Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Health care. Let me just say this:

It is the government's job to work for the people.

It is the insurance industry's job to work for their wallets.

It's just a matter of holding our government accountable, which as Americans we should be eager to do.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oh, the congestion

So I've been saying LA, and I've been saying LA. And I've been dreaming LA for years longer than I'm willing to admit. And when I finally have the chance to go...goddamn it if I didn't decide on a career path.

I'm clearly a little stunted in the whole life thing, as I still have a little of the "I can save the world" in me. Probably the lack of personal offspring. But it's more serious than just "can". It's a must. I know that I would feel guilty if I took that cush office job and didn't do something.

So I've decided to go into international development/child welfare. I hate the first term. That assumes that these societies are in a place that is unsatisfactory. All societies develop though, I just hope I don't become part of an organization that forces the develop. I think Lenin proved that was a bad idea.

Anyway, my point is, I want to work in the sphere of international aid. It seems the only way to do that in LA is to sit around trying to collect money from starlets.

I mean, obviously, best case scenario, I'm not even doing most of my work in this country, but I have to be based somewhere.

I've been holding out on Chicago. I love Chicago, and I've been saying that I want to settle there. It dawned on me this week, I'm not 18 anymore. I'm closer to 30 than I am 20, and while I don't need to "settle" per se, it's not a bad idea to head to a town that I love and that in general has more love to give than Los Angeles.

How can I have done so much and still feel like life is passing me by? I will never be able to die satisfied. I will never have seen enough. I will never have experienced enough. Maybe I should go ahead and make my bucket list so I'll have something to satisfy myself if I should, god forbid, make it to old age.

I'm starting with that ground up snake bone spread I saw on Travel Channel today.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Clown Showdown

So I'm back. I'm sure you'd like some long diatribe about re-entering society, the joys and pains. Too bad.

In my home town there is a middle aged Hispanic guy named Jose. Ok, in reality there's probably 250, I'll be more specific. This particular Jose genuinely enjoys taking jobs involving standing on corners advertising goods and services. Mattress guy? Jose's all over that. Statue of Liberty tax guy? Jose can't get the crown on fast enough. He brings stuffed animals with him and puts on shows. He stands at one of the busiest intersections in town waving and running up to cars with kids to give a 15 second puppet show. Just now I saw him on the sidewalk in front of the coffee shop giving a very soulful performance on harmonica just for fun. Often he dresses as a clown. Actually, more often than not he dresses as a clown. A rather shabby clown, but a clown. He likes to perform anywhere they'll let him, schools, nursing homes, etc. He'd like to get paid, but will do it for free just for the sake of entertainment. Is Jose mentally ill? I really couldn't say. He's terribly nice. Perhaps he is what we should be evolving to. (I may have just suggested we evolve to be street performing clowns)

But that's not what I want to talk about.

Last week I was sitting in the same coffee shop and a shabby clown walked by. With balloons. But it was not Jose. I repeat, not Jose. What does that mean? It means, that in this tiny town of mostly retirees, sprinkled with jaded youths and Mexican immigrants, we have two men that enjoy dressing as clowns.

This impostor clown (I have to be loyal to Jose) walks at a very quick speed down the street menacingly shaking a balloon. I get the impression that he recognizes the competition. If he can give away more balloon animals than Jose can give harmonica/puppet show performances, he wins.

I can't possibly tell you how unnerving it is to come home after so long to find a potential clown showdown.

I have yet to see them interact. I believe I witnessed one give the other the cold shoulder. I'll keep you updated. This could have grave world importance.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Freaks. I like em. I mean, not in a sexual way. Not in a rude way. I just have a normal interest in the strange, absurd, etc. When I was in Thailand, I visited the freak museum there. Of course, that's not what it's called. I'm sure it's called, "Banawayathi's International Museum of Anatomical Anomalies and Shit". It had a lot of pictures of grotesque car accidents, murders, life size tsunami victim replicas, organs in jars, mummified criminals, two-headed babies, etc. The two headed babies were quite shocking. Hell it was all quite shocking.

It was no warning for what was to come in Pedro's Pavillion of Pickled Punks.

Peter the Great, Peter the First, Pedro. I like freaks. Probably only slightly more than the next guy. But Pedro. Pedro loved his freaks. But you know, if I was leader of half the known world, I'd probably collect freaks too.

Explanatory posters attempted to say that Peter collected these things to shed light on them, to keep people from believing in witchcraft, and kill ignorance. Bollocks. Some of the bottled freaks were actually labled as "Monster with two faces". Very PC.

I could not believe what I saw in this place. You had your run of the mill two headed babies. Of all sorts. Joined at the chest, at the head, at the butt. There were babies whose heads were so un-attached, that they were in essence a head with two faces, one on either side. There were at least 3 cyclops babies. And cyclopian animals. There were babies that didn't have lower limbs. Completely developed from the waste up, and some sort of Casper the Friendly Ghost bottom half. There was a baby covered in hair. Not like a werewolf, but it would have ended up like that if born. Some babies had growths coming out of their head described as either "brain hernias" or simply "skin growths", but I tell you, one had testicles growing from its forehead and at least two had penises growing from between their eyes.

Pedro bought a collection of things in jars from this guy Ruysch. Ruysch had babies, and baby parts in jars. But to keep them from "disturbing" people, he added bits of lace, and even bonnets. What? Yes. The museum said it was to keep from disturbing people, I'd say he was already very disturbed. Little feet in jars, with painted toenails and bit of lace tied to the end of the stump. A foetus in a jar, the lid of the jar decorated with flowers and seashells.

But let me tell you what was most unsettling. What was most unsettling, was that in each case was not only freaks in jars, not only two headed animals, but normal animals. So you have maybe a few two-headed babies, a baby with no legs, a baby with no brain, a hedgehog, and a hairy baby. Yeah. In the midst of these babies was a stuffed hedgehog. Just a normal everyday hedgehog. This decision was made in modern times. A museum curator put these displays together and decided that the kids needed a pet. In another case, above the jars of these tortured souls was a stuffed fish. A pike I believe. Every case had random animals. They say you aren't allowed to take pictures out of respect. Hey! How about you don't hang a stuffed lizard between me and my four-legged brother!

How to half-ass a major foreign city.

How to half-ass a major foreign city.

Well, first you have to be completely goal-less. I mean, you want to have some sort of goal, or you won't even half-ass the city, but you can't actually care to achieve this goal. You have to have some feeling of necessity but not necessarily of wanting, i.e. motivation.

So let's say for example you want to visit something just out of town. First of all, don't put too much effort into finding out how to get there. Just get a general idea and head that direction. Now on your way, you may meet people who want to disturb your plan to only half-ass this. They may try to guide you all the way to your destination, thereby making it easier to get to said destination and enjoy it. Don't be rude, allow the help, but don't let it derail your plan.

So you've gotten to the destination, just for an example, let's use "Catherine's Palace". I mean, let's be honest, once you've seen a million gardens and fancy baroque buildings, the only thing to see is the Amber Room right? So for example, let's say you manage to arrive at this destination. You've almost completed a visit. That is not half-assing it. Never fear. There will surely be something to deter you. Hopefully you find that there is a line a mile long that doesn't seem to be moving. This will give you ample time to stand outside said building. Photograph some things, look like you're really put out that you can't get in, and then slyly make your exit.

You leave with enough pictures to say you've been there, but you didn't have to waste all day long!

Example two: Let's say there's a big church with a big tower. I don't know, let's call it Isaac's Cathedral. So here's an easy one. All churches look the same inside right? This one has one ticket for the church, and one for the tower. You need some excercise, and you'll get better pictures from the top anyway, so just buy a ticket for the tower! If there was an equation for half-assing something, this particular example would be textbook.

Example Three: Let's say there's a museum with four floors. Come on, four floors? Let's just say this museum is mostly about culture, and while you find it interesting, you may or may not be cultured out. You may or may not believe that the particular country you are in is the most apt at explaining other people's cultures. And hey! There's bottled freaks on the second floor! So you can say that technically you went to half the museum. Just because you only really looked in one room, who cares? If you've made it this far, you probably know everything else anyway...

Example Four. Let's say there's a complex of buildings/museums/etc. Just for ease of imagining, let's call it the Peter and Paul Fortress, which I like to call Petey Pablo. So again, this journey will probably take you at least an hour to get there. If along the way you can attempt to find something to eat and be deterred, Oh let's say 4 times due to lack of credit card machines at restaurants, and lack of change at the kiosks, you will be much more motivated to half-ass this site. Also, if the one part you actually really want to see is closed, even better. So here, you can easily take a picture of a wall or two and prove you did actually go.

I hope you've found this educational. It's not at all true to life...completely hypothetical.....