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October 21, 2003

Finished War Against the Animals yesterday on the plane. A bit purple in places, but perhaps that was appropriate for its cast of gay men living in the small New York town of Stone Hollow. The author's heavy reliance on adjectives sometimes popped me out of the story, something I kept having a difficult time getting into since the author seemed to expect that the reader would already have some knowledge of what it is to be young and gay and to hate and fear it.

But the book made the time on the plane pass, and that's really all that matters. We ended up in an exit row, so for the first time in my life - leg room on a plane. The downside was that the arms between the seats didn't lift out of the way, so napping was even more out of the question than usual. Maybe it's the noise, the shaking, the seats or the endlessly recycled air, but I'm never able to sleep on planes.

First Impressions: someone has cranked up the saturation in the colors here. And after the muck of L.A. air, it seems I can see forever. Our hosts have promised that will be dark enough after sunset that I'll be able to see the stars. Of course, that means the cloud cover must blow back out to sea. (Can you say that when you are on an island with an average diameter of approximately 40 miles, surrounded by 2500 miles of Pacific in every direction?)

October 18, 2003

Just finished reading Francine Prose's After. Shocking and disturbing. If the author has based even just little of it on Truth, I have a whole pile of new reasons to mistrust and despise the public-school system. And to fear that there is some conspiracy out there attempting to takeover.

When did I become so into conspiracy theories? I use to roll my eyes at people who thought the government was out to get them or that the military had covered up aliens in Roswell. And, so far, I still don't think there are spacemen in the deep freeze in Nevada. But coverups, mistruths, and a desire on the part of some shadowy organization that the entire population be reduced to mindless consuming automatons who quietly follow instructions? That is starting to sound not so far-fetched.

October 16, 2003

Popped up to Santa Barbara last weekend. Happy congratulations to Fernando and Tracey on their newly-launched nuptial journey. And many thanks for the excuse to get out of town. Surprising how different things are 90 miles north: we actually saw stars glimmering in the night sky. Living in L.A. has made me forget that there could be anything in the sky other than the moon and airplanes.

Now that we've agreed that we're leaving L.A. and starting to have real momentum in that direction, it's easier to see and acknowledge all the things about L.A. that drive me nuts. Like how I won't be able to clear clearly see anything more than a half-mile away until it rains. Like just how much the air smells like lighter fluid. And how it's never, ever truly quiet. And how you have to drive a minimum of one hour to find someplace to go for a walk, and then it's usually a mall.

October 11, 2003

When I left Borders six months ago, I acquired a whole stack of advance reader editions of various books. "Uncorrected Proofs - Not For Sale." Some of them have been a delightful surprises, gems I probably wouldn't have found on my own. Some have been more of a let down. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel wasn't exactly fun, but then Holocaust literature rarely is. And now that I think about it, the slow pace probably suited winter in Poland.

The disappointment has been Jake Riley: Irreparably Damaged. The characters are between 14 and 16 years old, but the book reads like it was written for 5th graders. The point of view is not from the most interesting character, and in bringing up but failing to explore a number of issues (poverty, domestic abuse, child welfare programs, reform school, public school, distrust between adults and children), the author shirks the responsibility of her medium. Rather than address or wrestle with the problems, she takes the easy way out as Jake runs away from home.

But just because I didn't like it means it's hopeless. I'll be releasing the book with a Book Crossing ID sometime in the next week in the hopes that it might find someone to resonate with.

October 08, 2003

That's it. I've had enough. Time to go.

Maybe it was because the right-wing was upset because they lost or maybe it was the belief that if only we change who is in office we could fix the economy. The first option confirms my suspicion that there is a secret society of old rich white men taking over the country. The second affirms my belief that people would rather whine about something than understand it.

The fact remains that California is in a financial fix, like everyone I know, thanks to an economy which tanked when Junior took up residence in Washington. And what's the solution chosen by popular vote? Elect a man with no political experience whatsoever and with business sense so questionable he hasn't had a true hit movie since 1994. Not only can he not choose a project that makes money, he seems to be unable to choose a project that is in touch with what the people want.

Children, take note: All you need to achieve leadership of the 4th largest economy in the world is a fat bank account and a name everybody knows.

October 01, 2003

Indulged my annual craving for steak the other night. Many thanks to Casey for the restaurant recommendation: steak for me, an oversized baked potato for Ian.

After dinner, we meandered down to the beach. Los Angeles beaches, like most of L.A., are this strange hybrid of dirty and supreme image-consciousness. The beach is sculpted flat, but it smells funny, and not just in a salty way. Still, empty, night-wrapped beaches are a good place for conversation, for acknowledging loss, for making plans. The waves broke orange in the city's sodium lights, but further out they shown in brilliant flashes of neon blue, plankton phosphorescing in the tidal chaos. In the darkness, light, and the color of hope.