August 2010–To LA and Back.

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Sunday, August 1st–
Monday, August 2nd–
Tuesday, August 3rd–
Wednesday, August 4th–

Thursday, August 5th–My friend Tim came by and we took Belle to South Austin to the boarding facility. I was uneasy that the woman in charge wouldn’t show me Belle’s room at first, saying I could see it when I came back for her. I was also very nervous about the fact that people were going in and out of the front door and there was nothing to keep a dog from running out of it and onto one of the busiest streets in Austin.

The head keeper covered Belle’s eyes and told me to walk out then, but as I got into the car I saw Belle standing at a sidelight beside the front door, looking out at me with a betrayed look on her face, though seconds later I saw her run into a fenced yard and start playing.

I had just gotten home when I received an e-mail that …[I’d been taken off my work project, which I’d been working on for six months, making more money than I ever had before]….

I called Jeremy, my supervisor’s boss and groom of the wedding I was going out to LA to attend. I said under the circumstances I thought I should probably stay home and conserve my money since I now no longer had a source of income. But he said not to worry, that they really wanted me to come out to the wedding, and that he’d tell his associate Joey to find me something else to do and try to get me into another project as soon as possible. And since I trust Jeremy implicitly, I agreed to come on out. Anyway, Belle was already boarded, my tickets were already paid for and my hotel reserved, so I figured why not.

And so it was, with no small amount of nerves, I finished packing, went to bed, and grabbed about six hours of sleep.

Friday, August 6th–Tim came and got me in the wee hours. We grabbed breakfast at Kerbey Lane, then he dropped me off at the airport. The security line was exceedingly long, and I just managed to get processed through and skim through the newspaper before my plane started boarding.

I was seated next to some Russian asshole, who yapped on his goddamn cellphone long after we’d been told to turn off all electronic devices. That’s so typical of the rudeness of the cell phone obsessives–they don’t care if our plane malfunctions and we crash to the ground, as long as they get their fucking “important calls” in. He hung up just before we started taxiing down the runway.

The flight was uneventful. I read through the words of an I-Pod guidebook, not really understanding any of what was being said. Cloud cover was so heavy over LA I didn’t get to see the city until we’d almost landed.

The big revelation was the weather. I’d gone from a Texas heatwave with temperatures around 110 to the upper 60s! In fact, I really could’ve used a sweater. It was amazing.

It took me a long time to find which shuttle would connect me with a bus to Marina del Rey. I knew I couldn’t really afford to just take a cab. My initial budget was under $400 and I was already convinced the trip would be a miserable failure. I didn’t have enough to spend or a job to go home to. I had one more paycheck due to me, but wouldn’t get it until the day I flew back home. I couldn’t waste what little I had on a cab.

I got the bus to Marina del Rey and began to cheer up a little as I waited for another bus to take me to the hotel. It was about mid-morning when I arrived and my room wasn’t ready. It was then between 9 and 10am. The desk clerk told me to come back around 3pm. I said I’d do some running around and would probably return at night. I was warned that if I didn’t claim my room by midnight I’d lose it. I checked in my luggage and made the fatal mistake of not switching from canvas shoes to walking shoes with support insoles. This was to seriously fuck up my feet.

I walked a mile or so down Washington to Lincoln and waited for a bus. The bus was incredibly crowded, as people were still going to work. Traffic was worse than usual in downtown Santa Monica, as the Santa Monica Place Mall was having its grand re-opening that day. Indeed, the entire time I was out in LA, I didn’t bother going into the mall, as I’d already researched its list of shops on its website when I was back in Austin, and determined there was nothing there I needed to see.

I stopped by the Big Blue Bus Store, because the LA Metro site said that was one of the places I could buy a week-long Metro Bus Pass, but was told no dice. I had a sandwich for lunch and strolled around the Third Street Promenade. I stopped at a news stand, then went to Barnes and Noble to check on some local history books. As I was walking out, musician Beck Hansen and his wife were walking in. He’s the same height as me, and exudes a very cool vibe and presence.

Then I paid a visit to my beloved Hennessey and Ingalls architectural bookstore, before getting on the bus to Hollywood. The bus dropped me off several blocks from my destination, which meant I had to walk through a dicey neighborhood and would only have about an hour and forty-five minutes to explore Hollywood Forever Cemetery (which formerly had the much more dignified name of Hollywood Memorial Park).

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I bought a map and worked my way through two mausoleums and the main lawn. Though I missed Bugsy Siegel, Rudolph Valentino, Peter Finch, Peter Lorre, and Alfalfa Switzer, I saw pretty much everybody else: Ann Sheridan, Lana Clarkson, Yma Sumac, Clifton Webb, the Talmadge sisters, Mel Blanc, Harry Chandler, Harrison Gray Otis, Douglas Fairbanks, Senior and Junior, Johnny Ramone, Hattie McDaniel, Harry Cohn, Marion Davies and Arthur Lake, Tyrone Power, Cecil B. de Mille, Dee Dee Ramone, Darren McGavin, John Huston, William A. Clark, Jr., and Don Adams. I was pleased to be overcome in one mausoleum by the smell of flowers in one section–normally in Austin my allergies are so bad I can’t smell anything at all.

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I had a little trouble finding John Huston. I had the location on the map and knew what the stone looked like, but still it evaded me. I thought, “Okay, Mr. Huston. You’re a great director–direct me to where you’re buried.” And then I found it, partially hidden under a rosebush, with a corner of the stone broken off, and a small bottle of Bushmills sitting atop it.

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Several times I was stopped by people asking directions. I guess I just looked like someone who knew where the bodies were buried. It didn’t hurt that I’d written an article on how to visit this cemetery two years or three ago, though this was my first actual visit.

What had been a nice old cemetery is now being taken over by the huge, ugly, and pretentious monuments of nouveau riche Russians. It’s really spoiling the look of the place. It’s odd that some of the biggest names in American entertainment history are in this cemetery, with their graves mostly marked by smaller, more tasteful markers and monuments, while large sections of the place are being gobbled up by these vulgar arrivistes.

I suppose I could’ve seen a few more graves, but I was now pretty tired. I passed two cages of peacocks, took a picture of the Hollywood sign at the front gate, and worked my way through the Hollywood side streets, past the huge Sunset Gower sound-stages, formerly the site of Columbia Pictures. I went to that wonderland that is Amoeba Records, but disciplined myself. I didn’t see the specific DVD titles I was looking for, so I left the DVD section before I blew my budget. I wound up buying only three CDs.

My bus took me past the Viper Room, the Whiskey-A-Go-Go, and the former health food restaurant in “Annie Hall.” I noted the apartment building that now stands on the site of the mansion of silent star Wallace Reid, one of filmdom’s earliest drug casualties.

I bused back through Hollywood, Westwood, Brentwood, Santa Monica, and Venice, and got out at a Ralphs supermarket in Marina del Rey. I asked if this was one of the Ralphs that sold week-long bus passes, but was told no, it was the other one a few blocks away. Since my budget was so small I realized I would probably have to eat most of my meals out of my hotel room–a depressing prospect–so I bought about $75 worth of groceries, cut through an alley behind the store, and waited for the last bus next to an odd palm tree with soft, white bark that was rather like paper toweling. I got cold waiting for the bus, and sad watching everyone jog or stroll by with their dogs.

I got to the hotel around 9pm, feeling like a peasant with all my plastic bags of groceries. The front desk was a mad house, with a line of people trying to check in all at once, and only one person working the desk–a middle-aged woman with a European accent, who looked like a cross between Edith Head, Rosa Klebb, and Ayn Rand. Several of the front desk computers froze up and the night-time maintenance man was nowhere to be found. People were loudly complaining to one another, which made me feel embarrassed for the clerk.

This was an older hotel, with quite a few quirks. There were no mini-fridges in the rooms and only one ice machine–on the ground floor. My ice bucket had a lid that didn’t close tightly. The toilet tended to clog. And you couldn’t control the temperature in your room–you had to call down, and the maintenance man, if he was around, would set the room to either hot or cold.

I finally got to check in, and was surprised when they billed me for all seven nights up front. The maintenance man was off somewhere, so I couldn’t get my luggage, and so I decided to kill time in the “business center,” which consisted of a computer and printer in a corner of the lobby. At just about any time of the day or night during my stay there was someone either on this computer or hovering around ten feet away waiting to use it.

I checked my bank balances and found that not only had I been billed for my entire stay, but the bill was well over $100 what I thought the bill would be. I went back to the desk to see if I’d been billed for eight nights rather than seven, but was told the total included “hotel tax and extras.” This took a huge chunk out of my budget. It looked like the trip was becoming even more of a disaster.

I finally got to my room, unpacked, took a shower, and discovered the tub leaked. I had probably the largest blisters I’d ever gotten before, and lanced and bandaged them. I set up my groceries on the dining table, tracked down the ice machine, and put my sliced cheeses in the ice bucket. Then I spread out my paperwork and calculator on the bed and began to rethink the trip. I began to worry that I might have to cancel my entire Monday and Tuesday agenda and just sit in the room all day and night because I couldn’t afford to do anything. I then watched a “Family Guy” rerun and a Larry King interview with Snoop Dogg–probably the first TV I’d seen in eleven months–since the last time I was in LA.

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Despite its oddities, the room was only $99 a night (the special wedding rate), and was very comfortable and huge. It was clearly designed to hold two double beds, but had just the one king-sized bed instead. My room was almost directly over the front door, and featured a balcony, a love seat, and a wonderful amount of free, empty space. I’d not slept in a king-sized bed in about 28 years, and I sprawled out on my back with my arms and legs outstretched like a child making angels in the snow. The air conditioner was running a bit too cold, so I fetched a bath towel from the bathroom, covered my head, burrowed in, and slept like a baby.

Saturday, August 7th–Since I’d gotten to bed later than planned and was so tired, I slept in, and gave up on my plan of spending six full hours at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. I cobbled together some breakfast, then took a bus to the other Ralphs in Marina del Rey, where I was told they also did not sell week-long bus passes. Two buses later I was in downtown LA and marched into the front door of the headquarters of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, only to be told that yes, the office for getting bus passes was two doors down, but that it was closed on weekends. The closest place I could get a pass was in East LA in Whittier!

At this point I gave up on the idea of getting a bus pass, and the extra expense, as well as the trouble of paying $1.00 when a fare was .75 or $3.00 when the fare was $2.50, because I didn’t have change, made me feel I was hemorrhaging money. I took the train at Union Station to Pasadena, then used my crummy $10 temporary cell phone to call my buddy Brad, a local newscaster with whom I was to get together later in the day. I walked all the way from the station to the Huntington (about two miles), in order to save cab fare.

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I made a quick tour through the Main Library, through the Foyer, Exhibition Hall, and the suite of rooms encompassing the “Beautiful Science” exhibit, then went on to the Main House. I’d been here eleven months before, so I just strolled around, listening to Glenn Gould’s 1955 interpretation of the “Goldberg Variations,” and feeling very proprietary of the house. I decided to skip the other museum buildings and only visit a few, rather than all, of the gardens. I sat for awhile on the huge, shady Loggia, then followed the sound of rushing water to the Tropical Garden area. This was so beautiful and perfect I almost burst into tears.

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From there I made my way to the Cactus Conservatory, where I chatted with a docent and a security guard (who kept taking my picture–possibly because I had a backpack), looked at some amazing specimens, then went through part of the Desert Garden –supposedly the largest in the world. I’d taken a different route through the Desert Gardens the last time I was there, and even after this trip, I don’t think I saw the whole thing. The maps don’t seem to show every single path on the grounds.

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I sat on a bench for awhile by the chain of Lily Ponds. A guy came by a few times and tossed something into the water and the fish jumped out of the water to eat it, the ducks swam over to nibble on it, and the Japanese tourists clustered to snap photos. I passed a huge lawn and saw some mammal that may or may not have been a squirrel.

I walked through the mysterious Bamboo Forest with its sounds of rushing breezes and clicking trunks, shook my head in disgust over all the graffiti carved on the specimens, and climbed the zig-zag path up the hill to the Japanese Garden. The Zen Garden was too crowded with tourists for me to meditate in it this time, and I only gave a perfunctory exploration of the Bonsai Garden. I made my way past the Japanese House and Moon Bridge and over to the pergola of the Rose Garden.

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I didn’t spend much time in the Rose Garden. I saw one young woman napping and a young couple trying to get their baby to pose for photos on a blanket. I ducked in at a cafe hoping to get a Coke, but the place looked a little more formal than what I needed. I skipped through the Shakespeare Garden without noticing too much, then went up a shady path in the original Children’s Garden to the North Vista, then strolled past the statuary back to the Main House.

During my first visit to the Huntington, I saw a young man sitting on the Loggia in a big wicker chair, reading. I couldn’t believe he had the time to do something so leisurely. Since weekend admission to the Huntington is $20 I always feel compelled to cram in as much exploration of the place as I can. But I decided that I would sit out on this Loggia and leisurely read the way this guy had, and so for about thirty to forty-five minutes I did just that. I relaxed, took in the sounds of trickling water and the majesty of the mountains off in the distance. And about ten minutes before I got up to leave, I saw someone shuffling across the lawn in front of the Loggia, headed for the main gate. It was the same guy from last year, carrying a book.

I bought a Coke at the front entrance and headed down the walk to wait for Brad. There was a guy parked right at the end of the walk. He was standing next to the car and staring right at me. But it didn’t look like Brad. I sat down on a bench and checked my cell. Then the guy checked his cell. Finally I called out, “Brad?!,” and it was indeed him. Of course, we had both changed physically in the seventeen years since we last saw each other.

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Starting in 1973, my parents and I used to go visit my paternal grandparents on a regular basis. I’d get bored with the adults’s conversation, and would go into the unused front living room to examine my grandfather’s architectural textbooks, from which he learned architecture, drafting, building, and contracting in the 1920s. I was especially drawn to the “C. C. Gates Residence, Pasadena, California, George A, Clark, Designer.” There were photos of the front, back, and living room of this Italianate house, and floor plans as well. I used to fantasize that I’d build a replica of this house for myself and even planned where I’d put all the furniture, where I’d put my desk, and where I’d watch TV late at night after all my family had gone to bed. Eventually my grandmother got the hint and gave me these books one Christmas, and for awhile it seemed like I might become an architect, but I lacked the math skills.

So in 2009, after I visited the Huntington, I thought, “Dammit, I should’ve investigated the C. C. Gates house while I was in Pasadena.” I e-mailed the Pasadena Public Library and asked for them to check their city directories for a C. C. Gates living in Pasadena in the early 1920s. They got me the address, and I did a Google search. The house still exists and I looked at aerial and street views of the now somewhat altered 95-year-old house. I learned that George A. Clark was a haberdasher who taught himself architecture, practiced for awhile, then went back to haberdashery. And the old Gates place was recently on the market for $4.2 million.

So now that I knew where this place was, I asked Brad if he’d help me find it. I’d gotten driving direction back at the Huntington, and we had no trouble getting there. Still, I think Brad enjoyed helping solve an old mystery. We got out and I took some lousy pictures of the house from the street and through the front gate.

We then drove around Los Feliz and Silver Lake, before stopping for dinner at Palermo Ristorante, where he told me of his plans to self-publish a self-help book. Then we went up to the Griffith Park Observatory (the road up was clogged with cars), where I attempted to take pictures of the city lights as night fell, Brad discussed his experiences with the Landmark Forum, and we talked over our various problems. From there we drove around Whitley Heights, Hollywood, and West Hollywood, before he dropped me off back in Marina del Rey.

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Sunday, August 8th–I was up fairly early, and since the wedding wasn’t until 4pm and I didn’t want to spend the whole day in my room I decided to go to Venice. I walked down Washington all the way to the rather unimpressive Venice Pier, watched people fishing and surfing, then headed  down Ocean Front Walk, past cool houses designed by Frank Gehry and Antoine Predock, to the Venice Boardwalk. It was a swirling, almost Third World-style mass of tourists and local oddballs, street performers, artists, dog walkers, body builders, basketball players, cops, musicians, and hucksters. I priced some art, hoping to return again during the week (I didn’t), ducked in at A Small World bookstore, and snapped pictures of the huge Jim Morrison mural, before noting with amusement that it was in full view of the Hotel Erwin suite of my friend Jeremy, who is a huge Morrison fan.

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I was pretty tired by the time I got back to my hotel. I had just enough time to shower and dress for the wedding. I discovered that the white shirt I’d brought was best suited to wear with the collar open or at least buttoned with no tie. The ends of the collar didn’t accommodate a tie well–certainly not a bow tie. I went into a bit of a panic, even forgetting briefly how to tie a bow tie, then resolved to just clamp my jowls down over the collar in order to keep the collar points from sticking out. Of course, this also meant I’d have to keep continually fidgeting and re-adjusting my tie.

Supposedly wedding guests at this hotel were to be met with a shuttle bus, but I couldn’t reach Jeremy and the front desk knew nothing about it. I ran into a woman who was part of the wedding party and she wasn’t sure what was going on. So the front desk called a limo. I knew if I had to provide my own transportation to the wedding venue in Culver City, I’d have to use a cab, not a limo.

I saw the limo pull up in front of the hotel and I went down to the lobby, and was surprised to see Jeremy and most of the wedding party assembled. He was looking very presidential, in a JFK-style suit with narrow lapels. I did, however, bust his balls about the fact he’d not shaved:

–You know, my room’s just one floor above here. You can run up and use my razor. I realize on a busy day like today there might be some details you forget.

Jeremy looked embarrassed as his friends began laughing at him.

–Well, I did all sorts of things today, but I decided I was gonna draw the line at shaving. That was enough.

The shuttle had been cancelled for budgetary reasons, so I was to share a cab with a couple, since I actually knew where the venue was, what it looked like inside and out, and even what the floor plan was, since I’d studied the venue’s website months before.

The hotel’s limo still hadn’t left yet. For some reason, this annoyed me. It made me think the hotel was looking for yet another way to squeeze money out of me.

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I saw an old school bus, painted in hippie psychedelic colors and slogans and affirmations, choogling up Admiralty Way. I knew instantly what was going on. Jeremy took me aside.

–My friends are expecting to be taken to the wedding in a limo, but Nicole and I have planned something else more our style.

The bus pulled up in front of the hotel, and it took several minutes for it to dawn on the wedding party that it was there for them. The driver got out. He was wearing hippie-style clothes and sandals, with each of his toenails painted a different color.

The wedding party was posing for pictures in front of the bus as my cab pulled away.

My cabbie was a little confused as to where the venue was located, despite the fact we showed him two different maps, but I got us to the place with no trouble. The venue was called “The Smog Shoppe.” In LA drivers are required to get annual smog emission inspections of their cars, and they do this at “smog shops.”

This place was converted from a garage into an event venue. It was like a really chic loft: there was a patio with a high wall surrounding it, with lush plants growing in bags hanging from said walls, and the former garage itself had glass doors that rolled up into a lofty ceiling. At one end of the room were bathrooms and a staircase that led up to the DJ booth and a private balcony area.

The venue was rented from 4 to 11pm and the actual ceremony was supposed to take place at 4:30, though it actually happened closer to 5. I was extremely intimated by the casually elegant California crowd. I thought my suit looked especially cheap, and that I’d have been better off not wearing a tie.

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While waiting for things to get underway I heard one bartender say to another,

–Man, these people bought a LOT of alcohol!

I’m much more comfortable documenting events than I am at participating in them, so when everyone started taking their seats I remained standing, with my camera. I wanted to be useful.

And now to crib from the wedding program, here’s the breakdown of the ceremony’s music:

Prelude–“Pedro Bound” by Mike Watt.

Seating of the Parents and Grandparents–“Hawaiian Wedding Song” by the All-Star Hawaiian Band.

Wedding Party Processional–“We’re Going To Be Friends” by The White Stripes.

And the Bride’s Processional–“Lover’s Waltz” by A. A. Bondy.

Jeremy, his sister Rebecca, who was the “Best Person,” and the seven groomsmen strode in quickly. The nine bridesmaids, one maid of honor, one ring bearer, and three flower girls streamed down the stairs from the upstairs loft. The youngest flower girl got a little overwhelmed by everything and stopped about two-thirds of the way and jumped into the arms of her seated mother, which made for a big “Aww” moment. And then of course the bride, Nicole, looking very regal, came down on the arm of her father.

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The officiant was Joe C___, one of Jeremy’s friends, who apparently got his ordination online. Joe, the DJ, and I, were the three people at the wedding in bow ties. Nicole’s grandmother gave a blessing and prayer. Jeremy’s friend Tim K___ gave the reading, which was not from the Bible, Shakespeare, or even Rod McKuen, but rather Angelino extraordinaire, Charles Bukowski. It was so damned fitting I reproduce it here in full:

 “the strangest sight you ever did
see”–

i had this room in front on de longpre
and i used to sit for hours
in the daytime
looking out the front
window.
there were any number of girls who would
walk by
swaying;
it helped my afternoons,
added something to the beer and the
cigarettes.

one day i saw something
extra.
i heard the sound of it first.
“come on, push!” he said.
there was a long board
about 2 1/2 feet wide and
8 feet long;
nailed to the ends and in the middle
were roller skates.
he was pulling in front
two long ropes attached to the board
and she was in back
guiding and also pushing.
all their possessions were tied to the board
and she was in back
guiding and also pushing,
all their possessions were tied to the
board:
pots, pans, bed quilts, and so forth
were roped to the board
tied down;
and the skate wheels were grinding.

he was white, red-necked, a southerner–
thin, slumped, his pants about to
fall from his
ass–
his face pinked by the sun and
cheap wine,
and she was black
and walked upright
pushing;
she was simply beautiful
in turban
long green earrings
yellow dress
from
neck to
ankle.
her face was gloriously indifferent.

“don’t worry!” he shouted, looking back
at her, “somebody will
rent us a place!”

she didn’t answer.

then they were gone
although i still heard the
skate wheels.

they’re going to make it,
i thought.

i’m sure they
did.
——————–

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Jeremy and Nicole had a bit of trouble getting the Unity Candle lit, as there was apparently no candle lighter provided.

The music for the Recessional was Jay-Z and Beyonce’s “Bonnie and Clyde.”

I followed the wedding party outside the walls for the picture taking. I got a really good shot of Nicole, and then, with a spontaneity that is unusual for me, embraced her and kissed her on the cheek. I hope I didn’t freak the poor girl out. I don’t kiss people. Ever. I kiss Belle maybe fifty times a day, but never do I kiss people. But for this occasion it seemed right.

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I went in and got a beer and chatted briefly with one of the company’s big bosses, but was really at a loss for words. We were soon called into the big room, where we all had assigned seats at tables named for famous bars and nightclubs, most of which were in LA. I was seated between Joey and Joe and across from a fellow who said he was a fan of my blogging back in the day. Under my plate was a card, noting that Jeremy and Nicole had made a donation in my honor to a scholarship for people–especially writers–who want to give college a second try. That I found most touching and appropriate.

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The food was excellent–not your usual rubber chicken wedding fare. After the salad course I started talking to Joey about the job situation.

One of Nicole’s brother’s had built a replica of the famous “VENICE” sign that hangs over Windward Avenue, but tinkered with that damned thing all night and was only able to get the second “E” to light up.

Onto the wall at the far end of the room was projected, without sound, two films, “Lords of Dogtown” and later the documentary “Dogtown and Z-Boys.” These provided a backdrop of genuine Venice-style imagery and made the reception feel like a Sixties “happening.” I think “Lords” ran two or three times in a loop before they put on the documentary. When Nicole’s dad got up to give his toast, talking about his “little girl” growing up, just behind him and over his head was being projected the scene of one of the Dogtown Z-Boys copping a feel of some girl’s breast.

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For me, the toasts were the wedding. I may forget the rest of what happened that evening, but I’ll never forget that. Jeremy’s sister Rebecca spoke of how in the old days if you dropped by the family home around 5pm any given day you’d find spaghetti cooking on the stove, red wine flowing by the jug, Dylan playing in one of the back rooms, and Mom and Dad dancing in the kitchen. Jeremy’s mom got up and expanded on this theme, explaining how after Jeremy’s dad and brother died, both Jeremy and Rebecca lost the sparkle in their eyes. Rebecca got hers back when she met the man she married, but Jeremy never did–not until he met Nicole.

Well, by this point, we’d all nearly drained our champagne glasses, and no one at my table was even able to look anybody in the eye when exchanging toasts–we all were blinking back tears and muttering our strangled, emotion-clotted cheers and congratulations into the table cloth. Somebody at the next table said something to the effect of, “That’s those Irish for you! So emotional!” And the next thing I remember was Rebecca and her husband dancing slowly to Dylan’s “Sara,” one of the greatest love songs of all time.

I spent the next few hours sitting at my place at the table, staring at the movie, keeping off my aching feet and legs, and drinking lots of bottled water. I couldn’t really hear anyone talking over the music, didn’t know that many people there, am not good at small talk, and was afraid of being an unpleasant conversationalist, because I was too preoccupied right then with being out of work and not having enough money for the trip. I knew I should’ve been networking, but I was afraid others would smell the stench of fear coming from me. A few people, including one waiter, seemed to think I was feeling unwell, but I was fine.

Later on waiters passed out glasses of Sambuca. I didn’t get one. I guess I didn’t realize what was about to happen. Each glass had three coffee beans in it, which represented health, wealth, and happiness. Jeremy, who is notorious for his love of speech-making, made a toast, as did Nicole. She said the reception made her feel like she was in heaven, where she would run into everyone she loves, and would want to spend the whole night talking to just that person.

Eventually I got a bit of a second wind and chatted to a few people. Joey, who was fairly deep in his cups by that point, had me attempt the “Karate Kid” Crane Kick with him.

I left the party and rode with about four or five other people to the couple’s honeymoon hotel. Joey drove. Mostly I remember him quoting lines from Buffalo Bill from “The Silence of the Lambs,” chiefly “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again,” but he was doing them in a deep, sonorous British accent.

Venice Beach was very quiet. No one around. Joey did an unusual version of parallel parking and we walked across the street to the Hotel Erwin and took the elevator to the rooftop garden bar. One of the bartenders gave us an elaborate and confusing explanation as to why they were closing early, even though we were guests of the couple staying in the hotel’s nicest suite, a suite with its own staircase up to this bar.

I ordered a Coke, but later somebody sent us a great many bottles of beer–more than enough for our party–and someone else sent us some nasty-tasting shots.

The rooftop was divided into private room-like seating areas, with benches topped with foam pillows–and to protect against the cold sea breezes–blankets and space heaters (pylons with flames shooting vertically up clear tubes).

I talked with a few people I’d not spoken much with during the reception, but I was so tired at that point I don’t remember much that was said. One of the company execs asked me about my vacation plans and said she’d try to see if they could pay me before the 13th.

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After about an hour the bartenders ran us off and we headed down to Jeremy and Nicole’s suite–the “Dogtown, Sweet.” From the street it looked like a Venice bungalow set up on the edge of the hotel’s roof. Inside the bungalow theme was continued, in a Dogtown/skateboarding motif. Inside the main door was one set of stairs going up to the rooftop bar and another going down into the main room.

Downstairs to the left was a kitchen and a fireplace with a flue that divided, making room for windows that looked out towards the Jim Morrison mural a few blocks away. In the corner was the a DJ counter with a turn-table, and I think, some records. Straight ahead, as George Jones would say, was the bed–a circular one, in fact–and beyond it windows looking out to the Venice Boardwalk and the Pacific Ocean. To the right was a large bathroom, a door out to a large deck, a seating area, and a large wall clock, the hours of which were marked by skateboarding shoes affixed to the wall.

Most of the people here were the members of the wedding party, some of whom were fans of my writing. I pointed out to Jeremy that the house across the street from his deck belonged to Anjelica Huston, and he laughed, and said he knew that, because he’d been to a party there once, but asked how I knew that. I said I’d seen the house in “Architectural Digest” several years before. Then he told some of the guests the flattering untruth that I knew LA better than he did. I changed the topic to the circular bed.

–So, does that thing revolve?

–No, and in fact, it’s really heavy. You’ll notice it’s facing the door. So we thought, what’s the point of having a circular bed and a view of the Pacific Ocean when the bed faces the door? So we tried to move it around and found it was too heavy to move. So then we figured if you can’t turn the bed around, then just move the pillows.

–And that’s why you’re in Senior Management.

Jeremy got that red-faced smile he always gets when someone makes a joke he wished he’d thought of.

Eventually some people decided they’d leave and I asked to share a cab with them. But Jeremy didn’t want anyone to leave yet, and begged us all to stay one more hour. We all agreed, but I was exhausted, and when another group tried to leave ten minutes later, they agreed to take me. Jeremy was very saddened by this news, and gave me the same betrayed look Belle gave me when I left her at the boarding facility. Then Jeremy fell back on the bed and one of the drunken groomsmen leaped on top of him, goosing his belly. Said groomsman, his wife, and I left shortly thereafter.

Monday, August 9th–The battery on my I-Pod was running low by this point and I needed to recharge. I went into Santa Monica. Someone had told me I could recharge at any Whole Foods store. I went to Whole Foods, but found no USB plugs. Ditto for Barnes and Noble. I finally would up just going to the Apple Store on Third Street for a recharging plug. But I also found out I could recharge there in the store.

Well, I wanted the plug either way, but I needed a recharge so I could have my tunes for the coming day. So I hooked up to a plug and waited. But there were no chairs and my feet were killing me, and I was goddamned if I was going to stand up next to this table the entire time the I-Pod was recharging. I looked around, and found some stools at another table, and brought one over to my table.

Then a very angry Apple Store employee came over and got in my face.

–You can’t use that stool, sir!

–Huh?

–Those stools are only for use at the one-on-one tutorial table!

–Okay, whatever.

–You can’t move those stools over there! They’re for that table only!

–OKAY! I HEARD YOU! I GET IT ALREADY! JESUS CHRIST, MAN!

Fucking cocksucker. He has a hell of a lot to learn about customer service. I stayed around recharging for a few minutes, but I was getting angrier and angrier at that mother-fucker, so I unplugged and left before I did something stupid.

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My buddy James turned me on to the gossip TV show “TMZ” a few years ago. And though I’ve not seen it in a long time, I’m still fond of it. One celeb the show likes to pick on is Zsa Zsa Gabor’s husband, the faux-royal Frederic, Prince von Anhalt, or as they call him, “Prince von A-Hole.” “TMZ” is fond of joking about how von A-Hole spends a lot of his time hanging out at a “gay Starbucks.”

I found this a hilarious concept and initially assumed they just meant a coffee house with a gay clientele, but then I decided that maybe they really did mean an actual Starbucks. If it was a gay Starbucks, that would mean it would be in West Hollywood, LA’s gay district. I did some Google research and concluded the shop in question was the big Starbucks in West Hollywood, but have since reversed my opinion and decided it’s the smaller one.

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At any rate, James wanted a photo of the gay Starbucks, and since I was heading to the Melrose/Miracle Mile area, I stopped at that location, got a picture and a latte, then walked down through a West Hollywood residential district to the famous Bodhi Tree, probably the most famous New Age bookstore in the country. I hit the used book annex first, then the main store. It was amazing, and I made quite a haul. The store is closing down in the Fall of 2011, and they’re hoping someone will buy the name and the stock and re-open somewhere else in LA. It’s a really wonderful place, and I’d probably be in there all the time if I lived in LA.

(When the clerk at the annex was ringing up my purchases, he looked at the broad range of subject and commented:

–Wow, you’re all over the place, aren’t you?

–You have no idea.)

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I bused it from Melrose down to Wilshire and on to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I hit the Broad Contemporary Art Museum building first, because I was annoyed with myself for missing it last year. The ground floor was devoted to two huge Richard Serra installations–high walls that curved here and there, leaning in and out to and from the viewer. It was all quite playful. The second floor was devoted to an excellent John Baldesarri retrospective, while the top floor featured items from the permanent collection, including quite a few works by Warhol and Koons. There was an observation deck on the third floor that offered excellent views of the city and the new Resnick Pavilion, while inside there was a huge, room-sized glass elevator. As it went up or down it displayed new sections of an installation by Barbara Kruger.

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From there I tackled the Ahmanson Building–the main one on the LACMA campus–and saw most everything that was then open on the four floors: art of the Pacific on the first floor, South Asian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern/Islamic art on the fourth floor, including a special exhibition of Tibetan Buddhist furniture, European paintings, sculpture, and decorative art up to the nineteenth century on the third floor, and on the second floor modern and a small exhibition on art that influenced and was influenced by Richard Wagner.

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I was pretty wiped out by this point, and headed across the courtyard to the Art of the Americas Building. The Catherine Opie exhibition did nothing for me, and while I liked the Thomas Eakins exhibition, I didn’t linger. The American art section was nice, but not especially large. And I confess I pretty well flew through the Ancient American and Latin American art displays. By this point the sun was almost down and I had most of the museum campus to myself.

I bused it to Santa Monica and had dinner at an English pub called Ye Olde King’s Head. I was surprised by how many Brits were actually hanging out there. Then I walked half a block to the old Laemmle Monica 4 art house to see a 10pm showing of “The Extra Man” with Kevin Kline and Paul Dano. Though the Laemmle was built in the 1930s, it reminded me of art house theatres of the 1980s, and that really registered with me. The theatre seemed to be staffed entirely by hip indie girls, who spent their considerable free time discussing their work schedules and taking turns riding a skateboard scooter around the lobby. I knew that if I ever lived in this area I’d make a ritual of going to the pub and the Laemmle at least once a week.

The buses weren’t running by the time I got out of the movie, so I cabbed it home.

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Tuesday, August 10th–This day found me the only white person on a bus going through the dicey and notorious neighborhood of Crenshaw. I kept to myself and didn’t make eye contact with anybody, so nobody hassled me. Of course, I’ve spent my fair share of time in dicey parts of Austin after going into treatment and losing all my money, so maybe I’ve learned the right body language to use in areas like that.

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At any rate, I went to the USC campus, quickly checked out the Architecture Library, and was surprised to find it’s not substantially better than the one at UT. Then I went over to take photos of the glorious Hoose Library of Philosophy, which is housed in a room resembling a Romanesque chapel, and is quite my vision of heaven. I went across the street, cut through the lovely rose garden in Exhibition Park, and went to the Natural History Museum. It was huge and fascinating, but I only had about two or three hours to see it all. It deserved an entire day.

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After that I bused through downtown to the disappointing Chinatown. I had wanted to see Chinatown at night, with its neon lights on, but didn’t want to wait around there for it to get dark. I poked into a few souvenir shops, then sought out what I’d heard was a good restaurant for dinner–Yang Chow.

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Afterwards, I tried to figure out where the last scene of “Chinatown” had been filmed, and discovered a Vietnamese sandwich shop with the alarming name of “My Dung.” On the bus I accidentally bumped into an older Mexican man with my backpack and apologized. He made a sharp reply in Spanish, but I didn’t understand him. I got the impression he was just fucking with me for the hell of it, because the younger men nearby were all chuckling to themselves.

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I went to check out news stands. One, Universal World News, was closed for the night. The other, World Book International, despite its reputation, really had no more magazines than my neighborhood Barnes and Noble.
Hollywood at night is a little scary. A bus got me to the rather lonesome corner of Fairfax and Venice, where I looked at street art and a homeless man faced me and urinated. The next bus got me to Lincoln in Venice and I walked the rest of the way home.

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Wednesday, August 11th–I got up early and took three buses and a train to Pasadena. I walked through old downtown Pasadena, over a freeway bridge, and past several houses designed by Greene and Greene on my way to their Gamble House. I’d gotten some screwy directions, so I wound up going up the street behind it first. There was a stone retaining wall holding up a hill to my right, but I saw just a glimpse of a very familiar roof and a shiver went up my spine. It was like that part in the Bible where Moses gets to see God’s Back as He passes by.

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I checked in at the Gamble House gift shop and bookstore, which was originally the garage. I was about thirty minutes early. the lady I’d talked with on the phone about the reservation weeks before came in and introduced us to our docent, who was a lady from Texas. I believe her husband used to be the Dean of the College of Architecture at USC. Needless to say, we hit it off.

Our group was led up to the house and I started asking a bunch of questions. Inside we were all issued flashlights, since the house is dark and there are a lot of details, and nooks and crannies to see. The tour was scheduled to last two-and-a-half hours, but in our case it ran closer to three.

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We went through the first floor thoroughly, but two or three rude men got bored and walked out. We took a break in the basement, where most of the staff works, and where tables full of refreshments had been set up for us. We chatted about the Greene brothers and their works and joked about architecture. The docent was surprised to learn I wasn’t actually an architect.

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From there we toured the second floor and the beautiful, airy attic, and finally the terrace and yards. It was $40 very well spent. The house was exquisite.

I learned Frank Lloyd Wright’s “La Miniatura” house was within walking distance, so I set off to find that. I got to the main gate, then stomped around through bushes and a muddy ravine on private property to get better pictures of the house itself. I found out much later I could’ve gotten better photos of the principal facade from a nearby street.

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I walked back past the Gamble House, then by the Fenyes house, the plan of which I’d studied recently, and eventually got to Colorado Street and my bus stop. My bus came short of getting me to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Barnsdall Park in Hollywood in time for the last tour. It dumped me off somewhere in Hollywood, and I took several other buses to get to Santa Monica. I had Mediterranean food at a food court on the Third Street Promenade. Then I got on an express bus, which instead of taking me to Marina del Rey took me all the way out to the fucking airport. I had to get another bus back in, then wait about forty-five minutes in the increasingly cold night air for the last bus I needed to get to the hotel.

Once home, I checked my bank balances on the hotel lobby computer, and found the hotel had redeposited all the money it took out on the 6th back into my bank. I wonder what the hell that was all about.

Thursday, August 12th–I got up early again and took three buses to get to downtown LA. I took another bus to a seedy area just west of downtown to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. I had reservations for that day’s show, but there was a sign on the door that said the show had been cancelled. (They’d left a message on my machine in Austin, I later learned.) I walked part of the way back, then caught a bus to the area near the Disney Concert Hall, then had a leisurely coffee.

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I then went to the Museum of Contemporary Art  (MOCA), killed time in the bookstore until the museum opened, then explored the permanent collection and the special exhibition, which was the first major retrospective of the work of Arshile Gorky done in thirty years.

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From there I went to City Hall, took several elevators and one flight of stairs to the 27th Floor, and made two rounds of the Observation Deck, took pictures, then headed downstairs to photograph the marble Rotunda.
Outside I came across a street fair on the City Hall grounds. I delighted in prowling around and taking in the smells and the smoke from cooking food. I bought a felafel sandwich, then sat in one folding chair and used the other as a table, while I listened to a sitar player doing Beatle tunes under the shade of a large tree. This, to me, was the perfect LA experience.

In no great hurry I wandered over to Little Tokyo, which I found much nicer than Chinatown, and spent about an hour shopping in the fascinating Kinokuniya Bookstore. Then I went over to the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for the Dennis Hopper retrospective. I got through that pretty quickly, thinking they had some permanent exhibits on the other side of the building, but apparently not.

I was too tired and sore to do the Downtown Art Walk and visit galleries that were open late this one day of the month. I checked my map and saw the bus I needed passed by about six blocks to the south, so I stumbled down there, only to find myself on a scary, seedy corner “On the Nickel,” in the heart of Skid Row. My bus eventually arrived and I got an elevated seat, but traffic made the trip so long my legs both went numb. I moved to another seat, but soon a large, smelly, possibly homeless wigger, who waved his arms around when he talked, sat next to me and took up part of my space. Once in Santa Monica, I went back by Hennessey and Ingalls and Barnes and Noble, before going home and starting to pack.

Friday, August 13th–While I was getting ready this morning, the toilet clogged, then overflowed, spilling my piss and shit all over the floor. I had to shave a few feet to the left of the sink, so I wouldn’t have to stand in the mess. I called a maintenance man to come fix it.

I finished packing. I left behind a good deal of unopened food items for the maid to take as a gift.

I checked out a little before noon. The amount they charged me was less than the amount they charged on the 6th.

Since I was nearly broke, and was very sore, tired, and stressed out, I decided to not bother attempting another activity or risk getting caught in traffic or a long security line and just go straight to LAX and hang out for six or more hours. This worked out fine, since I didn’t want to lug around my now heavy bags, and just wanted to stay seated. And apart from the presence of some screaming children and the fact the lounge was much, much too cold, I passed a fairly pleasant afternoon.

My plane was late to arrive and depart. Seated next to me on the plane was a little Asian girl and a holy roller/photographer, who kept showing off pictures of his home-schooled children and his church, and subtly trying to convert the Asian girl from non-practicing Buddhism to Christianity. Since I can’t really read when someone is talking directly into my ears, I spent the three hour flight wanting to crawl up the walls.

We arrived in Austin after midnight. I took a Super Shuttle home, and was the third and last passenger dropped off. I checked my e-mail and found I had indeed gotten paid, and went to bed.

Saturday, August 14th–I got up around 9am and took a bus down to South Austin and went to the dog boarding place. I asked one of the keepers to take me to Belle’s quarters, which she did with some reluctance.  I was expecting Belle to have a private room with glass walls and door. Instead I was taken to a large room full of loudly barking dogs, each with a private run. Belle’s run was about four feet wide and six feet long and surrounded by a white picket fence. Through the slats I saw her laying on her side, looking rather dazed, as if she’d undergone a trauma. She’d lost a lot of weight.

The keeper opened the gate and Belle walked right past me to the keeper, without even noticing me. I came up behind Belle and petted and spoke to her. She looked around, recognized me, got excited, and started barking incessantly. We gathered her belongings and went into the lobby. Belle began panting and did so for the next thirty minutes.

I questioned the keeper, and she said Belle had been nervous and skittish around the other dogs for the first couple of days and didn’t eat. She eventually started eating again, but mostly liked to hang out in the front office and get belly rubs from the people, though she did socialize a bit with the other dogs. She tried to escape a few times and almost walked out the front door with some person. Needless to say, that news made me sick to my stomach.

I was charged the original rate I had calculated, not the higher rate I came up with in LA.

I called a cab and Belle rode home standing on my lap, looking out and drooling on the window. I let her sniff around a bit outside, then we went into the house and she explored for awhile before I started tossing treats at her feet. Eventually we went to bed for a long nap.

I usually don’t learn lessons from my experiences, but here’s what I learned from this trip:

1) Don’t travel, especially to an expensive city, with an inadequate budget.  If I have to spend the trip worrying about money instead of enjoying myself, it’s not worth the headache.

2) Take less luggage and larger bags.

3) Take fewer pairs of shoes. Take only good walking shoes with good arch support.

4) Even after months of meticulous planning everything can still go wrong.

5) Don’t travel when the rest of your life is not in order, or else the travel experience will magnify your problems.

6) Pare down the to-do list and spend more time at the destinations you do decide on. (Very difficult for me.)

7) Just about everything can go wrong on a trip and yet you can still have wonderful, amazing, life-changing, never-to-be-missed experiences. This can call into question all doubts you have about the trip’s mishaps.

Sunday, August 15th–My old friend, Doug, called to tell me his wife Dawn died yesterday of congestive heart failure. She’d had cancer as a teen and breast cancer within the last six years, and the way I understood it, this last round of cancer medications made her susceptible for congestive heart failure, which is what she’s battled the last eighteen months.

Belle has had some trouble with diarrhea and vomiting, due no doubt to her stay in the boarding facility, but she seems to be getting back to her old self.

I left the house awhile today, bought dog food and treat, ate lunch, and got some groceries. But I plan to spend most of this week sleeping and relaxing, trying to recover from all my exertions in LA.

Monday, August 16th–I stayed home and slept.

Tuesday, August 17th–I stayed home and slept.

Wednesday, August 18th–I went by Barnes and Noble, then went to see “Get Low” at the Arbor. Later on, I watched “Sketches of Frank Gehry” at home.

Thursday, August 19th–I stayed home and slept.

Friday, August 20th–I stayed home and slept. Belle seems to be pretty much back to normal and I am back to being unable to breathe out of my nose.

Saturday, August 21st–I slept a lot and watched episodes of “Art 21.”

Sunday, August 22nd–I slept a lot and watched episodes of “Art 21.”

Monday, August 23rd–I slept most all day and dealt with a headache from allergies, as well as deepening depression.

Tuesday, August 24th–I slept and was depressed.

Wednesday, August 25th–I slept and was depressed.

Thursday, August 26th–I think it was today that I realized why I was disappointed with Belle’s accommodations at the boarding place. I had been expecting her to be put in a private, glass-lined room and instead she was put in a run surrounded by a picket fence. I finally figured out that the glass-lined room was in a different boarding facility of the several I had investigated.

Friday, August 27th–I slept and was depressed.

Saturday, August 28th–I slept and was depressed.

Sunday, August 29th–I slept and was depressed.

Monday, August 30th--I slept and was depressed. I labored over an article about the Glenn Beck march on Washington. Since no one read it after I posted it on Facebook, I’m posting it here:

Restoring Honor?

Glenn Beck, the most lachrymose American celebrity since Johnny Ray, had his “Restoring Honor” gathering in Washington this past weekend, attracting thousands of angry middle class white people who think the government is taxing them too much and that Mexicans are sneaking into the country stealing all the ditch-digging, leaf-blowing, and dish-washing jobs that rightfully should be going to legal, native-born citizens.

Beck spun the occasion as an Evangelical Christian back to God event, though he himself belongs to a religious group that is less than 200 years old, that has advocated polygamy, the eternal damnation of non-white people, and the wearing of magic underwear, and that was created from a mixture of Masonic rituals, folk religion, and nineteenth-century fantasy fiction.

But I digress.

Beck likes to throw around words like “honor,” “family values,” and “personal responsibility.” It’s always been my experience that people who use such words usually do so very lightly, having no idea what they really mean. They just like the way the use of those words makes them sound upright, mature, and moral.
Beck has warned that the United States is in decline and in grave peril of destruction from within and without.

Perhaps this is true. Beck and his followers in the Tea Bagging Movement seem to think that the United States suddenly went from a paradise to a troubled and doomed hell hole on January 20, 2009, the day Barack Obama was sworn in as President. But it takes longer than twenty months to wreck a major nation. And so with this in mind we have to ask ourselves, when exactly did America lose this “honor” Glenn Beck seems to think he can restore?

Did we lose our honor when we entered into two pointless wars that cost thousands of American lives, alienated us from the other nations of the world, and enriched many a defense contractor?

Did we lose our honor when our politicians and corporations exploited the deaths of the innocent victims of the 9/11 bombings for political and financial gain?

Did we lose our honor when we sacrificed our personal freedoms for the creation of the Homeland Security Act?

Did we lose our honor when we allowed genocide to go unchecked in Bosnia, Tibet, and Darfur?

Did we lose our honor when we let China have our nuclear secrets?

Did we lose our honor when we tapped a woman who can neither speak or think clearly, who had an out-of-control, knocked-up daughter and a nude model pseudo-son-in-law, and who shamelessly exploits and waves her Down Syndrome baby around at every chance like a team mascot in order to earn political capital, as our spokeswoman for family values?

Did we lose our honor when we gave massive bailouts to banks and corporations, with little or no accountability attached?

Did we lose our honor when we encouraged bipartisan squabbling in Congress, insuring that the process of governing the nation would be crippled?

Did we lose our honor when we allowed a major American city to be destroyed, when we let thousands of humans and animals to suffer and die needlessly because of a lack of preparedness, rescue, and relief planning and efforts for Hurricane Katrina? Did we lose our honor when we shrugged and said, “Oh, well, those people had ample warning. They should’ve left in time.” Or, “It’s not the government’s job to protect peoples’ lives.” Or, “It’s Darwinism, man. Survival of the fittest.” Or, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”  Did we lose our honor then?

Did we lose our honor when we allowed torture and warrantless wiretapping, tax cuts for the wealthy, and deregulation of massive corporations?

Did we lose honor when we ignored UN and world opinion about the Iraq War?

Did we lose our honor when we allowed a couple of elderly, narrow-minded religious zealots decide what textbooks are adopted in Texas, and by extension, the entire United States?

Did we lose honor when we ignored global warming and the Kyoto Protocol? When we ignored wholesale any sort of environmental problems, simply because one of the world’s leading environmental spokesman is a Democrat? Or was that because protecting the planet really puts the shackles on doing business?

Did we lose honor when we allowed the growth of white supremacist and militia movements, which actively hope for a civil or race war or even a post-nuclear apocalypse so they can show off their backwoods survival skills?

Did we lose our honor when we made a hero out of an ex-Marine who killed innocent adults and children because he was angry at the government?

Did we lose our honor when we made a hero out of a software engineer who killed an innocent person because he thought the IRS was going to come take away his two-story brick house and private airplane?

Did we lose our honor when we, a nation of immigrants, demonized other immigrants who wanted to come to this country and take degrading, low-wage jobs in order to take care of their families?

Did we lose our honor when the US Supreme Court voted to allow corporations to run amuck in financing and influencing political campaigns? Or when the vote of the ordinary citizen became worthless in determining what policies the government would pursue, having been replaced by the rule of giant corporations and lobbyists? Did we lose our honor when we became completely disenfranchised and elections became so much jingoistic window dressing?

Did we lose our honor when we decided that it was better for people to suffer and die from their illnesses, rather than deny doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and medical conglomerates their chance at making billions of dollars in blood money, all because we’ve been conditioned to think that providing health care for all is “anti-American,” “anti-capitalist,” or “socialistic”? And did we lose our honor when we used scare tactics to convince the elderly and helpless that they’d lose their coverage or even be euthanized if they didn’t support us?

No, on second thought, the United States has not lost its honor. It’s lost its soul. And that’s something I don’t think Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, or any political party or politician will be able to restore.

–30–

Tuesday, August 31st–When I woke at 8am I heard the dryer was still on. This wasn’t right, since I’d put the dryer on at midnight. I found the dryer wasn’t making hot air at all, and quickly turned it off out of fear of starting a fire. I found places to hang my still-damp clothes, then called the washer/dryer rental service.

I explained that the washer hadn’t really been wringing out my clothes at all for a couple years now, and that when the wash cycle finished the clothes were always sopping wet, which meant I had to run the dryer for hours. The gal at the rental service took a scolding tone with me. I talked to another woman there who said she’d call back to tell me the three-hour window when her crew could come by on Wednesday. I said I’d be gone the rest of the day, but to just leave a message.

She said that in the meantime I should ask the apartment maintenance guys to clean out “the lint in the wall,” as it was a leading cause of apartment fires. She also settled my fears by saying I’d not have to pay anything to get my machines replaced. (The first gal had given me that idea.)

I then made my way to my first therapy appointment in several weeks. The commute was hot. The lobby of the clinic was hot as usual. And the treatment room was unbearable. On top of that my therapy tried to pursue a line of questioning that I didn’t like and I remained upset the rest of the day.

After therapy I went to the UT Architecture Library, where I photo-copied, among other things, the plans of some of the houses I’d passed in Venice Beach a few weeks ago. the bus ride home was uncomfortable, as I had to share my seat, and almost threw my shoulder out trying to avoid physical contact with my seat-mate.

I stopped by the apartment office, dropped off my rental check, and explained the deal about the washer/dryer and asked to have the lint cleaned out of my wall. The office gal had no idea what I was talking about, but said maybe the maintenance guys did.

When I got home there was a message from the washer/dryer place. The stupid woman said she called, as she said she would, to give me the three-hour window during which to expect her crew, but said she couldn’t leave me that information on my machine. (Well, why the fuck not? These aren’t the goddamn US nuclear codes, after all!) So I called her dumb ass back, and explained the confusion at the front office.

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