Scumtown

sears

On my experience living in Los Angeles 15 years ago, I wrote this longish piece: (which later appeared in my book “SideQuests“)

Scumtown

Have a look at the havoc of this place.
Oh, I bet it used to be great,
but just look at it now.
It’s a scumtown.

A long time ago, while watching the James Bond movie
“Goldfinger,” in a studio apartment in
what was once West Hollywood,
during an opening sequence, when the camera closes in on
a spectacular resort in Miami
(always notice the beautiful dive),
I uttered this seemingly obvious remark,
“I bet Miami was a great place back then…before all the immigrants.”
My friend whom I was with seemed mildly irritated
by the comment for what he perceived as it’s implied
“subtle racism.” And maybe he was right,
but it’s something one could go on to say
about a great many once great places.
On my first full day in Los Angeles,
my first impression was a Sears on Santa Monica and Western
which I would come to refer to as “third world Sears.”
There were hordes of people stampeding throughout the place,
and clothing strewn about everywhere, with reckless disregard
for the generally accepted and often excessively anal standards
of your average department store. This is not your average
department store, but as the US continues its transition toward
becoming a third world country,
where such refugee camp swap meets represent normalcy,
it soon may be. I wasn’t thinking about that, though. All I could think of was that at one time it must have been a wonderful store,
and anyone involved in the building of the building
or who had worked there in it’s heyday
would be appalled and saddened
at the looted corpse of an establishment it had become.
More comically, there is a place on Sunset called “The All American
Burger,” where there literally did not appear to be one American working there.

But of course appearance isn’t everything, so there may have been.

The Los Angeles experience is one that can be summed up
in the episode of “The Simpsons” where they go to Hollywood,
and as the tour bus passes a famous landmark, the tour guide
points toward a seedy vacant lot with a few bums milling about
and says; “Uh, for those of you who always wanted to see the famous Brown Derby restaurant…that’s where it used to be.”
When I was a kid we lived on a street with a string of townhouses, where everyone knew each other, and all the kids(and often parents) played together in each other’s yards.
Everybody on the block was like your family, and every house was like your house with the only difference being that yours was the one you slept in at night.
There’s no question that there are thousands of neighborhoods as yet unaffected, where all that stuff still happens, new places being
constructed where in the future it will happen, and of course it probably already didn’t happen back then in places where it had once happened.
Still, it’s always sad to see something doesn’t happen and will never
again happen somewhere that it used to happen.
What’s happening?
It’s like in “Back to the Future II” when
Marty Mcfly travels to 2015, and is elated to discover
he will live “Hilldale,”(a lush neighborhood in his own time)
until he learns it is really just a future ghetto,
just as in the first film when he goes to 1955 and sees
how “Lyon Estates” was a promising new development in the 50′s,
but would become a subpar subdivision by the 1980′s.
That’s about enough lenses to desensitize more than one of one’s senses.
After all, it’s tense enough even without all the tenses.
These days it seems one can’t walk 50 feet without being harassed by an aggressive bum asking for money, or some self entitled hurricane Katrina refugee who responds with threats and belligerence no matter whether
his request is politely declined or even accepted.
For those with number counter syndrome,
they can never have enough
They always want more numbers to count.
To them, the ambiance doesn’t.
But to some of us, ambiance matters!
and there’s no arguing with the feeling of an experience.
It is what it is.

Spending an afternoon watching Cary Grant
mountaineering about Mount Rushmore in “North By Northwest”,
and directly following that by a trip to one’s nearest
gihugic mega mall (and I say “nearest” because these behemoths are not worthy of the term “local”), one can intuitively, inductively, reasonably observe, this place has gone down the tubes. And if not,
then they don’t know or don’t care what they won’t miss.
To that people always say something along the lines of
“the 50′s and 60′s weren’t really like the way they were portrayed in
movies.” And yes, it’s true that life for all wasn’t exactly as depicted
in old Rock Hudson and Doris Day films,
(after all Rock Hudson was gay!)
But so what?!
It may not have been entirely like that, but whatever it was,
was certainly nothing like this.
Either wall it off, or wall me in.
There’s nothing out there.
Nothing left but to be left
to the sanctuary of one’s own imagination within.
Have a look at the havoc of this place.
Oh, I bet it used to be great,
but just look at it now.
It’s a scumtown

I still think about that Sears a lot. It was a beautiful old building in the heart of the city. I thought about how proud the people must have been the day they finished building it. I went there to buy some jeans thinking it was going to be a normal department store, but when I walked in, there piles of clothing and products literally everywhere. You couldn’t even walk through the place….just a total disaster and it was as if the employees and the swarms of Spanish speaking customers were completely oblivious to it, like it was a standard for an establishment that they were just fine with. I was somewhat against it before then, but that was my red pill moment on immigration.. where I just said to myself “hell no, I’m not down with this.”

Most people think of California as liberal, but Southern California was once a bastion of Barry Goldwater conservatism, and look at it now? Look at Anaheim, where Disneyland is. It’s garbageville. Same with the high desert, the San Fernando Valley, Riverside, I could go on and on.

Here is the telling Urban Dictionary entry for Pomona, CA:

Pomona:
a ghetto ass place, where it use to be such a popular and lovely place. it was an attraction for stars, but not anymore.. now its an attraction for the cholos and shit. its mostly hispanics, some blacks and cambos, and fewww whites.
aye foo, where’d my homie go?

he went to some kickback in pomona.

That’s the new California. If you’re super rich you can live in one of the pockets of gated communities and price out the riff raff and isolate yourself from the richness of mass immigration…for a while, until they vote away enough of your money or the public schools become so ghetto that you decide to move.

We don’t need to import millions of impoverished people from ragtag third world countries. We have all that we need and then some.

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Taylor’s Comet

westboro-taylor-shirt

Do tacky Hawaiian shirts with scantily clad women on them prevent dissuade women from entering scientific fields? Or does the fact that so many women appear to be too easily distracted politically incorrect fashion to focus on technological achievements play a larger role in their under-representation in the realm?

I would have to say no to the former and yes to the latter. For one thing, men think more logically and mathematically(on average,) whereas women are more emotional. That’s why men excel in these fields. Science and mathematics are emotionless. They don’t care what gender you are and all that matters is if you can deliver the empirical data.

If anything, there is a tremendous amount of societal pressure to get women into these areas. Tech companies salivate at the prospect of the PR they could get from being able to show how diversity friendly they are. It’s much easier to get women into the marketing and finance areas though where there are a lot of different ways for a person to be effective. In technology, you either can solve the equations or you can’t. You either know the programming language, or you don’t. Also, to reach a high level of technical expertise(to the extent that you would have a prominent position)requires an incredibly daunting commitment to learning. If a woman takes a break to have a couple kids, she’s going to be way behind.

There’s a reason why the stereotype of the “computer programmer geek” exists. It’s because one often has to sacrifice any social life or dating starting at a young age, to dedicate themselves to master these incredibly tedious and complicated subjects. Sometimes this is done involuntarily(a kid sucks at sports and is awkward so he stays inside and starts reading astronomy books.) Even unattractive women typically always have plenty of attention. Rarely are they forced to become so completely isolated to where they would build a high tolerance to boring subjects and turn their energy to weird science junk.

I don’t consider myself a nerd or a bad looking guy, but I can easily look back at time periods in my life where I went 6 months without hanging out with or talking to anyone and became enveloped in my own tedious(non-scientific) projects. A lot of girls can’t even watch an old black and white movie 20 minutes without getting bored and looking at their smartphone. They’re just not used to it.

Any woman who wants to enter the tech industry would be welcomed if she has the answers. It’s just not something you can BS your way through. Either you can program the spaceship’s master computer or you can’t. Getting a job at most normal companies is based on personality and background credentials. If you want to work in a technical job at Microsoft or SpaceX, you will undergo rigorous testing and you will have to prove exactly what you know. Spend a few years alone in your room taking apart and putting back together old alarm clocks, and see if you’ve got what it takes to someday wear that shirt.

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GrayPages

reverse phone lookup
A gray pages directory is a collection of telephone numbers and associated customer details. However, unlike a standard telephone directory, where the user searches by name and address in order to find out the telephone number of a person or business, a reverse phone lookup directory allows users to search by a telephone number in order to retrieve information about the person the phone number belongs to.

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Most Heartbreaking Los Angeles Rams Losses (Part 3)

1985 NFC Championship
Los Angeles Rams vs. Chicago Bears
January 12, 1986

After watching Eric Dickerson run for a playoff record 248 yards and the Rams beat the Cowboys 20-0 in the divisional playoffs the previous week from my grandparents’ condo, I had high hopes for LA to beat the big bad Bears in the NFC Championship. Instead, they lost 24-0, and it was a pretty miserable day for me. This game is thought of by most as a lopsided blowout given the shutout score, but in actuality the Rams had their chances to give Chicago a run for their money. With Chicago only up 10-0 right before the half, the Rams had driven down to the bears 5 yard line. They took too long on a play and then tried to call timeout with 1 second left to kick a field goal. The refs didn’t give them the timeout, and the half was over. Had they gotten a chance to kick the field goal, the score would have been 10-3 at half time, and they would have gotten some momentum.

Instead the Bears came out in the 3rd quarter and went up 17-0. The Rams also had a 60 yard pass from Dieter Brock to Ron Brown to the 15 yard line get called back on a questionable call(Brown had stepped out of bounds but was pushed out as a result of illegal contact or pass interference which wasn’t called.) Anyhow, the Rams choked in this game when they were one of the only teams that was at least good enough to beat the bears(they came back to Chicago the following year and got their revenge against them in an epic monday night game.) This was really a heartbreaking loss for probably the best Ram team of the 80′s, and ever since this game I have always hated the Bears.

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Most Heartbreaking Los Angeles Rams Losses (Part 2)

Rams vs. Patriots November 16, 1986

I watched this game alone in the den, and it was a good one. Steve Dils started the game as QB, but after going down 13-0, the Rams’ Jim Everett made his debut. The Rams were ahead 28-16 in the 4th quarter and then it was 28-23. I was sure that they had it won, but the Patriots won it on a hail mary pass to Irving Fryar with no time left. Being a kid, I was absolutely stunned as I had never seen a game won on a hail mary before. I went to bed extremely depressed, and I think my mom asked me what was wrong. Yep, in 1986 the rams losing mattered to me, and strangely it still does. I’ve relived this ending in my mind a thousand times and have had many unfulfilled fantasies over the years about it turning out differently.

Skip to 9:40 to see the play.

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School of Hard Rocks

When I was in 5th grade, I was attending school in Chandler, Arizona. The school was called Kyrene de la Paloma, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My teacher was super nice and funny, and he even had the same birthday as me!

I was even head over heels for this dame named Renee, who lived down the block from me, and was nice enough to give me the time of day outside of class. I also had a good little group of friends that I palled around with a bunch. My best friend of the group was Sean. His mother was British, but he didn’t have any accent. She would always let us rent rated R movies from the store. Its how I first saw Evil Dead and The Road Warrior.

During that year, my family moved from Chandler to Tempe, and I hated it. I remember crying when they first told me, because I knew I wouldn’t see Renee again.

Tempe itself, and the new house, weren’t bad at all, it was the school though, that was the pits. The kids were different, the teachers were different, the school lunch smelled funny, it was dreadful to me. It was also an older school, made in the 50s or 60s, and to me, that was bad. I was just coming from a school that was only built a year ago, and all my friends and teachers I liked. Most of the hallways were indoors, so you didn’t have to go outside for classes, except PE.

This new school also had a lot more black kids, which I wasn’t used to. I remember trying to buddy up a couple of them by talking about TV shows like Good Times or That’s My Momma. They seemed to dig that about me I think.

The final straw though, was when I was in class, doing an assignment about pronouns. I had turned in my paper, feeling good about myself because we had already learned pronouns at my last school.

I got my paper back, with an F. I was shocked, to the point where I asked the teacher, in front of the whole class, why did I get an F?

The teacher gave me an F for using the context of “her” and “she” with the name Sam. I had just came from a school where the only classmate I knew named Sam was a girl. How dare this teacher not give me the benefit of the doubt, or at least acknowledge that Sam can be a girl or boys name?!?!

I plead my case, and I think any good teacher would recognize that I was using the proper pronouns, despite the sex of the person in question. But she was a hard ass, and refused to change my grade.

I came home that night, explaining this to my parents. I don’t recall what transpired after this incident, but not long after, the family was moving again, this time to Phoenix. I know I often complained and whined about the school, the teachers, and not making friends. So I must have forced their hand.

It was a big mistake really though, because ever since then, I have always felt most comfortable while in Tempe, and I always wanna live there.

I still pass by the house often, off of Hardy and University, wondering who lives there now, and how I wish I still did.

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Most Heartbreaking Los Angeles Rams Losses (Part 1)

Rams vs. Dolphins – December 14, 1986

This was a brutal loss for me. I remember I was watching this game right up until it was about to go into overtime. Then my parents called me to dinner and as soon as I was finished I ran down to the basement and turned on the TV to see that the dolphins just won it in overtime. Another memory I have of this game is that there was a ram touchdown that they got after instant replay, a 25 yard pass to Kevin House. There was no time limit for replay back then, and it took like 5 or 10 minutes before they finished reviewing it and gave him the touchdown and the Anaheim crowd went crazy. Had the Rams won this game, they would have clinched the division. Instead, after a dominating season they ended up only getting in the playoffs as a wildcard after losing the final game of the regular season and the division to the 49ers.

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Intellivision, Intelligent Television

Intellivision was always my favorite video game system. In fact, to this day I feel guilty about my childhood self ditching it for the Nintendo in 1987. People always complain about the grown men of today who play video games, but I can recall in the early to mid 80′s all the older guys in my family who would get together and play Intellivision. It wasn’t uncommon to see my 55 year old grandpa(a Korean war veteran) and other relatives fire up a game of Tron Deadly Discs at a family get together. My uncle was especially skilled at games like Astrosmash and Space Armada, and I would eagerly watch him play just to get to see levels I would never make it to in a million years. My own personal favorite games were probably Treasure of Tarmin, Lock N’Chase, and Commando, games which I continued to play well into the mid 90′s. One thing I loved about these games was how merciless they were. No continues, no passcodes, nothing. You could play for hours and when you die, the screen freezes on game over, and it’s back to the title screen.

Intellivision got something of a re-release recently in the form of the “Intellivision Flashback” console, which comes with 60 built-in games. A lot of people worked very hard to get this thing, and it’s great! It even looks like the original.

intyFlashBackBox

The only major drawback is that you can’t plug in cartridges. That means you are limited to only the built in games, which include many crappy sports and education games and only a handful of the classics. The makers claim this is due to licensing issues, but that could have been overcome if one had the ability to plug in other original cartridges similar to other retro consoles for NES, Genesis, etc. If you buy this, you can’t play Commando, Lock N’ Chase, Donkey Kong Jr, Atlantis, Burgertime etc. There are still enough cool games to make it worth it though, as the original consoles are getting more expensive and harder to find(in good working order anyway.)

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New Chicago

TooDope

Chicago has become something of a rap music hub in the last few years with a lot of new artists emerging from the area. “Philosopha” with his new album, “Too Dope” seems to be focusing more on quality than involving himself in the drama and infighting idiocy that often plagues the Chicago hip hop scene. He has a unique delivery that is slow and deliberate, almost hypnotic…with a lot of well timed pauses and echos. The song “Trippin” is a good example of this.

If there’s one thing that really comes across with Philosopha’s jams, it is how casually upbeat they are. Not really a trace of anger or melancholy in the tone or the lyrics either. This is a guy who has it together and is making legit music. Just straightforward and chill throughout each jam.

The production on these tracks is smooth and professional, radio quality. There’s not much negative I could say about this although he has a strong voice and some of the electronic processing on it in certain parts seems unnecessary. My favorite track is probably “Used To” which has a strangely memorable phrase “chickens in my rearview” which conjurs up images of a guy driving through a farm on his way to hip hop stardom.

Preview his album here:
http://www.datpiff.com/Philosopha-Too-Dope-mixtape.647585.html

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