The Cinematic Underground?
The Cinematic Underground?
This is quite literally Alex James on a boat.
One of the nicest things that ever happened to me was a chance glimpse of the Coffee and TV video that Blur did, because it introduced me to Alex James. Later on, a friend would bring me an autographed copy of his autobiography all the way from England by way of Tunisia. Alex James’ obsession with flight and planes was a precursor to my own obsession with Beryl Markham and the African based fliers of the 1920’s. The way he described the freedom of flight, and the beauty of it laid the basis for Markham to swoop in and cement my desire to fly my own plane some day.
Last year I sailed a catamaran, with assistance of course, but it switched yet another switch of desire, and I look forward to the days when I have enough money to either buy a boat or sail on down to South America some other way. Boats and planes feel similar in my mind, your hand guiding against nature, setting forth your own desire against a stronger one and prevailing. There are things that I want to be able to see, and I think they are only visible up in the air or from the middle of an ocean.
Two surly mounted officers who begrudgingly accepted my request to take a picture of them. Not amused by attempts at witty banter, one continued to check his phone and neither of them struck adequate poses. These two are stationed here simply to oversee things, an odd choice in the effort to maintain control of a difficult area where cop cars and fire trucks make frequent stops to accost or assist.
These two are stationed outside a Starbucks in one of the most populated parking lots of Westlake. There’s a Home Depot and a Food 4 Less in this same complex, and there are always at least a hundred people milling about, checking the trash cans for recycling, or looking for manual labor, eating lunch or just hanging out and talking. Adjacent to downtown L.A. by a few blocks, but an entirely different world.
Woke up, pretty nervous about the interview even though I was 99% sure it was unpaid. It’d be nice to get paid to do something, but since I have no archival abilities, it’d probably be best to get some understanding of a special collection and how to archive things in general.
I head to the archives on time and tour them, I didn’t really have any questions which kind of threw the head archivist, it’s a huge research library on a very specific subject, and they’re about 1/3rd of the way through preserving and cataloging the collection. I agree to start on Monday, and it’s pretty clear there will be no money involved, which is ultimately fine considering I am a fairly unskilled librarian. The good thing is it counts for school, which means I might be able to only take two classes next semester but have the funding and credit for three or four.
Some guy asks me if he can ask me a question, as I’m walking to my car. I say no, and look down at my phone. He says “I’m not even goin’ for that! I just wanna axe you a question.” Since moving to Los Angeles my tolerance for being messed with has gone down to an all-time low. Also, I can’t tell if he was making a Biz Markie reference or not, so I hesitate but get in my car and leave.
After leaving the cat more food and water than she could eat or drink in days, I head down the freeway to La Mirada. Everyone comments on my appearance, about how nice I look. I feel like this is how I normally dress, but apparently not. My hair is described as “poofy.” Cate put on red lipstick, so I put on red lipstick, so Christy put on red lipstick. I spend much of the rest of the afternoon imagining that I looked like maybe someone Mick Jagger might have spurned back in the day. Maybe more like a really terrible looking Stella McCartney. Wow, I just googled that, and that is ridiculous I don’t look anything like her.
Holland America, baby listen,
I know you want me to go on a cruise with you, but your constant emails are starting to seem a little… desperate. We talked, remember? I said when I had the money, I’d consider it, but you keep pushing and whining and it makes me want to spend even less time with you. When I get home at the end of the day and wanna check some emails, the last thing I needa see is yet another vaguely enticing spectacle sent at 3 a.m. all full of links and promises. We’re either gonna do this thing, or we’re not, and I think I made it pretty clear after our last talk that it just doesn’t make sense for either of us right now. It makes me sick the way you always send these casual notes, with pictures of other girls in them, people laughing and having fun. ‘Cause we both know it’s never like that. It will never be like that again, we know too much about each other, and this will never work. It’s not like I’m actively checking out, say, your Carnivals, your Caribbean cruises, but I just don’t know what I’m capable of, given enough incentives from other lines.
And baby, your weepy Facebook statuses have got to stop. I mean it.
Belligerent Local Man Moves Into Adjacent Apartment, Plays Terrible Music Really Loudly.
Twins, clearly. Does my affinity for the one explain my propensity for the other?
Last night I laid down in my full-sized bed with my iron-wrought bedframe, two fresh pillows with unused pillow cases, fresh sheets and duvet cover from Ikea. This is all I’ve been dreaming of, every night laying on the floor on airmattresses and couches across this good country. I don’t mind sleeping on the floor, I love a good airmattress too, but some people might pine for their kids or pets, I pined for the deliciousness of a good bed and the divine sensation of sleep.
This is the first time I’ve slept in my own bed since late May. I moved from the home I’d lived in with roommates and friends for four years, and ventured out into the unknown. Now I live in the real-live-city of Los Angeles. It’s like the nerdy kid getting to date the most popular girl in school. I drive down the streets at night, and think “I get to live here.” When I meet other people who feel as fervently, I’m jealous and glad all at once. But most people merely tolerate Los Angeles, as a place that rewards the obvious. It’s easy to meet people who hate all sorts of things, but I’m making less room for that. I’m ready to get down to business and get to work making my place here in my tiny one bedroom apartment that is really beginning to feel like home. Surrounded by all the things I’ve been saving for when I had a home again. More than enough.
It’s dark outside, and I should wash the dishes and make dinner for myself, get my writing done that I owe Laremy.
Ft. Worth, TX
New York, NY
Flights Taken: 11
Hours in The Air: 35.5
Number of Bags of Terra Blues Potato Chips Eaten: 9
Drinks Had on Plane:
6 Ginger Ales
6 Bottles of Water
2 Gin and Tonics
Hours of Rachel Zoe Project Watched: 1.5
Number of Window Seats: 6
Number of Center Seats: 3
Number of Aisle Seats: 2
Number of Times I Sat On The Left Side (But only on the left side, yeah that’s the Crip side): 9
People Visited Over Course of Entire Trip: 26
Would I do this again? Yes. I didn’t stay in a single hotel for all of the 30 days, which saved me some money, but it was ultimately a very expensive trip. I was also doing school as well as freelance writing as I traveled, which was a bit chaotic. This time around I felt the need to visit people that I likely won’t see again for some time. If I were to do AYCJ again, I’d feel the freedom to fly out of the country a bit more, perhaps entirely. Costa Rica and then the Caribbean islands.
I love to travel, I love to get on planes, to be better at getting through security than everyone else in my TSA line. Airports are puzzles to be solved, public transportation is exhausting, making decisions is tiring. Seeing how other people live, gaining some understanding of daily ritual is important. I like to have a way to imagine my friends in their cities, living out their endless days. Traveling gives me a window into their lives.
This was a trip I had envisioned that I would be alone, I don’t mind being alone. But these things never turn out that way, because I was visiting people, and staying with people and in cities filled with people. Oddly, the only time I was alone was in New York, a Greenpoint art studio staring out the window at the rain. I’m not good at being alone, even my attempts at solitude are filled with people. I loved my time with everyone I stayed with, or met, or re-connected with on this trip, but it’s time to go home. Los Angeles, I’m yours.
Wake up, get up at 10a. Cheyenne has to work, as does Josh, so the two of them get ready for the day and Marisa runs Cheyenne to work, then Josh. When she gets home, Marisa makes traditional Indonesian breakfast, spicy noodles with a fried egg. It’s perfect, spicy hot.
We watch The L Word and 30 Rock, then head out to Slave To The Needle, where Josh works as a piercer. Laura’s going to be getting her lip labret switched out, and I am messing around with the idea of a diamond labret piercing myself. We leave without switching them out, the store’s too busy.
The boys have school until 3:30p, so we go to Goodwill, where in the space of 20 minutes I find a Marc by Marc Jacobs shirt, and two items from Anthro. Boom. Dropped off at home, Laura and I wallow in sleepiness, and I unsuccessfully search for chips or something of the like. When Marisa eventually brings them back home, we all take a walk to Cupcake Royale.
I buy a Salty Caramel cupcake. It’s overkill, as only a giant cupcake could be.
My entire body aches, my throat hurts, and I feel draggy. I guess I made it through the entire trip without getting sick, but now it’s hitting me and I feel oddly. Knowing I have so much ahead of me before I can be alone in my apartment is tough, but I’m still excited for the weekend. Mary from NY is coming out to stay with me. Ned apologised for his behaviour the other day, which I was grateful for. I didn’t do anything out of line and I got treated poorly.
Time for hamburgers.
As we drove through the streets of Seattle last night, I kept thinking how it looked like Boston and Austin, alternatively. Everywhere seems to look a lot like every other place, and maybe the people are all the same too.
Mary wakes up and heads off to work at a reasonable hour, but I lay around and finally lazily get up and send India an email telling her I’d like to see her. I do some school, muck around cleaning out the ol’ Google Reader before taking the L to the G to Hoyt-Schmermech-something street. India and I meet up and walk through Brooklyn Heights, down Montague to the waterfront, see the new developments and end up getting coffee in Dumbo, eating some decadent chocolate muffin situation in the park underneath the Manhattan bridge. Every three minutes an express train roars overhead, and India says something like “Ah, NATURE.” But it is a lovely view of Manhattan across the water. We hoof it over the Brooklyn Bridge, I pull some real amateur hour nonsense and accidentally step into the bike lane a few times almost causing serious bodily harm to myself and others. I recommend doing this, though. Brooklyn Bridge, not dying. We weave our way through TriBeCa, I keep my eyes peeled for David Byrne on a bicycle, but my entire trip is free of either Nico Muhly or David Byrne, sadly. Next we stop at the pier to look at the boats and India tells me about her favorite boat which isn’t there that day. I talk about myself, of course, jabbering on about how I want a boat. Then we eat lunch at one of India’s favorite restaurants, Barbareli? I am so bad at paying attention sometimes, and sometimes it’s all I can do. She introduces me to a bitter citrus drink from Pellegrino called… Chinotto? It’s a bit like rootbeer and entirely delicious. India buys, which is too sweet.
Across the street is fancy homemade-ish ice cream, and since I have made it clear that my life is about ice cream in many ways, we head over. I see someone I know in the shop, he’s finished paying, turns towards me and begins to walk out of the store. He’s one of my facebook friends, and how strange to run into him here, his name is Paul… Paul… and in that moment, it dawned on me that he wasn’t one of my friends at all, he was the actor Michael Gladis who plays Paul Kinsey on Mad Men. All this must be going on on my face because I go from looking like I’m about to say hi to a moment of joyful recognition to trying to turn away, all at once. He shoots me a sideways glance as he can see this is going on, and gives me a yes-it’s-me-can-we-not look, but you know, nice.I make my way back to Brooklyn eventually, and Mary gets take out from Radish. We eat all manner of deliciousness and I accept a friend request from Aaron, whom I haven’t seen in years. He has had two kids since we last talked, and we stay up talking about people we used to know in high-school. Eventually I fall asleep, since tomorrow I have to get up early, fly back to LA to see Pavement and Sonic Youth.
Tuesday, Sept. 28th, 2010
I wake up around 8a. Need to be out of the house by 8 to catch the L train to make a transfer to uptown. Get out at the wrong stop, trying not to freak out. I’m lazy and hate adjusting my plans if I’ve set them so going somewhere I’ve never been is a harrowing experience though it shouldn’t be.
550 Madison Avenue — the Sony building on Madison is very imposing, the screening room isn’t as nice as the L.A. screening rooms, there is no gold gilt ceilings or leather chairs, but the room is perfectly situated in which to see a film. I think screening rooms are far better than regular theatre screenings, because there’s usually less than thirty seats, the screen takes up the whole wall which is the perfect size for a screen. Televisions are too small, movie theatres are too big. The sound and image were adjusted to levels you’re not usually treated to, and the whole affair pretty much spoils you for trying to watch anything else.
The Social Network is good. It might even be great. Directed by David Fincher (Fight Club, Seven) and written by Aaron Sorkin (West Wing, Studio 60) it has strong elements from both, with a story that I lived through. A period piece about your own life, about evens that look place about five years ago. I had Facebook before pretty much anyone else did, which was weird to watch and try and figure out where I came into the story and while I knew most of the background stuff, it was still excellent. That Andrew Garfield, mmm. He’s gonna be popular like crazy.
The movie over, I meet up with Mary and we get coffee and talk about the movie, which she has already seen. We will spend the entire day and much of the next day talking about the movie. Her insights are good, she should write reviews. She thinks about things more carefully than I tend to. We head over to the park and walk around for a while, but not before stopping in front of the Plaza and taking pictures of where Katie and Hubbell had their final confrontation. I kept saying “Your girl is lovely, Hubbell!” and felt like an idiot for taking pictures in such a touristy place.
The portion of the park we walk through also contains a bridge I recognize instantly as the bridge where Sean dies in the beginning of the film ‘Birth’. I snap a picture and send it along to Jonathan, who is the only person who would care. That makes me annoyed too, but I already sent it, so it doesn’t matter. Mike texts and wants to know if we want to get chowder at the Oyster Bar. Why yes, yes we do. We walk all the way to Grand Central and I’m feeling smug that I can walk so far as compared to how tired I was the first few days. The Oyster Bar will show up sooner or later in Mad Men. The three of us eat at the counter, I have New England Clam Chowder and then we wander around mid-town, ending up going to the Chrysler Building lobby which looks a bit like the flayed insides of a human body… wait, I mean elegant red marble. The U.N. Building is closed down for general debate so as we walk down there we can’t get in or anything like that. Eventually we drop Mike off at his train stop as we head back to Williamsburg. A quick stop at the Bedford Cheese Shop yields a brie de mieux, as well as a casapica de buca Then it’s on to Marlow and Sons. Now, this isn’t just the place to eat in Williamsburg, this is the place to eat of places to eat. I’ve been reading about it on the Internet, missives from afar, but being there was really interesting. (I got slightly, uh, inebriated on wine, which made for a harrowing phone call when my sister called to tell me my car wouldn’t start. I basically go ballistic, and I’m going to skip to the end of the story where it turns out she just didn’t put gas in it, the gas gauge is broken and she just didn’t know. Problem solved.) I had a beet soup with whitefish and crème fraishe. Also we have oysters because we are fancy and decadent young women of the world. To finish it all off we each get a slice of chocolate tart that has a thick ribbon of salty caramel running through it, and fleur de sel on top. This is one of those things you eat and you just know you’re not going to eat anything that good again in a very long time.
After we get home, we both basically fall asleep instantly.