Friday, May 30, 2008

Santa Cruz post #2

Well, Santa Cruz definitely wasn't the kick-start my brain needed. In fact, I think Santa Cruz needs a kick-start, in the form of a lot of high-pressure hoses and serious laws about okay- and NOT-okay ways to hock your bicycle to strangers on the sidewalk. I spent like ten minutes trying to get away from some spaced-out fifty year-old dude who was chugging from a huge can of Monster energy drink and crying out like an old fashioned newspaper boy about his Trek. I have a question for you: if you needed some money, and you had a bike, would you walk that bike right smack into the middle of downtown and start advertising it out loud? That's apparently how they do things in Santa Cruz.

Also, what's with the sneering righteous people? This group of like twenty scuzzy local college types was having some sort of march (they seemed organized; they even had a few flags of some sort), and when they marched past the bench where I was having a chicken burrito, one of the guys on the tail end did like this:

SCUZZY GUY: Hey man, this ain't politics as usual! Get involved!

ME: What are you marching for?

SCUZZY GUY: What are you, ignorant?

ME: No, just mildly insulted.

SCUZZY GUY: You gonna join in, or just sit there while this happens?

ME: Sorry, I wouldn't want to bring the thing down.

SCUZZY GUY: Jesus! Man, FUCK you! [Turns boldly back to group, thumbs under backpack straps, and walks off]

ME: Oh, wait! Wait for me! [I didn't say this]

Is that any way to persuade someone to join you in doing something that you believe in? Nowhere in How to Win Friends and Influence People does it suggest that if a negotiation is going poorly, you start yelling, "Man, FUCK you!"

That pretty much ruined my burrito, so I dumped it in a trash can, which prompted some busted-face hobo to scamper over the second I was about twenty feet away (is 20' the "radius of honor" among those who eat out of trash cans?). Figuring I'd walk downtown and get a motel room, I crossed a footbridge over an old creek bed that had filled in with ivy, and caught a beautiful view of an old Victorian home perched high on a stone cliff above the crashing waves. I paused to admire it for a bit, and when I turned my gaze downward to see if anything interesting had been thrown into the ivy, I saw a man's face—just a face—peering up at me, wreathed in foliage. I got a very unhappy feeling in my stomach and suddenly realized that if you can't even have lunch without these sorts of things happening to you, it is time to leave Santa Cruz.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008

I'm Hungry

Man, there's nothing in the fridge but eggs, tortillas, and some month-old three dollar bags of mixed greens that Chris "bought and forgot" the time he was supposed to bring dinner for his kid's evening preschool class (he did remember to bring the chili and corn muffins, or they would have run him off the property with little terrible paintings). There's nothing you can do with old lettuce but compost it, and I would love to compost, but I don't want to start attracting a lot of skunks and raccoons to the neighborhood. How does composting work? So much wasted food goes right into the trash here, and I have to think it could be put to better use. Is there a composting website? I'm sure there are thousands. I'd check, by my eyes are stinging from the new spring sun and my trip to the beach yesterday (I caught a ride in the back of the Onstads' car). Man, were there some beautiful bohemian women on the beach. I bet every woman in Santa Cruz knows how to compost. I bet every woman in Santa Cruz is fine about smoking pot three times a day. Maybe I need a lifestyle shift. Maybe I need to move to Santa Cruz. I'm going to save up a couple hundred bucks and see if Santa Cruz isn't the kickstart my brain needs.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I think I need to be offensive.

It turns out that checking my email and playing the guitar on the edge of my bed isn't generating as much revenue this quarter as I'd hoped, so it's time to drum up a gig. I'm tired of designing web pages, brochures, and logos for people who think they need to reinvent the wheel ("what if the text ran right-to-left, and you had to read our website in a mirror?"). I'm sick of getting forty dollars a pop doing blind tastings of freeze-dried coffee or letting college students measure my nipples throughout a showing of Bambi. It's time to take the low road.

That's right: I'm going to write a boorish, controversial column for the local paper. It will be cranky, it will provoke, the opinions will not be carefully considered, and, most importantly, it will run counter to the delicate sensibilities of precisely the sort of person who gets so ruffled that they end up giving me free advertising. It should gain notoriety in no time, and then be syndicated throughout the English-speaking world, hopefully at a hundred bucks a throw.

Here are some of my warm-up exercises. I've chosen especially divisive topics because, like I said, this isn't about doing great work. It's about bringing people apart.

There’s simply no need for it anymore. In this enlightened age I can buy meat from a cow that was pushed in a pram, wet-nursed by Thora Birch, and flown to Santorini for private pronking lessons. In the wild, this same animal would have been trundled off by a peckish eagle before it had traveled the distance from the womb to the grass below, so what’s there to be upset about? People who can’t stomach the idea of humane slaughter ought to see how inhumane nature is when it’s outside of our control, where Temple Grandin has no say over which end of the emu the dingo pack tears off first. As for the vegans, the vegetarians can start with them — they are no doubt fairly easy to digest, being composed mainly of wadded yarn and rhubarb poop.

It’s like watching Sylvester Stallone make a sandwich: every action so alien, so much wasted movement, so much looking around for approval...your frustration eventually mounts so high that you are forced to leave and wait in the car.

I, for one, am happy to see the little MP3, that Phylloxera of the phonographic industry, bring Big Music to a halt. More great music has been written than you can ever hope to hear in your lifetime, so stop being fooled by this year's soulless, calculated retreads. And all this tongue-wagging about musicians finally recording for love of music over money is fine and good, but as long as I’ve got my Who Sell Out and White Album, you can keep that amazing new chord progression that no one's ever heard before, and those clever lyrics about a certain condition of the heart.

—Téodor Orezscu.