Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Walking In L.A.

Juxtaposition…one of my favorite words and for those who may be unclear as to what it means, our good friend Mr. Webster defines it as…(the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side).

Working for LA Weekly puts me in many different atmospheres’s and has allowed me to meet some new and interesting people.

Today I was called in to do some office hours, which allowed me to watch the magazine’s production from the inside.
But after finishing my “inside duties,” my boss asked for one more favor before I leave.

We just received a package of free movie tickets to a special viewing of “Monster House” which is premiering tomorrow night, and she asked me if I could walk down to Hollywood and Highland and pass them out.

“Sure!” I was excited, being able to just take a stroll down Hollywood passing out free shit to a bunch of out-of-towners.

But the reality is that I found something much more disturbing than I thought.
Granted, I know the perks and the tragedies of living in Hollywood, but never have I witnessed so much of it at one time.

It started off with just walking out the LA Weekly building on Sunset, making my way to Highland, where I met a girl, who could have been the exact same age as me, covered in dirt and grease and sicker than ever.

She gripped in her hand a tearing leash which was tightly and lovingly attached to a dog that could have been cleaner than she was.

She stopped me and asked if I had change.

“I don’t have my purse with me…I’m sorry what’s your name?” “Sam.” She tells me. “Okay Same, wait right here I’ll be back.”

So I grab a couple bucks I had thrown in my purse and ran out to give it turn her.

As I looked for her on the street, I found her lying on the ground underneath a tree with hardly any shade, resting her head on her dog.

Her eyes were closed so I startled her with a “Hey.” Gave her the money and walked away.

It got me thinking a lot about life and what he life is like and where she came from and why she couldn’t just go home, and I ended up missing my turn on highland, so I made a quick right on Orange to get to Hollywood.

The entire way I was accompanied by a homeless man who seemed pissed off at something because he kept throwing his fist in the air.

So I get to Hollywood Blvd. where the streets are filled with a multitude of culture.
Camera’s blazing followed by laughter and five dollar star maps filled the air as I passed out free tickets to people who maybe couldn’t understand what the hell I was doing there.

I saw myself amongst a bunch of other promoters handing out free “whatever’s” to the poor tourists who came to see the glamorous “Hollywood” and found the “True Hollywood Story.”

Although these visitors were comparing their hands with those of their idols and taking photos with the many over zealous characters walking around Hollywood Blvd, what they weren’t doing was comparing the glamour with the crass.

I stood back and observed so much life happening and then I stumbled upon a young girl wearing pink pajamas standing in front of a Chinese fast food restaurant off the strip asking people as they walked out with their Styrofoam boxes, “Is that left-overs.”

Most people just walked by her, looking almost afraid of this little girl begging for maybe a bite of their five pound box of food.

The little girl looked at me and I smiled and shrugged my shoulders. She then asked me what I was handing out, and I replied, “They’re movie tickets.”

Again shrugging, I asked if she wanted one or some.

She smiled and held out her hand.

I told her it’s not far, and it’s completely free, so enjoy.

But I couldn’t help but feel like an asshole. I’m sure she was genuinely excited about receiving something free, even if it was pure entertainment, but I wish I could have given her more, or something she needed.

With all the people I met and saw “Sponging for Change,” it made me think back to when I knew some people who made their living spanging down on Melrose Blvd.

His name was Troll and if you saw him you’d know why, and his girlfriend was Susie.

They’d spend their entire day on Melrose with a huge cup filling up change all day long.

I’d see them too at punk shows and one time when I lost my car, because I was just too messed up, they took me in. Took me to their apartment, allowed me to eat, sleep, and feel at home, and the next day took me to Melrose to “Spang with them.”

Although I didn’t spang and just kinda hung out, he was nice enough to give me a few handfuls of change to get myself home by train.

It made me laugh and remember feeling almost that desperate, but Troll and Susie were older and did it because they could.

These people I met today do it because it’s the only way they can survive.

I hate Hollywood and I hate it’s patrons that make it a place to brag about to the “people back home,” But I know it’s not their fault; it’s our fault…the whole lot of you...

Friday, June 09, 2006

What are the guidelines for a country to be considered bilingual?

Although many countries now are speaking several languages, is bilingualism really happening?

Should a country allow more than one language while discussing government issues in order to make it "officially" bilingual?

Canada could very well be the closest country to being considered "bilingual."

Despite its ban on speaking the English language while in government meetings and such, it's a lot more widespread there than any other country.

With the recent immigration issues, this is something people really need to look at closer and research a lot more.

Right now, as with many things, there's a left-wing train of thought that is conflicting with a right-wing train of thought, which are clearly just feelings each side has, as usual, with little in depth research on the actual topic.

And although I'd love to blow both sides out of the water with my knowledge on the topic, I can't because it seems almost impossible to find literature and research on the topic of bilingualism.

Sure there seems to be a lot of "discussion," but where are all the statistics?

There should be a researched study of countries that speak more than one language, if their government includes it in its business, and how successful it is for that country.

Not to mention if it's widespread or not.

For instance, take a country like Japan. Many people there speak both Japanese as well as English, but it seems to be in more "busy" cities.

The well known cities in Japan like Tokyo speak both continuously due to the demand in its business practices with America as well as other countries that are bilingual with English.

Even here in America a constant language barrier seems to exist.

Just in California, some companies require potential employees to be bilingual, which in many cases means speak both Spanish and English.

Which is fine, but there are so many people who think this requirement is absurd.

But, if anything it's promoting education for all countries.

How could this effect our country if we were officially bilingual?

Wouldn't it be great to know?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summer school usually means one of two things.

Either you failed a class or classes, and have to try to make them in up three short months, or you're an over achiever looking to get the heck out of which ever school you're attending as soon as possible.

For me, I choose neither. At one point in my life I went to summer school as the over achiever thinking, "it'll be better this way because I'll be done sooner."

Well, I was completely wrong, and really regret missing my summers while I was at the early ages of my adult life.

Over the weekend, I finally got enough courage to check my final grades online for the 18 units I took this past spring semester to surprisingly find that I had passed ALL of my classes with three A's, two B's and one C. Not too shabby!

So, I can relax this summer and enjoy my life...WRONG!!

Because I'm not in my mid twenties, my summer will consist of me looking for additional jobs to help support myself and pay rent and all the bills that keep me stuck in here dreaming about what my life could be.

But again I say, "It'll be worth it in the end." This time I hope so.

The point I guess is, that there's nothing worse than sitting in a classroom on these terribly hot summer days, and although the air conditioning is cranked up really high, the sticky sweat on your body leaves you feeling disgusting and wishing you were somewhere else.

Well, some advice, next time be somewhere else. If you don't "have to" attend summer school, DON'T.

Enjoy your life now, because once school is done with, there's not such thing as "summer break," "spring break," or "winter break."

All there will be are "sick days" and "vacation days"...If you're lucky.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Author destroys religion!

At least that's what a bunch of devout Catholics/Christians are fearing. But why?

Dan Brown is an obvious FICTION author. In any local bookstore, his books are in the mystery/thriller section of the store, which is fiction.

With the recent showing of The Da Vinci Code in all theaters, controversy has also been showing on local news channels as well as outside the theaters.

It's really a shameful experience, watching people anger themselves over something fictional only because it questions and deconstructs the foundation they've settled their lives on.

For a person who is not religious but respects all religions and its followers, I can't help but wonder why churches, priests, and followers of Catholicism and Christianity are so afraid of this movie, or even Dan Brown's book.

A story is a story, but the reaction of it all can make one wonder, is there really something to hide?

In a time when the Catholic Church and catholic priests are being put in the spotlight due to the accusations of priests molesting children, a story that questions the very religion and its purpose can be a scary thing for all people associated with this religion.

But for people to protest outside of movie theaters and burn Mr. Brown's books to show unity and that all the content of the book/movie is untrue and made up, well just seems ridiculous, because well, that's exactly what it is.

But, also, in a day and age where people believe so much of what they see on T.V., this movie could lead to people questioning things about their religion, which to me, is never a bad thing.

Truth should be known no matter the consequences. So many cover-ups have taken place throughout history and who's to say this type of circumstance couldn't have happened.

It's interesting to think about and maybe a little scary to think about, but I don't think it's strong enough in it's execution for a whole religion to crumble.

There are so many devout Catholics and Christians and people will believe what they believe, that's the beauty of religion. It's one's choice who they want to believe in and how much of it they choose to believe.

Although I think it's immature and a little self-righteous for so many people to ridicule those who choose to read Dan Brown's book or watch Ron Howard’s movie, you have to give some credit for both creators for making such a big impact.

We all saw the same reaction with The Passion of the Christ came out, and whether or not you saw it or not, it's out there and people saw it, and it really didn't change anything. It's just entertainment.

People need to learn from their mistakes, and the mistake people are making here is that they are judging people and discriminating people who wish to speak their mind or be creative or watch something creative.

It's sometimes more scary to watch how a religion, that tries to define peace and faith for its people, can bring so much hate to its people's existence.

Monday, May 22, 2006

And I don't want to live this life...

There's something about America that keeps a sense of pride in my heart and I'm sure in many hearts of its people. A concept built to bring people together, to learn about one and other, adapt, and grow as one.

But where America fails, I see neither quick fix, nor prolonged fix because it fails with its people.

People are destroying this Country, and they are doing it from the top down.

Take corporations. A corporation builds itself on its people and its product. Its people sell its product and therefore one cannot exist without the other, but that's not entirely true.

With recent in depth looks into L.A.'s homeless problems, focusing mainly on the streets and people of Skid Row, studies have found many homeless people who are handicap and were somewhat "forced" to live on the streets.

Those who read these stories wonder how this can happen. "Oh how can we (Americans) allow these people to just rot without help and how can companies put these people on the streets," we think to ourselves as we read the morning paper with our bowl of cereal.

And this is how. Roughly two years ago, my own mother was hurt at her job. She worked for a major Insurance Company, in the corporate offices, training and helping build up new private agencies for the company.

In a new building her desk lacked the proper plastic needed underneath her roller chair so that she may roll easily around her desk.

Although she had asked many times for one, her boss failed to meet her request. Well, this caused her to irritate a nerve in her lower back after turning and having one of the wheels get caught on the exposed rug.

She's now been out of work for 2 years, on disability, waiting for a settlement to insure her survival, as well as the rest of her family.

Of course this major company brought out the big shot lawyers who argued their way out of any settlement and claimed, "She wouldn't have been able to go back to work anyway."

I sit back and think, "HA! Yes, but because of the very company you're defending."

So out of work and now unable to work because of her job related injury, she's looking for a way to support herself and her family.

The company just threw her to the side, threw her out on the streets even after she worked for them for over 15 years, building up their corporate funds, which in the end, paid for the lawyers that shot down her case.

It's a sick sad world.

Here's a more "close to home" example.

Working at a bookstore you get a number of characters who come into the store. Just this past weekend, we've had to deal with four lost children, which their parents when found, had no idea their kids were lost, or probably even there with them.

As booksellers, I and my fellow co-workers were angered that parents allow their children to run around freely in a huge store, which is in a huge strip mall without supervision. Do they not get it?

Well, this wasn't the worst of it. Angered already because, I think I can speak for my co-workers and say that we care a lot about people and have good morals no matter our differences, but we were exposed to a even bigger and more disgusting circumstance.

On Saturday, while working, a little girl ran up to our information desk to whisper in one of our worker's ears that she had just been molested in our children's section of the store.

Immediately, one of our supervisors ran to get security which could not be found, when needed and we were unable to catch who hurt his poor little girl.

In public, in a bookstore, on a Saturday afternoon, in a section which is swarming with children and parents, something as awful as molestation can occur and the person who is responsible can get away.

It's a sick sad world, and I no longer know what to do about it.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Pushing past hump day during the last week of school really proved something to me.

Everyone is just completely sick of school.

Everyone, which includes, students, instructors, administrators, aids, faculty, etc.

Although the thought and fear of finals burn the chills in our veins, attendance seemed scarce in each of my classrooms. I too felt the urge to experience the utopia of missing my classes and settle into a tranquil state for the remainder of the week.

But like other troopers, I went to my final classes before finals only to find the overall presence, depressing, tired and a "I just want to get the hell out of here feeling."

The voices of my instructors seemed scuffled and worn. Their passion for teaching the study of choice failed to present itself while struggling to get through that final power point of the semester and prep their unenthusiastic class for their over credited final.

I almost felt bad we as students attended the class. We should have given our instructors a break and taught ourselves the final lesson, but in a way we all kind of just sat there waiting for one of us (students or the instructor) to pass out of exhaustion.

As I got home tonight from my final class, I took a look back at some notes I had scratched down during my classes throughout the day and found that it was full of doodles and one word topics that mean nothing to me now because I really wasn't paying attention to begin with.

I went to prep for finals and found that I made as much leeway as I would have if I took the day off and actually lived a healthy lifestyle of sleep, balanced meals, and relaxing thoughts.

But I don't regret attending because after all, if I end up not passing my finals or even worse passing my classes, no one will be able to tell me, "Well you shouldn't have missed your classes." Even though I undoubtedly paved my own path down to fail town.

There's nothing harder than the end of the semester, but then again its polar opposite, THE BEGINNING, is just as bad, but at least there's the naive hope that the next semester will be better.

And although the dreadful days are here at last and every students' mind is full with the hateful thoughts of school, summer will come and go and we as students will line up to get right back into this awful mess we call college.

As for the lucky ones, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed I'll be a part of that group this year, we'll graduate and feel the perks of completing something important, and hopefully never look back.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Apparently Cerritos College is "full of weirdoes."

At least that's what one woman said in the administration office as she told me a creepy, sad, but surprisingly funny story.

Last Friday was Senior Preview Day. A day dedicated to hosting high school seniors as they tour the campus. The focus is to get them to attend Cerritos College after they graduate.

Well folks, I think we got them and all it took was a masturbating man.

Now wait a minute, the school didn't actually sponsor nor organize this, but apparently during one of the tours, a group of high school kids from South Gate, with their camera videophones, taped a man laid out in front of the library on the grass fondling his private area.

The man then tried to walk, but obviously was having a little trouble, not to mention that he still had his hand down his pants. Gross!

The police were called and found him at the corner of Alondra and Studebaker Road, but the man claimed he had an "irritation" that caused his hand to "shift" the problem area.

But that's not the end of him.

Early this week he was seen again in the administration office wanting to "see a counselor."

When he was told that all were "booked" he caused a fuss asking proof that no counselor was available.

So once again, campus police were called and they explained to this poor man that he's been causing havoc on the campus and it needs to stop.

To which he replied, "So I was masturbating, So What!"

Ratted himself out. So farewell to our creepy friend at Cerritos College. May your "irritation" heal...Peace!