My Firsthand Account of the Occupy Los Angeles Raid

I stood with the 99% in defending the Occupy Los Angeles encampment around City Hall last night. While I witnessed no outlandish displays of violence, what I did see still terrified me, so I want to share my account for all who couldn’t see the madness in person.

Truthfully, I was still a bit weary after staying up most of the night Sunday, the night the raid was initially supposed to occur. Whether the police ever planned to actually raid on Sunday night was irrelevant, I suppose, because they couldn’t have. Not effectively, anyway, our numbers were too strong. But maintaining those numbers permanently was never going to be feasible, so the cops waited until we were tired and depleted. When word spread that it looked like the raid would actually happen, I cancelled my plans and got down there immediately. I didn’t think we could stop the evacuation, but that wasn’t going to stop me from voicing my opinion and standing in solidarity.

While I occupy full time in my mind, I rarely physically occupy. I’m not out there camping at night. For me the camp is a symbol, a symbol that I obviously want to see stand. That said, I know the movement is strong and will continue with or without tents. But it’s not just a symbol for many who live there. About 1/3 of the campers are homeless. I hate when critics bring up this statistic as if to suggest their numbers shouldn’t count – as though the homeless haven’t been affected most drastically by bad economic policies and have no grievances about the system like the other protesters. At the encampment, the homeless have found something they can’t find elsewhere in LA – a safe place to pitch a tent, regular and free access to a bathroom and food, and most importantly, a community that not only acknowledges but includes them. Shame on a society that deprives people of so much and wants to take this away from them, too.

But anyway, you want to hear about the raid. About a thousand protesters amassed in support of the park, less than half of Sunday’s count. Like Sunday, however, there was a lot of listlessness. The protesters were just waiting for the police to make a move. While there was some strategizing (kudos to those who climbed trees and made capture especially difficult for the police), given that it’s a peaceful demonstration, there was no need to plan a counterattack. However, we all had our theories on how the police would handle the situation. Even though we all knew it was going to happen, the manner in which the police invaded took us all by surprise.

Without warning, hundreds of officers came out of nowhere storming the protesters. They emerged running from streets, alleys, and even City Hall itself to surround the park. It was like a well-choreographed scene from a hundred million dollar action movie. Their swift movement was brilliant and caused the crowd to run, scream, and cry. I’ve never shouted the word “fuck” so much in my life. We were very blatantly under attack.

Here’s the thing – they didn’t have to actually be shooting at you to make you feel attacked. In that instance, when hundreds of armed people in riot gear are charging right at you, everything in your gut says, “We are about to die.” And I say that as someone who always thought the police were going to behave. We still haven’t healed from the Rodney King era, and after the mistakes of other cities like Oakland and New York City, I figured the LAPD would go to great lengths to avoid a PR nightmare. But even if they didn’t brutalize most of us physically, they certainly did it psychologically. They purposely made us all feel like we were about to be slaughtered. Tactical, sure, but remember these are extreme measures against people who were guilty of staying in a park after hours. The same park the Mayor promised protesters they could stay in as long as they wanted until a sudden change of heart, undoubtedly do to corporate and political pressure.

Rather quickly, the police had circled various areas, trapping everyone in. People who wanted to go home were not permitted to leave. Officers would say, “You can get out over there,” and point in some direction, even though there was no exit. Every few minutes, the police lines would move in closer to make protesters feel more claustrophobic and imprisoned. Once we were all successfully divided and corralled, the police finally announced we were an unlawful assembly and that we had ten minutes to disperse. They claimed to make this proclamation on behalf of the “people of California”, which the protesters rightfully heckled, “We ARE the people of California.” Many attendees panicked because, despite a ten-minute warning, they still weren’t letting anyone leave. Was this a trick?

I was stuck in a section next to some mainstream reporters who had not been cleared to cover Occupy LA. Beforehand, the LAPD threatened that all media in the park who hadn’t been handpicked by LAPD itself would be subject to arrest no different than protesters. The reporters, like the protesters, probably figured there would be at least some warning before being kettled, so they were visibly nervous and frustrated when the police denied them an opportunity to exit. I hope they report this experience, but I suspect that

The initial ten-minute timeframe expired so as to thoroughly frighten all the would-be dispersers who couldn’t disperse. Then another ten-minute warning was issued, and after a few minutes of that, protesters trapped in the street areas were permitted to exit. Those who remained in the streets would be the first to be arrested, as they wanted to clear out that area first and establish an even stronger perimeter. I wanted to be in the park for the big showdown, but that was no longer an option. When the police swarmed initially, I tried to rush into the park, but was blocked out, so I missed out on that opportunity, although a couple of my friends managed to get inside. So at this point, I had the choice of being civilly disobedient on the street and being in the first group hauled away, or to cross to the other side of the police line and watch from a greater distance, which was the option that myself and most of the demonstrators in my area chose. My feeling is that if I’m going to keep participating in demonstrations, I need to limit my arrests to when I’m not given an option to step away at the last minute, though I have a lot of admiration for the 292 Angelinos who stood their ground. The nearly 300 that were arrested were/are held on $5000 bail (talk about excessive). Many of the lawyers had assumed the protesters who did not resist arrest would just be cited and released due to the prisons already being full (heck, Lindsay Lohan was just SENTENCED to hard time and left after an hour), but they clearly wanted to make an example and scare them from participating again. That much is evident.

Now outside of the perimeter, we became a chanting mob of hundreds on the other side of the barricade. From time to time, the police would push us backward a few feet. At one point, I was at the front and was getting bumped with an officer’s baton as he kept demanding we step back. The baton was held the long way and not painful in itself, but I was getting crushed between the officer’s pushing me in one direction and the pushing back by the crowd trying to stand its ground. “Stop shoving!” I screamed at the officer. After all, they were trying to get us back a few feet for no purpose other than to display their power.

From that distance, I wasn’t able to witness the events in the park for myself, though I’ve since seen YouTube videos of guns being pointed in unarmed protesters’ faces and others being shoved to the ground by officers. What I did see was the crowd growing rowdy on the outside of the police line, wishing to show support to the hundreds being arrested in the park. Effectively, what the police did was push the people away from the park and to the other side of where they were standing, but that did not succeed in breaking up the protest. Now people were just assembled in the streets forty yards away from the park. Eventually the police had to declare this new gathering an “unlawful assembly” and try to disperse that too, which involved some baton whacking and what would probably look like comical chase scenes if Benny Hill music was playing as a soundtrack. It wasn’t so amusing in the moment, however.

When one of these sudden clashes/chases broke out with police and protesters, that’s when my friends and I sprinted down the street away from the scene. Even getting out was a fiasco. A cop who said she would escort me through police lines grabbed me by the arm (without warning – it wasn’t especially rough or anything, but it’s scary when you’re all of the sudden grabbed by an officer after everything else that had gone down) and an officer at the other end of the street still didn’t want to let me through. The officer holding me asked what she was supposed to do with me, then, if not let me leave. Yet again, there’s a lot of “you must leave the area/you can’t leave the area” and finally the second officer gruffly let me pass. My car was behind a separate barricade. I probably would have had a lot more trouble getting back to it were there not a business man parked next to me who was also waiting to have access to his car. An officer first searched my car with a flashlight, and then when given the go-ahead, I was again restrained by having both arms grabbed (again, not that forcefully, BUT STILL) when escorted to my car.

The press conference afterward made me sick. The mayor and the police officials cheered themselves on doing a perfect job. First, let’s give them some credit: to my knowledge there were no tear gas, no rubber bullets, and seemingly fewer police violations than in other such raids, but I think at least half of that credit is shared with the protesters whose response to the police’s advances did not make them feel like they had to use such measures. But while you can give the police kudos for the execution, you can never call it a job worth doing. There was no reason for that kind of intimidation for that petty of an infraction.

For as much as I’ve been watching live feeds of Occupy scuffles in other cities, I didn’t fully grasp the extent to which we live in a police state until I saw the police swarm on peaceful people with my own eyes. If this is indeed “the finest moment in the history of the LAPD” as Mayor Villaraigosa said, then the LAPD should be ashamed. Shouldn’t their finest moment involve protecting and serving LA residents rather than suppressing them? My friend recently had her home robbed of her valuables and you know what LAPD told her? They can’t investigate or do anything about it because they are understaffed and under-funded. Yet they can afford to pay 1400 officers to terrorize and apprehend a few hundred campers who have the first amendment on their side.

And I think that’s perhaps the most frustrating conclusion I’ve drawn: the LAPD is powerful, clearly capable of pulling together a masterful plan to take down an opposing operation. So why aren’t they harnessing this man and brainpower against the rampant gang violence or any of the other things that make this city notoriously unsafe?

Witnessing this all unfold, seeing how the people at top so desperately want to squash this movement just cements my commitment to the cause even more. But there are so many rich entities working against it that the only way this populous movement will succeed is to genuinely have the population behind it. So I urge you to not just acknowledge that what’s happening is wrong, but to find a way to participate civically to change our current course.

(Above photo from the Guardian; I like their signs.)


Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

I got my mail after coming home at midnight the other day, saw what looked like a wedding invitation and said aloud, "Oh god, who the fuck is getting married now?!" Bitter much? Apparently so, but my mood turned around when I found what might be the funniest save-the-date card ever.

It's extra funny because, as longtime readers already know, Heather is the queen of "That's what she said." The fact that she put that on her card just goes to show that while you can put a ring on it, she'll still come on top. (Yup, that's what she said.)

As for why Heather's getting married, I don't totally understand, but I have three decent guesses:
1. Patrick is a good guy. Granted, I've only met him once, but if you can come across as a nice, put-together guy while in Las Vegas, that seems like a pretty good litmus test. A litmus test I admittedly wouldn't pass myself.
2. She's a young Jewish lady marrying a doctor. Her parents probably planned this for her before she was born.
3. She's too lazy to find a new sexual partner.

But anyway, congratulations, I guess, and good luck birthing the Messiah.


My Amoosing Pun

How do you stop a raid of the Occupy LA encampment at its planned time? Flood the area with supporters, making it too difficult for the police to follow through. I'm proud to have been one of the thousands of protesters present into the wee hours of the morning. People of all backgrounds were there to lend their voices - including a cycling cow.

I liked the cow, as it added a touch of levity to a sometimes tense scenario, and of course the press was going to find a way to mention the bovine, too. My friend Adam quoted a Time article - "A group on bicycles circled the block, one of them in a cow suit" - on my Facebook wall.

Immediately I responded, "The revolution will not be pasteurized!"

And, like, for real, I felt on the top of my game. I caught myself by such surprise with my own cleverness and wit that I legitimately cracked myself up. Have you ever done that to yourself before? If your response is, "No, I'm not self-absorbed enough to crack myself up, Kevin," my response back to you is that you're just not creative enough to be capable of doing so. Go suck an udder, haters.

I liked my own joke so much that I googled it, you know, just to make sure I could call it a Kevin original. But Google is a dream killer. Time and time again, Google proves that with 7 billion people in the world, it's nearly impossible to be the first at anything anymore. In this specific case, "The revolution will not be pasteurized!" is already the slogan of raw milk activists, apparently.

Ugh. UGGGGH. Why can't the world let me think I'm funny? Just leave me in peace to laugh at myself and give myself kudos for my own creativity! I'm sorry if all that hormone-filled milk I've been drinking left me less quick at the draw than these raw milk hippies, but I also needed to wait for the right context to arise to spark this inspiration.

I can't believe I'm even in the 99% when it comes to puns. WHEN WILL MY DAY COME?


Gobble Gobble

Guess who bowled a turkey (three consecutive strikes) on Turkey Day.
It's a Thanksgiving miracle! Or, as Preston (who also managed the feat) called it, destiny.

Like a holiday feast: IN YOUR FACE!


And You Smell Like One!

"Hey, I can see your butt crack!"
- A homeless man to me as I bent over to pick up litter at an event I volunteered at today. I "thanked" him, of course, as it's the day for that, but the only way for the incident to be more ironic is if a plumber had delivered me the news.


How Facebook Helped Me Solve a Mystery... and Destroy a Relationship

Who says that browsing through Facebook photos is a waste of time? Yesterday, this normally useless activity helped me to not only solve a mystery, but destroy a relationship.

For context, I must take you back to three years ago when I attended a circus-themed party. In need of a costume, I decided to be a trained circus bear, which I achieved by brutally gutting a giant teddy bear and repurposing it into something wearable. It's the closest that I'll ever come to being a Project Runway contestant. Afterward, my friend Terri was so enamored with the costume that I gifted it to her. Since then she has worn it while driving, worn it to work, and she even devoted some of her limited luggage space to take it to London with her.

Anyway, fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was at a warehouse party on Halloween weekend surrounded by hundreds of strangers. Amongst them was a dude wearing a bear costume similar to the one I made. At first I was like "oh, someone had the same idea, maybe I'm not so creative at all." But when I passed by him again later, the closer I got, the more it really seemed like my costume. "I think that guy's wearing a costume I made a few years ago!" I told a couple of my friends, who were polite, but I don't think believed that what I was suggesting was possible. Heck, I didn't understand how it would be possible myself, other than that I had made the thing with my "bear" hands so my intuition said it was the one I made.

The next day, I texted Terri to ask whether she had loaned out the bear costume to someone because I thought I saw it at a party. "I WOULD NEVER LET IT OUT OF MY SIGHT!" she told me. So it must be a different costume, I decided, letting the suspicion drop.

That is until yesterday when glancing at some Facebook photos, I saw the guy in the bear costume in an album her roommate was tagged in. That seemed like too big a coincidence, so I confronted Terri when I saw her in person. I started by calling her a liar, and when she realized there was evidence, she became upset. It turned out Terri wasn't a liar, but that her roommate lent out the costume without her permission. Trouble!

And then Terri told her roommate that she was moving out. Granted, she had already decided to move and was waiting to find the right time to tell him, but what better way than to announce it dramatically after what would seem to be a trivial fight? The move was more likely inspired by her roommate's drunk friend puking on her couch and urinating on her books, but that's another story. Just let him think the bear theft was the last straw.

Anyway, mystery solved... relationship destroyed. Meanwhile, I can only take it as a compliment that my costume was stolen and worn out to a party as it speaks to my creative abilities. Still, there's one more mystery that needs solving: the bear has since gone missing. While listlessly surfing through strangers' Facebook photos, should you notice this bear costume anywhere, please let me know. We need all the clues we can gather to identify his current whereabouts.


In Which I Babble about How Pathetic I Am on a Saturday Night

Normally I'd make an attempt to conceal my loser-dom, but I think it's time to just own up to where I'm at in life. I had all-day plans with a few friends today who bailed on me because they decided they'd rather sleep in. So then I made tentative night plans with another friend, who also bailed so that she could go to bed. At 8:45! Looks like I'm making the wrong plans with the wrong friends at the wrong times.

I've left the house for all of 10 minutes today, with my one departure being a quick trip to the ATM to deposit a check. And I didn't even succeed at that because I forgot it at home. And rather than just going right back with the check like a normal person, I decided against it in fear that someone would notice me return so soon. So what have I done today instead? Watched a lot of kid game shows on YouTube and looked at pictures of the girls from Korea's Next Top Model. As trivial as that is, it did lead to some deep questions, like "Am I racist for not thinking these girls are that attractive?" I'm not sure about the racist part, but I'm confident that it makes me pathetic.

The reason it's even more embarrassing that I'm at home is because I have a new roommate who's 5 years younger than me. I like her, but I worry that she realizes I was at home all day with nothing to do and has branded me a loser already. She already questioned me on my plans last night, and I wasn't sure how to respond. Do I tell her that I had been invited to go out by one friend, but I declined so that I could get up a reasonable hour? Do I tell her I now regret the decision seeing as I later learned I wouldn't need to get up early after all? Do I tell her that I also got invited out by the same group of friends who preemptively bailed on me for the following morning, but I didn't even entertain the notion because I felt it would make me complicit in providing them with the reason they wouldn't be able to get up the next morning? My rationales seemed logical to me, but I worry she could reasonably find them neurotic.

Part of me wants to explain to my new roommate "when you get to my age, you just can't hang as much anymore" to excuse my behavior. Besides, it's true. Now that I'm 28, I think of myself as 30. 30 used to scare me, yet now that I have 2 years to go, I'm already rounding up. In my head, I honestly think all the time that I'm "like 30." It's as if I've given up.

I mean, I haven't given up. It's become increasingly obvious that while I can join my friends for shared interests, I can't expect them to do participate in interests they don't share. While I keep trying new activities to meet new people in the hopes of figuring out what I want from life socially, it's not coming easily. Part of me is considering going back to AA (which I have gone to previously as an observer, not an addict), just because I know it's a supportive group of people who do sober activities. It seems like it'd be fun to have nights where the go-to activity isn't imbibing. Does that make me more pathetic? Is that a sign that I really am 30 and not in my 20s anymore? Or is it a sign that I'm an immature idiot that I'd even contemplate pretending to be a recovering alcoholic to one group of people while still going out to bars with other groups of friends?

The best thing about this post is that everyone is really going to want to hang out with me now. I seem like a lot of fun and not at all crazy. But maybe your mom can call my mom anyway? I could really go for an arranged play date right now. Someone else needs to figure out the social life of this "30"-year-old because I can't handle it right now.


How I Was Occupied at Occupy

Forward: This post is about an experience I had at the Occupy LA protests yesterday. That said, I promise it's a humorous anecdote and not a political rant, so no need for the apathetic to be scared.

Because Occupy LA's events started so early in order to have solidarity with NYC's activity, I actually awoke at 5am. Without a doubt, that is the hour I am most least likely to be awake normally, with the few exceptions being when I have yet to go to bed. Having only slept a few hours, I had to ask myself if I really was going to go for this, but I decided the cause was too important and I hopped on a train to downtown.

While I stood on the outer circle of a chanting rally, a frantic man approached asking for help. "I need people to hold signs!" "What kind of signs?" I asked. Because there were so many different viewpoints present, I didn't want to hold a sign that I didn't agree with. "Homemade signs!" he said, as if I were expecting one of those professionally made signs the movement is known for. Hesitantly, I followed.

Along with five other strangers who were also too nice to say to no, I found myself in front of six large red signs, each with a different phrase. I didn't understand what it was about until someone pointed out that it rhymed. "Oh, it's a poem!" another woman realized. "It's a Burma-Shave!" the sign creator corrected.

It read:
Hey Bankers: Shared Sacrifice?
Don't You Get It, We Played Nice. [I held this one]
Bailed You Out with $16 TRILLION,
Jobs Are Gone for 24 MILLION.
Stop Our Protest, Are You Nuts?
What We Want is JOBS NOT CUTS!

Here's the thing: Burma-Shave's work great alongside a highway, but they are not practical in a protest setting. Not only were the signs a bit unwieldy to start, but our march is not a parade. It's an unorganized mob of people. Staying close to each other was not only difficult, but as the flow of traffic and the space available in the street fluctuated, it was actually impossible. At some point someone told us we were backwards and told us to reorder ourselves. Since the signs were double-sided, what read forwards one way was then going to be backwards from the other direction, but I only argued this point twice before finally just rearranging myself in the realization that I wasn't getting through to anybody.

The sign creator, or "The Poet" as we sign carriers became referring to him as, ran a tight ship. When one carrier fell a few strides behind, generally due to no fault of his own, The Poet would inform her that she was lagging behind. All we could do was laugh because he was being a bit demanding of people who were kind enough to help him pull off his creative vision. Besides, why wasn't he holding any of these signs? As other protesters shouted, "This is what a democracy looks like!" I whispered to the girl next to me, "This is what a dictatorship looks like!"

At least the sign holders, became chummy with one another through this bizarre shared experience. All six of us were total strangers to each other, but we did have one main things in common: we were pushovers who resigned ourselves to just holding the sign even though we had no particular attachment to the message. We also found The Poet's attempts to point at each of us individually to prompt us to scream out our respective sign's slogan pretty laughable.

A man who was holding the sign to my right seemed legitimately terrified of The Poet. When we reached the intersection we were taking over, he pretty much ran for his life, handing off his sign to a nearby unsuspecting woman with no explanation. Every man for himself, I guess! The new signholder was confused and asked if this meant we wanted her to stand with us. "We don't want you to, but that guy does," I said, pointing to The Poet. She refused, and I admired her ability to say no (people can do that?), and The Poet replaced her with a woman who seemed pretty honored to be a part of the sign holding. In other words, she was as crazy as The Poet.

For the next hour or so, I tried to figure out how to get out of having to hold the sign. At one point, I even contemplated joining some other protesters in civil disobedience by laying in the road... I wouldn't have to hold a sign if I'm getting arrested! Finally, the young girl on the end with dyed blue hair (as opposed to naturally blue hair, I suppose) also made her escape. She just kind of bolted into the crowd, and I don't blame her. When The Poet realized the defaction, he freaked out, and the rest of us agreed to help him locate the missing sign, which we found tossed on the ground not too far away.

Geniusly, one of the fellow sign holders suggested to The Poet that he collect all of his signs so that "nothing would happen to them," and he agreed that that was a good idea. At the end, he gave each of us what one of my comrades called "a sweaty hug and kiss" to show his appreciation for our assistance. From the way we each flinched, I think a simple "thank you" would have been preferable. But at last we were free. In that moment, it felt as significant as toppling the 1%.



"More like con-dumb!"
- Unsafe sex enthusiast


Los Angeles Homicides

Sasha is planning on moving out to LA in a matter of months, but is hesitant because of all the murders that happen here. So what do I do to help? I send her a link to the LA Time's Homicide Blog. Sure, it only seemed to scare her even more, but if she had just listened to my suggestion of finding a spot on the interactive map where people don't get killed, I think it might have given her some peace of mind. The LA Tourism Board should hire me for awesome ideas like this!

How could you not find the statistical breakdown helpful? There's a lot of good advice to be inferred! Be alert for guns, but don't fret too much about strangers with large hands: only 31 people have been strangled in the past four years. Stay at home on Sundays as that seems to be murder day in LA, but feel free to go out partying on Wednesday: hump day is the day you're most likely to stay alive. To avoid being gunned down, try to appear Asian rather than Latino. And finally, get older as fast you can. Sure you might get closer to death as you age, but you're less likely to be murdered, and a natural death seems way preferable to one by way of stabbing.

If you're feeling especially morbid, you can click on the photos of the victims, see their murder stories in detail, and then even peek at the comments that their friends and family leave for them. Okay, doing that might not help you feel more secure, but for real I have used this site to inform my own life decisions. I walk alone at night quite often and my friends will say, "Stop that! That's not a safe area!" and then I'll show them the site and be like, "Look, only one dude has been shot there in the past couple of years, it's probably fine."

Also, big ups to my friend Clare who used to maintain this site. I feel really sorry for present day homicide victims who will never have the honor of having Clare chart their demise for them.


Art for Fart's Sake

Hey artists, you better step up your game, because I just spotted the world's greatest public art installation: a transgendered ballerina clown.

You can find this gem, which features a motorized kicking leg, on the CVS building in Venice. But beware - it's terrifying. Allison actually shielded her face and asked that we move away from it as soon as possible.

Naturally, this reaction got me thinking: why did Venice even want this crazy thing amidst a row of otherwise chic stores on Main Street? Somehow I doubt CVS commissioned it. In search of an explanation, I located the artist's statement:

The Venice Boardwalk is full of all kinds of people in all sorts of outfits and the atmosphere is very festive with many live street performances taking place, especially on weekends. This sculpture is an accommodation or resolution of opposites in one. Not only does this image bring the male and female together into one figure, but also, two opposite types of performers are represented: the formal classical ballet dancer and the traditional street performer. Of course, this public sculpture might push the envelope in ‘taste’, but if you have ever walked the Venice Boardwalk on a Sunday afternoon, you might understand why this figure is right at home.

I love how, in addition to bullshitting, he managed to be condescending, too. Why not just say, "Yo freaks, I made this freaky art because it's what you freaky freaks deserve."?


Dear God That's Wrong


This has got to be a mistake of some sort, right?

Because Sister Act 2 introduced us to Jennifer Love Hewitt.
Because Sister Act 2 features Maggie Smith and Kathy Najimy in nun outfits.
Because Sister Act 2 got me re-involved with the church choir.
Because Sister Act 2 started my lifelong obsession with Lauryn Hill.

I think it's fair to say that my generation is better for having watched Sister Act 2 dozen of times. Who are these critics who didn't have their hearts melted with the danceable, urban mix of "Joyful Joyful"? Looks like we've got a lot heathens who aren't down with G.O.D.

Is it because of Whoopi's lack of eyebrows? 'Cause I'm pretty sure that's racist.

One thing's for sure, however: WE ARE THE 7%!


I'm Calling Your Eleven-Lovin' Bullshit Out

There's nothing like 11/11/11 to bring out all of the fair weather eleven fans. "OMG! Three elevens in a row! Isn't that amazing?"

Yeah, and where were you when there was just one eleven? You don't find just one eleven to be one-derful on its own?

I'm about to sound like that guy who's been listening to that indie band a full two years before you even a heard a song of theirs on the radio, but I am WAY more into elevens than you ever will be. Heck, I threw a party on 11/11 years ago; I didn't need to wait until 2011 to feel it deserved celebration.

Eleven has always been my favorite number, you see, and not just because it rhymes with my name. It's odd, it's prime, it's a palindrome, it has simple multiplication tables, and on a scale from one to ten, it's even better.

I care about elevens too much to see people tweet about them today as if they've always been fans. Some of these temporary eleven converts wouldn't know elevens unless they fell asleep on the 1 key. I'd bet that the most many of these idiots are only exposed to elevens is when they accidentally let go of the shift key while excitedly typing about whatever the latest trend of the day is. ("ROFL!! IT'S TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!!!!!!!!11")

So do me a favor: if you're not going to give a shit about the awesomeness of elevens tomorrow... if it'll be another full century before you consider honoring this number again, then you can just hop off this bandwagon right now, thankyouverymuch. Sure, eleven does challenge the notion that "one is the loneliest number" by pairing two of them together, but that doesn't mean you need to test it by putting it through potential heartbreak. I promise to love eleven enough for all of us, long after some other digit has struck your collective fancy.


Let's Expose the Duggars

Knowing how much it would piss me off, a few of my friends and family tried to be the first to break the news to me that the Duggars are having another child. Previously I've delivered prolonged rants (here and here) about how awful those parents are, and my hatred is throbbing again at this latest development.

Make no mistake, it is not "God's will" that causes them to pop out babies on the regular, it's that Mr. Duggar is having a lot of sex with his wife. How they find the time with 19 kids to raise is another question. If you'll recall, Mrs. Duggar and her premature infant nearly died during her last pregnancy; if God is trying to give this couple any sort of sign, maybe it was this as a warning of "enough is a fucking nough." Are the kids going to be just as into the whole "God's will" tripe if they actually lose their mom this time? It would be awful for me to say that I hope it happens, so I won't say it. I love the Duggars's claim that the doctors say she's healthy enough for this pregnancy. Did these doctors graduate from the Duggars's Institute of Ineffective Homeschooling? Because her last two pregnancies have had significant complications, definitely putting her at a high risk for more problems this time around.

Allow me to toss out a theory here: fertility drugs. Given that this family is so starved for attention yet only receives media coverage when they have a pregnancy announcement, might an over-the-hill woman feel pressured to force something to happen in her exhausted reproductive system with the help of medical advancements? Someone out there must have proof that she's receiving fertility treatments. A scandal like that would blow the roof off their whole, "Aw shucks, it's just God's work" excuse. They need to stop absolving themselves of all responsibility and be exposed for playing a sick game that involves kids' lives.

For that reason, I am willing to give a reward to anyone who can procure proof of any Duggar fertility-enhancing shenanigans. That's right, I will pay TWENTIES of dollars (that's multiple twenties!) for this information. Plus it's God's will for you to do so.


What Grown-Ass Women Do

My college's snack shop stocked a small selection of movies available for loan. One momentous day, someone introduced a couple of porn DVDs to the collection, which sent my dorm-mates in a tizzy. Everyone wanted to see the porn, but no one wanted to actually check it out. Watching a bunch of college students get nervous at the thought of renting porn, our then acquaintance Joan told us we were all ridiculous and left. Five minutes later, she returned with one of the porn films. "You weren't too embarrassed to do that?" we asked. "I'm a grown-ass woman, and I can get porn if I want," Joan said.

We put the DVD on in my room and about a dozen people awkwardly watched and tried to cut the weirdness with humorous observations. Joan tried to enjoy it at surface level despite our interruptions, but ultimately dismissed it entirely. "It's not hot! It's porn, it should turn me on. This isn't hot! I'm taking it back!" She promptly returned the movie and told the snack shop employee what she didn't like about it, as if the guy were the director or something. Needless to say, Joan soon went from an acquaintance to a friend.

A year later, we went to a record expo together where various vendors were selling music and movies. After separating from me briefly, Joan returned with an armful of porn flicks. "Where'd you get all that?" I asked. "That guy sold it all to me for just $10," Joan said. Feeling uncomfortable looking at what "interested" her, I again turned to humor to cover up my embarrassment. "That's a lot of fuck for your buck!" I exclaimed. 100% earnestly, Joan then gave me a disgusted look and said, "You have a crass mouth." Granted, she had an image of a woman gnawing on a penis in her hand, but it was my mouth that was crass. We all have lines we don't like having crossed, and I love how unpredictable Joan's lines are.


Bail Out

I took my money out of Bank of America yesterday in solidarity with Bank Transfer Day and the larger Occupy movement. While the BoA tellers gave it a good effort to convince me to stay, even offering me higher interest rates, I decided that a bank that large and irresponsible needed another bailout... mainly me, bailing on it.

I'm excited to be part of a credit union now. There's a lot of reason why I made the switch, but if I could sum up why I feel it's a good choice in just one point, it's this one: credit unions are not-for-profit. In a literal sense, they aren't trying to nickel and dime your nickels and dimes. Because big banks have shareholders, they have to continually increase their profits, which means finding ways to make money off every one of your transactions. On the other hand, credit unions make enough money to operate, earning the majority of its cash from interest on loans.

Afterward, I headed downtown to the Occupy rally where there was a teach-in. Unfortunately, I was discouraged by a bunch of arguments going on amongst the participants. I understand that people come to the movement with differing opinions and that debate is healthy, but screaming at/heckling others who slightly disagree with you on some minor topic is not productive. Why not work together on the 95% of things you agree on rather than focusing on the other 5%? We're all here for the common goal of minimizing economic injustice.

As easy as it is to be cynical about everything, I also can't allow myself to write off a movement this important. As the consolidation of wealth and power increases over time, it's only going to be harder to break up, so giving up now might as well mean giving up forever. How to do it, though, is another issue. I'm still trying to figure out exactly where *I* fit into Occupy Wall Street. Hopefully we'll all figure out at least that much soon.


Child Melester

Yo, it's no secret that I've been fiending to go Vegas lately. Recently some of my friends went with vouchers for a free room, free drinks... Did I mention they went without me? They're dicks, I tell you. But at least I get to live out their experience vicariously through their stories.

1. This sign was posted in the casino. Probably the first fortunate thing to happen in a guy named Melester's life. Do you think it was a typo like this Hollywood flyer?

2. At 4:30am in the hotel room, one friend called the front desk to complain of being cold and demanded "two of your thickest blankets." When an employee showed up to the room with blankets, she peeked at the thermostat and asked, "You do realize that the air conditioning is set to 60?" "Yeah!" my friend said angrily and shut the door.

3. At a casino bar, one friend told another, "I keep accidentally making eye contact with this really eery guy, I hope he doesn't think I'm flirting with him." The second friend turned around expecting to see a creepy guy but instead saw a guy in a suit with the largest ears she had ever seen. The first friend didn't mean eery, she meant ear-y. No word on whether he was also a melester.

Hopefully I'll soon have Vegas tales of my own. I can't wait to rape, drink, and gamble.But mostly rape.


My Halloween Costume

When I was little, my favorite animal was a giraffe. I even dressed as one for Halloween one year. While searching a closet at my childhood home recently, I actually found the old costume I made (with ample help from my mom, I'd bet) in fourth grade. In the spirit of reusing (all 3 Rs are important, guys), I decided to be that same giraffe. Sure, the 18-year-old costume was in disrepair, but with some bent coat hangers and a whole lotta duct tape, I whipped it back into reasonable shape.

Let me tell you, this classic costume was a hit, you guys. The neck made it sort of hard to dance in sometimes, but it held up surprisingly well in my romp around West Hollywood last night. Dozens of strangers stopped me to take pictures with them, most of whom were attractive young women. Word to the wise, dudes: giraffes are chick magnets. I personally thought that my Rufio costume last year was more impressive, but it's the giraffe that got all the attention.

While all of the wear and tear has definitely put the giraffe costume back on the endangered list and back into retirement, I'm happy that he got one last go. He even made a friend when I found a giraffe pinata at a warehouse party. When I sat on the pinata to pose for a photo, it broke, which made me feel like a loser. In retrospect, however, breaking a pinata usually means you've won, so perhaps I'm still a winner after all.