Match in the gas tank, boom boom

Last day at the pool for the summer.

Early in high school, I had a fixation with neon colors. Call it "raver complex."

One day at the mall, I saw a pair of neon green swim trunks on sale and bought them.

I showed up for P.E. the next day in the neon green swim trunks and a neon green Polo shirt. Peter Finerty looked at me and seriously thought I was retarded.

To this day, I continue to wear said pair of swim trunks when I swim. Of course, now I feel really gay walking around in them, but I'm too lazy to buy another pair. If it ain't broke…

I should note that the neon green has faded into the soft shade of Baskin Robbins' daiquiri ice cream.

A Hindian guy named Shane sold me a bag of Lays today.

As automated as present day public restrooms are, no sensor will ever be able to prevent homeless people from entering or Mexicans from peeing on toilet seats.

I saw a bus that said "kneeling bus" on its side and couldn't help picturing it giving another bus a knobber.

We received a Shizzle Bike at work. It looks uncomfortable to ride. Josh tried assembling it but two screws were defective.

—No matter. The Shizzle people said they'd send us two more immediately.

Up the west coast I go.

You get the ankles and I'll get the wrists

—they should rename the MTV video music awards to the BET music video awards. HOLLER.

Dobi's brother Dan supposedly helped catch the lead singer of Yellowcard when he stage-dived. Dobi said he was wearing a blue Polo shirt. I saw a long blue sleeve. Does Polo make long-sleeve shirts?

I know this girl Kaity who, as part of the USC marching band, performed "Hey Ya!" with Andre 3000 at the Grammys in February.

Andre 3000 at the Video Music Awards:
—Okay, and for the millionth time, "Hey Ya!," goddammit…

In case you missed the Video Music Awards, here's a recap:
Miami! Party! Miami! Party! [Jay-Z reaction shot] Miami! Party! M-I-A! Choose or lose! Vote or die! rock music Miami! Party! [Jay-Z reaction shot].

With all the visibly empty seats in the arena, I had to make sure I wasn't watching the Olympics. MTV should have moved people in the nosebleed seats down a tier and covered the upper tier with black tarps like WWE does.

Kurt Loder: So what's your album like, Paris?
Paris Hilton: It comes out in January.

I hate that bleached fauxhawk that Ashlee Simpson's guitarist has. He looks like an ethnically-ambiguous poser with a skunk on his head.

I hate how the lead singer of New Found Glory likes to point his mic at the audience. I saw the band in June and he kept pointing his mic at the audience. I didn't pay to hear songs with dropped lyrics all over the place.

I hate awards show performance medleys. Musical artists: pick a song and perform it. If I wanted to hear shitty samples of your music, I'd visit

I thought it was fitting that New Found Glory performed "All Downhill From Here" on the Video Music Awards pre-show.

I hate people who call it the "VMAs."

For a quality celebration of music videos, I suggest attending Resfest, a traveling digital film festival that launches next week in New York City.

Each year, the festival programs two blocks of music videos. I've attended screenings in previous years and highly recommend them.

The 2004 "Videos That Rock" program includes the videos for:
"Televators" by The Mars Volta
"Walkie Talkie Man" by Steriogram
"Take Me Out" by Franz Ferdinand
"Staring at the Sun" by TV on the Radio
"Assessments" by The Beta Band
"Float On" by Modest Mouse
"Sing for Absolution" by Muse
"So Says I" by The Shins
"Spokes on the Wheel of Torment" by Buckethead
"Exotic Talk" by RJD2and 13 more

The 2004 "Cinema Electronica" program includes the videos for:
"Electronic Performers" by Air
"Get Yourself High" by The Chemical Brothers
"Fit But You Know It" by The Streets
"Cish Cash" by Basement Jaxx
"Good Luck" by Basement Jaxx
"Needy Girl" by Chromeo
"Rocket Ride" by Felix Da Housecat
"Biting Tongues" by Faultline
"All Caps" by Madvillain
"Twist" by Goldfrapp
"Sometimes" by Kid606
and 12 more

This year's festival also features a Johnathan Glazer (Sexy Beast) retrospective that includes his videos for:
"Street Spirit" by Radiohead
"Virtual Insanity" by Jamiroquai
"Karma Police" by Radiohead
"Rabbit in Your Headlights" by UNKLE

Look out for Resfest this fall if you live in: New York City, Boston, San Francisco, London (UK), Austin (TX), Los Angeles, Portland (OR), Toronto, Washington D.C., Chicago or Sydney (AU).

Why don't you see if you can e-mail your pee?

After the MTV Video Music Awards wrapped up Sunday night, Republican blowhard Matt Drudge posted this on his website:

Sun Aug 29 2004 23:36:31 ET

MTV, ROLLING STONE and the rock and roll establishment — past and present — have cast their vote, and their man is John Kerry.

So on Sunday night when John Kerry's daughters were announced to speak at the annual MTV VIDEO MUSIC AWARDS, the MTV youth were expected to welcome his daughter's as pop culture princesses.

Instead, in an era of the unexpected, the daughters of the Democratic candidate were met with a resounding wall of boos at the filming in Miami.

From the moment Alexandra and Vanessa started speaking, the boos outweighed anything close to cheers, and the reaction turned worse when the daughters asked the VIACOM youth to vote for their father. So shocked by the reaction, the taller of the two daughters tried to 'shhhhhh' her peers to no avail.


Drudge conveniently left out that Bush's daughters appeared in the same segment and were booed as well.

Even if you're a Democrat, I dare you not to laugh at this.


From the Wall Street Journal:
—Borders and Waldenbooks take reservations and reorder anti-Kerry Swift Boaters' "Unfit for Command" to meet demand. Buyers on Amazon, the Web site says, also shop for "If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat: Crushing the Democrats in Every Election and Why Your Life Depends on It," and "The American Prophecies: Ancient Scriptures Reveal Our Nation's Future."

On DVD, these customers like "The Nutty Professor" with Jerry Lewis.

One of my balls is bigger than Tate Donovan

The latest issue of Rolling Stone has an article on UC Santa Cruz, "the most stoned campus on earth." While I'd expect it to be Humboldt State or a Wellesley satellite location in Tehran, I can vouch for UCSC. Alex says he once smoked twelve times in one day (April 20, unsurprisingly) and refers to straight-edge buddy and schoolmate Dan as "a stoner who doesn't smoke." He's currently writing a review of Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle for the back-to-school issue of the…um… Daily Banana Slug?

From the "what in the blue hell?" file: Has anyone seen that television commercial in which Jamaican elephants play reggae music and eat Skippy peanut butter?

Free iPod!
Just follow these two easy steps:
1. collect $60 from five of your friends
2. quit the jewness and fuckin' buy one

The Ten Commandments: The Musical is set to open at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood in September.

Who did producers cast to play Moses in this musical?

Val Kilmer.

Today at the pool, there was a guy swimming freestyle in my lane, only every few strokes, instead of turning his head to breathe like most swimmers do, he would stop swimming and lift his head up out of the water. Stroke stroke stroke PAUSE breathe. Stroke stroke stroke stroke PAUSE breathe. Coincidentally, that's also how I masturbate.

The latest issue of Spin has an article on bands who cover music from Nintendo video games. Someone needs to cover the music in the Indiana Jones level of Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose for the Super Nintendo. What an underrated composition. I still hum it to this day.

Marc Cooper in the L.A. Weekly:
—Do Karl Rove and his Kronies believe we are chimpanzees? Do they believe they can conjure from whole cloth an entire counternarrative of Kerry's life? That we will overlook the consequences of the current war in Iraq — which has cost a thousand American dead, 6,500 wounded and $200 billion — because Kerry's wounds in a different war 35 years ago were not deep enough to satisfy an orange-haired, Viagra-pumped Bob Dole? (Dole, by the way, admits that some of the shrapnel he carries might have been blowback from one of his own tossed grenades).

That said, […] Kerry voted for this folly of a war, and when offered the chance to second-guess that decision two weeks ago, he doggedly stood by his original poor choice. So if I were Bush and I saw that Kerry had robbed himself of the chance to attack me on Iraq, I too would have gone after him on his Vietnam record. Why not?

And what did Kerry think the Republicans were going to do after he staked his entire campaign on his projected "strength" as a Vietnam vet? […] When Kerry strutted around like Rambo, he forfeited the basic principle of making elections about the future instead of the past, and instead of talking about what kind of change he might represent, here we are once again mired in the Big Muddy of Vietnam.

I'm sitting this next election out. Bush and Kerry both make me Ralph, and Ralph is the Nader of modern politics. I hope Giuliani runs in 2008.

Totally obsessed!

Christopher Reeve just rolled in from Montana and boy, is his battery tired

—oh jonny
—you realize nearly everyone who reads your site thinks your a pretentious dickface?

Gee golly…

I love seeing former Oz cast members on other television shows. In the past two days, I saw Vern Schillinger on Nip/Tuck and Ryan O'Reily on Rescue Me. If NBC wasn't airing the Olympics, I'd see a bunch more on the Law & Order shows. I honestly believe that Oz had the most talented cast of any television drama in history.

The college football season begins this weekend. I would be excited, except my school's football team isn't very good. To make matters worse, our crosstown rival USC has the number one-ranked college football team in America.

In my four going on five years at UCLA, our football team has never beaten USC and doesn't look like it will anytime soon. This feud is extremely dispiriting. I use the word "feud" instead of "rivalry" because, as Bill Simmons writes: "in order to have a rivalry, both sides have to win." UCLA/USC ain't Michigan/Ohio State, folks. Michigan students don't dread rivalry week.

Students at my school tend to look ahead to basketball season and even then, our team hasn't beaten USC in two years, against two lousy Trojan squads no less.

From Sports Illustrated:
—In King James, a new DC Comic book, LeBron James is crowned King of Basketball after dominating an underground tournament run by a "mysterious, secret organization."

To add to the excitement of the King James comic launch, ten different cover designs for the comic have been created by some of the comic industry's best artists (Damion Scott, James Jean, Udon, John Van Fleet, Jock and Ariel Olivetti).

Um…collect all ten?

DC Comics printed three million copies.

A cynical remark writes itself.

Brain Dead, Made of Money, No Future at All

I spent all last week at work cooking up designs for the annual UCLA Restaurants coffee mug.

Today, my boss presented the marketing department's collective designs to the higher-ups and they chose a design featuring a vector art rendering of the arches on our student union that my co-worker Kevin threw together in the morning.

Apparently, the higher-ups liked my designs but deemed them "inappropriate."

I heard the head of ASUCLA (which oversees UCLA Restaurants) say in front of my face that he liked my designs.But they're "inappropriate."

two samples:
black mug design
white mug design (my boss asked me to rework a design of his that featured words with the prefix "re")

—I like his designs, but my secretary would never buy these mugs.

God, it's so frustrating.

My mother called me and told me that she found a job for me. Her friend's daughter is an assistant editor at a national magazine currently looking for writers.

Sweet, I thought.

—What magazine?


I can't see myself writing for a home and garden magazine. For one, I don't know jack about anything home- or garden-related. Moreover, editors would probably deem the work I do submit "inappropriate."

—I like this article, but it's not conventional enough. Many of our readers won't "get it."

If I was Sunset, I wouldn't hire me. But hey, it's a lead, and I like to travel and Sunset has a travel section.

I wish I knew how to write a resumé.

My friend Jose looks down on the internet. He writes for the Style (arts and entertainment) section of the Washington Post and believes that if a piece of writing isn't published in a newspaper or a magazine, then it's not worth reading.

He once told me: "Jon, you're a good writer, but I'm published."

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

I practically lived out of the Oracle room in high school. I spent more time in there working on the school newspaper and yearbook than I spent at home. Lunch, after school, production nights, in-service days.

Near the end of senior year, on a bus ride to an orchestra competition, Daniel Clemens asked me if I planned to write for the Daily Bruin at UCLA and I said "of course."

Then controversy erupted over my final issue of the Oracle, all of it attributed to me. How could you write that? How could you publish this? Libel! Betrayal! Sexual harassment! Terrorism!

"They" thought I went too far. I thought "they" overreacted.

In the end, the school administration deposed my journalism adviser and suspended me indefinitely five days before graduation.

My actions were, well, deemed "inappropriate," despite the fact that some people (including faculty) liked what they saw and read.

I fell into a period of severe guilt and depression. The whole incident soured me on dealing with organized journalism. I didn't feel like writing for the Daily Bruin anymore.

I still wanted to write, only without creative regulation, for better or for worse. This website resulted.

Four years later, I don't have anything to show for all the time I've devoted to this site. I don't have any clippings post-high school that I can present to potential employers or graduate journalism schools. If I give them selections from the Adam Riff™ archive (see sidebar), they'll likely scoff like Jose does. The internet is the movie adaptation of a newspaper or magazine's book.I really fucked myself over.


One quarter of school left. Time is running out…

In addition to regular assignments, Jose's editor at the Washington Post assigned him a mini-beat covering video games. I mention this because he's a gay man whose primary interests are politics, figure skating and whoever's on the cover of Us Weekly. His most recent mini-beat assignment was an article on Madden 2005 ("Madden NFL Scores Again," 08.12.04). Hahaha.


Drew Stevens

I saw Dustin Kensrue of Thrice and Rocky Votolato Friday night at The Knitting Factory.

Armed with nothing but an acoustic guitar and a mic, Dustin played a few Thrice songs (including "Madman" and by request, the beginning of "Phoenix Ignition"), two Ursus Veritas (his solo project) songs and a bunch of covers.

His bluesy cover of The Beatles' "Oh! Darling".

He also covered: Bob Marley, Counting Crows, Elvis Costello (twice), Pedro The Lion, Sinead O'Connor and closed with a rendition of Radiohead's "Creep," albeit the clean version, probably because his parents were in the audience.

I hear the floor of the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Oregon bounces. Apparently, the maple boards of the floor lie atop a series of rockers (like those of a rocking chair) with ball bearings attached to the two ends of each rocker, creating a fluid up-and-down movement, the tension of which a ratcheted gear can adjust.

I must see a show at this venue before I die.

Hmm… Franz Ferdinand plays there on September 24, and Portland's only three hours from Seattle (cough, Chris, cough, Mike).


(the third of three travel blogs)

—"The blue masthead is hideous and the headline font screams typographic antiquity."
—we all think that this is a really big art fag sentence
—you should've used more pee pee doo doo humor

If you're lost, see: Planes and Trains.

In John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath, the Joad's truck passes through border patrol before entering the state of Arizona. Driving from Michigan through Indiana and into Illinois, I realized that American states don't have border patrols. What's sad is that I've actually driven into Arizona from California before.

I should mention that Robert drove the car from metro Detroit to Chicago and back. I was merely a passenger.

I've been on two road trips with Jord and Tony and both times, the two of them would not let me drive. I think Jord thinks that I'm a bad driver because I'm Asian. I'm not that bad of a driver, dammit! Granted, I did drive into a tree trying to make a U-turn in the middle of a four-lane street, but that was when I only had a permit. I have a license now.

I saw a billboard on I-94 that said —We will end bullying. Another advertised vasectomy reversal. One had a photo of a retarded baby and said —Not just another pretty face. I remember this was supposed to promote something completely unrelated, like a car dealership. The strangest billboard I saw had a creepy female face popping out of a plain white background and nothing else. An art installation, perhaps?

Krazy Kaplan must really want to get rid of his fireworks.

I hate it when a semi truck passes another semi truck on a two-lane interstate.

From the unnecessary franchise file, I saw a McDonald's planted between the two sides of the interstate beside a row of toll booths leading in and out of Chicago.

On the drive back from Chicago, the early afternoon Indiana sun shone on (and baked) my side of the car. I asked Robert to turn on the air conditioning and he turned a knob and pressed a button. Minutes later, I was still covered in sweat. I put my hand up against an air vent. Turns out I could have cooled myself more blowing air with my mouth. Apparently, Robert and I have very different conceptions of air conditioning. In my family, when we turn on the air conditioning in a car, the indoor climate soon approximates the dairy section of a supermarket.

My supervisor Manny's father works in the air conditioning business and says that automotive air conditioning systems waste the same amount of energy regardless of chill factor.

Conclusion: Robert is a sadist. I now know what dogs trapped in hot cars feel like.

Back in Michigan, Robert, Danielle, Jram, Kelly, Chow and I went to see Open Water in Birmingham. Before the movie, I was hungry and Robert led me to a nearby Subway (see the previous graf for why).

Jon's rule of travel #56: NO Subway.

Tony, Jord and I road tripped nine hours to Montreal last summer and for dinner, we ate at Subway. Of all the eateries unique to Montreal, we ate at fuckin' Subway. I don't want to slam globalization (that same trip, I shit my pants — literally — and amidst a bunch of foreign department stores in downtown Montreal, I saw a Gap and knew for sure that I could trust its pants) but worldwide food franchise saturation spoils part of the fun of traveling. Man is inherently attracted the familiar.

This is my impression of downtown Birmingham on a Saturday night:

Fifty billion underage teenagers who all shop at Urban Outfitters: We look like we should be at home watching SNICK instead of cruising streets unsupervised for hot Chaldean ass!


Every time I tell someone that I'm going to Michigan, I always receive the same reply.

—Why? What's in Michigan?

I never know how to respond.

—Um…people I met online?

Every place is boring at its core. I am aware of this. However, I'd still rather fly halfway across the country to sit around in someone's basement than spend another day at home.

When I was in Chicago, Jord told me that he might oversee kiosks on this fall's Nintendo Fusion Tour.

I started thinking about what he said.

On the plane flights back from Michigan, on the El trains in Chicago, on the drive east between said two locales, I seriously considered abandoning all my professional aspirations to work a shit job for WWE, assembling the ring or something, simply for the opportunity to be on the road 3/4 of the year, to be in a different city almost every night each week 51 weeks a year.

Can't settle down before I die young.

Phantom space man's a big fat jerk!

I read in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly about an unscripted cable show called Gana La Verde (Win the Green) on which Spanish-speaking immigrants — some illegal, some legal — perform Fear Factor-style stunts and odd jobs to win a year of legal aid from a Beverly Hills-based law firm hired by the show's producers to expedite the immigration process. The show airs five nights a week in Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Dallas.

Eating a live-scorpion-filled burrito for a green card? Brilliant.

In other news, Fox just greenlighted a reality series called Most Extreme Elimination Border Crossing.

—fox and friends is on so early in the morning because thats the only way any person on earth can take it

While channel surfing, I stopped on MTV and the screen read —Mitch just found out that one of his girlfriends may be cheating on him.

Needless to say, Mitch was devastated.

Chef Julia Child died last week. The Frugal Gourmet chef died last month. Could there be a public television chef serial killer on the loose? Martin Yan Can Cook better watch his back.

In a commercial for Blockbuster's Movie Pass, a disembodied voice asks a few "regular" people what they want to see more of in movies and then asks the same question to Carmen Electra. One of these things is not like the other…

Why is she in this commercial?

—I know! Let's pay Carmen Electra a lot of money to appear briefly and say the word "more" lasciviously! That will make people want to rent more movies!

I thought it was funny when, bored with the Bradshaw vs. Undertaker match at SummerSlam, the Toronto audience amused itself doing the wave.

The most interesting aspect of the Olympics is how ugly the facilities look. No wonder seating areas are half-empty.

Decolonizing the Revolutionary Imagination

I love the movie The Rock.

I saw it four times in theatres (twice on opening day) and hold dear my Criterion Collection double-disc set (the Ed Harris outtakes are hi-larious).

Fun fact: Quentin Tarantino and Aaron Sorkin were uncredited screenwriters.

The first time I saw The Rock, I sat through the end credits and thought "Wow, the score was amazing."

That summer, my family visited Taiwan, where I saw The Rock with my cousin Pluto. This fourth viewing reminded me of how amazing the score was. After the movie, I made Pluto drive me to a record store and bought the soundtrack.

I accidentally left the soundtrack in Pluto's car. A few days later, I met up with him and he remarked that he'd been listening to the soundtrack in his car and thought it was really good.

—Can I burn a copy?

The score for The Rock was inexplicably not nominated for an Academy Award. However, since the movie's release, Hans Zimmer's score has become somewhat of a cult hit.

By the time I finished high school, every band geek was familiar with the score for The Rock. In addition, I've heard it used in several movie trailers like the ones for Armageddon and K19: The Widowmaker.

Bottom line: I (and many others) think the score for the The Rock rocks.

So now then.

I was reading album reviews in Rolling Stone and read that a song on Brandy's latest album "includes samples of Hans Zimmer Hollywood movie music."

[tires screeching]


Tell me she did not…


I promptly tracked down a copy of the song in question and…yes…yes, she did.

Brandy sings over a loop of part of the score for The Rock.

How dare producer Timbaland sample this! At the beginning of the song, he proclaims "This is a champion song!" Correction: This was a champion song, until you and Moesha decided to gay it up with a drum machine and lyrics about ending an unhealthy relationship. The two dilute the dramatic potency of Zimmer's composition considerably. And for what? R&B "flava."

To add insult to injury, at the end of the song, Brandy laughs like a schoolgirl.

—Hey everybody! I just defiled one of the best movie scores of the 90s! Tee hee!

God, I desperately want to shove a glossy green VX ball in her mouth right now.

Listen for yourself:
Hans Zimmer – "Hummel Gets The Rockets"
Brandy – "Finally"

Watch the Closing Doors

A commercial for the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards lists Dave Chappelle under "performers" instead of "presenters."

Rick James tribute, anyone?

I'm sick of hearing Americans complain about Olympics coverage and the time difference. How do you think we on the west coast feel every fuckin' day? If you've never had to get up at the asscrack of dawn on Sunday to watch football games or steer clear of the internet before a major television event, then you have no right to complain.

From the UCLA Guide to Greek Life:
—Hazing is prohibited, it's against the law, and at UCLA, it's enforced…plain and simple.

Whenever I visit an ice cream shop and see a girl behind the counter, I like to order multiple scoops of chocolate just to watch her suffer.

Today, I bled on my dinner and then ate it. Hardcore!


Okay, I had a nosebleed and hate wasting money.

I want to be buried with coins on my eyelids.

Putting Shame in Your Name


Hurricane Charley?

most ridiculous first names:
1. black people
2. children of celebrities
3. chinese people
4. dangerous weather systems

Let me explain number three.

Many Chinese people have English first names that sound ridiculous paired with a Chinese surname. For example, Sarah's father, Conway Chan.

I have a late-thirtysomething cousin who's a computer engineer in Taiwan. He needed an English name for work. What did he select? Pluto. Like the planet. Pluto Chen.

My mother has a childhood girl friend who named herself Chaska.

Then there are the unfortunate American-born children of Chinese immigrants.

Chinese parents usually come up with thoughtful Chinese first names for their children. My Chinese first name means "rises from the east" which, of course, refers to the sun or "son." Get it?

English counterparts are more arbitrary. Olivia, for example, was named after Olivia Newton John.

I've had Chinese friends and classmates with names like: Chanson, Chester, Cliff, Elvin, Emeline, Fandy, Geraint and Phyllis.

Freshman year of high school, I had to pick a Spanish first name for Spanish II. I didn't want to be Pedro "I have a donkey's name" Yu again. Scanning the list of suggested names, I saw "Hugo" and thought of Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame and its author Victor Hugo and impulsively picked it as my name. Not only was it a metrosexual choice in retrospect, but I also forgot that in Spanish, Hs are silent, so all year long, Señora McElaney (those Irish love to speak Spanish) referred to me as "ooh-go," or "juice" in Spanish.

From the LA Weekly:
—No Republican has claimed the presidency without winning Ohio.

Well, that settles it. Bush and Kerry should just run for president of Ohio. Let Ohioans endure all the campaigning and commercials and news coverage.

Bruce Springsteen and friends are wasting their time touring swing states.

Good to know that the fate of our country lies in the hands of Ohio.

P.S. Fuck aphids.

Amstel Light and OxyContin

I consider myself to be fairly informed about cinema, so I was surprised to see a sequel to Baby Geniuses on Arclight Hollywood's August film schedule.

This movie is actually being released in theatres.

Evidently, Hollywood can't get enough of movies with talking babies.

Remember that TGIF sitcom with a talking baby voiced by Tony Danza? I think Scott Baio was a cast member.

Bob Clark directed Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2. He also directed Porky's and A Christmas Story. What went wrong, Bob?

Fun fact: Porky's is the highest-grossing Canadian film of all time.

I bought a DVD at Best Buy and the total came to $16.23. I threw the cashier a twenty and he handed me two one-dollar bills, three quarters, two pennies and a Sacajawea one-dollar coin. I could see other one-dollar bills in the cash register. Why me? I thought. Why must I inherit the freak dollar coin?

I hate how American banks only exchange loonies and twonies. I have all this useless Canadian spare change on my bookshelf.

I suspect this site spies on our site.


(the second of three travel blogs)

I visited Jord in Chicago.

He was in absentia from Michigan, spending the summer in Chicago as a member of the Chicago Nintendo Street Team. For those of you who don't know, the Nintendo Street Team is a group of grown men who let children play with Game Boys attached to belts around their waists at fairs and participate in challenges like re-writing the lyrics to "Jenny from the Block."

Jord greeted me outside his apartment and radiated the smell of laundry detergent. How much fuckin' Tide did he use for this past load? I wondered.

Together, we visited Bruno (another Michigan transplant) at his apartment. Bruno's quite a character. He reminds me of Cabbie from The Howard Stern Show. As I entered Bruno's apartment, to my left was a wall covered with Sharpie graffiti and to my right, a door with a strip of paper that read "Ronald W. Reagan" taped on it. I soon met Bruno's roommates. One is a slob wigger and the other is a straight-edge conservative with the neatest room I've ever seen for a male. This apartment and its tenants would be a surefire television hit: The Wigger, The Neocon and…Bruno.

Bruno and Jord decided that we should eat dinner in Chinatown.

[tires screeching]

Jon's rule of travel #38: Let's not go to Chinatown.

Apparently, Jord craved a bubble tea (or "pearl tea" or "boba," depending on where you live) drink from this one particular restaurant in Chinatown. When I returned to Michigan from Chicago, Jord's ex-girlfriend told me that one time she wanted to patronize a bubble tea shop in Ann Arbor but Jord thought bubble tea was lame. Someone's a closet bubble tea lover…

At dinner, our conversation somehow led to Bruno talking about how men recognize the smell of semen because they're around it so often.

A few minutes later, Bruno mentioned something about how he and Jord got drunk one night and while watching The Dreamers, he asked Jord a movie trivia question and Jord answered incorrectly, so he made Jord masturbate in front of him and jizz on a poster of himself (Bruno). I wasn't sure if Bruno was serious or not.

Back at Jord's apartment, I was lying around on the ground next to the television and noticed a dark brown pubic hair on the carpet next to my head.

On the second day, Jord had some Nintendo Street Team business to attend to (shilling Nintendo on the local news during an interview about Barack Obama), so I jaunted about the city by myself.

I like the El train system. I never had to wait very long for a train to arrive and the routes were moderately scenic. Among the metropolitan train systems I've used, I'd rank it behind the Metro in Washington D.C. (simple route map, clean cars, stations reminiscent of Gattaca) and the train system in Tokyo (convenient, always on time).

First stop: grad school contender Northwestern University in Evanston. I noticed a lot of painting of rocks. The campus is architecturally bland and frustrating to navigate, but its shoreline is nice. I'd never seen black waves in pastel green water before.

Walking down Howard Street on my way to The Fish Keg, I saw a store called The Sweet Shop with the tagline: "home of the old school and new school candy." I went in to see if the store had any old school Bar None candy bars (the best candy bar ever…bar none…before Hershey added caramel to it). No Bar Nones, old school or new school.

The Chicago Tribune needs to hire better layout designers. The blue masthead is hideous and the headline font screams typographic antiquity.

Adrian Tomine owns. Optic Nerve should be required reading.

Millennium Park pulled me in, but the Pritzker Pavilion bandshell turned me off. In the middle of downtown, amidst beautiful old architecture, stands this aesthetic atrocity. Frank Lloyd Wright is probably rolling in his grave. I hate Frank Gehry's wavy tinfoil constructions. Please stop.

A dime is worth a lot more in Detroit / A dime in California, a twenty dollar fine

In 1964, a British television network began an intriguing documentary experiment. They interviewed a group of 7-year-olds, asking them what they wanted to do in life and what kind of a future they envisioned. Since then, every seven years, director Michael Apted has revisited the subjects for an update on their lives.

I'm back from the midwest.

Every time I visit, I feel like I'm filming an installment of a similar experiment, witnessing firsthand human change over the passage of time. For example, this time around, Tony reminded me of a heroin addict. His behavior was more erratic than I recall from previous sessions together. While sitting around, I counted three times in six hours that he found something to write on and started writing random phrases in Russian like an autistic child.

Enough filler.

I'm back in California and on a deep fried food hiatus. I ate way too much deep fried shit this past week in the midwest: potato wedges, mushrooms, chicken strips, a quesadilla, a chicken breast, fries, chicken nuggets, Canadian perch, spinach mozzarella, curly fries.

In Wicker Park, I saw a store that sold fried twinkies.

(the first of three travel blogs)

On the way to LAX, I saw a bus stop bench that said "Advertise Jesus." Is that really necessary? Isn't he kind of overexposed as it is? He's the Paris Hilton of religion.

At curbside check at LAX, the black man behind the counter asked where I was flying and I said Detroit.

—I'm sorry. We don't serve Detroit people here.

Whaaa? I thought.

—I'm…I'm not from Detroit. I'm visiting Detroit.

The black man turned to his co-worker and asked —Hey Sully! Do we serve Detroit people here?

—Nawww, replied Sully.

—Look, I have to catch my flight. I told you I'm not from Detroit!

—You a Pistons fan? the black man asked.


Fuckin' Lakers fans. The NBA Finals were two months ago. Get over it.

On the flight from Phoenix to Detroit (few airlines fly directly from Los Angeles to Detroit), I had a middle seat. Upon locating my seat row, I saw a black person sitting in the window seat. I couldn't tell if this person was a man or a woman. "It" had short hair and wore earrings, a visor and a tracksuit. I thought "it" was a woman but then a flight attendant referred to "it" as "sir."

Anyway, "it" had its legs spread and its left leg encroached into my seat area. When I sat down, "it" did not move its leg, so for the first half-hour of the flight, my legs were scrunched together in the left 2/3 of my seat.

There are three types of airports: ones that have McDonald's (San Francisco, San Jose, LAX, Denver, Dallas, O'Hare), ones that have Burger Kings (Sea-Tac, McCarran, Sky Harbor, Philadelphia) and ones that just make up their own eateries (Detroit, Midway, Dulles), although to Detroit Metro's credit, I saw a Quizno's in the Smith Terminal this time around.

Portland "International" is an anomaly. It has neither McDonald's, Burger King or quack eateries, but instead Wendy's and Panda Express, which none of the other airports I've been to have.

Few things are worse than an airplane delay. Come to think of it, every time I've flown America West, I've hit a delay, two of which were four hours long. The shit I put up with for cheap plane tickets.

On my way to baggage claim at LAX, I encountered a large crowd of people blocking the entranceway to the baggage claim area. Apparently, police temporarily shut down the terminal because of security concerns. Try as I might, I could not summon Tom Hanks' complacency with being stuck in a airport, particularly after a layover delay at Sky Harbor.