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Showing posts from December, 2006

christmas with family…

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…means Christmas with Republicans.

solamente en los angeles

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Last night AK and I took the Gold Line to Pershing Square (we’re so urban!) to see a free concert by Los Abandoned , a sort of punk-Spanglish- dancehall band that I’ve been somewhat into lately, and would be more so if the CD player in my car were working properly. It wasn’t the easiest venue—an outdoor stage beneath an arbor of bejeweled palm trees and styrofoam snowflakes, across from an ice skating rink—but Los Abandoned rocked it. Lead singer Lady P even wore a red and silver-sequined skating dress (which looked remarkably like my 10 th grade drill team uniform) over her black leggings to complement the scene. And leave it to your local LA punk-Spanglish-dancehall band to perform the best medley of “Hanukkah, Oh Hanukkah,” “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” and “Hava Nagilah” I’ve ever heard.

the healing power of pirouettes

Whoever invented that low-slung stationary bike I’m so fond of (you know, the one that’s more like sitting on a kitchen chair than an actual bike) is a little bit evil. For years it’s been a staple of my workout, or maybe I should say “workout,” making me forget the vast superiority of exercises that actually get your adrenaline going . Last night I went to Bally’s in hopes of taking the new hip-hop class. I brought a book with me—since about 50 percent of Bally’s classes are canceled (and the staff always acts surprised: “Really? The yoga teacher isn’t down there? That’s weird”), I figured there was a good chance I’d end up on the bike, slightly bored and barely sweating. But lo and behold, the hip-hop class was on! And the teacher was good! And he (unlike most Bally’s hip-hop teachers) did an actual warm-up and cool-down . And taught a good-looking routine that was not too hard and not too easy. And the class was full of kids like me—folks who’d picked up a little dance or c

getting to know velocity

Some observations upon beginning Dave Eggers’ You Shall Know Our Velocity! , in which two 20-something guys try to give away 30-something-thousand dollars in a one-week trip around a large chunk of the world: This is a ridiculous idea that only two privileged Americans could come up with. Traveling to countries you know nothing about and giving wads of cash to people who seem needy—but not too needy, or annoying, or ungrateful—is naïve at best, reckless and exploitative at worst. Sure, it makes a better story than, “We donated our money to a respected nonprofit organization, and the experts distributed it accordingly,” but it’s hard to get past the insane premise. Boys travel differently from girls. They are spontaneous, they don’t worry about getting raped (though they occasionally worry about getting killed) and they like to climb trees and jump from moving cars. Some observations upon getting to the middle section, in which the

blood, bling and two trips to the bathroom

Last night, AK and I decided to see a movie on a whim, and I found myself at the 11:20 p.m. showing of Blood Diamond , Diet Coke in hand to keep me awake. Even though I’ve fallen asleep during late showings of some pretty riveting movies, I think that even sans Diet Coke, I couldn’t have nodded off to this one. The movie tells the story of Sierra Leone’s warlord-ruled illegal diamond trade through the eyes of a cynical white smuggler (Leonardo DiCaprio), a muckraking journalist with a thing for bad boys (Jennifer Connelly) and a local fisherman (Djimon Hounsou) who hopes to use his discovery of an immense pink diamond to save his family, which has been split apart by the rebel army. It’s the sort of movie that follows all the rules of storytelling, some to very good effect, some not so much. It’s hard not to roll your eyes when the white couple’s sexual tension is given more screen time than the scenes in which Hounsou’s son is drugged and brainwashed by the rebels. Yet the movie ke

scrooge drives a chrysler 300

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My first moments in Houston were very Texan: Rental guy: Let’s see, you reserved an economy car. Would you like a free upgrade to a Jeep Grand Cherokee? Me: I don’t think I’d even know how to drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee. Rental guy: What do you normally drive? Me: A Honda Civic. Rental guy: Okay, I’ll see what we have. [Twenty minutes later] Rental guy: I’m going to give you the smallest car we have, the Chrysler 300. It’s, uh, more like a Honda Accord. Friends, the Chrysler 300 is more like a boat. Your grandpa’s big-ass gold boat. But despite this introduction, Houston was a lot greener and more beautiful than the dusty land of strip malls I had pictured after talking to my friend Kristi, who lived there for several years. (Granted, I probably talked to her during the hellishly hot summer, not warmly misty December. Now that Kristi is back in NorCal, she speaks quite highly of Houston .) Anyway, all of this is to say I’ve been out of town and j

blog post to a young writer

I just finished sending acceptance and decline emails to all the good folks who submitted work for the spring issue of Blithe House Quarterly . Afterward I checked to see how many stories were in my “No” folder in my Yahoo account—93. Plus the six I accepted. That’s almost 100 stories. And now I am having one of those “so that’s where my time went” moments. Sometimes such epiphanies follow ten back-to-back episodes of My Super Sweet Sixteen , so it could be worse. Lately I’ve done a fair amount of reading for contests and lit mags. If you’re an “emerging writer” (as we call ourselves until we hit Oprah’s couch), I highly recommend finding such a gig. Besides being fun—the thrill of discovering good work, the amusement of discovering really, really bad work—it tells you a lot about what happens to your little manuscript after you send it off into the big wide world: You know how, when winners of just about anything are announced, the announcer says, “There were so many great entries.

shoppers rush home with their treasures

As AK’s roommate Alberto recently pointed out, “Even when I was a little kid, I was like, ‘What’s up with “Silver Bells”? That’s a song about shopping .’” One of my goals for the holiday season (well, pretty much my only goal, since “send cards early” is pretty much out of the question) is to not buy people a bunch of shit that they don’t need, that I can dubiously afford and that was probably made by a 15-year-old in Bangladesh. I’m happy to see that holiday fairs selling fair trade goods, local handmade products and donations to good-causes are popping up all over the place. On Sunday I went crazy getting tubes of caulk for Habitat for Humanity on behalf of my manly relatives at All Saints ’ Alte rn ative Christmas Market. I’m totally caught up in the whirlwind—it’s a slightly less glamorous whirlwind than the evil-but-sooo-shiny one that blows through the glittery corridors of the Grove, but it doesn’t leave me with that I-just-ate-a-whole-bag-of-greasy-potato-chips feeling

gentrification junction, what’s your function?

This morning I jogged up West Boulevard instead of up Vineyard and—this is the miracle of Los Angeles, and of jogging—a whole world opened up to me. From the small bridge over Venice Boulevard, I could see into the rundown-but-elegant gated community on my right and the gravel pit that was once a closed-down hardware store on my left. It was a clear, sunny morning, warm but with a bite, the light golden and almost dangerous-feeling, the way I’ve heard it is not in other parts of the country. When I turned onto Pico, I passed the Pico/Rimpau Transit Center, also known as the bus station. I admit I hadn’t been there on foot since my keys got locked in B’s car at the carwash two years ago and I unexpectedly found myself taking the bus home. But I’ve noticed public transportation is enjoying a renaissance (or maybe just a naissance) in LA, and Pico/Rimpau testified to this. Last I checked, the bus junction was dingy and haunted-looking, the way you want bus stations to be in movies, but