Monthly Archives: December 2006

Tucson Christmas

Christmas was marvelous, all three of my brothers at home, folks doing well, reunited with the dog and the cat…thought I’d just give the highlights though, it was eventful:

Friday went to Berky’s Bar with Mike and T, only 5 blocks from my house and full of crazy bikers in black leather, where you can hear all of your favourite classic rock tunes played live…an eventful evening but I am writing a story about that so I shan’t share here. I did rediscover my love of classic rock and motorcycles however, especially given the Bush bashing from the lead singer between songs which restored a little of my faith in america.
Christmas eve spent making cookies, wrapping presents – I love to wrap presents, apparently that’s strange but so it is. Played hearts with the family and I WON! It was unprecedented, and I now have the confidence to take on the whole world. Also played Oh Hell, and I came in second and that’s a bit unprecedented as well.
Christmas was lovely, opening presents is always lovely, I love opening presents as much as I love wrapping them. Some of my tags included:

To: Everything sucks, give me a beer (somehow they all knew that was me)
From: Dan

To: The revolutionary
From: George W. Bush’s Biggest Fan (that’s a joke btw)

To: The Beast’s Id
From: T’s Ego

To: Andrea
From: Santa

It’s nice to know Santa is still around. We played boggle before dinner and I WON! Again, unprecedented. Not that we’re a competative family or anything. I drank steadily after the small family spat at the beginning of dinner, tension was high…the boggle rematch after helped to calm things down, and i discovered I play dismally while drinking. Luckily while drinking I don’t care. Went out on the town after, to Ray’s houseparty first, huge bonfire in the backyard, a keg of Killians, and his band filling up the whole front room of the house so that everyone had to kick it in the kitchen to listen. This particular configuration has only been together a couple of months but sounded really good. After Ray’s we headed over to the Buffet…another dive bar, absolutely packed full and everything on tap was sold out, suppose Christmas is a popular day for drinking. They are called the buffet, but the only food they sell are hotdogs cooked in Coors, luckily I wasn’t quite drunk enough to try one of those…and on the way out some guy grabbed my hand and actually asked me, “Hey beautiful, where have you been all my life?” I smiled, patted his shoulder and thanked him for a marvelous line never yet directed at me, and continued out the door. T was behind me and he said, “hey man, that’s my sister,” upon which I cursed under my breath and turned around, but luckily all went well, the guy responded, “then you can be my brother-in-law,” everyone laughed, shook hands, and we were off.
Boxing day…fucking huge ass hangover. We watched the dvd’s we’d gotten for Christmas, the daily show, boondocks, father ted…we weren’t good for much else I must say.
More dvd’s the next day, went down to Hotel Congress to see another band, they were accoustic and cheesy. The first is alright, but the second really unforgivable when the singers are actually taking themselves seriously. We contemplated follwing up with more beer at the Hut, but T was off at 4:30am the next morning so we called it a night.
T left the next day with only one emergency and one tantrum, to Scotland the bastard which is where I should be, and I was sad, but we had an amazing thunderstorm…I sat outside in the porch and wrote and the lightening cracked impossibly across the sky and the thunder rumbled deep and the mountains were cloaked in black and grey and then it began hailing. It smelled of life itself, nothing smells as good as the desert in the rain, and I do believe I achieved enlightenment…well, at least I realized that in the midst of a thunderstorm I am entirely happy and alive and…can’t describe it, but the cold whips through you until you are entirely tingly and awake and nothing exists outside of the moment and the flashes of light and the wind and thunder’s sounding and you desire absolutely nothing more but to be there, to be…

vacation settled down after that high point, a little shopping, lots of eating, more games none of which I won. Final Thursday night at Berky’s, grateful dead night with Ray and his dad’s band…it was rocking, they play in front of these huge tie dyed banners and have their die hard fans who dance their pot smoker dance to every song. We were there talking and watching the 50 most ridiculous moments in sport (muted which made it even better) it was incredible, needless to say, and we drank ’til the bartender kicked us out. Today was again a bit painful, low key…and here i am home again. I’m off once more tomorrow on grand adventures and the new year festivities appears to hold tents, a bonfire, music, and a beach in Mexico so life will be good until Tuesday morning.

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1st downtown beer and bike crawl

It all started at Theosophy Hall, but if you want to hear about that you’ll have to ask me, I was planning a hilarious expose but though I shan’t convert I did like the folks there too much to mock…or maybe I’m just too hungover to remember much…or maybe it will end up in my great novel for the ages…can’t tell.

So, we started it all at the infamous Golden Gopher. I remember in my baby days in LA accidentally walking down 8th street between Olive and Broadway in the early evening, a never repeated error as it consisted of the sketchiest bars imaginable complete with hostess dancing and hotels above renting rooms by the hour…I was propositioned twice in the space of one block and found the experience a bit traumatic. However it has changed a bit, the Bristol Hotel was actually a residential hotel and the current asshole owner when he bought it emptied it of all 120 tenants within 24 hours, some at gunpoint. I’m not saying all of the tenants were lovely, but they did deserve to have their rights respected and some time to remove their belongings and themselves to somewhere other than the streets of skid row. The owner has since mostly paid for his criminal activity, though certainly not enough, and his bar the Golden Gopher is open for business, and amazingly full of slightly obnoxious hipsters. Happily Club El Gaucho complete with hostess dancing is still open next door…funnily enough we didn’t consider going in, though the steps down into it were lit up purple and inviting…

It’s not too bad, the coolest thing about it is the exterior, though if you get there early enough you can actually drink your beer while listening to Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline, though that sadly transitioned into some techno pop as we finished our beer and ran out the door.

Next stop the Broadway Bar, very cool interior and almost empty…

they had the most entertaining bartenders, we ended up drinking two beers there instead of the one as planned, as we were bribed to stay with happy hour prices long after happy hour was done and three dollars for the jukebox. The only bar with a jukebox btw, and it was indie-rific, they actually had the Kaiser Chiefs and the White Stripes and the Smiths and a bunch of other good stuff. So two quick stories, one of the bartenders was an aspiring actor (surprised us, that did), and had gone to an audition for an infomercial with the scientologists…they weren’t give any of the lines before they showed up, and when they did arrive were given pamphlets that looked remarkably like propaganda for the scientologist cause, when our friend (drunkeness has erased his name, everyone’s name in fact, I apologize) went into the room he began reading, and the woman stopped him and asked him if he understood what he was reading. He was surprised, but actually there were a lot of words that he knew but were used in a completely different context than he was used to, so she began explaining things to him in a preachy sort of way…starting with the idea of becoming clean…she stopped after a short while and asked him to come with her into an adjoining room where she showed him these two metal rods hooked up to a machine that you were supposed to take into each hand, and they ran an electric current and you sat there while you were asked very emotional questions about abuse and such, supposed to measure the amount of emotion you registered upon hearing each question, the more emotion you felt the less “clean” you were. She suggested he should join up and then he could really do justice to the part…he said he’d think about it and then ran. Scientology really is the most ridiculous thing, much worse than theosophy I must say. Second story is much shorter…the other bartender used to work for R.J. Reynolds, the big tobacco company as a rep selling cigarrettes to bars, and he said that for a while he had to try and push these “smokeless” cigarrettes, which essentially were designed to smoke inside without bothering those around you. Needless to say they were total crap and never made the big time, though I should have dearly liked to try one.

So, now 3 beers later we got back on our bikes and headed to the Redwood recommended by our new friends, but on the way we passed La Cita and made the split second decision to stop…and damn, I am so glad we did! Undoubtedly the best in terms of ambience and general coolness, here it is from the outside:

Not much to look at, a bit divey in fact though I’d never hold that against a place, but inside…

It was fantastic, it’s been there for decades, it had red velvet, all the lights were red, the pillars holding up the ceiling were covered with small mirror tiles, you know I’m going to go back on the weekend for some serious ranchera action…on this wednesday evening however, it was all but empty, one or two hipster folks, Hendrix and Black Sabbath playing. Some pasty faced guy wandered in wearing a suit and told the bartenders that his uncle was the owner and then he wandered out again…ridiculous git. Anyways, me and Jose downed another beer, a smooth Bohemia for me this time, I was pretty happy by then, probably because I’d gotten to play with a tequila bottle shaped like a gun though mercifully I was sober enough not to sample its contents…

He was playing it cool as befitted his surroundings of course…and we were off.

The Redwood…we had high hopes, had heard good things…

Sadly, we walked in, and first thing that strikes you is the ridiculous fake pirate decor…and it was ridiculous. A big plastic skull and crossbones over the bar, fake ropes everywhere, a non-functioning canon…second strike was that Jaws 3 was playing on the flat screens…i personally do not care to watch people getting chomped by sharks while drinking my beer. third strike was that the place didn’t even smell like a bar. And fourth strike was the clientele, the two guys sitting near us atthe bar were rating the women in the movie on a numerical scale – “now she’s a hot seven, what do you think?” “Oh, she’s a four, definitely a four.” And then one of them told a story about how he was in a bar and some girl slapped him in the face, fucking idiot, i felt like slapping him in the face myself, I would of done it too if it wouldn’t have revealed my horrible habit of evesdropping in public places…so we downed our beers and took off.

We had been planning to end up at the Gold Room, Echo Park’s safer kind of dive bar, we had talked about El Chubasco, but weren’t drunk enough to dare given the quantity of blood and teeth mopped up outside every morning. But no dinner and five beers and 1 am and work in the morning and the bike…I had to call it a night because I’m a bit of a lightweight and five beers is a lot, even when stretched out over a period of happy hours and vigorous excercise. We went in search of the taco truck at the end of my street and the bastard wasn’t there…the only disappointment of the evening. A fantastic night all around, and the echo park bike and beer crawl will be scheduled for January…or finishing up the bars downtown, but all that are left are the really super shi shi ones, so perhaps we’ll give it a miss.

The Great Adventure at Theosophy Hall

There is a peculiar beautiful old building in the neighborhood of the office, the Hall of Theosophy, it is entirely unexpected where it is on Grand and Jefferson and surrounded by factories. I also read W.B. Yeats’ biography a while ago and some fragments of what theosophy was stuck with me…Madame Blavatsky and her familiars, bizarre is what I remember mostly, very bizarre.

So tonight, with the support of Jose J. Zamarripa and the knowledge that I will soon be leaving this place forever, we are going to investigate by attending the weekly wednesday introductory talk on Theosophy. All have warned us against it, all have declared us fools, none have dared to join us…we have left the address with five different friends, together with detailed instructions on how to extricate us if we do not return home within three days…

If all goes well, however, we will listen for a while, sneak out the back door early and without having given up our identities, and go to the few remaining bars downtown that we have not been too…since this list is different for both of us, it should be quite a few. So, to increase your anticipation for the exciting finale to this adventure I leave you with a short description of theosophy which sounds happily and utterly ridiculous…but first, my favourite part of their declaration…” The work it has on hand and the end it keeps in view are too absorbing and too lofty to leave it the time or inclination to take part in side issues.” I’m going to start using that myself…

from Blavatsky net

“Theosophy is a fragment of the ancient, once universal, wisdom teaching.
The masters of Theosophy, located in Tibet and around the world, preserve and extend this ancient wisdom. Periodically they send forth one of their own – or a messenger – to help spread this teaching to all of humanity.

In the 1800’s they had been searching for a century for the next messenger and finally settled upon Helena Blavatsky, born to a noble Russian family. She saw the master who would be her teacher in her dreams as a child. She met him in Hyde Park in London when she was 20. She managed to enter Tibet and was trained by those masters in Tibet from 1868 to 1870. From 1875 through her death in 1891 she spread that message around the world.

Theosophy is the name Blavatsky gave to that portion of knowledge that she brought from the masters to the world. It comes from the term “Theosophia” used by the Neoplatonists to mean literally “knowledge of the divine”.”

kosher yemeni food

It’s so yum! I delight in food, the love is heart felt and deep rooted though it does not include the shishi or the overpriced. The Magic Carpet (close your eyes girl, look inside girl, let the sun take you away…I’ve been singing that all damn afternoon) on Pico and La Cienaga – highly recommended, had our staff party there this afternoon…I mean, look at this spread:

Even Amaya liked it though you can’t really tell

She’s finally getting to the interesting age where she can actually talk, I must confess I don’t quite know what to do with children before they hit that milestone…and the worst is that every day is a new day with babies, they’re your best friend and then tomorrow comes and they don’t have any clue who you are and you have to start all over again, fickle little buggers I must say. But I like them once you can talk and play more than peek-a-boo, me and Amaya have nice long conversations now where we both get to make up all of the words. Anyways, food is delicious, for the vegetarians the eggplant moussaka is the best I’ve had ever, eggplant seems to be one of the few things I just can’t seem to cook. The bread is of the best as well.

This is my plate, showing two of my greatest weaknesses – my dislike of cooked carrots and my unfortunate tendency to amass cutlery. It does feel good to get this off my chest…

The ambience is unbeaten as well, here’s an action shot of the indomitable Beverly, lately my practical partner in crime

And a mannekin…a first for me as far as restaurant decoration goes. This gentleman was a first as well

I don’t know what he’s selling but I bought some…

ahhhhhhh sunday

I love sundays, long and mellow and full of rest. Those are the good ones, and by that standard I have had a superlative one, highly unexciting however, this is a good blog to read right before bed. I woke up late, got up, had a cup of coffee and some homemade biscotti, opened up the times crossword (it didn’t go well at all sadly), fell back asleep on the couch, woke up, had some more coffee, got some quality email done, took a shower about 3…that was a bit of an awakening, turns out my feet were frozen almost solid and it took a few painful minutes as they wakened back into life, can’t believe LA is this fucking cold. Wandered down to the drugstore and bought some wine and some packing tape…i was going to make mulled wine, I’m feeling rather medieval today and it felt like just the thing for a little holiday pick-me-up, sadly, I did not realize orange juice was necessary and am not fancying another little walk to the drugstore. I might go pull some kumquats off of my tree, but they are very small and did I say I was feeling lazy? I am, very. Even so, I am going to clean the kitchen in a moment and cook to the cheerful tunes of chichi peralta, more dancing than cooking actually…once i finish off my tea.

Had to work yesterday, thanks all of you that came! Luckily we know a bit about making work fun, here’s our little holiday event, Son del centro and eastside cafe and friends to make the day go faster…

It rained yesterday which means we didn’t get much turn out which was sad, it is highly amusing how LA shuts down and retreats into itself in the face of some showers! Still, the music was great, and folks missed seeing someone play the jawbone of a very large cow! That alone was worth a trip in the rain I think, and my photographs were another, I actually decided to sell some which was nerve wracking because what if no one liked them? Luckily people did and I sold almost enough to pay for the new printer I bought to print them out on…made almost seventy dollars in fact in spite of low turnout, how exciting is that? Only one woman sniffed and told me I should have made them bigger and wandered away without buying one…I was able to laugh that comment off with Davin’s help, though I’m a bit sensitive about my photos and my writing I must admit. I’m working on thick skin but it hasn’t quite grown in yet!

Anyways, tea almost done…second band dhum machale and they were great though not quite my taste, a bit too R&B really, but perhaps it’s just that as they were setting up I was convinced they would be playing some nice cuban son…I mean check out the guitar players outfit! I also loved the guy on the keyboards…

The best part was that they had one groupie…one middle aged white lady complete in belly dancing costume AND belly dancing moves, where do these people come from?? She was awesome, and convinced they will be the next big thing and we’ll all be talking about the day we saw them playing at SAJE…well, I charitably hope she is right of course. I still wish some really good indie or punk bands were knocking down our door to play in our space, but such is life.

Right, finished my tea, I wonder what I shall cook? Think I’m going to go pick some kumquats after all before it gets dark.

Andrei Rublev

Just saw this movie and have no idea what to think of it so I am writing about it in hopes that some insight will strike, and so I won’t lie in bed thining about it instead of going to sleep…it is my tried and true method that works about 50% of the time. And I will write like the wind because work rises menacingly in the morning. So, Andrei Rublev…”a cinematic masterpiece,” that bit sounds alright, “a mesmerizing account of 15th century Russian monk AR follows the painter as he faces violence, political persecution…” so far so good, “the soviets suppressed this sweeping epic,” now you can see why I requested it…still, I think it should be subtitled 50 reasons why you should be glad you are not Russian. I might be joking, I suppose almost everyone in the fifteenth century wandered about in mud and pouring rain with rags wrapped round their feet and holes in all of their clothes. Though there was a subtle emphasis on the noble brutish peasant and the all-powerful god like high prince that I felt was a bit unique and certainly not for me.

So, I should have realized earlier that epic meant really really fucking long movie…and this is the culture that spawned tolstoy and pushkin after all. The cinematography was indeed masterful, nice sweeping scenes, nice camera work around trees, some lovely shots of blood and paint swirling in water and snow…a great deal of symbolism of which I probably did not understand a quarter, it takes about an hour to really get into it…it started to get good at the orgy scene connected with witchcraft, and mass skinny dipping on a scale never before seen by the likes of me, who knew the 15th century was also fun? And how brave was the director for trying to show that in 1966 Russia? That’s where Andrei’s crisis of faith first sets in, and about time too, I was hoping for the next 2 and a half hours (as I said, the first hour you really have very little idea as to what is going on) he’d strip off the black hood, and settle down with marya the tempting heathen seductress for a long overdue roll in the haybarn and a jolly nice life, but that would have made it less of a masterpiece I suppose. The tatars were good, I had forgotten all about them, there were definitely a number of shots of evil orientals spearing women, setting things on fire, and laughing a great deal while doing so. And so I felt a little battered after getting beaten around the head with the message “brother Russians unite against the evil outsiders,” and “the great Russian motherland will suffer, but she will always endure.” I suppose that was the gist of things, a good bit about the evils of envy that doesn’t come together for the perceptive viewer until the very end, and finally that it is a sin not to do what you were born to do if you have a great talent, I might possibly agree with that, except for the sin bit because I don’t believe in sin particularly. There were more subtle messages and it was quite layered, i’m probably being flippant so I don’t have to admit I didn’t catch everything, I might read about it tomorrow because I’m curious and then watch it again ten years from now. So Andrei paints icon’s again and Boriska – symbol of a new succesful Russia reborn from war and plague and famine perhaps? – continues making bells and all is well. Except for the 4 or 5 horses that I am quite sure had their legs broken and were put out of their misery on film especially for this movie, and the cow that got set on fire. I don’t imagine that back in 1966 they had the special effects to produce what I saw without harming any animals…

It had an impact, I’ll not deny it, and set my mind working, definitely worth watching on a nice leisurely Sunday evening, especially if you’re drinking wine. The mulling was unsuccesful so I cracked open the other bottle (I might be convinced it’s a sin to waste a good bottle of wine, i do feel terribly guilty), I think I was thinking of mead anyways, though I don’t know what mead is, it does sound nice. So, just one last thought on icons to finish up, or perhaps religious decoration in general. Because icons puzzle me a great deal… I was in Greece and it was extraordinarily beautiful: deep azure sea, rich brown earth, and these incredible dazzling white churches in the hot sunlight that looked as if they had risen up from the ground itself, round and oddly shaped and lovely. And I kept wanting to go inside and see a clean empty space, round and oddly shaped and lovely, with walls of dazzling white because i rather believe that if god exists god would prefer such a space. And instead what strikes you is the darkness, and the overpowering scent of incense and these pale oval faces staring down at you with huge cold eyes and tiny pursed lips that I find singularly unpleasant, and scenes of the last judgement and fire and pain…there was a line in the movie something like “God will forgive you, but you should not forgive yourself. You will forever walk between god’s forgiveness and divine torment.” That’s from Theophanes the Greek who rose from the grave to speak these lines amidst a smoking mass of dead bodies (damn tatars) so I hope I got it mostly right, but still, it captures what orthodox churches are like, but without the forgiveness part, honestly, it possibly solves the great question of the Russian temprement, but which came first? Spanish churches are as bad, I stopped going into them because everything is gilded and flashy, and all the saints are gloomy and accusing, and jesus is here there and everywhere spouting blood. Makes me glad to be English, where you have the great cathedrals soaring up into the sky, of pure unpainted stone and wood and stained glass, and they are vast and echoing and focus your mind on anything but guilt and darkness and blood. Though I daresay were I not speaking of them in comparison to what is far worse I should be able to be a bit more critical.

Anyways, bed for me, i shall stop being terribly un-pc now as I have probably mortally offended anyone who is russian and/or greek orthodox or a spanish catholic, or a new world catholic for that matter because Mexico and Brazil at the least are just as bad. Worse, in Brazil I went into a room that was full of ancient mummified dignitaries still dressed in full canonicals and a full size statue of Christ with red velvet ropes coming out of his side, his hands, and his feet, and connected to another life size statue of a monk kneeling before him. Couldn’t sleep for a week after that horrifying experience, still, they can blame their colonizers for such a monstrosity. Right, can’t believe I reminded myself of that right before bed, this is not one of my prouder moments…

moving desks

Today was my last day up at the front of SAJE, because Gerry’s back tomorrow! He’s the office manager and gets his seat back after more than a month away and I get mine, and I’m happy. Happy to see him, and happy to return to him his view and one or two of his responsabilities. I was staring out our front door, been doing that a lot lately, and thought perhaps I’d let you all know what can be seen from Gerry’s desk, a slice of south central life as it were. We do work in a fucked up place, however, so a note of caution, most of South C is very nice contrary to popular opinion and I don’t want to perpetuate stereotypes. So here we go, grab hold of your seats and feel free to avert your eyes if it gets too scary…

1. Methadone addicts, very thin black folks with canes or in wheelchairs, one scrawny white guy who looked like he was in a metal band in the 80’s, a couple of old veteranos who drove up in montecarlos and cadillacs…we have a lovely for-profit methadone clinic across 32nd st and on the corner, it is the legal drug dealer of the neighborhood and since methadone is really only good when taken with other things, it attracts the other kind. One business concern is run by rich white men from San Diego who are respected and looked up to, and the other by poor folks of colour who are thrown into prison. I hate all of them, but the difference in treatment hardly seems fair.

2. So number two is drug dealers, since we moved in and started complaining they started operating much earlier so as to be gone before we opened, but lately have started becoming bolder and hanging around til after ten. I try not to stare out the door in the mornings, as i earnestly believe in the healthiness of witnessing as few drug deals as possible in life. That goes for people shooting up as well, that makes me sick to my stomach and my soul hurt.

3. Uncool turf related graffitti that hasn’t been painted over by the sweatshop opposite…a big MS for Mara Salvatrucha went up over a week ago, they’re the big Salvadoran gang. Two nights ago their tag got lined out, can’t tell by who. There has been mad tagging lately up and down the streets, tagged and crossed out and tagged again which means turf war heating up. I don’t like to think about that, and feel a bit unprotected on my bike…

4. Nice families with small children who live in the apartments next door to us.

5. The owner of the sweatshop opposite, Mr. Slut Magnet…that’s the name of his clothing line I think and he drives a big black hummer with magnets of naked lady sillhouettes that actually say slut magnet – I could almost give him a thumbs up for pure fucking cheek. I wonder if they work? Or if the hummer works? Makes me personally want to grab my baseball bat and do some damage, but then I’m not the type of girl he’s bent on attracting. He wears all black, grabs his crotch a lot, I think perhaps he’s Armenian? East European? He hangs out in front and directs the people actually doing work. I rather fancy driving one of his forklifts, though, those look like fun.

6. That hummer.

7. Large trucks and semis, lots of them, heavily rumbling back and forth all day long delivering things, taking things away…the steady beep beep beep of their warning bells as they back up is the constant backdrop to my day.

I think that’s about it, except for the cool folks coming to visit us of course, always a pleasure to see them. When I was little watching the sun set behind the desert mountains and one with the world I decided I would live life as deeply as possible and that somehow required facing all that was evil and taking it on…i don’t suppose in my innocence I quite realized what that meant and how hard it would be to keep my sense of balance and what is right and beautiful. So for balance here is the list of some things I would rather see…off the top of my head mind you, i should maybe work on a better list.

1. green things like trees and grass and maybe even flowers
2. penguins
3. A nice comfy bar where everyone knows my name, and they’re always glad I came, and they’re all a bit revolutionary
4. a mountain made for climbing
5. The Acropolis
6. Mariachis
7. Something mythical and extraordinary, like a dragon
8. Chanoch’s glacier. Chanoch is a large jewish mystic who keeps our books and refuses a fan on the hottest summer days because of the glacier he says he knows is right outside the door…
9. Fireflies.
10. a busy city street with a wide range of people wandering by in droves, of all races religions and individual styles, and not a damn one of them hungry, homeless, drunk, high, armed, or hurrying back to their 12 hour a day, 12 cents a sleeve sweatshop job.