Urgh .. I missed the ninth inning of game four (& last) of the world series! I had to work at the yoga studio at 8:30 p.m. and couldn’t get anyone to cover my shift .. it’s ok .. the Red Sox swept, but surely it’ll happen again .. they’ve won twice now in 86 years ..

Here’s the laundromat where I was watching the game (up until inning eight, anyway). Check out the wallpaper .. a genuine relic from the early 70s, at least.

And speaking of wallpaper, I watched The Exorcist (for the first time! although I had seen the stairs in D.C. many years ago, and they are creepy in and of themselves) over the weekend, and silk damask will never be the same. I have to admit to being this sort of realist: I was far more icked out by the blood spurting out of Regan’s neck when they prepped her for the cat scan than by her head spinning all the way round and her self-violation with a crucifix, which had people vomiting and fainting in theaters in 1973, probably the same year someone was installing that wallpaper in my laundromat.

Happy Halloween.

I have no plans (yet?) to go anywhere or do anything, but I have vintage wedding dresses acting as curtains in my bedroom, and so donning one of them at the last minute (and therefore being, as Trish suggested, commitment – ooh, scary) is always a possibility, should anything interesting come up. In L.A. practically anything is interesting on Halloween, I should clarify; but I mean should anything that actually interests me come up, which is not bloody likely, since I'm wont to be more interested in chasing cats around the house and reading books meant for five year olds than socializing. Who knows though? Really ... anything could happen, at any time.

look at these eerie photos of small town life by Gregory Crewdson.

I've seen his photos before and thought, when trying to make sense of them, that aliens must have landed and then walked off with everyone's equilibrium. But those two pictures are of my home town. In fact, the second one is the actual street I lived on for my so-called formative (junior high and high school) years. And I can tell you with relative certainty that we were all devoid of equilibrium in the first place, and he was merely photographing what got swept under the carpet, namely a looming sense that we were really all nearly corpses and could spend days standing in the middle of the road in the rain, counting our digits for reassurance and unaware of having been sucked into an enormous black hole. I guess aliens could have been to blame.

Now I've traded it all for strip malls.


fables of the reconstruction

In 1999 I moved to Porland, Oregon. I was on my way from Minneapolis to San Francisco with no money and a half-baked plan, and somehow ended up instead first outside of Seattle and then in Portland. Despite my domestic life being a train wreck (I lived with an ex-boyfriend and he was no longer a friend; I drank too much; I subsisted on mac & cheese; everything I owned was in boxes; I dated a guy with a girlfriend and we were literally busted together on a surveillance video), it was a freeing experience for me because I hadn’t ever intended to be there and had no idea how long I was staying, so I felt I needn’t bother with anything fruitless and exhausting like making friends, looking for a job I actually liked, learning my way around, going to school, repairing the friendship with my ex, etc.

Eventually, and without much effort, I did all these things. But instead of prioritizing them, I prioritized instead what I had previously considered distractions and peripherals: artwork and reading, going to the movies, exploring new neighborhoods, walking around in the rain. I spent a year there, all the while approaching life as someone who didn’t have any responsibilities and was between destinations, as if on an extended layover. I told friends later it was like going on vacation, losing my wallet and getting stuck there. And the result was unexpected: it was probably my most productive year ever. And so ever since then I’ve puzzled over how to regain that (odd and inexplicably magical) frame of mind. It’s really not that different than the way I usually feel, but the key is the lack of guilt about putting mundanity on the back burner.

What I learned from it is that the things that clamor for my attention and distract me from the things I “need” to do are probably the things I really need to do. I’m aware now that when my primary focus is on, for example, work, my creative life comes to a grinding halt, and I feel like I’m in prison. This doesn’t mean creativity and responsibility are mutually exclusive; that’s exactly the feeling that got me in trouble in the first place. (I had always felt some irresponsibility about being an artist, despite having gone to art school, which failed to clue me in since it temporarily made an honest woman out of me: I was supposed to be painting!) But it means, for me anyway, that if I’m sitting in the laundromat for three hours watching tennis balls pound the knots out of my down comforter, the real benefit of doing so is the story I write while I’m there.

This isn’t a radical approach to life: virtually everyone who writes about happiness or wealth says to take care of yourself first. Put money in a savings account, then pay your bills. Put the oxygen mask on yourself, then on your child. But something about it continues to feel wrong – wrong like being totally indulgent (binging, addiction), like spending twenty years worth of retirement money on a porsche. Why? We live in an especially work-oriented society, and (counterintuitive, but) also one that makes things really difficult for working-class people. We’re taught to try to climb ladders (to borrow a metaphor from Stephen Covey) but not to get off when we discover the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall, or when (my metaphor) it turns out to be an escalator going down.

So, why the focus on work? I ask. A great quote from my brother: “No one says, on their deathbed, ‘I wish I’d spent more time working.’” By work I don’t mean effort; I mean, more or less, punching a timeclock. Creativity is work. Relationships are work. Packing sandwiches for a picnic is work. But that sort of work brings tangible results, which are pertinent to one’s actual happiness and enjoyment of life. Life is holistic. Simply creating agendas and accomplishing them doesn’t get you very far; it might be important, or it might be busywork. Real work, important work, is whatever brings you happiness. And no one needs to tell you to do it; you just stand back and let it take the reins. What you do with the rest of your time (job, chores, sleep) is simply what you do with the rest of your time.

That was all a big spontaneous digression (yay! art imitates life imitates ...) and here, finally, is what I meant to write about. When I lived in Portland, I made frequent use of the city library’s picture file, which at the time was more or less unique to that library. They had a full time staff of people who cut stuff out of magazines and sorted photos, and you could look through, say, their “crucifix” folder and borrow photos to use as reference (or, on the sly, scan or copy). They had a folder on just about everything. I really missed it, until I discovered Google’s image search page. And now, even better, I have discovered (thank you Bree!) morguefile, which is kind of like having the Portland library’s picture file on my computer .. except with a little more room for error as far as the search terms are concerned ...

Here are a few photos I found.

When searching "mannequin"







And lastly, for your amusement, here's The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, which is like a living, breathing chapter of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. And if you have read it (the book, not the blog) here's a review that I think is almost more hilarious than the book.


O My Soul

I’ve been feeling pummeled lately by things happening that I really wish hadn’t, so I took a little weekend vacation and drove up to the bay area. It was just what the doctor ordered, so to speak. I drowned my sorrows in: a hot tub; wine, champagne, sushi, and ice cream; a couple new pairs of vintage boots; a reunion with a friend I hadn’t seen in – can this really be true? – sixteen or seventeen years; and Big Star at the Fillmore.

I’d rather not blog about things sucking, so I thought I’d can it until I felt a little better, but for now, that more or less sums it up. Life goes on, clouds and silver linings and all that jazz.



Do I get whatever I wish for?

wish list:

• world peace; end to genocide, religious differences, starvation, global warming, child labor, all terrorist activity (including wiretapping innocent civilians’ phone lines) and death
• corporate responsibility
• neighbors remove dog’s vocal cords
• electric car
• equal rights everywhere for women, children, minorities, gay & transgendered people, and the poor
• miraculous reversal of Sly’s rapidly progressing cancer
• clean air in Los Angeles
• bottomless trust fund
• health insurance

... and it only gets shallower after that.

This cracks me up. I think they're listening to the rain.

F. Childe Hassam - Rain Storm, Union Square, 1890

Gustave Caillebotte - Rue de Paris; Temps de Pluie, 1877

Monet - The Walk, Woman With a Parasol, 1875

happy 13th. one month till my birthday.


If you really want to hear about it

The Scientologists are gardening.

I had lunch at the Alcove today. There was another great chair.

and some old vintage suitcases

I sat at the chessboard table, and in the little drawers in the side of the table, where you’d expect to find chess pieces, instead there were all these little notes that people left. Some gems:

“I’m in love with the woman seated across from me – I want to squeeze her Hungarian bunny cakes!”

“Sleepy, lazy Saturday – suits the Alcove with an old friend. Well, not “old” – we’re more like fine wine. Fine wine that doesn’t admit she’s 33.”

“Dear God (Yes you .. the one reading this)
There are people out there starving + here I am eating a fat piece of banana cake. I need it more than they do cause my body has expanded + those starving people don’t have any room in their stomach. Isn’t it better that I eat? Forgive me for all the sins I caused. I will go w/ a salad next time. And God if you can’t make me skinny make everyone else fat!
- Amen, fat person sitting alone”

“You don’t love me, you just love my doggy style. Ha!”

“OMG!! I’m getting my nose job tomorrow morning. I’m so scared!”

“T and Spiff thank Yelena for being here after selling her clothes to buy her meal. She’ll never know what she wrought.”

“A wet duck never flies at night.”

“Marrianne wouldn’t let me eat her croissant sandwiches today ... so I’m here eating a vegan wrap. I want to kick her.”

“My sister is pregnant but I’m not supposed to tell anybody – so I told everybody @ work.”

“So I met this girl randomly at the Bourgeouis Pig (if I can’t spell it, it’s due to my lack of being one ...)”

“I was having such a bad day today. These notes made me feel so much better when I discovered them. Thank you to all the people who take the time to think, reflect, and pass it on to others ...” and then in a different pen: “You need to get laid!”

... just when you think everything’s ok, someone has to go and write a FUCK YOU ...

but this is my favorite:

“You are so off my top 8!”

On the way home I bought a story from a homeless guy for a dollar. It has a ball point pen and crayon illustration of of some famous Hollywood landmarks on the front cover.

Here are some pictures of my apartment.

the entryway

the bedroom

decoupage wall

old newspapers from the 40s and 50s I found perfectly preserved
under some floorboards when Dave revamped his apartment

walk in closet that I've made into a dressing room

the art that is the bathroom walls

and the very tiny bathroom itself


mantel mirror, which looks quite nice
over the piano (since I don't have a mantel)

(digression) this is my mom's mantel mirror, which inspired me to seek one out
(and which she actually has over a mantel)

and the rest of my living room

I haven't painted everything yet, since I thought I was moving again (but now I'm not) so more photos sometime down the road.


The dirtiest word in the English language

My brother and I have an ongoing email dialogue that runs the gamut, from popular culture to geographical anomalies to educational reform. We both find ourselves at odds with other people a lot, so it's a nice reprieve. Kind of a conversational safe house.

Sample discussion: what's the most offensive word in the English language? Aaron used to say "bitch," although plenty of other hateful terms come to mind without thinking too hard. What makes it so horrible though, is that it's so often culled for the purpose of debasing a woman for expressing anger about something. Like every slur, its job is to discredit. But it's specifically aimed at women who fight back. Compliant women are never called a bitch.

I’ve always said I feel “date rape” is the most offensive term, because it implies that it’s not exactly rape if you knew him. Historically, the victims of rape have been further punished in courts with broken fingers and by being forced to marry their rapists, among other things. Even now a lot of such violent crimes linger to shame their victims forever afterward, in a variety of ways, not the least of which is via whatever public pronouncements are inappropriately made about the victim’s personal life not pertaining to the crime itself. And of course there are many ways to perpetrate insidious psychological abuse, which resembles this aftermath without leaving any of that messy physical evidence in the first place. But in a rape situation, no matter how or whether you knew the guy or what you were wearing or what your sexual habits are (invasive details that erroneously seem relevant to juries), the psychological violence is the true crime.

Why I bring this up: recently my neighbors Ian and Ashley went to an Andrew Vachss reading at Skylight Books and I tagged along. It was my introduction to Andrew Vachss, and an odd one, since he didn’t actually read any of his work but instead discussed current events with the audience. I left thinking this: an eccentric genius! I wonder what his writing’s like? And after going home and reading his lengthy and inspiring bio from start to finish, I think he’s my new hero.

His wife, Alice Vachss, is also a person of undeniably heroic proportions. I love this woman because she wrote an article for the New York Times entitled “All Rape is Real Rape” in which she declares people who downplay acquaintance rape "collaborators." It’s a great article, and it examines the damage done by creating the distinction of date (or acquaintance) rape. But she says something that distresses me:

“Those who cling most tenaciously to the myth of "real" rape dismiss the overwhelming statistics to the contrary as the ravings of lunatic feminists.”
... we’re doing great so far, here – an excellent point, since lots of feminist issues are dismissed thusly ...
Oh, but there she goes, continuing:
“It may well be that feminists have their own agenda, but rape is not a feminist issue—it is a women's issue, and a human one.” In other words, before you go and interpret that statement to mean she identifies with feminists (or, god forbid, is one) let her be clear that, generally speaking, she doesn't take them seriously either.

Like I said, lots of feminist issues are dismissed thusly, as if there was a roving clan of hysterical feminists, and as if every group of people must openly atone for the possibility that a few of them who aren’t to be taken seriously taint the whole group. Can you imagine? You go to the LAPD website and it says “serving the greater Los Angeles community, but please don’t think the cops who beat black people have anything to do with us – we’re loathe to even call ourselves cops. Law enforcement is a police issue, not a cop issue.” But this is what most people who use the word feminist, in conversation or in print, do. They say the equivalent of this: “I’m a woman. I care about things that affect women. But I’m not one of those crazy women.” This sort of apologetic behavior indicates that the speaker / writer has precisely the anti-female bias she’s allegedly trying to eradicate, just in a way so sublimated, she can’t articulate it properly. But it’s very common. Feminism is a dirty word.

So I hereby modify my opinion to this: the worst term in the English language is "feminist." It is simply something you cannot call yourself, without inviting most other people's castigation. The unfortunate truth is that so many people believe feminism to be inclusive of a hysterical, anti-male extreme (which I believe to be a thing of myth, but if it isn't, it no more relates to being feminist than male hatred of women, which is very real and much more acceptable, does) that it's disempowering to identify as a feminist. If you want people to hear you out on a feminist issue, you must first disavow feminists. This is conceptually sick, but I believe it to be the truth.

alright, well ... apartment pictures next time. no apologies for this post.
If you need it to end on a better note, read the Andrew Vachss bio.


But what I really want to do is direct ...

Rebecca posted a link to this awesome dresser from a NY Times home & garden slide show and now I want to paint every drawer in my house a different color.

and from the same slide show, another great chair

and some fantastic wallpaper

I like the bits that are just outlined but not colored in. I did a commercial a few years ago (I don't remember what for, obviously) and we had to decoupage all these peacocks all over the walls, and the end effect was kind of like that wallpaper. Wallpaper is one of those things that I generally don't like (except that ancient hotel damask kind of stuff - see below) .. but that's gorgeous.

Of course, now that I've said that (about not liking wallpaper) I'm probably going to spend the next hour google image searching damask wallpapers instead of working on my screenplay.

Here's a nice one, which looks a lot like my old livingroom walls (which I carved out a stencil for and painted, but at the moment can't find a photo of) at the Creamery in Oakland.

this looks more like it, actually:

the decor's a bit feisty, but check out the hot red wall which would look much better in a bordello

... a ceiling!

and a great dead animal interior ..
I like dead animal interiors, even though I prefer animals alive.

Here's some stuff that inspired me to paint my apartment.

Honeydukes (candy store in Harry Potter flix):

and ... click here for a virtual tour of the shop - much cooler than that picture.

apartment pictures next time.

scene sequence here I come ...