Showing posts from March, 2006

eye shadow and other mundanities

If the Carnival of the Mundane were to elect a deity, I would vote for Susan Straight , an author of gorgeous prose about, as she summed it up yesterday at the Riverside Art Museum, “how people got where they are.” Her work embodies the personal-as-political, although her characters are usually too busy working hard and raising children to think much about political slogans. They make soap and coach football and run through the desert. They do what they have to do, and what Susan has to do is write about it. But I also love the way she talks about it. I’ve heard her speak a few times, and she always mentions her three daughters—not in that self-congratulatory, I’m-a-single-mom-doing-it-all kind of way, but in a loving and charmed and realistic way. Yes, there’s soccer practice, but there’s also the part where she has to explain slavery to her five-year-old biracial daughter, who says, “That’s crazy. You can’t buy people .” Susan seems to believe in transparency on all fronts: There i

the heart is predictable above all things

“Wow, it’s like a laundry list of child abuse clichés,” Jenessa said before we were even out of the Castro Theater, where we’d just watched The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things . “It’s like, neglect—check, sexual molestation—check, evil punk rock music—check. And of course they had to blow up a meth lab.” “It’s like how people say that if you show a gun at the beginning of a movie, it has to go off by the end,” I said. “If you show a meth lab, it has to blow up.” Even without knowing the JT LeRoy backstory , the movie was bad. In some ways, fake stories have to be more compelling than true stories, because they don’t have that oh-my-god-that- really -happened factor to fall back on. And to view a work of fiction whose only point is “child abuse sucks” is not a powerful experience. We left feeling dirty and disappointed. But my point is the whole list-of-clichés thing, because the next day we fell victim to another laundry list, this time under the heading of Things Straight Men S

i (and everyone else) heart berkeley bowl

When Jenessa told me about her favorite grocery store, Berkeley Bowl , she said, “It’s dirt cheap and they have eight kinds of pears, but I have to meditate in the parking lot before going in because it’s just so insane. These Berkeley women with their shopping carts!” She proceeded to do an impression of a dreamy soul standing in the middle of a crowded produce aisle, mesmerized by Manila mangoes and completely oblivious to the traffic jam building up behind her. Later in the day, I was having lunch with Annette when, unprompted, she did the exact same impression. “But I go there and I see the 40 kinds of self-serve granola and I just think, ‘Wow, I am at the epicenter of granola,’” Annette said. I had to see this place. And no, Berkeley Bowl is not Berkeley’s best kept secret. The word is out and the place is packed, although, Jenessa informed me as we nudged our way past cute dyke couples and little kids and Rastafarians, it was actually pretty slow for a Saturday afternoon. “I

next stop walgreens

“Lately I’ve turned into the 11-year-old girl I never was,” I explained to Jenessa and Mark during dinner at Luna Park in the Mission. The 11-year-old I was was studious, awkward and very concerned with sculpting my bangs into the perfect Aquanet wave. The 11-year-old I’ve become is giggly, girl-crazy and—apparently—a troublemaker. Case in point: After stashing my suitcase at Jenessa’s place in Oakland, we went around the corner to catch Dr. Strangelove at the Parkway, a theater that plays old movies for $5 and sells beer. We met Jenessa’s friends Johanna and Carly outside; they’d already bought tickets and started drinking, and we were ready to do the same. “Sold out,” the chick at the ticket counter informed us. She turned to a guy nearby who seemed like he might be sneaking in and gave him the third degree about his ticket. It turned out his friend really did put the tickets under “Fred” even though he’d thought they would be under “Jonathan.” Or something. Jenessa and I retur

bring on the broadway flops

I was never very good at tag—all that running and anxiety. So it’s not surprising that it’s taken me like a week to respond to Tracy Lynn’s blog-tag . But here’s what I’m listening to when I’m stuck in traffic these days, in only a semi-particular order: 1. Bright Eyes , “At the Bottom of Everything” and “Road to Joy” especially, but basically every song on I’m Wide Awake, It’s Mo rn ing. 2. Jane Siberry , “Love is Everything,” because love is everything. 3. Shannon McNall y , “Geronimo,” because having your land and life stolen from you is also something. 4. Track ten on this CD by a completely intoxicating Algerian band that Bronwyn bu rn ed for me, because I travel the world vicariously. 5. Falsettoland soundtrack, “Days Like This,” because I am a 50-year-old gay man. 6. Songs from the Capeman soundtrack, “Satin Summer Nights,” because “Broadway flop” = Cheryl’s sure to like it. I also own the Side Show soundtrack. 7. Whatever Kelly Clarkson song comes on the ra

test 1, 2

It makes sense that after a weekend in which I spent two and a half hours stuck in LA Marathon traffic, my blog would still be all freak-o. I’m testing to see whether posting a new entry will miraculously fix its glitches, much in the same way that I hoped, while squeezing past an oil tanker toward a lone empty tu rn lane on Sunday, that heading southwest would somehow help me go northeast.

carnival of the mundane VI (for real this time)

[Note on the skuzzy-rickety nature of carnivals and Blogger: This post was originally composed with much cooler hyperlinks rather than pasted URLs, but Blogger kept cannibalizing my text for some reason. Also watch out for the Ferris wheel, which has a tendency to break while you’re dangling in the top car and have to pee; and the cotton candy—um, it’s best not to ask why.] Step right up ladies, gentlemen and the rest of you, and behold the finest group of oddities in all of cyberspace. Some of them may look harmless—mundane, even—but don’t be fooled: Dark secrets lurk in their hearts. Bizarre abilities have brought them to the midway. Let me introduce you to a few of the specimens in our collection: Jenny of Run Jen Run can Houdini her way out of a locked basement in the dead of winter. (Or can she? I don’t want to give anything away. Maybe she found an internet connection down there and is still locked inside, blogging for help!)

the brat pack (a.k.a. WTMCK-WITW #4)

I probably shouldn’t call Tarzan and Blue the Most Cutest Kitty-Witties In The World . Not because they’re not cute, but because they might beat me up for saying so. Blue, a fluffy, peachy Persian with giant blue eyes, looks like Shirley Temple. But imagine if Shirley Temple went through a goth phase in high school. Imagine if she got really sick of being adorable, dyed her hair black and started listening to Marilyn Manson. It still wouldn’t be quite enough to hide the fact that it had only been a few years since she’d disembarked from the good ship Lollipop— and the fact that she was a child star, the neediest creature on earth. That’s Blue, a cat who glowers and growls while rubbing her head against you and purring. She is a furry, semi-cuddly bag of contradictions, every artist’s ideal muse. Tarzan may or may not be a cat. He is a tiny, young, long-black-haired ferret-type creature with a pointy face and a fight to pick with every cat he meets, even the 15-pound Hamlet

carnival of the mundane VI...

...should be right here. On this grassy plot. So where, you ask, are the rides? The freaks? The popco rn ? The screaming children carrying giant teddy bears and 20-something hipsters on ironic dates? A little backstory: I stayed up way too late last night performing my ca rn ie duties (weird hours come with the ca rn ie territory, so I knew what I was in for). I had that “I’m on deadline” mentality, although I paused periodically to remind myself that this was the most abstract, ephemeral type of stress: an arbitrary deadline for a project invented by people I’ve never actually met in person. But we ca rn ies are a loyal bunch, despite our transience, so I took my job seriously. I drank some jasmine boba milk tea and read and posted like crazy. But sometimes ca rn ivals get rained on, and sometimes Blogger has technical difficulties and makes an illegible mess of your post. I will try again later tonight or tomorrow when I’m at home with my Word doc. Till then, let’s all go out


“Where’s your camera, Stephanie? I want to take a picture of you and put it on my blog.” “You’re not taking a picture of me, dude. I look like Peter Pan.” I studied Stephanie’s outfit, a long green T-shirt with a line drawing of an angry leprechaun on it. She had recently cut giant loops into the sleeves and down the front, and chopped the collar into wide fringe. “You look like a cross between Peter Pan and the hippest girl ever,” I decided. “There are bars in LA where you could totally wear that. Especially if you use that strip of Ardith’s old bridesmaid dress as a belt and wear the shirt as a dress.” “What bars?” Stephanie asked skeptically. “Um…well, maybe CalArts.” These were the final moments of Stephanie’s brilliant “cute-ifying” party, in which ribbon, eyelet, sloppy stitching and reckless scissoring techniques were applied to Steph’s collection of old T-shirts in order to make them prettier and/or more punk rock. The result was very Urban Outfitters circa 2004, which ha

who’s the most cutest kitty-witty in the world? #3

Jon was in the market for a cat. His 16-year-old tabby, Cairo, had died recently and it was clear he hadn’t quite worked through all the stages of grief yet. He was at the showing-pictures-to-strangers stage, and also the keeping-a-mylar-balloon-tied-to-Cairo’s-favorite-chair stage. But such a committed cat dad deserves a good cat—even, perhaps, the most cutest kitty-witty in the world. And Carol, the head volunteer, was determined not to let him leave empty-handed. “What about Wanda ?” Carol asked. “Wanda, say hi to Jon.” Jon had specified that he would like to adopt two young male cats, preferably tabbies. Wanda was a middle-aged female tortoiseshell, and there was only one of her. But Jon also said he was looking for a cat with a distinctive personality, which Wanda had in abundance. Wanda has a heart-shaped face that wrinkles up when she meows, which is a lot. In the right light, she’s an attractive cat, but when Carol nudged her to put on the “adopt me!” routine, she stuck a le

and speaking of...

…watching TV and wearing hats, it’s time once again for the Ca rn ival of the Mundane . This time it’s my tu rn to host. While I sweep crumbs under the rug and unwrap the veggie pâté, you guys and gals need to polish your clown shoes get your submissions ready. Any blog entry chronicling everyday life is eligible. Just send the link and the name of your blog to meadowbat at yahoo[.]com by Wednesday, March 15.

days of beer and hats

What New York really is, is it’s an island, with lots of people, lots of different people.... I hope to maybe meet some guys, some Italian guys, and maybe watch some TV. --Libby Mae Brown, Waiting for Guffman Back in the day, watching TV while traveling would have been completely blasphemous. I was one of those sightsee-till-your-feet-are-covered-in-blisters types, determined to pack in Meaningful Cultural Experiences even as I daydreamed about free HBO. But the new, more relaxed (and possibly dumber for it) Cheryl is all about Project Runway , Little People, Big World , the Oscars and one surprisingly heartwarming episode of a WE show called: Secret Lives of Women: Transsexual . Since Project Runway took place in New York (as did a couple of other shows and one movie I watched), I felt like I still got to see the city. And I felt very postmode rn realizing that, a feeling you don’t get when you’re schlepping to the top of the Empire State building. I’m exaggeratin