Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Putting My Mouth Where My Money Is...

The following is a letter sent by me to Chase customer service on Sunday, December 12, 2010...

Dear Chase Bank...
This is not an inquiry so much as an open letter to you and your customer service department. I was a loyal customer of Washington Mutual for 5 years before your company took over. Despite all the troubles that bank may have had on a larger scale, I never had one single complaint or issue or concern with them. Then your company came along...

In the 1 1/2-2 years that I've dealt with Chase, I have been unhappy with the service on numerous occasions. Last year I discovered you were taking $20/month out of my savings account because I did not meet the minimum balance requirement. To give you some background, my main savings account is with one of your competitors who offers a better interest rate and service- I was only keeping a small amount of money in my Chase savings as a formality. I unfortunately did not realize that Chase was taking the monthly fee from me until you had already taken close to $100 of my hard-earned money from me. When I confronted a Customer Service Rep and was told for the first time about your minimum balance fee, I demanded to know why I was not made aware of this policy when you took over Washington Mutual. The representative dismissively informed me that a letter had been my former address. At that point, I had not been living at that address in over a year and Chase was regularly sending me correspondence to my new address. Conveniently, the notice of a Minimum Balance Fee was sent to an address that had not been used by either myself or your company in a long while. When asked if I could have my money back, I was coldly rebuffed and told "that's not our policy."

Obviously, your institution's policy is to take as much money away from your customers as possible.

Yesterday I received notice that Chase is now going to begin charging me a Monthly Service Fee for my Checking Account, the only account I still hold with Chase. This service can be avoided if I do A or B or C or D. If I don't do those things (one of those options requires paying you money to not take my money), you will take $10 a month of MY MONEY from me.

So, basically you're telling me I have to pay you to hold my money for me?

In this economy, could you be anymore short-sighted and just plain stupid???

After the previous experience I had with your bank, do you honestly believe I will continue to do business with your bank if there's a chance you will take even more of MY MONEY from me?

Absolutely not.

If you do not respond to me in writing with your intent to COMPLETELY WAIVE the Monthly Service Fee from my account, I will pull every cent of my money from your bank with a big smile on my face. I will follow the advice of a friend of mine and begin working with one of your main competitors here in Los Angeles. Additionally, I will post this letter I am currently writing you on every public forum that I can so that the world will know that your banking practices are utterly ridiculous.

I urge to reconsider saving yourself the business and saving me the trouble of having to switch banks by foregoing your absurd proposal to charge for being part of your customer base.

I suspect you will not, but it was worth a shot.

As I expected, I received a stock apology from some mindless CS rep "apologizing" for my experiences with Chase and then trying to upsell my on "all the positive aspects of being a Chase customer!"

So thank you, Chase Bank, for giving me the gift of dumping your money-grubbing ass for Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Fall Of Mickey Q

We let go of the rope.

Not because we were weaker. Or dumber. Or because we cared less about making an impression.

It was because we were awesome.

The Senior Class of 2000 at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, LA had never- to my recollection- won a single Annual Tug-Of-War in the 5 years since the class had been formed in 8th grade. Up to '99 we'd lost to upperclassmen. But in our Junior Year we did something unthinkable...we lost to the sophomore class. It was a joke.

And because we were a joke, we were determined to keep it that way. So, when the whistle blew during lunch period on that hot Spring day in 2000, instead of heaving and ho-ing with all our collective Senior Class might...we let the Junior Class- our slayers from the previous year- apply the pressure to the rope.

And we let go.

I can tell you...there is nothing more satisfying than seeing an entire class of loudmouthed, whiny little pricks fall on their asses at the same time, completely bewildered and dumbfounded. And in pain. It was the most glorious end to a winless run of any sport that has ever existed. But what happened next will remain in my mind as one of the most inspired strokes of ballsy genius that I will ever experience in this short life...

Our celebration turned into frenzy. Having technically lost, the victory was ours. We ran around the school yard slapping lunches out of people's hands, cheering, turning our rings around and slapping little underclassmen over the heads (as we had had done to us in our day), and ripping our military khaki shirts.

Then, the riot became focused. Someone- I'm not sure who but could probably quickly put together a list of about 5 very likely suspects even 10 years later- screamed out "Mickey Q's Office!!!"

"Mickey Q" was our nickname for Mr. Mick Quinlan, the disciplinarian of Jesuit High School. The Muscle. The Man. Now that I think it over, it must have been a very unpleasant job to do- to be the embodiment of all the rules and detentions and Penance Halls and suspensions that our Catholic high school doled out to miscreants. Consequently, Mickey Q became the target for a hell of a lot of crap during our tenure.

Perhaps it was lucky for us. We got to his office...all 50 or so of us...and Mickey Q was nowhere to be found. Only Ms McCabe (Juanita, as we all affectionately called her outside her office) was there, processing the day's paper work with her usual diligence. She looked at the oncoming mob and knew. Almost as if she'd been expecting this day in all her years working at an all-boys Catholic high school. Yes, it must have been inevitable.

We stormed the office. She put up no fight. She only stood behind her desk and held up her hands as if to say "Have at it, boys. I ain't gonna stop you." We threw his books, his papers, his pens/pencils and his ridiculously abundant collection of neck ties all over the place. We yelled and screamed and laughed and somebody started rapping...I can't remember what- only that it seemed absurdly out of place which made it funnier.

But why stop there?

Back out in the yard, there were 4 Coke Machines. For some reason, our rebellion took us to the Coke machines where the rest of the class re-joined us. It seems someone thought that by shaking those machines enough, we'd somehow receive lots of free Cokes. It didn't work.

At about this time, Mr Barry Neuberger- our soft-spoken and respectable principal- who I'm sure had only moments before become only partially aware of the riot our class was producing, came scrambling up to me. a mob of 100-200 Seniors!

"You better get this under control, Frizzell!"

Now, apparently Mr Neuberger over-estimated my powers. I assume that because I occupied the office of Senior Class President, he looked at me as a leader. And perhaps I was. But, honestly Barry (I didn't dare call him by his first name- but in my insolent state, boy did i want to!), what do you expect me to do??! Jump atop the Coke machines, flash my school name tag which also happened to have my Title and quell the Great Revolution of 2000 with a wave of my hand? Do you expect me to part the Red Sea of angry testosterone-ridden Seniors? I'm sorry, but I'm not a one-man SS...

I did not say any of that.
Instead, I laughed. His eyes exploded. The riot continued.

The underclassmen watched with admiration. The Junior Class, our foes, were completely unable to savor any ounce of victory because, on that day, no Tug Of War victory in the world could have matched the rampant Cool currently being displayed by the Class of 2000.

Because the uproar had been perpetrated by a large majority of the class, no one could be or was singled out. I had been worried for a few days that I would be made an example out of, but I was too well-liked by the student body and the faculty for that to have had the desired effect. We did not, however, receive a Senior Gift of any kind. Those were usually lame anyway. And at the end of the year, much to our chagrin, the Senior Day Crawfish Boil was somehow reduced to the Senior Day Shrimp Boil. May not sound like a huge difference to most of you, but if you've ever lived in New Orleans you know it's just not the same.

It all worked out, though...because we conquered. The reigning Senior Class of one of the most respected private schools in the country with a feared discipline program and a reputation for turning students into smart, proud, respectful men who would never dare go against the grain had turned the school on its ear for a day.

And not one person even got detention.

I loved my school. I respected- and still do respect- my school.
But that event will always be one of devilish pride for me.

Sometimes, rebellion is a good thing.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Harpist Wants A Diet Coke...and Other Tales Of Servitude in the Southland

(the following is from an old Myspace blog I wrote in Oct 2007)

"Excuse me... the harpist wants a diet coke."

I stared at the man. What was that? I repeated it to myself.
The Harpist? Wants a Diet Coke?


I didn't even know there was a harpist here. And, how is she gonna be able to drink it while playing a harp? Furthermore, sir... why did you insist on grabbing me and passing along the profound information that "The Harpist Wants a Diet Coke" when you see I have a tray full of glasses and another handful of dishes, and I am jogging-not strolling, not even walking- through the crowd of wedding-goers you see before you? Do you not see the bar 15 yards from you?

But, I understand the consequences of actually asking such questions out loud. No, no... instead I must internalize this frustration/annoyance, smile at this man (who later gave the blessing of the meal at this wedding and talked about "turning the love here tonight into energy and that energy nurturing our hearts, minds and souls" woo woo), reply with a charming and very Southern 'Yes, sir', empty my tray and head to the bar to get a Diet Coke for the previously invisble harpist in the corner.

For a moment, the frustration of an earlier incident in the day crept back into my mind. You see, the wedding I was working was a default. I had gone to work at my current place of steadiest employment, Maggiano's. Upon arriving there (to make a long story short), I got "made an example out of" by my boss and sent home. Like I was in third grade. Again. Only minus the fun, innocence, and irresponsibility and instead of a teacher I have a balding, miserable, dickhead boss. So, I left.

Fast forward to being desperate for money and booking a catering gig. And now, here I am working a wedding in Malibu, face-to-face with a man who has just interrupted a nice bussing rhythm because he wants me to fetch a Diet Coke for a Subtle Harpist. Through the course of the night, I will find myself cornered by a drunk couple who think our company staffs just about the cutest waiters they've ever seen, enduring park rangers who insist we expand our catering contract to include janitorial service, listening to an absurd toast by the bride's astrology-obsessed drunken father, attempting to tune out the band (2 white guys who insist on jumping from Spin Doctors to Blues Traveler to Digital Underground to The Gorillaz), passing hors d'oevuers to people who get a kick out of pissing me off by challenging my knowledge of the ingredients contained within said appetizer and then not taking any off of my tray (thereby not lightening my load) and explaining over and over again to the drunk guy at a table that I am not the chef and therefore could not tell you how our mini-quiches were made so small.

On top of it, I was distracted. My thoughts kept drifting to someone in particular. Someone I like. It was just one of those days following one of those nights and you just keep thinking about this someone. And this is going to sound horrible following that romantic thought, but I was also distracted by the LSU-Florida game which I needed updates on every few minutes and was a close as fuck and a game that I regretted missing. (Apologies to the someone in question that the football game was as big a distraction, but you were distracted at the time too by a big mouse in a magic castle, so we remain equal on points...)

All in all, however, the gig wasn't bad. I made good money.

I notice that serving is getting to be a part of my life that settles into some form of two extremes: ridiculous and maddening or profitable and tolerable. Sometimes the two meet. Today was an example of such a meeting. My restaurant debacle was ridiculous and maddening, the gig was ridiculous and tolerable, but the whole day turned profitable. As I am now in my mid-20s, I am beginning to feel slight and perhaps self-imposed pressure to create a more stable life for myself. This past year has been both a successful and profitable year for me acting wise. Thank God for that. But service-tude is becoming an increasingly less acceptable form of income to me. It's a lot of shit to deal with even on the days when you make good money. But many folks say it's a necessary evil. And, unfortunately, they're right I think. Which leads to the conclusion (hopefully it's just a temporary one, though, while I figure out a way to dump the server thing) that I just need to shut my mouth and pay the damn bills.

So, for now, the Harpist can have her Diet Coke, no ice, with a wedge of lemon.
Never mind it's out of the way...
it's what they pay me for.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why Have I Never Noticed This Before???

FANCY Ketchup huh???
As opposed to what, Unsophisticated Ketchup? Plebian Ketchup?
I'm happy to know I can get nothing but the best from the Golden

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Conspiracy Theorists Of The World, Unite!

I have a skeptical side.

I do not usually allow it to appear enough in the Public of my Personality to color my overall outlook on life. People that spend too much time criticizing, judging, or doubting usually have a demeanor that is about as pleasant as a shooter of vinegar.

However, there are times when I feel as though I can see the forest for the trees. And I know that in this country, we the citizens (because of our power to fire and re-staff our government every 2-4 years) have high expectations of the government. By and large, the US is also a land populated by folks with a fairly high most areas. This is, in my opinion, a very good thing for this planet. The natural consequence, of course, is that those who are honored by victory in our electorate immediately feel obligated (more often to themselves than to their constituency) to keep their jobs. Occasionally this does work in our favor.

But sometimes...ah, sometimes...well, we just have to face it. Sometimes the desire to keep one's job in our government carries with it the belief that that office has the right to inform us of their actions solely on a "need to know" basis. And, well, let's be honest here- none of us are hopefully stupid enough to believe that every decision, every action our government undertakes (note the terminology there) is noble.

No, sir...
Presidents, Senators, Representatives, even military and local officials have to make tough decisions. Or take actions that are- to put it nicely- less than savory. Often, they just plain fuck up.

And then what happens? Then, the Big Red Machine gets goin'.
The gears and bells and whistles begin to turn and blow and then is born what we call...
a Conspiracy. Or a Cover Up.

The following is a link to a story that very quickly spread across the nation last night: In this interview, former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Ellsworth (a man who SHOULD know what he's talking sure to watch the video) names this object in the sky "a big missile."

The following is a link to a story that is now very quickly spreading across the nation: Didn't take long did it?

In this follow-up story that is part of a campaign that began this morning, even as I awoke and had not yet heard of this mystery missile, there are immediate attempts to explain-away. I turned on the local NPR station and heard a man who was brought onto the show specifically to not only debunk any speculation that this was actually a missile but also to (with the aid of the less-than-bright and somewhat grating female host) laugh said speculation off with tales of famous "conspiracies" that were later "proven" hoaxes. Pardon me for believing Dept Sec Ellsworth- a man who should not only have enough experience to identify weapons employed by our country but who also should know when is the right time to open your mouth and when is not. Oh, and by the way... did you catch the part about Ellsworth saying the US has done this before?

What bothers me is not that the US would be launching a missile from 35-40 miles away from where I reside. No sir...what bothers me is that, well, they just don't 'fess up to it.

What I'd like to hear is something along the lines of: "We were testing a missile off the coast of California and every possible precaution was taken to ensure the test was succesful and no one was hurt."

What I hear when supposed experts and Yes Men call something that is obviously more than a mere plane or jet just that is: "Oh, this test had completely unintended consequences and we just blew the shit out of some little island in the South Pacific completely unintentionally (or otherwise) but we are currently sending billions of dollars to said island to kept their mouths shut. By the way, we're going to raise your taxes to pay for this covering-of-our-collective-government-ass."

Maybe I'm way off base here. Maybe I have an over-active imagination. Maybe I like a good mystery too much. Maybe...

But don't you worry, boys and girls, as long as there are things that go bump in the night and lights in the sky and Men In Black and Black Hawk helicopters that fly overhead without us knowing about them...and yes, missiles that are launched and then called planes...I will be sitting here in my little Booth In The Sky, watching.

Watching and reporting.

After all, someone's gotta do it.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Now Don't Break Our Hearts...2 Years Later

Almost exactly two years ago, I wrote a blog entitled "Now Don't Break Our Hearts."

I'm glad I wrote that. That blog was my attempt at capturing a wonderfully fulfilling idealistic victory in my life. In this entry, I recounted my political shift that occured in the months and years following Hurricane Katrina and the devastation she did on my hometown. My ideals changed. My ability to see things outside of the bubble in which I had grown up got sharper. Despite everything my family wanted and contrary to the values they thought I had been sold on, I voted with full conviction for Barack Obama.

Last night, the country admittedly turned on the Obama administration.

Sadly, most of the voting population bought into the hype that Obama is the cause of this terrible economy we find ourselves in and that "Obama-care" is evil (while out of the other side of their mouths they complain about the rising cost and inefficiency of healthcare). They've bought into this crap that Barack Obama is a Socialist, a Muslim, a natural-born Kenyan...and they buy it from a party full of misinformed, uneducated perverts, racists, closeted homosexuals, and formerly practicing witches who believe that ritual human sacrifice is still a rampant problem on Halloween in this country. The majority of this country allowed themselves to buckle under the campaign of fear that the (you gotta hand it to 'em) MORE AGGRESSIVE party- the GOP- has fed them in their desperation since '08.

Obama reached across the aisle to try to work WITH the Republicans, not against. Just as he promised in his campaign. He was rebuffed at every turn. Any honest, intelligent person will admit that.

Problem is...
we cannot only blame the GOP.

Barack's ideals remain intact. His honesty and integrity not only overshadow but completely obliterate that of his predecessor. Inside, he is every bit the President I voted for and in whom I still believe. But your intentions can only get you so far. This administration has not fought. This is what really hurts. In the great name of bipartisanship, Barack Obama has unfortunately laid down and allowed himself to be completely run over by the minority party of the last 2 years. Instead of knowing when he was not getting anywhere and then using the number that he had on his side, he continued to play nice and be polite.

Beset by an inherited economy that is as black as a night at my dad's East Texas ranch and a major Gulf Coast Oil Spill, it has been tough to watch my President and his noble agenda totally overwhelmed month-after-month, issue-after-issue. So often have I wanted to meet President Obama face to face and tell him "Come on man! Fight back! You've got the majority! Show this world what you're made of!!!"

Bill Maher wisely said (paraphrasing): "Say what you want about George W Bush, he had the balls to get the shit he wanted pushed through and he didn't care what the Congress wanted." While it may seem bully-ish, there is something admirable in a President (or at least Puppet Master Vice President and Man-Behind-The-Curtain Chief of Staff) who has a Plan and accomplishes it.

There are 2 years left. 2 years for this President who I still believe has real potential to change people's hearts and minds to get the job done. He has a lot of learning to do, but if there's one thing a man of Obama's intelligence and vision is capable's Change.

After all, we Changed in '08, didn't we?
Now it's HIS turn.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Maybe I'm Very Strange, but...

I have quirks.

Perhaps you'd call them peccadillos. Or some of you may be so extreme as to consider them symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

My friend, Sam, should be able to understand the difference...although, ironically, I think he would be one of the first people to call me weird/strange/asshole for some of these unique habits I am about to describe to you.

Regardless of what people may think, I find that many of these quirks provide me with a sense of rhythm or balance or efficiency and, perhaps, comfort. They are mostly my own way of doing things in a manner that I feel I am doing them productively.

A few examples:
1) When I go to work as an actor, I establish a ritual prior to going on-stage or on-set that I will do religiously throughout the run of the show or while I'm shooting. These rituals will vary wildly from production-to-production; sometimes they will be ridiculously specific and sometimes they will be rather general.

While performing in a production of West Side Story at The Hudson Theatre in LA last year, I only had a very short amount of time to learn a sizeable leading role before Opening Night was upon us. Feeling a little overwhelmed at the aspect of performing this role in front of an audience for the first time, I decided before I left my apartment that I was going to just let go and trust that I had put my time in, done my work and was confident enough in my abilites to nail it.

So, I made some hot tea to help my voice, put it a mug and left for the theatre. On the way there, I played Guns and Roses "Sweet Child of Mine" to get me pumped up, followed by a Michael Jackson's "PYT", Chris Brown's "Forever", and- yes- "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. These songs got me energized and ready to take on whatever lay ahead of me. Arriving to the theatre, I claimed a small spot in the very cramped quarters backstage- placing my bag in my assigned locker, ordering my costumes by scene, and kept my script on top of my bag in the locker. I got into my first costume and went to the stage to stretch and get physically ready. After that, I moved to the room where our Make-Up Designer affixed me with the standard "J" tattoo...the Jets' gang tattoo. My last step before the house was to open and we were to prepare for curtain was to go to the stage and vocally warm-up. I saved this for last because it was, in my opinion, the most important part of my prep. I hadn't done a musical in 6 years, hadn't had a vocal lesson in 5 years and there were, admittedly, some notes in some of my songs that gave me a bit of trouble with such little rehearsal time. Focus and concentration during this time was very important to me, but I also made sure not to overdo it and be weak for the show. Once all this was completed, I allowed myself 5 minutes to go backstage and socialize with the cast, especially the rest of the Jets...for whom my character was responsible for and cared a great deal about.

The above underlined routine I followed exactly, religiously every single night of the 6-week run of the show. I did not deviate, not even once- right even down to placing my wallet and keys and hot tea mug in the same exact position in my locker every night. The only modification I made was on the days where we had 2 shows in one day- during which time I would scale down my warm-ups before the second performance so as not to wear myself out. With this structure in place, I felt that I had created a little order out of chaos and gave myself the time to be ready both physically and mentally and was able to hit the stage feeling confident ready and able to just jump right into my performance.

On the other end of the spectrum, the schedule that our production of The Bacchae was given in our venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival was so tight and short that I had no time to create a very structured routine. I had time enough to do a physical warm up and get into part of my costume at our housing before our walk up the Royal Mile to our venue. Once we got there, it was almost a mad dash to set up our props, complete the rest of our costume change, help the crew with any set pieces we could- oh, and get into some sort of last-minute place of concentration. I had no time or place to develop a routine that I usually enjoy...with the exception, of course, of finding the same spot to store my costume and street clothes, which is where they would stay for the rest of the run.

2) When I play tennis, I have a developed technique of wrapping the overgrip around my racquet that has to be exactly right: tight and firm around the grip without overlapping too much (of course it has to overlap but if it does so too much it throws off the balance of the wrapping). With this technique, my overgrip will end at just the right spot every time- just below the beginning of the frame at the end of the grip. I will, without hesitation, do it and re-do it or even throw unused grips away if this wrap is not succesfully done.

3) I pay by check.

Outdated? Maybe. For this I do not apologize. After living in Los Angeles on my own for 7 1/2 years, I have developed a routine whereby I understand the Postal Service and the various utility companies to which I graciously hand over my hard-earned money. It's a schedule...and it's one that is very easy to keep. Also, it allows me to prepare for and know when my money will be taken from my account...not to mention, allow me to manipulate the same withdrawal from my account by sending the check on the postmark date (making the bill technically not late by most utility/creditor standards).

Additionally, I have a Bank Envelope- purposely spelled with a capital 'B' and 'E.' It is a plain white envelope that I designated long ago to hold my cash and checks as I go to the bank to make a deposit. Since being in LA, I have used 4 envelopes. Yes, 4 envelopes in 7 years. I use them until they are completely worn out and unable to carry anything anymore. This particular trait I cannot explain...maybe I'm being environmentall conscious, but I doubt it. Maybe I'm lazy...or perhaps just a fan of keeping useful objects useful and present.

Dealing with the interruption of these habits is quite unsettling...

Today, while at Chase Bank (of whom I am only a member because they took over Washington Mutual- who I never had a problem with, by the way) the line was exceptionally long. I didn't mind...I had my iPod in and the Facebook app on my iPhone was keeping me sufficiently entertained. After a few minutes of standing there in my world, an attractive young lady named Anoush told me she could help me over at the desk.

I suppose I should have known something was up. Why pick me out of the perhaps 20 people in line? Why take me out ahead of the people who had been there longer?

She sat me down and told me the manager would take care of my transaction. She asked for my cash and checks. After looking around for her envelope and not finding one, she said "Let me have your envelope." Immediately, the bells went off... 'Why is this attractive yet unprepared and slightly impolite employee (what with her "Let me have's...") of a bank I don't like taking me out of line, sitting me at a desk and taking my Bank Envelope?' I reluctantly gave it to her.

She began to ask me how I pay my bills. 'Check,' I replied.
She rolled her eyes.
Strike One.

'Why do you do that? Have you ever paid them online?'
'Yes, a few times when I needed to pay while on vacation.'
'You should pay all your bills online. It makes more sense.'
'I appreciate that. Thank you. But I have a routine and I like to stick by it.'
'But that's silly.'
Strike Two.

'I'm sorry, but I don't think it is.'
'Well, can I just show you about our Chase Online Bill Pay?'
'If you'd like, but really I need to...'
She proceeded to show me an online process I had no interest in. I entertained her while also looking around for the damn Bank Manager so I could get my transaction and leave.

'Let's pay a bill today. Give me one of your cards.'
'No, that's really ok.'
'Oh come on! It's SO easy.'
'Honestly, I have no interest in paying online.'
'It's so so much safer though! People can't get your info as easily.'
Strike Three.

That's quite possibly the biggest crock of bullshit any sales rep has ever laid on me...and I've dealt with Anthem Blue Cross! Apparently this girl felt I was too dumb to know that account information can be pulled from the Internet, banks can be hacked...and that happens just as often, if not moreso, than someone stealing your info off a check that goes in the mail.

Normally I buckle when pitched some product or idea. You're reading the words of a guy, after all, who once allowed a Hare Krishna to talk him into a $5 donation since I wouldn't buy his book at LAX. The consequences of that: I gave him a $20 and he gave me a $5 back, insisting that was the deal we had made...

But from that point forward, I continued to block her every move. Even going so far as to be insistent that she process my deposit and let me leave.

When the Bank Manager finally came back, he gave me a receipt and walked away without even looking at me. So much for REAL customer service...

Oh, and by the way...he didn't give me my Bank Envelope back.

Sometimes quirks seem strange. Some of them I cannot even explain or define. But, they're mine. I own them. I control them.

And I enjoy the confidence they give...especially when someone tries to change them.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

We Could Use A Rambo...

Say what you want about the movies of the 80's.

I mean, sure, there are some classics from that time period in cinema...but they also produced some major stinkers in that decade. Come on...Mannequin!? I don't care how big a cult classic that has's a story about a store clerk who falls in love with the talking mannequin in his department store window!!!!

Say even more of what you want about movies from the 80s starring guys who sound like they're in the middle of a stroke (Stallone...).

But, you know- they did get some things right occasionally.

Rambo, First Blood: Part II came on TV today. And you know, the 80s seemed to be making a political statement at the end of the Cold Way: "If you're a bad guy, we're going to send one of our bad asses to KICK THE EVER-LOVING SHIT OUT OF YOU." There is something inspiring about that, and it makes me wonder:

Why don't we have more of that today?

Only 3 people come immediately to mind when I think of people who this country- the supposed Best Country in the world- cannot locate.

1) Amelia Earhart...and I can't say I blame anyone for this. After all, she did crash somewhere in the largest body of water on this planet in an era where technology couldn't track her very well.

2) Jimmy Hoffa...listen, if the Mafia doesn't want you found, not even Spy Satellites are gonna find you.


3) Osama Bin Laden.

Now, the 1st 2 are forgiveable. But, let's keep #3 in perspective, Amelia and Jimmy didn't ATTACK OUR FUCKING COUNTRY.

What I want to know is what exactly is stopping us from having a set of balls? What is keeping us from hiring some bad ass mercenary son of a bitch, giving him a Pay-Per-View camera crew and letting him have full reign over every nook and cranny of Afghanistan to find and kick the ever-loving shit out of Osama Bin Laden?!?!

I just read a Vanity Fair article about a former-biker-turned-born-again-Christian-preacher in Pennsylvania who has made it his life's mission to hunting down and murdering Ugandan terrorist and leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in Africa (who kidnap children and make them part of his army), Joseph Kony, because this preacher believes God wants him to.

Now, if one former Hell's Angel turned Christian, has enough conviction to sell everything he owns to fund his mission to stop some jungle warrior, why doesn't the USA say "Ok, enough...we're ceasing all unnecessary military spending and focusing on finding this old, diabetic Muslim whackjob who killed thousands of our people almost 9 years ago?"

Is it because we've become too concerned with violating international laws? Is it because we're worried about civil rights? Or is it just because we're being too polite?

I don't know what Bush's former and Obama's current excuses are, but I do know there are certain things that mean a lot to the people of this country. And one of those things is having a government who knows that you have to draw a line in the sand every now and then and act like they're in some old Dirty Harry movie. You know the one...where the hero (us) stares in the direction of the bad guy who has fled (Osama) and says "You done fucked up now. I'm coming for your ass."

Maybe 9 years is too long. Maybe there are too many conflicting opinions from the innumerable Talking Heads out there now to get that job done.

But I still would relish the day that we go all Postal on Bin Laden's ass.

And I think the widows and parentless children of all those who dies on 9/11 would too.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Just felt like I should inform you all...

my West Hollywood Dodgeball Team, BALLZ DEEP, won the 2010 Winter Season Championship on Monday night at the Staples Center!

The win cemented our perfect 10-0 season as we became the winners of the 1st Ever As in chicken!!! Get your heads out of the gutter!

Oh, and by the way, rising pop star Ke$ha played on the opposing team...and I nailed her right in the kisser...!/video/video.php?v=383661891445&subj=23409278

And a pic of the Champions with the aforementioned Golden Cock:!/photo.php?pid=4486513&op=1&o=global&view=global&subj=23409278&id=531546402&fbid=383397691402

It's good to be King.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Diamond In The Rough

You have to know where to look for these things.

They exist. In LA. They really do. Lately I've found myself on a kick to find places in LA- be they parks or theatres or theaters (there is a difference) or restaurants or cafes or attractions that fly under the radar but that are worthy of attention. Places that are intriguing or interesting... I am pleased to announce that I have my first report for you folks out there in LaLa Land!

Last week I went with my friend Mary to see a David Lynch Double Feature at the New Beverly Cinema on Beverly Blvd near La Brea.

Now, travel back in time...remember what theaters were like before the age of the Multiplex? Remember theaters before The Grove? Or, for you New Orleaneans, before The Palace ran every single theater in NOLA out of business. The days when theaters didn't cost you your first born child for admission and concessions were reasonable enough so that you could also afford lunch the next day.

Congratulations! You have returned to those days with the New Bev! The New Beverly Cinema is a family-run operation that specializes in showing movies that you can't really see anymore in theaters. Rare movies, old movies, indie flicks, Grindhouse films- you name it! The family loves movies and they provide an opportunity for people to enjoy themselves with a good ol' fashioned movie-going experience.

Being that the movies they show were mostly not commercial smashes when released (though many acheived cult status or are widely regarded as fine films), the people coming to see them are seeing them out of a love for movies. You know what that means? You guessed it! During our David Lynch Double Feature, not one single cell phone was turned on!!! Not one person got up to answer a call from a stock broker or agent or publicist or whatever in the hell else people do that crap for. And though giddy before the movie started, once the 2 old vintage movie trailers began before the 1st and 2nd films, you could hear a pin drop from the audience throughout the flick (barring laughter or, in Twin Peaks's case, gasps).

Oh, and by the way, Quentin Tarantino recently bought the building in which the New Bev operates to save it from having to close. And from time to time, he shows up to watch movies and screen some of his own. Inglorious Basterds, according to an article I read, had one of its first screenings at the New Bev and the revenue from that night made the theater's year. How cool is that?

So, for all of you who love movies but a) can't stand the majority of the crap they're cranking out these days or b) can't stand the people you have to share the large, noisy, crowded theaters with, well you have an alternative....why dontcha take a trip back in time? Go to a theater that won't break your bank, where you can see movies that are interesting enough to be given a screening by movie-lovers for movie-lovers without being snooty or pretentious. Support a theater that's open for the sake of enjoying movies...