Secret Pop

Apr 29, 2004

She certainly can can-can.

I don't want to talk about how hot it's been. I don't want to talk about how strange it's been. I don't want to talk about tape delay or hand-squeezing or crossing the international date line. It seems, lately, I don't want to talk much about anything. At least not here. I get my lists together and I fall behind. And I feel this strange unfamiliarity with the old days when I had so much to say about so little. I have been working a lot. That may be to blame. But in the absence of inspiration, I defer to discipline. If I don't keep up, I can only ever fall further behind. So these are the highlights that missed the stage's center in recent days.

Disneyland was brilliant and sunny and hotter than it's ever been in my recollection. Not as humid as that time I went in July. But hotter, certainly. Tom is a "cast member," so we got into both parks for free. I had never been to California Adventure. I had never eaten a fancy dinner at the Blue Bayou. At least not here. I think I did at Tokyo Disneyland, but I was too much a teenager to have ordered anything smart. This time, I had the prime rib, and plenty of it. That Soarin' Over California attraction is breathtaking. Such pretty pretty music in that park. A film score enthusiast's cup of tea -- with milk even. And that Screamer is quite a ride. Tom didn't want the secret of the super high-speed take-off to be revealed so he kept insisting on the long way around the park. A trek we had to make repeatedly because the first time, we waited 40 minutes in line only to have the ride break down. But it was worth the wait the second time around. Even though I almost had to throw down with a girl in line who kicked me in the hip as she was climbing over the rails only to blame it on me for not getting out of the way. Using my mom's terminology, I'd say that the attendance at California Adventure appears to come from a slightly different "income level," if you know what I mean. If you don't, ask me in private.

The Paul F. Tompkins Show was terrific as per usual. I laughed until my face hurt. And I wish I'd written more down. Or that I hadn't had so much to drink, as I would surely crib from the best parts and lay the decontextualized quotes down here to confuse you. Instead it's all just floating in a fog of funny. Pieces of silver. This is sad. Oh, my god! I can't forget Murderton, Crackshire, and Rapeham! I nearly collapsed my own trachea on Rapeham. If you knew why that was funny, you'd be floating on a cloud of it. Sucks for you. Incidentally, I saw that my table was right up front on the reservation chart, but somehow someone else was sitting there when I arrived. It was TV's Teri Hatcher and some other unidentified woman. Now, I'm no very important person, but I was in a minor state of dismay. Then, the server took our drink order first, but brought drinks to Samm Levine and his guest (sitting close enough to me that I couldn't help but overhear Samm's discovery that the Sprite he ordered had booze in it) before serving us. Stee-rike number two. If you count giving people with IMDb credits preferential service over ordinary paying customers like me a strike. Which I do. Jon Cryer was down at the far end of the tables, but as far as I could tell, he did not preempt any of the service I was waiting for, so I guess he's okay. For now.

I drank too much, anomalously, and that made a dent in my productivity later in the night. But it's the sort of thing I don't have the attention span to regret. Mr. F. Tompkins was spinning brilliant yarns about his recent high times in London, and I was envious. Not just because he is funnier than I will ever be, but also because he got to go abroad. Side note: I don't think I'm going to be calling him Mr. F. Tompkins anymore. I think he was referred to as Mr. Eftompkins or Mr. Ephtompkins in an interview I read, and I thought it was clever and endearing, but when I write it like that -- Mr. F. Tompkins -- it looks and sounds like the sort of name an old woman gives her overly important cat. From now on, it's anything but. Carrying on. Aimee Mann -- high on my genius list -- sang and strummed. Michael Penn was sitting down to a meal at Canter's just before the show. I saw him as I was leaving. I even said out loud but not within Michael Penn's earshot, "I hope that Aimee Mann will be playing." And that's reason number one hundred and forty-seven to attend the Paul F. Tompkins Show: it grants wishes. Paul F. even worked the Handbags and Gladrags theme into his opening number, and it gave me cause to wish that he would release that version -- and all of his songs -- on CD. I would buy such a CD again and again. You think I'm being hyperbolic, but I'm not.

So, yeah, I came home from that a bit fizzy in the head. And I wrote saucy responses to emails in my inbox, knowing I would have no recollection of it in the morning. That's what the Sent Items folder is for. Shame and retribution. I slept fitfully and awoke early enough to know that I shouldn't have gotten up. And I had all this work to do. And it was murderously hot. But it was not the end of me.

The deadlines this week have nearly been the end of me. I'm a survivor so far, but there's time yet for me to cease to be. I finished an article I was asked to write for a magazine that circulates in the Inland Empire, and I was sure it was shit, but the editor -- insisting it couldn't have been a first draft -- accepted my first draft and liked it. This is the exact sort of turnabout that will never ever teach me that procrastination and slapdashery supposedly have an effect on a career similar to the effect curiosity has on cats. How will I ever learn this lesson? If ever there was a girl in need of discipline, it's me. And I'm not just referring to the striking of the fanny.

Pasadena was hot as a motherfather yesterday. Hot and under construction and quaint-looking. I was on a job interview that seemed to go well. I was wrapped up and pitched out into traffic right at 5:15 and was surprised to find that it wasn't half murder getting home. An encouraging detail if I end up having to go there regularly.

I agreed to do some freelance transcription work yesterday, as well. Which I should never have done. I did some of this work before the holidays, and it was extra money, but laborious and time-consuming, and I don't need the money right now. But I hate to say no to people who are counting on me. Stupid as that sounds sometimes. That left me stoop-shouldered and frustrated and further behind than ever in everything else I was behind in. But when I was driving into the Hills to drop off the video tapes, it was around the hour of last call, and I decided to stop and take photos of the window display at Trashy Lingerie. That accounts for one of the eleven rolls of Lomos I dropped off today to be developed. Let's hope there's one or two in there worth keeping. I'm glad I stopped. I always think about taking those pictures, but it's always when the streets are congested and the sidewalks attentive. I liked the barrenness of La Cienega after one a.m. and the absence of self-consciousness I feel when I'm confident that no one is watching.

Tonight, I went to the Egyptian to see The Corporation as part of the Artivist Film Festival. It was just amazing. I really want to buy it by the case when it comes out on DVD and give a copy to everyone I know. I was so moved by it. And so convicted and inspired and disheartened all at once. And it provoked all manner of compelling discussion afterwards. I wish I had the presence of mind and the focus to recount some of what we talked about. But I really do hope that everyone will see this movie, and -- in the case of those who like to talk to me -- that a subset of everyone will bandy ideas around with me in the aftermath. There are some very compelling and startling ideas in this film. And I'm hoping that I can be an instrument of change. Ironically, I just became a corporation myself last week, but I promise that I will not plunder our natural resources or exploit third world labor. You can quote me on that.

After a bit of Toi, I said good night and got into my car, at which time my pants ripped completely open. And, it's not because they were too tight or anything, so don't jump to conclusions that aren't flattering to my figure. They were jeans that I paid a lot of money for and there must just have been a flaw in the weave, because they split from the seam just under the waistline all the way down the back of my thigh. And I was terribly relieved that I didn't have anywhere else to be. I even held my handbag in a strategic place when walking from my car to my apartment for fear that my neighbors might think I was clumsily trying to resurrect that Def Leppard look of 1987. Joe Elliott was great in many ways, but I can't get behind his fashion choices that year. I don't know if I should bother trying to seek reparations from Anthropologie. I'm not keen on getting that once-over from the sales clerk who will obviously think it was the fault of my ass. Speaking of which, I got a full-on, head-to-toe once-over from an orthodox Jew today. Hardcore. Anyway, now I have yet another thing in common with Spongebob Squarepants. The oops-I-ripped-my-pants thing -- not the orthodox-Jew-once-over thing. Incidentally, the things previously on the list were naïveté and butterfly kisses.

This is the point at which Blogger ate a portion of my post. A lengthy, satisfying, wrapping-up portion of my post that I will now try to recreate -- a task at which I will fail miserably, if history is any measure. And I should know. This happens to me all the bloody time. And always with the prolific posts. I'm gnashing my teeth. But back to closing.

I'm going to Coachella, but this year get this: I'm going with a VIP wristband and press photo pass. I swear, if I get a cool close-up photo of Frank Black or Kim Deal, who in the world will be cooler than me? No one! I have every Pixies CD and a wide-eyed helping of lolling admiration that cannot be outdone! You so wish you were me. Don't even try to deny that you do. I'm also thrilled and excited to see The Cure and Radiohead and Muse and Air, but rather than dangle it all before you in a disordered series, I'll just send you here so you can see for yourself. I am a bit concerned that some of the other acts I'm keen to see (Savath & Savalas, !!!, Prefuse 73, Erase Errata) are playing early enough in the line-up that, if I go to see them, I may risk speeding toward a much earlier exposure-related death. If past experience is any proof, getting there before dusk will be a form of self-immolation. It's going to be cooking temperature out there. I expect my meat to be falling off the bone by the time I'm through. But I have lovely accommodations at a chi chi resort where I can rehydrate poolside and have a massage. And a gang of other lucky folks will be bunking with me there, so there's no need to pity me.

We're in a bit of a cooling trend right now, sure sure. But they say the mercury's set to bolt right back up again just in time to incinerate me and thousands of other music-lovers like me in the cruel desert. Rolling in the rave tent is not how I'd like to go, pleasant as it might sound.

I am fairly certain that I will die out there, so if there are any of my belongings to which you are particularly attracted, get your dibs in early. And remember me fondly to those who come after us. Tell them all that I was worth it, will you?

But before any of that can happen, I've still mountains more work to do. So much so that it seems a crime. Even when life is full, it is no less fleeting.

See? I had a much better ending than that, but it's lost to me now. Afford me the benefit of the doubt and superimpose something that you would have liked to read. I'd be ever so grateful.

Apr 25, 2004

It's the cream that rises to the top. Everything else is just plain milk.

I went to the UCLA/LA Times Festival of Books. I saw Julie Andrews and William Gibson and got a sunburn on one of my arms. No matter how much coffee I drank, I never stopped feeling three quarters of the way to sleeping.

My parents are selling our old house. I looked at the pictures online, and it made me sad to see it all up-for-grabs and empty. It sure does look pretty in the pictures.

I have worked more this week than ever. I have played more this week than is excusable given the amount of work I had to do. I have had a pain in my eyes nearly constantly. And a glittery feeling when the rewards rolled in. And I'm not talking about money.

I drove to Huntington Beach to have dinner. I took pictures out on the pier of signs that may look less silly to me when I see them developed. I had that salt air smell in my hair, and my hands got cold.

I bought a super sexy top on Melrose, and I paid way too much for it. When I realized how much it was at the register, I was too embarrassed to back out. But when I tried it on at home, I loved it and was glad I didn't sink that opportune ship.

Apr 23, 2004

Out of hope. Out of rope. Out of time.

I am going to be bankrupted by the number of television programs now arriving in DVD boxed set form. The Dukes of Hazzard! Wonder Woman! The A-Team! What if they put Simon & Simon on DVD? Or Magnum, P.I.? What if heaven is real after all?

It's terrible to be able to see your doom coming for you but to know that there is nothing you can do to avert it. What? you say. Why not just not buy them and keep your accounts flush? Not buy them? she says with a quizzical look on her face, sounding out the words as if she can't quite place their meaning. Then suddenly! Recognition! Followed by maniacal laughter. Followed by an abrupt and frightening calm. You can't be serious, she says, glowering. At which time, you back out of the room cautiously, feeling behind you for the door knob and hoping to be able to reach the safety of the street before she erupts into the violence you know is simmering. Will she melt you with her laser vision? Engulf you in a fireball thrown from her fingertips? Constrict you to death with her truth lasso? Drive over you in Robin's ferrari? What show is this, anyway? And why haven't the writers learned how to use quotation marks?

Don't try to dissuade me. With the General Lee tooting Dixie and my Intellivision console plugged in with the Nightstalker card slipped in place on the controller, it'll be just like the babysitting days of yore. Friday nights have never since been so sweet. Cigareet?

"Sure, sure. Some jerk we can really push around." It's like he was talking about me.

Frame Rate Fake-Out

I didn't realize that I was going to be on a chat show tonight, but then all of a sudden I was signing a model release and letting people assign me a model (read: "porn star") name on my friend (don't click the link if you're going to give me a bunch of crap about it being a porn site) Kylie Ireland's show on KSEX Radio. Resorting to the old rule about your first pet's name and the street where you grew up, I was known to the faceless airwaves as...well...someone else. It's a cheat, because I didn't really grow up on that street, having lived all over the place during the formative stages, but it is the street I lived on the longest. And that really was my first pet's name. And that's something.

I'm no pro. I kept getting distracted by the flicker of the monitors with their four-way camera split. I looked foreign. To me. The slow blink of an animatronic. The occasional frozen expression of pursed lips or eyes less wide. I was told later that the webcast is actually at 30 frames per second, so I guess it was a waste of concern. Still, I'm not good at playing it cool when I'm out of my own pond. And live sex chat is a pond to which I am somewhat less accustomed than other frogs. I didn't let them coerce me into any fleshy revelations, but I was almost tempted to. There's something about being in that little room that makes you forget that there are people in other rooms watching. Danger danger.

We were supposed to go to a strip club for a series of reasons, including visiting with Julie Night, but plans went awry like they do. And we ended up trying to talk to each other over the loudness of the Dresden for a bit until it was time to move our nocturne elsewhere. I felt good and nice. A little square. Outdone by all the little things that make me a nervous, tittering child when I should be vain and glorious. The chat room audience said nice things about me. But I never knew what to do with myself.


I put diamonds in my pocket to make sure that I never have need of change. A headache is a high of sorts. There are very few french fries so appallingly bad that they aren't worth eating. Who decides if I am gamine or grave? When you tell stories to people who aren't listening, you can tell them again without fear of repeating yourself. Every time I go to the museum, I feel it belonging to me more.

This was written at a previous 3 A.M., but I can't remember what day it was. Tuesday, maybe?

More Shadowy Bits

I still haven't the time to flesh it all out. And I don't want to just drop names. But after greedy museum consumption, I played violin on a recording today in Manhattan Beach. Like a pro. Kevin noticed that I have a very small waist. I forced him to order a marshmallow malt. I stood on the street corner with my violin slung over my shoulder, and I met a man with a dog named Lulu. I never got to hear any of the songs we picked at the Snake Pit.

This was written at 9:30 A.M., after facing off with the night and never being forced to fold.

I'm never nothing.

I can see the aftermath of everything, and it glistens.

Though the impulse only hit me intermittently, when it hit me, it struck hard and I was bruised by it. Whatever that means.

The Anya of the previous post is Anya Marina, and she is the niftiest. We worked together at many moons ago. I only wish I had known then how much of a genius she is, for I would surely have tricked her into going off with me somewhere secluded where I could kill her in secret and rid the world of the single greatest threat to my rise to stardom. But seriously. She's splendid. And I do wish I had done her in when I had the chance. I can't wait for her new CD to be released. And I exhort you to carpet the road before her with flower petals and adulation and the crumbs of your own teeth, which you had previously ground into a powder for the sake of an offering to her. She's so wonderful that I want to mash her into a ball and carry her around in my pants pocket. Don't let the references to jealousy, insecurity, and murder disconcert you. I love this girl. And she makes music so lovely that the very birds slit their own wrists in abject surrender and tribute. Don't point out that birds don't have wrists, (a) because you're missing the point, and (b) because maybe you don't know all there is to know about ornithology, Professor Know-Everything*.

*not a real doctor

I made Kevin go with me to a carnival on Santa Monica and Cahuenga. It was the dirtiest, depressingest carnival ever. But I thought it might favor my Lomo. Kevin talked me into taking a ride on "The Zipper." And after being shaken and tossed with such violence that we were literally being pelted in the face with quarters and salt packets as they fell out of the outside pocket of my handbag as the vicious cage we were locked into tumbled against gravity and my objections, I emerged from the capsule a broken woman. Nauseous. Woozy. Hoping for the relief of an upchuck that never came. When I told this story to my mother, she was angry that I didn't go back to collect the quarters. Truth.

We salvaged our dignity with dinner at The Kitchen. And french fries and fri-chi (my adorable nickname for fried chicken) distracted me from my churning guts. Kevin and Mary stayed up too late that night. But who are they to question the clock.

Josh and I were going to go to see Amy Goodman and applaud her, but it was another calendar item that didn't fully materialize. Instead, Krissy and I met Pamela at Canter's, and I felt embarrassingly hyperactive. Caffeinated and Thomas Dolby-ized. I hoped I wasn't woefully trying. I hate it when I can hear myself spinning out of control. I tell all these stories, and I can barely catch my breath. And there are better reasons for breathlessness, I've learned.

I also interviewed a woman for an article I'm about to write. And if you throw in the stints of picture-taking and the career-related phone calls and meetings and the little time I set aside to bathe and to nourish and to sleep, I packed a horseload into the cat-sized spaces this past week. And I never asked for mercy or for pity. I never felt it getting the best of me. Even now, weary as I have every right to be, I'm only concerned for my typing accuracy. As an eager, shirtless, one-armed push-up-doing serviceman told me as he tried to convince me not to leave the Thanksgiving party, I can sleep when I'm dead. But you have to say it in a creepy loud whisper to get the full effect.

Season Two of The Office is wonderful and terrible. Wonderful because it is brilliant and real and true but also impossibly, stupidly implausible. Terrible because I can't believe they only made two seasons. And because failure -- as it is portrayed in Slough -- is so heartbreaking. I'm sad they only made two seasons (and short BBC seasons, to boot), but when I contrast that against the tragedy of Friends still being on the air, I accept it with humble gratitude. I don't like Friends much. And I don't think it's just me rebelling against NBC's authority. Tell a girl like me, "You MUST SEE this," and I guarantee you, I will try to close my eyes. But for nearly everyone else, it seems, the "Must See TV" label (and you are correct if you, like me, are bothered by the absence of the hyphen between "must" and "see") is as effective as the Ludovico Technique. In my head, I sometimes shuffle the words around and it becomes can't not watch. But that's when I am most ashamed of the ways I waste my think junk.

I played violin at an engagement party in San Diego this past weekend. My friend Elizabeth and I play violin duets for weddings all the time, but this time we were asked to play for three hours at a sort of garden party, and we were adventurous with our fare. After we had exhausted all of our wedding stock and had begun to fear that the weddingy nature of the selections might give the bride- or groom-to-be foot chills, not only did we play a two-violin arrangement of Meet the Flintstones, but we also played Hot Hot Hot, New York, New York, Tequila, Your Momma Don't Dance, Doo Wah Diddy Diddy, Somewhere Over the Rainbow, The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow, and many other unlikely tunes. Elizabeth drew the line at Mony Mony. We were already laughing like fools when we figured out what The Merry Go Round Broke Down was about eight bars in. Anything more would just have been unprofessional.

After the party, Sarah and I went for cocktails at Charlie's. There was a street fair in Encinitas that Sarah wished we had gone to. I did not share her wish. I am not a fan of street fairs. I can buy incense and kettle corn at Costco. But the ocean was lovely, and we let the wind toss our hair around before I made my northbound exodus. And when I got back home, Kevin and I had beef at the Whisper Lounge (him: Kobe beef in hamburger sandwich form; me: New York strip steak) and hot drinks at the Coffee Bean, and the night thinned out, and he went to bed, and I worked until morning. That next day, we went to see the last in the University of Judaism lecture series for which I had tickets. It was Tom Brokaw with Ari Fleischer and Dee Dee Myers. I despised Ari Fleischer (and, no, I don't mean that I disagreed with his rhetoric or his views -- I mean I hated him as a person). And I found that I liked Dee Dee Myers more than I had expected to. I don't know why I had it in for her before I went to the event. She was the cat's whiskers.

Afterwards, we had dinner and drinks at El Compadre. I don't think our server could have disliked us more. But whatever amount of retaliatory body fluid he may have put into my carnitas plate, it was still yummy. That night, after talking and laughing at DVDs and fabricating every other possible time-wasting device I could muster, I spent the wee hours working yet again.

I'm telling this all out of order. I got two hours of sleep last "night." I always wonder if it shows.

I guess I don't mind working the night through. Even back when I held an office job, I never minded giving dawn the finger if something magical could be had in place of sleep. I like the way it feels to sleep. I like the sheets on my bed. I like the warm and the cool. I like the press of the fluff. I like the descent. I like the way I smell in my pajamas. But I would chuck it all for a chance at immortality. I would toss the sleep if more of my waking hours didn't already feel like somnambulance. But, as in the election of 2000, I know that my vote doesn't count, and immortality gets squashed every time. By Republicans.

But this was all yesterday and the day before and the day before that. Today is just a scar. Today is beginning for some. Ending for some (me). Today is another wasted outfit. Today is another chance I didn't take. Today is as uneasy as the tickling itch on the roof of your mouth you try to scratch with your tongue, but it only makes it intolerably worse. Today is a lost cause. And denial is a river in Africa. I've always hated that joke.

Please don't make me redundant.

Apr 19, 2004

Vague Suppression

I think I end up laughing to myself when I have to work the night through. I'm proud I made it. But I'm nowhere near done. There's just time enough to curl up in the linens for a few measly hours and get cracking all over again. And not enough time yet for the expanded edition of commentary on all the subjects this weekend shouldered. Among them:

Anya at The Derby...Seedy night carnival on Santa Monica Boulevard..."I have a vomit illness"...The Kitchen...I made hot cocoa with marshmallows in (but not for me)...Early morning machinations...The long sundrenched drive...Engagement party...Two violins playing Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and the theme from The Flintstones...Freckles emerging...Cocktails and oysters on the beach...The long drive home...Dinner at The Whisper Lounge...Quadruple espresso at the Coffee Bean prepared lovingly by James (Mr. Madonna)...Firefly and The Office DVD festival...Quark XPress ad infinitum...Fire in the belly...It felt like Christmas at The Grove.

Think of it as a possible list of coming attractions.

When I told my mom that I had been eating oysters, she said, "Now, you're full of hormones."

Apr 17, 2004

Backlash of the Vice Sisters

Kevin and I basked too long in the welcoming but fickle embrace of the abovementioned siblings. And then early morning upstairs cacophony put an end to my rejuvenation. She was crying and yelling and stomping around for hours. The only solace I took in it was knowing that she was obviously miserable. And it serves her right. Later she was dragging a suitcase down the stairs in bellowing thuds. And he was out in the car. Honking for her. Of course he was. The car is parked mere feet from the door, but the horn is as good a voice as any. Those people are the rotting tooth in civilization's mouth. When you don't find sleep until dawn is on the creep, you become an expert in matters of dental health.

It's sunny out but with those darkening rain clouds on the verge, opaque and ominous. Laughter becomes a memory far too quickly for my tastes.

Apr 16, 2004

She must suffer till her last breath.

Oh, what a tragic, frazzled mess I am at the moment. But the report is not all blood and guts. Tons of new work. Deadlines that can't possibly be met. An unwillingness to pass on lunch dates or anything else. And Kevin, freshly back from his Australian sojourn, is staying with me for the next few days. I have a calendar and a pencil and a head for numbers. Why can't I ever make it all fit in?

Apr 13, 2004

I think Rachmaninoff's just delicate.

There are so many things that I love that it is almost not worth mentioning them. So many that I sometimes forget items on the list until something recalls them for me. A little bit of The Seven Year Itch in the background, and all of a sudden, I am reminded that I do so love Rachmaninoff. So much so that I rush off to Friendster to update my profile. What if someone wanted to be my friend last month but was disappointed by the gaping hole in the portrait of my musical tastes? It's a crime.

I remember going to see Shine in the theater back in late 1996. Or perhaps it was early 1997. I think I went to see it by myself, but I'm not positive. I do remember buying the film score but not really caring about the original bits. I just wanted to hear the piano concertos. And there's also a lovely bit of choral Vivaldi in the mix. Highly recommended. But these are the sorts of talking points that come out of the mouths of people wearing argyle socks. And not in a cool way. I realize that. There is a(n) hoity-toity quality to the nature of such discussions. I can never decide which camp I wish to reside in. Because I like too many things. I like plenty of highbrow. But the lowbrow is just as dear to me. I like fine dining. But I also like hot dogs. I am not unwilling to pay corkage fees. But I also like to swig from the bottle. I keep my legs crossed and my hands folded. And I also run amok. I don't like to be tied down. Especially when it comes to favorites. When pressed, I writhe and wriggle and find ways of skirting the issue. I am almost always willing to proclaim my love for something. And often my disdain. But the regions in-between are untraversed. I am a coward when it comes to such judgments.

Anyway, I do so like Rachmaninoff. I remember listening to a collection of piano concertos (or concerti, if you must) in my office at my beloved biotech employer of old. Countless days in that office. With my Japanese alphabet tacked up on the wall and my CDs stacked high. I used to bang my knees on the handles of my desk drawers all the time. That was not my favorite thing. But there was a security and a serenity to my life at that time. I knew what the days were going to be like. And it didn't bother me. And when the fall daylight savings switch happened, I would drive home through residential neighborhoods, where little herds of goblins and spooks were making their way from door to door. Actually, I don't remember seeing any goblins or spooks. Football players and shamefully six year-old hookers, but no goblins or spooks. And in those days, I listened to music that made me love being awake and alive and sitting upright. And Rachmaninoff was in the mix. That's all.

I also love Marilyn Monroe, as some know. But that's an entirely separate topic.

Apr 12, 2004

The bed is back to green and I love it.

Yesterday, I went to San Diego to have Easter dinner with my family and to have an early birthday celebration for Beulah. The weather was wonderful. The pool was warm, though I was destined to regret not using it. It was a day filled with laughter and revelry and grand exclamations about the food. My mom made a turkey. Sarah made a ham. An ice cream cheesecake appeared afterwards. I did not eat any of it.

Beulah took some pictures of me in my new dress. They are linked to the divvied bits of photo below. Along with a few that I snapped myself. Surprise, surprise.

I was tired when I drove home. But so alive.

Today is my little sister's actual birthday. Happy Birthday, Beulah!

Apr 11, 2004

Architecture of the Memory-Filled Mind

I went to see Chris Ware and Ira Glass at UCLA last night for this strange and wonderful thing they did. The telling of a story with their two media: comics and radio. Chris Ware is brilliant and shy and unassuming and apologetic. And funny. Ira Glass strokes and releases the controls of his sound devices like a concert pianist. But with more grandeur. He then self-consciously finishes each fluorish by touching his nose or running a hand through his hair. As if to disguise the fluorish as the mere beginning of the scratching of an itch.

The story they told was based on an interview with Tim Samuelson wherein he talked about the buildings of Louis Sullivan and how he (Samuelson), as a boy, had strived to know them and how he watched as they were torn down, one by one, struggling to save them with the might and impotence of a child. It was a poignant story. Full of the ornate language of design and architecture and the appreciation of a bygone era.

Ira Glass made some assertion that perhaps both Ware and Samuelson maintain this love of the look of the past because they were both raised by grandparents. I was not raised by grandparents, but my father is older than the fathers of many people my age. And I suppose that may explain why I cotton to things with dust on them. Why I enjoyed watching the old black and white comedies of Laurel and Hardy, Charlie Chaplin, and the Marx Brothers. Why I like the sound of scratched records. Why I like to collect things that were old before I was new. Maybe. Chris Ware didn't think there was any correlation. And I suppose there are plenty of people who appreciate fragments of history and feel the destruction of those fragments tearing at their very souls, regardless of the ages of their peers or upbringers.

There was a point where Chris Ware made a comment about the sadness of the passing of those old, wonderful structures as they were replaced by modernity that provided such a cheap backdrop for the living out of our many American existences. And I felt a little quietly embarrassed, thinking that I sometimes find that cheaper backdrop to be charming, as well. That there is a certain naivete about the advertising language of the 50s and 60s, a certain innocence projected in the message of image there. But then I fully agree with him when he draws the conclusion that people today don't care so much whether they live in a room that is wonderfully designed, because they come in and sit down and watch the television, and their surroundings cease to matter. And, perhaps, by and large, that is true. Perhaps that explains the glut of boxy apartments and Navajo White walls and beige carpets and vertical blinds and halogen torchieres. I guess even the ambition of the mid-century moderns is charming to me, because it precedes me. Because it is something I can only know through the lens of history. Through Viewmaster reels and old encyclopedias. Through postcards with scalloped edges and staple-bound magazines. And this world I'm living in is challenged to impress me, if only because I am in it and able to see it in all its dimensions without the aid of history. Without the special complimentary glasses.

I am fond of experiences that provoke thought and discussion. And I am so grateful for the company of those who do not yawn when I start a sentence. I love to talk it over. All of it.

Earlier in the day, after post office errands and before little-sister-birthday-shopping errands, I went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and liked it. The handheld camera technique made me a little queasy in places but not so much that I had to close my eyes. It made me wonder about the snow and want to eat Chinese food out of boxes and make a painting and take a nap all at once. I have had a crush on Kate Winslet for many years now. That has been perpetuated. I really had a lot of ideas in that cinema. I may have waited too long to write them down. They draw away from me, and I can't make them out.

But the verse whence the title comes was repeated in the film. It goes:

How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd.

               -- Alexander Pope, "Eloisa to Abelard"

It made me want to write verse. I remember when I used to replace vowels with apostrophes and wondered if it made my poems seem dumb or full of themselves. I was concerned about the meter. That's all.

In the end, impassioned conversation long into the night and plans for upending things and finding ways to be pleased with how everything has gone made up for the bandage on my knee and the twitching of my eye and the strange void of sleepless caffeination. The night before last, I took sleeping pills to assure my descent into the gloom. And I awoke about an hour after taking them, finding my arms were strange and heavy. Paralyzed in a way. But with some sort of associated pain. I couldn't stretch or clench them enough. I could not get comfortable. I stumbled around in a fog. Looking for Pop Tarts I thought might still be in my bedroom from that time when my stomach was upset. But I couldn't find them. And I gave up sugar a few weeks ago, so it's for the best that I didn't. The memory of that strange sensation is still in my mind. I keep having fussy flashbacks of that stiffness in my arms. And then I realize that my arms are stiff again. Particularly the right one. I gave up sugar, so it can't be the onset of some sort of diabetic neural damage. And yet it could be many things. Being without health insurance, I often laugh to myself that one of these headaches or stomach aches or muscle pains or tumors is going to turn out to be something serious. On account of the irony, you see.

I often admire people for the wrong reasons. And as experience both emboldens and restrains me, I recognize the futility of the early admiration. I see the pitfalls in wait. I know where the path goes and how the story turns out. And I can't help but wonder if I will ever get smarter about anything. These days, I'm fine. Bogged down in certain ways but diaphanous in others. Glad it's not summer yet. I do things inexplicably. And it is the very absence of the possibility of explanation that frees me from regret. And that might be a method worth exploring. Trusting instincts that don't deserve your trust. Acting on impulses that are ill-advised. I am frustrated when I am careful, and I am frustrated when I am not. Too smart for my own good. Too dumb for the horse races. And always curious as to how I manage to make it to the next morning when I'm certain every night that this will be the last thing I ever think.

These are the words I like in the song. This is not the order in which they are sung.

This is the room one afternoon I knew I could love you
And from above you how I sank into your soul
Into that secret place where no one dares to go

As we would lay and learn what each other's bodies were for

When I think of the words to songs, I hear them sung to me in my head. I am a mass of blood and inspiration. Every touch sets something off. Like turning on a light in a room filled with light-activated toys. They all start running at once. Cymbal-clapping monkeys. Dancing Santas. Singing sunflowers with sunglasses on. What a noise it all makes.

Apr 10, 2004

Chinese Logic

"Chinese authorities have fined an Internet cafe after two teenagers spent more than 48 hours playing an online video game, then fell asleep on a railroad track and were killed by a train." [Details.]

Isn't the placement of blame a curious thing?

Speaking of which, the taking of blame is a rarer animal than ever. Condoleezza Rice makes me so angry as to spit. I'm glad there are satirists and pundits who can wryly find ways to debunk her bunk without bursting bloody brain matter all over the cameras and microphones. I've been relying on them to voice the displeasure that threatens to devein me if I speak it. I suppose some admiration can be reserved for a woman who is able to turn what ought to be a contrite admission of a ball dropped into an election-season advert. She pats herself and her cohorts on the back for what has been accomplished. For the laying waste of countries. For the passing of the Patriot Act. For the damming of intellect. For the taking of vacations.

Apparently, the Washington Post calculated that George W. Bush has spent 42% of his presidency on vacation. Maybe that's why he's so sorely unconcerned about how many of the rest of us are out of work.

Apr 8, 2004

I Get Weak

So many secrets are best kept. When I want the truth -- when I puff up and defy reality -- when I smirk and say, "Do your worst!" -- I am usually operating on false valor. I am usually asking for revelations because I believe I have foreknowledge. Because I think I know what to expect. Because I am certain that I will not be surprised. Or undone. If archaeologists discovered something today that turned everything we know of history on its ear, we would reject it, wouldn't we? At first? We would carry on, assured that we know how things are and should be. We would let the past lie quietly in its grave. We would put it away and wash our hands of it. It's easier. Easier than republishing the textbooks and relearning the periodic table and replacing all those bumper stickers.

It's like that with me. Everything is steady until it isn't. And for so long now, I feel as if I have been sitting on a barstool with one short leg. Wobbling precariously on a lumpy tile floor in a sticky, dim bar where I would prefer not to have to touch anything. Even if only to steady myself. I've been teetering. And it upsets my motion sickness.

I don't really know anything new today. And yet every day holds the promise and the risk of everything I know becoming everything that is no longer true. Every day may be the day my history becomes fiction. The day my edition becomes outdated. Every day that I am outside, the things going on inside exclude me. They threaten to erase me altogether. That's part of why I fear staying away for too long. Eventually, I will become a face in memory. The sound of my voice will be replaced by the sound of someone else mimicking me. Until the mimicking stops and I am lost altogether. I have always been good at keeping in touch. Maybe this is why. And maybe the times when I have been less good at it can be grouped together as times when I would prefer to have disappeared. Or when I was being remembered sufficiently by the audience on whom I placed the greatest value. I have compromised my widespread celebrity with wasteful private performances. And yet they have been my favorite performances. The ones of which I was most proud. Were always the ones where nearly no one was watching.

I think of it like Back to the Future. When someone or something goes and monkeys with the past, I begin to fade from the future. I begin to dematerialize. I get all see-through in the photographs. When the history changes, everything does.

There's plenty in my history that I wouldn't mind rewriting. But, as with nearly everything, you never get to choose what goes and what stays. I might change a hairdo. I might change a prom date. But it wouldn't be up to me. And there's the rub.

May the gods forgive a Belinda Carlisle reference at this wee hour. Even the strongest among us can be trounced by pop song love when sleepy sentiment sets in.

Death Luck Death

Fourth month. Eighth day. Fourth year. Now all of a sudden it's a lucky death sandwich. The number eight (or "ba") is very lucky when seen through Chinese eyes. In case you didn't know.

And, a propos of nothing, the word of the day is "bailiwick."

Six Double Five Three Two One

As we were leaving the Arclight tonight, I said to Zach that I am so grateful for this theater, and he said how it makes him feel so lucky to be living in Los Angeles, and I completely agree. There are many things that people dismiss about proximity to the soulless world of entertainers and their entertainment, but my brain requires this sort of addling and plenty of it.

The Arclight is doing an AFI tribute series, and many great flicks are being revived. Tonight, it was A Clockwork Orange, one of my all-time favorite films. Perhaps in the top two. Certainly in the top three. I even wrote a paper on it in a college writing class. I'm sure I would be embarrassed by that paper today, but the point is, I was keen on the film and had been to way back. I'm one of those few people of my age who read the book before seeing the movie. It was a book I bought on a whim in the college bookstore, as I used to do. That's how I read Crime and Punishment, as well. I was never one to require the assignment. Anyway, I was fortunate to have that experience of struggling with the language and then realizing that you can actually learn a language contextually. And right quick, too. But seeing the film after the fact was also a treat. I felt as if I had earned it in a way.

It seems to me that the characters in this film are all being viewed in funhouse mirrors. Kubrick pinches and punches them, distorts them in so many surprising and ingenious ways. Even the good guys are bizarre. Perhaps especially the good guys. So little of it rings true, and yet all of it does. The violence is sexy. As is the sex. It just makes you wonder if you might be harboring some shameful proclivity, too. And I am nothing if not absolute putty in the hands of the Ninth. Putty, I tell you. I love how fixed and functional the world looks in this movie. And yet how it is obviously coursing out of control. I wonder if Jeremy Piven liked it as much as I did. He was there, you know. He looked nervous. When I saw Luke Wilson at the Grove, he had the same jitters on him. I think that certain actors, when out in the wild, actually look as if they are afraid they are about to be assassinated. I wonder if that's anything at all like what they are thinking.

There are forces in the world that have strived to ruin this film for me. Have endeavored to fill my head with referential malignance. Have wanted to spoil my every favorite moment of it. Have wanted to take it from me in its favoriteness. But I felt some triumph over them tonight. I was afraid I wouldn't enjoy myself, and that simply was not the case. It was a brilliant picture before I ever saw it. And it will be brilliant long after my eyes have rotted in their sockets. It is not great as a function of me. It's just great. And that is a relief.

I want to marry a lighthouse keeper. Won't that be okay?

Anyway, I've got loads of work to do. I should feel shame at that, and I do.

Apr 7, 2004


I got a great deal done today, but I am so far behind. And I have this ache and this desire to not be doing anything at all and to not be plagued by the fact of it. I yearn for sleep. I am anxious for tomorrow. I am glad to have gotten my fingers into so many messes. I like what I see.

Oscar Wilde said, "In this world there are only two tragedies. One is not getting what one wants. The other is getting it." I have had, perhaps, too much of both and too little of either.

Apr 6, 2004


I just put on my pajama shorts and noticed that the drawings on my thigh are still faintly visible. It is a pleasant reminder of my previous fun-having as well as a scowling indictment of my bathing practices. Shame on me.

Apr 5, 2004

Inifinitely Good

So I survived the death day. With pictures and stories to tell. Besotted stories.

I survived, but in a sort of unwitting homage, I bought a Deathray Davies t-shirt that reads, "If it were up to us, you would all be dead." They opened for the Starlight Mints. As did Dressy Bessy. Starlight Mints news: the girl in the group is pregnant, and they only get better every time I see them.

I almost lost my Lomo. Dropped it on the floor at the Troubadour, but a girl beside me noticed that I had dropped something, and I went down to have a look. Happily. Where was my head? Half-lodged inside a vodka bottle, I suspect. By the time I got home, I nearly forgot why there were all these pictures on my thigh. I didn't draw them. It was just how I was sitting and that there were pens handy, I guess.

So Beulah and Tommy went to see Tesla at the Avalon. They came and met me and Yen at the Abbey after our show. And glasses with spirits in them were raised. And photographs were taken. And synapses stopped firing where others started. It's strange how far away it feels now. Only hours later.

Anyway, it was a weekend. And I lived to call it one. Minus an hour and all.

Too bad I missed Franz Ferdinand when they were in town. I guess triumphs are never without defeat. You can feel my lips undress your eyes. How awesome is that.