Sun-Struck

Yesterday my life was filled with rain.

I haven’t blogged here lately, because it just seems like sheer gloating. Sorry.

The holiday report from Los Angeles : 73 frikkin degrees, and brilliantly sunny. Breezy. Freezing last night, rain expected by Friday.  There is meteorological variety, diversity and complexity here, versus 40 degrees, black skies, screeching, Valkyrie-flattening winds and sleet 365/24-7. The sun on my face at breakfast this morning, at an outdoor table at Paty’s Coffeeshop, was shamanic healing, with hot buttered sourdough toast.  I am still thawing from 2.5 years in northern frigid stupefaction.

 

The street I live on is lined with what may be Chinese maples. The neighborhood is old, and the trees must be nearing the century-mark. It is as vivid as anything in the Finger Lakes or other leaf-peeper meccas, but without the annoying woodchuck accents. All over the city there are apparently deciduous trees offering up a spectrum of dark gold, deep muscadine to olive to amber, to copper and persimmon and maraschino-red. More than just palm trees.

And can I just say, breakfast out? Just like that?

Standard diner fare, served steamin’ on the table in moments, full sun, cuppa joe, blue skies over Burbank? Then I dropped off my vintage,  cream-colored cashmere coat at the (shiver and sigh of gratitude and bliss) DRY CLEANER’S on the corner. It’ll be ready at 5 pm tomorrow (not two weeks from now, via decrepit stoner-granny van). I’ll need it for the next chill.

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smells like teen spirit…

…sorta.

The saga of the stinky Chinese jeans continues.

The damp roll-up with the incense, chronicled in an earlier post, did not obliterate the stink of the cheap black denim.

I then went online to learn more. Turns out that lots and lots of people have had a similar experience: that cheap denim jeans literally stink.

Postings on various blogs etc. describe the smell as resembling burning hair, burning plastic, burning rubber. All true. I also stick with my slaughterhouse / as filtered through a giant ball of aluminum foil in your mouth combined taste-aroma.

Some theorize that the stink is particular to DARK cheap denim, or that it emanates from a cheap zipper.

Last night, around 6 p.m., I poured an entire bottle of Mr. Clean with Febreze– the purple one– into a big plastic recycling tub, put both pairs of stinky jeans in, added water to cover, and put the lid on it. I allowed this devil’s brew to marinate overnight, until around 10 am this morning. I then laundered the jeans with detergent.

Guess what?

THEY STILL STINK.

I just put them out on the clothesline (so retro) in the backyard because I can’t stand to have them in the house.

Maybe if I keep hosing them down, the combination of water, air, sunlight and…???possum pee??bird droppings???– will offset the stink. I am curious to see what it will take, and how long it will take. Sort of like the half-life of radioactive substances.

I contacted the seller, and they are sending me a label, so that I can return the garments. I explained that I have worn and washed them, and this didn’t bother the seller. Not sure if I will return them, though. Now I have a morbid curiosity.

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CHOCO-CHIP ARCHETYPE

One of the first reading experiences which really enslaved me to words, writing and books was ‘Beowulf’– I devoured several dry, academic translations early on. I wasn’t as impressed with our hero as I was with Grendel.

Even more to the point, I loved the whole weird Oedipal (which I sensed even as a tot) dynamic with Grendel and his (??) mother. The fact that, if memory serves, after gulping down the flesh of rollicking Anglo-Saxons at ye aulde mead hall, Grendel descended back into the lake of fire to check in with mom. Did the big bad monster have a curfew?

I was also really wigged by the image of Beowulf hacking off one of the monster’s hideous arms and nailing it to the door of the mead-hall, then going after mum himself to put and end to the carnage. None of the versions of the story that I read, back in those steamy, muggy, hazy liberry (B’klyn) summers had illustrations. Just 9-point text. They didn’t make it easy to digest. It was really nerdsville, man.

Then as now, I couldn’t get enough. The point being that many things are best left to the imagination. No drawing or illustration, although I have seen wonderful attempts, could possibly depict the full and primitive terror of the Grendel as portrayed with words alone. It would be worth learning the original tongue, just to hear it whispered beside a nerve-steadying fire as stinging-cold rain hisses down outside.Do you hear giant, wet, lumbering, brainless, slow footsteps coming from the woods?

Which is why Cookie Monster should never have been given legs. This reduces him to a toy, which he is not. He is a pagan god to whom sacrifice must be made faithfully.

I always loved this heaving mass of cobalt-blue, faux-fur, ping-pong ball-eyed Id. Pure libido, in a pre-sexual form. I could relate, and knew that Cookie was the seemingly-sunnier Sesame Street cousin of my old friend, Grendel. But I wasn’t fooled. I knew that his (?? again, no lower body, no gender identity, please)  joyful roaring and snarfing of freshly baked oatmeal-raisin-chocolate chipsters could easily turn ugly. When Cookie didn’t get his way: HELL TO PAY.

Cookie Monster arises from the great swampy, sweaty, irrational, furry, hairy, smelly, squishy, mammalian, barely-verbal (his vocab consists basically of the C-word) depths of the Jungian collective unconscious, stuck in the Oral Fixation phase. Both Sig and Carl-baby would have loved this character– pure appetite, no boundaries, no shame, no guilt. ME WANT COOKIE!

His craving is insatiable, boundless, without form. Again, in the presence of raw cookie-dough, especially when a one-pound bag of M & Ms has been studded alluringly through the mix, I have known and wallowed in this feeling of wild, wild, uncontrollable, protean, primal, oozing, gooey, sticky, screeching, lip-smacking abandon. Which is why he should never have been depicted with a lower body. He’s all about the huge mouth, the gaping maw, the bottomless lake of lingual fire itself, and the sensations, rage, pleasure and bliss which lips, tongue and palate alone confer. Cookie’s oral demands are so intense that he is bright-blue matter, about to become pure energy– that’s how fast his molecules are moving.

In his toy-form, with little legs and feet, his cartoonish, underdeveloped lower body seems oddly shrunken, atrophied. Babyish, infantile, disempowered. Just plain wrong.

As with Grendel, let me imagine the worst.

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BAIN AGAIN

And another reason I love Los Angeles: hot water.

About a week ago, the hot water stopped. Just stopped coming. I called the Gas Company, and the guy was here within an hour. He looked, and said it needed a major part, and a plumber.

I washed the dishes with cold water, and for a shampoo, heated a big pot on the stove, mixed in cold, and poured it over me, “Like Water for Chocolate.”

Then I called the landlord. She called the plumber, who came, looked, ordered the part. The part had to be overnighted from somewhere else. It arrived the next morning, and by the next night, I was soaking.

The whole shebang was about 36 hours, total.

The things that Americans of my generation take for granted.

Let me remind you: this time last year, I lived in the dismal sticks. Sometime in the late fall, the furnace crapped out in the northern house. It was 20 degrees outside, and sleeting drizzle under bruised black skies.

The guy came, after several calls and several days. He informed me that the furnace had never been installed properly. And since I was gunning the settings to “Thaw, Since I Don’t Get Hot Flashes”, it had indeed melted the PVC piping. That was the tip-off that something was terribly wrong: the smell of burning rubber throughout that hideous ghostly barn.

A new furnace– not merely a new part– had to be ordered. To the tune of $4K.

And the cold leaked in through the cheap single pane windows, around the warped moldings, under the swollen doors, through the uninsulated walls.

I could see ice-crystals on my breath inside the house. My love and I slept in all of our winter clothes, beneath goosedown and Pendleton woolens. The cats knotted fiercely at our feet for warmth, and I heaped sweaters over them in the dark.

There was no hotel, no restaurant. A blend of “Deliverance”, “The Shining”, and the Donner party.

This went on for 16, 17 days. Until Jethro and Cleophus could figure out how to work the talking-box and order the damn heater.

So, lucky thing that I have hot water again. I require regular chamomile soaks. A few days ago, I received a direct blow from a horse’s hoof, mid-thigh. Had it been my knee, I would be hobbling in a cast. The horse got spooked as I walked her along a trail which parallels the freeway– a fact of life in Los Angeles.

The bruise is the size of a legal pad, opaque indigo.

But that is a tale for another winter’s evening.

 

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FATTO IN CINA: P.U.

I just love the whimsical leather genius of Roman pelle-maestro, Claudio Sano (www.claudiosano.it), whose briefcases and bags are instantly recognizable for their absurdist touches: huge ladies’ lips topped with a moustache worthy of Gianmaria Testa, or a gusseted “bite” munched out of the side of a case, or a huge key-hole opening through the front panel of a valise.

My current fave is his “Fatto in Cina” (MADE IN CHINA) series which features portraits of Mao, and Chinese women, in leather applique.  He describes it as a cry for Italian manufacturers and designers to fabricate their own stuff in the their own country.

We all talk about never buying Chinese goods again, but let’s get real. Unless you’re willing to live under a piece of bark and make your own butterfly-cocoon and moss ragout for supper, slurped out of a pinecone (I did know some hairy hobbit-women in Northern California who do this…), there’s no escape. China rules retail.

(As for the photo: documentation of my brief “excruzion”, as  in excruciating, with props to my sis Victoria Rosenthal, into organic gardening last year. Yes, these are baby radishes I grew myself. They had to be thinned often, and these teenies were a couple of the thousands I had in my fridge. Crisp, refreshing, and definitely not worth the trouble. From the acid-washed, frayed evidence, you can see that I needed a denim intervention:)

AND, because I’ve recently dumped a bunch of weight upon returning to cosmopolitan life in Los Angeles, I needed new jeans. The cheapest cute ones I could find are online, via the delightfully downmarket mail-order catalog Metrostyle.com. They’re lightweight denim with a little spandex for the bootylicious, and have cute ankle zippers so I don’t look like a big stupid hick.

Here’s the thing, though: they stink.

I mean, they literally stink. I remembered this when they arrived– same thing when I bought a pair a few years ago.

The fabric of these Chinese-made jeans smells like a slaughterhouse, by way of a thousand “developing world” cities belching acrid industrial fumes into an already-burdened global sky.

The smell hits you the minute you rip the plastic open. A smell that could blister your skin like the afterglow of an atomic blast. It’s not a rich organic funk, like an unwashed armpit or a chicken-coop or a neglected catbox. It’s steely. It’s the cold, smooth, machined stink of progress.

So, I washed them. Twice. No change.

I laid them outside in the sun, doused them with Febreze. Also a pass with the Lysol room-freshener.

No change.

Get this: so powerful is the Sino-fumery embedded in the very fabrication of these extremely affordable and flattering denims that, when I foolishly tossed my trusty fleece hoodie on TOP of the jeans one night upon retiring, the next morning, the hoodie, too, had taken on that chilling, existential, post-Thunderdome, post-Bladerunner, apocalyptic reek of Metrostyle.

I’ve heard that, when encountering ugly Americans, ethnic Chinese people and other Asians often say white folks smell like meat. Or cheese. Hardly surprising. But — does the manufacturer not smell this whiff of Armageddon when they sew and pack these jeans? Of course, they wear disposable surgical masks in the factory. I’m thinking I need to do the same in order to wear these.

The conundrum of cheap, market-savvy Chinese goods which jeopardize global health could not be more real. I’m wearing the conundrum. Only because I think I figured out how to kill the smell.

Get the jeans completely wet, either in the washing machine, or with the garden hose, or in the tub. Take an entire box of 12 Satya Sai Baba NAG CHAMPA  Dhoop incense cones (joss sticks may also work), and layer the incense between the folds of the wet denim. Roll up the whole thing tightly, like a jellyroll. Allow to dry, which may take more than 24 hours. The oily, perhaps cloying to some perfume of this classic waterbed-store incense seems to negate the vile, cynical olfactory despair of the Chinese jeans.

Sad to say, my butt has never looked perkier.

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WHAT’S GROSS TO YOU…

…or me may be “lunch” to someone else. Or dessert.

I love the above pic. It looks like the blood-oramge gelato i love at Pinocchio’s, a local Napolitano eatery down the street. In fact, according to Fooducate.com, it’s mechanically separated chicken– part of the “advanced meat recovery” process carried out by places like Mickey D’s, et al. To get all the meat offa the carcass, so to speak.

Eating itself is gross, by some standard. Crushing, sucking, chewing, gumming, swallowing, bathing our food with saliva-enzymes and stomach-acids to dissolve it into a soft paste which looks remarkably like the above by the time it hits our kishkas. Really not so different from Jeff Goldblum preparing his meal in “The Fly” remake. Then there is the underrated process of elimination — processing and dumping what’s left of the food we eat. Unless you live in a world where unicorns fly and rainbows sing, it doesn’t look nearly so nice making its exit.

 

And that coiling, candy- pink tube-snake of meat reminds me of this recent painting I did. About appetites of another sort. The calling of the carnal takes all forms. Gross? Yummy? Such a fine line. Bon appetit.

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EGAD — what i dreamed last night after too much Peruvian food

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