Pants on the sidewalk

How are you going to leave your pants on the sidewalk in front of City Hall?

laughing quietly to myself

About how a group of us were walking and talking when we saw a member of New Kids on the Block approaching. We all got quiet and walked past him in still, unnatural, silence and he looked embarrassed.

Sorry Jonathan Knight.


The so-called ghetto

I've been wondering how different people define ghetto because of remarks I've heard since moving to Oceanside. It came up again when someone recently asked Matthew, "Why'd you guys move to the ghetto?" It's the same question put to me my first year in Seattle when I lived in the Central District.

"What are you doing down there?"

I had to laugh because while the Central District wasn't as lush as Queen Anne or Fremont it was still more or less teeming with rhododendron bushes. It was, by any standard I'd witnessed, a flourishing and glorious example of a ghetto. Before I left Cincinnati, my experience was of the inner city and I associated 19th century Italianate brick buildings, crumbling stoops, and piss-stained alleys with gunshots and poverty. I was confused when I moved to Minneapolis and was warned against neighborhoods made up of houses with vinyl siding and chain link fences. To my eye it looked too residential to be dangerous.

Here in Oceanside it is, as elsewhere, relative. By San Diego and Orange County standards, Oceanside has been considered a pit. I was working for a couple of days in Michigan last month and got to talking with two security guards at the venue. Both of them had lived in Oceanside in the past - in 1975 and 1985 - and they flipped when I said it's my new home.

"Oceandive?" one of them asked.

"We used to call it Oceanslime," the other said and then pulled up his sleeve to bare a blurry blue Marine tattoo on his bicep.

"Nice," I said, "that's nice. Yes, I live there. But you know, it's changed a lot."

"I hope so," the older one said. "Back when I was stationed at Pendleton, it was all titty bars and pawn shops."

Within Oceanside, there is further delineation. South of Mission Avenue is considered more prosperous and historic and charming with its mix of modest homes: bungalow, ranch, cottage, adobe. Inland are the hills and bigger homes, many of them newer. And north of Mission, where we are, is the so-called ghetto. I gather that it was rougher in the past, like the rest of the town, but that our pocket has held on longer to its grit. And I'm not sure, but I don't think the word ghetto is being used here as a euphemism for racial color because it seems like the whole town is a blend of black, white and brown.

In any case, not only are there way more white picket fences north of Mission than I am personally comfortable with but there are several boats parked down the street and that does it for me. I know it's geographically relative and I'm aesthetically biased but I kind of think if one of more of your neighbors owns a boat you cannot technically be considered a ghetto anymore. Time's up.



A few days ago I got mail from Gunnison, Colorado, from my friend Taryn's daughter's kindergarten teacher. Kiora is in kindergarten, what the hell! The last time I was in Colorado, Kiora was six months old. She was scooting around the kitchen, laughing in one of those rolling baby walkers and Taryn was chasing her. And now she's in kindergarten. Aging! Why are you always such a surprise?

Inside the envelope was a paper bunny that Kiora colored and a letter informing me that the bunny is named Felix. Kiora's teacher is reading a book to the class about a rabbit that gets lost in an airport and ends up traveling all over. Felix sends pictures and postcards back to the class and writes about where he is and the kids learn about geography. So Felix was in Oceanside this weekend, something I did not take lightly.

Matthew made a cardboard-cutout backing for Felix and glued them together so that he wouldn't be so flimsy. This also left us with a Felix stencil which is RAD. If I ever learn how to spray paint without getting it all over my hands, I may start leaving my mark around town. If you ever hear of some cool new bunny tagging by a street artist named Felix, please do not tell on me.

As I brought Felix around, I really started thinking about how to make it educational. Flora, fauna, genus, species. Totally tapped into the kind of Montessori project I grew up on. Obviously, Felix went to the beach. You know that is expected from a place called OCEANSIDE. I then countered with a marsh. Ha! Wetlands! Weren't expecting that were you? I took photos of the scientific names of trees that were handily displayed courtesy of the local Audubon Society and had to keep reminding myself that the kids are only six years old and not in AP Biology. I will be sure to tell them, however, that the Oceanside Pier is the longest wooden pier on the western US coastline.

Not all the photos I took will be sent to the teacher, like the one of Felix riding my unicorn statue. They might go to Taryn or be the start of a new Felix comic. 

Moka pot

See those bags under my eyes? This is what I look like in the morning before I've had coffee.

Cathy recently sent me a little contraption that's often called a stovetop espresso maker. What it makes isn't actually true espresso, just good strong coffee brewed under a similar method of steam pressure. It's also referred to as a percolator and moka pot. I first saw one in the apartment I rented in Berlin and Simone, my landlady-roommate, had to show me how to use it. I'm sure Simone did an excellent job of explaining what to do in her thoroughly prim way, right before she lectured me on how I was drying the dishes all wrong and closing my bedroom door too loudly, but that didn't keep me from almost blowing up her kitchen one morning.

I don't know what I did wrong that morning but I'm guessing it involved the pressure valve thingy on the base of the pot. I have a habit of doing stupid shit around critical people. I'm very competent unless I think you are watching me closely and dying to tell me how you'd do it. Oh and by the way, if you want the bedroom door to be more quiet, don't hang big reindeer-style jingle bells on it.

Wow! I've been holding a grudge. Anyway, coffee.

I tiptoed around the moka pot from Cathy for several days, probably due to my memory of cleaning grinds off the wall next to the stove in Germany. I also remembered the pot being noisy, gurgling, steaming, whistling, which added to my apprehension. When I finally got up the nerve last week, I made two separate cups - cups which brewed silently as it turns out - and immediately threw them away because the instructions said the first cups would taste like aluminum.

I read those instructions maybe twenty-five times. I dissected the diagram of parts and identified everything. I considered taking it all apart until Matthew stepped in and suggested I was over-thinking. Huh! The third cup that I brewed, I drank. It was delicious. I drank it with half & half in a sweet little ceramic mug from Minnesota and while it may or may not have changed my relationship with coffee as Cathy claimed it would, mainly because I already have a great relationship with heinously strong coffee, it is definitely a choice way to start a day.



I don't remember there being a photographer during Tiga's performance at Voyeur last week. There was f'ing good music and some silly go-go dancers but I didn't see a photographer. Judging from some of the photos below, however, people are staring at SOMETHING. I don't think, in my case, I can blame it on the Bud Light and free champagne (or maybe I can).

The first photo below is mine but the rest are by Topher Riley. I took a lot of shots but most of them didn't turn out; the few that did made me happy. Tiga is a prince among DJs. He plays so well, he makes you want to dance so hard, and he seems really, really friendly.

Thanks Tiga.


Corner of Cleveland and Sportfisher

Cleveland St and Sportfisher Dr, Oceanside

The tortoise & the pig

Our neighbor, the tortoise.

Every time we walk by this house and the tortoise is in the front yard, we say hello.


The other day the pig was out instead of the tortoise, a rare occurrence. I'd never actually seen the pig in broad daylight, only heard about him and seen his shadow at night which, frankly, I found a bit spooky.

As soon as I saw the pig that day, I went home and woke up Matthew from his nap by jumping on the bed, "The pig is out!" He got up and we went over to take another look and say hello.


The pig is not small. He's not a toy pig or a pot-bellied pig or any of the breeds that people buy because they think it'd be a cute alternative to a dog. It's a full-blown farm animal. When Matthew said hi through the chain link fence, he snorted and heaved himself to his hooves, took a shit in the grass, and shuffled away as fast as he could which was not at all fast. Oh well.


Live music

Suddenly I'm way into live music again. More music comes through San Diego than Cincinnati and it sells out quickly so I've learned plan ahead. After driving to San Diego a few times, thinking I'd be able to buy tickets at the door and being turned away, I've started reading music calendars months in advance. I've bought tickets to a few artists I know and as many more that I don't, at eight dollars a pop and a chance to check out a new venue and new (to me) act. Fun, with mixed results.

Example: I told someone that I keep ending up in the Gaslamp area of downtown San Diego, surrounded by roaming packs of screaming cheeseballs because I don't know where to go. She directed me to a band and a club I didn't know. The band was Louis XIV, the club was Fluxx, and I started laughing as soon I got inside the place. I was confused by the decor: did they want me to feel like I was in an episode of the Jetsons or at a Hawaiian pig roast? And all the girls working behind the bar in panties?

That's cool IF THE MALE BARTENDERS ARE SIMILARLY EXPOSED. If it's a free for all it better be free for all of us, youknowwhatI'msaying? And while a few members of the band were authentically rocking, I'm pretty sure one was just debuting the moves he'd been practicing in the full-length mirror all week. So, I hadn't done my research. It was totally my fault that it wasn't my style. Luckily those scenarios tend to make me laugh a lot so it was, all told, a jolly night.

Another example: I went to a club - Red Circle Lounge - to see one of the musical loves of my life, Miss Kittin. I was paying too much for pints of beer because I still haven't gotten a good flask to smuggle in my own liquor. All the kids in the audience were happy, taking turns showing off their raver moves for each other and waiting for Miss K to take the stage. I was having fun watching them which shows what a fuddyduddy I am. Finally she was in the booth, behind the turntables, tinkering with the wires and the whatnots. Then she was frowning. Other people with her started frowning and tinkering but everyone else kept drinking and showing off their dance moves in anticipation and and then she was gone. She left and there was no show because the club didn't provide the gear she asked for in her rider, THE DICKS.

Since then I've seen acts at new places I like a lot - The Casbah and Soda Bar - and been given tickets to Long Beach Arena (Matty!) and Belly Up Tavern (Hi Robin) and it has been super fun to explore and half the time not know what I'm getting myself into. At Belly Up, I almost didn't get in because the bouncer thought I was trying to be sneaky.

I had my Kentucky license and temporary California papers which are literally a sheath of papers stapled together that you carry around until they send your license 6-8 weeks later. He saw my face and my photo and my name in both places but didn't think it was legit. He questioned me and I pointed out that I look exactly like my photo which did not help. He asked me my age; I answered. He made me sign my name and then compared it to the signature on my KY license. He then told me that it didn't look the same. At this point, I kind of threw up my hands and just said, "Look, that's my signature. I don't know what to tell you, dude." We stared each other down and he waved me in.

As Robin aptly pointed out, if I were under 21 and trying to get into a show, I WOULD NOT PRETEND TO BE 36. At most, I would pretend to be 26 and would be nervous as shit because no way would anyone think I'm THAT OLD. Ew.