Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Random Acts of Honesty:
Ladies, I Exfoliate

Ever since Bill O’reilly made the loofa such a dirty, dirty thing, I’ve been ashamed, ladies. I’ll admit it. My skin doesn’t shed appropriately like a snake or one of the guys in the band Hanson. I have to facilitate the clearing of my pores with a variety of skin products. A giant among them is Tend Skin. Tend Skin is to unpleasant skin what bourbon is to online dating. The only way to deal with it.

(thanks, e)

Valley Jews I Had Crushes On:
#1 Alyse R.

Ideas come like big rain storms to the San Fernando Valley. First with specious anticipation. Doubt. Lame Saturday afternoon doubt. Like knowing that no one would call. Then it’s there. Hello, pretty rain. Forgot how nice you looked and sounded. So, we stay inside. Eat food from cans, cancel obligations and make random car trips just for the adventure.

So, I had no idea that I loved Alyse when I first began to know her. She was the first girl in the world who I found easy to talk to. My mom was in her thirties and always thinking about something else. And I didn’t understand the significance of it at the time, but my sister was just learning to talk then read. The girls in the neighborhood where like the boys, except they were the cowboys to our Indians. They had the law on their side.

We went to the same grammar school and the same Hebrew School. And we had what I’d call a rapport now. Back then I called it miracle. She was interested in what I had to say and laughed when I did.

She looked like she had a tan every day of the year. Brown hair with loose curls at the ends that completed her magnificent beauty playfully. Like chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry.

If I was obvious, it was never obvious to me. People who know me can always spot my crushes like a free parking spot in Hollywood. I guess my goofy smile isn’t as subtle as the lightness in my stomach. The thoughts just before bed and just as I woke up.

So, like I said, I didn’t recognize that it was real love until Alyse developed a very public crush on a boy named Jerry. He was even tanner than her and small, thin. He could catch a football well. And Alyse watched him do it every morning before school. We still talked at lunch, her eyes making systematic glances over the entire lunch area like a radar. Clear. Then eyes back on mine. I’m sure by then I was looking down. The dumb smile gone, I'm sure.

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Confusion of Science

The surfer told me that I had a boring name. He liked that. He had a boring name too.

He wasn’t very good at History, which was strange. He fine at every other subject. To not be good at History seemed as unlikely and severe as not remembering when your favorite TV show was on. There were TV Guides for that. People to remind you. And the whole thing about history repeating itself being some big threat... It didn’t seem to bother him.

His dad was a surfer. One of the first. He brought his camera and his long board and filmed himself drinking out of coconuts with tan people all over the world. That’s how his dad met his mom. She was from Fiji. Daughter of the American Ambassador. His mom drove him to the beach every morning and made sure that he didn’t have to have a homeroom or first period. He was so inscrutable that everyone knew about and didn’t complain. The girls marveled over it the same way they did when they discovered the secret location of Kirk Cameron’s house. I found it somewhat fascist.

“It’s just all the names and the events. I don’t get how the go together. It’s confusing,” he explained after I stared at him for a whole minute across his dining room table. His mother had called mine, offered me $15 for two hours to tutor him, Brian Blanch. That was the surfer’s name.

My mom told me about it in a way that let me know that I didn’t have a choice. She knew Mrs. Blanch somehow. Something charityish.

I’d only noticed that Brian had the same history teacher that I did, a period before me. I’d never noticed him notice me, though. But he had. The whole situation said such.

“What’s confusing?” I said.

“Well, it’s not like something that’s confusing in Science. Then you just have to figure it out. With History, you can’t figure it out. You have to read it,” Brian Blanch said.

“Do you read it?”

“Usually, but it doesn’t help.”

It was a cause and effect thing. He didn’t see how it linked up. How a Gold Standard might connect to a war to an attitude toward temperance. And I did. Of course I did, I was a nerd. There was no chance of this Jew standing up on water with or without a board.

“Yeah, I wish I could help you. I don’t really get it either,” I said.

He looked at me blankly, a thought pinballing around his brain. Could I be lying?

I just stared back. I didn’t say anything till he went and got his mom. She gave me the $15 and was so nice showing me the way out that I knew she’d never speak to my mother again.

Listen to Cut Your Hair by Pavement via You Ain't No Picasso.

Coachella Valley Jew Mom

My mom just told me that her and husband have bought a house out in Indio to retire. It’s a bit disturbing the way she’s planning for retirement when she has about my entire lifetime to still live. But it’s nice for her. They have bingo and assorted activities all day. Close to a casino. Can’t help but feel like this is the beginning of seeing her once or twice a year. Maybe that will make me more normal.

Listen to To Be Alone With You by Sufjan Stevens via Clever Titles Are So Last Summer.

Jew Gotta See This

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Why are All the Tragedies in Slow Motion Now?

Good background on what will be the Red State issue of 2006- along with gay adoption- state-by-state abortion referendums.
Paul Anka's fun version of Oasis' Wonderwall via Motel de Moka.

The Grumps

My mom told me recently that when I was a wee Jew I used to look into the dirty clothes hamper and try to talk to Oscar the Grouch. It seemed like a generic memory until I just woke up with the grumps. The grumps are just general grouchiness not directed at any person. At least not at the right person, usually. It could be somehting from a dream. A person pushed into your mind by synchronicity or desire. Suddenly you are telling someone to "Be quiet!" in a way that you know means "Shut up, stupid."

As a child I did admire Oscar the Grouch more than any of the other Seasame Street Muppets. He had atitude and his own place. Strangely that's all I've got going for me right now too.

Wren's Pretty O.k. via call me mickey.

A Jew Hope

I always thought one day I would be part of a story and then I would write it, because then my life would actually be interesting. But it hasn’t happened.

I’m gifted with a teenage girl’s compulsion to express myself and tortured by living in an place and era where that’s so easy to do that. Expression for me is beyond political and is just banal and tiring, like two pundits fighting. I have never been a successful blogger. The two sites I’ve done the longest— Satprepnews.com and ListeningtoDepression.com— are niche news sites that I need to develop and post on with some energy at some point in some time. I’ve been kicked off my favorite blog— sneakmove.com— because of my pedantic take on culture and pseudo-comic penchant for feuds.

So now I’m back to ValleyJew.com. I will always be the Valley Jew. It’s just me, because I am in every way atypical and against-type of everything that is birthed from the San Fernando Valley. I was born in Panorama City. Grew up in Granada Hills, Chatsworth and Northridge. I was Bar Mitzvahed at the Ventura Club. Simi Valley seemed exotic to me growing up. The first time I’d heard of an art house movie theater I was in one, stoned off my ass for the first time in my life throwing tortillas at a midnight screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show with the drama kids from high school. I am a-cultural. I am the front of the track home with oil stains designed by Jackson Pollock on the driveway.

So, there is no story here. I am not telling stories or making stories up. I’m just doing to communicate. I’ll try to be interesting, post some links to some stories/songs I’m interested in and move on. I’ll write about my life. And then I’ll never think about it again. I’ll try to be honest and not too smarmy— but I am the Valley Jew.

I was laid off over a month ago. I was good at my job. Being a loud mouth really paid off for the first year and a half of the engagement. When things soured, being a loud mouth made me a loud target. I didn’t blanch. I probably got nervous and perhaps a taste sticky, but I spoke up. Spoke truth to power, and it didn’t work at all. So that’s done. I’m 30. Debt-free. Enough money and government assistance to last easy even if I don't find a job until I find out if I got into the one graduate school to which I applied. In somewhat related news, I’m 90% done with the first draft of a novel. Writing the first draft of the last chapter now. Endings are fun and like the beginning is at least a dozen drafts away from readable. (The novel is sort of about a 12 year-old boy who meets and falls in love with a 14 year-old girl who is the daughter of her mom's crazy best friend from high school.)

If I were to drive myself to Las Vegas to drink myself to death while befriending other empathetic low lifes, there might be a story. But I won't, so there’s not.

I have my time all to myself. My only commitments are a writing class on Thursday night and two volunteer obligations on Saturday afternoon. Besides that if I stayed in my bed, only my sheets would know.

I volunteer because it makes me feel important, of course. But I also like helping people and knowing what they’ve gone through. Probably because it makes me feel important. Being important is probably my main yearning. Very pathetic. But it sets up nice irony when it’s time for me to blow it when I get what I want.

The guy in the computer literacy class I volunteer for with bleached blond hair said, “You know what my favorite website is?” He immediately answered, “Bang Bus.”

The next week he was working on his essay about turning his life around. He said that he was HIV positive. He wanted to be a counselor and a mentor for other people suffering from drug addiction. Almost every one of them wants to be a counselor. Who doesn’t? That’s why we have friends and why we write or create anything, to counsel ourselves.

I tried to not imagine this bleached man’s past. How his thin nose got crooked. How he was infected. How I might be. How close I should stand. It was 1985 for me. The AIDS crisis finally as real as it was paramedics and newscasters back then.

But I recalled the facts. Open sores. Blood contact. We’re all sinners. Some one still had to dress this man’s hair. And he needed to know how to center align his essay. I could do that. That was easy.

Was thinking today why the French as so sure about Iran's military intentions. They are so close to them and with all of their nuclear reactors there country would be an atomic pinball game with the right direct hit.

I find this Requiem for a Dream/ Toy Story II extremely re-watchable. Reminds me that I loved the Requiem trailer and hated the film. Also, Jennifer Connelly's voice makes that little cow girl unbearably sexy. Can't wait for Pixar to do a take on a gritty graphic novel.

RJD2 covers Radiohead's Airbag Via Palms Out.

I digg
Photos of dense apartment buildings.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Prophylactic for Plagiarism

If you are like me, you believe the Paul McCartney plagiarized the melody for “Yesterday.” According to lore, he woke up with the melody in his head. C’mon he probably heard it somewhere else. Or misheard something and put it back together in his head— which is another way to describe writing. Language is so limiting that we are constantly aping or parroting each other. The people who try to speak in unusual constructions or write with vigorous disregard for convention are often labeled messy for resisting the urge to cliché that’s natural when you are writing— oddly enough especially when I am journaling/blogging!

LexisNexus seeks to counter both intentional and unintentional acts of plagiarism with a new software program CopyGuard.

Check out this well-written article on LexisNexus’ efforts in Baltimore’s CityPaperOnline.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why Not a Subway to the Sea?

Maybe because it would cost 4.8 Billion dollars, which is like a whole month we could be occupying Iraq!

Gotta support Villaraigosa on this one.