Monday, August 9, 2010

Are you a cop? (just say yes)

It's a good thing crack heads don't frequent my blog, otherwise there could be a surge of new residents
on the Upper West Side of Manhattan in search of the free, yes free (gratis, complimentary, no charge, duty free,it's all yours if you say yes), crack rock!
I don't think Ethel in 3B would be too excited about her new neighbors from the west.

I was chatting with an old friend this evening, via a cellular phone, as I copped a squat on the steps across the
street from my apartment here in NYC.
Yes folks, this is a NYC occurrence, but I am writing about it because it made me miss my usual cast of characters in Venice, and could easily happen there.

As I yapped away, a woman approached me and asked, politely, if she could sit on the steps as well.
It's a free country, you can sit anywhere you want, but regardless, who am I to deny someone a nice sit?
I obliged with a smile, and continued my conversation, or so I tried.
She asked, "Which side do you want me to sit on"?
Well, there was two feet of space to my left and twenty feet to my right, so I requested the right.
Then I noticed she was a middle aged crack head, so I I told her, the far right.

She said that neither would do, she wanted to sit next to me.
I was flattered, the same way I'm flattered when a gay man checks me out. It's not for me, but I appreciate the ego boost.
This was not one of those moments, you see, this middle aged crack head had ulterior motives.
She didn't want to get to know me, what I'm all about. My passions, my dreams? They meant naught.

First she asked if I was a cop.
Now this is where I will pass along some advice to my Venice friends, advice I am sure translates from east to west.
Unless you are actually trying to buy crack, and I hope you're not, if a crack head asks you if you are a cop, just say yes.
Just say it.
Don't hesitate.
Look them straight into those crack head eyes, and say with every ounce of conviction you can muster up in that split second,
and say, "Yes, yes I am a cop. A highly decorated, undercover, gun toting, fully wired, completely surrounded by a SWAT team that thrives on the blood of female, middle aged crack heads kind of COP".
Then follow up, quickly, with, "why do you ask"?

This will surely cause the crack head to flee and you can return to your phone call.
This is not what I did.
Instead, I told her I was not a cop, and she led into her question, which turned out to be two questions, that I answered promptly.
She asked me if I smoked crack.
She asked me if I wanted to smoke crack.

And still, there she was, quick to explain why she was asking me about crack, and my desire to smoke it.

It seemed she had a good sized rock, and was eager to have somebody chip in on the financial end, for in return, is what I took to be, quite the deal when it comes to the sharing of the crack rock.
I wouldn't know though, and she didn't exactly have a power point presentation set up to guide me through the deal.
Instead I recommended she make her way, post haste as I would like to get back to my call, and head into Times Square where she could hit up the people sitting in those ridiculous chairs*.
She was equally as polite when she left, as she was when she approached.
She flashed a three tooth smile, double checked to make sure I hadn't suddenly changed my mind and decided to start smoking crack after all, and walked away.
Unfortunately, she walked the wrong way.

*Imagine if the City of Venice closed off Abbot Kinney and bolted plastic chairs into the street so you could no longer drive through, and an attempt to stroll down the street on foot would end up with you being enveloped by a swarm of fanny packs and sweat.
This is what happened in Times Square.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

God Save the King, and give him some gas money.

Did you know that Venice is a monarchy? Neither did I, until last night.
On paper he would appear to be a King.
A long flowing robe, a crown atop his head, and to say he exuded confidence would be an understatement, this man came walking down the middle of the street, no sidewalks for his highness.
He introduced himself (a humble effort as I am sure most Kings do not introduce themselves), as the one and only...

I am not sure if Shiny is a family name, or something self-appointed by his highness, but I do know that centuries from now, the annals of history will surely engrave the name Shiny in their texts, and your great-great-great grandchildren will read of his achievements.

You might ask, what are those achievements?

Well, if King Shiny wore a Brooks Brothers suit instead of a terry cloth robe, and if he were not a royal, but rather an elected official, I am pretty sure he would run on an "Anti-Tourist" platform.
King Shiny has made it his mission to represent the residents of his Venice Kingdom in a manner that might seem unorthodox for a King, but hey, most Kings were crazy, Henry VI went mad and spent his remaining days wandering the forests.
His Royal Highness King Shiny of Venice, is not much different than them, and that is why, when he asked for gas money, I felt it my duty to the kingdom to comply.

As you might know, royals do not receive a salary, rather they rely on the taxes of their followers, which I was happy to hand over, despite my curiosity as to why a King would need money for fuel, much less why fueling his chariot would even be his responsibility.
The chariot, a mid-80's Chrysler LeBaron convertible (a fitting car for a King), was parked just down the street.
It was this car that served as a vital ingredient in the King's rule.
According to King Shiny, and since then vouched for by some of his humble servants, the King's favorite pastime is to park the Royal LeBaron in the middle of the intersection at Pacific and Windward, stand up for all the neighborhood to see him, and in a manner that defines and embodies the idea of royalty, he spends a few minutes flipping the middle finger to anyone who will look at him.
He assures me that this message is only intended for those who enter our kingdom and trash it every weekend, the tourists and visitors, not his loyal followers for whom he "has nothing but love for".
Beyond the fanny packs, fake lifeguard t-shirts, and recently purchased "Scarface" movie posters, I am not sure how he knows who is a foe and who is a friend, but like anyone who respects their monarchy, I do not question my King, I simply give him gas money and curtsy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lesson Learned (The Hard Way)

I've been asked if I want to buy a duck, asked for money, and even asked if I live here as I sit on the porch.
I usually just answer no to everything asked of me, even the queries of do I live here (why admit residency when you don't have to, another attempt at living off the grid), but on Sunday I was caught off guard when a young man asked me a simple question, "Do you have a car"?
For the first time since I was asked if the beach was that vast watery expanse on the corner, I answered yes.
Mistake number one. I had a good thing going with this no tactic, I should have never abandoned it, because if you think there was no follow up question to this, you are wrong.

Follow up question, "Can I get a ride"?
Before I could even revert back to the triangle "no" offense, he hit with me the details.

You see, he didn't need a ride just due to the lack of a car-well, that had something to due with it obviously-he, as they all so eloquently phrase their stories, had some guys chasing him.

I am not Jesus Christ, Mother Teresa, or Bono, but I do have a heart.
Certainly I do not want to see anyone, as crazy and tatted up as they might be, fall victim to a horrible beating just because I get shitty gas mileage and never drive on a Sunday.
It's a traffic thing, not a religious thing. I still use a t.v. and a blender.

But I truly did not think that getting in my car was going to exactly save the day for this guy, so I gave him the best and most blunt (considering his time crunch) advice I could. I pointed in the direction opposite that of his potential attackers, and told him "Run. Run that way".
I feel this was good advice. I have been the victim of "guys chasing me", and I can tell you it is a tough position to be in, but not one you can't get out of. The solution is simple, and really high school physics if you think about it, run as fast as you can in the opposite direction of the people trying to kill you, and don't stop.

Beyond the physics, I would also advise other methods mixed in, such as, but not limited to-bobbing and weaving, hiding in/behind/under things, seeking shelter, calling the police, and of course the obvious, never get in a position in the first place in which people will want to assault you. Of course this is all common sense, which maybe the guy with the spider web tattoo on his neck didn't quite grasp. His loss.

Despite my solid and quick advice, and what I would think is a basic human instinct to go in the opposite direction, upon my denial of his request for a taxi/bodyguard service, he shrugged his shoulders and walked back in the direction of which he came, aka, where the guys who wanted to kill him are.

Like I said, I have a heart, so try not judge me as I tell you how this ended.
Jesus wouldn't judge.

I went to get a chicken breast sandwich on the delicious and nutritious 9-grain omega-3 bread Subway has, and on my back saw quite a scene at the corner of Pacific and North Venice.
An EMT was putting the same young man who needed a ride (and survival skills) into the back of an ambulance, clearly to tend to the wounds inflicted by large fists and feet, judging from his swollen face.

You might think the moral of this story is something about lending a hand to your fellow man, or doing your part for society, but let's face it, the moral of the story is so simple, even Forrest Gump understood it.


Friday, June 18, 2010

Stay Classy Venice Visitors

I am not one to judge.
I might believe that spandex is a privilege, not a right, but far be it for me to insist what people wear. Besides, if it were up to me, everyone would be in gray suits except Olivia Wilde who would only be allowed to sport her wardrobe from Tron.

So wear what you want America.
Ladies, squeeze into those size 14 jeans even though you are a size 28.
Fellas, who wants to wear a shirt, right? Buff or fat, guys can go topless and I'll remain silent.
Silence does not include rolling my eyes.

And while you're at it, go ahead and bump that bass as you sit in gridlock outside my house.
I never knew the raw talent that is Soulja Boy until you folks came around at 8am on a Sunday.

Hell, let loose, it's the weekend and you don't live here anyway.
So ask me for directions to the beach that is ten feet to the west, or ask me if I live here (here being the house with the porch I am sitting on), or let your kids pee in my flowers.

But, at the end of the day, I wish our visitors from the Inland Empire (I'm stereotyping), would take their evidence with them.
By evidence, I mean the thousands of combo meal corpses laying on the sidewalk, or the 160 ounce (and empty) soda cups, and please take the chicken bones. Please.

I get it folks, we all come from a different walk of life.
I come from a place that does not watch ABC's Wipeout, or wear t-shirts with random skull designs, or think techno music is music.

But we all have one thing in common, and while I wish it were common sense, it's not.
It is the common idea that none of us want chicken bones, burger wrappers, and corn dog remnants on our porch.

So folks, as you arrive to Venice in the Escalade this weekend, surely to get your weed and knock off sunglasses, do us all here a favor and toss your garbage in a can.

Or at least eat the containers your food comes in, certainly you are still hungry.

Wanna Buy a Duck?

Sadly, like every post here, the following is true.

I would say get them while they last, but I think the Venice Canals are pretty well stocked with the hottest selling item this summer, ducks.
But, unlike weed, you can't just pick up a duck at any store in Venice.
The only people who seem to have cornered the market on ducks, and by this I mean have the balls to swipe them straight from the Canals, are who else, but our local homeless youth.

While this may limit the number of people rushing down here to do business, it will surely keep owning a duck a rare, if not by LA standards, cool thing.

Not as cool as owning, say, a tiger, but it is cooler than another tiny dog in a bag.

Plus, despite what movies like Scarface and The Hangover have shown us, an average citizen is not allowed to own a tiger, which let's face it, is a far bigger status symbol, but unless you are a championship boxer with face tattoos or run your own cocaine syndicate (or in very rare cases both), you might have to settle for a duck.

Besides, tiger owners usually die the same way, and it isn't the gout.

So play it safe and impress your friends and family by bringing forty dollars down to the Venice Canals this weekend, and choose from a wide variety of Mallards.
Enjoy the smiles on the faces of your children when they are happily surprised to see their new duck, not some lame puppy. Relish in the envy of your neighbors, and that douche bag Jack from sales, when they see you walking a majestic water fowl through the neighborhood.

The supply seems to be plentiful, but the demand will surely rise as word spreads, so get on it people. And for those of you with a little more cash to burn, for eighty dollars you can go home with a goose. Not a metaphorical goose, but a real live member of the Anatiade family of birds.
By the way, forty for a duck and eighty for a goose are quoted prices, I did not make these up.

Sorry, no swans.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

the more you move, the more you are going to bleed (a love story)

If the movies have taught me anything, and thanks to the California public school system they have taught me everything, it is that love can find two people no matter what.
A millionaire and a prostitute, a dentist and a prostitute, a suicidal alcoholic and a prostitute.
The possibilities have shown to be endless.
Especially, if you have a prostitute.

Unfortunately this tale is not one of a whore with a heart of gold, but rather a couple overcoming adversity, and at times each other, to discover true love.
And a van.

For the last couple of days a couple residing in an early 90's Econoline outside my house had seemed to be like any other homeless couple in Venice, content, at peace with each other and their situation, and out of cigarettes. They appeared to get along, spending most of the day and night sipping 40's of malt liquor and relaxing in the array of blankets and clothes compiled in the back to make some sort of bed structure. Seems lumpy.

But last night, whatever had been building between these two, came to a boiling point when the side doors of the van flew open, and the female (she looks like a Vicki, so we'll go with that), jumps out, screaming something hard to understand, which is the norm in Venice, but even with the front row seat I had I could only make out something about getting a job and moving.

This seemed like a fair request of the man to whom I can assume she has given her heart and soul to. I have been in love, but to live in a van is real commitment, and I didn't doubt for a second that she was devoted to this man.
Oh, we should give him a name.

So Vicki is busting Chuck's balls about this and that, but it is clearly bad timing on her part.
Ladies, homeless or not, don't dig into your man when he is 120 ounces deep in Mickey's.

Chuck lunges from the van, anxious to defend his honor, but not with the agility and equilibrium that would have helped in making this a valiant effort.
Chuck fell down, hitting the pavement and staying there as if he were stuck to it.
Vicki, not one to walk away from opportunity, jumped over Chuck and quickly took shelter in the van, locking the doors and leaving Chuck to die on the sidewalk.

Chuck wasn't down for good though. Like any great champion, he rose to his feet and began banging on the side of the Econoline with vigor. Vicki, screaming obscenities through the thick glass, was obviously not going to let Chuck back in the house.

Chuck, eager to be a good listener, but unable to do so with the doors locked, did the natural thing and punched the window, sending shards of glass and Chuck flesh everywhere.

Vicki screamed, ran down the street, and while her man was bleeding to death in the gutter and lacking the basic medical knowledge to stay conscious, she called the cops.

I knew the cops had been called because they cruised up, six uniforms deep.
Six. Six LAPD officers to handle Chuck and Vicki.
But that's another rant.

Well, it seemed as if Chuck and Vicki would be separated, Chuck possibly going to the drunk tank for a night leaving Vicki to patch up the love nest and ponder some life choices with a night to herself.
But then something happened. It wasn't flashy, or taken from a Hollywood script.
Chuck was calling Vicki a cunt, Vicki was calling Chuck a cock sucker, and then a cop asked Chuck for his identification.
Chuck stopped in the middle of mouthing what seemed to be the word whore, shifted his attitude, and the same way Ward would ask June what's for dinner, Chuck said, "Baby, you got my wallet"? To which Vicki, not missing a beat, replied, "Yeah baby, here".

Vicki handed Chuck his wallet, and their eyes locked. It lasted a fraction of a second, but in that nano span of time, both realized that all this hoopla was for naught.
Well, I'm sure the inner dialogue was something more like, "I fuckin' love you a shit ton", but should I turn this into a movie, I'm trying to keep it PG-13.

Chuck went to hand his wallet to the cop, who I am convinced saw the same magical moment I did, because at this point he didn't feel any further investigation was needed. Chuck put away his wallet, cleaned up some glass, and assured the cops there would be no more disturbances.

The cops left, but not before giving one last piece of advice to Chuck as he worked away to clean up the glass, teetering to the side at times.

"Sir, the more you move, the more you are going to bleed".

I know the cop didn't mean it as a metaphor for love, but I'll take it that way.