Monthly Archives: August 2006

Welcome to Tijuana

Left thursday night for San Diego and a Friday presentation for the Southern California Technology something or other, and stayed at the…at the…damn, it was a good weekend! my only excuse, but it was a hotel, on San Diego’s hotel circle no less.  Who thought it a good idea to build hundreds of hotels on a mile long strip beside the freeway I ask you?  Ensuring that you must get into your car and drive if you wish to do anything but sleep or eat, I suppose it is the American way and the reason we’re the fattest nation in the world.  Still, our little hotel was a 1970’s paradise with a fake stone interior, fake tropical foliage and, I am happy to say, home to the Waffle Spot and a host of engaging breakfast characters such as the Waffle King, Sir Up, Squire Browns, the Court Eggster, Sir Robin of Flapjack, Sir Waffleot, and the Banger Brothers.  They were quite tasty.  The conference went well, I didn’t choke, and then we were off to Tijuana.

Tijuana…hard to know where to even start, I can’t…perhaps I shall just give random impressions.  The smell first of all, I think all big border towns smell the same, TJ, Nogales, Juarez…a mezcla of urine, roast meat, chiles, cheap perfume, hints of rotting garbage and sewage from time to time, sweat, leather and fresh cut wood from the shops…Naco doesn’t smell quite like that if anyone cares.  If you like cheap, colourful, shiny things this is paradise, base silver jewelry, bead bracelets, statues of every character you can imagine.  Christ and the Saints and la Virgen de Guadalupe in bottles, on towels, on shirts and ponchos, on blankets, pasted on wood plaques with shiny acrylic painted over them, as garish painted statues.  Right next to obscene T-shirts, right below the bars and strip clubs lining la Calle Revolucion.  Liquor stores everywhere.  Most of the women are sadly bulging out of skirts that are far too short and halter tops that are far too small.  Or sunburned tourists wearing flowy “vacation in mexico” clothes.  It is common practice to look a woman from top to bottom and then back up from bottom to top, and while emancipated, I have to admit myself quite glad of Jose and Ryan walking around with us because when every man does it I stop being furious and begin to be a tiny bit afraid.  But that was later really, I suppose an all night fling in TJ requires sterner stuff.

Every visitor is quickly drunk, because all the bars sell buckets of ice and beer – 10 coronas for $10.  Or shots of course, and caballitos for the unwary.  I tried one of those on my 21st b-day in Guadalajara, everyone poured out of the kitchen banging on pots and pans while a waiter tipped a shot of tequila down my throat, covered my mouth with a hand towel and shook my head roughly while blowing loudly on a whistle.  I have never been drunker. This is background, because on Friday, I saw them pour 5 shots down people’s throats and even though the poor souls were begging for mercy, shake their heads all around. We saw cops wrestling this huge pelon to the ground, handcuff him, and throw him into the back of their pick-up.  I think it must have been a slow night because the dance floors were pretty thin of dancers, and so you were able to watch some rather disgusting displays, and I am really afraid that if hear another raggaeton song playing ever again it shall bring with it incredibly disturbing flashbacks.  Every strip club had men in front to bring in the customers with a variety of propositions for ladies and gentlemen alike…the place is just a mad mixture of drunkeness, sex, mad catholicism in bright colours, desperate poverty, falling down buildings and rubble, clubs blasting out cumbias and reggaeton and hip hop from all directions…

Highlights were the lucha match, that was awesome.  Sobering up a bit in the early early morning with tacos 3 for a dollar and Vicente Fernandez singing Por Tu Maldito Amor and Volver Volver Volver on the juke box and me singing along with him – I like singing with a beer in one hand and a taco in the other.  Our taxi driver who taught us the fantastic new phrase hijo de la mañana.  Really good tapas at a Spanish restauraunt. Wandering old men carrying guitars and accordeons and bases, singing us rancheras over a late and delicious breakfast.  A Darth Vader marionette.  Playing pool at 4:00 am in a sketch bar, where there were only 3 solids yet two cue balls, only two cue sticks one of which was sadly cracked, and the table felt was stained and still wet from, er, something or other…I played brilliantly though with an incomplete set who can care but me?  It happens from time to splendid time though how I make almost every shot I really have no idea since in general I am pretty bad.

Of course the best bit was just a memorable weekend with good friends.  Hope Britain can compete, only 4 to days to go and I’m off!

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Typical Tuesday

Power went out sometime Monday night so alarm did not go off…got up at 7:50 am thinking I had all the time in the world because the alarm had not yet gone off, when in fact I had to be in front of city hall in ten minutes.  Holy fucking shit!  (I exclaimed, I’m always extra poetic in the mornings), ducked my head under the shower, threw on some clothes, thank god they matched, ran out the door…made it by 8:15, not too shabby at all considering!  Public hearings, ah how I hate them! Frantic prepping of tenants to speak against the displacement of families with public funds, they did well!  I didn’t have to speak thank god, get me in front of a microphone and my stylish intelligent exterior dissolves into abject incoherence.  A few hours later and we’re done.

Was walking by the cathedral and passed a couple of these little squares…

If you can’t read it, this little plaque in the sidewalk says “Right to pass by permission and subject to owner…”  What the hell?  How is this possible on a public sidewalk?  I jumped on it, and continued on.

Off to work for a management team meeting, I wasn’t in the mood and therefore very surprising and highly inappropriate comments escaped my lips regularly, luckily everyone else seemed rather in the mood for such comments so I escaped unscathed.  Of to my desk for a brief 20 minutes to begin attacking the mound of papers I have to go through, and then out the door to meet with some tenants who are very upset…very understandably given their building currently looks like this!

The bastard owner did this to the building while tenants were still living there…he did remediate the asbestos finally at least.  The inside looks like this

Turns out the bathrooms on the second floor have no support underneath them, lovely!  They were shut down on an incredibly stressful Friday afternoon.  Came off today though, nice work on our part I think.  The rest of the place still dismal though, have much to do to get that shit fixed!

Finally, off home, hot and sunny and look what I found just down the block from my house?  It made me happy!

Bannanas!  Aren’t they cool?  The sight of them almost made up for all the suffering of the day, a good thing I can appreciate the small things in life!  But then I got home and had a rejection notice in the mail for my novel…three down one to go, and back to the drawing board for an ambitious arg who really wants to be an Author with a capital A.  Even if it is a crap mystery romance.  Still, these people didn’t even bother with a letter, just wrote in green ink on my query letter (returned posthaste to my doorstep) “think we’ll pass on this one, good luck!”  Luck is not what I need, what I need is an agent!  Damn them!  You all will just have to wait a little longer before you can buy my book on the shelves, I know you’re pining but what can I do?

Today was better.

ARG and MEO hit Hollywood

Arg and Meo took a little bike trip down to Hollywood today, sadly it is being cleaned up and turned into a giant mall…but enough is left of the grit and madness and classic movie star murals to make it worth a visit from time to time, though I shudder to think what tourists make of it!  Now that I think about it though, they must love it, who doesn’t love sex shops and playmates lingerie and stripper shoe stores?  Whenever my lime green shiny leather boots with their five inch platform heels wear out (happens far too often I can tell you) I sleep soundly knowing they are easily replaced!  It’s very educational for the whole family, I know I certainly learn something new about human anatomy and what you can do with it everytime I head down there!

Still, the old movies are magical…Some of my favorites are by the gentleman who said “a lot of movies are about life, mine are like a slice of cake.”  I don’t know what kind of cake that would be honestly, but who can resist it?

He also said “Blondes make the best victims. They’re like virgin snow that shows up the bloody footprints.”  I don’t know why I think that is funny.  But I do.

Another favorite…I have to interject and say that I had no idea these folks were painted on the roll downs because I’ve only ever seen them up and the seedy stores behind open for business, but they’re great…another favourite is

The master himself, who said “A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet.” (I’m looking these up by the way, I really loves quotes and can never remember them unless I’ve seen a movie 50 times so…), he also said “Ecstasy is not really part of the scene we can do on celluloid.”  And lastly, particularly relevant for today, “Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”

One last femme fatale to balance things out, a mosaic:

Always wanted Bette Davis eyes, someone yelled big eyes at me from a car the other day but I don’t think that counts, nor do I have any idea if they were being insulting or complimentary.  I took it as the second.  My favourite quote?  “I’d love to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.”

I’d have liked to have run into Humphrey Bogart, or Lauren Bacall, or Katherine Hepburn, they’re all over but didn’t see them today.  We did see the enigmatical king of flying mammals screaming at some people in a car…he was very very angry indeed…

Off he goes, striding away in the sulks.

The afternoon was spent at the Tofu festival in Little Tokyo, which was supremely unphotogenic.  Very yummy though.

Memories of Bouse, AZ

Memories of Bouse, AZ

For everyone who has not had the pleasure of picking random small Arizona towns on a map and just driving…where else can you buy a ghost town museum?

Bouse: pop 200 in summer
1500 in winter

I’m throwing in a view of Ajo (aka Garlick) as a freebie

70th Floor

hat’s where I was, 70th floor of the tallest building in LA, I love pro bono corporate lawyers! During our meeting (5 hours of meeting, and I can barely sit still for 2, it was a sad test of arg’s superpowers though some superb doodling was accomplished) I actually looked down upon helicopters as they flew about their business. If it had not been smoggy I might, just might, have seen the ocean. I did see my house, look, here it is as you face north from downtown! I pointed out some of the sights as well

And the view south into smogginess…

My office is somewhere on the far top left in lovely South C, didn’t feel it was worth a red arrow! I bike through here every day, but I now know I am invisible from such a height…I suppose this perspective makes it much easier to really screw over poor people…Sadly, thus also die my dreams of an executive looking down one day and falling in love with me from afar…I shall simply have to work harder at getting hit by a jaguar, you wouldn’t think it’d be so hard given how poorly their owners drive!

BARCA!

Big game last night, anticipation, as is all too often the case, was much better than the match sadly, but still, Ronaldinho came in second half…and the crowd went wild!  No Messi sadly, only 7 starters, Marquez was there, Omar Bravo for the Chivas…ended up as a tie 1-1, some good shots on goal, one of them off the crossbar, but a pretty defensive game alltogether though Barca dominated.  Some drama around the Barca goal I found later, supposedly should have been offsides, but who could tell where we were??  The crowd really deserved better because it was an amazing event.  Since most of the male population of Jalisco currently lives in LA you can imagine the Chivas fervour and the crowd was amazing, the distractions on the whole were better than the match, and here they are in order of appearance…first though the view from where we were sitting

You can see that forgiveness is necessary for a lack of the play by play excitement that might have been had I been in a box seat.  I’ll try and make richer friends!  So, focus on what I did see…ie distractions:

1.  Coors light…the only alcoholic (if you can call it alcoholic) beverage served at the event, a tragic mockery of beer on sale a pitiful 2 glasses at a time.  Luckily I forgot to eat something before so I just made it to the proper feel-good haze required for a football match.

2.  A small child sat behind who was cute enough, but thought it great fun to hit my back as I was watching

3.  The wave, made the rounds several times during the frequent dull moments

4.  Some idiot female dancing and threatening to take of her top (she never did to great general disappointment)…she had my entire section on their feet staring to our left and blocking my view.  I suppose if you don’t have your own breasts a view of someone elses is pretty exciting, especially for all of the 10 year olds in the crowd who might have never seen them…5 policeman converged…the police had a mighty presence at the game, this isn’t quite in order but here they are escorting the refs off the field from the first MLS game (it was a doubleheader), mildly amusing as no one really cared about the game or the refs…

6.  An unknown man to our left in a very large sombrero somehow incited the ire of the crowd which commenced a massive food fight and the throwing of cups of beer and water…didn’t get a good shot of that sadly, but the police were forced to intervene a second time.

7.  Sprinklers!!  Oh yes, someone forgot to turn of the automatic timer so the sprinklers came on in the middle of the game, just on our end of the field and sadly play was far away as Barca rushed the Chivas goal so no one got wet…All of the action happened once Ronaldinho was in and hell for me because it all happened on the other end of the field mostly…

8.  Fireworks!  How fans got fireworks in I do not know, but they were quite lovely against the backdrop of downtown…

9.  Smoke bombs?  Is that what they were?  I don’t know, but there was an entire section of mad chivas fans complete with red and white streamers and as far as I can tell no one there sat down for the duration of the two games, and they had drums…The smoke effects were quite impressive however, I imagine the police intervened yet again, but could see nothing!

And so there you have it!  A great time had by one and all I believe!  Especially when the Chivas scored to tie the game, a lovely header in the last minutes.

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Friday!

Hurrah for the weekend! Especially since this is how I spent most of my Friday…

It looks exhilerating I know, it was, ah the joys of public record requests about really bad people! We’ll get him, that’s the good news. The bad news is that I have another crate to slog through.

More bad news, they painted over one of the murals on Broadway the bastards, like LA isn’t dingy and dirty enough without them covering up the art that is out there…here’s what he used to look like:

He’s interesting at least, but they have now painted the whole side of the building a horrible beige colour, must have been this week or last, sadly I can’t remember when I last saw him…I suppose I should at least look up who he was and why he was there, and who fucking destroyed him, I rather think it was the city because I think they own the building. Still, came by Gehry’s Disney Hall on the way home and I do love that building, hopefully no one will ever paint it beige as well.

Isn’t it beautiful? It should be on a hill or a lake or anywhere you can see all of it at once and wonder…as it is crammed between buildings you can only capture its beautiful curves, I love round buildings! LA probably won’t ruin this one for another 100 years or so…