We's in California

Sunday, April 23, 2006

See the vegetable man, in the vegetable van.

There's a line from the new Beck album "See the vegetable man in the vegetable van with the horn that's honking like a mariachi band.". Today it hit me that since Beck is from LA, I'm pretty sure this is about the type of vans that drive around in our very own neighborhood in Van Nuys. It really is pretty much a vegetable a vegetable van. These vans slowely cruise around the city with, you guessed it, vegetables among other types of groceries. The van in our neighborhood signifies its arrival on our street with a fairly loud yet tasteful and dignified rendition of "La Cucuracha" from a grey loudspeaker mounted on the roof. Usually it repeats the tune twice and then people emerge from their homes to make their purchases. I haven't tried to buy anything from said van, because I have feeling I'll get laughed at because I don't speak Spanish.

California really does have it good when it comes to food.
One of our favorite things has been the sense of regionality of the food here. The following is a list of major grocery chains and their Manitoban equivilants:

a) Ralphs - This is pretty much Safeway. Kind of expensive, and everywhere. Somehow we ended up with a Ralph's Club Membership Card. This club, like the Safeway Club, is pretty exclusive and only those with a telephone number can tap into the amazing savings to be had. We try not to go, but they are open 24 hours a day. The people behind the meat and cheese counter are always Armenian, it doesn't matter what part of the city you're in. I don't get it, but man those Armenians can shave a block of cheese so thin it looks like Saran-Wrap.

b) Whole Foods - Smaller stores and quite expensive. Sort of like a chain of Vics on Pembina. Here you can find a great selection of
sugar-free vegan organic free-range baby seals. Ok, most of the food is organic which is pretty awesome but it's still not really accessible to the majority of the population because of the price. The parking lot is usually filled with BMW's and the isles with desperate housewives. We would go here but it's too expensive. Does that mean we're cheap? Am I stereotyping people who value healthy food and are willing to pay a fair price for it? Is that how you spell "isles"? These questions I cannot answer.

c) Trader Joe's - One of the two places we go. Sort of a slightly cheaper version of Whole Foods. Don't even think about buying the vegetables, read point D for the reason. Trader Joe's has lots of locally sourced foods and the stores themselves are pretty small but have an amazing selection and the quality of the food really high. There is a subtle safari theme which makes buying cookies and a bag of beer nuts on a Sunday afternoon quite an exhilarating experience. They use paper bags and have Cliff Bars. They also have quality wines from Napa Valley.

d) Jons - This place is like Price Choppers on seniors discount Tuesday, but all week and for everyone. Really really good and where we buy our veggies. Not to be confused with the upscale grocery chain "Vons", which must be Jons older, whiter, richer, brother. Jons is the most frequented grocery store in Van Nuys. The price of their fruit doesn't really make sense sometimes: once we bought good oranges at the price of 7 pounds for a dollar. Think about that. Mangos are regularly 3 for a dollar, same with avocados. Jons are the people who use way to many grocery bags, but we clean our
conscience once a week buy going to Trader Joe's.

So that's how food works in California. Last week I heard the average home price in LA county reached 506,000 USD. I think that's fair. This milestone has inspired me to show everyone some "I can't believe THAT costs a million dollars" pictures I've got so watch for those. These places make the houses on Wellington Crecent look like a steal. We really do like the comments so keep them coming. (As long as they're not..confrontational.) On behalf of me and Jer's two-handed +3 damage broad sword, thank's for reading.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

I went to Las Vegas and all I got was this louzy flyer for sex workers.

We've now been to Las Vegas, but we took no pictures. I thought that the only way to expose the real side of Las Vegas is not to surrender to it's sights and sounds and obey it's attaque sur les sens, but rather to pause and reflect, translating it's horror and paradoxical beauty through the medium of language and metaphor. And I forgot the memory card for the camera at work.

There are many different facets of Las Vegas that are constantly fighting with each other to leave a worse taste in your mouth than the one before. For us the aspect of Vegas that came out on top was the city itself, rather than something to do with the casino and entertainment industry. Las Vegas is the fastest growing city in the US, which basically means that the whole city is a large suburb. In the desert. The same house is repeated hundreds of thousands of times across the desertscape literally as far as the eye can see. As gas prices go up and up and up I have absolutely no pity for these people who have made their beds even after it's become obvious that this type of living will be unsustainable in the future. Then again each new house is only $150,000 instead of the $500,000 it would cost for one in LA so maybe they're not so dumb after all. It's just scary that this has become the new model for a growing American and Canadian city. Development, development, Walmart, development, development, Home Depot, development, development, megachurch, etc. It is unbelievably gross looking and must be seen to be believed.

It's hard to imagine the people who work in the casinos doing anything but working in a casino. They were definitely born to do just that. I'm sure that in hospital waiting rooms all across America in 1963 doctors were emerging from delivery wards and, after being asked by the husband wether it was a boy or a girl, would have say "I'm terribly sorry but it is neither. Mr. Johnson, I'm not sure how to put this've had a cocktail waitress.", at which point Mr. Johnson would rush into the delivery room and lay his eyes upon his new child Shyla, who would be clutching a used ashtray in one hand, and a half empty Miller Light with a dollar jammed in the top in the other.

There is one thing we didn't do in Vegas that I plan on doing at some point:

Go to this place.

No, not ELVIS-O-RAMA, the automatic weapon range. There are a few
friends I would love to see shooting any number of the guns listed in this ad. Since none of us (I assume) have spent any time with automatic weapons, and even if we were to join the Canadian army we would probably be given guns that look real then when the time came and the enemy were upon us we would find out that we were given super-soakers, I think this is an opportunity that should be siezed. The most memorable guns would the uzie, which would have to be fired with one hand only and in short bursts at a slightly downward angle, and the M3A1 greasegun, which I would like to see Jer shooting with his feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, knees bent with the gun held really low just below his waist, and the only thing moving when he's got the trigger pegged would be his cheeks.

I would love/pay to see that.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The 'Bu

Surfrider Beach in Malibu this morning at 6:45. LA is in the distance: check out that sick layer of smog.

Nothing gets you ready for a day at the office like a big salty mouthful of sewer runoff. Anyone got some scope?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bumper Stickers 101. On the 101.

I'm going to list the top 5 bumper stickers in Los Angeles. This is not just based on some guy's casual observation, this is data collected, collated and co-agulated through thousands of hours of cutting edge data-collection, collation, and co-agulation technologies, as well as my casual observation.

These are ranked by popularity, not by my personal preference. None of these would make my top five if that were the case. Except for number 5. And number 1.

5) Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes pissing on something.
While it is common knowledge that it takes a certain kind of person to put a sticker of Calvin pissing on something on the back of your car, the history of this phenomenon is perhaps a little more elusive. It all began with Calvin pissing on a Ford sticker... or was it Chevy? No sooner than these stickers were the de-facto decal of Ford (or was it Chevy?) owners everywhere, the tables were turned and Calvin was pissing on the very symbol of the brand of truck that the original sticker owners drove. While this ingenious reversal of fortunes for Ford (or was it Chevy?) owners was perhaps forseeable, what followed was anything but. Calvin was soon pissing on anything: Mazda's, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the NDP, it just didn't matter anymore.
Until yesterday.
Dayna saw Calvin pissing on the word "Drugs". So it seems in the end that the type of people who would put a sticker of Calvin pissing on something have evolved into paradoxical creatures, for on the one hand they have the capacity to understand that doing drugs is something they want no part of, yet on the other hand they are willing to put a sticker of Calvin pissing on something on the back of their cars. It is as though we are living in the world of MC Escher.

4) Anti-Bush Stickers. George, not Kate... I assume.
Although anti-Bush/War stickers are quite common across the US, Canada, and I'm guessing Iran among other places, in California there seem to be more than usual. Bush for Ex-President, "Bush" in a circle with a line through it, Bush Burned and Raped my Village, Bush Stole my Lunch Money, etc. Some are funny, some are annoying. What happens to these when his term is done?

3) The Rodriguez Family.
I had not seen these in Canada before but basically it's a collection of stick-man type stickers, each one representing each each member of the family, with the name of the family underneath. There are tons of these. They are to be found mostly on Hummers, minivans, stretch Hummers and other great family vehicles. With the divorce rate being what it is (84% are the latest figures I believe) these come in packs of 10 so you can add and remove members as you please. What a sad that that must be when mommy tells junior to get some rubbing alcohol and meet her in the garage because daddy won't be sleeping over anymore. There's something I don't like about these stickers but I can't quite put my finger on it. Maybe its that sense of family pride. I will dwell and perhaps post it in the comments.

2) I Live Vicariously Through my Child stickers.
As has been mentioned before on my blog, the My Child Was the Boner of the Month at Valley High stickers. Most of them are quite vague and are about being a "superstar" or something similar, which I assume means they're getting good grades and are on their way to paying 30 grand a year at UCLA. Last week I saw a bumper sticker that said "My dog is smarter than your honors student." Depends on the student.
Depends on the dog.

Finally, THE most popular bumber sticker in the greater Los Angeles:

1) El Cuchy, 97.9 La Raza.
This Spanish speaking station has also come up in this blog before. El Cucuy is the host. From what I understand, radio stations give out prizes to people with their sticker on the car, right? These guys must be giving out some serious prizes then. Maybe if you're sporting a 97.9 La Raza sticker, they pull you over and give you a free fake US visa, which is nice because it saves you a $100 dollars and trip to East LA.

There you have it, I wrote this at work.