Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Walking the Carny

The title of this blog came from something I said once to a friend when describing what my day had been like. It’s not just the navigating part that feels like a hectic cluster F (if you mapped it and drew a line from a to b it would be a long s- shaped curlicued connection) but it’s the congestion inside my head that’s even more complicated and indirect. I think this is true for most people, although there are a few who are organized and good at planning and don’t just make up the map as they go along, and there are people, who don’t live in LA or a place where they have to drive all day, who don’t go from joy and peace to rage and anxiety and back again in 10 minute cycles. I’m not complaining, or even wishing it was someway else (oh shut up, yes you are, no I’m not, Yes you are. Sssshhhhh!) I just like to keep an eye on it once in a while. Yesterday for example, I went to work, drove Dar to a friends’, walked the dogs three times, took Harry to Universal and watched the Live Animal Actors Show, did laundry and folded it, went jogging, tried to write a bio and finish an outline, talked on the phone, looked up wedding invitation sites and all through the day could not stop thinking of my debts, the famine in Africa, how to raise money for my short film (yes, I will be asking soon) and a video I saw of Amy Winehouse. All this combined with the usual pain, guilt and longing.

Before you watch this video, make sure you are some place where you can really listen.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I think I may have found my people. I took a Zumba class with a friend, a few Grannys, my Mexican neighbors, some kids, an NFL linebacker, and some pretty girls, and we are now one.

Saturday, July 23, 2011


Everyone saw it coming but it's still sad. I remember getting chills when I first heard the funeral chimes at the end of this song.

Heather's Documentary

This is my friend Heather's documentary which looks amazing. Check out the link and donate if you can!

Friday, July 22, 2011


Both my grandfathers were named Don but they were different in almost every other way:

One was short and round, the other was tall and thin.

One was loud, the other was quiet.

One loved meat and cheese, the other loved whipped cream and marshmallows.

One was generous with his money, the other was stingy with it.

One drove a Cadillac, the other one drove a truck.

When introduced for the first time one took your hand and slapped you on the back, the other nodded and crossed his arms.

One was not born in this country. One had relatives who were early settlers.

Electric razor, straight edge.

Ties, tshirts

I could go on and on, but there are a few similarities too:

Both had no friends (only wives’ friends, and family)

Both liked music

Both went to fancy New England Universities

Both were handsome in their 20s

Both studied people

Both were very organized

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Nabe: Part 2

My neighbor walks around in his yard wearing a navy blue terry robe and slippers. From the looks of it he’s not wearing anything underneath. The top part sags open above the belt and his big flabby chest hang out for all to see. Standing there watering the garden! Hm. It’s a nice house, a big Disneyland-style Victorian painted lime green, maroon, and yellow, cobblestone driveway, black iron gate all around. That sounds a little much but it’s not too bad; it looks like a happy place, but he’s the only one there. And he’s usually frowning. He used to have a fat dog that lay outside all day; we’d walk over to her and she’d just drop to the ground and roll on her back waiting for a belly rub. Oh Fluffy, Oh Fatty Fat Girl, Oh Fluff, we used to talk to her and pet her through the bars of the gate. You’d think such a sweet dog would mean that he’s a nice guy. But no. Sometimes he glares at me from his porch.

Hey, I’m just walking here. Down by your house. What’s with the puss?

I think maybe something sad happened to him, maybe his wife left or his kids don’t visit or he has some kind of deep broken-hearted pain. He can’t even get dressed. But he has a Disneyland house and a nice garden. I can’t get a handle on it because he doesn’t look sad he just looks extremely pissed off. So some days I think How dare you! How dare you try to be mean and righteous while you’re wearing a ratty robe and scuffed-on slippers. You need to get dressed if you want to be angry.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tree House

On Saturday a few of my friends somehow got this trailer up in a tree. Next they are going to build a deck around it. I never had a tree house growing up, but in the summer in Rhode Island, all the kids in my family stayed in a cabin in the woods. We had mattresses on the floor and a few squeaky old fashioned hospital beds. I loved it. Sometimes at night in the pitch black it was horrifying but there were enough of us that we were able to laugh it off. If a man with an axe came by, we would all be killed together and somehow that was comforting.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


The Championship Belt.


This is a drawing Harry did back when he was NINE. Where did this boy come from? From Harry I have learned about:
comic books
the druglike effect of rootbeer and chocolate
broken arms
smelly feet
pee on the toilet seat
martial arts
Happy Birthday Har!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Steely Dan

Over the weekend two of my brothers and one of my sisters and I took my Dad to see Steely Dan at an outdoor theater under the stars. This is the music that played on the stereo in my Dad's two seater race car when we'd drive to the beach down PCH. I was a teenager and sat in the front seat smoking a cigarette while three of the littler ones sat in the back bucket without belts. We'd all sing Is there gas in the car? Yes there's gas in the car. My Dad the loudest of all.

Flash more than 30 years forward and we're walking the old guy up the steps of the theater, one of each of us on either side. He sat in the middle, his chin raised so he could see the stage. We all sang out loud when this song came on, my Dad the loudest of all.

Thunder in the Grocery Store

You know, I can’t really tell this story without somehow demeaning it, but I have to tell it anyway. Weird things happen to me in the grocery store. I mean, I go there once a day, either to the Vons on Sunset or the one on Alvarado so I guess the odds sort of lean towards that. Sometimes it's my only social activity of the day.

The Vons on Alvarado we call Prison Vons because it has a 10-foot high chain fence around it. Usually there is a group of gutter punks out in front. They don’t shower but they have i-phones and Doc Martins. Without making eye contact, they ask me if I can spare some change. No I can’t spare some change, you’re 27, get a FUCKING JOB, I say, in my head, tourette’s style. I wonder if I said these things out loud if I would come across as insane and troubled or wise and righteous. Yeah, don’t tell me, I know.

Once I get inside I’m heading towards the produce aisle. Every minute or so, there is a loud clap of thunder and then a spray mist over the fruits and veg to make them look fresh and tasty. I have never heard this particular sound effect in any other grocery store and always look around to make eye contact with someone when it happens. You know, “Hey, how about that? Isn’t that fun? Thunder. Inside? Followed by a tropical rain mist?” No one else shares my enthusiasm. I know it’s dorky but seriously, who gets used to a thunderstorm inside the grocery store?

It seems like every time I go to Vons I am either completely deflated at the end of the day, or revved up in a furious rush to get in and out of the goddam place as fast as I can. Who am I kidding; this has nothing to do with Von’s, it’s the way I am 24/7. Sometimes I feel as though I’m doing fifty things but never really doing one. My engine goes between 90mph and stall.

I get my items and head to the line. Of course there is a back up. I take a step to the side and crane my neck to see the hold up, ready to let loose some more tourette’s in my head. Just as I do, another line opens up and there is a stampede to get to it. Once the dust settles, I can see the reason for the hold up. It’s a guy in a wheel chair, he’s fully paralyzed from the neck down and the clerk had to come around and unload his basket for him. He turns around and smiles like he’s king of the castle.

Sorry for the hold up, he says.

No one says anything, which is my usual prompt to speak. It’s ok, I can check up on the world news, I say holding up a People mag.

Oh yeah? What’s happening?

Kate and Wills are heading to Santa Barbara. I hold it open and step forward to show him.

I like her.

Me too.

Here’s Gwyneth in a bikini.

With Steven Spielberg, look at that.

We flip through the pages until the clerk says 101.37.

Oh, hold on, he says. I want to give you my savers card. He struggles with the fanny pack that’s strapped to his chair. There were 600 zippers on that thing.

You can just punch in your number, I told him.

Well I can’t really use my fingers, he laughs and then sighs.

My bad.

He uses the heel of his hand to search for his card.

Just tell her your number, I say, she’ll punch it in. That’s what I always do. My card is probably stuck in the back seat of my car with some gum and an old poptart.

He laughs and then sighs again, tells the clerk his number, and says, I love coming here. I get to be around nice people.

No one's ever said that at Prison Vons!

They're nice because you're nice, I say.

He laughs and then sighs again, That's how it works, isn't it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Off in The Distance

Sometimes in the morning when I'm walking the dogs and pretending to be a cowboy, I look up and see 30 Indians on horseback silently watching.

Monday, July 4, 2011


I love imagining Jimi when he was 13 playing this in his room and his mom yelling at him up the stairs "Jimi if you don't stop that racket, I'm going to come up there and knock your head".

Happy Summer Yankee Doodle

The 4th of July is a great day to sit inside and read a book, especially if it's sweltering outside.
I just read a great article about Mike Tyson by Avi Steinberg. You can see it here.
Then I decided to put together my summer reading list:
Tree of Smoke by Denis Johnson
Moby Dick by Herman Melville
That'll do it; they're big books, come on.
I'm also reading A Little History of The World by E.H. Gombrich to Dar and Harry and I recommend this to everyone no matter how old you are.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."