Thursday, November 18, 2010

What's up

I'm going to be a journalist. And you can go to hell for doubting me.

But it's going to take some work. Therein lies the problem. At my internships, I've mostly been on a leash. Day in, day out, I write what gets brushed off of the 'career writer' table as scraps that even riff-raff like me can effectively produce. But I'm getting hungrier.

In the course of my nascent career I've come to know this town intimately, and familiarity breeds contempt. I'm sick of the student protests that boil down to the rabid leading the awkward. There's no real social strife amongst students - we're just the ones too cowardly to drop out and chase our dreams, and from too wealthy a background to have to.

There's of course the minority that pull themselves through with three jobs or surf on debt in lieu of parental support, and to them I ask - don't you think there's any other way? Your ancestors have been fucked by the system enough, and all you want to do is get in line for another beating?

We're all still suckling at the poison teats of mama Corporatism, and we only raise a wail when there aren't enough nipples to go around. We've got to stand up, open our eyes, and learn to feed ourselves.

So I wanna move on. Sure, there's no bike lane on 5th street, and of course we could provide more healthcare for the homeless, but relatively, this place is fucking Leave it to Beaver. I want to see where the rubber meets the road. Show me where the problems are, and where starry-eyed activist kids actually need to be. Not fighting for their right to access a meaningless education, but where they could do some real good.

Give me a city - give me any city - and let me breathe it in for a while. Enough of this cushy incubator crap. Give me reality.

All this and more coming soon, whenever I have 15 minutes to spend banging keys on my computer.

Friday, October 22, 2010

COMING SOON

A DEADLY DOUBLE FEATURE, AT YOUR LOCAL BLOGOPLEX
COMING SOON:
HILO OF DARKNESS: Wild times in the land of Punatics

---AND---

FEAR AND LOATHING IN BLACK ROCK CITY

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Sick, Sick, Sick [don't resist]



This morning, near a bus stop, as my esophagus ejected a quart of acidic orange liquid against a tree, I reflected that I may be ill. For this and many other reasons to be detailed later, I find today to be the day that I return to my blog.

We always have two phases in our sick days, don't we? There's phase one: BLAAAARGH, guh, guh, oh why did I eat that leftover chow mein, my life is hell, BLAAAAAAAAARGH, and then we transition into phase two, when, over the gastrointestinal maelstrom, a cheerful voice in our head says, : 'I know what that means!'

And we realize that no force on earth can hold us accountable for our daily responsibilities. We dust our hands and say, welp, nothing to do today but change back into peejays, brew some tea and watch old episodes of Blackadder. [Alternate routine for racier crowd, if the venue has been serving drinks for at least three hours: "nothing to do today but throw on a robe, put my feet up and watch some PORNO! I swear, that stuff is irresistible when you're trapped inside for more than 45 minutes. And it works too, right? Gotta get that sex-u-al heeeealin!" But seriously folks.]

We start practicing our "I'm sick" line with the passion of a young Brooklyn thespian. We think about what details our bosses and professors will need to know, to include just enough visuals to assuage all doubt, but not so much to fly headlong into barfy melodrama. We call into work and try not to chuckle before we drop the bomb. If we're feeling manipulative, we might even throw out a pathetic "...but I could come in..." just to enjoy the experience of a boss telling us to stay home and relax to the max.

Sick people are like that, man. They're lazy, they're selfish and THEY CAN'T DRIVE FOR SHIT. [crowd laughs confusedly. all attention is on the next line] And I love making fun of sick people. Because it's not like I'm gonna get sued. "Hey! (cough hack) I think you said some p-p-p-(sneeze) pretty general things about sick people!" Or "My husband is sick!" Or even, "Some of my best friends are sick!" And in that case, look out. They're out to get you. [crowd is amused, but now tired of this concept. it must be taken to the next level]

National Association for the Advancement of Sick People. Nobody shows up for work. Like a true bureaucracy. Oh, I'm sorry, is it people of illness? Is that the PC term now? Didn't mean to offend you. (in a whisper) And maybe you should go back to bed...

On a more serious note, there's definitely a whole culture in America built around being sick. Advertisers LOVE sick people. But not like dangerously sick people, just seasonal, part-time, got-a-head-cold sick people. They're miserable, they want help, and no price is too high for relief. So of course this is capitalized on -- not necessarily a bad thing, seeing as sick people can more easily get access to over-the-counter meds-------

Sorry, had to take a break to puke up some bile. Less fun than it sounds. But my point was, advertisers try to convince you that you're minorly ill in tons of ways you're not even aware, and that you owe it to yourself to take it easy and buy some pointless crap. And of course they decide to take it one step too far like they always do and get all psychological and evil on you. Everywhere you look are ads attacking your sense of self to make you think you're always inadequate and lacking something to make you a complete person. Whether it's your skin, your hair, your erections, your boobs (trannies get it both ways. shame really), your weight, or - worst of all - your patriotism.

This trope appears in full force when it's flu shot season. Not flu season, flu SHOT season. I'm a little revolted to even touch on the issue, because the sheer level of fearmongering and psychological manipulation that goes into the 'protect your children from evil foreign flu bugs!' is just twisted.


AND THEN THEY ALL DIED HORRIBLY THE END GET INJECTED

"Protect your kids, protect your neighbors, protect your country. Get in line at any distribution point to receive your government health-juice. Your honorable congressmen are still keeping you safe from SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, so that'll be $27 of your own, up front."

Really, this flu-panic campaign tried to penetrate MAJORLY -- at your bus stop, on billboards on your way to work, AT YOUR WORKPLACE, nowhere was spared.

It's obvious enough that the World Health Organization is in bed with Tamiflu, the flu vaccine company that Donald "Dubya-em-Dee" Rumsfeld has major holdings in. But the really sick part is considering whether or not the flu shot, uh, prevents the flu. Several studies and prominent physicians have said that flu shots are about as effective as cough syrup.

The medical retail industry is far, far out of control at this point. Since when did PRESCRIPTION drugs start advertising?! The idea is, you go to the doctor, you get diagnosed with a real illness and he gives you a legitimate cure. Logical. But now, the flow is, you see a manipulative ad on TV, you think you're ill, you go into the doctor and insist you have a nebulous, vague sense of unease and might just benefit from a regimen of Zoloft™! And of course, your doctor is well enough familiar with the addictive new fad-drug because of the recent Pfizer presentation he attended. It was hosted by a very friendly young female representative, whose low-cut top was just barely professional. Yes, that was quite an afternoon. Check another month off of the doctor's 'continuing education' requirement.

So, can I put you down for 200 or 300 cases?

It's funny, though - any advertising for an actual MEDICAL CARE industry, all it tries to do is convince you you're NOT sick. 'Be Well,' 'Thrive,' all that kind of bullshit. Cheap way to keep costs down. Have people with low confidence self-select out of care, and potentially out of the gene pool by consequence. I imagine it'd be tougher to sell somebody on a particular brand of coverage if all they saw was honestly ill people puking their guts out. But at the same time, subliminally turning away patients is unethical and murderous, so it'd be nice to have medical ads reflect the fact that doctors help you in a time of need. It's not always delivering beautiful black babies, as the billboards would have you believe.

Anthem Health Care - Because there's help, Batman.

So anyway. That's basically where I'm coming from when I say, look after yourself. See through the bullshit and the smokescreens. Don't buy into worthless snake oil. Get the help you need and see a professional. See multiple professionals. Eat healthy, no processed poisons. We're never going to get to live in a utopia if we don't make temples of our bodies first.


So also, I apparently went to Hawai'i and Burning Man.






Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Departure

Hawai'i countdown: O:OO


Wow. I'm seriously about to fly out to the most secluded island chain on the planet in a magic air machine. What a lucky monkey I am. While I'm not certain of what precisely I'll see and do out there, I know I'm going to have the time of my life and come back with a TON of photos and stories to share.

Love you all.

Signing off.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Exploding moonshine jugs, or, A trip to the Citadel

Hawai'i countdown: 2 days

Oh Christ, I'm tired. Just finished up a bunch of these other really really long blog posts. READ THEM. I'll fill you in on the events of the last 24 hours another frickin' time. Gwar.

But these events are pretty interesting. Seriously. There are explosions, public nudity, deadly streetsweepers AND MORE!

Just not right now. Must sleep. Hawai'i soon.

<3

Friday, July 30, 2010

Bike Thieves Must Die

Hawai'i countdown: 4 days.


She's gone. She's just gone.

One of my most precious possessions and most basic necessities was ROBBED FROM ME by an amoral fucking SAVAGE who's doubtless selling the thing to a rich white kid MUCH less needy than I. Bolt cutters, a pickup truck and absolutely no soul nor human worth are the only components necessary to create your garden-variety bike thief; the shit-for-brains mouth-breather who lurks behind the scenes of your life and wait for the perfect moment to take from you what you goddamn need to get your goddamn groceries and get to goddamn class.

FUCK.

And the most revolting part is, I think I saw the idiots that did it pulling into the parking lot outside the co-ops at 10 at night. Red Toyota pickup. It stopped and nobody got out until I left. Had I known the evil moronic plans these assholes had lain, I would have slashed their tires, slammed their heads in the car door, taken a shovel to their windshield and THEN called the police. Protecting one's bike IS self-defense.

It's criminally negligent that hardware stores, as standard practice, sell a 4,000 lb-force cutting device for $19. - fucking - 87 when these compound-hinge slicers can cut a $50 lock like butter and turn a $300 bike into fuel for somebody's crack habit. WHO CUTS ANY GODDAMN BOLTS ANYWAY?! Bolt cutters are EXCLUSIVELY a tool for breaking and entering. Period. If you need to cut a chain, then GEE MAYBE IT'S NOT YOUR CHAIN.

"Stanley 18-Inch Bolt Cutter feature a pivot mechanism that gives you easier cutting of tougher material. You will enjoy the durable, forged handles and the slip resistant rubberized grip."

Oh yeah, you'll enjoy the FUCK out of those handles and you destroy somebody's LEGITIMATELY PURCHASED VEHICLE.

But hey, I'll rise above it. I just know that I'm fucking SLEEPING NEXT TO MY BIKE from now on with a crowbar under the bed.

For some catharsis, here's a bike thief getting torn to shit by hardcore NYC bikers with clip shoes, REMIXED.


And I'm going to a fetish club with my lover tonight. Should be fun.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Strange Happenings in the Age of Aquarius

Hawai'i countdown: 6 days

So I live in a co-op. Simply put, this means that I and a bunch of other people my age live in the same house, sharing space, facilities and basic goods. As a student, a setup like this is extremely convenient due to the proximity to campus, the cheapness of rent that comes from sharing resources and the relative freedom to do what I want with my space. We've got an expansive organic garden, solar panels, an overpopulated chicken coop, the works!

My cooperative, the Davis Student Cooperative, is modeled after a consensus-run 1960's commune, which indeed it used to be. DSC was founded in 1964 as sort of a men's club, a ranch home 2 miles from campus where bearded college students were able to live together, uh, discreetly and as an alternative to Greek life. As American attitudes evolved, so did the Cooperative. In 1969, the co-op moved to campus and opened its doors to residents of all kinds. Group photos attest to the co-op's immediate popularity with women and near total disinterest from ethnic students. What? It's true.

The co-ops are a challenging and exciting place to live. What each student 'gets' out of them really depends on what they bring in and how much they want to participate. Want to learn how to garden? Bake bread? Use your carpentry skills? Make inspirational art? Repair damaged household items? The co-ops provide. (Seriously, if you want to do the last in that list, PLEASE CONTACT US. WE WILL PAY HANDSOMELY IN GRANOLA AND HUGS.)

I've been there for a little under a year. And a lot has happened. For now, I have two vignettes to share about the place:

No, we don't all live in the same house. See if you can find me, you filthy stalkers!

One day, my co-op mates and I were cleaning up our common areas (dining room, living room, kitchen, pantry, porch) to make the place more attractive for a professor dinner. 'P-dinners,' as they're somewhat unappetizingly called, are an important part of sustaining our cooperative; one of those 'community outreach' resumé items. We the students make the effort to invite our favorite professors and TAs to enjoy some badass home cooking and, more or less, infect them with hippy-lovin' so that when times get tough for us, as they inevitably do, we have a network of goodwill that can help us through. ANYWAY, that's beside the point. The story is, we were cleaning up. And at the cooperatives, it's quite an undertaking.

When we all elected tasks, I decided to do the porch. 'Porch' doesn't quite sum it up, though. A couple years ago, the UC Davis Student Housing Office decided to bring the DSC house up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act by installing a wheelchair access ramp. Their method of making DSC handi-capable is a fable, nay, a microcosm of bureaucratic efficiency.
Socrates might have called this, a 'non sequitur.'

Did they use their normal contractors to build a simple $1000 ramp at a 14º angle and call it a day? Nope. They signed up with a whole new company to build a huge mahogany GALLERY protruding out of our house that doubles back on itself before finally reaching ground. It really does look quite nice. Almost too nice to match the condition of the rest of the house. All of this was financed with a high-interest loan for $750,000, which Student Housing initially began paying back with their own funds, then switched over to using the Tri-Cooperative reserve funds - you know, the fund we students set aside for buying expensive gardening tools (kegs) or upgrading parts of the house (with kegs.) Predictably, Student Housing burned up our money without our knowledge, ran into debt and then threatened to close down our house due to their own mismanagement. With a major rallying of co-op support, this battle has been staved off for another year.

So there I was about to clean the porch. The wheelchair access ramp was spattered with dried-up persimmons from an exceedingly fertile tree overhead and was home to perhaps literally thousands of spiders. It's a thriving ecology out there. Like an ant farm, except it bankrupts your managers and never gets boring. All this has to get cleaned up for P-dinner tomorrow. Obviously, it's broom time.

There was a broom on the porch. Perfect. Picked the baby up, positioned my hands in a gold-medalist brooming stance, wound up for the first sweep and SNAP. The handle sheared in half on the palm of my right hand. It didn't take me long to realize the impact. "Ha! Well isn't that just... Oh hey, I'm bleeding."

The next twenty minutes I spent hunting through the entire house for the first-aid kit that WASN'T THERE. Ordinarily, this would be pretty frustrating. But the co-op life takes it to another level. I burst into the upstairs bathroom with my hand elevated and quickly spotted a store-bought emergency-preparedness kit. At last. It shone at me like Jesus' bleeding heart. Relief. Then I opened it...

"Whaaaaaaat the fuck is this?!" There were no bandages, no gauze rolls, no alcohol pads, no safety scissors, no thermal blanket, no waterproof matches, no collapsible poncho and NO BANDAGES. What was in there? Hair rollers and eyebrow tweezers. A little bit of aloe vera.

Fortunately, I had a personal stash of Bactine and duct tape.

So I bring this up at a house meeting. House meetings are when we all get together to make decisions by consensus. 'Consensus' meaning everyone tolerates the proposal and can live with it. Essentially, everybody has a pocket veto. Miraculously, we can still pass budget faster than Congress.

"And the next discussion item is... 'first aid.' Cheya?"
"Hey everyone, we don't have a first aid kit. Like anywhere. In the house. That's pretty bad. We need to be prepared for anyone getting injured, especially with the huge party coming up next week. So let's get one! Uh, I see a hand? Go ahead."
"Whoa whoa whoa, wait... we totally have a first aid kit! It's in the bathroom upstairs!"
"No, what we have is a BOX for a first aid kit, with beauty supplies inside. Another hand?"
"I have one in my room, you can borrow it if you need it."
"Well, that's nice of you, but we should have one as a house. Okay, another hand?"
"That costs money."
-- And so on.

About a week later, everyone had forgotten the issue.

Including me.


Second vignette:

We have some chickens. Chickens are an important part of our organic ecology scheme; they gobble up unwanted insects and plants and through the magic of 'digestion,' transform said matter into nitrogen-rich fertilizer! We used to have 8 of them. Nice even number. But then!

A warm June morning, just before finals week. White chicken feathers have been reported strewn about the front yard of DSC. At 10:30 AM, DSC resident D___ M____ discovers the mangled body of a White Brahma chicken. Word of the incident spreads, and competing theories over the chicken's death begin to form. Fingers are pointed. As the day goes on, the theories become more and more fantastical, and the gravity of the death reaches mythological proportions. A chicken is dead. A community is confused. So I called the expert.

Who IS this masked man?!

Veterinary superstar C___ G___ D___ is a close acquaintance of mine and it felt like the ideal day to use that connection. C___ arrived on the scene in style, dismounting his root-beer colored bike while still in motion. "Where's the bird?"

By this time, however, the fate of the chicken carcass was uncertain. Agrarian Effort is the co-op house closest to the chicken coop and therefore the birds' de facto custodians. C___, D___ and I first went there for answers. At Ag's porch, we quickly learned that the bird's body had already been buried - a sudden development - and that the pervading theory of the chicken's C.O.D. was that a neurotic Freshman had hit her with a shovel. Visibly, C___ did not like this theory. Neither did I, as this would mean we had a psycho poultrygeist on our hands. As politely as humanly possible, C___ asked where the body was. Ag residents gently suggested that digging it up wasn't necessary. But C___ is a man of action, and ruthlessly thorough.

We found the burial site in an uninteresting area of the garden. I halfway expected to see a cross made of popsicle sticks. D___ and C___ immediately got to work exhuming the chicken, digging at first gingerly with a shovel, then rapidly with their bare hands. A feather was glimpsed, then a leg, then a breast -- the whole enchilada was halfway exposed. C___, ever unafraid of anything avian, pulled at the bird's side until PLOP -- all at once, the bird was free. Then began the autopsy.
Dramatic re-enactment.

C___ carefully turned the bird over. Then over again. Lifted a wing tenderly. Held it up. Brought it close. You know, I almost wouldn't mind being a dead bird if I were in C___'s hands.
"There it is." C___ said suddenly, tracing a line on the bird with his index finger. "Here's the bite line." C___ concluded that the bird's killer was... WAS... (spoiler alert) a dog. In a patient but not-too-long explanation, C___ taught us that a dog kills a bird by chomping down on it with its mighty jaws, then shaking it wildly around -- explaining the bite line, the hanging entrails and the feathers everywhere. And all it takes is a second, C___ said. Dog gets off a leash, killer instinct takes over, and boom. Minus one chicken for the co-ops. At least she didn't suffer.

After reburying the bird, C___ dispelled all these voodoo hocus-pocus notions of a bird-killing sasquatch to the porch-sitters of Ag. It was a dog. Keep the birds locked up next time.

Then, as quickly as he came, C___ was gone. And I think I was in love.

That's all for now. BYE!