We's in California

Monday, January 30, 2006

100 Pages of Douchebags

Our internet has been out for about 5 days now, so please excuse the truancy in updating. Now then:
Last night we ordered pizza. After giving our order, address, and phone number, we waited. After the 45 minutes we were told it would take expired we waited some more and finally gave up hope. On the surface this is a seemly normal experience that I'm sure everyone has gone through before.

Then about an hour later when Dayna and I started discussing what happened, the reality of the whole situation hit us like a ton of bricks. A ton of hilarious laughing bricks. We laughed non-stop for 5 minutes after dissecting the transaction that never took place that night.

This is how a pizza joint makes money: You get together some capital, do some planning, rent/build the building, hire some employees, and then begin advertising. All your eggs are in the basket now and you wait: Anxious and nervous, hopeful for any business you can get to support your family. As you sit there realizing that 90% of new restaraunts fail
, somebody calls.

Miraculously a customer that has been bombarded with countless advertisements and suggestions from friends and family choses, of all people, you to purchase their pizza from. Things are going to be okay.

At this point the ball is in your court. The most insane thing you could do is NOT make the pizza and bring it to the
person who is sitting there waiting to give you more money than it actually cost you to make the pizza and get it there. This is the fundamental principal that your business as well as every other business in human history is based upon. Without actually making and delivering the pizza, there's really no other reason for your business to exist.

We are still struggling mentally, emotionally, and in a way spiritually with what happened last night. They had our phone number and we live 5 minutes away. Where did the whole process break down? Was it us? Did we even order in the first place? Is this some kind of new Japanese business model?

The point of all this is that I stumbled upon the "Lawyers" section in the yellow pages while looking for pizza. It's the orange one. That's all lawyers. Based on these ads, I will assure any Canadian that despite everything bad you've heard about suing and lawyers in the US, it's much much worse. I know for a fact that last night we could have gotten a lawyer on our doorstep much faster than a medium with pineapple and extra cheese.

Needless to say, it's 100 pages of classy fonts, ruinous deceit and silver hair. One ad was just a huge stack of $50 bills and the lawyer's name! Suing is the answer to just about every problem in America. And forgive if I'm wrong but from what I've seen this is starting to happen in Canada now. It has been communicated to Dayna that her duties at work, in order of importance, are A) Don't get sued. B) Care for the sick and needy, save lives, and make this world a better place to live in. C) See A. These lawyers and the idiots who seek their council are largely responsible for the defensive culture of fear and entitlement that is quite easy to observe when you move here. Let's take a look shall we:

Berglund, Johnson, Sommer and apparently Jesus want you to call 1800-4ifhurt if you are hurt. WWJD? Sue dammit, sue!

Unforgivable. Completely unforgivable.

Dale K Galipo (who looks like he has a cousin who knows how to make problems...go away) has been dubbed the "Strikes Man". There are three requirements to hire Dale K Galipo:

1)You've done something horrible.
2)You've done it more than three times.
3)You want to do it again.

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, Dale's your g

This one is my "fave" because of the pictures.
Note from left to right:

Exhibit A) The "Whistle Blower". He's calling in some hardcore white collar crime from the 50th floor of his office. Sure he's got the drive and the college degree, but he's also got that moral fibre to call Danz & Gerber when something in the accounting department starts to smells like shit!

Exhibit B) An Afro-Amercian who is obviously getting screwed, yet again, by
"The Man" who is sitting directly across from him. Look at "The Man" carefully, he's thinking "This guys got a gun. I know it. He's got a gun. How can I hire someone who carries a gun?".

Exhibit C) The winner, and the one worth reading all this way for. What the heck!?!? Nobody in history has ever been so shocked in the workplace. What type of misplaced discourteous comment could have been muttered to upset this woman so? Where are the man's hands? This lady needs to call Danz & Gerber like yesterday!

Let's hope Canada doesn't get this bad. And let's hope it doesn't get this bad either.

Next time I just might go over some out-and-about games you can play while driving in LA that Dayna and I have invented such as "White Person White Person", "Wants To or Has To" (which has something to do with sweatpants), and "Wife or Daughter" (which is fairly self explanatory).

Once again, miss family and friends.

"Got to the video shop in a state, but chuffed it wouldn't be late
Only when he flicked open the case, I'd left the disc at my place." - the streets

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

It's Art, Stupid!

This weekend we went to the J Paul Getty Center. It's a museum/art gallery/architectural chef d'oeuvre that houses works that span from the Mesopotamians (whose ancestors we now call "insurgents", little known fact) right up to contemporary photographers. Some call them insurgents as well. The neat thing is that the whole project is privately funded by the late Mr J Paul Getty. There's no entrance fee and I didn't even see a donation jar anywhere. That's awesome. I hate it when people ask for donations. It's so stupid.

It's actually quite amazing and in my opinion important when someone with money takes it upon themselves to create something beautiful like this for the betterment of their city and society in general instead of leaving it for family to squabble over. (Although apparently they still do).

At the base of the Santa Monica mountain range a tram takes you toward the top, where the center sits overlooking the entire city. It was was one of those eerie smog-free days in LA, which put a nice touch on the afternoon. The exhibits were great. Dayna and I went to quite a few large museums and art galleries in Europe this past summer so we went as fast as we could through most of the ancient and historical exibits, trying to feel as little guilt as possible. You can tell when people really don't want to see certain works of art but they walk just slow enough so the other people don't catch them being unappreciative. We've all been there. Every 5 minutes you lean in closer to a 16th century masterpiece, point at it a bit, whisper something like "Hmmmm, yes. This is definitly a painting of some sort." But really you're just trying to get out of there because you're sure they're about to run out of those hot pretzels they were selling in the foyer.

Our hands-down favorite was the Julius Shulman 'Modernica and the Metropolis' architectural photography exhibit. Most of his pictures where of buildings done by two of most awesomist architects of the 20th century: Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig. It's pretty obvious that half of the draw of the Getty Center is the architecture of the center itself.

All in all a must-see if you're ever unfortunate enought to find yourself in Los Angeles. It's exactly like the Museum of Man and Nature except...who am I kidding, it's exactly the same!

The election just finished before I posted this. I quizzed a few people at work and asked them to guess what's going on in Canada today. I'd say about than half of them knew, which is actually more than I thought. Our new PM's name is Stephen or Steve for short. I think his only weakness is that he always looks like he's giving you what Kramer would refer to as the "stink eye". Wow his eyes are weird. It will be interesting to follow the Canadian and (lack of) US media coverage as Canada comes to grips with a leader whose eyes are just super super weird.

" Hello, Hello, My name's Terry and I'm a law-abider" - the streets

Monday, January 23, 2006

Me and My Recent Email

Dear Jeepster Records,
For two $30 tickets to Belle and Sebastian's show in LA, Ticketmaster charges 9 dollars each ticket, plus another 4 for "processing". This is absurd and I really hope that b & s can maybe look at other venues or companies to manage this in the future. I know it's a complete monoply situation and your hands are pretty much tied, but forcing kids to pay OVER 1/3 of the ticket price to see the show, while none of that extra money goes to the band or venue, just don't make no sense. I don't know how to stop this rediculous Ticketmaster juggernaught short of starting my own company, but this how I'll start. Thanks and good luck!

Gareth "23 dollars poorer" du Plooy

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Run. To the Hills.

Over the last two Willeniums or so we have recognized, studied, and tried to offer solutions to what one could call the 'vicious cycle of poverty' that has come to exist on our planet. And although this problem was probably pretty bad in the dark ages, we all know its still an issue.

But today lets put aside that issue, because I am here today to expose that other vicious cycle, the vicious cycle of having so much money that you live in the hills of Calabasas. Every day when I step out of the office for a walk in the fresh air, I see something new that amazes me. Calabasas is the birthplace of the frightening practice of mothers dressing their 8 year old daughters in the exact same
ug-boots/sweatpants/cellphone outfit that they are wearing. This is where it all starts. There's an air of inevitability and assurance that that same child will find herself wealthy with nothing to do until the weekend when she grows up as well. It reminds me of those t-shirts where from left to right there's a fish, then a salamender coming out of the water, then an ape, then a less hairy ape, then a guy in a business suit, then at the end is a goofy looking teenager with a skateboard and a backwards hat and it says "The Evolution of Man" at the top. I know a certain set of twin's whose mom can attest to that! Oh brother! Anyway, this is exactly like that t-shirt, except that this is evolution of the suburb, and the t-shirt...really...doesn't help us out all or provide any direction as to understanding what I'm trying to purvey here. Moving along.

<- Peach 'olden-days' style minimalls! Yeah! (pic updated: thanks chris for the revision!)

It's not just the fact that people are rich in Calabasas, because there are more affluent areas in LA. See: Malibu, Bel Air, Beverly Hill, Van Nuys, etc. The difference here is that Calabasas is the gold
plated suburb that every other suburb wants to be. It seems to say "If you work hard enough and play your cards right then you, your wife (because you're male), your two kids and your rocket car can enjoy the spoils of the American Dream. The previously mentioned areas are more fantastical and not really representative of an ideal that we can sink our teeth into. These places are set in our mind as unattainable and rightly so. If you live in Bel Air, then you have a story to tell because you're either a movie star, a movie star's plastic surgeon, or you have old money. On the other hand, Calabasas is a goal that at least appears achieveable, even though it's not. At all. For 99.9% of us. It's the chosen land, the land of milk and honey where the beer flows like wine.

Count the Cadillac Escalades in a row. A must for groceries.- >

I'm not saying all this because I think it's wrong to have money. I think it's wrong to not have money. I mean really morally wrong. But, all side-splitting jokes aside, I find it fascinating when you come across real physical places that represent and are sometimes the birthplace of shared social and cultural ideas. I guess I just bring this all up because it's very very different from anything I've seen back home. "You Won't See THAT in Canada! Not Yet Anway!" Queue the 'wow, wow, wooowwowow' trumpet with the toilet plunger in the end sound followed by clown or hillybilly banjo music.

<- Your average Calabasas parking lot. Look carefully.

We're still liking LA. We are going to some concerts in the coming months that we think will be quite good. We are also thinking about upgrading our computer to one of those fancy ones that has a back on it.

"Just Try to Stay Positive,

Try to Stay Positive,
Just Try to Stay Positive,
Just Try to Stay Positive" - the streets. (Original. Inspiring.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

This one's not really worth it.

This entry is more of a lead up into my next entry, which will hopefully be about a town called Calabasas, which is where my work is located. Calabasas reminds me of the town from the Stepford Wives. There's money everywhere. At 2:30 in the afternoon 50 year old women that look 23 drive new SUV's to the Coffee Bean to complain to their friends about their housemaids. Everything's pink. It's America squared times America. And when I'm there I feel alive for the first time in many, many years. Just kidding, but it is very interesting so more about that next time. The rest of this is pretty much filler.

We saw Shopgirl, because we were late for the movie we were planning on seeing. I didn't want to see it, buy Dayna
did. I just...don't...get why Steve Martin and Bill Murray are "geniuses" all of the sudden with their artsy movies about dating 20 year olds. Too many actors write movies these days. I know Bill Murray didn't write Lost in Translation, but it I feel that saying it really helps move this rant along. But nay, all was not lost. For who was standing in front of us in the ticket line that night? You got it...Fred Stoller. We were trying to figure out how we knew him. Dayna made the connection: he is a minor character in Seinfeld, and a comedy writer. Which ties in neatly with what I am writing about. Now that's what I call synergy!
Finally, someone commented here that I would look like a "tourist" and be made fun of by the "locals" if I tried to surf for the first time in January. First off, there's not such thing as locals in LA. Second, I'm not what that person had in mind for what I should do with my Sunday afternoon. Play Super-Nintendo perhaps? Is that what I should have done? Just sit at home and play the Super-Nintendo? Third, I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves.

Ok that last guy isn't even wearing the same thing. I did NOT actually get up for more than 3 seconds, but I did cut my foot pretty bad on those rocks and I am planning on going back next weekend with a shorter board. My board was too long. That's why. It was just too long.

"Accept me as your own, Let me make myself at home, I just ain't a clone, Still got the monsta boy ring tone though." - the streets. (Mental. This guy is absolutely mental. He makes money for saying these things.)

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Questions questions.

Three questions.
1) To anyone who lives in Van Nuys, can I get some clarfication on the (ok, I'll say it, mostly Mexican/Spanish) people who stand on the corner of Kester and Oxnard every morning at 8:30? I think I know what's gong on here, but I'm not sure. Usually there are around a hundred or so people milling about on the sidewalk, many more than can be made out here. I've heard it's people who get picked up and do manual labour for cash every day. Is this like most other legit work-a-day businesses that most cities have, or is this more like a hire-undocumented-workers-illegaly setup? I would honestly like to know if anyone who (for some reason) reads this and lives here knows any more.

2) We finally found a breakfast place that at least in some way reminds us of the mighty Don Deli at home. I know, that's not a question. Or.....? Now in Winnipeg I can think of maybe one or two place where there are signed pictures of stars (or musicians) on the wall and usually it's only two pictures, both of Buffy Saint Marie. Out here, different story. This place we went to (Nats) had many and was one of a million places in LA that is a "stars favorite". In most places these stars are, well, not really stars. Alot of second rate scrub actors that were in supporting roles of movies from the 70's that nobody has ever heard of. Usually it's a BAD thing that they've been there. In fact I think I've seen people serving food that look very much like one of the people up on the wall. Awk...ward. Anyway, again, not a question. The question does this actually work? Do stars just carry pictures around with them when they eat out? Do they sign a picture and give it to the owner INSTEAD of paying? Is there any real criteria you must meet to qualify for a picture on the wall? Because I don't think there is. Has a star ever come in with a picture in their pocket then been like: "So you've NEVER heard of me? You've NEVER seen any episodes of 'That 80's Show'? OK. Is there a bank machine around here?".
Seriously, if anyone has actually seen how this all goes down, let me know.

3) Question #3: Ryan made me realize what a geezer I've been by not even trying to surf since I've moved to LA. So I am going to try that tommorrow. Again, not a question. But it is profound and worth contemplating.

"Pull out yer sack and sit back" - the streets (Yuck. I'm sorry. The rudest you'll read here.
But it is profound and worth contemplating.)

Monday, January 09, 2006

Take me home.

I just spent last week in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. I returned there for work reasons and am glad to at least see some snow for the week that I was there. I wasn't able to post anything because they don't have the internet in Canada yet. In trying sqeeze my whole typical Canadian winter into 7 days I did fairly well. I managed to re-injure my knee playing hockey, wait too long for a bus in the freezing cold, lose a pair of mitts that weren't mine, and listen to my dad ask for ketchup at a Thai restaurant. This describes the last 8 winters of my life.

Most questions I get talking to family and friends about living in California is, predictably, "what is it like". But another question I get that is infinitely easier to answer is "What do they think about Canada and Canadians." And my answer is simple: "They don't".

I think we forget that the population of the US is TEN times greater than that of Canada. Coinciding with the upcoming Canadian election (of which I'm sure every American from LA is aware) there was a televised debate on Monday between the four potential prime ministers of Canada. I missed the live debate and came home to see if it made any US stations. Predictably after about an hour of surfing the TV news channels: no mention on CNN, MSNBC, Fox, or any other US news network. Anderson Cooper was literally doing an hour long show about what might happen in the news tommorrow. For a second I thought about watching the whole thing to find out if it was an SNL sketch. Turns out it was.

It's been really busy lately but am planning to get back on the proverbial blogging horse in the next few days.

Yesterday I left the land of snow, ice, and PST and returned to my wife, Arnold, Spanish billboards, and the Orange Line. To everyone I saw (and you know who you are), it was really nice seeing you.

"Let's talk space and time, I like to get deep sometimes, and think about Einstein, and Carl Jung And old Kung Fu movies I like to see, pass the hydrator please" - the streets.

I forgot to tell anyone, I'm ending each post with a lyric from the band the streets that doesn't really make any sense. Just don't pay any attention to it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

San Francisco: One Great City

This weekend we went to San Francisco. I will try and prevent this post from turning into your aunt Becky's holiday slide show of her chartered bus tour to the Grand Canyon. To keep it somewhat readable I will list the first four words I now think of when someone says "San Francisco".
1) BEAUTIFUL: San Francisco is a beautiful city. There a quite a few large hills right in the downtown metro area that provide for great views. It has become VERY expensive to live there and there were a few areas that felt a little touristy. Then again the only people who complain about areas being "touristy" are from "tourISTS" who like to think of themselves as "travellers" simply because they because they bought a "lonely planet", have "dred-locks", and can't afford a "hotel". Although WE did stay in a nice hotel (which makes us tourists), we didn't ride the trolly cars because it cost $5 (which makes us travellers) and we found umbrellas in Chinatown for $1.39 (which makes us cheap).

2) TECH'M'OLOGY: San Francisco, being (sort of) part of the Silicon Valley, has a very intelligent population. Google is apparently implementing a free city-wide wifi network in San Fran and there are tons of tech companies in the area. Instead of billboards for Arbys and Viagra, many of them read things like: "The New Cisco XL9999 Network Router: Hackers Beware" and other tech related products. And these are huge expensive billboards right on the freeway. We even saw one that was for a business that can help you when you want start selling stocks of your private technology company! ie: Have an IPO and take it public. If you're a software nerd like I am, then you know it's crazy for there to be a market large enough for that type of thing to be targeted with a billboard. Then again if you're a software nerd like I am, you also find predictions in the 80's about how much RAM people would need in the future hilarious. 64 kilbytes!?!? Are you serious!?!?

3) DEFENSIVE: People in San Francisco pride themselves on being the most liberal city in the States. (See left.). So naturally when they hear we're from Canada, they make a point of talking about how their governor's insane and their president's a moron. I got the feeling that they believe that every Canadian is a gay socialist activist poetry slam organizer who knows in their heart that George W is the responsible for mankinds fall from grace. San Francisans (-iscoites?) are great people though. They wear nice shoes.

4) ALCATRAZ: Wow. This was not just good, it was amazing. This has to qualify as the creepiest place on earth. When you combine what we know about Alcatraz (the "hardest of the hard" convicts, years in isolation cells, and mysterious escape attempts) with the rundown and overgrown aesthetic of the buildings themselves, it feels like you're stepping into another dimension as you get off the ferry. The island and prison itself are smaller than they look from afar, which just makes it a more intimate experience. Hollywood has always been obsessed with Alcatraz, and for pretty good reasons which I won't get into here. We came, we saw, we spent $16.50 each.

Two strange things happened to us: About halfway into our hike across the Golden Gate Bridge we got caught in an insane rainstorm. The rain was going straight sideways, such was the wind! We confided in the eight other stranded "travellers" on the bridge for about 20 minutes, then made a run for it, trying not to literally get blown off the bridge.

Also, on the way back to LA, flames and smoke started billowing out of the car in front of us. Then a metal piece flew off the car and hit our car. (Which now needs some touch ups). As the three girls pulled over and ran screaming out of the burning car, one fell into a wet mud hole up to her shoulders. They called fire department and eventually we drove them to Modesto, which Dayna and I can now confidently say is the worst city in America.
And now to begin what will hopefully become a tradition of ending each entry with a "so bad it might be good" line from The Streets:
"You won't find us on Alta Vista, cult classic, not bestseller ..." - the streets