When the crazy Athenian and his young friend from the bakery said they were planning to open a truck stop and RV park in the middle of the desert, I didn't know what to say. Sure, it was a needed service for that hell-blasted region, but were there subtleties of exquisite historical context I was overlooking? I wished them both good luck and headed, not to my home, but to the library, to bone up on my Classical studies. I would not be caught so flat-footed again. Not in the damn desert, anyway.
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Last summer I was in Long Beach for a few days. It's been nearly a year since then, and yet the moment captured here, when I happened upon a group of local Gs keeping things real, haunts me still.
It's been said that the truest stories of a place like Long Beach aren't found in the lyrics to a hip-hop song, or in a dog-eared copy of the "Rough Guide." They're found, instead, in the hopes and dreams of the everyday people who don their tutus and headbands and go at it anew each and every day they live, always striving to do things a little better than they did the day before.
I guess that's what has stuck with me, what has caused me to wake up on so many afternoons drenched in sweat since this day, last July: The knowledge that, without warning, I came upon the naked and throbbing true heart of America's number one port city.
Real people doing real things. There is a subtle majesty to it all that damn near takes one's breath away.
This is just a quickie I grabbed out a car window while passing through downtown. I'm not entirely sure about what it means to "envia tu dinero," though from this ad, it seems like something that's done by mountaineering construction workers who very well might perform in disco-revival bands on the weekends. In Mexico.
I was passing by the liquor department in a grocery store near the famous University of Southern California when I saw this sign.
A little science for you alls...
For those of you not in the know, the name of the sporting forces of the USC is the "Trojans," named after the "Trojans." They have had this name since before the widespread adoption of broadcast analogue television and, rumour has it, plan to keep it in the coming age of broadcast DIGITAL TV.
While they have been having "Trojans" as their sports-people name, there has been another school in Los Angeles, called the UCLA, where they have opted to call their sports-practitioners not "Trojans" but "Bruins."
Perhaps it was over this point that these two fine institutions of college stuff went to war and became bitter enemies; or perhaps became bitter enemies and went to war. Irregardless, a state of tension, occasionally flaring into real-deal street violence has simmered twixt them for a time that the kids and the wags both refer to as "long ass."
Because of this, new laws apparently have been enacted while I have been busy playing stupid computer games. These laws probably make it very hard for people from the UCLA to buy their liquor in the store where I took this picture. In the past, that wouldn't have been such a big deal, but today's unpredictable regional real estate prices and the recent discoveries about the health benefits of moderate red wine consumption make this one of today's big "hot button" issues.
It should also be noted that, in the local parlance, the term for gamboling about while on the sauce is to be "a-brewin'" (due to the idea some here might have that, even inside of you, the booze, she continues to brew). This sign thus has a second layer of meaning and is actually frightfully clever for being able to efficiently block purchases by both registered students and faculty of the UCLA as well as ANY adult who dares to enter the joint on less than a fully even keel.
Wellness and Responsibility are nothing without Excellence. I suspect that this earnest young man not only knew this as he integrated his foodstuffs into a thoughtfully planned and decisively executed program for consumption, but that his appetite was ravenous from all the dynamic synergies he had leveraged that day.
I apologise for the blurriness of the photo, but when paradigms are being shifted so near to where I am, I tend to get all nervous and stuff.
I had been trying to come up with some kind of simple tribute to Gary Gygax since his death last week, but have found myself unable to devise something that pays appropriate tribute to a person whose work has had a broader and more diverse impact on my life to this point than I fully realise or might admit.
My tardiness in posting this crude homage would be even more a source of unease for me were it not for what appears to have been, over this past week, a growing awareness in the media's consciousness of the impact of his work on our society as a whole. There's no shortage of literature, TV, films, and video games that would either not exist if it were not for Gary Gygax's work, or at least would not be as popular as they presently are.
Of course, I'm sure that none of the cool cats here have ever had more than a minimal awareness of what D&D is, and that fewer still have ever rolled a d20 in anger. Regardless, I apologise for the undercooked nature of this entry, especially in light of the impact of its subject's accomplishments.
In what might be the second of my sidewalks series, I present to the readers and accidental visitors of this site a picture I took perhaps only one or two weeks ago. It was an auspicious find for Chinese New Year, and the full meaning of it hasn't yet been made clear to me. Perhaps I am posting here in the hope that others might see what this is and thus help me to achieve a higher understanding.
What I do know know is that this object was there and, in being there, it wielded a kind of power over many, if not most, who passed near it. Perhaps if I held one or more advanced degrees in the more useful of the arts and sciences, I might know why it held such power -- power disproportionate to its size. For, truly, it did seem to radiate, right there on the sidewalk, a weight not unlike that of one or more of the taller skyscrapers which we locals secretly desire strange unions and associations with.
With the Twelfth Day of Christmas having just recently passed, I thought I would share with you a picture I took on Christmas Day. I was hanging out in the living room, looking for something to test my flash out on, when I found this arrangement in one corner. I hope it will be well received and that it thoroughly conveys my sincere wishes to all for a Happy New Year and a Merry Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
I was leaving the premises early one morning, when I saw this peahen surveying the garbage, presumably in the hopes of getting her day off to a grand start. A popular on-line dictionary defines premises as: "A building together with its grounds or other appurtenances."
This is Los Angeles, so the peahen didn't faze me. But I have been wondering since if the trash bins could accurately be described as true appurtenances...
As we breezed through Liberal, KS, I managed to grab another quickie through the window. It turned out to be a lucky shot, containing one or two pleasant surprises for me when I viewed it all "big and stuff."
I guess the local patriots and OGs both agree when it comes to fine washing and dining. Them bruisers probably pose and preen like old-time swells while their knits and delicates get done, their tea biscuits overflowing with the freshest caviar.
I was reluctant to post this one, it being a pretty grainy crop from an already grainy photo, but something about the one girl's seemingly concerned expression, combined with ... whatever it is the little boy could be doing, made me reconsider.
I leave it to the readers of this website to try and figure out what's going on in this image, because I have no clue. What I do know is that I took it last year, in Dodge City, KS, either the same day or the day after the "Strong City" picture.
Now that Unloosen Awareness Month, also known as "October," is well underway, I thought I would put this one up. It isn't much, but what it IS is a little something I was able to make with magnetic letters I found amidst the debris in the back yard that the chair picture was taken in.
Some might think that it was just a lucky find, the right letters to make an Unloosen out of, but it was more than that: I went into the backyard fully and intentionally "Unloosen Aware."
Now, some folks think being Unloosen Aware is a trick, but I assure you that it is not. It's a way of being that anyone can achieve via a simple set of deep breathing exercises and a conscious desire to find the inner Unloosenness of several, if not many, common situations. I entered that yard thinking: "There will most surely be a goodly nugget for one who goes into this Unloosen Aware." And there was!
This technique doesn't only work in back yards, it can also be tried in other common places and venues: Men's rooms, Chanel boutiques, racetracks, grease pits, and amphitheatres. The places this can work are only limited by their number and, in some cases, operating hours and guard dogs.
So, I urge you to embrace the challenge of this Month for Unloosen Awareness, or whatever it's called, and to use it to the fullest. I know I might.
It's the 17th, a very special day for Unloosen "dot" com, and to mark the occasion I have dug deep into my digital image files ("pictures" in the local parlance) to find a suitable photo.
What this photo is actually suitable for is anyone's guess.
I suppose it serves as a good example of how busy the sidewalks in Los Angeles are. It's why we seldom look up, there's so much to read and learn. I know I originally took the picture thinking that one of the coming months was bound to have a 17th day in it and that it might be fun to make a big deal and all about it.
Not only has it happened but, by George, it's a big one! And by "by George" I mean literally BY George. Whatever the 17th is about (and only Chris can tell you, because it's his website, after all) it is because of George being somewhere ("here," according to the sidewalk) that we can even have the courage to address these meaty issues.
If this sounds vague, it's because I never really new this George. This apparently entitles me to try and "ki" his "fss." Now "fss" is obviously just that, I won't insult the regulars here with an unnecessary explanation of that.
The real mystery here is "ki." Is he suggesting we "key" his "fss?" I hope not, because that would be rude. This means the only other thing it could be is a regional spelling of "chi." This doesn't make a whole lot of sense until one remembers that much from the distant East is not only cool, but very mysterious.
And then there's all those other symbols! I have no idea what those are supposed to be about, man, not even a feather-dusting of a clue. But then, that's what our big city sidewalks are like -- one big pedestrian Da Vinci Code.
In the back yard of a house I was cleaning, there was this chair. It was an empty chair.
There, amidst the rubble and cat food, my hands sweated inside my rubber gloves as I wondered who had sat in that chair. It was a pretty good chair, which got me to thinking that another thing to ponder would be: who would later sit in that chair?
Sitting is oft enjoyed by all or most and the idea that any number of folk both grand and base might have sat there, or might sit there, lent a kind of solemnity to the place.
Might this be the place of rest for a king? Or perhaps a fashion designer? It might even provide rest for the other, less relevant, members of our society.
I apologise for the misleading title... The chair wasn't so empty after all.
Coming back from dinner in Little Tokyo, I saw this from the car I was riding in with boys.
Words escape me and I am left with the realisation that it will take a cleverer soul than I to write the story of the time when Earth was called Plushland and all its most pious denizens strove for nothing more than than to bounce unto Glory.
Or how Glory was in a truck.
A truck behind razor wire.
Between the slaying of Jarvis the Unhinged and the supping upon pie with great plum-hued Mifflin, there was a proud and mighty moment where The Gracklecleaver did speak into the Elf Queen's Tiny Box and had discourse with one representing the celebrated Round Table itself.
What he heard did please him so. For, despite being a barbarian with few "smarttes of the booke," as Mifflin would say, he had been in enough pie fellowships to know that "Chicago-style" meant that the wee knife on his bracer would finally be put to good use.
At Pleasure Faire, I did happen upon the two great adventure-seekers enjoying the evening's repast. A light and pleasant moment purchased, no doubt, with fire and steel ... and ancient magicks ... earlier upon that very day.
As all kind and rational folk take great pleasure at the sight of a good wizard at rest (and only slightly less-great pleasure at the sight of a barbarian doing the same), I thought it most fitting and proper to share this captured moment with all who should fare this way.