Life's our oyster and we're gonna suck that bitch down with a champagne chaser.

  • Behavioral Therapist
  • MA Developmental Psychology, Columbia
  • BS Psychobiology/ French, UCLA

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    A Dangerous Method

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    The Life & Times of Tim

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    by George R.R. Martin

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Saturday, April 21, 2007  
Guilty as Sin
As I approach the fateful day (or days apparently) when I'll be graduating from this institution I've attended for all these four years, there are things I'll miss and probably an equal or greater number of things I won't miss. There are the usual suspects: midterms, the quarter system, the squirrels. And then there are the actual people. Now as an almost-college grad, I'd like to think I've gotten to know myself somewhat. What kind of person I am, what I'm capable of, etc. And one thing I've come to realize and accepted, thanks in some part to the "Bush is Jesus" freakazoids on Bruinwalk yelling at anyone and everyone that they're sinners and are gonna go to hell any day now (sounds like a hot party to me), and also thanks to my great disdain, and love I suppose, for people in general. I am indeed guilty of each and every one of the Seven Deadly Sins. I'm not proud of it...ok I kind of am.

There are the old favorites that I've been practicing since puberty, namely Lust, Greed and Sloth, and then there are the ones I've acquired as I've aged into my elderly senior in college years, namely Envy, Wrath and Pride. And the final sin pretty much just exists throughout my life, despite being accused of being a manorexic, which is gluttony. Some of the ways I'm guilty of, or relishing in, these sins are pretty obvious. Lust comes from a teenage male's brain which I have yet to outgrow, if I ever will. I mean I've been hearing about this thing called porn, which I have yet to discover, but it sounds like quite an up and coming industry. Greed goes all the way back to the days of Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters. The collect-em-all mentality stems back to that era but now applies to either really expensive electronics or pure cash. I don't do anything immoral like stealing to get them, but I still want a lot of it. Sloth is a product of the highschool years, namely lack of sleep and procrastination leads to frequent napping and postponing studying and other forms of work for as long as possible.

When you think about it, Lust and Greed are pretty much the same feeling, but directed towards different things, namely towards either living or non-living entities. So we can lump them together and call them like, Grust or Leed. Or let's just call it Lust cause that's a better word than Greed. In addition, Sloth is really a desire to do nothing and be lazy. So it's a lust for inactivity. Hence, Sloth is also a derivative of Lust. As a result, those big three sins for which I'm going to hell for from the first half or so of my life, become one big sinny category: Lust.

And then there are the new ones for which I will be eternally damned. Envy is kind of a boring one. I'm jealous of so and so's grades and/or job and/or possession of any given electronic device. It really stems from the collect-em-all mentality, so it's a derivative of Greed and Lust and Sloth. There's Wrath which is a really interesting one because it comes in so many varieties. There's revenge, violence, spite, anger....more flavors than Baskin Robbins. My Wrath mainly stems from the over-studeous criminals of UCLA who have GPAs which are multiples of my GPA. It is an immature thing to think, but yes, I do wish for them to fail at something. If I could challenge them to a game of Guitar Hero and defeat them, that counts just as high on the failure-o-meter for me than if they bombed a chemistry test. Wrath is once again a desire for something bad to happen to someone else, hence a lust for vengeance of some sort. It all comes back to Lust once agian.

Pride is not something I experience often. I was an insecure young buck in highschool, until you get to my pictures from Senior Beach Day (those who have seen them know what I'm talking about). Pride, for me at least, comes in bursts of self-confidence that I get either from some academic achievement or some sort of physical activity. I do possess disdain for those guys at the gym who do seldom else but stare at themselves in the mirror whilst flexing, but after a vigorous workout regiment, the testosterone in the male bloodstream obligates you to...exaggerate your muscle tone. Hence, pride in this form is a desire for one's self. Sounds weird, but it's this "who would not want to want me" attitude after some sort of achievement that begets (SAT...I mean GRE word) this desire. And surprise, Pride is now consumed by Lust.

We finally come to the penultimate sin: Gluttony. I won't be as self-righteous as to say I do not experience this sin often. I'm a frequenter of restaurants such as Todai and Fogo de Chao, places at which eating is a veritable gauntlet of dish after dish. But I'm not at the level that I cannot wait for a whole lecture period to eat (yes girl with the box of crackers and vat of cream cheese sitting in front of me in Psych lecture...I'm talking to you). The *crunch crunch* *munch munch* *gulp gulp* sounds that pervade lecture halls, I'm assuming, all around the country are repulsive. There are 500+ groups devoted to love of food on Facebook, including "I Love Food. Food is Good." and "Food Whores". I love food too. Why? Cause it's good. Right now I'm eating a bag of Skittles. I bought a 4 pound box of sour worms from Smart & Final last week. Why? Cause it was on sale. Gluttony is in fact an epidemic in this country and it's people like cheese & cracker Karen in lecture and institutions like Smart & Final that leave us with such a desire for food and, in my case, a desire to slap the gluttoners in the back of the head. What's this? Another derivative of desire? A desire for consumption of food just because you can is yes, you guessed it, another form of Lust. There's also a whole new level of these sins, which while Gluttony and Lust go together, have led me to Wrath towards people who eat during lecture. Gluttony also may lead to Sloth, because when you're fat you don't want to move around much. Perhaps you can also garner Envy if someone can eat more than you....the connections can go on forever.

The point is is that when it comes down to it, there really is only one sin in Lust. The others are all derivatives of Lust, and to be honest, are derivative on their own. This reminds me of George Carlin's take on the Ten Commandments. These are just a bunch of made up rules made to keep the peasants in line by putting the fear of god into their every day thoughts and activites. Of course we shouldn't overeat, of course we shouldn't lie, steal, murder, of course we shouldn't be jealous of other's possessions. But the other so-called sins are really part of human nature and others are, unfortunately part of today's culture. Lust is part of human chemistry. Sexual attraction and appetite for the opposite, or same, sex is not something you can turn off. It's always there. Greed is one of the primary components of Capitalism, the foundation of this country and many others. To have these rules as guidelines is one thing, but to expect them to be followed to a tee is downright impossible.

The point is, we're all sinners, and to feel bad about it constantly is a waste of time and energy. These sins are a part of life and human nature and to avoid them, or sit in a box to confess them to some guy who's probably guilty of committing them himself, is denying a fundamental part of us that makes us human. To deny your own humanity should be a sin all on its own.

And if I'm wrong, one thing's for sure, when we eventaully get to hell, which we will... party at my flame-drenched cave!!!

10:01 PM


Sunday, April 01, 2007  
Venetian Blinds
Living in Los Angeles for 13 years or so, I've become accustomed to the veritable characters who live in this city. Being on the cusp of Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, I've seen my share of kooks and crazies. There's the crazy Russian lady in the red jumpsuit who yells at cars and people on Wilshire. There's the homeless guy on rollerskates with the boombox on Burton Way. There's anyone who walks on Melrose. There's the customers who purvey Gay Target. And then there's where all these personalities congregate: on the boardwalk of Venice Beach.

I frequently go to Venice Beach to walk around or have lunch at Baja Cantina (free tortilla chips made in-house!) and have become used to the people who populate the area. The Naked Cowboy, the rappers peddling their CDs and the countless other people who enjoy having conversations with themselves. It wasn't until I visited the place with my girlfriend, someone who hadn't been exposed to the oddities of Venice Beach, that I became cogniscent of how confrontational and crazy this people actually were.

It seemed as if we had just set foot on the boardwalk when an up and coming (or more accurately, down and going) rapper handed me his CD. I took it from him, thanked him and kept walking. Oh it wasn't a free sample? Whoops.

"Bro, just have a listen. You ain't never heard anything like this." Trying to seem like a calm and collected boyfriend, taking an awkward situation head on seemed the best course of action.
"Shit, ok."
"You like hip hop?"
"Yeah sure sure." He places the headphones on my head. It wasn't until that night when I woke up in a cold sweat that I realized that those headphones must have been in contact with god knows how many other infected ear canals of unhygenic oddballs on Venice.
"It's pretty cool," after having listened for upwards of 4 seconds.
"Aight, I got two more to sell. How much you wanna give me for one?"
"Dude, I'll catch you when I come back around."
"Aw c'mon man. How you gonna play me like that?!"
"I'm not gonna carry around a CD all day. I'll get you when I'm walkin back." I begin pushing my companion as I walk away.
"Aight, I'm gonna hold you to it!"
"Alright, whatever you say man."

Not FOUR PACES beyond the previous rapper do I hear....
"YO BLUE SHIRT PI-YIMP!! BLUE SHIRT PIMP!!" It's at this point that I should mention I was wearing a blue shirt and blue jacket.
"Blue shirt pimp! YO you gots ta listen to this man. C'mawn." This guy was definitely more colorful and not as depressed as the last guy. But I wasn't as gullible. I did the most chivalric thing a guy could do: I placed all the attention on my girlfriend.
"You know what man? It ain't up to me. You gotta talk to my girl over here." She flashes a worried look at me. I divert the headphones towards her head. Sure it wasn't the nicest thing I could do but it was an experience she had to share with me.
"What you think girl??" She begins laughing but enables him by dancing ever so slightly to his "rhymes."
"Yeh-yuh, hot momma knows where it's at." She takes the headphones off.
"So how much you want for my rhymesss?!"
"I dunno man, it's up to the lady." She begins pulling me away as she starts to walk away.
"Uhh it was good but I'm fine."
"Aight momma. You know where to come if you change yoh mind!"

Gathering our bearings after being hustled by two rappers, we continued our promenade. Passing smoke shops (i.e. bong shops), bikini shops (i.e. thong shops) and hot dog stands (i.e. late night munchie stands), we notice a dog in a window of a house (?) looking extremely depressed. We look and laugh. As we do so, a street artist yells at me, "HEY BLUE SHIRT!" I should not have worn a blue jacket/shirt combo that day. I ignore him, as my girlfriend doesn't seem to notice. "Yeah keep lookin at that there dawg." Is this supposed to attract me into buying his revolutionary art? "Haha that dawg is so funny, blue shirt!" We keep on walking. Other than going in and out of bikini shops (for the lady...ok and for the guy too) and encountering pushy shop keepers who may or may not have had emphyzema, nothing notable occured....until we came to Muscle Beach. For those not familiar, this is a part of Venice where overly muscle-bound, steroid injected beasts come to work out, in plain view of everyone. This day however, there were no specimens of genetic engineering to be seen. Just one shirtless Polynesian man. In a thong.


It was then I decided it was time to leave Venice Beach.

On the way back on the boardwalk, I spotted the first rapper we encountered that day. Remembering that I had foolishly told him I would catch him when I came back around, I quickly took a detour around some basketball courts, completely missing the perimeter he was prowling.

We were approaching the end of the boardwalk and when it seemed all our encounters with Venetian personas had ended, a muscular black man wearing nothing but a loin cloth and a small headress crouched on a stool and began playing the recorder.

Living in this city numbs you to the unique personalities that dominate it. We tend to turn a blind eye to the wacky characters who roam this colorful city and its many dark corners. It's when we explore it with one who hasn't experienced what we've become used to that we come to realize that we live in an insane and rich city that is ugly and disgusting to some, but fun and beautiful to others who have become as blind and bold to call it home.

So here's to you Naked Cowboy and crazy Russian lady and aspiring rappers of Los Angeles. Thank you for calling this city home as well. It wouldn't be as mental without you.

2:52 AM


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