Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Welcome, Pope Benedict XVI!!! TODAY IS YOUR (GOD'S) DAY

Well, the white smoke floated up into the ether today, up from the holiest hole in the roof of the holiest building on earth.

Someone please tell me how a hole can be holy. Tell me how a man, elected by his peers no less, can be chosen to take up the role of the 'closest' mortal to God. In a matter of days, this man, this mortal human with all of the same downsides as the worst of all men, and with all of the flaws of everyone else, no matter how well masked in robes and guilded fabrics and symbology and iconocism, can be selected into that position in such a short time, with so much at stake.

Here are a group of men who condemn the use of condoms even though millions of their Christian converts contract AIDS in Africa. Here are a group of men who are so close to God that they find it acceptible to move a priest from one diocese to another to avoid the controversy that comes with one of their own being accused of inappropriately touching young confused boys. Here are a group of men, human men, who have figured out exactly what God does and does not want, and they are letting us all know.

Which God do they believe in? The one that generates revenues or the one that generates faith? Are they trusting in the Lord Almighty because God is the way and the truth and the light, or is it because God is the way and the truth and the padding of the papal pocket? Kiss the Man's ring, and all of your sins shall be redeemed. Show up bleary-eyed and devastated when the inevitability of death knocks on the Holiest Holy Man's Holy door to pay your respects to someone that your fellow man has determined was so righteous and so penitent that you shall bow before him as you would bow before God Almighty Himself. And then do the same for His Replacement, and His Replacement after him, and His Replacement after that.

Bow down and do what you're told. Otherwise you might find the true God for you, and what a blow that would be to the men in the Red Satin Robes, the ones with the golden collection plates and imaginary spike holes through their wrists. Don't stray from the path that these men have set out for you, or you might just find what it is you've always been looking for...

Monday, April 18, 2005

half a dozen of one - six of the other

Half a dozen of one, six of the other.
“Have you ever heard that phrase?”
Of course I’d heard that. They teach it to you in Corporate America Linguistics, Part II.
In Part I they teach: in regards to, regarding, re: (short for regarding and best when used in e-mails), at the end of the day, for all intensive purposes (that’s a good one), and, from a ____ standpoint. (That’s a fill in the blank one that will earn you big points).
They all work. But that new one about six of one, half a dozen of the other - that one really says it all. It truly captures what you’re trying to say. In other words, you’re fucked either way.
“Eric? You there?”
“Oh yes, yes. I have heard that. You know, like when…”
Then we both finished my sentence together, Dave’s voice trailing a word or two behind mine in that blah, blah, blah fashion. Like he was trying to read my mind or pulling that irritating shit I used to do to my sister when we were kids, copying every word that came out of her mouth.
“So e-mail me the completed spreadsheet this afternoon, the sooner the better. It’s time to go get ‘em!”
“You got it Dave,” I said. “Talk to you soon.”
My boss was not a hard-ass. If anything he was just a typical manager concerned with the bottom line. We’re here to make money, so let’s do it, he would say. He was to the point and wanted you to be there with him. He would use sports analogies to drive that point home: “full court press, straight arm, a winning team.”
That’s what I had been on the past year and a half – the winning team. And Dave was my coach. He had been sort of a father to me; inviting me to client dinners that most management didn’t attend, pushing more work on me than my counterparts, and wanting me to go for the gusto. I was a little slave of sorts, who smiled and showed up everyday, like a good, team player.
Then one day it hit me. I’m a producer. I am “in demand.” I’m really showing these people that I’m a dynamo. And likewise, they are pushing me. They see that I can get the job done, and accordingly, they push more on my plate, wanting me to take more bites, digest faster, and then shit out a masterpiece.
About the same time, I realized that what I produced could not be considered a masterpiece. Since when is an Excel spreadsheet a masterpiece?
And at that time, I checked out. Out of that call, out of the job, out of everything. I was lost in numbers and business jargon. I didn’t want to be a 29 year old junior salesman with visions of commission. I wanted to stop pitching “WIIFM” to clients and start asking myself those five questions.
“What’s in it for me?” I asked.
“Para ti, papi. Any ting you want.”
Monica was about 5’7” and had nothing but legs. She couldn’t have been more than 17, but in Tijuana, she was a working girl so age did not matter. She had bottom lines, too.
“Let’s sit over here and have a drink,” I said.
We moved into a dark corner in Pussycats – one TJ’s seediest men’s clubs on Revolución. The mesero brought over a bucket of icy Dos Equis posing as full size beers, but instead they too were junior salesmen.
Monica rocked back and forth to the beat, looking around the room. She then went right for the goal and put her hand in my crotch.
“Buenos Dias,” she smiled. In the black light, her teeth were despicable. If they were going anywhere near me, it was not my mouth. I had developed some standards over the years, and I made it a point to exercise them in men’s clubs, especially in Mexico.
I smiled back at Monica and nodded my head. Before long, she was on the job and I was taking in the rest of what the den of sin had to offer.
I relaxed somewhat, but I could not stop thinking about what Dave had said on the Friday morning conference call. Half a dozen of one, six of the other.
You’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t, right? Was that what he meant? You’re screwed either way?
“Qué?” Monica popped up for a moment. “Todo bien?”
I faded out of Pussycats and into the Mexican night air. I was looking for something else. A place to go. An escape valve that would shoot me further into Mexico where I had a beach front villa, with eggs and cerveza in the fridge, and Simon and Garfunkel haunting the high ceilings and hallways. There was no place to hide, especially from the job.
It wasn’t a bad job, until we skimmed the surface of “what do you really want to do,” and “As an employer, the worst thing is hiring someone who doesn’t even want to stay in that field. Someone who is using the job as a stepping stone to something totally different.”
“Well Dave, you know what I want. I want what you have: wife, kids, company car, expense account. I could see myself doing what you do in a few years.”
It was all a lie. I knew that I didn’t want that. Dave certainly didn’t know that. What he did know was that I was his protégé, his UCLA grad that came to Corporate America highly recommended, English degree or not.
What he also didn’t know was that I was a wandering soul who really just wanted to trot the globe and tell stories, meeting lonely companions along the way, sharing my stories and telling theirs. I was just a tree hugging hippie in business casual.
“You just have to remember Eric, you can have it all, but at the same time, you can’t have it all. You have to work, but then you don’t have to work. You have to play the game. You have to pay your dues and kiss a little ass to get the prize. Eyes on the prize, Eric,” he said.
“You work here or you flip burgers. Either way, you’re going to work. You know, it’s half a dozen of one, six of the other.
I’ve got to get that damn phrase out of my skull.
I walked over to one of those TelMex phone booths and pushed in an old card that I had from my last Mexican adventure.
After a couple of rings, Dave’s phone went to voice mail.
Dave, I said, it’s Eric. I’ve been doing some thinking and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want what you have. Hell, I don’t even know what I want. I just know that right now I’m not cut out for the job that you’ve cut out for me. Look, I’m just a dreamer trapped in an over achiever’s body. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I’ve decided to leave the company. I’m going to take up residence in Mexico. I don’t know. I think I’m just going to work as a bartender or something. It’s been great working for you and the team. We are a great team. I hope you understand.
I put the phone down, and then smiled to myself. I can’t believe I just quit my job over the phone in Mexico.
I awoke with the same grin and I think I might have been laughing.
“Qué?” she asked, smiling back at me. “What’s funny?”
I held my señorita in my arms, not Monica, but a Mexicana I met months later in Cabo.
“It’s that dream again,” I told her. “You know, where I asked for half a dozen of one, and got six of the other.”
She shook her head, not knowing what I meant, but smiled just the same.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Where oh where has my little blog gone?
Where oh where can he be?

Monday, April 04, 2005

The story of my weekend...

So this is how it went. Friday, I got to work at 4:30 in the afternoon. We're shooting overnights in Westwood, a place vastly familliar to me after my first year in la Ciudad spent getting hammered there on a daily basis. After a brief visit to the set, I returned to the production office in Burbank to sit and wait it out. You see there are many things that must be taken care of over the course of an entire day's shoot, and I was designated to be the one to take care of things in the office. Which essentially means I was the one chosen to stay up all night and be at the beck and call of any and everyone from the set who had problems, difficulties, misunderstandings, miscommunications, etc. etc. etc.

I brought my guitar with me for company and several cds. It was a quiet night to say the least, and by 7:30 am on Saturday, my work was completed, the company had wrapped and I made my way home for a quick round of shut-eye. I slept for four hours or so before rising, taking a quick rip and heading to the liquor store for some beers. Saturday was Nate's birthday celebration down in Elysian Park near Dodger's Stadium.

The weather is returning to nice here in Sunny SoCal after the second greatest rainfall this area has seen since the 1880's. And with the renewal of the spectacular weather comes the shedding of layers of clohting on the ladies, a feature of this part of the country that few others can compare to. And the ladies were out, and they were wearing less than I've seen them wear since last October when the rains started. It was delightful. Sun dresses and skirts and breezy close-to-see-through-shirts. All mixed in with a few spliffs and some ice cold Tecates. Throw in a frisbee and a hacky sack and you've got yourself a beautiful day in the park.

Amongst these wayward ladies was one that has for several years now been the apple of my attended eye. Damnit if this one isn't as gorgeous as they come, and she, recently 'divorced' as I am, was catching the feelings I was sending her way and returning them with spectacular volleys like a tennis match between two people who have played one another many, many times before. The park faded with the sunlight and minutes later we were inside a bar, really stepping it up into high gear. Shots of whiskey, shots of tequilla, ice cold budweisers, vodkas on frigid rocks. I managed to lose a fifty dollar bill somewhere within The Short Stop on Sunset, or perhaps I just blew it on drink. I don't recall.

At one point, as my charm was carefully teetering on sheer crassness and drunken advances, I told the girl that I would like nothing more than to share her bed that night, a prospect which I must admit she was very receptive to; "That would be nice," she said, and I took it for a given that when the glasses upon glasses of stinging booze were finished, I would find myself warm with her, getting warmer.

But alas, her ex called her at such an inopportune moment and put the nix on the whole thing. Not that she and I haven't travelled this same path with one another before, and not that we never will again, but his inadvertent cock block fell on me, and she soon decided that it would be wisest if she made the journey home alone. No skin from me. But worse things could happen. There is still time, as there always will be.

She left. I continued on my bender and ended up smashing my forehead against the arm of a couch while I was issuing somewhat of a severe beat-down to the Notorious T.O.D. He later said that his head felt like an A-Frame. Mine didn't hurt, although the damage remains today in the form of several tiny red abraisions that travel from my hair line to the top of my nose. And it hurts like a motherfucker to put on a hat. Nobody's fault but mine I suppose, but I did smash the shit out of poor Tod's head.

Francisco was wasted so he couldn't give me a ride home. He drove me up to the corner of Sunset Blvd and Benton Way. I said I would catch the bus and started walking Westward on Sunset Blvd, back into Hollywood from Echo Park, back to my lonely little house just around the corner from Rosco's Chicken and Waffles. And do you know that only one bus passed my in the entire time I was walking? One goddamned bus, and it was off duty.

I ended up walking damn near five miles in the middle of the night in Los Angeles wearing flip flops of all goddamned walking implements, kicking one off and then the other, then stumbling around blindly as I tried to put one or both of them back on my drunken feet. It took me a couple of hours to get back to the house, which gave me plenty of time to dial several numbers that belonged to those of the fairer sex, and enough time for none of them to answer, and certainly none of them to come and scoop my drunk ass up and then take me home and have their way with me after four o'clock in the morning. So I got back to the house and passed out cold and on the solo, burning my last cigarette on the way up the walk and into my tiny little bungalow.

Sunday brought with it more spectacular weather. I woke up around eleven and ate some Subway. I recieved a call from Melanie, yes the same one as the failed sleeping arrangements from the night before. She had gotten tickets to a stage play called "Tartouffe" which is one of Moliere's finest works dealing with the hipocracy of religion and it's effect on man's piety. It was entertaining and enjoyable... I would highly recommend it to both of you to read and/or watch if possible. One thing about Moliere, he certainly has a handle on the concept of vice.

After the play I spoke with my sister. She asked me to be the Godfather of Winnifred Jane Kenney, my niece who was born on Valentine's day when I was in Mexico City. That is exciting news, and I'm trying to arrange my trip to Philadelphia for the coronation at some point later on this month.

Then it was off to Dorin and Stadler's house for a barbecue in honor of their friend Cynthia's birthday. There, much more food, booze and ganj followed and the next thing you know, I was right back where I was the night before except I had on real shoes instead of two slaps of foam rubber and I only had to make a half block walk at the end of the deal as opposed to a two hour one. Dorin and Stadler always attract an interesting group of individuals, and yesterday was no exception. I spent a good deal of time talking to a woman who was in her late 60's, a prescribed medicinal marijuana matron who rolled j upon j of some of the finest kind I've ever had the pleasure to draw into mine lungs. Stellar. And there were ladies there, too. And they all seemed to be doing well, and I felt like I could make them do better.

I'm back in the game, kids. The mojo is working overtime once again. The slump hasn't been busted just yet, but it's waiting in the wings... Pity on the first one to taste the wrath... It's been too long, and before that it had been too long with the same person. As it is, spring is here; sundresses and baseball games and day drinking and warm night parties and swimming naked and new friends and lovers. Spring is here and it brings along with it the promise of summer which will ease us into fall only to shoulder us through winter while we wait for Spring again. It's a great time of year, and a particularly good time to be in Sunny Southern California where all the women are strong and all the men are good looking and all the marijuana is above average.

ps... Ofo, if you've never met her, check her...


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