quinta-feira, 27 de junho de 2013


Kubrick exhibition at LACMA ends on Sunday. I'm taking the table...

Vimeo killed the MP3 star

Yesterday I listened to music on my old MP3, given to me by my friend and uncle Jorge. It has been a year since the last time I heard music there, I got stranded in Lisbon last year and a million things happened. It was funny to listen to Leonard Cohen, Pink Floyd, Keith Jarret, Narod Pschi Vojaku, Waltz for Bashir Soundtrack, Zeca Afonso,  Ludwig van and Wolfgang Amadeus again, but at the same time it was also cathartic. I turned the light off in my room and I went with the music as if I never listened to it before. It was hours before I went to bed.
One of the songs I liked the most was "Solitude Sometimes Is" by my second favorite band Manic Street Preachers. This song is underrated in Europe and unknown in the US, but last night in the darkness of my room it was great. 

quarta-feira, 26 de junho de 2013

Periodic Poem

If Mandeleev could study what I feel...
He would be surprised with the struggle
Between what I want and can't steal
And the mug of my double.Life is a mirror, cold and unstable
Where I make my own periodic table.
My missing element in the mirror reflection
Has no color, smell or taste and lives within me.
Like a visual illusion, or vapor Mercury.
Two sides to the same ordeal,
If Mandeleev could study what I feel... 

terça-feira, 25 de junho de 2013

LA Pics

Melancholic Fairfax

I was going to see "Melancholia", yes, yes the film Lars von Trier promoted in Cannes by declaring himself a "nazi" that "loves Hitler". My friend Benjamin Weiss had promised to come and watch it with me, but as usual, he bailed out.
I had an expensive and flavorless pastrami sandwich at Canter's Deli - that would make the New York, Katz's pastrami sandwich look like filet mignon- and afterwards I walked up Fairfax to the Silent Movie Theater ranting to myself how Benjamin always lets me down. There was a girl sitting on the floor in front of the theater texting on her iPhone. I guessed she was waiting for an event in that same theater. I bought my ticket at the booth and I kept walking up Fairfax till I heard "Stop him! He took my phone!" I turned back to the Silent Theater. A guy was taking the girl's phone and running with it. She was running after him but out of the dozens of people in the street, grown men included, no one was doing anything about it, NO ONE.
I've always been a firm believer in the power of suggestion so I started running, not with the intention of catching anyone but so that other people who were closer to the robbery could be shamed into doing something about it. I started gaining speed, and no one in the street was moving, I began to run faster down the street, but nothing, not even a sound from the people watching. The thief cut a corner into an alley and the girl followed him.
 I got to the alleyway. She had stop running and looked back at me. It was the first time I really saw her, she was a beautiful half white half black girl tall with the most beautiful blue eyes now swamped in tears. "He went that way!" she said "I have to go pick up my bag that I left on the street!" and she walked back. I thought "Shit, my health insurance sucks and I don't wanna die over an iPhone." But I had ran that far and I could run a bit more and then tell her I tried but I couldn't get the guy.
So I kept running and got into a really bad neighborhood behind Fairfax. Slum would be an appropriate term for that in a different country,  a place you would never imagine existed in that part of town. I ran through a patio like I was Vic Mackey on The Shield with Mexican people looking at me suspiciously from their balconies. When I got to the next street, the place was completely empty. Just when I was about to walk back, the robber climbed down a wall. "Shit!" I thought. I could see the headline "Portuguese dies in showdown over iPhone!" He was black, seemed to be less than 18 and he had a crucifix on his chest hanging from a rope neck-less. I decided not to confront him, I looked away and said "That was not nice!" and he went "What?" and I repeated never looking him in the eye "Stealing the phone from that girl, that was not nice." I extended my right hand to him and said "Give it back to me and this will remain between us. I promise not to call the cops." Some seconds later he slammed the phone in my hand, I walked away shaking looking straight ahead as if he wasn't even there "You did the right thing, this will remain between us."
I got back to the girl, she gave me a big hug and asked me how I got the phone. I answered "You don't want to know" figuring it might make me look tough, but I really didn't want her to know how I got it because that robber of hers was a smart kid, and I don't think she was ready for those words yet.
I saw 'Melancholia" by myself, another public therapy session from my youth hero Lars von Trier. While I was seeing it I got this text message from an agent I was suppose to meet at CAA the day after. I needed to call the agent back but my phone ran out of battery, when I walked out I found Kalla (yes that's the girl's name) and said "You wanna make it up for the phone?" she looked at me fearfully thinking I was gonna ask her on a date or for a piece of underwear, but I said "Could you lend me your phone so I can make a local call?" She breathed out. I called the agent from her friend's phone and rescheduled the meeting. 

LA On Foot

I started walking to work. I walk through Fountain, pass Highland and La Brea go up Fuller all the way to Sunset where I find Sierra Bonita.  The sidewalks of LA are always empty, no one thinks of walking anywhere. It's one of those LA rules, walking is for suckers. I disagree. It takes me 40 minutes to get to work, and I know that is too much time for most people but it's worth it. It's great exercise to begin with and I need it because I sit all day in my job.
Only skaters and hobos make me company in the morning LA sidewalks, the middle class is in its cars, but if my fellow street walkers don't pick pocket me I think I am in good company. Skaters don't warn you when they need you to step away and drunk hobos tend to scream but nobody bothers me or wants my attention, I'm not looking at suits or pretty girls, it's like I'm in a dorm city around Lisbon or in a street of Prague in Winter. The people inside the cars are isolated and don't pay attention to me, I can talk alone - I make 5 UN general assembly addresses every morning - pay attention to the buildings and the architecture, to the restaurants opening at this time, I can check my emails... 
The car is your fortress but it not only keeps the exterior world from coming into your life it also keeps you from the exterior world. This, a car ticket and an accident that will both cost me a fortune, led me to the conclusion that LA is better on foot.

sábado, 22 de junho de 2013

Moving II

So in LA you need to have a credit check to pay power as gas... and apparently someone in my apartment is paying for a Timer Warner account so I can't install internet in the place. I would solve all this but I have to go out to pay a traffic ticket given to me by some excited cameras who thought I passed a red sign although I was turning right. I work all day every day!  It's funny, living in LA is like living in an industrialized society that behaves like a third world country.

Edison For Beginners

It was a strange, magical almost transcendental episode that happened. So much so that when I speak to Tomas Szelazek, my ex roommate, I still ask him if he remembers this dream like story or, depending on the point of view, this LA black hole.
Tomas and I lived in the same place and one of our roommates was leaving. So he decided to celebrate his farewell party in a Downtown club called Edison. Edison is one of those retro clubs with 20's neo-decadent Moulin Rouge decoration. The burlesque strip tease shows they have there try to get your mind off the dipshits in Armani suits who frequent the place but they only remind you that for as much as they spent on the interior decoration you are still in a titty bar.
Me and Tom always had a peculiar relationship because he grew up in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn but he was born in Poland. So that made him a sort of a foreigner in his own country, someone who could come off as an American be popular with the Pepperdine boys we lived with but at the same time understand what it is to come to this country and start a new life. Sometimes his parents would visit the house where we lived and his mom would wake up early just so she could leave her son (all of us really) an amazing chicken soup. For a couple of hours our kitchen was a piece of Warsaw, a piece of Europe in the land of the wild Californias.
That Friday night Tom's girlfriend wanted to leave the Edison earlier and so the three of us walked up to the first floor of the club so we could exit the building. While we were waiting for the rest of the gang to come up the stairs and for Tom's girlfriend to finish texting, me and Tom saw two hassidic Jewish boys that couldn't have been more than 16 years old (they had peyote but no beard). I thought there was something off with this image but they walked straight to Tom and asked for the time. Tom told them the time and one of the boys said "You are from Dyker Heights, aren't you?" Tom was speechless, so I decided to approach them "Hi..." I said and one of them told me immediately "You are Sephardi aren't you?" They guessed the origins of Tom and I without even exchanging a greeting. And then they walked down the stairs to the club. "Do you know them?" Tom asked me but "Did you just hear what I heard?" was my prompt question.  Nothing made sense, their presence there on a Friday night and their crystal ball conclusions about me and Tom. Whenever I see Tom I always ask him if he remembers this episode. Probably they were lost, probably they weren't even religious Jews, probably they were angels, and in that case they were at the right time time at the right spot. There aren't a lot of angels at the Edison because the interior decorator made the place look like hell.  

sexta-feira, 21 de junho de 2013

Jaime the Man!

So yesterday I sat down with my old landlady, Carmen, and she told me Jaime, the gentleman who helped me move, told her I will never get married... I was very surprised with the diagnosis, I only met Jaime for a couple of hours and somehow he concluded between moving a desk and a cupboard  that I had no hope with women?
"Why did he say that?" I asked, but Carmen was fast on the trigger "Because you were on the phone to your mother while you were moving, and we women don't like men who talk to their mothers everyday. Jaime knows that." I'll be damn! Good old Jaime had a point after all! Am I becoming what I hate the most? A South European man who worships his mom like those forty year old Italians who live with their moms and refuse to let anyone into their lives? I live alone, and I don't have many friends in LA so it really feels good to have a voice in the other end of the line, to listen and drop the sporadic advice. Sometimes just so I can vent and scream.  But is that pulling me away from relationships? Should I go to a bar and talk to the bar tender as if he knows me?
Once I heard that an explorer introduced TV to a lost native tribe in Brazil and for a week the tribe sat around the device as if it had divine powers but after that they lost interest. The explorer asked the chief why the tribe was not paying attention to the TV anymore and the chief answered "Because my Shaman knows me." It's the same with me, I talk to my mom, because she knows me and no one around here does.
This morning my mom send me a message asking me how my day was going, I said  "Not now, mom..." but that made me feel more of a teenager than anything else.  It should also be added - not in a Richard Nixon "My mom was a saint" kinda of way- that my mom is indeed the most amazing human being I know, and never gave me bad advice. I'll probably start asking Jaime about the big questions of life, he for one, seems to have his shit together. 

quinta-feira, 20 de junho de 2013

Voce Fala Portugues

 I went to the doctor here in LA. It was one of those small clinics for uninsured people (Blue Cross what are you for?) and got the most peculiar doctor's appointment.
"Eu falo Portugues" the sixty-year-old bald doctor who was seeing me said. "Great another Mexican who saw one too many Brazilian football games." I thought, but he continued "My father was Basque and my mother was Sicilian." That intrigued me, you see, my friend Charly Zarur was born in Mexico and keeps telling me he is not Mexican because he is Jewish and that minorities in Mexico do not consider themselves Mexican because they don't mix. Now I had a half Basque, half Sicilian, Portuguese speaking Mexican in front of me, so much for Zarur's theory!
"I was born in Sao Paulo and I moved to Mexico when I was 12. " The man was beginning to make sense, especially because he was prescribing some antibiotics for my flu while he spoke. I always find doctor's stories make more sense when they are told next to an antibiotics prescription. "We had a problem in my house, my mother was Palmeiras and my father was Corinthians." There! I bought his story! I have this weird interest in Brazilian football clubs that remained with me from a couple of lost summers in Brazil while I was growing up. I know Palmeiras is the club of the huge Sao Paulo Italian colony because they had to change their name from Palestra (what a fucked up name!) to Palmeiras during the Second World War. Brazilians were dying in Italy and Palmeiras (palm trees) sounded more Portuguese than the Italian Palestra. So if a half Sicilian was from Palmeiras that makes sense but "Why would your father be from Corinthians?" I asked.
"Because Corinthians was the club of the Spanish colony." Spaniards? In Sao Paulo? I always thought Corinthians and Sao Paulo F.C were the Brazilian clubs of the city and Portuguesa dos Desportos and Palmeiras were the clubs of the two big foreign communities: Portuguese and Italian. But the good doctor explained to me that Corinthians was actually founded by Eastern European Jews and later the club moved from Bairro da Luz to the Spanish neighborhoods. The Spaniards embraced Corinthians and that was what most likely alienated the Portuguese community from the club forcing them to create Portuguesa. It made sense the last president of Corinthians was Andrés Sanchez, a Spaniard...
 "I didn't know there were that many Jews in Sao Paulo in the 50's." I said, and the doctor replied "There were... thousands The polish girls" he explained "opened the first brothels of the city in the 20's." This might sound like an exaggeration to you, dear reader, but it was the Askenazi women who first smoked in the cafes of my native Lisbon so this was sounding kosher to me.
"I once got lost in the red light district of Bairro da Luz." This man was beginning to sound like a novel to me. I just wanted some antibiotics for my LA flue and I was having a lesson on 1950's Sao Paulo Jewish Polish hookers and coming of age boys.  "It was magical!" God knows what the doc saw in that red-light district street when his Sicilian mother was not paying attention but whatever it was, it still makes this 60-year-old man smile all these years later. "Yes, we are all refugees", I thought, I had to run from Portugal here, his parents had to run from Spain and Italy to Sao Paulo he had to run from Sao Paulo to Mexico, and those girls, those glorious girls he saw that make him smile had to run to Sao Paulo from some really horrible situation because for them giving pleasure to strangers was better than being a slave in a camp. Little did these girls know that there is a happy doctor in LA who smiles when he thinks of them and greets his Portuguese clients with a friendly "Eu falo Portugues."          

Moving to Hollywood

Moving to Hollywood is a drag, power, internet, gas... so much to do so little time...