Archive for March, 2006

Man I’m A Deviant

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Since undertaking my weight loss regimen at the beginning of the new year, there’s one thing that’s a constant: my Sunday weigh-in. If it’s Sunday, it’s weigh day. Sure, there have been occasions where I’ve opted to skip the weekly ritual, but never have I cheated and deviated with the device on a different day.

Until today. I don’t really know what possessed me to do so. If anything I had actually been thinking about skipping this coming Sunday because as I’d told Susan earlier in the week I thought that my current weight of 232 was going to be one that hung around for a while, not unlike when I was stuck at 252 for several weeks. One always hears that it’s those final few pounds that are the toughest to toss, and being just two from my first-stage goal it made sense. On top of that I’ve been “struggling” a bit these past few days, dreaming of chocolate-covered Sugar Babies and KFC, but still managing to keep things in control calorically — not as strict and low as past weeks, but still nothing beyond 2,200 per day.

But despite all the potential red flags there I was, and there the scale was and before I could stop myself I’d toed the little black button on its side that fires it up and in the next moment I was planted upon it and looking down at…

228

Two Twenty Eight!!! Hot damn, that’s a four-pound drop since Sunday for a 32-pound total loss that not only eclipses my initial goal of 230, but also has me but one pound away from being my fittest since the conclusion of my 475-mile San Francisco-to-Los Angeles bike ride that ended in October of 2003. Hallelujah!

Now that Jo “Slim” Gillis, a fine fellow blogger, American Idol-izer, and shedder of pounds, has started taking pictures of her bad self to prove her dieting success, I’m thinking I’ll need to start producing visual evidence of my ongoing evaporation sometime soon. But for now I only am willing to offer up — in memoriam — a photo taken of the 270-pound version of me in the summer of 2000 just prior to the public opening of the L.A. Zoo’s Red Ape Rain Forest (that’s my mom on the left and one of the zoo’s giraffes in the background — my guess is Kito, perhaps the most prolific male giraffe ever in captivity, who died last year):

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I was provided a copy of this picture by its photographer many months later and I promptly hid it in shame. But it was just what I needed to kickstart an eating and fitness regimen that ultimately led me to get healthy and hearty enough to do that above-mentioned bike ride a couple years later.

I’m 42 pounds lighter now than I was up there. I couldn’t button those khakis then. Had to use a safety pin. And up until January I was approaching that point again. Last week, I cut up those pants for rags and used them to clean up my bike.

Never. Never again.

UPDATE (04/01):

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Good gawd… back then my doppelganger was
the Bob’s Big Boy!

It’s Official: I’m A Character

Friday, March 31st, 2006

Being that I’m a sucker for recognition, it was much to my pleasant surprise that I found some blogroll love from Matt Welch‘s LA Times’ blog, where I’m listed under the Characters section in the esteemed company of the likes of Tony Pierce, Dave Navarro, Sean Bonner, COOP and more far worthier the links than I.

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Larger version of the screen grab can be found here.

6,935 Days In The Valley

Friday, March 31st, 2006

I spent 19 some-odd years living around the San Fernando Valley: Sherman Oaks, Van Nuys, Burbank, Glendale, Van Nuys again, Sherman Oaks again, Encino, then back to Sherman Oaks one more time before coming to Silver Lake in 2002.

The valley is what it is and I’m not inclined to bag on the place other than to say I’m much happier to be in a section of the city that is without a doubt more vibrant. Part of my trouble is that looking back over the generation I spent there, the years of my life just run together, broken up only by a handful of various incidents and mental snapshsots. As the relatively textureless canvas that stretch of my life was painted upon there’s just not a whole bunch of people or places that stand out high on the recollective.

But then from a link via LAObserved (who found it on Tabloid Baby) there comes the reminder that my valley was not entirely blandness and forgetability. Unfortunately it’s delivered via a touching remembrance from Jon at his Hollywood Thoughts blog for the recently deceased Sherman Oaks newsstand guy — at least that’s all I knew him as. Jon new him better:

I never knew Greg’s last name, but I considered him a friend. He passed-away very unexpectedly last Sunday night after working his shift at the Sherman Oaks Newsstand (the corner of Van Nuys and Ventura boulevards). You’ve probably seen him a million times as you passed the intersection: he was in his late fifties… always wore a ballcap… and, of course, sported his trademark ZZ Top beard.”

Jon is spot-on about having seen Greg a million times. With my mom’s house up the street from that intersection, I’m pretty sure I saw him a million-and-three times over the years, and certainly had occasions to buy various newspapers and magazines from him. But I never had the opportunity nor inclination to strike up a conversation or get to know him better.

The one time I had any contact with him other than transacting for a publication came in 1993 on my way to visit my mother one afternoon. Eastbound traffic was backed up a bit on Ventura because the southbound cross traffic at Van Nuys Boulevard traffic was blocking the intersection. On my motorcycle I was able to cut through the gridlock and when I turned the corner I found the source of the standstill was a stalled out Porsche 911 directly in front of the newsstand and inside it the frustrated driver was unable to get its engine to turn over. On several occasions during that period of my life I’d made like a good sammy and offered assistance to stranded motorists and this was just another opportunity to do so.

Dismounting my bike I approached the driver and asked him if he’d like a push to try to popstart it or at least get it out of traffic. He did, so I got behind the car, signaled for the driver to put it in neutral and get off the brake and I leaned in hard to get it rolling. About 40 feet later the driver threw it into first gear, let out the clutch and the Porsche spluttered and coughed but somehow managed to stay lit. Gunning the engine for a few seconds I gave the driver a thumbs-up and he waved his thanks and high-tailed it out of there, thus restoring order to that corner of the world.

Walking back to my bike, I caught newsstand guy — Greg — out of the corner of my eye. He was sitting on his barstool next to the register with his ever-present cap and wiry beard, watching me. He had a bemused smile on his face and when I turned my head to look at him directly he commenced a polite ovation in recognition of my good deed. I gave him a little bow and salute before climbing back in the saddle and moving on.

Rest in peace, Greg.

UPDATE (04/01): Dana Bartholomew of the L.A. Daily News interviewed me yesterday and today I found his nice piece on Greg at Dailynews.com.

Veni Vedi Vented

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

OK, so I’d be lying if I said there was a finite list of things that piss me off. I can get riled up by a seemingly endless array of situations, responses, behaviors, plot points, reactions, et cetera. But in this day and age of the internuts, the one thing that really chaps my e-hide is a failure to communicate — or more to the point: reciprocate.

Without going into detail, a group e-shout was grapevined to a bunch of writers late yesterday afternoon, with me being one of them. It seems a webzine editor up north was desperate for a writer to attend a screening down here in LA of a soon-to-be-released major/minor motion picture and then quickly turn around a review of the flick over the weekend. The amount of money offered for the gig wasn’t stated, but instead hinted at being an embarrassingly low figure.

So with my ready availability and capability I shot a response back directly to said webzine editor yesterday afternoon saying roughly “Hi, I was notified by Person B who heard it from your friend Person A that you need a reviewer in the house — and fast. I used to do this shit with theater all the time so I’m here if you need me. Love, Will.”

Some time passed and I checked in to see if there was a response. Nothing.

Since there was about an hour between when the open call was sent and when I next checked my inbox, chances are good that another writer beat me to the pitch and the editor got the assignment filled and, if so, good for them. But assuming the whole freakin’ world didn’t hit this guy wit a collective “Pick Me! Pick Me!” is it tooo much gaddam shitsucking trouble to click that email button labeled REFUCKINGPLY and say “Thanks but no thanks,” or “Gee, you’re slow,” or “Sod off,” or “Who the hell are you and how did you get this email address” or “Maybe next time?”

Obviously not. And since this guy considers two-way communication to be sooooo 1990s I’m left checking my inbox almost incessantly from the time up until I went to bed to every few minutes throughout this morning.

Now before anyone goes telling me to temper my temper and adopt less of a WTF stance because people are busy and I’m not the center of the universe and all that crap, please don’t. Because this isn’t the first time. In fact this marks the third pitch and the third time the people I communicated with have vanished like integrity at the White House.

Poof! As if they exist only in my mind. So seeing as I’m working a 3-for-3 perfect record of failure here I’ve already come up with a form pitch letter I’m going to send out for the next freelance gig that might tease its way into my mailbox:

Hello,

It’s my understanding you’re in need of services that are my specialty. Allow me to cut to the chase: I am The Shit. You’d be lucky to exploit my boundless creativity and commitment at the pitiful wage and level of inconvenience you’re offering. If you think there’s even the remotest chance you can convince me to waste my time and energy for you then there’d better be an ass-kissing reply in my inbox within 15 minutes of this email’s timestamp. Clock’s ticking.

Grrrrr.

That Time Of Year Again

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

This Friday will mark the commencement of what will be my third-annual “10 Rides In 30 Days” in the Verdugo Mountains north of Glendale. I can’t remember how I actually came to decide upon that exact number of rides in that specific number of days back in 2004, but I know it had something to do with most of the rides taking place immediately after work during weekdays, with the occasional weekend ride thrown in for good measure.

Historically the first couple rides are severe wind-sucking affairs, with me huffing and puffing and blowing myself out as I slooooowly and unsteadily climb the 2.2 miles and roughly 1,200 feet in elevation from the trailhead of the Beaudry North trail up to the water tower, like so:

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[bigger image is here]

Then it’s relatively easy going from the water tower up to Tongva Peak and the wonderful serenity I never fail to find there in the late afternoon/early evening. But by the fourth or fifth ride, I’ve gotten my rhythm and groove on and I can chug up to the top with increasing confidence and relative speed. By the time the last few rides come along I’m rolling nonstop to the water tower about 20 minutes faster than when I began. It’s a nice little positive progression.

This year I’m very much interested in seeing how much better I fare from the get-go and beyond what with my weight loss to-date. Perhaps I may even be able to make it from the trailhead to the water tower in less than 30 minutes for the first time? How much would that rock!? And will I finally break Gravity’s Curse and not fall badly and bloodily as I did last year and the year before? These and other questions will be answered beginning Friday afternoon.

And in the meantime and for purely nostalgia’s sake, here’s my Audblog post phoned in from Tongva Peak at the end of my fourth ride last year, April 5:

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Cap & Me

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

Caspar Weinberger died today. When we met it was a far different time in this country. 1985. December. I was about halfway through a solo train trip around the country. I’d come coach on Amtrak from L.A. through the southwest and Texas for a whirlwind overnight layover in New Orleans. Then it was into Alabama where I rented a car in Birmingham and drove up to Chattanooga for an extended visit with relatives in Tennessee. From there I picked up the train in Atlanta destined for Washington, D.C.

I arrived, caught a cab to my hotel, checked in and crashed the rest of the day away. Somewhere along the line I’d caught a cold and it was ravaging me but good. But I was in the nation’s capitol for the first (and so far only) time of my life and I wasn’t going to let any bug or the cold winter weather keep me from spending the next day wandering around and seeing the sites.

The next morning I woke up sick as a dog, but I popped some over-the-counter meds, bundled up and cabbed it first to Arlington National Cemetery to visit John F. Kennedy’s gravesite as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Back across the Potomac I came to the Lincoln and Vietnam war memorials and from there I made my way up the mall and through various museums and the Washington Monument and the White House all the way to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court Building and then the Capitol Building where once inside I encountered Weinberger on a staircase.

That’s all. We passed each other. Him going down and me going up. But I’m pretty sure my jaw was agape as I recognized him as none other than the Secretary of Defense. Nevermind that I loathed him the same way I loathed pretty much everyone in the Reagan administration, for a split second I became a lame fanboy who froze on one of the marble steps and turned to watch him as he moved down the rest of the steps and out of view, somewhat in shock and awe at seeing someone of such prominence and distance who I only knew from pictures and video and soundbites suddenly become flesh and blood.

But certainly not larger than life. He was one tiny dude.

Anyway, I followed that up with a tour of the capitol and then walked aaaaaallllll the way back down the mall back to the other end to see the Vietnam and Lincoln memorials after dark when they’re illuminated and at their most illuminating.

Then it was a cab ride back to the hotel where I crashed again. The next day I was back on the train and headed for Chicago where my most memorable encounter wasn’t with any of Ronnie’s cabinet, but instead with two thugs who I faced down and scared away. But I’ll save that tale for another day.

Rest in peace, Caspar.

Walking In L.A.

Monday, March 27th, 2006

What with the dog walk and walking from and to the auto mechanic I caught a lot of things on foot today and blogged about ’em all on Blogging.la: the student protests while Shadow and I strolled along Sunset, a typo worth a chuckle on the way home from the mechanic’s, and a new work of art on the way back to pick up the pick-up with its new set of shocks to compliment its new set of Michelin tires (so that perhaps I can avoid this from ever happening again). Instead of crossposting them here or coming up with something else worth writing about, I’ll just tell you to follow the links above back to the B.la posts and send you off with a shot I got while having lunch at the Coffee Table on Rowena. I call it Street Scene With Mustard And Dog:

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