Tag Archives: LA

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.


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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A Quiet Stroll Along the L.A. River

LA River - homeless camp

On occasion, I have been known to walk a dog.

I am also a citizen of a neighborhood that’s well-stocked with beautiful, stroller-wielding mothers, and their I was a drummer in a huge band in the 90s which explains why I’m fantastically wealthy, have a neck tattoo, and a wife that was born the year after I graduated from high school-husbands.

hipster dads

Hip dads make me violently ill. Every time I see a dad with a tote bag, an occupied baby bjorn, and the biography of some seminal Irish punk singer, I instantaneously projectile vomit. Which is a bit embarrassing, but there’s nothing I can do about it except avoid yoga studios, cafes, parks, Trader Joe’s, bicycle shops, wine bars, bookstores—basically my entire neighborhood. Thus I am forced away from the well-manicured park near the reservoir and sent under a freeway overpass to the L.A. River when the occasion arises that I must walk a dog.

The L.A. River is a nice combination of overly zealous “dad cyclists” from the valley and legitimate Glassell Park/Highland Park/Echo Park cholos who fancy drinking Tecates in the middle of the bike path. There are also homeless people who take solace by drinking cough syrup along the surprising lush cement basin.

So untamed and wild is the L.A. River that I once saw a woman crossing a two-inch deep stream of water on horseback. The woman was wearing a helmet. Up until a few days ago, a horse was the oddest thing I’d seen in the L.A. River since Ryan Gosling brought an Irish chick and a Mexican kid to have a romantic moment in Los Angeles’ puddle of flotsam.

Chilling, like all celebs do, on the LA River

But there I was, walking, strolling really, reflecting on how disappointing my tax return was this year when I heard the wails of a grown man. I peeked down the side of the basin and spotted a man in a tattered black suit. He was supine along the bottom of the dry river, and he was crying, just bawling while simultaneous masturbating. Which is a physical and mental feat of almost heroic measure. It’s honestly something that I would’ve assumed was impossible. I mean, really, how can a person cry and pleasure himself? It seems inherently contradictory. It’s such a deep and philosophical question that I feel inclined to avoid the subject entirely. Although, I have to believe it’s rooted in masochist tendencies.

But enough intellectual heavy lifting, I want to focus on the fact that he was masturbating with such fervor that I truly thought he might dislocate his shoulder and/or throw-out his back. And were these tears of pain? Had he in fact torn his rotator cuff and was gritting-down to finish the task “at hand” despite the agony? Or were these simply tears of joy?

The sad truth is I’ll never know. The dog, which brought me there in the first place, tugged onwards. There were poles and plants and concrete to sniff elsewhere.

Meanwhile, in the Silver Lake Meadow a hip dad is instagramming a picture of his child flipping through: An Abridged History of Second Wave Ska. As you read this, he’s busy revising the witty caption that will accompany the picture.

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Shop til you drop! (Shouldn’t be long now!)

I have a list. That’s comforting. It’s in my hand. Someone else compiled it. I couldn’t have done it myself. It’s not that I’m not capable—it’s just…

I wouldn’t be here without the list. In this town. In this parking structure. In this car. I drain into the structure, single file from the streets with the rest of the cars. There’s a system. Speed up. Slow down. Brake and snake. I’ve found a cozy spot on the fourth level.

I’m looking for a map. I’ve got the list. It’s in my hands. That much I can count on. The rest, well, it’s out of my hands. I ride escalators. First down from the structure and then back up to the appropriate floor. The people inside this place could all appropriately be labeled “Makes Wide Turns” or “Oversized Load.” This is their right.

In America, many rights are subject to circumstance. He who holds the pepper spray, baton, SIG Sauer let’s you know when and where your rights are applicable. But there are some rights that the citizens of this great nation refuse to give up. Certain issues are worth dying for.

Inside the mall, these rights are easy to identify. A woman hands out sausage and cheese products on toothpicks. I watch from the floor above. There are some skinny people here, but they don’t stop. There are many fat people here, but only a few curious men urge their wives, “One second, babe…”

She’s not interested. She’s in the throes of a Mint Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino (non-fat).

You can get as fat as you want here. You can buy as much as you want. You can stockpile calories and cotton, metallic goods and fur. To your heart’s delight! No one can stop you. This is an unalienable right.

Black Friday passed. I missed it. I’ve never been one for violence or crowds. If I skipped the running of the bulls in Pamplona, why would I go to Nordstrom at sunrise?

Then there was Cyber Monday. I don’t really know what that is. The last time I saw the word cyber it was next to the word sex. That was 1994.

Today, I read that one billion dollars of productivity were lost in 2011 due to employees shopping online at work. I want to know what everyone is buying. Send me an email with a detailed list. I’ll add it to my list. We’ll combine lists. Become blood brothers and sisters via commerce.

I watch the offering of sausage and cheese skewers until I remember that I’m here to buy. I’m not here of my own accord. You see, there are certain asterisks attached to relationships, friendships. Even of the familial variety. You and I are obligated to not rock the boat. As long as we buy X number of gifts a year for X number of people they will continue to love us. The love is not inalienable. You have to pay for it. If you don’t they have the right to stop loving you. Like an insurance policy. You get what you pay for, you goddamn communist.

Now it’s my turn. Despite the enormous Christmas tree, the air is thin in here. I inhale deeply but it’s not gratifying. Maybe it’s because I’m on the third floor. I pass shoe stores, Sbarro Pizza and about nine windows that have khaki trench coats on female mannequins. I finally turn into a store that’s on my list

Inside, there are glass cases. Inside the glass cases are earrings, brooches, necklaces, watches. Things, that’s what I would call them. Accessories, that’s what the store calls them. But once they’ve been wrapped everyone calls them presents.

I walk to the first counter. Her lips are pursed.

“Can I help you?”

I hand over my list.


She eyes it. The list has the names and images of each of the items I am here to gather. She reaches under the collar of her blouse and scratches her clavicle. Or her bra strap. I look away. I wonder how much longer I’ll have to be here.

I start to follow her. She asks me about colors and sizes. I defer to the list. If it’s not there then it’s beyond me. I can only do so much. A man can only do so much.

She picks things up and shows them to me. I’m thinking about something a friend of mine told me. She said, “The Mexican hippie is dead.” She was talking about an era, which I never knew existed. Yet, I mourn the loss.

Pretty soon I’m pointing to my phone. I’m pointing to the time.

“What? Do you have to go or something?”

Or something. Again, I point again to my phone. Today I’m not talking. There’s not enough oxygen. We can’t afford it. This year record shattering amounts of C02 were dispersed into the atmosphere. I’ve used enough oxygen today. Oxygen is not an inalienable right. There will always be plenty of Panda Express. And there’s always more shit to buy. No one will stop you from spending. They’d have to pry that AMEX Black Card from your rigor mortis stricken fingers. Am I right? Are you with me? !? Death before…

She takes my card. I pay it forward. That’s how I like to think of it, but I guess that’s not quite right. I guess you could say, I’ve formally agreed to pay it at a later date. The payment can wait, but people are dependent on what’s inside these bags. This is what makes them happy. No one is excluded. Everyone shops. Here I am shopping. I am shopping, but now I have to leave.

I sign my name. I crumble up my copy and leave it in what used to be an ashtray. The times they are a’changing… I validate my parking. I walk through crowds of lower backpain, waxed eyebrows, $20,000 deductibles, manicured fingers, rising insurance premiums, exploding waistlines, low credit scores, and unseasonable tans. They’re all smiling. This is fun. Spending money, getting fat, collecting things—it feels good.

Yes, we feel better already.


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Financing Scripted Sex With Amber Heard

Big day.

First email: a link to a documentary on the horrors of the sex slave trade in Bulgaria. This came courtesy of my progenitor[1]. I may have cried for Slavic hookers everywhere.

Second email: Amber Heard accepted my friend request on Facebook. Very big news. As an actress she reminds me of a tan, sultry, ridiculous attractive, nowhere near as talented version of (insert name of unattractive yet talented actress).

Naturally, I’m off to deconstruct the deeper meaning of the morning’s first emails. I quickly lose interest. Instead of analyzing and interpreting their latent significance, I decide to check out Amber Heard’s Facebook pictures.

Surprisingly, her pictures are markedly similar to every other girl I know. In fact, she looks like about 31,458 girls who I “studied” journalism with at the illustrious Arizona State University.

I’m in the depths of some profile picture, which is a passive political statement on same sex marriage when it hits me. I’m struck with pangs of guilt. She’s vaguely Eastern European looking, not particularly Slavic, but Croatians can have a pretty diverse look… Naturally, I have to wonder:

What if Amber Heard is a victim of the sex slave trade? Sold to CAA by some Yugoslavian fleshmonger during the Bosnian War? What if, I say!

Recently, I forfeited USD to see The Rum Diary[2]. Which can only mean one thing: I may have directly contributed to the Eastern European sex slave economy. South Slavic pimps get rich on my dime while someone’s daughter shakes that ass for the 99%.

With nowhere to run, I seek solace in literature. I stumble upon a conversation between Richard Tull and Gwynn Barry. They’re talking about pornography. Barry, the wildly successful novelist disagrees with it.

Tull: Pornography

Barry: I would never watch that stuff

Tull: Because?

Barry: … Well, for one thing it objectifies women. It turns them into objects.

Tull: It’d be a handy way for you to check on changing sexual styles. Whither fellatio, and so on. Actually you can never see anything because there’s always some wine bottle or flower bowl in the way. It turns women into objects. Such as silicone.

Barry: What’s the matter with you?[3]

No one wants to be Richard Tull.

No one likes him. No one wants to identify with him. Yet here I am. Here I am, financing women like Amber Heard to be hustled from the Balkans and subjected to scripted intercourse with pirates twice her age and Aaron Eckhart’s freshly waxed chest.

It’s just not fair. It’s not fair to Amber and it’s not fair to me. I’ve been duped. No one would believe me. It wouldn’t hold up in a court of law.

Any day now, I expect to be shackled then publicly tarred and feathered at Hollywood and Wilcox. Shortly thereafter, I’ll be guillotined at the jail where Lindsey Lohan has thrice stayed long enough to be photographed.

But not me. There will be no pictures. Just a slow, painful, and public death. A death fit for the man who financed Amber Heard’s kidnapping and encouraged her sale her into scripted orgasms. I’ll remain taciturn.

I regret it. I really do.

Amber, if you’re reading this, I will totally understand if you decide to defriend me. But you have to admit, we had a good run. You were great. You really were.

[1] What does it all mean? Do my forebears know something I don’t? Am I genetically predisposed to frequenting hookers? Or turning tricks? Or sympathizing with those who do?

[2] My first mistake. I know.

[3] The Information, Martin Amis

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Man vs Machine: Driving

Long drives and the radio starts putting words in my mouth. My jaw pops open and I verbalize my desire to be saved. I salivate at the thought of salvation. I need to properly praise my lord and savior. God occupies the stretch between cities. Faith lives between like-minded ears. It’s easy to be like-minded. Out here, I wear a helmet to reduce the impact.

I scan the I-5 North looking for that new burger with the onion rings and the lettuce that’s so crisp you can hear it crunch through the airwaves.

A teenager croons over the loss of innocence with a Nashville packaged twang and I believe every word. I look out to see if anyone else is hearing this. No cars, but I’m passing a prison. Someone in there is hearing this and they know exactly what she means. She wishes things could go back to the way they were. She’s convincing. She’s endearing. She’s probably fourteen. Somewhere there’s a proud mother rolling in cash. On the road of life, there are passengers and there are pimps.

In between signs, I track my progress by the color of the hills. Flat land isn’t ideal. Not for the type of driving I do. It’s easy to drift. I’ll open a book or pay utility bills. I’ll pull out my phone and catch up current tragedies. I’ll drift over the line and bump along for a minute or two feeling like Pacman. I accrue a tremendous amount of points while playing against myself—my worthiest opponent out here. I rarely lose.

Semi-trucks rule these roads. They get caught in the slow moving current of the road and keep pace like ambling ice caps. Only there is no end for these drivers. Just stages. As soon as they complete a leg, kick their feet up and grab a beer–the phone vibrates. Another baton is passed and they must keep going.

It’s important not to break your stride. I’m limited to a single tank of gas. If I run out of gas in Salinas; Salinas it is. I won’t go on. The same goes for Barstow, Truckee, Ghila Bend or Castro Valley. The car says when. I’m merely a passenger. Well, I’m actually the driver, but I play second fiddle. I steer when I have to, but there are limits. We all have breaking points. Mine are rather fragile. Flat tire, rain, traffic, and gasoline shortages have all stopped me before. It doesn’t take much.

It’s for the best. If you ever see me out there, you’ll understand why. I’m doing everything, but driving. Like I said, I leave that to the car. I just steer. But even that is a tedious task.

The Google Driverless Car hasn’t crashed yet[1]. I have. More than once. The Google Driverless Car doesn’t get sleepy. It doesn’t text. It doesn’t get drunk. It doesn’t get bored. It doesn’t run red lights when it’s late or roll through stop signs when no one else is around. Rather prudish, I think, I’m not sure we’d hit it off.

The radio just told me that. Now do you see what I mean about the radio putting words in my mouth?

Of course, I haven’t seen this Driverless Car for myself. Usually, I keep eyes peeled for the aesthetically pleasing; be it plein air or portrait. There’s a lot to look at. As for the road, it could use a facelift. Somebody look into that.

Man 0  Machine  1

[1] There was that crash in Mountain View, but humans were to blame. If Google doesn’t count it, I won’t either.

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Filed under De La Moda, Formal Correspondence

Fast Times In Thai Town

No matter what I say. No matter how convinced and indoctrinated I seem. Do not believe me. Do not press on. You will be disappointed. Because after all, Thai Angel is not all it’s cracked up to be…

What is it lately? Why do all these Asians operating shady afterhours spots think I’m a cop? When did I all of a sudden start to look like a cop? What does a cop even look like in LA? I’ll tell you—Filipino. And a chick. That’s what a cop looks like in LA. Want to know what I look like? I know a guy named Domingo, he told me I look like the Brawny Man. Does the Brawny Man look like a cop? I don’t think so.

But the fact remains; I can’t get a drink after two am to save my life. Maybe it’s for the best. I disagree.

And it’s not restricted to Los Angeles. For example, in September I found myself in Boston. Yes, you read that correctly. Found myself. Not in the Existential sense—no, I literally woke up on a plane that had just landed in Boston. It was 7:30 a.m. and a Friday.

So there I was in Boston. A day passed. I saw some things. I saw the American Revolution. I saw Sam Adams. I ate a lobster roll. Then, all of a sudden it was two a.m. Like any god-fearing, unslakeable fool, I was looking for some cold tea. That’s what they call it out there in New England. A drink after two, is cold tea. Fine by me. I’m not picky. There was a group of us. There we were, in the North End, or the South End, or maybe it was Southie, or possibly Northie… actually probably not Northie. Northie, after all, is Maine. Wherever we were, we were looking for Asians because Asians serve the good stuff. They serve that cold tea.

Try as we might. Try as we did. Try as we were told we should. We got shut down. Everyone thought I was a cop. The 5-O. Johnny Law. The Fuzz. I was accused of all sorts of terrible things. Entrapment. Bribery. Trespassing. Public Indecency. Tax-Evasion. The list goes and goes. How they knew all this? I do not know. But that’s Boston for you.

Fast forward to last night. The clock strikes two somewhere near Bunker Hill. I’m speaking Spanish to a girl who’s as tall as Lamar Odom. Literally, the tallest chilango that ever lived. Tecate all around. Tecate didn’t look good on her. No sir. Know who Tecate looks good on? Super models. Why? It’s an awful beer and it takes a super model to make it look appetizing. But like I said, I’m not picky…

I make a proposal. Yes, I do. I want to say, I know better. It’s possible I might, but thus far I’ve never proved it. I propose we go to Thai Angel. Charming little place in Thai Town. Shit attitudes, angry staff, awful glass noodle salad, over-priced booze in a Styrofoam cup. It’s just up the street. I promise, it’ll be fantastic.

We get to Thai Angel. I saunter over to the bar and the conversation went like this:

-Booze, por favor.

-I don’t speak Spanish. This a Thai Restaurant.


-You want see menu?

-Let’s cut the crap, you don’t have a kitchen. You’ve got a microwave. I’d have to be twice as drunk as I am now to eat anything from here. I would know. I’ve done it before.

Then she stares me down. We’ve met before. Usually, she asks my name, tells me I’m cute then charges me for one or two more drinks than I’ve ordered. We have a rapport. We have history.

-Two whiskeys, two vodkas. Ice. Comprende?



She goes on to accuse me of being a cop. She tugs my beard just to make sure it isn’t a costume. She says she recognizes me, but not in a good way.

Finally, we establish I’m not a cop. My cohort wants to know what the fuck is going on. After all, I promised a good time. Hookers, cocaine, midget ballerinas, HBO, the works. So far, I’ve come up with zilch. She looks at my ID. She says, now I know where you live, in case you’re lying.

I say, OK. But truthfully, I’m a little weirded out. The address on my ID is in fact a P.O. Box 365 miles from Thai Town.

She tells me, there’s a new place. Tonight’s the first night. We’ll be the first guests.

-Eighty dollar.



-How about forty?

We strike up a deal. All of a sudden there’s a train of SUVs leaving Thai Angel, following a woman who thinks I’m a cop to an undisclosed location.

We get there and there’s an old man at the door. I know this old man. We go way back. I shake his hands. Great to see you, I say.

-Eighty dollar.

-Talk to Esmeralda. We’re paying forty.

We walk in. We shouldn’t have walked in. I wouldn’t walk in again without a Ruger. Queasy fluorescent lights. An asbestos ceiling. The owner’s next of kin. One table. They say a DJ is coming later. Great. They plop down four Miller Lites. The only thing I hate more than Miller Lite is Miller High Life.

We sit for three minutes. We drink our beers. We pay. We leave. Some party, right?

The next time the clock strikes two and you and me are side by side, remember what I’ve just told you. I might promise that we’ll be sipping martinis with Melanie Laurent in a sprawling estate on Point Dume, but in all actuality, we will end up in Thai Town. We will drink warm beer. We will be scorned. I will apologize for the French colonization of Vietnam. No one will understand.

And then, my friend, we will leave. Our livers better for the failure. Our minds worse for the effort. Thai immigrants wealthier for our indulgence.

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“A Man and His Mustache”

Remember when I said this?

A year later: Fruit and Labor. Labor of fruit. Or Fruit that’s been labored. Whatever. You get the idea. Watch this teaser and tell me how much you love it and you can’t wait to see more.

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Manny Seeks Roommate!

Manny is reformed, but the state of California didn’t deem him so. They didn’t feel the need to. His crimes weren’t heinous enough to warrant that sort of assessment. Though I believe he deserves some sort of recognition: a diploma, an all expenses-paid luxury cruise, a hounds tooth blazer, etc. After all he turned himself in. Sure, he was on the lamb for a year before he checked in with L.A. County, but he went in of his own accord. He went in because he had “one on the way.” He turned himself over because he was going to become a father.

That was July. He’s been a free man for a couple months now. His girlfriend, some a Boriqua from East Los is the mother of his son Evan. Yeah, the name caught me off guard too.

Today I saw Manny down at the handball courts in Venice. This is where I first met him. This is where we became friends. This is where I’ve lost to him every weekend for almost three years. Venice is a bit of a hike from Los Hundreds, but Manny likes the beach and you can usually get a court here without much of a wait.

When I casually asked Manny how his son was I expected the usual: he’s walking now, he’s talking now, he’s learning how to, etc. Instead Manny says, “Oh, I didn’t tell you? He’s gone. His crazy ass mom took him to Laughlin.”

I didn’t follow. “Why?”

“We got into it. She doesn’t like that I smoke, but it’s not like I smoke around the kids (kids plural. Manny is raising the Boriqua’s other son whose father, a Salvadoreno convict was sent back to San Salvador after committing his twenty-third felony.) It’s not like I blow kush in their faces. It’s not like I beat her ass and fuck other bitches. I go to work. I pay all the fucking bills. She lives in my house. I push the stroller. I change the Pampers. I do all that shit. Plus, I was smoking when I met her, so what’s the big deal?”

“I see.” Although I can’t imagine him pushing a stroller. “How did you just let her take Ethan though?”

“Evan, marica. She got into it with my brother then shit blew up. I can’t have that.”

“You can’t have that?”

“Hell no. So I sat them down and we had a good talk, you know? And everything was all cool, but then in the morning I woke up and she had taken my car and the kids to Laughlin.”

“That’s fucked up.”

“Hell yeah. She’s crazy.”

“Which is why she shouldn’t have Allen.”



“She’s depressed and shit–taking all kinds of pills that she gets from her mom.”

“How does her mom get them?” Inquiring minds want to know.

“That lady?” He shook his head. “I don’t know. She knows all sorts a doctors and shit.”

“So what are you gonna do?”

“And she keeps texting me ‘tell your little bitch to stop calling me.’ And I’m like what little bitch?”

“What little bitch?” I ask.

“Little bitch?” he put his hands up in the air. “I’m not thinking about that. I’m trying to see my son.”

“She’s making it up? The little bitch, thing?”

“Yeah, aint nobody calling her,” Manny says. Which only answers half of my question.

“You probably should get your kid from her.”

“And now she wants me to pay her phone bill because they don’t have metro PCS in Nevada.”

“What else are you paying for?” Dissolution law may be on my horizon.

“Pre-k. Two hundred bucks a week.”

I give him my most serious, I know nothing about your life, fatherhood or the law, but you should listen to my advice because we’re handball buddies[1] look. “You should probably do this through the courts.”

“I got the receipts.”

“Oh,” great. He’s got receipts.

“Anyway, I told her I want to come out and see the kids and she tells me she’s not ready for that.”

“How long has it been?”

“Almost a month. And I’ve got Wednesday and Thursday off so I wanna drive out there.”

“So do it.”

“She’s got my car.”

I love Manny, but I don’t know his last name or whether he’s legally allowed to drive so I pray he won’t to ask to borrow my ’67 P1800 ES, my pride and joy that shouldn’t really be driven on the freeway or above thirty-eight MPH for that matter. “Do you want to borrow my car?”

“What?” He looks over his shoulder at the parking lot. “That blue thing? Man, I wouldn’t take a ride to Mar Vista in that thing.” He’s smiling, but probably not kidding. “I can get a car. I’ll take my brother’s. It’s mine anyway.”

I decide not to delve into the complexities of their fraternal relationship. “So what are you gonna do?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you mean, you don’t know? Manny, you’re a reformed man. You went to jail for your son. Put a roof over his head. You became the surrogate father for some convict’s kid in the name of love. There’s some Boriqua hopped up on antidepressants and opiates driving your kid in your car around the third largest city in Nevada[2]. You’re not getting “yours.” It’s time to take it.”

“Fucking white people,” Manny snickers.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I toss up the handball. “You know I’m part Native American, right?”

“After all that fucking talking you owe me a beer.”

“Deal. Where? Although, I should mention I am petrified of your neighborhood. I follow @Emptythefuckinregister on twitter and people are always getting fucked up by where I think you live. Do you follow that account?”

Manny laughs, “That’s too bad because I was just about to ask you if you were looking for a place. Now that my girl and the kids moved out I’ve got two empty bedrooms.”

“Did they pay rent?”

“No, but my brother did until yesterday.”

“What happened?”

“His girl had a kid so they moved into her parents’ house.”

“Sounds cozy.”

“Think about it.”

“Where do you live again?”

“South Central.”

“Yeah, I can’t do that. Is there even a Trader Joe’s down there?”

“Well, if you know anyone.”

“I’ll keep my ear to the ground… or my eyes peeled. Or…”

“What the fuck is you talking about?”

“I know what I’ll do. I’ll put it on my blog.”

Manny just shakes his head.

“So where we gonna get that beer?” I ask.


“Club?” Who knew? Manny likes shopping in bulk too.

“Sort of. It’s a strip club. Free to get in and they’ve got beer.”

“Sounds charming,” I say.

“You can drive.”

-The Neapolitan Mastiff

[1] Handball buddies… that sounds way more homoerotic than I intended.

[2] Actually, I have no idea how big Laughlin is or what the Boriqua was hopped up on. Maybe she just took a bunch of prescription allergy meds. You never know.

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When In A Singles Joint… (cue the R. Kelly)

Know your surroundings.

If you look to your left and see an Irish version of Vernon Hardapple, be advised: things could get weird.

If you look to your right and see a girl built like a pumpkin sitting on top of the piano smoking two cigarettes at once, be advised: weird has entered the building.

“It’s a singles joint,” Vern said. “Give me a cigarette.”

Singles joint: a bar is intrinsically loaded, but this one was packed to the gills. Vern took off—said something about a masseuse he used to visit when he was still getting his disability checks from Microsoft—said she owed him a drink. I was left to my own devices, which are devices that really shouldn’t be left alone.

Propped against the plush wall, swilling some shitty tepid beer, I let the words roll around my mouth. Singles joint. “There’s something in these people’s faces,” I say to Saul, the henna-headed piano man, who’s on his break and doesn’t really look like he wants to talk.
“There’s nothing in their faces. They’re drunk—they’re just faces.” He throws back the rest of his Jameson. “Want me to play anything for ya?”

The invitation was tempting. “You know that number, ‘My mind’s telling me no, but my body, my body’s telling me yes’?”

“You’re crazier than you look, you know that?”

I was staring into my tepid fucking beer, looking for a response and wondering why my beer was warm since I’d only had it for what felt like a couple minutes. I guess they sell them too quick in these singles joints—tough place to get a cold beer.

“My date never showed up. I could kill match.com.”

I looked up, half expecting Saul to be standing there, but he wasn’t. Her name was Lorrie, which didn’t surprise me, although, if she said her name was Rita that wouldn’t have surprised me either. She was going on five years of being recently divorced and it showed. A lot of things “show” at a singles joint. To me, it looked like everyone was walking around with their pants around their ankles, humiliated and waiting to be taken home.

Sure, before the taking home their would be the obligatory conversation. The impromptu introduction received with joy, but masked with skepticism. Now this is where you tell a joke. Good, there’s a laugh. The ball is now rolling and the drinks have evaporated so it’s time for another and just as you think that, you’re taking a shot and ordering another one. Now that everyone has consumed enough to have an excuse for their bravado and maybe even enough to have an excuse for what happens next—the walls come in. It’s personal, you’re no longer looking around wondering where your friends are because, “This is why you came here, right?” Lorrie said, stroking my arm.

In front of me I see the mug of a neglected puppy waiting to be adopted. This singles joint is actually a little fence that single men and women walk into, like puppies on display at farmer’s markets looking happy and sad at once, waiting to be taken home. There are two sides of the fence. Two approaches. Five years of being recently single and she’s relegated to life inside the fence. Shit, Lorrie would go home with anyone—literally anyone willing to sign the papers and give her a place to call home. No matter how neglected she’d be there, disregard the fact that the novelty of her presence would wear off and quickly become a chore before you thought possible. Pretty soon you’d have to send her back to where she came from. She knows the way back to the fenced up singles joint with warm beer and jokes. She’s been coming for five years.

Vern taps on my elbow, he’s lost his wig. “Who’s your friend?”

She’s elated because Vern, whether he knows it or not, has added a possessive adjective to the equation. She once was lost, but now she’s my friend. Lorrie is smiling ear-to-ear because she thinks I’m about to sign on the dotted line. Which is about the time I remember where I am. Black Irish Vernon Hardapple to my right, he’s already slid into my place. She’s already laughing. She swills the ice in her glass because she’s ready for another. I am still holding my tepid beer and I still know exactly where this is going although I still don’t have the slightest clue how to get a cold drink.

“We’re gonna get another one,” Vern says. She takes his hand. Cute.

I want to tell them I’ll take something cold, need to whet my senses.

“What’d you think?” Saul’s grinning, but I don’t know what about. “The song?”

You played it? I thought to myself.

“The crowd loved it. My body,” he shouts, “my body!” He carries the note a little too long and we get a few looks. “I think I’m gonna add it to the permanent setlist.”

I look to my right, dishwater blond Vernon Hardapple cuts a rug with the real Dorothy Boyd of Hollywood. To my left, Saul sips a Jameson on ice, talks about the power of his music. He thinks he struck a proverbial cord with the crowd tonight. Babies are getting made tonight and it’s all because of Brother Saul. Or so he tells me.

A singles joint: warm beer, wigs, cortisol fat that’s just going to get worse, everyone used to listen to R. Kelly, now everyone listens to Brother Saul.

“Gotta anything else you wanna hear?” Saul asks, greedily.

“My mind is telling me no, but my body, my body’s telling me yes.”

“You already said that one, pal,” Saul’s not amused, but then again, it’s his job to entertain, not mine.

“I don’t wanna hurt nobody, but there’s something that I gotta confess.” I walk towards the door. Like puppies standing on their hind legs, would-be suitresses perk up, run their hands along my arm and down my back as I make my way to the exit.

At the diner counter, my waitress slaps down my bill. “Didn’t get lucky tonight, huh?” She gives me a sardonic smile, which makes me think she doesn’t realize it’s three a.m. and she’s serving me breakfast. “You must’ve of really fucked up.”

I keep shoveling my eggs. “Got any more Cholulua?”

The Neapolitan Mastiff

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Shea Butter and The Neapolitan Mastiff: A Correspondence

To Whom It May Concern @Exchanging Pleasantries:


In my lifetime, I’ve had two dreams.

  1. Kill George Eliot before she wrote Middlemarch. (too late, I know, but a dream is a wish your heart makes and that is mine.)
  2. Intern at Exchanging Pleasantries.

Please find the 2/5 of my C.V. below. I want a job.


To suckle the fruits of American labor before the entire population dies of obesity in 2012.


Stunting, flossing (dental), and ornithology (British usage[1])


Best regards,

Shea Butter



Dear Shea Butter,

You’re not an ideal candidate. You don’t even Google. I was holding out for Christina Hendricks or Mubarak, but I’ve yet to hear back. Libya’s beloved Muammar Gaddafi is also in the running[2]. We rely heavily on social media to communicate threats and he seems to have a knack for it.

Also, you appear to be ill informed. The anemic, androgynous, tanorexic inhabitants of my fair city (El Lay) are more likely to die of congestive heart failure than obesity.

That being said, we welcome you with open arms.[3]

Fondly (you know what it is),

The Neapolitan Mastiff

[1] Ladies

[2] No pun intended. Well…

[3] The position of intern is filled, but you’re in luck! We need an internist. What say you? And where do you hail from?

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