Rollin' deep in the heart of the I.E. through the gnarled concrete arteries of 60+10+91 east to neon sunsets and Naugles, Taco Tia, the Mad/Friendly/Happy or Lucky Greek,The Menagerie, Spanky's, Butch's Grinders, The Denny's Cocktail Lounge at Hardman Center (in pace requiescat). We spell Paris P-E-R-R-I-S, bitches!


Home-o for the Holidaze || A Photo Essay

The fuzzy little fella under the tree is my parents' very cuddly, very effeminate boy dog, Yukon. For all intents and purposes "Yuki" is my younger sibling. Like all bullying older sibs, I'm having the little one do the dirty work for me--soften up the crowd with those shiny button eyes for what will be a quick and dirty post on this night of the 23rd...the eve of Christmas Eve.

To get to Riverside today I took the Metrolink, So. Cal's commuter train system and a distant cousin to something like the
LIRR. On weekends the Metrolink goes the roundabout way (the only way available to the Empire from L.A.'s Union Station on weekends), through San Bernardino, Riverside's scrappier and scruffier neighbor to the Northeast. What is usually about a 50 minute drive on the 60FWY door-to-door from my place to my folks' took about an hour and 45 on the Sunday San Berdoo line that chugs alongside the 10 past El Monte, Baldwin Park, Covina, Northern Pomona, Claremont, Montclair, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Rialto and downtown San Bernardino before docking in downtown Riverside. The train was filled with holiday travelers, mostly Latino and African-American teens heading into the I.E. to see the cousins, aunts and uncles who re-lo'ed to the 'burbs in the 80s or 90s (see Next Friday, which was set in one of my scenic station stops today, Rancho Cucamonga).

The Metrolink ride yields plenty of stories, especially because the route provides picture-window glimpses at the backyards, freight doors and storage dumps that families, businesses and cities like to keep tucked out of view. I too will keep these stories close to the vest for now and let a few pictures do the talking. Part II of this post closes with a tableau of what the holidays look like at the parental abode on Santee place. In the meantime, this is how we enter the Empire...

1. Union Station

2. L.A. River

3. Three

4. Mobile Home Park

5. Montclair Station (Mt. Baldy, Hinterground)

6. Yellow 1.0

7. Yellow 2.0

8. Boxcars near Rialto

9. Yellow 3.0 (between San Bernardino and Riverside)

10. End Stop

11. Raincross

PART II: Santee Place
We all know the holidaze are chaotic, but they feel especially tumultuous for a Virgo like me when I schlep out to the parental hoarding pit.
My folks have got to be the worst pack-rats EVER. I know they look sweet, well groomed and tidy on the outside, but at their very core they can't resist squirreling away every soy sauce packet* or spork in the event of the apocalypse (or "The Big One"--the latter being more immanent). I think their Bohemianism crossed with some of their "Fisher King" tendencies account for my unbearable Virgoan obsessiveness and minimalism now. [Left: Graveyard of craft books, hall closet]. When I arrived this late afternoon, I had my annual hissy fit about all the stuff crammed into every nook and cranny of the house: an assortment of catalogues for things like dog visors and Kleenex cozies; unread Rodale's "Organic Gardening" magazines from 1989 onward; DVD's from Columbia House that they forgot to reject through the monthly mailer; ceramic dolphin clocks gifted to them by acquaintances from the church of Religious Science; coupons from Dr. Butchko, I.E. Vet. It's all still here. Clearly I need therapy to work through all the residual immigrante and class shame triggered by all my parents' stuff. [L: Santas and Friends]. This time, I just decided to take pictures.

I know this might sound a bit too "American Beauty," but taking pictures of all of the oddities chez Mom and Dad really helped me see things differently. It made me actually appreciate some of the accidental beauty behind their otherwise chaotic accumulation. It helped me breathe. So in the spirit of Christmas sharing, here's something from my family to yours...
Maligayang Pasko! Mele Kalikimaka! Frohe Weihnachten! And all that jazz...

a. Beethoven and Friends

b. Everything but the kitchen sink

c. The kitchen sink

d. Crown Rib Roast

e. Capicolla fr. D'Elia's

f. Gallery

g. Nativity Scene + Buddha Guest Stars

h. Notes

i. Screen, Elephants and Rudolph

j. Bongos || Romy Katindig Model

k. Hip-Swaying Outdoor Santa

l. Santa's Sleigh +
Great Ideas Book Series, 1961-1974

m. Mom

n. Dad w. Sick Puppy

o. Tannenbaum

* The genotype "soy sauce saver" isn't mine, but belongs to the venerable HN Lukes.


No Wonder || From Yentl to The Shondes

This Catholic Pinay lesbiana (on the Far From Heaven-side of butch) knows what “shonde” means. It’s Yiddish for shame, disgrace, pity or outrage. And I knew this before I peeped the definition thoughtfully provided on the website for queer dramarock sensations, The Shondes. I know what “shonde” means because—interfaith confession time—I fancied myself a spiritual Jewess the minute I saw Yentl on VHS and felt tingly about all the cross-dressing, carts of books and “like buttah” showtune meditations on female education and the Talmud. I was so moved by the sepia-toned, candle-lit, made-for-Barbra-by-Barbra exultations about desire, feminism and faith that the very next day I rushed to the B. Dalton bookstore across from WhereHouse Records at the Riverside Plaza to buy a copy of The Essential Talmud, and the collected works of Isaac Bashevis Singer. Drink it in here...

I knew it was deeper than my brief flirtation with the Baha’i faith circa the 7th grade. But I didn’t realize until much later what it all meant: all those grainy, black & white dreams of Brooklyn scored to the pizmonim-inspired harmonies of
Fiddler, or those fantasies about being a stranger among them in Cicely, Alaska with Dr. Joel Fleischman on Northern Exposure. For this nerdy, only-child from Southeast Asia coming of age in the white, working-class suburbs of Southern California, Jewishness meant intelligence, humor, showtunes, culture and cute glasses. Not only did Jewishness (or at least the made for TV versions I encountered) compliment my own sense of strangeness and my own sense of ethnicity, but oddly—thanks to my belated, analog encounter with Yentl—it also told me something about my budding queer sexuality. Only two months before I came out as a big homo, my Yentl costume on Halloween was misread as “Shaolin Kung-Fu Master” by all the other college dorkuses around me. A shonde in so many ways. It seems no accident that I am currently employed in a Gender Studies program with an endowed "Barbra Streisand Chair in Sexuality and Intimacy." Someday...somehow...somewhere...

It’s because of this awkward sense of communion (pardon the Catholicism), and a recommendation from a McSwonderful friend that now, more than 15-years later, I have found The Shondes...

Read my complete interview with The Shondes at OH! INDUSTRY.