Wednesday, April 13, 2011

parking tickets, hipsters, and the armpit of Los Angeles.

I got a parking ticket in Venice Beach yesterday morning. I worked there about five years ago. I didn't like it then; I don't like it now.

Nothing good ever happens in Venice Beach.

The trophy wife, Penny, and I were in Santa Monica for an optometrist appointment. After the check up, we found ourselves craving some over-priced beverages from one of the plethora of nearby coffee shops. We chose the Coffee Bean, mainly because it was the only place that had available parking. That should have been a sign.
Before parking my car on the street, I remember passing one of the Department of Transportation's meter maid-mobiles. This three-wheeled, glorified golf cart is truly a sight to behold. Falling lower than the ice-cream truck on the vehicular food chain, this electric shame trolley is less intimidating than a tandem bicycle.

To be fair, I actually feel sorry for the meter maids - or "Parking Enforcement Officers" as they seem to prefer. I'm not sure what would compel a person to seek a career in parking enforcement. They are reduced to performing only the very lamest duties of a Law Enforcement Officer without experiencing any of the fun. But it is a hard job nonetheless. Meter maids are civilians, not Police Officers, so they don't carry weapons, aren't trained or authorized to use force - even in self defense - and they all work alone.
That creates a problem when you consider literally 100% of their workday is spent angering everyone they encounter. To make things worse, everyone knows that they don't carry weapons and have no real authority outside the confines of their little ticket book, making them an easy and convenient target. Everyone hates meter maids.
I parked on the street in a spot that appeared to be legal, evidently missing any signage that warned of parking restrictions on Tuesdays for street cleaning. I'm not fully convinced there was such a sign; it wasn't until I got back on the 405 freeway that I noticed the bright white parking ticket tucked under my windshield wiper, and I don't plan on venturing all the way back to Venice just to see if I was at fault or not. Right or wrong, I got the ticket and nothing I do now is going to change that. Still, I'm not sure what's worse; the $68 fine, or getting owned by a forty-five year-old man who wears short shorts and drives a three-wheeled go-cart.

It's one thing to get a parking ticket doing something you like. It's far worse being fined for being in an area that already feels like a punishment in and of itself. The three of us had made a quick stop in the Coffee Bean that couldn't have lasted more than three minutes. I'm guessing three minutes because that's the amount of time I estimate it took the hemp-clad barista named "Earth" to take my order and ask me a series of increasingly specific questions about my daughter's birthday before ultimately declaring that Penny is an Aquarius.

"Oh.... " I said.

I never know how to respond when a total stranger decides to reveal to me that they not only believe in the zodiac, but that they have memorized the cutoff dates for each particular sign. I glanced back at the line behind me expecting to find a row of impatient customers eager for "Earth" to lay off the astrology lesson and finish my order. Instead, I found a line of hipsters so absolutely fascinated by the conversation that they literally began discussing each others Horoscope and the various implications it has on their futures.

"Check, please."

The trophy wife and I got our drinks and quickly retreated to the safety of our illegally parked vehicle. "I felt gross in there," the trophy wife so eloquently said. I felt the same way; the place was full of hipsters.
Hipsters are people who look like 1987 heroin addicts but have never used heroin and weren't alive in 1987. This is a group of people, mostly college-aged or younger, who will spend $300 at a trendy clothing store on an outfit, the equivalent of which could easily be obtained from literally any thrift store in the country for $3.75. I suppose that statement could be said about a lot of trends in my lifetime - the difference is this particular $300 outfit is specifically made to look like it came from a thrift store.
Hipsters are twenty year old guys who listen to Dylan exclusively on vinyl, grow long hair and mustaches, and wear skin tight jeans with pointy shoes in a misguided attempt at social protest - as if rebelling against your dad is accomplished by looking and acting exactly like he did in the 70's. Everything about the hipster lifestyle is carefully and meticulously constructed to appear as if they just don't care; proving without a doubt that they do. The mindless hypocrisy is staggering.
"What has happened to Venice Beach," I began to ask my wife, before realizing the inherent absurdity of the question and abandoning the thought altogether. Venice has always been a breeding ground of annoying people; to pretend that anything had changed would be an exercise in delusion. Ever since the 60's, when hippies took to Venice Beach like termites to a tree house, that part of town has become the final resting stop of every counter cultural movement in America.
Venice Beach, California is the only place in the world you could see a hipster riding his bicycle past a Bohemian painter selling crystal meth to a tattoo artist who just pierced the nose of a vegetarian cross-dresser. A few feet away is a body builder who tries to impress a Wiccan who would rather just watch the nearby snake charmer who is drawing onlookers away from the Hari Krishna dancers. All this gains the attention of a passing rollerblader who is chain-smoking outside the vegan market, which is owned by a palm reader who probably should have anticipated the street artist who vandalized the side of her building, which just so happens to be the very spot where Charles Manson recruited Squeaky Fromme. Across the street, a parolee picks a fight with a hacky sack enthusiast for interrupting his Haiku recital he was performing for a group of Minimalists who have grown tired of traditional Bikram Yoga now that the hipsters have embraced it. The circle of stupidity is complete.
Literally every annoying trend of the last half century is represented in Venice Beach; it's like a stationary carnival of pretentiousness. In a place where the counterculture is so celebrated that it becomes mainstream, the only true social rebel is the square in the button down shirt, out with his family getting coffee.

Nothing good ever happens in Venice Beach.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

"....know when to fold 'em."

Check out the new Andy Griffith Medicare commercial:

(Warning: picture going to Disneyland and catching a glimpse of the guy in the Donald Duck costume on a coffee break, removing his Donald-head while having a smoke. If that's something you would want to avoid seeing, don't watch this.)

I think it's time to hang up the fishing pole, Ange.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

An open letter to the people of Baja Fresh

Dear sir or ma'am,

Thank you so much for everything you do towards making the Baja Fresh experience memorable. I was in your establishment earlier today, getting lunch to go for my pregnant wife and I. Due to her bizarre pregnancy cravings, her usual order has been a plain burrito with only chicken, lettuce, cheese, and sour cream. Being a Mexican food connoisseur, I would never eat such an abomination under normal circumstances. But that's where you guys came in.

When I placed our order earlier today, I assumed that my Baja Burrito and my wife's specialty burrito would have some kind of distinguishable markings on their paper wrappers. Most comparable restaurants utilize stickers or some kind of specific writing to differentiate their food. But not you guys. No sir, a meal at Baja Fresh is more than just reasonably priced Mexican food; it's an exciting guessing game as well. Imagine my surprise when I got home and realized that our two very different burritos were totally indistinguishable.

What fun!

Today, we didn't just get a meal, we got a meal and a game... a game we lost.

Thank you so much for that mouthful of sour cream and lettuce that took me by surprise earlier today. I may go through life with the intention of never eating such a thing, but luckily you and the other good people of Baja Fresh knew what was better for me. You guys found a way to make me step outside my comfort zone and partake of some truly awful food.

As bad as that burrito was, I'm sure glad I tried it instead of the one that was actually intended for me. It's funny, I specifically remember that after I placed my order, the cashier repeated it back to me correctly before relaying it to the cook in the back. Somehow, I suppose the fry cook heard the cashier incorrectly, or perhaps something was lost in the translation. Either way, you should have been there to see the look on my wife's face when she took her first bite of what was supposed to be my burrito. Truth be told, even I would have been surprised by it, considering I ordered a Baja Burrito with steak and pinto beans. Now, had I ordered the "Diablo Shrimp Burrito" with black beans and cat meat.... then there would have been no surprise at all.

You know, it's been months since my wife suffered through the morning sickness phase of her pregnancy. Some might consider it the most unpleasant result of being pregnant, and some women experience it the entire nine months. Frankly, my wife has had it too good for too long. Thank you for knocking her back down a peg and allowing her to violently summon up that.... nostalgic reminder of new life.... all over the rug. I never liked that rug anyway.

Sincerely, Pecadillo

P.S. You have made a powerful enemy today, Baja Fresh.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

guess what....

Mrs Pecadillo and I are very happy to announce and introduce Lil' Pec to the world.

The wee Pec is actually the lower half of the little white spot, at the bottom of the big black circle. I know, I know, he looks just like me.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Adventures in Husbandry

Pecadillo Returns to the Blogosphere

by Pecadillo

When we got married last summer, Mrs. Pecadillo and I received many generous and useful gifts from our friends and relatives. One handy gift, bestowed on us by another Officer of the Law and his Mrs. Officer-of-the-Law proved an essential home appliance the very day after we opened it from its gift wrap.

It was a warm Tuesday afternoon. Having just returned home from a Cruise in the Caribbean, our Honeymoon had come to an end. Mrs. Pecadillo was at work, her first day back since the wedding, and I was at home, still on my vacation from work and with little to entertain my feeble, child-like mind. Most of the day had gone by; a wonderful day filled with far too many naps to count. To the untrained eye, it would appear as though I had accomplished little to nothing—and there may have been some truth in that. I knew I needed to do something, but what? My wife keeps the house immaculate, and after all, it's an apartment. There was no lawn to mow and there wasn't anything to fix. All my guns were already clean, the garage was organized, and there were no more pictures to hang. I had to find something to do. After all, I didn't want to let on that my wife had married a bum—at least not this early in the game. Still fresh out of premarital classes, I decided to test my well-documented ineptness of all things domestic and attempt to be productive around the house in my wife's absence; I decided to do the dishes.

A chore of this caliber is a rare feat for me to accomplish. Most kitchenly duties are beyond my meager capabilities and the kitchen in our new apartment proved to be a very strange and unfamiliar place. We hadn't been back in town long, but there were just enough dirty dishes to justify a single load in the machine. Whilst loading the dishwasher, I looked under the sink in search of dishwashing detergent. There was none. However, at the time I felt my options were still wide open. Under the sink I found multiple bottles and containers that appeared to be a large soap collection of varying types and uses. To me, soap was soap, to a certain extent. I'm a guy—but I'm not a Neanderthal; I know the difference between dish-cleaning soap and people-cleaning soap. Obviously a bar of Irish Spring thrown hastily into the dishwasher would not get the job done. I even knew that the girly, liquid body-wash soap that had just recently made its way into my bathroom was also not an option for the dishwasher. However, while surveying the vast collection of dish-cleaning soap found under my sink, a thought occurred to me: how different can all these soaps be? Sure, none of these soaps say that they are meant for the dishwasher, but they're basically all the same thing, right?

I would soon learn just how different they really are.

As I rummaged through the cleaning products under my sink, I eventually settled on a bottle of Dawn PlusTM, Odor Eraser Dishwashing Liquid Detergent. This particular bottle boasted a "splash of lime" scent that I was thoroughly and eagerly awaiting. I had it all planned out, the lovely Mrs. Pecadillo would return home from a long day's work in about an hour. At the door, she would be greeted with a strong and pleasing scent of pure, old fashioned cleanliness with just a hint of lime. The kitchen would be clean, the sink would be empty, and perhaps our stacks and stacks of wedding gifts would be organized. And who knows, the carpet might even get vacuumed while I was at it. I was apparently too busy thinking of more things around the house to clean that I failed to read a few other words written on the bottle of soap. These words, printed in a much smaller font than the rest, were "Ultra" and "Concentrated." These two, tiny little words proved to be the most significant and important words on the whole bottle. Why they were printed in such tiny letters and hidden behind a sunbeam graphic, I'll never understand. As I later discovered, these words indicated that this particular bottle of soap contains 30% more cleaning ingredients per drop than the leading, non-concentrated brand, and thus, much less of this soap is required to get the job done. This is something they should teach men in premarital classes.

Not noticing the important information hidden on the bottle's label, I quickly administered what later proved to be approximately 7 times the required amount of soap typically needed for a single load of dishes. At the time, the only soap I had ever put in a dishwasher was soap that was meant exclusively for dishwashers. Every dishwasher I had ever used has had a small soap container built into the door of the washer that the operator is supposed to fill with dishwashing soap. Not realizing the vast intricacies in soaps that I was dealing with, I filled the container to the brim with the ultra concentrated, super-soap. I even poured a little extra over the dishes themselves just for good measure. I then closed the door with confidence, started the cycle of the dishwasher, and retreated to the living room couch for a little sit-down.

I still had almost an hour before Mrs. Pecadillo would come home from work. That was more than enough time to vacuum the floor, take out the trash, and finish organizing the wedding gift piles. According to my calculations, I had the better part of a half an hour of "me time" before I would need to actually get back up and finish the chores I had assigned myself. Break time was here and I felt like I had earned it. After all, visualizing yourself cleaning a home can really take a lot out of you. Besides, I work hardest and fastest when I'm under a little pressure.

I woke from my nap approximately 25 minutes after starting the dishwasher. As I slowly rose from my favorite spot on my favorite couch, I surveyed the living room and wondered aloud if the load of dishes alone would be enough to account for my day.

Finding it hard to regain the motivation I had briefly experienced moments before my most recent nap, I sauntered into the kitchen to get a better view of the living room. Upon entering the kitchen, my bare feet encountered a terrain they did not immediately recognize. A delayed reaction, possibly related to the day's over-napping, allowed me to walk into the center of the kitchen before noticing the eerie ground on which I tread. I looked down and observed that my feet had totally disappeared. The floor was gone, my feet were gone, everything below the middle of my calves. . . gone. Again, the sleep-educed delayed reaction was playing a significant factor in my psyche. Staring down, I was suddenly jolted wide awake with the discovery that I was standing shin-deep in a blanket of little white bubbles covering the entire kitchen floor like a mound of freshly fallen snow. This unwelcome mass of cleaning product seemed to be flooding out of the dishwasher door. I quickly theorized that there was indeed a big difference between the soaps I had found under my sink. The apparent over-dispensing of soap proved too much for the little dishwasher to handle. The growing buildup of soap suds on the other side of the dishwasher door must have been so powerful and relentless that it literally forced itself to seep out of the water-tight seal between the dishwasher's door and frame. Smaller wads of the soapy lather poured out of the ventilation panel located on the lower portion of the dishwasher door. These less intimidating, mini-masses of suds quickly joined forces with the mighty foaming beast, increasing it's size while taunting me as it consumed my lower half. This dubious monster of white bubbles where the floor used to be was growing before my very eyes, multiplying in size and frothing around my bare ankles like a boa constrictor or a villainous blob from a bad SciFi movie. I was literally sinking into an abyss of my own foolishness and I did not know what to do.

When just then, the very idiocy that had caused this predicament took over completely. I actually thought to myself:

If I throw a couple flashlights in there, this is gonna look just like the pool scene in Gremlins.

Brilliant. Thankfully, I came to my senses and realized my first order of action must be to stop the problem at its source. With that, I stretched out my hand to the dishwasher's control panel. Turning the large round knob counter-clock wise, the cycle was halted. For a moment, froth continued to pour out of the ventilation panel of the dishwasher however as the sound of water draining out of the machine crescendoed like a sigh, the froth ceased to pour. For now, I was safe.

As the proverbial smoke cleared, I discovered that the growing soap beast on the kitchen floor that had once shown no sign of slowing its steady proliferation was now a stagnate body of bubbles, cut off from its life source.

I had won.

A wave of pride swept through me. I had conquered the beast. In a mano a soap battle, I had shown myself the victor. But I wasn't in the clear just yet. Mrs. Pecadillo would be home in literally minutes, and I still had a massive mound of soap to get rid of. But how?

A mop might have worked, but probably not as fast as I would need it to. I'd seen my wife use one of those Swiffer Sweepers® but I feared something like that would only spread the soap around and would not soak it up. I estimated that there were approximately 10 to 15 gallons of soap suds on my kitchen floor. There was literally no portion of the floor left uncovered. A mop was out of the question. Towels wouldn't work either; it would take hours to soak up that mess and it would require using every towel we had. How could I explain that a day where my only accomplishments were napping and a single load of dishes caused me to soil every towel we owned? What I needed was. . . a wet/dry shop vacuum. Yes, of course! We had just been given one for our wedding! Like a foam-covered cheetah, I pounced on our neatly stacked piles of wedding gifts. Rifling through the hoards of decorative bowls and George Foreman grills, I searched for the red-and-black vacuum that I knew was my only hope. "I got it" I yelled to no one in particular. The machine, still in its white-and gray-cardboard box, read "TWO GALLONS." If the shop-vac held only 2 gallons, I would need to get started soon. I looked at the clock and estimated that I had no more than 12 or 13 minutes, tops. With that, I tore open the shop-vac box with more energy and enthusiasm than a 7-year-old on Christmas morning. Shreds of cardboard and paper flew all over the dining room. I had no time for instructions or warranties, It was go time.

Like a flash I forced the electrical cord into the wall socket. Having not read the instructions, I began vigorously pressing the many buttons on the vacuum at random, hoping one of them would activate the machine. After a few moments of looking like Helen Keller with a Bopit®, the vacuum turned on. I grabbed hold of the long black hose attachment and thrust it deep into the mouth of the soon-to-be-dead soap monster that was covering my kitchen tile. Within seconds the shop-vac sputtered like a burping baby, indicating that it needed to be emptied. I quickly poured the contents of the small vacuum into the kitchen sink and put it back to work on the tile. Moments later, I repeated the process a second time. Then a third, and a forth. I eventually lost count after 7, indicating that there had been more than 14 gallons of soap foam on the floor. After continuing the process of sucking up the soap from the tile a few more times, the kitchen floor began to look close to normal. While drying off a few problem areas, I glanced at the clock and realized that Mrs. Pecadillo could literally walk in the door at any moment.

I took a step back and assessed the situation; I was actually looking pretty good. The kitchen tile, aside from a few remaining wet spots was shimmering in the natural light of our apartment. The massive amount of soap that had previously filled the entire length of the kitchen floor had actually cleaned every spec of dirt off the tile. I couldn't remember the floor ever looking so good. It literally looked as though I had spent the entire day on my hands and knees scrubbing the floor, and then another few hours polishing it. I stood there for a moment admiring the fantastic cleaning job I felt I should have been proud of when I heard it:

"Honk, honk."

I knew exactly what that unmistakable sound meant; Mrs. Pecadillo was home. She had just parked and locked my Dodge Charger which she had inherited through marriage. I knew I had about 30 seconds before she would walk up the single flight of stairs, round the corner, and ultimately enter into the front door of our apartment. Those last 30 seconds allowed me just enough time to empty the remaining contents of the shop-vac into the sink, soak up some last residual wet spots, and hide the lingering evidence i.e. shop-vac, dish rags, and flashlight (I had tried the Gremlins thing. . . it worked). I retreated to the rear closet on the back patio with the aforementioned evidence. As I returned to the living room/kitchen area, the front door opened. In walked the lovely Mrs. Pecadillo, somehow managing to look more beautiful than when she had left that morning. The exchange went like this:

Mrs. Pec: "Hi, sweetheart. How was your—why does it smell like lime?"
Pec: "Ummm. . ."

During this brief greeting, she walked directly into the kitchen and approached the dish washer. Did she know? Could she tell what had happened just from the lime smell? I broke out into a cold sweet.

Mrs. Pec: "You did the dishes?!? Oh baby, thank you so much! I was gonna ask. . ."

The shine off the kitchen tile had caught her eye and she was now in a full trance.

Mrs. Pec: "Oh my word! Baby, you cleaned the kitchen floor! You're amazing, how did you get it so clean and shiny? I could never get it that clean."
Pec: "It actually wasn't that hard. I kinda learned a new way. Call it an ancient Chinese secret."

Mrs. Pec: "Well I think you're amazing. Man, I am so thirsty, it was so hot today. Are there any glasses in the wash?"
Pec: "Uhhhh. . ."

How I could have forgotten to empty the soap from the interior of the dishwasher, I'll never know. I hadn't even touched the dishwasher since stopping its cycle and halting the growth of the soap blob some twenty minutes prior. Logically, if the machine had been so full of the soapy monstrosity that it was literally seeping the froth through its watertight seal, there would still be an unnatural amount of soap in the dishwasher. If opened, the machine's door would surely release multiple gallons of soapy suds back onto the floor in a steady river of foam. There was no stopping Mrs. Pecadillo; her hand was already on the handle of the dishwasher door. As she lowered the door towards the ground, a large cloud of steam shot out of the opening like a mushroom cloud and dissipated into the ceiling. When the air cleared, Mrs. Pecadillo found herself standing directly in front of a monsoon of foaming soap, reeking of lime, and pouring out onto the floor. Mrs. Pec quickly slammed the door shut to stop the massive flooding while simultaneously shouting an unintelligible noise I doubt could ever be fully explained or interpreted.

The jig was up; I was caught. I knew the time had come to face the music and explain what I had done. That's when I said it; the only thing I could say:

Pec: "What'd you do?"

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Friday, February 01, 2008

How do you spell pretentious? I spell it A-P-P-L-E S-T-O-R-E

So I bought a MacBook today and the purchase required that I go into my local Apple store, something I typically avoid like the plague, or that one friend everyone has who listens to Cher.

Let me be very clear: I like Apple computers. I hate Apple--and Cher too for that matter. Apple's systematic assault against mankind has been fairly subtle; it often goes completely unnoticed until you actually go into an Apple store and surround yourself with the world they have created. The Apple store went from being a one-stop shop for Apple products and software to what it is today: a glorified man-purse store that also sells computers. It's like Starbucks without the coffee; just a room full of pompous college students and shiny metal objects. The Apple store has become a breeding ground for pretentious trends and annoying ideas. Don't believe me? Go buy something there and wait for the cashier to ask you if you wouldn't mind forfeiting your right to a printed (normal) receipt and instead accept a digital (e-mailed) receipt in order to help "save the environment." Never in my life have I been more proud to drive a Charger with a hemi.

I loathe this recent iJunk trend that has caught on in which any and every useless, sub-par, as-seen-on-tv piece of junk has the letter "i" before its name as if the letter "i" makes it any less a piece of junk. I realize that not everything with an i before it is an actual Apple product and is usually just a cheep knockoff. Yes, i realize Apple doesn't make the iDeoderant, iFern, iPlunger or any of the other i- products one might find at 7-Eleven. However, Apple single-handedly popularized the iJunk craze and therefore should be held responsible.

As soon as you walk in an Apple store, the first thing you might notice is the varying classes of Apple employees. Toward the front of the store, you have the "greeters," identified only by their light blue shirts and total lack of knowledge regarding any of the merchandise found in their store. Keen observers might also recognize a slight look of shame, hastily masked by a thin mustache and patchy facial hair. The responsibilities of a greeter are simple. They are:

1. say hello
2. tell the customer their name (usually Stephan in my experience) and,
3. lisp about as often as the English language will allow.

Once Stephan verifies that you are there to make a purchase and not to ask for a bathroom key, he will direct you to the second class of Apple employee: the service person. Identified by their dark blue shirts and standard issue Kabbalah bracelets, the Apple Store service person is an unsettling character indeed. Most of these guys seem to be named Troy, and they almost all have long, unwashed ponytails. First-time Apple store shoppers might make the mistake of approaching a service person on foot. This is a major Apple store no-no. In order to speak with a service person, one must first locate a display computer and generate an email to said service person, reserving an appointment to actually speak to them face to face.

Gone are the days, apparently, of walking up to a salesman and requesting they help you. No, that's too simple, too analog. These days, you send him an email from across the room and wait for him to approach you, that way the evil corporation he works for can obtain your email address and bombard you with spam for the rest of your life. Ya see? Everybody wins.

Take my word for it, this is the Apple store's protocol and they will not allow their customers or employees to deviate from procedure. It's in the books. I'll be honest, I felt a little silly entering my email address into a computer in order to get the attention of the guy who was sitting 10 yards away from me. I've actually attempted to bypass the entering-of-contact-information stage and simply approach an Apple service person with a question on foot. The service person (who was literally sitting in a chair doing nothing with absolutely no one in line) informed me that per Apple policy, he could not answer any of my questions until after I entered my information into a computer and waited to be called.

After the customer has caved in and given Apple their contact information, they are free to wait in line to eventually ask the service person anything they want. When the customer inevitably stumps the service person, it is their job to direct said customer to the third and final class of Apple store employee; the Guru.

The dress code for the guru is a bit more lax. After all, they've earned it. Their computer knowledge is slightly greater than that of a first-year foreign-exchange student, and their social skills are slightly worse. They all seem to wear fleece sweaters but somehow, the look is not uniform. Each guru has their own little touch that they've added to their overall apperance, which on the street would cause you to avoid them at all costs. However, in the Apple store setting, it gives you the assurance that they possess the nerdiness and more importantly the knowledge to help you with your query. Each guru is different in their own way, however a few characteristics are always present:

1. they all sport their own, custom designed, heavily sticker-ridden name badge that is perhaps a relic of a prior job at TGI Fridays.
2. they all choose to express their own individuality by wearing the same acid wash t-shirt featuring a dramatic portrait of a wolf howling at the moon.
3. inevitably, somewhere on their bodies, a series of intricate yet incomplete dragon tattoos can be found.

Gurus are an odd bunch. Until summoned, they wait restlessly in the back storage area, engaged--no doubt--in heated Dungeons and Dragons tournaments that often continue long after the Apple store has closed its double doors. The life of the Guru is at its best whilst inside the confines of the Apple store. Work is the only place where a guru is the guy with all the answers. Everywhere else, he's just the guy that has to wear a t-shirt in the pool.

But what really annoys me is that because Apple products are so trendy and popular, no one seems to notice that the organizational hierarchy inside the Apple store perfectly mirrors that of Jabba's palace on Tatooine. Before you make it to Jabba the Hut, you must first get past the mindless droid who's running interference at the front gate. Next comes Bib Fortuna, a man(?) of questionable skill who can't get you any real answers, but he's still the guy that decides whether or not you actually get to see Jabba. Finally there's the great Hut himself, who mostly just lays there in a pool of his own filth, mumbles unintelligible gibberish, and mocks anyone who dare question his verdict. Plus, on your way out you always wish you had your own Rancor. See what I mean, just like at the Apple store.

But hey, I still really like my Macbook.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Sorry ladies....

.....but meet the future Mrs. Pecadillo.

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Monday, December 31, 2007

Four years and counting....

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The Second-best Cocker Spaniel I ever had.

The story you are about to hear is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent (from lawsuits).

The other day, my partner told me he wanted to eat at a restaurant that at the time he only saw fit to describe as, "this Vietnamese joint I know." He told me the place was located just outside China Town, deep in the heart of Downtown LA. He was driving the black and white that day, and before I knew it, we were parked in front of a building that at first glance could have easily passed for an abandoned veterinary clinic. There was a strange and eerie chain-mesh security door at the front entrance, which became only more troubling as the not-so-distant sounds of multiple dogs barking grew increasingly louder from behind the building.

I am not making this up.

Then my partner said the three words that have haunted me since; "Here we are." I quickly looked around, scanning the street for any possible signs of alternative destinations, but there were no other restaurants in sight. I looked back at the building in question while my partner approached it. Almost all of the establishment's signage was in Vietnamese except for a small, hand made sign that read "Pho 11's" (I later confirmed that it's pronounced "Foh eleven's" kind of like an urban way of saying "four eleven's" but with a PH to give it that extra touch of Vietnamese).

I was still not convinced that we were entering an actual restaurant until I noticed the all-too-telling "B" rating posted on the door by the California Department of Environmental Health. Ordinarily, a "B" rating isn't necessarily enough to dissuade me from eating at a restaurant, however, things change when you're in a police uniform. This may come as a shock to some of my more sheltered or home-schooled readers but there are a lot of people out there that hate the police, and wouldn't think twice about adding any number of cleaning products or bodily fluids to give a cop's food that extra zing. You can never tell if your cook or waiter recently received a traffic citation or possibly had a relative arrested. We literally take a substantial risk anytime we go out to eat in uniform. Off duty, I have no problem eating at "B" rated restaurants, after all, one of the biggest and most heavily-trafficked restaurants in Valencia boasted a B for years.

When I'm in uniform, however, I'm a little more reluctant to eat at a B-rated restaurant especially when said B rating is the only thing that identifies the establishment as a restaurant. But on this day, I decided to back my partner up and bravely follow him into almost certain peril.

Just inside the front door, Pho 11's lucky customers are greeted by a defective koi pond with a filthy, above-water filter, proudly displaying all the fun and exciting substances that one finds in a broken koi pond. Hmmm, my mouth was watering already. As my partner found us a table, I looked around in silence while still attempting to remain polite. The walls of the restaurant were white, or at least they had been at one time. The tables of the restaurant were all centered around a single, 18-inch TV screen that sat on the edge of the aforementioned koi pond. After all, what better place to put an electrical appliance than on the cusp of a 300-gallon container of water. The TV had seen better days, evident by the multiple wires running from it's ancient and ineffective ariel antenna system. Apparently Pho 11's is a popular place to go eat mystery beef and watch scrambled Dodger games, America's pastime indeed. I felt dirty just sitting there.

My partner must have noticed my uneasy demeanor because he looked up at me and said with the utmost sincerity "Don't worry dude, this place is way cleaner than it looks." I sat quietly and pondered the flaws in his statement. I mean really, that's like saying, "That girl over there is way prettier than she looks." Still, my partner continued his attempts at winning me over by giving me the rundown on Pho 11 procedure. "Okay partner" he said, "they're going to bring us a couple glasses of water. Don't drink it. Just order a soda. It'll come in a bottle so you'll be good to go."

Now I wanted to punch him in the face. If a restaurant can't be trusted to get water right, why would you want to eat a full meal there?

My partner then handed me a greasy menu which was written entirely in Vietnamese. "Okay, lemme see" he said while rubbing his chin, "we want... um... this one. Yeah, this one." He pointed to a picture of a beef bowl that looked identical to every other picture on the grease stained menu. I was suddenly reminded that my partner is about as Vietnamese as I am. Needless to say, I had a sneaky suspicion that we were not going to be served what we wanted, although at that moment, all I really wanted was any kind of emergency that would require us to leave the building immediately. Just as I was devising a plan to activate the emergency help button on my radio without my partner seeing, our waiter came by and took our order.

I sat quietly and did my best to ignore the unmistakable and alarmingly nearby sound of dogs barking which had intensified since we sat down and then became frighteningly quiet seconds after we placed our order. "There must be a dog kennel near here" my idiot partner said. I sat quietly and reflected deeply on my life and the various paths it had taken that ultimately lead me to Pho 11's.

For the record, I'm not saying that I think the nearby pack of dogs were in any way connected to the restaurant or it's owners. And I certainly hope our ordering food was in no way connected to their sudden and unexplained silence. After all, this is America, and I really don't think that anyone could get away with something like that. And if Pho 11's is guilty of what I believe to be the most horrid of crimes, I think they'd surely make some kind of attempt to cover it up. They certainly wouldn't keep live dogs locked up out back, just an ear shot away from their customers. Also, if my initial suspicions were correct, the California Department of Environmental Health would not have issued Pho 11's a "B". They would have gotten at least a "C-" and the owners would have been prosecuted to the fullest degree. I quietly reassured myself with this logic as our beef bowls arrived. Upon seeing my dinner, I immediately broke out into a cold sweat and sat motionless while my entire life flashed before my eyes. My partner didn't hesitate for a second; he dove right in and was immediately singing the praises of Pho 11's and their questionable beef.

I was now faced with a moral dilemma: Do I eat the mystery beef, and possibly risk violating the unspoken promise that all dog owners subconsciously make with their pets about never turning to them for nourishment even if stranded on the most deserted of islands? Or do I refuse the food, and insult my partner, Pho 11's and their customers and (worst of all) disgrace my fathers legacy?

I made the decision and I stand by it to this day; I ate the beef.

It didn't taste like beef. I think the less said about this the better. Do yourself and your conscience a favor; don't go to Pho 11's, ever.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bring out your dead.

As a cop, I work closely with several types of people that the general population never has the opportunity to meet. Whenever I respond to a crime scene or conduct a substantial investigation, I work alongside a wide array of individuals with very interesting professions. At first glance, they might seem unremarkable, but I've found that they tend to be very interesting once you get to know them.

Night watch doctors are very interesting because they never act how you might expect. On TV, doctors are always good looking, poignant, intelligent, and above all, good at what they do. In real life, the doctors I meet often seem to be only slightly more medicinally qualified than me.

Last week, I was at a small local hospital (which will remain nameless) guarding a gang member who had been shot multiple times and later proved to be mortally wounded from his injuries. The gangster was being attended to by four scared nurses and one crusty old doctor who had apparently just woken up. He had a good three-days beard growth on his face and the hair on the back of his head was matted down, indicating that he had just finished a delightful nap in an unused examination room. Had I been doing a traffic stop on the good doctor, a Breathalyzer test would have been in order.

The doctor spotted me while he was working on the soon-to-be-dead gangster. He suddenly abandoned his post and walked over to inform me of the situation. Removing his bloody gloves, he said in an alarmingly calm voice, "Ya know, it doesn't look very promising." Had I been thinking, I would have asked to see his credentials to make sure he wasn't just some guy who was staying at the local Holiday Inn Express. Minutes later, I saw my partner in the hospital lobby. I told him, "Dude, if I get shot standing right here, I want you to throw me in the black & white and drive me to another hospital."

Of all the people I come into contact with, coroners are by far the most colorful. Not only do they have the best stories, but they also tend to have the best sense of humor. Any coroner will tell you, the worst calls we get are when we have to respond to a senior care facility. Those are the worst because there will usually be a room full of old people lying in beds (think Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) but only one of them is dead. Upon arrival, our job is to examine and make sure said dead person is in fact dead and that there is no evidence of foul play.

If I happen to arrive during scheduled nap time it's even more complicated, because everyone in the room is asleep or dead, and I'm supposed to know which is which. There's nothing quite like walking over to what you expect to be a lifeless body when, without warning, said body sits up and asks you to turn up the volume on Matlock. I've decided the best thing to do from now on is to, upon entering the room, hit my baton against the door frame of the room as hard as I can and look to see who flinches and who doesn't.

One day, I responded to the scene of a suicide. The deceased lived in small, multiple level home, not uncommon in the San Fernando Valley. By the time I was done with my investigation, the family of the departed had gathered outside of her home. Part of my job is to assist the coroners with a swift removal of the body before the family gets too grief stricken and needs to be physically restrained. The coroner who responded was so small and weak, I could tell that I would be doing most of the heavy lifting to get the body out of the house and down the stairs.

The coroner and I wrapped the body discretely into a body bag. We put it onto a gurney and made our way out the front door. As we neared the top of the complex flight of stairs in front of the house, the experienced coroner stopped and looked around to assess the situation. She told me: "Listen, the whole family is standing around watching us. I'm not gonna lie, there's a good chance that you and me are going to drop this body." I was shocked at her complete lack of confidence. Then she said, "If it starts to fall, let it fall. Trust me, I've been doing this for years, it's much better to drop the body and pick it back up than to play hot potato with it on the stairs in front of the family." Fortunately, we made it down the stairs and into the County van without incident.

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