Monday, November 1, 2010

oh, i don't know

so...kind of revising my plan. not that it was even a plan, perhaps a plan in planning (can you still call that a plan?). at first, was thinking that once i get my mft license, i will begin to work here in los angeles and, while doing that, continue to investigate areas for possible movage. that was the plan in planning. but lately i have found that, at times, recently, it has become unbearable to be in los angeles. at times, i say. i am not sure if the city is changing towards me or if i am changing towards it, but it seems that just a couple of weeks ago it hit me that i cannot spend another ten years here. i would be nearly sixty years old at that point, and to tell you the truth, i am not so sure that i would be able to counteract the affect that ten more years would have on my personality/social skills.

perhaps it is also just that i am anxious to start the next chapter of my life--outside of los angeles. this is a good thing, as it indicates some excitement about what is next in my life. i will admit that when i think about moving, it is exciting! not the moving, of course, but the arrival! i have not moved in over ten years now, and while i don't wish to move anywhere else in this city, i do miss the "freshness" of a new place. that could just mean that i need to clean this apartment, which i will admit is probably true (everyone comments on how "clean" it is, but there is a difference between clean and neat, and i tend to keep the lights down real low), but freshness extends to new neighborhoods and new neighbors, exploring the nearby stores and gyms and coffee shops, you get the idea. i remember how fun it would be to decide what store would be my new grocery store, and where i would mail my letters (when i used to write letters), and whether or not the chinese place on the corner would become my new take out favorite place, which is ridiculous, because i NEVER get chinese take out, but you get the drift!

for me the issue is quality of life. i truly feel that i could have a better quality of life in a smaller, greener, more academic city. this is not just wishful thinking, mind you, but an opinion based on how i am here in los angeles and how i am elsewhere. sometimes i make an effort to adjust the way i am in this city--with mixed results. for example, on halloween weekend it was beautiful on sunday. it had rained a bit a couple of days before, but on sunday it was bright and warm, and i decided that i would go to the ol' farmers market across from my job before starting work at 330 that afternoon. i felt that i wanted to see what was going on for the holiday, and also check out the kids in costumes and the general holiday feel that might be happening. i took my camera with me.

the market was brimming with folks, and everyone seemed to be having a good time. there were lots of families, of course, and lots of kids running around like crazy in costumes that ranged from superheroes to princesses to the more abstract bee or banana. adults are not very creative when it comes to children's costumes, but i have a hunch that if left to their own devices, children would come up with some killer costumes! this is because adults, when unbridled, come up with some killer costumes for themselves, and i suspect that they come up with them from the same place that kids would--the imagination. not so sure that batman comes from the imagination, but hey, who's judging here. anyway, i wanted so badly to take some pictures of the kids running around, but i felt, well, weird about doing so. i thought that i might be looked at as some kind of weirdo, collecting pictures of little children. i realized that the best thing for me to do would be to simply ask the parents if i could take a picture of their kids, but even this scared me. if this is hard for you to understand, believe me, it is hard for me to understand as well, but that is part of the defensive posture that has protected me in this city. stay away from people. it is quite difficult for me to approach total strangers and start an interaction, and i would like to be in a place where this is not so difficult for me. a smaller, greener, more academic place, if you will.

so i had to snap some pics of kids incognito, because i could not help myself--they were so cute! if anyone noticed, nobody said anything. i was not tackled and handcuffed, and i didn't make any children cry.

i enjoyed watching them play on the hay bales. of course, this being los angeles, the whole setup was fake, but kids don't care. but i did find a way into my comfort zone a bit later, when a family with like four dogs came walking down the main street. the little doggies were all dressed up in costumes, and i am proud to report to you that i went up and asked the family if i could take pictures of their doggies. i figured that this would not be looked at as strange behavior. they accommodated me quite nicely, stopping and corralling their dogs together for me. i felt quite good about this.

in a way, this was a little triumph for me, just being able to ask people to take pictures of their doggies. i guess that i am always afraid of being noticed--in a bad way. most of the time i can get around this city feeling fairly invisible, but every once in a while i open my mouth and there always seems to be someone nearby who disapproves of what i have to say. the best way for me to explain to you why it is hard for me to approach people in los angeles for anything is because i don't feel welcome here. i don't have a family, i don't have doggies, i am an older single man with an education and a bit of a grudge. and i really really want to find a place where i feel welcome.


a couple of weekends before halloween i participated in the city's very first CycLAvia event. i was very excited about this event because it was modeled on similar events that have been occurring in the country of columbia for years now--basically the city closes down a long stretch of street right in the middle of the city, and without making an agenda, they open it up for the residents to do whatever they want in the now empty streets. from what i have read, that can be anything from soccer games to bands playing to bike riding to bbqs. so los angeles decided to host one of our own, closing off a seven and a half mile length of street from hollywood past downtown into boyle heights. the weather was glorious and hot, and i had the morning off, so i took my bike and sunscreen and rode down to where the route began. this was off of melrose, where the bicycle kitchen community is, which is more of less a gathering of bicycling businesses for the bicycling dudes and gals. there were lots of folks there--riding around, walking around, milling around, and i loved the vibe.

i was very anxious to see what was happening along the route, so after a little while i began to ride southeast along the street, along with many other riders. in fact, the route began to resemble a "ride", in that the main activity was riding.

as fun as the riding was, i must say that i was disappointed that there was not more of a variety of activities taking place on the street. the residents along the route were out on their porches or steps more often than not, but many of them were passively watching the riders, or in worst cases, just looking confused. i am not sure they knew what was going on, or what they were allowed to do. i did come across a few small bands and a dodge ball game, which were fun to watch.

but all along the entire seven and a half miles down the route and back, i only met and spoke with one other person. one. he came up to me and said hello as i was taking a photo break. his name was jose. we chatted for a minute and then i rode on, crossing over the bridge into boyle heights.

although i had a bike and definitely fit in with the crowd, i was not feeling like i was one of them. the crowd was too big and too unknown. in a way, i was trying very hard to feel liked i belonged there, knowing all the while that i didn't feel that way at all. it is just too damn hard for me, and i don't ask for either understanding or pity from you, the readers. rather, i am just telling my story. i had a great time nonetheless, but it was a great time by myself in a big, big crowd. the promise of community, for me, was not realized.

when i got back to the start, i met my best friend dave there and we hung out for a while before i had to head over to work. it was fun seeing dave. but he was the only person i knew. twenty years in this city, and he was the only person i knew.

maybe it is not so bad, knowing one person, especially when it is a great friend like dave. maybe that is enough, to have just one like this. maybe.

oh, i don't know.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Every time I fly out of Los Angeles I imagine to myself that I am leaving it for the last time. I always get window seats on planes, not so much for the purpose of looking at aerial scenery, but more importantly so that I do not have to be disturbed by fellow passengers crossing over me to use the restroom. The thing is that I like setting myself up in my seat and organizing, inside the seat pocket in front of me, all the things I will need during the flight. The way I see it, this little seat is my rather expensive temporary home in the air, and when someone crosses over me it gives me the same feeling as if someone were trudging through my home on the ground in noisy muddy boots while I try to enjoy an episode of True Blood in my loungie pants. I just really dislike being disrupted once I have set in, and since my bladder is fairly functional in its load capacity, I can sit for stretches at a time at a window seat and not have to pee.

Anyway, I wonder at the similarity between my imagination of leaving Los Angeles and the inevitable actual experience of it. I imagine that the actual experience would involve a certain quality of melancholy and adventure that are missing in the imaginative version, but the thing about imagination is that it is often as accurate as it is inaccurate. In reality, it is not so important whether or not my actual experience matches my imaginings, because in this case, at least, the imaginings are an end in themselves.

I enjoy imagining leaving Los Angeles. As I look out of an airplane from the small porthole window, I imagine that I am looking down at my whole life in the city—all 20 years of it. In a way, I would not be surprised if I were to see myself on the streets below, as I pass over and above them, acting out the various chapters of my Angelino life. Look! There I am on the stage of the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood, playing Bert from "Mary Poppins", dancing and lip-syncing to Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. There I am working at the Starbucks Coffee downtown in the Arco Plaza, laying cardboard dinosaur feet on the floor in homage to the opening of Godzilla. Oh! There I am riding my bike down Jefferson Blvd. on my way to Antioch University, where I am completing my Masters degree.

In these imaginings, I will marvel not at how much younger I was, but instead at how much I have done in Los Angeles in the past 20 years. Part of the reason I have done so much is because I am single and childless. (So often, those with children list one accomplishment—raising a family, primarily because this is an all-consuming activity. They cannot always list “marriage”, since we all know that having a child these days rarely requires marriage; additionally, getting married these days rarely ends up on one’s list of successful accomplishments.) Another part of the reason I have done so much is that I am curious; and yet another part of the reason is that I subscribe to the science that proves (yes, I said proves) that this is our only shot—you get just one ride on this Merry-Go-Round.

Now, though it is somewhat difficult as well as entirely silly for me to get excited about “new beginnings” at this age and at this stage of my life, I am sure that this is exactly what I will be feeling as my jet plane glides off the runway at LAX and into the air on its way to __________. I have not moved from one major city to another since 1991, and it was quite a big deal for me back then—therefore I have no doubt that it will be a big deal when it happens again. But there will be a huge difference, among many differences that I could name. Mainly, there is the difference of what I will be moving to. Back in 1991 I was moving into my future, and what would arguably be my prime productive years. I moved here to develop my performing career, and, to a lesser extent, to jumpstart my life. I was 29 years old. It felt as if everything significant was in front of me: success, love, fame, happiness(?). In comparison, my next move will most likely occur as I approach my 60th birthday, which I can safely say will be two thirds of the way through my life; and though some would say that I will still be moving into my future, I am not sure that I would call this is an accurate description. I don’t know what I would call it, to tell you the truth, but I know that this is not it. Maybe…moving into my Third Act? My Comfortable Decline? My Final Adventure? None of those sound right (or particularly appealing) to me either. I guess that is why this blog is a 10 year project—I have not yet figured out what I am planning on moving into.


My most recent opportunity to gaze out of an airplane porthole at a receding Los Angeles, was a trip to Connecticut for the wedding of one of my closest friends. This was a short trip, just four days, and I knew that the most difficult part of the trip would be the urge to detour into Manhattan—just a hop skip from La Guardia Airport. I have not been into the city in maybe five years, and although I have not ever lived there, it nevertheless calls out to me like a siren whenever I am within hop skipping distance. I did in fact once want to live in New York, but that was many years ago, when I was still nursing a dream of a theater career. I nearly had a chance to go there, too, with one show I helped originate in Los Angeles, but the producers ultimately decided to go with New York performers. Phooey on them! I often wonder how different my life would be if I had ended up there with the show—if I would have continued performing, or eventually gone back to school just like I did here. It is fun to ruminate about, without feeling any regrets or misgivings. There are always a million other choices we could have made at nearly any point in our lives, all of them leading to potentially life altering results.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time, in glorious weather, participating in and attending my friend’s wedding. Connecticut is quite beautiful, but then so is the whole Northeast—green, green, green, and missing for the most part that brand of ugly stucco strip mall architecture that dominates the corners of nearly every Southern California city street. The homes are generally old, but well kept, with wood slat sidings and large porches, and the business buildings are often made of brick—quaint and lovely. But Connecticut is awfully “white”, with the women wearing hairbands over their bleached blond hair, and the men, even in their 20’s, pasty, overweight, and encased in topsiders and polo shirts. Not too exciting for a queer man who is used to being around lots of color and creativity, you know what I mean?

So although I once wanted to live on the East Coast, I would no longer do so, and although I love the beauty of Connecticut, I also would not want to live there. But it is worth a visit in order to attend the wedding of a dear friend, and it is worth a visit for the opportunity to look out an airplane porthole window and once again imagine that I am leaving Los Angeles, for the last time.

Friday, August 27, 2010

the list

there really ought to be at least ONE list in every blog page's posts. it is such a staple in blog writing that it should probably be a requirement in order to even have a blog page. for instance, let's say that the law of the list would be that every blogger has to start their blog with a list as the first post. it wouldn't be too hard to do--the list could simply be: "reasons why i am starting a blog".

i have not included a list in this blog as of yet. dunno why. i just started writing, i think, without needing to enumerate why i was writing. i think i am pretty clear about why i am writing in the profile page--what use do i or my readers have for a list? and yet here i find myself, writing a post entitled "the list". and yet, even with that, it is as clear to me as it must be to you that i am not writing a list at this moment.

bear with me.

the thing about lists is, as list go, they are pretty boring. a list is nothing unless sprouted from a particular context. without that, a list is just a collection of items, names, places, or tasks. boring. to me, the true function of a list is not to stand alone, offering information without meaning. rather, i see lists as a sort of an index table for ideas--and as we all know, ideas are often quite unstructured. but then a list comes along and *poof*--we get it! thank you, list! therefore, the connection could be made that a list must start with a collection of ideas--about something--and this something is what ties them all together in a list! fun! i will chance the wrath of literary purists here to state that a list of unrelated ideas is not really a list, unless, of course, it is a list of unrelated ideas! double fun!

so what are the ideas behind the list that i have been threatening to start at any time now? well, they are ideas of what i want to find in my eventual new home. i think i waited this long to write this list because i had to make sure that the list of things i want to find is not the simple opposite of the things i want to leave behind. i think i have cleared this hurdle by realizing that some of the things i want to find are in fact things that i have right here in los angeles already--i just hope to find them in my new hometown as well.

now i am well aware that a list, though beneficial in an organizational sense, can also be a hazard to any actualization of the listed ideas, and this is because lists, by their very nature, are limiting; as soon as a list if finished, the writer has declared a finite number of themes, items, or ideas deemed worthy of inclusion, and by association, also declared an even greater number of themes, etc. to not be worthy of inclusion. and yet, we continue to write lists. i wish i knew of a better way, but so far i do not. sometimes, as human animals (i prefer the term to human beings--it reminds me of what we all are), we have a tendency to look up our own asses in order to see outside of ourselves. like i said, please bear with me.

so...with all that, let me now introduce you to the first item on my list--My List of Things I Would Like To Find in my New Home.

1. people who know how to respond in a timely manner to a voicemail, text, email, or evite.
i often wonder if this simple skill is becoming obsolete. i have noticed that, at least here in los angeles, there is a converse relationship to the amount of time that people are online or with their phones, and the amount of time it takes them to respond to a message. perhaps this is a symptom of youth, since it appears to me that the "rules" of communication are changing at a rapid pace.

this leads me to a closely related #2, so i will waste no time in adding this idea to my budding list:
2. people who are willing and able to make a make plans and commit to them more than one hour, or one day ahead of time.
my friend dave is able to do this, and that is just one of the reasons he is my best friend. but too often, with others, i run into the following conversation:
me: "do you want to go to the movies this weekend?"
them: "sure, check with me this weekend."
me: "but i'm checking with you now. do you want to go to the movies or not?"
them: "sure i do, but why don't you txt me first on saturday."
me: "why? do you have other plans already?"
them: "no."
me: "and you want to go to the movies with me?"
them: "sure."
me: "great! then let's do it. wanna meet around 7?"
them: "check with me on saturday".

3. people who know how to spell, and who know the difference between "there", "they're", and "their".
in other words, have a fucking high school diploma, and let it show that you actually paid attention. i know that i don't usually capitalize, but at least i know HOW to capitalize, and when i am doing formal writing, you better know that i damn well capitalize. but spelling is a big one for me, because it is indicative of one's reading ability, and one's reading ability is usually indicative of one's intelligence, willingness to learn, and critical thinking skills.

4. a city where the universities have more power and influence on the culture than the churches.
i am not interested in being surrounded by mystical thinkers who shun carnal pleasures as a way to lessen the fear of death. death is coming for all of us, folks, like it or not, and so you might as well live as fully as possible, and that includes lots of carnal pleasure. i prefer to live in an academic setting, where ideas dominate conversations, rather than fear. plus, it would be fun to teach someday!

5. people know where to applaud in a live theater or concert performance, and where not too.
los angeles audiences love tricks. i have noticed in recent years that in a dance performance, "tricks" are applauded. you might ask why shouldn't they? well, because the reality is that the entire performance is difficult, not just the tricks! would like to enjoy a piece as a whole without worrying about whether the performer is being validated for being able to execute a back-flip. additionally, sophisticated audiences should know when a pause in a musical performance is a pause, or the end of the number. there is a clear difference to anyone who is paying attention.

i recently treated myself to a concert by rufus wainwright, a favorite artist of mine. the show was divided into two sections--the first being the entirety of his amazing new album, "songs for lulu", and the second being a random selection of his other songs. he made the request that during the first half of the show, there be NO applause--that the songs were presented in a "song cycle", and that they should be listened to as if they were one long piece, including his exit from the stage. i honored this request, since it was his idea of how the audience receive the work, but of course, there were a few attention grabbers who just couldn't contain their appreciation and lapsed into shouts and applause. thankfully, they were shushed! but for me, the best way to show my appreciation was by respecting rufus' request.

6. people relate more to each other in the world than to their electronic devices.
i may be wishing on a star with this one, but a guy can dream, can't he?

7. a place where the coffee tastes like coffee and the drinks taste like alcohol.
i am really, truly, just over the trend to flavor everything up so much. do we really need that much sugar? the thing is, when beverages are sweeter, we drink more or them, so there is a good argument for leaving the sugar out! remember, moderate caffeine and alcohol consumption is actually good for you! as much as los angeles pretends to be a grown up city, its beverages are for kids.

8. a city where the prevalent color is not "stucco".

9. access to the best meat and produce available.
this is a given in california, which is one of the reasons i may stay here, in california, that is. having grown up in southern cali, i sometimes take it for granted that i live only miles from the richest produce growing area in the country.

10. a home that is walking distance to most of what i do.
even though i am close to most everything i do now, i do not go out that often due to the distance to bars or clubs that i would like to visit. the idea of riding my bike in chilly weather in weekend night traffic generally deters me from going out at all. i would love to be able to wrap up and walk to my favorite places without concern. in other words, i want to live in a neighborhood.

well there you have it--my list! i stretched it out to ten items, but i could easily reduce it to my top three, or expand it to twenty. at least i have a list. now my blog page is officially on its way. of course, i do not expect to find the "perfect city" where all of my desires are fulfilled, but in order to get what you want, you gotta know what you want...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

it's funny...

thought i would take a break from writing about the downside of where i live, just for a moment. because the truth is that if i really hated los angeles, i would not be here. so i hope that you are not getting that impression. i don't hate los angeles. i am just not in sync with it so much anymore. but what better time to write a bit about what i love about this city, especially because these are the things that i would hope to also find in the city that i eventually move to.

it's funny...when i think about it. the reason that i came to this city has very little to do with why i am still here. i lived my young adult life in san diego, which at the time felt very cosmopolitan, but in retrospect was really just like making cookies in an easybake oven--so not the real deal. san diego bills itself as "america's finest city", and that would be just great, if it were a real city. but it's not. it is, instead, a support structure for the beach and the navy, and not much more. it is shockingly beautiful, but it is also without meaning, if that can be said without malice. if anything, san diego's problem is that it refuses to be what it is--a coastal navy town. it is trying to be san francisco, and even los angeles knows better than to try to be san francisco.

i read a while back that they had built a bunch of high rise condos in downtown san diego that were not selling--so much so in fact that in one building there was only one male resident, who, knowing that he was alone in the building, took to taking out his trash in the nude. he gained notoriety as the "naked trash guy", or something of that order. the reason for the vacancies was that the units were not appealing to the people who might be looking to buy: young san diegans with children. in other words, they were building for well off hipster singles, another city's populace (san francisco?). that is how it has always been in san diego. trying to be something that it is not.

nevertheless, i loved living there during my 20's, before all the high rises. i lived in north park, hillcrest, and mission heights. i worked as a bartender in the largest gay nightclub in town, and at one point in time could have been considered a "local personality", since my work as a performer and show producer was getting some press. i felt like a grown up, even if i wasn't. i had my own apartments and jobs and cars and all that, but what i didn't have was a sense of myself off the stage or out from behind a bar. outside of those contexts i was, in essence, like all those new empty high rises downtown--an impressive shell with nothing inside. i know that i could not live in san diego again. well, i could, but i won't. it is not home anymore. it is still pretty, but it is not much more. i have, uh, outgrown it.

the decision to move up to los angeles was based on the idea that this is where i needed to be if i were to become a success in the entertainment industry. i was interested in playing in the big leagues, and i wanted to be a star. unlike san diego, los angeles is, for arguments sake, a real city. it is one of the handful of real cities in the world, along with new york, san francisco, chicago, hong kong, paris, london, berlin, sydney, buenos aires, and rome. that is pretty much the list, folks. there are other cities, of course, but great cities are more or less limited to this list. so what makes a great city great? specifically, what makes los angeles great?

most obviously, the same thing that makes los angeles great is the very thing that will eventually drive me out of the city--the entertainment industry. this is where movies are made, well, here and toronto, but you know what i mean. i went to a movie couple weeks ago at the mann chinese theater, and while i was waiting for my buddy to get there, i marveled at the sheer number of people taking in the famed hand and foot prints that cover the front courtyard of this landmark movie palace. people from all over the world. hollywood has been impacting culture in the world for nearly 100 years, and that impact continues to grow stronger. for decades now the most creative people in the country have come to los angeles to create, and that can be seen as a good thing. there are still people who come here to create. (of course, creativity brings along its own certain insanity, of which i have written about in other posts.) inside the chinese theater, the walls are red and gold, and chinese sculptures adorn the ceiling and lobby. it is glamorous and massive, and when the dolby sound announces itself, the seats literally rock. and this is not the only theater that has this impact. there are some amazing movie theaters in los angeles, some old, and some new. if you are going to see a movie the way it is supposed to be seen, this theater is the kind of theater in which to do it. you might even have kim novak showing up for a special hitchcock tribute, as is happening this month at the egyptian theater. kim fucking novak!.

but as well as los angeles is known for its theater interiors, it is equally highly regarded for its exteriors. there are the miles and miles of beaches--every kind of beach you could ask for. my personal favorite is venice beach--the venice beach that was known for creating "muscle beach", and home of the golds gym where arnold and franco used to build their bodies.

venice beach was created to be an homage to venice, italy, and thus the canals. i have often dreamed of living in one of the bungalows along the canals, hearing the ducks quack and checking the mooring on my rowboat. there used to be a vagabond artist community that lived among the canals. not so much anymore--mostly upscale boomers, industry types, and gays now, but amidst the costly refurbishing you can still see an occasional vintage bungalow, peeling paint and slanted porch and all. and you just know that the owner, if they still live there, could tell you stories of the old days of hippies and surf life and really really good pot.

there is santa monica pier, and the classic roller coaster in the middle of it, and the summer music concerts where all the really fun people listen on the beach below for free(instead of on the pier itself), drinking wine from trader joes and gradually, as the evening progresses, becoming more friendly with the folks around their blanket, if you know what i mean. there are the rings and bars south of the pier where you can see beautifully athletic men and women swing like monkeys from ring to ring, or martial artists practice their craft with each other, or gymnasts young and old perform flips and handstands.

fifteen walking minutes from my apartment there is the hollywood forever cemetery, home of the famously deceased--including rudolph valentino--where, for ten bucks on summer saturday nights, you can take a picnic dinner and dine among the tombs as a classic film shows on the mausoleum wall. next week they are showing all about eve.

a little further north, on cahuenga before hollywood blvd., there is the spotlight bar, which has been serving 'em up for forty years, and which continues to hold sway despite the reimagining of the cahuenga corridor. gerry, the bartender, makes sure you know his name right off the bat, and he finds out yours too, and he will introduce you to whoever is on either side of you before getting your beer, so that you really have no excuse to not talk to anyone. most of the patrons here are gay, and absolutely nuts to boot, but it sure never leads to a dull night. every person in there is a story, and when i go there, i feel like i have one to tell as well.

there is runyon canyon, the site of old screen star tom mix's former estate. i have taken free yoga there on the lawn with about 40 other hollywood folk, while on the outskirts of the lawn i hear people and dogs moving up and down the trails, sometimes mixing well, other times not so much so. there is something to be said for being able to hold tree pose on a sloped lawn while three feet away a gopher pokes its head out of a hole in the ground. now that is a yoga practice!

yeah, it's funny alright. in many ways, i barely even know this city. there are more restaurants within a 1 mile radius of my apartment that i have NOT eaten at than i have eaten at. los angeles is a city that is new every day, just because it is so damn big. here, you can also be new every day, just because you can get so damn lost. here, you can forget your past or make up a new one, you can imagine an unimaginable future or lose your future completely, you can love just yourself and never lose your heart, or you can have your heart broken loving another and become rich as a result. here, you can experience magic in a low budget 99 seat theater, or experience boredom watching a $100 million movie. here, you can have your bedroom windows open to the breeze in the middle of january, and get the best produce in the world all year round. here, you can pay for someone to brew you a cup of coffee, paint your toes, rub your shoulders, clean your house, walk your dog, return your calls, buy your clothes, groceries, or drugs, here you can pay for love or sex or something in between. here, you can create a website for yourself that is just about you and nobody will laugh. here, you can have breakfast at the beach, lunch in the mountains, and dinner in the desert, all in the same day. here, you can find a $200 pair of jeans for $15 at a second hand shop. here, you can ride a bicycle all year round.

and yet, with all of this, i don't love it anymore. but...i don't hate it.

it's funny...

Saturday, July 10, 2010

the thing about aging

i should probably add a "part one" designator to this post, since there is a lot about aging that i need to write about. let's see how it goes first, though, in the body of this post, before i start messing with the title and making promises of sequels to come.

now you may wonder what could be so bad about the prospect of aging in los angeles. and if you are one of those people who are wondering about this, i will probably assume that either a) you do not live in los angeles; or b) you are young. granted, it could also be that, like me, you are aging in los angeles, but, unlike me, you are loving it; but then it would be best that you confine that experience to your own blogs, or to the comments section of this one. because, readers, this post is about how aging in los angeles sucks, so you might as well strap in for the ride.


the other day i went to a dermatologist to have my skin looked at for sun damage. as a kid of the 70's (back when a tan was considered healthy and farrah fawcett was the image of bronzed health), i have had my share of exposure to the sun. i have probably had more than my share, since in southern california in the 70's one would often spend considerable time acquiring that healthy "golden glow". those of us with darker skin are not immune from the long term effects of the sun, either. i remember how, in his later years, my father had problems with cancerous lesions on his face that had to be removed, and he was full blooded mexican, so i want to make sure that there is nothing pre-cancerous on my face.

anyway, in the paperwork i had to fill out before the exam, there were not only the usual questions about my health history and the reasons why i was there, but i also was questioned on whether or not i thought i looked younger, older, or exactly my age, and if i was okay with any wrinkles i might have on my face. uh, okay. in a nutshell, i answered "younger", and "yes", respectively. now, let me clarify that i do in fact look younger than my age, and there are several reasons why that might be, but i think it is primarily because i have taken really great care of my health for many years, and it seems to be paying off. but i also have wrinkles, folks. i have them on my forehead, and i have them under my eyes. but i am 47 years old!my face is the face of a (healthy) 47 year old! so...i think that i only look younger than my age because most people my age look olderthan their age--i am what 47 should look like!

but looking healthy is not enough in los angeles. you can't have wrinkles!

really. i mean, really.(where is katherine hepburn when we need her?) wrinkles signify age, and that is becoming more and more of a negative in this town, even for men. for all the talk of how 40 is the new 20, there is an equal amount of talk about how you begin to lose cultural significance as you get older.

the only way that you can be important and visible in los angeles as an older person is if you are either famous or rich. being both helps tremendously. otherwise, you are pretty much out of the picture. i dare you to challenge me on this. now it doesn't help that there are so many older people here who are completely off their rockers...i mean, bat-shit crazy. and when i see these people, i can't help but wonder if they turned crazy as they got older, or if they were that way when they were young. in other words, does los angeles make you crazy if you stay here long enough?

take the old people who come into whole foods, for instance. there is betty, who is known for throwing her poop all over the women's bathroom, when she does not crap her pants; and there is that guy with the bad toupee who always wears the usa olympic windbreaker and pretty much samples his way through the store, buying nothing, then gets angry when you question how many samples he is taking from the hotbar; then there is the african american dude who told me once that salt was a poison because it is used to clean car radiators(?), and then wanted to know why we use it in so many of our recipes, and that what did i know because i didn't do 100 push ups a day like he did (what???), and when i told him "okay, sir", and turned away, he called me a fucking faggot white boy (what??????); and then there is the woman known as "grandma", who won't allow a black person to serve her pizza, and...must i go on??

i wish it weren't this way. it would be nice if the older people who shopped there were nice, and aware, and wise, and interesting, and engaged (like i hope to be). i would even take two out of five. but maybe, just maybe, that is not possible in los angeles. maybe, if you stay here long enough to become invisible, you just go nuts. i don't know. i don't know.


i remember how, many many years ago, my sister and her family were visiting at our house in san diego from where they lived in northern california. as their summer visit came to an end, and they were preparing to drive north to their home, one of their young daughters became nearly hysterical at the thought of driving through los angeles during the daytime. she was convinced that they would never get through. i remember her crying and full of fear, saying "we can'tgo through los angeles, we just won't make it!" her fear was so real and tragic. my sister did her best to comfort and reassure her, and of course, they did drive through los angeles that day, and they did make it through all the way back to placerville, but that image has stayed with me for all these years, for some reason. there was something very terrifying about los angeles to my young niece, much as there is to me today.

it wasn't always this way. i used to like los angeles more. when i first got here nearly 20 years ago, it was a goal of mine to conquer this city (i'm gonna own this town!). it was difficult for sure, as it always is getting used to a new city, but i felt that this is where i wanted to be, as a performer, and that in no short time i would find my place here. and people were different back then as well. this was before the internet, before cell phones, before all the gadgets that now serve so effectively as shields against relating to others in real life. but i slowly began to notice something about this city as i lived and worked here over time and had an opportunity to live in several different areas within the city limits. what i noticed is that living in los angeles is like having all your greatest fears move into your neighborhood, and then finding out that they all make more money than you do. what i noticed is that despite the increased connection that our phones and the internet offer us 24/7, people seem lonelier than ever. what i noticed is that the more that young folks have gained financial and cultural power, the angrier they have become. what i noticed is that i began to stop loving los angeles.

but the biggest red flag for me has been noticing how all the above have affected my own interpersonal relationships--in many ways, i have responded positively, and in many ways, i have not. without boring you with the particulars, i will say that when i draw a straight line from who i am today to who i will probably end up being if i stay in los angeles, i don't like what i foresee. in other words, as i get older, this city works against my developmental quirks. in other words, i don't want to end up going nuts.

Friday, June 18, 2010


being on facebook, as everyone on the planet is, i recently added the application that allows me to play "farmville". now i am not a farmer--though i am quite good with plants, as masae, the elderly asian tenant in my building, will tell you. last year she cautiously gave up the planters along the drive to my landscaping skills, and the place has never looked better, thank you very much. i proceeded to pull odd looking plants and i added groundcover, and i transplanted some of the remaining plants to better locations and generally made the planters look as though they made sense.

i got this talent for working with plants from my father, who was also very good working with plants. back when i was growing up in the early 70's, my dad was the one who did the yardwork. in fact, back then that is what dads did! on weekends, they mowed lawns, trimmed hedges, pulled weeds, and then stood with the hose watering the whole place down while shooting the bull with the neighbor dads. very unlike today, where doing yardwork is now considered "manual labor", and everyone just hires a mexican gardener with power equipment. now my dad was mexican, which may have contributed to his gardening talent, but i have to tell you that ethnicity comes with no guarantee! the mexican gardener that our building uses is pretty much just a plant butcher--there is no artistry evident--fortunately he doesn't come near my driveway planters.

anyway, i learned to do yardwork from my dad. he taught me that. it helped that i loved working with plants...i loved watching them grow and respond to care and watering. i loved the balance between having control over nature and allowing nature its rein. plants always surprise you, that's the thing. you can actually have a relationship with plants, which i do to this day.

but i am not a farmer. however, you would not know this by looking at my farm in farmville. in just a few days, i have planted and harvested eggplant, peanuts, wheat, strawberries, squash, and soybeans. i currently have lilacs growing in one patch of ground. i am almost a level 7 farmer. but i must confess, i am not the only one responsible for my farm's prosperous condition. the only reason my crops are growing all the way to harvest is because my neighbors are coming over and fertilizing them (my sister and two of my neices). now, i think that this is the only way to get your plants fertilized, because i have looked in the market and fertilizer is not available to buy! i find this very interesting. what this means is that in order to have a successful farm, you HAVE to have friends as neighbors. if you plan to start your farm in the middle of nowhere and intend to remain isolated, your crops will eventually wither and die. they will die. there will be nobody around to fertilize them.

this is where farmville ceases to be just an internet game.

i read somewhere that someone has called farmville a waste of time. whoever this person is, they are sorely missing the point. by setting the game up so that participants have to rely on the kindness and generousity of our neighbors, the creators have, by accident or by intent, simulated the kind of community culture that our societies lived out for thousands and thousands of years. as i have mentioned in previous posts, up until the industrial revolution, we had to rely on others or we would not have survived. usually, everyone had to contribute to the wellbeing of the whole community. of course, we still have to rely on others to survive, we just don't have to interact with them anymore. farmville encourages community, albeit a digital one, but i will tell you that since my neighbors are family who live far away from me, this feels as close to the real thing as i can get living in los angeles. we visit each others farms, fertilize each others plots, and give each other gifts. we hear about each others progress, and get to share in the spoils of everyone who prospers. lovely.

but there is one hitch.

whenever you visit anyone else's farm, they are never there. there are only the amimals: chickens clucking, ducks quacking, cows mooing, lambs bleeting. but no other farmers. it is eerie--you stop in and everything seems fine, but nobody is there. so what do you do? you fertilize the crops, maybe chase away some foxes, and then leave. later, the owner will come back and notice that you have been there, and they may send you a nice gift. but why isn't anyone ever home when i go to visit???this bothers me, and is the primary flaw in a game that attempts to promote community. i am not sure which is worse: seeing people in reality who i never talk to; or never seeing people in cyberspace who i want to talk to.

i have been told that there are other games that allow more interaction, and you can actually create an avatar, which is both cool and spooky. but in the meantime, i will continue to tend my farm and fertilize my neighbors crops, until i can figure out what my next online adventure will be. in a way, i think i am "trying on" ways of being so that i can match a pleasurable online experience to a real life city. i have already decided that, wherever i go, i want to have a relationship with plants, but in don't want to give up my relationship to people in order to do that. the cows can tend to each other though..

Friday, June 11, 2010

different, but the same

before i continue with my series on dismissal, disregard and disgust, i wanted to write about some thoughts i have been having about differences. while it might seem like i am focusing on words that start with the letter "d", i assure you that this is not my intent. but as i think on it, i will admit that "d" words do carry a certain allure for me. let's face it, there is no way to tiptoe through a word starting with the letter d. and when that word is a descriptor (another d), then it is especially delicious to spit out of the mouth.

but we were going to write about difference, yes?

difference. it is perceived, more than actual (isn't everything?). and yet, as i like to say, "what a day a difference makes". difference is one of the key motivators in changing anything at all--we want something to be different. but here is where we mess it up--because difference is more about changing the inside than changing the outside. you know the old saying: "wherever you go..."

so as i spend time thinking about the places i have been recently and how life would look were i to live there, i have to frequently pull my ass out of the clouds and check what i am looking at to make sure that i am seeing it with my feet on the ground. this is because there are two considerations for me as i decide where i should move to: how different do i want this place to be; and, how different do i want the experience of myself to be?

thinking about the east bay, and even portland to an extent, i have noticed that in both those cities, i was able to recognize myself. the surroundings were not so different that i did not feel, in part, like i could be at home, albeit a smaller, greener home with better coffee. there were still people on cell phones, there were still cars, there was still bad service, sunshine, and bad dance music. but there were also lots of bikes, and helpful people, and bookstores, and people who walked, and lovely rain, and art. these were the differences i noticed. you might argue that all of the things in both lists can be found in los angeles, and you would be right, but what i am talking about is proportion. the proportion of the first list is greater in los angeles, while the reverse seems true in the east bay and portland. the question i have to ask myself is: how different does my potential new home need to be? but then in the same breath i need to also ask: how different do i need to feel there?

the mistake that is often made is assuming that a change in self will accompany a change in place. sometimes this is true. but i did get the feeling that, at least in the east bay, i could sort of "resume" being myself in this different place. i mean, it is still california, and people speak english, and they have whole foods markets and even an ameoba records. i could imagine setting up a cozy apartment much as i have here, and blogging just as i am now. would it be different enough? or would i move there and find, one day, that i have just "changed the wallpaper" in what is otherwise my same life?

i checked out edinburgh, scotland, the other day on the web. my friends from florida, darren and al, live there. they speak english in scotland, but it sounds so different (al says "arse" instead of "ass"--i like it--sounds like he is referring to a pirate's ass). i also know that they have the edinburgh fringe festival there every year, which sounds pretty groovy. all in all, europe as a whole is certainly different, but is it too different? i have been to europe--specifically spain and italy, and as i recall, i still recognized myself in both of those places. hmmm. that gets me thinking. perhaps the change i seek needs to start from within. i have to tell you, i can't believe i am writing that, it sounds so new agey, which is SO not me, but if, as i said earlier, that change is perception, then maybe it is not such a mystical statement--maybe it is a neurological issue. but if that is the case, then what would i change inside? what, in my way of thinking, would i alter? what, in the way i perceive things, would i want to be different?


Thursday, May 20, 2010

dismissal, disregard, and disgust, part one

i am coming up on 20 years in los angeles.

20 years.


when i think about it, i have been living here longer than i have lived anywhere in my life--at least continuously. i grew up in chula vista, a suburb of san diego, and lived there for 18 years before i went to maryland to spend two years at the naval academy. i came back home after leaving the academy and lived in san diego for another 9 years, so although i have lived in the san diego area for more cumulative years, they do not match the continuous years i have lived in los angeles.

so who cares?

well, i do. the point is that los angeles feels more like home to me than san diego. whenever i go south i feel more like a visitor than a returning son.

when i do my best to think about my life pre-los angeles, that is, my life in san diego, i try to bring up memories of how i experienced people back then. there is a reason for this which i will get to, in my usual fashion, in time. since i moved to los angeles when i was 29, i am referring primarily to my 20's. what i do remember from that time is that i was having a very hard time in relationship, if you could call what i did back then "relationship". i was sad a lot of the time. i will also tell you that i felt kind of invisible, despite the fact that i was a stage performer and a bartender at a popular club. at least i felt invisible when i was not engaged in one of these two activities. i remember that, while i did not feel particularily hostile towards people, i did not exactly trust them either. in fact, i would attribute most of my sense of invisibility to the fact that i did a lot of hiding back then--i think i was trying to stay out of harms way, as it were. this was in opposition to when i was performing or bartending, when i had the defense of the stage or the bar to separate me out from the masses. i just didn't have the experience of being noticed by people unless i was manning a bar or doing a show, and for the most part, that was alright with me, except for the times when i was seeking company, then it wasn't alright with me.

when i think about that time, i have an opportunity to observe what was missing from my experience with people that is present now. as i said, i felt pretty much ignored when i was not "on stage". the difference now, besides not being on stage, is that in addition to being ignored, i am also often dismissed, disregarded, or treated with disgust.

NOW, i can just hear all of you saying "ohforpetessakegivemeabreak!!!!", but hold on for a minute while i break this down for you.

in a city as huge as los angeles, it is a good idea to be somewhat defensive when mucking about. this is because it is likely that out of all the people you run into in the course of the day, you will probably only know less than half of them, if that. often, it is hard to trust those we know, so can you imagine the potential threat from those we don't know? i wish i could say that the strangers i run into here are all friendly and approachable, sane and engaging, courteous and respectful. but sadly, this is so fucking far from the case i just can't tell you. in the nearly 20 years i have been living here, i can report to you that my experience has been that the majority of the folks here are angry, hostile, suspicious, rude, arrogant, and often crazy as loons. now combine ALL of those things, and that is a bad day. granted, not everyone is this way, but a lot of them are. there is a general fury in the air that is evident just in watching passersby or checking out the craigslist rants and raves postings. there is racism, homophobia, mysogyny, and out and out cruelty.

i am not making this up. cities, especially huge cities, breed this. it is in the nature of any society where disconnection is part of the infrastructure, and where the best way to find a community is to join alcoholics anonymous. cities, historically, came about as a result of industry. industry needed lots of people to work, and so apartments and high rises were built to house all these people. despite the advantages, comfort, and ease that industry brought to life, it also unfortunately required that people leave the village culture, move to a place where they knew nobody, sometimes not even their neighbors, and then rely on others, often other strangers, to provide what they needed to live. the problem is that this is counter to our biology, which has evolved to have us wanting to be around our own people most of the time. meaning: there is an inherent instinctive, historical, and biological risk in being surrounded by strangers.

hello, big city.

Monday, May 10, 2010

having patience with berkeley

in the dating world (for those of you who are no longer in it, or perhaps have never been in it), it is a good idea to not come to any conclusions about someone you are seeing too quickly in the process. unless the date is an absolute disaster (and generally you know that within the first 30 minutes so there is still a chance to salvage the evening), it is always a good idea to schedule at least one more meeting before deciding whether or not to pursue the person further. i back up this statement with my own experience with dating, as well as my knowledge about how the attraction and attachment processes work in human beings. i have found that first dates, which for the purposes of this blog are defined as meetings in which sex is NOT the only activity, are most often about determining safety, first, and desirability, second. once we decide (usually within the first 30 minutes--see info on "disaster dates" above) that we are in no danger of being killed and eaten by our date, we can then move on to determining desirability. desirability is related to, but by no means attached to: personality, values, and beliefs. desirability is that elusive quality that belies common activity interests and shared film tastes. it is that quality that is often triggered by the subtlest of physical qualities--the length of eyelashes or the curve of an ankle--despite our possible disinterest in the whole. and yet, unfortunately, desirability's elusive nature means that we often don't become aware of it on the first date. it may be hiding behind awkwardness or shyness, it may be buried under the embarrassment of a dropped appetizer or a booger in the nose, it may be overwhelmed by neediness or sexual arousal. it may just choose to not fucking show itself. and...when that is the case, we will often conclude that, though pleasant, this person does not justify a second meeting.

this, i say to you, is a mistake, and i am advising you to avoid this at all cost.

second dates have a tendency to reveal subtlety and nuance; allowing space to explore the combined effects of personality, looks, and chemistry. it is during the second date that we often notice what was hiding or overshadowed during the first date. in my experience, i have agreed to second dates with guys who have been agreeable, if not outstanding first dates, and have been happily surprised with the discovery that i sort of really like this person.

the same goes, as it were, for cities.

my recent visit to berkeley did not leave me experiencing "love at first sight". i had a hotel in downtown, and i was amazed by the number of homeless teens and mentally ill i had to walk through to get from the bart station to my hotel on bancroft. i thought, could this be berkeley? the city that surrounds a great university? it seemed much more like seattle with the number of homeless on the street. i wondered to myself: how could there be such a concentration of homeless this close to one of the premiere institutions of higher learning in the nation? could they all be just students, and not really homeless people? granted, not all of downtown berkeley was like this--there is an area north on shattuck known as the food district that was quite nice, but i think that i was expecting all of downtown to be more upscale like this area.

during the visit, my best bud and i toured the university grounds and loved the mix of historic and new buildings, landmarks, old tree groves, as well as the shirtless (male) students lounging in the springtime sunshine. but there were so many young folks that i figured that an older guy like me would be pretty invisible here--i was literally overwhelmed by youth.

after two days in berkeley, i came to the conclusion, despite the absolutely fantastic coffee that is available on nearly any block, that i could not live there.

then an odd thing happened. i walked a mile or two away from downtown to an area known as rockridge. it was here that i was meeting my friend zamiera for some coffee (at cole's) to catch up on each other.
she has been living in the area (from los angeles) for a year now, and like me, she is an mft intern getting her hours. well, as i walked the streets further out from the university on my way to the coffee shop, i discovered all kinds of beauty--tree lined residential streets with carefully preserved victorian homes; quaint storefronts, and old movie theaters with marquees advertising a single film.

as i walked these beautiful streets, i realized that this was more the type of setting i had imagined when i thought of berkeley. there were people walking dogs and tons of bike riders, and despite the occasional person who looked at me as though i were going to attack them, i began to enjoy myself and feel glad that i had agreed to meet zamiera here in rockridge instead of downtown. once she arrived, we each ordered a coffee (brewed individually!) and two poached eggs on sourdough toast, and then we talked about her job and her experience in this city; and what she told me is that east bay, like los angeles, is full of money (parts of oakland and the area around my hotel withstanding).

but unlike los angeles, people in east bay spend their money on food, coffee, wine, and cheese, as opposed to cars, clothes, and plastic surgery. wow. i could see it all around me--a dearth of bmws, mercedes, and prada bags. instead i saw lots of bikes, regular clothing, and flat shoes. hmph. i also saw LOTS of restaurants and coffee houses. could it be that in east bay people value quality of life rather than quantity? zamiera confirmed this to be so. i became more interested. this morning in rockridge, and my subsequent walk through the telegraph/temescal area, left me with a changed mind about the living possibilities here for me. the east bay could be the place where i would not be out of place at all as a gay intellectual, a bike rider, and a man of a certain age.

now here's the thing, and it is a big thing. though the east bay may have just jumped over portland, oregon, to the top of my consideration list, that does not guarantee that i would actually be happy there. it is possible that i could be happy, or at least as happy as i am now (pretty happy), in east bay, or in portland, or in austin, or in scotland (thanks darren!), or even in (god forbid) southeast florida (sorry, lara). when it comes to moving, there is really only one way to find out if happiness is to be found in a city: move there. and it is here, readers, that i circle back to the connection with dating, and ultimately (finally!), the point of this whole long post. with moving, and dating, we can get all the information that we can find in order to help us decide about commiting, but even with all the information in the world, we just never know. at some point, we just have to decide, we just have to commit to going there. fortunately we have the ability to change our minds, but before we can change our minds we have to make up our minds. of course, for me it is a lot easier to change my mind about dating someone than it is to change it about moving, but the concept still applies. i could pretty much live anywhere, but i just need to decide on one place. one. and if that second look generates more interest, then the challenge for me is to give it a chance before moving on to the next possibility. the answer is not in berkeley anymore than it is in any one of the men i am dating. the answer lies in who i decide to be in that city/with that person, combined with the interactive affect upon me by said city/person.

east bay, i am glad i took a second look. i'll be seein' ya.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

becoming regular

i have the feeling that nobody comes to los angeles because they think they are "regular". i know that i didn't. i came here (in 1991) to be a fucking star. i might have been too, if i had known the business better. i believe i had the talent, and that is just an honest assessment. i certainly spent enough years and money in san diego taking classes in dance, voice, and acting. if i didn't learn something, then i had no right to call myself a performer.

anyway, the point is that i did not think i was regular. nobody in l.a. does, i suspect. it is certainly interesting to me that nearly 20 years later, regular is exactly what i am trying to an extent. i think that maybe i am trying to be regular in the same way that stars are when they show photos of them in In Touch magazine with captions like "they get their own coffee", or "they feed the parking meters". in other words, i am not regular, i am just trying to be. i am too smart to ever be regular. i can say that and not be conceited because my intelligence is something i was born with--not my accomplishment at all. what i have done with it is my accomplishment, but we are not talking about that here. i was just born smart--lucky me. meaning that, since most of the world is, uh, not smart, i have very little chance of fitting in with those regular folks.

so what the hell do i mean by "trying to be regular"? well, what i mean is that i am tired of feeling like i am special. believe me, not regular and special often go together, and that is where the problems usually lie. because if you think that you are special just because you are not regular, then you are guilty of arrogance. and yet the twist is that because i was not regular from a young age, i was then treated like i was special. follow?

the problem is that special does not work very well in the adult world, mostly because nobody gives a shit. but the reason why special really does not work in the adult world is because in reality, nobody is special. it is just a state of mind. we are all, in fact, regular, but with different talents and abilities. this is what i mean when i say i want to become regular.

god, where am i going with this post.

i am looking for a place where i can just feel regular, as in not special. i want this experience because as time goes by, i have been getting closer to regular, and i like it. fuck, i love it. regular is messy, but it is engaged. regular is unpredictable, but it is surprising. regular is uncontrolled, but it is electrifying. in other words, regular is alive. on the other hand, special is isolating. just like los angeles. here, since everyone wants to be special, there is the mixed message going on that we want to be adored but not approached. is that just here? ugh. please, please approach me.

where can i be regular? where, as knucklecrack writes in his blog (i would link if i knew how!), can gay men be regular? i don't think it is here in los angeles, though god knows i try.

i was recently in the miami/ft. lauderdale area for vacation, and i was able to be pretty regular there, but i was also somewhat invisible because i didn't have money or boobs, two things that attract attention, at least in miami. ft. lauderdale seemed different to me, easier to be regular. the guys were regular, you know?

i met a couple of guys while i was in ft. lauderdale, and the nicest things that they said to me was that they would want to date me if i lived there. that was just the nicest thing to say. i don't live there though, and i don't think i could live there. i am not a big fan of mosquitos, though they seem to be crazy about me. but the fact that these guys wanted to date me, well, that made me feel, kind of, well, regular. you know?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

no superhero for dad

my dad, circa 1958
my work buddy vone and i went this last week to see kick-ass, the flic about a regular teen kid who dreams of being a superhero, and in this movie he actually makes an attempt to be one. i loved this movie for its moxie and cleverness, and vone and i had an amazing time sitting there drinking our fosters big cans and cheddar cornpop (smuggled into the place inside my backpack--so arrest me!). in the middle of the film, there was a scene where the dad, played by nic cage, gets lit on fire by the bad guys, and his 11 year old daughter, hit girl, a pretty kick ass "super"hero in her own right, has to kill about 20 guys in order to get to her father and attempt to save his life. well, the nutshell is that she does, and also she doesn't. by the time she gets to dad and extinguishes the flames, he is so badly burned that he only has a bit of life left in him. he dies just after he and his kick ass daughter exchange i love yous. he dies, despite the fact that she killed several men three times her age and four times her size and strength. he dies. the point is that, even though the father dies, you can't say that his daughter didn't fight to save him. literally. she fought. 


when my father died, there wasn't much fighting that could be done for him. he had cancer in his lungs and in his brain, and the shitty part of it all is that he was so stubborn during his life that by the time he went to the doctors and was diagnosed, he was only given six months to live. i remember that i lived in los angeles at the time, as i do now, and he lived in san diego, where i was raised. and when it came time to put him in a hospice care home, i knew that it would be a matter of days, so i went down to see him. what i saw laying in the bed was not the father i remembered--he was unconscious due to the pain medications--but it was my father nonetheless. the thing that shocked me the most was that, other than pain meds, he was not being administered any other type of medication, nor was he being fed intravenously. in other words, they were just "managing pain", and allowing him to die. i did not understand this. if he was still alive, why weren't they feeding him and medicating him? why would they just allow him to die?

i didn't understand hospice care at the time, and it angered and confused me. i wanted to scream, i wanted to fight, but i didn't. i just curled up on the cot and spent the night with him, waiting, like the hospice workers, for him to die.

he didn't die that night, and i had to go back to los angeles. he died a couple of days later...i believe my brother was in the room with him. what i remember most about that time was my feeling of powerlessness--my utter lack of ability to save my father. i was most definitely not a superhero.

now i realize that real life is not the movies. there was really nothing i could do--not a fucking thing--my father's cancer was days away from killing him, no matter how much medication we were to have pumped into him. and yet i wonder if it makes sense to anyone else that that was not easy for me to accept. the thing is, i don't know if i was ever a superhero with my dad...i wanted to fight for him many times during his life, but was usually just too scared. i loved him, but i just didn't act on that love as strongly as i could have. if i had, if i had acted as strongly as i could have, i would definitely have been a superhero to my father.


i cried when, right before he died, hit girl told her father that she loved him--not because she said it to him, but because he heard it. by the time i reached my father at his deathbed, he could no longer hear me. if he could have, i would have said "i love you, dad". in fact, i think i pretty much did say that. but if he could have heard me, i would have added something else. if he could have heard me, i would have also said, "i'm sorry, dad, i'm sorry that i cannot fight for you."

it's a good thing he could not hear me.

my dad, in the 1970's

Saturday, April 10, 2010

my concern

My concern is that, possibly, the place I want to move to does not even exist.

As I write that, I realize that I should come to terms with the fact that, possibly, the place I imagine moving to does not, in fact, exist. Maybe this should be the starting place when searching for a new home...

As biology would have it, we are pretty piss poor predictors of our own future happiness. Without going into the details of how I know this to be true (you can do the reading just like I did—ask for my reading list!), I will say that this knowledge makes it imperative that I make any decisions about moving very carefully. This is because, 1) I have a lot of stuff to move (including a piano, fer christ sake!); and 2) I am not young, so moving is not the kooky spontaneous adventure it once was. In other words, when I move, I ain’t coming back, and I doubt I will then move again. Therefore, when I imagine living in a beatific idyllic city with rolling hills, a country store, and a bar where everybody knows my name, I need to also consider that this place will not be Southern California. Meaning, the weather may suck the big one.

I was raised in San Diego. San Diego has the nickname "America's Finest City". Now I don't know if this is just narcissistic posturing or actual research based fact, but I would say that San Diego is pretty darn fine. The finest, tho? Eh! Who's to decide these things? Nevertheless, i am a California boy, tried and true. This means that normal weather, to me, is sunny and 75-80 degrees. This means that bad weather is when you have to take a jacket with you when going out at night. A light jacket. This means that snow is something created only for decorating holiday card pictures. In other words, I am used to living in the best fucking weather in the entire world.

Given that, I must take into consideration the effect of weather in any city I plan to move to. Especially because I am a bicyclist. Rain I can deal with, wind I can kind of deal with, cold and heat I can deal with, but snow is a no go. So that crosses out any city that gets snow on any sort of a regular basis. I know I could just get a car, but I don't want to. Really these car things are not so great. And you don't know what you are missing by being in one all the time. But that is another post for another day.

So far, Portland is at the top of my list for places that I might like to live in. Now I know that Portland gets a lot of rain. Not as much as Seattle, I hear, but a lot compared to Los Angeles. And yet even with all this rain, Portland is considered the Bike City of the country. So I gotta figure that if I can deal with pharmaceutically enhanced, entitled, ADD, impatient, multi-tasking drivers in L.A. without the benefit of bike paths, then I can most probably deal with a little moisture from Mother Nature. And if you have ever ridden a bike in a light rain, then you will understand me when I say that this is not something that you want to avoid. It feels fucking marvelous. Imagine being warmed up from the riding, and contrast that with the cool shock of raindrops, and you will know what I mean (I usually take my shirt off for maximum effect--delicious). I have a feeling that Portlanders know what I am talking about.

But could I give up all this sunshine? Could I?

Could I?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

best friends

let's be clear about this--one of the considerations that i think anyone has to consider when relocating is the fact that we will be leaving people. leaving people is never easy, unless, of course, we hate them. but in the case of best friends, that is not the case, if i may be redundant.

my best friend is dave o. i have known dave for over 10 years, or something like that. we both used to be actors here in l.a., and we actually did a couple of plays together. i remember thinking that dave was one of the coolest dudes i had ever known--he had the right hats and the convertible classic car and the sinatra attitude and god damn if he wasn't a pretty decent actor to boot. i remember that we once ran into each other at gay pride (what an oxymoron) one year and i think we were both cruising young guys at the time. so sue me. anyway, i remember telling him that we kept seeing each other, and that we seemed to have similar interests (young guys), and it didn't make sense that we weren't friends. in truth, i think i just wanted to be as cool as he was. cut to now...we are friends. and when i think about the idea of relocating, i can't do so without remembering that when i leave l.a., i will also be leaving dave o.

that is something to consider.

i have mentioned to dave that it might be a good idea for us to buy a condo together so that we have each other as friends and companions as we move into our "older" years, but if i were to move, that would negate that plan. but to stay in l.a.? a dilemma for sure. dave is not the only reason that i would stay in l.a.--we do really have the best weather in the entire world, but you already know that. beyond that though, weather is something i can give up. best friends are not. gotta think about this in any moving plan i make. i would not want to lose dave. we don't get best friends too often.


melani, whom i have known for 25 years, is also a best friend. not like dave, because she lives in connecticut, but a best friend nonetheless, and melani and i have not lived in the same city for 15 years. and yet we are still best friends. is that something i would settle for with dave? dunno.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the beginning of the end

when i wrote the title to this post, i thought, "oh good god, what a way to start a blog site". but despite the downward tone of the title, please do not be deceived. in this case, and perhaps only in this case, the "beginning of the end" is a good thing. what it means in this case is that i am at the start of a journey that will eventually take me OUT of los angeles for good, and into a place that is more wonderful and shiny-happy. that is the purpose of this blog.

i actually had another blog for a spell on myspace, and i am rather happy with the 50 of so posts that i made on there. but the nature of those posts was personal, and on this site i intend to steer away from the personal and veer toward the public, that is, a discussion/forum about the best living spaces for an educated single foodie queer who can't quite ever leave the city. i plan to post about cities i have visited and cities i intend to visit, and hope to encourage feedback from readers about these same cities.

some history: i have been in los angeles since '91, when i decided to leave san diego and give the big city a try. i came here because i was a performer: dancer, actor, singer, and i really did all of those things. i was 28 at the time, and full of big dreams of stardom, fame, fortune, and love. in a nutshell, i worked quite a bit, primarily in theater, and yet i could never play the network game that was required in order for me to get work in television and film, and so flash forward to my late 30's where i found myself wondering what i might be doing when i was 50. cue graduate school and a masters in clinical psychology, and a realization that, as an industry town, los angeles would never do for me a a person who majored in relating.

don't get me wrong. i love the city, but like the best of relationships, i also loathe it. but the part that i loathe is that part that is the worst of it--the narcissism, the meanness, the utter lack of community, and the values: money, youth, beauty. now, while i like to think that i have some of the previously mentioned values, i am at a point in my life where those things are not the most important things anymore. and in los angeles, they are the most important. you see, they are not my values anymore. i was thinking recently about how i have been here for nearly 20 years, and yet when i go into the local starbucks i don't know a single person, and they don't know me. that is NOT fucking okay to me anymore. at the gym that i have been going to for over 5 years they still check my i.d. as if they have never seen me. that is not fucking okay to me anymore. and here on my street, the neighbor will come over and mention that she wants the hedges trimmed that border our properties, and she will introduce herself to me even though i have met her many times previously, and that is definitely NOT fucking okay with me.

like the old "cheers" song, i want to be in a place where they know my name. l.a. is not that place. you have to be famous. i am not famous. don't want to be anymore.

so a blog is born. the thinking is that i will stay here for maybe another 10 years, at which time i will pack my bags and say goodbye. but before i do that i need to know where i am going. i have time to figure that out. hopefully you all will help, if there is a you all. not the first time i have jumped into an abyss. here we go...