Month / May, 2003

Born in East LA

You can’t live in LA by normal people rules, because people in LA don’t live by the same rules that we live by. Here, it’s all about the “industry.” People in LA, as far as I can tell, have a truly perverted view of the world. The world they live in is the world that I as a New Yorker, don’t buy into. I don’t watch television. I think the majority of the movies from Hollywood suck. I find that most of popular culture is not charming, but rather a plague which is successfully draining this country of both intelligence and ambition.

Brittany Spears is an embarrassment.

People here are obsessed with popular culture. They eat it up, in all it’s vulgarity, and recite television show trivia like gospel. It is a huge city, which much like it’s citizens, is forever looking at itself and completely misses what is happening in the world around them. I asked the question “what if you don’t have a television in LA?” to a party of people, to which I was greeted with the most frightened faces I had seen all vacation.

“Why would you want to do that?”

LA is also a fantastic city to watch, like a car wreck is fun to watch. The people here are caricatures of themselves in many ways, like there’s the Indy people with the retro mesh-hats, or the punks with their Misfits shirts and bullet holding belts, or the people walking down Melrose in full club outfits on a Sunday morning. It really is a great place for people watching. There are the standard truths about LA, like everybody drives, everybody wants to be famous, and most people are not walking around with their original cheeks. After a few days here it all started to make sense.

All in all, Los Angeles is a fantastic city to be in, because it has it’s own personality. It isn’t trying to be anything it’s not. LA is a vapid, self-indulgent, hedonistic, energetic, and often hypercritic city, just like New York. It is what it is.

*I am a fan.*

*Just because.*

The Little Things

Back in New York we have this Dairy product called _Skim Milk_. It is part of a four pronged system of milk delivery. They consist of:

* Whole Milk
* 2% Milk
* 1% Milk
* Skim Milk

(There is also Half- &-Half as well as the popular cream varieties, but for the sake of this argument we shall leave them out.)

But these different categories of milk, apparently, haven’t reached this coast yet and it troubles me. Yesterday, we went to the local Coffee vending establishment and Diane asked for an iced coffee with skim, to which the uncomfortable girl behind the counter said;

“What?”
“Skim.”
“What’s Skim?”
“Skim Milk?”
“What? Low fat?”
“Yes, Low fat milk.”

But skim milk isn’t low fat milk, it’s no-fat milk, but the idea of prolonging the conversation with the recent college grad was too daunting for either of us and we quickly retreated, leaving the foolish girl to her milk mislabeling ways. It’s a frightening world out here in California.

*Frightening.*

West Side Living

Well, the flight was unremarkable, we didn’t crash and Florence Henderson didn’t speak jive… Which I am thankful for. We flew on JetBlue, which was great and arrived in Oakland right on time. Diane’s friend Toni picked us up at the airport, again right on time and we drove to her apartment in sunny _Walnut Creek_ California.

Sounds perfect right?

That’s just the problem! Maybe it’s the New Yorker in me trying to find faults in everything, or perhaps the cynical Metropolitan who can’t trust in the kindness of strangers, or even perhaps that I may be a complete asshole and need to return to my therapist, but everything here seems a little too perfect. Not a cloud in the sky; not a chance of drizzle; not a frown in site. Everybody’s happy, affluent, and white.

Even the mosquitoes are picky about who they bite.

It’s kind of like when you visit the zoo and you see the lemmings in their “natural environment” and everything looks kosher, but something about it just seems a little bit off. It might be the cracking paint, or the dead trees with plastic leaves, or the outline of the door in the far off mountain ranges. I feel like the lemming. A lemming in the wrong display.

I’m expecting a handler to give me a banana at any moment.

I will report back at my next base camp and tell yall where I’m at in my anthropological studies of the West Coast. So for now, Funtime Ben signing off.

I Need a Vacation

Is it just me, or has the world gone mad, or has someone forgotten to tell me that judgment day is coming? I have been completely disgusted with people lately. I’m not talking about a feeling I have been having about people, I mean people have become animals in this city and I need to get away from it.

Where do you go?

Where do you go when the “real” city fails so entirely to stay “real.” This weekend, wile paddling around the prospect park lake, I saw a group of 3 boys 13-16 trap and torture a gosling in prospect park. Why would you in your right mind torture a helpless animal? And a baby at that? Sunday while doing laundry, I saw a separate group of boys pounding a dead squirrel that had been run-over by a car with a traffic cone. Why? We were, later that day, doing a little spring cleaning and took our rugs outside to our front entry to air out and someone stole the cute fluffy one.

What the hell is happening?

People are animals, but 10 times worse, because animals don’t understand that they are doing anything wrong. For them it’s instinct. Why do people act like savages? Is it because they are really savages and it’s human instinct? If so, lock them all up and give them Alpo, because I am tired of breathing the same air and inhabiting the same planet with them. I don’t act like a savage. I have no problem leaving animals alone in the park. I want to practice understanding and believe that people are not inherently evil, but how do you deal with people who behave like children and children who behave like monsters?

Back to the point, where do you go?

When everything around you seems to be horrible, unreal, and ethically devoid were do you escape to? Well the complete opposite of New York City… Los Angeles and Las Vegas! Wednesday Diane and I will be flying to the west coast for two weeks to get away from this horrible place. Either we will find that California and Nevada are even worse and we will come back glad to be New Yorkers, or if not we wont come back.

So, while I’m gone, no parties, take care of your sister, and for god sakes New York…

GROW THE FLIP UP!

Overheard

I was ridding the train the other day with Diane and a young black couple were talking to one another. As the guy way kissing his girlfriend goodbye, because he was getting off at the next stop, I heard this brief and hilarious conversation.

HIM “Eiw! Why your lips all wet?”
HER “Lip-gloss Nigga'”

It still makes me smile.

A shelf at the Thrift Store in Port Jefferson

Go Ohm Yourself

I spent the weekend at an Ashram in upstate New York listening to my favorite devotional chanter “Krishna Das”:http://www.krishnadas.com/. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a new age Hindu hippy living off the love of the land in spiritual bliss, eating only bean curd and playing flutes. I am a cynical carnivore New Yorker and am incapable of truly opening up for fear that if do open up, I will get mugged.

My Chakras are all sorts of screwed up.

Chanting, however, is a really amazing way to completely empty your mind of the thoughts that spin through it. It, much like yoga, frees the mind of the noise and gets you out of your own head for a while.

Unfortunately there is a lot of religion that get rolled up into it, but hinduism isn’t really that bad of a religion to to rolled up with, considering it’s all based on peace and self-love. I, however, am an atheist, so when anybody mentions god, I get a little wary. The Hindu’s are kind of cool in that they are very open to you if you don’t believe in their god, unlike some other religions that I have encountered which are less understanding.

Basically chanting is sitting cross-legged on the floor and repeating the names of Hindu gods over and over in a call and response type of dialog. Sure it feels kind of strange to sing _”Hari Krishna, Krishna, Krishna, Hari, Hari”_ like a bald headed monk, but soon the ridiculousness of the whole thing passes and you get into the groove.

It’s basically New Age techno.

I would recommend trying some on for size and seeing how it fits. I really enjoy the relaxation it brings, just remember to keep an open mind and pack plenty “Beano”:http://www.beano.net/.

_Ohm Shanti my Peeps, Ohm Flipping Shanti_

(Diane just sent me “this link”:http://www.wildheartjournal.com/kd.pdf about Krishna Das and what exactly he does. It’s a PDF.)

Gym Elevator

My gym has an elevator. Now this shouldn’t be a surprise to any New Yorker. Most buildings have elevators here in New York City, but what is unusual are the people who use this particular elevator. My gym is an old 4 story building downtown. On the first floor is Sign In, on the second floor the weight-room, on the third floor yoga studios, and the fourth floor the boxing ring/cardio-room and most importantly changing rooms. A quick run up the stairs to get to yoga class is a good way to get your heart going.

As I was walking into my gym, the other day, a woman was getting onto the elevator. I walked up the stairs to the changing room. When I got out of the changing room I noticed the same woman on…

The Stairmaster!

She didn’t want to walk up the stairs, but rather, wanted the simulation of walking up the stairs. This is why new York is such a great place! For $80 a month you can pay to not walk up stairs and get on a *stairmaster.*

A little kitch guy from a thrift store

I Aim to Please

For all you people out there (Meredith) who wanted to see some naughty pictures of me, go crazy!

Grrrr Tiger!

For all of you who don’t want to look at my nakid’ bod, may I suggest some iced tea? Just a thought. See you next week when my hellish schedule slows down a bit.

*Fingers Crossed!*