Thursday, December 23, 2010


I posted the above photo for your benefit and the below videos for me and my families' (mine and the in-laws). We are NOT a Norman Rockwell family. Not that we're not happy and full of love and good feelings. My family is the single most important thing to me and they are the best and highest quality folk I know. It's just that unlike a Rockwell painting, we have far more shit and fart jokes and the occasional, "I swear to god, I'll kill that kid if she doesn't go to sleep soon!"

In short: Norman Rockwell was full of fucking shit.

Every family has it's fair share of trouble, strife, bad times and hopefully a good dose of tolerance to deal with the former along with some really good times. I am a firm believer in 'Life is a bed of roses' so long as those roses were fertilized with a solid layer of shit.  Nothing but good times would be boring and unappreciated without some annoyance (Dad, please let me hold the remote for more than 10 seconds next time I visit). Balance and contrast people. That's what I'm saying.

Don't believe me? 

Which feels better? Sleeping under a light sheet because it's humid and hot in the summer or cozying up under a down duvet when it's cold in winter? Alright, admittedly using the word 'duvet' is almost outing myself but you get the point.

On to the good stuff.

Here's some videos of my girls because they are simply put, insanely awesome. 

 Alright, so I'm not fond of the thought of my daughter(s) dating. In fact, I might kill the first male to show up at my doorstep thinking he is going to take one of my girls out. I own guns. I now live in the U.S. of gun lovin' A. I will shoot to maim and/or kill and more than likely I will aim for your junk if you're driving a goddamn van. If there has to be a boy showing up at my doorstep I can only wish it is one of the sons of our friends. Otherwise, manslaughter charges might be pending.
Hunter Dutton, you will receive the benefit of the doubt because your parents are awesome people.  You show up fifteen minutes past Miete's curfew and I put in a call to your dad the following morning when he's hung over and interrupting while he's watching Man United. Let your imagination run wild at what his response will be. Get her home on time and your proposal is pre-approved.

I believe in making the best of any situation. I'm the John Rambo of moving to other countries. I adapt. I overcome. Well, not really but I do my best. What therefore do you do with a three year old with waaaaay too much energy when you're a single mom? Ask Lisa and she'll say, "Enroll them in Ballet and Gymnastics!" Hence, the following video:

What's a holiday without a trained monkey? Alright, so I have no primate but Miete can play guitar and sing. "Play" is a relative term but love is blind and this is the mushy part of the blog where god forbid, I say I love my awesome kid. Uncle Dave will need to intervene at some point as this child is born to rock. Just no Skynyrd.

Now, I realize she doesn't do a lot but Eireland is a pretty awesome kid as well. She sort of does her own thing. By that, I mean she makes weird sounds and produces mustard from her bum. With a righteous hairdo she can simply "be" and carry a shot. This one is for the Grandmas.

In closing, wherever you are. Whomever you're with. The holidays is for having some good times and enjoying life. Please do so.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Delays R' Us

I'm a relatively well trained husband. Years ago, my wife broke me of last minute Christmas shopping. It was one of those habits I was more than happy to give up when I realized that if you shop in November you avoid the bat-shit crazy mania of Christmas shopping in the third week of December. I was therefore a little taken aback when Lisa asked me to "swing by" Toys R Us and pick up a last minute present for Miete on December 19th.

I'll write it off to the international move and the warmer weather in Los Angeles making Lisa forget what date it really was. I have to admit, I haven't felt the least bit "christmasy" since moving here in the last days of November. I'm not one to get over enthused with holiday spirit but warm temperatures and a new city have completely killed it for me this year. So I was as guilty as she when I drove into the parking lot, Adam Wood in tow to pick up a Fisher Price digital camera for the kid.

I turned and looked at Adam as I turned off the car and said, "This may be our single biggest mistake of the holiday season". He nodded in agreement and we headed into the fray.

I've experienced some stupid shit at Christmas time but American really takes the cake when it comes to bad shopping experiences. It's like every Los Angelino who normally would be too over medicated on Prozac to act like an asshole has stopped self-medicating and now has delusions that they're Mr. T and pities the fool that gets in their way. All those assholes, they headed to Toys R Us on Sunday.

I was originally sent to get the digital camera and pull-ups as TRU has the cheapest ones in town. They were out of pull ups so I was sent on the search for the camera. I actually found it with relative ease while Adam went off searching for something to bring back to Vancouver for his boys. I arrived back at the front of the store and my gut turned. The lines were long and they were filled with some angry looking people. I noted the exits in case gunfire erupted.

I chose my line. This is something which I have a knack for. By knack, I mean the worst luck in the world. I know with certainty that whichever line I choose will be the slowest, the smelliest, the bitchiest or the one which will be spontaneously shut down. If a kid shits himself and it rolls out the leg of his size two jeans, it will be in my line. If the receipt paper roll runs out it will do so one person ahead of me. So when Consuela and her mother wanted to use a defective gift card to pay for their three hundred and fifty seven items of shit and plastic corruption it came as absolutely no surprise.

After five minutes of waiting I messaged Adam who was still off shopping."I'm in line at the front and ready to shoot myself in the face. Come meet me" He showed up minutes later to share the misery.

Consuela was like an immovable Mexican version of a Shaolin monk. Her feet as firmly planted as her English was broken and she just kept shoving that defective Toys R Us gift card back at the TRU employee, Erin and muttering, "Pay weeth card!" Erin, a black girl in her twenties kept a great attitude and smiled back and kept saying, "Ma'am, I don't know what to do with the card. I don't think it was activated. Could you please step over to the Customer Service Desk?" No Burritos Erin. Senora ain't budging.

Maybe it was the line of three people at the Customer Service Desk which Consuela refused to wait behind after already waiting behind others to get to the front of the line at the cashier. Maybe it was Constanza, Consuela's mother who stood in front of her with her own pile of items stacked high in her shopping cart  who was backing her every move that gave her the gumption to endure the glares of the waiting customers behind her. Maybe it was the fact that she as Mexican and nothing happens fast in Mexico. In fact, this was all happening at lightening speed compared to how it would go down in her homeland so she had no idea that this was even slow. In any case, "pay weeth card" was repeated several times along with, "I no go serveeece desk". This was her Alamo and I was shit out of luck.

I turned around and the behemoth women standing behind me in the black and white polka dot disaster of a shirt/tent was getting really pissed off. She looked like a furious monochromatic game of Twister. "Oh ma gawd! This is ridiculous! I can't believe this! I'm going in the other line!" Her dumpy husband stood silent knowing better than to speak after all, it would be like poking an angry Rhino in the eye.

I looked at my watch. This had been going on for twenty minutes. Erin was losing her mind as Consuela was exhibiting a will which would keep the most unimportant of secrets locked away under a Guantanamo water boarding. Finally, Erin's co-worker at the Customer Service Desk came over and performed some sort of over-ride and sent Consuela on her way, gift card spent. All that for $25. The line uttered a collective, "Are you fucking kidding me?" Fatty McFatterson behind me couldn't contain her passive aggressive self and vomitted forth, "What as the matter? Couldn't she have gone over to the Customer Service Desk?" in a tone dripping of bitchiness as the words spilled out of her gaping maw and down over her twenty seven quivering chins.

Erin simply looked up and apologized and stated in a pleasant manner, "No. She didn't want to go there."

Adam and I left both knowing that indeed, that was our biggest mistake of the holiday season.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Israel, schmisrael. BevMo is the Holyland.

Lose the thousands of years of conflict. Chuck the shitty Gefilltefisch and Motza. Add a butt-load of insanely cheap beer, wine and spirits while tossing your ancient texts written in Hebrew and Aramaic but keeping the Jews and you are getting close to BevMo in Beverly Hills.

Take off those Keds, Moshe. You're on Holy ground, you silly kosher bastard.

Enter BevMo, the discount liquor store of California (or America if it exists outside of the state. Don't know and don't care). When God rested on the seventh day I'm pretty sure when he dragged his infinitely old ass out of bed on the eighth that he thought creating BevMo was top of his list after a making coffee and taking a dump.

It obviously wasn't enough for Americans to merely have access to endless supplies of beer and wine at the local corner market. It obviously wasn't enough to put a Liquor store in every neighbourhood where when sweet talked the owner would sell you Cuban cigars and possibly a handgun with the grip already wrapped in tape. It obviously wasn't enough that all that hooch would be sold to them at incredibly low prices hence, the neccessity for BevMo. When Uncle Sam sat and pondered what else this country needed on top of massive block stores he came to the conclusion that his populace needed to get their shit all fucked up for half the price.

In Canadian terms: BevMo is to booze as Costco is to Ramen Noodles.

$20 wine? Yeah, $12. $16 Micro-brewed beer from Portland? How 'bout $7? The scotch I'm drinking right now (Balvenie Double Wood) costs $74.95 at any BCLS. It cost me $33.95. Suck it Trebek. Suck it long and suck it hard.

I'll let the link speak for itself: Bev me, BevMo!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Some days are action packed and some days are slow. The fact is, not every day in Los Angeles has been one strange adventure after another. Sure, there's plenty of freaks here and there's plenty to see and do but life has to go on and sometimes you just need to get groceries or some other mundane activity. The following is a compilation of events which would have otherwise gone unreported as they were on relatively uneventful days.

El Mongo: Gardener Off The Top Rope

On day two of my time in Los Angeles I was still crotch deep in a search for an apartment. There were a tonne of listings and I was still trying to hold to the ideal of finding a house rather than an apartment or condo. I wrangled a listing out of Westside Rentals and made the call. The voice on the other end obviously belonged to one of California's Mexican-American residents. I'll cut the details short on the
utter shitbox I went to see afterward as it is covered in an earlier blog entry (blentry?). The juice of this tale lies in what I before finding the address.

With time to kill before the appointment I decided to take a drive around the back streets surrounding Culver Studios which is where I now work. I slowly wound my way through the residential neighborhoods of sleepy Culver City. Each street had beautiful homes with carefully manicured lawns and shrubbery. The Mexican gardeners could often be seen working in the sun and performing the labor which would make whitey simply wilt like convenience store carnation. It lulled me into a state of relaxation and comfort with the area. Surely, peace and quiet could be found in such a neighborhood.

I turned the corner onto East Carson Street and made my way down it's quiet lanes. I spotted a group of gardeners working the patch of lawn which lay between the sidewalk and road in front of a nice rancher. As I approached the two gardeners with rakes kept working while the largest one standing directly behind them raised something above his head. He simply was the largest Mexican I've seen in a long, long time. His garb struck me as rather strange. On closer inspection I realized he was wearing tight fitting pajamas. They stretched themselves over his massive six foot plus, three hundred pound frame. As I closed in and drew directly parallel with the threesome he raised the objects above his head and started to pump them like Leatherface would his chainsaw. The two with rakes looked up sleepily and apologetically as the large one behind growled loudly and feigned a charge at the car.

"Sweet mother of shit!" I thought. Who is this madman? What sort of gardener is this? I then realized he was probably the older mentally handicapped brother of the two with rakes and those were wrestling belts he was holding up over his head. Imean, these were what looked like real friggin' WWF wrestling belts. Huge dinner plate sized inscribed buckles and all. I knew right then and there that El Mongo was challenging me to a cage match. I stepped on the gas and sped down the road.

Oh oh. Dead end.

I turned the car around in the cul-de-sac. I would have to take another run past El Mongo. His ebony slicked back hair and the stressed seams of his XXXL pajamas taunted me, nay dared me to run the gauntlet yet again. That big bastard would crush the Camry if he went off the top rope. I would have to pass at speed.

On the gas and down the road. I thought for sure he would refrain from another challenge. I was wrong. El Mongo, enraged that I hadn't simply driven the car through the barrier and chain link fence at the end of the road roared his most terrible roar. Time slowed. My drive by was in slo-mo as my eyes drank in every last detail of this amazing display of simple-minded bravado. El Mongo, like a Tijuana born silverback beat the shining wrestling belts against his chest.

You are the champ, El Mongo. You are the champ. Thank you for sparing me and my Japanese automobile from certain destruction.

Social Security Mutants Epilogue.

I received my social security card in the mail today after waiting two weeks. Work was getting impatient and so it couldn't have come at a better time. For a moment I doubted the incompetency of the American government but alas, they restored my faith in their ineptitude.

Not to knock them more than the Canadian government. I mean, let's be fair. They all suck. Working for the government is some sort of equivalent to mental retirement. I'm pretty sure they could take people from the ICU who have been declared brain dead and sit them at a desk and have them perform on par. I know with a certainty that Chimp could rise through the ranks if seniority had nothing with advancement.

So what made it so evident that they are functioning at a moronic capacity? I received the letter which tells the applicant that the social security card has been approved and that should I not receive it within ten days of the letter to call a certain number. The letter was sent in a separate envelope from the same address as the social security card and post marked the same day and of course, arrived the same day. Hell, it was probably sent by the same person. Stupid and wasteful.

Someone should tell President Obama that he need not make the tax cut put forth by the Republicans. He should just get the assholes at the Social Security Administration to stop doubling up on letters.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Making Human Soup In A Wetsuit.

I've always wanted to surf. Since I was a kid I always thought it would be amazing. I love the water and when it's warm, I can't stay out of it. So when it became apparent we were moving to LA I vowed to myself that I would finally give the sport a shot.

I went to The Rider's Shack on Washington Blvd. and starting looking at all the wetsuits. My coworker Dave Vasquez told me that out of all the stuff you will buy, the wetsuit is the most important. You will change boards as you get better but the one thing which will remain constant is your comfort and mobility in the water. Spend a little more suggested Dave. So I went looking.

Eventually the fellow working in the shop got to me and made several suggestions and asked which price range I was looking in. Unfortunately, there was nothing really in my price range in my size so I suggested that he just show me some good suits and that I would try them on and see how a suit should feel. I took the three he handed me and entered the bohemian dressing room which was really just a Mexican blanket hung on a rod.

Unzipping the suit and taking it off the hanger stopped me in my tracks. These were all front zipper suits and nothing at all like the rear zipper suits I had worn before. This was proving to be as confusing as the first time I tried to undo a girl's bra. Eventually I got the suit off the hanger and started sliding my feet down inside each wetsuit leg. Good god this thing was tight. Dave said to err on the side of too tight than too loose as every suit will relax after a couple of wears and after getting wet. He told me to be sure there was no air pockets. Air pockets? There's no room for air in this thing at all. I sure hope there's a testicle pocket because at this rate castration may be in order to get this thing on.

I should mention that I have an issue with my shoulder. Something weird, maybe an old injury or maybe just old age. I discovered this quirk one day while pulling on my fins before heading out in my float tube to do some fly-fishing. Whenever I pull too hard towards me while reaching towards my foot I experience a minor dislocation. I takes me to my knees every time it is so painful.

My heels just wouldn't pull through the opening at the end of the leg. I pulled hard and sure enough the old injury reared it's ugly head and sent me to the floor in pain. After a few seconds of breathing like a woman in labor I got my foot through and the wave of pain subsided. I was now covered in sweat as a byproduct of the warm weather, the pain and the strain of getting this damn suit on. Sweat was not making this any easier. Everything was sticking to everything. This was rock bottom and I knew it. This was my version of an obese person getting stuck in a theater seat.

It took around ten to fifteen minutes to finally get the suit on and zipped up. It was a little long in the legs. The knee pads just reached the tops of my knees. I showed it to the guy who was helping me and he agreed and started looking for a suit in medium short size for me. I'll slip out of this suit and try on one that he brings me and that should be that.

I unzipped the suit and tried to pull out my right arm. It wouldn't budge. Hmm, maybe I'm supposed to pull out my left. Nope. That didn't work either. I double checked that there were no additional zippers to undo. Nope. Damn it's hot in here. I could feel the sweat building up under the suit and along with it a small modicum of panic growing in the back of my mind. I'm sure I missed something. I zipped up and down again. No dice. I was stuck. I frantically reefed on my arm while pulling down on the front of the suit. I was stuck, tired and over-heating. I was making Human Soup in my wetsuit as sweat was now pouring from every nook and cranny of my now sopping wet body. If this kept up, they'd find the dehydrated corpse of a panic stricken Canadian in this ramshackle dressing room. I had to suck up the pride and call the guy who got me the suit. He started hauling on the front and on the left arm while I tried to get my right arm out. It took a good solid minute before I was free. I was so exhausted I hesitated for a moment to try on another.

When it was all said and done I found a suit I really like but it was a little too expensive. I'll look online and if I can find it or something similar for less, I'll order it. When I try it on for the first time I'll be sure to have at least one person and the jaws of life too extract my pasty white ass from the suit.

Be warned Dave. If we go surfing together that person may be you.

7 Ways You Can Tell You're Living In Los Angeles At Christmas.

1.) You're still sweaty after trading your Parka for a hoody and only need to wear it when the sun goes down and there are no Santa Ana winds blowing.

2.) You wake up, look out the window every morning and see a massive sign advertising, "Holly" and "Wood" overlooking the city. Marketing knows no shame.

3.) The bad area of town isn't just where there's nothing but strip malls and low rent housing but where white people never return from and this includes Santa Claus. Sorry Du Shawn, Santa refuses to come to Compton.

4.) Fat retarded assholes who are busy Christmas shopping and are driving Jaguars hit cars in parking lots when backing out of their space and blame the parked car.

5.) On shopping for a present for yourself, you experience shear panic when you realize you may be trapped in the wetsuit you are trying on and then almost pass out in the change room because it's 23 degrees.

6.) Your Christmas booze bill no longer exceeds your costs for food, presents and travel.

7.) You can buy liquor, groceries and guns in the same store from a guy in a Santa hat.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

World Wide DOES NOT mean California!

Look at little Ping Po Ng above. He sleeps so soundly on that concrete stair. Oh Ping, you are truly a little wonder wrapped in clothing styled by Genghis Khan himself. Although it appears that little Ping is either acting or performing an almost impossible act he is doing neither. Ping, you see, has developed the ability to sleep anywhere at any time through good old third world attrition!

My children do not have this ability.

Why would the children of some jet set, Los Angeles, Schmooze-bot 5000 like myself need it? Surely there is no circumstance in life that would require to sleep in such a manner. That is unless California does not qualify as World Wide.

"Wagner, just what the shit are you on about?" you ask yourself. Well, we hired a moving company called World Wide Overseas Moving Service to move our personal effects down here to the sunny State of California. Now, I know that California is not "Overseas". That is, unless you count Trout Lake in East Vancouver which was almost directly south of our place. It's much less a lake and more a puddle that junkies and homeless wash their stinky welfare cheque asses in. I did, however think that California lay somewhere is in this wide world and therefore our move would qualify as "World Wide". I was an idiot.

When I asked Karen Slater, our contact at WWOMS how long it would take to ship our stuff south of the border she stated it could take anywhere from three to fourteen days. Today is fourteen days since they picked our stuff up. Her response yesterday when we emailed here about the whereabouts of our household goods was, " I still do not have an answer at this stage we are waiting for confirmation when driver is to load.  Operations thought your shipment was loading late last week but the vanline has another driver picking up."

We have nothing in our beautiful apartment. Well, we do have some grocery bags and some small stuff that we bought and we also have an amazing HD DVR and over four hundred channels of viewing goodness. Now if I could just plug that HDMI cable into my brain I could see what was on television as my TV is sitting in Vancouver... somewhere.

This brings us back little Ping. We are all sleeping in one large blow up bed. Oh the comfort! I love feeling everyone else's movement and I love, LOVE being kicked repeatedly in the junk by my three year old. Unlike Ping, my daughter cannot sleep on concrete stairs. She can barely even sleep on the blow up mattress and by extension this means that neither can I. So every morning when I wake at half past six as the California sun  shines through the curtainless windows and burns a whole through my eyelids I drag my tired, ill-rested ass out of bed and make coffee on my espresso machine. Espresso machine? Yes, I packed it in the car and drove it down knowing I would need it in short order and that life would be insufferable without it. Yes, I was a LA ass-bag before I even moved to LA.

I guess this is the one thing that has gone horribly wrong with our move. It was the one thing outside of visa approval which hinged purely on the performance of another and in this case that other has dropped the ball.

World Wide Overseas Moving Service. You are neither, world wide, over seas, moving at a rate which is acceptable and you most certainly aren't showing me any service. Kiss my ass. Kiss it long and kiss it hard.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Walt's House.

Sunday showed up and the weather was crap. The furniture hasn't arrived and the shopping is done. We really have no idea what we still need and what the heck is happening until our stuff shows up. We have the rudimentary items. We can cook and bathe etc. but as far as actually living a normal life things are still a little crazy.

My mother-in-law came down to help with the kids while Lisa set things up but as mentioned above, nothing is here to set up. What would we do with our Sunday? One word...


Disneyland lies around 50km south of Los Angeles in the city of Anaheim. It takes little time to make the trip and if one stays on the freeway Compton can be avoided. Of course, a bullet filled side trip could always be made if one liked taking their life in their hands or if they wanted to be jumped in to the Crips or the Bloods depending on the exit. We drove straight through and made it to the resort area in under forty minutes.

I hadn't been in over thirty four years. Miete has never been. I think I was more excited. Entry fees paid we boarded the shuttle bus and headed in, I was well ahead of the others as I hurriedly entered the gates.

I have to say, it's a classy operation from start to finish. No detail is overlooked and no one element does not represent the Disney image. Now, whether or not that image is untarnished and is as puritanical as the Disney corporation would have you believe, should bare some examination. From our experience though, it was a fun platter with a side of awesome.

We did the classics with a few exceptions due to long lines. Pirates, teacups, and Dumbo. Peter pan and Pooh bear went over like gangbusters. Miete lost her mind when we happened across the 'meet the princesses' exhibit. They were awesome and let's face it, they're pretty and are wearing the full princess gear which matches the movies they represent. What's not to like? Belle was her favourite and was definitely the warmest.

After the Pirates of the Caribbean, which was a little too intense, dark and loud for the little girl we took a ride on Winnie the Pooh. This was another big hit. Bright colours and fun animatronics and as we exited we saw Tigger, Eeyore and Pooh bear all dressed in Santa hats. Kapow. Hit number three.

Waiting in line was only semi-eventful. The actors needed a five minute break and so they took off for a water and to probably take the wicked leak they desperately needed. Before they returned, the small latino kid in front of us did a triple gainer and smashed his melon on the concrete hard enough that I felt it in my feet (no kidding). His mother immediately picked him up stating that he was fine. I figured he was concussed. I guess this is why they make great boxers.

Miete, unlike myself when I visited the Magical Kingdom as a child, loved the dressed up mascots. I remember losing my cool most horribly when Donald Duck came near me. Miete ran to Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger and hugged each one in turn and giggled like a mad man every time. It was super cute.

We hit another couple of rides on the way out including Casey Jr.'s Circus Train. I thought it might be an anti-climax but I was so wrong. Miete pumped her arms like the wheels of a locomotive the entire time and sang along with the song.

As if the day was awesome enough we ran smack dab into the middle of the Disneyland parade as we left. All the princesses were on the leading float then Woody, followed by Gepetto, Jimminy and Pinnochio. Buzz Lightyear was followed by twelve reindeer and then low and behold Santa. It was pure awesomeness and allowed us to avoid the expected meltdown on the way out.

Back in the shuttle bus and to our car we headed out. Miete was ruined. Normally unable to sleep in the car she was out inside of ten minutes and stayed out even when carried upstairs and put to bed.

I'm not sure how we'll top this. She pretty much is living the dream.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Crenshaw Bloods, LADWP and Time/Warner.

Well, by the mere fact that I am here to write this you probably have ascertained that I survived my second trip back to Blood controlled, Crenshaw. The second run out to the hood wasn't nearly as bad as the first as I knew exactly where I was going and I had my duck below dash level skills well polished.

I entered Baldwin Hills Mall through Macy's. How could Macy's do me wrong? The security guard at the base of the escalator noticed me right away and acknowledged my white presence with a, "Hey, how you doing?" I guess white dudes just don't make it this south east and they bare acknowledgment. Up that escalator as fast as possible without crowding anyone and with a whole lot of staring at my feet. As I made my way through Macy's I actually made my way through the racks of clothing like a total pussy. No main thoroughfares for my honkey ass. Here I am exiting Macy's looking at a relatively empty office and thinking it's my destination, SoCalGas. That's when I ran into a long line stretching out of the actual office I was heading to.

So it's me looking like a small piece of eggshell in a chocolate cake staring at the ground and making way for anyone and everyone who is leaving the SoCalGas office through the double door which has one of its doors locked. I look up for just long enough to notice that you can't see any of the tellers through open air. They all stand behind two inch bullet proof glass. Great. At least the tellers won't be able to shoot me.

Please. Please let me get the whitest Latina. Maybe she'll take pity on my cracker ass. Nope. No dice. I get the hefty sister with a bad attitude. I walk up to the window to meet Mrs. T, Mr.T's less friendly sister.

"Hello. I was told to come here with two pieces of photo ID because I lack a SSN. I understand there's a deposit." I say.

"Hmm, hmm." says Latisha.

I slip my driver's ID and passport through the small slot at the bottom of the bullet proof window. She looks at my passport with a "oh hell no" look on her face, opens it up and then realizes it's Canadian. Instant attitude change. This is not the peckerwood that oppressed her people and made them pick cotton. We did not steal her people from their homeland and enslave them. My people did not sell them as assets or otherwise.

"No problem, we'll get you set up and put the deposit on your first bill. It'll be easier to pay that way."

On leaving Crenshaw I regret not bringing a Canadian flag to fly from my antenna.

On a side note:

To set up our electricity after the SoCalGas account was as easy as anything. ID. Deposit. Done.

To set up our Time/Warner Account was even better. ID. "I'll take a shitload of channels please, Ma'am." Digital phone line with unlimited free calling nationwide and to Canada and Mexico, Internet and HDTV with a HD DVR, the Sports Package plus full HBO and Showcase all for $130/month. That's $30 less than in Canada and for a shizznit load more.

They show up on Monday to install all that is needed to access the craziness of over four hundred channels.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Morning in Crenshaw

The lady on the phone from Southern California Gas  said the nearest location was at 3625 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd in Crenshaw and I instantaneously shit in my white boy underwear.

I had no idea what the words, "racial divide" really meant until I crossed La Brea Blvd. heading east into Crenshaw but it became quickly evident that I was the only cracker this side of the city. My snowflake ass soon grew uncomfortable as it became seedier and seedier. I passed shops called African Book Market and salons advertising Cornrow Extensions. Yes, there was plenty of fried chicken joints as well so albeit an old racist joke the stereotype holds true.

I got to my destination or at least where the GPS said the office for SoCalGas was. I parked around the corner, hid the GPS in the console and walked back around the corner to the address as quickly as I could. It was a derelict building with bars across the windows and doors and a tattered Obama poster reading Obama: Freedom to Change.

Well fuck you, SoCalGas. My honky ass is running back to the car as quickly as these white and much slower than black feet can carry me. Into the car and around the corner onto Crenshaw Blvd and back up MLK jr. Blvd. to Rodeo. Back across La Brea and I was starting to relax. When I arrived back at the studio to start my day I noticed that though the lady on the phone had told me 3625 MLK jr. Blvd. I had written down a different address from the SoCalGas website.

Goddamn it all. I have to go back tomorrow morning.

Social Security Mutants

FREEDOM! I scream the words of William Wallace as I pull out of the Econo-lodge parking lot. Good riddance you bastards.  I look at the scoreboard in my head and it reads:

Wagner 1 - Econo-lodge 0

You see, in the end I pulled a quick one on them and am calling it a small victory. It's pathetic and sad but something which takes the sting out of paying nearly seven hundred dollars to stay there. I dropped one of my room keys down the elevator shaft at work yesterday and only returned one as I checked out.

Suck on that Econo-lodge!

It's eight in the morning as I pull across the street and get a coffee before heading to West L.A. and my first goverment office to apply for a social security number. On arrival, I find parking and enter the large building which houses a bank and I head to the third floor. As I walk through the doors and into the waiting area outside the social security office I am greeted by a sight I will remember for ever and the inscription on the Statue of Liberty runs through my head:

Give me your tired, your poor. Your huddled masses...

Looking up at me like a newly uncovered gang of stowaway Tamils hidding in a shipping container is an assorted cast of what Lady Liberty was talking about and they all want a damn social security number. It's frickin' twenty after eight and I'm sixth in line. I take my place in line and pretend to not listen to the banter of those around me. Here's a quick run down of the cast:

Pepe The Texan: The self-proclaimed and appointed leader of the group. Pepe assigns each person a number as they walk through the door and then proceeds to tell each in turn who is before and after them. Pepe is on disability which is evidenced by the large sole on his left shoe. He is on disability due to a bad car crash where he drove his car directly into a power poll, wrapping it around it. His claim is that not wearing a seat belt saved his life.Sure it did Pepe. It saved your life and made it much easier for you to run in circles. Pepe is pissed off at the government for not giving him his disability cheque on time before the Thanksgiving holiday and therefore he wound up sleeping in his truck.

Henta the Persian: Henta is a larger lady there with her silent husband who has obviously just given up speaking altogether because of the futility of trying to get word into any conversation with his chatty wife. Henta complains to everyone around her about how cold it is in the waiting room (23 degrees) and how her sore hip bothers her. "I take medicine still hurt" states a moaning Henta. She and the neighbour to her left talk about learning English.

Papita: Papita made the crucial mistake of entertaining the complaints of Henta but seems to rather enjoy being in the presence of another women and one which speaks poorer English than she does. Papita has been studying English after hours for three years and still speaks like Manuel from Fawlty Towers.

Stinkatron: Stinkatron enters nearly last of the core group of crazy people. She is crazy. She is unwashed and she smells like a football team after a hard mid-summer practice. She keeps asking everyone where she can get number. Pepe tells her the numbers are inside and that the doors don't open till nine. Stinkatron doesn't get it and looks worried.

Bruce: The only normal person. Bruce is a Californian and has to be there for some benign reason but is unfortunately trapped in the tractor beam of bat-shit crazy and coked out Pepe. "Sure, sure... yeah that sounds tough." says Bruce in the hopes of assuaging Pepe. Damn it Bruce, don't you know the "I got a call" trick. Open your phone and ignore that mental guy.

More and more people push through the door as it gets closer to nine. There's a serious crowd now. I'm starting to fear that the order Pepe has set forth will simply dissolve the second those doors open and a mad rush ensuses. The doors open and a security guard with a gun comes out and announces the expected conduct when we enter. He states that there is no food or drink allowed on the premises. Oh, and in case we have any weapons we should leave them outside as well.

Pepe is telling people that if you need to fill out a form they're on the right as you enter the door and that you should fill one out first and then take a number. He is either totally stupid or incredibly crafty. I head to the number line, take on (number 3) and then hurriedly fill out my form. As I near completion my number is called and I go to the window. The elegant older black lady who must have been a real looker in her day and who's coworkers refer to as, Miss Marie processes my request. She also tells me that the Department of Homeland Security has fouled up my visa and list my first name as Gordon Kelsey with no middle name. She puts in the request to have it changed and informs me that it will take ten to fourteen days to have my social security number and card sent to me at Sony's address.

I'm happy to see the government is as incompetent south of the border as it is north.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

America, you are a dysfunctional ex-girlfriend.

Damnit America, you’re so hard to hate.

Here I’ve spent years slamming your shitastic culinary palette and then you completely blow my mind with one of the best Italian meals I’ve eaten in years and all for a whopping $11. I tried desperately to scientifically prove that your citizens are a bunch of gun toting inbreeds and low and behold the people who surround me at work are some of the kindest, most intelligent and OPEN MINDED individuals I’ve ever met. Never mind the fact that they exude that honeymoon period charisma which accompanies every move/vacation. Then you elect a Brother as leader of the nation. Do you smell that? It’s my mind completely melting.

America, I’ve told some nasty rumours about what a shit significant other you are to Canada. Now, I’m not willing to retract it all but somehow the one-sided nature has been diminished. I now see that we as a nation of submissive, snow-loving, maple syrup swilling, purely awesome Great White Northerners were complacent in this tainted relationship as we glommed onto you, the dominant power figure.

America, you are a loveble yet completely bat-shit crazy ex-girlfriend. You’re hard to hate, hard to love and you’re as complex as you are simple. Now that I live here, I’ll do my best to forgive. I’ll do my best to relish that which is good. And like any significant other, I’ll do my best to pretend that I didn’t notice that you took a massive stinky and seriously loud shit after we went for Indian.
America. While I’m here, I’ll light a match and smile and I’ll act surprised if you admit it.
Please keep proving me wrong.

-          Me.

PS. America, I know you took the coffee set we got as a joint gift. You know it’s fucked up but let’s let bygones be bygones.


Life in a hotel sucks. Life in the hotel I'm staying in just began to really suck.

The paper-thin walls of the Econo-lodge on W. Washington Blvd. did not show their true nature until the wee hours this morning when I was awoken by the fevered sleep ramblings of my new neighbour. Previously, the room had been empty but now Bob the Mumbler had moved in.

4 am I awake to, "HUH! What? No.. Over there... over there, I said!"

Holy crap, it sounds like the guy is in the same room as me. I can hear every sneeze and murmur from his dumb face all night and at 7am he wakes up to evidently make something in his room's microwave. Apparently the door on said microwave needs to be slammed three times to get it to shut. I hope your oatmeal is good asshole.

Like any good neighbour, I return the favour by firing up the espresso machine I brought from home. This is the first morning I am using it. Last night after work I went to Trader Joes and bought a small thing of milk. Don't be fooled. My room has no refrigerator. I have to grab the thin plastic bucket they've graciously provided me with and get ice from the machine outside and I plunked the milk in that. Oh Econo-lodge, what amenity haven't you considered. You pamper me too much!

The good news is that I will hopefully hear back from Vanessa the rental agent at the condo complex I applied at. Should we get it and I most think we should I will have a proper working fridge. I will also have laundry, a gas range, a dishwasher, a swimming pool, a jacuzzi and a massive courtyard with outdoor furniture and free WiFi.

Suck it Econo-lodge.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sony, 1000 People and Trader Joes.

I started my new job today and though I can't go into specifics let me just say that the company is a monster and stepping onto the lot through security that rivals an airport was interesting. There was so many people and three buildings... on our lot alone. There's several other lots and other buildings with hundreds more people all around. These lots are entire city blocks. Keeey-ray-zee.

At the end of the day I got to sit down in my very own seat rather than in another wing of the building where I was receiving training. I look to my right, Jeff Kim. I look to my left Matt Meyer. Jeff worked in Albuquerque with Graham Silva and Claus Pedersen. Matt worked at R&H with Dave Mah and Alan Rogers. Immediately I launched into a load of stories about the boys and felt a similarly immediate approval of friends of friends.

Then I take off to Trader Joes to buy a simple dinner. Something not deep fried and something with greens. Salad, olives, pita, humus, fruit and milk for the morning. Wait, what's this? Penfolds Shiraz? Isn't that $18 in British Columbia? $8!!!

Food cost $8. Wine cost $8.

Who am I? Steve Bond?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Haircuts, Sunglasses, Burgers and Freaks.

I took my ass down to Melrose Blvd. today to get a haircut before I start work tomorrow. I was going to a specific place where some tattooed freak cuts your hair but then I got sidetracked to a place that looked good right across the street.

Carlos, my hair stylist did a great job and was hilarious when he would respond to my stories with an extra flamboyant and campy,”Oh my gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawd. I can’t imagine!” What can't you imagine Carlos? Paying more than a $20 for a really good haircut?  Awesome cut. Entertaining conversation and like the budgie said,” cheeap!”

Then on to find sunglasses.

Chilli Beans on Melrose provided a great selection of big thick framed goggle like sunglasses. I found the ones I wanted and went to buy them. What’s that? 50% off. Double win mark it two-nil for Kwagmire, Dude. $75 sunglasses marked down $25 and then 50% off on the Black Friday special! 

On to find food.

I drove by the 50’s styled diner, Johnny Rockets and thought I’d go in to find out what it was all about. When I opened the menu I was shocked at how many burger options they gave. I guess hamburgers are an American institution but holy shit people, 30 different combinations? Never mind the fact you could add cheese, bacon or another patty to any burger. I sat down and ordered some food and after the first couple of bites the most horrific drag queen walked in. She looked like a mix between Bugs Bunny because of her massive front chompers (the only two in the mouth that I could see) and the ever-emaciated Iggy Pop. Those big ass chicklets front and center just stuck out ready to open any bottle or can that needs it. Oh oh, said crazy transvestite is walking over here dragging her floppy high heels. Oh thank god, she walked out the door. I’m a whatever turns your crank kinda guy but for some reason when crazy transvestites see me they are drawn in like a moth to a light. Maybe it’s my cologne, Gender Konfusion by Calvin Klein.

I then drove up to check out Hollywood Blvd again as last time was super entertaining. They were filming and had several blocks cordoned off so no freak show today. Too bad.

Woodsy arrives tonight at 6:44 to LAX so I’m picking his chump ass up and we’re heading out to dinner. He’s stoked I’m down here and so am I. We’re gonna tear this bastard up. Can’t wait to hang with him and Pete as it’ll be like old times only they won’t be sending me for coffee.

“Runner to Avid A. Runner to Avid A”

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Edmundo, you let me down.

Edmundo. You renegged on your wheeling and dealing and thus are a dink-wad. Get on your burro and get he hell out of LA before I shot-put your ass back to Juarez.

I immediately went into action mode when Edmundo decided the chap from Wells Fargo bank was a better fit for the apartment. He actually still wanted me to rent it but at a higher price so he can eat his $2300/month asking price when that dude finds something else like I did. And Edmundo, I know I said I'd call you back and let you know either way but don't hold your breath amigo.

Within an hour I found another place. Though smaller it's nearly brand new and a two bedroom with a view of Los Angeles and Hollywood in the distance. You can actually see the Hollywood sign waaaaaaaaaaaaay in the distance if the smog isn't too bad. We don't have a personal deck but instead have a massive courtyard with wireless service and a communal rooftop deck open concept into the front room. There is a master with an ensuite and a second similar sized bedroom with another full bathroom. It's overall the nicest place I'll have lived in providing all goes smoothly with the rental agency. There's Starbucks, a post office, Vons grocery store and some other stuff within 100 yards and an easy 4 minute drive or 10 minute ride to work.

I'll be in the old Econo-lodge till probably Tuesday morning. My stay here can't end soon enough. As I told Adam, my master plan has worked. Stay in a place shitty enough to make you want to get out of it at every opportunity and you will more than likely find a place in record time. The picture below doesn't do it justice as all that grass has been covered in a new layer of thick manure. So while I love being greeted with a faceful shitastic sharticles when I walk out the door every morning I think I'll move on ASAP.

Edmund, we all know your real name is Edmundo.

I set up a bunch of appointments to view places today.

The first place was interesting but not setup right for our furniture. It pissed me off. I should rephrase that: It made me piss. Literally, the landlord let me alone in the three floor townhouse and I took a much needed back tooth floating leak. As I prepared to let fly with the door open I envisioned a stranger who was also viewing the suite walking in and seeing me hose out a Grande Latte and I quickly closed the door. I took an application “just in case” and hit the road.

The second place looked like a dream in the ad. It turned… WOAH, HOLD THE PHONE!
I’m writing this while at dinner and I order Veracruz style Ocean Perch and they just set it down in front of me. Sweet Mary, mother of god… it still has it’s head. The sumbitch is looking at me. This is delicious damn food. Best salsa I’ve had and it’s spicy. Amazing. I love you Los Angeles. Ola Senor Fishy. Prepare to meet thy doom!

Alright, back to the apartment:
I called and set up an appointment with the landlord, Edmund. Crazy thick Mexican accent. Edmund, we all know your name is really Edmundo. So the place was not as it appeared in the ad. Slightly more worn and much smaller than I thought and after busting my balls about being on time, the landlord showed up late. The bedrooms were big but the living room area and such would make it a tight fit. I expressed this to the landlord Edmund. In retort he told me there was another, larger suite available. Me wanna see, Edmundo. VĂ¡monos!  muchacho!  The large apartment was well, large and $300/month more expensive. Let the haggling begin!!! By the time I left, I had talked him down in monthly rent, negotiated an 8 month lease and got him to skip the credit check. Hellz yeah. If nothing better shows up by noon tomorrow I’ll take the place and be done with this BS. It’s located right next to Vons and a mini-mall but there’s no real “walking” around the ‘hood. It’s right on top of the freeway and although you can’t hear it, it provides a certain noise when outside the apartment on the large and private rooftop balcony. As Edmundo told me, "There are beautiful ladies in bikinis who suntan next door". Way to sell, Amigo. In any case, Edmund was a righteous dude and very accommodating and the place was overall clean and large.

I then had the pleasure of viewing one dirty hacienda. I mean, this place made a gas station toilet look pristine. I rang the number and was greeted with Spanish which left me confused and decidedly Canadian.

“Ola senor, I’m calling about the place you have for rent on Hubbard.”
“Si, si you talk to my son. I get number.”
*phone goes dead*

I take a drive over to the address and my phone rings and it’s the person’s son that I had spoken to earlier. We arrange to meet 15 minutes later at the property. I figured a preliminary drive by would be a good idea. As I drove down the street my inner dialogue was as such as I viewed each house in turn:

“Good. Very good. No. Please god no.” and that pretty much landed me at the address.

It was pink. It was flakier than a granny’s heels. It had leaves all over the floor when I peered in the window. When Jose (his name, I shit you not) actually met me and took me in I almost turned and took off quicker than the Roadrunner. Here is my inner dialogue as I made my way from the front room through the narrow ass hallway and into the bedrooms and bathroom:

“What the shit? Did a hurricane hit here? Why are there so many leaves in here? Seriously, is this place really only 12 feet wide?  NO! This is the kitchen? This first bedroom is tiny it can’t be the master. Oh my god, there’s a cockroach in the fucking tub. This is the master? I’ll feign interest for Jose’s sake and then when I leave wash my hands in the nearest oil stained mud puddle.”

I may get my Hepatitis shot tomorrow.

So, in retrospect Edmundo’s place looks pretty damn nice right now. It’s about 10 mins from work on my bike if it’s can be ridden at all. Maybe a 15 min walk or so.  So like I said earlier, I take it unless a miracle transpires tomorrow morning.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering whether or not I’m dodging you all online… the server at the hotel is down aaaaaaand, this ocean perch was somewhat disappointing but I think this restaurant is probably  a hidden gem which just happens to not do fish that well. Maybe I just don’t like Ocean Perch. It tasted fresh but muddy. The corn tortillas rocked though.

I’m out!