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!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday. Now that's just overt racism!

Block long line ups. Grannies elbowing kids in the face to get to the case lot of Mylanta. Bleeding children leap frogging one another to get to the new Xboxes.What I am doing? Not shopping! I'm trying to set up appointments to view apartments today.

Hopefully I'll reign one in by the end of the day or by tomorrow and I can move in immediately and stop staying in the shit box hotel I'm in. Not that The Econolodge doesn't off all the comforts of a third world country. I think the worst thing is the lack of a fridge. I brought a coffee machine with me but have no place for milk so I have to go to coffee shops in the morning. This might seem like a hassle but considering their WiFi connection is totally shitty at best it affords me the opportunity to actually get stuff done online.

I viewed a place yesterday and it was really nice. Americans you make everything huge including 2 bedroom duplexes. The neighborhood just wasn't suitable for my girls though. I think they can wait a few years before they roll with the Vatos in CXC13 (Culver City Boys). I even haggled with the lady on the lease terms. There's deals to be had in this crappy economy.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Yo soy Los Angelino II

Hellz yeah California. I haven't seen your pretty face in over ten years and I would just like to say I love you... so long as you are pouring delicious Mexican food into my yawning maw.

When I arrived at my luxurious new abode, Econo-lodge Redding I had no idea that they would recognize my royal Canadian status. That is, until I turned on my learned Punjabi phrases to the Indian owners. BAZANG! Instant star status. There was a Mexican restaurant across the parking lot for where I was sleeping, my room had a TV and I bought beer when I was in Portland. This was paradise. Then I found out those bastards at the Mexican restaurant closed early. My friend at the check-in desk called and asked why:

Friend: Hello... hello! Yes, this Sukwinder! Why you closed?

Mexican Restaurant:  Que? Que? Noooo-baaah-deee heeeeee-roh.

Friend: That make no sense! I have customer! He drive from Canada and want Mexican food!

Mexican Restaurant: Que? Que? Cerrada Senora.

In any case, two of my three favourite visible minorities came together and found me another restaurant which in turn served me the stupidest most over-sized portion of Enchiladas I've had in a very long time.

After a 7 am wake up I blasted off to Starbucks and then southwards to the city of angels.

Motorhead and coffee provides the perfect wake up. There's just something about Lemmy's voice that says, "Eye's open!" I looked around and could see that the landscape had drastically changed from the last time I was able too see it. I drove in dark for the last four hours or so of my journey the night previous so the contrast was stark.

Cow town after cow town and metal music was on the menu. A little 9August Frost a la Jordan Burgess served me well for the next stretch. I had started the day with a country note (Dwight Yoakam and Dixie Chicks) but damnitall, there's something about this boring ass landscape that calls for distortion!

Then it happened. Sacra-frickin-mento. Holy shit people, it's not a race to see how many lane changes you can make. This was the first real city in California that I drove in. Sure it was seven lanes. Sure it was at 70 mph but somehow it lacked the surprising nature that a man, a child and a goat on a motorcycle ripping between lanes at the same speed on a narrow Grecian street held. Thanks for the attempt America but Greece has you well trumped in the bat-shit crazy traffic category.

I can barely remember the names of the craptastic townships thereafter. Taft? Coalinga... is that Spanish for oral sex? I bet there's some well pleased ladies in that town. Los Banos. Put that crazy accent over the n and you've got, "The Toilets". Then I hit Santa Clarita and got hit with a faceful of traffic jam. When that gave way I was in Burbank and could almost smell the sweet smog of LA. Westwood, The Hills on my left and the Plateau on my right. The browned out skyline was a welcome sight.

I checked in to my present hovel and then went to find a laptop so that I could search for apartments and have some level of contact with the Bros back home. Let me just say that as much as I love my home nation we have no idea what a sale price really is. Sure, this laptop is stained with the blood of a million Iraqis but HOLY SHIT! It rips and I got it for a grand. I hope someone takes pity on me tomorrow and pours liquid Turkey into my face.

Tomorrow brings either apartment searches or surfing. Either is good.

Yo soy Los Angelino.

Sooooooooooo much has happened over the last 2 days and 2200 kilometers. Here's the quickest/long-winded version I can type whilst hunched over a newly purchased laptop in a shitty Econo-lodge room.

I pretty much didn't sleep the night before the departure. Too much coffee, a two year old that was up a couple of times and pant-shitting anticipation of the border interview and long drive and apartment search. Nonetheless, a four AM wake up, a quick coffee and shower got me to the border at 5:15am.

I was entirely too delirious to be worried and simply handed over my H1B petition and passport and took a completely no bullshit approach with the border guards. Training all summer with Woodsy going golfing south of the border taught me one thing. Tell the truth and give yes and no answers. Fifteen minutes later I was through with my passport/I94 stamped and was thoroughly impressed with the class and professionalism of the Department of Homeland Security, something I never thought I would be saying. I mean, I really thought W. was a dick and that there was no hope for this country and instead they once again come up big (I hope the CIA is reading this).

I filled up the tank in Blaine as I stood freezing my Canadian ass off in the -09 temperature and wind. I5 south to Seattle where the present economic situation revealed itself. Plow your damn roads Seattle! The I5 was a damn skating rink as you headed down the hill into the city of Seattle and then once again as you bypassed it and climbed the opposing hill.

Tacoma was my first stop for breakfast and thank god their Dept. of Highways had the budget to plow. Take note Seattle. The restrooms in the restaurant I ate in looked like some sort of epicenter for a thermonuclear assplosion. Not nice. Not nice. My first meal in a long time in America and it was much too much too large. I really didn't need the four pieces of toast, two eggs and two medium sized potatoes for $4.95. America, your ass is 38 axe handles (official Smokey Wagner measurement) across because your portions are too large.

I stopped in Portland for lunch and I have to say, this may be the greatest American city. There was a micro-brewery everywhere I looked. I made a pilgrimage to Rogue Brewing's Tap house and was not disappointed. In a word, mind-blowing. I only wished my friends Des and Jason were with me and that I had a few days to sample every delicious beer on their menu. There were so many that aren't available in Canada and after imbibing the smallest glass they offered I departed but not before buying some swag. Oh, by the way the food was awesome and ultra-healthy. I had an amazing black bean, avacado and corn salad served atop quinoa and they brought me three kinds of hot sauce to spice it up. Portland, I frickin' love you.

Cover the ears of the young ones if you are reading this aloud, the weather turned absolute shit-ass when I left. White out conditions for at least 15-20 km down the road. I received some serious grace though as nothing stuck to the road nor the wipers. Kiss my ass Old Man Winter. Kiss it long and kiss it hard.

I really considered stopping and holding up in some place and doing the trip over three days at this point but then the 16 year old in me said to go for it. I figured in the worst scenario I would stay in Weed and buy one of those, "I'm High On Weed (CA)" shirts and send it back to my ex-coworker Nick who said he would wear it to work. If this trip taught me anything it's to keep positive and plow on because when I realized that I could pull off anywhere I kept going and told myself that I would pull over if it got hairy. Four hours later I was pulling into Redding, CA having put 1100 km on the new Camry.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Fo' Reelz

3... 2... 1... BLAST OFF! I received my I-797 in the mail last week and am prepared and leaving for Los Angeles tomorrow. It's crazy. It's madness! I'M LOSING MY MIND!!!

Providing all goes well tomorrow at the border, I'm planning on driving to Portland for lunch and then on as far as I can get in the first day. I'd really like to get to Redding, CA on the first day and stay there overnight but much depends on the weather in Grant's Pass. Hopefully, it'll be relatively decent and I can make it because I'd really like to make Los Angeles on the evening of the second day.

I have no idea how things will go once I'm down there but it looks like I'll be buying a laptop and a GPS and hitting the streets in search of a home for the the family. I'll be trying for the Culver City/Palms area close to work and there's a few places I've already spied that looks amazing.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

L.A. Attitude In Two Year Old Form.

"Yo, what's up? I'm on Rodeo. Look, I'm really busy what do you want? A special with Lindsay Lohan! Is that drunk tart out of the pogie? No way, I don't show up for under 250k. Tell her to go drive her SUV off the Santa Monica pier. Look, I have a toddler spa appointment in twenty and I want to get a double chocolate green tea mochaccino and a vegan cream puff before I show up because they only had coffee and Famous Amos last time and that shit makes me break out. Yeah yeah...Don't call me, I'll call you."
What the shizz? The Wagners are moving to Cali-freakin-fornia.That's right! I got a job at Sony Pictures in Culver City, Los Angeles and we are off to spend the winter in the sun. The adventure will be crazy to be sure. Two kids will make it insane. We don't yet have a place but I'm looking in between bouts of packing everything we own into either the storage space or boxes in preparation for the move. I'll be going down in the last week of November and the girls will follow soon after.