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Hipstercrite: September 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kerouac Was a Crappy Writer, But He Sure Knew How to Take Road Trips

There is nothing quite like being on the road.
The romanticism of endless opportunities.
You may be behind the wheel, but you are purposely putting yourself out there for anything to happen.
You need it to.

Tomorrow I embark on another. Through Western Texas and all of New Mexico along with my traveling companion, my mother.

Below are some snippets from angsty journal entries I kept during hopeful self-discovery road trips where I needed answers to plop down on the road in front of me.

*Warning- I sound like a typical 24 year-old whiny little bitch.

-San Francisco to Los Angeles on the Pacific Coast Highway, April 2008-
I had left my job in LA and had become completely lost and disillusioned with the city, my age, and my goals. I thought that a spontaneous solo drive up the coast might give me some answers:

"With the 101 came assurance that I would get to my destination in a timely manner. But on the Pacific Coast Highway, after every stretch of nothingness came another stretch of nothingness, and the sight no longer was beautiful to me. It made me angry. Relief came when I got to Monterey and I sped back to the 101 as fast as I could. Having extended my journey to San Francisco by another three hours because of the PCH, I arrived into town just as the sun was going down. Five minutes in, my child-like wonderment dissipated when I realized that I had no idea where I was going to stay or why I was even there in the first place. It was Saturday night and at the red lights I watched from my car window all the happy people exiting restaurants and walking in groups down the street. Laughing, holding hands, pissing in alleyways. I wanted to be a part of that. I imagined rolling down the window and saying, "Excuse me guys, can you please tell me where I'm gong?" I spent four hours wandering the city then left. I was rattled with angst and frustration. At myself, at the city, at the ocean, at the happy people walking down the street, and at the damn bellied up seals lazily laying in the sun earlier that afternoon. What was I looking for and why I did I waste so much time and money trying to find it?

That about sums up my early 20's right there.

As I made my way back down the 101 less than 4 hours from the last time I saw it, I concentrated on what I could have possibly gotten out that trip. No answers rolled down from the cliff sides, came in the form of talk radio, or splayed across the road signs. Instead, I was stuck with the endless road that will bring me back to square one."

-Grand Canyon to the Salton Sea on Route 10, June 2008-
I love ruin porn?

"You know the days when you hate everything? When you want to run away from it all? Run to a toxic wasteland hidden in the deserts of Southern California where the beaches are made of fish bones and the air smells of decaying wildlife? Where houses and public spaces have been abandoned and the only sign of life is the occasional farm truck that kicks up dust in the empty streets?

I know I do.

However, I quickly learned after visiting such a place, The Salton Sea, that 110 degree California desert + dead fish = millions of flies and a smell unlike anything you've ever smelled in your life. Plus living amongst self-governed meth manufactures without running water is kind of a huge turn-off."

-Los Angeles to Austin on Route 10, September 2008-
One day I put what I could in my car and left Los Angeles, a town I had worked and lived in for five years, and moved to a city I had never been to nor knew anyone who lived there:

"As I watch the sights that I've seen a million times before grow smaller and smaller in my rear view mirror, I think about all my failures in this city. And a boy.
My failures in Los Angeles and failure with the boy are insignificant to the greater picture of this move, yet they're all I can think about...

...It's 7PM and I haven't eaten all day save for some Doritos and a Vitamin Water. The lights of downtown Phoenix begin to blur, not because of tears but because of hunger on all accounts.

I need to pull over.

I turn off of the next exit. It's dark. It doesn't look promising. A Holiday Inn, a Love's, and a Flying J. Then like a guiding flare- the white and yellow sign of a Cracker Barrel appears. For the first time on this trip, I smile. I scream. I cheer. I pound the steering wheel. My shaky hands turn the wheel into the parking lot and I'm so overwhelmed with emotion, I can't get out of the car.

I float into the restaurant feeling complete disconnect from everything. I stare, open-mouthed at the Christmas ornaments adorning the wall as I wait to be seated. I'm lead to a table where I write this and anxiously wait to purge my food and my thoughts."

-Los Angeles to Austin
on Route 10, September 2008-
Same drive as before, stopped at truck stop motel in New Mexico:

"I slept in Lordsburg, New Mexico last night. A railroad town, a border town. Not a ghost walked the lone sidewalk. I drove down the main drag to one cheap motel after another. Neglected and outdated signs guiding the way. They all looked the same. Midnight and stucco. Cream and rot. Somewhere in the dark, I spotted a florescent beacon that told me that was where I was to sleep.

It takes a lot to work up my nerves, but I felt as if I'd seen my motel room before. In a movie where cops discover the body of a young woman lying on the floor. I checked underneath the bed but turned up only black beetles and locusts. The room had a distinct smell, one I couldn't quite pinpoint. It would be easy to say it smelled musty, but it didn't. It smelled frightening. Like sex and death. And I longed for someone to be here with me. Dangerous, macabre motel rooms should not be experienced alone, but with cheap liquor and some else to feel the scratch of polyester comforters on bare skin."

Do you enjoy road trips? What is your favorite memory?

Self-Promotion and The Blogger

Self-promotion is a quintessential aspect to being a popular blogger. There is no way around it. Most of us do not like promoting ourselves out of fear of looking like a giant narcissistic boob. However, the truth is, if you want anyone other than your parents to read your blog, you're going to have to do it. Just because your blog is out on the Internet, doesn't mean that people read it. It takes a lot of work to make others aware of your writing (...if you care about these sort of things....and don't lie! know you do!)

Yesterday, CNN featured an article written by the creators of Stuff Hipsters Hate about online self-promotion etiquette. Though an interesting article, it was short as sh*t and only listed three ways to be humble Internet braggarts. I thought I would elaborate a little more, based off of my own personal experiences as a reluctant egomaniac.

Tips on Online Self Promotion

1.) No-no on Tweeting Song Lyrics- Don't drink tequila and then tweet every single line to your favorite song, "This Must be the Place (Naive Melody)" by Talking Heads. Though an excellent song that many will agree with you upon, you will ultimately lose ten followers that get sick of seeing your name pop up every fifteen seconds with another song lyric. (This isn't really an example of self-promotion, but rather what not to write online when you're tipsy and feeling like David Byrne sings for you and you only.)

2.) Blog Accolades- Sharing blog acclaim is ok, as long as you do it in a self-deprecating manner. If your blog wins an award or is featured prominently on a website, it is a good thing to share with the world. This is in order to tell people that someone somewhere takes you seriously. However, it's important to take the edge off of "Hey, look at me! I won accolades and you did not!" by writing something humbling, such as, "Wow! My blog actually won award that wasn't given to me by my mother!" or "Huffington Post linked me on an article...they must have run out of material for the day."

3.) Facebook and Twitter- The CNN article spends a lot of time discussing sending out emails and newsletters to make people aware of your blog/website/whatever the heck it is that you do. What is this? 2006? Blast that jazz on Facebook and Twitter (and when I say blast, I mean moderate and strategic posting). A good chunk of my traffic comes from Twitter. Twitter, which at one point I hated more than the way John Cusack now looks like a grandfather rather than a baby-faced bundle of nerdiness, has recently become an intricate resource in my blogging. Through Twitter, I've come across countless interesting blogs, bloggers, and other social media characters and hopefully they've come across me. Though an email blast to friends and family can never hurt, the same effect can be achieved on Facebook. Considering you're probably FB friends with most of them already (unless you're one of those people who refuses to become FB friends with your parents in order to keep them in the dark on your debaucherous lifestyle), why not just make a FB fanbook page and send it out to everyone? Or post a status message about your new endeavor?

4.) Stay True to Who You Are, But Save Us Some Details- I sometimes fear that I get a little out of control on the TMI front or the meaning-to-look-like-a-commonplace-personal-reference-that-I'm-hoping-makes-me-look-irreverent-and-witty-to-you-but-I-actually-spent-30-minutes-coming-up-with-it-status updates or tweets. You know what I'm talking about. The sort of messages that say, "I had a dream that I was dressed like Freddie Mercury last night and I don't find it the slightest bit weird that I turned myself on" or "Hoping to find the Robert Mapplethorpe to my Patti Smith". You know, those super hipstery, pop-culture referencing status updates. Let's call them "Faux Liz Lemonisms" (And she is a hipster! Just a 40 year-old one!) Yeah, make sure you limit those. Based off of personal experience of getting sick of seeing my own status messages/tweets.

5.) Facebook Whoring- Now this is a tough one. You know, the person that has over 2,000 friends and they FB friend request you and you've never met them in your life so you're not sure why you accepted the request in the first place, and one day you run into them and they're squinting their eyes at you, and say, "I know you", and you just stare back waiting for them to say your name and when they don't, you make a little huff noise and walk away? That annoys the livin' crap out of me. However, Facebook has definitely drifted away from the strictly friend platform, to networking platform- and you fall into either camp. There is a unspoken war brewing between the two, so tread lightly.
...But whore all you want on Twitter. That's what it was made for.

How do you feel about online self-promotion? Do you promote your blog/website? What tips do you have?


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Making the Homeless Visible

Many of my posts start with, "The other day I read on Huffingtonpost Post..."
It is one of my steadfast blogs, the second site I check in my morning routine. Though they spent a little too much of 2010 obsessing over The Gosselins, HuffPo continues to bring interesting and thought-provoking material to the masses. One of my favorite recent additions to the website is their Impact tab- news and stories about people making a difference.

Recently featured on HuffPost Impact was an article about the non-profit organization We Are Visible- a website that not only encourages, but also offers resources for the homeless to get connected online. According to the HuffPo article, creator Mark Horvath, who at one point was homeless himself, came up with the idea for We Are Visible after asking his Twitter friends to help a homeless friend in need. A follower donated $100 to the homeless man and it was then Horvath realized the importance of online social networking and the homeless (side note- Horvath also created InvisblePeople TV, an on-line documentary series about the homeless Horvath interviewed on his cross-country travels.)

We Are Visible, which was funded by the Pepsi Refresh Project, offers an indivdual the tools to create an email, online voicemail, Twitter, and Facbook accounts, along with the How To's on developing a blog. The burgeoning website already has a growing list of blogs contributed by users.

One of the blogs I was most struck by is The Adventures of Homeless Girl. Homeless Girl lives in England. She became homeless in 2007 along with her mother after a man posing as a realtor scammed money out of them. She started her blog to "pour her heart out" and create a "gateway to reach out to people and encourage hope and debate." She is an excellent writer, is fearless in sharing stories about her struggles, hopes, and dreams, and has created very engaging content regarding general poverty and homelessness on her blog.
Homeless Girl is now renting a bedsit with her mother, but she still devotes her writing to the homeless cause.

Other blogs featured on We Are Visible:

The Hardest Way Home
Becky Blanton
SLO Homeless
Homeless Help Network
Project 5050

When I lived in downtown Los Angeles, I lived a few blocks from Skid Row. Though I'm having a difficult time finding the accurate numbers, Los Angeles typically has the highest number of homelessness in the nation. A few years ago, there were an estimated 80,000 homeless people living in LA. Recent statistics state that that number has dropped to just under 50,000. Over 9,000 homeless people make up the 50 block radius of Los Angeles' Skid Row. When first seeing Skid Row you feel as though you stepped onto the set of Night of the Living Dead. No homes, no trees, no restaurants. Just a concrete paradise with boarded up and abandoned buildings whose facades are decorated with strings of tents, tarps, and shopping carts. People wobble through the streets as if automobiles don't exist, aimlessly, with no place to go- other than their tent or the shelter. At first this scene can be terrifying. Angelenos tell you not to go down there. Then when you realize all the bad things people warn you about do not happen, you become desensitized to it all. Sure, you unfortunately and habitually make sure your doors are locked and stay aware of your surroundings, but after awhile you realize the distinct invisible line between you and them. And that makes you very sad. Makes you want to break that line, but not sure how to. I tried partaking in a week-long sabbatical where you live at a Skid Row shelter, but my parents wouldn't let me, so I found other, small ways to help.

Below is the first part of a Skid Row series produced by one of my absolute most favorite creations in the history of the planet- Good Magazine. These guys just keep doing it right....

Way to Help:

In Los Angeles:
Chrysalis- Offering the tools and resources to secure employment for the homeless in Los Angeles.
Food on Foot- Offers food, clothing, and assistance in the transition to employment and life off the streets.
Fix Nation- Offers free spay and neutering to the pets of homeless individuals.
Lamp Community- Offers immediate, permanent, and affordable housing to homeless individuals, particulary those with mental illness.

In Austin:
Front Steps- Manager of ARCH (Austin Resource Center for the Homeless)
Lifeworks- Providing housing, counseling, and education to Austin's homeless youth and their families
Art From the Streets- Providing art classes to the homeless at ARCH. Annual art show.
Mission Possible- Ministry-based out-reach. They usually set up a food bank and entertainment under I-35 at 7th on Sunday mornings. Though I personally am agnostic, I think these guys are doing a great job.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Guerilla Art

"Guerrilla art" is a phrase used interchangeably with "street art".

It may typically entail any of the various art forms: graffiti, wheatpasting, stenciling, stickering, performance, video, LED, or installation art and must take place in a public place anonymously. Basquiat (graffiti), Banksy (stencil, graffiti), Shepard Fairey (wheatpasting, stencil), Improv Everywhere (flash mob, performance art), Reverend Billy & The Church of Life After Shopping (performance art, culture jamming) are a few famous examples of guerrilla artists.

I f'ing love guerrilla art because it forces the creator and the viewer to think outside of the box. I especially dig it when the art taps over into the realm of culture jamming, and creates a whole new spin on how we view the norm. I daydream about changing my name to one word and stenciling pictures of David Byrne dancing with a lamp all the time.... that's not really an example of culture jamming, but who doesn't love David Byrne and lamps...dancing?

The quintessential guerrilla art book is Keri Smith's Guerrilla Art Kit. Truly the only book of it's kind, Smith teaches the layman how they too can become a guerrilla artist. From wheatpasting to seed bombs to moss graffiti, Smith covers all the bases.

Every time I read this book, it inspires me to go out and starting planting anonymous art all over the city. Then about five minutes later I forget about it and won't remember until I pick the book off my bookshelf about six months later.

While living in Los Angeles, the want to participate in guerrilla art was strong, but effort futile. It was too much work to find a location and lug any equipment there and run the risk of getting caught by the police. Upon moving to Austin, I was disappointed with the lack of public art pieces and graffiti, but it wasn't until I started writing this post that I realized Austin did have it's own street art scene, albeit a small one. Probably one of the city's most notable pieces comes from Shepard Fairey (artist behind Obama's "Hope", "Andre the Giant Has a Posse", and "Obey"), who at last year's SXSW, pasted some of his landmark graphics around town (Emo's, Home Slice, Mellow Johnny's, Red 7, East 6th).

Below is one of Fairey's graphics pasted outside of Home Slice.
(Anyone know what the name of this graphic is?)

Austin also has it's own example of "yarn bombing", another popular form of guerrilla art, located in front of Domy Books on Cesar Chavez.

I took my first step in becoming a baby guerrilla artist this weekend. 
Subtle and doesn't run the risk of landing my ass in jail...

The next one I want to try is moss graffiti:


And LED art:


If you want to start making some guerrilla art, but don't want to end up calling your parents at 2AM for bail money, Smith lists some "light" exercises you can practice:

-Found in the Environment- rearranging objects found in your surroundings.
-Found Photos- take photos of yourself in various location and post them close to where you took them.
-Book Leave-Behinds- post note on book that you no longer want, either deeming the book as a gift to a stranger or leaving your email in order to "track" the book, and drop in a public area.
-Love Letters- write a love letter that you would like to receive and leave in a public place OR write a love letter to someone you admire and send to them anonymously. 
-Chalk Quotes- collect quotes that you like and them start writing them in public areas.

Another great guerrilla art reference is Graffiti Research Labs- "Dedicated to outfitting graffiti artists and activists with open source tools for urban communication."

Have you ever done any of these forms of guerrilla art? Who is your favorite guerrilla artist?

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Blog Therapy Session Friday

Every once in awhile I get a bug to change my blog.
I post a questionnaire about it and you're all like, "Don't change anything!"
I like you for that.
However, I don't change anything and then the cycle repeats.
And then we end up with another lame ass post like this.

I think it's natural for a blogger to compare themselves to other blogs and get bored looking at the same template or material day-in-day-out. I mean, shit. I change my hair color, apartments, jobs, and cities about once a year (slight exaggeration on all except for the hair), so the itch for variety is always stirring in my bones.

So, this is where the therapy session part comes in...
(And don't say, "Well, Lauren, the reason why you change your hair color so often is because that is how you deal with stress and major life changes and it falsely keeps you feeling like you're moving forward".... because I already know that.)

Hipstercrite has turned into something more than I could ever imagine.
And, you know, I kind of like her, but I want her to become more stream-lined- visually and content-wise.
She's a little too all over-the-place for my comforts.

So with that being said, what changes would you like to see on my blog? I heard a couple of grumbles about not doing Debbie Downer personal posts at one point. I've been thinking of doing themed days, like "Pop Culture Mondays", "Lauren Talks Your Ear Off About Her Obsessions Tuesdays", "Austin Wednesdays", "Something something yada blah blah Thursdays", and "Fashion Fridays". What do you think?

Lend me your thoughts, ladies and gentlemen.

Also, I'm going to do a giveaway soon. I promise it will be good and weird.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Love Letter to Stella Lang

Nobody ever wrote anything for Stella Lang.
Except for her obituary in the newspaper.
Maybe a boy wrote her a love letter once, but we would have never known.
She didn't talk about memories like that.

I'm not sure anyone even thinks about Stella Lang anymore.
Except for the two of us.
And maybe those greedy cousins who sued my mother- the only person who was by Stella's side every day as she laid dying- because they were upset that my aunt left her more money than them.

And I don't think of Stella Lang very often.
But right now I am.

Right now, I'm in the grocery store staring at a bag of miniature Hershey's chocolate bars and my chest hurts.


I wonder what when through Stella's head every time she went to the grocery store to pick me up some candy.

She didn't have to think about the past every time she stood in that aisle. She was creating a future that would turn into a memory that would turn into a young woman currently unloading her groceries into her car and weeping.

Stella Lang was not a warm woman, but she loved me.
I was her sweetheart, her closest thing to the child that lived for only four hours.
And I loved her because she loved me.

Stella Lang was content sitting in her recliner, eating a frozen dinner, and watching Matlock. This sort of behavior was not entertaining to an energetic 10 year-old, but neither did that 10 year-old understand that she was helping take care of a child who was now being raised by a single parent.

Stella Lang did not have many friends, but she appeared ok with that. She had her sweetheart and her Matlock and the house that her husband built with his own bare hands and the money he left her from his roofing business and all the time in the world.


The last memory I have of Stella Lang rests on two senses- the smell of canned vegetables, human feces masked by cleaning disinfectant, and whatever odors exude from hospital walls and make you dizzy and nauseous on the elevator ride to wherever you're going. The other is touch- the feeling of Stella's fingers on my back as she cried tears I didn't even see her shed at her husband's funeral, and wouldn't let me go. Knowing deep down that she was going to die there and that we may never see each other again.

But that wasn't the last time I saw her.
I saw her one more time and she was so gar gone that I've pushed any semblance of that memory out of my head.

Then my mother called to tell me that Stella Lang died.
And I don't remember that either.
I don't remember what day, what month, or even what year.
I don't remember talking to my mother the day of the funeral.
I don't remember the first time I went to the cemetery to see her gravestone.

But I remember calling you and the pure, crackled joy that came out of your voice every time you heard my voice that made me smile.
I remember your collection of musky perfume bottles laying neatly on the dresser.
I remember your powder pink bathroom, your player piano, your collection of porcelain cardinals, your vinyl kitchen top, and Uncle Elmer's WWII pins.
I remember me sitting on your brown shag couch across from you sitting in that green shag chair and talking about your past and my future.
I remember staring out your window into the back yard, past the garden, up the rolling green hill, and how I would give anything right now to be standing there again.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Love of My Life Don't Leave Me! (Or: How I Hope to Fall in Love With a Mustachioed Gay Man Someday)

Expecting a desperate blog post plea to an ex-boyfriend?
Yeah, I did too.

Nah...I'm referring to the Queen song, "Love of My Life" and how the meaning behind put into perspective a statement that I admitted to myself for the first time recently.

"Love of My Life" was written by Freddie Mercury for Mary Austin.

Who is Mary Austin you ask?

Only the love of Freddie Mercury's life, duh.

Freddie and Mary were lovers for six years- before and during Queen's early rise to fame- until Freddie realized that he was as gay as the day is long. However, that didn't stop Freddie from loving Mary. He bought her a house next door to him and kept her on Queen payroll. Mary went everywhere with Freddie. He became godfather to her children and as he was dying from a grueling battle with AIDs, she was right by his side. When Freddie died, he bequeathed most of his fortune and gargantuan rock star house to Mary (leaving only $500,000 to his long-term boyfriend).

"Our love affair ended in tears," Freddie was quoted as saying. "But a deep bond grew out of it, and that's something nobody can take away from us. It's unreachable. All my lovers ask why they can't replace her, but it's simply impossible. The only friend I've got is Mary and I don't want anybody else. To me, she was my common-law wife. To me, it was a marriage. We believe in each other, that's enough for me."

"I lost somebody who I thought was my eternal love," Mary says. "When he died I felt we'd had a marriage. We'd lived our vows. We'd done it for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health. You could never have let go of Freddie unless he died- and even then it was difficult."

The statement I wrote the other night was, "I want to be in love."
It is a desire I've been in denial about for a very long time.
Wanting to experience love is an age-old human instinct, but yet it is something that I've been telling myself neither exists nor matters very much to me.

Coming across this song recently reminded me that love comes in my forms. It can transcend the sexual plane into something even deeper. The sort of love that spans decades up until one is the holding the hand of the other one dying.

We should all be so lucky to experience the sort of love that Freddie and Mary shared for each other.

Love of my life, you hurt me,
You've broken my heart, and now you leave me.

Love of my life can't you see,
Bring it back bring it back,
Don't take it away from me,
Because you don't know what it means to me.

Love of my life don't leave me,
You've stolen my love and now desert me,

Love of my life can't you see,
Bring it back bring it back,
Don't take it away from me,
Because you don't know what it means to me.

You will remember when this is blown over,
And everythings all by the way,
When I grow older,
I will be there at your side,
To remind you how I still love you
I still love you.

Hurry back hurry back,
Don't take it away from me,
Because you don't know what it means to me.

Love of my life,
Love of my life.

Do you have a love of your life?

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Critiquing the Shit Out of My Very First Post

My blog used to be really boring.
Hell, it could still be boring, who knows?
Y'all just might be nice folk who don't have the heart to tell me how much my blog bores the living shit out you.
Just like how I'm convinced that I'm mildly retarded and everyone is just too damn nice to say anything.
It's ok, you can tell me.

Hipstercrite originally started as PlasticLA back in April of 2006.
It was a place for me to go on and on and blah blah blah about my love for Los Angeles...before the Kool-Aid wore off.

I didn't take the blog very seriously.

I had about ten visitors a week, and my ten visitors were actually one visitor, my first and longest supporter and good friend in Los Angeles, Chris (Chris, that script you keep telling me that I'll write one day? That imaginary script will be dedicated to you).

Discouraged by my lack of readers and simultaneously going through a coming-of-age-esque awakening in the city whose Spanish translation means, "The Soul of Satan", I abandoned PlasticLA in the Land of Forgotten Blogs and didn't think about her until I moved to Austin, Texas. Writing a blog titled PlasticLA in a city that is the complete antithesis of Los Angeles did not seem correct, so I changed her name to something a little more apropos. Around the spring of 2009, I began taking Hipstercrite more seriously, and since then she has grown into a little fucker that haunts my dreams and dictates my life (Only when I let you, Blog! Only when I let you...)

Below is my very first post on PlasticLA.
I'm going to do a little critiquing. See what the 27 year-old blogger has to say to the 23 year-old rookie blogger who wrote this shit. Notes are in red.

The boringness will completely overwhelm you.


I set this blog up because I have fallen in love... (With another married man?)
I know how Tom Cruise feels. (!???)
When you love something so much you just want to jump up and down on a couch and tell the world! (Ohh....forced current event reference, I see)
Well this is my couch. (It doesn't look like a looks like a lame excuse of a blog to me!)
I have fallen in love with Los Angeles. (Ha! Sure you have! Fast foward to two years later and you're writing the same thing about Austin. You don't know what you love, my dear)

Yes, it's true.

I know you East Coasters (which I am as well) are probably wondering, "How the hell???...But it has smog and traffic and crime and no foilage and high gas prices and..." (What East Coasters!? Only one person was reading your blog..and he was from Washington!)

Well folks (WHAT FOLKS?!), let me tell you, I love all of these things (never use the word "things") about Los Angeles. I love the bad just as much as the good. I don't care that I will probably die before I'm 30 because of either (Well, I'm getting closer to 30 now, so thanks a lot, turd...):
a.) lung cancer because of air pollution
b.) car accident on the 101
c.) getting stabbed out in front of the 99 cent store
d.) no foilage
e.) high gas prices
f.) a determinental loneliness that only a twenty-something can feel

This is a wonderful city full of culture, the highest homeless rate in the nation, art, music, 9.6 murder rate, film, and obscenely large egos (which are pretty fascinating to see) ("Fascinating" huh? Just wait until your "fascination" turns into"bitterjadedcination") . There is a vast array of different ethnicities, different types of architecture, and different landscapes.
There is old, new, real, fake, bright, dull, beautiful, ugly and a lot of plastic.

Sniffing in the multi-colored afternoon air I scream, "God, I love this freakin' city! (HAHAHA!)

Post too short. There is nothing there that captures the reader and make them understand your love for Los Angeles. You need to work on your descriptive wording and humor. You have a long way to go...

Do you ever read your earlier posts? How does it make you feel? Do you see an overall improvement in your writing since then?


Thursday, September 09, 2010

The Artistic Importance of Longing

I read an article on Huffington Post recently discussing how longing prevents us from fulfilling our dreams. The author made the obvious point that if we're stuck in the past and long for people, places, and things that are realistically unattainable, then we will never truly enjoy our lives. The essay hit home for me because I realized that I'm a person that does indeed live in the past and not "in the now". I long for my childhood, places I've lived, places I've never been to, my family, my friends, people that I've loved. I'm constantly suspended in a perpetual state of romanticism.

I also realized that all of these factors play an intricate part in my writing. They are daily inspiration and reoccurring themes and fodder.

This observation led me to wonder that without longing, would half of the world's greatest works of art, music, literature, cinema, etc. even exist?

F. Scott Fitzgerald had Ginevra King, a beautiful teenage socialite who dumped him due to his lower class status. Leaving a large psychological impression on the young man, King appeared in various forms (along with his future wife, Zelda) in Fitzgerald's writing (Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby and Isabelle Borge in This Side of Paradise). It is even speculated that the famous Gatsby line, "Poor boys shouldn't think of marrying rich girls," was muttered by King's father. From the Princeton Weekly Bulletin, "King remained for Fitzgerald an archetype for the alluring, independent and upper class woman, ultimately unattainable by someone of a modest social background like himself."

Charlie Chaplin had Hetty Kelly, his first love that shot down his marriage proposal and died shortly thereafter much to Chaplin's heartbreak. The child-like innocence of Hetty and their relationship would remain a fixation on Chaplin for years. She arguably was the inspiration for many of Chaplin's heroines and also represented the "ideal woman" that he continually looked for throughout his life. Chaplin noted in his biography that he, ".... could not assimilate the full tragedy of it (Kelly's death)… I felt I had been robbed of an experience. Hetty was the one audience from the past I should have like to meet again.”

Daniel Johnston had his Laurie Allen, the object of affection and muse who helped inspire a great deal of his work. Daniel wrote letters and drew pictures for Laurie over the years, but the two had never met. During the SXSW screening of the acclaimed documentary about Johnston's life, titled, "The Devil and Daniel Johnston", the producers brought Laurie Allen onstage. Johnston freaked out and fled the theater, paced the sidewalk, and then disappeared before Laurie and he could ever speak.

James Ellroy had his mother, a rough-around-the-edges Angeleno who was brutally murdered. Ellroy admitted that her presence haunted him psychologically and sexually for years, becoming inspiration for his writings about 1950's Los Angeles crime (and cuasing drug habits, voyeuristic tendencies, and unhealthy relationships). Ellroy spent years on a quest to discover his mother's killer, even speculating that the Black Dahlia Killer murdered his mother (which I believe was proven false).

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham had each other. Though the duo broke up almost thirty-five years ago, they both remain subject matters in their song-writing. Stevie and Lindsey have respectively written at least twenty songs about each other in both Fleetwood Mac and solo careers, such as "Dreams", "Go Your Own Way", "Silver Springs", and "Second Hand News". The lyrics off their most recent album, Say You Will, that are speculated to be about each other include, "Maybe now he could prove to her, that he could be good for her. That they should be together" (Stevie) and, "Saw your face yesterday, thinking on the days of old and the price that we paid for a love we couldn't hold" (Lindsey).

For many, wading in the muck of unrequited love is much more artistically fulfilling and inspiring than the potential reality. By not acting and continually longing, one's imagination can run wild and the fantasy much more rewarding. Is this behavior advantageous to living a healthy, normal lifestyle? Absolutely not....but who ever said that artists are normal?

What do you long for? Does your longing for certain people, places, and things inspire you and appear frequently in your work?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Oh, Weezer!

90's music was a black void for me.
When I should have been reveling in the grittiness of Nirvana, the angstiness of Alanis Morissette, the demureness of Beck, and the whateverness of Bjork, I was too busy going through my awkward Elton John phase where I'd only wear sequin vests and pant suits. I've been told that I'm an old soul, and considering that I always wanted to be a drunk flapper from the '20's, listening to current music was not a priority of mine.

However, as I got older, my normally nonstop-talky self noticed gaps appearing in the conversations with my peers about the music of our childhood. When the subject of 90's music came up, I had nothing to add, no little anecdotes about the first Gavin Rossdale t-shirt I bought or the countless hours I listened to Live Through This on the basement floor.

Still to this day, I don't feel like I missed out on 90's music (and let the violence commence), and there have only been a few artists that I've been interested in discovering after the fact.

And one of those acts is Weezer.
The Blue Album and Pinkerton, of course.
Did they actually make any records after that?


I never thought about Weezer until I met Michael.
Michael was a former actor from Germany and charming as shit. He'd sweet talk the pants right off of ya. Maybe he actually did at one point. Who knows? Michael also was the manager of a band called The Rentals. I had no idea who the hell The Rentals were. Someone told me that the front man was Matt Sharp, formerly of Weezer and I was all like, "Woopity-do!"

Michael invited me to a number of The Rentals shows and I just didn't get them AND I DIDN'T GET THE FUCKING WEEZER!

Who were they? Why did everyone love them so much? Why would someone name their kid Rivers and why do I get turned on every time I see him wearing those giant horn-rimmed glasses?

I wanted answers!
So I set out to learn more about the history of the Weezer and the Matt Sharp and tried to rediscover a band that I never gave a chance to.

What entailed after that was a long journey of self-exploration, love, heartbreak, acceptance, and enlightenment.

Not really.
But, let's pretend!!!
Please please please pleaseeee?


I first noticed in the beginning of my research that though girls dug early Weezer, that it was the boys that pitched a tent when describing their love for the band.

"Why do you boys cream your pants over early Weezer so much?" I asked Josh, Sims, Mike, Richard, Luther...any other lovably nerdy male friend between the ages of 25-35 that I could think of.

They all had the same answer.
1.) First, to be clear, that they loved Weezer. Not love. LOVED.
2.) That the band symbolized a very important time in their adolescence
3.) That they learned to play guitar from the The Blue Album and Pinkerton
4.) That their lyrics were relatable to their young male ears, their guitar parts resonating, and their melodies catchy

The Blue Album came out when I was 11 year-old and I recall dismissing it as typical radio ga-ga. "Buddy Holly" was the hit music video of the year and watching those dorks strumming their guitars militant style on the set of "Happy Days" did not warm my cold, tween heart of steel.

Sixteen years later, I sat down with the album and tried to envision being a prepubescent male suffering from wet dreams and lusting after my friend's exchange student from Japan and low and worked!

The wave of nostalgia for a time I didn't experience of a gender that I am not totally overwhelmed me.

By the end of record I was lamenting for my alcoholic father, wanting to be a lazy surf bum, putting up a front, dreaming about stepping on someones toes, seeing where I could buy a KISS poster, and checking my sweater for holes.

At this point, understanding who I was listening to, I moved on to Pinkerton...and I got that too! Except for the whole tired of sleeping with a bunch of chicks thing. That one was hard to relate to.

Then I moved on to The Green Album and....what the fuck happened?!


"I've often compared Weezer to an ex-girlfriend you're still in love with," my friend Mike was telling me yesterday. "You keep expecting that at some point it will click again, but it just moves forward and never works out again."

I'd like to think that Weezer took a dump after Matt Sharp left and Rivers went all commercial, but who knows? All we know is that the rawness and magic of the first two albums will never be captured again.

That's not true.
Everyone knows why Weezer sucks now.

Where am I going with this post?

I have no fucking idea, but I'm just going to keep singing, "Say It Ain't So" over and over until my co-workers tell me to shut up.

What's your favorite Weezer song? Was Weezer an important part of your teenage music listening experience?

Pinkerton Hoot Night at Thunderbirds 2220 Manor 9/9/10 from 7-10PM


Tuesday, September 07, 2010

For the Love of Women

This is not my big coming out story.

I wish it was.

That probably won't happen until about four divorces down the road- and even then I'm not sure.

I like boys too much.

And when I say boys, I mean boys.

I used to not even be a champion of my own gender.
Can you believe that!?
I was one of those assholes.

I would distance myself as much as possible, referring to other women as "chicks", and thinking that I fell into some other category- the "Lauren" species.

I was my own gender.

Like Prince.

But with zero sex appeal.

And less pubic hair.

I had difficulty relating to "women". I wasn't into crying about boys and manicures and tanning salons and rag magazines and any other thing I, or the media, could generalize about the females. Because of that, I distanced myself from the ladies and made only friends with dudes.

Then one day, I realized that I did cry about boys.
And at Pixar movies.
Oh, and anything that Nicholas Sparks touched.
And especially those commercials featuring animals and Sarah McLachlan.
And here I go generalizing again...

I also realized that when I talked to my fellow gender, I felt better. They understood me and I understood them.

What was I missing this entire time?!

And now... now I just want to shout from the mountain top how much I love my fellow ladies.
We're fucking smart and interesting and creative and talented and strong and beautiful. They inspire the shit out of me.

So, without further ado, I'd like to take a moment to talk about a few of the many fantastic ladies that deserve to have more than just my lame-o blog writing about them. Hopefully this will become an ongoing series...

And if it sounds like one giant ass kiss, so be it. We women deserve our asses kissed. Often.

Eylene P.- Astrophysicist/Derby Girl
I didn't like Eylene. She was ridiculously good-looking- the structural palate you could get lost in for hours. Under the dictionary definition of "muse" there's a picture of her mug. She also just finished dating the comparably better-looking-than-I gentleman I was currently dating at the time I met her. Did I forget to mention that she worked for NASA at 21 and had a sexy Colombian accent? Needless to say my sense of security was highly shakened around her. Then of course one day, Eylene and I finally conversed- and we had a blast. We made fun of the dude, that now, we had both previously dated. We both dug each other, or maybe I just dug her and she couldn't wait until I left the room. She told me stories about a mummified cat she dug up and walked around in public, and I told less interesting stories about animals that were alive. Unfortunately, I left Los Angeles before I was able to truly hang with Eylene, but she will always hold a special place in my heart. Any beautiful woman who is a astrophysicist and owns dead pets is more than super OK in my book. Oh, she also just became a roller derby girl too. So have you fallen in love with her yet too?

Laurenne S.- Producer/Writer/Comedienne
One of the greatest attributes of having a blog is the ability to "meet" people from all over the world. Your words connect with them, their words connect with you and next thing you know- you got a kindred spirit on the other side of the continent. I've been fortunate enough to connect with a small group of young ladies that I share similar backgrounds with. One of those ladies is Laurenne, writer of Humans Are Funny. Laurenne and I might be the same person. Hell, we even have the same name, but her spelling is substantially cooler. We're both only children that openly talk about our former therapists and our Freudian text book examples of romantic partner choices. Laurenne also wrote quite possibly one of my all-time favorite articles about coming to terms with her "dead gay dad", titled "A Day for All Fathers. Even Dead Ones". The out pour of positive response pushed her to write a second part, titled, "Dead Dad Part 2: Acceptance, Leftovers, and Magic Wands", where she reveals that her "dead gay dad" committed suicide. Heavy right? Well, being the talented writer and comedienne that she is, Laurenne wrote both posts with the perfect amount of heartbreak and humor where you find yourself in a fit of tears and laughter from one word to the next. Since discovering her blog, I've seen her writing blossom with leaps and bounds. She's currently doing stand-up in Los Angeles and getting ready to make her big break as a writer. If you haven't read Laurenne's work before, then what the fuck are you waiting for?

Ashley L.- News Anchor/Writer
As a blogger you come across many blogs daily. Some peak your interest, some don't. Then there are the ones that leave an impression so deep, they linger around your psyche for a long time. One of those blogs for me is Lesbifriends. Every freakin' time I read Ashely's blog, I find myself nodding my head and shouting out loud, "Hot damn, she's right!" Whether you're gay, straight, bi, or queer, it doesn't matter. Ashely crafts her words in a way that is universally relatable. She constantly reminds us that we are all the same- humans wandering through this world experiencing love, heartbreak, job stress, friendship drama, or existential ponderance . However, Ashley just doesn't write about these topics, she effortlessly creates little pockets of humor, symbolism, and poetry intertwined with the overall topic of the day. She always leaves the reader contemplating more, asking themselves the same questions she asks herself...and if that is the sign of a true writer, then we know we're looking at the real deal here.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Hammy and The Kids

Kevin was always my favorite Kid in the Hall.
I'm not sure why.
All the other Kids were equally talented and adorable.

Was it because of Kevin's curly coiffure?
I've always been a sucker for white boys with bouffants that make them look like hairy lollipops.

Was it his spastic and awkward hand gestures and movements?
I've always had a thing for men who look like they suffer from mild retardation.

Was it his spontaneous, high-pitched outbursts and subsequent tongue rolls?
Probably not.

But maybe it was all of these attributes rolled into one that made me love Kevin McDonald.

And after seeing him spill his guts in his one-man show about his alcoholic father and The Kids in the Hall, titled, "Hammy and the Kids" for the Out of Bounds Comedy Tour, I fell in love with Kevin all over again.

Kevin McDonald had a pretty shitty upbringing.
Remember The Kids in the Hall skit, "Daddy Drank"? (see below)
Well, that was his childhood.
Full of memories of an alcoholic verbally and psychically abusive father named Hamilton- Hammy for short. He was a dental equipment salesman and he liked to remind Kevin that he was fat and couldn't meet girls.

"Oh, son! Son, how many girls called you today? Zero? And how many girls called you yesterday? Lemme guess -- zero? Well, you know what they say, son. Zero plus zero equals FAG! Zero times any other number always equals FAG! Think about it, ya little mathematician."

Like the beginning of many biographies of comedians, Kevin's burden pushed him to become "the funny guy" and after getting kicked out of acting school, he joined Toronto's Second City Improv where he met Dave Foley and this other dude who is pretty much the equivalent of "the other guy" in Wham! It was there that they formed the first incarnation of The Kids in the Hall (a name that Jack Benny gave the young writers hanging around his offices). After a few years of performing the Toronto comedy scene, the group met Mark McKinney and Bruce McCulloch (who were part of a popular Calgary comedy troupe called The Audience). The teams combined forces and took Toronto by storm!

But where did Scott come from, you ask? Well, as Kevin explained, Scott just kept showing up at their shows and forcing himself onstage (Kevin shares a number of stories about the "functioning craziness" of Scott Thompson).

The troupe spent years writing and developing new material. They broke up for some time in the mid-80's to work on separate endeavors (Mark and Bruce had brief stints as writers on SNL, Dave tried acting, and Scott and Kevin kept doing improv), but ultimately reconvened and landed a TV pilot for CBC and HBO with SNL creator Lorne Michaels. During this time, Hammy's drinking got worse. His family had already left him and he was living on the street.

Kevin goes on to sing and dance (using those words lightly) the history of The Kids in the Hall (the successful five year TV show run, the Paramount feature, Brain Candy, a number of popular comedy tours, and their latest TV venture, "Death Comes to Town") and his father's further decline into alcoholism. During the crucial script deadline for Brain Candy, Kevin's father called to tell him that he locked himself up in a hotel room and would drink himself to death unless Kevin came to see him. Kevin arrived at the hotel room to see the bed covered in blood and his Dad incoherent and refusing to get help. Being a self-proclaimed passive aggressive (another song featured in the show), Kevin finally let out years of anger towards his father and forced him into the hospital.

As the show ends, Kevin explains that there is no happy ending for him to conclude with. Though his career has continued to survive with The Kids in the Hall, he never had the fairy tale movie ending-esque heart-to-heart with Hammy, who died about ten years later.

This show was dark. Some friends even complained that it may be too dark, equating it to a public therapy session with a sad middle aged man. However, that was my favorite aspect of the show. Having been obsessed with The Kids in the Hall from the ages of 15-18 (and wanting to move to Toronto to become a filmmaker because they were from there and because I was an asexual nerd) and knowing every nuance of their biography, this shed a whole new light on not only the never-before-heard facets of the troupe, but what made Kevin into Kevin. Though I thought some of Kevin's jokes seemed a little force, he proved to us again that one of the areas he's best at is story. Kevin's characters always balanced the fine line between comical and pathetic (think "Weekend with Daddy"or Chris Cooper's father in Brain Candy, which I kept help but feel are homages to Hammy), and that is exactly what "Hammy and The Kids" is. Kevin knows just how to take us on that emotional roller coaster of snickering one minute, then wondering if you should be laughing at something so horrible the next.

And I believe that is the essence of what made the Kids in the Hall so great. Finding the funny in the sad reality of alcoholic fathers, awkward adolescence, homophobia, dead-end jobs, and Canadian suburbia .

Here is an interesting interview with Kevin regarding his show and the other Kids reactions to it at The Onion's A..V Club.

P.S. and on a side note, if anyone cares, my ex, Mustache, the one I wrote the post about and got in trouble with, we're all cool now.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

For the Love of Austin Businesses

One of the many reasons why Austin is so freakin' cool is because of its array of talented and creative entrepreneurs.

Austin has been a hotbed for companies and business-savvy folks for decades because of its low cost of living and high quality life. Interviewed by Fast Company, Bryan Menell of the super rad website, Austin Startup, also points out that Austin offers, "large venture capital firms, graduates from the university of Texas at Austin, and a state fund called, Emerging Technology Fund" to attract new technology companies to the area. It doesn't hurt that Austin is continually written about in Forbes, Kiplinger, Money Magazine, and US News as well. Any new yearly list that comes out on where to start a business or where to live- Austin is on it.

Here is a little history of some of the interesting independent businesses, tech and non-tech, that started in Austin that you may have heard of...

Sweet Leaf Company- According to Sweet Leaf's website- a young man named Clayton Christopher wanted to make sweet tea with cane sugar just like his Grandmother did. Like any resourceful young man, and with the assistance of his friend David Smith, he did exactly what he set out to do- with the help of a po'dunk van, pillowcases, hoses and crawfish pots for brewing! Over twelve years later, fourteen different varieties of tea and lemonade are available in grocery stores and convenient stores all over the country. Sweet Leaf Company has a large presence around Austin, typically sponsoring many of the city's music festivals and events. The company also donates 1% of gross sales to local causes such as Breast Cancer Research, Multiple Sclerosis Society, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Whole Foods
- Whole Foods is one of those large corporations with a fascinating, "American Dream" type beginning. Started as a tiny Austin Mom-and-Pop health food store in 1978 by a couple of hippies, John Mackey and girlfriend Rene Lawson, this grocer now boasts over 270 stores and 54,000 employees in the US and UK. Though founder, John Mackey, has had his share of engaging press, the company has done its part locally and world-wide. Whole Foods was listed as the number three "Green Power Partners" by the Environmental Protection Agency and the company also offers microloans to businesses in developing countries through their Whole Planet Foundation. The headquarters and store located at 6th and Lamar host many fun local events such as wine and cheese socials, cooking classes, and movie screenings on the roof.

Tito's Vodka- Tito's Vodka was started by UT grad, turned geologist, turned mortgage broker, turned vodka-maker Bert Beveridge, aka "Tito" in 1997 by maxing out 19 credit cards. Tito's seemingly foolish gamble has paid off, and the company now sells over 200,000 cases of vodka a year nation-wide. Made in the first and oldest distillery in Texas, Tito's vodka is derived from corn rather than the typical potatoes or wheat and the difference is noticed. Tito's continually wins numerous awards, even pitted against higher-priced and well-known vodkas.

Gowalla- Gowalla is a location-based social networking website where participants "check-in" at various locations around their city to connect with friends or win "pins" for accomplishing tasks. Founded by Josh Williams and Scott Raymond in 2007, the site was launched at South by Southwest the same year as its competitor, Foursquare. In 2009, Gowalla nabbed a $8.4 million venture deal and the company doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Over 150,000 active users participate regularly and the site features hundreds of thousands of "check-in" locations world-wide. An interesting article displaying the differences between Foursquare and Gowalla can be found on Mashable and Fast Company.