If you are one of those people like myself who is registered in several facets of social media, you tend to notice certain trends emerging. I guess it speaks to human beings inherent tendencies in regards to what information about themselves they want out there. There is one prevalent trend that I have noticed amongst all of these platforms that is far and away the most common: Bragging.
I know several people on Facebook, Twitter and both Facebook AND Twitter (Not to leave out the 35 people on "Google Plus") who more or less use them as a platform to shamelessly and constantly brag about themselves, their luck and/or their accomplishments. Often, they are all melded into one long stream of self-promotion, self-aggrandization and dare I day, self-fallating. Translating for the lay-person, you're essentially blowing yourself in public. Sometimes these are smaller infractions, such as a photo of a really expensive meal you're about to have at a fancy-dancy eatery or picture of your new, surreally expensive designer boots, both complete with quasi-witty caption. "THIS is happening", or the like. Sometimes these infractions are bigger. Post-graduate degrees are awesome and not easy to attain. If you get one, I request, nay, demand that you not only celebrate it, but inform me of it. There's a drink waiting for you and it's on the house. However, I don't need you telling me that you're nearing completing the process of getting one, then getting one real soon. Then 4 Squaring that you're graduating, then posting blurry pics of you graduating, then pics of you holding your diploma, then tweeting about it, then pics of you at dinner with your mom and step-dad and family, then pics of you at breakfast with your dad and step-mom and family, then, lunch with your fellow recent graduates, then dinner with the professor you exchanged sexual favors with to get said degree. Well, I guess there are no pics of that last one. Who wants to take photos of a break-up? Anyway you get the idea. One more thing while I'm up here. If you're in some experimental group or theatre or something similar, post something about it. I may very well go. However, please don't JUST post about it. It's the humane thing to do. After I hear about something ten times, my interest in it decreases by 5% every time I hear about it again. Why do you think I've never seen any of those Robert Downey Jr. "Sherlock Holmes" movies? I haven't the foggiest what a "Game of Shadows" is and I don't care to. I did, however, choose to learn what a "Ghost Protocol" is and I'm the better man for it.
This knife cuts both ways, however. If I know a person who is accomplished and actually has a reason to brag about themselves, yet manages to make their social media feeds something more than intolerable self-promotion, I find them to be even more admirable and I am even more likely to congratulate them and support their accomplishments. There is a great quote about this, "Success does not change people, it simply reveals who they always were". I don't remember who said that. It was probably some great thinker, like Copernicus, or "Deuce Bigelow"-era Rob Schneider.
Here is the part that I think is so odd. I'm not without a certain level of accomplishment. I've never climbed Mt. Killimanjaro or "Dropped" an album or anything, but if I wanted to, I'm sure that I could find something to share with the group that is worth putting out there to make others jealous. What's strange is that I feel virtually no need to do so. Maybe it's because I hate myself too much, maybe I think that my accomplishments pale in comparison to my contemporaries, maybe I just can't take the time out from doing something interesting to tell others that I'm doing something interesting. Whatever it is, it feels very counterintuitive for one main reason: I can't seem to shut up about all of the horrible embarrassing stuff that I do. You'll never hear about me doing anything even a little bit charitable or benevolent for my fellow man, but I "Check In" on Facebook every time I attend an all night horror movie marathon or Transformers convention. I mention it every time I eat something deep-fried and I'm pretty sure that were someone so inclined, they could piece together every chapter in the endless riches of shame that is book of my existence. Why is that such a natural thing for me, and the exact opposite for so many others?
With that in mind, I offer you, dear reader, this. In the future, my new year's resolution is that I promise to be a bit more like you if you promise to be a bit more like me.
Oh, and happy new year! I can't wait for you to post some pictures of you at some party doing that kissy-face thing and that upside-down peace sign thingamajig. Top it all off with some stupid hat, would you?
The main advice I can impart to those searching Vietnamese whorehouses for hookers who aren't trannys: Stop being so damn picky.
After all, you Nguyen some, you lose some.
They say that honor is a gift that a man gives to himself. Well, it looks like honor has got some company. If I were honor, I'd be feeling pretty jealous right about now.
Cheech and Chong's "Up in Smoke" is simply one of the funniest films ever made. Even as someone who never smokes pot and harbors resentment to pretty much every aspect of "Stoner culture", I know a comedy classic when I see one and "Up in Smoke" absolutely qualifies. As funny, original and quotable as "Up in Smoke" is, my single favorite thing about it is it's use of Los Angeles. Both Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong in their roles as "Pedro" and "Man" embody a pair of archetype characters who are uniquely Los Angeles and the film does a great job of giving the viewer a guide to cool and iconic locations around the city. The opening scene takes place on the Pacific Coast Highway, the climax at The Roxy on the Sunset Strip and many other classic Los Angeles locations are visited in-between.
As much as I love this uniformally hilarious movie, something may very well happen at the end of the month that will make it very difficult for me to ever watch it again.
Check out the opening shot of this classic scene. Someone has translated it into some crazy foreigner language, but you get the idea:
When you watch this particular shot, take a look to the left side of the frame. Once you get past the 60 cents-a-gallon gas (I know, seriously), you get a look at one of my favorite places in all of the city. This intersection has actually changed very little over the last three decades. That Unocal 76 station is still there, the 7-11 across the street is still there....
... and, for the time being, Henry's Tacos is still there.
I have grown up eating Henry's Tacos and I am happy to say that in their 50th year in business, their food remains as unchanged as their unique, art deco facade. My personal favorite, the combo burrito, has always had a unique flavor to it. It has a combination of flavors that I can't quite describe, but highly recommend. I don't really know what's in it and I don't care. I have taken bags of them with me on road trips, I've taken them on planes for equally obsessed friends who now live out of state, I even once, upon request, took a photo of the building to mail to a friend who was feeling homesick for it. Any fan of regional mexican food that you just can't get anywhere else owes it to themselves to try Henry's Tacos.
At least, while they can.
At the end of the month, Henry's Tacos loses it's lease and their landlord has stated that he may not renew it. The owner's attempts to have it qualify as a historical landmark have so far not helped. If it was up to me, I'd have the entire place moved into a nice, busy corner of the Smithsonian. Actually, scratch that. If they moved there, I could never get to go there as much as I like.
As someone whose O.C.D extends to food as much as it does anything else, I view the possible (probable?) closing of Henry's Tacos as nothing short of a tragedy. Having gone there several times a week while in high school, I have amassed more fond memories that take place on those wooden benches than I'd like to admit. I don't know what could possibly be put in it's place if it goes away, but I can't picture anything taking it's place, either emotionally or spatially.
If you're in town, please stop by, get a yellow paper package filled with delicious. They're at 11401 Moorpark st. in North Hollywood. They have a petition you can sign. Can't make it? Sign this: http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-to-save-historic-henrys-tacos-help-keep-henrys-tacos-open-at-its-current-location-in-no-hollywood-ca
You'd be doing favors for me, yourself and the rest of the Los Angeles population at large.
Plus, I'd really like to be able to watch that scene from "Up in Smoke" again without uncontrollably weeping like the sissy that I only occasionally admit that I am.
I am a huge fan of Netflix. In particular, I am a huge fan of Netflix streaming. This is a service which allows you to watch thousands of films instantly on your internet enabled television merely by pressing a few buttons. When I was a wee lad growing up in Brooklyn I am pretty sure that I literally dreamed something like this would eventually be a reality, and if I didn't, it's because it would have been too amazing a thing for me to even dream about.
Despite this, Netflix streaming is not perfect. Sometimes things are a bit slow to load, the variety can be a little odd and there can be some wild variation in the picture quality (and actual quality) of the individual films. However, these really are small prices to pay for something that, as a whole, is pretty wonderful.
There is, dear reader, one other major drawback to Netflix streaming.
The way that the site works is that you look through the lists and choose stuff to add into your queue, much like buying physical DVDs. Once you've got them in your possession, they're yours, right?
Due to the amount of space that all of this audio and video takes up, Netflix will, seemingly arbitrarily, get rid of movies. I don't know if it has something to do with traffic, use numbers, rights or contracts, but this is something that happens. It's like you have a stoner roommate who occasionally, without much of a warning, takes some of your DVDs over to his buddies house, never to be seen again. It all feels so very temporary.
Now, when I said without MUCH warning, there is a reason for it. If you go to a specific movie and look closely at the bottom of the screen, it will tell you if a movie is going away and the date that it is doing so. If this film that is going away is one that you love, it feels a bit like knowing the date of your imminent execution. After a thorough examination of the films which are expiring at the end of the month I discovered several and, armed with this information, made a decision that speaks volumes as to what is wrong with me as a person. Here are the films that I found out are to go away sooner, rather than later:
Stanley Kubrick's final true masterpiece, the unfathomably brilliant "A Clockwork Orange".
Peter Jackson's haunting and accomplished "Heavenly Creatures".
William Friedkin's masterful and authentically horrifying standard-setter "The Exorcist".
Lloyd Kaufman and Troma Studio's "Toxic Avenger 4: Citizen Toxie". A movie that features Ron Jeremy as "Mayor Goldberg" and Al Goldstein in the role of "Mayor's Press Secretary".
Guess which one of these four films I voluntarily decided to watch?
Here's a none-too-subtle hint:
Seriously, what the hell is wrong with me?
This has been a very strange week. The Captain left for a trip to Chicago on Monday and got back on Friday night. During this time something happened to Los Angeles, something as improbable as it is wonderful. When she left, as it had been for as long as anyone of us can remember, the Lakers were the official basketball team of Los Angeles. The Clippers, a basketball team whose entire fan base consisted solely of me, a guy named Jesse and four guys in Long Beach, are now the hottest ticket in town.
Also, when she left town, Howard Stern, a man who I have always worshiped for his daring and ability to attain massive success in the face of the adversity of a stupefyingly homogeneous medium, was merely on SiriusXM radio. When she got back, he was the new host of a overblown network talent/reality show for NBC, a company he hated so much they were literally the antagonist of the movie made of his life story.
When she left town, I was, as I had been for the last seventeen years, a member in good standing with Bank of America, This week I withdrew the last remnants of my accounts with them and placed what little money I have in a local credit union. Not just for the sense of self satisfaction, mind you, but also because I was sick to death of being able to find an in-market ATM virtually anywhere. It sure feels good to have that convenient monkey off of my back.
Finally, and perhaps most oddly, despite the fact that we are less than a week away from Christmas Day, the normal crippling depression that tends to take hold of me like a hollering cowboy on top of a bucking bronco has not appeared yet. I guess there is still time for it to set in, but normally my fear of Christmas and what it does to me and all around me has a vice-like grip on my hopes and dreams long before now. Maybe it's gone away in this year so rife with turmoil for myself and so many others. Perhaps it's just playing possum until it can properly sneak up behind me and really give it to me hard and fast when I least expect it, like any other proficient rapist/assassin would. I guess I'll know by Saturday night, won't I?
Regardless, events like this are testaments to both life's unpredictability and it's fragility. In a week's time everything could crumble around all of these institutions that I have carved my persona and joy out of.
I will, however, say that I would be more than a little surprised if the fates would allow me this much content indulgences for this long.
It just plain doesn't work that way.
Happy Holidays, Folks!
Sorry that I've been away for so long. Due to a biblical-type windstorm, my entire neighborhood has been suffering from power outages. Although my block actually got their power back relatively quickly, I just got my TV and internet back a little while ago.
Although I am quickly learning to again live life as a recently reinstated member of the american 20th century, the scars of my temporary temporal displacement have been slow to heal. I've been staring at the bundle of scented candles on my living room table and have thought to myself "There you are, precious sources of both light and heat. With you, I shall thrive in this new and scary world". Also, I have driven past oil takner trucks and thought about how many other motorcycled marauders it would take to raid it and bring it back to out desert outpost. At least I've stopped looking at women's hips and teeth to analyze them for breeding purposes.
The most important thing that I can take away from this entire experience, however, is that I need TV. I need it like the forrest needs the trees, like fish need water, like Kim Kardashian need semi-literate black athletes. It is absolutely the greatest invention of all time and life without it is as pointless as an unsharpened pencil. It is frankly a miracle that I was able to survive so long without it. I used to watch movies that took place in other time periods and wonder how I would have done in earlier times. Did I have what it took to fight off a wooly mammoth, invading Visigoths or the black plague?
The answer: No.
The reason: There was no TV for me to watch during the times that these things took place. I'd be very dead very quickly....
and if I wasn't, I'd wish I was.
Regardless, this entire experience has taught me a valuable lesson: Watch as much TV as you possibly can. Forsake all else for it. Treat is right and it'll treat you right right back. You can always read a book when the power is off, just like cavemen did.
VIVA LA TELEVISION!