The Rip Post                                  Riposte Archive


riposte2.jpg (10253 bytes)

(Apr. 27, 2005)

         Call them Less Than Satisfying Encounters
With Humanity, or LTSEWH, for um, short. For those unfamiliar with this long-running column, it is an attempt to set down minor occurrences that chronicle the ongoing decline and decay of civilized behavior. Names have been used whenever possible in order to ensure fullest humiliation.
           LTSEWH # 1: CAM-PAIN
           I sometimes get up early on Sundays and take a long walk to a so-called “farmer’s market,” which is really just a mall transplanted outdoors (complete with "food court!") I do this to give the illusion that I live in a community where people know one another and mingle in friendly fashion.
          When you consider that this “farmer’s market” is in Brentwood, you see how much of a stretch that is.
           Anyhow, I like to look at the happy tykes bouncing on Shetland ponies in the “petting zoo” section, and I enjoy the radiant colors of fresh strawberries, apples, carrots and blood trying to assert itself in the puffy faces of lawyers and realtors. I try to do as little thinking as possible.
          Which is only part of the reason I so objected to being confronted by L.A. City Council candidate Bill Rosendahl and his glow-in-the-dark teeth, somewhere between a portable Tibet boutique and portabello mushrooms.
         “Hi, live around here?” boomed Bill, an imposing fellow familiar to Public Abcess Television for decades. I actually didn’t. I live in a lower rent district far from Brentwood, but not far (or low) enough. Still, I played along.
          “I’m Bill Rosendahl and I’m---“
          “I know, Bill. I’ve seen you for years on the tube. You did an excellent job moderating discussions of local issues.”
          “Thanks! Will you vote for me?”
          As I said, I didn’t want to do any thinking, and answering honestly would have prompted Bill to defend himself, and resulted in something I try to avoid before noon: a discussion. I didn’t want to tell him that I am voting for Flora Gil Krisiloff because she has, as a little known private citizen, blocked major development in the west side twice.
          This is akin to stopping Jay Leno from having a chin.
           Development, in my opinion, is the most vile problem in L.A. next to the pending election of big-money/development front man Antonio “Little Anthony” Villaraigosa as mayor.
          “Yes, Bill,” I lied. Maybe it was my hair, or the Grateful Dead baseball cap, or just being in Brentwood, but Bill obviously pegged me for a touchy-feely Westside liberal type.
          So he got touchy-feely. He hugged me.
          That’s correct folks, Big Bill flashed his radioactive teeth and threw his arms around me.
           Reduced to hugging the likes of me for a vote. If that isn’t the mark of a desperate candidate, I don’t know what is.
           LTSEWH # 2: HAPPY NEW YEAR
           My female superior and I went for an early morning stroll this past New Year’s Day, on the paved walkway paralleling the Marina del Rey jetty. I’ve walked there since the late ‘60s, when it was just a rockpile, and I return whenever I wish to reacquaint my lungs with oxygen.
           Besides, I figured this would be a quiet, unassuming, downright pastoral way to start the new year. There would be plenty of time later to consort with all the angry, greedy, nasty, cunning, pretentious, murderous good citizens who make L.A. so special.
           And I was right! The air was zesty, the ocean mildly wind-whipped and twinkly, and the post-storm sky was nearly as empty as George W. Bush’s head. We were alone, save for a few Marina types in expensive togs, walking expensive dogs.
            I stood near the jetty’s end, on the paved-over breakwater, staring out to sea, looking for whatever it is people see out there. It was soothing. It was meditative. It was balm. And of course, it was too good to be true. There is no escape from what L.A. has become. It will find you.
             I stepped back from the railing, preparing to resume walking, and as I did so, a diminuitive female jogger just happened to be jogging right behind me. Yes, on the entire 100 yards or so of walkway, we were the only arguably human souls present. And I happened to step back at the very second Jogger happened to jog by. Why she was within two feet of me, when there was an additional eight feet of room, I do not know.
 I invited Little Commie, in a rather inflated tone, to perform a physically impossible sexual feat that would require no participation by others.

            Jogger took a graceful little sidestep to avoid collision. No big deal? Wrong. She grumbled. That’s correct, folks, she grumbled. I couldn’t make out the words, but the sentiment would equate to a common vulgarism referring to the nethermost exit point on the human anatomy, modified by an unflattering reference to intelligence, or lack of same.
           Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was in her way. Here she was out for her morning run, and I had the audacity to be on her path, just standing there. Not even trying to improve my physique, which is not yet punishable by law in L.A..
           As she reached the end, turned around, and began running back in my direction, I admit to a loss of restraint. Seeking to make light of the near catastrophe, and her grumbling, I put up my hands, in boxing pose, and smiled. Okay, there was just a touch of sarcasm in my gesture.
           Jogger breezed by, and then, obeying the laws of L.A. nature, hoisted a raised third finger and let loose with every U.S. citizen’s favorite salutation, “f--- you.”
          Let’s just say that I responded with a far more colorful and creative array of similar niceties.  
          That rang out over the beautiful blue Pacific on New Year’s Morn. 
           “What city?”
           “Los Angeles.”
           “May I help you?”
           “I would like the number of Barnsdall Arts Park, please. That’s Barnsdall. B-a-r-n-s-d-a-l-l.”
           “Thank you.”
           “You’re welcome.”
           “I don’t have a Barnsdale Park.”
           “No, no. It isn’t Barnsdale. It’s Barnsdall. D-a-l-l. And it should be listed as Barnsdall Arts Park, not Barnsdall Park.”
           “I don’t have any Barnsdale in that area, sir.”
           “No, no. It’s not Barnsdale. I’ve spelled it for you twice now. Aren’t you listening to me? It is Barnsdall Arts Park. It has been there for decades.”
           “There is no Barnsdale, sir.”
           “Excuse me, are you typing the full name in your computer?”
           “No, sir, we can’t do that. Nothing comes up under ‘barns.’”
           “What do you mean, you can’t do that? Of course you can do that!”
           “No, we can’t!”
           “You cannot enter the complete names of people or places that callers request?”
            “No, sir.”
            “Well, that’s just completely stupid, and utterly insane.”
            “No, it isn’t, sir. It’s very efficient, and---“
           “What city?”
           “Los Angeles.”
           “What listing?”
           “Barnsdall Arts Park. That’s BarnsDALL. B-a-r-n-s-d-a-l-l. Not Barnsdale.”
           “Here’s that number, sir."
           “Thank you! Can I ask you something? Can you enter the full names of places and people that callers request? Or only partial names?”
           “Full names, sir.”
           I was standing stupidly at an anti-Bush Administration protest in Westwood, my hand futilely raised in the peace sign at passing maniac traffic. Many bus drivers and truckers and economy car drivers honked in solidarity, many SUVs and Jaguars and Mercedes drivers did not.
           I realize the protests don’t amount to much. Bush patronizingly brushes them off as “free speech” (while the FBI carefully photographs all protestors), and the media trots out its pinhead clichés such as “it was like a scene from the sixties. . .”
           But I’ve always liked lost causes, so I usually attend. Besides, I feel a Quixotic duty, along with many good citizens, to register dismay with oh, the disintegration of the country.
           One of the things I dislike about these protests is that they attract a fringe element of aggressive freaks claiming to be “communists.” This does not help the image and impact of the cause. I figure half of these people are planted by the Department of Homeland Security.
           Anyhow, one self-avowed “communist” asked me, as I stood there with my hapless peace fingers, if I wanted to buy his little “workers unite” newspaper. I smiled and said “no thanks.”
           “Why NOT?” he asked. “Have you READ it?”
           “No,” I said quietly. “I’m not interested. Thank you.”
           “WHY aren’t you interested?”
           “I don’t have to explain to you why I’m not interested, thanks.”
           I smiled again.
           He was a slight fellow, perhaps late 50s, with an insect of unknown genus lodged uncomfortably in his rectal cavity.
           “Why DON’T you want to read it? Have you READ Marxist doctrine?”
           “A little bit, in college, but I wasn’t interested then, and I’m still not interested.”
           “Why NOT?”
           “Look, don’t bother me. Take your newspapers elsewhere. I told you I’m not interested, and yet you belligerently get in my face and demand to know why. This is a peace protest, and you're being hostile."
            “YOU’RE the one who’s hostile!”
            I resorted to plan B. 
            I invited Little Commie, in a rather inflated tone, to perform a physically impossible sexual feat that would require no participation by others. Well, at least it’s physically impossible to the best of my knowledge.
           Little Commie responded by extending the same invitation in return.
          And back and forth we went, a good ten times, inviting one another to perform this probably impossible sexual feat. The volume elevating with each invitation.
           Now, there is anger, and there is pose. I was posing. This was too inane to tap into actual anger. I still had the safety on. And I vaguely wondered if I was being deliberately provoked into fisticuffs.
          At last, Little Commie got tired of waiting for me to take a swing at him, and went away.
          Probably back to Homeland Security.
          LTSEWH # 5: COUNTER ATTACK  
I stood at the counter of a local dry cleaner, waiting to pick up clothes. A woman got out of a Mercedes and walked in. She stood to the side, deferring to my place ahead of her.
          “Oh, I’ve already been helped, ma’am,” I said. “Please.” I stepped back, smiled, and gestured for her to step up to the counter.
            She was about six feet tall, she wore casual attire worth no more than $500, and her face had all the warmth and humility of Napoleon. She was perhaps 50, give or take a tummy-tuck.
            She said nothing. She did not nod. She did not blink. She did not speak. She looked away from me as if I were naked, frothing at the mouth, and reciting the Gettysburg Address backwards. She stepped to the counter.
            I resisted an impulse to administer a swift kick in the ass. She'd paid good money for that buttocks lift, after all.
            LTSEWH # 6: JUST SAY NO
            The kitty-cat was in a cage, awaiting adoption. I was in a cage called Los Angeles, awaiting an impulse to adopt a kitty-cat. He was a handsome black fluffy fellow, except for a shaved area on his neck revealing a large, healing wound.
           I approached an employee of the pet store, Kasey’s Pet Depot, in Westwood. Employees are people who agree to perform certain tasks, often having to do with serving the public, in exchange for salaries. This employee was about five-feet-ten, female, and a follower of the popular trend of impaling her lip and nose with small pieces of metal.
          Perhaps it was the weight of a steel-colored ring on her lower lip that caused her mouth to hang open, giving her the appearance of persons born with certain mental retardation. Perhaps it was the pain of having a steel-colored stud in her nostril that gave her a pained, insolent look in the eye. Or perhaps it was the fact that she worked in a pet store instead of leading the life of a superstar she so richly deserved.
          “Hello,” I said. “Can you tell me why the black cat in the cage over there has a wound on his neck?”
          “No,” she said.
           And away she walked. Far away. Way, way; way far away, into the dark rececess of the store, past the birds and reptiles and $7.50 plastic ball “cat toys.”
            I wondered, did her answer mean, “No, I can’t tell you?” or “No, I don’t know.” If she couldn’t tell me, then why? Was she part of a satanic cult that regularly sacrifices black cats on local graves, and had my question made her nervous?
            Hmm. Actually, I am sorry to say that isn’t so far-fetched.
            Or had she gone to find a co-worker who could tell her why the cat had a wounded neck, in order that she could impart this information to me---and thus do an exemplary job as an employee?
           I waited about five minutes. There was no one else in the store. I could have easily opened the cash register, helped myself, and walked out. I could have “adopted” any of several thousand-dollar puppies, without paying. Or I could have taken off all my clothes, frothed at the mouth, and recited the Gettysburg Address backwards.
           And then it hit me! Ms. Nose Ring felt that she had fully and satisfactorily answered my question, and had gone about other duties.
           Earth the from perish not shall people the for, people the by, people the of government that and, freedom of birth new a have shall. . .     
           Of course, in a city where the freeways have become a rootin’ tootin’ shoot-‘em-up wild west show, with commuters being assassinated for not driving fast enough, this should come as no surprise. Yet. . .
           I was preparing to make a left turn at a light with a “left turn arrow,” on famed Sunset Boulevard at Cliffwood Drive. In order to do this, I would have to enter a thing called a “left turn lane.” A “left turn lane,” for those readers who do not know, is a lane outlined in paint where cars line up in order to make a left turn. A car is a vehicle purchased entirely for vanity that also serves as transportation.
           Evidently, the two drivers behind me were unfamiliar with this particular esoteric traffic nuance. They obviously had never seen a left-turn lane before. The only other possible explanation is that their behavior was brutish, insane, savage. And of course, this isn’t likely outside of Washington D.C., Lomita, or "The Bachelor."
           Just as soon as the painted lane availed itself, I began to slide into it, my turn signal long since activated. How antiquated of me! For as I did so, a pick-up truck not quite the size of the Statue of Liberty honked and whipped around, forcing me right out of the left-turn lane!
           The truck’s driver, whom I could not see but I suspect had much in common with lycanthropia, had spied the green arrow up ahead, and disapproved of the fact that I was traveling no more than 35 miles per hour, and obeying the painted lines in old-fashioned style. So he got creative. He entered the left-turn lane before it even appeared! In fact, he invented and entered his own imaginary left-turn lane!
           As did the little fellow with a shaved head and beard stubble in the Porsche right behind him.
           For as I attempted yet again to enter the left-turn lane, the little stubbled fellow honked at me, and tried to force me again back into traffic. Well, call me an adventurer, but I refused to move, and continued my normal, safe, archaic lane change.
           What did Stubble Boy do? He did me one better! Why, he even outdid the lycanthrope truck driver! He made his very own left-turn lane--- right in the oncoming traffic lane of Sunset Boulevard! Yes, and at high speed, to boot. He gunned his motorized penis into full menacing erectile prowess, and roared ahead through the oncoming traffic lane, completing his desperately coveted left turn perhaps three full seconds after the light had turned red!
           Gee, did that surprise drivers in the oncoming traffic lanes!
           Attention, DMV: you’d better revoke my license. I don't have enough imagination to drive in L.A. anymore.
           For more LTSEWH's, watch this space.

                                             BACK TO PAGE ONE

© 2005 Rip Rense. All rights reserved.