Monday, January 30, 2006

So Many Countries, So Little Time

Hey, I found this cool link via Pete via Leslie via some New York stripper's blog.

It's a trip to see one's global trail. So, these are the 29 countries I've been to. Hmph. Coulda sworn I've seen more than that . . . seems I have only seen 12% of this world. I better get packing.

That's the trouble with the Earth - the more places you see, the more you realize the places you haven't seen.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Future

Growing up with earthquakes, I was well aware that the earth was a living, breathy hunk of burning love - crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. As we continue to plunder the earth for black, drippy dinosaur bones, it's getting pretty obvious that we will run out of oil well before we are ready. I'd really like to be dead by then because folks are going to FREAK.

In the meantime, I grabbed this snapshot of the future, once again, along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, south of Highway 90. It was creepy and comforting at the same time. While MaryAnn idled nearby in the SUV, I surveyed what was left and couldn't help but think about bicycles making a comeback. Personally, however, I'd prefer horseback.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fun with Conflicting Advertising

James Hampton, one of the ClizBiz Inner Sanctum, sent me this photo today. He'd told me about it before and passes it nearly every day coming/going from lunch, somewhere along the Emeryville-Oakland border.

At last, he pulled over and his pal, Jameel Din, snapped it to share. Even better, it decorates one side of a restaurant called, The Great Wall of China.

There are so many strange harbingers here, not sure where to start . . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Oh, by the way, none of this is true . . .

What is the deal lately with all these non-fiction writers and supposed journalists who make shit up and announce it as truth? Are these the laziest sumsabitches that ever walked the earth? Why can't they just pick a genre and fucking go with it? Fiction or non-fiction? Paper or plastic? Chevy or Ford? PC or Mac? These aren't difficult questions, people.

Today, Oprah gave an on-air tongue lashing to James Frey, the tool whose supposed biography, "A Million Little Pieces," turned out to be partially made up. Egg was on the media queen's face after she'd chosen the how-I-beat-drugs memoir for her book club last year, which sparked a huge surge in sales.

It'd be weird if this were the first time but it seems to be happening all over the place lately. Locally, we discoverd that the enigmatic author JT Leroy not only made everything up but actually, never even existed. Even Dave Eggers and Michael Chabon were fooled.

It may be less despicable when the lies appear in a non-historical book but when the darkness moves to the newsroom, my feelings of anger rise up and suddenly, I want to do horrible violent things to the offenders.

Specifically, I would enjoy throwing big, sharp, glass objects at those ungrateful dogs, Jayson Blair and Stephen Glass. I'm so pleased that both of their subsquent tell-all books, "Burning Down My Master's House" and "The Fabulist" were met with abysmal sales, despite all the media attention. For once, the masses did not let me down.

May they all gather and rot at The Black Table, telling made up stories to one another until the Big Editor in the sky comes down with Her red pen, crossing them out forever.

Okay, I need to calm down but the truth is, it hurts. It hurts me personally because that stupid motherfucker Blair had the most kick ass job in the entire world working for the biggest, baddest paper in the country and he just took a shit on it. Everything, all the amazing history of the paper, the journalists that came before him - black, white, green, whatever - he just spat right in their faces.

And now here I am, looking for a journalism job, begging for a paper or magazine to let me in the door. Give me a desk. Send me out in the field. Let me bring my camera. Please, for the love of God, give me a deadline. Idiots like this make it harder for me and for every writer or journalist who has worked their ass off, followed the straight line, respected the reader and never, ever been noticed.

Finally, at long last, I must ask the question: Is real life not weird enough???? I'm sorry but every attempt I've made at creating fiction has been excrutiating. Beyond the fact that I do not have this amazing gift, I always shrug my shoulders in defeat when I realize I could not possibly create from scratch anything more disturbing, joyful and bizarre than what the real world provides.

Anyone read the papers??? The story about the seven adopted kids who died in a school bus and when the grandfather heard, he keeled over dead? The smuggling tunnels that run under the U.S.-Mexico border? Female hostages held by terrorists? New planets? Disney buys Pixar??? This is bizarre stuff, people, and this is just today so what is the problem? Seriously.

My favorite tidbit that never went anywhere: The WWII Japanese fighter pilot who struck up a peacemaking correspondence with a man he once tried to kill. Then, he finally got the chance to come to America and meet his penpal. Just as he shook the man's hand, he dropped dead on the spot. I read this in a two-paragraph obituary in the LA Times about 10 years ago and I only remember it because I thought it the cruelest dose of karma.

See? See how there is stuff everywhere???

Whew! Okedokee, gonna pour me a little drinkipoo before I end up throwing the cat . . .

Monday, January 23, 2006

Remnants of a Former Glory

Along Highway 90 in South Mississippi, there once stood inspiring mansions with proud white columns and regal roofs. Spanish moss hung down in the yard and meticulously living rooms displayed gilded frames of long dead war heroes and their delicate Southern belles. The dining halls displayed patterned bone china settings, passed down through the generations, while oak cabinets showed off impressive collections of delicate antique crystal. Chandeliers hung, music played and fireplaces crackled, welcoming locals and visitors alike.

This is what they look like now.

Feminism in a Nap-Based Society

It's post-lunch here in Corporate America and, as usual, I'm craving that nap that never comes. Sure, there's the one time back in December '04 that I slept off a few late-night martinis behind my file drawer (George Constanza would've been so impressed!) but as a rule, corporate-approved naps are mere daydreams.

Across the pond, however, a different scenario is playing out; Spain's famously easygoing siesta is burdening working moms. Seems the daily "enforced idleness," a holdover from their formerly agrarian society, is not meshing so well with modern careers. Bosses are clinging to the siesta, which keeps workers at the office longer, which means less time for kids to be with their parents. The government passed a "quality of life" law but it has yet to take hold. The article declares, "Anti-siesta campaigners say what's needed is a feminist-led revolution."

Perhaps we can ship all the anti-burlesque femininsts over to Spain? I'm sure they could make some fabulous progress stamping out those pesky nationally-induced naps.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

ClizBiz - Now With Photos!

I've just picked up 12 rolls of film (remember those?) taken during my Gulf Coast Post-Katrina Devastation Tour. I don't want to overwhelm ya'll with gobs of 'em but every once in awhile, I'd like to share.

Because it is Sunday, I'm kicking it off with a sad shot of a downtown church in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. This house of worship and the faith of the congregants will surely survive - not so sure about the building's proud peak. The sign leaning against it says: "Do Not Remove Steeple."

More to come . . .

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Begging for (a) Change

Today kicks off the first official Job Search Effort. The last time I actively looked for a job, it was 1997 and I'd just moved to San Francisco after a year abroad, free-wheeling and fancy-free. I thought I'd simply take The City by storm but instead I had to take a job at the antiseptic restaurant chain, California Pizza Kitchen, an experience I now lovingly refer to as "Hitler Youth Camp."

It was there that I had a very public meltdown. Though I'd been a waitress dozens of times before, company policy demanded I attend their six-week Waitress School to properly absorb the CPK philosophy while demonstrating ample enthusiasm for suggestive selling. While 'enrolled' in the 'school,' I would earn my wages as a busboy.

One night, sometime around midnight, I was filthy, tired and cleaning toilets in the men's room, when a wave of self pity overtook me. Here I was, a 31-year-old college graduate, a world traveller in this new sophisticated town and the best I could come up with was this? Scrubbing porcelain and hoping for measly tips? I was only grateful my parents couldn't see me. Oh, the tears! It was a mighty low point and honestly,I couldn't go lower. Or so I thought.

Finally, I left the restaurant around 1:00 a.m. and was approached, as always, by a homeless guy, begging for change. I shook my head emphatically, "Man, I am the wrong woman on the wrong night to be asking this question . . . sorry."

I sat down at the bus stop and began the lonely (and slightly dangerous) 20-minute wait for my ride home. Again, he asked for change and, when I again refused, he harrassed me further. I mostly ignored him, though I remember thinking to myself, "Why can't he clean a toilet? I've been doing it all night!"

However, when he uttered the words, "It's because I'm black, isn't it?" something inside my worn-out brain just snapped. I began screaming at him, hateful words in an angry rage - things I can't even remember; it was an out-of-body explosion of frustration. Alarmed, he backed away from me and then, he began to walk away. Apparently, I wasn't finished making my point so I started following him. Taking my words like daggers to the back, he began to run. So I ran too, still shrieking my blood red monologue through the streets of my new town.

It must have been quite a sight. A screaming blonde white girl, born and raised in the suburbs, chasing a freaked out black homeless dude, up and down the Tenderloin in the wee hours. I finally caught site of myself in a store window and stopped dead in my tracks. He, wisely, kept going.

Panting and mildly nasueous, I looked up in time to see my bus go past me. I'd missed my ride. Then, it began to rain.

I'm hoping this time around, I'll have better luck.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Evidence That This Century Won't Be Like The Last

Tonight, I learned that my father, Bob, a Republican cowboy character from South Dakota has a very deep admiration for Queen Latifah, a serious crush on Jennifer Lopez and has started watching "The View."

Um . . . I'm not sure where to start here but I think this might be Progress.

He understands that Queen may have had another career before she became an actress but he has no idea what it is. I try to explain "rap" and her place in its history but he has just one question, "Rap. Is that music?"

As for his beloved J-Lo, he's not sure about all the fuss over her famous butt, he likes her face. Other than "Galaxy Quest" (a movie we watch together annually,) his favorites movies are "The Wedding Planner" and "Maid in Manhattan." When his wife, Shirley, told him that Ms. Lopez has a singing career as well, he couldn't believe it. I then added that her showbiz career started as a dancer and he gasped, "Boy, what a talent!"

Meanwhile, the latest knowledge he's gleaned from the View gals have something to do with asexuals who have organized. My father, a lusty individual if ever there was one, marveled over these people who had no interest in sex. Furthermore, he tried to understand why they would want to get together and have people know about their strange condition. I offer that maybe they can offer one another support or maybe to create a safe atmosphere where no passes will be made. Or maybe they just want their own clubhouse.

"Hmmmm. I s'pose."

Parents. You do the best you can and try to protect them but inevitably they eat a bowl of that wild pop culture stew and the questions start. They hear things on the golf course, pick up a phrase here and there at the Early Bird dinners and the next thing you know, they've joined the Snoop Dogg fan club.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Boobs, boobs, boobs!

Yesterday morning, as I was leaving for my mammogram appointment, my cousin Ryan gamely called out, "Have a smashing time!"

Yes, nothing like having your tits mechanically stamped flat from every angle to really kick off the day. I asked the woman who was maneuvering my world-class orbs into position how many of these she did every day. She said, "About 50."

That means this angel deals with about 100 boobs per day. To the average male, this sounds like a dream job but the only real advantage would be to see boobs in their infinite variety. Before me, a towering black lesbian - after me, two old ladies - one a skinny, little white haired character, the other a big, fat Russian. No two boobs are the same, not even on the same gal. (My nickname used to be "Lefty.")

Other than Gustav Klimpt's classic painting, "The Three Ages of Woman", you rarely see an old woman's breasts shown anywhere. In fact, when the average person tries to buy a poster or print of Klimpt's depiction, the old woman is almost always cropped out of the picture showing just the first two ages of woman, the smooth youthful ones.

I've always had a love/hate relationship with my own boobs. They arrived like gangbusters in the 5th grade, just as my parent's divorce was beginning. I tried to hide them but I didn't fool everyone. I believe my teacher, Mrs. Merrill finally sent a note home, something to effect of, "This girl needs a bra." I don't remember ever wearing A-cups, I began at B.

Suddenly, all my boy buddies started treating me differently and acting silly around me. Though my body raced ahead, my insides were still a kid. I could see jealousy in the faces of girls and goofy lust in the faces of boys and it was all happening against my will.

In Jr. High and High School, they made me feel fat, of course. Nevertheless, I still didn't comprehend their power. I started to get a sense of it one Halloween evening, dressed up as a mouse. I'd borrowed a black leotard from a friend and the only one she had was backless so I went braless. Standing on the sidelines cheering the football team (yes, I was a dumb blonde cheerleader,) I heard a plaintive yell: "WILL YOU MARRY ME?!? PLEASE? WILL YOU MARRY ME? MOUSE GIRL?"

On and on he went, looking quite genuinely pained and pathetic. I didn't know him but we were about the same age and it looked like he might cry at any moment. My friends thought it was hilarious and I almost felt bad for him without knowing why. Finally, one of his friends came along, politely apologized to me and gingerly peeled him off the fence that separated us. The young man's own hormones had turned on him, rendering him helpless and I (we?) only added to his torture. I mean, I was jumping up and down, fer chrissakes.

By the time the 80s rolled around, I had not only made peace with them but they often paid the bar tab, merely by existing. More recently, I have kept them hidden, taking them out only for special occasions, leading them to be named "The Good China" by The Devil-ettes.

Perhaps when I move to a warmer climate they will experience a rennaissance. I suppose they deserve it - in fact, we all do.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Let The Transformation Begin

I'm listening to Merle proudly wail "Okie from Muskogee" and pondering my iminent metamorphosis from pot-smoking hippie chick to whiskey-drinking redneck chick. I'm certainly not afraid, if anything, it is long overdue.

Yes, it's official. I plan to move my life from this beautiful bayside paradise to the state capitol of Texas. Why? That could take many blogs to explain but suffice to say, it's just time.

I love San Francisco with all my heart - hell, I may even leave it here but it's a transition town, not for me to put down roots. It's been described as a beautiful, captivating lover, an expensive mistress that you try to break up with because you can't afford her then she flashes that stunning smile and your knees go weak. You end up staying, throwing cash at her feet, even though you know she is not the type of woman to marry, that she is not someone you could settle down with. And so it goes.

Meanwhile, Austin has been calling to me with its pervasive live music, green chilies-in-everything philosophy and Mexican shorthair bats living under the Congress Street bridge peeling out every summer night in great black ribbons with the town cheering them on. This is the town that gave us Willie Nelson, Molly Ivins and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. It is the current home of Sandra Bullock, which kinda proves my point, as she is the only movie star I can relate to. She married a biker dude from Long Beach, fer chrissakes.

There are other beguiling Texan features but mostly, I just need a change of scenery. Sure, it's gonna be hot or rather FUCKING HOT, especially after nine years of wearing wool scarves in August; it's going to be quite a shock. Still, it will be cool to have distinct seasons, that will be a first for me. Living in SoCal is like having variations on the same 75 degree day and here, it's just moist, always.

Expect some nostalgic, weepy, freaked out blogs in the next couple months. I have no job, nowhere to live, not even a map of the town but everyone speaks English, more or less, so I figure how hard can it be?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Okay, so I'm not a ballerina . . .

I've hit 40 and already it's time to start dating Ben Gay. My recent horse incident has hurt my back more than I have been willing to admit. Apparently, I'm on some sort of program where I get to know various body parts individually and intimately via numerous accidents and acts of buffoonery.

Once we hit 25 or so, the body begins breaking down, some days more than others. I am starting to feel my physical limitations and that can only be good news for the whiskey industry.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Perspective From Home

It's amazing how quickly my eyes adapted to seeing smashed buildings and houses cracked wide open like eggs. Walking to the bus this morning, I marveled at everything on my street - intact and apparently sturdy. I now know better.

Wood, metal, concrete - the materials that house our lives always seemed so solid. Still, they are no match for air and water, two elements that when rousted, match the fury of a woman wronged.

I was impressed with the spirit of Southerners in the face of an impossible mess. Some of my favorite quotes included the optimism of a man named Kenny who recalled optimistically, "Well, my house wasn't too far from where it originally was."

Another favorite came from MaryAnn as we observed the open half of a home in Gulfport. "Well, they needed to redecorate anyway . . . I mean, look at that wallpaper!"

Also, in the face of such hard times, the appearance of Xmas decorations, even in the mud. I will post photos once I figure out how to do that. I took 12 rolls as it was hard to stop and impossible to capture.

Well, I'm off to the emergency room, once again. My back is in excrutiating pain. Perhaps I should start picking up my mail there?