Tag Archives: Culture

When the hard times strike, what’s a girl to do?

When I was back in L.A., I was one of the many poor sufferers prone to panic attacks. Sometimes these were randomly onset, other times induced by some sort of Sunday morning regret. Either way, in these moments my best friend Russell would pop a Xany on my tongue, put me in the car and drive me up the road to the Walmart.

These Walmart excursions served a soothing purpose, kind of like the foil shock blankets they put on people after a car accident or a fire. Once there, Russell would buy me a large Diet Coke or an XXL McDonalds iced skinny vanilla late or any form of a drink carrying copious loads of Aspartame. He’d walk me several laps around store, and by the third or fourth I’d be feeling better that I was not toothless/sporting exposed an exposed ass-crack/or wearing my robe to go shopping at two in the afternoon. Life was okay.

Still, we could never part ways without some sort of indulgence, so usually we’d end up splurging on a $2.00 tube of face mask before leaving to spend the next 40 minutes trying to remember where we’d parked the car (a event which sometimes struck the need for us to go back into Walmart to calm down again).

But the problem now, being in Australia, is that none of these things exist.

The closest thing to a Walmart here is Ikea. Given that I once had to Phone-A-Friend to get out of Ikea, this will never be my choice for mental monastery.

The twenty Xanax I brought over with me lasted a while. At six months in I took the last one after an embarrassing run in at a chicken shop. After that I did what any normal L.A. girl would do: I went to the Doc to ask him for more.

After I got my other necessary prescriptions sorted out, I cleared my throat and began to explain my panic attacks… and could I please have some Xanax or something…?

He looked at me blankly then turned to his computer without saying a word for several long moments. I couldn’t see the what he was typing, but I could feel the judgement in his rapidly moving fingers. He was one of those one-finger typers too, which just made it that much worse. Uh oh.

He turned back to me and lowered his glasses.

“Well, you see, we don’t do that here. Why don’t you try some yoga or pilates or meditation. I think you’ll feel much better.”

Pilates? I left the doctors office and went out to grab the next best thing- a D.C. But due to Australia’s stringent preservative laws and their understanding that Aspartame actually does fuck you up (whateverrrr), you can’t find any diet products that are actually made with the ingredient.

I was starting to feel very homesick, so I reached into my purse and called the one person I knew could and would hook me up, ASAP.

Several weeks later, around Christmastime, the box arrived– unmarked and wrapped in plain brown paper. A box sent by the best smuggler I know, Public Enemy No. 1 and ultimate provider of non-Australian goods.

I ripped open the paper and read the note first. It was printed on Snoopy Christmas paper:

Didn’t have time to write much. Hope this is the right thing.

Love Mom.

Underneath the letter was just what I wanted. Obviously Diet Coke would be too heavy to send and let’s face it, the good Doc was right about the Xany. Nonetheless, everyone needs one indulgence and here was mine: Aspartame in the beautiful, compact form of powdered Crystal Light. Packets upon packets of it!

In general I’m proud to say that since I’ve come to Australia I’ve hardly had two panic attacks if any at all. Life really is good here. Nonetheless, it’s nice to know that I’ve got a lime Margarita in my pocket that I can drink anytime, and it’s only five calories.

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Lab Art Saturday

White dudes with afros, chics with no hair, live tattooing and art, oh my!

That was just a bit of what was going on at Lab Art Gallery on La Brea this past Saturday when I stopped by for a brief gander.

There were a lot of cool pieces in the gallery featuring everything from spray-paint on canvas to mixed media. Pop cultural icons were featured frequently on a number of the pieces, and I found [randomly] that renditions of Jack Nicholson seemed to be eyeing me from just about every wall. What struck me most about the event though was not necessarily the art, but the people. I’ve been living in or near L.A. for the entire 22 years of my existence and I can honestly say that I’ve never been to anything “so L.A.” in my life. From the live painting to the bearded dudes who outnumbered non-bearded dudes 3 to 1, this scene felt a lot like what you’d see in movies. I guess that’s part of what felt so strange about it for me: it almost seemed as if the people weren’t real, as if they were cast to appear if only for a moment before taking off to smoke another cigarette.

I was admiring the live tattooer’s work, but when he stood up he brushed through me like I was Casper, leaving me with the urge to yell out a sarcastic “Sorry, bro!” The screen-printing guy was a sweetheart but didn’t know much about the image that he was printing onto his shirts, other than it “looked cool.” I overheard people admiring particular pieces around the room, a common repetative critique being “Wow, that’s so Warhol.”

In general, these attitudes reminded me so much of what I love and simultaneously hate about street art in itself. “Street art” can be playful, it can be ironic, it can be subtle or aggressively upfront. Some street art can be incredibly intelligent. It can take on a new or different meaning depending on where it is placed. Carboard shoes thrown over a wire can mean something vastly different depending upon if that wire is located on a street in South Central or in front of a mansion in Beverly Hills.

Yet that is simultaneously what drives me crazy about street art: that so many of its spectators refuse to admit that a lot of it is just bullshit; luck of the draw dependent on the viewers’ gullibility. If the same image is created with spray-paint instead of chalk pastel, we call it street art. If the same words are “tagged” instead of written, for some reason we are more quick to accept it as valid social criticism. Street art is a style, granted, but should we really keep calling it street art if it’s never been on the street? Ins’t that an inherent part of why street art has any meaning– less because of the technical ability involved but instead because of the risk taken to create it?

In thinking about this I recall my experience of watching Banksy’s film Exit Through the Giftshop. Part of the reason I enjoyed the film is because I’m convinced it was all a hoax. In the film, street-art newcomer “Mr. Brainwash” is hugely successful despite the fact that he clearly has no idea what he is doing.  His art is copy-cat like and mass produced– the exact opposite of what the core values of street art dictate his work should be. Even worse is how easily so-called fans of street art literally buy into Mr. Brainwash’s persona by spending thousands of dollars at his show. Instead of holding him accountable for his obvious rehashing of other people’s work, they attribute this as being part of his genius.

This to me is why the whole film is a joke, a ruse being played on the population by Banksy and friends asking us “What is art and how can we use it?”

So while I may sound like I’m hating on the Lab Art gallery, don’t get me wrong. I had a fabulous time. The hosts were kind and there was a lot to appreciate. I have my reasons for liking the art to an extent, but nonetheless I can’t help but wonder what makes other people love street art so much– and so suddenly. What makes someone willing to pay several hundred dollars for a collection of used up spray cans that have motivational words painted onto them in simple acrylic paint? Maybe I’ll understand more one day when I actually have that several hundred dollars to spare. Or maybe I’ll be the artist myself. I once sold a bag of my trash to someone for 75 cents. Maybe this is just an extension of the same thing.

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…It’s what today?

For the first time in my life, I had actually forgotten that it was going to be Valentine’s Day. I can probably thank the fact that this is the first year in my life [that I can remember] where I have not been in school making Valentine’s Day cards to pass out in class, or attending the typical collegiate “F*** Love I Just Wanna Rage” type kegger. I was reminded though when I saw the incredibly long line outside of See’s Candy. Anything that thwarts my ability to obtain chocolate usually catches my attention. Anyways, I thought I’d post a few Valentine’s Day-related things that have already made me smile today.

1. Google’s Valentine’s Day homepage cartoon.

As most people know, Google likes to have fun with it’s homepage banner by switching it up according to holidays or notable events. These switch-ups can be hit or miss, but today’s is a huge hit. The Valentine’s themed animated short (co-animated by Michael Lipman) features a young boy trying desperately to get a young girl’s attention by bringing her endless gifts of the typical variety (chocolate, flowers, etc.). The girl, preoccupied by her jumprope, can’t be bothered by his romantic dallying until the boy comes up with a new idea: instead of trying to impress her with material items, he goes for common interest. He succeeds (:

Besides the splendidly heart-wrenching crooning of my favorite standards man, Tony Bennett, what I like most about this cartoon is the ending, where we are shown a montage of images featuring happy couples: a cat and a dog, a spaceman and an alien, etc. Amongst this bunch is an elderly interracial couple and two tuxedo clad men embracing. I love that the message is subtle and not overwhelming. The bottom line: All people deserve love! And like the many things that Google knows, Google knows this too.

2. Out Magazine’s LOVE issue with partners David Burkta and Neil Patrick Harris on the cover

Let me get this off my chest: I suffer from an acutely problematic syndrome known as NPH. Symptoms include mildly obsessive adoration, and attraction towards gay males. Severe symptoms include being one of the few people not alive for most of the 80’s whose still seen EVERY episode of Doogie Howser ever (despite the fact that that show is admittedly CRAZY BORING). But really, who doesn’t love Neil Patrick Harris. He sings, acts, dances, plays “straight” incredibly well, and was even once a board member of the Magic Castle in Los Angeles (Chris Angel, what you got?).

So of course I am icnredibly stoked to see that Neil and David are featured on the cover of Out Magazine for this V-Day, looking stunning in Calvin Klein no less.

 

And lastly, for those NOT celebrating Valentine’s Day I give you the final thing:

3. Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”

As I was listening to 95.5 KLOS this afternoon, DJ Cynthia Fox made a cheesy remark telling all single people who may be taking themselves out to dinner alone “not to get fresh!” At first I thought this was really corny and kind of a jab, until she queed up Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” It took me a second, until I realized Cynthia I see what u did thur. In case you haven’t noticed, this song is about masturbation, people. Happy Singles Awareness Day.

See you next love day.

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Seth Casteel – Underwater Dogs

It’s a Friday night and I’ll be heading out shortly, but before I do I wanted to quickly share these brilliantly creative and somewhat bizarre photos by Los Angeles pet photographer Seth Casteel. His latest series is called “Underwater Dogs.” Check the photos out on Facebook or at Seth Casteel.com.

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