Cyclists can sometimes be their own worst enemies. I had to yell a month ago at four riders, taking up a whole lane on their expensive Felt cycles, to get over in a single-file line. They were chatting away, oblivious to the world. And three months ago, a family friend visited from New York. She made a turn into a hotel in Carlsbad and two cyclists hit her rental car from behind. They came around a turn too fast. Of course, I don’t condone what Emma Way did. She hit a cyclist and then tweeted about it. Bad form.
To the Panera counter kid: Yes, I knew you were stoned well before I gave you my order (of a large coffee and one of your delicious four cheese soufflés.) Honestly, I could not understand most of what you said, except for when you called me my man. Five times. It’s been a while since I’ve been around someone as baked as you were. I’m surprised your boss does not say anything to you. If I can be slightly presumptuous and offer you some tips? 1. Moderate your marijuana intake. 2. Don’t laugh at your own jokes so hardily. I do (sometimes) take that route myself, but I don’t live in Davy Jones’ hotbox like you do. 3. Speak louder, it was as if you were having a conversation with yourself, my man. 4. Go for a run before work. You may be able to earn your eyeballs back and you prolly miss those shiny things. 5. Your co-workers may not be direct, but if you and I worked together, my man, I would tell you to your face, that inhaling a bonfire-a-day is not a recipe for success. I’ll stop there. Did you write those down? I know your short-term memory is shot and I want you to get your schtuff together. Oh and if you have the munchies, my man, try that four cheese soufflé. They are mighty tasty, but you knew ‘dat.
To the REI counter girl: I’ve been going to REI since the early 1980s. No joke. It was my father’s favorite store. That Marin Bobcat that I rode today was perfect. It took me back to all the reasons why I love bikes so much. I’ve never owned one with suspension and that Suntour XCR-LO suspension fork had perfect balance. I can’t really say the same about that fixie that I rode, the Novara Buzz One Bike. It sucked. One gear jobbies are for hipsters. I just don’t like them. Now that Marin, that was the ticket. But there is something, counter girl, that I want to share with you. You and chatted briefly while I waited for you to set up your new cash register. I smiled and was certainly cordial. I’m a guy who can be friendly to anyone. That said, when you asked for my ID and I showed you my military identification card, you recoiled (in near revulsion) as if I were some brute. I’ve never quite had a reaction like that. Never. Is it not honorable to be in the military? I know REI is a little on the hippie side. And I know I was not in uniform, nor did I wear anything that said Navy. Just some ‘didas sweatpants and an Under Armor hoodie. So I was undercover. Yes, I know your store is near the beach (see the Panera counter kid for more on this.) But us in the military pump money into your’alls coffers. I could tell I caught you flat-footed and you felt flummoxed on your response. Anyway, love your store. You guys are the best.
To the Apple Store Genius counter folks: Yes, you all made me wait eight minutes for my appointment. But no biggee. The fact that you let me trade in my iPod with the cracked screen for a new one was truly generous. And you only charged me half-price! I appreciate it. I find your general approach to staffing, store manners, and shop layout slightly creepy. Every time I go into an Apple Store, it is as if I were in East Europe, say in the late 80s. I’ll stop there because I’m a big fan of your products. Pretty neat that your company (with Tim Cook at the helm) hardly pays any taxes, whereas I shell out thousands. Oh, I should tell you, I exercised my steely self-resolve and refrained from setting this blog as the homepage on any of the several Macs and iPads I fiddled around with. I am, after all (despite how certain REI employees see me), a gentleman.
California, I will miss some things about ‘er when I deploy. Not everything.
I may be slowly turning into Officer McGruff. Tell me if I overreacted in any of these San Diego incidents:
-I am driving on the freeway. Normal I-15 traffic, cars are moving at 55 mph. I look over two lanes to the right and a kid in a hoodie is texting while he drives. He is not even looking up. No joke, my heart starts beating practically out of my uniform. I honk at him, he glances over. I point at him with two fingers and then I point at my eyes and then back at him. He does some weird hand gesture. Not that gesture. But something. He does put his phone down. I slow and follow him from a hundred feet for five miles or so. He finally gets off the freeway.
-Right down my street, two professional-looking cyclists are riding side-by-side on a road with very little shoulder. (They are lawyers or accountants or doctors, professionals. Not professional cyclists, surely. They do have all the latest gear though.) They are also chatting away, without a care in the world. I roll down my window and tell them to get single-file. They flick me off and go about their business as before. Then I see this happen in other places two more times in quick succession. Cyclists riding side-by-side.
-Just driving home today, two totally rad skaters (well, not rad at all) are skateboarding in the opposing lane against traffic. I honk as I go by and make the pushing motion. As in: get the freak over there, idiots. One of the skaters, who is wearing a ski cap in 78 degree weather, thinks I am waving and waves back. I shush him over. Maybe he gets it, maybe not.
Am I being nosy? I’ve had accidents on the road and don’t want to see others go through that mess. Do I need to mind my own business? Has this occurred in the past and I’ve been too nonchalant too see it? (This I doubt. I am non many things, but chalant is not one of them.) Am I becoming a curmudgeon?
The town of Carlsbad sits not far from my house. And my heart sank when I read the story of the Carlsbad teenager, Baileigh Karam. Several folks from my Navy command live in the neighborhood. It is safe and quiet. Recently, Baileigh was involved in a fight that was captured on a cell phone. And then she dissapeared. Good news, she is back with her family, Amber Alert and all.
I am a frustrated angler. I’ve mentioned my last four fishing trips and the fact that I pulled goose-eggs out of the lake. Many years ago, I fished Lake Tahoe and I feel a kinship, a connection, with a sporting gentleman by the name of Gene St. Denis. He just just pulled one of the biggest brown trout in history from Lake Tahoe. The giant trout was 33 inches long and weighed 15 pounds, 9 ounces. That’s right fishies; there will be a next time. At a time and a place of my choosing. You will not have the last laugh. . .
Eloise Klein Healy was selected by Los Angeles’ mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as the poet laureate of the city. What qualifications does she have? Not her birthright: she was born in El Paso, Texas and grew up in rural Iowa. And her poetry certainly is awful. At least the several I read. (Good job, Tony Villar Jr.) Further proof that the wise move to Texas and the non-wise move away. Which could be a good thing. Hmm, I take back that sarcastic good job, Tony Villar Jr. and replace it with a heartfelt: good job, Tony Villar Jr.!
What landmark is four stories high, 450-feet long, and weighs 480,000 pounds? Not to mention the 385 gallons of paint it just slurped for a face lift. . .
Naturally, I am wary of politicians named Wiener. Except this Wiener is not Anthony, but Scott. And Mr. Wiener is a supervisor in San Francisco, fighting the usual Bay Area silliness. He is attempting to curb an epidemic of public nudity. The usual local freaks are involved, including a woman named Gypsy Taub who hosts a naked show dedicated to proving the government was behind 9/11. To say nothing of San Francisco lawyer Christina DiEdoardo, who has donated her time to the nude cause with the argument that public nudity is a free speech issue. What about our free speech?
A certain state department in California has been rocked by a financial scandal that saw $54 million chipmunked away for possibly nefarious uses. So, if you’re Governor Brown (my apologies if you are), who you gonna call? The California State Marine Corps.
Sentences, you have to split up the big ones. As in, be careful not to overwhelm your readers with too many facts. Put a period down and let them breathe. Like this: After a business deal between Juliana Redding’s father and a Lebanese physician, Munir Uwaydah, went sour, Uwaydah allegedly sent Kelly Soo Park–on the books as his real estate agent and financial assistant–to Redding’s home to “threaten and intimidate” her. I would use two sentences, but that’s me. Still, it is an interesting story about a Maxim model and a female James Bond.
I rev forward to a stoplight and a kid pulls up next to me in his Chevy Cavalier. He looks anything but cavalier, he’s crooked his baseball hat at some impossible angle. Doofy, sort of half off to the side, but not quite.
He appears to be texting as he rolls to the stop. His attention is not on the road, but on something in his lap. I glare at him and then relax as he raises an enormous cheeseburger and stuffs it into his face. An IN-N-OUT is right around the corner and he’s madly in love.
Still, he better be careful when driving distracted. California ain’t playing ’round:
Law enforcement agencies across California are cracking down…BIG time…on distracted drivers this month as part of the National Distracted Driving Awareness campaign.
More than 200 local law enforcement agencies and 103 CHP branches will be participating in the awareness effort.
As of current law, drivers caught texting or using their cellphone (without a wireless device) while driving face a first-time citation of $159 (minimum.)
The second violation jumps to at least $279.
$279? Holy guacamole, Batman! I wonder if that includes frenching a cheeseburger?
Talk about confusing, a group calling itself Global Trees stole some palm trees from the Santa Monica Freeway:
They disappeared in the middle of the night: 40 foot tall palm trees lining a stretch of the Santa Monica freeway in mid-city LA.
Caltrans says a nonprofit called “Global Trees” illegally dug up and removed the trees along the Santa Monica freeway. “There was a crime committed here,” says Michael Miles, Caltrans District 7 Director. Caltrans filed a civil suit against Global Trees in LA Superior Court last October, demanding the return of the trees and $300,000 in damages.
And the cover-up: Global Trees claims a Caltrans employee named Jose Escobedo gave them permission. I am no palm tree reader, but this is not gonna end well for the non-profit.
This is a sad story, but the proposed political solution seems mind-boggling. And lacking in common-sense. A kid died from choking on a pushpin. And a local politician is looking to ban them:
Daniel and Aja Howell are working with Assemblyman Marty Block, D-San Diego, on newly introduced legislation to ban pushpins in those facilities.
“There were a number of items at work here that resulted in the death of our son. The biggest is if pushpins were not available this would not have happened,” Daniel Howell said in explaining why they want to see Assembly Bill 1820 signed into law,
Three-year-old Tyler Howell choked to death on a pushpin while attending the private Montessori School of Oceanside on Cannon Road in August. The boy apparently swallowed the pin on a bulletin board that had been temporarily stored on a bathroom floor.
The boy could have choked on a pencil, any number of objects at the school. If you ban pushpins, would magnets be used? And what happens when the first kid swallows a magnet? The administrators should certainly be aware of choking hazards. But to ban pushpins? No way. God bless the family. God bless common-sense too. . .
I am standing in Peet’s. Tomorrow is 2012 and I need a kick. Peet’s Coffee & Tea as you know, was Judge Ito’s juice of choice. It’ll do. I like any java. I never complain about the old dishwater I drink in the Navy. In good naval tradition, I have never washed out my mug. Not once. And when I say mug, I’m not talking about my face, but my cup.
Can I just get a normal coffee? I ask the short guy behind the counter. Starbucks has screwed me up with the crazy sizes. Plus all the soy, frappee, latte bs. Fah-get-a-bout-it. Not me. Just give me the dark elixir. Day old? Sure.
What size do you want, the barristo asks.
Um, give me a medium.
No problem. He smiles. Way too widely. And I look at him. And see a cursive tattoo peeking out from his shirt. On his chest. Creepy. I hand him some money. Thanks, he says. He seems really feminine. Which is okay, I’m not at Peet’s to make friends. I just need coffee.
He turns and says something to the man, the helper, behind him. Probably my order. And then he slips me my change. I put the coins into the tip jar. And wait. The man hands the barristo my coffee. Except the helper is not a man, but a woman. Who is about 100 pounds overweight. And has wild spiky hair.
Don’t freak out, alternative readers. I am not being sexist, racist, or gay-ist, I am just observing what is occurring around me.
As I said before, I just want coffee. So I take it and sit down in the corner. And start up my novel. I am running with the words, listening to Vampire Weekend in my ear buds, A-Punk.
The song ends and I hear a mother and her kid talking. Much too loudly, next to me.
We resonant politically, the kid whines. The only reason I hear them is that A-Punk has ended. By his voice, he sounds like a high schooler. A sophomore. We are both very worried about all the terrible things the Tea Party is doing.
I pray, beg for the next song to start and it does.
This is not a political blog, but I can’t help but to think of all the terrible things that the Tea Party is doing. Imagine the Constitution-sized list and then put yourself in my shoes.
I don’t say anything, but between each song, I hum quietly. So I don’t have to hear them.
The kid gets up to leave. I look at him and he smirks at me and I realize he is older than high school. Probably a sophomore. In college. Or maybe a recent grad. I don’t care. I just want peace.
I write and listen. Listen to music and write. I get up to go to the bathroom. Behind the counter are two new employees. One, a normal looking dude. And a skinny, Englishy majory type girl. With long red hair. Dark red.
I glance at the normal dude and he is not as normal as I thought. His eyeballs are lost, baked in genius thought. I may be in the Navy, but I came up in Berkeley and know stoned when I pass it.
I look to the English major. She’s not high and she leans on the counter, pushing up the sleeves to her sweater. God bless her.
I go to the bathroom and return and write some more. I don’t finish my four dollar drink. Suddenly I don’t want to. I’d give anything for some pis black Navy mess coffee. Peet’s sucks.
Am I judgmental? No. I just filmed the inside of Peet’s the best I could. Do I dislike any of the folks there? Nope.
I just want out. Of California. I gotta move. To Texas. Someday. When the Navy does not own me. Not that I am complaining.
In forty years, maybe I’ll be one of those old guys muttering to myself as young’uns run through my yard. Damn kids, I’ll say to your great-grandchildren.
Update: The Marine Corps is passionate about their coffee too. I hear a Ka-Bar makes a good stir stick.