July 2006

Monthly Archive

Hours were mapped out on a napkin provided by the Indian restaurant we'd come to find ourselves in– suddenly there were four of us instead of two… Three days, little rest, rules in place and travel arrangements were made… Time off of work, phone calls and e-mails but it's hard to get excited about something more than a month distant…

Off of work early, walk through the panhandle and collect a co-conspirator… To the house, last minute packing and the triple check while she drinks my beer waiting impatiently… Hop the train downtown, off to hop on another train and we meet our third on the platform… Across the bay and onto a shuttle and unloaded at the edge of the terminal where I annoy everyone by demanding a moment to smoke a cigarette before passing through the security gates… A lone traveller shares out ill-designed wind shelter in a t-shirt… I notice he keeps glancing over at us desperate for some trivial conversation… Happens at every bus stop in America, I suppose, so I know how to watch other's actions in reflections and how to keep my attention diverted… Eventually he comments to no one about the cold and we have to respond… He's from Long Beach and doesn't understand the Bay Area… Nothing we can do for you, sir, except bid you a good flight… Now that I think about it he may have been waiting for a ride but the moment has passed…

Before September 11th I was a liability to anyone running late for a flight– security loves to have a chat and a look at my posessions, pockets, ankles and waist… After measures were heightened I ceased setting off alarms and raising suspicion… They finally stopped me, pulling my suitcase off to the side and running it through an additional x-ray machine… Opened up, swabbed for explosives and then a mysterious item from a manicuring set I've had for years is deemed unsuitable for travel… The woman seems apologetic about confiscating it and I comment how I've never used the damn thing… “You only need it when you don't have it” she says and I think it's a funny thing to say to someone as you're taking something from them… I've yet to need it…

We'd been bumped to first class for free which is a little uncomfortable… People don't spit on us as we board before the coach sitters nor do they glare as they pass our spacious, comfortable seats… Warm nuts, free drinks, do you want to hang your coat up? I wonder how were are viewed– later someone suggests we probably were taken for band members what with the tattoos and ratty clothing… “Would it be offensive to offer you a gratuity?” I ask waving a crumbled five dollar bill at our stewardess, embarassed and uncertain… She smiles more than humanly possible, shooing away my inept offering… “You were polite, that means everything…” so I pocket the bill… Not sure if I'm going to repeat this on my return flight…

Collected by our friend and we drive south through Tacoma stopping at the 24 hour drive through Starbucks… The passanger up front begins to wave a six-foot inflatable penis (in box) at the cashier and we find ourselves engaged in conversation with a desperate soul… “You can't shock me, I lived in San Francisco for five years” It's hard to pry ourselves away as he keeps rambling on…

Olympia, green and quiet and inviting… We don't do much, buy some groceries and beer and insepct the accomodations… Everything's quite nice but it's getting late and we have a lot to do tomorrow…

We watched Twin Peaks from the unaired pilot (stopping with fifteen minutes left to spare ourselves the original ending) through 29 episodes and ending with the posthumous prequal “Fire Walk With Me” from Friday afternoon till late Sunday night… Breaks intersected the 45 minutes episodes with pots of coffee being made, soup set to simmer, pie cut and dished, bathroom visits… We went to a one year old's birthday party and left with food, I didn't leave the house all day Sunday… No loud food, no alcohol, no whining or talking of any kind… We devolved into a small cult speaking only in references, sleeping five or six hours a night… My sentences became difficult to decipher, people shuffled back and forth in pajamas and untied shoes, someone snorted pie up their nose accidentally… By five in the morning as dawn hit Monday I felt as though I'd been on one of my old

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three day speed benders… My mind was lost in a haze, my movements aimless and jerky, unable to contemplate sleep or interaction with anyone… At least I didn't feel disgusting like drugs used to make me feel after the come-down…

Monday was spent driving through the central Washington towns in search of filming locations… North Bend, Snoqualmie, Falls City and the hills above… The ultimate super-fan geek move and we even had a map from a website printed out… We walked across an old train bridge, wandered around an abandoned mill, contemplated closed diners and stood in awe of a massive waterfall… To make matters worse we ran into a suspected Twin Peaks fanatic at more than one locations– hopefully were were less obvious than the guy with cameras slung over his shoulder, shorts on, frosty Starbucks coffee concoction in hand…

Now I'm in Seattle attempting to readjust… It's been okay, I can talk to people who weren't with us through the valley of season two… Walked through northern Seattle, visited the locks seperating Puget Sound and Lake Oregon, sat on a hillside above I5 watching the sun sink behind downtown while drinking a MGD Reserve and ate in a restaurant providing TGIFriday's fun for a more sophisticated crowd… Saw someone for the first time in two years and met her husband, listened to someone plan their next step while they're still midway through this one, ate something other than cherry pie and coffee…

This officially qualifies as vacation– I received pay while watching Twin Peaks…
-Brendan
Greenwood District, Seattle Washington

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AmericaOne news story last week that got lost in the mire

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was Will Smith trying to break into India's film market after being excluded from China. If only Smith could court China's censorship board like his character Alex Hitchens woos the ladies in 2005's Hitch – a lukewarm romantic footbath for a princess-and-the-pea middle class. One might be inclined to view this as evidence of China's good taste, but considering only 20 foreign movies made the cut, this turns out to just be a happy coincidence. Making its way into the global awareness, India's film market seems primed to welcome Smith with open arms. Bhaliwood's been the next big thing for so long, shouldn't it be the big thing by now? This is a rare boon for US foreign policy. The fresh prince is an ideal cultural colonist: Talented, hardworking; an embodiment of the American dream; a guru of media plurality; and an icon of America's pretext of racial synthesis and acceptance. How can the rest of the world reject our lifestyle when they see it's all about punching aliens and shagging coworkers? This is actually the kind of imperialism I can endorse. It's always great when there's a

non-violent transmission of ideas between countries. There may be a backlash against the perception that Smith's brand of the stars and stripes is being shoved down the throat of an audience who'd like to see more movies about their own cultural identity. On the other hand, anyone who's been to a McDonalds in another country knows that even the most rigid forms of Americanism reach a compromise of interpretation with the receiving culture. This is, perhaps, a bad example given the evil practices of the golden arches, but at least Smith probably won't slaughter thousands of cows to make his films, and it seems unlikely that you'd become a 25-year-old diabetic from watching his movies since you were six. Though Smith most likely plans to use the low production costs in India to increase the profit margin on unvetted projects, he'll inevitably be a bridge between the two economies, both monetarily and creatively. All in all this means that you'll feel less and less special when you find that gem of an obscure Italian movie on Netflix and get to brag about it to all your friends. On the plus side, perhaps when we're approaching the next country that's entertaining the idea of nuclear warheads, we can point out that they've been entertained by our cinematic antics for years, so lighten up a little, eh?

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I hate it when this place becomes my personal venting and blathering space…

I also hate how the little toolbar that allowed me to insert links excessively isn't around for me to abuse…

But I'm really starting to love television, the

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most revolutionary communications tool devised by man prior to the invention and wide-spread use of the internet… Not just because I can watch Charlie Rose and Spike Lee argue about whose turn it is to talk and what the other one means but because it's really a good way of keeping up

with community events… For instance, what do you do on Labor Day weekend? May Day has never really caught on in the states as a celebration of the worker bees busy sweeping up Walmart or calling you up at home to tell you about this great new loan you've been pre-qualified for but Labor Day is an all-American tribute to the values and traditions held dear by the proletariat such as beer drinking and BBQing and getting paid time off…

To take advantage of this day of introspection and appreciation of our forebearers Golden Gate Fields, the local racetrack over in Berkeley, is having a free towel give-away September 4th… The beach-towel has a wonderful graphic of a horse and jockey in a modernistic style and, on television, is enticingly displayed by a young woman who is apparantly underdressed behind said beach towel… Yes, people do wear clothes with no shoulder straps or other support but I like to think of her as some sort of gambling nymph (I wanted to use succubous but this seems to have a botony definition, not a Greek mythology definition… Anyone who can tell me what the fuck I was thinking wins a free GGF beach towel…) luring the unwary or oversexed to the promised land of debt and alcoholism…

Free towel day is exciting as all hell and certainly more than enough of a good time to BART my ass over and play the ponies, but the Einsteins behind GGFs marketing have doubled down on this event by having the giveaway coincide with family day and beer fest! Mom and dad can get soused and pass out on their beach towel after gambling little Johnny's future on the third race while the children are happily occupied kicking the shit out of the poor ponies forced to trudge endlessly in their tight circle… Au hasard Balthazar indeed!

Family is important, it's true… One night wired on copious amounts of amphetemines after Krupted Peasant Farmerz played Gilman a couple of friends and I wandered over to the fields to hung out… Little Johnnies were crawling all over the arcade, stealing toys from the cherry picker and kicking the candy machine while mom and dad were watching the Australian carriage-race simulcast with telling desperation…

Community out-reach is important and hurrah for Golden Gate Fields' intimate knowledge of their neighbors… Let's all spend Labor Day at the track– if we're lucky someone'll get knifed in the parking lot…

In other news I was at Safeway last night buying soap and mayonaise and a couple other essentials… The baskets usually found by the door were gone and scattered throughout the store but since I only needed a couple of things I figured I would be alright… I'm usually wrong and this ws achingly clear as I stood in line burdened with bags of bread and 24 rolls of toilet paper– boy I can't wait for my turn to dump this shit on the fucking conveyer belt… First I had to chase the spotted old bastard off who thought that hugging the asses of those ahead was the proper way to stand in line, but in order to whisper sweet nothings in his ear I had to cross the throughway and huddle up as well which, with the spotty old bastard behind me, caused all sorts of people squeezing by and having to shift around and, at some point, getting bumped by the spotty old man and having to wonder angrily if he was trying to start some shit or just decrepit and clueless…

Anyways, three douche-bags ahead of me buying a box of Safeway bakery cookies and the last of their party has his arm stretched across the conveyer while engaged in their petty conversation… The cookies advance towards the register, the arm remains in place… There's enough of a beachhead to begin unloading my burden and perhaps readjust so that my wrist isn't twisted around and bent back trying to keep the mayonaise from causing an embarassing incident but I'm trying to give dickhead the opportunity to, as the cookies advance, notice life on Mars… This doesn't happen so I nibble on his ear a little with an excuse me and try to indicate, by beginning to put shit on the counter, that the ample space provided might enjoy company other than his arm… He turns to look at me in a languid fashion and pauses… for a moment… before moving his arm and continuing the petty conversation…

Their cookies cost $5 and change, an event which warranted excited “dude!” and would have resulted in high-fives except it's not traditionally cool to high-five after a certain age…
-wow, this home computing shit is nice– I'm making beans right this moment…

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Daniella and BarneyOriginally uploaded by kaxline.

As Rob and I sat outside a bar in Baños, Ecuador, the daughter of the tavern's owner became fascinated with us and attacked us with her stuffed Barney. She was beautiful, but this was not a surprise; almost all the children I encountered in Ecuador were nymph-like in their radiance, even more so in their formal school attire. In fact, the dress of officials such as airport security and army personel in the streets was strikingly discordant with the chaotic backdrops in which these people stood. Everything worked smoothly and without fail — buses and taxis arrived safely at their destinations, no one was thrown from the vehicles or run over — but in every instance a desirable outcome seemed implausible at best, a miracle at worst. Like much of South and Central America, Ecuador to me seems like it was pushed hastily into modernity by Spanish and tourist colonization and then abandonded (and/or oppressed) without proper resources to cope. Socially I found a much warmer climate than anywhere I've visited in the U.S. The wall of cynicism, the jadedness, that keeps me at arms length from strangers at home was a distant memory, and instead I was greeted with an immediate intimacy that I envied. But the sense that the culture has one

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past, while it's being dragged to the future by the other foot, never left me. The disparity of wealth is enormous, and tourism seems to be the only main industry other than agriculture. The most problematic issue for me is — and has been since my many trips to Mexico — the lack of varied roles for women. It seems girls are to be very sexual

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and desirable to attract a husband, but then are expected to have as many children as possible right away. Some graffiti I saw in Quito roughly translated to “Sex when I want, pregnant when I choose.” This dovetailed with my sister's experience at a couple of Planned Parenthood's in California where South and Central American women lined up for the birth

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procreation before the Catholic influence, but this seems to be a growing point of tension that might boil to the surface if other more pressing problems didn't take up all the space in the public awareness. As a result, the ubiquitous presence of children in the counry is conspicuous for someone from the abortion-happy north. I just hope the extra numbers will help the next generation tackle the problems they are inheriting.

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