Tuesday, December 18, 2007


They say that Los Angeles is the city of dreams, a place where ugly is made beautiful and skinny is made fat. From knowing exactly how many hairs on britney's twat to the presidency of Mitt Romney, the influence of Hollywood's morals on society at large is immeasurable. But, in my experience, it's the small things that define a larger truth. (That rule also applies to my sex life.) Here, it is the wishful thinking of the signs on the highways that crisscross the valleys like a Peter North face-painting. The most obvious are those that declare a certain, (inevitably bland and depressed) area, as "historic." LA County has, according to my scientific analysis, added that moniker to "Filipinotown", "Arroyo Seco", and "JewTown." (The latter being historic since they have all moved to Brentwood.)

If you have to put the term "historic" in front of anything, then it most definitely is not historic. In fact, it is probably relatively new and largely ignored, except by politicians who want the votes of the people in the area. And what does "Historic" really mean? It seems to imply that the area used to be described as "full of filipinos", but is now full of EZ-Lubes, massage parlors and car dealerships, with the aforementioned filipinos lost to the sands of history, like the dodo bird and a rational foreign policy.

How about this for a sign: "Historic Lake View Terrace." It is famous for nothing other than being the town where Rodney King got the mother of all beatdowns circa A.D. 1992. Of course, this is not that great of a history. But, and some of my best friends are filipino, but I'm sorry, a lot of them living in one area, then moving away when they could afford something better, is not great history, either.

Having the government officially designate places as "historic" leads to a slippery slope of false-naming; We could have signs such as, "Silicon-Free Chatsworth," "Class/Color blind Malibu," "Safe & Clean Compton," and even "Pedophile-free Disneyland."

At least only the tourists would believe that last one.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Will that be to stay or to go?

While being escorted out of my local mall recently, I came to some real conclusions regarding the nature of mans existence vis-a-vis machines. It all started earlier in the day when I attempted to buy some iced coffee at the mall's Coffee Conglomerate.

The kiosk was off the main food court, next to the the cinn-a-lard and a PinkBerry (or as I call them, Dachau II).
After elbowing and and hip-checking my way to the line, I asked the cute as a button sales teen for an "iced coffee, please." After entering my order on the Marketroid 3000 (C) computer, she smiled at me in that comatose, corporate expression, precisely as the training DVD instructed her to do, and said, "Do you want that to stay or to go?"

I stared back at her, frozen. To stay or to go? I looked around. There was one chair, one table, and one stand with fake sugar and some cooling sleeves. "What, exactly," I had to ask, "is the difference between 'to-go' and 'to-stay? Are you saying that if I opt for 'to stay', you will serve it to me in one of the porcelain, $12.99 oversized mugs on sale here? That an alarm will sound if I take my coffee beyond the invisible borders of the store?" With that little smile still plastered on her face, she uttered a profound comment on our society: "Oh, it's just something the computer tells me to ask. It's the same either way."

And you know what? She's right. Better to just placate the computer's desires and ask a pointless question countless times a day, then go through the trouble of an Independent Thought. The fears of sci-fi writers of the 1950's, that computers would one day become sentient and force a brave but outgunned humanity to its knees, were wrong; We don't require death rays or giant robots to submit to the will of the computer. We have done it to ourselves through our lazy, shrugging boredom in the face of the massive mainframe. Skynet is active. They have already won.

It was only after I challenged her slavish devotion to the inventory control device that I realized we can free ourselves. To start, you might want to turn off the Internet for a few hours a day. Dust off the old Lite-Brite for some classic analog art. Or, if you are faced with a dilemma like mine, ask the girl if (hypothetically speaking), the computer told her to take off her top and start playing with her tits, would she do it? Baby steps, people, baby steps.

They may dismiss you as a luddite or a Level 2 sex offender, but if you speak the truth, it will eventually set you free. And the ankle bracelet they give you at the police station is so Web 2.0.