Monday, August 30, 2004

Nowhere Near Arizona

Sunday morning I woke up early and happy. The happiness vanished, of course, the minute I realized my joy had been born in my dream and not in real life.

I dreamed that Disney had made a second amusement park in California, specifically in a town called San Mario, which doesn’t really exist though in the dream I located it geographically next to San Carlos. This park was special, however, because it was, as my brain worded it, a “no-park amusement park,” meaning that you don’t ever have to leave your car to enjoy the facilities. Your entire car goes on all the rides with you and everything.

In the dream, I had read about this secret park in the newspaper. But, being a skeptical dreamer, I called my mom — again, in the dream — to verify whether the no-park amusement park existed. She told me it was real and that they had closed it down but had re-opened it, recently and secretly and that if I hurried I could visit it with my friends.

There’s no second Disneyland. There are also no no-park amusement parks, the logistics of which would boggle the mind. And, perhaps most disappointingly, there is no San Mario.

Me: Zero. Lier X. Aggregate: A million.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Pay the Rent

Written on a napkin during the drive back from Yosemite on the afternoon of August the twenty-third.
Somewhere in the joyless expanse of land called Merced, I began tracing some of the dead-end passages in my brain: things I’ve nearly forgotten, things that never quite entered my brain squarely, things strange and forget-me-not bits and pulp I’d like to retain but also refuse to let anybody else examine. A plane of Middle America agriculture, transplanted into the California landscape. It would stretch horizontally, infinitely if it didn’t end in the smog.

But what about those perfectly parallel row crops makes me wonder why my first masturbatory experience involved Lisa — why? — Kudrow? And why would I challenge my brain to remember my three earliest memories of something bad happening?

(they are, by the way (1) first grade: my mother getting a call from my grandma before just as we were getting ready to leave for school telling her that my great-grandmother had died, a week and a day after her one-hundreth birthday; (2) kindergarten: Sister Lois scolding me for incorrectly drawing a windmill; and (3) preschool: being too scared to walk down the hallway because I was terrified of a Halloween decoration of a witch — you know the kind, the ones with the paper fastener joints that let you pose them in the fashion that would best terrify a four-year-old.)

Why did I dream last night about giant sunflowers that turned out to be even-more-giant deandelions? Why were there men in blue hospital smocks and white Shyguy masks? Was I subconsciously perturbed by the historic Ahwannee Hotel’s resemblance to the Great Northern? And will nobody help Josie Packard?

Is the XM radio eighties station pumping into my eardrums as I write this coloring my recollections in neon green, electric blue and hot pink? Do I believe in heaven above? Do I believe in love? Do I?

Monday, August 16, 2004

Tokyo Rose

A throwaway joke on last night’s “Simpsons” sent me searching online for information about Tokyo Rose. According to my mom, Tokyo Rose was a woman whose English-language radio broadcasts during World War II were meant to demoralize American troops. But I found she was a lot more interesting than that. “Tokyo Rose” was actually an American born woman named Iva Toguri. Iva, who graduated from UCLA with a zoology degree, went to see her parent’s homeland when she was twenty-five. Unfortunately, visa difficulties and the beginning of the war trapped Iva in Japan.

An American citizen, Ida was regarded by the Japanese government as a dangerous interloper. They requested that she renounce her citizenship, but Ida refused. Eventually, Ida ended up broadcasting for Radio Tokyo on a show called the Zero Hour, in which captured Allied troops were forced to broadcast pro-Japan, anti-Allied Forces propaganda throughout the South Pacific. However, the deejays would sneak in subtle pro-American messages and hints at Japanese war plans. Iva Toguri’s broadcast personality was Orphan Ann.

When emperor surrendered, American reporters swarmed to Japan in search of Tokyo Rose, a radio persona who they believed sent out demoralizing messages to American soldiers — “What are you doing here, out in the middle of the ocean? Do you think your wife really misses you? Do you think she’s really waiting for you?” But nobody knew who Tokyo Rose was. Somehow, the reporters sniffed their way to Iva.

The link between Iva Toguri and the “Tokyo Rose” name became so strong that she was eventually extradited to San Francisco, where she was tried on seven counts of treason. Her trial was the longest and most expensive in American history. Though the jury initially was unable to reach a verdict, the judge demanded that the jurors deliberate until they reached one.

Eventually, Iva was convicted as being the infamous Tokyo Rose, though she maintained her innocence, claiming that the person American authorities identified as Tokyo Rose was actually a composite of several Radio Tokyo personalities crossbred with homespun urban legends. The judge, who later admitted to being prejudiced against Iva, sentenced her to ten years in jail and a fine of $10,000. (The maximum fine for treason, incidentally, was death.) Jail chiefs deemed Iva a model prisoner. Her craftwork earned her a first palce in the state fair. And she played bridge with Mildred Sisk, a woman convicted of broadcasting anti-American propaganda in radio Berlin as “Axis Sally.” She earned only one demerit — for removing a fellow inmate’s decayed tooth without proper authorization.

The moment of Iva’s release — which came four years early — the government demanded that she be deported back to Japan. For years Iva and her friends fought and eventually those wanting her out of the country relented. She never again left the U.S. and she lives here today. As one of his last presidential actions, Gerald Ford granted Iva a full presidential pardon — the treason scar on her record was effectively erased, though her time in prison could never really be returned.

(Most of this I just gleaned from this site, but I made it more easy to absorb.)

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Pirndle

[ the third of three related posts ]
Driving home, I remembered a story my brother told me about the secret rocket abilities of my mom’s station wagon. According to Todd, the capabilities were hidden in the pirndle. The pirndle, of course, was the stick Mom moved to make the car, its name clearly demarcated, I realized in retrospect, on the car itself. P for “park,” R for “reverse,” N for “neutral,” D for “drive,” and L for “low gear.” Pirndle. According to Todd, the wagon could blast off rocket style by toggling a secret combination in a specific order, one gear to the next. Todd wouldn’t tell me, of course, but I totally believed that such a thing actually existed.

Before today, I never really thought about it again, so I never really realized the inherent impossibility of the pirndle. Good thing, too. If I had ever tried to activate the pirndle’s secret abilities — even, say, today while I was jetting down the 101 at an average speed of seventy-five miles per hour — I would have thrown the Mustang out of drive, into neutral, into park, into reverse, back into drive. I’m not sure exactly what that would do to my automobile, but I’m pretty sure maintaining either my course on the road — or my status as alive, for that matter — would be hard.

Heavenly Bodies

[ the second of three related posts ]
This morning before I headed back to Hollister, Jill reminded me an a night sophomore year when we were watching a movie — David Lynch film, I’ll wager. When the movie finished at like two in the morning or something we hit stop and the screen went to the last fifteen minutes of this movie, this lale-late-late night feature.

What we remembered:

We saw what clearly was the climax of an 80s film centered around a jazzercise studio and some weird jazzercise marathon. We pieced together that the heroine was fighting for ownership of the jazzercise studio from some evil guy who wanted to take it over or destroy it or give it cancer or something. Though sweat drenched her neon leotard, she was energetically hopping about in the fashion of some horrible bastard child of exercise and dancing. She fatigued for a moment, but then a second win propelled her limbs into more jazzercising. The jazzercise studio was saved.

Or at least that’s how we remembered it. We had just harrowed a full-length Lynch and we were likely drunk and we had only seen the last fifteen minutes. But as we talked about it this morning, that’s how we remembered it. That, plus some tiny inkling of a memory that had somehow escaped death by alcohol consumption and reminded me that the movie maybe might possible be called “Heavenly Bodies.” Maybe.

What IMDb said:
A small "Dance-ercize" studio fights for its existence against the unscrupulous owner of a rival club. The conflict boils down to a "Dance Marathon" to settle the score.
So despite the time, the briefness of the clip we saw and the considerable handicap of being drunk, we nailed it. Incidentally, IMDB allows for user reviews.

What IMDb also said:
This movie has been admired by few and scorned by many. Which is why I never listen to people who hold a narrow view of what they consider to be a "good," movie. Typically, most people like only a certain type of movie or only like a movie because it has a certain star in it, so to them, it is of high quality. The only advice I have to offer is not to listen to "critics," if it is even fair to call them that, because generally when they say a particular movie is good, it's not. When they say a particular movie is bad, it isn't. Let me set the record straight about this movie.......Heavenly Bodies is a story about believing in yourself, following your dreams and refusing to give up no matter how many obstacles are thrown your way. Cynthia Dale, a talented actress and dancer, shines as the star of this movie. Tired of the typical 9-5 office job (as we all are), Samantha, a young mother and secretary, follows her heart and opens her own workout club along with the help of her two best friends. But this is not your ordinary workout club with your standard exercise equipment. No, Sam uses a much different approach. One that is unique. One that is fun. And everyone loves her as head instructor. When a jealous rival tries to put an end to her growing business, Sam does not take it lying down. She fights back and challenges her competitors to a televised workout marathon. Winner takes all! And of course, what movie would be complete without a love interest? Sam also finds a second chance at love but even that is put to the test. Samantha's happiness, success and dreams are all riding on her ability to withstand a grueling physical contest that also tests her determination, emotional strength and capacity for love. A real, feel-good movie. A movie that one may like to watch when they are down or feeling sad. But make no mistake, one may also like watching this because it's just a great movie all around. One of my personal favorites!
A gem of comedy, far beyond anything I could ever write. Probably even funnier than watching the actual movie. According to IMDB, this user has reviewed this film, a TV movie called “Trapped” and several of the Halloween movies. If I’m bored tomorrow, maybe I’ll email him or her or it and tell them that they deserve to have their keyboard smashed, their television set confiscated and their legs broken so they can’t get to the video store and rent another movie, lest they be tempted to form an opinion about it and try to write it and employ quotation marks with such egregious liberalness.

Fourteen Small Coincidences, Six of Which Are Not Detailed in This Post

[ the first of three related posts ]
last minute i decided to head up to napa to hang out with jill because hanging in hollister is starting to slow my brain function to seventy-five percent of normal capacity and while i was there we decided to meet up with brie because she just happened to be in the city the same weekend (1) and while i was there i decided to call my san fran locals: marisa and david and raymond and monica and josh but not palmy palma because i totally blanked and forgot to call her but i totally will the next time i go.

jill and i ended up trying to meet josh at amoeba, which is the same amoeba where alex alex old artsweek editor alex works (2) and i randomly saw kcsb kevin (3) as he was pawing through a rack of records and we talked about the nexus and kcsb and marisa and petracca. eventually, josh texted me that he was not at amoeba but a at a white lotus or siam lotus or some other kind of lotus or something and on the way out jill and i randomly spotted this guy jill and i met at a bar in sonoma we were at the night before (4) where he made out with jill’s friend before he puked. he's an ozzie whose name was also josh (5) and he randomly went to the city the same day we did. i credit my elementary education with where’s waldo with giving me the power to pick out one skinny white guy at a hipster music store swarming with skinny white guys and jill gave him her friend's number on a business card i got from the counselor at school who coincidentally had filled the card with the names and numbers of psychiatrists in santa barbara (6) so the ozzie now has telephone access to the girl plus several mental health practitioners throughout the greater santa barbara area.

the lotus in question turned out to be a thai place that jill’s friend identified as the place that made her throw up once (7) and josh’s friend is a dead ringer for susa (8). we headed out but in the same direction because josh’s friend lived a block from where jill and i were staying.

we never caught up with brie.

Frank Was Here — Went to Get Beer

salutlesfilles5: did you guys have fun?
kidicarus222: yeah
kidicarus222: honestly, i got drunk really fast
kidicarus222: i don't remember too much of what happened, but i'm really sorry we never caught up to you
kidicarus222: so did you enjoy your san francisco weekend?
salutlesfilles5: yeah
salutlesfilles5: i think i need a break from drinking though
kidicarus222: this weekend was my break from sobriety

And now I will followed this with three posts, all of which are either related to or inspired by my weekend in San Francisco.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Standing Outside a Broken Phonebooth With Money in My Hand

Today i spent fifteen minutes picking foxtails out of my socks. I went to Gilroy. I had to break for a line of quail on the way home. And then I wrote Janine an email apologizing for missing her wedding reception.

This is not the summer of my dreams. How is it different from last summer? Exactly one year ago:
just when the heat relented and sleeping without a puddle of perspiration became possible, the church bells rang and rang and rang

sunday morning in rome
Forty days until Washington D.C.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Bound for the Floor

A letter.
My dear Edith,

Thanks for writing. Sorry I didn't write back sooner but I've been kind of down lately. I moved out of Santa Barbara for the rest of the summer. I just couldn't deal with being there without all my friends around. It was a lot harder than I thought. Plus my new roommates moved in and they had bath pillows and sword collections and weird kimono bathrobes. Needless to say, it was a living nightmare that threatened to chip away my sanity like some kind of terrible... chipping monster. So I live in Hollister now. It's not so bad, what with the apricots and the quail. I guess I'm excited about Washington. It just hasn't sunk in yet. I leave September 18, at night. I just bought the plane tickets today. I hope your job search goes well and all that. Cheers on not getting the job teaching Catholic sexuality, though I think you should look into becoming a nun. Black and white might suit you. A movie called "Night of the Iguana" is showing right now. I'm going to watch that. Doesn't that sound fun?

All my loving,
Drew

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Strawberry Letter 22

A week later than I had planned, but I finally made it out of Isla Vista. I won't have to be there — like, live there be there — again until January. And I won't miss it.

But I think being an English major has ruined me for thinking about life like a normal person. On the road, all I could think about was the larger ramifications of leaving. I repotted the dragon plant I got in September two years ago. Initially, it had six stalks — six roommates, six stalks. One by one, all the stalks died except for one, which I put in a smaller pot and gave to Hesina until I get back. There's something to that, I swear. That sole dragon plant with its little palmy pompom head sitting all by itself in the neighbor's yard. I just don't know what that thing is. Drag.

But Not Aardvarks

Also, I made a Blogger profile and listed a good number of my interests only to have the end of them cut off. Double drag. So because blogger sucks with its lame-o space restraints, here's the list of my interests in its entirety:
alternately inhaling and exhaling, journalism, creative nonfiction, painting, linguistics, trepanning, lurid tales of Catholic martyrs, geomancy, London, ampersands, urban legends, the 8-bit age of video games, noir, psychedelia, Birdo, anteaters (but not aardvarks), Legos, waffles, TV shows and movies I watched when I was a kid but now have only the faintest recollections of, Tina Fey, Antigone, etymology, punctuation etymology, profanity etymology, New Zealand, David Lynch, Boo Boo Tannenbaum, gardening, Animal Crossing, kung fu movies, twins, Adult Swim, duality and polarization, watching color broadcasts on black and white television sets

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

When Will I See You Again?

I’m heading north for the rest of the summer. Sometimes I feel okay, but sometimes I just don’t. Although I’ve realized that a lot of it is internal, I know my environment isn’t helping. I dropped my classes — a writing class with Petracca that I wanted to take and an English class with Vanessa that I rightly should have taken but had to drop. I quit Seasons until I get back to Santa Barbara in January. The Pasado House changed. I used to dread having to leave this place, but that stopped being an issue when these mutants moved in.

So I’m heading north for the rest of the summer. I’m resolving to stay off the internet so much. Less TV, too. They’ve been draining my time. This means no IM for a while, but I’ll be checking email. Please email me, if you’d like, at my usual address: (first name)(underscore)(last name)@hotmail.com. Or just call me.

It’s not such a big deal, I swear. I just need to be at home. Ob la di, ob la dah and all that.