"The true gentleman is friendly, but not familiar." - CONFUCIUS

Monday, July 20, 2009


DO YOU SLEEP IN A DUMPSTER? If your answer is yes, then the current economic ‘downfizz’ is definitely impacting your life. It is possible that you’ve been a jobless loser since well before Alan Greenspan went from looking old and smug to just old in pictures, but we’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, until the state starts taxing that too, then we’ll need it back, with interest. But that’s only the most extreme case. Many of us still have roofs over our heads that aren’t made of cardboard, and for us the crunch is manifesting itself in more subtle ways. I sat down and came up with six of the most common telltale symptoms, because I have a lot of free time on my hands these days.

YOU’RE CLEANING YOUR PLACE A LOT. I guess it doesn’t hurt to put a coaster under that book on the coffee table. I suppose everyone should sweep their roof at least once. And I can’t remember the last time I pulled the buttons off my computer keyboard and blew the breadcrumbs out from under the space bar either. A clean home makes you look good, and if you do get evicted, it makes moving out so much faster.

YOU’RE EXPLORING HOBBIES. You crochet, eh? Who knew? Duct tape origami? I guess it takes all kinds. Extreme ironing? More power to you. On that note, feel free to come iron my clothes anytime you run out of rumpled threads. Job-hunting is time-consuming. I'll bring you back an application from Old Navy or something.

YOU’RE DRINKING A LOT. We’re not saying you didn’t usually have a rum and coke with breakfast before you got laid off. And The Unfamiliar supports daytime drinking under any circumstances. It's just those empty beer bottles beside the toilet that are bothering us. And hassling the drive-thru cashier at McDonalds about getting a liquor license is a waste of even your time, frankly.

YOU’RE WORKING OUT A LOT. Check out Freddie Fitness heaving away on the sideways row! Get a load of Wilma Workout on the elliptical! Again, this is a great thing. Your increase in exercise will hopefully help you sweat out all that liquor. And you know the saying: ‘prevention beats a cure’. Or is it ‘a gym membership is cheaper than health insurance’? I forget. Anyway, your ankles look great.

YOU’RE AT HOME A LOT. Man, I had the WHOLE BLOCK. All three red properties, all three yellow properties, all hoteled up. But then I screwed up and gave him a permanent pass in exchange for Pennsylvania Avenue. He had like thirteen bucks! I’m getting his ass tomorrow. Can we just leave the board here on the table? Nobody’s gonna mess with it, right?

YOU’RE BLOGGING. Blow it out your ass. You'll have your own in a week, tops.

The MJ Sidewalk Party, Olympic & Figueroa

SOME PEOPLE SAY THE BEST SPOT IN A HOUSE PARTY IS THE KITCHEN. Others say the best spot in the club is the parking lot. But I'd wager that most of yesterday's attendees would agree that the place to be at Michael Jackson's memorial in the Staples Center was... the Staples Center. For most people, the next best place was watching the proceedings at home on TV, which is what almost every Angeleno who gave half a shit and didn’t have memorial tickets did with their Tuesday. FAIL.

So many LA residents take living here for granted. Waaaa traffic! Waaaa parking! Waaaaa.... job! You sound old. Yesterday I spoke with several people in other cities who would have gladly stood as close as the cops would let them get to the action, just to be part of something huge, something historic, something human. And likewise, there were some locals who didn’t have tickets, and just didn’t feel right sitting at home with a family pack of bon-bons, watching the grand send-off of one of the most influential people to ever walk God’s green earth from fifteen stinking minutes down the street. Thus the Olympic and Figueroa MJ Sidewalk Memorial Party came to be.

Korean news crews. Mexican water vendors. Bums and mothers who thought rolling a stroller through a packed sidewalk wasn’t the worst idea ever. Uppity new Downtown residentswho think wheeling their bicycles through a packed sidewalk wasn’t the worst idea ever. “It’s actually illegal to block the sidewalk, you know.” Uh, yeah. Well those 50 cops over there seem okay with it, lady. Nitpicky cops. “We’re gonna need you to stand on the sidewalk,” literally one step behind me. Really? Suspect fans, supposedly engaging in a spontaneous MJ singalong for the news cameras, but they had to print out the song lyrics. What kind of MJ fan doesn’t know the damn song lyrics?

Opportunists like Imaginehr Cantero II, a short Central American man in an olive pin-striped suit and relentlessly brillcreamed haircut whose nametag says ‘evolutionary scientist’ and business card (which he passed out to everyone in reach) says ‘home recovery service’. He does a mean moonwalk though. Opportunists like the high-school kid who got checked by a bystander for trying to hawk fake memorial programs for $20. “You’re lying,” she says. “It’s called hustling!” he cries. Confused tourists like the fat white lady with her fannypack choking her belly who said “I think there’s a billion people here!” Not exactly.

Random chants like ‘spread the love with the glove’. No thanks. Sounds like something you catch in an operating room. Impromptu dance-offs that never lasted too long because the MJ CD started skipping. At least someone’s still buying CDs. Or burning them. Memorabilia houndslike the old lady begging passersby after the memorial let out for their ticket stubs. “You have the memories; can I have the paper?” And lastly, haters like the guy with the ‘stop useing my taxes 4 millionaires’ sign who got the chewing out of his young life by a lady nearby before getting dragged off by the cops, kicking and yelling and flashing his college ID. “I go to USC, you dumb bitch!” Then you should know how to spell ‘using’, bub.