Thursday, August 26, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mo in Ghana

And Me in the Audience

On Saturday I was sitting in Starbucks below the Laser Tag place waiting for Har. A guy came in, looking slightly deranged, wearing a Wharton t-shirt. He walked through the place like a comedian walking through a suburban nightclub, all finger points and bu-dum-bas. Here was his monolgue:

Hey how ya doin

You’re my best friend.

That’s a good look for you

What kind of computer is that, an apple?

Welcome to beautiful downtown Sherman Oaks, one and all

A hip a hop a hippy to the hippy and you don’t stop.


Yeah, I thought so. Yeee dog. I could tell a stone throw away from here

Don’t get hit by a reindeer.

Yeah, that’s dangerous.

Come on baby.

You need me.

Train of Thought

I’ve never lived in a place where I couldn’t hear a train. Close by, far off in the distance, I’ve sat in my room at night and heard the haunting trumpet sound. Some nights in NY, I felt the rumble, and listened to the metal on metal of brakes. Other times its just the moaning sound of the horn signaling itself. Was there something on the tracks? A cow? A hobo? I’ve ridden trains so much and often as a means of cheaper transportation, that I don’t really enjoy it. Still, it’s an odd part of my history.

I rode the train to school every day beginning in third grade. I was 8. One morning we were late, I somehow managed to run down the hundred stairs to the platform and get on a second before it started to pull out. My brother, age 7, walked in 2 minutes later wearing his enormous backpack, his hands skimming the tops of the seats on either side of him, his eyes wide and horrified. My step Dad had thrown him on the train as it was moving and he had almost tipped back out from the momentum. Another time in fifth grade I was in my classroom at school when Elizabeth Eagleson was escorted in by the principal, who sat her at her desk and then kissed the top of her head, before quietly walking back out. We all turned to look at her and she burst in to tears. She could barely get the words out but she had seen a businessman slide under the train. She said his leg popped like a grape under a hammer.

I rode the train back and forth to NY when I lived there. I took it to visit my grandparents in Rhode Island. I traveled to Florida, South Carolina, Boston, Washington and back to Pennsylvania. The longest rides with the dining cars, snack bars and smoking sections were the worst. From a lack of sleep, I not only swore I’d never step foot on another ghetto, stink-filled, chug along train, I hated anyone else who ever sat along with me, before, during or after. Then I’d see a train scene in a movie or be with a child who thought it would be fun and I would say to myself, it’s not so bad. As soon as an hour passed though I’d be swearing all over again: drunks, moaners, religious crazies, perverts, runaways, families, my own included, I’ve ridden with them all. I remember infestations of crawly bugs on the head-rests, and jheri-curl smears on the windows. I remember singing out loud to myself one time, my head pressed to the window. In a monotonous stupor I sang, certain no one could hear me, and who cares if they did.

I heard a train this morning, probably at Union Station, and thought all this.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mosque vs Ground Zero

I like that this photo shows Sarah wearing a cross. I don't know that much about Christianity but I'm positive that putting a mosque near ground zero is exactly the kind of thing Jesus would have advocated.
I also thought this guy from the radio put it really beautifully.


The other night when we got home we heard laughter coming from our neighbor's apartment so we had to knock on the door and see what the hell was going on. Come in, come in, Dallas said. He told us he and Michelle had just bought the fat app and had been taking pictures of themselves for 30 minutes. They both still had tears on their faces. Of course he had to line us up and take a few mood shots (you know, angry, sad, thoughtful) and we spent the next half hour (it felt like a month) collapsing on the floor, hiccuping, screaming and drooling like drunkards (I'm sorry all the pictures are still in Dallas' phone).
I wonder if this is what happened when the cavemen first discovered fire.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Agent

I could have ignored the sunglasses on top of his head at 10 pm, his fade haircut, the Blackberry in his hand that he had one eye on, and his leg up on the chair, exposing his set like a matador. But the goddam eyebrows stopped me in my tracks. If he was gay, I could have pulled him aside like a sister, honey you've gone too far with the tweezing; I could have even ruffled them up a bit with my thumb. But he wasn't and I couldn't so I didn't.
You know, I don't exactly care for my tone either right now, I'm passing judgement, it's true. He's just a squirrel trying to get a nut. Who am I to knock him down, to criticize and act as though I do no wrong. I don't feel good about myself going after an easy target, but the thing is, not only did he give me and, let's be honest, every person in the room, the once over/up and down, he spent the whole time talking about how pathetic this actor guy was. And laughing about it.
Still, he could have been talking about Shakespeare or love and I wouldn't have heard a word of it. It was like that part in a movie where the car hits the brakes and there is loud screeching and then bang, the worst metal ripping sound you've ever heard in your life, then the hub-cab spirals to the ground and there is silence. And everything moves in slow motion from that point on. All I could think was Vincent Price's voice chanting eyebrows, eyebrows, EYEBROWS.
I saw my sister from the corner of my eye, excused myself and grabbed her arm like a life raft. "Can you tell I'm staring at his eyebrows?" I stage whispered, and then bore a lazer beam above her eyelids.
No, but you look insane, was what she said. I kept staring at her. It was hard to snap out of it. Then she said "Oh Dave?"
YES Dave.
Oh, yeah, well.
It is hard for me to accept this. It is hard for me to accept that I live in a town where it is more common for a guy to groom himself than it is for him to know how to change a tire.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Best Beach

We went to Point Dume, even though we had to park 1/2 mile away and walk through little streets and lanes, down the bluff on a rickety metal staircase, and over stones and shards of flat rock. It was worth it for the following reasons:
1. Walking with heavy bags over rocks and down the sides of cliffs is fun when one person in your group is wearing giant flippers and the above outfit.
2. Only about 10 other people were there.
3. The sun was hot and the water was icy.
4. At about 3 o'clock, a man wearing an army green hooded wetsuit and carrying a harpoon, emerged from the water with 2 fourteen-inch fish hanging from a silver buckle around his waist.
I wish I had taken a picture, but I was too busy staring at him with my mouth open.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Yay? Or Nay?

Yesterday I was at a friend’s house and was offered an Oreo. I haven’t had one in maybe ten years or so and though it wasn’t really tempting, I took it anyway. As soon as I put it into mouth, I felt the sugar on my tongue and then down my throat like shattered glass. Delicious shattered glass. This is what crack is like, what heroin, what every addictive, mind numbing drug is like. I had to have another immediately.

I remembered my Nana with a full package in her lap, on top of the crocheted blanket across her legs, sitting on the porch of the house in the last few years of her life. She ate them all day, even after she couldn’t remember the names of her own children, or dress herself properly, or know that she wasn’t sitting in the theater watching the Boston Pops, she’d remember to get her cookies. I think it’s all she ate.

What a way to go. (I don’t know if I’m saying this with cheer or sorrow).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Where I Walked

This looks scarier than it is. It's the road below my house where I walk the dogs at night.

My Nabe: Part 1

Sometimes my neighborhood feels like a college campus. I see the same faces every day. We have experiences together. We have conversations and debates, sometimes the same ones, on a regular basis. We don’t know each other’s names, but we are friends.

The guy on the bike, Hola: This guy is probably around 35 or so. He has twin boys and another son who sings at Mexican rodeos. I see him in different parts of my neighborhood and I have no idea what he does all day. The thing I love about him is that he always speaks to me in Spanish. He doesn’t even try to half/half it like a lot of people. I have no idea what he’s saying and he knows this, and doesn’t care. Once I was outside on my front steps and he was on his bike across the street. Still straddling the seat, he walked over to see me. He started in on something or other, and I just said oh… Yeah… Sure. He asked me some questions and I just nodded my head smiling, my mouth open. Then he pushed away and pedaled down the street still talking loudly over his shoulder. Ok! I said. No problem! In ten minutes he was back with a huge and empty laundry bag. He laid his bike down on the sidewalk and walked over to the avocado and orange trees on the side of my house and started filling his bag with what was strewn across the ground. Oh! I said to him yes, go ahead. Gracias he said.

The homies: These guys, there are 4 and I think they are brothers, sit across the street all day. Sometimes they are belligerent (once saw one of them slap the back of a car and throw a can at it when it tried to turn around in a driveway) but most of the time they just sit quietly, almost meditative, and watch the weather. They are not gangsters like Carlos and his fam down the street but they know how to keep it on the lo. One of them has a chihuahua. He (the guy, not the dog) has teeth like a shark. Every single one has been filed to a V/point. I don’t know if he did this to himself on purpose or if he has an unusual set. More likely he had them all capped gold and then had to sell the caps. He always says hello to me and asks me about my dogs (“my babies” he calls them).

Cleopatra’s Parents: I know them as the couple who own the Great Dane that lives around the corner. They are in their 60s I think. She writes for the Style section of the L.A. Times and he writes for something else. He went to Harvard and all their cars are green. They eat breakfast out on the front porch in the morning and once they had a birthday for Cleopatra and all the dogs invited had to do a trick. My dog Lester’s trick was to show his underbite.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Snooki, Queen of the Underdog

Reality TV, and even certain talk shows, make me uncomfortable and embarrassed, like I'm witnessing something that's not really meant for the public. I know, that's the whole point! I realize this seems contrary to who I am, but it's true. I have not watched Jersey Shore and I've never really been curious about it mainly because I've lived in Philadelphia, spent time at the shore, gone to Mummers parades and sporting events and I've seen all those characters in real life. I'm related to some of them. What do I need to watch them on TV for? Huh? Fuck you. (oops, a little philly just slipped out). But I just read this about Snooki, that I heard about from this, and was reminded of one of the many things to love about the tri-state area.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bad Teeth

I’m sorry to put a photo of someone I’ve never met displaying their horrible teeth but here’s the thing, I have a bad tooth right now. It’s in the back. Not all the way but almost. You can really only see it if I guffaw, which I try not to do too much. But I can feel it and it hurts and I keep hoping if I stop thinking about it, it will go away. I have to confess that this is not the first time I’ve had a rotten, painful tooth so the fact that I’m trying to convince myself that I can deny its existence is ridiculous, and really goes to show that the one thing more durable than stupidity is shame, which is what I’m feeling about it: shame about my poor dental hygiene, my sugar-filled diet and my inability to pay for root canals. So what can you do when you feel shame about something? You can make fun of someone who is worse off than you. What other choice do I have?

Monday, August 9, 2010

My House After Harry Leaves for College

I especially love the bedroom that has a garage door wall and a dart board and a breakfast table. This house would be great until the night when you are sitting in the living room alone and a man with an ax in one hand and a bleeding human head in the other knocks on the glass.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Stuck in My Head

I have watched this enough times that it doesn't make me laugh anymore so I have to pass it on.

Friday, August 6, 2010

My Leige

A few weeks ago I went to visit my Dad and as I was pulling in to the driveway he was walking out to the mailbox. I stopped the car and we stared at each other for a few moments. I lowered my window.
What’s on your head?
It’s called a hat.
Yeah but where’d you get it?
The French Foreign Legion.
It looks good.
I followed him back to the house or rather to the gate at the side of it, rigged up with slats of wood and chairs balanced on tables. Ficus vines, 3 feet high, grew along the top, so that you could barely push it open and squeeze through anyway.
“What’s with the obstacle co—“
“Don’t let the dogs out, don’t let the dogs out. “
As soon as he yells this, two dogs come bounding out of nowhere and hurl themselves up against the fence. I have to kick them in the head and growl while shimmying myself sideways through a 4 inch gap. Dad is right behind me.
“Grab their paws, grab their paws.”
I have no idea what he is talking about. All I can think is how weird it is that entering the house has turned in to a stressful operation like running from an enemy or robbing a bank.
“Grab their front paws, then they can’t jump.”
“Can’t you just tell them not to ju-, ohhhh.” One of them knocks me in the side like a 250-pound linebacker hitting a dummy sled.
Dad has grabbed the paws of the other and is walking him across the yard.
“Fucksake,” I scream. The dog keeps licking my hands when I grab for his paws, which would be fine except that he has the thick, jelly slobber of a distressed and crazed animal. Once I grab the paws I have to fully knee him square in the chest with each step. I can tell he thinks this is great fun: my Dad and I square-dancing with him and his brother through the garden.
“Why don’t you get them some collars, take them on walks?”
"Ehn." My Dad says this like he has considered it and ruled it out because it MAKES TOO MUCH SENSE. He grabs a stick off the table we sit on and holds them at bay like an African witch doctor.
“Jesus. I feel like I need a drink."
“Yeah. They’re sweet though.”
“They are not fucking sweet Dad. I have never in my life said what I’m about to say but I think you need to shoot both of them in the head.”
I am sweating now, still breathing heavy. I realize my bottle of cool refreshing water is back in the car. I am ready to leave.
“You really need to get them some collars.”
My dad, still holding the stick out, stares at them, “You said that already”.
“I’m probably going to say it again.”
I can’t help laughing. We sit on the table in the middle of the yard like we’re on a raft out in the middle of the ocean. We sit this way, quietly, for about five minutes. At this moment, there is nothing we can't talk about.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


This is too exciting not to post. I like the explanation of why Prop 8 was struck down.

Winnie the Sham

Yesterday's conversation in the car between Harry and Darla:
Isaac has to wear one of those Jewish hats.
It’s not called a Jewish hat.
What’s it called?
It’s called a Ka-bob.
(silence for 20 seconds)
I think a ka-bob is one of those stick things with zucchini and pepper.
No that’s a shishkaba.

This made me think of two things. First that it’s amazing to learn how to speak: what careful listening it requires, as well as a certain fearlessness to give it a try. Babies are great at this, as are most kids to the age of 10, when listening and fearlessness start to dim (maybe even before 10 really).
The second thing I thought was: How did Dar come up with Kabob? I mean I think it should be called a kabob and will call it that from now on, but how did that particular word pop up? Then I thought somehow her brain had filed it away under KA as in yam-a-KA (I know that’s not the right spelling). Mo did this too when she was little. She called Winnie the Pooh "Winnie the Sham" because somehow her brain had filed Pooh with sham-poo and she got them mixed.
I love that our brains have their own little filing system that we have nothing to do with.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hip hopping

Click twice to see better

Fitting In

I am not a mature person. I can listen to discussions about politics or feminism or art, I can even contribute to the conversation, I can even be moved by someone’s passion on the subject, but there comes a time when my brain or attention span or whatever (maturity level) shuts down, you know, like the factory at 5pm, everyone leaves the building, all the lights go out, and the final alarm sounds out, then dies down to silence. My body is still there, still staring at the mouth of the person speaking, watching the interesting shapes it makes while the words come out, but my mind is elsewhere, dog heaven for example, rolling in the grass, barking, sniffing asses.

It’s not that I am easily distracted that makes me immature, it’s the subject matter I go to. I’m not proud of it. I am capable of depth and compassion, but after a certain amount of time, the odds are probably against it. You would think children would be a little more tolerant of this trait, but I’ve found actually the opposite to be true. It may be a little upsetting, I think, to see the main person you look to for guidance behaving like an idiot or saying something inappropriate. I get it. I fully support any child who mistrusts a 50 year old doing a hip hop dance.

Mo says, That’s it right there.


You don’t say doing a hip-hop dance.

What do I say then?

(She shakes her head and sighs from the back of her throat.)

Come on.

I’m not going to tell you.

What do I say? I’m hipping and hopping?

Yeah Mom, you say hipping and hopping.

How can you deny that I have excellent moves?

Mmmn Hmm

You can’t deny it.

You’re not bad.


You just need to stop talking.

Maybe this isn’t the best example of my immaturity but it sort of shows my desperation to fit in, which is kind of what’s at the heart of being immature.