Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Used to Have a Fauxhawk

It's true. It's not something I'm proud of.

Very few pictures of the fauxhawk still exist. I will not post any of them here.

It was a Friday in early 2004 that my Scottish hairstylist Carol Ann said to me in her unforgettable overpriced broguish drawl "maybe we should give you a fauxhawk." I had never heard the term. It was months before it crashed the mainstream. I thought she was saying something else. When she was done with me, I was pleased with the result. I looked cool. I looked good. I looked forward thinking.

At first it was a faux-fauxhawk. After a few days of my trademarked rapid kinky hair growth, this newfangled style wasn't noticeable - it was just my normal mass of brown on my larger-than-normal head.

On subsequent haircuts through most of 2005, Carol Ann began to experiment some more. The cut became more hawk, less faux. There are pictures of me in early 2006 (available on a secret thumb drive if anyone's interested) that display this haircut in its full ridiculousness. In some of the photos, I'm wearing a pompously loud lavender shirt from The Gap.

In early 2006, I broke the news to Carol Ann that the experiment was over, that it had failed. She acquiesced and gave me something more mainstream. I then left Santa Monica and began getting my hair cut by American women on the east side.

Eventually, I opted for (and alternated) the same two hairstyles I got for two decades before the Scottish woman got her Robbie Williams-loving experimental scissors on me: (1) short all-the-way around, exposing my masculine head shape and consistent hairline (this style is utilitarian, as wives or girlfriends are perfectly capable of performing the haircut); or (2) short everywhere except for a spiky tously top (definitively not a mullet nor a fauxhawk, this haircut doesn't look good in its first few days but rocks between days 6 and 18.)

Monday, August 25, 2008

9 Reasons

Why today is a good day:

New Eef.
Just found out about this. On my birthday!
Palm Springs is sweet.
Only 78 days until.
Barack picked a good running mate.
Good Mad Men episode.
Sometimes your heroes disappoint you.
This book keeps getting better.
Red Mango at my workplace.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Puzzle of the Light

Three new poems on the poetry blog!

Summer is almost over. For me, it is essentially officially over because I hear the screaming man on the field, exhorting his band to play tighter, be stronger.

Still, we have 12 days left in August. It doesn't have to be this way. We could abolish August.

I'm reading The Night of the Gun by David Carr. It's an amazing book. I like it not just because his awful story of addiction is set in the Twin Cities (he grew up in Hopkins!) or because I used to read the guy's writing in the weekly local papers of the pre-internet age. It's also because Carr treats his addiction (to cocaine/crack, alcohol, etc.) as a story deserving of truth, not just candor or theater. So he tackles the story as a reporter - interviewing old acquaintances, digging up court records. And then when it's time to tell the story/truth he's found, he does it with writing that's beautiful, funny, clever, and sad. Mostly funny and sad. Also - the website is great... and a little addicting. He'll be reading in Pasadena tonight.

I'm also reading Los Angeles: The Architecture of Four Ecologies by Reyner Banham. (You can actually read the book by following that link.) This video should make you want to read it too. Watch all 52 minutes.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


(sorry for the silence)

(still alive. not to worry)

(just a busy week)

(the weekend has been better)

Good night. More on Monday.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Black Swans In Scrapbooks

From this seat I see the Los Feliz hills rising behind the Silver Lake storefronts. I see the telephone pole-blocked Superior Glass sign, the pole blocking the last two letters of 'glass' (better than blocking the first two, which happens). I think of the guy on the radio an hour ago - Charlie and the stories he told to the man who was married to the woman who was never married - but could have been married - to me. I hold the earth still and I still see these things, think these thoughts. I let the earth spin and I see/think them too. Turns out it's not the journey. It's not the destination. It's the existence. Then, it's the lack of it. A perfect symmetry, seen or not.

I admit that the most memorable part of the Charlie radio story was the way they ended it, by playing the smooth lounge-jazz theme song (sung by Bobby Short) that accompanied the 1970s TV commercials for Charlie perfume. That song took me back, like they all do about this time in my life. It was a trite way to end the piece (an interview with an LA Times writer) but trite was right just this one time.

I will also admit that if I fail, I fail myself and no one else. There, I got that out of the way.

Now, for the rest of the history, the blood of the context, the death of the century, the weakening of the love, the birth-stilted of the new and true, the color and the lack of it. The black swans, the white swans, the old love, the new blankness, the rural routes, the public squares (the ones outside in Europe and the ones inside American coffeehouses).

In the parking spaces adjacent to Loring Park in Minneapolis (the ones in front of the row of since-replaced restaurants and shops), there was a collision of two worlds. It was Bastille Day, 2000. My friend Sarah and her date Jim (the one singing the song on my iPod right now) were near completion of their first date. My then-girlfriend Laurel and I were packing up from her band's concert at the Loring Bar (since shut down, mercifully because the bar pretty much failed its artistic mission, this night notwithstanding.) Laurel's bandmates Mike and John were to the side, likely smoking in the darkness of the night park, their share of the gear packing completed while Laurel received kudos from friends and family (Mike and John never seemed to bring in the audience.)

Sarah's date Jim was a local musician - another one, a more famous one, one with a record label. He told Laurel that he liked the show. I saw in his eyes that he was telling the truth but, at the same time, he looked completely lost, his heart broken a year earlier when his wife/bandmate left him on a bicycle. To Europe or wherever. (abandoned bicycle photo courtesy of

Why do I bring this up, this one-time collision of two unrelated bands, this merging of heartbreak and lovely summer night? Because it happened and I was there? Of course it happened and I was there but I can't write that well about it at the moment. So I'll spare you that theory. No, I bring this up because Jim, Laurel, Mike, and John wrote beautiful perfect sad-happy songs. Because I wrote beautiful perfect sad-happy stories and poems (and blog entries?) And Sarah is part of it all too. Because it's all like that, at least the sad-happy part - all of it - the work, the quarry and clearing, the trees and fields, the Arabs and the Jews, the Feelies and Rattled by the Rush by Pavement, Monk and Natalie, Sharona, blood and guts, babies and the old, shots and milkshakes, butterflies and jellyfish - all of it existing/not existing, happy/sad, and no journey or destination really matters here. So I (you) look for the beauty and the perfection and that's why we wake up every day. That's why we sleep (also to dream, to rest).

The answer to every clever riddle is yes.

Sarah and I had a vegetarian picnic 13 days ago, on the vacant picnic tables that ring the Minneapolis Metrodome. There, in one of the uglier spots of a rather beautiful (it was July) city, all that mattered was the glory of friendship and the nods of understanding. Plus laughter and tearless sadness. In other words, all was good for 40 minutes.

But the money was still tight and the temptations still raining as I drove, east on 8th Street as Sarah told me, then to the airport where I hoped the rental car people wouldn't notice be too upset when the Visa got rejected (irony: it didn't get rejected.) And my two flights home were peppered with the wrong ideas and the right ones. But I made it home, after planned detours through a massive Union Station hallway and a short small Thai restaurant (not the one I said to meet me at, Mike... but very good anyway).

One more reset, now. I'll stick to the one checking account that only exists in the ether because brick and mortar just cause trouble with the money. I'll cruise down the 5 tonight, toward dinner in the best restaurant (with the best company) in Orange County, with Constructive Summer by The Hold Steady playing too loud for someone my age.

I will end with a few beautiful perfect (random) visions. But before I do, I promise all apologies will be given. If applicable. Now:

1. Adrian Monk receives the hug from Natalie Teeger, the reconciliation hug. He reflexively recoils from the human contact before settling into his true self and the glory of unconditional friendship. Then - commercial break.

2. "This ought to be one for the scrapbook" as she looks around for the likeliest scrapbook photos.

3. "I was just about to call you when you called." It always works that way when it works that way.

4. My cat Seymour stays in bed as I do my messy ill-formed arm curls with the two five-pound weights, as I listen to the public radio that started this whole thing. No matter how much I move, Seymour doesn't budge. He's happy.

Monday, August 04, 2008


This is my 500th post.

How do I celebrate this milestone?

Well, my life is a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. They just re-aired the one Monk episode that even I can't defend (Christmas party). Manny Ramirez is a Dodger and I'm not supposed to like the Dodgers but I do. The new Hold Steady album is great but two of the best three songs are two of the three bonus tracks. I can't decide whether my mid-life life goal is to run a marathon, a 25K, a half-marathon, or a 10k. I do know this: right now I'm getting tired just after running 1K, so I have work to do. I just ate three different foods purchased at Fresh-N-Easy and I can honestly say none of them tasted good and none of them will be purchased by me again. I have more clean laundry than I know what to do with and slightly less dirty laundry than that but still enough that I should do know something about all of it. I'm tired but don't need to sleep. I've started six books in the last three weeks and don't plan on finishing any of them (which is not to say I don't finish books because I just finished three). I miss going to the beach. I miss the winding part of PCH, right before the last winding part before Zuma Beach. I wish it would all get quieter.

So, the preceding 499 posts have been about one thing and this is about the other.

Or it's all the same.

Or none of it means a thing.

Or it all means everything.

(Note: I wrote a blog post on Saturday. But I wrote it in a notebook. I don't feel like transcribing it yet. It's a good one, far better than this drivel. I've never written or typed the word "drivel" before. I may never have said it.)