August 8th, 2001


Where are the bikini-clad rollerbladers?

Saturday may very well have been the most eventful day of the whole trip. We went for a tour of Venice Beach and Santa Monica. It's hard to decide where to begin. I will say that Venice Beach is everything TV has made it out to be.

Right as we got there, an old man dressed like Jimi Hendrix rolled past us on in-line skates. There was a guy sitting next to a sand sculpture of a mermaid stroking her breast who started jumping up and down and shaking his arms when I tried to take his picture. There was a man standing on top of a table in front of a leather store modeling to cheap European techno, posing and pouting for any camera that came near him. We saw anti-abortion hippies, blondes on Razor Scooters, iddy biddy little dogs. The day got warmer and sunnier as it wore on. I managed to find a necklace for myself and a painting for my mom. We wandered up and down the strip and stopped and then had lunch in front of Muscle Beach (it was kind of gratifying to be eating while watching those guys pumped themselves silly).

Dale "tipped" this couple who refused to step out from behind their umbrella until she did. The couple was an old black man and an older white woman, who according to their sign, have been married for 12 years as of June 2001. She stood behind a keyboard, he held the umbrella. Once the tip was paid, though, the umbrella was dropped, the woman came out from behind the keyboard, and the couple started dancing in their matching gold lame bikini and banana hammock. She was shaking every piece of loose flesh she had, he was thrusting his bulge back and forth until it looked like a little gold comet. At the time, the reality of the situation was too much for me and I had to turn away and go look at some gentle, not half-naked non-thrusting…*anything*. Dale's dollar bought her not only the chance to see this spectacle, but to film it as well, so I was able to catch the instant replay later in the evening. Somehow, the whole thing seemed less disturbingly surreal when it was on a little screen.

There were several people out there doing some sort of novelty act in the hopes of being compensated for it, but I was particularly drawn to the very tall, very large black guy standing with a big round picture of the eye/pyramid around his neck and carrying a sign that said WHY IS THERE A PYRAMID ON THE ONE DOLLAR BILL? IT'S NOT BECAUSE OF THE MASONS. I walked up to him, shook his hand and asked, "Why is there a pyramid on the one dollar bill?" and placed one of the aforementioned dollar bills in his little box. He reminded me that Jesus loves and blesses me and began his theory. The truncated version of that theory goes as such: "Moses went to Egypt and freed the Jews from 400 years of slavery. The Bible teaches us that you reap what you sow. So," he asked, "when will the Egyptians reap what they sow and endure a term of slavery?" Then he pulled out a copy of Jet Magazine that featured photographs of Michael Jackson, Eddie Murphy and Iman dressed as Egyptians for the Remember the Time video. "Since 1992, there has been increasing study and evidence that the Egyptians were black. Take a small tribe and soon they will spread across a continent." Now I'm confused, but he manages to tie it all together. "So, since the Egyptians were the black man of the past, the enslavement of the black man was not an offense but a recourse, a retribution for enslaving the Jews. This is why the pyramid is on the one dollar bill, to constantly remind us of the slavery in Egypt and how it relates to today. As soon as we all learn this, as soon as the black man stops hating the white man and the white man stops feeling guilty for enslaving the black man, the Egyptians will have reaped what they have sown, and we will have harmony."

I wasn't sure if he made this up just for me and was changing his story for everyone who asked, but he did give me a printed copy of his philosophy. He asked me to spread the word and asked if I had any questions. I politely said no, shook his hand once more and thanked him for sharing his thoughts with me. I was again reminded that I am blessed and loved by Jesus.
  • Current Mood
    contemplative contemplative

Everyone's got to have a cause

We left Venice Beach to head up to the Santa Monica outdoor mall and the Pier. The outdoor mall, The Third Street Promenade, if I remember correctly, was a beautiful downtown shopping center, blocked off for only foot traffic about a block away from the ocean.

While poking around and window shopping, I was approached by a man with a clipboard offering me free tickets to a comedy show. I told him that I was leaving soon but thanks anyway, and he said the comedy show was going on right now. He then asked me if I had seen the most recent video by the band Cake for their song Short Skirt, Long Jacket. I had, and he said that he is the guy in the beginning who really likes the music (for those of you who have not seen the video, it features shots of people listening to the song on headphones and giving their opinion on it), and I recognized him. He told me that the show was a benefit for his new “Choke-A-Negro” foundation that he hopes will be more fruitful than last year’s S.O.B.A., or, Save Our Black Asses foundation, which didn’t do so well. He asked me to take a picture of me with my hands around his neck for the Choke-A-Negro fund, which he hopes will be all over the internet soon. I called Dale over to take the picture for us, and he exclaimed, “Two white women built like black women! I can get down with you. I’m tired of all of the Moniquas and Shaniquas. I need me an Allison.” He asked for a donation, which I was happy to provide.

Things got a little weird after he asked me where I lived. Upon telling him that I’m from DC, he said “you know why black cities are always next to water?” Expecting a punchline, I asked why and he answered, “So they can hide all of the dead bodies,” and gave me the name of a book I should read on that topic. I took that as my cue to move along.

We strolled around for a while and then decided to get a margarita. VJ’s roommate Ed, a local, knew of a hotel that has a rooftop restaurant that overlooks the ocean. The four of us sat at a table by the window which, as promised, had a gorgeous view of the whole of LA, from the ocean all the way back to the mountains. We could see everything. We took full advantage of their free munchie appetizer buffet, and three pitchers of frozen margaritas later, we headed back outside for the Pier.
  • Current Mood
    happy happy

Jersey Shore on the Left Side

The Santa Monica Pier reminded me of the Point Pleasant Boardwalk (for those of you who that analogy makes sense to). Sides lined with stands selling beach staples such as pooka-shell necklaces, those absurd puffy Dr. Seuss top hats, tye dyes, psychic readings and bikinis. There was even a huge arcade, complete with the oldskool video game section and one of those flash-gun rifle shooting ranges that when you hit the little red targets on the objects in the shooting range, the kettle whistles or the light changes or something else happens. I have very fond memories of this game, and ran to it as soon as I saw it, hitting my mark almost every time. It was a homecoming.

At the end of the pier was another Mexican restaurant that had an upstairs patio bar that would be perfect for sitting and sipping a margarita while watching the sun set, which was due to happen in about fifteen minutes. If I had anything in mind that I was determined to do while out on the West Coast, it was to see the sun set over the ocean. It was everything I imagined it would be.

After the sunset and the margaritas, we headed back through the outdoor mall, which was now lined with street musicians. Everything from twelve-year-old guitar players to Christian gospel singers (complete with hands-raised, eyes-closed onlookers) to breakdancers to a mariachi band was there. We wove our way through the crowds at the mall and headed back to the apartment to get changed and go out drinking. We went to Hermosa Beach, just south of Manhattan Beach, which according to the drunk woman who was talking to me at the jukebox later that night, was at one time the Hippie epicenter of Southern California. The “cool” bars had lines to get in, so we decided to go to a dive bar just off the beaten path which proved to be a much better time.
  • Current Mood
    bored bored