Tag Archives: los angeles

Finally Famous

 

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If you’re expecting me to change – I am too. I suspect it will happen any day now.

It just seems there’s no way a person who has had his webseries featured on countless (2) websites, which has garnered too many views to even keep track of (97,000[1]) could continue to also be a man who frequents the Cha Cha Lounge before 9 p.m. for a shot of mediocre tequila and a 61 degree PBR at the bargain price of $5.

It’s just not feasible.

“You may have heard of my webseries,” I say to a man wearing a mask blowing leaves from one driveway to another. “Driving Arizona.” He shuts off his leaf blower and politely waits for me to go away. Little does he know people who have reached a certain level of fame have nowhere they need to be. Mario Andretti, Mario Batalli, Mario Lemieux, myself – we’re all men with absolutely nothing to do tomorrow, but to wait for it to come and cradle us with its sunlight.

It comes up at the gym. “Nice shorts,” says a man who has dyed his beard an unintentional hue of purple. “Thanks. Little trivia – they were in the luggage belonging to the character Sasha in episode 4 of Driving Arizona.” He stares blankly. “No. You’re right. It was episode 3!”dazfacebook5

There was a time when all my Lyft drivers were deeply devoted students of improv. Now they are men and women from towns that I haven’t heard of north or east of Los Angeles, lured here on weekend nights by the promise of endless riches. Or at least the app tells them if they keep driving – after gas, wear and tear, and emotional fatigue – they might break even.

“Just start driving or finishing up?” A man who is too tall for his Toyota Yaris replies but I’m wondering why I didn’t give him a third option – the middle, halfway through his shift.

Though I haven’t heard a word he’s said, when he stops talking I say, “Speaking of which, you may have heard of a little web series I co-created – Driving Arizona.”

“Sounds like a PSA for a driving school.”

“But there’s something beautiful about the innocuousness of it, isn’t there? Like a puddle that pools after the rain and when you stare down at the wet cement, you’re met with a reflection of the sky.”

He runs his fingers across his phone’s screen. “Is it alright if I drop you off here?”

So maybe it isn’t me who has changed. It’s the way people react to a person who has created something as eternal as the webseries. Bertrand Russell once said or wrote or communicated in some way that he now gets credit for these words in this particular order, “The search for something permanent is one of the deepest instincts leading men to philosophy.”

Well, Berty. It leads other men to the webseries.

[1] Which is 10x fewer views than your average video of a guy demonstrating how to find the pilot light in your oven.

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FYF 2015: I AM A GOD ( or the Year of the Kanye)

“I feel like there are only five people here, but they’ve been cloned over and over again.”

LA FEMME

Last year it was The Strokes t-shirt circa 2003 – this year it was a sea of Kanye West t-shirts. Which, at first glance, appeared to be worn ironically by blue-haired girls with pierced septums flaunting handfuls of side boob. I watched as they dislocated their thumbs to slip on and off wristbands that read: Over 21.

The Kids Are Probably Alright

Flat beers were the name of the game. They were readily available in the beer gardens, craft or otherwise. At first I was upset, but then it occurred to me that complaining about flat beer at a music festival full of kids too young to legally drink is like being perturbed that you share your dial-up internet with a fax machine. The kids aren’t drinking beers.

Still, I was on my tenth when they bumped into me. A girl who sat on a boy’s shoulders rolling so hard that she pulled on his pompadour as if she were barebacking a horse, trying to steer it through the crowd by it’s mane. Only it wasn’t a horse. It was a teenage boy. He asked her to dismount every three minutes or so, his turkey-sausage-fueled legs buckling under her eighty-six pounds of eyeliner and pink ombre hair. She swayed to Kanye as Kanye so expertly rapped over himself, floating in and out of a cloud of smoke, making proclamation after proclamation. Each greater than the last until he plateaued, having reached the greatest height of self-admiration it’s possible for a person with a microphone to hit. And everyone lost their shit. Except for me. I’m not really a fan.

So I watched as the masses passionately chanted self-flattering lyrics that were presumably written as Kanye stared deeply into… the mirror. Nothing says that you are a kind, caring and loving citizen of this earth like shouting with an effected Chicago accent, “I am a god!”Kanye Loves Kanye

So yeah, I’m headed back for day two. I’ll be the guy with the flat beer standing in a crowd of people who claim to be huge D’Angelo fans, from waaay back. But really, I’m not going to see D’Angelo or Mac Demarco or Toro Y Moi. I’m going to casually observe America’s youth testing the limits of how much acid is a reasonable amount to do while the sun is high and the days are long.

*All images were Fat-Jewished.

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I am a Goddamn Spiritual Person

As the sun rises, I wake up with the chirping of birds, the hum of the freeway, the clanking of Guatemalan immigrants sorting through my trash for bottles and cans.

I breathe in pollen, moss, carbon monoxide emissions. I breathe in intention, and I breathe out ten thousand vodkas in plastic cups, weed before it was legal, and any other toxin that doubled as a party favor back when Bush was in office. I breathe out the anxiety that is not worth holding on to and I tell myself, they cannot implicate me in their ugliness.

“They” being anyone who stands between me and the times of year when I’m on a beach with a beer, with no plans of checking my email and no desire to troll instagram to see who is on a beach with a beer instead of in an air conditioned office abutted by freeways and vegan restaurants, massage parlors and gastropubs. Despite being a spiritual person, I spend my life either on or between freeways. Maybe we all do.

405 chilling

I have replaced Jameson with apple cider vinegar. I shoot it first thing in the morning and I follow it with a water-back. I wince in a way whiskey no longer makes me wince. I can feel the vinegar rotting my molars, my esophagus, but I’m told it’s good for me. Then I stuff myself with massaged kale — as much as I can stomach, and follow that with eggs with yolks as orange as tangerines. Or as orange as oranges. Either way, I eat them.

As a spiritual person, having breathed in my positive intentions and watched my thoughts float past me — not criticizing myself for having them, nor following them to wherever they might go; essentially not giving a fuck about them — and having breathed out the toxins of my youth, those which are deeply embedded in me and those which linger on my epidermis, I have pretty much fulfilled my duty for the day. It’s 7:53 A.M.

A normal person is constantly busy: work, bills, compulsive overeating followed by shame-fueled hours on the elliptical, celebrated with margaritas until the body has slowly slumped into submission. Also known as sleep.

A spiritual person, such as myself, watches his problems wrestle each other into submission like a plastic bag blowing in the wind. Yes, my problems heave and hoe just out of reach until the wind quits or I walk away.

Life is quite relaxing now that I am spiritually satisfied, though it has not pleased everyone. My employer doesn’t seem to understand that “working” doesn’t really fulfill the prophecy that I have imagined for myself, yet I still show up at the office and drink their coffee.

Paying rent is, of course, futile since the pursuit and accumulation of money is unsatisfactory. My landlord served up an eviction notice. I wrote back, “You cannot implicate me in your ugliness. When you’re ready to leave the dark side of chasing paper and paying your mortgage I’ll teach you the ways of breathing in intention and breathing out fucks-given.” So far no word, but I am an optimist, insofar as it’s possible for me to exert energy on anything that may not serve me.

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The Increasingly Burdensome Road to Not Being a Shitty Person

Hear, hear!

I applaud myself for  quitting coffee while drinking an antioxidant-rich green tea in a converted warehouse. I read on the chalkboard that this particular green tea is grown in the shade under straw mats for twenty days prior to harvest. The warehouse, in its current state, prides itself on fresh pressed juices and onsite colonoscopies. I went to a party here once about six years ago. Back then, the space prided itself on throwing parties that went so late McDonald’s would no longer be serving breakfast by the time you got out.

Downtown has changed.

So have I.

Instead of my thrice-daily coffees, I’m drinking about twelve green teas a day. I feel no guilt about this. I imagine this is how Buddhist monks pass their days. It strikes me as evolved. After all, these are a people who have protested by setting themselves on fire; sitting cross legged until their skin falls from their cheeks and chins, their bones crumble into each other and their ashes land on the ground, at the mercy of the wind. People watched. People took pictures. Everyone admires a man who can set himself on fire.

I’ve tried other forms of moderation.

No whiskey.

All that happened was I started skating through bottles of Malbec like they were Capri Suns.

There’s always cold turkey.

“I’m trying to start smoking more weed,” my friend said earnestly as we sipped mescal.

We’ve talked for years about smoking more, about getting into the habit of it; the way others resolve to go to the gym. Or to read more. But we are creatures of habit.

Guy comes here all the time.

While I’m at it, I’m thinking of other things I might give up. I gave up haircuts and sunscreen some years ago, but that wasn’t really a conscious decision. I’ve also quit seeing the dentist and the doctor with any regularity, but that wasn’t intentional either. They just kind of fell away. They stopped calling and I lost interest. Maybe it was the other way around. I’ve heard of people losing girlfriends this way. I guess I’m lucky to have only lost a general practitioner.

I’d like to go on, to build this list, but a militant homeopath with hair down to her waist and without an ounce of body fat to spare, tells me I must follow her. Between the neon lights, under the wind chimes that no wind ever reaches, just central air, if it blows hard enough. The woman is either thirty or a hundred. It’s impossible to say for sure. It must be all the chia seeds, all the nutmeg.

Anyway, I’ve sat on the wrong couch and now I have no choice but to let them thread a hose up my ass. It’s their specialty. That and the juice. It’s the fountain of youth, they say. In reverse.

I object once again, but she tells me it’s too late. That I consented when I signed the iPad for my cancer-curing green tea. I’ve brought all of this upon myself, she says. She hands me a burlap sack that once held coffee beans from Kenya. She instructs me to wear it like a smock. There’s a hole for my head. “Please,” I say. “Anything but the–” I gesture toward the hose.

“It’s the Gravity Colon Hydrotherapy or…” she dangles a lighter then points to a red five-gallon gas can. “The can is vintage. The gas is 4.59 a gallon.”

“That’s absurd!” I say. “Gas is three dollars a gallon down the street from my house.”

“Well, we’re not down the street from your house. We’re at Juicetopia Co-Op Exchange, est. 2014.”

She has a point. “You have a point,” I say.

“So?” she says. In one hand, the coffee bean smock, in the other, five gallons of gasoline. “What’ll it be?”

“Sorry to be vulgar,” I say.  “But what’s the price difference?”

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The Well-Informed Peanut Gallery

9-5 williamsburg

We drape ourselves in cotton made on other continents and between sips of our coffee, our beer, we speak in measured thoughts about the complexities of the latest noteworthy tragedy.

We glance at our phones before conceding that, “Yes, what’s happened is devastating, but no, no, we aren’t surprised. How could we be given the political climate. Or the other climate.” Either way, sadly, from where we sit, with this coffee, this beer, this phone, we saw it coming.

And just as we’re on the verge of really getting depressed, or rallying the will to write a facebook post, we remember our parking meter is running out, or that we have lunch plans and there will be traffic. But of course the nice thing about tragedies is they don’t demand our undivided attention. No, human tragedies are more like an episode of The Big Bang Theory. We can tune in with no previous knowledge of Sheldon or Ferguson or Palestine, and a short segment later we can bring our informed opinion to tomorrow’s Meeting of the Minds, at the Keurig machine at work.

Attendance is not required, but the right thing to do is to trot over, sigh, throw our hands up and defeatedly announce, “Justice was miscarried.”

But before the solemn nods, and before we can reach for our pod of French Roast, Paul, who we all know to be a dick, will say, “I didn’t know Justice was pregnant! Zing!”

Someone wonders aloud if Justice would have to be the baby, not the mother in that scenario, but by then we’ve all moved on. We’re back to our desks to ponder the Greek economy over Greek yogurt.

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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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