by RIP RENSE
(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
LTSEWH # 1:
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
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 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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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---
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.
LTSEWH # 3:
“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.”
“I don’t have a
“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
“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!”
enter the complete names of people or places that callers request?”
just completely stupid, and utterly insane.”
isn’t, sir. It’s very efficient, and---“
Park. That’s BarnsDALL. B-a-r-n-s-d-a-l-l. Not Barnsdale.”
“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.”
LTSEWH # 4:
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.
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
“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.”
“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.
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.
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
LTSEWH # 5: COUNTER
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.
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.
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.
# 6: JUST SAY NO
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
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
“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.”
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?
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
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. . .
LTSEWH # 7: LEFT BEHIND
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.
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
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!
you’d better revoke my license. I don't have enough imagination to drive in
For more LTSEWH's,
watch this space.
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