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Richard Roe +1

You become acutely aware of your place in the world when you’re the +1.

Your name isn’t on the list. You don’t even have a name. You could be anyone. They’ve could’ve brought someone else.

But there I was, a +1, on the end of the Sunset Strip at a lounge named after a street a few blocks away in Beverly Hills. Oh, those crafty club owners. Nothing drives up the value of your venue like associating it with a wealthy residential street… But I can’t really talk. My name wasn’t even on “the list.”

Outside, as they say, was a meat market. Or more aptly, an Iranian meat market. Persians lined the streets waving money at zombie-like bouncers. Turns out they hit capacity two weeks ago and haven’t let anyone in since. We were free to stand outside as long as we liked though.

Naturally, I was drawn to the longest line where I expected to wait until we decided that the place sucks and left. I moved towards that line only to learn that each of the forty people had informally committed to bottle service. There they were, patiently standing in line, prepared to spend a thousand bucks on a hangover. Clearly, that wasn’t the line for us.

We were guests! I was a plus one! And by god, I refused to mingle with people who have more than my networth between the folds of their wallet. After about a minute we found our man: Tall, black, void of emotion. We assured him our presence was needed inside. He agreed.

We were escorted through the backdoor. We walked through a kitchen. I accidentally mistook the walk-in refrigerator for a bathroom. Eventually, we reached our destination. Smiling young people with bright teeth and clear eyes. Yes, we had arrived. Yes, it was an open bar. Things were starting to make sense. One tequila, two tequila… yes, things were crystal clear.

Did I mention it was a birthday party? The birthday girl: a lanky blonde, marginally famous, a model by trade. She once drank a bottle of sauvignon blanc on my couch. She didn’t remember me. She did however remember the gentleman whose plus one I accounted for. He brought a gift. That suave bastard! Maybe if I had brought a gift she’d remember slaking herself in my domicile. I doubt it.

My friend, let’s call him GENTLEMAN CALLER and the BIRTHDAY GIRL embraced, exchanged pleasantries, etc. Here’s what followed:

GENTLEMAN CALLER: I got you a present.

BIRTHDAY GIRL: You’re so sweet! (Another hug, she looks longingly into his mahogany eyes and finds the meaning of life).

Keep in mind, said present is nowhere in sight. In fact, it’s in the car.

GENTLEMAN CALLER: Guess what it is.

BIRTHDAY GIRL: Give me a hint. (winks)

GENTLEMAN CALLER: It’s something you do everyday

BIRTHDAY GIRL: Drugs!

The gift was a bottle of wine.

No one laughed.

Inside, I smiled. My heart was full.

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Dental Hygiene and Scripted Demolition

The consequences are grave. If I write this scene and this thing gets made, I’ll be responsible for masterminding the demolition of the Avalon Theatre in Hollywood.

I will not have worked alone.  I was bankrolled. There were specific instructions. There was a suggestion. In a lot of ways it feels like an act of terror. A cultural genocide.

EXT. AVALON THEATRE – NIGHT

I’m supposed to blow the place up. And everyone inside. The idea of taking human lives doesn’t really bother me. In fact, it’s incredibly human. People do it all the time. And in this particular scenario, I’ll be killing actors. Prosthetic limbs will fly through the air. Severed heads shall roll. The screams will be rehearsed, but the explosion must be real. It would be unacceptable to outsource this to the world of special effects and postproduction. No, if I’m going to do it, it’s gotta be the real thing. Now, it’s time to address the repercussions.

I’ve been a part of good times at the Avalon and it’s adjacent lounge, Bardot. I’ve also been there for many an awful show, but I’ll try to focus on the positive.

Scratch that. I want to talk about that party they do on Saturday nights. It starts at 2:00 a.m. and ends at 7:00 a.m. Naturally, it brings in a wild-jaw crowd who couldn’t care less that they stopped serving because they’ve got enough ecstasy to jump-start a lifetime of paranoid schizophrenia and/or complete mental collapse.  Of course, there’s cocaine. There’s always cocaine.

Anyway, the crowd is a bit bizarre—and dedicated—incredibly so.

For the recession price of $30 a head you can mingle in the venue among white men with dreads, Bulgarians who haven’t slept since the fall of the Berlin Wall,  and chicks who are wearing more from the knee down than the knee up. There are also a lot of guys who are grinding their teeth and trying to befriend you for reason, which are unclear.

If you’re having a good time[1], you’ll be amazed at how much you have in common with these people: you both were alive in the 90s, sometimes you eat, and your favorite part about Burning Man is all the chicks are total sluts. Oh yeah, and the psilocybin.  Fast friends. All this transpires while something that sounds like a failed root canal plays on the sound system.

By now, I’m sure you see where I’m coming from. Why would I want to end such a terrific gathering of like-minded people?

Talk about being proactive, none of these guys are going to live long enough to collect the social security that they’re pay into. Here we are, in or between or in the aftermath of a recession and these guys are fueling an economy that they’ll never live long enough to see fully recover. But they’re not thinking about that. They’re thinking about Joseph’s.

There are only two things that I’m afraid of: Gypsies and Joseph’s. I can only pray that they never collaborate.

I claim to know a thing or two about afterhours, but Joseph’s is a different beast. It isn’t a bender that casually drifts into the predawn hours. It isn’t the culmination of too many drinks and a few bad decisions. No, Joseph’s is a lifestyle choice. Joseph’s is reserved for the gnarliest. What I do, looks like churning butter with the Amish to the crowd that frequents Joseph’s.

They’ve got a saying, “Nobody said doing copious amounts of drugs after an evening of drinking too much and bobbing to Romanian house music was going to be easy. Nobody said it was going to be fun.”

Or more aptly: “He who licks the knife will eventually cut his tongue.” – Eugene Hutz

I’ve walked by Joseph’s at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. as late as two o’clock on Sunday[2] and every time I’m frightened by the rancid techno playing in broad daylight. I’m frightened by the emaciated white girls who can smoke a cigarette to its filter in sixty seconds. I’m scared of all the black dudes with bleached hair smiling ear-to-ear. I’m scared of the Bulgarians who are still wearing leather jackets even though it’s ninety-five degrees outside. And what do everyone of these partygoers have in common? Fucked up teeth.

I’m deathly afraid of hygienically unsound teeth.

Can you imagine what it looks like inside? Can you imagine what they’re all doing? And if they’ve been partying since last night, when was the last time they brushed their teeth…?

After being given the task to blow up the Avalon these were the challenges, which I faced. Great mental anguish was endured. It’s not the history that I worry about. It’s the cultural loss that Hollywood will suffer. If I blow up the Avalon, where will Los Angeles go to make horrible decisions between 2:00 and 7:00 a.m.? Who will sustain this crowd until Joseph’s opens? Thai Town doesn’t go until 7:00. Glass noodles must be made! The Thai have shit to do on Sundays. Plus at any given time, there are more people consuming drugs in the Avalon’s numerous bathrooms than there are people hanging in all of the Thai Towns afterhours spots combined.

And by the way, is it technically afterhours if you’re only halfway through at 7:00 a.m.? It seems like a bit of an understatement.

At least now you understand my dilemma. This is why I’ve decided to switch my scripted explosion to the Kodak Theater. Because honestly, who gives a fuck about that place?

Tourists and the Academy.


[1] Read: indulging/over-indulged

[2] No doubt, headed to the Farmer’s Market a block away for dozen of their finest kumquats.

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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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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.

-Right.

-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?

-No.

-Yes.

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.

-No.

-No?

-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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All Of My Favorite Women Are Arsonists

There comes a time in every man’s life, when he takes life by the horns and the horns turn to Don Julio Anejo.

For me, that time was last night.

The place: Thai Angel

The time: Afterhours

The reason: N/A

There are two things you should know about Thai Angel: They don’t serve tequila and their food is intolerable.

But Thai Angel serves a purpose. To my knowledge, it’s the only place where you’ll be offered cocaine, pad thai, and a hand job in the same breath.  I don’t recommend dabbling in all three at once.

I don’t go to Thai Angel so I can put a tug job on my Amex. I don’t go there to eat. And generally speaking, I don’t go there to blow lines with guys who look like they’ve borrowed their eyes. I go to Thai Angel for conversation. I go for spirited debate. I go because I value the jumbled version of the truth that spills out of a Thai hooker’s mouth as the sun’s rising and I’m her only hope for another fifty USD.

Last night there was little in the way of conversation to be found. I met Hugo on the corner of Tamarind and Franklin. He had a girl on his arm that couldn’t decide if she was from New York or New Jersey. We rode in my chariot. A commandeered Datsun truck I’d won in a lively game of pick-up basketball on Yucca.

At Thai Angel, Hugo and Ms. NY/Jersey really had something going on. And it really didn’t involve me. Left to my own devices, I struck up a conversation with Greek Cypriots who were visiting from Florida. We talked ornithology. We talked island-life. We talked bloodshed. We talked Arabic. We talked English. They didn’t speak either.

Cyprus12stamp

From what I could tell, they wanted to dance. There were three of them. As you well know, it’s very difficult to dance with three people. The intimacy is lost. You stand in a circle watching each other’s hips gyrate. They wanted me to join. They wanted to pair off.

The problem is, after talking bloodshed, I was ready to spill some. They bought me a whisky. I stared into the Styrofoam cups and waited for the truth to surface. I found nothing but Jim Beam and ice.

The sun started to rise. Deep house music was putting me to sleep. I ate a hot bowl of dumpling soup, which tasted like recycled urine and mint. And then it hit me.

The Cypriot men, there were two, and the Cypriot woman split to their respective bathrooms. I ordered them to smuggle as many paper towels as possible. The men came up empty handed—the bathroom was all out. The woman, whose name I didn’t catch or care to remember, fulfilled and surpassed expectations.

On my way to the Datsun, I passed Hugo. He was whispering something patriotic to his date. I waved; he winked. The Cypriots and I hit the parking lot where the bouncer told us to get the fuck inside or go home.

Sure thing, boss.

We stuffed the paper towels into my gas tank. I get horrible ear infections so I keep a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the center consul. I drizzled the torn seats with the stuff. I ejected my Tony Robbins self-help tape and pocketed it. ( Tony has really done great things for my self-esteem.)

The lady Cypriot lit the wad of paper towels. All my favorite arsonists are women.

When a car burns it’s not like in the movies. This was hugely disappointing. From across the street we watched the car light up. It was mainly smoke. Not much of a flame. It never blew up. BANG!!!… never happened. It just smoked out. I realized those goddamn Cypriots are good-for-nothing arsonists. If you’re wondering why their economy is shot, it all comes back to their inability to properly blow up a car.

I caught a cab and left the Cypriots to their three-way dance party. Next time, I need to blow something up I’m going to get a Syrian.

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Lassie: America’s Favorite Crossdressing Collie

He sticks out the arm of his acid washed jean jacket and says “My man, hold up.” He’s carrying brochures and I think, he thinks he’s going to sell me a bus tour of “Hollywood.” Because I’ve been dying to see Bob Barker’s house…

“Check it out,” he says. A few feet in front of us are two portly blonde tourists in their late-thirties. They lean over a cemented star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame.

Appreciatively, I nod at the guy.  Thanks for pointing out the fat chicks. Though, I must confess I’ll take the company of a creep over that of a salesman any day.

The portly blondes snap photos of the star then simultaneously show each other their individual pictures of the same thing. Their sunburned arms look like overgrown eggplants.

The guy in the acid washed jean jacket shakes his head. “This is how the world ends.”

“How do you know?” I ask.

He points at the star they’ve just photographed.

Lassie was a talented actor. Lassie was also a male. Essentially, Lassie was a pre-op transvestite like my neighbor Gladys. For Gladys’ sake, I hope the world ends after her operation.

 

-The Neapolitan Mastiff

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