Iíve been in LA just over two years now,
and Iíve learned a few things about life
in an entertainment-fueled metropolis.
Like most of what we learn, it seems vital
at the time, then absolutely useless
in retrospect, but even so Iím not against
using it in a column, especially when my time
is limited by a one-month old child who
is currently asleep on my bed and who will
wake soon to remind me that things like work,
accomplishment, and the adult world are,
at best, fading ghosts outside my window.
So here we go, random realizations
about Los Angeles, as relates to any one comic.
I promise next month Iíll get back to
* * *
If you sit in one place for more than
a few minutes in LA you become the audience.
If youíre anywhere near a coffee shop,
this means an open miker popping over to do
his material for you while he waits to go up
43rd on "the list." And no matter
how patronizingly you smile, no matter
how much you think he would see that youíre
a "real" comic (meaning youíve
been paid) and not a "civilian,"
he wonít ever grow aware that you hate him.
Or, if he does, he will then label you
as the ubiquitous "asshole"
because you didnít seem to appreciate his
indescribably mediocre "thoughts on
Even the homeless in LA seem to have writers.
Their signs are more creative. I saw a guy
with a sign: "I need a dollar for a beer.
Or just give me beer." I got
gang-begged the other day. Four homeless
dudes traveling in a pack stopped me in the
middle of a crosswalk on Vermont Avenue, and,
like some bizarre drug-addicted barbershop
quartet, each hit me with their best,
"Hey, man, got any money?"
I said, no, and made a mental note that begging
is meant to be an individual sport. In LA,
you canít tell the difference between the homeless
and the artists. I gave a guy a buck, then watched
him go into a bookstore to start his poetry
reading. Hey, the bum has perfect
iambic pentameter. And apparently he went
to Yale. The bum is now deep into a metaphor
that is way over my head. If you want
the best answer on earth to any homeless
request, use Lawrence Thomasís retort:
"Yeah, I have money. But I donít
want to give it to you."
There is no dress code that separates
one world from another here. I had a guy
in bondage-wear serve me a coffee.
I like that his business doesnít impose
a dress code, but his cock-shaped lip stud
distracted me from my hearty beverage.
And he now has taken more than his share
of my long-term memory. That may be the last
thing I think about as I die.
"Oh, Iím going... no, not... cock lip..."
Bars are very expensive in LA.
The same beer you get for about fifty cents
at the grocery cost about $6 a bottle in a LA bar.
Which is why I no longer buy beer
in the grocery. It just gets irritating.
Some people in LA drive cars that donít
fit them. A burly Latino guy with tattoos
and a shaved head driving a minivan.
The affordable vehicle for the growing gang.
I just canít see the sliding doors and dome
light scaring me off his turf. If youíre wearing
your lap belt, how can you lean out of the
window to get a good angle on a drive-by?
LA has more midgets than anywhere on earth,
all vying for the same jobs in weird band
videos or David Lynch movies. I stood
in line at the grocery store behind one
who was buying four 100 lb. bags of dog food.
If I was a midget, I donít think Iíd have
huge dogs around. There is no term for people
who are between midget and regular person.
I suggest hidget.
LA is a swarm city. Swarms of mediocre
dreamers. Any quasi-opportunity that arises,
they find it, in droves. Doing comedy
in this town feels like youíre in the crowd
at a Who concert. I could announce right here
that I need a couple of twin amputees who
can play bongos with their oversized tongues,
tomorrow, my door would be beaten down.
If I make enough money I will open
a bar in LA. The doorman will be a big fat guy
in a dirty white t-shirt whose job would be
to keep all the cool people out. If you canít
name three Merle Haggard songs, youíre not getting in.
If youíre smug about knowing three Merle Haggard songs,
youíre not getting in.
People here need to realize that being thin
is not high on the list of human accomplishments.
Okay, hereís someone who has a family, a job,
an education, and talent. Youíve been able to
not eat. Hmm...
Edgy is not as easily available as many
would like to think. That thrift store hat
does not equate you with a Viet Nam Vet.
Accessing the pain of a 19-year-oldís break up
with his chick is harder than he thinks it might be.
Oh, dude, that must have been tough. You were together
for like almost a month. She pawned all
the teddy bears you bought her. Damn.
And doing drugs is not edgy. Almost everyone
does them at one time or another. And guess what?
Jack Daniels does the same thing as your stuff,
and it tastes better.
Finally, standing in the background
while famous people act doesnít mean you were
"in the movie with them."
It means you were a prop.
Iíll be back with moí better
"information" next month.