Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Puberty, what?

I have a large, though basically invisible b/c it's deeply sub-cutaneous, zit near my mouth. It kinda hurts when I touch it. WTF?????????

Working loooooooong hours lately. Not much energy to post.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Good news for freedom, liberty, integrity and memory

Alberto Gonzales announced today that he will step down as United States Attorney General in September. President Bush said it was because of months of mistreatment. I didn't realize that holding PUBLIC servants accountable was mistreatment.

Of course, someone much worse could be appointed, Robert Gates has seemed a more competent SecofDef than Rummy was.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Mission accomplished?

Before my four-day vacation started this is what I wanted to get done:

1. Organize room: throw out garbage, sort ticket stubs and bank slips, hang pics, CDs DONE
2. Read seven Entertainment Weeklys, which would bring me up to date (that's two+ a day now) I read five
3. Read all of Buffy Season 8 comics that I have -- NOPE
4. Catch up on Astonishing X-Men (Monday) -- NOPE
5. Read half of X-23 (Tuesday) -- NOPE
6. Catch up Dark Tower origins book (Tuesday) -- NOPE
7. Read at least one Ultimate Nightmare trade (Wednesday) -- NOPE
8. Watch three movies (Breach, Bourne Ultimatum, Letters from Iwo Jima) -- Nope on Bourne
9. Blog about Comic-Con -- NOPE
10. Blog about California Day -- NOPE
11. Dust room -- NOPE
12. Get haircut DONE
13. Grocery shop -- NOPE
14. Figure out which comics I'm lacking and order/buy to complete Astonishing X-Men, Dark Tower and X-23 gaps. -- NOPE
15. Completely read Game of Shadows (each day)
16. Read X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover (Monday) DONE
17. Skate (Wednesday)

And I forgot to note that I totally spaced on reading any L.A. Youth archives, though that happens after this entry. But more importantly, I achieved the balance between productivity and relaxation. I never felt rushed during this time off but managed to read an entire nearly 300-page non-fiction book, five comic books, watch two movies, read the newspaper everyday, which included the amazing four-part series in the L.A. Times about the physical manifestation of memory in the brain, skate once, get a haircut, read five issues of EW (including a double issue), hang two pix in my room, counsel a friend on relationship stuff and another on moving back to Los Angeles and edit a movie review. And I even squeezed in a nap. Plus I managed to watch the three shows I cared about: PTI, Futurama and Top Chef. I figure that's pretty good.

All in all a somewhat Zenny vacay.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Best movie (review) of 2007

Here's my friend Dave's review of Once. This review is everything that I've wanted to reply to people when they ask me "what's it about?" after me pestering them to go see it. So thank you, Dave. If this gets even one of my blog readers (out of the say seven or so) to see this film then dammit, youv'e done the world a service.

If you've ever wondered why good movies don't get made more often then you HAVE to see this one. Vote with your feet and wallets and let the studios know that quirky, sincere, complexly layered movies about the big simplicities of life ARE what you're begging for.

I was going to blog about the new Rilo Kiley album, but I'm waiting for a day or two. I need to process it a little more. In short, disappointing. Still good, but a level below the other releases. :(

Monday, August 20, 2007

Vacation thy name is ambition

I am one day down of my four-day weekend. This Tuesday and Wednesday are the last days that I feel I can afford not to be in the office until Thanksgiving pretty much. The deadline stress of back-to-back-to-back issues from September through November won't allow much relaxing after this. So here's the hoped for agenda that I hoped to accomplish this long weekend:

1. Organize room: throw out garbage, sort ticket stubs and bank slips, hang pics, CDs DONE
2. Read seven Entertainment Weeklys, which would bring me up to date (that's two+ a day now) ON PACE
3. Read all of Buffy Season 8 comics that I have (Monday)
4. Catch up on Astonishing X-Men (Monday)
5. Read half of X-23 (Tuesday)
6. Catch up Dark Tower origins book (Tuesday)
7. Read at least one Ultimate Nightmare trade (Wednesday)
8. Watch three movies (Breach, Bourne Ultimatum, Letters from Iwo Jima) -- that's going to require one per day ON PACE
9. Blog about Comic-Con (Monday)
10. Blog about California Day (Monday)
11. Dust room (Wednesday)
12. Get haircut (Tuesday) DONE
13. Grocery shop (Monday)
14. Figure out which comics I'm lacking and order/buy to complete Astonishing X-Men, Dark Tower and X-23 gaps. (Wednesday)
15. Completely read Game of Shadows (each day) ON PACE
16. Read X-Men/Fantastic Four crossover (Monday) DONE
17. Skate (Wednesday)

This may not be possible. In fact, I think it won't be if I actually want to sleep, which is the main point of this whole vacation—recharging the batteries for the big push.

I advised a friend yesterday to blog when he's got a point, not to ramble. And now I feel as though I'm disregarding my own advice. Whatever, there was no way I had a shot at doing this without putting it out there. Will the working vacation be fulfilling and will fulfillment replace vegetating as best preparation for the coming stressbattle?

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Rilo Kiley's MySpace is streaming the entire album NOW NOW. Rather than go to bed early, which I assumed would happen after falling asleep at 10:40 p.m. on the couch, I've stayed up to listen to it all.

Based on a quick listen, during which I've been somewhat distracted, I would say solid B or B+ and better than I thought on "Give a Little Love" and "Breakin Up."

More later.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Five years ago today

It's California day! I arrived in Los Angeles five years ago today (8.18). Best decision ever. Best job ever. Best people I've ever met ... er, ever.

More when I'm not beyond exhausted.

Friday, August 17, 2007


Though I'm not a parent (or a shrink) I feel as though I often play one in real life. Working with teens for the last five years, I've been beyond lucky in sharing their joys, dreams and triumphs from scholarship awards and college acceptances to learning to drive and cool concerts. I've also felt devastatingly vulnerable when witnessing their pain from break-ups and depression to discrimination and death.

I can hardly imagine what it's like for a real parent to live so vulnerably everyfucking day. It's honorable how they manage and succeed. I find myself tonight uneasy as I was an utter failure in helping a student deal with what was messin' with his/her shit.

I'm usually pretty good at this stuff. I'm not tall, fast, strong, a great musician, a great writer or great-looking. I can't sing, draw, paint, figure out cars or cure diseases. But honestly (and this is not bragging, but even if it were a teeny bit, it would be better than false modesty) I am better than average at connecting with people, teens in particular, and helping them not only learn to write and express themselves, but just deal with life (at least I like to think I am). So when I totally come up snake eyes it fucking sucks. I feel just powerless.

I hope that this too shall pass.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


I love Top Chef, but as I sit here at 1:04 a.m. prepping to go to bed after staying up entirely too late to watch tonight's episode, I'm forced to wonder whether apologies are necessary between friends. Or if it has reached the point where the apology is necessary, does that mean the friendship is damaged. Right now, I'm thinking the latter.


And here's an amazing and terrifying article from Wednesday's L.A. Times. This is one that I think was buried on the California front. Given how this is the ULTIMATE example of a government doing everything it can to act summarily and with zero accountability against its citizens this should have been on the front page of every fucking newspaper in the world. Granted, others may have reported on this before and I could be behind the curve.

From the Los Angeles Times

How lawyer navigates sea of secrecy in bizarre case

Among the obstacles: responding to a filing he can't see and writing a brief with none of his notes at hand.
By Henry Weinstein
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 15, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO — Oakland lawyer Jon Eisenberg calls the case of Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation v. George W. Bush the strangest he has ever handled. How strange? Eisenberg was required to write one of his briefs in a windowless government office, without notes or lawbooks, under the watchful eye of two federal security guards.

When he got hungry, one of the guards brought him a banana. And when he finished, a security official shredded all his drafts — and even the banana peel, Eisenberg said.

The brief-writing session was just one facet of the extraordinary secrecy surrounding the Al-Haramain case, Eisenberg said. Al-Haramain is one of dozens of plaintiffs across the nation that have filed suit, claiming they were illegally spied on by the government as part of the war on terror.

In most of the cases, including Al-Haramain's, the government has contended that any disclosure about the surveillance program would reveal state secrets and has refused to say whether the plaintiffs were wire-tapped. It has then moved to dismiss the complaints.

But in the Al-Haramain case, the Treasury Department inadvertently disclosed National Security Agency call logs stamped "top secret" indicating that the charity and two of its attorneys had been surveilled. Last year, U.S. District Judge Garr King ruled that the logs -- referred to in the court papers as "The Document" — gave the charity standing to sue in federal court.

Today, Eisenberg and Justice Department lawyer Thomas Bondy will each have 20 minutes to argue over King's decision before a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Although the argument will be conducted in public, much of the information in the case, including what was in "the Document," remains veiled in mystery.

Many of the government's motions have been filed under seal, and those lodged publicly contain gaps; one government brief reads: "REDACTED TEXT. PUBLIC TEXT CONTINUES ON PAGE 6."

Some of Eisenberg's briefs have been redacted as well, because they are considered too sensitive for the public to see. But although Justice Department lawyers can see Eisenberg's redactions, he isn't allowed to see theirs.

In the Al-Haramain case, Eisenberg has had to respond to a government filing he was not allowed to see.

Asked Monday if there was any way, under the government's interpretation of the law, that someone could contest the surveillance program, a senior Justice Department official replied, "In the current context, no."

Georgetown University constitutional law professor David Cole, who is not involved in this case but has represented individuals in similar situations, said the Al-Haramain case presented a daunting undertaking for a lawyer — and a threat to the rule of law.

"The whole adversary system of American law is predicated on the notion that both sides get to see the facts and the law that is presented to the judge," Cole said. When one side cannot see all the material presented to the judges by the other side, the professor said, "it cuts out the heart of the adversarial system."

But Chapman University constitutional law professor John Eastman said these cases raised unusual problems because of their sensitive nature. "One thing that is at issue here," he said, "is: How do you secure classified information, including intelligence information during wartime, in a society that is normally, and otherwise, wide open?"

As he prepared for today's oral argument, Eisenberg also called the Al-Haramain case the most difficult of his 27-year legal career, which has included numerous arguments before the California Supreme Court. Eisenberg is the author of "The Right vs. the Right to Die," a nonfiction account of the Terri Schiavo case, in which he helped represent her husband, Michael Schiavo.

The Al-Haramain proceedings turned Kafkaesque in June, he said, when he was told he would have to write a brief in the government office.

The filing was in response to a Justice Department brief that was redacted, he said. In the public portion, a team of government lawyers asserted that the case should be dismissed because of the "state secrets" doctrine. They also contended that the call log does not prove that the plaintiffs were subjects of the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program.

Eisenberg vigorously disputed the public portion of the filing, saying that if the government prevailed, the case would "quietly die without a judicial determination of whether the president. . . has broken the law by conducting warrantless electronic surveillance in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act."

As for what was in the sealed part of the government brief, Eisenberg said, "I could only guess," but he decided to write a response based on his knowledge of the case and his hunches. For a week, he said, "I thought a lot about what I wanted to draft and tried to commit it all to memory," since he would not be allowed to bring in notes. "That was a challenge. . . . And, yes. . . I was trying to guess at what the government had argued in the secret portions of its 9th Circuit brief and decide how to respond to something I'd never seen. That was a new experience for me."

In a public brief, Eisenberg described cryptically what happened June 26, when he and his co-counsel Steve Goldberg had to write their sealed response brief under what he called "highly unusual and objectionable restrictions imposed by the government." The conditions included preventing them from bringing notes or law books to the drafting session, and barring one of their co-counsel from participating, the brief said. Justice Department lawyer Anthony J. Coppolino sent Eisenberg a letter, denying that the government had attempted to prevent a third lawyer from being present at the briefing session. He also said he "was disappointed by" Eisenberg's characterizations, given "the accommodations that the court security officer went out of her way to make for you."

"Given our many discussions over the past 17 months, it should hardly come as a surprise to you that the classified information at issue has to be treated in accordance with federal requirements," Coppolino said.

He added, "Those requirements are why, just like us, you cannot process the information on your personal computers, store it in your individual homes or offices, or file it merely 'under seal' with unauthorized personnel in unapproved facilities."

Eisenberg, in a series of interviews, gave a more detailed account of the brief-drafting session. The morning of the session, the attorney said, he and Goldberg arrived at the federal courthouse in downtown San Francisco and were met by Justice Department security officer Erin Hogarty in the lobby. She escorted them upstairs to one of the floors used by the U.S. attorney's office. "They were very gracious. They showed us to our special little hush-hush room," Eisenberg recalled.

The room, he said, was windowless, about 8 feet by 10 feet, "lined with wood and metal bookcases which had been completely emptied." The room had a telephone, tables, desk chairs, a laptop computer and a printer.

He and Goldberg had to turn over their cellphones and the batteries from their laptop computers, Eisenberg recalled.

The two men were forbidden from bringing any lawbooks into the room, Eisenberg said. However, he said they were permitted to bring in photocopies of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, the law that plaintiffs contend was violated by the wire-tapping program.

As they began composing, two government security guards stood outside the room. Eisenberg said he left twice to go to the bathroom. "Near lunchtime, I started getting hungry. Goldberg stuck his head out the door and told Hogarty. She gave me a banana. . . . She's very nice."

At another point, Eisenberg said, "Hogarty warned us that she could hear our voices inside the room, so we should speak more quietly."

Asked if he had ever before had to write a brief without any notes or lawbooks, Eisenberg responded, "Of course not. Under any other circumstances, that would be malpractice."

Three hours later, "I signed each copy of the brief. I placed them on the table side-by-side, and put the banana peel above them and the earlier drafts to the right of the banana peel," Eisenberg said. "We called in Hogarty. I told her, 'Here's everything, even the banana peel.'"

"We were not allowed to keep a copy of what we wrote," he said. "We were allowed to print out five copies of the final document: one for each judge, one for the government attorneys, and one to be retained" in a Justice Department-supervised safe, Eisenberg said.

Hogarty "said she'd shred the early drafts and the banana peel. Then she collated everything and gave us back our cellphones and my computer battery," Eisenberg recalled. "We thanked her for everything and left the courthouse."

Asked for his thoughts about the experience, Eisenberg quoted his July 3 public brief: "The soul of America's government is transparency — openness in the affairs of its three constitutional branches." Weeks after Eisenberg filed his two briefs, the public one and the sealed one, the government filed reply briefs — one public and one under seal. Eisenberg and his colleagues have seen only the public brief.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New Rilo Kiley tracks

I've been listening to the 30-second clips of the songs on Under the Blacklight at this site. I'm a little nervous. I love Dreamworld and really realy like Silver Lining and The Moneymaker, which are the first three officially leaked tracks. I am warm at best on anything else and am strongly anti Give a Little Love and Breakin' Up.

But I'm trying to remain open-minded and waiting to pass legit judgment until I hear the songs in their entirety and can study the lyrics. I am hopeful for Under the Blacklight, Close Call, 15 and The Angels Hung Around.

This year has been so amazing musically, I'm not sure what I'll do should my fave band in the world disappoint. The good bit of karma re:music and fave bands is that R.E.M.'s open rehearsals in Ireland got RAVE reviews. I think they remembered that they're a rock band!

Review of Hansard show and Tift Merritt at McCabe's Guitar Shop this week.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Horribly scary and incredibly sad

As I've noted before, one of the BEST things any news organization is doing on the Web is the L.A. Times Homicide Report blog, which can be found here:

I don't want to use this blog as a Google News type aggregator (copier) of other people's work, but in this case, I'd be doing a disservice to ace reporter Jill Leovy and the amazing people putting this together to try and paraphrase their words. So here's an update from her on the stage of the blog and also a refresher on the how and why. Btw, if you scroll down to the next entry you'll see a list of the week's homicide victims, more than 30 and about 20 percent are teenagers. And virtually all of the week's homicides are gun shot victims. And how the fuck do readily available guns make our society safer? make us safer?

New Homicide Map and Picture Gallery

Newmap_picThe Homicide Report has added a new feature to this page: The interactive map and picture gallery. Click on the link below "Our Blogger" at right to view.

The map shows all Los Angeles County homicides from the most recent week; scroll back to see previous homicides. Click on a tab above the map to see photos of some of the victims.

There is a search button in the lower left corner that you can use to call up lists of homicides by name, place and date or date range. You can also use the filter to search by other criteria, including age, race and cause of death.

(The Times is grateful to USC professor Michael Quick for an earlier version of the map he created that was used in making the new map. More on this later).

The new map aggregates the information the Homicide Report has gathered in striving to chronicle each homicide in Los Angeles County since the beginning of this year. The tally so far is 496 homicides between Jan. 1, 2007 and July 30, 2007.

The total is based on records from the Coroner, as well as reporting and analysis by the Homicide Report, not on the Coroner's official count.

Picture_gallery Our list excludes, for example, a substantial number of homicide cases for which the coroner has not yet issued a final determination. Also missing are murky cases, including those in which an ongoing police investigation is likely to reclassify the death as something other than homicide.

The Homicide Report also believes some homicides have slipped through the cracks, and is slowly adding missing cases as they are verified.

This map, and this webpage, the Homicide Report, are a first for the Los Angeles Times. In past years, when the operation was focused largely on the print edition, there was simply not enough room to fit stories about the hundreds of homicides that occur in Los Angeles County each year. With an expanded web presence opening unlimited space, the Homicide Report was created to provide a public record of these deaths, and give readers insight into the nation's homicide problem as it plays out in Los Angeles County.

But the practical problems involved in tracking cases across numerous agencies in a county the size of Los Angeles are considerable.

Many, many homicides are never reported by any media, and are not even caught by internal reporting systems within police agencies designed to inform the press and public. In some jurisdictions, there is little tradition or infrastructure to ensure homicide information is made public at all. The degree to which homicide has become essentially a private event in some cases far surpassed this reporter's expectations. It is its own dismal lesson about the invisibility of homicide victims.

When first approached by the Times, for example, Inglewood Police Department officials balked at releasing such basic facts as the names of all homicide victims. They were not so much obstructionist s surprised: No one had asked them for that before, they said.

Vanderbrug_photoSimilarly, the coroner's office has toiled to provide HR a weekly report, despite the face it is not an official document or required to meet their standards. The Coroner's staff produces the report because HR asked them to. Their listing is, like the Homicide Report itself, a bit of experiment.

All that said, the map at right gives readers a sense of where and when homicides happen, and of who dies.

The following are a sample of the information available from the interactive map:

  • Despite a decline in L.A. County's homicide rate, victims remain overwhelmingly black and Latino.
  • The homicide rate is not constant. It tends to rise on weekends and in the summertime. In the months of May-July, for example, there were 20% more homicides than in January-March.
  • Shootings account for more than four-fifths of the homicides.
  • Less than 5% of the homicides are domestic homicides, and although most victims are women, 4 of this year's 24 domestic violence victims so far have been men.

(Photo by Brian Vander Brug)

Peace to everyone.

Love my job, love great music

Thank you, Thank you, DevinIAm.

As someone who works with teens for a living, I know that I've got a great job. Our kids NEVER cease to amaze me with their idealism, curiousity, judgment-free views, brilliance, humor, maturity and generosity of spirit. Devin, one of our newest students, was dedicated (like eight hours of waiting) and lucky enough to get a wristband for Rilo Kiley's secret show Friday in Eagle rock. In the few weeks I've known her, I've discovered that we've been to many of the same shows this year and have many bands in common. (Like I said, I have a cool job.)

Well, sadly, as someone with a full-time job this show was pretty much snake eyes for me. So what does she do? She scored me one of the 450 show posters!!!! How freaking cool is that? I really don't have the slightest idea how to say thank you.

It's weird, part of me feels like I'd be a loser if I get this framed to display it because I wasn't there. And I feel like only A TRUE AND PRESENT-AT-THE-SHOW fan should be showcasing something so cool. But then again, I got it by legit means (meaning I didn't beat up a manorexically thin indierock boy), so why not wear my musical heart on my wall?

Of my friends, I'm the biggest Rilo Kiley fan I know. Granted most of my friends haven't even heard of the band; though all who do seem to dig them. I got my friend, Claire, who's a mother of two young children, into them!!!! However, compared to those who post on, I'm nothing. These guys and gals are almost scary in their devotion and make me seem downright poser. And I mean "scary" as the ultimate compliment. They are the living embodiement
of Band-Aids from Almost Famous (save for the sex). They just love the band in such a pure way. Though I'm a bit bashful to post anymore to something like this, I feel what they feel.

Rilo Kiley supplanted R.E.M. a couple years ago as my all-time fave band. And "Pictures of Success" surpassed "Nightswimming" as my favorite song. RK is a band that makes me feel like a high school student in the way I approach the band's music. I have a slavish love. But I think the cool thing is that my appreciation is deeper than it would have been back then, given the extra 15-16 years of neurons firing in my brain. It's probably the closest I'm ever going to get to understanding William Blake's notion of "higher innocence," which is essentially regaining the unspoiled-childlike perspective yet with the benefit of experience.

This post is rambling. But it's Saturday night and I'm beyond exhausted after this week.

Friday, August 10, 2007

On writing ... and obsession

The stars fell from the heavens with such brilliance in the predawn sky Sunday that even the penetrating darkness of night gave way to the subtlety of shadow.

I once wrote that many years ago. It's a sentence unlike any other I wrote while a reporter for the Albany Times Union. I am not sure what I tapped into for that story about the Perseids meteor shower, but it was something very unusual for me. Not to brag, but my prose usually never has that kind of lyrical quality. I'm usually all snark and overage teen spirit with a dash of profanity and liberal ideologoy self-righteousness, with hopefully a filter of logic.

I wonder what happened to me that day. I know at least one thing, though, that sentence reflected the awe and wonder I feel about nature. The awesomeness of nature that reinforces my atheism, which is ironic to some. Others see the wonders of the universe and assume only a God could create them, while people like me see them and wonder why do people need something more? Is nature not awe-inspiring enough?

This post is rambly so I'm shutting it down.

Last thing, drink Ommegang and watch The Prestige.

Post-last thing ... Rilo Kiley played a "secret" show tonight at a bowling alley in Eagle Rock. I coulnd't go because wristbands disappeared doublebubble fast and also I couldn't steal away from work early to do the wait-online-all-day thing. I wonder how the show was? I'm sure it was brilliant and very special treat to get the debut performances of Under the Blacklight. I am SOOOOOOO FUCKING EXCITED for this album. Silver Lining and Moneymaker are great. Dreamworld might be a lifechanger. Interestingly, it's the first Blake song that's knocked me head over heels.

Resurrected self

Thanks to the amazing folks at Sidle's Auto Body and Repair the car is back. And it's cleaner than it was left with them. Yay! I've never been a car guy, but this made me legitimately wholer. My car was promised back at the latest Saturday, but Paul promised he'd try to do better. Well, it was ready first thing Thursday morning! How fuckin' great is that?


Thursday, August 09, 2007

When riding a bus uneventful is good

Sometime very early Saturday morning a fuckhead sideswiped my car, breaking my car door handle on the driver's side and scratching the door very noticeably. The car is now in the body shop getting repaired, I'm out $500 plus MTA day passes for the week and now teeming with the masses on the public transportation system. Wednesday was day two:

The morning has already become routine. I wake up about 45 minutes earlier, which is a good thing, although in the end it's to get to work 5-10 minutes later. Efficiency where?

The stop at Overland is again black with dirt and smelly, but not quite as smelly. I recognize no one from yesterday morning. The 333 bus has more people on it as I'm forced to head to the back for a seat. I am so not Rosa Parks. As I'm riding toward Venice, a thought I had last night hits me again. The bus could be on the most perpetuating devices of our de facto caste system. How do people get ahead in a capitalist society? They show their bosses that they're willing to do more, would be one oversimplified though not without merit perspective. But when you've got a 7.5-mile commute that takes an hour and change, each way, how motivated are you to stay beyond your shift? Especially knowing that staying an extra 20 minutes might mean another hour added on to your ETA for home. The evening bus schedule is markedly less frequent. So in the end you punch out at your prescribed time just to catch the right bus to ensure that your commute home is just an hour for 8 miles. What the fuck? And why does the fucking bus riders union fight so hard to maintain that?

The 333 gets me to my connecting stop basically on time. I take special note to remember the Taco Bell/Pizza Hut on the SE corner of Venice and La Brea, so as not to repeat Tuesday's blunder.

As the 212 NB pulls to the stop, I face a choice that regular riders probably deal with regularly. Do I board a bus, which is techincally about six minutes earlier than the 312 NB I'm scheduled for, but that's jammed to the gills and will make every stop on La Brea or do I wait for the 312, which is coming six minutes later? I opt to wait. I just didn't want to teem upstream, which I would have had to do to get on the freaking bus. On Tuesday the 312 was half full at best, I figure that I'm much safer.

I take the regularly scheduled 312. It's full enough that I have to stand for most of the trip. but otherwise it's cake.

On the return trip home, I'm once again rushed to leave the office by 6:50 to make sure I get to the Trader Joe's bus stop at 7:04. Had I not been bussing, I'd have stayed longer to edit two more stories. But I couldn't afford to miss that 7:04 bus, because I know that if I somehow miss that 7:22 Venice 33, I'm not getting home until almost 9 p.m.

The ride is easy. Bus 212 is pretty full as we head south on La Brea, but the 33 is wide open. The entire trip takes 60 minutes and I listen to the new Rilo Kiley songs on my iPod. No complaints. But inside I am still pissed. I want my fucking car. I work really hard for the convenience of commanding my work schedule. I want the freedom to stay late, be extra productive and get home promptly. This sucks. I have been less productive at work so far this week and generally kinda pissy. This really fucking sucks.

And the more I thought about this tonight the angrier I got at people fighting subway expansion. To really alleviate traffic and slash air pollution in this town we've got to get Westsiders off the roads. We're the ones with too many cars, too many SUVs and too much density (see streets like mine which are lined with apartment buildings so close you could high-five your neighbors in some instances). But we also work our asses off so that we don't have to be as goddamned inefficient as the bus--which takes 60 minutes to go what by car would be 25. Give us a motherfucking subway and I'll get off the road.

But this time, don't do a Red Line. Put parking at all the stops, not just the terminuses. I don't care how many lots and properties you need to sieze through eminent domain. But not providing parking will kill ridership. And don't get seduced by the discounted rates of light rail construction. The Gold Line has been a disappointment ridershipwise because it's not that fast. We need mass high-speed transit. Not light rails and busses.

OK, the one bit of great news. I got a call from the body shop this afternoon saying that my car would likely be ready Thursday 10 a.m., so the no-car challenge is coming to a welcome fucking premature end.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Jack Traven was NOT on my bus and nor was Gigantor

Sometime very early Saturday morning a fuckhead sideswiped my car, breaking my car door handle on the driver's side and scratching the door very noticeably. The car is now in the body shop getting repaired, I'm out $500 plus MTA day passes for the week and now teeming iwth the masses on the public transportation system. Yesterday (technically) was Day 1 without a car, here's how it went:

The ride in was great. It was fast and very chill. The busses weren't particularly full and I learned that if there's a 3 in front of the route number it functions like an express and avoids minor stops. I love the 333 and even the 312. The only drawback was the bus stops. They were fucking gross. The sidewalk at the southeast corner of Overland and Venice is black with compressed filth. And it smelled like a dumpster, just like the dumpster behind the Bob Evans Restaurant I worked at back in college.

Well, there was one other drawback. The experience was nothing like Speed. There wasn't any removeable floor panel from to escape when we need to put the bus on a collision course. We didn't have any yokels or gum on the seats. Our driver didn't appear to smile. I honestly secretly (as secret as a public blog with about 12 readers is) sorta wanted a movie-like adventure. There was one Speed-like aspect. We didn't go nearly 50 on city streets, and neither did they in many shots.

Ride home not so good, but that was my fault. First off the 212 bus was a few minutes late, unlike my two morning rides. It was also more crowded and I was beat from working all day. My biggest hesitation throughout the years to riding the bus was that I wouldn't want to deal with the doubly long trip home after a full work day.

As it headed south on La Brea, I kicked back, listened to the iPod and started to zone a bit. I noticed that the girl across from me was reading Deathly Hallows, but not much more. After about 10 minutes I did manage to catch that the next stop was Pico and then Venice (my stop). When we stopped at Pico I said to myself, "next one is me," but when we got there my brain shorted out.

While people were boarding and disembarking (from what was my stop) I noticed a Pizza Hut/Taco Bell on the southeast corner of the intersection. I KNOW THAT THIS IS VENICE. But for some reason, in my head I thought it was still Pico. I didn't move. A few minutes after we leave that stop I notice that we're going up a hill, which is where Washington crosses La Brea. I MISSED MY STOP. I get off at Washington.

I now have to walk back north to Venice. I pull out my schedule and note that there was a 10-minute wait between my busses. I look at my watch and my unexpected shortcircuit has cost me four of those minutes. And I still have probably an at least five minute walk back. As I get to the Southwest corner of the Venice/La Brea intersection I see my bus leaving the stop heading west toward home. FUCK.

I cross the street and though I'm not sure the exact time of the next bus, I know that after 7 p.m. the busses run less frequently. I start walking west along Venice toward the next stop. I know that I'll get on the same bus whether I board at La Brea or Redondo, but I want to feel productive so I walk rather than stand. When I get to Redondo I've reached the crest of a slight hill. It's just enough so that I can't see the La Brea stop anymore. I decide it's not worth walking to the next stop, because the last thing I need is for that 33 bus to pass me in between two stops. These busses aren't driven by Sam and I'm not Annie.

After a solid 12 minutes of waiting for the bus, it comes. I get home. All is fine.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Moral dilemma, moral smilemma

I am not renting a car. I will be riding the bus. At least for the next four-five days, my car's exterior will be protected.

Go carbon neutralness.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Really bad Carma (and visual puns)

Lots of apartments buildings + residential neighborhood + narrow streets, + bar on one corner + bus stop on the other corner = limited parking availability and dangerous parking situation.

In the last two months, my car windshield has been vandalized, read smashed (though thankfully nothing was stolen) and my downstairs neighbor's truck was plowed into while it was parked on the street resulting in his front axle getting snapped, left front tire getting shoved into the back of the wheel well and possible suspension damage.

Saturday morning Pt III. My driver's side front door was sideswiped, breaking the door handle so that I have to enter my car through the passenger side. When you drive a Saturn that sucks because the console is very much in the way. I am now down two deductibles in the span on two months plus the potential cost of a rent-a-car while the car gets fixed because I went cheap and didn't include rental car coverage on my policy. Whose bloody God did I piss off?

When we first moved here I was worried that the street presented itself as far too good an opportunity for these types of things (btw, in my case and my neighbor's no notes were left behind); it's often used the primary cutthrough street through our neighborhood. Dammit. I hate being circumstantially prescient.

I'm also faced with a bit of a moral dilemma. I tend to skew screaming heart liberal: pro-choice, anti-death penalty, pro gun control, pro civil liberties, pro marriage for same-sex couples, pro environment. Yet, now when faced with the prospect of being carless for a period of more than a day, I am debating whether to rent a car. The double bubble rub is that I feel as though I'd want a car if the body shop needs it for more than two days because that much time being reliant solely on the bus would suck it. But more than say three days starts getting really expensive. And if I'm as pro-environment as I say, should I not be jumping at this opportunity to become more carbon neutral, if only for a few days. I'm lucky enough that I live within walking distance of groceries and bank and likely would give up only my desired haircut this week. But the loss of freedom gnaws at me, even though most nights once I'm home, I'm simply home.

Colour me vexed.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Insider recognition

Hi Janey!

Unsolicited advice

I think I could call my blog this and it would apply to probably at least 20 percent of the entries. I know of a couple HS/college students who at least occassionally look at this blog. I'm just going to say RIGHT FUCKING NOW that you have no goddamned business with a two-fucking-page resumé! I am going to cure one of my current students of this in about 8 hours 40 minutes.

Comic-con re-cap coming Thursday. It's late and I have had some Shiraz and am going to chillfest 07, a live concert by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, stars of the most beautiful film I've ever seen, Once.