Friday, June 27, 2008

Munda and Rani in better times.

When A Man Loves A Bear

And no, I'm not referring to the buff, burly gay men that drink and loiter in certain parts of San Francisco.

Here's a story of bear love for the ages: Ram Singh Munda, a laborer from a small Indian village outside of New Delhi, was collecting firewood in the forest near his home when he discovered an abandoned bear cub. Illiterate and unaware of national wildlife statutes, Munda brought the black sloth back to his home, where it would be cared for and nurtured like a member of the family. A family that had recently shrunk since the death of Munda's wife, leaving him to care for their six year-old daughter alone.

Naturally, the story made national headlines:

Unfortunately for the Munda clan, the government took notice. Munda is currently spending his days in jail while the bear, Rani (Queen), sits in isolation at a local zoo and is refusing to eat. The daughter was sent to a state boarding school.

Go to this petition site to help reunite this family. I know there are more pressing matters in the world right now, but really, look at that happy bear on the bicycle! If this story, and the site of that bear on a bicycle, does not bring a tear to the eye then you are not human.

That is all.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When You Eat You're Just A Vacuum with Nipples

In 1987, a soap opera diva from The Young and the Restless, Brenda Dickson, decided to make a series of videos teaching ladies of leisure about fashion and exercise entitled, "Welcome to My Home." This woman wrote, directed and starred in this unintentionally camp series--a series which would spawn scores of parodies that remain truly brilliant to this day.

But seriously, I feel safe in saying that I know soooo much more about fashion and style after viewing Brenda's original video, and I think you will too. For instance, a cocktail dress made of beads and sequins is "a good look." Wearing a hat or your hair to the side can really "accentuate" an outfit, and accessories can work wonders for a pantsuit (Brenda: "It's just a pantsuit!"), you can "dress up a look by using a dressy accessory" (a fox draped over the shoulder is "very dramatic"). But, most importantly, Brenda says, "Style is as important in your life as your look."

I recently discovered Brenda's blog. Wow. Here she is able to interact with her fans, talk about herself, and of course show pics of herself to prove what a hot piece of ass she still is. The follow is some advice she gave to a fan who was contemplating suicide, written just last month:

One of my fans has written a suicidal help note!!! That's an urgent matter. I do happen to have some good advice (this advice can be used by all my fans).It will work if you do it, and, you must promise to try. Ready? First stop by your nearest GNC Store, buy a box of vitamins, the kind they sell in packets. So, it is many in a cellophane wrap. Also get the right one for your age and gender. Pick up capsules of calcium/magnesium in capsule form (not hard pill form, capsule form), take the vitamins daily, 1500 IU of Calcium/Magnesium nightly and I want you to join a gym if you can afford it (check with you doctor first to see if it is O.K.). Get a trainer for one day to show you the ropes of how to use the equipment. You must do 30 minutes three days a week or more. If you are out of shape, you may have to build up to it by stair master, bike or walker. By using the stair master, bike or walker, combined with the weights, your endorphins will kick in, you'll be smiling even at the worst problem. If you can't afford a gym, go outside, take a 30 minute walk and some running. You can buy videos on weight lifting or aerobics. Do that too, especially if you can't afford a gym. Buy a video. Step class or some movement of the entire body called Aerobics. If you do this 30 minutes three days a week, you'll stay steady and happy. No drug or alcohol for awhile. Start feeling good again! It will work if you do it! Take the Calcium/Magnesium at night before bed. It will clam you. This is good for all my fans.

Thank you, Brenda. You are a savior to us all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Orangutan heaven

This Shit Is Bananas

I can't stop thinking about bananas you guys. My housemate made this amazing banana bread with chocolate chips in it last night and I grew sad, very sad indeed. For we could be on the brink of a major banana shortage of epic proportions not witnessed since our grandfolks had to suffer the blight of the Gros Michel!

Or maybe I just take New York Times articles too seriously, but they had this dude who wrote an entire book about bananas write an article on the state of the fruit, and his prognosis of the Cavendish's future isn't looking so good my friends:

"The Cavendish is the fruit equivalent of a fast-food hamburger: efficient to produce, uniform in quality and universally affordable.

But there’s a difference between a banana and a Big Mac: The banana is a living organism. It can get sick, and since bananas all come from the same gene pool, a virulent enough malady could wipe out the world’s commercial banana crop in a matter of years.

This has happened before. Our great-grandparents grew up eating not the Cavendish but the Gros Michel banana, a variety that everyone agreed was tastier. But starting in the early 1900s, banana plantations were invaded by a fungus called Panama disease and vanished one by one. Forest would be cleared for new banana fields, and healthy fruit would grow there for a while, but eventually succumb.

By 1960, the Gros Michel was essentially extinct and the banana industry nearly bankrupt. It was saved at the last minute by the Cavendish, a Chinese variety that had been considered something close to junk: inferior in taste, easy to bruise (and therefore hard to ship) and too small to appeal to consumers. But it did resist the blight.

Over the past decade, however, a new, more virulent strain of Panama disease has begun to spread across the world, and this time the Cavendish is not immune. The fungus is expected to reach Latin America in 5 to 10 years, maybe 20. The big banana companies have been slow to finance efforts to find either a cure for the fungus or a banana that resists it. Nor has enough been done to aid efforts to diversify the world’s banana crop by preserving little-known varieties of the fruit that grow in Africa and Asia.

In recent years, American consumers have begun seeing the benefits — to health, to the economy and to the environment — of buying foods that are grown close to our homes. Getting used to life without bananas will take some adjustment. What other fruit can you slice onto your breakfast cereal?

But bananas have always been an emblem of a long-distance food chain. Perhaps it’s time we recognize bananas for what they are: an exotic fruit that, some day soon, may slip beyond our reach."


I mean, I keep hearing all this crap about corn shortages and really, I could care less if I never see another bag of popcorn in the theaters or if the Tamale Lady can't afford to sling tamales anymore (I am sorry but I had a bad experience with her veggie tamale the other night, I don't want to talk about it).

This morning my iGoogle aggregator aggregated the hell out of the internets to provide me with this priceless gem:

This is a featured article. Click here for more information.

How to Grow Banana Plants

This is a featured article. Click here for more information.

"Bananas not only contain vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium, but they're also widely enjoyed as snacks, desserts, and even in meals. Depending on where you live, however, the bananas you find in stores may have been shipped halfway around the world, after having been picked green and placed in air-tight rooms filled with ethylene gas to hasten ripening. To avoid this, you may be able to grow your own banana plant in your backyard, perhaps even experiment with varieties that produce fruit with better flavor rather than shelf life."

Think about it. That is all.
This is a featured article. Click here for more information.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kirk Read

A Night of Queer Arts

The other night me and Sarah V decided to see a play written by our extremely lovely and talented playwright friend, James W, at the Harvey Milk Center as part of the National Queer Arts Festival. Alongside a scene from James' play were several other spoken word pieces and very imaginative miscellaneous works of performance art.

The grand finale featured performance artist Kirk Read. I really feel the need to recount the night's events as they happened after Kirk took to the stage, because I feel that if I do not, I will look back at that night several months from now and think, "Yeah right Amity, that didn't really happen, remember you had some strong cocktails that night and a wild imagination..."

So here is what I can recall, and Sarah V may want to correct me on some of it, but:

1. Kirk stands upon a treasure chest on stage before a projection screen that is displaying aerial views of burning buildings. He stares blankly towards an imaginary horizon and launches into a literal litany of items modern society is doing away with:

"Goodbye radio DJs and cursive and America Online...let us pray!" or, "Goodbye telephone booths and paper maps and photo booths....let us pray!" or, "Goodbye to the mighty penny and the nickel which cost more to make than their worth...let us pray!"

2. Kirk puts on a tune:

Shout To The Lord - Hillsong

3. Kirk begins to take his white suit off, proceeds with his shirt and pants subsequently standing before the audience with his penis hanging about.

4. He is lip-syncing with a look of dogged determination the entire time. Kirk takes a glass mixing bowl and urinates into it. He then taxes a box of cake mix and pours it into the bowl, stirs as vigorously as is humanly possible, and sings with an even more intense look of determination.

5. Kirk takes the bible. He rips pages out while lip-syncing and then dips them in the batter. He then sticks the pages to his naked body.

The End.

(I will never listen to that song the same way again).
The Only Reason to EVER Read Rolling Stone

Is of course Matt Taibbi's campaign coverage. Highlights from his most recent gonzo tirade, "Full Metal McCain" have been most Hunter S. comparison-worthy. I love how Taibbi grills McCain supporters and comes to conclusions horrifyingly insightful:

Like Hillary Clinton, an erstwhile vilified liberal who remade herself as a flag-waving, Sixties-bashing champion of "hardworking Americans, white Americans" once the remarkable candidacy of Barack Obama forced her off her old turf, the one-time "insurgent" McCain has finally decided to sail with the wind at his back by going dumb and courting the same talk-radio demographic that used to despise him. What enables him to do so is a key insight: that while George W. Bush may be unpopular as an individual, fear and hatred in this country have never gone out of style.

...And when it comes to Obama's and his wife's America-hating, well . . . McCain really doesn't need to say anything about that. All he needs to do to remind audiences of Reverend Wright and Michelle "I'm proud of America for the first time" Obama is to offer a few bons mots in the opposite direction. "I seek the office with the humility of a man who cannot forget that my country saved me," McCain likes to say. And while he doesn't believe he was anointed by God to lead the great nation of America, he insists, "I am her servant, first, last and always."

That's it — that's the entire argument. McCain is a canny enough old goat to know that the public's insatiable appetite for traitorous enemies will do the rest. He'll wave as many flags and stand in front of as many fucking fighter jets as you like, while the other guy lectures us about why he doesn't always need to wear a flag pin in his lapel and calls a bomb-throwing Sixties terrorist "a guy who lives in my neighborhood" instead of calling for his immediate beheading.

Cindy Oestriecher, a McCain supporter who turned out for his speech in New Orleans, is stumped when I ask her for an example of Obama's lack of patriotism. "What was that thing about anti-American?" she asks a friend. "What were they referring to?"

"What thing?" asks the friend.

"People were talking about that thing, that anti-American thing," Cindy says, frowning.

"You mean about the flag, the thing on the Internet?" the friend replies.

"Yeah, I guess," says Cindy. "The anti-American thing." "That bothers you?" I ask.

"Of course it does!"

"But you don't even know what it is," I say. "You just know that someone else said he was anti-American. You don't even know who it was that said it!"

She shrugs. What's my point? We all know what the deal is. When it comes to presidential politics, you either are or you aren't. And Barack Obama aren't. If you can't grasp the simple math of that statement, you don't know much about elections in this country. It's not about the war, or the economy, or the faltering Republican brand, or any of that: This is about hate and fear, and a dark instinct in our blood going all the way back to Salem, and whether or not a desperately ambitious ex-heretic named John McCain can whip up a big enough mob in time to drown the latest witch.

Brilliantly put, as always.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Let him have his day off!

Serious. Everything is so much more intense with the music from Requiem for a Dream.

(Thanks John W.)

Friday, June 20, 2008

A lesson on flirtation

(The following conversation took place in-between songs on karaoke night. Sarah V was amped up on Sparks and ready to sing her second Justin Timberlake song).

Danny: So I really like this girl at my work, and one of my co-workers,
this other girl, told me I should tell her, "You look like you had a really nice
body in college."

Me: What? That's so f**ked up!

Danny: Well yeah, but she says I need to bruise this girls's ego so that
she looks to me to build it back up.

Me: No. No, I believe that's gonna get you nowhere Danny. That shit doesn't

Sarah V: WHAT?!?! That's the most f**ked thing I've ever heard! If
a guy said that to me, I'd chop off his balls and say, "Sorry--you look like you had a
really nice ball sack in college!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Laurie Anderson and Contemporary Art

I watched this video of Laurie Anderson commenting on the national anthem a few weeks ago, and couldn't stop thinking about it for a while. I discovered Anderson as a teenager when me and my boyfriend at the time ransacked his born-again Christian mother's music collection. I discovered many a wondrous thing, including the album, "Big Science," which was both laughable in its absurdity and compelling in its visionary usage of synthesizers.

My artist/philosopher friend Dr. Amy showed me a series of Anderson PSA's, including the following about the National Anthem:

The doctor says:

My thought was that she was making a statement about the tendency in contemporary art to be nonsensical, yet to present itself as being extremely relevant. Oftentimes, you find yourself searching for meaning, and there is not much there (just like: it is dawn, I think I see a fire; a feather in his hat, called it macaroni--it would not be out of the realm of possibilities for someone to present such things as art these days--anything goes (which is good and bad). I took it as a criticism, but Allan thought that she was making an allusion to the cryptic nature of contemporary art. I'm not sure I get what he is saying.

I think she is right, but also side with her friend Allan in that there is something cryptic in the nature of these songs. "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "Yankee Doodle" were used as vehicles to promote American patriotism and national unity, therefore they have inherently taken on political tendencies. And what they present to the listener could be interpreted as light-hearted, eccentric works of whimsy, but the fact remains that they serve as an impetus for national unity and, in turn, identity. And since by definition they are political, it could be inferred that they are nothing more than political satire under a guise modern Americans are not accustomed to. To me there are definite sinister undertones. And so, from what I got from Anderson's commentary, the artist perhaps senses or can see evidence of something brewing beneath the surface in contemporary art. Or who knows, maybe those songs just piss her off.

Encyclopedia Hang Loose Hawaiica

Apparently Encyclopedia Britanica is turning the way of the wiki, allowing users to offer modifications to its entries on its online site. According to an official spokesman:

"...the new site will include three main categories of content: content created by the site's existing community of experts, content created by users and Encyclopaedia Britannica itself, which will incorporate aspects of the first two once they have achieved a "Checked by Britannica" designation."

I say no, no, no! That's too complicated. I can update you, Britanica. I have some solid experience with Wikipedia, and I know words and terms that the people like. For example, Hang Loose Hawaii, which the folks at Wikipedia seem to have taken a pass on. I can offer it exclusively to you, Britanica. Think about it.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dad's comment: "Well uh...I have seen more pristine beaches"

Father's Day

This year's was fantastic. Even better than the year we went to our favorite Mexican restaurant and saw Shaft. Me and pops did a tour of the East Bay (Oakland, Berkeley, etc etc) and I took him on a hike through a landfill.

But not just any landfill, but a mini island-like spot just north of Berkeley filled with local art and homeless encampments. It's a place that I've been hearing about a while previous to this father's day, and I could only imagine in my head before. It was so much better in real life.

To the right, notice the castle with views of Bay including both the GG and Bay Bridge. Someone is currently sleeping there in a sleeping bag.

Dad's comment:

"Wow, lots a...lots a penises spray-painted on this thing."

There were a lot of statues made of scrap metal. Some looked like Burning Man rejects, while some looked like god was playing pick-up sticks with bicycles.

Dad's comment:
"Hey honey, take a picture of me posing like a hobo next to this jesus statue!"

There were a lot of areas that looked very lived-in, where folks obviously must have been loungin' and loiterin' about. I thought it was very Lost Boys--I could just imagine vampire street punks drinking and carrying on all over this place.

Dad's comment: "Wow, I bet there's been many a hellacious acid trip taken at this place!"

A side note, we also talked a bit about Tim Russert, and I've been seeing a lot of coverage of this man's life--about what a passionate family man he was, and the book he wrote about his father.

One newscaster, quoting a review of the book, said something on CNN or some such that brought a tear to my eye, it was something like:

"Some men have a hard time embracing their fathers in public, Tim Russert did it over the course of several chapters."


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Chappelle's SF Show

On Friday the 13th I was lucky enough to get one of perhaps less than 300 tickets to see Dave Chappelle, a show that was announced on the day of, and sold out within a few hours. After having the "Dave Chappelle experience" I completely understand why--when he does a show, he REALLY does a show. He tries to heckle as many people in the audience as possible, or just make small talk, and rambles on until he's not stoned anymore. And all I can say is, if you begin a show before midnight and don't stop until 3 a.m., that's some mighty strong weed.

Towards the second half of his schtick, at least a third of the audience--myself included--had fallen asleep or had made a visit to the restroom at least half a dozen times. Of course I woke back up after drifting off for a few minutes, and it had nothing to do with the content but everything to do with sitting for so long and realizing that, after the first two hours, Chappelle was totally unprepared for his show and is just making conversation. But really hilarious conversation. And since he began yelling at people for getting up to go to the bathroom so much, I tried to go even more, just so he would yell at me and we could converse. Alas he didn't notice me and my small bladder, and instead heckled some girl because her boyfriend had left early.

Apparently he came to San Francisco because his agent gave him the option of playing Houston or my little city by the Bay. Chappelle explained that he had just read about a gay serial rapist in Houston and told his agent, "I'll go to San Francisco where the ass raping is consensual." As a few people piled in, he said to one of them, "Hey, y'all didn't miss anything. Just having a little talk about man rape"--and so it went from there.

Chappelle was extremely unpolished-sounding, but you could tell that he knew what he was doing, he didn't have to come prepared because he didn't have to win everybody over, people like him for the sheer force of his personality. He kept making himself laugh and banging the microphone on his leg, which was hilarious in and of itself. But one ongoing joke that I don't know if I was a fan of was the one about the "baby that came from a man's penis."

He started by bringing up the pregnant man that was all over the news recently. Not such a great news item to me because it's misleading--the "father" is actually a transgendered, woman-to-man so it's not like someone is having a baby that's actually coming out of their penis. Chappelle just went on about the "baby from a man's penis" as if it were a sign of the apocalypse. And at one point he even pretended that the microphone was a big penis and re-enacted the "birth process." Then, he did a demonic voice of the "baby from a man's penis," cupping the microphone and lowering his voice dramatically. He did this voice all night, and at times I got a bit irritated. But after you hear the "baby that came from a man's penis"'s voice over fifty times, you start to get delirious and find it to be the most absurdly funny thing you've ever heard. At one point I think he began projecting a bit of himself into the baby's voice, saying in the demonic baby's voice, "I want to destroy Carlos Mencia" (that incredibly unfunny racist dude that replaced "Chappell's Show").

So anyways, my point is, the man is so funny he can make a character like the "baby from a man's penis" the most ridiculously humorous thing you've ever heard, even if it means driving you to a delirious stupor in order to do so.

That's all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Letter to In-N-Out

I just sent this to the In-N-Out corporate offices. I hope they get back to me, by God I hope they get back.

Dear In-N-Out Burgers,

I respectfully wish to inquire as to why your company does not value its San Francisco customers and, with its placement of a restaurant near Fisherman's Wharf, has become most unChrist-like.

If you, dear reader of this inquiry, are not familiar with your San Francisco restaurant, please allow me to explain:

When I need a quality In-N-Out burger, I am not simply "In-N-Out." As there is no drive-through, and it is located in the center of a hornet's nest of Alcatraz t-shirt-toting sloths moving at a snail's pace and wedged in tightly among the Rainforest Cafe, a wax museum, Ripley's Believe It or Not museum, the Hard Rock Cafe and HOOTERS, I am never "In-N-Out." I am in, and then I am in for a while longer, and then still I'm in, and then I'm turning to the cowboy from Wichita standing in line next to me and attempting to remain pleasantly cool-headed as he makes a painful gesture of banal sarcasm about how much he is enjoying the wait, and then I am in for quite a while more, until, upon realizing I have loaded my tray up with food with absolutely no place to set it and actually eat it, am told that I can sit outside in the cold and misty wharf-front plaza in a table facing HOOTERS, where I, among dozens of innocents under the age of 12, will sit and stare in bewilderment at the heaving HOOTERS chests carrying buffalo wings and cobb salads to truck driver types--then and only then am I officially "out."

I believe that the placement of this particular restaurant is not very good PR for the state of California, and I'll tell you why.

There was a time when In-N-Out evoked warm, wholesome images of good, honest God-fearing kids out cruising in '57 Chevys along the PCH, popping bubble gum, sharing sodas 'n such. Not with this San Francisco restaurant, not anymore. Now, whenever I want to visit your fine establishment, I must suffer through said tourists, HOOTERS, and a homeless man who makes more money than I will earn this year by hiding behind a bush and scaring the (and I do apologize for using the Lord's name in vain) holy Jesus out of pedestrians. After the shock that there is actually not a volcano monster hiding behind a bush outside of some godforsaken salmonella seafood shack, the tourists are generally so thankful that they wind up handing over an inordinate amount of money to this hobo.

I ask you, In-N-Out representative at the In-N-Out Corporate Office at 4199 Campus Drive, 9th Floor Irvine, CA 92612, what would founders Harry and Esther Snyder think of this atrocious locale? WWHAESD?

I will leave you with a Revelation you should be most familiar with, as it is printed on your burger wrappers, in Revelation 3:20 it is said:

"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."

Never does it state "..will sup with him and stare at HOOTERS."

That is all.

Thank you for your time on this matter.

Amity B

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Look at DNC's home page and you'll see this beautiful man, standing there and looking like he's clapping his hands and dancing to Paul Simon's Graceland:

These are the days of miracle and wonder,
This is the long distance call,
The way the camera follows us in slo-mo
The way we look to us all,
The way we look to a distant constellation
That's dying in a corner of the sky,
These are the days of miracle and wonder
And don't cry baby don't cry...

- - - - -

From Scott Martelle, Los Angeles Times:

It's worth taking a moment to recall what's happened so far, because sometimes the full weight of history is hard to feel when you're in the midst of it. With the nation at war and the economy teetering on recession, a white woman -- a former first lady no less -- and a biracial man were the last two serious nomination contenders in a Democratic primary battle that lasted five months, burned through $400 million and shattered state voter-turnout records for primary elections and caucuses.

On the Republican side, we could well have witnessed the end of the dominant influence of social conservatives within the party, a role that has had a deep effect on national policies going back to the rise of Ronald Reagan a quarter-century ago.

And the fall general election could well be just as historic, as the Vietnam War generation squares off against those for whom that war exists in textbooks rather than personal memory. It also will likely be a fight over class -- the white working-class -- as well as Latinos, and independent and moderate Democratic women.

And, after eight years of an increasingly unpopular administration, and with Congress already shifted from Republican control to Democratic, the Fall could complete a realignment that began with the 2006 midterms -- a shift just as radical as the change between Jimmy Carter and Reagan, and between Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

History unfolds, and as Walter Cronkite used to intone, "You are there."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Hilary in Santa Cruz

The Lull

So I've felt a little disconnected to the news and the newsy world as of late and have been a little bad at the postings, apologies for the lull. I blame it on, or attribute it to, Scottish Hilary, my photographer friend who stayed with me for nearly two weeks at the tail end of her voyage from London to Los Angeles to San Diego to Tijuana and back up here to SanFran. By the time Hilary and I crossed paths, she had trekked across the mean streets of The Valley (ehhh...the mere thought of the mall and hood rat variety sends shivers down me spine) via PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION (shock! horror!) and made a few bffs at Muscle Beach (see photo below, courtesy of Hilary).

When I met her at a train stop off Market St, she came loaded with a front and back pack that must have outweighed her by hundreds of pounds. She would later produce a fancy new pair of snake skin cowboy boots from one of them. She claimed these were the very last pair in Tijuana, and her sole purpose for traveling south of the border to begin with.

So when Hilary finally got here I thought she might like to see the sites of my fair city: North Beach, Coit Tower, Golden Gate Park etc etc. Nope. Instead she coaxed me into spending half a day touring the necropolis that is Colma; on another, we took a train ride down to the city dump in South San Francisco to see an art exhibit by an artist in residence that made kinetic sculptures. One day we spent an hour sitting outside of Cafe Trieste in North Beach. We befriended some musician dude strumming a guitar and a rollerblading Italian man in his late 60s who was dancing to the guitar music on the corner. Sometimes I feel like I'm in a David Lynch movie when I'm with Scottish Hilary; other times it's just magical in a generally quirky way. Like this one time when we witnessed an elderly man jogging along suburban streets outside of Edinburgh in nothing but a wool sweater and transparent women's underwear at three in the morning. But that's a different story.

When Hilary left it was like she had died. Everyone talked about her like she had passed on, not simply flown back to her home in London. "That Hilary, she just had such a big presence, it really filled up the house," my landlord said, staring down reflectively.

"I bet you miss her," a few people said to me. 'Why don't you rub it in,' I thought.

My only complaint about Hilary was that I got irritated by her earnest attempts at trying to give me a stomach ache similar to the ones she would get from eating an entire party size bag of Reese's peanut butter cups. I tried to explain to her that we just don't do that in America, but she had never eaten Reese's peanut butter cups before, so you could almost forgive her for this newfound addiction and excitement in wanting to share in the joy and agony.

Hilary once worked a summer job as a rides operator at the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk as a teenager. When I met her a few years ago in London, where we waitressed at a pub together, she would tell me stories about operating the log ride and it was hard to picture her ever working in that element, having lived in Santa Cruz for a few years myself. So it was amazing to get a chance to reunite her with the town. We spent a few days walking about, saw the boardwalk again and visited the beach. I was embarrassed by the "nightlife" I once thought so exciting as a college kid, so we spent an evening with a jug of vodka, trashy magazines and Larry King Live.

I must have felt more foreign to this country than even Scottish Hilary when I saw that Warren Jeffs polygamy cult lady brigade on the TV screen.

Hilary was confused and horrified. I did my best to explain what was going on with the state taking the children and all, but that's not what was troubling her. "What's wrong with their hair?!" she exclaimed.
Now I can certainly understand why America's cults are some of the best on the planet (as far as recruitment, worldwide press attention, etc). We simply have the lion's share of charismatic leaders. America the charismatic! But the hair--I really didn't know what to say about the hair. Why this extreme Elaine from Seinfeld pompadour and braid combo? What does it all mean?

A friend who had been watching the polygamist child custody saga unfold religiously pun intended told me that it had to do with status and that the higher the hair, the more prominent the wife. I think that is an outright lie, as I haven't come up with any data supporting this supposition; I assume it isn't based on anything.

This is the only answer I could find on the internets (via the AP):

The women never cut their hair because they believe they will use it to wash Christ's feet during the Second Coming, Bennion says. A Biblical quote says a woman's hair should be her crowning glory.

The bangs are grown out and rolled (but usually not using a curling iron, because that would be too modern). There are sausage curls on the sides and often braids down the back.

The exact history of the hairstyle is unclear, but it is reminiscent of the Gibson Girl image of the 1800s. It's a pre-World War II look, exaggerated with the pompadour, Llewellyn says.

So there you have it. Although this report does not cancel out my friend's theory, it explains...some of it. I guess the reasons for the hair shall remain a mystery, and so too America.

Thank you Hilary, for making me feel like a bewildered stranger in my own country again. It's been refreshing.

Monday, June 02, 2008

So much better than real life.

On Fireworks

(Apologies for the following as it may sound like the ramblings of a second grader on pixie stick kick. I wrote it the middle of the night when awoken--exhausted and recovering from a head cold--by f**king fireworks. And some white girl wearing one of those obnoxious pastel hippy turbans like she just got out of Bikram screaming, "Yeah! Yes! Yes!" from across the street. I live in a strange neighborhood, don't ask. And yes, I keep a journal at my bedside. When you have more than one dream involving creepy Dr. Moreau characters that like to give animals snow globe heads, it's time to put the pencil to the paper and seek therapy.)

Why does everyone get so excited about fireworks. Painted or drawn or even imagined, interpretations of them appear far more spectacular than in real life, unlike natural phenomena like falling stars and jellyfish and waterfalls that stretch several stories high. If you ever close your eyes in the presence of fireworks, your ears will feel assaulted. If you did not know you were in the presence of the fireworks, all the more terrifying. The sounds they make are like gun blasts or fallen buildings or pure destruction in general. In the aftermath of the fireworks, you are left with smoke and herds of loitering hooligans hollering like lunatics. All the while animals shake and quiver from an intrinsic fear of impending doom. Fireworks are best when used symbolically by poets and the love struck. If only fireworks were outlawed they would swiftly be launched into the realm of nostalgia and urban myth for future generations of thinking caps. The old photographs, drawings, paintings and poems would finally reach a level of profundity not yet actualized as the current use of fireworks prohibits this. DEATH TO FIREWORKS. PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN.