Sunday, September 18, 2011

Horrible Storms!

Have you been paying attention to the news of late? Well, let me tell you about something that might be of interest to you. Summer storms! That's right; Vermont, of all places, was struck this summer by Hurricane Irene. (Okay, okay, since you insist on getting technical about it, I grant you that that the system did in fact get downgraded to a "tropical storm").

The key point, though, was that the tides were high, roads were washed out, crops were flooded, and businesses were ruined.

Now, yours truly was out of the country at the time ... let's say "on holiday" (and no, I don't mean jail, if that's what you were thinking). But, when we got home, it was a little disturbing to see that some of the evidence of this storm had made it all the way out to Los Angeles.

Screens ripped off windows!

Mops strewn about willy-nilly as if they were mere match sticks!
So powerful were the gusts of the hurricane-force winds that patio umbrellas were completely uprooted—cast over fences and thrown down on manicured lawns with no more thought than china patterns would receive among carneys at a cock fight.
Old, busted, derelict benches deposited completely randomly in the middle of front yards! Tables completely engorged in ratty, filthy cloths more fetid with mildew than the gnarly hull of the Pequod was coated in barnacles! What a terrible storm!

Strangest of all, though, was the collection of weirdos harvested from the farthest shores of Denmark and dropped here in Echo Parque. Faced with a storm of this magnitude, it seems as though all one can do is take a moment to make a tribute to Mother Nature.

And, so without any further ado ...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Is it me? Is it you?

Since everyone is taking the occasion today to reminisce about things that happened a decade or so ago, why don't you let me lead you down memory lane, Sanchez-style?

Picture it: yours truly is an impoverished graduate student in the early "noughties" who has to travel home to the east coast for a wedding. I can't remember how exactly I got to that wedding, which (in case you are interested) was held at Plimoth Plantation where we were promised a celebratory blunderbuss salute that never materialized, perhaps due to the horizontal bucketing of rain. Crucial, though, to my story is the means of transport I used to return home to a certain midwestern research university. As you can see from the photograph above, I took the train.

Now, let me establish a bit of context here, as an emerging sidebar will soon send my narrative flying. You probably won't remember this, but writers of titles for mindless films and TV shows of the late 1990s (and here we might use the oeuvre of the great Freddie Prinze Jr. as guidance) had been devouring colloquialisms in a kind of death-race to the bottom. Indeed, a frighteningly inevitable degree zero had become perceptible—perceptible, that is, to jackass grad students ever looking for topics with which to divert conversation away from matters like developing, funding or completing dissertations. So, a favorite party game of SeƱor Sanchez's had become inviting speculations centered around the movie or TV show title I anticipated at any moment: "Sucks to be You!" How long, I would ask, will it take before we have this show? What will be the plot framework of "Sucks to be You!"? Who will be the lead actors? Etc, etc.

Let us now cut back to Herr Sanchez leaving Plimoth Plantation sans blunderbuss and preparing for an overnight train ride back to the midwest. I ask you to imagine the crespuscular light of day breaking over the flat, Indiana plains and that this said, sad Sanchez turns the AM dial of his staticky walkman to hear a song whose chorus he subsequently remembers as "Is it me? / Is it you? / Get a clue!" In an obviously deranged state, our dear Sanchez hears find himself thinking: isn't this cool? I have happened across some kind of underground punk station here in rural Indiana?

This Pump up the Volume-fueled delusion is, however, quickly exploded when the song ends and the DJ welcomes the listener back ... to Radio Disney! There, in a dreadful flash, the plot, lead actor and indeed theme song for "Sucks to be You!" had been disclosed all too clearly to our discomited, deluded Sanchez. Sweet, sweet memories.