Secret Pop

Aug 31, 2004

I'm no Superman.

I wonder if Clark Kent ever has trouble sleeping. Or if he knows that you can order Ambien without a prescription now. I can't sleep. And while I'm fully prepared to hate myself over it in the "morning," and while I do know that you can order Ambien without a prescription, I've never actually done that. Nor have I ever actually taken Ambien. How do babies find comfort from the heartbeats of their mothers? My heartbeat is annoying the crap out of me.


I went to the New Beverly and saw a couple of Marx Brothers movies tonight. There was a third film playing afterwards, but I strongly suspect that sitting through three movies in a row at that very human-smelling cinema is a surefire way to get crabs. I also had somewhere else to go. And it was not a delousing plant.

Aug 29, 2004

Face the Facts

Even when you plan for your evening, it can take twists and turns you can't have foreseen. I spent some lovely catching-up time with my dear friend Yen, and I showed her around a smattering of the parts of the San Diego nightlife that I know. And we made new friends, and discovered new music, and made new plans, and laughed at the La Posta-ites' conversations. One fellow said of me: "She looks so couture." I pretended not to hear it, but you and I both know that I did. Brett, who I've not seen since the last time I played with my former band at the Ken Club, recognized me as I walked by and said, "Hello, Mary." Even with the three feet of hair I cut off and all the extra blondeness. And my favorite bartender was kind enough to ask for a kiss. It reminds me that it is still possible to be surprised in San Diego. Even when I'm fully expecting to be.

Note: Said bartender also lifted me off the ground when giving me a hug, and I noticed that flash of my usual fear that he would telescope his spine or keel over dead under the weight of me. I guess I must not actually be so very heavy. But I'm about sixty-seven inches in length, and that makes me longer than the average gal, and I have a very unflattering perception of what I actually look like, so whenever this happens -- and I'm not saying it's often -- I race through my mental files and wonder if I have the sort of insurance that would protect me in the event that I did actually crush him. Wheeeee! -- I'm flying!

Aug 28, 2004

Caution: I am about to make a sweeping racist generalization.

Persian people in the customer service industry are never willing to say, "I'm sorry."

Aug 27, 2004

Card Catalog

If you're looking for me elsewhere and haven't already found me, well, first off, you're not looking with much fervor, are you, because I'm EVERYWHERE. And that lie aside, I have had a moblog for a few months and have been posting pictures there from my camera phone. That's really all it is. Pictures. I think I only bothered to type a caption for one entry. And perhaps that will change, but I don't owe you anything. Anyway, there you have it.

Aug 26, 2004

But the dead only quickly decay.

Tuesday night, I went to the Body Worlds exhibit at the California ScienCenter (and I am not a fan of this brand of nomenclature when it comes to academic things, believe me, but there is a big jet aeroplane outside, and that's pretty cool), and I suppose there are a few things to say about it. Namely, if you want to see a lot of penises, many with no skin on them or only portrayed as their bright red bloodflow, go. It's a penis bonanza. Testes, too. Lots of 'em.

If you don't know about this exhibit, it was a source of great hubbub a couple of years ago when it was shown in England. Actual cadavers have been subjected to a process called plastination, and you can look at all the parts up close and personal-like. Apparently, the exhibit with the pregnant woman, reclining on her side, with her uterus flayed open and the fetus curled up inside was such a source of consternation that people threw their coats over it to protect her dignity.

I understand that reaction, I guess. Even though all the subjects in the exhibit agreed to donate their bodies to this specific project and everything is on the up and up. There are times when the cadavers are presented so, well, ARTISTICALLY that you might start seeing the human body as a medium. And maybe there's a slippery slope in there somewhere, I don't know. Crackheads selling unconscious prostitutes to artists for a score. I don't know.

I don't know what these people did in real life, but some of them have been cast in roles: "The Teacher," "The Runner," "The Chess Player," "The Swimmer," "The Goalkeeper." And they are shown in quaint little dioramas, mid-activity, props in hand, or in some cases prop in one hand, lower digestive tract in the other. I do wonder whether there would have been a tussle about it. "I agree to let you carve me up and show my denuded nervous system to the world, but PLEASE let me be The Swimmer and not The Dustman." I also kept expecting the informative captions to give me the name of the subject and the circumstances of his or her death. Thankfully, no such information was offered. Especially because people like my sister took such special note of who did and didn't have an impressive package. How humiliating. She also tittered at the anuses, but you can't really blame her, can you?

There is a guy, I think they call him "The Winged Man," with all of his insides open and displayed. For some reason, there is a fedora on his head, à la Michael Jackson's Moonwalker. I hope it was a prank. I can't imagine this is an important part of what he has to say. "Annie, are you okay?" "Yeah, but there's this guy at the door with no skin and all his insides on the outside. Do you owe him money?"

There is also one guy who is standing and holding a completely intact "suit" of his skin in his right hand. It's phenomenal. You can see the pores and the small hairs on his shoulders and the scuffed bottoms of his feet. The works. Terribly impressive. Fascinating.

And in truth, the show really is interesting and educational, but it has a slight air of sideshow, as well. It reminds you where the duodenum is and shows you what smoker's lungs look like and brain hemorrhages and Alzheimer's Disease and all that other important stuff, but it also lets you look right down a dead guy's gullet. And some of the figures -- the ones with eyes -- look like they're staring you down. And that's just freaky.

I have to say, I kept looking at the parts and the bodies and the faces (well, what you could see of them) and feeling so sad for these people. I would look at a woman standing with her internal organs displayed, her skin mostly gone, a smattering of oddly colorless pubic hair atop her nethers, and I would think, "Someone used to make love to her." That's me. Always romanticizing and always morbidly. Sometimes I feel like a reincarnation of Edna St. Vincent-Millay. What a copycat I am.

The developmental birth section of the exhibit with all its many-sized fetuses was also sort of sad to me. Those poor guys never had a chance.

I just look at all of this -- this corporeal inventory -- and I realize that that's all I am -- all we are. And one day, it won't matter what I did or didn't have for breakfast. Whether my handbag was a knock-off. Whether I ever finished reading Ulysses. Whether I can still speak French. I'll just be a decaying mass of tissue, no longer loved or remembered or necessary. And just seeing those words written out reminds me how egocentric that sort of thinking is. Of course I won't be remembered. Who cares about me. I'm not so explosively important. I'm just a girl. And I know a certain number of people. And I owe some money on my credit cards, and I don't get my oil changes as often as I should. And I look in the mirror and think I'm awesome and awful by turns. And I never know which it's going to be, so every hour is like a yank on the slot machine. Come on, cherries.

Best of Times, Worst of Times

It was both of these.

Aug 25, 2004


Boy, could I have used a friend today. If only to help me clean up the parts of me that are bleeding.

Aug 24, 2004

I heart TiVo

If you didn't see Ali G doing his abortion beatbox, you are such a loser. Sexy time explosion. Respect.

The louder I say I'm happy, the more I believe it's so.

Saturday night, an anomalous Paul F. Tompkins Show found me at Largo. Paul F. Tompkins, who was so bearded and mustachioed as to make us think at first that his evil twin from the alternate universe had somehow found his way onstage, turned out to not be evil at all but in fact hilarious. It seems pointless to even offer superlative assessment, as each show seems to top the preceding one, and you start to ask yourself if you were even paying attention before because how could it possibly keep getting to be so wonderful. Surely, you just missed part of it before. Because you thought it was damn fine back then, too, and when are you ever wrong. I'm not following my own logic here. Anyway, it ruled. In my notebook, I nearly illegibly wrote, "Paul F. Tompkins, maverick hypnotist," and, "A fun word for the color yellow; 'Rocket Red' is too scientific." You don't know why that's funny, but it is, and you can trust me. Uncannily, Pee-wee Herman was introducing his hypnosis doll Dr. Mongo on t.v. just as I began to type the maverick hypnotist thing. And maybe that isn't exactly uncanny, but I know that very few of you will bother to look it up to make sure.

So, Paul F. Tompkins, right? Give this man his own television show, or I will strap sticks of dynamite to my bodice and blow my womanliness to smithereens. What do I have to do? Seriously. Just don't make it a show that requires him to stop doing his shows at Largo, for that would make me truly and ironically furious.

My pals and I went to Canter's after the show, and I ordered blintzes, but I wanted vodka.

And there's more.

I got a doggy last week. Her name is Audrey. And she runs away from me whenever I reach for her, but I'm sure that will change. Eventually. I also cut and colored my hair again. And celebrated my sister's and my father's birthday. And my friend Jessica was visiting for most of the week, which was lovely. But for some reason, I was tireder than I've ever been last week. I felt like I was falling asleep all day long. I could barely keep my eyes open for the shortest of drives. And I wanted naps again and again. And I didn't get them nearly that often.

The week before last, I went to Las Vegas at the drop of a hat and lived it up at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, where I spent hours at the heavenly man-made beach they have there, swam with my sunglasses on, and liked the fact that you can walk through the lobby dripping wet and in your bathing costume and share an elevator with a woman in a bridal gown -- and look down on her for how gauche she is.

I spent a lot of money gambling, but it didn't hurt at all. I was totally up for losing it. That's a nice feeling. If you can go to Vegas and feel that way, do.

I had all sorts of ideas while I was driving up. I scribbled a lot of them down on a parking stub while I was on the road. Which I shouldn't be proud of, as I covered the 280 mile distance in about three hours and forty-five minutes, including the trafficky part getting out of L.A. I don't think it's recommended that you write while you drive at any speed, but that's just ridiculous. I even had a highway patrolman pull up behind me when I was going 95. I looked in my rearview and saw that scary, cockroach-like silhouette that those cars cut with their coloring and their antennae. I pulled to the right and assumed I was going to get a ticket. After all, my tags are expired, and even though I had an extension in my windshield, this cop couldn't have seen that. But to my surprise and delight, he passed me and pulled up behind the red Acura in front of me. They did not get over right away. And when they did, he pulled in behind them, sirens a-blazing, and I experienced the schadenfreude high that I nearly always feel when someone is getting a ticket and it isn't me. I don't know why I didn't get a ticket, but I took it as a sign and parlayed my good luck at the roulette table, where I did in fact win.

My journey from the angels to the stars was inspirational, to be sure. I spent a lot of money and had a lot of fun and wrote a lot down and learned to use my new camera. Well, one of them. The Sony is still gathering dust. But my new Canon goes with me everywhere. The road to Las Vegas is a tire tread graveyard. Ruined carcasses of shredded black rubber. I empathetically pitied the travelers who must have had to pull off to the dusty shoulder and work a jack in the 110 degree heat. They're long gone now, but the pieces of tire linger. It feels like the Old West, only less old. All the abandoned gas stations and ramshackle diners. Towns with no one in them. Quivering heat fanning off the sandy valley floor. It was stormy on my drive home. Rain and thunder and lightning in the desert. A pale grey sky. Majestic, in a way. I drove straight through to San Diego -- stopping once at Minneola Road to pee and take a picture of an old sign -- and performed at the comedy theater, where I was happy to have done so. I no longer remember what I did on stage on Friday and/or Saturday that might have been worth mentioning. But I remember having a good time and being told by a weird fellow leaving the theater (as he touched his eyebrow to mine) that I was the best one. I would ordinarily not have allowed such an invasion of my personal space, but it came as such a surprise and afterwards I just shrugged it off and told myself he was probably autistic.

Miss Yvonne sure was buxom. She plays old ladies in commercials now. I feel sad for that. But I feel happy when Kap'n Karl says, "Miss Yvonne, may I LIKE you?" Because that is a very funny thing to say. Paul Reubens is a genius. I give him a special dispensation to do whatever perverted and illegal thing he wants to. He'll always be great to me. And our society is too uptight anyway.

Oh, when I was in Vegas, I took my crew to the Star Trek Experience, for I am a nerd of gargantuan proportions. And nothing was funnier to me than when Justin thought that the signature Borg phrase ("Resistance is futile.") was, "You are not suitable." I wish that's what the Borg would say. It's much better. Did you know that when you go to the Borg attraction at the Star Trek Experience, they poke you in the ass? It's true. Vicious pointy things prod you through your seat and make you wonder what might have happened if you had been sitting only two inches further to the left. It's similar to those 4-D attractions at Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. That "A Bug's Life" show touches you all over the place. And that's all right in the context of the show. But in the Borg thing, getting poked in the ass makes no sense based on what's happening on the screen and around you. It's completely out of touch with the narrative. It was just rude. The Borg Queen is talking to you and the Doctor is yelling and a hole gets blown in the overhead part of the bay you're in, but nothing really explains the ass-poking. I wonder who designed that part. Maybe it's an artifact left over from the previous attraction, Date Rape 4-D, starring Leslie Nielsen.

Yesterday, I was driving south past La Jolla, and I saw a scruffy couple walking on the freeway with their two dogs. They were dragging an amply loaded cart up a steep grade. I don't really remember whether they looked destitute, but in my imaginary memory they were shirtless and poor. I was listening to Bill Collins reading his poetry on A Prairie Home Companion at the time, and I wanted to write something amusing about them, but I didn't.

The Muppets Take Manhattan has been playing on cable like crazy. It's one of my favorite movies in all the world. And all the songs remind me of our living room in Guam, where I watched our VHS copy of it again and again and again. I wonder sometimes if the fact that such a great lot of my sentimental ooze is unleashed by shows that feature puppets and cartoon characters says something distasteful about my brain development. My tears get jerked by lots of things. But that Saying Goodbye song in this movie is like getting sprayed in the face with mace.

Life is a lot like that drive to Vegas, you know. Like a two-lane highway where everyone around you seems to be content to go sixty. This is an ineffective analogy. But I am always in a hurry. And I seldom get what I want.

When I ramble on like this, I am often at a loss for a way to let go and end it, so in closing, here is an excerpt from a conversation in a coffee shop where pictures were being drawn on placemats:

J: See my Luxor sign?

B: Yeah. I hate it.

J: Well, I hate your house.

M: You guys are like six year-olds.

J: You make me six years-old.

M: Poached eggs are not supposed to be completely cooked through in the yolk.

Aug 17, 2004


Whisper me your secrets, I won't tell a soul. One by one, I'll treasure every story.

nights I feel your cigarette burn

I began somewhere in the middle of it. There was sunshine streaming through cloud cover. A sky perforated with regret. Familiar spots grown unfamiliar with time. How quickly an afternoon turns into an afterthought turns into two years ago turns somehow again into five minutes ago. There are places that are gone. Places to which I no longer have the key. The things that come to supplant them seem ersatz. But only for a while. Eventually these memories can be relearned. This steadfast loyalty to the history of a glimpse of what might have been is energy that could be better spent on campaign fervor. Vote for John Kerry, please.

I have lived here a while. I can tell. I know my way around. I know how far I am willing to go. I understand the currency. Sometimes I even have the upper hand. If there is a perfume to Los Angeles, I am foul with it tonight.

I taste cigarettes and aftermath and the morning approaching.

My brain is too muddy to make pretty sentences.

Aug 8, 2004

Meat market

There was a man at the park at LACMA who positioned himself just so that he could see my panties while I was reading. He was shameless about it. Eventually, I left.

Then I got a message on MySpace from some guy I don't actually know asking if I would be free today for a quickie, and it made me feel so sad that I wanted to cry.

I got a small lecture from my mother about calling every day or two to let them know that I am alive. And rather than cherishing her concern, I secretly wondered if I could get away with a text message.

I wonder if I should have gone to the beach today. And I wonder further if everything there would have looked like Stardust Memories to me.

You can breathe too deeply, or you can hold your breath. I think either way, your lungs hurt.

Luckiest Day

Chinese people believe eight is lucky. The more eights the better. I remember August 8, 1988 -- it was some sort of big deal that a day could have so much luck. I don't actually remember anything that happened on that day. I was living in Japan, but I lack the details.

So, for all intents and purposes, today is a lucky day. I hope Chinese luck means more than just not having a safe drop on you. I like to set my sights a little higher.

Aug 7, 2004

Grind Groan Grist

I don't need to be hit over the head with the lack of things. I don't need an intervention. I know what's up. I get no kick from champagne. But if I were to get hit over the head with a bottle of bubbly, that might help me call it a night.

It never did feel like twenty-one hours of Friday.

And then someone* tried to sell me asthma supplies and it made me stop and ask myself if I have ever been able to catch my breath.

*an email

Aug 6, 2004

Medicinal Tea

It was actually chilly when I got out of the shower this morning. So much so that I closed the windows and put on my robe. I know it doesn't mean that there won't be a series of unbearable days of heat and humidity in the coming months. Last year, the summer lasted until November, for instance. But it was a welcome bit of gooseflesh, and it expands my wardrobe options for tonight.

Last night, I did a script-reading for my friend Arthur, whose screenplay The Second Best Man has already been optioned but has not yet gotten underway production-wise. It's the second screenplay of his I've helped read on a stage, the first being Fist in the Eye, and further proof that Arthur is funny and able to gracefully tackle delicate subjects like porn and masturbation. Just a few months ago, I was doing script-readings practically every weekend and thinking triumphant thoughts about my articulation and reading comprehension skills. Which made me think of the old days of elementary school testing in the California public school system and wherever else I was living. I always got very high scores, but in retrospect, none of that ever, ever mattered. So, if you are a school-age youth reading this today and you've got the straight razor poised above your wrist because you don't think you marked your scantron sheet correctly, know these two things: 1) nothing you do will matter for as long as you think it will and 2) cut along the vein, not across it.

I also went to Vida and drank a few cocktails in a very short span of time, not really noting to myself that I'd barely eaten anything, so the buzz came fast and sturdy, but I only really recognized it in retrospect. The night before, my friend Jessica was visiting, and we visited a number of East Side haunts and both woke up with those headaches that remind you that you didn't drink any water before bed, you idiot.

At Vida, I heard a rumor that Jackson Browne was in the house, and later, I saw him as he was leaving the house. He has had the same haircut for like thirty years. I think that's what you recognize. More than Jackson Browne himself. Because he's shorter than you would think. But you look over and you see Jackson Browne's haircut walking out the door, and that's practically admissible in court as evidence that it was him. What fifty year-old dude is still wearing that layered look?

I did not mean to be a jerk last night. I hope I wasn't.

My iPod just arrived! (And it was delivered by my cute FedEx guy -- bonus.)

Aug 2, 2004


Do people really watch and/or enjoy Def Poetry Jam? I mean REALLY? Come on. I don't believe anyone enjoys this. Even English teachers in "at-risk," inner-city schools have to think this is bollocks. Come on.

Aug 1, 2004

One Saturday I took a walk to Zipperhead.
I can't clock this day. Time stretched and strained. The middle part was nothing but compression. I went very high on the swings. So high that I got a little sand in one of my shoes when I jumped off. There are things you can do in the nighttime that you can only do in the nighttime. And sometimes it's just a question of courage. I'm never embarrassed when I know no one's looking.
Somewhere between the beginning and the end, I saw Spider-Man 2 and talked about Holocaust documentaries with my father and thought about going swimming but didn't. Somewhere in there, I liked the way I looked. At some point, I got the itch to make memories out of blankness. And for a moment, I was glad to have given in to the inclination to take pictures.


The moon was full tonight. I could feel it in my throat.
Flip Side
My mother went to an estate sale today and brought back a small stack of very old books for me. Mostly poetry. Some Shakespeare. A small red volume has a binding that reads Master Pieces of Humor Volume II, and inside, the title plate says, "Little Masterpieces of American Wit and Humor." My mother said, "It says humor, but I tried to read it and nothing in it was funny." It's copyrighted 1904 and bears a photo of an unsmiling man who looks like a Victorian version of Captain Kangaroo. I'm not surprised there was nothing funny in it by my mother's standards. Her hope that something in it would be funny was the most amusing part to me. Especially given the things I know are prone to tickle her. But there is something to be said for her enthusiasm for wit. My mother is the only person I know who has a special folder to save the email humor she gets from friends and colleagues. And it isn't the SPAM folder. She LIKES it. That being said, she is much funnier than anything that goes out over the Internet, I can assure you.