Middle-aged and miserable Moment in Time

 

Friday, September 4
Line 40, Montebello Bus Lines, Westbound into and through East Los Angeles
7:45 a.m.

 

City buses all have the identical layout,
rows of forward-facing seats, two apiece, vestigial windows that barely open enough to let air in to blow out foul public commuter swarthy odors and let in streams of hot air on steamy days. Uncomfortable hard seats, squashed in barely enough
room for ONE
person but if you get 2 and you’re pushing it. One person invariably wins the battle of the knee and will bully their way into dominating the seat space.
If you sit next to a woman you will win the space war by
default
unless
she is a dyke and sits like a man to let her imaginary balls air out.
The back of the bus has two bench seats which run parallel to the sides of the bus and if you sit across from someone on the
mirror image bench seat…
psychology dictates that you will find many clever and weasel-ly ways to avert having to
stare at the person in the face
very uncomfortable unless you happen to close your eyes and feign sleep. Or do like I do listen to my Ipod and zone out by staring into the urban distance (which means no distance because this is the goddamned city and the horizon is cut short by ugly buildings and ugly grafitti and some incredibly ugly people wearing shocking clothes.

 

And here I am unpacking and unravelling the twisted maze of wires that are my
Ipod earphones. I’m on my cellphone in conversation. I talk barely loud enough for for the person on the other end
of the line
to hear me.
I don’t perform on the stage, my phone conversations are not for public consumption.

 

Unlike neo-Rush.
neo-Rush.
He sit and TALKS on the back row of seats, a bench, at the very back of the bus that sits right over the hot engine which bakes your ass and back on hot days
he sits there on the back in the right corner. In the middle is a pretty girl with glasses and at the other end of the bench on the left corner is another pretty girl who does that pretty girl thing which means to punch away at a cell phone in order to avoid
committing to an expression of interest
in her environment.
She is doing that pretty absent girl thing. Punching at those keys.
And neo-Rush
on the cell phone
talking loud
LOUD
drowns out my conversation
drowns out my words and thoughts
he’s like amped up static and I’m like a low muted buzz like a television station’s signal
after
3:15 in the morning just like the old pre-cable days when television went to sleep
with everyone else. That
was my conversation.
A low buzz.

 

neo-Rush jars my thoughts and words.
I finally hang up and end my cell convo and struggle valiantly to untangle
my Ipod cord
and put his loud voice to sleep.
For once and finally.
He drones and drones
and seems to enjoy performing for the folks the outcasts here on the back of the
bus.

 

A captive audience.
I try to ignore him.
But he sounds
White.
Not just white but country trailer park white. He sounds super White a very odd
thing to hear
on the bus which runs through ELA. Most of the phone conversations on this bus, line 40
are not White-sounding no way Jose, it’s all accented and Spanish pidgin derivations of badly spoken English or failiing that, just Spanish.
That’s all you hear on line 40.
Except this time.
neo-Rush sounding very Wyoming white
and talking way too loud
about faggots and transvestites.

 

And I fill in the blanks. Middle-aged white guy with a life that is audience free.
So now stuck on the bus with helpless and prone
people he goes on a bender of sound and airs out his grievances, BELLOWS them out so all can hear, and finallly
he has his own talkshow!
Pretty girl married to her cellphone keeps glancing
at neo-Rush. And looking pretty and pretty…amused.
And girl in middle staring straight ahead and acting
unaffected.
And I finally untangle my earphones and slip on the buds and listen to Joy Division.

 

And put neo-Rush to sleep zipper his little talkshow ass
and he finally floods outta the bus near downtown in his blue pants blue shirt.

 

Unhappy man, lonely man, needs audience. Bus doors close…you’re it baby! Check it out on the AM dial…

 

 

Blogroll addition: Hot Chicks with Douchebags

 

You know, I would not call myself the hippest thing on 2 feet.

 

So the term used to describe a lot of guys I’ve seen roaming the streets and walkways of L.A. has escaped me…until recently, thanks to that vast wasteland of human knowledge and experience, the internet.

 

And this is how I discovered that the word I was looking for all this time was simple and sitting right under my nose: douchebag.

 

That is the most apt description I can think of.

 

It refers to those “peacock-y” guys who saunter around in their inflated sunglasses (with insecurities to match) and print-busy shirts and jeans even. Who the fuck ever thought of applying prints to jeans?? Jeans should have a label, at the most, maybe some individualistic stitching. But designs? How misplaced is that. My son has a pair of jeans like this…luckily they are a bit subdued and nothing else he wears is over-the-top, so I don’t feel the need to give him a 5-year-time out, just yet.

 

These guys can frequently be sighted with outlandish hairstyles propped up and enhanced by a normal man’s 2-week dose of hair product.

 

So…when I first discovered Hot Chicks with Douchebags I was freakin’ train-wreck captivated.

 

The site is a photo-heavy pantheon, a temple, dedicated to narrating and illustrating the state of modern-day douchehood! It’s a fabulous and cautionary lesson for other young guys who are contemplating a journey down the aisle of hair paste and supersized belt buckles…or God forbid, trucker caps, faux hawks and a Pelican Bay level of tatooism.

 

Granted, there are times a couple may be singled out for douchehood that I feel may not be entirely deserving of the label, such as this

 

 

 

although, quite frankly, douchehood is not only dress, it’s style as well. And though these 2 may not scream douchehood by their attire (it’s hard to dress douchey when you’re at the pool) their actions speak it loudly. That pseudo-gangster warrior pose with the Billy Idol surly lips…umm, disregard, these two are major Douches. Major.

 

And of course, there are times Doucheness is unmistakable and easily spotted:

 

 

 

Awesome stuff. I need to get my digital camera ready and contribute my own sightings. And there are many.

 

 

Earthly anchors

The analogy is perfect.
When talking of anchors. Or as I define anchors.
There is the anchor we all think of.

Big, heavy, solid. Ties down your floating vessel so you can plant yourself out in the middle of the indifferent ocean and proceed with your Earthly tasks.

Most people are reassured by the presence of an anchor. Without it they are at the mercy of the large and powerful oceanic forces. There is nothing more frightening than to have no control over one’s direction.

And the other anchors I speak of are the type we lug around on land. Because, once again, we fear aimlessness. So we clutter our lives with anchors of varying degrees and sizes.

We buy and store and build…anchors. Earthly anchors.

Why? On a boat in the middle of the ocean, we need the brute and tangible weight of a heavy mass in order to keep us from wandering astray. And I believe the very essence of modern man is self-containment and artificial insulation against the wild beast that beckons from deep in his soul.

On the most elemental level, I believe earthly anchors are those items we’ve contrived in order to escape our wild nature. We fear the beast that lurks in our hearts. Thus we created the most ancient earthly anchor of them all: religion. Religion serves to tie us down and sublimate our natures. Our existence on this planet is a turbulent ocean which can drag our souls and bodies into the blinding darkness of the ocean’s depths. Our own nature we’ve learned to fear and distrust…and which we seek to contain and imprison. Religion served that purpose for a good portion of our historical past.

With the advent of technology and the spoils of the modern age, it became more difficult to control man. Thus a new set of anchors came into play…and have gradually multiplied, both in number and sophistication.

And most of of all, we continue hungrily to seek the means to procure those anchors!

And we attempt to bestow upon our children this unbridled lust as well. The means are money. And our lives are built around getting more and more of it. Why? So we can buy bigger and better anchors. And we want that for our children also, we want their anchors to be bigger and better than ours were. So we send them to school and 20 years of college so that they may one day be consumed with the same voracious ambition and drive which plagues us.

And here we are.

We blindly rush like lemmings toward the call of the modern anchor. We buy houses and cars and televisions and computers and clothes and we differentiate ourselves from others by the exclusivity of our anchors and we display them proudly so that others can marvel. Marvel at our anchors and degree of “unfreedom.”

For that is what anchors buy us: imprisonment.

The only option is to shed as many anchors as possible; as many as we can comfortably do without in our daily lives. Only then will we ever know freedom. And whether you like it or not, your nature is a wanderer. Your nature seeks release from walls, from clocks, from possessions, from shackles…your nature is wild. Live it.

Or don’t.

edited December 6, 2009

Toolism? Toolhardy? Toolish? Toolsome? Toolhood? And the list goes on…

I’m fixated with invectives and adverbs and adjectives and any other sort of plastic manipulation of the English language that conveys my meaning like getting hit on the head with a brick.

Which is cool because I doubt that “toolhardy” is in any unabridged mainstream dictionary in existence. But it’s an awesome artificial word.

From the base word tool.

I pride myself on being the anti-tool. Self-delusion is a terrible thing. Some of us may escape the normal social dose of toolism, but none of us can ever escape it completely.

According to the Urban Dictionary “tool” entry, there are 3 definitions of the term. No. 2 is my favorite and what I think of when I describe someone as a tool:

Get this: even the basic, concious and prideful act of trying not to be tool…makes you a tool! Damnit! You can’t win. It’s a circular and Sisyphean task this whole thing about trying not to be tool.

In order to be toolfree while not falling into the disgusting trappings of making anti-tool your identity, you must slip into a Zen-like state of existence and sever your self-identity for a few precious moments. Relinquish longings, blunt the ego.

So long toolhood!

Life without ELECTRICITY (as in 2 days)

There is something ragingly primeval and animalistic about darkness.

Take my word for it. You try spending over 24 hours without electricity in the middle of hot, orange and smoky Los Angeles. You do that and tell me the urge to tear a weaker fellow human limb by limb and then consume him/her in a bloody, messy feast that leaves with with an ear cartlidge dangling from your canines does not torment you.

No sir.
Courtesy of someone’s fuck-up or just good old fashioned Bad Luck, I’ve spent 2 nights at the Pitch Darkness Inn of East Los Angeles. This is one lodge they can’t say “we’ll leave the light on” because there is no juice for that. Better would be “we’ll leave the candles lit” or “we’ll leave fresh batteries in the flashlight.”

Bastards.

You know it’s this weird misplaced anger that really gets me. It’s the kind of anger that just eats you up and you have nowhere to channel it. You just want to swear very, very loudly and call anyone and everyone a fucking dumbshit moron. Unfortunately, there is no specific person you can direct that to. It’s not like a George W. Bush presidency where the idiotic focal point of your frustration can be arrowed.

Why did I happen to have to live in a strangely and asymmetrical sliver of territory that stretches from East L.A. into neighboring Montebello that has been in complete darkness since 5 p.m. on Monday evening?

Depends on which story you buy. Depends on which story you find more gutturally satisfying. There are several incarnations, evolutions, of this story. Several story-tellers around this big happy fucking campfire.

Amazing that a certain lack of modern amenities (such as electricity) leaves me full of acidic ire and uttering a constant stream of cursing. It’s scary.

Story #1, my mother, via Southern California Edison’s outage “assistance” line: the power is out because of an equipment failure. Uh. I realize my mother was only the messenger, but honestly…no kidding. Who is the wise electro-sage at Edison who came up with that knee-jerk explanation? Equipment failure? No shit. I would have thought anything but that!

Story #2, first-hand upon my phone call to the same Edison “helpline”: Due to a fire, a substation servicing thousands of people was seriously damaged and due to the severity, repair will be delayed. As in not until 8 a.m. on Tuesday. I’m assuming they are referring to the brush fires surrounding North L.A.?

Story #3, once again, firsthand from Edison shortly after 8 a.m., the first estimate, has come and gone: due to maintenance, power has temporarily been shut down to allow crews a chance to modernize aging infrastructure. Getting very thick now.

Story #4, via my elderly neighbor who was sitting outside in the murky hot morning air for whatever reason as I left to drive to work: a construction crew on the Gold Line extension into East L.A. damaged a power line causing a massive fire and dangerous unrest, or at the very least, lots of spoiled food. Won’t be up and running until “tomorrow.” Is this the fire SCE was referring to???

Story #5, basically a reiteration of story #2, except the expected or estimated time to repair now is 1 a. m. Stewing in anger.

Story #6, #5, but now it’s 3 a.m. OK I really need that weaker person who I can de-limb cause I’m feeling a tad aggressive. Another night of faint darkness. Hmm isn’t that just like a normal night of sleep? Much of this anger and frustration is childish, I realize. There are people who have lost houses in the fires. At least I have a roof.

Story #7, early this morning: We have nothing to report, please check back for updates. Uh oh. Sounds like good news or bad news? Irritation sets in, cuss like a sailor at my parent’s house where I sneak off to eat a quick breakfast

7:10, power back the minute I finish my weights. My tenuous hold on reality returns and I can re-enter the realm of bloggery once more.