Tuesday, March 09, 2010

high desert, low life

It's been a busy few weeks in town here. I had some work on a nonsense commercial to keep me busy before we were swamped with house guests for two straight weeks. Tonight I'm talking it over with a bottle of cheap red wine and some expensive cheese that doesn't look like something I should be eating at all, but will be damn delicious all the same. Jamie came out from wherever it is that he's been hiding, and crashed in our basement drank out bourbon and stole my car. Lexi's folks came down for a weekend, and Ally's brother was lost in LA, via Glasgow for a good few days as well. Since he was without transport (as they say in the Highlands) I took him up to Griffith Park to see the observatory, and marvel at the remarkably poor sculpture of James Dean on the front lawn. It reminds me a bit of a 3-d Archie cartoon.

Ally, Gza and I also went out to the Zoo last week. I hadn't been to the LA zoo before, and can't say that I ever had an inclination to go, but the weather was amazing, and it was a good day for a walk through the park. Ally's brother really enjoyed himself because Glasgow's native animal population is limited largely to things that eat fried food and carry knives.
I guess that meerkats are supercool in Britain right now, and are being used in commercials selling everything from mobile phones to real estate, so this was a bit of a celebrity encounter.

We watched the rather bizarre and violent mating rituals of a pair of Zebra along with a class of bemused and rather appalled schoolchildren (we were rather appalled as well, I have to say, though not appalled enough not to try to get a photo of the scene), and then decided to throw popcorn at the lions just like the sign suggests.

Afterward we had a little new-rave freak-out in the gift shop. Eagle trumps wolf every time in the jungle disco.

On the way home we stopped by Zankou Chicken (this began my entire week of eating far too much delicious food) and got 1/4 roasted chickens with humus on pita bread with a bucket of Dr. Pepper on the side. Damn.

Saturday morning I got up early and, I suppose just because it was there, I went to the gun show in Glendale. It's pretty much the next town over, so I was a little curious to see what the neighbors were up to. It seems that they are rather actively involved in arming themselves to the teeth in anticipation of our government's imminent collapse or the ever-approaching apocalypse. I guess I've been doing it all wrong by stock-piling canned goods and trying to grow vegetables in my backyard. The way forward seems to be to fill a truck bed with cases of 50-calibre ammunition for the helicopter door gun that you've got mounted on the roof. I was way off.

If these shirts weren't $17 I might have bought one just to set back the cause of those selling them just a little bit by wearing one, like the time I bought the 'Jesus is my BFF' t-shirt at a truck stop in Arizona. Take that.

Duly noted that adjacent to the t-shirt that screams conservative heterosexual christian American is a holster that very closely resembles the lower half of a woman's bikini.

Picking on the gun show crowd is a little like shooting fish in the face at best, I suppose. Guns are fun, and I hate freedom. I had just hoped for a little bit more fun from a gun show. No bouncy castle, no cotton candy, just lots of machismo and paranoia. Bummer.
Hey, where has that guy been?

To cleanse the palate, and ease my slanted world-view post gun show, I decided to head out to the desert for a few days (somehow letting it slip my mind that there's a massive marine base in 29 palms mostly because the high desert looks almost exactly what I'd imagine Afghanistan to look like, and also because it's totally acceptable to blow things up out there because damn near everything is dead anyway).

I took the dog with me on his first major adventure away from home. He was not quite as excited as I was to see the congestion and busyness of LA die out, and give way to drifting sand, tumbleweeds and space. In fact, he slept for the entire 2+ hour ride there.

I managed to get a room at the 29 Palms Inn on shortish notice, which was a nice thing.

I checked into a small, adobe house called the bottle room for obvious reasons. According to the hotel staff Spock had stayed there before me. I was a little let down to realize that I wasn't finding Leonard Nimoy's hair in the shower, but actually that other little dude from the new Star Trek movie. Ahhh well.

I had time for a walk out in the desert before the sun set, then I had a steak in the hotel restaurant and commiserated with the locals over a margarita at the bar while a Captain and Tenille-esque couple hacked through show tunes on a little electric piano nearby. Good folk those desert people.

Dog and I decided that it might be a good idea to check out the local drive-in theatre after dinner. We caught a $5 double feature of Valentine's Day and Wolfman. Against my assumptions the dog was not fond of Wolfman, and instead snored so loudly though the first half of the film that I didn't catch most of the dialogue. Still desert drive-in was good times.

Up early the next morning, and I hit the Yucca Valley Swap Meet (or 'Swap Mee' if you believe what the sign tells you. Hey, 'Ts' are a commodity in the desert).

The swap meet was mostly a permanent collection of people who live in the desert selling things that they uncovered in the sand of their back yards to other people who live in the desert. It's basically an elaborate excuse for a social gathering and, judging by the guy who had a monopoly on broken (and sandy) blender parts, commerce rarely enters into the equation.

It was good fun just to walk around and chat to some folks about where they found their old cowboy boots or how a pair of skis happened to end up in Yucca Valley.

I went for a drive through Joshua Tree Park early in the morning. The sun was barely up, and it was still pretty cold, and very very quiet.

Some rain moved in quickly and everything got pretty surreal. As surreal as a thunderstorm in the desert gets, I guess.

I started the drive back to LA, and stopped several times along the way at cactus farms, garage sales and flea markets. At one in particular there seemed to be endless tables of Mexican candy flanked by a wall of wide-eyed children.

Somewhere along the way back, around the exit towards Coachella is the regionally famous robotic dinosaur museum cave roadside attraction.

It was feature in a little film called 'Pee Wee's Big Adventure.' Maybe you've heard of it.

I got back home a few hours later, and went out for tacos with Jamie who had been both watching the house and tearing around LA in search of trouble.

And then had some deep fried shrimp heads at the sushi spot because that just seems like a good thing to pile on top of tacos.

I'm finding myself starting to settle in here a bit more each day. Work is picking up, and things are just swell.