Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Remote Repairs

I have a new stoop!

Well, not completely new. More rebuilt than new. I haven't actually seen it yet, and might not see it until September given how high airfares are in the summer. Maybe if I weren't so busy spending all my money on fixing up my old house in JC and my new condo in Burbank, I'd be able to spend the money for airfare, but then there'd be no stoop to check out. Perplexing.

I'm told the old railings are back up and the steel grate over the downstairs entrance is back, along with the gate. I'm hoping the guys hung the new mailboxes I bought, and if they actually left the keys to the new mailboxes somewhere useful, that would be good too.

Jetco also fixed two spots where the stucco was cracking. They're the same guys who redid the stucco on the back of the house last year, and they've been nothing but charming and thorough. I initially had a hard time getting them on the phone, but once winter kicked in, it became easy. Of course, now I have their direct email address, so getting in touch is a cinch.

The best part about the new stoop is the kids who inhabit my house (I rent it out to a family, you didn't think I let it sit empty, did you?) love to sit on the stoop. And now they have an extra-special stoop for sitting. And stooping, I guess.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Stand In

I clicked on a link to learn more about what Basic Economy fare is on United. I guess it's just using your under-seat space instead of an overhead bin, but what I really wanted to know is what having silver status means for Basic Economy.

I didn't figure that part out from watching the United video, but I did see an actor strolling down a street in "New York City." And I had to laugh. That's not NYC. That's Eighth Street between Coles and Monmouth, in Jersey City, right up from Hamilton Park.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Dark Skies and Giant Serpents

Three-and-a-half hours from Los Angeles, there's a town completely surrounded by a California state park.

Borrego Springs is a Dark Sky Community, which means it's a good place to look at the night sky. I dunno...I don't mean to be a skeptic, but I'm pretty sure I've spent nights out in national parks in Uganda and Zimbabwe where I could see a lot less light. Or in Turbo's yard out in the middle of nowhere, Australia. But I applaud the effort, and I didn't happen to carry a giant telescope with me out into any of those places without cities nearby, but there are telescope options in Borrego Springs, so off I went in a rental car from Burbank Airport.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

A Bit Warm Here

I drove up over the hill from the coast, winding down the mountain roads to Anzo-Borrego State Park.

No wonder all the campgrounds shut at the end of May.

En Route to the Desert

I read about seeing the Milky Way out in the desert, and the best place for it in this part of the country turns out to be the same place as some tremendous iron sculptures. I booked a rental car and a hotel room.

After driving my rental car an hour and a half into the desert, I pulled over at an outlet mall I'd never heard of.

At least half the storefronts were empty and shuttered. I went into a few shoe stores. The only customers in the whole mall were in the brew pub, the plus size shop, or in Hot Topic.

I got back in the car and drove on into the desert. I glanced in the rear view mirror.

There was no outlet mall. Just a shimmering haze.

I'd just time traveled into the future of American retail.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


The longer I work at a day job, the harder it is to remember my life pre-routine. Well, not remember, exactly. More like inhabit my identity. I recall the mechanics of it just fine—traipsing around the world with my laptop, researching where to find hotels or coffee shops with the best wifi. My office was my immediate line-of-sight. This I know intellectually. I just don't feel like that person at the moment.

I put little reminders of the other me up on my walls, both in Burbank and Jersey City. One of my Otomi textiles from my extended stay in San Miguel de Allende is too big for anywhere I live right now, and so it is in a box in storage, but the other one is tall and thin—perfect for my Burbank condo.

How to hang it was trickier, and I struggled with options, finally deciding I needed to go downtown to the mega-crafts store in DTLA. It's a bit like a low-rent super-Michael's, and I reasoned it might have a tapestry hanger. I caught the #222 bus over the hill to Hollywood and Argyle—which is, according to Metro signs, Hollywood and Vine—and took the Red Line down to Pershing Square.

After lunch at my favorite crepe place, I walked over to the crafts shop.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Hitting Home

Today's baseball field shooting took place where I grew up.

I don't mean in the same town (Alexandria) or the same neighborhood (Del Ray). I mean it was 3/4 of a block away from the row house I lived in from when I was four years old to when I went off to college.

I played in that field. The neighbor kids and I sang Monkees songs (we loved the TV repeats of the show) while swinging on the swingsets next to that field. I used to go to the YMCA across the parking lot. It's where I learned to swim as an after-school latchkey kid. (Not very well. I had to relearn in college.) We would take our dog for walks in that field. A small plane once crashed into that field. I slept through it, which is how I learned I am a skilled sleeper.

I broke my left arm on the monkey bars at that baseball park. My dad went to a turkey shoot and the neighbor took me and my mother to the hospital. We didn't think it was broken, because I could still move my fingers. Of course, we weren't exactly medical professionals. Lots of people can still move their fingers when they have a fracture or break. What did we know? We didn't have online reference yet.

My mother was mugged walking along that baseball field, and another time, my sister and mother were ambushed by drunk rednecks there (not coincidentally, the drunk rednecks were our next-door neighbors).

I have conflicted emotions about the area, since my childhood wasn't exactly idyllic, and I associate that area with a lot I'd prefer to forget, even as I strive to remember elusive but important traumatic moments.

I understand the area is gentrified and a lot safer now than it was then, but I guess it didn't feel that way today.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

A Bit More Like Home

Home is still an 1895 row house in Lafayette, Jersey City, but I'm trying to make my Burbank condo a little more personalized.

Here is today's addition. Three plates I bought in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, in 2001, on the original MariesWorldTour.  I probably sent the plates home from Zambia, then I would've had Kraiger help me hang them at 350 Eighth Street before packing them into storage while I was off in Cairo, then unpacking into my rental on Hamilton Park, and packing up again in May 2015, leaving them in my First Street garage until a few weeks ago.

They didn't fit into my mini-kitchen in my Lafayette studio, but they fit just right here in Burbank. And they remind me that once upon a time, I did more with my life than work all the time.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On Location

I've been meaning to go to the Batcave since I first realized it was here, just a few minutes away in the Hollywood Hills, but I didn't get around to it until today.

Adam West was 88 years old--he lived a long life. Today we acknowledge his passing not because we're surprised at the death of an 88-year-old, and not solely because another part of our childhoods has moved on. (Most of us watched Batman in repeats, anyway.)

We mention it because of his iconic status in the industry many of us live and work in, our brushes with celebrity, standing next to him at functions, in elevators, at bars. My own Adam West story is pretty brief--he gave out a Harvey Award at a Dallas convention in 1993, and I presented for Marvel either right before him or right after him. I've forgotten, but we did shake hands.

Today signals an end to us accumulating silly stories about Adam West interactions and near-misses, so I headed up to Bronson Caves because today was not just as good a day as any, but a better day than most.

I caught the #222 bus over the hill to Hollywood, disembarking at Yucca and Vine. I walked up to Argyle and Franklin, where the DASH Hollywood was driving by, so I jumped on that to Franklin and Bronson, where I stopped by the Oaks for a quick lunch. I tried getting a Lyft up to the trailhead, but my phone reported a five-minute wait, so I just walked the 1.4 miles to the fire road to Bronson Caves.

Once you get to the trailhead, it's pretty much the world's easiest hike up to the caves. I could've done without walking back to Franklin, but I couldn't get a signal in Griffith Park. Oh well, walking is good for me, plus there's a decent Gelson's at Franklin and Bronson, so I picked up a few things on my way back to the #222 stop to go back over the hill to Burbank.

Look at this list of productions shot at the Batcave. It's tremendous, including even on of my favorite films, The Searchers. Even Little House on the Prairie ended up here.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Time Travel

The Other Marie was in town last week--I was back East for most of it (at BookExpo, formerly BEA), but I returned to spend some time with her before she flew home.

She'd rented an apartment in DTLA. It had two beds, so I stayed with her instead of dragging her back and forth to Burbank.

We went to LA Confidential at the Orpheum, wandered the streets where I had sublet when I first arrived in Los Angeles, ate at the Nickel Diner, and enjoyed briefly feeling like we had other lives.

"Downtown is so much like our old neighborhood," Marie marveled, referring to our Avenue B places back in the nineties. (There's even a Two Boots, which was a thing before it was a thing.)

On Sunday morning, we walked to the metro. We were heading to Culver City to meet our friend Steve—formerly of East 10th Street in Manhattan, among other places.

Two men approached us, walking the other way.

They glanced over.

"The ladies of 7th Street are pretty," said one.

The comment hung in the air, as we thought about the old days in the East Village, when men said strange things and young women (which we were then) smiled nervously or looked the other way.

"Yeah, but a lot of them are hookers," said the other, as he looked us up and down.