Midweek Rant #15: The Maverick Yogi

May 28, 2009

As you may remember from an earlier chapter, I got myself a membership to LA Fitness within the first few weeks of moving to the West Coast.  Although I hit up the weight room once or twice per week, I usually go for the classes they offer.

Yep, the classes.  I know.  I know!  In fact, I already addressed how ridiculous that is.

On top of what I said in my previous explanation, I think the best part of taking the classes is that I don’t have to do any thinking at all.  In the weight room, I have to think how much weight I’m going to lift on the next set, or how many repetitions.  God forbid I hop on a cardio machine and hit the “Quick Start” button.  It’s all up to me at this point.  And do you know what I decide when it’s up to me?  I decide: “Screw this, I’m going to go get some tacos.”

Humans only have a limited supply of will power and self control, and I gotta be honest with you, I don’t feel like wasting my precious reserves at the gym.  Enter the teacher.  The teacher of these classes tells you what to do and when to do it.  That’s right, you can turn off your brain and just exercise.  I also find it’s also easy to push yourself harder when someone is yelling at you.  Especially when that person is a bit off their rocker:

 

 

If there’s one class that kind of irks me, however, it’s yoga.  It’s probably my favorite of all the actual activities, but my issue lies with the other people in the class.  The problem is that yoga puts by far the most emphasis on doing things to your own ability, in contrast to the importance that other classes place on pushing harder and toughing it out in order to make gains.

“What does your body need today?” is the type of phrase you’ll hear a yoga instructor say.

While I applaud the teacher’s effort to make the students feel empowered, it drives me nuts to see how much some students abuse it.  Much like an attention deficit disordered twelve year old on the day the cool substitute teacher is in, some people decide they will just make up their own routine.

“My body really needs to do the tree pose right now” thinks the Maverick Yogi, while everyone else is resting in child’s pose.

I had a yoga teacher say that the physical practice of yoga was created as a “warm-up” for meditation of the mind.  The more you release and let go, the more your mind can focus on the present, free from the clutter that usually dominates it.  Sometimes, during a successful session, my mind really gets in the present tense, to the point that I’m present enough to think to myself – “why the hell is that lady never doing the same pose as everyone else?”

Drives me nuts.  And to make matters worse, it’s easy to guess who this person will be before we begin.  It will be one of the ones stretching before class even starts.

Why are you stretching?!!

To quote one of the funniest blogs of all time, Stuff White People Like:

“Yoga is basically the practice of stretching for one hour.  Stretching should only take five minutes, other peoples would rather spend the extra fifty-five minutes playing in an actual sport or spending time with their families and friends”

There it is.

If someone is stretching before they’re about to stretch for an hour, I usually do my best to not look in their direction.  It drives me bananas.  I’m usually pretty good at blocking these people out of my awareness for sanity’s sake, that is until my mind starts to be in the “present tense”.  That’s right!  Success in the yoga studio only serves to free your mind, thus being able to take in how infuriating the Maverick Yogi is.

Thanks a lot, yoga, for helping me get pissed off.

 

A PostScript for John McCain: I won’t let you ruin the word “Maverick” for me.

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Chapter 25: Taking a New Route Home

May 25, 2009

When we last left off, Connecticut Chris and I were being followed by a car with tinted windows and no headlights on, after it had slowly tailed us on the sidewalk of a dimly lit backstreet in Hollywood.

Just another day in paradise.

A tad bit terrified, I finally decided to ask myself what it was that the person(s) in this car was planning to do.  Unable to answer the question, I decided to ask it out loud, so that Chris might take a shot at it.

“They can’t do shit” Chris said, following it up by suggesting “just drive normal, if they follow us all the way back to North Hollywood, we’ll figure it out.”

The car finally had to turn its headlights on when we got to one of the main streets, and I felt myself take a breath for the first time since Chris had calmly but cautiously whispered, “we’re being tailed”.  Taking a quick peek at my gas gauge, I was further comforted by the fact that I had just filled up.  My phone was fully charged, so it’d be no problem to not only call the cops, but actually just pull up to a cop station if necessary.  If this sucker thought he was going to just follow Chris and me home without us knowing, he had a another thing coming.

Pshh – what a sucker.  Nice tinted windows, sucka!

Within two and a half minutes, still a bit unnerving despite my newfound arrogance, the car finally stopped following us.  Victory!  We didn’t even make it out of Hollywood before the punk gave up.  A bit too busy patting myself on the back, I managed to miss a turn onto Hollywood Blvd.  No big deal, I think to myself.  I’ll just turn left here, then turn left again.  Come on – I maneuvered us out of a potentially life threatening situation with the tinted-window car, I don’t think getting back to Hollywood Blvd is going to be all that hard.

 

 

My newfound conceit quickly gave way to the state of trembling terror that I had only snapped out of just moments before.  We were no longer being followed, but the narrow backstreet that became a dead end was hands down the worst place we could be should the car with tinted windows manage to find us again.  The lights on the few houses on this dead end street could barely even be seen through the thick shrubbery.  Frantically making a U-Turn, I tried to explain to Chris that I had accidentally missed the turn onto Hollywood Blvd and figured I could just take the next street up.

“Dude.  This is not the time to be taking new routes” Chris informed me rather matter-of-factly, the tiniest of trembles in his voice indicating that this wasn’t a let’s-make-fun-of-Jesse’s-absent-mindedness comment, but rather a please-don’t-put-my-life-in-any-more-jeopardy-than-it-already-has-been-in comment.

Sorry about that, Connecticut Chris.

We made it out of the narrow dead end street and back onto Hollywood Blvd unscathed.  Rather than return to our arrogant banter about how the tinted window car couldn’t do nothin’, we just kind of sat saying nothing.  Perhaps we were taking a moment to let what happened sink in; perhaps we were just enjoying our existence, it having been threatened.  Having successfully merged onto the 101, a daily feat that is arguably as terrifying as our incident with the tinted-window car was, Chris finally broke the silence.

“You ever been jumped?” he asked with a certain meekness.

Hmm.

All this time enjoying the company of Connecticut Chris, I had failed to ask myself the critical questions that I usually try to get to the bottom of upon getting to know people.  The moniker “Connecticut Chris” is delightfully misleading.  He has a northeast quality, there’s no doubt.  But Connecticut is a state that has, for lack of a better description, a foofy quality about it.  You think of the country clubs.  You think of the sweaters draped over the shoulders and tied in front.  You think of, well, foofy people.

This was not Connecticut Chris.  I think that’s why I like calling him that so much.  His arms hung down from his shoulders in a way that made you think he was ready to burst into the boxing ring at any moment.  He sported a goatee, made all the more effective by the kind of stone face you used to see in Soviet Russia.  But what I think stuck out more than anything was his constant use of the hoodie, something I’m also in the habit of.  If there’s a reason why we were followed by a tinted-window car, it’s probably because they thought we were someone else, which would not be too difficult of a mistake given the fact that we were both wearing hoods.  I never put any thought into why Chris was always wearing his hood, or even remembered why it is that I reflexively put mine up.

It was when he asked me if I’d ever been jumped that I made the connection.  I fortunately had never been jumped.  Mugged, however?

The rest of the ride home was an exchange of war stories, Connecticut Chris being the winner…

 

 

Tune in Next Week for what is possibly the craziest story I’ve ever heard courtesy of Connecticut Chris!

In the meantime, check out incredible music from the actress playing Debbie, my new roomie Jes Hudak:

http://www.myspace.com/jeshudak


Midweek Rant #14: Prices

May 21, 2009

When I was a senior in high school I worked at the Movie Theater in the local mall, and was lucky enough to not only have free movies, popcorn and soda, but also a half-priced discount at the pizza joint in the Food Court while on break. 

If there’s one thing that Jesse Gavin likes, it’s discounts on food.  However, days became weeks became months, and Jesse Gavin started to get sick of eating pizza.  Nonetheless I trudged on, because a deal is a deal, and Jesse Gavin likes deals.

But my eyes, they wandered.  Upon the opening of a new Taco place across the dining area, I couldn’t help but gaze amorously at a big sign draped above the counter.  It seemed to have some sort of deal written on it.  Surely this deal would be good enough to justify the occasional stray from my all-pizza diet.  Tacos are, after all, my favorite food. 

Waddling across the dining area for a closer look, the pizza of countless shift breaks still loitering in my overtaxed stomach, I was met with the most infuriating exclamation mark I have ever encountered:


1 Taco for 99 Cents

6 Tacos for $5.99!

 

That’s right.  That sixth taco is going to run you $1.04.

I opted not to say anything, assuming the mistake would quickly be corrected.  Despite the loss of money on the sign, it’d be worth taking it down and getting a new one to avoid the embarrassment.

Apparently not.  That bad boy stayed up for at least eight months.  I didn’t go back to the mall again for about two years and by that point the Taco joint had closed.  I wish I could say that this pricing error was just a silly mishap, but the harsh reality of it is that I see it all the time.  Unfortunately I never kept records of the blunders I’ve seen over the years, and many sleepless nights have followed as a result.

I woke up this morning from yet another tempestuous nightmare filled with the consequences of such shabby record keeping, only to realize that I had nothing to rant about for my Midweek Rant.  Terrified that Los Angeles and it’s Siren Song had wooed me into its signature 72-in-the-head-all-the-time-zombie-like-state, I racked my brain all morning to come up with something to be pissed about.

It didn’t take long.

On a trip to Whole Foods to get pretty much the only thing I’ll allow myself to get there, Kale, I once again embarked on a futile quest to find a deal of some sort that could actually beat Trader Joe’s (why oh why does TJ’s not have Kale?). 

Eco-Pacs!  Oh jeez, I thought, how I have missed these things from my days of shopping at The Westerly and Lifethyme Market in New York City!  The basic idea: put a little over two times the amount of cereal in a bag and sell it for a little more than the box.  It’s an Eco-Pac because it’s “Eco” friendly, as in the environment.  I always smiled warmly, though, at the thought that it was also “Eco” friendly, as in the economy.  And heck, the fact that it’s a “Pac” and not a “Pack” is a welcome allusion to my favorite video game growing up.

I sure do love wordplay!

But not when one of the meanings is shit all over.  I wish I could say that Whole Foods was disrespectful of the Pac-Man aspect of the Eco-Pac, as the beloved character could actually use a little antagonizing every now and then.  I’m not jealous or anything, it’s just that Pac-Man’s a little too loved, if you ask me.  The disrespect, however, was of the “Economy” aspect of the play on words that the boys down at the Nature Valley Think Tank had come up with.

 

11.5 oz / 325 gram Box of Hemp-Plus Granola: $2.99

26.4 oz / 750 gram Bag of Hemp-Plus Granola: $7.99


IMG_0519

IMG_0517Not as ostensible a flub as the aforementioned Taco Joint, I concede.  This one is going to require Eighth Grade Level Math, up from the Second Grade Level required to know that the Sixth Crunchy Shell just ain’t worth it.

At $2.99 for 325 grams, it would cost $6.90 to buy 750 grams worth.  That’s right, it costs an extra $1.09 to buy in bulk, help the environment, and give a little shout-out to Pac-Man.

Way to go, Whole Foods.

Now my one apprehension in calling out Whole Foods on this one is that perhaps this a Sale Price.  You’ll notice in the picture that there are a few stars next to the price.  These didn’t appear next to any of the other items on sale, all of which were clearly labeled with a big tag sticking out from the shelf.

Even if that was the case, it doesn’t sit well with me that they would discount the price of the one box of cereal that had a corresponding Eco-Pac, versus the other 5 varieties of granola and well over 150 types of cereal available that didn’t.  I can only imagine the secretive plotting going down in smoky back rooms at Whole Foods Headquarters.

“I don’t like the arrogance of this Eco-Pac…I say we put it in it’s place with a subtly marked sale price, making all the unsuspecting Green Minded shoppers suffer, whilst all the economically savvy consumers will recognize our underlying message: Screw the Environment.”

The agreeable murmur of the usual suspects is halted by a resonant voice from a dark corner:

“That…”

A figure emerges into the hazy light only to remain disguised by an ominously tilted Fedora.  “And the fact that Pac-Man must pay.”

I love ya, Pac-Man, but they do have a point.

This specific instance should not be looked at as an appalling example of poor pricing, but rather a typical example of an across the board incompetence of people that price things…everywhere.  As much as I’d like to keep records and go on with my quest, I’m aware that it will no doubt land me in the loony bin.  Having successfully concocted a cop out for myself, I can’t help but wonder who, if anyone, will take action against these supermarkets?

The answer?  Pac-Man:


Chapter 24: The Getaway

May 18, 2009

When we last left off I was walking down a dark backstreet in a seedy part of Hollywood with my new roommate, Connecticut Chris.

“We’re being tailed” Chris quietly said to me.

It was a sobering moment, to say the least.  There I was, feeling high off a night of playing music at a hip café, enamored once again by the paradise that is La La Land, and then this happens.  If this town was some sort of fantasy world created for a children’s book, then this particular chapter must have been written by the angsty Emo kid, satiating his sadistic desire to constantly remind people how cruel the world is.  You know that kid:

 

 

Well, thanks a lot, Emo kid, for contributing.  Back to your chapter:

“Do you have any weapons in your car?” Chris asked.

“No.  Like…” I stuttered, unsure of what kind of weapons he meant.

“Weapons, like a bat or a knife.”

“Uh…no.”

Hmm.

We finally got to the car and I swiftly but calmly unlocked the door and got in, leaning over to unlock the passenger door.  This really would have been a great time for my car alarm to act up again, but alas, no help from the shoddy wiring on this one.  Once we were in the car I quickly locked my door and went to start the engine, confident I could get it started and go before the person(s) following us could make it up to the door and try to open it.  Of course they might try to punch through the window.  I figured worse case scenario was that they held a gun at me, which would be a tricky situation to say the least.

But at this point we were both safely in the locked car, and that put us at a great advantage in comparison to when we were on the street.

I turned the key.  Nothing.

Oh shit.

I tried again and nothing.

Oh bleeping shit.  It occurred to me that I might be using the wrong key.  I have two keys that look exactly the same save for the marks scratched into them.  Even those are not particularly easy to tell apart unless you look closely.  I remember when I first got the keys, I thought it might be worth adding different color key covers to each of them, so that way I wouldn’t have to look closely at the small scratches on the keys every time I went to use one.  But alas, for the same reason that I have yet to take the car to the shop to try to figure out how to open the trunk, I have for six months now put off this simple task.  The problem is I didn’t see the immediacy of the situation – so I gotta strain my eyes every time I look at my keys to figure out which is which – what’s the big deal?

This one's for the door.

This one's for the door.

This one's for the ignition!

This one's for the ignition!

 

The big deal was readily apparent to me as I was trying to see which key was which in my car parked on the dimly lit street with a still unseen person or group of persons “tailing” me.  I did my best to stay calm as I finally found the key.  About to put it in the ignition, something caught my peripheral.

Not a guy with a gun.  Not a guy with a bat.  Not a group of kids looking to prove their might.

Just a car looking to take my parking space.

Yep.

One of my least favorite things about Los Angeles is the lengths people will go for a good parking space.  It’s not uncommon for someone to wait for up to fifteen minutes for a good spot, when another spot is available just a ninety second walk away.  Rather than walk those interminable ninety seconds, on their feet the whole time, this person will instead wait with their foot on the gas pedal, ready to go, blinker-a-blinking, annoyed that it’s taking the person so long.

I first learnt about this during my early all-day explorations of the city.  I would keep a lot of stuff in my car, and would sometimes go to my car to get something, and then leave the car where it was.  From the perspective of someone seeking out a parking spot, this was a flagrant disregard of the unwritten ‘rules of the road’. 

One day I went to Whole Foods and got some grub for dinner, planning to eat at the tables they have there.  I went back to my car to get the newspaper I had, as the table area was well lit.  It took me about two minutes before I finally got out of the car, when I noticed a Range Rover pulled to the side of the parking lot’s traffic flow, turn signal on.  Taking a quick glance around the parking lot I noticed a few spots open and assumed that the person was waiting to pick someone up, and was being courteous by not taking up an available spot.  As I was squinting at my keys to figure out which one would lock the door, I noticed the Range Rover aggressively peel out and turn into one of the other spaces.

“Hmm” I thought, still more concerned with figuring out which key was which in this dark parking lot.  Finally locking the door, I started to make my way back to the dining area.

“Thanks a lot for telling me you weren’t leaving the spot!” I heard from somewhere, roughly twenty feet away.  Not sure who it was that was talking or where they were talking from or if they were talking to me, I scanned the parking lot until I noticed a lady in her thirties, standing next to the aforementioned SUV.  “I was waiting for it!” she added, this time the anger in her voice giving way a bit to the underlying tremble of sadness and betrayal.

I had ruined this lady’s day.

For a time I thought of making a sign to put on my car.  Since I’m constantly going back to my car to get stuff, or sitting in it and playing guitar, or making phone calls, or just reading, this type of a scenario happens to me all the time.  Maybe if I made a big sign that said “NOT LEAVING PARKING SPOT, SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE” then I would not have to deal with people being upset with me.

The sign, however, in this specific scenario, would not have been necessary.

There I was, having been tailed on a dark backstreet, having just gotten into a car with Connecticut Chris and no weapons, fumbling to find the right key, and some jerk pulls up next to me to scope out my parking spot.  The car pulled the trick where you just pull up along side the car to make sure the person is in fact leaving the spot, a tactic I quite appreciate given the fact that most people falsely assume that I will be.

I turned to look at the car, assuming I’d see a guy with a “you leaving this spot?” expression written all over his face.  But alas, tinted windows.  Tinted windows.  And no lights on.  Like no…headlights on…wait a second!

Turning my head back, it became apparent to me that we were not being tailed by people on foot, as I had just assumed given my experience from times I’ve been tailed in NYC.  No no, this is a car culture, as you may remember from the menu & flyer rant, and when people tail you they will tail you in a car.

For five of the longest seconds in the history of the Earth, the car simply sat next to ours, lights off, windows tinted.  Tinted windows are like a giant pair of sunglasses – it’s impossible to tell what’s going on in the car.  I did my best to stay calm, and just as I started up my engine, the other car pulled ahead across the intersection that was only thirty feet away.

This was good.  The car clearly didn’t see what they were looking for and pulled off to the side of the street on the other side of the intersection.  If they were going to get out of the car and come after us then they had made a mistake, since we could easily peel out past them.  I drove forward and made a right turn at the intersection, so that I wouldn’t have to actually pass the car.  There was just enough lighting on the street so that I could see in my rearview mirror the car pulling a 270 in order to start following us again.  

“OK, they’re following us” I said to Connecticut Chris.

“Just drive normal” said CC.

Yep.  Sure thing, Connecticut Chris.  Just another night of typical driving with a black car with tinted windows and no headlights on following closely behind.  Just another day in Paradise…

Thanks Emo kid, thanks a lot.

 

 

Tune in next Monday to find out what happens!


Midweek Rant #13: Stephen Mangan

May 14, 2009

For a year and a half the City of New York tricked me into playing a game of cat and mouse with it.  I firmly decided that I was moving to Los Angeles after a trip here in May of 2007, and yet I didn’t actually move until November of 2008.  Why did it take 18 months, you ask?

Because NYC is crafty like that.  Just when I thought I was out, they’d pull me back in.  By “they” I mean the folks in Show Business.  ‘Oh I’ll just stay for one more play, it’s a really good part.’  ‘Oh just this one Student Film, I get to do an accent.’  And so on.  I kept getting fooled into thinking that there was a place for me in the Big Apple, only to be harshly reminded every month that that place required a hefty rent payment.  

There’s no better example of this than what happened to me the day I sat down to book my one-way ticket to LAX for the First of November.  I had been staying for a few weeks at my dad’s place in Upstate NY, about three hours outside of the city.  I planned to take the Amtrak to NYC, go directly to the airport, and head for the West Coast.

Ring.

Sure enough, six days after the date of the flight that I was literally about to click the “Complete Order” button on, my agent had gotten me an audition for Broadway.

Say it with me, Broadway.

Holy Monkeys.  Just five years earlier I had moved down to NYC with a clean pair of britches and a beat-up pair of tap shoes.  I didn’t actually know how to tap dance, but a deal at a yard sale is a deal, and Jesse Gavin doesn’t miss out on deals.  Broadway was my dream.  I say “was” because after years of auditioning for everyone I could and even getting a nice little nod from the New York Times, I was unable to even get a proper audition for Off-Broadway, let alone Broadway.  Einstein said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  Since I’d come to the conclusion long before that I was clearly insane, it seemed as though Einstein was telling me that different results were in all likelihood not going happen, even though I was expecting them to.  I’d move to Los Angeles, where at the very least I’d have more insane people to relate to.  But then Broadway called…

I was not about to let NYC pull another one on me.  I booked a flight for the morning after the audition.  As I looked over my sides I realized that I had made the right choice in not holding my breath; I was auditioning for the part of a 15 year old.  Einstein comes to the day again!

 

It’s natural in life to make excuses for yourself.  The excuse “I didn’t get the part because it was for a fifteen year old and I’m clearly much older than fifteen” fell under the general umbrella of my overall excuse for never making it to Broadway: “I didn’t make it to Broadway, or even Off-Broadway, because I look kind of weird.”

I look kind of weird.  I’m cool with that.  Broadway doesn’t seem to be, but that’s fine.  I just figured there was no place for me on the big stage, so instead I moved to a place where physical appearance is not much of an issue, Hollywood.  New York just didn’t have a place for me is what I concluded…that’s all.  With this reasoning, I was able to make my peace with the Big Apple…and move on…

Well thank you, England, for destroying the only excuse I had for not being on Broadway.

When it comes to the world of Theatre, everything is trumped by England.  The typical Manhattan Theatre-Goer’s question “who’s in it?” can be answered simply, “I’m not sure, but it’s a transfer from London.”

“Ooh.  It must be good.”

Broadway has recently been taken by storm.  An English storm.  And this isn’t payback for the War of 1812, it’s like a figurative storm.  It’s…I don’t know if I’m explaining this correctly…it’s a really popular and successful play.  On Broadway.  And it stars this guy:

normanvertical

IMG_0023

Which one is Jesse? The one that's not on Broadway, of course!

About fifty percent of the people I know from New York that have gotten in touch with me since I moved out here have done so to tell me about the guy that looks exactly like me in five to ten years.  Remember that thing I told you about New York City?  So here’s the thing: because of all the success of The Norman Conquests on Broadway, it will most likely be done at every regional theater in the country within the next three to five years.  This means they’ll be casting a part that was originated by a guy that looks exactly like me in a role that, from what I’ve been told, is perfect for me.  In other words, there will be so much opportunity for me in the world of Theatre back on the East Coast.

Nice try, New York City.

Stephen Mangan, I applaud your success as an actor.  This is no excuse, however, for playing a part in an evil and horribly tedious plot that the City of New York has concocted to get me to move back there.  Shame on you.

But seriously, congratulations.

No, but really, why are you doing this to me?


Chapter 23: The New Roommate

May 11, 2009

What is that?

 

 

What is that?

 

 

When we last left off I had finally met my new roommate, Connecticut Chris.

The two of us had a bond, being from the Northeast of the USA.  Originally hailing from Upstate New York, my sensibilities were very similar to those of Chris.  We both found it odd that the beds in our room had been lined up parallel to each other at a distance of 18 inches, when they could easily have been separated by several feet in a an L-Shape.  We both found it kind of odd that no one had a key for the house.  We both thought it was weird the day a cat tower appeared in the yard, apparently in an attempt to invite the stray cat feel welcome to set up shop on our property.

“Oh, yeah, I thought it was for the birds” said Enrique, the Colombian guy running the house.  His thick accent forced me to ask him to repeat himself three times before I got the image of Grizzly Bears playing with the cat tower out of my head.  It was an equally ridiculous picture with the birds.

“But I guess this is for cat, so I put the frog to keep him away.”

It was instances like these in the preceding three months that required me to write this blog.  I had no one in the house that could see how ridiculous it all was, but now that had all changed.

That’s not to say the ridiculousness ended, however.

That'll keep the cats away...

That'll keep the cats away...

 

In fact, for the first time since I moved in, I was an active participant in the ridiculousness.  This was due to the affinity Connecticut Chris and I had for breaking into a thick New York accent.  While this commonly occurred around the house, the instance that sticks out the most for me is the drive back from Venice Beach on the 405 one evening.  Accompanied by one of the French Canadian girls, we found sanity amidst the nutty traffic by loudly commenting on the surrounding cars like we were in an episode of The Sopranos.  As most cars had their windows down while creeping along at 8 miles per hour, the show we put on was not only for the French Canadian.

The following is a 9-second sample of the transcript from the aforementioned car ride home:

JESSE: Look at this fuckin’ guy!

CHRIS (overlapping): Oh yeah, I got a Mercedes Benz, big deal.

JESSE (overlapping): Big deal.

CHRIS (overlapping): Look at me in my Mercedes Fuckin’ Benz.

JESSE (overlapping): Eh, go fuck yourself.

CHRIS (overlapping): I gotchya Mercedes Benz right here.

JESSE (overlapping): Right fuckin’ here.

This is pretty much the way the entire forty-five minutes on the 405 went.

What was great about CC was his sense of adventure.  If there was a band playing in Hollywood, he was down.  If I got tickets to a Kings game, he was down.  If I made some weird ass vegan food, he was down.

Given the fact that I often make dumb mistakes, and even when I don’t something obnoxious manages to happen anyway, it was a blessing to be around a guy that could just roll with the punches.  The biggest test of this took place after an afternoon hockey game at the Staples Center one Saturday.  Getting out of the game at 3:30pm and having taken the Metro, we were on our way to enjoy the free game of bowling at Lucky Strike that came as part of the Kings’ Stretch Run Pack.  Sweet.

Just before we walked in the door, Chris suggested we double check that the tickets didn’t have an expiration date.  No expiration date, but it turns out they weren’t valid on Fridays and Saturdays. 

Sweet!

Being a champ, Chris was up for my suggestion that we check out a German Beer Garden I had read about online.  I had looked at a map online before the game, and it seemed to be in the general downtown area, so I figured it’d be about a ten, fifteen minute walk.  I had read a review of Wurstkuche on my favorite food blog, and was really pumped to check it out.

“We getting close?” Chris asked after about fifteen minutes of walking.

We weren’t close at all. 

“Seriously, do you know where we’re going?”

“Uh” I joked, “maybe…”

Ten minutes later CC didn’t find this as funny.  I had to assure him that I never joke about stuff like that when I really don’t know what’s going on. 

Ten minutes later I started to worry that I in fact didn’t know what was going on.

En route, however, we were stumbling upon all sorts of gems that Downtown had to offer to the adventurous pedestrian.  I say “stumbling” because we were still pretty hammered from the hockey game, although the longer we walked the more the buzz wore off.  Apparently there is a Hookah Row on 4th Street.  Eleven shops selling hookahs, all on the same side of 4th Street in the same block.  Los Angeles Street had all sorts of cool shops.  Little Tokyo had a giant mall in it, which included an empty ballroom that could probably hold events for over a thousand people.  One of the random buildings had an incredible park, complete with waterfall and amphitheater (I broke out a little Shakespeare, not gonna lie).

I confessed that the place looked a lot closer on the map than it actually was, but assured CC that we would find it.  Until we found it.

Oh, shit.

On the corner of 3rd Street and Traction Ave was a little rink-a-dink building that looked like it had been abandoned.  No sign, no nothing.  The only hope was the door that did not seem to be walled off.

CC could see the panic on my face as I realized I had messed up big time.  I apologized, and was about to suggest we take off when I figured it was worth at least giving it a peek inside…

As much as Connecticut Chris was a trooper, he wasn’t too happy about the forty five minute walk I had taken him on to an empty building, in search of a German Beer Garden I had never actually been to.  I held my breath as I reached for the handle…

Paradise!!!

Paradise!!!

Holy mother of God we hit the jackpot.  Inside was an amazing place that can only be described as a Los Angeles-German Beer Garden.  All my favorite qualities of both.  CC and I spent a solid 5 hours drinking beer and eating food.  Among the many people we talked to at the long, picnic style tables was an Editor that gets to vote in the Academy Awards.  Still sour over the Live Action Short Film Category, I got to give him a piece of my mind and he had to take it.  Stinkin’ Academy…

It was safe to say that the presence of Connecticut Chris was going to have a dramatic increase in the quality of my life.  It was several weeks later that Chris came along with me to an open mic.  As opposed to suffering through it all the way a “good friend” would, he enjoyed it for what it was, asking a few musicians for their myspace info afterwards.

Walking back to my car that was parked a few blocks away, Chris was giving me a run-down of his favorite and least favorite acts.  Adding to something he had said about one of the people he didn’t like so much, I was a bit thrown off when Chris uncharacteristically interrupted me.

“Yo.  I think we’re being tailed.”

My silence said “huh?”

“Yeah dude, we’re being tailed.  How fast can you get into your car?”

I finally came to from the abrupt shift our conversation had taken and realized that we were walking on a dark backstreet in a seedy part of Hollywood, the area that I had heard by far and away the most bad stories about.  I did my best to think clearly.

“Pretty fast, but I have to unlock your door manually.”  I quietly said, trying not to give off a sense of fear or concern.

“Ok.  Ok, that’s fine.  Do you have any weapons in your car?”

“Weapons?”

“Yeah man – a bat, a knife?”

“No” I said.  If I weren’t quite so nervous, I may have been able to hash out a complete sentence:

No, Connecticut Chris, I don’t have a weapon in my car to use against whomever it is that is tailing us.

What.  Is Going.  On.

?

Tune in next week to find out!  In the meantime, a little live action short of my own, based on the trip back from Venice Beach:


Midweek Rant #12: Converse Shoelaces

May 7, 2009

About four years ago, I finally deemed myself “cool enough” to start wearing Converse sneakers.  Always the apprehensive type when it comes to fashion, I thought it best to transition with a pair of Old Navy imitations.  No one seemed to notice, and it helped make me a bit less anxious about the whole thing.  What if someone called me out on being too lame to wear Converse?

 

 

Converse sneakers are the paragon of a feature that usually reigns in the Dress-Shoe Category: Shoelaces Won’t Stay Tied-Ability.

There’s gotta be a better name for that.

Aesthetics aside, there aren’t too many factors that the boys down at the Shoelace Think Tank have to concern themselves with.  I would hope that the ability of the lace to remain tied takes top priority.  Come to think of it, I would hope that that would be the only thing the boys down at Shoelace Inc are thinking about once they’ve established what they want the lace to look like (thickness, color, fabric etc).

Converse sneakers, and yes I’ve moved on to the real thing, have terrible laces.  I’m not sure if they’re the same as other sneakers and this is in fact an issue of the lace-holes on the sneakers themselves, all I know is that since I started wearing them I have had to instate a new policy.

Much like a parent that understands the importance of drawing boundaries, I will occasionally refuse to tie my laces when walking in public.  Before you go thinking I’m an unfair shoe-parent, let me make my case.  Sometimes my shoes will come untied over and over with mere minutes between each instance, no matter how many double knots I apply to them (why oh why didn’t I do Boy Scouts and get one of them ‘knot badges’?).  This doesn’t happen every single day, in fact in only happens maybe once a month.  The very next day the laces will return to a much less ridiculous state of won’t-stay-tied-ability, which leads me to believe that the shoelaces are in fact testing me.

The physics of it doesn’t add up unless the shoelaces have a mind of their own.  And Jesse Gavin doesn’t let shoelaces walk all over him, thank you very much!  So the next time your shoelaces come untied over and over, do what I do: let them stay untied, and make sure they know why:

 

 

Occasionally you’ll get concerned onlookers inform you that you should really tie your laces.  My advice in this situation is to sternly and respectfully inform them that they should really mind their own business; it’s not their place to tell you how you should be dealing with the shoes that you bought with your hard earned money.

There have been times I have doubted whether or not Chuck Taylor’s are worth the occasional scene I have to cause.  Fortunately for me there is a solution, although I’m still working on becoming “cool enough” for it (perhaps step one would be to stop using quotation marks around the phrase “cool enough”).  A fellow by the name of John Varvatos had the good sense to design a Converse sneaker without laces.  Is it possible that he was so sick and tired of yelling at his shoelaces in public that his invention was merely an attempt to save himself some embarrassment? 

Yes.  I would say that was definitely the reason.  Thank you Mr. Varvatos, and I assure you I’m working hard to become “cool enough” to wear your sneakers.

I like quotation marks – back off.

 

Glorious.

Glorious.