Friday, November 11, 2005


So last thursday was the whole Anarchy in the UK problem which, I will admit was largely my fault. But this thursday I once again experienced another altercation at a bar and this time It was NOT my fault. The altercation took place at Siberia in midtown, a rock bar populated mostly by ex-frat boy white rap stars who are "cruising for ladies." My favorite scene right? So at around 3am everyone is having a good time. I'm dancing to a jukebox which is filled with suprisingly good music with some kids from ITP and it's all going very well. I decided to cut back on the drinking and began to order water from the bar. I walked over to the bar and ordered a glass of water, but the bartender, a ponchy man in his 30's wearing a grey knit skull cap was falling all over his own workstation. This was not the bartender I had been ordering drinks from all night. Rather this was some trust fund baby frat boy buddy of the bar owner who since he could not get laid any other way, decided to hit on all the asian girls of ITP from behind a bar.
"Water please?"
"We don't serve fucking wawteer at this bar man."
"Come on just give me a water."
"Alright I'll give you a water."
And with that, the surly bartender pitched a full glass of water onto my shirt.
A Pause. (Thinking back to the week before -stay out of fights gabe)
I picked up a handful of ice and launched at the guy's eyes scoring a direct hit and forcing the man to clutch his face.
"I'm going to fucking kill you!" He slobered as he jumped from behind the bar.
Now at this point I honestly thought he was kidding and so I quickly scampered around the room as the man chased me ala roadrunner Wile E Coyote. He was just so increadibly goofy looking with his grey skull cap and oafy looking face that I didn't actually take him seriously. But he was serious and proceeded to "try and fight me" for the rest of the night. His frat boy hijinks resulting in people having to hold him back from me for what seemed like 30 minutes. Ruined my night. I do not need to be thought of as the fighting guy of itp. SO finally after trying over and over to get somebody from the bar to kick him out, one of the bouncers finally picked him up and tossed the ex frat boy tubby bitch out of the bar.
So later I find out that this man had been hitting on all the asian girls of ITP and using derogatory terms to refer to them. I leave with two of my friends and we take a cab ride home.
But I feel strangely unfulfilled. I know that tomorrow this drunk asshole will be right back behind the bar pouring shots for girls filled with date rape drugs or something of that sort. So I get out my trusty cell phone:
"411 city and state please"
"New York, New York"
"What listing?"
"Siberia Bar."
"Hello I'm calling about an altercation that took place at your bar tonight. Generally we don't call about this sort of thing but I am a Los Angeles editor for the Fodor's yearly nightlife guide and tonight one of my writers was accosted by a bartender at your bar while trying to do research for a review. Are you aware that an altercation took place?"
"Yes there was a slight problem tonight"
"Well from what I understand, my reviewer ordered a glass of water and this water was thrown in his face by your bartender."
"Well let me tell you that this sort of thing never happens at our bar"
"Well it apparently did tonight and usually we don't make this kind of call, it's just that we would like to include your bar in our book but after the treatment my writer got tonight i'm afraid we can't."
"Oh but it's really not like this usually It was just a freak occurence and I can guarentee you that we will have whoever was involved fired immediately. Please come by tomorrow night and we can all have a drink and you can see the kind of place we have."
"Well I don't come out myself ever I send a writer incognito but we will re-review your bar, I just wanted to alert you of the problem so that we don't waste any more writers' time."
"Oh well we're very sorry and we guarentee that we will take care of the situation. seriously man this kind of stuff doesn't happen here alot it's just this guy who we've been looking for an excuse to get rid of but he's the owners friend. After this call though i'm sure there wont be a problem firing him."
"Well i'm glad to hear you are responsive to your customers have a good night"
"Thank you and please come by the bar anytime for a chat, the drinks are on us."
And I hung up the phone, feeling hungry for a chicken salad sandwich and Oliver Stones' film "The Doors." I stayed up till 7am.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Take the M5

"Here's 2 Dollars,"
The driver, a man whose face is permanently crinkled into a tight wrinkly grimace replies: "We don't accept dollar bills."
"You don't accept dollar bills?" I reply, hoping that by rephrasing his statement as a question the driver might reconsider and actually accept my dollar bills.
"We don't accept cash, that's what I said. Just Metrocards or change."
A line of people is beginning to accumulate behind me. A woman dangling what must be a dozen shoes by their strings shifts behind me uneasily. The driver smells like one million cups of coffee...with no cream. I make one last ditch effort. I play the stupidity card.
"I don't have either I'm really sorry I'm from Los Angel..."
"Just get in the back," he motions with an outstretched hand covered in thick black hair. Out of the corner of my eye I catch him smiling and shaking his head in disbelief. It's Sunday, some sunny day in November and I am rolling down the hot black cracked asphalt in a carbon monoxide filled capsule of plastic scratched glass. I have never seen so many different ears. Some are curved, some round, some spiral inward like fleshy shells. I have never seen so many different hands. Fat stubby flat fingers, long wiry wrists, curled dainty digits. They all stretch out over laps, grasping bags or cameras or other hands. I have never seen so many different faces. Mustaches, beards, moles, arched noses, plump lips-high cheek bone spectacle reflections of a motion blur. I am surrounded by strangers, and yet they don't feel very strange. There is an air of friendliness to the woman dressed in a grey blouse as she crunches the Wall Street Journal in her lap. There is a familiarity to the 50 year old man, as he lugs a bag full of cans down the center aisle, his face cracking with a smile so wide he almost appears to cry. There are two children climbing over the blue metal seats of this giant playground, laughing and screaming with glee as we all rumble and tumble down 6th avenue at an oh so speedy 10 miles per hour. Wait, did I mention we are only going 10 miles per hour? Yet nobody seems to care, no one complains. The caffeinated driver twitches as his glass boat twists and turns down the crowded city streets. Decals on the transparent walls of this vessel detail the danger of standing unless a stop is requested. Is a stop requested? Surely a stop must be requested some time? In this city, this hustling-bustling frenetic whir of color, nobody ever stops. The pavement glows with the heat generated by the feet of abuelitas and walstreet business men and next week's celebrity high roller as they all pound the street together in a brilliant dance of color, light, and motion.

In this city, this buzzing bubble, the ambulance drivers are Disc Jockeys. Sirens mix into the chatter of street vendors as hot sausages crackle and pop on electric grills. From outside the plastic shell a hum is growing. The hum pushes itself through the plastic exoskeleton of the bus and suddenly my ears are intoxicated with the rough coarse hoarse voice of the city. Cement mixers laugh hot gooey screaming cab driver-noisy-shrieks-of-joy. Car alarms sting silence as angry French bulldogs bow-wow grace notes through the air. Wine sloshes round back and forth chatter as cigarettes crackle the tap tap tap of a blind man's cane. Even the light, as it kisses the corners of every skyscraper, hums high pitched whispers throughout my cochlea. Is there a stop requested? In this city, this delicious vissicoise of sound, nobody ever stops.

I am shuttled up 6th avenue and into a blockade of yellow bricks, red eyes blinking as pedestrians weave in and out of an automotive maze. As the driver twitches to the left, the wheels of the vessel screetch across an intersection and suddenly we are across from central park and I no longer inhale carbon monoxide but rather the sweet smell of something new. A leaf floats through the emergency ventilation shaft on the ceiling of the bus and onto the rough corrugated black floor by my feet. I bend down to pick up the leaf and upon touching its veiny skin, I am instantly transported outside the glass boat. A pile of leaves engulfs my body, floating me across central park south and up Broadway. It is warm inside the crispy pile of green flakes and for the first time in my life, I inhale the sweet metallic aroma of fall. While floating along up riverside drive past the park I think back to the moment I moved to New York City. I remember lonely nights walking up and down 3rd avenue at 4am unable to sleep. I remember complaining to my parents that this city was too loud, that I was becoming claustrophobic and couldn't leave my apartment in the mornings. I remember a trip to the school psychiatrist on the Friday before Labor Day, feeling more lonely than ever. I remember all these tensions, all these bouts with anxiety and now, engulfed in the leaves of central park I realize how far I've come in 2 short months. I am so much happier now, having experienced the noise, the loneliness, the anxiety. Wrapped a green blanket of New York city foliage I slowly drift off to sleep.

The smell of empanadas and fried chicken-chop suey-pan dulce-brisket sandwiches swims into my sleepy nostrils. I crack open one eye and now it is night and 150th st is a blinking strobe of warm bulbs advertising every ethnicity of culinary delights. A multi-cultural beacon which signals constant activity to the rest of the city, there is a certain energy on this part of the island which I haven't found anywhere else. It reminds me of home, of downtown Los Angeles, but in a new exciting way. I finally exit my seat and move onto the street. I am ready to experience the city on my own again. I bid farewell to the driver, who is quite surprised that I'm still on the bus after 3 hours and apologize for my lack of exact change. He smiles and says: "That's you know what I do everyday." I leave the bus behind and as my feet touch the pavement, I am energized and ready to explore...for the first time in forever I feel new.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Anarchy in the UK

It was during Anarchy in the UK...arms flailing, hair pushed back, sweat dripping down my brow... that's when the random man in the bar handed me a glass half filled with beer. Now logically most people would assume that this man was kindly offering me a sip of his pint but I, in my punk rock addled mind, adrenaline pumping through every nerve in my body decided that this man, this random bar man really wanted me to use this half a glass of beer as part of my dance. So I did what Sid Vicious would've done, what Johnny Rotten would've done, what Steve Jones would've done. I took the glass of beer, swished the entire half a pint around in my mouth and spit a fine mist of brown ale all over the man's face.
A pause.
And back to dancing.
Alright so I did already have a few glasses of Jack Daniels of my own prior to this very uncharacteristic event. I thought everything was going great. That is until the random bar man walked right over to me on the dancefloor and hawked a giant wad of spit on my pants. Then he turned around and walked outside. For some reason, it didn't register to me why he had done this? He wasn't dancing. He wasn't imbibed with the spirit of punk rock. So I followed the man out onto the street and quite sloppily shouted:
"Hey man don't you ever fucking spit on me again!"
(As this could've been a regular occurrence. Like one day I might see this guy again at the supermarket or something and on that day he'll come up and spit on my pants again.)
The man turned around and stared at me, a puzzled look spreading across his face. I decided to tone it down a bit.
"Man it's just that I only have like 3 pairs of pants and now I have to wash these Fuck!"
the man smiled and said:
"I only have one pair of eyes and I can't wash the beer out of mine!"
Then uncontrollable laughter. I said I was sorry about spitting the beer in his eyes and he said he was sorry about my pants and also that he was afraid I was going to beat him up or something. He said that when he used to box in the marines there was a guy who looked like me who used to beat him up all the time and that's why he went outside in hopes that I wouldn't go out to fight. (At his mention of boxing in the marines I also realize I am glad I didn't go outside to fight)
And for the rest of the night we are buddies. Hanging out and singing along to Joy Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The boy electric

From Wikipedia:

"The word media derived from medium (from Latin, in which it means, "the one in the middle") can have different meanings in different contexts."

Part I
(Strapped to the Machine)

The boy sits amongst piles of wires. He smells the sweet sour smell of iron, metal- liquid-dust rotting the insides of the cables attatched to his arms, legs, joints...a techno-puppet pulled by invisible strings. Is this life or merely a new form of communication? The boy pulls at the wires, stretching grey matter sinews from every inch of his brain. He thinks about the past: the smell of grass, visits to the natural museum of history as a small child, his first kiss...sloppy and filled with the metallic clinking sounds of 15 year old braces. Is the past gone? Is there nothing left for the boy but the non-linear digital world of the future, a cold lifeless life tangled in wires? The boy wants life to be simple. Linear. The boy wants to move through life like a rat, clawing through a maze, squeaking his way towards the ultimate prize. The ultimate goal. The end of a fairy tale. He pushes and pulls at the strings, struggling to communicate personally in a world dominated by machines. Is the future filled with promise? Are we moving towards something new, something inovative? Or are we simply making life more complicated with every keystroke, every click of a mouse? The boy wonders this as he is strapped to the machine, arms flailing, his mind a digital mess of digits, signs, symbols, equations.
"What are the dangers of the machine?"
The machine caresses the boy, wires cradle his head maternally. It's so inviting, so seemingly personal. Every instant message, ever hyperlink leads to a whole new individual world of communication, a whole new source of gratification for the boy. Click. The history of the bubonic plague. Click. Encyclopedia Britanica! Click. Live chat with russian mail order brides. Click. Become an online minister! Click. Moby Dick $19.99! Click. The boy begins to sweat electronic oil, his skin lubricated with excitement by all the possibilities of interaction with the outside world. Click. Free airplane ticket to Europe. Click. Groceries delivered to your door. Click. Mozart's "Jupiter" symphony 41 pumped through stereo hi-fi titanium speakers. Suddenly his past, his visits to the natural history museum, his first kiss, the smell of grass mean nothing to the boy. Click. Flickrgrandma's 87th birthday. Click. Online buddylist. Click. In this new technological fantasy world, identity is anonymous, the past is trivial. The boy can experience true collective thinking. He is, for the first time in his life, part of a community. He feels accepted. He belongs. He can blog. But where is his sense of self? What is the point of interacting with strangers over a vast network of other lost boys and girls? When all of your friends fit in a folder, what do you do at 10pm on a friday night?

From Wikipedia:

"The Internet, the extensive, worldwide computer network is a more general term informally used to describe any set of interconnected computer networks that are connected by internetworking."

Part II
(The Past)

The first time the boy met the machine was at the natural history museum in Los Angeles. Whale skeletons dangled from the ceiling by invisible wires, and ants and beetles crawled over eachother in glass cases filled with sawdust. While spiders weaved nets made of stretchy stringy fluid, the boy was drawn to a different kind of net. One console. One lone computer sat in the midst of taxidermied lions and freeze dried gorrilas, ferret bones and quartz rocks from Colorado. One keyboard console amongst thousands of years of cavemen, insects, continental drift. The internet. An exhibit suddenly worthy of natural history status. The boy approached the console, fingers outstretched and eyes wide open. His digits sweeped the keys. "www" The first thing the fifteen year old boy's eyes saw of the internet was the pale blue glow of the Mtv website. It was a simple page, filled with grotesque comics and pictures pop culture princesses. Hardly any links, hardly any personal interaction and yet despite the lack of museum worthy content, the boy fell in love. For the first time in his brief fifteen years, the boy could reach out and touch something, a metaphysical object that millions of other fifteen year old boys could also see at the same time, no matter what country they were from, or what ethnicity they were, or how much they had in common. The boy knew that thousands of people, thousands of other boys like himself, had seen the Mtv website and for the first time in his life, he felt connected.

From Wikipedia:

"In mathematics, nonlinear systems represent systems whose behavior is not expressible as a linear function of its descriptors; that is, such systems are not linear. In nonlinear systems one encounters such phenomena as chaos effects, strange attractors, and freak waves. Whilst some nonlinear systems and equations of general interest have been extensively studied, the vast majority are poorly understood if at all."

Part III

The boy sits at home in his electronic box one night in Autumn wondering if his life is over. How much value does life have when everything is nonlinear? Life is inhearantly linear. Life is like some sort of ellaborate deli sandwhich. You are born, you live, and you die with all the pickles, cheese and dressing in between. But this machine, this new form of history, isn't linear in the slightest. When the boy is attatched to the machine he can travel back in time. He can recall pictures of events he wasn't even alive for. While attatched to wires and cables, the boy can be anyone. He can be a rockstar. He can be a 50 year old woman from Kansas. He can create media and sell it to millions of viewers in Prague without leaving his easy chair in west Los Angeles. But does he ever meet anyone new? Does he ever truly interact? Sure he can sell hundreds of megabytes of canned video to hip European production companys, but the boy has never been oustide of North America. He has never touched the base of the Eiffel tower. He has never eaten paella in Madrid or drank wine in Italy. He has never lived outside of his world of wires and networks. Is this life, or nonlinear fantasy? The boy has seen Starry Night but only at 834 X 680 pixels. He has never seen a canvas swiped by Van Goghs actual brush. In 100 years, will the entire internet be considered a fantastic experiment gone wrong? Is the net merely a pair of 3D glasses for the 21st century audience? Are we all, like the boy, becoming digital spirits trapped in a lifeless world of wires and cables? One day will we forget what it's like to visit the natural history museum and actually SEE dinosaur bones from 50 million years ago? In the future, will we no longer experience the awkward anxiety of a first kiss? Will we dissasociate from all human interaction, plugging ourselves into apocalyptic machines bent on destroying emotional and physical connection? Will there be touch in the future? Will there be interior as well as exterior life?

Quote from
Forbidden Planet (1956)
[About oxygen.]
Robby the Robot: I rarely use it myself, sir. It promotes rust.

Part IV
(The Future AKA Sleep)

The boy sits amongst a pile of wires. He wants to die young. To escape the linear. To escape growing old. In the machine no one grows old, rather we suddenly evaporate. To die on the internet means several things: Your email address suddenly becomes useless. However, it takes months for your friends to realize that no one is responding to their numerous emails and even then, they don't realize that you've died, but instead assume that you are out of town on vacation or simply depressed. Your flickr account no longer exceeds your monthly megabyte limit. Your blog mysteriously ends without any conclusion whatsoever. Your online girlfriends (having never met you) never will meet you for that coffee you almost asked them to meet you for. The world is a safer, cleaner place. Blood doesn't bleed. Tears aren't shed. Wires engulf the boy. They feel warm. He wants to fall asleep wrapped in their glow. He closes his eyes. Visions flash through his mind but he is unable to focus on any specific memory. The natu32ral hi398498story mus1102eum, his fir3190st ki198274ss, the sme293l3l of gra21ss in J23uly. The boy squints his eyes, he wants to remember. His mind is jumbled. W31ww insec32ts whale starry12 n29ight. The wires entangle his legs, slowly crawling up his thighs. Digits23 sign2s sy39mbols. The cables make their way up his chest and over his torso, engulfing the boy in electric anonymity. Connect. Disconnect.
And the boy is gone.