Saturday, December 16 2000
John and I went to the Santa Monica Blvd. DK Donuts this morning for coffee. On the way, we were talking about how fucked up the mail delivery is in West LA. We frequently get letters that are clearly marked for addresses on Wilshire or, in some cases, on the other side of town. I've never had such shitty mail service living in other places. And I think I know why it's so bad. In Los Angeles, especially with a good economy, all the smart people can get good jobs making better money than the government can afford to pay. This depletes the resource pool for intelligent mail clerks, leaving us with incompetent service and misdelivered envelopes. By contrast, in a town like Staunton, Virginia, where a mail clerk job is considered good and fairly-high-paying, the people acting as mail clerks are considerably more intelligent and accurate. They can't get jobs in Hollywood or working for a dot com.
John absolutely loves DK Donuts. It isn't just the coffee either, he seems to like the atmosphere as well. When we arrived it was a crazy bustle of activity with a crowd of customers incapable of keeping up with the interrogations of the two lightning-fast cashiers (who looked to be of some Asian extraction, perhaps Filipino). A whole shelf of coffee pots on burners awaited the many eager coffee drinkers. The coffee was excellent, but I can't say I appreciated the atmosphere anywhere near as much as John did. The place stank of eggs and sticky, greasy breakfast things, making me wish I was perhaps taking a shower instead. In the realm of food, the eggy breakfast vibe is my least favorite. It can be enough to kill my appetite and it nearly did this morning. John insisted on eating his egg sandwich at a bright yellow table there in the DK Donuts, directly above a makeshift white plastic bucket trashcan full of things I deliberately avoided examining. My cream cheese bagel contained so much cream cheese that I almost stopped eating it halfway through. I can only take so much dairy at any one time. Avoiding less-appetizing sights, I read the front page part of an article in the LA Times about an FBI agent who started out as a computer programmer, got a medical degree and then entered the world of crime fighting.
I spent most of the day at Bathtubgirl Central, building stat pages and tweaking configurations for the network. I can't say I much appreciate the product of BTG Productions. Scantily-clad girls dancing around in lukewarm colored water, shouting "Oh yeah!" and misquoting lyrics of good (and not-so-good) songs doesn't do much for me. But at the same time I have to admit that Bathtubgirl is a formidable web powerhouse. Somehow she has managed to make all the right connections and is receiving a flood of traffic. An undisclosed source at her streaming media provider, Spotlife.com, claims that hits to that site, as a whole, go up five-fold during each of her broadcasts. A running joke at Spotlife is that they have to keep up the network "for Bathtubgirl." Tonight I found myself thinking of Bathtubgirl more as a celebrity than anything else. I didn't feel like arguing as much with her tyrannical demands. She's Bathtubgirl and who the fuck am I?
If my own propaganda war against housemate John's being hired by the University of Vermont wasn't enough, today I was dealt some additional firepower by The Man Upstairs. Here in Los Angeles it was a particularly beautiful sunny day with crystal clear skies and highs in the low 80s. This evening as we kicked back in the living room drinking Dr. Pepper and Absolut, John rhetorically asked me, "Do you know how cold it was today in Burlington?" Then, matter-of-factly, he concluded, "I can't leave this place!"
John's sad charges in the the Beverly Hills school district are all morose about his departure. They've showered him with emails, goodbye cards and a riot of the sort of kitschy gifts that kids give teachers at this time of year. There's a "nut bowl" made out of a hollowed segment of a tree trunk, there's a collection of cards called "Kids Say the Darndest Things" and a gift-bowed Perry Ellin Eau De Toilette Spray, among many other things. One of John's ongoing comedy routines is to randomly regift me these things with a casual, "Oh, I got you a present Gus." I find it disturbing that a whole industry has sprung up around manufacturing things that nobody wants so that they can be given to people because "it's the thought that counts." Meanwhile Maria and John have been riffing on the theme of how special the "nothing" they are getting each other is going to be this year.
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