Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Saturday the 14th

Look, I like the Internet. It's a close friend of mine. It's made so many things possible for me--coloring from Uganda and Barcelona, writing and coloring from Kuwait and Cairo, taking an entire group of virtual and real friends in nearly real-time around the world for ten months while editing comics as I went.

In spite of what I'm about to say, I'm a believer in access and transparency.

We're dealing with an immature media. Insta-platform turns out to be somewhat terrifying, because not everyone has a grasp of analysis, legitimate data, and what is delusion and what are facts. I keep crap off my friends list with the judicious use of the FB Lists function, and off here by the comments approval function, but I see comments on other people's walls. And from the election to violence to things as clear-cut as scientific fact, many people seek simple, nuance-free answers. We've lost the culture of experts providing analysis which bears more weight than a guy who's never left his state sitting in a room, watching entertainment news and thinking "Well, my gut knows more than any informed expert."

This certainly isn't new in the world--the written word, propaganda film, radio, TV all had their day--it's just overwhelmingly louder because of the great democratization of media, which is channeled by bottomless pits of money intent on channeling the narrative for corporate, consumer, and political advantage.

It's impossible for me to understand massive lapses in logic and the inability of people to grasp they aren't experts on something they have zero information about. It's impossible for me to understand why people appear to aspire and champion ignorance and hate. What seems to be a collective rush toward mass stupidity is completely beyond my ability to comprehend.

I keep hoping it will go away. This doesn't seem to be working either, because hope is the human condition--it's why each of us continues to exist rather than saying, ah, screw it--but it doesn't go out and solve problems. I watch simple-mindedness take hold in individual and populist narrative...

...and I don't have any idea what we as a nation or world are supposed to do about it.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Some Things Last A Long Time

I saw a listing for a gallery show on Saturday night. An art exhibit and short film about my old pal Daniel Johnston was happening downtown on Saturday night. I'd met him in 1986 in Austin and we're still friends.

But then as Saturday night rolled around, I thought about how it was at the far end of DTLA, on the other side of Skid Row from the metro. I looked up how to get there--there was a bus. But the idea of taking the metro to the bus to a gallery when I could just download the movie seemed kind of goofy, so I tabled the idea.

I made a cup of tea around 6:45 on Saturday night and settled in to look for some appliances to put in my house in Jersey City. As the tea steeped, I got a note from a friend.

"He's there. It's on Instagram."

He sent me a link. Daniel himself was at the opening, sitting in the corner.

I left the tea steeping, grabbed my bag, and made a beeline for the metro. Every time I see Daniel, I wonder if...well, it doesn't matter what I wonder. It's hard to see him, anyway, without going to his house in Texas. When he plays, he's not out in the audience anymore. It's not in small clubs where you can just barge backstage. He plays big places now. Last year, he opened at the Hollywood Bowl.

I just missed the train, and had to wait ten minutes for the next one, then just missed the connecting bus, but another one came along going in the same direction, so I took that instead, and easily found the gallery.

Daniel was in the corner on a sofa, spacing out. Funny thing about memory--he forgets so much current information, but even out of context, away from New York or Austin, he spotted me in a second. "Marie!"

I headed over, and helped as much as I could to get him out after the show. Jeff, the director of the Devil and Daniel Johnston film was there, and he took this photo of me and Daniel.

"Want to come back to my room with me and my brother and get a pizza and talk about comics?" Daniel asked. I tried to change the subject, but I'm getting worse at it. I used to be able to turn it to Captain America on a dime. Maybe he's just wise to me.

"I need to go home and go to sleep, Daniel," I said. "We're not getting any younger."

"We're both still young," he said, firmly.

I looked at him for a minute, this man who shakes as he sings and plays, who goes into moments of spacing-out, which he has for years now. Once he did this at the Old Devil Moon on East 13th Street and my friends said they thought he'd been about to stab me with a fork. Which of course wasn't at all what was going on. He's been on meds a long time, but meds don't make him mistake his friends for his dinner. Every time I see him, okay, let's just say it. I worry it's the last time. That's why I left my tea and ran to the metro.

But this wasn't the time to talk about that.

Instead, I said "You're right, Daniel. We're both still young."

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Hollywood Habitat

I'm still working on the apartment--a microwave cart is coming soon, so I can get the microwave off the windowsill. And yesterday, I had to buy a blanket. The outrage! How many blankets do I own on the other side of the country? But it got chilly enough here that I had to fork over money for a new one. It feels great, too.

I also bought a really nice handmade bathrobe off Etsy, since it's less annoying than buying and hanging curtains.

Now that I have a stable habitat, I find myself missing yoga class, pottery, and sewing things. But that's still down the road--I'm still finding routines.

Here are some photos of where I live for now, in a little studio in Hollywood.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Setting Up Housekeeping

What's gross about my new apartment is someone's medium-length black hair is just...everywhere. I Swiffered a lot of it up, but there's always more. It's embedded in what is either linoleum or vinyl on the kitchen floor. It's hidden in cracks and in corners. It shows up on my cauliflower when I cook. And at 6:30 this morning (a Saturday), the smoke/carbon monoxide detector loudly declared I needed to check its battery. Thanks, detector!

I had to pick up some Teflon tape from Home Depot because the shower head was spurting, but that wasn't a big deal (and I got to see a possum on Sunset Boulevard from the bus window). The ignition thingy for one of the stove burners clicks at strange times, and one burner doesn't work. I looked it up, and a little piece needs replacing. I should probably leave that to the building manager.

Also, I really did screw up by taking an apartment on the parlor level. What happened to me swearing never to do that again? I was so tired of looking and the location is good. I hear WAY too much I don't especially want to hear. Cars going into the driveway next door. Neighbors heading to the backyard to talk on their phones. Too much music, too much television.

And the helicopters. What's up with the helicopters over Hollywood?

All that said, I love the building laundry room, someone else having to deal with the trash (I just throw it in the dumpster), the old character of the building, the building manager and her little dog, unpacking, the fact that someone receives my packages and I don't have to get them sent to work, and how I can walk to the bus stop at the end of the block and be in Burbank in 15 minutes.

Of course, it doesn't always work like that. If I get out of the house after 8:03 and before 8:30, I take the metro, but connecting to the bus in Burbank makes it a 40 minute commute. Still not too bad, though the return trip at night makes no sense because of traffic. For whatever reason, traffic is terrible after work and fine before work.

I am head-over-heels in love with paying normal rent. It's still more than I paid at home, but it's a lot less than I'd be paying if I hadn't opted for an older studio apartment. And being in Hollywood means I can walk to pick up a lot of things, though one of the local supermarkets just closed.

I own a bed now, a $149 mail-order frame and an IKEA memory foam mattress, though I haven't figured out the right place to put it. The dining room table and desk are set up. There's a short list of things I need—kitchen cart so the microwave can go somewhere, ironing board and iron, over-the-door full-length mirror, a mop, a vacuum, maybe a television at some point, or maybe not. I might want a second glass, though there is something quite appealing about living with one of each dish and no extra anything. But you never know, I might have a visitor, and it would look silly to say "You have to share my glass. Here, you sip, then I will."

I haven't sorted through everything I brought along yet, simply because it's hard to find the time. It's all in neat piles, probably on top of medium-length black hair.

I am resigned to being here for now, but I can't say I'm enjoying myself. It isn't bad. I've made the car-free thing work for me pretty well, and my biggest complaint is food truck lunches. But I miss my house and my friends.

But I'm looking forward to the part where I don't have to endure winter. That might be okay. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You're Gonna Make It After All

Finally, I have a home near my place of employment.

Meaning, while I have a great house in Jersey City, I now have a studio apartment in Hollywood, just over the mountain from Burbank. That's where my office moved to back in April, though I showed up late, in early June. It's where I go every Monday to Friday for more than eight hours a day.

I've been hemorrhaging money on short-term housing since June 2. You know that's much pricier than simply renting, though it includes utilities and Internet. But what an experience! I was able to taste-test multiple neighborhoods. "May I try a spoon of the Los Feliz? How about the Hollywood Hills? Is the Toluca Lake fresh? Can I sample the Downtown?" 

I don't regret a second of it, as much as my bank account suffered. But I had to stop. I was getting tired of the moving (though we know from experience I can go for years on that front), and I wanted to unpack my hard drives and monitor, and I need to go through my stuff in storage in JC and see what has to come out here to brighten up my "bachelorette pad," as a friend puts it. I feel like Marlo Thomas or Mary Tyler Moore when he says that. Can I turn the world on with my smile? 

Probably not, but I can at least enjoy the adventure of going down twenty thousand roads, even though we all know exactly where they eventually end up. I know where home is. Most narratives are like this, with the ending being a foregone conclusion, but the fun is in how we get there.

The fun for now is in staying just under Whitley Heights, right over the Times Square of Los Angeles. Ack. Spare me the Hollywood Boulevard Elmos! On Friday, I ran over Spider-Man's toe with my luggage. Did he glare at me? How would I know? But he did say "Watch it," to which I managed to not respond "Dude, you're supposed to be faster. You can do whatever a spider can, you know."

My Aerobed and I moved into my bachelorette pad on the 15th. I made two trips in my rental car, one from my temp housing in the Hollywood Hills and another from my storage unit, then returned the car to LAX. Getting back was a total drag, because I had to wait for the Dollar shuttle, then wait for the Flyaway bus to Hollywood, but I slept soundly on my own sheets, with the beautiful quilt Michael Kraiger's mother made for me a few years ago.

Yesterday afternoon, I headed up to Burbank to look at some mid-century furniture stores. There's some nice stuff out there, but I couldn't justify the cost, so I shifted gears and headed to IKEA. I talked to the home delivery desk and learned I could order a bunch of stuff and it would be delivered to me within 24 hours for a flat fee of $59.

I bought a dining room table and two chairs, a desk and office chair, and a mattress, paid the delivery fee, and then headed home. Burbank had a festival going on which made getting out of there super-annoying, but the delivery part couldn't have been easier. I was just settling down to eat breakfast on my windowsill when my phone rang at 9 a.m., and my IKEA boxes were in my apartment by 9:30.

Now I get to put it all together.

Saturday, October 10, 2015


Same view, but night.


Friday, October 09, 2015

Home for the Weekend

I'm in New York for a comic book convention, so work put me up in a hotel. I'm right across the street from the office I had with my previous job, so it's nice to know my way around.

But best--nice view.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Los Angeles Victorians

There is a small neighborhood of beautiful Victorians down off Sunset, toward Downtown. I'd been meaning to go over and take a look at Angelino Heights, but I hadn't gotten around to it.

Then, I spotted a walking tour with LA Conservancy.

Sign me up.

The whole walk would only take 20 minutes without a guide, but with a guide, it took a few hours. We even got to go into a few houses. I was jealous of the houses, of course, wishing my own house was a lot farther along, and remembering how nice my last condo was when Turbo finished it.

Here are photos of the whole walking tour. It made me wish I'd gotten the leaky oil-tank house up on Beacon Avenue, the one with the intricately carved fireplaces.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

As Language Evolves and Spelling Disintegrates...

Today's helpful hint. And while we're at it, "he" is a pronoun. "Hee" is a giggle or part of a donkey's call. "Heh" is somewhere between a giggle and a laugh. "Hehe" only exists in the imaginations of those too lazy to type extra vowels.