RIP Little buddy.

RIP Little buddy.

RIP to my Chihuahua, The great and mighty Cheech “Godzilla” Montez. He was thirteen years old, and leaves behind a slew of beautiful offspring.

He was a true warrior. A much bigger presence than his 4 pound frame should have allowed, this little guy survived being hit by a car, an attack from a HUGE rottweiler, and several babies running roughshod over him. This dog was the king of cool, Snoopy had nothing on him. He was never bound by a fence or leash, somehow he just lived his life that way, and that’s how it was. The entire street knew him very well, and he was welcome in most homes.

For a tiny guy, he packed a humongous attitude. My pit bull Samson paid much respect to him, always deferring the good dog bed, and allowing Cheech to take his meal before digging in himself. It’s not like Cheech would have let Samson eat before he finished anyway. A snarl and maybe a nip on the nose, and Samson would be put in his place, by this tiny little ball of furry fury.

One of my favorite things about him, was that he was a great baseball watching buddy. When Vin Scully’s voice would come on the TV, or even my radio when I was under my car or outside, he would run up and make himself comfortable. He never left early, he was a good Dodger fan. He’s probably listened to more Dodger games than most people I know, and he was never afraid when the fireworks would pop off after a friday home game.

He’s gone now. I can’t believe I’ll never see him again. He won’t make people wait while he gets out of the street anymore, he won’t bite the mailman, fedex guy, or anybody else ever again. He’ll never attack me anymore when I’m barbecuing, or go after my knuckles when I least expect it. There’s a little less rage in this world today, and I’m going to miss it badly.

I’ll never forget my Cheechi boy.

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The Blood Moon

Last night I tackled one wall of my bedroom in an accent color, a cool blue-grey. I rushed home, changed, went to home depot and chose colors that I thought would look good and painted the accent wall. Then my brother came over and we went to the gym for a couple of hours. When we got home, it was around 10 pm. Right away, my mind was on the eclipse I had read about earlier in the day. It was supposed to start in about an hour, so I had a little time to get my camera set-up.

I then set up a good stool, and a tripod with my camera, locked it all down, and started taking a series of pics to capture the blood moon.

Here are the pics. The last couple with the red are my favorites. I shot this with my EPL-1, adapted for an old Minolta DX telephoto lens. Fun!

Looking at the moon always makes me think of the ocean. Sailors out on the water on a full moon, singing to her, being pulled by her forces and the tides all over the word. Fishermen working through the night, watching the moon rise and fall the way most of us watch the sun. I think about the shadows cast by full moons in my memories, one in particular up in the San Gabriel Mountains. We were camping and when the full moon set, it suddenly became extremely cold. If you got out in the moonlight, you could feel the warmth, and you could cast a strong shadow by the light also, being so far insulated from the city lights. It felt like magic, standing there absorbing moon rays, and knowing the light and warmth had bounced off the moon.

I also think about it’s effect on us today, how two people looking up at the same moon, sharing that experience, are connected. How the eyes looking up at the moon are taking in the same light, and if the two people allow themselves, they can really share something there. (Okay, kick Back  Fievel Mousekewitz) It’s magical, and yes perhaps a little corny, but I really do believe in that connection.

The feeling I got as I watched the moon fade away was incredible. As far back as history can record, and much much further, the world has been staring up at the moon. Trying to think of the wonders, stories, myths, legends and even Gods that the moon has conjured up is truly humbling. I wondered about how the Greek astronomers knew how to predict them and used them for their own purposes, using them as markers of their prowess and influence with the Gods. Indicators of what Gods were feeling.

I don’t know if the Mayans or Aztecs could accurately predict eclipses. People think they may have, and used them to their own purposes. Convincing their people that the wise men knew better, and were more in touch with the universe. The Spaniards liked burning the “Heathens” documents, so not much survived, but the art and the legends do indicate it was a hugely important part of everyday life for them. That was less than 600 years ago, and that is in my blood.

Most of us have a much better understanding of what’s going on up there, than anybody on Earth did 2000 years ago, (Well, maybe?) and the “cosmic dance” still drops my jaw to the floor. Knowing what we know, and being aware of the limits of our knowledge, I still wonder why it all happens. Why gravity works and who put it there. Events like this eclipse, letting us watch these giant spheres dance in space, and come so close on the universal scale, but allowing us enough time to evolve and become what we are, really make me wonder what the odds are like?

Does anybody really know?

Spring cleaning.

This weekend was a super productive one. I didn’t go out all weekend, other than having a very nice time with a friend on Friday, and seeing Rio 2. Yes I went and saw a cartoon movie. I was very entertained by an evil cockatoo, but even more so by the crowd. I always knew kids were loud in theatres, but the parents, oh my god the parents. . . .

I could hear the older latina behind me saying “ayyyyy mira nomas” at the “AWWWWWW” cuteness scenes thrown in. Remember this is a cartoon. It doesn’t translate well, but it’s something like “Awwww, look at the little darling”

These were adults.

In another scene, something happens where a stick snaps back, and smacks a cartoon parrot in the face. This is the dad parrot, the Patriarch of the whole parrot community in the film. Well, he gets smacked in the face by accident, by the younger parrot, the one trying to gain his trust.

Well, when the branch snaps back, predictably smacking the patriarch in the face, a man about three rows up from me, let out a big reflex “Oh no!”. I laughed. You would have thought we were watching the godfather, and Vito had just been shot on the bumper of that car, with a bag of oranges in his hands. I could not stop laughing for a solid couple of minutes, and sitting here writing this, it cracked me up again. So serious was his reaction, that I instinctively almost felt for him, then I remembered, “we’re watching a cartoon”. 

Then I though, “Why not?” Was I not entertained? True, I would not have chosen this movie if I were alone, but now that I was here watching it, it was okay. I guess you can’t be too serious all the time, and I do believe that it is good to be out of your element every now and then. This was definitely out of my element. Good company makes a good time though, and I had a fun night of it.

Saturday, I was a bit more in my element. It started with breakfast at Tony’s Darts away, a spicy sausage, no bun, and an ESB from Alesmith. Alesmith is AWESOME. Everything I’ve tried from them has been pretty incredible. After breakfast, I had an all day jam session with a few guys that are kicking the idea of a Chicha band around. Chicha is a type of music that comes from Peru. People call it “Psychedelic Cumbias” but really it’s just a fusion of a whole bunch of regional South American music with some elements of electrified music. Lots of drums, lots of guiro usage, and a whole lot of fun. Here’s one of the songs we’re thinking about doing. We got it down pretty well, we were all super excited about how well the demos came out.

Sunday, I painted my bedroom. Actually just primered it. Now I’m on Houzz.com trying to figure out a paint scheme for the room. I know I want white, with one accent wall, but I went to home depot to grab the paint, and was astonished by how many shades of white there are. I actually found one I liked, asked about it, and when the guy said it was called “Cappuccino” I thought, “Damn, is there brown in there? I don’t see it. . . ” I couldn’t do it, I figured, just primer it, and pick a color online!

So I bought primer, and some good rollers, and went to town. My brother came over and helped me out, and we knocked out the patching and primer in a day. Looks good!

Then, in the name of Spring Cleaning, I got rid of my couch. I’ve had the thing for probably 8 years, and it was time for it to go. A friend helped me out with a discount on a new one, and it was ordered same day. I expect it in a week or 2.

For now though, my whole house is in my living room until I get the bedroom painted, so I really need to finish up. The house looks crazy just piled up with stuff everywhere. When I go to set my room back up, I’m going to take the opportunity to minimize my bedroom, and really get organized in there.

I also cleaned up the yard, got the garden ready for the hop planting this week, and threw out some old bass amps I had laying around. I hated to do it, but I’m hoping some young punker will see them and pick them up. If not, then they’ll be in a landfill. All that mojo. . .. gone!

That was about it for this weekend. Felt really good to get so much done!

 

Major Changes Narrowly Averted, New Perspective Obtained

Last week I had something big resolve itself, without really telling anybody about it. Now that it’s all water under the bridge, I feel like I can talk about it a little. 

I was considering moving to Portland. Not because I planned it, or wanted to go to Portland or anything, but because of a job. I had already been tempted by the place because of their craft culture, and a music group I had a chance to play in. 

Well, now it was real. I got a call from a company that I actually use for music, I won’t say which, just in case. They had received my resume somehow, and wanted to know if I’d be interested in interviewing. I asked for which position, and it was for a Director position. I was floored. 

That was about three weeks ago. 3 rounds of interviewing and one personality test later, I did not end up getting the job. 

I hate to say it, but I was relieved. There was a lot of talk of destiny (density?) and some people were surprising me by pushing me toward Oregon, telling me that I needed to do it, and that I would be an idiot to say no if offered it. So I was resigned to take the job, if I did get it. 

It was murder interviewing for them. The interviewer would say something like, “Give me an example of an important project you’ve worked on.”  and I started talking. The company is a little indie company with smaller, independent artists. I was dropping heavy duty names and classic household names. I could hear the interviewers jaw pretty much drop when I told him what I did. 

Then I felt my heart sink into the pit of my stomach. “What the hell are you doing?” I thought. I asked the interviewer a couple of questions that I was curious about. How did the place work, what was the business plan? There was none. They had no idea what they were doing, but had the resources, and catalog to get it done. Talk about an opportunity to create an awesome job for yourself! 

Interviewer was happy. . . I was getting scared. “Am I going to have to do this?” Still, I knew it was an awesome opportunity, so I made the most of it. I had an awesome conversation with the CEO on the third interview, and I felt like it was in the bag. He was saying things like “Oh man, you’re going to love it in Portland!”. Then the CEO told me that he thought I had what it takes, and that he would like me to take a personality test. Something called the Caliper Test. I took it the same day, I felt like i did really well on it. 

Then it all kicked in, if I had the job, I would be gone. I would leave my house, my job, friends, family, niece and nephew, maybe a car or two. . . I would leave it all in LA, and move up to a world of complete strangers, and strange streets. That part excited me. Leaving everybody did not. 

I wrestled with it for a week, then I missed a call from them on Saturday, which was weird. I remember for CicLAvia on Sunday, I was riding along, and I was so in love with LA, and suddenly the thought of Portland reared its head. I was bummed. I could have already had my life yanked out from under me, by someone else’s decision, and I didn’t even know yet. I thought, “What are you doing, you have an awesome job?” and kept pedalling. I realized, when the thought crept back in, that when I had it out of mind, it was the first time in 3 weeks I wasn’t consumed by it. By the idea of Portland. I then realized just how heavy it was weighing on my mind, because once it was back, it was back with a vengeance. The options were being weighed in my head, and I was absolutely torn. 

To add to all this, I’ve been having a blast lately. I’m finally free of a band, out of debt, and I have my whole unburdened life ahead of me. In the last few weeks I’ve been having such an awesome time on a regular basis that it makes me wonder how I could ever leave it. It made me proud that I would be willing to do something so difficult, scary, and ambitious, but it also made me appreciate what I do have around me. I have good people around me. The traffic in LA sucks, and I battle with it a lot, but this is an awesome part of the world.. Having my family around me is something I cherish after living out of state for a few years and missing them badly. I would hate to miss my niece growing up, and my nephew too. I would miss my brother and weekends at the track with nothing to do. It rains 9 months out of the year in Portland. Sunny Southern California is in my blood. I mean c’mon, I started a surf band for crying out loud. 

On Monday, the weekend after all this wrestling and churning over this, they called me again. This time it was the HR lady I spoke to the first time. She told me that they were keeping the position open, and keeping my resume on file, but that at the time they weren’t going to hire anybody. They told me that they have been looking for almost 5 months, and that did make me feel a bit better. Something like 60 applicants too. Out of the 60 applicants, only half made the second round, and out of them, only a “handful” interviewed with the CEO. I thanked her, and exhaled for about 12 minutes. 

There are lots of family and friends who don’t read my blog. In the end, after all was said and done, I only told 7 people about the possibility of the change. I emailed them all to thank them for supporting me, and told them how surprised I was that they all said GO. It’s amazing to me to think that if I had gotten the job, a good chunk of my family and friends would likely never see me again. Or if they ever did, only at family events, etc. I told myself if I got it, I would move back after 5 years, but who knows?

Who ever knows?  

Happy to report that now, 5 days after all this madness, I’m more excited about my city, friends, life, and outlook than I have been in at least a decade. Someone told me there was a reason that all this happened, and I’m not much of a believer in predestination, but now looking back, I feel they may have been right. It was confusing to NOT get a job and feel good about it. I think, and feel, that if there was a reason for any of this, then it was to teach me to really love what I have already. 

Vonnegut taught me a lot about appreciating the little things, smelling the roses and so forth. The way he says it, is exactly how I feel at the moment. 

“If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

So it went. 

CicLAvia 2014

Had a blast with a few friends riding around Wilshire Blvd. For CicLAvia April 2014, Downtown Los Angeles. We rode around all day, with beer breaks at Wurstkuche, Angel City Brewing, and Cafe Seoul in K Town.

What an amazing day, the weather was perfect, the sun was shining, and EVERYBODY was okay with a bicycle. LA is not a very bike friendly town, and the change was palpable, if only temporary.

It really gave me a renewed appreciation for the city, and I hadn’t been in downtown for a while. It was good to get out of my lil Tokyo Habit and have some K Town instead.

I think my favorite thing I saw was a kid being pulled by his dad. I didn’t get it on film, but the dad was struggling really hard, and the kid was pedaling his ass off. Both looked completely worn out, but both had HUGE smiles on their faces.

If you look closely at around the 39 second mark, you can kinda see Conan O’Brien. We ran into him, talked with him a little bit. Really cool guy in person. Spent time signing autographs and taking pics with anybody who would ask.

Man, what an awesome quintessential LA day!!!!