Better a Witty Fool than a Foolish Wit

Inner Workings of My Twisted Mind.

Why I Love T.V.

At this trying time, post-writers strike, when we are still, for the most part, patiently waiting for our beloved shows to come back, it is easy to forget why we love t.v. so much.  We watch American Idol and reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in order to get by, but really we don’t feel that magic of T.V. that certain shows give.  Do you remember the first show you really truly fell in love with?  Like you just loved the characters so much, you felt like you really knew them.  Maybe it was All in the Family or Happy Days, maybe it was Dallas or Dynasty, maybe it was Beverly Hills 90210 or Friends, in any case, I’m sure all of you, even those that say they don’t love t.v. (mom) have a show that you really loved at some point, a show you didn’t miss and a show that you were sad about it ending.  

For me that has happened numerous times.  I love television, both good and bad (I’m big enough to see that there’s a place for good t.v. and bad t.v.), but every once in a while a show comes along that jumps out above and beyond just a passing liking of a show.  Every once in a while I get a Friends or a 90210, a Dawson’s Creek or a Veronica Mars, a show that combines true life with fiction seamlessly, that makes me laugh and cry.  I’ll let you in on a secret I’m loath to share, the shows I love almost always have an epic romance.  They almost always have the Ross and Rachel, Pacey and Joey (that was the real romance of that show), Veronica and Logan kind of relationships.  I am a sucker for romance on screen, in my real life I can’t stand it, but on screen I love it.  
Over the course of the strike, I’ve been trying to find some way to cope with a lack of scripted television (seeing as I can’t stand most reality t.v. it has been a tough couple of months for me), so the other day I decided to give a show a try that had been recommended to me over and over again.  Yes, I’ve finally really given The Office a shot.  I think I was originally turned off by it because I tend to not think that Steve Carrell is as funny as everyone else does.  I mean, I think he’s funny, just not as funny as everyone else thinks he is.  It really comes down to romance, why I even gave it a try, or rather it really came down to Pam and Jim, why I gave it a try.  Like I said, I’m a big fan of romance, and it actually pains me to know that I’m missing out on a great romantic story arc that people talk about and I can’t contribute anything.  I’m aware that this is totally crazy, that I feel like I must watch a show to not feel left out, but I can’t help it. 
So yeah, I have fallen completely in love with The Office (and John Krasinski) because really, it’s got that thing that great shows have.  It has flawed (and sometimes completely ridiculous) but lovable characters.  It’s got simple but intriguing story lines that come from an organic place within the characters situations.  And, like the best comedies, it doesn’t really have a plot.  The problem with most comedies today is that they are too high concept; the best comedies, like Seinfeld, Friends, All in the Family, and Cheers are very low concept.  Seinfeld: show about nothing, Friends:  Six friends, All in the Family: a dysfunctional Family (Arrested Development also does this well), Cheers: people in a bar.  There really aren’t any stories that need to be told because of the concept of the show.  Unlike, recently, shows like Carpoolers or Cavemen or How I Met Your Mother or Two and a Half Men.  The fact that these shows have complex plot lines means that there is less time to be funny.  Leave the complex plots to Lost and let the situation and characters be funny.  The Office (and yes, the British version is still amazing) is simple (it’s about people in an office), it’s funny (characters are funny and get themselves into funny situations) and it’s relatable (who hasn’t worked in an office like Dunder-Mifflin or had a boss like Michael Scott?).  The basic tenet of comedy is to hire funny people and give them a forum to be funny but also to tug the heartstrings when need be.  Who didn’t tear up when Ross and Rachel broke up?  Who didn’t crack up when Sammy Davis kissed Archie Bunker?  It’s the line between these two things that make comedy great and memorable, and it is these things that launch the classic shows into posterity.
Peace, Love, and The Office,
Julia  

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April 4, 2008 Posted by | Comedy, Culture, Friends, Hollywood, Television, Veronica Mars | 1 Comment

I’ll Be There for You

I’m having a little love affair with Friends right now.  You remember it, television show, defined the ’90s, last truly great sitcom.  Okay, we’re all together now.  Friends started in 1994, when I was the ripe old age of 10 (hadn’t quite turned 11 yet) and I vaguely remember it from then, though didn’t watch it.  I remember seeing the episode where Ross’ monkey can’t stop humping everything in sight (the first episode of Friends I ever watched), but I didn’t actually start watching Friends until I got a T.V. of my very own in the eighth grade (that would have been the Christmas of 1996).  I credit the acquiring of my very own television as the root of my love of t.v.  I had loved certain shows before, but I only watch three of them during the week (for those who are curious that would be 90210, The Simpsons, and Party of Five).  When I got my own t.v. the world was my cable box and I could watch t.v. all evening while doing copious amounts of homework.  This is when I started watching Must See T.V.  Ah, remember when NBC was putting out quality programming that didn’t involve Donald Trump or Howie Mandel?  I may have been the only person that watched nothing but NBC.  By this time my 90210 obsession had petered out and my WB obsession had not yet started, so I was strictly an NBC girl.  And Friends was the centerpiece of the week.  Thursday night was amazing.  Friends, Seinfeld, Mad About You, Will & Grace, Just Shoot Me, all staples of the Thursday Night line-up at some point in it’s amazing run.

I remember when Friends ended in 2004, I was living in London and I watched the series finale and cried like a baby (even though it was crappy).  I distinctly remember a conversation with Jewels where we realized that Friends had been on for exactly half of our lifetime.  It was surreal to think that, especially at age 20, when we felt so old (don’t yell, we did feel old).

But I realize now that I never really understood Friends.  It’s all part of this crazy post-collegiate world that I’m sorting through right now, but I’ve been watching Friends and relating to the characters in a way that I never have before.  When I was in High School and even college and watching Friends, it never occurred to me that this show had actually a basis in dealing with real stuff that people were actually going through.  Oh, how wrong I was.  Now, I’m not saying that Monica and Rachel’s apartment is, in any way, like any apartment that a waitress and a chef could actually afford, especially in New York City, especially now, but that’s not the point.  Because I hadn’t experienced that part of your twenties when you are a totally independent person, I never got that, though humorous, these were the things the early (read good) episodes of friends were dealing with.  Around your mid-twenties, when, in this age, you are still trying to figure out what you’re going to do with your life (Rachel and Chandler), trying to be successful at what you’ve chosen (Monica and Joey), trying to live your life on your own terms (Phoebe) or are starting in your adult life with things like marriage and babies (Ross), people experience a great amount of change and hardship, and Friends deals with that, and I never even knew.

I feel more and more bonded to characters like Rachel, Joey and Phoebe, who have no money and are either searching for what they want to do or trying to live the life they’ve chosen, whereas before I felt like more of a Ross or Chandler.  I mean, sure, I’m sarcastic and witty to hide the pain (much like Chandler Bing) but Joey’s a struggling actor who doesn’t give up, no matter how many rejections he gets.  I guess that is what makes a television show great.  Much like My So-Called Life or Freaks and Geeks, it doesn’t matter what generation watches these programs, if you are in High School, you relate.  Sure the clothes are a little dated, but really, who hasn’t felt those universal highs and lows that are outlined in a smartly written television show.

Some lines from Friends that were always funny, but I never really got:
“Who’s FICA, why’s he getting all my money?”  – Rachel Green

“Phoebe, do you have a plan?” – Monica Gellar
“I don’t even have a pluh.” – Phoebe Buffay

“Hey, you guys in the living room all know what you want to do. You know, you have goals. You have dreams. I don’t have a dream.” – Chandler

And my favorite:
” What are you doing?” – Ross Gellar
“Making chocolate milk. You want some?” – Chandler Bing
“No thanks, I’m 29.” – Ross Gellar

Peace, Love, and the Correct Number of Claps,
Julia

March 23, 2008 Posted by | Comedy, Culture, Friends, High School, Hollywood, My So-Called Life, Television | 1 Comment

It was the Best of Times, it was the Worst of Times

So this weekend was a pretty sad one.  I had to say goodbye to a man who was like a father to me, but I got to see my mom and my best friend so it was good as well.  I wrote a story about it.  Read it and tell me what you think. 
Peace and Love,
Julia

Darkwing Duck and a Tale of Unlikely Friends

By Julia Rose

Once upon a time there was a precocious little girl with brown hair that hung down in tight little ringlets.  She lived in a two-bedroom condo, three blocks from the beach, with her parents, who were, unlike most people’s parents, still together after 15 years of marriage.   This was not your average modern family.  The little girl’s parents were ex(?)-hippies who fled San Francisco in the late seventies to settle down and start a family.  The little girl’s dad was an oyster farmer and the little girl’s mom was the Manager of Human Resources for the Humanities Division at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

One day the little girl’s mother came home with a newspaper.  In this little hamlet of theirs, the University is the number one employer so all goings on end up in the newspaper.  The local newspaper rarely reports on anything genuinely newsworthy.  On the day a Tiger mauled three people at the San Francisco Zoo, the front page of the paper was about a dog who had almost, but not quite, broken the world record litter of puppies. 

The little girl’s mother, newspaper in hand, was quite upset.  “He’s a Hunter,” she exclaimed.  The little girl’s mother had been a vegetarian since the Jurassic Period, or the Seventies, whichever came first.  Because her dad was an Oyster Farmer, seafood had been lumped under the category of vegetable as well.  The little girl was raised a vegetarian, her favorite vegetable was salmon.  “How can he shoot those defenseless animals?” the little girl thought as her mother continued to rant and rave about the blasphemous nature of her ultra-liberal University hiring, as her new boss, a Hunter, of all people.  The little girl’s mother paced around the living room viciously, her curly hair flying everywhere.  She was seriously angry that her bastion of liberal ideology would hire someone that would surely be so conservative (little did she know that he had been fired from Loyola Marymount for heresy, a fact that the University took a certain amount of pride in) because lord knew that all Hunters were conservative, and being conservative, to the little girl’s mother, was a fate worse than death.  Soon, however, her opinion changed.  The little girl’s mother actually became friends with her boss, really good friends. 

The little girl went to a private elementary school where she didn’t really fit in.  She caused trouble.  She was constantly in the principal’s office.  And to make matters worse, the little girl’s parents had to work overtime so they could pay the tuition. 

The little girl’s father was, at this time, an oyster farmer.  Seeing as oysters cannot be farmed in the Monterey or San Francisco Bay, he had to farm in Tomales Bay, a small bay that is located about two hours north of San Francisco.  The little girl and her family lived an hour south of San Francisco.  So, every Sunday, the little girl’s dad would leave and every Thursday he would return, just in time to pick the little girl up from school.  So really, for most of the little girl’s childhood the little girl and her mother were together without her father.  Of course, the little girl, missed her father, but as she grew older she would rebel against him in the little time he was around.  In true adolescent fashion, the little girl would dismiss any air of authority he possessed.  In the little girl’s mind, her mother ran more of a democracy while her father ran some sort of benevolent dictatorship, and she didn’t react well to that sort of blatant assertion of power.  After all, she was a modern young lady.

Because the little girl’s father wasn’t home most of the week, the little girl had to go to work with her mother when she had time off of school.  Be it winter break, spring break or one of the many President’s birthdays (back then school children got a day off for Lincoln, Washington, and Martin Luther King, Jr.), the little girl would have to go to work with her mother.  She would help with shredding confidential material.  She would set up micro machine or My Little Pony worlds under the desk.  During the summer she would attend swimming lessons at the pool.  She read Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary and R.L. Stine.  She was your basic kid trapped on a University Campus.

It is unclear whether it was a random day off, or an extended break, when the little girl first met her mother’s new boss, but the little girl knew it was a moment she would never forget.  She was on the floor beneath her mother’s desk, probably playing with Micro-Machines or some such toy that could cause permanent spinal damage when adults slip on them, when she heard it.  A weird sort of cooing noise was coming from the hallway.  No one in the office seemed to really take notice, as if this was some sort of every day occurrence.  Little did the girl know, it was.  This was the way her mom’s new boss broke up the monotony of everyday business. 

As the little girl shyly poked her head out the door she saw him, a vision in an orange crossing guard vest with some sort of bird call hanging out of his mouth, like James Dean with that red jacket and ubiquitous cigarette.  He was a big guy, but compared to the little girl’s father, everyone looked small.  A normal girl may have been intimidated by this big guy in a crossing guard vest, but the little girl had no normal frame of reference.  To her, he would forever be the curly haired guy with the duck call.

In the latter part of the 1980s and the early part of the 1990s, the little girl was constantly in and out of her mother’s office.  And, as any normal kid would be, the little girl had a tendency to get extremely bored.  Summertime was the worst.  Three months of being in an office three days a week, no TV, no music, just an office floor and swimming lessons once a week.  That was the girl’s life.  One day, the girl was particularly bored and was inhibiting her mother’s ability to get work done.  Usually the little girl was good about being quiet and playing by herself, but on this day, she was beyond disruptive.  Luckily, her mom’s boss was off in Africa or Germany or Wyoming hunting some sort of wild beast that could seriously maim any mere mortal who missed.  He probably came back with a cape buffalo cape or a Saber Tooth necklace or some such symbol of his extreme masculinity.  But the little girl didn’t care about those things.  He was gone.  And because he was gone, and she was being such a nuisance, her mother let her in the boss’s office to watch TV.  Darkwing Duck and Duck Tales got the little girl through those extended periods in a dull, sterile office.

One afternoon, after weeks of being away, the little girl went racing to her mom’s boss’s (the Dean of Humanities) office, but something terrible had happened.  He was back.  Back from Africa or Germany or Wyoming or wherever he had been.  The little girl couldn’t bear a day without her Darkwing Duck fix so, being the brave girl she was, she mustered up the courage to meekly ask if she could watch her one hour block of animated mallards fighting crime and performing other such shenanigans.  The Dean then did something so shocking, so earth-shattering, that the girl was stunned speechless (quite a feat for the chatty little thing).  Not only did he say yes, he plopped down next to the little girl on the couch to watch Darkwing Duck.  The Dean of Humanities at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who had just returned from hunting wildebeests or Lemurs or other various mammalian creatures, was watching Darkwing Duck with an elementary school kid.

  Ever since that day, the little girl has loved cartoons.  Even now, as a full-fledged adult, she still enjoys cartoons.  He taught her that it was okay.  The little girl never had to go through that period where she thought she was too old to watch cartoons.  She never had to endure that disappointment because the Dean taught her a lesson that Cartoon Network would one day learn, cartoons are not just for kids.  Most children hit a point where, in their quest to be older, anthropomorphized animals fighting the criminal underworld in purple fedoras and black Batman rip-off capes, becomes unacceptable, but not this little girl.  During the summer, this became a tradition; a tradition that the girl would cherish forever.  Everyday, for the rest of the summer, the little girl would race to the Dean’s office and they would sit together, two curly heads of dark brown hair, transfixed for an hour.  After the hour, he would get back to his Deanly duties and the little girl would return to ‘Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?’ or whatever she happened to be doing for alternative entertainment.  Years later, into adulthood, the girl would still read comic books and watch cartoons because the Dean taught her that, even in what seemed to be the lowest form of entertainment, there was much knowledge and pleasure to be had.

As the years passed and the little girl grew up, she started working during the summers.  Darkwing Duck got cancelled.  The Dean left his position as the Dean and returned to being a regular professor.  The little girl and the Dean still saw each other at University work parties and Shakespeare festivals, but the little girl missed that hour a day the she had him to herself.  Then, in the Summer of 2001, two months before the planes hit the twin towers, the little girl decided that instead of moving to New York or Boston or Seattle for college she was going to stay in Santa Cruz and go to UCSC.  It wasn’t an easy decision for the girl.  In fact, the girl fought viciously against it, but slowly, very slowly, the realization dawned on her that this was actually going to be a great place to get an education.  So the little girl went off to college, twenty minutes from her parent’s house and across the campus from her mother’s office.  Seeing as the little girl’s mother knew the entire Humanities faculty, and the little girl studied Literature and History, the little girl had multiple professors implore her to take classes from them.  On occasion, the little girl was commanded to take classes from certain professors (she was, of course, commanded by said professors).  Unfortunately, none of the classes had anything to do with either of her majors and seeing as it was already going to take the little girl longer than normal to graduate (she studied in London and took two years of Italian) even though she took classes every summer, she was not able to take the classes her mother’s friends were so adamant about her taking.  One such class happened to be taught by the former Dean, it was called, ‘Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?’  It wasn’t as though the little girl didn’t want to take the class – who wouldn’t be attracted to a class with that name – it was just that she didn’t have enough time to take it (without costing her parents even more money).  The little girl still wishes she could have taken that class, but alas, such is life.

During the summer between the little girl’s (now she was more like a young woman) freshman and sophomore year in college, she moved back into her parent’s house (just for the summer).  Around this time, the Humanities division started having a somewhat impromptu happy hour date.  Every Wednesday night a small group of faculty and staff would meet at the Crow’s Nest Restaurant to watch the weekly sailboat races, drink copious amounts of liquor and eat overpriced, but scrumptious, appetizers.  The little girl had known most of these people for as long as she could remember.  Most of them would do that adult thing where they tell you how much you’ve grown, which always sort of seems like a nice way of calling you a big fat cow.  The little girl’s parent’s loved that they could brag about how well I was doing in school (never mind that she didn’t really have a life), but the Dean and the little girl always just chatted.  He would lecture about new books she should be reading; books about the Medici’s or Weimar Germany.  He would have one of the most intellectual conversations the little girl had ever been involved in, while sucking down as many rum and cokes as he could before the happy hour came to a sudden and sullen end.  He would scold waitresses who tried to take away his drink before every last drop had been consumed, scold waitresses who didn’t have another drink lined up as soon as his previous glass had been ceremoniously drained.

The little girl, being a waitress herself, would usually have been put off by the scolding of a fellow service employee, but the Dean was so charming it was impossible to be irritated by his good-hearted prodding.  Ten Bacardi and Cokes in, he was a jolly History of Consciousness professor whose booming laugh would light up the already somewhat raucous table.  One day, the little girl brought her roommate to this weekly ritual; the girl’s roommate was in complete awe of the sheer volume of alcohol consumed by a single individual, without the misfortune of gastric pyrotechnics that the two girls had fallen upon time and time again in their own rather consistent experimentation with alcohol.  It was quite a sight to behold.  The impressive part was that even twelve Cuba Libre’s deep, the Dean would still coherently and cohesively argue the finer points of Nietzsche, Metternich and Bismarck.  Soon after that summer he became the Dean of Humanities again.  The girl’s mother was always happiest when he was the Dean.  He worked her hard, but he was a great boss, yet another in the line of benevolent dictators that danced through the little girl’s life. 

Every summer Santa Cruz has a Shakespeare festival.  The festival is, in true Santa Cruz fashion, pretty insanely off beat.  They have been known to set Measure for Measure in underground sex clubs, the Merry Wives of Windsor in a seventies trailer park, and fat men in pink tutus were once hefted over a stage in one particularly memorable production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  During his reign as Dean, he would treat any of his staff who wanted to go to one of the productions put on by Shakespeare Santa Cruz.  There was always a reception afterwards.  There was always wine, beer, rum and whiskey flowing heavily.  The little girl, as she had recently started shucking oysters for her dad, was often relegated to that task.  Of course, this also meant she was often at the center of the party.

On one particularly memorable night the little girl was not only gifted with a bracelet made of elephant tail hair (made by an African tribesman out of the tail hair of an elephant recently killed by the Dean on one of his trips to Africa.  Don’t worry dear reader, he had a permit), but she was also introduced to the genius of Lenny Bruce.  As the Dean stumbled around the living room, lecturing on how wonderful Lenny Bruce was, and how he was the only true comedian, the little girl realized something.  In a truly cheesy ’80s movie moment, the realization hit her like a ton of bricks: this man was the father figure of her early life. 

The little girl’s father stopped going to the oyster farm when she was in the sixth grade, had a mid-life crisis and went to school to become a teacher.  Around the same time Kurt Cobain died, the little girl got her father back.  It was almost her twentieth birthday before she realized that even when her father wasn’t around she always had a sort of father around.  She had the Dean.  She had someone who taught her the importance of watching cartoons in the middle of the workday (and way past the age of twelve), someone who knew the importance of discussing great works of literature, while drinking one’s weight in fine Cuban rum.

The little girl ended up moving to Los Angeles after college.  She stayed in touch with the Dean through email.  They shared great discussions about John Wayne (he used to frequent the Dean’s house when the Dean was a child), about the importance of grammar, about the nature of life.  And then, one day, the little girl got a phone call from her mother.  The Dean was sick.  Really sick.  The girl went through the grieving process.  She was devastated, angry, in denial, but finally she realized what was perhaps the most important lesson the Dean ever taught her.  He taught her to keep going, no matter what.  Fuck Thoreau, the little girl thought, the Dean taught her something more important than sucking marrow out of life, he taught her to suck the last drop of rum from it before moving on to your next drink.  And for that, she will be ever thankful.

The End

February 4, 2008 Posted by | Friends, Santa Cruz, Stories | Leave a comment

Fear and Loathing

I never really understood how ridiculously right on Hunter Thompson’s book title was until I started visiting Las Vegas on a semi-regular basis.  Not that I feel either of these things when I go to Vegas, though it seems the rest of the world is in direct agreement with Mr. Thompson.  They all hate the Vegas.  I’ve never really understood this concept.  How can one hate Las Vegas?  It’s basically a town that incorporates everything that is great about America…and even some of the not so great things.  It is the ultimate city of the get rich quick ethic (we all know that’s the true American Dream…who want’s to work when you can win it all in one epic round of Blackjack?)  Everything in Vegas, in true All-American fashion is bigger.  I mean, the hotels are miles long, the buffets are never ending, even daytime seems to stretch to oblivion.  Now, all these things also happen to be what most people find to be utterly disgusting about America, and I’m not putting myself outside of that group, but I’m also not putting myself outside of the group, ‘American.’  If I learned one thing from the time I spent living in another country it is this, I am American.  As much as I’m not some rifle-wielding, $4.99 prime-rib special eating, ford-truck driving, American, I can’t put myself outside of the group/label American because I am one.  Now aren’t I just disproving my point?  If this is everything to hate about America, why would anyone in their right mind like Las Vegas?  I’ll tell you.

Las Vegas is the ultimate example of freedom.  And though I wouldn’t argue that America is ‘free’ (here’s to you patriot act), it is a concept that we seem to be obsessed with.  And if you think about it, as far as countries in the world go, America is pretty free (not as free as we tout ourselves as being, but pretty free).  Take this mess in Pakistan.  When Kennedy was shot there weren’t fatal attacks and riots.  There wasn’t mass destruction in this country.  Also, I know it’s something we take for granted, but it’s a pretty amazing thing that every four years power changes hands in the U.S. and there is no threat of Coup, no bombings, it’s a peaceful process.  In that sense, I’d say we’re doing okay.  So in a country where it’s women are not forced to wear a veil to school, where we are able to disagree with, and even speak out against power (you’re hard pressed to find someone who won’t speak out against Bush now), Las Vegas is an outward expression of the freedom (or impression of freedom) we posses.  
In Vegas the societal conventions are slightly askew.  It’s not as though one can completely disregard all societal norms, and it’s not as though there are things that are legal in Las Vegas that aren’t legal elsewhere (unless you leave the city of Vegas and go to the Bunny Ranch or some such place of ill-repute that I will, at some point in my life, write an incredibly eye-opening story about).  But Vegas itself does not have legal prostitution or legal drugs, it doesn’t really have anything that one can’t get at Pechanga Indian Casino and Resort.  But what Las Vegas does have, and this is what is so great about it, is the illusion of being more open, a place to let loose where you don’t have to worry about the consequences of your actions.  I understand that this is just plain untrue, and if I ever get married or pregnant or arrested while in Vegas, I do understand that I will have to face the consequences, but when I’m in Vegas, things like that don’t phase me.  This is not to say that I do anything differently in Vegas than in my actual life.  I usually go to Vegas with my girlfriends, so I’ll probably skip the pregnancy, and until same sex marriage is legalized, we don’t have to worry about that.  Plus, you have to be doing something really amazingly crazy to get arrested in Vegas, so the threat is sort of gone.  
I don’t really gamble, I’m not much one for strip clubs (plus, there are about a gajillion in L.A.), and I can’t afford to see shows in Vegas.  So what, you might ask, is so great about Las Vegas that I go at least once a year?  Like I said it’s that perception of freedom.  If we were to order a stripper to come to our house in L.A., it might be a little embarrassing to face the neighbors in the morning.  But ordering one to a hotel room in Vegas (which has happened), we walked out of our room with pride, and, I might add, made quite an impression on the high school cheerleaders that were staying in the room next to us.  ‘That’s right,’ we seemed to say when we left the room in the morning on our way to a now infamous four hour long champagne brunch, ‘when you’re older, you too can order a short, oiled-up, faux-australian man in a leopard print thong and work boots to come to your room and make your friend eat one dollar bills out of his g-string.’  Can we do it in L.A.?  Sure.  Is it better in Vegas?  Of course.  Where else can you go drunken shopping at 1 in the morning, still carrying about six cans of bud light and not get arrested?  Where else can you jump in the fountains at Caeser’s Palace, fish change out, and give it to the homeless?  Where else can you see Cirque du Celine and Barry Manilow in a two day period?  
Vegas is all about letting loose.  It’s about staying up until 5 am and not even realizing that it’s 5 am.  It’s about drinking a 48 oz. Margarita in about an hour for the low price of $8.75.  Vegas really is America.  We’ve taken the best of all other cultures, and made one big obnoxious mega-meta-culture on one street in the middle of the desert.  In the course of a few blocks you can visit a pirate ship, Venice, a Jungle and have an arabian night.  There’s no where else in the world that this is possible.  For all you naysayers about the Vegas, I say this.  Vegas is a place where whether it’s winning big in the back room of the Bellagio, or going Rachel Ray style, for $40 a day, it is what you make it.  If you go to Vegas thinking you’re above it, then you’re going to hate it.  But if you go and embrace it for all its gaudy, faux-eiffel tower, showgirls, drinking on the street goodness, then you’re guaranteed to have a great time.  And remember that ‘What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.’  Unless, of course, you let some guy take pictures of the tattoo on your ass for $20, then everyone might know what happened in Vegas.  Hopefully no one in that picture will run for a political office…
Peace, Love, and Viva Las Vegas,

Julia

December 29, 2007 Posted by | Friends, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Parties, Sex | Leave a comment

Fag Hags and Drag Queens and Judy Garland, OH MY!

Okay, so I know I promised to do a top five countdown and I promise I’ll get back to it, but I have to write about the most excellent adventure I had the other night at the hollywood bowl.

You see, years ago my best friend introduced me to a singer named Rufus Wainwright.  Now, those of you who don’t know Rufus a) should go out and buy one of his CD’s cause he’s awesome, and b) should know that Rufus is a fabulously gay man.  He’s not a ‘hollywood gay’ a.k.a. John Travolta (who stays married to a woman so no one will find out he’s gay), which I’m sorry, I just can’t respect that.  The second Rufus walks out on stage, it is blatantly and clearly obvious…it’s one of the things I love so much about him.  I mean, hello, I’m no one if now the worlds biggest fag hag.  I think I have some sort of fog horn like beacon that I give off that says, gay men come hither, so it’s really no surprise that I’d be seen at a Rufus Wainwright concert on a sunday night in Los Angeles.

I know a lot of you hate L.A.  And most of you hate it purely on principle.  You’re from Northern California, therefore you must hate Los Angeles.  You grew up here 30 years ago when it sucked (DAD), therefore you must hate it.  And you know what, I get it.  I really do.  L.A. is not for everyone.  I’ve learned to find humor in the ridiculousness, but I’ve also learned to embrace some of it.  I mean, sure, there’s doggy beauty salons (I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some in Palo Alto too), people pay $300 for a pair of sunglasses, and everyone has ‘done a movie with ________’  There’s some beauty in it all too.  I mean, you have to appreciate the constant sunshine, the house that fell off the back of the truck on the 101 (that really happened), the fact that your servers live a double life.  I mean, there’s beauty and humor in the ridiculousness of L.A.  But even for all of you who can’t stand it, you have to say something about the acceptance.  The thing about L.A. is that it’s tolerant (I’m going to venture to say that it’s more tolerant than San Francisco even), I mean, we really and truly accept all kinds here.  We accept the vapid gold-diggers, the screaming queens, and even, more and more so, the real, not a size 0, not full of botox and collagen, people.  New Yorkers are intolerant of non-New Yorkers, San Franciscans can’t stand the plastic, bottle-blonde, gold-diggers, but L.A. is made up of non-Angelenos, some of whom would sell their soul for a piece of a rich executive.  I mean even Marilyn Monroe spent time on her back on a casting couch to get her dreams met.

Now, I’m not condoning that kind of action, I’m simply trying to make a point.  And it’s a point that I’ve only recently come to myself.  In fact, Sunday night is when this point was truly home with me. 

You see, one of my dear friends got tickets to see Rufus at the Hollywood Bowl.  But this wasn’t just any old Rufus Wainwright concert, this was him doing Judy Garland’s concert from Carnegie Hall in 1961.  And I must say, it was one of the most amazing concerts of my life.  Now, the Hollywood Bowl, for those of you who haven’t been there is outdoors (yes San Franciscans and Londoners and Washingtonians, we can have concerts outdoors because it’s only rained one day since April…and it’s been 80 degrees at night for the past two months), and it’s one of the most beautiful theaters ever.  The L.A. Philharmonic backed Rufus as he belted out Judy Garland numbers.

As I was sitting in the audience I was kind of thinking.  Why is this concert in L.A. and not San Francisco?  I mean, you think gay men, you think San Francisco.  And here’s the conclusion I came to…feel free to disagree.  As I was looking around at the audience, I realized that, yes, there were a lot of gay men, but there was an extraordinary amount of other people too.  I mean, there were old jewish ladies, young fag hags (points to self), middle aged executives, college students.  There was every kind of person imaginable, and I actually think that were this concert in the city by the bay, the demographic smattering may have been much smaller.  I think you could get the same amount of people (that number being approximately 18,000) to a Rufus doing Judy concert in San Francisco, but would it be the same kind of people.  And anyone who has performed anything knows that it’s all about your audience. 

Rufus, in his trying to be as true to the original show as possible, told the story of Judy walking off the stage to the audience to give Rock Hudson a kiss before walking off the stage himself to kiss Debbie Reynolds, who was in the audience, most likely wouldn’t/couldn’t have happened in S.F.

Of course, the biggest laugh of the night came from the encore, when Rufus, in all his glory came out in black tights, heels, a tuxedo jacket, and top hat in a very Liza in Cabaret ensemble.  Though it played very well in L.A. I’m sure S.F. would have gone apeshit over that number.  Lord knows I loved it.

Though it may not seem like it, this is not meant to be a who’s better kind of thing.  I just finally realized what it is I love about Los Angeles so much.  And who knew it would be at a Rufus Wainwright concert, while thinking about why he wasn’t in San Francisco.

I guess my final thought on it comes back to the fabulous miss garland herself.  She was a Hollywood girl, so how fitting that this tribute be at the Hollywood Bowl.  She was only sixteen when she shot the Wizard of Oz in Culver City and was owned by MGM for her entire career. 

I mean, what better bittersweet place to bring her back to than Los Angeles.  Than Hollywood, the town that made her and broke her all in one breath.  Because this may be an accepting town, but it can also be a brutal one. 

It’s funny because at one point Rufus talked about the fact that at that original concert in 1961, it was a room 85% full of gay men, but being gay was illegal back then…now, there’s a gay man on stage and it’s still illegal in some states.  And as Judy’s glamour was being celebrated, there was a little hint of tragedy in the background, not just for her, but for all of us who live in this world where people still aren’t accepted because of sexuality, race, size, age, whatever. 

In any case, it was one of the best nights of my life.  Topped off of course, by the rainbow lit hollywood bowl.

Peace, love, and over the rainbow,

Julia

September 26, 2007 Posted by | Friends, Gay/Lesbian, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Music | 2 Comments

Neal Cassady and the Beat Kids.

Usually I know when big books are coming out. I mean, come on people,
I work at a bookstore, one frequented by extremely literate and snobby
people. As such, when “important” books come out I usually have
warning and hear buzz and all that goodness. I mean, I can’t tell you
when Jackie Collins or Danielle Steel (can’t even spell her name)
novels come out, but Thomas Pynchon, Don DeLillo, William Gibson, we
have to fight to keep them in the store. So imagine my surprise on
Saturday when I walked into Booksoup for the first time since Monday
and saw a shining pillar of amazingness staring me in the face. A
book that I hadn’t heard was being published, nor did I know anything
about it.

That book was ‘On The Road.’

I think I just gave a literature professor an aneurysm. I’m not
talking about the On The Road with Dean Moriarty…don’t worry, I read
it years ago. I’m talking about the new On The Road. The Original
Scroll, it’s called. Apparently, and this is what I’ve learned from
my impromtu literary history lesson on Saturday afternoon, Kerouac
originally wrote On The Road on one huge scroll that was actually
tracing paper taped together. This scroll contained all the real
names, like Neal Cassady (the real Dean Moriarty), Allen Ginsberg, and
William S. Burroughs. It also featured something appalling for 1957
(when the book was originally published)….Sex. I know, shocking.
And what’s worse, it featured sex between men and women, as well as
sex between men and men.

Now, let’s back track a little bit. I started trying to read On The
Road when I was a senior in high school. It was a futile mission. I
tried to read it again probably four times before one of the biggest,
most life changing events occurred. I moved to London for a whole
year, and I definitely changed A LOT over the course of that year. I
really grew up that year. And in my last month there, when I was
pretty much done with school but just bumming around the city with my
friends, I finally, finally was ready for On The Road. And I devoured
it. I loved every word, hung on every word, and totally just got the
book. Now, I’m not one of those people who thinks of it as Gospel,
but I did come to the conclusion, after having finished, that On The
Road is a particular kind of book. It’s a book that you have to be in
the right time of your life to read. I tried for so long to read it
(and know many people who had the same experience), but once I had
truly experienced even a little of what life had to offer, the book
suddenly became important.

So you can imagine, when I walked into work on Saturday, I was shocked
that I had not heard a thing about this original scroll. I opened the
front flap and was immediately intrigued…but I was finishing up a
young adult book (they’re good to read at work seeing as I’m actually
reading Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy and you sort of have to not
be at work to read that book). Well, as young adult books go, I
finished within the first hour of being at work and, seeing as we
weren’t that busy, was left with nothing to do…and nothing to read
(which is my worst nightmare). So I nonchalantly picked up this new
On The Road.

One thing you should know, before I continue, is that I HATE hardcover
books. They’re heavy, I can’t put them in my pocket. They’re a bitch
to read when you’re in bed (it’s hard to get comfortable with those
things…they have sharp corners), plus they have that ridiculously
pesky book jacket. I mean they’re just a fucking mess, and I hate
them. So a book has to be very very good for me to read it in
hardcover….usually I just wait.

So back to the story, I sat at the front register and absolutely could
not put down this hardcover copy of On The Road…again. In fact, I
was so intrigued and entranced I bought it and brought it home….I
knew I wouldn’t be able to stop reading it, and I did have to close
the store by this time.

Needless to say, I’ve gotten through a good chunk and it’s absolutely
incredible. It’s incredible to see these people as they were. See
Allen Ginsberg so ridiculously in love with Neal Cassady, hear people
talk so openly and explicitly about sex and drug use in the 1950’s, an
era I usually associate with poodle skirts and pomade.

It’s been a long time since a book has had me distracted at work (let
me rephrase, it’s been a long time since a book that’s not about a boy
wizard has distracted me at work), and who better than distract than
Jack Kerouac.

Peace, Love, and Dean Moriarty,
Julia

August 20, 2007 Posted by | Books, Brits, Education, Friends, Gay/Lesbian, Work | Leave a comment

You Can’t Go Home Again.

Thomas Wolf wrote a book called You Can’t Go Home Again.  A wise professor of mine once said, ‘you’re a true literature major when you can speak intelligently about a book you have not read.’  So I could, I suppose, wax poetic about Tomas Wolf’s book, but in truth, I haven’t read it (it’s in my mile high pile of books to read), and really the content of the book is not that relevant to the discussion, just the title.

So on Sunday, I went to Santa Cruz for a very short period of time.  I drove back tuesday.  It’s funny because usually when I’m in Santa Cruz I spend the whole time hiding in my parents house for fear of running into anyone I went to high school with.  Somehow, I always end up at the bars surrounded by the very people I was trying to avoid.  I always end up leaving totally miserable and unhappy that I decided to take time off work to go up there.

But when I was up in Santa Cruz it was different.  I only saw people who I really wanted to see, including my two best friends in the entire world.  It’s funny because as you grow up you sort of forget that there are all these people who you know better than anyone else.  There are these people who watched you go through all the stupid shit, they watched you as you went through your awkward phases, they didn’t judge you, but they know you, instinctively.  They can sense it when you’re agitated or don’t want to talk about something…and they don’t have to ask why. 

Those friends are the type of friends that you can go without seeing for a year and when you see each other again, it’s not awkward or forced.  You don’t have to have conversations about the weather, you don’t have to know every single thing that’s going on in each others lives.  You can just be. 

And there’s something about seeing those friends again that just sort of soothes your heart, even if you didn’t think it needed soothing.  I’m just calm and just me around those friends.  I don’t have any defence mechanisms to hide behind (and lord knows I’ve built a lot of those), but I don’t need any of those defence mechanisms to hide behind when I’m with them. 

It’s funny too because those are the types of friends that you don’t really realize that you miss until you talk to them.  It’s like, they’re so much a part of your soul that they’re sort of always with you, but then you talk to them, even for five minutes, and you realize that yeah, they’re always with you, but they’re not really with you and you want them to be soooo bad.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that Thomas Wolf has it both right and wrong.  Sure, you go home and it’s not the same, it’s never the same.  You don’t have a bed or a room in your parents house now (and it’s your parents house, not yours), and it just doesn’t feel the same, it’s not your home, in the big sense of the word.  But there are still people that are Home, capital H.  There are people that signify home and that make you feel that feeling of home that you felt all those years ago when your parents home was home.  Maybe it’s a feeling that you have now, with your husbands and wives and kids.  But when you’re my age, home is a sort of feeling that you have known, but it’s no longer there.  Like  I said, you can’t truly go home again, but your apartment isn’t quite home either.  Sure it’s the place where you live, but it’s not HOME.  When you’re with those people though, those ones that calm your soul, that’s when you get that feeling of home back. 

And I guess I’m being a little sappy, but every once in a while, you’ve got moments like those, when you’re just you.  You’re not all the labels that you can put on yourself, you’re just you.  And I think that those are moments to cherish.

So to you two (you know who you are) thanks for the great weekend.  And to the rest of you, take a second to think about those people who are home to you,  appreciate that shit guys, cause it’s kind of cool.

Sorry to get all sentimental, but I’ve got a little of that in me too.

Peace, love, and going home again in any way possible,

Julia 

July 6, 2007 Posted by | Friends, High School, Santa Cruz | Leave a comment