Wednesday, January 7, 2009

CA to OR: i don't remember.

here's the deal-- not so long before xmas, i drove with teet and emma to sf, left emma in sf, went on with teeter to eugene, then portland, then CB. stayed there for a bit until we ran into teet's awesome hippie friend at the SSS (sad seaside supermarket) who told us a huge coastal storm was coming, and then started to drive south as to outrun weather that threatened to punish us from the coast to portland to mount shasta.

[photo: shas-tuh! shas-tuh! or mall co-muh! mall co-muh!]

i still have ptsd from trying to get my prius through the rockies in a snow storm, so i literally planned our return trip south as if we were future rebel leaders being chased by our would-be robot overlords sent back in time programmed solely for our elimination (the sarah not-conor chronicles). basically we drove all day until getting past the mountains, then ate the grossest meal i've ever had (congrats, chico, ca-- this says a lot since i used to order take out from cha khan on 8th and university even after my friend found a bandaid in her food. rock me, cha khan, indeed).

long story short, by the time i got back to LA, i had to ready myself for traveling to the east coast for a month+ stay. and btw, while i'm touched that everyone thinks i'm grizzly enough to drive east at this time of year, for the record-- negro por favor. 'sides, even if i did have a death wish, i still wouldn't waste precious holiday family time in my car, alone, shivering with buzzo at a sonic drive-in ordertron 2000 somewhere in biblebraska (because no matter how cold, 'tis always the season for a ddp float).

and then when i got back east, i got sick. literally, within 24 hours, i got saddled with a consumption-like cough that still hasn't entirely gone (and i found out today that a handful of older women in town have had this cold since september and had to be hospitalized, so i guess i should just be happy that all i had to deal with was 3 weeks of waking up and hocking up a large clump of a substance that one usually never sees outside of the nuclear plant where homer works).

whatever, now the holidays are over, and the sickness is contained to a bad sore throat every morning and frequent sneeze pairs (always in pairs! i have the doublemint twins of projectile phlegm!), but my camera with trip pictures is in the shop, and now i'm distracted by preparing for the big DC trip in two weeks for the big-au inaug. as most of you know (since i know most of you), thanks to a simple email to one of my elected republican representatives (who i didn't vote for, and whose local republican colleague i just helped to vote out of office), i scored two tickets to history/pure anxiety/freezing my ass off. tomorrow, no joke, i am going to the local sporting goods store and buying a full body carhartt jumper so that i can be as warm as cordura allows (and ugly and lesbiany-- yes, i can...die alone).

anyway, i have no trip pictures, not even google image search, just a place holder until i can upload the picture i took near cb of an elk herd by the highway (wtf!), or the magazine rack at my friend michael's house in sf containing the latest issue of natty dread magazine (excuse i!), or all the swastikas drawn on the walls of the wrecked house/teen hideout on the beach near teet's house (8 by my count!).

what i do have is a picture of the channukah present from my mom. see, mom's a needle point pro and makes pillows for those she loves for special occasions. eg, she's made 2 pillows for family friend jenny to celebrate the birth of each of her kids, and 3 pillows for my sister with each graduation, but until now, as someone who's accomplished almost nothing (unless you count winning 90s trivial pursuit or remembering to buy trash bags at hannaford, and please don't), i've gotten none. so this is the pillow my mom finally made me, which i like to think is of me. hope everyone else experienced such satisfaction over the holidays. and didn't cough up anything that glowed.

Monday, November 3, 2008

NH to CA: the long and the short of it

[photo: one last image of nh-- when i went shooting with rick in the woods (my .22, his .45 acp with laser sight) (fuck yeah), this is where he kept the ammo in his truck. in his son's toddler seat. i miss NH so bad it hurts.]

there are many reasons i've put off writing about this trip. 1, this will be the *fifth fucking time* i've written about this particular journey. and since most of my time was spent driving, that's not a lot of material. hell, there's not much difference between driving on I-70 and driving to trader joe's, except the former lets you go 85 mph and has more billboards en route telling you that abortion is a bad idea (more on that later). but whatever, here's this trip in a nutshell since i can't sleep anyway and have yet to find a pitchfork should things go awry tomorrow night (i do have a torch tho-- koreatown, here i come!).

after spending the first night in syracuse at an old friend's house, my first real "stop" was in buffalo. there was an article in new york magazine this summer about how buffalo is the new 6th burrough (eat shit n'die, philly!), with its cheap housing, and burgeoning art scene, and bike lanes to rival portland. when i was in buffalo, it was grey and miserable as shit, which is just a taste of what it's going to be like for the next 8 months, except it wasn't freezing fucking cold yet (those bike lanes are going to be under 10 feet of snow for 2/3rds of year, you idiots).

whatever, buffalo is a shithole, but because of that, it has some of the finest thrifting on the east coast, so i took a day to hop from salvo (they have 8!) to amvets (2, both the size of walmarts!), and, as always, found myself in parts of town that, despite having charming indian names (north tonawanda, represent!), looked like something out a post-apocalyptic version of the wire. i got a few choice items tho, and before long i was back on 90 headed to cleveland, my next stop, as maysan was there with her family for a vacation, and it's not a cross country trip without a maysan visit. even if i never see her in the same part of the country twice. maybe next time she'll be in north dakota, and then i'll be able to cross that state of my list. 45 down, 5 to go (looking at you, wv, nd, ky, ak, n'hi-- check yrselves).

[photo: still nh, this is the mud zamboni from the demolition derby. nobody believes me when i talk about it, but tada. sigh.]

one thing of note on 90 west of buffalo-- right next to each other was a fireworks & martial arts emporium (explosives and throwing stars, two great tastes that go great together) and a shed mart. so basically, you nunchuck someone, then blow their face off, then put them in your a brand new shed with the rest of your tools n'corpses. so convenient!

spent a lovely night in a highway sheraton-- far and away the best hotel of the trip-- eating leftovers and watching keith, then woke up early to meet up with maysan and the fam. her mom is just the sweetest (when she said goodbye, she said, "good luck with your career!" this was so much more appreciated than that "safe travels" horseshit), and her dad is like a movie star; he's mister community leader back home, and he carries himself as such, which is pretty intimidating and rad. my dad has a mustache and likes fart jokes, so, ya know.

after that, maysan and i decided we had to see the rock n'roll hall of fame, and while the verdict was unquestionably bad, the description of its badness is the subject of much debate. maysan found the "museum" to be like a chili's because of all the random shit on the walls (one of their exhibits has a silkworm 7", and another has smokey robinson's tour suit from *1992*-- this is not a museum, this is a shitty pawn shop), but i thought it was much more like a hard rock cafe with more emphasis on buying your own tchotchkes than $15 burgers.

[photo: i wish i coulda taken pictures in the museum, because these little kids walked through with us on their school trip and were so f'n adorable i wanted to die. in the crappy "doo wop" room they all broke out in a full on dance party. really, the only "educational" value of this museum is learning being a spazz in public 101.]

either way, aside from the crap listed above, other items included:
-an outfit worn by the singer of paramour (and no, it was not in the "future trivia question" exhibit)
-part of the plane otis redding died in (classy!)
-batteries throughout the ages (seriously-- in an exhibit on technology. fascinating).

i would've taken pictures of this, but they're nazis about photography because "some of the items have been lent to the museum on condition they not be photographed." why the fuck not? because the donor was embarrassed he held onto jimi hendrix's underpants? whatever. we left, but not before buying copies of the only photos they do allow-- one taken of you by the staff when you walk into the museum. i would scan this photo, but i don't have a scanner, so you'll have to trust me that having an image of me holding a drumstick, li'l zayd holding a tamborine, giant sinan holding a guitar (virtually unassisted- dude's a year old and change, he's got hulk strength), and maysan forcing zayd to look at the camera was worth every cent and minute spent looking at ye olde batteries.

after that tho, after a little research, we went to eat at the west side market, which was perfect, because it's just a bunch of stalls of different prepared eats, cheap produce, and meats galore. they also had cornish pasties just like my cousin dee gets when i visit her in norfolk, but these were in cleveland and not filled with lard. so we stuffed our guts, spent a little while at the children's museum (which is really a mall-esque playplace that a, costs money, and b, plays an endless loop of hip hop nursery rhymes that almost make three blind mice sound sexual), and then maysan headed back to VA while i hit the road for my sister's house in IN. i used to hate cleveland, but now, not so much. just the fact i paid money to enter a place that considers john mayer's original lyrics to "my public persona is confusing" (not a real song) to be an artifact worth putting in a glass case.

[photo: this was also available at the west side market, but surprise, we semites took a pass.]

i ended up spending 5 days here, thinking it wouldn't take me that long to get from IN to SF, mostly because i'm a moron. in fact, looking back, every time i take these trips, i find new and interesting ways to test my intellect AND FAIL ON A SPECTACULAR LEVEL. see: my decision to drive across 10 in 114 degree heat with a dog in the car. did i mention that i'm already booking my next trip in june thru canada? if anyone sees ways in which that could be problematic, speak now before i put myself through 2 weeks of cannuck hell.

anyway, i basically spent my time in IN being the house bitch, doing the grocery shopping and walking the dogs, plus changing my car's oil at an oil mart where the guy who "took my order" looked a lot like jay adams post-prison, way post-dogtown. also, my sister told me to go to the "good" grocery store that had an organic room, but that room was at the back of the store like the porno room at the video store. i felt ashamed for getting almond milk. don't judge me, i have needs.

my sister spent a lot of the time working, but we did get to go to the nearby candy outlet that coats everything in chocolate (a plus), and we spent a day in chicago, really just buying shit. it was so retail-y that we almost went to eat at the cheesecake factory to make the mall experience complete, but no. of course, driving into chicago from indiana means going through gary, which means inhaling gary and trying not to get sick. it's so strange this town that's literally minutes from chicago, that could be primo real estate, is actually a crime-ridden, burning rubber/onion/feces smelling wasteland. the jackson family is from there, if that explains anything, and i think it does.

[photo: click to enlarge because, while i'm getting ahead of myself, i saw this fucking enormous praying mantis in the parking lot of a mcdonalds (what, i was weak) somewhere in the ozarks. they're like tiny dogs with exoskeletons!]

oh, also while in indiana, my sister was kind enough to go with me to see "nick and norah's infinite playlist," which was just heartbreaking for me. i mean, it's a sweet movie, but it seriously made me miss new york in the way having to take the train home alone late makes you miss an old boyfriend, even if you hate his guts now, or especially if you hate his guts, because it's easier to long for someone specific than for someone that never existed.

the new york in this movie is like that-- familiar, in that at least 15 minutes of that movie are filmed on my old block, and one key scene is in my old deli (or a set made up to look like my deli, but there's the deli, there's iris nail, there's the bag store...there's my life from 1999-2006). but unfamiliar in that i'm an old-ass woman and even when i was a youth i had no adventures of that ilk. still, i see movies like that, and i wanna go home. and discover that one of the homeless guys outside of grace church is actually andy sandberg and not the guy we called "outside joe" who liked to sit on the sidewalk picking large scabs off his bare feet. sweet memories!

i decided to drive south from indiana because that way i could taken 70, which i'd never taken before, and cross another coupla states of my list. i also am an idiot, because, as i once forgot that june is hot as hell in the south, i now ignored the possibility that mid/late october might be tricky around the rocky mountains. so i drove out of my way in order to say i'd been thru missouri, eaten bbq in a gas station in kansas city (on the KS side), and stayed in a motel in topeka conveniently located next to a hooters. and also near some business called cox communications, making it the "chicks with dicks office park" as far as i was concerned.

[photo: the view from my window. cox was, not surprisingly, just to the south.]

one thing i did realize in topeka is that, whenever i pull off the highway anywhere with hotels, i end up in a section of any city, major or minor, that i call "little applebees." even boston has places like this off of 128, islands of chain restaurants, motels, gas stations, and anonymous anywhereania. so i spent the night in the little applebees section of topeka in a good-enough hotel with sign towards the soda machine that read "pop this way." it rained like a bitch, so i thought i'd wake up early when it was light and not thunder and lightening.

instead, i woke up early when it was still raining and dark. but the sky cleared up sometime before colorado. or so i thought.

the plan was to get through colorado, crash somewhere in UT, and somehow make it to berkeley by thursday night. like i said, i completely underestimated the time it would take to make this trip, so getting to el's by thursday dinner time was looking less and less likely, anyway (she and kumar were leaving friday morning, and saturday was her birthday, so i wanted to try and cross paths in the bay area before making the final leg south). i got close to denver around 3 and called teeter for her eldest sister's info, since i'd be passing thru her sister's (sis chris') town and maybe i could just stop to say hi. so i got the info, and headed into the mountains, thinking i could just get some dinner with chris and then continue on my way.

and then the snow storm started.

[photo: "shit."]

again, me no researchee, but snow in the rockies starts early, and when i say "in the rockies," i don't mean in the fun "general woods and clydesdales and beer" way, i mean, "on a road on the side of a fucking mountain." so there i am in my front wheel drive prius, going in and out of squalls, 12 degrees out with slush and ice, mind completely blown. i spent my formative years driving through snow to high school all the time, but never on an 8% downgrade, and never in a car that, due to its tricky hybrid engine whatever, keeps its wheels from spinning in any matter of slush, thus forcing you to gun it in order to go 40 mph just to get the fucker to move, high altitudes or no, while trucks are passing you and SUVS are flipping you off.

[photo: the view from chris' living room that evening-- snow, storm clouds, and several other things you wouldn't expect until, say, december. i know it doesn't look like much snow, but trust me, on the road, it was a flash slush situation.]

by the time i got to chez chris'n'manfriend, i was a bit shell shocked, and when she told me that the vail pass was closed, thus making it impossible to go on even if i wanted to, i was pretty much relieved. that's the fun part of all these major interstates, especially 80-- they have large gates that come down and just shut the road down when the weather's bad. there are signs with flashing lights basically telling you that you're fucked and to turn around, and that's it. i can't tell whether that's some cowboy shit, or whether the fact that new englanders plow through anything means these rockies types are just a bunch of pussies. moi, i felt like a cowboy, and chris was happy to let me spend the night.

[photo: small dog rodeo!]

and let me tell you, it was like a short visit to a spa-- my own room in a beautiful old house, hot vegan mac'n'cheese for dinner, brownies for dessert while watching rachel maddow, small dog rodeo so buzzo's hijinks were par for the course...just the greatest. oh, AND chris gave me this beautiful shirt dress she was trying to get rid of. AND her li'l ski town is adorable, and you could see the mountain from their living room (when the storm clouds cleared/finished shitting snow on my life). i woke up early the next morning and, after letting my car warm up in the 10 degree weather, bid my hosts adieu and headed west again. towards yet more karma.

[photo: the same view out of chris' living room, minus the fence and road-closing storm clouds. then the view from the road the morning after-- it's pretty when it's not blinding and frozen.]

i stayed on 70 until UT, whereupon i headed north to go to 80, which had a smaller risk of bad weather. i took a smaller road thinking it'd be scenic, but it was really just a trafficky nightmare through meth country (as ubiquitous at this point as little applebeeses). then i had to drive through provo and salt lake city, which are never not creepy, but i did remember to get gas in salt lake before entering the vast, serviceless wasteland that extends between salt lake and the NV border.

i've written about this before, and i've talked about it with others, but seriously, public service announcement-style, DO NOT drive on 80 between wendover and salt lake, UT with anything less than a full tank of gas. there's almost nothing but desert and dust for hours, and if you run out of gas, especially at night, the chances are very high that you will end up a pile of bleached bones right next to the fresh corpse of a dead hooker tossed over from the NV side. i had plenty of gas, but for some reason, my check engine light went on. i was pretty sure it was because the folks at the oil'n'go in indiana didn't reset the oil milage thingee (it's a prius thing, trust me), but i spent a good chunk of that drive convinced that my engine was going to blow up and my soul would be converted to mormonism before the body was cold.

[photo: this was actually taken somewhere in kansas, because there is absolutely nothing to photograph on 80 aside from a visual representation of suicidal depression.]

it's at this point, however, that i'd like to share a coupla general observations about this great land of ours:
1, i know i've discussed this before, but jesus really needs to hire new PR people-- for some reason he can only afford to advertise on stretches of road that have almost no traffic, or only on pieces of plywood spread out in the fields of a roadside farm land that spell out "GUNS" "SAVE" "LIVES" "CHRIST" "IS" "LORD" as you drive by at 90 mph. it also seems like the least populated towns have the most anti-abortion signage, which is strange, because if the town has less than a thousand people, and half of those people are women, is abortion really that much of a problem? is it because they need every member of the population they can get? or is small town america really that baby blood hungry? the ways of "real america" are foreign to me.

2, as i was making this trip, the whole "real america" v "fake america" debate was going on, but as far as i can tell, in "real america," people are vastly outnumbered by tumbleweeds, roadkill, and, well, signs that hate abortion. by this logic, our country should be ruled by a gutted deer and the word "KILLS." secretary of state would be a large chunk of limestone. U! S! A!

anyway, made it to elko, nv, that night, a town where i'd previously stopped with my father on my way back east last year to get some delicious basque food. since i'd gotten there later, and really just wanted to get something to go, i picked a mexican place on the strip that seemed hopping and got a burrito. then i proceeded to check in to the only hotel on the strip that allowed dogs, which was also the most horrible place i have ever slept in my entire life. i have slept in vegan co-ops, but this place had an even greater chance of giving me scabies. and aids.

[photo: the only thing on the menu that won't give you food poisoning. also, the one bright spot in nevada.]

another general observation-- if, as stephen colbert once declared, florida is our nation's wang, then it would follow that AL, MI, and maybe LA are the national nutsack, and texas the national taint. new england thru MI are obviously the brains, the carolinas back thru KS/NB are our gut, but the four corners are truly our country's sphincter (sorry, NM and CO, but AZ literally houses a giant hole!). CA is our buttcheek, and NV is a festering hemorrhoid where you can gamble in the bathrooms, smoke in the cancer ward of the hospital, and pimp our your children.

if utah weren't so fucked up religious and repressed, nevada wouldn't have to be so fucked up and trashy; if the mormons didn't have to wear special underwear, the whores staying in the hotel i "slept" in would actually wear underwear. or something. nevada is like if the show cops had an enormous theme park.

and i talked about this with sam in sf, but it struck me as i passed a prostitute on the way into the hotel that, as much as 3rd wave feminism teaches us to respect those in the sex trade, and that porn is a noble pursuit, it still would not be appropriate/considered complimentary if i said to that woman, "good evening, you look especially whorey, great top." nobody wants to be called a whore, and while you can't judge women who do what they gotta do to make a living, you can't convince me that it's something to aspire to (or that being a porn star is anything but being a prostitute with a visual record). i know, i know, i always ruin the fun with feminist rantings. my bad.

[photo: count the stains! please note: there are also wet spots that are less visible. i might now have a tape worm.]

either way, this hotel was so gross that i went to the car to get a blanket that i could wrap myself up in like a burrito and sleep on top of the bed (speaking of burritos, the one i got on the strip was so gross that i swear there were chicken bones in it). problem was i couldn't really sleep because i kept thinking that my car was being broken into or that i was getting crabs. so when my watch said it was 6:30, i figured i'd spent enough time "resting" and got ready to hit the road, sunlight or no. what i didn't realize was that i forgot to set my watch from mountain time to pacific, so it was actually 5:30, and the oil change place wouldn't be open until 7.

so i went to get a donut (casinos and bars, by the way, were still open) and sat and waited for the oil place to open, where upon a nice guy wearing some of the finest in urban sweatwear confirmed it was just the idiots in IN, reset the car, and sent me on my way for free. i was out of nevada by 7:15. but i didn't stop scratching myself until i crossed the border into CA.

ah, tahoe-- so beautiful, so woodsy, so not violating. i drove through the mountains again, this time not-snowy and pretty, and watched the temperature climb from 27 to 82 by 2 pm. i got to paisley's at 3 or so, got a burrito that completely redeemed burritos in my eyes after the one in elko that was filled with whatever chicken bits got stuck in the drain, and spent the rest of the evening in a daze in paisley's living room hanging out and watching TV.

[photo: paisley drove me past this two times so the second time i could take a picture. i am, as always, a grown up.]

sure, i was exhausted, but there's this strange thing that happens after driving that much where it takes me forever to actually relax. i know i'm tired but at the same time my heart's still beating so fast from all those miles going 90 and being on hyper-alert. so hours later, i finally took a shower (no parasites!) and passed out in giant bed in the guest room i think i've stayed in since i started visiting paisley in high school. so comforting in so many ways (ie familiar AND no crabs).

i might have missed elanor, but paisley and i had fun, plus i got to see sam, and generally do the friendsy stuff i'm so loathe to write about here. i also hung out with sharif who spent an hour berating me for not contacting his friends in LA and trying to be more social, and then another hour telling me how those friends are probably too busy to ever hang out. i really did appreciate his description of berkeley tho-- that the people there are so soft and vulnerable to predators, like a human galapagos, with their sandalled feet and bike rights and organic everything, they have no defenses. i feel that way about LA sort of, too, except instead of hippies they're just kind of sheltered mall dwellers who you could probably carjack without a weapon.

[photo: a catholic church somewhere near oakland that paisley and her dad insist looks like a huge vagina. pais even noted how the crucifix looks like an IUD. think about it.]

driving back to LA tho, i wasn't as filled with dread as i thought i'd be (altho man, was 5 in fine smell form-- put gary to shame). when i finally got to the 101 at the cusp of the valley and passed the vivid video building in studio city, it was also comforting in it's familiarity (but probably not without crabs). when i got back to my apartment, lizzy'd left my place in great shape, and after unpacking for hours, i got to sleep around 4.

and now...well, it's not awful, but only because, as is usually true, i have returned west with a stronger sense of purpose. and while that sense of purpose is usually an ambiguous drive to "do stuff," this time it's specifically to get work back east and never have to make that drive again, and to do it by any means necessary. what those means might have to be, i'm not sure, but i have a feeling this will be my most shameless year. i'm not proud of that, but five times across the US, and you do sort of want to stick a fork in the heartland and declare the adventure done.

that's my trip though. and who knows, it could be a good year. tomorrow might go well. molly and maria might get to keep their union recognized by the state, and norm coleman might have to say he lost to stuart smalley, and john sununu might have to eat sudoodoo...but i'm not just a liberal democrat from taxachusetts, but also a red sox fan, so my fear of the jinx will end my tirade right there. still, shit ain't hopeless. if an idiot like me can make it to and fro across this country 4.5 times without an accident, anything's possible.

[photo: from the sox game i saw for my birthday during the sept wildcard race-- the first game of a double header where the jays kicked our ass. in the second game, the one i wasn't at, we won. and now we're both in a rebuilding year. you do the math.]

Friday, October 17, 2008

reviews: "bright shiny morning"

*"bright shiny morning," james frey

a friend said i should read this book because it's about LA, and i "live" in LA (oh, and because she promotes it for work), but i have absolutely no interest in james frey or books about LA, so i compromised and listened to it instead, in the car. i bought the CDs at a barnes & noble with maysan when i was driving back to nh from ca, and i finished it last week after leaving maysan in ohio on my way back to ca from nh. it took me half a year to get through a bullshit airport book, and i feel like a deserve a medal. or at least a publishing deal.

i've struggled to describe to people why this book is so bad, so painful, so unnecessary, and i think the short answer is this-- it's a quite possibly the least original book i've ever read. the author knows he has nothing original to say about los angeles, but he seems to figure that if he says *a lot* of unoriginal things-- possibly every unoriginal thing-- that will make not only make up for it, but make it a modern epic. perhaps he figured that if he managed to convince oprah he did hard time for being a drugged up badass when he really just did community service for a dwi, anything's possible.

one thing frey can be proud of is that there will never be a more complete compendium of the most stale, tired clichés about los angeles. did you know that famous hollywood actors are often spoiled and in the closet? that good, hardworking americans come to LA filled with dreams and hope? that even the most alcoholic of LA's homeless can have hearts of gold? odds are, you've rarely heard or seen anything else. but now you can have it all in one place.

and if that's not enough, the book is interspersed with random lists and facts about LA/southern california in general, so you can not only read, say, about an earnest, kind mexican-american woman stereotype working as a maid for an rich, evil boss stereotype, but also learn about the history of the freeway system and the history of LA's chinatown. oh, and you can read it written in a completely humorless, macho style that ads an extra level of annoying to the proceedings. this book is like a lifetime movie if it were directed by a 3rd rate quentin tarantino. with the same length and tone as shoah.

what i would love to read-- and i know it's out there, i'm just too lazy to search it out-- is a book about LA that goes beyond the standard bullshit about dreamers, mini-malls, and traffic. maybe the problem is that 99% of the writers in LA a, aren't from there and only know the basic shit/stuff we've all seen on TV, b, spend all their time there with other writers, in their homes, or in their cars, which is not the stuff of great novels (or even mildly humorous anecdotes), and c, aren't dumb enough to try and take such an absurd place seriously. it's like trying to write a dramatic epic about the daily goings on at disney world, as told by a tourist. and if frey was trying to show LA's magnificance beyond the artifice, using nothing but artifice kind of defeats the purpose.

[photo: "welcome to hollywood, what's your dream?" = quoted almost verbatim in frey's great work of literature.]

the weird thing is, frey was so good at making stuff up when he was supposed to be writing nonfiction, and now that he's writing fiction, he can't come up with shit. (it's not just the endless clichés-- one of the many random vignettes in the book is, without actually using his name, a straight-forward biography of perez hilton. it's like reading wikipedia, but even less interesting.) by this time next week, i'll be back in my crumbling apartment in s'lake, listening to the helicopters thunder overhead, eating pinkberry at in my running clothes, and generally living like any other boring asshole in los angeles. and somehow, it will still be more more interesting than this piece of shit book.

[i'm leaving indiana tuesday morning, so i'll write up the trip up to now tomorrow night, altho there's really not much to write up. and sorry molly, but i'm taking my misery through missouri. charm of the highway strip, indeed.]

Thursday, October 16, 2008

nh to ca: prelude

[image: not the most original jpg-du-jour, but i love it so.]

so why would i update this blog when it would take time away from skimming realclearpolitics? from watching the numbers shift on fivethirtyeight? from finishing crochet jobs while watching a tivo full of keith and rachel? this is what i've been doing for the past 2 months. i also went to the hopkinton demo derby, shot a .45 in the woods, and attended a family bake-off in new jersey, but mostly, i'm in an election coma. plus, i've already voted. i'm a cog in the lean, mean shaheen machine.

anyway, i'm already on my way back to CA, taking a break in indiana at my sister's house, and were i not so wiped out from a day of being her helper monkey/sweating through the last hour of the red sox game, i'd wrap-up the first leg of this current journey. the sad thing tho is that, after 4 back'n'forths, this trip's starting to feel like it ain't no thang. add to that my utter ambivalence about to returning to LA and i'd still rather read politico than spend time writing about my day in buffalo.

LA, for me, is like high school-- i know i have to go, and that it will help me go on to better things, but that doesn't meant it isn't a near-daily shit sandwich. right before the tolls on 90 between ohio and indiana, i was fiddling with the radio and stopped on twisted sister's "we're not gonna take it," because a, i was tired and wanting something amusing, and b, it was the only station i could find that wasn't playing some variation on jesus' current #1 jam. so i'm listening to this song, and i pull up to the toll (i have no ez pass since there are no tolls once you cross the mississip', where i do the majority of my driving), and the toll i chose suddenly stops moving. i'm just sitting there in the rain behind 2 other suckers so we can pay six dollars for the pleasure of entering the homestate of dan quayle.

and i just start laughing because dee snider is full of shit, because *all i fucking do is take it, everyday, all the time.* i am in my car, stuck waiting for a toll-collector to come back from the shitter, driving back to the national epicenter of taking it. i don't know anyone right now who isn't taking it at this point, most of them in every hole. which certain puts the ubiquitous nature of jesus jams in context.

anyway, i'm mixing shit up on this trip, going diagonal from here to san francisco so i can cross a couple more states off my list before hand delivering the issue of us weekly i bought today at the supermarket to my friend sam when we have dinner in oakland so she can include it in bibliography of her dissertation. so NH thru OH will come sometime before monday. for now, crooksandliars calls. tomorrow, game 6. at least if the red sox take it all, that won't be so bad. groan.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Monday, July 21, 2008

pt. 4: VA, MD, DE, NJ, NY, CT, MA, NH

[photo: "baseball is a simple game." whatever, i'm foreshadowing.]

ok. at this rate i won't finish this stupid trip summary before turning around and doing it all over again. here are the cliff notes of the highlights of the illustrations of the end, because i had this grander point i wanted to make (i think? i don't exactly remember) so let's just get to my navel gazing and finish it already. also, my sister got married.

maysan's husband, c., works at virginia tech, which means she has moved from her location during the last trip (MI) to blacksburg (VA) (not an upward move). she asked me if i wanted to see the monument to the slain virginia tech students, but after new orleans and the holocaust cage, i'd had my fill of tragic landmarks. then again, blacksburg is in itself sort of tragic; 4 out of 5 businesses are tattoo shops, there are $300k condos marketed for rich people who need a place to crash during football season, and maysan's building's "pool" looks like this.

we took her boys (ages 3 and 1) and went to target, petsmart and barnes and noble, aka the local art museum (lookit the artistry of the new GO collection!), aquarium (lookit fish!) and library (well, there are books). but i also provided an excuse to go to the mountain lake resort, aka, the place where they shot dirty dancing. i mean, neither one of us is a superfan of the movie, but really, you can only go to target so many times.

and it was totally worth it, because we a, discovered that the next sequel will be called dirty dancing 3: an inconvenient truth, as this here is the "lake" of the resort's name which was featured in the film as the home of "the lift." now it's no bigger than patrick swayze's current carbon footprint. "!"

[additional note on photo: the lake is the silver of blue in the back. it's every so slight, like the wind through my tree.]

and b, we went into the dining hall, stuck sinan in a chair, and literally put baby in the corner.

[additional note on photo: i thought maysan'd want to be cropped out of the photo, but you can see her hand and that she a, didn't just dump her huge infant in a chair and walk off to do the pachanga, and b, was having the time of her life.]

[ok references over.]

oh, these are maysan's kids and my dog. please note that my dog weighs less than sinan the 1-year-old, who, if maysan really wants to buy a minivan, could help contribute to the down payment by working as a bouncer, maybe at one of the local tattoo shops, if such shops had bouncers, and if sinan could walk.

but as boring as blacksburg is, my time at chez maysan did a lot to clear up the misery of the previous stretch. on the one hand, i'm annoyed that i'm giving maysan the short shrift write-up since this part of the trip was fun, while i went on and on about atlanta which was utter punishment, but after you put baby in the corner, what more is there to say? plus, at this point, i sincerely don't remember shit. which, given the 3 days of sleep i needed to recover from this trip when i got to nh, might be a good hting.

so i decided to not punish myself with an 8 hour drive directly to nyc and instead drive from VA to baltimore to cristie's house. she embraced buzzo (pictured, not so stoked as this time no groin relief was involved, but this is as close to blue steel as my dog gets). we did fun things that nobody would care about. no vermin were exchanged. we bitched about dudes. surely i've said enough.

i had to be in nyc for a night to meet with my new subletter, who i liked, which is good since he lives in my house and watches his giant tv on my precious couch. i always hate writing about my trips to nyc because they're basically private friend time, but i will say that buzzo finally got a bath, and i finally got 31 corn lane merch for my birthday (that hadn't actually happened yet at that point, but since i beg for shit all the time, finally still applies), and now i'm finally including a picture of kesone's aforementioned adorable rodent (with buzz staring at him since he seems to be the official recurring motif of this entry).

before making the final stretch to nh, i went to a bbq at the sperber manse in bk, and i got my 31CL bags as well as a ton of food and red sox talk, and holy shit, it's such a good/bad feeling when you realize you're happy because you feel at home (yay), and that it took you so long to realize that because it's been so long since you've felt that way (christ).

i mean, i travel to see friends a lot, and those trips are always somewhat life saving in nature, but 10 years ago, after i fled an apartment in queens and was waiting to move into the place i am now resubletting to yet more mixed feelings of relief and misery, it was the sperbers who let me sleep on their bizarro couch on bleecker st for 2 fucking weeks. and it wasn't long after that that i met their neighbor, emma, who i didn't spend one-on-one time with until we were both in london months later and i suffered a allegra-induced nosebleed that lasted for our entire dinner together. i was sure my nosesplosion was going to end our friendship right there (as was she, i mean, ew), but somehow, it didn't. and now she's my lifeline in LA, and teeter's sisters still take me in, and both teeter and emma were my dates to my sister's wedding last week. that's next level relief.

what i realized sometime during the long slog of drive after texas was that maybe i wanted to see the alamo (if you don't remember that part, i'm not hurt) because i fancy myself to be alamo-like-- old (about to get older with the birthday et al) and buttressed and famous for an endless last stand that (i'm convinced) i will also lose. but of course, that's self-indulgent bullshit, or really, given that this is written on a public travel diary on the intertubes, next level self-indulgent bullshit mach 9.

[photo: a truly shitty shot of one of the truly shitty waterfall instillations in nyc. not sure if i captured the true essence, but to me, it looked like a scaffolding taking a piss.]

so i lose by my 8-year-old larry bird-era standards, but that's because my best friend isn't a life-sized talking my little pony, i can't breathe underwater, and i don't have any magical powers (duh, because if i did, i'd be riding my my little pony to the seaside so i could go to my summer home off/under the coast of martha's vineyard where all my neighbors are all large, kindly whales). but if the watermellon thump queen, whoever she ended up being (kimmy #1!), thinks she's a winner, then fuck it. davy crockett was killed at the alamo, but he's remembered as the king of the wild frontier and wearer of a signature cap.

you spend enough time sitting in a compact car with a small dog and the threat of don henley, and perspective does seem to fade away. but. now, we remember the good friends and li'l giant babies and poop jokes. remember that we all fight, and we never win, at last according to joss whedon. remember to set your tivo in advance for dollhouse. remember where glenn danzig lives so you can take others, and remember to get buzz's rabies shots renewed next june in a timely manner, and remember how insane teeter and emma looked dancing to tina turner at the wedding. remember only the good times with manny ramirez, before things got ugly. and natch, remember the alamo. and that it's not in el paso. i might not be a loser per se, but i'm still kind of an idiot.

[photo: btw, in case you haven't noticed, that was the navel gazing i warned you about. this photo of the sunapee harbor 4th of july fireworks seemed like the best illustration of that.]

a weekish before my sister got married, cristie came up and we went to see/i photographed the manchester fishercats get slaughtered by the new britain rockcats (these are minor league baseball teams, not some sort of feline ultimate fighting ring). and as we watched more errors made than either one of us thought humanly possible during a semi-professional baseball game, we recalled our favorite line from (the movie that inspired us to go to a minor league game in the first place) bull durham; "sometimes, you win, sometimes, you lose, and rains. think about it." anyway, here's some cake.

[photo: from my birthday, since i love cake and hate birthdays. touche, mom.]


Sunday, July 13, 2008

pt. 3: AL pt. 2, GA, NC, SC

[photo: my hotel room in atlanta, home of my blueberry night. if i broke down the cost of that room, each berry would've probably cost $50.]

funny thing about alabama and georgia-- you can't get your dog a flea bath without documentation of a rabies shot. the rabies tag, you say? could be a cheap counterfeit, purchased on the worldwide, underground black market of faked rabies identification. they need the paperwork, which, while simply a piece of paper, carries more weight than an inscribed metal tag. how i wanted to murder everyone, everywhere.

well, when i first found the fleas (i'd now found up to 9 of 'em), i started looking up dog groomers on my 'berry at 1 am (not on my computer-- i'd forgotten the powerchord in texas, or fleas might have taken it out of my bag). i aimed for somewhere near atlanta, where i was to arrive the next day, made a list, and tried to sleep, but it's hard when your dog won't sit still as he has *a handful of tiny bugs crawling around the area near his penis.*

i don't think i mentioned that, and i'm too lazy to check-- fleas are most concentrated, or at least easiest to find, on a dog's groin. needless to say, buzz had trouble sleeping, and i tried to be positive since this incident took place on our 6th anniversary, and he had fleas when i adopted him, but his fur was so thick back then you couldn't see them (or his penis, actually, but that's another story). so i slept like shit, and we left the overpriced hotel early the next morning. i tried to make the hotel worth it by taking a shitty muffin from the breakfast buffet (buffet = table with 5 wicker baskets full of bread goods on it and a toaster to make them edible). and by reminding myself i might have given the hotel fleas.

[photo: i'm photoless here, so apropos of absolutely nothing, here's mike myers in a hockey sweatshirt. wayne campbell, btsh...see, this my 8-year-old self would be proud of. although wayne's world didn't exist yet. so maybe not.]

since all of the georgia groomers required rabies paperwork, i tried to find some sort of relief at a petsmart (btw, this all went down on a sunday, so my vet's office in nh wasn't answering the phone. just so you know i'm aware how fax machines work). besides, everyone i called told me that, since buzz is frontlined, he doesn't actually have fleas-- he just needs more frontline and time for the fleas to die-- but i had this nightmare vision of getting home to nh and the *5 dogs* that live here (sure, not all at once), having one pup get close to what would now be my flea-ridden car, and then watching my mother cry as we're forced to flea bomb the house on the day of my sister's wedding, killing all the floral arrangements and melting my brother-in-law's beloved ice sculpture (that he's since admitted is an incredibly stupid idea, god bless 'im).

so i stopped in the petsmart in montgomery, al, walked out with armfulls of (flea) poison (and some greenies), and, in the 90 degree heat of the parking lot and in the full view of god and all of humanity, proceeded to massage my dog's groin with zodiac flea spray. i mean, i did his whole body, but holding him in my arms baby jesus-style, rubbing poison around his doggie junk without any protest on his part (if anything, he was way too into it), watching the fleas die by my mighty, poisonous hand...if i ever had dignity, i sure as shit don't now.

i got a vet in GA to sell me a pill that'd kill the remaining fleas on buzz within a half-hour of ingestion, and that seemed like a wedding-saving fix for now. so as we left montgomery and i thought, "no fleas at last, no fleas at last, thank god almighty, we have no fleas at last," i pretty much wanted to die.

the lesson here people is that being organic is all nice and good, but you can't fight organic with organic-- vermin is organic. if nature had it's way, we'd be walking parasitic cafeterias. nick had boric acid all over the rugs to kill those fleas, but all he did was provide them with a nice grainy beach to take a vacation on when they needed r&r from making his cat insane. if you get fleas, drink a diet coke, put extra nutra splenda in it, eat some olestra chips, and then BOMB THE FUCKING SHIT OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. for chrissake nick, you smoke! you inhale the equivalent of 8 flea bombs a day already! put the tom's of maine deoderant down, tell your pals you can't make it to the farmer's market, drink something strong out of a recycled jar, and unleash the vermin rambo within.

i went to decatur first to get buzz his pill, and then realized i had to find a hotel again. i had people i was going to meet up with-- teeter's excellent friends cooper and michelle-- but even if they offered to put me up at their house, there's no way i could accept since they have a dog and i wasn't going to risk spreading my cooties (well, buzz's cooties, but we are of one body and mind)(or not). so i agreed to meet up with them later, tried to thrift, was too tired/fed up by the same ol', not-necessarily fair eccentric town bullshit (see rant above), and braced myself for finding a dog-friendly hotel. sadly, the cheapest one i could find anywhere near the city was pricey as fuck, but since the past 24 hours had kicked my ass so badly, i was just looking forward to getting out of my car and the haze of zodiac fog within.

[photo: the hotel had haikus everywhere. obviously, i loved this, but at approx. $90/haiku, i could've whipped up a few myself, like, "my dog has vermin / no tears, eyeballs are sweating / someone kill me now".]

so i ended up in an insanely pricey hotel downtown. i've said this before, but why do only nice hotels take pets? how can the woman at the days inn say, sorry ma'am, we'll rent a room to 8 college kids and a keg, and to those to that nice man and his prostitute and her methamphetamine, but not to you and your dog. meanwhile, the hotel in atlanta had a pet spa, but might've also had a dress code. i consoled myself with the mantra, this is your last hotel. and besides, you're in atlanta, where the players play! and then i remember i've spent the last couple of days being completely played. visions of ludacris danced right out of my head (but jermaine dupri remained like a wiggum-esque deranged leprechaun on my shoulder. which is to say, actual size).

but then cooper and michelle rode in, white knights in their sweet standard transmission wheels, to take me to a soul food eatery. generally speaking, if a restaurant considers mac and cheese and cornbread two great sides that go great together, i'm good. so at least i got to eat well, and get delicious ice cream, and get to hear a lot of the one thing i really like about the south; usage of the titles sir and ma'am by those of us on the other side of the counter. i mean, in the service industry, you're usually instructed to kiss the customer's ass so shiny, it's amazing that the guy replacing your battery at verizon doesn't say, "and do you need help with anything else today, m'lady?" but when the woman at the drive through asks a dude if he wants sprinkles with that and he says, "no ma'am"-- to sprinkles-- well, shit.

btw, cooper and michelle did the artwork for teeter's record (hence, "cooper, thanks for the birds"), and i remember when teet met cooper a jillion years ago at sva, because she recognized him from being on jerry springer on an episode about fetishists or something where he came on as someone who likes to wear diapers. "you will never know the freedom of peeing and pooping in your own pants!" he famously said (but only for the money and chance to be on springer-- he's not so much a diaper guy). and then, when teeter recognized him all those years ago, she shouted that in his face by means of introduction. but whatever, they were ever so kind to me in my darkest, flea-corpse-y hour. bless you, sir and ma'am.

[photo: the cooper of old. he does not look like that now, even ignoring that he now wears clothes, none of which have dri-weave (tm).]

after delicious frozen treats, i was exhausted, as were cooper and michelle, so i got back to the hotel at a reasonable hour to pass out. i had the next day all planned out-- go eat breakfast at the flying biscuit (recommended by michelle, as i love biscuits, and she promised, no pork), get buzzo to a groomer since surely my vet would be ready fax me records by then, and then meet up with maysan, her husband c. (he's an initial guy, there's precedent!) and their kids, and go to the aquarium. i would also get a hotdog at the varsity, as i had planned ever so long ago. atlanta would not kick my ass. i would see the aquarium's famed whales. i dreamt of blueberries.

but when my alarm went off, i already had a message from my vet; please note that while i love my vet, her assistant/vet tech whatever seems to, for whatever reason, hate my fucking guts with all the power her novelty paw print scrubs allow her. (when i returned and shared my woeful tale to a friend in town, she told me said vet tech is like this with every "outsider," and that it took her 15 years to earn this woman's trust. and the thing is, there is nowhere that i am insider, except in the house where i write this and behind the wheel of my fucking car. so unless someone opens a veterinary clinic in my bathroom or in my trunk, you can see my dilemma.)

[photo: the view from my window; hotel room i can't really afford, flea bath i can't get buzz, tom waits show i can't go to. fuck a lot of atlanta.]

so i get a message like this: [in most wtf mean girls-y tone] [ps this woman's in her 50s]: hi, this is [hateful paw print shirt devil woman] calling from [buzz's vet], and...SIGH. first of all, i don't really know what records you need from your message, but just so you know, there's a $5 out of state faxing fee for those records, so i'm going to need your credit card number, SIIIIIGH. huh. looking here though, it appears that buzz's rabies vaccine expired two days ago, so...i don't know if you really want me to fax anything, ANYway. bye."

ok, so that part of the plan is knocked out. and no message from maysan also put the writing on the blueberry wall. see, i know maysan really wanted to go, but i also know it's long, long drive from va to atlanta, and that she has two small kids and a husband who'd just returned from a business trip, and a car that runs on gasoline, so...reality was starting to set in for both of us.

so i called her and called it off. i'd get my biscuit, see some of the sights on a list michelle was kind enough to send me (but see them fast, and park the car in the shade), eat a hot dog, and then go to charleston (i'll explain why later), then to maysan's in VA, all in one day, original plan be damned. so i'd drive completely out of my way to see one thing (not worth explaining yet), then drive back to hopefully get to maysan's before too late as not to wake up the li'l 'uns. and i'd have my fucking hot dog, dammit. suck it, atlanta.

so the biscuit was delicious, and that was a good start, but after the temperature rose, and the museum i tried was closed, and a woman at the varsity fully glared at me when i tried to ask her a question (i even called her ma'am!), that was it. i ate two meals in two hours and hit the road. andre 3000, take me away.

[photo: the famous varsity, as in, varsity-level assholes. moi, i'm 4th team travel planner/dog owner/not-moron.]

my reasoning for going to sc wasn't dramatic or anything, just hard to casually throw into the middle of all the flea bullshit-- i wanted to see a holocaust memorial co-designed by a friend of my family, robert stein. sure, i also wanted to see charleston, but the memorial was a big deal, and i didn't get to go during the unveiling, so what was another 5 hours of driving, anyway.

[photo: the memorial-- that's supposed to be a prayer shawl in the middle. i say that because the five co-eds tanning nearby in bikinis must not have been aware. "hey kimmy, where do you want to get some sun?" "gee tammi, maybe by the dead jew cage?" oy.]

and really, i got there, saw the memorial (effective, right? even though it's next to a statue of calhoun. i give up). then i went to ft sumter to look at the water (and squint to see the fort) and maybe feel a breeze, got some ice cream on king st, and then off to va i went. so it was nice to spend some time somewhere with no drama of any kind, even though the purpose of going to that somewhere was to see a fucking holocaust memorial.

[photo: the memorial from another angle. i was impressed.]

and you can see why it's taking me forever to write up this trip. not just because i'm not stuck in the wedding vortex, but because of the horror, the horror, etc. no, sir. i did not have an easy trip. it has been kind of therapeutic though. in so much as i'm reminded to be grateful that i haven't had to massage my dog's groin lately.

[photo: kristen schaal's excellent daily show commentary aside, this is a photo of where teet and i will one day reside.]

i ate bbq'd chicken at a place called bubba's. they also sold t-shirts (smallest size = XXL) and bubba's bubble bath (jojoba and mesquite?). i had my first hush puppy. i got the fuck out of the carolinas.

[(shitty) photo: the heart of darkness (not really, but the photo's dark).]

NEXT: VA, MD, NY, fin