Monday, September 18, 2006

hasselhoff, king of the internet

David Hasselhoff declares himself King of the Internet in this hilarious British TV ad for PipeX.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

grief never comes to me properly

Grief comes to me at times when I most expect it to, at the most obvious times. The first anniversary of her passing. Or at night, when I try to silence all the noise from the day, all the noice that resonates in my head.

I don't expect it to come to me, but it does when a stranger says her name. But who expects that? A stranger. It came to me when I received mail from her brokerage firm addressed,"Custodian of..." I thought it strange that it came to me when I realized my vintage, beaded, Carmen Marc Valvo gown was stolen. I cried for both losses, unequal as they were.

But grief never comes to me properly. Not fully. Just in little annoying spurts. I wish it would stop sneaking up on me to tap me on the shoulder, only to disappear when I turn around. Then I'm left with this nagging feeling, it's there, just within arm's reach. And it's going to hit me hard and I can't brace myself, suck in my gut, or prepare in any way for a hit.

I'm going out, to be with friends. I'll hear it again, I'm sure of it, "You seem happy." Usually, I detect a mix of surprise and relief. Don't worry, I'm not going to fall apart in front of you. Because grief just doesn't come to me properly anymore.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

if you can read this, you're better off than 40 million others

My sister Laura used to volunteer her time teaching adult literacy classes at the Central Library. She had to jump through a few hoops, starting with an interview and then a seven-hour tutor training course. After all that, a student match was made.

His name was Julio and he was in his mid-20's. Although he spoke English, Julio didn't know how to read. As per the requirements of the program, Laura committed to six months of two 90-minute sessions a week. Laura would come home from her tutoring session with stories of his progress, his frustration in never having enough time to do his homework, how he struggles to shelter, clothe and feed his family, of the things he read that resonated with him. This person, this Julio - he and his struggle - interested me greatly and we talked about him extensively. But seeing how it affected Laura, that was fascinating.

The work was gratifying, that much was obvious. One only had to listen to Laura speak of any of their tutoring sessions. But she took on his frustration as well as celebrating his accomplishments. It became very personal to her, very important that Julio succeed. Laura was glad to help this man who so desperately wanted to read a Dr. Seuss book to his young son.

After her six-month stint was up, I was surprised that Laura didn't immediately sign up for another student match. She needed a break, she was wrung out. "Why don't you volunteer?" she asked. She knew the answer before the words had even formed in my mouth, "I wish I could, but you know my crazy schedule. I can't make that time commitment." She nodded and let it go. She never asked me about it again, though adult illiteracy was a topic that often came up in our conversations. When Laura passed away last September, we asked that people make contributions to the Adult Literacy Services Program in lieu of flowers. She would've liked that.

I keep coming back to this program, especially since my fiance Jim volunteers his time as a docent at the Central Library. It makes perfect sense for me to volunteer. I'm a writer, why wouldn't I want more readers out there? Unfortunately, my excuses for not volunteering still hold. But I keep coming back to it. I want to do it, just like I want to organize my shoes, CDs, and files. But still I can't locate my green suede Bruno Magli pumps, signed Barry Manilow box set, or that short story I wrote about an immigrant in Disneyland six years ago - and I still haven't volunteered to teach adult literacy classes. I know, I suck.

Hopefully, you don't suck as much as I do and want to do something about the estimated 40 million Americans who are illiterate. Then you can click here to find a literacy center near you.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

election day for downtown

Don't forget to vote today in the Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council election. Last week Jim and I went to the DLANC meeting where a room full of candidates gave speeches to, with some exceptions, a room full of candidates. Yeah, good times.

I guess I could post my observations of all the candidates, especially the one who claimed idiotically that there are no resources available for finding out what's going on downtown. When corrected with the DLANC website's URL,, blogdowntown and the many blogs on the blogroll, RAD-LA's email list, the Downtown News, etc., he retorted that it didn't speak to creative types, just lawyers and it didn't speak to the younger generation (ooh, snap.). That's the way to get people to vote for you - divide people between "us' and "them", insult those who fall into the "them" category in the room, participants and founders of any of the above-listed resources, anyone who's done anything before you, and anyone over the age of 25. I'm glad I don't live in Alameda East. After reading through my notes from the meeting, I realized that most everyone was open-minded, sincere, committed, and desirous of a wonderful downtown for all. Except for that one guy.

Blogdowntown has posted some candidate statements. What really teed me off though, some stupid commenters tried to do a nasty smear campaign on one candidate. I guess if you didn't know the guy they were trying to smear, it could be effective, which sucks hard. I mean, I like Genevieve Liang (I spoke with her briefly after last week's DLANC meeting), but Russell Brown has done so much for downtown. He jumped right in and got involved, it didn't take him a year to figure out where to go, what to do and how to improve his then-new neighborhood. But all these commenters could come up with is that he's "an aging party queen" and that he can be found having a PBR at Pete's Cafe. Let's see, where do I start? Oh yeah. Uh, we're all aging, baby. And whether or not Russell is a party queen has nothing to do with his accomplishments and his commitment to making downtown liveable. What else? Oh yeah, Russell sent out a previous statement that when he's not doing a million other things (see his resume below), he can also be found enjoying a PBR at Pete's. I guess those asshole commenters left that part out conveniently and tried to paint him as someone who holds meetings at downtown bars. I wonder if any of those commenters ever attended a DLANC meeting at the DWP building or any of the resident's association meetings in a gallery on Spring Street. Doubt it.

Eric of Blogdowntown hasn't posted Russell Brown's candidate statement (he's running for the area-wide resident seat), so I'll post it here. He's providing a free shuttle to get everyone to the voting site, for chrissake!
Hello Neighbor,

After months of preparation, TUESDAY is ELECTION Day for Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council.

Here's the Pitch. I am running again as the Downtown area-wide resident For Downtown LA Neighborhood Council (DLANC). Below is a partial community resume. If you are a resident within our borders (approximately within the freeway circle except for Artist District or Little Tokyo), I would like your vote.

All I ask is 30 minutes of your time for 2 years of my time.

I am providing a free shuttle ride from 4th and Main in front of Farmer's and Merchant's Bank. Shuttle starts at 12:30 PM and goes to 7:30 PM. Every ½ hour on the hour and on the ½ hour.

Tuesday Sept 12th * Election Day
LOCATION Macy's Plaza Courtyard
700 S. Flower TIME Noon to 8:00 PM

Why Downtown?
After years of living in other neighborhoods, I decided it was time to cash out of the big house in the hills, and see if my aspiration of loft living in a recycled historic building was worth all the effort. Instead of just a place to live, I also found a creative community of friends and community builders who wanted to create new neighborhoods and organizations where history had already laid tracks for 100 years. My favorites of the New Downtown include Gallery Row, 40 new loft projects, (almost) all adaptive reuse, Disney Hall, The Grand Avenue with a Great Civic Park and an iconic Gehry high-rise, LA Live, a redeveloped LA River, and noodle shops in Little Tokyo. These all make an amazing soup of diversity and inspiration. I hope I can help others find their involvement, create their new neighborhoods and to find friend and inspiration along the way.

If 2 years from now, I can look back and have tackled these issues, downtown and its residents, will be that much better off:

• Connecting Communities- Creating communications, entertainment and social networks for new residents & businesses, Increasing opportunities for community involvement, Initiating a welcome packet program for downtown residents with business participation.

• New Amenities and Improved Safety- Supporting Gallery Row and other downtown organizations, Promoting small business retail and service opportunities, Green space/ pocket park creation, Main Street renovation project, Grand Ave Civic Park Project.

• Preserving Historical Resources- by promoting Urban Village and pedestrian design guidelines, historical resource surveys, preventing inappropriate projects that destroy neighborhoods.

Help me be part of that change by helping others to get involved.

Community Resume:
• Downtown Los Angeles Neighborhood Council – Executive Committee, Secretary, Planning and Land Use Committee, Outreach Committee, Election Committee Chair, DLANC- Area wide resident.

• Resident's Association of Downtown Los Angeles (RAD-LA)
Founder and Moderator of outreach and discussion group on community issues of downtown residents within Historic Core and Center City East.

• Historic Core Neighborhood Block Grant Committee- Vice Chair.
HCNBG has funneled over $1 million in community improvement project in the Old Bank District. Next project, Fall 2006, includes $300,000 for Main Street renovations including safety, landscaping, lighting and business development improvements from Winston Alley to 7th Street.

• OUTinDowntownLA – Organizing Chair, gay & lesbian social group for downtown & adj. neighborhoods, 500 members.

• Selah Artistic Giving Center – Co-Founder & Founding Benefactor.
Selah AGC is located in the Artist District and is a community based non-profit dedicated to Los Angeles' artist community. Sponsor of F.A.B. Market.

Old Bank District ArtWalk- Volunteer coordinator and outreach co-chair.
Partnered with Roy Montibon to further participation and outreach. 3 years

• CRA Hollywood Blvd. & Western Redevelopment Advisory Committee.
Neighborhood Council rep. with 4 NC's, Thai CDC, CD-4 Tom LaBonge, CD-13 Eric Garcetti, Community Redevelopment Agency and City of LA Mayor's office.

• Hollywood United Neighborhood Council, Past Chair, Past Vice President, Executive Committee, Board Member for 4 years, Planning & Land Use Committee Chair

• Community Hollywood- Founder and Moderator of discussion and outreach group on community issues. CH is focused on neighborhood council, development and general interest issues in Hollywood.

• Los Angeles Conservancy Walking Tour docent

• Stonewall Democratic Club, Steering Committee & Board Member-12 years.

• 12 years political activism and lobby experience including Washington DC and Sacramento

So if you're a downtown stakeholder (either a resident, downtown worker or involved in some way with a downtown organization), get out and vote today.

amateur barbarian

When my friend Adam told me of his plan to quit his job and travel around the world for a year, I suggested he blog about it. Two months later, Adam started his year-long adventure, is now in Rarotonga, blogging, and he says this about himself on his online travel diary, Amateur Barbarian,
"I've quit my job, rented out the house, and am on my way to having a full-scale midlife crisis."

He's already broken down the history of topless dancing, compared Papeete to Disney's Tiki Room, covered a highly controversial desexing of a fertility god, and managed to zing Ali of Cole's. He's also uploaded some great pictures of what he left behind and where he's at now. It's so Adam.

Monday, September 11, 2006

five years ago today

I fell asleep with the television on and awoke right before the second plane hit the WTC. My sister Laura worked for Senator Boxer in the Federal Building downtown, so I scrambled to wake up and make sure she had no crazy ideas of going in to the office. She didn't. Helena still lived at the penthouse, she was finishing up a degree at FIDM. So Helena, Laura and I sat in Laura's room watching the news coverage, crying. We came to our senses and dialed our friends living in New York. We couldn't get through.

The night before, I was on the phone with my friend Fred. He was telling me all about his meeting the next morning, at the WTC. And now I couldn't reach him on his cell phone.

We couldn't stay cooped up in the penthouse any longer, unable to make contact with our friends in New York. So we ventured out onto the empty streets of downtown Los Angeles. At the time Helena was friends with some chick who was a raging alcoholic and it colored so much of our behavior back then. I forget her name but I think she was sleeping on our sofa at the time. Helena grabbed a six-pack of beer from the fridge and the four of us walked down the street to Angelique Cafe. We sat on the patio and ordered damn near everything - the charcuterie plate, the cheese plate, coq au vin, the salmon omelette, merguez sausage sandwich - one of everything. The streets were quiet, save for a car here and there disturbing the eerie silence. We sat quietly, eating and drinking the beer out of brown paper bags. Classy, yes, but at the time, we didn't care.

Later that afternoon, the first of many phone calls from New York arrived. But not from Fred. Everyone else we knew was safe. Frightened, angry, confused and inconsolable - but safe. We walked back to the penthouse, checked the news and sat in the living room, looking at our city's skyline and contemplating what it would've been like had any of our buildings fallen. It was too horrifying to contemplate, so we drank more and more, yet unable to achieve a drunken state. I remember asking Laura, because she would know best, "What do you think will happen next?" She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Whatever it is, we have to survive it."

Friday, September 08, 2006

lucas leaves for nyc

After taking some great pics of stuff happening in Los Angeles, ex-loftmate Lucas took a staff job with Reuters in New York City, covering entertainment. Sweet for him, but we are sad to see him go.

When Lucas first moved into the penthouse eight months ago, he was also new to Los Angeles. After a few months of hanging out, we decided that I would pick one new Los Angeles thing a week to introduce him and Jim to. We didn't exactly stick to our schedule, because work and other things got in the way. Or we let them. Or we just kept going back to our supersecretlatenighthangout instead of going anywhere new. Whatever.

Wednesday night, Jim, Wathana and I took Lucas to the New Otani Summer BBQ Beer Garden for dinner. It was a beautiful summer night, we ate and drank prodigiously, and Lucas even waded in a pool. Good times. At some point I might find a card reader so I can download the pictures I took that night. Did I mention I hate moving?

So last night, Lucas packed up the last of his things and left. This morning, ex-loftmate Bob emailed pictures of his leaving and had this to say:

Ola loftamigo -

Tonight Lucas walked out of his empty room in the Alexandria penthouse, crossed Spring St. to the open lot where his car and loaded U-Haul waited, packed in a last couple of things, checked the padlock on the U-Haul door, got in the car, then pulled straight ahead through the lot to Main St. and made a left. At 9:36 PM with the silver grace of the full moon, he vanished out of sight and out of LA, headed for New York City.

(Pictures courtesy of Robert Bradford)

I know you'll be back Lucas, but we're going to miss you anyway. Say hi to Skip for me!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

the circle is almost complete

This past weekend, Jim and I went to a barbecue at Dave and Penelope's loft. For some reason I never connected that they were so close by, now they're in the next building. We went up onto their roof to barbecue and we could see right into our bathrooms. We really should get curtains up soon.

Dinner was delicious, so were the mojitos that Penelope whipped up. And it was nice meeting the neighbors and a few of their friends. After dinner, soon-to-be-ex-loftmate Lucas called. He and Genevieve were on the patio at Pete's. So Dave, Penelope, Jim and I joined them. I forget most of the rest of that night because I think we drank a lot of mojitos and two bottles of wine and then champagne. I remember seeing new neighbor Jeremy at a nearby table. I remember Dave and Penelope came over to the new pad after we left Pete's. The rest is hazy. The gargantuan headache and hangover the next morning, now that was vivid.

Earlier tonight, I looked at the pictures on my camera, expecting to find pictures like the one Jim posted of a Pechanga sunset. Then I found a picture that reminded me what else happened at Pete's that night. I squealed in delight and showed Jim. He shook his head, "You can't blog about that. Don't you remember? You promised you wouldn't." Damn. I must've been drunk, otherwise I never would've agreed to that. But don't worry guys, I'll keep my drunken promise and won't post that picture or tell anyone about it! And thanks again for dinner, I had a blast.

Where was I? Oh yeah. Earlier today I looked at the blogdowntown blogroll and realized I've now met Dave, Eric, Don, Brady, and Ed and I'm engaged to Jim (okay, that I didn't need to look at the blogroll to remind me) - the circle is almost complete. But weren't there others on the blogroll? I remember that Daniel moved to Koreatown (which I don't get because the crackheads are meaner over there). Wasn't there some other chick on this blogroll?

my name is

Does a move necessitate a name change? Surprisingly, only two or three people have asked if I'm changing the name of the blog since I will no longer be at 5th and Spring. Any suggestions? Or should I just leave it?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

in remembrance of

Laura Esguerra Adams
July 5, 1969 - September 3, 2005

I love and miss you Laura.