Los Angeles, Don’t Shoot Your Gun In The Air

New Years is here…

Before the champagne is poured it’s customary to look back on a burnt-out year and wonder how much fire it had, or if it were a dud — like some disappointing firecracker whose wick only fizzled out anti-climatically instead of sparking an explosion. New Years and Birthdays we do this. Take stock of what 365 days have brought us. It’s in our blood, this annual reflection. I try to be forward thinking and different, but who am I to go against human nature?

This year, like every year that preceded it, went by too fast and featured too many things left undone. That short film I started in January, down at the streetlamps in front of LACMA: still incomplete. My partially collected collection of short stories titled Craving The Cringe: rotting away in a folder on my desktop. Those rings I wanted to make with famous people’s faces in a little glass jewel: haven’t even bought the rings, much less the glass jewels.

Oh, and I’ve yet to meet and woo Zooey Deschanel.

I’m in a plane flying home for New Years. Taking stock. The Earth below is flat and white. Ohio seemingly divided into hundreds of square boxes. Rivers snaking through in serpentine wiggles. Towns oozing light.  It’s not that I think 2009 was necessarily a bad year; it was just filled with more work than fun, more apathy than passion. 2009 was more heartburn than heartfelt.

That’s not how I roll.

I’ve been called a walking St. Elmo’s fire due to the lightning bolts emanating outward from my grinding cranium — a metaphor, mind you.  I walk around town with my head-down, deep in thought, snapping my fingers and throwing my hands up (great Scott!) when ideas strike.  If you’re picturing Doc Brown from Back To The Future, you’re on the right track, although without the white hair and Delorean.

There have been love affairs, great and small, all-consuming and figments of my imagination, and the requisite goodbyes that trail them like a caboose on a train. There have been inspired speeches shouted over the din of a crowded bar, and quiet moments of reflection in a dark car atop Mulholland Dr.  I’ve been too tired to bother to even wake up, and too excited to ever go to sleep. I moved apartments.  I changed jobs.  I grew a beard. I started wearing ties.  I took up Portuguese. I quit Portuguese.  I tried to practice loving kindness everyday, but more often (probably) than not I resorted to being a selfish, petty, insecure human.

We’ve been chasing the sun west as it slowly descended below our wings, so there’s been an orange/pink glowing cigarette tip in the sky for the last two hours, a permanent sunset, but now it’s finally stabbed out into the Earth below like a Benson and Hedges in the snow. The night caught up. Tiny lights below blooming across the land look like electric fungus as we fly over Illinois. The lights represent thousands of homes and thousands of people inside them waiting for a pot of tea to boil, a television show to come on, a lover to come home. None of these towns are Chicago, however, they’re just someplace else, some place you’ve never heard of, full of kids who are dying to grow up and get out. I’ve yet to go to Chicago. It’s on my list.

Places like Knee Split, Indiana. Box Cot, Illinois. Free Bird, Ohio.

I made them all up.

When I was young I would watch a plane fly over my house and picture the passengers in their seats and wonder where they were headed. For some reason I always concluded it was Hawaii. I used to picture someone looking out the window, down at me, wondering whom I was.  Did I ever picture them sitting with a laptop writing about it? No, because laptops didn’t exist yet. They were still word processors, and they were unwieldy and clunky.

Have you ever wondered how many loves you missed out on? The heart being a fickle, complicated organ. Do you ever feel like we’re ships passing in the night without spotting each other, much less tying anchors together? This year I’ve been a ship at sea, in the dark, rudderlessly adrift, saillessly lost, hopelessly searching for my port.

She’s out there…

In the words of the late, great Elliot Smith, “I’m never gonna know you now, but I’m going to love you anyhow.”

As we celebrate the coming of another year the authorities are reminding the citizens of this great city to please refrain from shooting their pistols into the air. It’s a reasonable request, and I humbly second it.

So if you invited this guy to your party, make sure he knows the rules before midnight strikes.

One year we lit fireworks off of our porch and the neighbor two doors down came out and screamed at us and called us assholes. We hollered back, ‘happy new year’ and went inside.

This year I will probably mark the occasion with a hearty whoop and tonnage of hugs. Perhaps a toast where I state something profound, like, “We’re all just fleas stuck in the goat’s fur so lets ride the beast into 2010 like champions. Zooey Deschanel I luuuuuv yoooooou…. (belch/stumble/fall/get up/act like nothing happened) …go Lakers!”


Ryan Seacrest will be in Times Square, but more accurately, on the Television, in a cashmere scarf dishing out typical fair about how cold it is while interviewing plastic celebrities who profess to be, “feeling the excitement in the air.” Half-talented, mega-produced bands will be hammering through their non-offensive music-by-numbers as millions in the crowd wave their hands stupidly and blow $2 dollar plastic horns made in China at the hovering jib as it floats over the massive thrust of humanity like a roving eyeball. The ball will drop and all the cameras will zero in on couples kissing while confetti fills the screen.

I’m making Terriyaki chicken wings for the party. Breaking out the croc pot. Letting them slow cook for six hours. I’ve been told they’re ‘sick’ (sic).

And the years go on and on…

Ride the beast like a champion.


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