Monthly Archives: August 2005

make it stop

I’ve been watching and listening to the news updates from the Katrina zone for the last few hours, and it’s horrific. There’s no food or water. There’s no phones or power. People are dying because there’s no power at hospitals. Thousands are trying to get out of New Orleans and are unable to. They say refugees at the Astrodome may be there for months

And then there’s the human factor. Looters in New Orleans are getting very, very violent. Hospital staff are locked, with dying patients, inside the buildings. There’s destruction everywhere. And the Quarter, which has already survived two fires, may be destroyed by fires and looting rather than the hurricane itself. The city has turned on itself.

It’s incomprehensible to think of all the people who have nothing tonight. Not even food or clean water. There are thousands and thousands without power, shelter, anything, in America, in 2005. Hundreds of thousands of people. Thousands are trying to get out of New Orleans because it’s unlivable – but where do they go, and what happens to them now?

Two days ago, I thought the city had survived; now, I know that it hasn’t. The older parts of the city, built on higher ground, may be salvaged and repaired, but it will be years before New Orleans is in the condition it was when I last saw it, and most of the city will never get to go home.

Comprehending the amount of desperation, fear and misery out there tonight is too much. I want to scream to make it stop – but I can’t. Instead, I think we all have to ask, what can we learn from this?

Would things be better if the National Guard wasn’t diverted off to the senseless War In Iraq? Would help have come faster that way?

How can we learn to pay more attention to the vulnerabilities in our own regions? No hurricane will ever demolish Seattle…but what would happen if the earthquake left it in the condition New Orleans is in tonight? What would happen when the quake hits Los Angeles, and rioting and looting take over as they have in the Crescent City?

Finally, I’m also worried because gas prices are going up. I’m not worried for myself, not with my bike, but I’m worried for my city. I’m worried that this will break social order in Los Angeles, that L.A. will start to break down at $4/gallon. It is, after all, built around cars. And gas is going to hit $4 very soon.

This is like a movie, the news tonight. How do we avoid the sequel?

going home

I’m packing to go home. My flight to YVR leaves in eight and a half hours, after all.

Usually, I count down to a trip back to British Columbia. But this time, I have been too immersed in my life in Los Angeles lately to do so. I almost forgot I was going home until the last minute.

And then I was folding a skirt, and a Doves track came on the rotation in my Rhapsody, and I burst into tears. I suddenly realized that, in fifteen hours, I’ll be back on the Island. I’ll be home. I can sleep, in my old room, in my parents house, with my dog outside the door. I’ll be a hundred yards from the clean salt of the Northwest ocean, in the quiet corner of the world I still dream in.

I think it was the sense of relief – I just started weeping. I’m so tired. It takes so much out of me to withstand Los Angeles, to see the damage and the poverty and the despair everywhere in this city, everywhere in America, misery brought in to replace the life drained out of thousands by a senselessly selfish society. I fight the war, I fight the system, I fight the cars…it takes energy, after all, to struggle. To be able to see the world like I do, and I wish, a lot of the time, that I didn’t.

I’m going home, and I can have my mother and father take care of me for a few days, and I’ll be able to sleep, sleep, without waking up to gasp for breath or search for clean water or hear the freeways every waking minute.

I’m going home now, to Oak Bay, to my Shire, somewhere off the edge of the maps. I’ll be back next week, and I’ll miss Los Angeles enough while I’m gone, but I just realized…I do still miss home. More than I realized.

new orleans

There is a hurricane heading for New Orleans today. You’d think with all that voodoo, all those witches, all that magic, it would be averted. You’d think that whatever magic has protected the city so far would step in. New Orleans has survived in America, despite all odds, without being made corporate or bland. I would cry if it didn’t survive Katrina.

I can only hope, I suppose. I can’t bear to think of Cafe du Monde destroyed, of never being able to sit there, writing at three AM, pretending to be Tennessee Williams. I would be terribly sad if anything happened to the French Market, or to the Place d’Armes. It would be a tragedy if it is not the same when I get back, because I’ll go to New Orleans as often as I possibly can (including, possibly, Hallowe’en this year if I can get away with it)

I can only hope that whatever black magic has saved the city so far is still there, and that the hurricane passes by again. It would break my heart if the history in the city was broken.

divas night in venice

Last night was the CODE PINK Divas of Venice celebration!

It went well, despite worries that it wouldn’t. I was worried because we just hadn’t been able to really plan until forty-eight hours before the event. Crawford has drastically drained the ranks of CODEPINK L.A., as many of the women are with Cindy at Camp Casey.
me, in costume, at the fashion show

divas of venice tomorrow night!

Tomorrow evening is the final DIVAS OF VENICE event at SPARC in Venice. These celebrations of local divas have been part of the ongoing Venice Centennial celebration.

Tomorrow, Venice honors local political diva Jodie Evans, co-founder of CODEPINK. There will be a play on election reform, comedic stylings by Citizen Reno, a performance by Michelle Shocked, and a fashion show featuring political fashion and our signature pink slips.

(Our slogan, after all, is GIVE BUSH THE PINK SLIP)

It should be a really fun evening, and it’s a FREE event, so please – come out and support your local diva, as well as the women of CODEPINK who are working for peace.

(You can also give your reasons against the war at, and we will HAND DELIVER them to the White House on September 26th)

the real life stampy

The Real Life Stampy is now available on craigslist (

when gas hits $5/gallon, you will all learn to ride bikes too

There are few bike lanes between West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. So, as is my right, I occupied the entire lane on the far right of the fast-moving eastbound Pico Ave. Yeah, that’s the law folks. I get a lane.

Of course, to make a point, drivers get threatening when then have to momentarily change lanes to avoid a cyclist. The worst was when I almost clipped on purpose by one asshole with a BUSH CHENEY STICKER, like he was making a point. Another came too close and HONKED. Like it’s MY fault that there’s no bike lane on the shortest route to MY office.

Tomorrow, I ride with a message. I’m going to make up some patches, just magic marker and scrap cloth, the size of my backpack, and pin one on each morning, so people know WHY I bike to work.

Slogans like:





And so on, and so forth.

My commute to my Venice office was just to get minimum exercise.
My commute now is becoming a political statement.

By the way, ANYONE bitching about high gas prices should shut the hell up about it. Sorry folks. If you don’t like paying $3/gallon, START WORKING TO CHANGE IT. Lobby for better public transit. Tell your government representatives to use that $286B transportation fund to build monorails, not freeways. Take the bus or train, ride your bike, walk. My bike commute is 10 minutes longer each way than my car commute was, I don’t have to deal with parking, I get to lose weight, I’m reducing oil demand AND saving the world…not to mention the few dollars my baby Saturn might eat in gas.

And yes, I know many people have reasons to use cars, and need cars, and absolutely cannot get around it. But gas prices for them would come down if everyone ELSE worked a little harder.

And now, a quote:

Rep. Joe L. Barton (R-Texas), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said that with gas above $2.50 a gallon in Texas, his constituents were complaining plenty about prices. But when he lists for people the possible short-term fixes — “price controls, mandatory carpooling, lowering speed limits — they say, ‘No, we’re not for that.’

“People would love to be paying about half what they’re paying for gasoline, but they’re not willing to subject themselves to the loss of personal freedom and convenience that that would require,” Barton said.

High gas prices are a sign that America has patterned its society around the wrong resource. Take the sign – and work for change.

hipster music update

I’m listening to a CD by an emo group called Engineers. It’s actually quite good. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s on the melodic side of emo, with soft, jangly guitars and beautiful vocal harmonies. They use strings as well as the occasional electronic twinge, in comfortable, slightly sorrowful songs. It’s the sort of music that’s played during emotional scenes on The OC. Which is not to say it’s without merit, as the soundtracks for that show have been quite good, and have showcased quite a few bands with good debut CDs.

This album is just called Engineers. It, and Aqueduct’s I Sold Gold were some of my favorite discoveries in June. Aqueduct is a one man band from Seattle, with a unique genre. It’s quirky and disjointed, with thumpy piano and the occasional bleep of an electronic sample. The drums are loud and machine like, the lyrics and song titles are offbeat, and it’s just something that’s fun to listen to, preferably at a loud volume, on a summer day in the car.

I also got really into Annie’s Anniemal in June. It’s nouveau pop, with an offbeat Euro hipster edge. It’s cute and bouncy without being sugary. It doesn’t have traditional key changes and melody lines, and is fairly random – as random as you can get with those sort of catchy beats and choruses. Annie was produced by Richard X of Norway, who does some really great tracks on his own, and that bought her the credibility on Rhapsody to get the recommendation. But it was the CD itself that drew in the hipsters – Gawker and Flavorpill both recommended her live set to their readers.

For July, one of the best CDs I listened to was the Ditty Bops, a local band who are much loved by some of the Critical Mass coordinators. They’ve borrowed heavily from the late 1940s swing and pop era, sounding quite a bit like an updated Andrews Sisters. It’s ironic, how a sound that would have been vanilla enough for early Campbell’s Soup Variety Hour Shows in 1948 is cutting edge in 2005 – but it’s an immensely enjoyable album. I highly recommend it.

And finally, I can’t rave enough about Royksopp. The Understanding is simply the most brilliant thing to come out so far this year. Last year, Sasha’s Involver was my favorite CD of this type, simply beautiful, quieter, electronic music. This is going to be my favorite for this year. They actually know how to play instruments, and the opening 6/8 time piano solo (reminiscent of Moonlight Sonata) proves it. The harmonies are beautiful, melodic and haunting; the instruments ranged across the board and perfectly juxtaposed, electronic against traditional, vocal samples against drum machine. The lyrics, where applicable, are even good. Buy this CD. Now.

Next week: I go into the Hot Hot Heat family of bands, because Elevator is finally starting to really grow on me, although I still like VHS Or Beta better.

first update, new computer

This is the first post on my new computer!

Of course, before I could even bring it into my room, I had to spend half an hour cleaning said room. Much like when one brings a new baby into the home, I wanted to make sure my baby was going to be safe and happy here. No dust on the floor to get sucked into it, no stacks of mail on my desk to get in the way of the mouse.

Now, I’ve got it patched into my stereo, for surround sound. And once the DirectTV gets here, I’ll be able to TiVO all my cartoons!

Mmm. Computer.

Right. Back to freelance work. Sigh.

birthday weekend the second

Last night was the final evening of my annual three-day birthday weekend. I started drinking on Thursday at midnight, at Brennan’s, at the turtle races. I finished by doing a few too many shots to celebrate at my own party last night. And every damn year, I swear, I am not going to get ridiculously drunk at my own house party -slash- BBBQ. And then every year I do. Oops.

Yesterday, despite what should have been a terrible hangover from margaritas and mojitos, I was actually bouncy. And so, I bounced into the passenger seat of my guy roomate’s Scion as we set out to run party-related errands. Starting with the Santa Monica Airport Farmer’s Market, of course. “I need mint for the juleps, and okra for the gumbo,” I told him, and that’s what we got: enough mint to make juleps and mojitos, and some of the biggest, juciest okra I’ve ever seen for the gumbo. We went to Costco for rice and Tabasco, bananas, rum and vodka. We went to Trader Joe’s for snacks and bourbon, and Ralph’s for ice and charcoal. It takes a lot of material to throw a good party.

Four hours later, I had gallons of gumbo simmering on the stove, complete with real crayfish and I was well into my first hurricane. My friend Keith, one of the New Orleans crew, had brought crayfish and hurricanes to add the finishing touches to the theme. And just then, the guests started to pour in, the mojitos had to be mixed, and the shots started materializing for the birthday people: me, my friend Jeff, and another friend, Ted.

I did remember to eat this year, which was fortunate, because that’s what saved me. Last year, I totally forgot to eat at my own BBQ. This year, I made sure to eat a bowl of the gumbo. But in between the hurricanes, the mojitos, and Jeff’s signature shots (“Jefe Bombs”), I was a little too drunk by the time it was dark. But hey, it was a New Orleans themed party, and overindulgence and gluttony, of food and alcohol, are the signature of the city.

Finally, it was time to serve the bananas flambe, the dessert I almost didn’t make due to intoxication. It was baked bananas with butter and sugar and cinnamon, splashed with Bacardi and set on fire with a flaming teaspoonful of Bacardi 151 drizzled over the surface. It burns for a few seconds, looks very cool, and then is extremely tasty served with ice cream. And once I knew all the guests were happy eating dessert, I was able to go get dressed for Part Two of the evening: Field Trip to Bar Sinister.

One thing I unfortunately hadn’t realized was that most of the party attendees haven’t ever seen me in anything vaguely goth club compatible. And I had been wearing an aqua tank top with a white cotton prarie skirt. So when I reappeared in a miniskirt, exposed cleavage, fishnets and spike-heeled, pointy-toed knee high boots, with extra-dramatic eye makeup (thanks to Wendy), it was a shock. And I got one of two reactions: disdain and teasing, or lust and leering. And I wasn’t amused by either. But it took so long for the rest of the girls to get ready that I found myself prancing around in stilettos for almost an hour before we finally managed to figure out who was sober enough to drive loads of drunk people out to Hollywood.

We got to the club just before midnight, and as we walked in, I recognized the bass line and drum beat and squealed, “Depeche Mode!” in pure happiness. It was the tail end of “Personal Jesus”. We checked in at the door, as my birthday party, and walked into the open atrium at the front of the club just as the song changed, and I immediately recognized the opening percussion line of “Kiss Them For Me”.

My whole group looked up. “Jillian! They’re playing your song!” said Wendy and Zeenath, almost in unison. And I grinned. It was my song, it was my night, and I was so happy to be there. We ended up with eight people, an almost even girl-guy split in our group, and I just danced as much as I could. I remember hearing VNV Nation and Assemblage 23 and more Depeche Mode (I think it was “Barrel of a Gun”) and bouncing around to “Head Like a Hole”, and then, suddenly, it was two hours later and the lights were on and it was time to pile into a car and go home.

So all in all, it was a wonderful birthday weekend. I even managed to recover quickly from today’s hangover episode, with the help of New Orleans style cures: extra-spicy virgin Bloody Marys and cup after cup of the Cafe du Monde cafe au lait. And after an hour of cleaning to Depeche Mode 101, I couldn’t even feel the hangover at all, which is a miracle in itself, because I was absolutely blitzed last night. And with a successful party, at which I managed not to set anything on fire (despite playing with flaming rum while completely drunk), I’d have to say that my twenty-seventh birthday has gone off wonderfully.