Wednesday, December 31, 2008

books and bikes for '09

Oof. Time to dust off the ol' blog, huh? Sorry to be away a while, but chances are you were too. I have been experiencing the Human Fishbowl Time Effect, which means that my stuff-to-do grows to fit my day. A regular workday might (occasionally) find me writing, working out, mentoring and getting groceries (and, granted, I'd probably be kind of sleep deprived and grumpy the next day). But while on vacation, a whole day can be devoted to going to the ATM and microwaving some soup.

Actually, I can't think about soup too much right now because it was the last thing I ate a few days ago before getting slammed (again) with the stomach flu. You would think that at least I'd be very skinny by now, but unfortunately a little thing called Christmas, a.k.a. Cookie Season, happened between flues, so they more or less canceled each other out.

And now we arrive at Resolution Season, which is as appealing and dangerous to the OCD brain as a plate full of cookies. As soon as you make one and start visualizing the perfect specimen of humanity you might be on your way to being, it's tempting to make another, until keeping them is such a hopeless task that you give up and drown your sorrows in a plate of cookies.

That was then, though--for the past few years, I've learned to make resolutions a la my friend Heather, who one year resolved to join MySpace: compact, quantifiable, doable. This year, while I still secretly hope to become the epitome of fitness, creativity and compassion, what I'm actually resolving to do is:

1. Restart my book club: I read an article by Jean Hartig in Poets & Writers Magazine about how, after finishing her MFA program, her writing really suffered not just from a lack of feedback, but from a lack of regular conversation about meaningful ideas. I remembered how much I also liked that about school. And while the folks in the salon-type-thing Jean started sounded uber-brainy, I thought maybe I could start by convening a handful of people to eat potluck and talk about Nick Hornby books.

2. Start riding a bike: AK is a bicycler chick and has been encouraging me to start riding for a while. I haven't forgotten how--what they say is true. And there are a million good fitness and environmental reasons to do it, and a variety of L.A. bike cultures--eco or wholesome or punk rock or self-righteous (and I do enjoy being self-righteous)--to choose from.

But there's one good reason not to, and that is cars. I'm scared to drive next to half the people in L.A., let alone teeter next to them on some pedestrian/vehicle hybrid contraption. Unlike many, I don't think L.A. drivers are any worse than drivers in any other city, but because car culture is so prevalent, and bike lanes are so few, drivers are ultimately the most self-righteous ones of all on the road. In other cities, mobs of pedestrians mosh through red lights and cars have to wait. Here pedestrians skitter apologetically across crosswalks after waiting 20 minutes for some kind-hearted driver to finally stop.

So it's going to be a while before I start cycling to work (plus that's like 20 miles, and I don't think Jamie wants to sit next to that kind of stink), but it would be great to ride to the Gold Line or Antigua or the library. Baby steps, right? Baby pedals?

Happy new year, y'all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

the most wonderful time of the year…

…for armchair-critic geeks like me is when we get to make our top-ten(-ish) lists. Same qualifiers as last year: These aren’t necessarily the best-with-a-capital-B, just my favorites, and the books aren’t necessarily ones published in ‘08, just ones I read this year.

Top ten books I read in 2008:

1. Tie: The Second World by Parag Khanna and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. The former rocked my paradigm and the latter reminded me of how humanity plays out in that new paradigm.

3. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. Post-colonialism can be sly and funny.

4. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. Lifted me up when I really needed it.

5. The Echo Maker by Richard Powers. Once again, he tied it all together.

6. The Center of Everything by Laura Moriarty. Kind of like Prep for poor girls.

7. Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I didn’t want to like it as much as I did, but few voices have stuck with me as much.

8. Willful Creatures by Aimee Bender. These short stories are like 15 magical little prose poems.

9. Veronica by Mary Gaitskill. She writes about beauty without seeming shallow.

10. Waylaid by Ed Lin. Way funny.

Top ten-ish movies I saw (in theaters*) in 2008:

2. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
3. Happy-Go-Lucky
4. There Will Be Blood
5. Slumdog Millionaire
6. Changeling
7. Hancock
8. Rachel Getting Married
9. Sweeney Todd
10. Penelope
11. Milk

*A couple of which, yeah, came out in 2007, but I’m not Oscar and the second-run theater near me is super cheap especially on Wednesdays, okay?

Friday, December 19, 2008


I have this problem where, when someone has a pattern of behavior I don’t like, I don’t know how to call them on it.

My ex-girlfriend would interject here and say, “Of course. That’s because you’re a doormat.”

But that’s only, like, 14 percent of the story. I am only 14 percent doormat. The other part of the problem is that I have to make sure it’s a pattern before I speak up, and I like to be really, really thorough in my research.

For example, it took me three years to realize that my office landlord probably could have fixed the heating system by now if he’d really tried. That just aiming his temperature-measuring radar-gun thingy at our vents once a week wasn’t cutting it. But by this point, I’d established myself as The Nice But Shivering Girl At The End Of The Hall and it just seemed weird to get all in his face.

And when I did get in his face, which I eventually sort of did, he…well, he told me I was a “smart girl” in a way that you might tell your dog he was smart for fetching a bacon-scented stick, and then he told me I looked pretty in a way that an old man might tell his granddaughter if he hoped she would stop wearing those combat boots and meet a nice boy.

But believe it or not, that’s not actually my point. My point is that our dialogues go kind of like this:

ME: Our heat isn’t working. It hasn’t been working properly for three years.

DR. T: See, there’s a problem with the city’s Building Heat Regulation Control Department. I’ve put in a call.

ME: Right, but you’ve been making various calls for three years. Can you buy us a space heater in the meantime?

DR. T: They’re going to call me back Monday. Why don’t we wait till Monday? And why don’t you wear your hair down more often?

ME: Um, okay.

I was raised by an engineer in the Church of Logic, but logic doesn’t help in situations like these. Because the most logical thing to do is address each question as it comes, meaning I get hijacked by the specific and the pattern gets ignored.

John Kerry (timely reference, I know) needed to say, “No, I’m not going to answer your dumb questions about my time in Vietnam. Now, back to why George Bush is a crappy president.” And I needed to say, “No, I don’t care what the Building Heat Regulation Control Department, which I think you made up anyway, has to say. Now, back to the fact that it’s your job to fix this.”

But the other thing I realized—not in the case of Dr. Office Landlord, but in the case of a flaky friend—is that sometimes I feel like I should call people on their bad behavior in order to prove I’m not a doormat, but in reality I don’t care that much.

“Life’s too short to try to make yourself care about things you really don’t care about,” my boss advised me. And I think that’s going to be my mantra for the next almost-two-weeks, when I will be away from my still-cold office and in my nice warm bed.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

and now for a little self-promotion

Places I can be found online:

1. the excellent blog of tracy lynn kaply
Those of you who read Kaply, Inc. know that Tracy Lynn is angry, funny and regularly uses words like “tit-punch.” But that doesn’t mean she’s above holiday traditions. For the second year in a row, I am a proud member of her Twelve Guests of Christmas guest-blogging festival. Scroll down to Dec. 14 to read my thoughts on the economy, JFK and holiday coupon books.

2. the emerging writers network
A man named Dan Wickett is excited to read my book in 2009! In an email he sent out to writers on his list, he warned us that he might end up hating our books, and we might therefore hate him by the end of 2009. But for now Dan rocks! Scroll down about a third of the way to see the cover of Lilac Mines—I think this is its internet debut.

3. jane’s stories press
They e-interviewed me. I waxed on. I had a great time hearing the sound of my own keyboard.

Monday, December 15, 2008

three catholic cheers for meehan!

Meehan has a flare for finding snazzy places to live. In L.A., she hosted bimonthly FROG salons in her Furnished Room Over Garage. And when she moved to Santa Barbara, it only seemed right that she host some kind of 30th birthday extravaganza in her new place, which, we discovered this weekend, is kind of like a Tucson spa, with looottts of natural wood, a jacuzzi, Navajo Persian rugs (apparently there is such a thing) and some kind of crazy jungle fern that eats banana peels.

Because Meehan is very brave, and not like other people, she invited her dad's band, Dave and the Droolers, to perform. He sang some pretty catchy songs with titles like "Communist Girl" and "Asshole the Cat." I proudly performed backup as a Catholic cheerleader for his song "Catholic Cheerleader."

Because Meehan is very brave, and not like other people, she performed at her party. She's been taking a songwriting class, because apparently being a lawyer and a fiction writer and a marathon runner and tall and thin just isn't enough to show for her 30 years. And what do you know, she turns out to be great. At the funny Dave-and-the-Droolers-style songs and the melancholy love songs. Seriously, if she weren't so nice and didn't throw such fun parties and wasn't always talking up her friends' talents too, in a convincing way that makes you believe she's not just trying to make you feel better, I would hate her.

In lieu of gifts, Meehan asked everyone to bring an ornament for her Christmas tree, so A.K. and I made shrinky dinks (thank you, Craft Night!). It's hard to tell, but one is a reindeer and the other is a tiny Meehan.

For a while, my camera disappeared. When it came back, it had a bunch of pictures of these guys on it.

But I can't blame them for the fact that most of the rest of the pictures I took that night seemed to be on firecracker setting. I'm pretty sure that was A.K.'s doing.

We ended the night in the jacuzzi, where we gazed at the banana-eating fern and Meehan's landlord vacuuming the floors before the party was even completely over (a man after my own heart).

The next morning we had brunch with the other folks who'd stayed the night in Santa Barbara. Two of them looked really familiar. "Hey," I said, "I have a bunch of pictures of you on my camera."

"That was yours?" said Brian. "I'm glad I didn't take a picture of my dick. I thought about it."

"Will you send me those pictures?" asked Dave. "One of them was really good of me."

We drove home just in time to catch the tail end of Meg's holiday open house. Once the four-year-olds went home, it was decidedly low-key. But, with help from some very tasty snacks, we made our own entertainment. Try playing "Eat A Cheese Puff Without Removing Your Hands From Your Toasty Warm Blanket" sometime. I recommend it, even if our disapproving friend Emily does not.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

a day without a gay is like a cookie without baking soda

I’m at home today because it’s A Day Without A Gay. Not that my workplace is remotely anti-gay (it’s the kind of organization where the boss sends a “Happy Indigenous People’s Day” email every Columbus Day), but I guess the point is to prove how valuable queers are to the economy. We’re not buying anything, and we’re not, in my case, doing any literary outreach. Take that!

So, like the militant dyke that I am, I’m at home baking cookies.

I’m using Jamie’s recipe for ginger cookies, except, as with all my cooking adventures, there have been some substitutions.

I went to Trader Joe’s last night for the ingredients, but they didn’t have molasses, and I refused to swing by Fresh and Easy today to get some because I’m not going to Contribute To The Economy (with the possible exception of one little latte if I decide to write later today). Also because I’m lazy.

I soon discovered that I didn’t have baking soda either. There must be some kind of Murphy’s Law that says you will inevitably re-buy certain baking ingredients every year until you have 16 open boxes of powdered sugar, but you will forget the one thing you’re actually out of.

This probably doesn’t happen to people who bake more than once a year, or who, like, look in their cupboards before going shopping, but whatever.

I ended up substituting chocolate syrup for molasses because what isn’t improved by being more chocolaty? And I substituted baking powder for baking soda, even though I can almost hear the voice of Mrs. Wolf, my seventh grade home ec teacher, saying, “BAKING SODA IS NOT THE SAME AS BAKING POWDER.”

But I didn’t pay that much attention in home ec because I was 1) disappointed that I got the cooking semester instead of the sewing semester, 2) suspicious of Mrs. Wolf because she wanted us to put mandarin oranges in salads and bizarrely devoted an entire unit to talking about skin cancer, which didn’t seem to relate to cooking or sewing, and 3) I was holding out for wood shop, where I knew we would get to make one of the plastic key chains I had seen dangling from the JanSport backpacks of so many cool eighth graders.

The cookies just finished baking. They look normal, and the giant globs of dough I ate tasted great, actually, but the verdict is still out. When AK wakes up (she’s asleep because she actually is sick today, although she’ll probably go in for a half day—“Are you trying to tell me you’re really bi?” I asked), I’ll let her have the final say.

Monday, December 08, 2008

ice and figs

I was going to title this post “Supposedly Fun Things I’ll Probably Do Again” after David Foster Wallace’s essay about cruises, but 1) it seemed a little harsh because I probably liked the supposedly fun elements of my weekend more than DFW liked his cruise, and 2) I’ve never read the essay so I would just be a big poseur.

Nevertheless, my ultimately-quite-fun weekend did involve some moments when I thought, “Shouldn’t I be having more fun?” For example:

1. ice skating, or: more proof that i am old

[Setting: Pasadena Ice Skating Center, a cavernous rink hidden behind the Pasadena Civic Center. The walls are covered with dirty white tiles. The floor is covered with bumpy white ice. In between are hundreds of teenagers, plus CHERYL and STEPHANIE.]

CHERYL: It’s like skating on the freeway.

STEPH: Yeah, that’s what happens when the floor gets really worn out. The grooves are so deep that the zamboni doesn’t make a difference.

CHERYL: If you want to skate ahead of me and do, like, some twirls or something, you can.

STEPH: I don’t know how to do much anymore, and besides, it’s way too crowded and people are skating like maniacs. They shouldn’t be snow-plowing, but they are. At the rink I went to when I was a kid, snow-plowing wasn’t allowed.

CHERYL: My right leg hurts.

STEPH: That’s because we’ve been skating in the same direction the whole night. They should switch off.

CHERYL: God, those girls are so obnoxious. They’re going fast and then falling down practically on purpose and taking all their friends with them and then lying on the ice giggling.

STEPH: And that guy in the blue shirt, who works here? He’s skating like a jerk.

CHERYL: Oh my god, you’re right! He just went over to “help” that girl who fell down, but he sprayed a bunch of ice right in her face.

STEPH: This never would have been allowed at my rink.

2. les figues press benefit auction, or: proof that i am young

On Saturday night, AK and I stopped by a benefit auction at Les Figues Press, which is housed in the amazing Victorian house of its co-directors, the kind of house I fantasized about living in as a kid, full of nooks and crannies and curlicues, just like their books.

It was one of the cleverest, most creative events I’ve been to, with auction items like “Personalized Letter to Your Ex” and “Crocheted Hyperbolic Plane.” I have no idea what the latter is, but it sounds like it might save us from global warming, don’t you think?

Les Figues is tight with my alma mater, CalArts, and I was excited to see some of my favorite former professors there. But what I hadn’t taken into account was the fact that, apparently, when confronted by people I knew when I was 23, I turn into my 23-year-old grad-student self: mouthy enough in class, but convinced that I could not possibly be edgy enough to socialize with the brainy lit-crit hipsters around me.

If I made small talk about the very good peanut butter cupcakes, would they silently deconstruct me?

Should I try to deconstruct the cupcakes somehow? (“The frosting tastes more like the idea of peanut butter than like actual peanut butter, but I think that’s a mark in its favor. Ha-ha.”)

So I found myself feeling utterly shy and tongue-tied, which I realize comes across as bitchy on anyone over six. Sorry, CalArtians, for being a bitch.

And one who was still recovering from the flu on some level, so I slinked away early, but not before bidding on (and winning!) a web page designed by writer Allison Carter. Which seems pretty awesome, and, even though it’s cyberspace, fairly straightforward and solid compared to a hyperbolic plane.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

in no particular order

Things that are bumming me out:
1. The stomach flu
2. A Very Special Episode of Home Improvement I saw at the gym in which Jill discovers she has a fibroid tumor and has to get a hysterectomy
3. Death and the OCD brain that makes me think about it when I watch sitcoms sometimes
4. The fact that I’m almost done (maybe) with novel #3 and am not sure what to do with it
5. The same things that are bumming Noel out
6. The economy, even though I don’t own a home or have any real investments
7. Learning on NPR that cows are bred to be dumb when we could have smart cows, because who wouldn’t rather have smart cows (although not so smart they’d turn against us)?

Things that are making me happy:
1. The idea of writing a novel about a traveling circus
2. Strong tea
3. Going to Whole Foods in spite of #6 above because it is so shiny and it makes you feel like you are doing something good for the world just by buying carob-and-chicory coffee substitute
4. The idea of not spending the holidays moving this year
5. Small children and how they are the opposite of #3 above, which is I guess why everyone likes them so much—that, and they are cute
6. January 20, 2009
7. Jenny’s pictures of smiling goats*
8. The fact that I’m ultimately too impatient to be anything but an optimist

*Jenny, I stole one of your goat pictures for this post. Please do not sue me.

Monday, December 01, 2008

small world

One great thing about living in the same 20-mile radius your entire life is that everyone comes to visit you over the holidays. Well, actually they come to visit their families, but you can flatter yourself, and you can usually snag them for a drink or brunch.

Hence it was a weekend of many carbs: not just pumpkin pie and dump cake and chocolate chip cookies (which I ate as if they were pretzels while we watched WALL-E) on Thanksgiving day, but cupcakes and vodka with Jenessa and her cute new-ish boyfriend, tofu scramblings with Meehan, and eggs and home fries with Mike. And I’m surprised that my stomach hurts today?

Another thing I love about this time of year is the movies. After the long dry spell of summer blockbusters, the good movies start rolling in and doing their give-me-an-Oscar dance. Milk was great—inspiring, as predicted, and nicely acted by Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch, if a little traditional for Gus Van Sant. But whatever.

Recently I’ve also dug Slumdog Millionaire, which I would point to as the kind of flawed fare that I love so much more than perfect-but-predictable movies. It’s a sort of One Thousand And One Nights for the new millennium. In this case, it’s a guy named Jamal telling stories to a brutal yet increasingly sympathetic police officer in hopes of saving his life—and the million dollars he’s on his way to winning on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

The stories he tells are of life in slums of Mumbai—life at its dirtiest and cruelest—and although they explain in a literal sense how he came to know the answers to certain game-show questions, what they really explain is how he came to be the man he is today: at once na├»ve and clever, scrappy and hopeful and wary. All good traits to have when venturing into Bollywood, and all layered on the face of actor Dev Patel.

So it’s too bad that his love interest, played by Freida Pinto, is just a gorgeous dolt (the kid version of her character is way more lively) and that the plot gets a little fantastical and convoluted toward the end (although maybe it’s fine that it’s fantastical).

But I was willing to forgive all of this because the movie lives so beautifully in a seething, speeding, exuberant, opportunistic, hip-hopping globalized world. It doesn’t take on globalization in the straight-up Let’s Talk About Globalization way that movies like Traffic do—it just lives it, as when Jamal starts giving slum tours to Americans, and shows that even people who live their entire lives in a very small radius (say, 20 miles?) don’t go untouched.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


1. the recipe

When I was a kid and Thanksgivings were usually spent eating precooked turkey loaf around our motorhome’s formica table (seriously, my mom did an amazing job in that tiniest of kitchenettes, and the precooked turkey loaf was always moist and delicious), someone started the awkward tradition of going around the table and saying what we were thankful for.

Saying “family and friends” or “good health” is predictable. Saying “my expensive new car” is materialistic and braggy. But as a sixth grader who was painfully self-conscious around everyone but my family, none of this worried me.

I just answered honestly: “I’m thankful that I’m pretty, smart and nice.”

Well, sort of honestly. I had frizzy hair and a nose that had recently enjoyed a growth spurt; I got good grades but came up short in the emotional intelligence department; and I think my answer speaks for itself regarding my thoughtfulness towards others.

But I had recently decided that these three traits were the recipe for popularity, which I sought relentlessly between the ages of 11 and 12. Although most of my behavior—from saving up for Guess jeans to incessantly asking my best friend Bonnie if she was mad at me—would indicate that I had very little confidence in my looks, intelligence or social graces, the idea of actually admitting to myself that I lacked these traits was too painful to entertain.

It was as if I were an early practitioner of The Secret, trying to will my wishes into reality. And actually, if there’s anything that pure confidence can create, it’s probably popularity. But that confidence has to be real, and mine was just the audacity of hope for stupid things.

2. charmed life

I was thinking, this year, of compiling a silly little post about all the small and shallow things I’m thankful for (Charm School comes to mind), but I realized I was far too superstitious. What if God was like, You got it, my child. Charm School stays on the air, but I will be removing all your loved ones from the earth faster than you can say “February sweeps”?

I don’t think God is quite so literal, but…I like to hedge my bets.

So I’ll just say that, besides the family, friends, felines and blog readers that I am so, so thankful for, I’m glad to be living at this moment in history. Right now I’m reading The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts, and being reminded that a few short decades ago, being gay meant being constantly harassed by police and more or less being denied family, friends and blog readers. You could probably still have a cat.

I don’t mean, exactly, that it’s always preferable to live in an easy time than in a hard one. There’s a lot to be gained from struggle on a personal as well as a community level. As unlucky as Harvey Milk and his contemporaries were to be persecuted, they were lucky to have the courage and opportunity to change the world. I’m excited to see Gus Van Sant’s movie version of his life tonight and to hopefully take a cue from Milk. At the very least I expect I’ll come away with a lot of gratitude.

Monday, November 24, 2008

just call me a hero for hope

Right now my left knee is creaking like it wants to tell me a storm is brewing. And according to the weather report, one is (finally!), but I don’t think my knee is psychic. I think it ran 6.2 miles yesterday, which, creakiness aside, I’m quite happy about.

AK, Meg and I decided to do the Heroes of Hope for Brain Tumor Research 10K on Sunday not so much because we’re against brain tumors (although we are) but because it was being held on a flat stretch of street next to Dockweiler Beach.

AK and I had trained mostly on hills and occasionally on days when the air in the L.A. basin was thick with bits of smoldering tires. “Like altitude training!” I suggested. It was not unlike when I did the Manhattan Beach 10K a few years ago and was happy to discover that, unlike my practice runs, I wasn’t slowed down by trying to hide from packs of stray dogs roaming the streets. Urban training—I sort of recommend it.

But if you already have knee problems, here’s a book I recommend too (I’m not trying to be all Oprah’s-favorite-things—I just needed a transition):

Digging to America* by Anne Tyler: It’s been a while since I’ve read Anne Tyler, but even if I was reading her for the first time, I suspect she’d be like encountering an old friend. This novel—about two families who adopt daughters from Korea—is a quiet, intimate meditation about human vs. national identities, and choosing a messy life over an orderly one (perhaps the only real option in a globalized world). Tyler shares many of the good qualities of Tom Perrotta, but she does ambiguous endings better.

*Mini review stolen, again, from my own GoodReads/Facebook review, because I am lazy like that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

local, organic, artisanal literature

This is for you, you frequenter of farmer’s markets. You eater of organic free-range pears. You drinker of fair-trade, shade-grown, puttin’-a-Mayan-child-through-college coffee.

I know you read. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t know how evil regular coffee was. But why do you think it’s okay to order a book off Amazon when you’re such an activist in every other way? As if the fact of its book-ness alone made it revolutionary. And while I’m sure Barack Obama’s father’s dreams were really fascinating, there are other people out there who have interesting things to say. They’re just saying them a little more quietly. Meaning their books might not be face-up on the bargain table two feet into Barnes & Noble. You might have to work a little bit.

And I know we’re all tired and busy, but if you can’t work your ass off around the holidays, then when?

A group of booky folks and I have been talking periodically about how small press publishing should have the aura of indie music—i.e., the more obscure the cooler—rather than the aura of meekness it sometimes gets saddled with/saddles itself with. So we compiled a helpful guide to local presses and indie bookstores for holiday shoppers who want to be progressive and to rock.

(For my four readers who live outside L.A., don’t think you’re off the hook: You can order online from almost all of these presses and stores, and there are great presses and stores in your area, I guarantee it. Well, no I don’t, because lots of stores are shutting down. But if you live in Seattle or San Francisco, I guarantee it.)

Southern California-based Presses:
Angel City Press ( nostalgic yet cool illustrated books
Arktoi Books ( poetry and fiction that give lesbian writers access to “the conversation”
Cahuenga Press ( poetry that honors creative freedom and cooperation
Cloverfield Press ( books as visually beautiful as they are intellectually and emotionally stimulating
Dzanc Books ( literary fiction that falls outside the mainstream
Gorsky Press ( risk-taking books that encourage readers to re-examine society
Green Integer ( essays, manifestos, speeches, epistles, narratives, and more
Les Figues Press ( aesthetic conversations between readers, writers, and artists, with an avant-garde emphasis
Make Now Press ( contemporary works of constraint and conceptual literature
Otis Books/Seismicity ( contemporary fiction, poetry, essays, creative non-fiction and translation
Red Hen Press ( poetry and more by writers whose work has been marginalized
San Diego City Works Press ( local, ethnic, political, and border writing (and a great little book by Cheryl Klein!)
Santa Monica Press ( offbeat looks at pop culture, lively how-to books, film history, travel, and humor

Independent Bookstores:
Book Soup, West Hollywood (
A Different Light, West Hollywood (
Eso Won Books, Leimert Park (
Family, Fairfax District (
IMIX Bookstore, Eagle Rock (
Metropolis Books, Downtown (
Skylight Books, Los Feliz (
Small World Books, Venice (
Vroman’s Bookstore, Pasadena (

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

tops, bottoms and sneetches

The gay marriage/interracial marriage analogy is an easy one (and a valid one, I maintain), but this article AK sent me points out that maybe we should spend less time talking about how the controversy is like racism and more about how it is sexism—and how it reflects our culture’s deep passion for gender roles:

In other words, for all you ladies who’ve had the privilege of answering the question, “Which one of you is the man?” from some confused relative, yes, it all comes down to tops and bottoms.

God, there are so many dissertations to be written here! The Judith Butler-y one about how butch/femme roles highlight the fakeness and slipperiness of straight gender roles. The one about how everyone wants to claim the civil rights movement for themselves, from the people who say, “You stole my right to get married” to the ones who are like, “You stole my right to not have to see you get married,” to the point where it’s all star-bellied Sneetch-ish. Thank god I’m not a grad student and can just post three-paragraph blog entries instead.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

ghosts of christmas present

I think everyone should give books this holiday season, so for a second I had this idea that I would present a series, recommending what type of people to whom you could give all the books I read between now and Christmas.

Then I realized that will probably be like three books.

Nevertheless, for the ghostbusters and gender benders in your family, I recommend Jennifer Finney Boylan's I'm Looking Through You, a memoir of "growing up haunted." Boylan, who transitioned to female in 2000, spent the latter part of her childhood in a crazy, creaky 200-year-old mansion in Pennsylvania. Strange noises and full-on apparitions were as much a part of her daily life as the nagging feeling that she--then he--was supposed to be a girl.

Flashing back and forth between decades, Boylan drives home the message that you can be haunted by literal ghosts and metaphorical ones, ghosts of the past and--to her surprise--ghosts of one's future self.

Such themes are right up my literary alley, and I devoured this book in just a few days. It's also hilarious. Boylan has a wry sense of humor and a wacky family as good source material (for example, the grandma who loves to get drunk and talk about the night Boylan's father was conceived). Sometimes its lightness felt like a disservice to the book, though. I like my haunted houses just a little more spooky.

Nevertheless, with more than one quote from A Christmas Carol adorning its bookishly haunted pages, it would make a great gift.

flowers are pretty (a post that's not about prop. 8)

Normally I'm against blogging for the sake of blogging, but I'm also against being awake at 9 a.m. on a Saturday, and I'm doing that right now too. I figured it was time I say hi and not talk about Prop. 8 (although there's a protest starting in an hour, which I'll be missing because I'll be in a meeting held in an icy basement). So. A couple of random updates.

I just got back from an inspiring work trip to San Francisco, where writer Jewelle Gomez reminded a group of us that art is about faith and activism. When the economy sucks as profoundly as it sucks right now, art seems both more difficult and like our only hope.

On the way home, AK and I stopped in San Luis Obispo, where we saw her college friends Ryan and Sarah, and their daughter Hattie. Last time we saw Hattie, she was a small pink nub of a human sleeping in an infant seat. Now she's a busy, blonde-haired one-year-old who likes to present people with her favorite toys and do impressions of farm animals with varying degrees of realism (her dog is very good; her horse accent, her parents pointed out, is somewhat unconvincing).

We jogged along the seaside bluff at Montana de Oro, which is really how jogging should be done. With dusty brush and leaping deer and seaweed-smelling wind. If we lived next to a seaside bluff, we decided, we'd be training for a marathon rather than a 10K. (Actually we'd probably take our bluff for granted and do the same things we always do.)

I've been more into nature lately. It worries me, sometimes, because in spite of voting for the guy who was all about change, I actually find change a little scary. Also, I'm worried that eventually I'll start wanting to live in seaside/wooded/mountainous landscapes that are A) expensive and B) prone to fires. I mean, I'll always love urban grime, it's just that I may be willing to accept that flowers are pretty after all.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

no more mr. nice gay

I didn’t realize what a rule-follower I was until I started hearing about all the Prop. 8 protests happening around the state. They kind of took me by surprise—you could do that? I’d been under the vague impression that when there was a contest, you should do everything you could to help your side, but when you lost…well, the other side won fair and square, right?

Except maybe there are some things, like, say, civil rights, that shouldn’t be put to majority rule. Maybe protesting is what you do when you’ve tried everything else. Maybe there is value in a community throwing a collective tantrum. Because, as AK pointed out based on an article she read, “They’re going to keep coming after us if they think they can get away with it. Next time it’ll be our adoption rights.”

And while I wasn’t down with every sentiment on every sign—I mean, look, I get that it’s irresistible to point out that farm animals gained rights on Tuesday while queer people lost them, but personally I think animal rights should be written into the constitution too (I do!)—the march was incredibly cathartic. It felt so good to see people out with their friends and spouses and dogs and kids, to yell, to get blisters on my feet for a cause other than my love of uncomfortable shoes.

Scenes from Saturday’s Sunset Junction protest:

Thursday, November 06, 2008

up for grabs, down for keeps

I’m feeling a little less crazy now.

Not that that’s always a good thing, but still.

It helped to read about everyone else’s righteous anger on Facebook and my favorite blogs (yes, I’m actually saying that Facebook heals). I also kind of forced AK to reassure me that she loves me, wants a future with me, etc. and that made me feel better too.

That’s what I hate about Prop. 8—that because I’m insecure, it makes me question my relationship in some small but perverse way. I mean, it’s not like AK and I got married when we had the chance. But marriage is a marker of where a relationship is, and even though it’s often an inaccurate marker (consider never-married Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins vs. Britney Spears’ five-minute marriage in Vegas), it’s our culture’s shorthand for seriousness, for family. So when it keeps flitting in and out of the realm of possibility, a girl can feel confused.

I’ve been thinking about how mainstream culture has called our bluff. For years the queer movement was like, “Fuck you, we don’t want your stupid institutions.” But people kept coming out and started living more and more integrated lives, and eventually mainstream culture was like, “Would you like to have some of our institutions?” And we said, “Yes! Yes, we would!” Then, in 2000 and again on Tuesday, mainstream culture said, “Ha! ‘Cause you can’t have ‘em!”

It’s like when a kid at recess would hold up a bag of Oreos and say, “Up for grabs!” then snatch it away from other kids’ reaching fingers and say, “Down for keeps!” Then the other kids felt stupid for trying to grab the Oreos.

I hate feeling stupid. And I also very much like my own lunch—my veggie burger and my persimmon and my Clif bar—and I’m not going to trade it in for some stupid transfat-laden cookie…that happens to taste really, really good.

Hmm, I guess I had a little more anger to get out of my system after all.

But anyway, I really am feeling better. Yesterday I kept having conversations with Barack Obama in my head. Not political conversations; it was more like we were hanging out and I was introducing him to AK and Team Gato, all of whom I was confident he’d adore, despite his recent puppy declaration.

Unlike George W., Barack Obama is a guy I’d like to have a beer with. Or, as Jamie said at lunch yesterday, “Maybe a scotch.” Then Ryan called her an elitist and told her she was what was wrong with this country.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


I was hoping this would be the first major election in eight years that didn’t make me cry—and for a few minutes, I was just crying because I was happy. Seeing Obama up there, looking thrilled and tired, thin-necked, big-eared, shockingly human under the weight of all that history and all those hopes; thinking about Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. and his grandma looking down on him…for a few minutes, America was everything I needed it to be.

When Obama talked about how his election isn’t the change we seek but just the opportunity to continue seeking it, when he gave a little shout-out to the gays (and how many presidents have done that in their acceptance speeches?)…for those minutes, I thought, “Yes we can.”

And then California decided it was all about deciding who exactly got to be included in “we.” As in, “We can get married, but you can’t.” As in, “We can use the constitution, which should be sort of a secular bible, to put into practice all the whimsical and shitty things we’ve exploited the actual Bible for.” Arkansas did it too, only worse. Arkansas decided, “It’s not enough to fuck the gays with this proposition—let’s screw over kids in foster care too.”

Despite the blogosphere’s reputation as a cesspool of unmediated rants, plucky old Bread and Bread is usually all about introspection, conciliatory language, giving people the benefit of the doubt, tempering things with good natured sarcasm, blah blah blah. At least I like to think so. But tonight when Jody gave a no doubt well-informed critique of No On 8’s strategies, I was in no mood for lefty self-critiques. No On 8 might have made mistakes, but it didn’t create the hate and ignorance that apparently run strong in California. It’s the haters I’m pissed at and no one else.

I’ve been in such a weird, nervous mood these past few days, and while part of me says, That’s the worst a proposition can do? Put you in a bad mood? Wow, you’re really oppressed, aren’t you?, that’s the voice I’m ignoring tonight.

After our fellow election night revelers/mourners went home, I cleaned up the kitchen and AK searched the internet for inspiring quotes from Kermit the Frog (because we have to look to our strongest leaders during times of crisis). She stumbled across a trailer for Brokeback Mountain and watched it quietly. “That’s what happens when it’s not safe to be gay,” she said, and I was thinking about how I need to read a book or see a movie about oppressed people surviving really awful times. I was thinking about how art is there when you need it most.

Then I thought how, wait, no, this is oppression too. Prop. 8 might not be the worst thing that ever happened, but it’s not just some tiny chink in my unfathomably privileged life. It’s real and it sucks.

Then I thought about how maybe I would keep the house extra clean or stop eating, those late-night, anorexic, “if I can’t control the world around me at least I can control this” thoughts.

And I thought about what Ed Bacon said about seeing soul to soul if not eye to eye with people who vote differently than we do, but I also had a frighteningly vivid image of myself poking the next person to utter the phrase “protecting families” in the eye with something sharp.

Ed, Barack—I’ll get there. I’ll take the high road. But right now I’m still stuck in traffic and I’m full of road rage.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

i’ll take obama and a tall nonfat latte

Starbucks took my suggestion about offering free beverages for voters. Consequently, the line at the Eagle Rock Starbucks this morning was as long as the one at my polling place. I love America.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

dias de la comunidad

Long ago, my mom taught me that all the best Halloween costumes (if by "best" you mean "cheap and easy but still homemade") start with a pair of sweats. Throw in a couple of styrofoam eyeballs, some break-and-bake cookies, one plastic trash can from OSH and voila, Cookie Monster...

...and Oscar the Grouch.

Some of the other best costumes, though, start with an Afro wig and a cardboard palette. When we met up with our friends at Akbar, Lee-Roy was recognizable to fans of Bob Ross as the PBS art icon fond of painting happy trees.
He was so popular, in fact, that he was runner up in the costume contest. But there was a bit of a scandal when drag queen emcee Lila chose to announce Lee-Roy's win by saying, "PBS! Get up here, PBS!" Her dominatrix cop assistant decided this meant Oscar and I, who were representing another PBS show. The next thing we knew, we were on stage accepting Lee-Roy's drink tickets. But since we were all weaned on cooperation-loving television shows, we worked it out peacefully.

First prize went to a guy named Gordon, who'd duct-taped himself a fine-looking suit made from Yes On 8 signs. "All stolen," he announced, and a huge cheer went up. It was a nice reminder that even if the H8ers take over the constitution, the gays are still funnier.

I spent the rest of the night boogieing with Oscar, who really knew how to shake his can.

But when he took a break from it, it was only a matter of time before the drunken patrons of Akbar decided it was a real trash can, despite the fact that it said "Sesame Street Department of Sanitation" on the side and had no bottom. By the end of the night there were like 15 pieces of trash in it, but the bar back didn't care. She just looked happy to discover she didn't have to take it to the dumpster out back.

I have to say I'll be a little sad when the election is over (and let's hope that's the only thing I'm sad about on November 5). It's been such an exciting time to feel like part of my community. Saturday afternoon I went to an interfaith No On 8 forum, and Saturday night AK, Christine, Jody and I went to the huge Dia de los Muertos celebration at Hollywood Forever. There we ran into AK's friend Ariel, who was getting her calavera on, as well as her activism.

There were flags and feathers and marigolds. Sage singed the air.

There were lots of altars to lost loved ones, as well as more political altars, including separate ones for shelter-killed dogs and abandoned cats. I've always liked the idea of God noticing the fall of every sparrow, and I think it counts for something when humans mourn the passing of animals too.

This one reminded me of T-Mec's favorite pose.

I've been in kind of a moody mood all weekend, but unlike Christmas, when you have happy Santas in your face at every turn, Halloween and Dia de los Muertos are the perfect time to be colorfully angsty.

Friday, October 31, 2008

hope and changeling

On the escalator outside the Landmark Theatre Tuesday night, AK asked what I’d thought of Changeling.

“I liked it, but I almost can’t tell if it was a good movie or not,” I admitted, “because it has so many elements that I’m guaranteed to like.”

1. Shots of 1920s L.A. Seriously, I could have watched a whole movie of ‘em—without a story, without dialogue, without Angelina Jolie. My ideal afterlife will include the ability to beam myself to any point in history, not so I can kill Hitler or whatever but so I can be a fly on the wall and find out how things really were, especially in places and eras that are close to my heart.

2. Mystery galore. Changeling is based on the true story of a boy who was kidnapped and “returned” to his mother five months later—except it wasn’t him, and no one believed her. What could be eerier and more fascinating? Throw in a police cover-up, a scary insane asylum and a serial killer with a tumbledown shack in the desert and I’m there!

3. All Saints Church in Pasadena. AK and I turned, open-mouthed, to look at each other in the dark theater when John Malkovich came on screen as an activist minister decrying LAPD corruption—because the pulpit he was speaking from was the exact pulpit where Ed Bacon, our own favorite activist minister, had stood on Sunday, probably decrying some sort of corruption (I’m not sure though, because we slept in and arrived post-sermon. This happens a lot). All Saints looked as beautiful on screen as it does in real life. The camera did not add 15 pounds.

4. Other stuff I know. Angelina Jolie’s character lived in Lincoln Heights, AK’s old neighborhood which is totally Highland Park-adjacent! And that one cop has AK’s last name, which is totally an unusual last name!

Anyway. I ultimately think Changeling probably is a good movie. Melodramatic, yes, but it’s a melodrama, complete with old-fashioned shots of Angelina Jolie looking up from beneath her bell-shaped hat at the bottom of the screen.

Thematically, it’s about how people in power don’t take women and children seriously, and since most contemporary LAPD officers probably wouldn’t say things like, “You know how emotional women are” right to their faces, it could be easy to dismiss this as a Slavery Is Bad movie—one that makes a statement that would only have been daring 50 years ago—there’s some solid evidence that police (and police states) will still go pretty far to shut someone up. Check out the story of Bronwyn’s partner’s student, Esha Momeni:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the bread and bread endorsements

Have you had enough of the talking heads on NPR and CNN? Are you thinking, I’d like to hear the opinions of someone who can parrot the talking heads on NPR but not CNN because she doesn’t have cable? Someone who writes as much about tasty treats at Starbucks as she does about world affairs.

Look no further: The first-ever Bread and Bread Election Guide has arrived. Below are B&B’s suggestions on how you should vote if you want to toe the Bread and Bread party line. B&B will to try to refrain from the most most obvious arguments because you’ve probably already heard them, and because, as a partially informed voter, B&B may not have. What you’re going to read about is all gut feelings and pet causes (but hopefully not in a Sarah Palin-y way). Also, if you leave a really good comment explaining why B&B should vote the opposite, maybe B&B will. B&B is gullible like that.

President: Barack Obama. Besides the now oft-quoted “chicken or shit with bits of broken glass in it” argument—besides wars and health care and banking regulations and civil rights—here’s what B&B likes about Barack Obama: He is a 21st century president. Based on his comments in the first debate, he knows that having a big fat military won’t get you nearly as far as good economic policy—that the best way to stop terrorists is to make sure that people have jobs and schools to go to, that the only place they can find food and a little intellectual stimulation is not the local Al Qaeda recruitment drive. He’s lived in a lot of different places, and he knows that national boundaries are less and less relevant.

McCain, on the other hand, seems like a noble old soldier (unless you believe Rolling Stone) who thinks everyone should wear red or blue uniforms and stand in formation on opposite sides of an Official Battlefield, muskets poised. He’s done a lot for this country and B&B wishes him a lovely retirement.

U.S. Representative: Xavier Becerra. He’s the only one running in B&B’s district, but B&B’s friend Alberto met him the other day and said he was really nice.

Prop. 2: Yes. The language of this proposition says something like, “Farm animals will have sufficient room to fully extend their legs or wings.” It is seriously fucked up that we need to vote on whether any living thing should be allowed to extend its legs or wings. Talk about a fundamental right. If you want to deny anyone this, B&B believes that you are as evil Fred Phelps thinks B&B is. Farm animals are the most oppressed group in the country, and B&B doesn’t say that to belittle human suffering. It’s just that most humans in the U.S. can extend their legs. So before you bite into your next chicken sandwich with chipotle aioli, imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t.

Prop. 4: No. Prop. 4 requires a waiting period and parental notification in order for any minor to get an abortion. B&B feels about abortion the way B&B feels about drugs and prostitution: They’re not what B&B wishes for B&B’s self or kids, but they’re not going anywhere, so we might as well make them legal and therefore as safe as possible. Wealthy girls will always be able to find a discreet doctor who can get the job done for a price, so laws like Prop. 4 are just another way of making life a little suckier for the poor and uneducated.

Prop. 8: No. B&B is going to let you in on a little secret. While Prop. 8—which would take away the right of same-sex couples to marry in California—has NOTHING TO DO WITH WHAT KIDS ARE TAUGHT IN SCHOOLS from an official standpoint, what the Yes On 8 crew is implying with its various shady advertisements is not entirely incorrect. Allowing same-sex couples to marry is part of that “slippery slope” by which LGBT people become fully accepted members of society. Which means not being some scary cave-dwelling creature that you only tell kids about when they’re “old enough to handle it.”

But we’ve been figure-skating down that slope for a long time (thank you, Stonewall drag queens and ‘70s feminists), so Prop. 8 is just a last gasp from the losing side (and by “losing,” B&B doesn’t mean straight people, who have nothing to lose if No On 8 wins, but bigots, who always lose in the end).

Part of why B&B is a passionate No-On-8-er—besides the fact that B&B might like to get gay-married—is because gay marriage doesn’t hurt anyone or cost anyone anything. It’s not like nationalized health care, which B&B is also for, but which would take zillions of dollars and years of planning to implement. This one’s easy.

Note to all those “I’m just a reasonable centrist” folks who are for civil unions but against gay marriage:

1) You were against civil unions when you first heard about them, so what, your thing is to always be one step behind the times? Should we rule that people can, in fact, marry goats—that thing you’re always claiming is at the bottom of the aforementioned slope—so that you’ll be like, “Look, it’s fine for two humans of the same gender to marry each other, but I draw the line at goats”? Think about what’s right instead of what sounds scary because you haven’t already had years to get used to it.

2) Admit that you think God Hates Fags. Because if you acknowledge that, then fine, at least you’re owning your opinion. But there’s not a way to claim, a la Sarah “I have diverse friends” Palin, that you’re all for gay rights but somehow against, well, the gays having the same rights as you. There’s this little thing called separate-but-equal and we gave it the thumbs down a couple of decades ago.

Prop. 9: No. B&B doesn’t know too much about this one, but it seems to fall in the three-strikes camp: one of those laws that locks up more people for longer periods of time, as if that helps crime victims in anything but the most eye-for-an-eye way. Look, we’re already broke and we already have tons of overcrowded prisons, and stiffer penalties have been proven not to work as deterrents.

B&B doesn’t think the average angry gangbanger is like, “You know, I’d like to avenge the untimely death of my homie, which was caused by the generations of poverty and hopelessness that I too am a victim of, but the long prison sentence that potentially awaits me really gives me pause. I was planning to go to med school and retire early, and doing 25 to life could seriously derail that.”

We should fight crime the way we should fight terrorism: with jobs and after-school programs. Plus good mental health care. B&B is not saying any of those things are simple to implement, just that a bigger prison system isn’t either.

L.A. County Measure R: Yes. The radio ads in favor of this measure, which would extend the light rail lines, among other improvements, are “Paid for by People from Across California Tired of Being Stuck in Traffic.” Nuff said.

Monday, October 27, 2008

…and he’s easy on the eyes

This is a video Jamie’s friends shot at the gObama! fundraiser party AK and I went to last month. During my three seconds of fame beginning at minute 3:04, I’m referring (in my mind) to The Second World, that book by Parag Khanna I raved about a while back. But more on that later, when Bread and Bread publishes its official voter guide (get ready to learn where I stand on bond measure 1A, everyone!).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

making it work, working it

“What do you wear when you want to look like you don’t really care about looking good but could if you wanted to?” I asked AK.

Veronica had invited us to the last night of Fashion Week, where she would be modeling in the Kucoon show. I love fashion, but it’s hard to tell because I devote almost no time or money to it. I’m like a person who thinks she likes to read because she enjoys Oprah’s book club segments. I read a lot of fashion magazines—so at least I could point to a page that said slouchy jeans were back when AK became insecure about her pants.

I ended up wearing jeans that were neither trendily slouchy nor trendily skinny (Target, $20); a dark orange wife-beater (Nordstrom clearance rack, like $12); a blazer that my friend Daisye had sewn patches on (random thrift store in Tacoma, $10); and silver Jessica Simpson pumps (DSW, $18).

With the exception of Daisye’s handiwork, all were fairly embarrassing items, but once we got to the downtown warehouse where the shows were taking place, it became clear that I could have put almost any five pieces of clothing from my closet on at random and called it fashion. Although, again, I realize this is like looking at a Picasso and saying, “My five-year-old could do that.”

People in line were wearing emo jeans and ‘80s jeans, T-shirts with sequins and T-shirts with giraffes, ankle booties and checkered Vans. There was a girl in a pink mohawk and a black lace cat suit, and a guy in a big-shouldered sequined dress that, until that moment, I could only have imagined on a Cambodian mother of the bride. Another guy appeared to be dressed as the czar of Russia.

It was a good thing that waiting in line was so fascinating (so many genres—high-fashion pretty and high-fashion ugly, arty and slutty and grungy) because it took forever to get in. And I am well past the age where anything is cool enough to wait in line for.

Even though Veronica had put us on the list, it seemed ridiculous to push my unfashionable size-nine self to the front of the mob and say, “I’m on the list!” Especially when my whole look was I Don’t Care About The List.

My instincts were correct because we soon discovered that everyone present was on the list, and The Girl With The Clipboard maybe didn’t totally have a system for letting people in in an orderly fashion. The longer we hung out, the more authoritative we became, until after a while, we were telling people in outrageous outfits, “Actually, everyone here is on the list. You’re just going to have to wait.”

We befriended a fellow non-fashionista named Kacie, who bartended at a bar called Casey’s, and chatted with her until the magical moment when the clipboard gods waved everyone in for the 10 p.m. show.

AK had forgotten her ID, and after watching a pleading exchange between the bouncer and a teenage girl whose sister was in the SHOW!!, things didn’t look promising. But it was the end of the week and the guards must have been tired too because soon the girl was in and so were we, and AK had a big mischievous grin on her face. She has this kind of luck and she knows it.

The Kucoon show began with a gaggle of dancing girls in white body paint, white hot pants and tube tops, and giant red wigs. They were cool, but I was like, These are the fashions? They’re kind of just white underwear. Then Veronica came out—also white and wigged—and danced on pointe, ballerina meets alien robot doll.

And maybe I’m biased, but she totally stole the show. A lot of the models that would follow were pretty or edgy or interesting to look at, but none looked quite as natural and happy to kick your ass as Veronica did.

So yes, it turned out that the red-wigged dancers were an opening act for a full collection. I liked the clothes that paraded by on models with Swiss Miss braids and heroin addict eye make-up—lots of jersey hoodies and dresses with pleats in unpredictable places, plus a few explosions of plaid—but some of them had a slightly flimsy look. Maybe that’s just what fashion looks like up close, though.

The show closed with a trapeze artist twirling on a giant piece of stretchy fabric that I think they call the tissue. It was mesmerizing (you know how I feel about the circus arts), but when the girl got down and danced offstage with the models, she suddenly looked a little Burning Man/Age of Aquarius. Leave the dancing to Veronica, I thought. She knows how to merge all these worlds.

The evening was nothing like a New York fashion show, by which I mean it was nothing like the fashion shows I’ve seen on Sex and the City, The Real House Wives of New York City or in The Devil Wears Prada. It wasn’t a bunch of socialites deciding what they’ll wear next season. I know L.A. fashion is considered rinky-dink, but that seemed to free people up to dress in other-worldly costumes and act as fierce as if they themselves were on the catwalk/strip-of-warehouse-floor-between-the-folding-chairs. So maybe a little streak of Burning Man isn’t such a bad thing.