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Showing posts from January, 2006

george “mr. lonelyhearts” bush

I didn’t listen to too much of the State of the Union address for a variety of reasons: I was on my way to class, I cringe at the sound of Bush’s voice and I have one of those MTV-generation attention spans you hear so much about. But I was lucky enough to catch the part where Bush said we need to do something about young people who “need direction in love.” I’m pretty sure he was alluding to how God hates fags, but I like to think that he’s turning over a new leaf and will personally provide relationship advice to the nation’s youth, a la KROQ’s LoveLine . (And really, Bush is not significantly more conservative than Dr. Drew, who, sure, advocates the morning-after pill, but also thinks that anyone who ever twirled a pair of handcuffs during sex must have been molested and should seek therapy immediately.) I like to picture a grandfatherly Bush telling wide-eyed, lovelorn youngsters, “You know, there was a time when I too thought they were writing songs of love but not for me. I th

“i always wanted to be part of a flash mob”

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Meehan was quoting her sister, who’d lived in London for a while. She added, “But she was really busy, and she never found out about them in time.” We’d just sat down on folding chairs at Highways to see my friend Claudia and her fellow Butchlalis de Panochtitlan in Teenage Papi: The Remix . A pink slip of paper on our chairs invited us to, “Butchlalis Saturday after-party/queer flash mob to Saints & Sinners,” a West LA bar. “That’s the story of my life,” I said, thinking of my favorite quote from The Last Days of Disco . I’m paraphrasing, but one of the central characters, a sweet and painfully preppy white boy, says, “I consider myself part of the disco generation. It’s always been really important to me. I love the idea of a place where people can gather and let loose and be themselves. Of course, I was in grad school most of that time, so I didn’t actually get to go to any disco clubs, really.” We settled in for the show, a fun, funny, NC-17-rated set of sketches about bei

back in my day

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It’s a completely different world north of the 101. Exhibit A: Friday night I went to Universal CityWalk. The last time I was there, I was wearing a green-and-gold cheerleading uniform, and my hair was in pink foam curlers. And while my fellow cheer competitors and I groaned about how embarrassed we were, I was actually really proud to be in such a big, neon place as something other than a civilian. But on Friday, I was a civilian. Stephanie was the pro, having choreographed several dance numbers for the Anime Fusion Tour starring Japanese former-teen-actress-turned-singer Yoko Ishida. Yoko is apparently now known for singing anime theme songs and some of the songs used in Para Para, a video game that is like Dance Dance Revolution, but with arms. I know so little about all of this that I don’t even know if I’m using correct syntax by saying “songs used in Para Para.” To folks in the know, that might be like saying, “I just love going surfing on the World Wide Spider Web!” And th

freedom isn't free, it's $100

College students will do a lot for a few extra bucks. When I was at UCLA, I knew multiple people who signed up to be guinea pigs in medical and psych experiments (though the one Cathy did involved drinking a delicious chocolate milkshake, so we’re not talking Stanford-prison-experiment stuff here). Still, I’m hoping none of my Bruin brethren take this whacko alumni group up on their offer of $100 for lecture notes and tape recordings of “radical professors,” meaning, in this case, profs who are critical of Bush. Supposedly, their beef is with teachers who bring up any “ideological issue that has nothing to do with the class subject matter.” I never had an astronomy professor who had much to say about Monica Lewinsky, but literature and history are all about politics, and to advocate for some lukewarm middle ground is more dangerous and disingenuous than just holding a big Republican pep rally. I’m a fight-speech-with-more-speech kind of girl. As my friend Annette, who brought the st

please pass the non-sequitur

Yesterday a small contingent of my extended family celebrated a belated Christmas. Here’s an excerpt from one of our stirring dinner-table discussions. Me: …First the colonists and then American corporations destroyed the land and local economies of a lot of South American countries, so now people who live there have no choice but to work in the crappy factory jobs provided by American manufacturers. Relative: But America saved Europe during World War II! And the sad thing is, everyone was sober.

we met again

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Of all the seven deadly sins, envy is the one I practice most frequently (though gluttony is a very close second). When, at age eight, I was in beginning gymnastics, the last few minutes of class were always painful because the advanced-class kids would start arriving: I watched them trickle in with their sporty leotards and I-can-do-a-back-handspring-without-a-spot posture, and nearly melted with jealousy. So it was no easy task for me to go to Friday night’s reading of We Should Never Meet by Aimee Phan at the Beverly Hills Public Library . Aimee and I used to work together at the UCLA Daily Bruin . She’s really smart. She could probably do a great back-handspring if she wanted to. And now she has an MFA from Iowa and a book from a major press. But sometimes we are rewarded for triumphing over temptation (the temptation in this case being to stay home, eat gluttonous snacks and pretend like my peer was not wildly successful; “wildly successful” in the literary world meaning that

quiet revolutions

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The tagline for Queen Latifah’s new movie is, “She always thought she was somebody…and she was.” Which seems to place it in the Person Who Dared To Dream Big school of movies, along with everything from Field of Dreams to Selena to all those quirky English films about frumpy old men who swim the Channel or float across the country on helium balloons tied to a lawn chair. The big dream in Brokeback Mountain , which Heather and I saw last night, is to live on a ranch with your gay lover, and in the world the characters reside in, that’s just as crazy as (and far more dangerous than) riding around on an airborne lawn chair. Rodeo cowboy Jack Twist dreams the dream in spite of its potential consequences; his lover Ennis Del Mar wants to stay close to home and as close to traditional family life as he can bear. Besides the film’s obvious revolutionary-ness (big budget movie with a gay love story at its center), I was impressed by the its guts in saying, basically, you’re damned if you

bread and shoes

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I always liked Phranc ’s music, and I was very excited when she did a performance/ Tupperware show at CalArts, but I just found out that she makes bread and shoes out of cardboard . Now it’s true love.

half-hearted hearts deceived

I’ve never read any of JT LeRoy’s books, but I always came away vaguely envious and annoyed by articles I read about him. Envious because he was a successful young novelist, annoyed because his over-the-top persona seemed to contribute to his success. B once reprimanded me—would I trade my happy childhood for literary success? Give a fucked-up kid a break already, okay? There are plenty of fucked-up kids out there. Some of them are really talented. But JT LeRoy is apparently not one of them . What is most likely is that JT is the product of a San Francisco writer, her husband and her husband’s sister (who made a lot of public appearances as the allegedly shy JT). Hoaxes attempt to make their victims look inward: Why are we so gullible? What is it that we want to believe? In this case, we—or more specifically, dozens of celebrity authors, actors and musicians—wanted to believe that a kid could have a terrible life and produce amazing art in spite (or even because) of it. They wanted t

sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name

Today I went jogging in my new ‘hood. I jogged almost all the way to my ‘hood-before-last. There is something about not having a windshield between you and your world that makes your world more yours. My other neighborhood-related goal for the day was to go to the market across the street from me. It has a real name, but in my head it’s named “Aceptamos Estampillas.” I’d been focusing on the bad parts of having a market across the street (it’s a hangout for folks in need of a quick beer), but it’s actually really convenient. And whenever I walk to a grocery store and buy just one bag of food, I feel very European. I discovered that it’s not just beer and Doritos—there’s a little deli and all sorts of spices, and paint rollers if I need one. And there’s a gorgeous mural on the side of the building. After strolling the aisles and taking inventory, I took my four-pack of toilet paper to the cash register, and the clerk said, “Are you new? You were walking around like you were new.” I sa

my favorite kids!

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I find people who go on about the innocent wonder of children really annoying as a rule (weren’t they ever kids? Or didn’t they at least see Me and You and Everyone We Know ?). But, I’ve got to admit, today I found the innocent wonder of children pretty fucking healing. The organization I work for sponsored a writing workshop at a school five minutes from my apartment, and maybe five minutes more ghetto. I parked across the street from the big, tan, fenced-in building, next to a row of trash cans and a broken TV with gang-style graffiti scrawled on it. But when I got close, I realized that the graffiti said, “Ariel is my favorite niece!” I decided the day was looking up. At the workshop, Luis wrote a funny piece about farting to make flies go away. Oscar let me help him put together a puzzle of Dalmatians in a bathtub. Shantevya and Sophia shot their hands up in the air and made that breathless pick-me-pick-me face that disappears from kids’ catalogue of expressions around age 13. B

i’m okay, you’re okay, but that guy might be in jail

I’ve been such a jumping bean lately. Not in a good, tons-of-energy, burn-a-lot-of-calories way. I’m more like my cat, OC, who will sometimes walk cautiously up to an innocuous item like a binder clip, take a tiny sniff, then jump three feet in the air. Blame my mood (I don’t know if free-floating anxiety is one of the 12 stages of grief, but it seems to be one of my stages). Blame living with a nervous little guy like OC, blame the disturbing prevalence of police cars in my neighborhood. (Note to Dad, if you’re reading this: I am sure they’re just, um, filming a movie about cops and robbers. A very, very realistic movie.) And so I was determined to go to yoga this week, to zen the twitchiness right out of me. Attempt #1 involved a roundabout route to the gym, since Adams Boulevard was occupied by two cops chasing some dude on foot, gun drawn, squad car parked diagonally across the wide street. Once I got to Bally’s, I learned that Monday’s class had been canceled. It would have bee

silicone, saline

Yesterday I attended Terry’s Kundalini yoga/creative writing workshop for the second New Year’s in a row. Like last year, it was a wonderful way to clear my head and do some writing without obsessing over plot arcs and character development. One of the prompts involved coming up with a word or phrase and passing it to the person on our right. That person then wrote something—anything—on my word/phrase, and I wrote something based on the word/phrase from the person on my left. Cara handed me “silicone, saline.” Here’s the short, strange story that came out of it: She was looking for solutions, so she started in the saline aisle. She felt safe among the pink pacifiers and folded dishcloths. The fluorescent light bulbs buzzed as unflatteringly as ever, but she could almost ignore them. The small plastic bottles of saline seemed to have dipped into a vat of prehistory that would now save her from this silicone world. A salty, still past. It hadn’t treated her badly, per se—the world—but