generous invitation, everyone takes out their phones to record her talking, while repeating what she’s said back to her. Because no one among us regards her as a human.

We exit the train at Seventh and Figueroa, and the frumpy substitute teacher on molly beats us up the stairs. She’s alone, walking quickly, taking the wind out of the sails of jealousy that I had for anyone who was younger than me and fucked up out of their mind.

Of course, that doesn’t last long. We catch up with her at the crosswalk where she turns to us and says, “There’s a party at the Ace. You should come.” We agree, and then she asks if we’re on molly. We say yes because we don’t want to disappoint her and she leads us room 716.

At first there are only ten of us, but it’s an open bar and people slowly drizzle in until it’s completely packed.

The party is actually still going. The substitute teacher is passed out now, but they’re bringing us breakfast. We’ve charged it to the room. You’re welcome to come. The substitute teacher on molly said so. We’re in suite 716.

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Hollywood, I’m back and I’m… DEAD INSIDE: Season 2

HefThe sweet sirens of Showbiz have called me back!

They whispered something about long hours, shitty pay, and the likelihood of verbal and emotional abuse. And, well, I couldn’t resist.

Of course, I’m really not qualified to do anything else either. My skill-set is limited to spending months at a time in a room with people who get paid to make shit up. I do not deal in facts. I do not deal in goods. Only that which can be fabricated by deeply unhappy people who are fantastically rich. I aspire to be one of them. By my count, I’m halfway there.

During my five month involuntary hiatus, what I missed most was being cold. Like blow into your hands to stay warm cold. Or wear a hoodie and a scarf and wool socks, and a beard and a cat cold. All while it’s absolutely sweltering outside. Like, people are fucking dying in the valley it’s so hot.

I remember the last time I was as cold as I am today. It was February, maybe ninety-two degrees outside, and our show had just wrapped. I was wearing mittens and watching the steam rise from the coffee on my desk. I thought I might have pneumonia.

Then I spent the next five months like a common transient. I sweat my days away, barely able to wear pants, wondering at what point does a pituitary gland become a breached levee. Then I thought about Katrina. No, not that Katrina. Katrina from Crazy Girls. She sweats quite a bit too.

A HUMAN

But now I’m gainfully employed, and it’s frigid, and it’s beautiful. Sometimes I have to sit on my hands just to get the blood flowing back into them. But it’s not all good. One among us, the boss’s assistant, has been coughing for months. It’s a deep and bronchial cough. I don’t think she’ll overcome it. Not even with a scarf, multiple layers, hot tea and a supportive staff that says, “If you’re that sick, why don’t you just stay home?”

Because she knows better. Stay home and the next day, you’ll find there’s a different name on your parking space.

Just kidding, you’re a fucking assistant. You don’t have an assigned parking spot.

Wait, neither do I…

But you get my point. Take one afternoon off and you’ll find someone else at your desk. She won’t look defeated. She’ll be well-rested, twenty-two, sharply dressed and willing to take a paycheck that will require her to work for one hundred and thirty years before she pays off her undergraduate student loans.

I look back now on my hiatus – which I might call a sabbatical depending on who I’m talking to – and I think fondly of the free mornings, followed by free afternoons and free evenings. Sure, it was nice. I learned a lot about myself, but I also learned a lot about the human race which… if you’ve got a minute…

So we open on HAND unlocking a front door. In pours a group of guys. It’s sophomore year of college. They’re all smiling and healthy and not dead inside. Think of the WORKAHOLICS guys, only more middle America. But when I say middle America I don’t mean fat, or average, I mean less “marginal” – you’re still with me, right?

So it’s a loveable version of those guys just getting into nonsense in a house. Good clean college fun! No date rape! No bad mushroom trips! No nights in jail! Just a couple of dudes learning lessons about life in twenty-two minute increments.

It’s like NEW GIRL only without the girl, and the cast is younger. Or GIRLS only in LA and they’re in college and they’re dudes… O.K., it’s nothing like GIRLS, but we’re aiming for a larger audience. Less Brooklyn and more… God, what’s a place in middle America that people know, but don’t know? Springfield? Is that taken?

Let’s put it this way – it’s Any City, U.S.A. It’s America’s city. It’s – I’ve got it now, it’s Milwaukee[1]. Yes, potatoes and Cheese Heads and good American fun! With characters that can make mistakes and learn from them in hilarious ways that are easy to understand between commercials for Ford Trucks and Tampons.

So NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX – what do you think? Are you in? I don’t want to seem presumptuous, but I’m back in town and I’ve seen your fall lineups… how about a fresh face? A man of the people!

Or if it’s more marketable, and suits what the boys upstairs are looking for, a woman for the people! That’s right, I’ll get a sex change for the right Overall Deal. Hold on, let me spit in my hand – shake on it?

[1] It took me four tries to spell Milwaukee.

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There’s a War on Women and Apparently I’m Not Helping

PG gun

I’m naked. I’m also standing in my kitchen, eating a chicken taco at three in the afternoon when I hear someone bang on my front door. She shouts through the window, “There’s a war on women!”

I hear “war” and I rush to the door – no time for clothes. I should mention, I’m not naked by accident. No, I’m unemployed. Which means I spend about 75% of the day naked as the day I was born, less the placenta and blood and whatever else comes on a newborn.

I open the door and standing before me is a girl with a clipboard. She’s wearing a purple shirt that reads: PLANNED PARENTHOOD.

yo apoyo

“Tell me more about this war. What can I do?” I ask.

She tells me that our male driven society has objectified women since the beginning of time. Sure, for a while there women had some rights and good things were happening, but we’ve regressed and now we must stand up against very old and largely biologically illiterate men who want to repossess women’s bodies as if they were defaulted on mortgages.

“I’m not sure I follow the analogy.”

“Forget the analogy,” she says. “I was improvising. From now on I’ll stick to the script.”

Her ability to maintain eye contact is incredible. For a second there, I forget that I’m exposed and simply enjoy a breeze I’ve seldom felt.

“What can I do? Volunteer? Sign a petition? I never sign anything, but I love your cause. In fact, I’ve spent most of my adult life doing what William Faulkner referred to as killing my little darlings. Of course he was talking about something else entirely, but for the sake of this conversation…”

“That’s perverse and offensive,” she says.

“Hey, listen, I’m just trying to level with you.”

“By level, do you mean drop down to my level because I’m a woman?”

“It’s just an expression, but for your sake, no. I’m trying to reach the great height that you reside at with all other women so I can help your cause.”

“We are not victims,” she says, pointing a finger at my chest.

“Never said you were. Like I said, big fan. Would love to help.” I reach for her clipboard, “Where do I sign?”

“We’re collecting donations today. There’s nothing to sign. War is expensive. Ask the President.”

“Ah, donations,” I slap my own ass, where my wallet would be if I was wearing pants. “See while I’d love to help you, you’ll notice that I’m home on a Wednesday at three o’clock. I’m here because I don’t have a job. Ergo, I don’t have any money to contribute.”

“That’s a lot of Latin for a guy who doesn’t have a job.”

“It was one word,” I said. “I’m not even sure if I used it correctly.”

She steps up and we’re toe-to-toe. The contact is slightly unsettling and if she’s not eighteen, probably illegal. “You fucking LINO.”

“Lino?”

“Liberal in name only,” she scoffs. “I know your type. I can spot you from a mile away. You hate women, ethnically diverse people, the continent of Africa. You even have the gall to hate poor people from your glorious mansion up in the hills.”

“Mansion? This place is like 500 square feet, and it’s a rental. And I’m unemployed. My straights are dire. I’m living in squalor. Want to see my bank account?”

“I’ve wasted enough time here. I don’t want anymore of your Hobby Lobby breath on me.” She walks away and I remember I’m naked so I stay put.

But I call after her, “Okay, not part of the Hobby Lobby. That said, still a big fan of your organization!”

“Fuck you, Johnny Tea Party. You nephew of some oil baron who hunts gay people for sport!”

“My uncle is gay.”

“Sure he is.” She spits on my glorious 500 square foot, rental mansion in the hills then skips off, probably back to the eleventh grade.

“Have a great day!”

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Life After TV

homeless at home

Today marks the beginning of a new era. I’m preparing to enter the next phase of my life as a member of Los Angeles’ transient community.

Four months ago, the show that I was working on was canceled. In the months that followed, I quickly spent all of my money shooting a short film that risked the lives of five or six of my friends plus several hundred strangers who were driving north and/or south on Highway 1 near Big Sur in mid-May.

Then one day, about two months ago I was in the red. I took my dog for a walk, applied for four hundred jobs and then it was June. I was still in the red. I took my dog for another walk, went on three hundred job interviews, and then it was July. That was Tuesday.

But the past is the past and what’s the point in dwelling? Insert quote about being fiscally responsible and thinking ahead and not being any happier, but being generally safer and more stable if you do. C’est la whatever, bruh.

In preparation for my new life, I’ve been looking at living spaces. In a lot of ways it’s similar to apartment hunting: identify a neighborhood, list the things you must have (parking, on-site laundry, proximity to grocery stores, gym, etc) and then drive by at night to see if it’s as nice as it was during the day.

When you’re looking at outdoor living spaces a few obvious places come to mind: under freeway overpasses, Skid Row, Cahuenga Boulevard, industrial side streets, shrubbery off of the freeway. I’ve decided I don’t really have the heroin problem it takes to live on Skid Row, and I’m too old and not punk enough to join the Hollywood homeless, so I’m basically limited to living near the freeway in a bush, or in some abandoned building in the warehouse district that doubles as a brothel/stash house. Now that I’ve identified the area, it’s time to consider the things I can’t live without.

Silver Lake Youth Hostel

Ideally, I’d like to be close to a center of commerce so I have a short commute to where I’ll do my panhandling. Secondly, I’d like to be close to the L.A. River so I’ll have access to some wild life and a place to bathe on a regular basis even if the water is only a couple inches deep.

Since I’ve never been much of a camper or an outdoors person, in preparation for my life outside I plan on buying everything I’ll need to live comfortably under an overpass near the L.A. River (so far Glendale Boulevard and Fletcher Boulevard bridging Silver Lake to Atwater are my top contenders). “Everything” includes a 16 person tent because I like my leg room, a gun because I’m scared of raccoons, five boxes of Uncrustables because their life expectancy is longer than mine, and a gym membership because just because I’ll be homeless doesn’t mean I am going to become a lazy, out-of-shape fuck, too.

In a lot of ways, this is like when a doctor says, “You’re dying. Go home and get your affairs in order.”

Getting my affairs in order looks like this: designing my panhandling signs so I’ll be able to compete in the cutthroat climate of trying to get people to give me money.

Design

Getting a haircut.

Haircut

Breaking the news to my fiancée that we’re going to be in a long distance relationship from now on: her up in the hills, me down by the river drinking prescription cough syrup and fishing for alligators.

fishing on actavis

Once I’ve done all of that, I think I’ll finally be able to focus on the important things in life. I’ll get to be one of those people who is like, “yeah man, one day I was just like, what am I doing with all these material things? This isn’t how humans are supposed to live. So I just gave everything up and now I only have what I need on a daily basis. A toothbrush, an air guitar and my integrity.”

And it’s not like I’m just going to fall off the radar. It’s not like I’m moving to Humboldt County and giving it all up. No, I’ll still be in L.A. I’m just adjusting my lifestyle to my cash flow. So if you’re ever down by the river, don’t be a stranger. Come say hey!

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A Brief Encounter with the Future

The Future

Yesterday, I saw the future.

They piled out of a 274 million dollar building made of swooping steel waves, and poured onto Grand Avenue between 1st and 2nd. They wore maroon and shiny white gowns with wide-brimmed caps, and tassels bobbing in their faces.

They were excited. There was whistling and pictures were being taken and everyone was so proud. Mudslides of mascara ran down mothers’ faces. Fathers in cowboy hats beamed with pride, though it was clear they were ready to leave. They ready to celebrate properly, not with hugs and tears and photos, but with tequila and tears and handshakes that last too long. Like a real familia.

The King

In the future, for every fifty-three Hispanic children, there are two black kids and .50 white kids. There are no white parents and there are no black parents. Yesterday, the one or two white kids in attendance walked around disheveled and purposeless. No one took their pictures. No one wanted to document their sad and incredibly patchy beards, their pepperoni pocked faces.

The future is heavily tattooed. Of course, this is nothing new. But in a cap and gown, most tattoos can’t be seen, yet I saw plenty. The neck tattoo appears to be all the rage. Scrawled letters with boyfriends names or street names or set names. One kid had Stewie from Family Guy on his forearm with a message that was missing a comma. There were also the tattoos peeking out from their sleeves and lining their knuckles. The girls, who carried themselves much more professionally than the men/boys, all seemed to have some sort of image or word spilling out of their high heels, around their ankles, sliding down the front of their feet.

The mothers, who have given birth to the future, are my age. Or they look my age only they’ve been raising a child so maybe they’re younger and look worse for parenthood. If I were to guess, and I’m going to, the mothers were exactly ten years and six months older than their graduating sons and daughters.

While the fathers bestowed upon their sons mustaches, the mothers bequeathed their eyebrows. The lines are sharp. Paint on top of hair with incredible precision. There’s also a hint of purple everywhere: in the eyebrows, the lips, the hair. Or maybe it’s red, but it looks like a shade of eggplant to me.

Operation Graduation

The daughters of the future do not date the sons of the future. The daughters’ boyfriends are not wearing caps and gowns. Their mustaches are thicker, their tattoos are more prominent and they can’t be bothered to dress up. Yet they are proud. They wrap their arms around their girlfriend’s waist as if they were fending off an opposing team with their forearms.

The wearers of caps and gowns spotted me early on: a boyfriend handed me an Android and asked for a picture of him, his girl, Disney Concert Hall and the sunset. I got two out of four. After that, people just started handing me their phones. All sorts of phones that I’d never seen before. Some were the size of iPad minis or burner phones, some looked like a late nineties GameBoy. All I know is I got really into it.

Soon I was dropping on a knee, having people move out of shadows, asking mothers to drop their chins a little bit, asking cholo boyfriends to smile. I took fifteen, maybe twenty family portraits before I had to retire. I’d spent an hour trying to get from 1st to 2nd street. I made for the crosswalk, batting away the advances of potential subjects who wanted to trust me with their phones and their documentation. I had to decline.

As I reached crosswalk, I turned back to wave at all my adoring subjects, but they were not waiting to wave back. They had returned to smiling, to crying, to hugging and aggressively instagramming while the fathers waited patiently for permission to drink.

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The Afternoon Beer Dilemma

Das Boot

I’m triangulated between two bars. A right triangle. Or maybe it’s another kind. Regardless, this coffee shop’s patio is hemorrhaging charm as I watch the sun lift itself higher, watch my work stay exactly where it’s been, watch the clock tick and with each tock make a case for relocating to a proper wateringhole.

It is technically the “afternoon”. It wouldn’t be completely uncivilized to have one, maybe two beers then continue with my day. It might be just the change I need. Beer: The Afternoon Delight. Beer: Better Than An Espresso. Beer: Go from Meh to Delighted!

There are other considerations. It’ll be a late night. After this work, there will be other work. I’ll be in a dark room with a bunch of screens watching take after take after take of actors saying the same fucking lines over and over again, only sometimes it’s slightly better and other times it’s slightly worse. In light of that, maybe a beer is a necessary retreat. A pat on the back. A lollipop after an inoculation.

vaccine

The bars haven’t moved.

The World Cup is going on and although I’m not following it, I could always sidle up next to some Belgians, some Germans, some Grecians; I could paint my face in the bathroom then reemerge a fan. I’m not picky about the country. Not when I know there will be beer and camaraderie.

The other bar will not have the World Cup, but my feet will stick to the floors. It’s like walking in tar, but it gets stickier and stickier as I move closer to the horseshoe where they dole out cheap liquor and beer. It will be dark, very dark and the minutes will slip into hours and the day into night. No one will be cheering. There might be a couple co-workers huddled around sad margaritas celebrating whatever people who sell cell phone plans might celebrate.

The bartender will be somewhere between thirty and forty. A retired hipster, banished to a hipster bar where he must watch the clientele get younger and younger. Where he can read Rilke in the afternoons and wait for his girlfriend to show up with her just-of-age friends. He can hide his book too slowly, hoping to be asked about it, then give them shots of Fireball. Which is what they came for. They do not care about Rilke or how hard it is to retire from hipsterdom.

Future Bartender

I’ve decided to train my eyes on the work ahead. It’s important work about conjoined twins: what it’s like to have your own brain, heart, liver, but have to share a dick. Yes, it’s deep and philosophical, and though the audience for conjoined twin comedy is small, I think I’ve cornered the market. I understand their plight because while organs divide them, I’ve got organs in revolt; micro revolutions happening within my brain, my liver, my heart. The lines have been drawn, declarations have been made. One will take no more afternoon beers, one will take no less. One wants to write deeply important conjoined twin comedy, the other wants to catch up on Louie. One suggests that I train for a marathon, the other thinks a nap is in my best interest.

The bars, of course, still have not moved. I appreciate this.

Once, I saw the Salton Sea from a mountain and I was told the San Andreas fault line was getting closer. 6 inches a year; an impressive pace. This wasn’t the ayahuasca. These were the facts.

SA

But the bars still have not moved. Despite fault lines, yoga studios, coffee shops, forthcoming luxury condos. Or maybe in spite of them. I’m not clear on the distinction or their reasoning. Maybe I better pop in, have a word with the proprietor, really wrap my head around the plan and the stand that’s been taken. If it happens over a beer, so be it. Someone has to carry the torch.

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