Friday, June 14, 2002


For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be part of a movement. The concept of a group of like-minded individuals banding together to do something revolutionary penetrates me to the core and radiates throughout my being. I want to do something original. I want to be on the edge. I want to be where there’s a groundswell of energy. I want to be a part of something that I’m proud of. I want to participate in changing the world.

This desire was recently reawakened by a documentary entitled "Dogtown and Z-Boys". The film chronicles the acrobatic antics of a group of surfers from Santa Monica and Venice in the mid-70s who combined to redefine the sport of skateboarding. In the wake of a crumbling seaside amusement park, they carved out their territory and dubbed it Dogtown. Armed with skateboards using polyurethane wheels instead of antiquated clay wheels, these athletically gifted kids, aged thirteen to eighteen, mainly from broken homes and lower middle class families, transposed Larry Bertleman's surfing style to the pavement. With the guidance of three mentors -- Jeff Ho, Skip Engblom, and Craig Stecyk -- who owned and operated the Santa Monica-based Zephyr Surf Shop, these daredevils took the skateboarding world by storm. In preparation for a skateboarding competition called the Del-Mar Nationals, the owners of the Zephyr Surf Shop formed a team comprised of the Z-Boys. Bob Biniak, a former Z-Boy described their appearance at the competition as such: “It was like a hockey team going to a figure skating contest.” Craig Stecyk published a series of articles in Skateboarder magazine, chronicling the radical exploits of the Z-Boys, and turned them into cult heroes. The group had all the requisite characters for a movement: superstars in Tony Alva and Stacey Piralta (the director of “Dogtown”), a phenom in thirteen year-old Jay Adams, and one balls-out girl in Peggy Oki. Their revolutionary skateboard movement solidified during the drought of 1976 and 1977. In guerilla fashion, the group began seeking out neighborhood swimming pools that had been drained out from the lack of available water. More often than not, the cops would eventually catch wind of these skating sessions and bust them up. The Z-Boys became so serious about their quest to find new pools to ride that they took along their own pool pumps to drain the remaining water from an otherwise-usable skating surface. Their search for the perfect skate venue ended when a dying rich kid convinced his father to drain their pool so he could watch the Z-Boys carve it up. The pool became known as “The Dogbowl,” and it was here where the movement crested. During one momentous Dogbowl session, Tony Alva defied gravity by flying over the lip of the pool, turning around in the air, and landing his board back on the side wall. In the process, Alva completed the first frontside air and forever changed the sport. One has to look only as far as the half-pipe snowboarding competition at the Winter Olympics to see evidence of the tremendous impact the Z-Boys continue to have on sport and culture.

The Renaissance, The Beat Poets, The Hippies, Your Show of Shows, Saturday Night Live, The Impressionists, The Surrealists, The French New Wave, Independent Film, Grunge, Rap and Hip Hip… I simply love movements. When I recently communicated this to a wise friend of mine, she told me to remember that “money follows movements.” Just about all of the groups listed above eventually encountered some type of commercialization which diluted its initial intent. The most blatant example is the Internet. When it first started to blossom, I recall someone playfully referring to The Net as “the world’s largest magazine rack.” There was something about it that felt like a movement. Democracy and freedom of speech were at play in cyberspace. But, all too quickly, money not only followed that movement, but overwhelmed and drowned it like a tsunami.

I was working in sitcoms during the Internet Bubble and, for a spell, I had this unnerving feeling that I was missing out. A movement was passing me by. Of course, now that we find ourselves on the other side of the phenomenon, I’ve finally made it to the party. And I must say, better late than never, because I’m having a great time. It’s made me realize that I don’t have to wait to find a movement to be a part of, I can be my own movement.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002


I have fallen in love with the World Cup all over again. The first time I became smitten with the month-long soccer (futbol) tournament was World Cup 1994 hosted by the United States. I had just moved to Los Angeles on June 1, 1994 to attend an acting school in Pasadena. I had no car, no job, and no money. (I’m setting the scene to give you an idea of just how far I’ve come since then.) L.A. was hosting a good portion of the event and I sat glued to the television in my overheated Hollywood apartment and watched just about every game. I was living with my brother, who was 19 years old and supporting us with his well-paying job at Alamo Rent-a-Car after I drained my savings account moving us in. He was, of course, resentful of the fact that he had to go to work and I only had to go to stupid acting school, and he was also very cheap. He wouldn’t allow me to turn the air conditioner on because it was too expensive. He threatened that if I did turn it on, he wouldn’t pay the bill and allow our electricity to be shut off. So I sat on the couch in this boiling living room with a towel around my neck to wipe the constant stream of sweat pouring off my face. Despite my struggle to breath during several extremely hot afternoons, I remained committed to watching as much soccer as humanly possible. I couldn’t get enough. I was drenched in soccer and loving it.

It’s now eight years later and I’ve had a relapse. I am addicted to the 2002 FIFA World Cup brought to you by Adidas. Strangely enough, once again, I have no car, no job, and no money. Perhaps subconsciously, when the World Cup comes around every four years, I clear my life of any and all distractions that might prevent me from committing to the tournament full force. I suppose the ultimate scenario would have me travel to the host country to physically attend the matches with actual money that I earned by working in some capacity. Ahh, someday… In the meantime, I am perfectly content to slip on my Adidas Sambas, sit back on my purple velvet couch, and watch live soccer on television from 11:30pm to 4:30am PST with the crisp night air flowing through my Westside apartment.

One element that helps cement me to the couch is some of the most colorful commentary in all of sports. Tommy Smyth, an Irish announcer, conveys such unadulterated zeal for the game that I can’t help getting excited with him. It reminds me of watching college basketball games in which Dick Vitale provides the color commentary with boundless joy and enthusiasm. Like Vitale, Smyth uses what seems like his own language to describe the game. Smyth refers to a pretty pass as a “delightful ball” and a solid defensive play as a “well-timed challenge.” After a striker made one move too many and had the ball taken from him outside the penalty box, Smyth remarked, “He needed to give it a good lash.” On the nature of Round 2, the knockout round, Tommy says, “It’s win or go fishin’.”

Another commentator I enjoy seeing in the studio is Ray Hudson. Hudson played for an old NASL (North American Soccer League) team called the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. I used to go to games regularly at Lockhart Stadium where Hudson was an extremely dynamic player and one of my favorites. I even got to meet him once when he came to my elementary school to give a soccer clinic. I remember he tried to teach the group how to do a rainbow kick, but our fourth-grade motor skills weren’t sufficiently developed yet. He brings a lifetime’s worth of experience, a storehouse of knowledge, and a touch of warmth to ESPN’s “World Cup 2Night.”

During the wee hours of this morning, I watched the match between Argentina and Sweden. Argentina, one of the tournament favorites, needed to win the game in order to advance out of “The Group of Death” and into the second round. Despite dominating the time of possession 65 percent to 35 percent, an increasingly frustrated Argentinean squad could not put the ball in the back of the net. One of their forwards, Claudio Lopez, was particularly dreadful. He had numerous scoring chances and found a myriad of ways to botch them. There were bad touches, shots sailed high over the top of the crossbar, whiffs, and a series of poorly-struck corner kicks, exasperating the long-haired attacker each time. Defensive-minded Sweden capitalized on one of its few scoring opportunities, when Anders Svensson sent home a brilliant free kick over the wall of defenders and off the goalie’s hand in the 59th minute. Argentina continued to apply the pressure, but fail to finish, until the 88th minute when they scored on a rebounded penalty kick to tie the game. And that was only their second goal of the tournament! Fittingly, in the last minute of the game, Lopez had one more golden chance to win the match and propel Argentina into the next round, but put the ball into the side of the net. As the game was winding down, the announcer summed up Sweden’s play in earning a tie as “efficient if inelegant.” So now two world soccer powers have been eliminated from the tournament in the opening round. France, the defending World Cup champions, failed to score a single goal in their three games and were summarily sent packing. There have only been seven nations to win The Cup -- France, Italy, England, Germany, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay. All of them qualified for these games. Out of those seven, only Italy, England, Germany, and Brazil remain. Perhaps more soccer superpowers will go by the wayside and the surprising U.S. squad, affectionately known as Sam's Army, can shock the world. Stay up late or set your alarm clocks to find out.

I am awestruck by the sheer fanaticism of soccer's followers. With a renewed sense of patriotism in the wake of 9-11, I find there's an added dimension to rooting on the United States team. I don't think I'll soon be rioting in the stands or the streets like some deranged soccer hooligan, but I'm now starting to understand and appreciate the fervor fans show in supporting their home country. After all, what makes this the world's most popular sport is that the culture, ideology, and flavor of a country is reflected in its brand of soccer. And I believe the post-game jersey exchange is the most Utopian ritual in all of sports. After watching the Winter Olympics earlier this year and now the Copa Mundial, I have formulated the following potentially profound observation:

Baseball, Basketball, and Football are sports owned by America.
Tennis and Golf are worldly sports.
Hockey and Soccer are sports that belong to the world.


Someone remarked to me the other day that I overestimate how unhappy others are because I judge their happiness in relation to mine. Apparently, I am happier than most other human beings. I may have known this for most of my life, but I feel like I'm really processing it now for the first time. I have fun. I make people laugh a lot. I laugh a lot. I brighten peoples’ day. And I get a lot of pleasure from doing this. I want others to be as happy as I am. I feel like a lack of severe trauma has freed me up to be a well-adjusted free-spirited young adult moving through the world with great confidence.

I was having a conversation one evening with some old friends who were commenting on my unemployed lifestyle. They are the types of people who need to be working. They cannot fathom a life without the structure of a job. And they marvel at my ability to make it work against all odds. My Girl made the point that after not working for a stretch and finding you can get by, you start to see that it's possible. And life is so much better without having to go into the office. I'm not against working per se, but I am deathly afraid of the idea of working at a job I don't truly love and having no endpoint. As much as I hated working as an assistant on sitcoms the last couple of seasons, I always knew that it would end. At worst, the show would go a full season and production would cease. Otherwise, I could not have survived. I would have quit. During the last grueling week of this past season, I started to feel lightheaded and dizzy, and my vision was blurred. Thanks to my mother’s diagnosis over the phone, I discovered I had extremely high blood pressure.

Now I am at a crossroads. Out of the last two and a half years, I have only worked a total of about a year. During that time, I have a amassed a ton of life experience, a boatload of good times, and twenty four thousand dollars of credit card debt. My unemployment just went up from two hundred thirty a week to three hundred thirty a week. Without having taxes taken out, which has never come back to haunt me before, that sum of money is more than I can make temping or at some other menial job. Therefore, it would behoove me to take a job only if I was being paid the same amount of money I was making on those shitcoms or more. I am willing to gain such employment if the opportunity should present itself, but the job market is for shit right now and I know of a vast number of people around my age who have either gotten laid off due to corporate consolidation and integration or find themselves at a similar crossroads, deciding whether or not to make a career change. The fallout from the giant bursting of the internet bubble is most evident in my generation. Technology and the economy are in great flux. Consequently, so is the labor pool.

One invaluable thing I've learned over the past few years is that if necessary, I can live on very little money. That's not to say that I don't desire material possessions. I won't claim to be that saintly. But I don't need them to be happy. At the moment, I'm unemployed and broke, without a car and without any job leads. But I have fulfilling relationships with my family and friends and I've found a fantastic girl who I have a lot of fun with and who compliments me extremely well. I'm not averse to making a living, but I don't want to sacrifice this happiness for financial security. Granted, I want health insurance, I want to claw my way out of debt, I want to make a down payment on a new car, I want to travel to exotic locales, I want to take My Girl out to eat at the fanciest restaurant for her birthday, I want to upgrade my electronic equipment to take advantage of the latest advances in technology, and I want as much disposable income as possible, but those things aren't nearly as important to me as spreading love throughout the world. It's what I'm best at. Whether it brings me wealth or not, I’m confident that somewhere down the line I'll be well-compensated.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002


I met the rudest human being on the planet yesterday. I suppose I was aware that that level of asshole existed, but I don't think I've ever quite experienced it first-hand before now. A friend took My Girl and I to a Sunday barbecue slash birthday party in the Hollywood Hills. He warned us before we went that the hosts would not be very welcoming, but there would be an abundance of food. So, dragging our diminished expectations with us, we entered the extravagant domicile. As we strolled in, Randy, the world's largest dillhole, greeted us wearing a XXXXL black tank top to mercifully cover his enormous torso and tiny little black workout shorts to support his dangling plumsack. Two huge black dogs greeted us with infinitely more warmth than Randy, who shook my friend's hand, shook My Girl's hand as my friend introduced her, then barely made eye contact with me. I was petting one of the black beasts at the time and had to move around him to shake Randy's hand. By the time I approached him (a matter of seconds) with an extended hand, he was already greeting another couple, shaking both their hands, as I continued to extend mine. Shockingly, Randy never made it back to my hand. An unmistakable, unequivocal, unceremonious snub. Randy clearly saw my hand out there, holding firm in the tainted air of Hollywood Hills, and he purposely ingnored it. I have no idea why.

I came to find out from my friend that Randy was a professional party planner. My friend and his partner had deejayed an overindulgent birthday party for some crappy sitcom creator, thrown by none other than Randy, the world's largest dillhole. I never did find out just how my friend knew the fake-breasted blonde birthday girl, but once he told me she lived in the house with Randy, the pieces made enough sense that I ended the line of questioning. So, with a professional party planner behind the wheel, you had to figure that this barbecue would soon kick into high gear. As more and more people arrived, I began to notice that it was mostly middle-aged gay men and their little bitch boys. There were very few girls there, and the ones who did attend weren't attractive enough to draw attention away from the big-fake-titted birthday blonde. There was a sort of buffet table set up, featuring salad and taquitos and chips, salsa, and guacamole. Outside, there was a long table with beer, soda, water, and more chips, but no dips. There were lots of round tables with blue tablecloths spread around the patio area. In one corner was a giant multi-colored inflatable Twister board. All the way in the opposite corner, a hot tub and some chaise lounges. In a room opening out onto the back patio, there sat three lonely tables draped in pink tableclothes. I did not see one person use those pathetic indoor tables once during the entire party. The middle of the patio showcased the pool, inexplicably filled with primary-colored floats and toys and gigantic beach balls.

One of the first people we met was an aggressively friendly, sexually charged bitch boy. He seemed bisexual or omnisexual, and his vibe was a bit overwhelming. We settled at one of the blue tableclothed tables on the Twister side of the pool. We ate chips and salsa and guacamole and strawberries and drank some while we gazed around the party and waited for it to take off. The more we looked around, the more we realized we were in The Land of Forgotten Fags. It was easily the ugliest crowd of people ever assembled at a Hollywood party. Nobody had any life to them either. There was no vibe at all. If this party were in Bakersfield, I would have thought it was cool. But I say with absolute confidence that this was one of the worst parties ever thrown in the glamor-filled hills of Hollywood. Nobody played Twister, barely anybody went in the pool, and for the majority of the day, the hot tub was filled with a variety of alpha fags and bitch boys. My Girl and I found solace in the chaise lounge corner during the sunny Sunday afternoon. We made each other laugh and engaged a few strange people around us in conversation. Lameness everywhere, highlighted by a surreal trip into the house to get some wine, water, and chocolate cake. From my corner of the patio, I heard some people cheering inside. Thinking a group had gathered to watch the Laker game, I ventured in to find out what was going on. A highly unattractive overweight woman with red-dyed hair was playing the piano poorly and butchering the vocals to "The Rose." Starved for any form of entertainment they could get, the faggiest of the forgotten fags stood in rapt attention, listening to this dank diva wail. Some of them may have been weeping, for I thought I saw Randy, the world's largest dillhole, tearing up as he leaned his enormous torso on the aching piano. Finally, some of my friend's friends showed up, grilled some steaks, and brought a much-needed breath of fresh air to the gasping patio party. Considering the alternatives, I was even thrilled to talk to my friend's deejay partner, who I always found to be kind of uptight. I happily hung out with he and his Brazilian wife for awhile before the sound of kids caught my attention.

I got up and walked over to find my friend jumping up and down on the inflatable Twister board with three little girls around eight to eleven years old. I immediately took off my Adidas Sambas and starting bouncing along with them. My added weight and the height of my jumps caused them to jump even higher. I continued to jump with the girls after my friend stepped off. They started baiting me and teasing me, telling me that there were no grown-ups allowed on the giant Twister. I insisted I was still a kid. They proceeded to list the reasons why I wasn't a kid: I was a hairy stinky grown-up with too much facial hair and back hair and stomach hair and not enough hair on my head and some gray hair in my beard. Kids can be so cruel. But I played along and it turned into a wrestling match. The girls climbed all over me and slapped me upside the head and in the face, with the strong one even putting me in a pretty decent chokehold. I tossed them around like ragdolls and played the grown-up villain while My Girl and my friend and some others looked on. I got my friend to spell me for a bit while I caught my breath, then went back in for more. The father of two of the girls approached them and told them they had five more minutes to play before it was time to go. The girls negotiated ten more minutes and battered my body some more until it was finally time to go. As the father led them out, one of them tapped me on the head as she walked by. The father patted me on the back without saying anything and they were gone. The little girls and My Girl and my friend and I easily had the best time of any afternoon party attendee. I chatted with my friend's friends for a little longer until they too decided to call it a day. My friend and My Girl and I were about to do the same when My Girl suggested we go in the hot tub. Within minutes, we were Jacuzziing.

Shortly after we began soaking, a late twentysomething frat boy from Manhattan Beach got in with his soft-spoken Asian friend. And then the balloon-breasted birthday blonde joined us. A couple of the bodacious co-host's friends hung out at the edges and dipped their feet in. It seemed at least two of the three girls wanted my friend, who took to rubbing the bosomy blonde's toes. My Girl and I did our best to push the boundaries and pimp out my friend, though it was pretty obvious that one of the girls with her feet in the whirlpool dug him too. The other friend on the outside seemed to be more into My Girl and I, who were clearly the two most entertaining people in the pool. One of the girls was an actress turned writer/director who was telling us all about her feature that she was premiering at Cannes. One of them was a massage therapist at a wellness center in my neighborhood. And I never really found out exactly what capacity the birthday blonde was employed by Warner Brothers, although from all appearances, it very well may have been as a floater. As the evening was winding down, I motivated everyone to quickly dive into the pool. There the primary-colored oversized pool toys finally came into play, although only long enough to have a picture snapped before we all jumped back into the Jacuzzi. After a few last minutes of luxury lounging, we toweled off and began to say our goodbyes. My Girl and I told the massage therapist we wanted to get together. After wishing the bountiful bleach-blonde a happy birthday for the last time, she hugged us and invited us to come over for a more intimate dinner party featuring a bottle of Patrone and some more hot-tubbing. Pretty hard to resist that.

On the way out the door, My Girl spotted Randy sitting on the couch talking to some forgotten faggot friends of his. There was a momentary lull in the conversation as My Girl said "Thanks for having us" to Randy. Without missing a beat, Randy dove right back into conversation, intenionally disregarding My Girl. I meekly uttered "Thanks." No acknowledgement whatsoever. Blondie walked us out and hugged each of us again as the dogs rubbed up against us to say goodbye in their own way. Those warm gestures spoke volumes considering their cold-hearted master is the biggest dillhole in the universe.