Friday, February 5, 2010

Meet Me At the Factory

Exploding Plastic Inevitable!

When you are invited to something called the "Exploding Plastic Inevitable" you're bound to have some pretty awesome expectations. When you are a part of something called the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, your willpower exhausts in an effort to contain tidal waves of excitement/ a desire to convince every single person you come into contact with to come celebrate New Years Eve with you, Warhol style. Andy Warhol’s Silver Factory style that is.

Alright, let’s back up a moment before handing you some speed, a screen for printing and a black turtle neck. While at Bicycle Kitchen (check out my B.K. entry if you think this involves soup, the homeless, delivering soup by bike, the homeless riding bikes or a delicate combination of all of the above), a friend and Master Cook (I, still an eager apprentice), Mabell, was talking about her New Years plans, which sounded like a pretty fun deal (house party, cool bike kids) and she happily extended the invitation to myself and anyone else in the near vicinity (mabell is a badass with the kindest and generous of spirits)! But it wasn't until the ride home I recognized the epic-ness of the event to take place on Dec. 31, 2009. Mabell described the vision of the party which involved a Velvet Underground cover band to complete the whole event and they were still in need of musicians. I couldn’t help but note that I could play a number of instruments albeit none of them spectacularly and suddenly we were discussing rehearsal times. This was legit...a "we're entering a new decade, party-spectacular" I could only dream of being a part of!
The party was formulated in the minds of Mabell and her wife Xochitl and would take place at their lovely home, which would be transformed into the Factory (more on this later). The “Velvet Underground” would play 5 songs as the culmination of the evening at the Factory. The other members included Eric Potter, another bike kitchen aficionado and pro musician on guitar, Coral, also a Kitchen cook on drums, Ben Ling, owner of Pure Luck, one of my favorite vegan restaurants on bass, and a whole slew of amazing singers (including Xochitl!), each featuring on a different song and lest i forget two other bikies on violin and cello for a song. First rehearsal was fantastic. Showed up giddy like my first day at Disneyland. I provided keyboard, guitar and amp, and I guess because I wandered in with the keyboard I was invited to play it for the first song we rehearsed. Oh lordy... I didn’t even really listen to the keyboard parts and well…my piano skills went out with my pigtails. Luckily Velvet Underground tunes are relatively simple and very repetitive, so figuring out one or two chords suits an entire song if not multiple songs. Whew. The rehearsal space was perfect…unknowingly stationed behind some restaurant in a tiny room where we could all bounce the rhythms, tones and sound vibrations off one another. It sounded awesome and I really felt transported. The rehearsal ended up being one giant jam session, power chords and noise provided by myself, more talented endeavors by the others. Good times!

Let’s get to the party already: Mabell and Xochitl had their house decked-out upon arrival for our second rehearsal (on new years eve day of course) and I knew it was going to be the best New Years ever when the transformation of their house included their house wallpapered with tin-foil ( that again...wallpapered with tin-foil!), an abundance of Warhol art all around, blacklights warming in the corners, DVDs of Warhol’s Screen Tests on the TV and Mabell off busy with her mylar balloon making set she bought online (heat knife included) to recreate Warhol’s Silver Cloud installation. Hardcore. Did I mention they even had a screen made in hopes that there might be some screen-printing action?  Xochitl even had FauxBan sunglasses ready for all the band members (see pic). The bicycle kitchen kids (not really kids of course) are the coolest. 

After the rehearsal, where we recognized the importance of a monitor, we split our own ways only to return to the house, possibly even more Warholized (Tomato soup anyone?), and ready for a party! People came piling in...and then more people showed up...and then a few more streams of Factory clad hipsters packed into the crowd and we were ready for a show! One dude seriously looked like Andy Warhol...totally went for it...fantastic. I was excited as flints of nervousness passed by. We played on the back porch and the whole backyard was filled with people...the whole set was felt incredible to be up there playing those tunes in such a perfect atmosphere...and one song even featured a dominatrix and slave being whipped...what would a Velvet show be without some performance art?! 

The whole evening was a whirlwind of New Years and Factory-style vibrations; mystery home-brew, mystery alcohol, smoke in the air, some random dude who no one could recognize with a goat-skeleton puppet (yup...real), dancing until 7, 8, 9 in the goes on. Best New Years ever.  Mabell has since told me that people are still talking about that party and even inquiring about the "band"! It's a night that could never be repeated, i'll never forget it, and damn do i feel thoroughly privileged to have been a part of making it happen. Explode!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Can I Interest You in Some "Extra" Cash?

Work as an Extra* (yep...i'm capitalizing it) proves less than glamorous, but my experience on Cold Case where i used my sports talents to be a background blur, get free grub and make some pretty good money considering, was so positive that when I randomly (Central Casting rarely, if ever calls you) got called on to be an extra for a Heroes episode, I couldn't resist. Well, that and being unemployed with nothing else to do. Work on the set for some TV show i know nothing about? Why not? Read on...

If this opportunity ever presents itself and the hollywood glamour facade sweeps you off your peasant, C-list feet, I'm not saying turn it down straight out (hey, hollywood ain't thaaat bad), but be wary of any terms such as "night shoot" or "evening call" deceptively present in the conversation. The woman did repeat it a couple of times, perhaps even emphasized it, just to confirm I was agreeing to a torture unknown to me at that moment, but how was I supposed to know? Usually the extra work day is 8 hours. "Night shoot" call was 3:45pm...yes...I will be working at night, probably get out around midnight...I can handle that. When I showed up at Universal Studios feeling mildly special to be let in on account of filming and not tourism, I noticed that 90% percent of these people came equipped with enough baggage to last 3 weeks. Duffel bags, roller suitcases, medicine cabinets and make-up drawers stuffed into hand bags, piles of costumes slung over shoulders...I am in the right place right? Yes. Oh dear. "Night shoot". I see a pillow...and another....oh damn...that girl's got a blanket....this thing isn't going all night is it?

As I finally made my way through the snaking line of people to get my time card I noticed my pay was only $8 an hour, half what you get as a skilled extra (are you sure you don't need hockey players skating in the back of your carnival scene??). Ahh's an experience. As I was bounced from one place to another: costume check (just as you would imagine...luckily everything i brought passed), make-up (which involved a lady going "who sent you over here?" and another guy looking at me: " look fine" (i.e. extras do NOT get personal attention...please leave), giant food spread (of which compared to Cold Case was very disappointing...i had slimy fruit salad, and a bun with lettuce tomato and pickle for dinner) and my favorite place: the holding area; basically about 100 huge tents set up in what was a hollywood Extra daycare of sorts. Before it was dark it was fine and dandy to wait (which is mostly what you do on a set) read, write and chat to fellow desperate looking "actors"...but once it got dark (quickly this time of year) and COLD, all games were off. This shoot was way back in mid-December when there was a bout of 40 degree weather and rain. Miserable was the word that kept flashing through my mind. And then, tired, annoyed, bored, cold, cold, cold, cold....

The scene we were shooting was a carnival...and apparently the end of the world or something. I don't all 15 hours i was there...the actor uttered 3 lines, the crowd ran, things collapsed, etc, etc. Oy veh. But let me tell you, those set-designers, prop-masters...damn do they do a job! I mean...i've been to many a carnival in my life, but this one was the best! And it wasn't even real! They had everything....everything you would want or imagine at a carnival...tons of rides, games, house of mirrors, cotton candy, house, ferris wheel....unbelievable what hollywood does (and pays for...and can afford!) for the sake of entertainment. Even more authentic was the straw all over the ground....and what with the wet weather, turned more into a mucky hay paste...mmm.

I should have known it would be a long night, if not while hovering around a space heater or hearing rumours spread that we'd be let out at 4am, 5am, maybe even 6am, then when the director called cut and said "alright...great job...everyone take lunch!". It was 11:30pm. He was serious. They'd been working these hours (without extras) for 2 weeks, so midnight was logically lunch time. Ohhhh, goody.

You do start to go stir crazy, or just plain crazy when you're standing around for 12 hours and it's 4 in the morning and you are practically begging the sun to come out.  All the repeated shots (you really want me to pretend there's an earthquake and run away again??!), wait time (about 15 mintues in between takes...about an hour for a new shot), and frozen toes...well...i began just throwing my prop popcorn look for that in the episode. Oh...and i've forgotten to mention putting up with crazy people. There are some in-ter-est-ing people in that Extra crowd. One girl who had spent all her money (she's broke paying for gas) and time (over 2 hours) driving to the shoot said she just thought it was a good way to get herself out the directors and such. an extra? There are 500 other people out are a moving blur! No one even cares about you aside from being a part of the crowd! It really is sad see people who think they're really gonna "make it" The whole thing just made me a bit nauseous. BUT, i did also meet a few really awesome of whom plays hockey at my same rink...small world! So we did have fun together, joking, chatting and commiserating/reveling in insanity.

The best part of the night (aside from the Director yelling cut or wrap or something...i was completely delirious and sleep-deprived by this point) was when some of the Asst. Directors took note of our frozen suffereing and offered us some of the crew's food....hotdogs and soup. Garrr...wait...did you say "soup?" What is the chance it's vegan...not much but for some reason i had hope. And when the big dude ladling it out uttered "lentil- vegetable" i practically hugged him/through myself into the giant vat. And at last, at about 6:15am, the sun began to rise, I turned my time-card in still uttering my mantra of "this is so stupid!" and "not worth it...not worth it" and zombied myself to my car to hop on the 101 with all the commuters rising up for work that day. 

Dear must do your thing...but i'll not stand in the background for a night shoot ever again. Thank you and good morning.

UPDATE!!! The Heroes episode (it's the Finale...ok...maybe it was worth it?? umm, no) airs this Monday at 8pm on NBC...check it!)

*Come on RL! Another blog about working as an extra? Well, this blog is all about Hollywood and what else do you think out of work locals do with their time?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Extra! Extra!

When I was away doing the travel thing, I would often hear of events happening on the home front and would get a sudden desire to pack my bags and start running in the western direction. Awesome shows, birthday festivities, etc…a series of Bad Religion concerts actually had me browsing flight home…mind you, I was in New Zealand at the time. . Yes, I was in NZ, but with these concerts in mind (different sets each night comprised of their different “eras”…songs never played at concerts I’d see) I could only recall my day-to-day work routine of hostel duties, none more thrilling than sanitizing doorknobs and folding laundry. Well, enough reminiscing, but when this most recent of awesome activities fell into my inbox I was truly ecstatic to be a home in California, living in L.A.!

Mid-October, a usual day at work winding down, I suddenly see an email with an intriguing subject line and when opened, there was enough there to get my heart excitedly pumping! Apparently the TV show, Cold Case, was to shoot a hockey episode and used my old hockey coach to track down some female hockey players, myself included. Rock! But who knew what this would entail…skating in circles? passing the puck with an accompanied extreme close-up? a director in riding pants shouting through a plastic megaphone? I could only dream (and hope) what Hollywood had in store for a “hockey” episode. I didn’t care, I was going to be there if I had to get up at 4am and wear a pink jersey. I was going to get paid to play hockey. Well, luckily the jerseys were purple and I only had to get up at 6am. Although after leaving messages and various curtly answered emails with no real details, I began to think it was all a hoax…too good to be true. I’d most likely show up, have my gear ripped out of my hands and locked in a room somewhere. I am NOT paranoid. Luckily I did get contact the day before and drove out of Hollywood in the early morn to meet at a rink 40 minutes away decorated with insanely detailed props, rigging gear, wiring everywhere, and people racing around on headsets with the end-of-the-(their?) world look in their eyes. The rush was on. Huh, I feel right at home, Hollywood transplanted. Only here there was a bonus: a tent full of free food. We’re talking a massive spread; I could have had breakfast, lunch and dinner all in one go. Including appetizers and dessert. “Heeey, so…right…we have to skate around for you and all…but uh, when do we eat?”  After signing away our lives and filling out a time card (pay!) we were shuffled off to costume ourselves in color (not always size) appropriate gear.

The atmosphere had both an air of chaos, like if I stopped to ask anyone if they knew what was going on, I’d get a deer in headlights/why are you talking to me kind of look, but also the energized control of a machine with 20 simultaneous working parts. Feeling like a lost bolt rolling along side the machine, I just followed orders, when someone was aware enough to instruct us that is. It was pretty exciting though, to maneuver around giant lights, cameras, dollies, lighting equipment and a mess of wires on the floor that I was sure one of us would inevitably slice in half with a skate blade and onto the ice while the crew stood ready to pay full attention to us. Yep, I kinda liked the attention.

Well, the hockey aspect of it was less than thrilling, as I imagined it would be. The film process is like a broken record, repetitive and annoying. But when “Action!” is called, an energy does rise out of the mundane “hurry up and wait” method. Even if it was more specifically, “aaaand, background!”.  We basically did the exact same drill for over four hours: 3 forwards regroup with defensemen and then go in 3 on 2, everyone crowding the camera side and then “shoot” on net. For fear of killing the camera (people are expendable) we had to slide it towards the net. Exciting. But I have to admit it was! I thought anyway….hey, I might get the chance to see a fragment of my glove on screen. One unexpected obstacle however was that many of us haven’t cumulatively skated that much in a two years. By the end we were all whining, I especially kept emphasizing that all this work would translate into blurry figures moving in unimportant screen space for about 5 minutes. We were tired, aching, hungry. So hungry.  When the director finally called time and a break for lunch we cheered like we’d won a game, a championship game. It was cool though, most everyone on the set was great and one of the main actors in our scene came onto the ice for a picture and some chat time. Fun!

After the hoopla we were told we had only 30 minutes until our next scene. We raced to the locker room, then ran to pile our plates and eat so fast that our digestive system would have the bulk of the work. We kept waiting for some frantic headsetted person to shoo us back to set. Eventually we wandered back to the locker room and still, no one, no rush. I was beginning to feel regretful of my shoveled and swallowed lunch and was getting the deer in headlights vibe. Did anyone know what was happening? I wandered around, found someone who looked half-informed and inquired what the female players needed yet to do. “Oh, you’re done, you can all go”. Well, how about that. Glad we all knew about our dismissal! But hell, at the end of the day, we skated around for four and a half hours, ate a gigantic meal, turned in our time cards and peaced out. Best day ever. I just got paid more than I do at my real job, for a shorter amount of work time, there was way more food and oh ya, I was playin hockey.

The episode aired in December titled “Iced” and as expected, our scene was a generous 4 minutes, we’re a bunch of blurs, but I think I may have briefly spotted myself. “That is so my stick blade! So is.” I get the magic in it tho…it is exciting, knowing you were there. One last note: the dude who played our coach (and a murder suspect…he didn’t do it…whew) took the part not knowing how to skate, took some lessons the week before, and now, just recently, I bumped into him at the pick-up hockey I go to. Turns out he enjoyed the experience so much he wanted to actually take up the sport! I think we girls inspired him. Well, a positive Hollywood experience as an extra. Be sure to look for my name in the credits under: “Extras provided by Central Casting”. That’s me! Look at me go ma!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

One Bike(less) Time

While I knew that there would be many an entry on this blog about bikes, biking and bike culture/adventure, i hoped that the day i reported a "bike-be-gone" would not come so soon. or ever really. but as i've come to realize, cycling in the city comes at an inevitable price: at some point you will be in an accident and at some point, have your bike stolen. For now, Treky 1, I will ride no more.

Like any stupid optimist i still believe Trekky might just show up...suddenly brought home like a lost pet that has wandered astray...lazily leaning against the side of my house, pleading for a ride when when i look out my window to check in on him. when i came home at 1am yesterday i peeked through the gate to say hello and for a split second it did flash across my mind how crushed/shocked/horrified i would be if i awoke one day or came home to find it gone. a vanishing act. it's like i brought the energy upon poor Trekky. i guess i've had that thought before but i comforted in our location. you'd have to know it was there to steal it. we live up in the hill and my apt sits even further back, up 50 stairs (which on the way passes by another apt with a stack of unlocked bikes), and through a gate to the side of the house where it lives (oops...lived) when not carting me all over town. it's stupid how much it pains me to think of me sleeping away, unaware that at some point between 1am and 8am my side gate was opened and just beneath my window (creepy!)and dreaming head someone dragged my poor bike away without any objection from me. just the thought of this thief sitting on my bike and holding my handle bars that i've held since i was 12 makes me nauseous. it is like a child! what is wrong with me?! this is way too dramatic for a bike, really now. drama continues...

did they plan it out that on a such a windy day i wouldn't hear the bike lifted and dragged through the old gate? or that i wasn't working and thus not up at my earlier hour (where was the dog barking this time?!). when i saw the empty spot anxiety attacked...questions, blame, angst and sorrow. i looked next door and saw another bike openly kick-standed in the backyard. ahh well. well, i should just let it go. someone got a very nice christmas present but i'll still be up early tomorrow to post some notices, more as a warning to others. though i'm skeptical that mine was a happy accident stumbled upon. on the other hand maybe someone watched me haul it up my stairs many times and watched where i put it. again, creepy.

well, i needed to get out of the house after all that... and not to tempt fate and ride my road bike for fear of leaving it anywhere, even with a lock, in a haze, i set out to run my errands by vehicle. along the way i couldn't help but stare down anyone on two wheels. weaving to my destinations, perhaps i took side streets never ventured down before less to avoid the traffic and more in hopes of a lucky sighting.

the feeling i have is ridiculous. it was an old bike, clearly i've gotten my use out of it, and at one point i did consider passing it on to another owner. but you know that warm fuzzy feeling you get from giving to another human being, helping another, or even selling something you know someone else will enjoy?...ya...none of those feelings were in remote area of me today. but i've heard stories much worse, nicer bikes, more invested, etc....but one of the saddest being a tale from the Bike Kitchen of a kid who came in to build and create his own bike. he finally finished it (probably months later) rode around the corner and not 100 feet from the Kitchen, had it stolen from him, right out of the saddle.

Ok, apology. This has been more of a vent than an enticing blog read. But on the upside I did just educate myself on dealing with bike loss and one of the steps to avoiding such a catastrophe is to have many bikes on call and not grow attached or dote over just one. I liiike it. If you are into bikes (or not), this guy's blog is amazing...witty with information to apply to cycling and life!

Ahhh, I am already starting to feel suprisingly relieved. Pic to the right (for some reason i can't put captions on pics) from photo explorations; a day out with the ol' Trek round silverlake.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

sKuNk YoU!

Skunk. Isn’t that the cute, little, furry little animal that could easily disguise itself as a beguiling cat with some black paint? Oh sure, they smell, but pretty harmless right? I am at the forefront of inducting “skunk” into our all too limited lexicon of swear words. “Skunk” should be, if not better than, then certainly on par with shit, crap or damn". "Fuck" might be a stretch but I think it could get there. And you know how? Just give anyone a real, honest-to-goodness run in with a skunk and they will whole-heartedly agree. Have I had a real, honest-to-goodness run-in? Why of courrrse yes. Yes I have. And I’m barely breathing, still stifling the urge to empty the contents of my stomach upwards to prove it. And on day 2, I’m just realizing I probably shouldn’t be in a public place.

Day 1:
I’ve had a nice relaxing day at home, full of nice hippy activities: I washed my mason jars with Dr. Bronners’ soap, moved my dried fruits and grains into said jars and marveled at their jarred beauty. Rode my bike to and from the Old Town L.A. farmers market to pick up some crafty items and some frutas and veggies. Then just chillin’ at home in front of the computer (thinking about how I should be writing instead of idly browsing). Click, click, type type, scroll, scroll…woah. Sits up. What the…waait. Exclaims: woooah! That is skunky! No response from roommate. Opens the door. Oh wow…it smells like crazy frying garlic and onions so powerful it will melt my eyes instead of tearing them. I think I just insulted her cooking! Back to room. Type, type…woahhh…wait a minute…it’s like burning rubber! No…it’s like chemicals burning my nostrils, my lungs! Runs out of room into kitchen. Roommate standing perplexed: “What is that?! I just opened the fridge and”—no dude…that is skunk. “It smelled like rotten garlic or something but now it’s just weird and awful.” Ya, that’s skunk. I’ve heard up close it has a rubber/everything you hoped never to smell, smell. Your dogs (who just ran past us and into the rooms) just got skunked. Hoooly shit. What now.

Well, I can spare you the details of internet searches (tomato juice or hydrogen peroxide?! Vinegar or baking soda?!), phone calls and my poor roommate corralling the dogs, who have now vomited various times because of the smell. Remember, humans have about 5 million olfactory sensors and dogs win-out in a landslide of 200 million. I don’t even want to think of what that skunk spray must smell like to them. Deadly poison I’d guess, as it is the little skunk’s only line of defense. It really isn’t fair that the poor animal can’t differentiate between its cute appearance and foul, putridly pungent, anal secretion. That’s right, anal secretion. MMmmm…don’t you just want to breathe that in all night long! If snakes have venom, can’t skunks have some equally nefarious sounding term for their spray? How about skanum. I don’t know. Something…cause “skunk” just sounds too innocent. Like an awkward predicament or a funky smell you might get a whiff of at your favorite concert. “Skunk”. Ya it’s kinda stinky, but unless you’ve been up close and personal, you have no idea of the malicious power.  If I myself had been sprayed I think I would have sought out urgent care. Ewwwahaaaahhag. Just the thought makes me recoil with vomit-like neck gestures.

Though I (sort of ) wanted to help my roomie, my innate need to flee the house and any grounds in the vicinity of our house had taken over. That and the fact that the smell kept morphing for the worse. What seemed like an hour, but was more like 15 minutes later, I was scrambling around my room, throwing things in a bag and determined to get out. It takes a lot to make me ill, but I honestly felt ILL. Like, lump in the throat, stomach swirling, I will either pass out or puke if I stay in this gas bomb any longer.  Ok, ok…ummm, I’ll go to a movie! Is anything playing at 10:30pm on a Tuesday? Found one! Great, I’m going. Go! At this point I had also desperately contacted friends to see if I could stay at their house for the night, had heard no response (again…probably only been about 5 minutes, felt like hours) and ran out the door. Thankfully I was caught en route to the theatre and made a u-turn to seek refuge in a skunk-free (no skanum!) home for the night. I was thankful for many reasons, but one of which I didn’t realize at the time.

In the short span that I was in my house when the dogs tracked the smell in, I had acquired quite a bit of it. It appears that smell moves like an infectious disease, glomming onto and securing a home in any marginally porous object, myself included. I couldn’t quite seem to get the smell out of my nose but just figured it was lingering in there. More, accurately, it was lingering everywhere. In my shirt, my shoes, my bra, my hat, my HAIR, and I’m not kidding on this one, my cell phone and water bottle. Literally anything I touched got the smell. I walked into Shannon’s house, aware that I might have a tinge of the smell, but her reaction confirmed the worst. “Ohh ryan…can you um…use the other bathroom?” oh nooo! I smell don’t I?! …dammit…it’s everywhere! “ya…use the other bathroom. the other bathroom, can you go to the other bathroom…ya…sleep in that room over there too.” I was exiled to the separate wing of the house (swiftly I might add) and I don’t blame them! Can you imagine if I had gone to the movie theatre? Well, I suppose people who go to see movies at 11pm on a Tuesday may not mind really. But at Shannon’s I tried to be as cautious as possible. I put all my clothes outside and had left to wear only a sweatshirt (that was left in my car…the car which now also smelled just from driving in it 15 minutes) and a shirt that didn’t seem to absorb the smell (or am I just desensitized! I don’t know!). I couldn’t figure out why my hands still smelled until I whiffed my stainless steal water bottle…are you kidding me?! Put it outside…put it outside.

Needless to say, that night I also hopped in her (guest/exiled wing) shower to fully scrub myself of skanum. As many of you may know I’m kind of opposed to imitation smells, fragrant chemical additives and the like. I mean, I wash my hair with cider vinegar people. But that night I wanted the most perfume-ridden, girly hair product you’d got to give and I was prepared to do a triple wash that would dry my hair to hay consistency if necessary. Lotion? Slather it on! (Especially if it’s label includes three variations of flower and fruit) Fabreeze? Yes please! Disinfectant? More! More!

Day 2: My nose is exhausted from smelling everything to make sure I wasn’t reinfecting myself with the skanum stank (please try to visualize this for humor purposes). Next morning I went out to reassess my clothes, billowing in the cool morning breeze and about half of them still stink. Fantastic. Then as I sat on the couch reading my book I get a whiff of something so foul it must be Tron’s (shannon’s pooch) fart. I move to another spot. Oh lordy…it’s still me. But I bathed! I sniff tested everything! I wash my hands again and go to pick up my book. The book. Oh my god it’s the book. And there perhaps you have a picture of the potent power of the skunk. Needless to say that when I returned to my house later on Day 2, the scent rebelliously lingered among the incense, Oust spray, Fabreeze, and lavender essence. Not too bad. Tolerable at least. I sniffed just about every object in my room and the damage was not as bad as I thought. You can imagine what I thought when even my book and cellphone managed to harbor the smell away from the source and through the night in clean air.  But that’s what’s funny. I think I adjusted. I’m currently sitting at the public library with that familiar lump in my throat. Every time I move, I get a whiff of the skanum again. I’ve come to accept that this skunk will be with me for a few more days. I’m making lots of friends….

rambling thoughts

Everyone wants to be a writer, fuck that, sitting in coffee shops, macbooks flipped open, all staring around, checking out the crowd, making the scene, not really writing anything. Sips the coffee, reads a paper, stares outward, over and above, I’ll have another thank you. Tapping to be seen, glaring at the screen, lazily looking inwards at the machine, that they hope will bring about their dreams. I’m a writer, they say, don’t these people have jobs? I’m not a writer, I try to write things, make vain attempts. Sitting there, sipping on a latte, mouths foaming like their 8- worded order, invested in the scene, staring at the screen, one more internet search, they lurch down from a trendy caffeinated perch and atop the summit of authorship. No longer longing isolates, the place dotted with expensive machines, I’m a starving artist, can’t you see? Can barely afford this drink, I’ll take another please. I’m artistic, I’m deep, I wear hemp and don’t sleep. I want to be alone with these thoughts, not in a crowd of lookalike “writers”, internet browsers. A jack kerouac rebel, letting it stream out, a long scroll of thoughts exclaiming from my brain, my mind too frought, this spellcheck bullshit slowing me down. Paper is organic, a screen so sterile, flashing in my eyes, i squint to analyze. A typewriter perhaps, but how will I lug that to the coffee shop to sit amongst the writing elite? I will be the indiest of them all: my hat, my scarf, in 90 degree heat, my typewriter in hand. I’m organic, it’s organic, I say. Now won’t you scoot over, I’ve got heavy thoughts to convey.

Monday, November 16, 2009

I’ll have one frame, two wheels, and a handlebar please. Let’s feast!

I look at my hands and they’re covered in grease. Scooping out a green goop from a tub that looks innocent enough to lube up any moving part. The green turns to a black grime coated in every crease of my hands through to my fingertips, under my nails and etched into my calluses for the next week. I love it: A sign that I’m physically working, “wrenching”, fixing bikes with my own two hands and a set of tools. What a lovely visual reminder and a rarity these days.

After several recommends and even one visit long ago (when I still felt like an utter newbie to LA) to check out a place called “The Bicycle Kitchen”, I have finally applied to be a “shadow” at the Kitchen and learn the tools of the bicycle repair and creation trade.  This has become my home for mechanical refuge. A kitchen you say? Why yes, of course. The name truly fits. You see the Bicycle Kitchen provides an incredible workspace and learning environment for the bicycle clad and bicycle needy population of Los Angeles; The kitchen looks like any co-op; scattered “ingredients” (i.e. bike parts) form an organized chaos: washers, bolts, bearings, derailleurs, gear shifters, things I don’t know how to pronounce (and much, much more) fill an assortment of drawers. Tubes, rims, and frames hang from the ceiling. Wrenches, wire cutters, screwdrivers, allen wrenches and other various tools wallpaper the walls and racks provide the cooking area.; It’s utilitarian but artistic, a gritty and charming kitchen that awaits to cook up another unique bike creation. And it only makes sense that the official workers are termed “cooks”; I aspire to graduate to cook status one day in the bicicleta concina. We even wear aprons.

People can come in and search around for their needed part, hook their bike into the rack and use the Kitchen’s tools (including the cooks) to their hearts desire. Others’ come in needing serious help. We do not take bikes and fix them. We do, however, teach you how to fix your bike and assist you when you need assistance of course. There is usually a small charge for a part, sometimes it’s free and a $5 per hour charge for using the kitchen.  Some people even come to the kitchen to create a bike from scratch using all donated parts. It’s all about learning how to do it. In this case a price is agreed upon from the beginning, anywhere from $20-$60. Bicycle Kitchen runs entirely on volunteer and donation power so no one will ever be turned away due to lack of funds. We’re always open to bike and part donations. Not to mention plain and simple $$ donations! I have only just started out, feel like I’ve learned so much, exchanged bike stories with cooks and customers alike, met some really awesome people and am truly excited to help bring bicycles, bicycle knowledge, and bicycle culture to the masses. Did I mention the Kitchen sits amongst a cute little community of a vegan restaurant, a gelato parlor (vegan options available!), and a bike shop? Let my people ride bikes (and eat delicious vegan food)! And don’t judge me cause my fingers are a bit greasy.