Sunday, September 19, 2004


Saturday, September 18. Cornel West captivating the better of Angelino citizenry on the “Great Lawn” of Barnsdall Art Park in Hollywood. Heads nod, eyes tear because we need this, oh how we need this, this affirmation of our collective “niggerization.”

The ascent to the grassy crest overlook to the lawn of the Barnsdall Art Park afforded a strange sense of anticipation. The Frank Llyod Wright designed buildings, this park that I’d never seen before, just blocks from my home, Cornel West speaking in the heart of the city, overlooking everything with helicopters periodically stuttering by, this was enticement. This was inspiration. There is beauty here and dare I say hope.

The crowd was wonderfully diverse, a salt and pepper mix of those conscious and willing enough to climb the stairs and sit on the lawn and be seduced. Cornel West is the Morrissey of political theoretical / public intellectual sphere. He’s a captivator, a seductress, a gracious and eloquent bard (sans lute). And the book he was selling “Democracy Matters,” couldn’t be possessed of a more prescient topic.

Incantations of American Imperialism, market driven complacency, hypocrisy, the blues, hip-hop, calls for engagement, for dialogue, for justice, JUSTICE! rolled off West’s tongue and were punctuated by his grand physical gestures. Man the man could sell his books and many were sold by Skylight Books, the Los Feliz bookstore that put on the event. I didn’t see anyone without a copy. And West’s speech was a condensed version, a public introduction to the ideas put forth in a book released on the cusp of our imminent day of reckoning / futility (election day). Bush disgust was assumed here (thank god) as was Kerry-nausea. But as West said of Nader, his compatriot and the man he supported and endorsed in the 2000 election, “On election day, I’ll be praying for Nader and voting for Kerry.” Well put, West. Well, put.

The speech which descried the tyranny of Imperialist, Fundamentalist, Homophic dogmas (to name a few), then digressed into a public question and answer section with each asker preceding their vague queries with a self aggrandizing self blurb: I’m a soul music DJ blah blah blah, my Uncle is a collegue of yours blah blah blah, I’m a teacher working on diversity programs blah blah blah. The only good question was asked by a man who decided against a blurbed autobiography and simply said, somewhat femininely, “I just have to say that I adore you. Thank you for bringing together all the elements that contribute to how much I adore you.” Hands down, best comment, because, see, in times like these, an event in the center of the city bringing together all kinds of races in a meditative, supportive, and kind atmosphere of disaffection, served as a kind of salve, for me, to my own disaffection and disengagement. I adored West too for being who he is: he who can pull off such an event, so effortlessly. Indeed, the audience was clearly of a more educated ilk, but everyone or many seemed represented, from kids in their 20s to older folk and though the message delivered by West painted a grim picture of our country and the world, everyone seemed possessed of a glow. The glow emanating from the event itself divorcing us all from our isolated disaffection and resignation, this man becoming, if only for a pristine Saturday early-evening, a whimsical, quirky and impassioned focal point who derides optimism (I’m assuming because of its naiveté and myopic nature) but hails earned, learned hope (like the blues).

Walking down from the elevated park and back home past the bistros and boutiques, I couldn’t help but look at the people who weren’t there, the diners and the shoppers, and wondering what the fuck they were thinking or not thinking, missing out on something actually engaging and catalyzing and free (save for the price of the book that if you had the money you bought).

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Cal Trans building at 100 Main St. in Downtown Los Angeles. Photo taken two days ago.

It's not quite finished or open , but damn it sure is pretty.

Monday, September 13, 2004

SICKLY sweet SMELL of SUCCESS (excess)

Speaks for itself.


The Day Morrissey Sold Out by Gina Disney. Still living near Downtown L.A. and still wonderfully persisting, but rumor has it she’s got herself a bike and she rides the train and she’s been sleeping better these days.

The willowy figures are resigned, fatigued, forlorn. The Morrissey show has been sold out OR Morrissey is a sell out. Let’s pray we’re talking about the show and not the man because, well, Morrissey is a deity.

Who else can conjure the slow assault of life’s letdowns than the Moz, the crooner, Morrissey, the king of ambiguity who calls L.A. his home. The sun shines out of his behind.

Disney’s painting presents comic book-like borders only to have them broken by the humanoid figures. The hand extending down, the elbow on the line. Confined yet not.

Then the figure at the upper left, the one with a defined face tired, and hair cropped. Is this the artist? Why is it that the figure with a face lacks breasts and a body? Are we either lamenting carnal forms or delineated figures formless and in attitudes of tragic resignation, sleeping? Or are we the synthesis of this triptych of forms, this triple negative so devastating on the surface, it’s almost funny, uplifting, absurd in its dourness. Like Morrissey. He’s so dramatic he circumnavigates the spectrum of emotions and senses and becomes almost funny.

And if a double-decker bus
crashes in to us
to die by your side
is such a heavenly way to die
and if a ten ton truck
kills the both of us
to die by your side
well the pleasure, the privilege is mine…

from “There is a Light That Never Goes Out” by the Smiths

The compounded futilities, like driving in L.A. swerving to avoid that, yes that’s a huge canvas in the road just before the 2nd Street tunnel in Downtown, a big ass canvas face down in the right lane. Reentering the lane only to veer around the minivan backing up at full speed from the middle of the tunnel, hazards blaring (how considerate). Art dashed, lives risked and no one flinches, we just avoid collision, then maintain our lane that best defines our path from work to home. We settle back into our broken hearts or our empty stomachs or our insufficient bodies or our dashed ambition.

Disney’s painting does something like that.

Her other work discussed on Ambigutrex can be found here


I heard it was a nice day today.

Sunday, September 12, 2004


See. See perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps we were wrong, beautifully wrong. Two weeks in a row and now there’s no excuse. The Little Joy on Sunday is a meagerly populated hipster dive bar. Period. No queers. Or some so vague as to deem them unnecessary, accoutrement, color. Color. Nothing more.

And then the question is, who cares? But then, we all just want to be loved, right? So then we should care. What’s one to do? Tell me!

The crinkle of the brow, head cocked, and nothing comes out of the mouth. And all I want is to fall, to fall into something hard and soft. Soon. Right? Soon. Because I don’t know how much more of this I can take without something, something for me, just me. Something weak and pure and childlike, right? Right?


Leaving L.A. initiates a calm awaiting the impending reentry into dread. Not real dread, but. The respite of escape allows the mind to look back with a wider and deeper breadth. The dread comes when experience and progression finally get perceived, if only vaguely. Three months passed so fucking fast. A way of speaking affected from unclear sources. Is he a faggot, from the East Coast, rich, poor? And no one cares really.

Santa Barbara gives new shape to the term “bourgeois.” The people there are “nice and stupid” to use the words of my friend and host for the weekend. And such generalizations are sweeping and perhaps unproductive (hey, fuck productivity). There are some smart graduate students there. I stayed with a few.

But the decadence of the place is infectious. Its perfection, its amenable and laxed aesthetic (the mellow sun’s hum imbuing everything, the cleanliness, the kindnesses of strangers, craftsmen houses and higher up, compounds worthy of the best of the well-heeled with taste). The place is tasteful. A nice place to die. A nice place to be youngish too I guess. A nice place to visit, for it’s not too far removed from L.A. to seem foreign but it’s rather foreign enough. A less pretentious South Bay empowered by the summer sun rather than oppressed by it. And white, white, everyone’s so white. But not oppressively so because here, the division of labor, the hegemonic structures that fret in the soil remain in the soil, quietly festering beneath the manmade pond with this raggled duck that looks half chicken (dubbed a “Chuck” or a “Dicken” by my associates… I prefer Dicken for many reasons) and makes you wonder why this duck decided to live its life here with this one other duck and why don’t other ducks live here or maybe there’s a person or people who take care of that and make sure the park duck population is perfectly small and quaint. I pray for the duck infestation, thousands flying from every reach to stake their claim and relish in the easy warmth of Santa Barbara Botanical Garden Bliss. They’ll never let that happen. God bless them for that. For I can sleep at night knowing that there’s at least this place were thousands of people can live a clean, relaxed, rustic (to them… so so clean to me) existence, where men freely walk shirtless displaying muscles, chests so shapely and ample I wanted to leap from the moving car and weepingly supplicate myself before these bronzed gods of pecs and abs and saunter and sweat. No no. What’s come over me. No. Yes. Yes.

Then the return after the, yes I guess it is, the exorcism. Not better rested, but presented with the well-needed foil. Pros and cons to the life I live. I liked it there, but I like my friends there, not the place. I like my life here. And driving south on the 101, returning for the first time to my home in the heart of the city, I felt good and comfortable and glad to be back, reinfused, injected into the yearning vein of motion and fast-time, of vanity and mental sterility, of sickly wealth and embarrassing poverty and every shade of gray in between. And I poured myself a strong glass of vodka and cranberry juice. Some call it a Cape Cod. I call it a Vodka Cranberry. I call it home.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


I literally found the stoners eviscerated in this article from Rolling Stone. In it, the stoner couple portrayed and the UC Santa Cruz campus culture depicted (a culture slowly diminishing in my memory) gets bent over and roughly fucked by some writer, this admittedly good-at-her-job writer. But she treats her subject so cruelly. All these people who populate her story, she turns a blind eye to. She sat and had coffee with me and we talked about media and Gonzo Journalism and I gave her the heads up that her subjects were kind of sketched out about the whole thing. I ran interference for her not believing that there would be any motivation for a smear piece on Santa Cruz’s stoner culture. I was wrong.

At the time I was the editor for UC Santa Cruz’s alternative campus paper, The Fish Rap Live! (exclamation included). We were satirical and snarky and ambiguous (big surprise). I was in the press center one random afternoon when our beat up old phone rings. Our phone never rings. And it’s Vanessa Grigoriadis from Rolling Stone calling seeing if I can help her find the consummate stoner. I didn’t qualify and neither did any of my friends even though many of us smoked every day. She wasn’t interested in the functional pot smoking set, those who got straight As and actually accomplished something during their college careers. No… she had a type in mind. I should have known then that this assignment came with a built in angle, that those editors in New York, based on hearsay and received ideas, wanted to poke fun at some kids with bongs in their hands and red eyes.

So I sought out the perfect stoner for her and came up with this couple. I felt, as a “journalist,” it was my duty to help her. Of course when Rolling Stone drops its name, seduction comes easy. I would have fucked a donkey lovingly if she asked me to.

And I’m not about to apologize for my involvement in my Alma Mater’s national fucking over. I worked for two years, albeit from the inside, doing the same damned thing. And that school never showed me any appreciation for the shit I did. So fuck you. I feel a little bad for the couple bashed, but shit, they got pseudonyms. Take a bong rip kids, all will be well. The joke of course is that Vanessa’s story isn’t that far from the truth. Objective, outside eyes swoop on Santa Cruz and reveal what goes on. The problem is the preconceived angle. The story could have been more interesting if people like the people I know were the subjects: ample stoners who aren’t wholly losers, who DO things, who have something to say. But, no no, she wanted pure lifestyle stoners and that’s what she got. I’m just glad I was spared depiction. Though she’d be hard pressed to find a grotesque element in my persona to hyperbolize and tease out for maximum snarky entertainment value. Because I’m perfect.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Who dare to say it wasn't meaningless
Shout from the rooftops and address the press
Ha ha ha it was totally meaningless


Meaning less than a game of chess

Just like your mother said and mother knows best

I knew it all the time but now I confess

Yes yes yes how deliciously meaningless

Yes yes yes effervescently meaningless

Yes yes yes it was

Yes yes yes it was profoundly meaningless
Yes yes yes definitively meaningless
Yes yes yes comprehensively meaningless
Yes yes yes magnificently meaningless
Yes yes yes how incredibly meaningless
Yes yes yes unprecedentedly meaningless
Yes yes yes how mind-blowingly meaningless
Yes yes yes unbelievably meaningless
Yes yes yes how infinitely meaningless

the Magnetic Fields

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Ahh yes, the heat brought out something terrible this last Sunday at the Little Joy “Dive” Bar in Echo Park. That bar on the corner across from the deserted green-pumped gas station. That bar with duct tape quilting the tears in the beige vinyl booths, all two of them. Decrepit red and cracked Budweiser signs over the two pool tables, air all smoky because thank fucking god you can smoke in there and smoke they (we) do. But alas, despite the welcoming locale, the heat brought out tourists and kept the queers at home. Rather upsetting if you ask me. See, Sunday night is unofficially Queer Night or Gay Night at said bar. If you want to take the name of the night from the message scrawled on the girls’ bathroom wall, it’s gay night. But everyone there is so ambiguous it’s better to call it queer night. Call it what you will, actually. Actually.

So we went, myself and a few friends, expecting a queer hipster bastion (note… I’m not a separatist, one of my best friends is absolutely heterosexual and I consider him queer). What we got was, well, something else. Metrosexuals and wide-eyed strangers who get rent from daddy (one girl told me) and who do something uninteresting with dvd packaging (this guy, this guy). “Do you come here often,” daddy’s little girl asked me.
“I come here… more often lately. I guess,” I said.

“So what goes on?”

“Well tonight is queer night, unofficially,” I said. Or perhaps I said it was gay night, I was too many whiskies in to have full reign over my retention of verbiage spoken, verbiage thought. I don’t even know how I knew, how I know Sunday is queer night. I could be wrong. But daddy’s little olive skinned, black haired girl kind of cringed, quickly, then said, “well I have an open mind.” Oh you do, do you? That’s wonderful. What does that mean, missus? What does that mean? Must you so quickly differentiate yourself from the theme of the night? I don’t care. No one cares.

My friend K later went to the restroom where the graffiti on the wall proclaims this evening what it might or might not be. She was in there when this girl reads it aloud and starts frantically asking K, “so tonight’s gay night?” With distaste she asks. Asserting her non gayness. Her vague disgust at the concept. Then another girl enters and she says, “you know it’s gay night. It’s gay night.” Or queer night or whatever. When she enters the smoky bar proper, she’ll look at all the, what she thought were metrosexual boys, and see fags, fags, fags who don’t want you you hag! She’ll look at all the cool, angular subtly eightiesed out girls and think, dykes, dykes, you’re all dykes and no I’m not interested. Guess what honey, the heat kept the queers at home or at least away from here but if they were dykes, and if they were here, they’d laugh at you… ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 06, 2004


Hot as fucking fuck. Damn it was hot. Hot enough to deem talking about the weather NOT a cliché, for the moment, for the moment folks.

You find yourself sweltering on the Eastside calling your more established associates on the Westside to see what they’re doing in their air conditioned homes. Perhaps you’d like some company if only for a few hours. Ahh, yessss. I'll be right over.

Bloodbaths in Russia, tempests in Florida, Clinton doing well they say, after a quick quad-bipass, dear oh my, the world’s gone to pot. And we’re hot over here damnit! There were flies in the diner this morning during breakfast! Our hair is frizzy! Our skin is filmy and untowards! But the sun sets and the heat slightly remits and we can rest assured that our climate controlled workplaces will be glad to see us after this long, hot, drunken blur of a labor fucking day weekend. A pittance for all we do! What do we do? Jack fucking shit, every one of us. And we do it so well, don't we.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


(part 1 of an impossible to complete whole / hole)
1. Harold Brodkey (dead) writes that love and ambition are necessary for life. He is correct. Those times when you’re down, weepy, unable to discern why you feel the way you do—is it a broken heart, unquenched desire, loneliness or is it the life’s positioning, potential unfulfilled, trajectories uncertain?—the confusion comes because the sadness and ache is rooted in the synthesis of these fixations, these most important fixations. Thus when one falls out (say love), the other (ambition) falters, fissures form, sadness creeps in.

2. To label yourself is a form of self annihilation akin to suicide. The moment you’re reduced to a term, you’ve stopped living, stopped being everything you are that denies that term.

3. Sexuality is a set of personal aesthetics manifested in contemporary attitudes (as in posturing) of gender.

4. Morality should be rooted in memory, learned experience, rather than law or dogmas. Remember how it felt when your lover just stopped calling you? Don’t impose that feeling on someone else. Simple.

5. No one has an innate ambition. What we strive for has as much to do with who we are as it has to do with outside forces telling us who we should be, what we should achieve, what we’re good at. The idea of ambition reveals the porousness of identity. Like sexuality, ambition or what we choose as our ambition, is aesthetic.

6. Good intentions (whatever they are) mean nothing when pitted against actions.

7. Ignorance is not bliss. You are responsible for understanding your complicit nature, how your decadent life effects others, on whose backs, through what bloodshed. Read into the hurricanes assaulting Florida. True metaphors. Plagues agitating the deceit and mire swept under the rug (so to speak). Nature moaning, twitching for her well-deserved retribution.

8. Love is denial.

Feel free, readers, to engage with any or all of these points. Since they are ethics of ambiguity, they’re open for discussion, evisceration. The editor has adjusted Ambigutrex's settings to allow anyone to make comments... so please do if you'd like to.