East L.A. Makeover: Stage 3, The Kitchen

Well, this is groundbreaking.

Instead of waiting to complete one room before moving on to the next, I’m starting a new stage now while the bathroom is still in progress. Stage 3, the kitchen, will begin in the background while I put the finishing touches on the bathroom, but they will run concurrently for now.

Good move or just impatience?
Who knows.

I’ve been straightening out the bathroom and my progress is a low drone, a sure but unspectacular progress. I won’t buy a shower head until next week and rather than delay stage 3 any further, I’ll just start it now!
I’m the boss, I can do whatever I like. Power trips are great.

As I state in the video, I have to work around the 6-legged critters who use my apartment as a highway rest area. Those suckers have won the turf war in my kitchen and I’ve gladly relinquished control of my cupboards to them. I will do whatever it takes to store my pots and pans and dishes and silverware outside the cupboards and drawers because frankly I don’t enjoy the prospect of a roach swimming in my cereal.

Also, I have massive amounts of cupboard space in the kitchen which goes unused because the top two shelves are unreachable for someone vertically challenged as I. I bought a step stool from Home Depot recently, my ticket to NBA heights, so the top shelves are now fair game.

Take her away, David! Toodles…I like the sound of that.

Before anyone gets the impression that my place is swarming with insects, let me clarify and state clearly…it is not. I have seen 2 roaches in here in the past month which I’m sure is too many for a lot of people, but hardly the level which I might have insinuated in the video. Just wanna clear that up.

A “Hanky Panky” recollection of Hank Williams, Sr.

Back in 1995, just 30-years-old, I moved into a small, non-air conditioned one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood on Orange Avenue, just a very short walk from Hollywood Boulevard. Hollywood was still years away from the massive renovations and rebuilding it is experiencing today. I was degenerate and out of control and I suppose it was pure luck which saw me through (in one piece).

So it was very fitting that 1995 saw an album release titled “Hanky Panky” from The The.

This was also in the days (it was only 14 years ago, but it seems ages in so many ways) when I bought physical CD’s from the record store. Being in Hollywood at that time, most of my musical purchases happened to be from the Virgin Store on the corner of Sunset and Crescent Heights or from the legendary Tower Records store further west, down in the hustle bustle of the Sunset Strip.

Ah Hank Williams, what can I say? “Hanky Panky” was a dark, haunting rendition of some of his well-known songs. Sitting there, listening to them in my dimly-lit Hollywood dungeon (for it did give that vibe), I experienced a completely tumultuous and morbid type of epiphany: misery and self-pity in hand, life sucked. So you may as well sink further into the gutter, and drink up while you’re at it. And I did! I managed to keep a job even though I stumbled in through the doors and clocked in daily, many times still exhaling the fumes of the previous night’s bender.

And listen to “Hanky Panky” I did, absorbing Hank’s hard lessons, imbibing of his tragedy and nearly making it my own.

I remember the CD case with that faux Hank Williams gracing the cover. I read the liner notes repeatedly and they included a short biography of the man and his ultimate demise. Best thing was the lyrics. An album which includes the songs of Hank Williams must, absolutely must, include lyrics, his poetry, written to guide you through his music.

He was an American poet.

Who cares if he didn’t tell us what we wanted to hear or feel or think….it was very real and very painful and agonizingly affecting.

Who knows what every happened to that CD? I’ve moved a few times, married and divorced, changed jobs…it could be anywhere.

It’s 2009, however. I don’t even know if those stores are still there and I know for a fact that the area of Orange and Hollywood looks radically different now. They’ve cleaned Hollywood up, sanitized its image for the tourists. Swept the misery under the rug and embraced Disneyification. Commercialization eases the pain, doesn’t it? If only it were so!

But Hank’s pain will always live, like a fractured landscape immune to the power of the bulldozer.

Jail time for Hank

And now, with a few clicks of the mouse, “Hanky Panky” can be all mine again, downloaded at premium internet speeds.

editing 10/24/09

Non-Judge-Mentality the 3rd

Gossip rags. Gossip television. Gossip sites. Fixated on celebrities and their pathetic lives. Throw in a good dose of fame and money, and voila, you’ve got stories about people’s lives which everyone eats up like hungry little twisted peeping toms. Our pathetic lives, minus the fame and money, seem so pale in comparison.

Celebrity gossip is the ultimate  form of Judge-Mentality. Bullshit abounds…bullshit which really doesn’t concern us or make any difference in our lives. Celebrity gossip is nothing but mental filler, occupying bored minds with mindless facts. It is cotton candy of the soul.

Who’s pregnant and who’s pregnant with who; who is falling off the wagon or who’s got a coke problem; who is stepping out on who and who has stepped out with who; who is institutionalized and who has fallen off the deep end; who’s fashion mistake was captured by live cameras.

Photos are a must!

We cannot simply be entertained by the failings and drama of others…we must see it too! We must feel it and live it and hear it and smell it….we must experience it as much as possible without actually participating.

That’s what we are, as a society. A watching, judging, lazy culture looking for emotional fixes without suffering the real pain of life. Celebrity gossip is awesome that way. You can choose just how much you invest yourself in a situation. It is non-participatory and passive yet you can feel like you have a stake in the matter. About people whose lives will never intersect yours. It’s the television generation.

Consequently, it is also a serious waste of energy. Gossiping about people you know first-hand is a reflection of your faltering sense of honor; gossiping about strangers is a reflection of your restless sense of monotony. A busy mind doesn’t have time to devote itself to interpreting anyone’s life except its own.

Live life on an even level and pay attention to that little circle, that little bubble you call reality. Trying to burst out of your bubble in order to enter others is intellectual suicide.

Junk food taxes, are they a slippery slope?

Rudy Ruiz, an author and radio show host, has a guest commentary over on CNN.com titled “A fat tax is a healthy idea.”

OK, here we go, I thought, another knee-jerk “tax behavior which we can’t control” reaction to society’s descent into fat-assedness.

I gave the commentary a chance and was pleasantly surprised.

Ruiz justifies a tax on crap food as but one ingredient in an overall strategy which the government should institute to combat rampant obesity. And while I’m still not keen on the practice of using taxes as a tool of behavior modification, I think he has a very good perspective on the problem of America’s pathetic eating habits and their ingrained nature. And most importantly, the role of the food industry in this mess.

He maintains that the abundance of cheaply produced “foods” (ie, sweet as hell, courtesy of corn syrup, high fructose and not) is public enemy #1 in the battle of the bulge. I agree with this. However, if you start taxing junk food, then what? Where will the poor buy their food? In effect you are leaving them no options.

This would go hand-in-hand with another proposal Ruiz makes, one that addresses the economic issue of food affordability which I touched upon in this post from yesterday. Ruiz’ proposal would

• Shift subsidies away from corn toward the production of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as organic farming, so healthier, more natural foods become as accessible as Happy Meals.

Very pie-in-the-sky thinking. But accurate. If the government devoted just a fraction of all the resources and energy towards healthy and sustainable farming as it does towards the bolstering and strengthening of the corn production industry, you’d be able to walk into any grocery store and buy healthy (ie, clean and unprocessed) foods for prices which are on par with the crappiest garbage Kraft or Hostess has to offer.

Yeah, don’t start holding your breath. Not when this stuff can be produced for dirt cheap and tastes so yummy. When you’re 7-years-old, you don’t give a flying crap about HFCS or carbohydrates or multi-syllable chemicals which soften and preserve that spongy bread treat.