[1/19/2022> continued from post #983, in NYC, fall of 2002]
October 12, 2002 — NYC (LA)
This is becoming a monthly event. I cannot possible document all the events. Some slip through I’m sure. So after I quit, pressplay hired me back as a producer, which is a good thing because I haven’t heard from any of the resumes I sent out so I would be fucked right now. Guess the best way to get promoted is to quit your job. Things are tolerable now, but I am definitely still going to keep looking, just with less pressure. Jim and Laura are still milking my customer care duties, and Jim is being really picky about hiring my replacement. Can afford to be that way in this day and age. They had a huge blowout between each other, and Jim filed an official complaint. She is impossible to work with and is a virus whose attitude spreads. Things may temporarily be a bit better working under Daniel/Glenn but I will still have to deal with the likes of Laura and Kara. Who knows maybe Jim will quit and take me with him wherever he goes.
End of September I went out to L.A. to touch base with my newfound production role. Met every one out there. They even gave me a desk in the same office with Chris Seiss and Kalani… a scary prospect. But hopefully there won’t be too much travel involved. We all met about the user guide and FAQs and straightened out that mess so we are all on the same page. I was staying at the Regent Beverly Wilshire, which was pretty swank. Can’t complain, except that I don’t really appreciate that kind of stuff enough and found that Rodeo drive area kind of boring. L.A. is just such a pain in the ass.
The day I got back mom came in to town. She asked me if she could stay with us for five days, and I compromised by saying two days and that she had to get a fucking room. That was excruciating enough. She was staying at the West Park which is not too far from here. On Friday afternoon I met her at Penn station. Her train was late, I hung outside people-watching. All sorts of weirdos in the world, but none compare to my mother. Think I'm objective enough to say that. She is a freak of nature. Just to be safe I was there when the train pulled up. She looked like a wounded animal in the headlights when she stepped off. I grabbed her bag and led her through Penn Station. She can barely walk. It's like a controlled falling, stiff-legged waddling like a zombie. Really weird to see her in NY. Makes you realize how hard NY is on people that are fat and not fit. Everything was a struggle with her, had to take cabs everywhere, and she even complained about getting in and out of the cabs. Saturday we took the double-decker tourist bus. [Bedder-½] and I were really losing our patience. Those busses are such a scam. We might have learned a few things about our own city, but mostly it was embarrassing to be seen on them, not to mention with my mom. In the evening we took her to nice restaurants, and luckily had the option of dumping her off at her hotel and taking a breather. But the next day we did the circle line thing. That is always fun, but still taxing on our patience. Sunday night she wanted to stay with us since her train left at something like 5 in the morning. Once she sat on our couch, she couldn’t get up. She tried to get up on her own, and was crawling around on the floor, trying to roll and get momentum to get upright. She was seriously like a beached whale. And to make matters worse she reeked like a homeless person. Every time she went into our bathroom it smelled like a dead animal, and she was starting to smell worse and worse through her clothes. We tried to open all our windows and put the futon as far away as possible. I had a weird allergic reaction and didn’t sleep the whole night. This is the first and only time my mom has ever come to visit me on my turf, let alone stay in the same room. The experience was beyond words. Hard to believe I was spawned from that amorphous blob of flesh that is sub-human. And she was so manipulative and conniving in her conversations, if there is anything to even talk about. I really have nothing to talk to her about. Everything she brings up just becomes an annoying conversation. She will want to talk about Roger and she doesn’t even care about her own blood family, only people that are famous. I still haven’t even really recovered.
Bedder-½’s birthday is today. We were going to drive upstate and get away, but it is pouring. So we just went and saw a few movies, Igby Goes Down and Punch Drunk Love which was a pretty interesting film with intriguing characters, and a constant sense of urgency. Last night went to Fredericos with So Young and Gwyn, I think by the time we were done eating and with our wine and sambuca it was like 1:30. Bedder-½ was drunk and happy. Now we are going down to Boca Chica. I really need to sit down and write something meaningful that breaks the surface, but I don’t have time. Something has got to give.
October 27, 2002 — NYC
The leaves are changing. I ran around Central Park this morning. I’ve been doing the loop around the park (6 miles) almost every weekend since last spring. But soon that will probably go on hiatus as it gets colder. Our first winter in the new apartment. We had the guys come up and turn on the heat. Its an old heater, runs off steam.
Yesterday we smelled something funny. It got worse. We followed our noses all over, to the garbage, to the drains, to ourselves. Finally I smelled it on our futon on the floor, and then on the pillows. It was a horrid smell. We removed the pillows and discovered that it was coming from the floorboards… did our neighbor Jay Jonroy die? I knocked, no answer. Perhaps a mouse died in the wall? The smell didn’t go away so we had the handyman come up, but of course they didn’t smell it. I checked the window of our neighbor and the blinds went down, so he was alive and well. Oh well, hopefully it will just go away.
Spent the day sending out writings. I need to spend more time writing. But I needed to get a lot of stuff out. Not enough time for everything. I’ve been writing the occasional piece. A very short poem “A Discontinued Soundtrack” which got accepted to Alba. And “Cerebellum Kennel” which got accepted to Real Poetik. But I see these publications as promotion for a chapbook or book deal.
I guess I will plug away at that stack of half-finished stories. Got to do those some time.
Oh yah, David was here last weekend, or the weekend before. Basically for 24 hours. We didn’t do much of anything, at least memorable. The night before he got here, we went and saw Frankie and Johnny with So Young and Chris Park, after dinner at our favorite Brazilian place, Emporio. It was wild, the opening scene Stanley Tucci is dry-humping on Edie Falco, completely naked. He rolls off of her, and they continue to lounge completely naked for a good fifteen minutes. It was wild. I can’t imagine doing that every night. The play itself was kind of boring, but the nudity was interesting in of itself.
Today was daylights savings.
Today Emmet Smith broke Walter Payton’s Record.
Tonight is the final game of the World Series (Go Giants!).
They caught the Sniper.
Halloween is coming up.
Friday night Bedder-½ and ate at Rosa’s right down the street, and it was really good, but the Guacamole was $14. They had guys diving down the wall at different angles. Bedder-½ is making fajitas as I type. I was going to make our own guacamole, but the avocados aren’t ripe. Avocados are interesting and so are mysterious smells emanating from the floorboards. Walter Payton was my childhood hero. I remember going through great pains to get a working t.v., watching him rush. I liked him better than O.J. Barry Bonds is making history. There is a lot of history going on right now. Is this basically world war three? the war on terrorism? I think in retrospect in might be. pressplay may be on the verge of making it big, and reshaping how we listen to music, or it may just continue to fail. We signed BMG, the only major label left is Warner, which supposedly we are on the verge of signing.
We saw Igby Goes Down, which was a decent ripoff of Catcher in the Rye. the Mccaulkin kid reminds me of Robert Downey Jr. We also saw Punch Drunk Love, which had moments of brilliance, but as a whole was full of holes.
I am getting really sick of watching the news. I know everybody says how much they hate the media, but it’s really, really bad. In the morning sometimes we watch things like Brady Bunch the Movie so we don’t have to watch the news, but then we don’t know what’s going on in the world. There was some hostage situation in Moscow, all we hear are the highlights. Who knows what really happened. Bedder-½’s fajitas smell good. We love each other. That is for sure. We never doubt that. We have tons of fun. I worship her body. We fall more and more in love. She still looks perfectly ripe and sixteen to me. I hope she feels the same about me. I think so. I feel pretty good. I feel just as healthy, if not healthier, then when I was sixteen. It's hard to really tell how good things are when you are living it. Of course I wish I didn't have to work, and we had a dog and I could stay home and write, and we could travel more, but then maybe it would be too easy and I would get lazy. We are going to Vegas in a few weeks, and then in December we are going to Jamaica for five days and also to Argentina. Lots of things to look forward to. U of A is ranked number one pre-season favorite. I am rambling, I know. This is language. This is a journal, a log of the events of this time. This moment. The fajitas sizzling, overpowering the sweet deathly smell from the floorboards. Earlier we were listening to Dead Can Dance and getting a good laugh out of how seriously they took themselves. That’s the kind of fun Bedder-½ and I have. I do silly dances for her. I have one for all of our favorite t.v. shows. Or I will fall down and hurt myself to make her laugh. I think now I will surprise and dress up in something stupid, to prepare for my Six Feet Under dance, followed by my Sopranos dance.
November 11, 2002 — NYC
Cloudy and gray out at 2 in the afternoon, but it is warm out. Was up late last night, and again this morning finishing my "Help/FAQs" for my site. Random acts of kindness that read like zen koans, but even more seemingly random. I tied it in to my whole site to make it a navigational device. Got a piece accepted to Cafe Irreal, actually got paid a penny a word for it so made $9, quite possibly might first payment for a publication? Friday night we had a going away party for Leah and also Danielle, downstairs at Figaros. Had a few Guinesses and hot wings there, and then went home, but was then beckoned back out to Sala down in the Bowery. Cammy's entourage was there, along with Andrea who was the birthday girl. At first we went to the downstairs bar, but it was the hottest, smokiest, loudest and most claustrophobic room I have ever been. What's the point? Upstairs was a bit better. I talked to Sven most of the night, Cammy's beau from Germany who everyone says looks like me (but I think he looks more like Tim Roth) and we have common interests (he doing his PhD dissertation in American Lit, on Don Delillo, and worked for Sony, etc.). By the time we got home and to bed it was like 3 a.m. and then we had to wake up 7 a.m. to go hiking. I didn't have any problems, but Bedder-½ started puking and not feeling well. Took the subway up to 168th st and met So Young. Drove out to the Catskills and found some random hike "Lost Clove" that wasn't that bad. No one else on the trail except for one hunter. It was a steep hike, at first through the changing leaves, and then by the time we got to the top there was snow on the ground. Bedder-½ and So Young even saw a bear. On the way home they slept and I was sleepy, but I still drove because I was not too comfortable with So Young's driving. I'm not too comfortable with cars period, except for NY taxis. What a useless invention. We drove back a different way, through the heart of the Catskills, and then by the Gunks. Didn't see any rock though. As we got closer to Manhattan, traffic was a major clusterfuck. We were in stop and go traffic for hours. I think in total we drove 6 hours to hike for maybe 2 hours. Even when we got across the GWB, it was the biggest pain in the ass. I felt like ditching the car and just getting on the subway. They should just make cars illegal in Manhattan. We were supposed to go out with Tim on sat night but we missed each other. Sunday ran around the park on a beautiful day (oh yah, saturday was beautiful too, mid-60s). Probably the final nice days before winter sets in.
November 20, 2002 – LA (and Las Vegas)
Staying at the Standard in West Hollywood. Traffic is going by on Sunset. Drunk people spilling out of House of Blues.
Saturday morning we left very early (around 4 a.m.) for La Guardia. Flew to Cincinnati (forgot to look to see what it was like, Bedder-½ was sitting window) and then Vegas. [M and R] arrived at the same time so we had breakfast together at the airport and then cabbed to the Stratosphere (not by choice, hotel picked by [S and S] for the wedding). Much of the day, or for that matter, most of the weekend, was full of unbearable indecision. Everyone standing around wondering what to do. Everyone had their own agendas. Usually we would take cabs all over town, just to get in another cab to go somewhere else and then stand around in the entranceways of casinos wondering what to do next. [D] is doing surprisingly well, but still lugging around a tank of oxygen, and everyone was pretty slow and disorganized, so it took forever just to go 100 feet and re-group. It was like pulling teeth.
We ended up at the Venetian and I got a hold of [G] and his girlfriend [S] and they met me in St. Mark’s square at the Venetian. It was trippy. G was a lot bigger (he gave me warning), probably well over 200 lbs. and conservative looking with glasses. I don’t think I would’ve recognized him if I saw him on the street. It was great to see him. We caught up briefly and I met S, who was a bit of a dead beat. Bedder-½ met us and then some more of G’s friends showed up, and then Bedder-½ and I had to go meet up with [K and L] to go over to the Rio to see this strange performance “Tony and Tina’s Wedding” which I guess you could call an interactive play. Basically a reenactment of a wedding, and the audience was all seated like we were part of the reception. They even served us food and champagne and wedding cake. Of course there was all sorts of exaggerated and stereotypically Italian American drama going on. We were seated right near the bride and groom’s table. It was definitely different, breaking the border between fiction and reality. I asked one of the bride’s maids what it was like to eat that food every night, and she looked at me funny and said ‘what are you talking about, I don’t eat this food every night?’
Afterward Bedder-½ and I were pooped so we crashed, maybe after a stopover at a casino. Of course I was up at 4 or 5 a.m. the next morning, went down and gambled some. Won some but of course always lost it eventually. Sunday Bedder-½ and I walked the entire strip from Stratosphere to the Paris, met up with the others. Went to some other casinos, continued walking all the way to Mandalay Bay. Sat at some bar. R broke the news that they bought a house.
Monday morning Bedder-½ and I went to the top of the Stratosphere and gambled some more. Lost more. Bedder-½ left to leave back to NY. S drove M, R and I to the Monte Carlos. There was tons of family drama going on that is not even worth mentioning. When I was one on one with M and R it was great. We had lunch together at New York, New York. Then L and K met us. Somewhere along the line we met back up with S and S and his family. Said goodbye to everyone one by one. K and L and I were the last ones standing. Went with them to the airport.
Flew straight to L.A. and got here Monday evening. I am staying at the Standard which is an odd hotel. Like walking into a Fellini film, ultra hip LA types lounging around the lobby, the receptionists in smock lab coats, and a fishtank behind the counter with a girl lounging around inside of it, a performance art piece. The room is rather ordinary, besides all the strange little touches, like speeds like “Blow Hard” and “Blow Harder”. A room service menu full of pretentious noveau food.
(fell asleep after watching Sopranos)
Funny thing is it is all swanky in the lobby, but the rooms are rather ordinary. Like they bought a motel 6 and converted it. Orange linoleum with cigarette burns all over in the bathroom. A shower door that doesn’t shut. A silver bean bag near the window. No Gideons bible, but near the bed are “Paper”, “Bomb” and “Nylon”.
So I met John Witt (my replacement) and have been spending time with him and Jim getting him up to speed. He seems like a good guy, he seems gayer than Jim, but hasn’t really admitted it yet. He just moved from Phoenix for the job. I think he will work out okay. The rest of my time I’m spread thin trying to get updated on Gateway stuff so I can write those K-base articles, and also spend time with the production crew. Went to lunch with Daniel, but that was about it as far as face time. Spent some time with Glenn, but that was discussing some film project he is doing. He showed me and Jim this pitch kit he is sending to John Leguziamo (sp?). He has so much stuff going on at once it is unbelievable. He is doing stuff on the side for Andy Schuon, creating websites for radio stations, that no one in NY knows about. He is writing, creating art, doing all sorts of crazy stuff. And now he has an opportunity to make this film about this Mexican artists growing up in L.A. There is a lot of creative energy going around the LA office that makes NY seems like an accounting practice or something.
The first night I had room service in my room. The second night I walked down Sunset to Mel’s diner. I forgot to drink coffee early in the day so I had a splitting headache that felt like my head was going to split. Last night I went to Gardens of Taxco with Jim and John. We had a mariachi come to our table, it was fun. The standard doesn’t have a gym (although you can get your body masked in green tea and ginger mud or a variety of other holistic and pretentious massages and treatments, including teaching you how to masturbate and full Brazilian bikini wax job.) I’ve been doing what I can in the room, but haven’t worked out all week and feeling ready to go home. I was ready to go home after Vegas. Now I am really ready to get back to the “real” deal. One more day, I leave early tomorrow morning (my birthday).
Thursday, December 5, 2002 – Negril, Jamaica [we posted pics from this Jamaica on R old site]
Woke up around 5:30 a.m. to get a cab to JFK. There was a snowstorm in the forecast, but supposedly not until later in the afternoon. By the time we checked in and went through security it was starting to snow lightly. We were held up a bit and then we had to be de-iced, so by the time we took off it was really sticking. (We would hear from our cabbie after coming home that right after our flight left around 9 or 10 a.m. they closed all the New York airports). We escaped in the nick of time.
Uneventful flight, there was a lot of sick and miserable people on the plane. We flew over the Bahamas, which was beautiful. The textures and colors as seen from the air were unreal. Just when you thought you’d seen every shade of blue... then we flew right over Cuba, which was interesting conceptually, but from 35,000 feet looks the same as anywhere else… and then circled in to Montego Bay. Even from the air you could make out the lush jungles and the aquamarine waters. It felt great to step off the plane into the warm humid air, the ocean in sight. Campy singers greeted us while we waited through customs. Found our driver, Kenny, who ushered us to our taxi bus along with two other girls from Atlanta. Some guy sold us some Red Stripes and we were on our way… through Montego Bay and along the coastline… no other way to go as the jungly mountains looked too rugged. Goats and cows everywhere, some sort of plant growing on every available surface. Flora and Fauna-wise, reminiscent of Mexico, but more lush.
The drive from Montego Bay to Negril was a little over an hour, but a sixty dollar trip (but I paid 40 since 60 seemed like too much, especially as we were sharing a shuttle with others). We drove past Negril beach, which has all the cheesy all-inclusive resorts with names like Sandals, Beaches, Swept Away, Footprints, etc. past Negril town which featured a modern Burger King as its main attraction, and out on the cliffs to the Rockhouse Hotel. We made a good choice. The Rockhouse is a small and quiet place that has little cabana’s situated along the cliffs with beautiful views. There were caves and bridges and paths leading through landscaped gardens. Our first few nights we stayed at a modest “Studio”, right on the water on a jutting point. The layout of the rooms was not so practical since the buildings were round with cone-shaped thatched roofs. The shower had no ceiling so you could see the sun or stars while showering. The restaurant jutted out over the water and there were these two white cats that were always there waiting for scraps.
The first afternoon we ate there and then went swimming before it got dark. I jumped off the cliff right in front of our room into the salty warm water. To get back up you swim through this cave and then up these steps they built into the rock. Then we ventured out on the street and were instantly harassed by street vendors. Before we even got to the hotel, at least 5 people had tried to sell us Ganja. When Kenny stopped for some coconuts before we even got to our hotel, this rasta guy tried to sell me these huge buds. I bought finger bananas instead. Everyone is shocked that we don’t smoke pot. The vendors along the road were trying to sell us all sorts of crap we didn’t want, and every car that would drive by would stop and honk at you and want to give you a ride (even if it wasn’t a taxi). This one rasta guy, Raga, shook my hand and literally wouldn’t let go and just pulled me in to his shop. He had stinky breath and was stoned out of his gourd. He gave us a long and rambly spiel about Rastafarianism and then forgot that he was supposed to sell us something. He was an interesting character though, and the whole Rastafarian movement is definitely intriguing. When they heard Jessica’s name, all the Rasta’s freaked out and said she was some holy queen of Israel and thought she was Jewish which I guess they feel they share a common bond with (Zion, etc.). Raga’s shop was about as far as we got that night before we turned back.
R brain on Jamaica
Friday, Dec. 6
The next morning we woke up and jumped off more cliffs and then this guy Errol picked us up in his little glass bottom boat and took us out to “the reef”. Not much of a reef, but a nice ride out on the boat. Errol was kind of freaky looking with a pock-faced, not Rasta but smoked plenty of Ganja. The reef has been damaged, but there was still a lot to see. We snorkeled around, saw all sorts of fish and coral, and sea creatures. But the snorkeling off the cliffs of our hotel was just as good if not better. After we came back, I saw a turtle, some cuttlefish, lots of trumpet fish, a few baby moray eels, sea cucumbers, a ladybug cowry nudibranch, purple sea fans, clams, angel fish, wrasses, tangs, squirrel fish, etc… Jumped off some more cliffs, lounged by the pool, ate at the poolside grill and talked to the always friendly hotel personnel who reinforced all the usual “ya mon” and “no worries” clichés. That evening we went out to this place called Alfred’s, which everyone said was the place to be. We were early so we strolled along the beach by the stars. And then snacked and drank Red Stripe. Once the band came on it was quite the scene. The bar and “dance floor” are right on the beach, in the sand, fenced off and with a security check (complete with metal-detectors). We were quite amused just watching the clientele, who at first were mostly tourists, but as the night progressed, more and more locals arrived.
We had been noticing quite a lot of white woman with black Rasta guys, and had been reading about these “Rent-a-Rastas” or “Rent-a-dreads”. Woman would pay these Jamaican guys for companionship and who knows what else. It was weird, you would see it everywhere, and didn’t want to assume anything, but it was just way too prominent to be coincidence. The prostitution went both ways and was not always strictly for sex. We saw whole transactions take place before our eyes. Balding white guys getting propositioned by slutty Jamaican woman, counting their money, bartering for a price, and then leaving. I heard one guys complaining about the price, “just for a blowjob”, but later caved in and left with this girl who was actually kind of pretty and looked like Haile Berry. Other homely looking white men or women, were spending the evening with Jamaican whores or gigolos, and their fellow Jamaicans just looked the other way. It was sad, and by the end of the evening we were quite depressed. We went to see some live music, but were more preoccupied with witnessing this spectacle of sexual and cultural exploitation. The band was actually pretty decent and in between sets these comic relief guys would come out and do this goofy skits with outrageous costumes.
hanging in Jamaica
Saturday, Dec. 7
Woked up. Jumped off a cliff. Ate ackee and saltfish for breakfast, along with bammy. Went snorkeling. Walked in to town. It was hard walking along the road. Every car would stop and want to give us ride. We pet some dog and he was our friend for life. We couldn’t shake him. Things got dicey when we were in town. Some guy wanted to charge me for taking a picture of a goat and got all belligerent. Another guy followed us around asking for change, and when we said we didn’t have any he said he would wait until we had some. So we grabbed a ride from some scarey looking rasta guy who ended up being really nice and fielded our many questions about Rastafarianism. He was telling us about these waterfalls so we arranged to have him come back and take us around for a day.
We walked down to Ric’s place for sunset. Quite the scene. No Rolling Stones and nude playboy bunnies like in the 70s, now it was just a bunch of margaritaville sunburnt tourists waiting to see these guys jump from these cliffs. They would charge you $10 or $15 to jump from certain spots in this tree, but of course no one wanted to pay, so they would just sit in the tree until somebody finally gave in, and then they would jump. Or they would dive and flex their muscles and ask for money. The climbing of the trees and the ritualistic display they put on was more interesting. We were the only people that were even eating in the restaurant, the other cheap tourists were just loitering around. Ric’s actually had some of the better jerk chicken that we had. And then of course once the sun set a reggae band came out and a Jamaican woman walked along the open-aired bar and poured shots down people’s throats. Woo-hoo, party on!
Sunday, Dec. 8
Cece picked us up on Sunday morning and took us out in to the mountains. He took the scenic route, driving really slow (intentionally). We started in the lowlands through sugarcane plantations. When we got in to the hills, Cece became more interested in finding some good mountain ganja because he was getting tired of Negril Ganja. So he started driving through all these neighborhoods and asking everyone where he could score. I should have brought a tape recorder to record what he was saying, it was hilarious. He called all the guys “king, raz, or sire” and would say “hi baby” to all the woman, slowing down almost to a halt. Even when he would pass another car, both cars would come to a complete stop and talk for a while in patois or pidgin English, which was very hard to understand. He stopped one guy and gave him a dollar for a spliff and the guy ran off never to be seen again. So then he stopped and asked everyone he saw, and finally stopped for an extended visit with some mountain rastas with no front teeth or shirts and wild mains of dreads. They showed him buds and he finally got his joint, which he proceeded to smoke while he was driving. We made it Mayfield falls, which weren’t really falls after all but a “river walk”. Kind of a tourist trap, we paid ten dollars to get a guide whose name was Elmore and was a comedian of sorts and into doing Jim Carey impersonations. He sat us in this hut in these manicured gardens (not sure why?) and we had to rent sneakers (we were both wearing flip-flops) so we could hike up this river. It was actually a beautiful river, aqua colored and full of minerals, surrounded by dense bamboo and jungle. Elmore had this assembly-line process he had us follow like something out of a dream. He would tell us exactly which rock to step on and then tell us to stop and dunk our heads under these certain waterfalls, or tell us to dive from certain spots. Once you gave in and just did what he said it was fun, like some sort of surreal adventure. And Elmore was a nice guy and he wasn’t rasta so it was cool to get a different perspective on Jamaica, although he was a bit of a bamboozler. He would do crazy dives and stunts like he was performing for us. We swam through some caves, went behind waterfalls, swung across bamboo, and clambered up the river a ways. Then we walked back along the banks and he showed us the native plants with somewhat rehearsed tales to go along with it.
The drive back with Cece was more mellow and we took a different route. We stopped at a roadside shack and had coconut “jelly” (after you drink it you scoop up the soft gooey meat), sugarcane, and ginger cookies. This woman that ran the store showed us her yard and house and we sat and chatted with them for a while. We took a different route back to negril through the Orange Hills (I guess a notorious ganja-growing region). It was a beautiful drive with lots to see, probably the most enlightening part of our trip.
When we got back, there was this couple staying at our hotel from NY that were getting married. They had their ceremony on the cliff edge at sunset—nice except for the tourist cruise yacht that came by and everyone started yelling “kiss the bride” before they even got to that part. Jamaica has this whole element of campy partiness that is nauseating. Sailboats with people that come up and moon you, or better yet where they were all naked to begin with. Everyone smoking pot like it was going out of style and of course drinking. Even if you didn’t go to the bars, they would come raid us from the all-inclusive resorts and anchor the party vessels blaring music right off our shore.
Elmore attempting to drown us
bedder-½ + Cece [more pics from Jamaica]
Monday, Dec. 9
We switched to a “Villa” on our last night, which was even nicer and a lot bigger than our other room. We woke up and tried to order room service which was a big mistake (for the most part the service sucked in Jamaica). Jumped off a cliff. Snorkeled some more although it was a bit murky from a storm that hit the evening before (we just missed it coming back through the Orange Hills). We swam over to the cave bar… you swim into this deep alcove, and climb up and go through this cave until next thing you know you are in someone’s yard with a bar and a dog sleeping on his back. Crossed the road and back to the cliff edge. This one was the highest one, probably about 30-40 feet and seemed even deeper because the water so clear. After you jump the water is so salty that it percolates you back to the surface in a euphoric warmth (until you realize you got salt water up your nose). We swam around some more, lounged, stared at the surface of the water, soaked up the sun, etc. and then left around noon for the long ride to the airport. Our sunburns and mosquitoes bites felt weird when we got back to the bitter cold. There was still snow on the ground from the snowstorm when we left.
December 14, 2002 – New York
Just saw Adaptation. Don’t know what to make of it. Brilliant but maybe not nearly as brilliant as Being John Malkovich. Or maybe because its just been all been done. No more recursions into self-referentiality. There are no more words. Everything is just what it is. The line about knowing what you love and not caring who loves you (or however it was put) is a great line.
Read Day of the Locust [by Nathanael West] while in Jamaica. Great book on early Hollywood.
Had our office party on Thursday. Bedder-½ came in. Good to just hang with my co-workers in a different setting. Had a lot to drink. It was at Bliss. Afterwards we went with Sue Rae and this guy Antoin (who works for VUNet) and tried to crash the Island Def Jam party but the whole block was blocked off because there were so many other people like us trying to crash the party. Many legitimate people with wristbands. We wandered around the east village looking for something but couldn’t find it, so we ended up just cabbing home.
Jim was in NY this week. My replacement John Witt is not working out. I still feel in limbo. I just want to create my own thing.
December 25, 2002 – NY (Argentina) [posted pics from this Argentina here]
X-mas eve (our anniversary) we went to an Italian place in the West Village that was really nice, and then we went and saw some Japanese guitar player at the Blue Note that was pretty campy and a rip-off (($10 a piece to get in the door, $10 a piece to sit at a table, $10 minimum for drinks, etc.) I had a spat with the guy at the door on the way out (when they tried to overcharge us even more than that) and told him that it was like Disneyland.
The next morning we woke up on x-mas but didn’t really have any presents. We just had a big x-mas breakfast and got packed for our trip. The forecast was bleak so we headed to the airport around early (3 p.m.) in the frozen rain. By the time we were boarding it was snowing hard and sticking, but they boarded us anyway. We sat in the plane at the terminal for over 5 hours. It was unbearable. There was no air circulation and it was really hot and dry. We couldn’t see out the windows because they were covered with snow. We all felt hot and claustrophobic, except maybe the patient Chinese tourist group that made up about half the plane. Part of that time was spent trying to get to the de-icer and then de-icing. By the time they finished the second wing, they would have to go back to the first wing and de-ice over again. It reminded me of the performance artist who took the trans-Siberia railroad across Russia with the windows boarded up and then turned around and went straight back without ever getting off the train. We sat there for five hours going nowhere, but we couldn’t see, so for all we knew we could be anywhere.
Eventually we were air-born and woke up over the Amazon and Paraguay after a night of restless sleep attempts and watching Blue Crush. And I read 1001 Arabian Nights in its entirety on the plane. Fitting in a Jorge Borges type of way. Bedder-½ was shedding her skin (from Jamaica) and dreamt that she had alligator hide underneath.
wake up Argentina
December 26 – Buenos Aires
Despite the 5-hour scheduled layover we had in Buenos Aires, we missed our connection because of our delay in leaving JFK. Aerolineas Argentinas was cool about it and put us up in a hotel and arranged transportation and everything, but it was a pain sorting that all out. But at least we got to spend an evening in Buenos Aires. We took the Manuel Tienda Leon bus to the Embajado hotel on Ave. 9 de Julio, the wide 21 lane avenue, possibly the widest avenue I have ever seen.
We got a free lunch of steak and then hit the streets. Went down Ave. Santa Fe to Plaza San Martin, all sorts of palaces and government buildings. There was some “Isla Malvina” (to the British, Falkland Islands) memorial with live guards. Then we strolled down Florida Ave, the pedestrian-only street with lots of shops and people wanting to be seen. Most fascinating was the abundance of outdated arcades with these dance machines that guys were lining up to have a turn. They took it very seriously, stomping out the patterns on the lighted dance floors. Then we cruised up Lavalle and saw the Obelisk. Huge intersections, but not really that much traffic (comparatively). Buenos Aires feels like a city that was, but is no longer. A washed up ex-wife. You can sense that at one time, from 1930-1970 it was hip and cosmopolitan, but now everything is dated and there is a certain randomness like life is just plodding along with no pre-meditated intent, or like everyone that is anyone has already fled to the States or to places like San Martin de Los Andes.
We went down Ave. Saenz Pena, past Boston Bank, which was covered with anti-American and anti-capitalist graffiti. We hung out in Plaza de Mayo in front of the Casa de Gobierno where Peron gave his (and her) speeches. Everything was more or less deserted, but there were signs of previous turmoil. The statues in the plaza looked like they had been painted over numerous times to cover up the graffiti and scorch marks from fires. Sketchy looking guys would loiter and eye my pockets. But there was always a cop with a bullet-proof vest (that they wore on the outside) nearby.
We went back to the hotel to rest, we were beat. Woke up later and had dinner at some outside café on 9 de Julio. Bedder-½ and I had pasta and chicken, with salads and beers for something like $8. Everything is really cheap. Since the peso devaluated (US$1=3.5 pesos) the prices remained the same, so everything is about a third of the price as the states.
Dec. 27 – San Martin De Los Andes
Had breakfast in Buenos Aires then a car picked us up to take us to the “Aeroparque” (the domestic one). A cool airport with a view of downtown. You can even leave the airport and go look at the “Bahia La Plata” which literally means the “Silver bay” but should probably be called the puke-brown bay, and its hard to tell whether it’s a bay or a river. There were a lot of people fishing, and some were actually pulling out these big carp looking fish.
Our flight to San Martin was eventful. We stopped in Neuquen on the way. Every time the plane landed everyone clapped. We needed to refuel in Neuquen and the stewardess kept telling everyone to sit down, but all the Argentines completely ignored her. It was comical, she was yelling, “for your own safety you need to sit down” (in Spanish) but everyone just acted like they didn’t hear her and stood in the aisles. This seemed to be the prevailing theme anywhere you went, reaffirmed by what [J and S] told me. Argentina is basically an anarchist state and people have no regard or respect for law and order. Kind of cool, but also a bit grating if you want to get anything done or get anywhere.
On the way to Neuquen I noticed big burned out patches that bled into the black rivers. The whole country was pocked with these splotches, a veritable wasteland. Neuquen from the sky looks pretty cool, a lush green valley surrounding a river and rows of tall cypress trees, but most of the rest of Argentina between B.A. and the Lake District is pretty flat and desolate. And then finally, after 48 hours of traveling and waiting, we arrived in San Martin. From the plane we could see the whole family in the loft of the lodge-like airport. [L and S] snuck past the security guard to the baggage claim area, but they stopped J and S. So I had to wait to see S until I got my bag. It was great to meet her and see everyone at last. S is as beautiful as the pictures and very nice and down to earth. L and S were as good as ever, just a lot bigger.
We went back and saw the house and met all the pets, etc. They have a great little setup, a quaint and rustic home in a beautiful landscape, surrounded by beautiful gardens. It was weird that it was summer. Even though we didn’t have jet lag, the days felt strangely long. We hiked up the mountains near their house, met some of their neighbors, had empanadas and wine, etc. Everyone is really laid back and has dogs and yards and rustic homes. We opened our presents and had a belated x-mas.
We stayed up pretty late, and even though it got light early, it was so quiet that we all slept in until past 10 a.m. Then we got ready for our camping trip, which is no easy feat when you have kids, etc. But eventually we got on our bikes and took off. S took the jeep with the supplies to meet us there.
We rode down the mountain and through “La Vega”. At points it became epic as we lost the trail and went by slaughterhouses with unidentified corpses hanging from rafters and mangy dogs barking at us. We crossed freezing rivers and traversed wild-flower filled meadows. We went around the north side of Lago Lacar and into a Mapuche park, past Mapuche farms with old men driving yoked bulls along the road. We got to this beach and took a swim while we waited for Sandra. When she showed up, we continued on to this more secluded spot. Parked in front of a Mapuche farm, where J and S reluctantly paid them a few dollars to camp on their land. Getting down to the beach was a pain. I was expecting a 5-minute “walk” so I didn’t bring a pack since I was just carrying a change of clothes. But we had to wheel our bikes and stuff down this steep hill and then along this steep cliff face. S slipped at one point and almost fell down this steep embankment. We climbed over fences and over roots and fallen logs, crossed rivers, stepped in piles of cowshit, etc… it was an adventure. J and I had to do it twice as we couldn’t carry everything in the first trip.
We eventually settled into our camp on a beautiful beach. Hung out and swam and threw sticks for Sancho. At sunset we built a fire and had a great bbq. The meat was good, but hard to get used to eating so much meat.
Woke up and swam more, skipped rocks, talked, drank maté, etc. Then packed everything out. Bedder-½ and S drove back, but the men/boys took the brutal back way up steep dirt roads in low gear the whole time. It was a great workout with some great views. Not only on the legs, but my forearms were burning from the bumpy downhills. Got back to town and ate a late lunch at some place along the beachfront in San Martin. Saw J’s shop, which is quite impressive. After that we drove up to Chapelco and saw the ski lodge and where J and S got married. Had maté on the porch with a view of the Chilean Alps in the distance. Went back to the house and chilled out.
[snoopy biking around patagonia... more pics]
I dreamt a movie, and part of the “script” of the movie was that a guy with a red backpack climbed up a ladder that was propped up against the screen. In each city the movie played, they would have to hire a real “live” person to climb the ladder. Not sure why I dreamt this except maybe it was because Argentina was so foreign and surreal compared to NY, that it all seemed like a dream.
Had a late breakfast/lunch along the lake, and then spent the rest of the day in Quila Quina, swimming and goofing around having chickenfights, etc. We rented canoes and kayaks and paddled over to these cliffs. I climbed out of my kayak into this crack, that was actually pretty good climbing and more than vertical so I didn’t have to worry about falling. But I was in bare feet and my kayak was drifting so I had to jump in the freezing water. Then Lucas and I scampered up to this one point where you can jump off. Refreshing.
Went back home, changed, and then went out to a nice dinner at La Reserva. Sancho (a.k.a. Houdini) was missing us so he decided to jump through the window! He’s a funny dog. To smart to keep tied up or fenced in. By the time we got done with dinner it was something like 1:30 a.m.
Woke up late and went into town to have breakfast and do some last minute shopping. Climbed up the bronze statue surrounded by monkey puzzle trees. Met more of J and S’s friends. Everybody kisses each other whenever they see each other or when they are meeting you. Even guy to guy, or even when you are meeting one of Lucas and Simon’s friends.
And then suddenly our time was up. Went to the airport and said our sad goodbyes. J, S, S, L, and S were all standing behind the fence as we were in our plane. A picture-perfect family. We could see them even as we were taxiing and they could see us through our porthole.
Celebrated an uneventful New Years on the plane. Half the plane was made up of Hasidic Jews. Weird to see them speaking Spanish. Didn’t really sleep much, watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” which always makes me cry, or maybe it's something about planes. Bedder-½ sleeping the whole time on my lap. A few of the stewardesses put on red wigs and handed out champagne at New Years, but it was a bit anti-climatic, but nevertheless interesting to think that was New Years was spent somewhere over Paraguay, and actually hard to say which time zone we should’ve celebrated it in (NY was 2 hours ahead of BA).
[chronillogically onward to 2003]