Feb 23, 2007

Correction: Party Like It's 1997

It was the high-school party weekend I never had. Namely, it would have been much cooler and more appropriate ten years ago; and besides, I feel way too old for this stuff now.

First, our big raucous house party was shut down by the cops. The cops! Policemen with flashlights! We think they were looking for drugs, since it was fairly early Friday evening in a youthful neighborhood, making their "noise complaint" justification ring somewhat false. Or maybe they were trolling for seventeen-year-olds sneaking shots of Jagermeister. Regardless, we clearly weren't doing anything illegal, but they stormed through anyway and ordered us all to go home.

Amusingly, hardly anyone listened to them. People held their ground and stared back dumbly. From what I heard, the cops resorted to threatening the apartment's residents: "We're going to wait outside in the car, and if we hear the music come back on we reserve the right to arrest everyone in the building!"

It was equally amusing how Sam (bartender flatmate) and some of the other party-throwers reacted to the shutdown: they turned off the music and smoked weed instead. Take that, power-tripping agents of state coersion.

Earlier in the party, before the cops, I actually ran into someone I knew in high school. And not only someone who went to school with me, but my old nemesis, my first-ever true enemy: the only person, as far as I know, who has called me a "frigid bitch." The guy had his reasons--I readily admit that he was the inspiration of an unflattering comic I drew for over three years. He was outraged when he found out about it. So, talking to him now, 500 miles and six years removed from high school, was jarring. And creepily reminiscent of the "best" days of my life. (Those are supposed to be high school, right?)

Also, this being a Valentine's Day party, I was hit on by:
1. A friend's forty-year old boss
2. A thuggish-looking white stoner who invited my boyfriend to "do some doses" in the park the following day
3. A nondescript drunk who called me "Darling" and then asked to kiss me
while my boyfriend was standing less than two feet away
4. One friendly and mostly agreeable person. What amused me was the following exchange:

Him: Will you give me your number?
Me: I have a boyfriend.
Him: So what? I have a girlfriend.
Me: Sorry, I don't have a number.


The following day, Saturday, consisted of varying levels of stupor. M. and Rockstar Friend woke up painfully early to get bloody marys at this place. I slept in. By late afternoon, though, we were all out at this bar for a barleywine festival (note: barleywine is far stronger than beer), followed by dinner at one of our favorite local sushi bars.

This dinner was notable because Rockstar Friend came along. Rockstar Friend, beyond being accident-prone, is a huge sack of neuroses. One of his many lifelong obsessions has been strict veganism. His veganism was not based on any ethical decision, but instead on a control-freak fastidiousness and, from what I've gleaned from M., an odd compulsion to inconvenience himself and others as much as possible. But in a rather charming way, if that makes any sense.

Rockstar Friend had been vegan since early childhood. But last weekend, for whatever reason, he decided that it was time for him to try sushi. Raw fish, of all things! We sat agog and watched him eat: uni (sea urchin gonads) with a raw quail egg; monkfish liver; toro (fatty tuna belly); fatty salmon belly; fatty hamachi (yellowtail) belly; dungeness crab; and albacore. He said he loved everything except the crab and egg.

From there, we continued to our ex-flatmate Hans's birthday celebration at an after hours club where M., Sam, and Rockstar Friend were scheduled to DJ the opening set. I've been to several of these after-hours clubs--a.k.a. speakeasies--in the last six months, and they always make me think of supply and demand. This is a young, childless town, and there are always thousands of people willing to pay lots of money for the chance to drink and dance 'til dawn. And it's clear that on the other end, there are plenty of people willing to buy space in old office buildings, pad the walls, seal the windows, and trade risk for good money. I wonder how many speakeasy owners pay off the police in exchange for being left alone. In my opinion, such regulations are moronic as well as draconian. (Today's theme: fuck da po-lice! rah-rah-rah!)

In a continuation of today's other theme, "high school party weekend I never had," our next stop was an honest-to-god RAVE. I had nothing to do with it; Rockstar Friend's younger sister led us there. While I suspect that the previous after-hours club had made some arrangements with the local authorities, this place clearly had no such deal. The taxi dropped us off at a freeway underpass with nothing in sight. It was a bad neighborhood, and no one was around. We walked cautiously along a dark, eerily quiet road with no sidewalk, and eventually came upon a cluster of ramshackle, graffitoed, seemingly abandoned industrial buildings. Walking closer, we heard the boom-boom-boom of heavy bass coming from inside.

The doormen--or door-boys, more like--crouched nervously in the entrance. They were uncomfortable about letting us in. Maybe we were too clean, looked too much like narcs. When they finally did open the door, they warned us to slip in quickly and not let too much noise leak out.

The kids at the door were high out of their minds on something. "Ten dollars each," they said. "Or seven."

M. was much bigger than them. "There are a bunch of us here. How about you charge us a group rate?"

"Um, whaddya got?"

There were six of us. We counted the money in our pockets. "Twenty-four bucks."

"All right, that's fine."

It's hard to describe how silly this rave was; sadly, my camera was dead at the time, so there are no pictures. But there were crazy hippies of all ages running around on various kinds of drugs. Punky high school kids mingled with fat, topless, dreadlocked, middle-aged flower children. The "music" in the main room was unbelievably bad, and the drugged-out dancing was even more so. At least there was cheap, decent, home-brewed beer.

While M. stood in line for the beer, I leaned back on a table. One of the hippies immediately saw me and wagged her finger.

"Please don't sit on the table. I spent HOURS arranging all the leaflets and flyers on there and I don't want to have to fix it up again."

I stood up. "Sorry. I didn't realize there was anything on the table."

"Yeah, I mean, I would really appreciate it if people would keep off."

"Ok. I understand."

"It just took SO much time and effort to set it up like that."


Once the hippie left me alone I turned around to see what was on the table. It was piles and piles of graphic vegan propaganda. And it could not have taken more than a few minutes to arrange. Then again, who knows what drugs she was on.

Later, a small, teenage Chinese girl with limited English skills started hitting on Rockstar Friend. "I like music," she told him. "I like boys." That's when he decided it was time to go, so we all walked back to the quiet underpass to try our luck with passing cabs. The first cabbie refused to pick us up, apparently suspecting we were up to no good. But the second one happily took the fare, and we were home by an easy 5 o'clock. In bed probably by 6.


Unfortunately, Rockstar Friend decided to wake us up at 11 the next morning for bloody marys and brunch. I don't understand why he hates sleep so much, but I went along grumbling.

Randomly-chosen morals of the story:
1. High-school party weekends can be fun, but mostly I prefer moderation
2. Vegans are usually lame, except for Rockstar Friend
3. Paternalistic regulation sucks
4. Some people still live in the '90s
5. Fuck da po-lice
6. There will always be hippies in this city
7. Bloody marys are best made with horseradish, habanero peppers, limes, and olives
8. Not mentioned in the post, but one secret to a really good grilled cheese sandwich is to sprinkle parmesan cheese on the bread before frying it in butter.

Forgive me for this meandering novella of a post. I can't concentrate on work, and I badly need a break from reading about politics.

I think I will follow this with pictures. I have a glut of them; I took 500 over the weekend.

Feb 16, 2007

Party Like It's 1987

M. and Bartender/DJ Flatmate are throwing a Valentine's Day party tonight with the help of M.'s Rockstar Friend from LA. The last time that Rockstar Friend drove up from LA, his bicycle was run over and smashed to bits by a crazy uninsured driver, his car's transmission blew up so the car was junked, and he ended up sleeping on our couch for an extra, unplanned week. As a result, I didn't sleep for seven days, came to work late every morning, and picked up a nasty, lingering cold. Whenever I ask myself, "Since when am I a disgusting vector for pestilence, a shitty delinquent worker, and a brainless underslept zombie?" I can only answer, "Oh, yeah--ever since the time Rockstar Friend drove up from LA."

So I am bracing myself for the worst. Rockstar Friend is particularly accident- and crazy-prone--he is, for example, the only person I know who has been stabbed--so every possibility is game. He is borrowing a car this time; will it be jacked or get into a wreck? Will he inadvertently bring us a mosquito carrying the West Nile virus? Or will he get us in trouble with the Feds, or the Russian mafia?

Less of an open question is whether my sleep and health will suffer. I answer that now with a confident probably.

The picture above is the flyer M. made for the party. He was going for a corny, smutty, eighties softcore fantasy-mythology look, which I think he accomplished quite well. Art courtesy of this guy.

Feb 15, 2007

I Have Become a Blogger Reactionary

They made me change to New Blogger, but not without a fight. I expect that New Blogger will suck--maybe even more than Old Blogger. Maybe I will move to Wordpress.

M. and I had a lavish Valentine's Day dinner last night, and not because either of us cares a whit about Valentine's Day. My French flatmate left for France this morning, so she and her husband shared a good-bye dinner last night, monopolizing the common space. M. is a spendthrift, so he saw this as a convenient excuse to make a last-minute reservation at a Japanese restaurant. (To him, almost everything is an excuse to make a reservation at a Japanese restaurant.) And it turned out to be a great dinner involving a lot of daiginjo sake.

We came home shortly before midnight, drunk on sake, which is in my opinion the best kind of drunk.

"Let's watch some South Park and go to bed," I proposed. My sleep has been atrocious recently--erratic, restless, and insufficient. I have been showing up to work hours late and tired, too: not exactly a recipe for health and happiness. Or for continued employment, for that matter. So, the thought of going to bed at a reasonable hour was quite appealing.

"No, first I need to play records for a while," M. said, and did.

Clearly vetoed, I sat down at the computer and decided to write in this blog. I am not sure what I would have written last night--only that it would have been highly incoherent and neurotic and maybe even entertaining--but alas! My blogging ambitions were quashed by New Blogger's stubborn insistence that I switch over, the intricacies of said switch-over being hopelessly confusing at the time. Upon which I gave up, roved mindlessly around the Internet, and stumbled upon this video clip of what is possibly the worst TV programming that I have ever seen.

The moral of this story is that New Blogger kills dreams.

But since I am stuck with it now I may as well use it to tag my posts with stupid labels.

Feb 10, 2007

Reflections Upon Returning Home From a Bad Party, Having Walked Through Rain to Get There, and Then Going From the Bad Party to Somebody's Apartment,

Whereupon a Group of Friends and Acquaintances Sat Around a TV Smoking Weed and Watching Music Videos and Eating Cheetos--Except for Me Because I Don't Like Weed or TV and am Generally Anti-Fun--Until I Convinced My Boyfriend to Walk Home With Me in the Rain, Yet Could Not Convince Him to Go to Bed Because He Was/Is High and off His Meds and Wants to Play Records Until at Least 5 Ayem Regardless of What Anyone Thinks, Which Annoys Me Because I Am Too Neurotic to Sleep Before He Does:

Tonight was boring and pointless. This post is boring and pointless. These events are intimately related.

Feb 9, 2007

Spies and Whiskey

Somehow, on Friday night, 4am, I find myself on a balcony in the warehouse district, standing between 1 portly Englishman who used to be a spy for the MI6 and 1 nervous American man who used to be a spy for the NSA. My boyfriend stands across from me, drunk on cheap whiskey, jabbering loudly at a million bpm.

I've barely slept in a week and I feel a cold coming. 75% of me wants nothing more than to go home and sleep. Enough excitement already, or pseudo-excitement as it were. Three hours of failed napping (on accounta my being anxious to the point of handicap); an empty dance floor at a giant local venue; a self-indulgent loft party thrown by and for the techno-DJ underground; and I am more than ready to call it a night.

"You want to stay and talk to these people," says M. "I think you'll be interested." Indeed, I am interested. Interested enough to ignore my exhaustion for the time being and stand outside in the cold, breathing lungfuls of other people's cigarette smoke.

I listen as the ex-spies talk about war with Iran, and intelligence failures, and Iraq, and the 2008 presidential race, and how they came to work as spies, and they thereby keep me interested. So far, so good.

Regrettably, though, whiskey makes a first-class asshole out of my boyfriend. A loud, arrogant asshole who cannot stop talking to save his life. For instance.

NSA Guy: I think this is important because--

M.: No, no, NO! You're wrong and I'll tell you why. [insert long, pedantic speech on a political, scientific, mathematical, linguistic, musical or other topic].

NSA Guy: I understand, but I still disagree with you because--

M.: Well, I think I have some credibility here because I just got published in [prestigious science journal]. Anyway, as I was saying, [insert interminable speech].

MI6 Guy: I agree with NSA here, I think--

M.: Well, *I* think [insert position] and that's legitimate because I'm smart and my girlfriend told me something to that effect, and my girlfriend reads The Economist and blogs.

Me: (embarrassed) I do read The Economist and blogs, but that hardly makes me an expert. I think we should at least listen to what these guys have to say since they have way more experience than I do.

Yet it is nearly impossible to do any such thing. M. keeps talking. It is six AM now, and he keeps talking. I am a zombie at this point and our new acquaintances are rubbing their eyes.

If I could, I would hereby ban M. from whiskey for ever.

The necessary disclaimer here--for M., if he ever reads this--is that he does not typically act in this way. My guess is that his rantings were a product of (a) too much whiskey, as I've already said; (b) a very, very long time off his meds; and (c) the euphoria of getting his work published. Moreover, this is the only example that comes to mind of my boyfriend having seriously embarrassed me as opposed to the reverse.


Bonus round--the intelligence guys predicted the following.
(1) A McCain presidency
(2) No war with Iran

I do, however, take their predictions with "a grain of salt" as they say: on (1) because they were experts in international not domestic affairs, and on (2) because both retired from their government jobs during the Clinton years, presumably giving them little insiders' insight into the workings of the current administration.

Feb 2, 2007

Kauai 1

Kauai 2

Kauai 3

Kauai 4

Kauai 5

Kauai 6

Kauai 7

Kauai 8


In a word, unreal.

In more words, by our second day there we were already scheming to find a way back. Now, a tentative plan:

1. Achieve academic success in a variety of fields
2. Acquire capital
3. Over decades, build an empire
4. Do not retire; instead, expand empire
5. Steer ample progeny into strategic industries
6. Buy holiday mansion on beautiful tropical island
7. Remodel mansion on beautiful tropical island
8. Paradise

At least, that's what our boss has done. And how it's worked out for him.

I have never known a truer capitalist, a truer empire-builder--a truer American, really--than my octogenarian boss. And I mean that in the best possible way. I wish I could tell his story here, as it's remarkable on a million dimensions, but the last time I wrote too freely of my boss I earned myself a list of brand-new enemies.

Somehow, the man himself was conspiculously absent from that list. I still wonder whether that's because old men have no use for grudges; or, more plausibly, whether something peculiar to his character made my sins seem irrelevant to him.

I am someone who keeps grudges, who takes offense and who is often slow to forgive. I'd rather not be, but so I am. Yet I'm still young, with relatively few experiences: compared with my boss, I exist in a small space. Maybe I have no sense of perspective. Such petty blights as grudges could very well recede to insignificance against the background of a long, full life.


Soon there will be pictures.