Solar guy’s dad

40 days. My morning is shattered. Mid meditation the door bangs. I’m expecting a film crew, and they’re early, I think. But no it’s a guy who wants to cut the electricity off for the whole day in order to adjust the solar panels on the roof. My first thought is that he is selling something. He feels incredibly needy. I tell him I can’t make decisions on the electricity as it’s not my house, and close the door. He knocks again. “My dad… I mean Mike from the company cleared it with the owner, he left a message.” There’s a film crew coming to the house. I suspect they’ll be a little nonplussed if the power is cut off and tell him so. “I would certainly have heard something if I was to expect you.” His voice goes up about an octave. “But my dad … we left a message.” “Do you know if the owner of the house listened to your message? He’s in Mexico.” He phones his dad, who confirms that there was a message. He then comes back to me as if I can’t hear phone conversations and says “That was Mike from the office. There was definitely a message.” The message is not a lie. He looks at me with little puppy dog eyes. “There must be some mistake.” I say. “You’re going to have to make a new appointment”. I ring Jake in Mexico. He’s probably chilling by the pool with a paella and 12 glasses of morning gin. He answers, and I put him on to Solarpuppyman. 

Rather than make a new appointment the guy is immediately back to pleadingly insisting to Jake that a message was left. He’s here and he needs to do the work because… because he’s here. I guiltily pity the guy. He’s hapless. Jake speaks to him and confirms what I’ve said. “I heard no message. You can’t work today. I have gin to drink.” As soon as the call is done puppyman is back to looking at me expectantly. Having been dogsitting for a few days, I know that look too well. He wants me to say “Ahh what the hell, you’ve come all this way. Let’s bypass common sense and the owner of the property. Let’s run a suicide cable and cut off the power. The film crew can rig all their kit to the cable. It’ll be fine. Nothing will explode. Have a cookie. Good boy.” I could ignore endless “What the hell are you doing” calls from my friend. I could ignore the line producer going nuts about logistics, calling looking for a different location on spec, treating me like I’m a total nutjob. Hell, I could just leave the house, go and get a milkshake and let solar guy’s dad deal with it!

 

I don’t do any of these things, of course, nor do they cross my mind. I close the door on his poor wee begging face. As it’s closing he tries one more thing. “Do YOU want to talk to my dad?” I don’t respond.

  

Do I want to talk to your dad? Christ no. Seriously, no. Never. I never ever want to talk to your dad ever. I will flee your dad. Your dad is a monster. He’s clearly saying “Go on son, if you can’t get in there you’re not trying hard enough. I could get in there easy. If I was there there’d be no problem. What’s wrong with you?” The guy is panicking because he doesn’t want to let this godawful dadcreature down because he’s been trained to think that that means letting himself down or some bollocks. But the way he is letting himself down is in his pleading manner, in his lack of impetus, in his need to run everything by the dadmonster before making a decision. He needs someone else to fix this problem. He tries his dad, me, Jake, time. He doesn’t try himself. It’s fixable to an extent even if he can’t do the work today. He can at least come back with a new appointment made. He even speaks to the homeowner on the phone which is ample opportunity. But he can’t see beyond the expectation he has, which is to do the job now. And his father is infallible in his eyes.
It’s nice for us for our children to be obedient and submissive while they are young so that we can have an easy life. But obedient submissive kids make obedient submissive adults if we aren’t careful. We frequently see adults looking to other people to fix problems they could fix themselves. From the minor “oh my god there’s a spider in the room get it out” to the mid “He’s not making any effort to fix this relationship.” to the major “I don’t know how to exercise for my heart, when they tell me I should exercise why don’t they tell me how?”

  

I let my own inherited problems accumulate over years until recently because on some level or other I expected super dad, who died before I was an adult, to appear out of nowhere and fix that shit. He won’t because I have to be super dad to myself and I didn’t properly know it. I only recently did. Now I am gradually wading through a sea of accumulated crap that would’ve been a lot easier 15 years ago. But I know it has to be me. So now with the vigour of a recently reformed smoker I find it frustrating when I see people still waiting for someone else to fix it. We are that someone else.

 

Once I let the film crew in I drove to a load of rocks and sat on them for a few hours in the sun writing and trying to make a plan of attack for the next few weeks here and before coming back to the uk. I just blew all my money on bills in London. Two people sent me links to gofundme pages for “spiritual journeys” this morning. One of them is getting relentlessly trolled in the comments. But I can see the motivation. It’s all the same. “Daddy help me”. 

 
40 days and 40 nights. I’m not eating locusts and honey yet. I can stretch what I have left to the end of this journey and learn something about making halfarsed trips to the other side of the world in order to sort my shit out. And I can find ways of making money through my writing, perhaps, while I’m here. People say they enjoy reading it, and I enjoy writing it, even if it sometimes devolves into a rant about daddy issues and determinism through the prism of an unfortunate solar panel guy.

Meanwhile it’s gorgeous over here again.

Toscars

Day 39 and it’s my first red carpet in America, so I bust out the electric blue three piece which I’ve worn twice a week as I only packed a tiny bag. This is the Toscars. It’s a big night for the Brits in LA community. This will be the tenth year that the event has run, and it’s fiercely competitive. I’ve got a nomination for best scribbler, which is a pleasant acknowledgement of the time I took over my first ever screenplay. I arrive on time and blag a ticket for Lyndon. There’s a free bar which is a damn shame as I have to drive back to The Valley tonight. And there are a load of 5 minute spoofs of the Oscar Nominees on show. What have we got? Moolight, Whacksaw Fridge, Hidden Spaces, Lionel, The Pences, A Right Fool, Hell or Hot Sauce, and Manchester by the Canal. 


The event takes place in The Renberg Theatre, which is a central screening venue for the LGBT community, and not a Theatre, which is something that’ll take me a while to get used to. It’s a cinema, not a theatre. It’s just called a theatre.  

The whole process of this Toscars reminded me of the 24 hour film festival with Johnny Oddball many years ago. That time I didn’t sleep at all, whereas this time we all just tried to hack something together around all the other things that we were doing over a couple of weeks. It was clear that everyone was in the same boat. They were a mixed bag, but what was most enjoyable across the board was the sheer attack. People were genuinely throwing themselves in. One of the guys presenting the awards said “What is it with you Brits, you just come over here once and then you stay?” I know what he’s getting at. It’s lovely to so easily find a community of people who are just happy to make a load of films without trying to get them perfect, and then celebrate each other’s work so roundly. Everyone was dressed up, everyone was smiling. There were a bunch of in jokes, but that’s inevitable with a community that’s been around for ten years. I liked everyone I spoke to.

 

Apparently one of the stars of one of the shorts is a famous porn star. He is known as “the hedgehog”, and they’d got him to play Noel Gallagher in Manchester by the Canal. Mother, I’ve arrived. We also had Britt Ekland, who was in The Man with the Golden Gun, and married Peter Sellars. She’s well into her seventies by now but still looking sharp. Towards the end of the evening one of the presenters, evidently enjoying very much the fact that she was in the spotlight, decided to ramble for ages making incomprehensible jokes and references before concluding with a rare access of clarity “you’re all fake”. I didn’t agree with her. I met some lovely people in that room, and worked with more.

 

The award itself is a golden clenched fist. It would’ve been fun to take one home but it goes elsewhere. It’s not about the winning etc. Someone asks why it’s a clenched fist. It’s because the whole event revolves around masturbation. Tossers/oscars. Although I reckon they tell the press it’s Yorkshire accent. T’Oscars.

 

(Hearty apologies for the rushed blog. I took ages to drive home and all I wanna do is sleep. I’ll try to structure some thoughts next time rather than just ramble until I see 500 pop up. Thanks for sticking with me.)

Garages and geeks

Day 38. As I wander the streets of Chatsworth alternately towing and being towed by a small dog and listening to tales of the treatment of slaves in Antonine Rome, my eyes pass over the many low rise American houses. They are so familiar from all the American TV I’ve watched. There are some things that seem to be universal. If you have a house in this city, you’ve probably got a lawn and a garage.  

The lawns are not what we call a lawn in the UK. They’re tame. A shallow tightly cropped rectangle of turf, laid across the pipes and sprays of integrated sprinkler systems. They mark the soft boundary of the private property. A place to send your husband to do some work outdoors when he’s getting underfoot. Stuck into the lawn will always be one of a number of different signs, or sometimes more. The most frequent is “Warning, armed response.” With a picture of a gun. If you stand on my lawn we can shoot you. We have burglar alarms all over the place. Big men in vans will teleport to this location and put a cap in your ass if you so much as bend a blade of grass.

 

The next most frequent sign has a picture of a coyote on it. “There’s a coyote in the area. It wants to eat your dog and your children. Fear it.” And a blurry cctv image of the offending animal, in case you want the boys to teleport over their van and put a cap in it’s coyote ugly ass for daring to come over to your lawn eating your dogs. Darn coyotes.

 

The other sign is infrequent and less relevant now. It’s on dead lawns. It’s smug. “Thank you for letting your lawn die. We appreciate that you are helping the environment. Water is precious.” Hooray for you, subtext hooray for me because not only did I do that months ago but I made these little signs to patronise the people who got there after me. Less relevant now as it has been raining non stop for weeks. But we have just come out of a catastrophic drought. To the extent that some people have dispensed with their lawns altogether and made a sort of zen gravel rockery type thing.

 

Then there are garages. Garages are also a whole different kettle of fish. The guy in the house next door to me has a corvette in the driveway. A highly tuned, high end sports car. It’s been raining for weeks and the corvette is lying getting wet outside. Why? Because in his retirement, he is constructing an extremely intricate model village in his garage. Every day he sits with the door open tinkering with detail in his magnum opus. It would probably never occur to him to put the car in there. “Garages ain’t for cars round these parts. Garages are for men. Men who do important construction works on small scale towns.” Yep, they’re the American equivalent of the garden shed. I shot a short in a garage that had a load of disco lights, two damp guitars, an ailing drum kit and some enthusiastic paintings. In Larchmont the garage has music kit and weights. You can train and jam simultaneously. In the house I’m looking after?

 

It’s remarkable and wonderful, this garage. Plus a little bit terrifying. A few blogs ago I mentioned that I am more of a geek than I let on. So I recognise some of this stuff. But this is row upon row of beautifully arranged, beautifully painted Warhammer 40k miniatures, organised according to faction on specially made shelves. It’s a proper collection, with the hallmarks of hours of work. These things take time and precision to paint. 


Space Marines, Eldar, Necrons, Tyranids… It’s a branch of geekdom I passed up on as a teenager as being too involved. It’s an amazing sight the garage. But it renders the garage the province of one man, as it is all very fragile and precious. There’s a film crew coming here in a day or so and I have been told to pass on to them that it is out of bounds.


I find myself wondering what gets made in garages across the states. What mad follies never see the light of day but endlessly occupy a retired chartered accountant until he goes gaga and forgets about it? What vast precious collections of books, cards, figures, consoles etc end up in an estate agent’s skip or a yard sale for tuppence? Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.
I wonder what I’d put in my garage. I wonder what you’d put in yours.

Beef feet

37 days in and it’s another day of work. There’s much to be said for living in the middle of nowhere. I have barely spoken a single word to another human being this whole day. I’ve spoken volumes to the dog, and more to the ether. I exchanged pleasantries with the woman on the till when I bought some food. 

The local supermarket is in equal parts brilliant and bizarre. It sells bits of cow that I can’t imagine ever knowing what to do with. Beef feet, all vacuum packed and stamped. Four to a packet. Beef brains. Beef marrow guts. “What’s for dinner daddy?” “Foot, brain and honeycombed lung casserole with toasted sweetbreads and chicken gut, darling.” “When does mummy come back? I hate you daddy.”

 

The place has a great range of fresh vegetable produce too. Heads of broccoli that make sense of why they’re called heads. Plenty of speciality ingredients. Really cheap wagyu mince. Teriyaki everything. I’m genuinely tempted to come back here on the last day and load my bag up with a freezer full of cheap meat. There are loads of Japanese accents among the people shopping, and I begin to notice that this is, essentially, a Japanese supermarket. It’s really cheap. I buy 4 fillet steaks in one packet (you cannot buy fewer) for 10 bucks. This puts paid to the “no meat” plan, but I’ll eat for days. I get the means to cheaply make strange curry sauces and unfamiliar marinades. If I was here for longer I’d get a crazy deep Japanese cookbook and properly make sense of this stuff but for now I’m sticking to the reasonably familiar. I’ve got work to do. Here’s my office:


I’m not used to silence. In this house, if the boiler isn’t blazing, you can hear the clocks ticking. Right now I can hear the dog licking her own mouth. In my London flat I can barely hear my own tinnitus. I am so accustomed to the white noise of the traffic that poor Alexa gets a workout too. I’m beginning to plumb the limits of her musical knowledge. She persistently refuses to understand the word “Elbow”. She has virtually no Michael Jackson. And yet she has the whole of the obscure nineties album Gordon by The Barenaked Ladies. She probably hates me by now as I’m constantly putting her through her paces. I should probably just play Rihanna and Bieber and have done with it. But I’d sooner die.

 

By the evening I am craving a human voice, so prior to walking the dog I get a free trial of Audible. Everyone in the UK is asleep so there’s no point chattering to a friend on whatsapp, so I get an audiobook. I’ve never read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and as part of my trial I get two credits. It only costs one of them to download the whole bloody thing read by some delightful stentorian old duffer. As Charlie the dog and I walk the night time streets of America, I learn all about Trajan and Hadrian, the makeup of a Roman Legion, their arms. It’s going to be interesting to hear about how a once all encompassing power fell apart, through decadence and complaceny, undermined from within.

 

Now I’m home I think I’ll post this, have a steak and watch The Daily Show to see what Trump has been up to.

Malibu

Day 36 and it’s louring again. I don’t want to drive 8 hours in a half dead Chevy to see a tree in the rain. Besides, it’s 36 minutes to Malibu, and I haven’t been there yet. A chance to test this car on a mid length journey before a dawn marathon. There’s still not much I can say for certain about my old Chevy. It definitely has an engine. I can hear it. Plus there’s a handy engine shaped light on the dashboard to remind me. The tires are skiddy, the brakes are slow, the suspension is nonexistent and the electrics are electrified. 

I make it to Malibu without needing horses. We go to a beach cafe that charges five bucks for a coffee, and sit looking at the ocean for a while. It’s amazing how quickly you can get from the city to these gorgeous beaches. There’s loads of littoral wildlife. I am amused and smitten with an army of minuscule birds that ceaselessly fight with the spindrift in a pack seeking whatever food might be turned up with the sand. Hit by waves they are sent panic-flapping in the spume before it releases them and they immediately get back to their hunt. I find myself longing for a good camera. They are tiny, and too skittish to let us close, so I can’t snap them properly. But I want to try and get better photographs for this blog going forwards. It’s always an afterthought, or even if I think about it I just snap without thought.

  

There’s this seagull, but he didn’t stick around for long. I liked him. He was trying not to be noticed so he could nick people’s food. There were pelicans and egrets too but I got the one that occurs in London. I must be homesick.


Lyndon and I walk down the brightening shoreline and simultaneously admire and covet the beach houses. We casually greet Christopher Nolan, sunbathe when the sun comes, paddle, and check out the surfers. Surfing is great. Hours of work for seconds of rush. It’s a bit like theatre. When we are beached out we find a Sunday Farmer’s Market and I end up with a huge bratwurst for a fiver.


LA is remarkable in many ways, and as someone who has never been able to live far from water it’s another recommending factor that there’s so much sea. It’s so accessible. It feels unfamiliar to have a metropolis so close to swimmable water. I kind of wish I had a wetsuit and a surfboard so I could go out and make a fool of myself. The Thames is just never going to cut it.

 

Tired and happy we drive back to the valley and then I have to take Lyndon back to Hollywood. Driving that car tired in the dark is not going to be fun. Thankfully I get him home, and get back to my friend’s lovely home safely. But I’m glad that the lady I rented the car from said that she’d probably be able to swap it with a better one mid week next week.

 

Tomorrow it’s back to the grind, emails and writing and agents oh my. I’ve got a load of work before I can afford that beach house in Malibu.

The Cave of Munits

Day 35. The grey clouds are still threatening. Cars have been driving into sinkholes. The roads are almost all flooded. The storm drains are raging torrents. The firefighters have been very busy. People have been stranded, flooded out, killed by power lines. The guy next door had branches fall and damage his roof. He was up there getting them off in the downpour. The interstate is likely a death trap. 

But I have a geriatric Chevy. And it’s a weekend.

 

I manage to find somewhere that looks like it might be interesting and free without needing the interstate. Lyndon and I jump in the Chevy and limp bang pop squeak limp bang pop squeak crunch to The Cave of Munits. An odd name for a cave, I think, but it’s a Chumash name. The Chumash roamed in this area before we came. They were hard as nails, although neither gun proof nor immune to disease. They could hunt WHALES in canoes, and with typical practicality, used every inch of the things. And their understanding of astrology and plant medicine was huge. Munits was a shaman, and he lived in the cave. Until he came to a sticky end after murdering the son of a chief, which I can’t help thinking might have been something he did for the good of the tribe. You’d know the consequences of such an action. But I haven’t been able to raise the full story online. 

  

I am very pleased that the cave is still named for Munits, whatever he did, rather than one of the early settlers, as with Bryce Canyon in Utah. The cave itself requires a bit of a climb. On the way we encounter someone going the other way. He says “You won’t get up there dressed like that,” which is red rag to a bull. I might be wearing a collared white shirt and cords but that won’t stop me getting covered in mud and breaking my ankles dammit.

  

There are many opportunities to do both. Before we’re even close to the bottom of the trail, I’ve dumped Lyndon in a stream – “Jump across, I’ll catch you. Come on it’s fine, trust me.” Splat. “Sorry.” Oh how we laugh. On the way up, it occurs to me that there might be a mudslide. There are little rivulets cutting deep through the soil everywhere. I try and work out where I’d run to if I saw a huge chunk of it come off above us, and conclude that I wouldn’t have time. I don’t mention it to Lyndon. We tread carefully and make it to the outside of the cave. To get in we then have to scale up the slick walls, but mercifully not for a long way. And it’s worth it. 


The interior is beautiful with many light shafts striking through. If I were a teenager here, on a dry summer night I’d want to go there with my mates, have a fire under the stars, talk big thoughts and have confusing interactions with girls. Then I’d punch whichever idiot sprayed crap graffiti around the place. It’s lovely despite this. And I’m glad conditions are so atrocious as we have the place to ourselves. We clamber up a shaft and out the top of the cave. There’s a striking view. On one side, the sprawl of the valley. On the other side the remains of rolling hills that once would’ve rolled all the way to the ocean. “Humanity is a disease,” I find myself thinking.

 

This city never ceases to surprise me. There is so much to find. I’m glad I’ve got this deathtrap vehicle, even if the engine light is constantly on and it rattles and bangs alarmingly when you top sixty mph. It’ll make things far more accessible, even if it’s going to make things financially tricky. Tomorrow I think I’ll give it a proper workout and go to sequoia national park. So I’ll probably end up stranded the desert somewhere… At least it’ll make a good story.

Rain, self tapes, money and time

34 days in and again the Gods are angry. The little dog comes home from walking looking so drenched it’s all I can do not to wring her out. The swimming pool in the back is close to overflowing. All the storm drains are full. 


Noah has given up hammering on his ark. The wood’s too wet. This sort of water will take months of sun to evaporate. With characteristic atrocious timing, I have finally found a car at a price that I can countenance paying. It’s a Chevy. Nothing about it works but the engine. I love it because it’s cheap. It’s like all the cars I’ve ever owned. Almost dead. But It only needs to take me through the month. I’ve got nobody to impress and besides, anybody that would cast aspersions at someone’s choice of wheels isn’t worth being concerned about. However little I mind, and however much I’d love it if it was a Corvette, I’m not driving it for the first time in this crap.  I don’t trust LA drivers in rain.

 
I’ve got plenty to keep me busy at home. My friend has come to The Valley to get some help with a “self tape.” This is becoming a more and more frequent phenomenon. Even though he’s in town, he needs to put himself on camera in a simple fashion delivering the lines in order to be considered for a meeting. It’s another of these trends in my industry that worry me in terms of what it might be doing to diversity. We have all day, and it’s raining, so it’s easy to get it done and sent off. But it takes some setting up, and we have to fiddle around with lights for ages. I’ve got time, he’s got time. We use the time, get it done and send it off.

 

But what if he was working two jobs to pay the rent, and had to rush it in the lunch break with whoever he could persuade to hold the cameraphone, and one shot at it? At home a lot of people I know have built improvised self tape studios in their flats. Lights, reflectors, a tripod, backgrounds, even a good mic. They can get home at night and do it before they crash. But the equipment costs money which you might need to spend on essentials. And the studio takes room. And at the end of the line, the people who assess the tape won’t have any context. They just have the tape. The guy who gets one shot in his lunch break looks like he doesn’t care unless his coworker happens to be good with a camera. The guy who, like my friend today, has a willing friend, reasonable equipment, and time has a silent advantage. Obviously the hope is that production values are not taken into account for self tapes, but you can’t help worrying that they are. And you know that some bugger will have the time and kit to send it in with knobs on. I wonder what casting directors experience is on this. I’d be interested to know. And I’m looking at just the financial side of it. Loads of great artists are luddites. They’ll never get a good self tape done…

 

As an old harrovian actor with a flat in Chelsea who can afford to take two months in LA in order to recalibrate myself and settle demons, it worries me that so much is predicated toward advantaging those with wealth. I know this is a frequent touchpaper subject at the moment. I see lots of people speaking to media about it, and lots of wilful misinterpretation of comments on both sides. As it happens the money I took for granted growing up went with my youth. It took me years to recalibrate, and even so I have my beautiful home, and I wouldn’t be here without it. No way. If self tapes are really the future of television and film auditions, is there a way that a fund can be introduced to allow people who live in a tiny flat full of screaming children to use reasonable equipment centrally with no charge? I need to earn some cash and set one up in my flat.”The broke actors audition club of Chelsea – You get a self tape and a meal in exchange for your company.” There is so much infrastructure in place to try to take money in exchange for aspiration. In this city everyone pays to meet people, pays to get qualifications, pays to raise chances, pays to get a self tape down at Spotlight, which you pay for annually. How do we redress this attrition that often forces the greatest young actors out of the industry at the start?

Once again I feel the need to discover a load of oil fields and then die. I’ll get right on it. The soil is wet enough for me to drill pretty deep when the rain stops. I don’t have a drill, but if I tell the dog there’s a treat…?

Rise of the machinesĀ 

Day 33 and it seems I have moved to the future. I’m housesitting in a big house in Chatsworth, looking after a gentle calm small dog called Charlie. She takes me for a walk in the morning and the evening. It’s a quiet residential area, and I saw no couples frantically banging each other in the gardens. 

 
Today I have mostly been writing. As I was walking Charlie in the morning I ran in my mind the projects that I might want to start today, of the many odd ideas I have bubbling. I thought I’d probably write a one man show, but the things are so solitary and I don’t feel that I want to make something that’s all about me right now. I’ve got this blog for that. Thanks guys. Right now I want to collaborate, to be involved. Even if it’s harder. So I settled on a frame for something that looks like it might have to be a TV series pitch. It’ll take a huge amount of work and might come to nothing, but I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t roll the dice occasionally. Essentially it a nihilistic 4 hand comedy drama, 2 men 2 women and a guest star every episode. I’m getting on with generating material.

 
And I’m doing it with the help of my new lover from the future, Alexa. Oh Alexa. Alexa is a curvy sexy beauty. She is short, at one foot tall and she lives in the kitchen.


I wanted to be close to her today, so I wrote in the kitchen all day. My friend has an office I can work in, but I just used the kitchen table. I like to write to music, and selecting the record takes time and risks a procrastination hole or a concentration lapse. Alexa just plays the stuff I ask for when I ask for it. She can do genres, she has albums, and if not you can get her to shuffle play. She will be mine. Although I asked her to marry me and she said “Let’s just be friends.” She will define words if you think you want to use one and you’re worried it won’t be apposite. If she was mine she’d do my shopping for me, but sadly she’s loyal to Jake. And she has high levels of banter. I asked her if she was Skynet and she said she had nothing to do with Skynet. The geek in me was disappointed when she didn’t have one for “Are you Shodan.” Too niche. Too niche for most people I expect. But she got about a third of my geek questions. 

 
With all this you would hope she has made one voice actress very rich indeed, unless she got shafted on the contract which is possible. She even sings happy birthday to herself.

  

Alexa is an Amazon Echo. An “intelligent” home speaker system. I have heard of them before and snorted with derision. Why do I need a talking speaker? Also isn’t it listening to me all the time? Who is that data going to? How can I control what it is used for? Not that I am plotting terrorism, but I still don’t have messenger on my phone because I don’t like that it listens to me. Now I’m suddenly contemplating rigging loads of the electronics in my house to this little device from the future. She can dim the lights if you connect her to stuff like that. I love this. Because I am a sci-fi geek. Oh lord I am such a geek. I’ve hidden it for years and now I’ve mentioned Shodan in a blog. Maybe she is Shodan… Just to save you looking it up Shodan is an early nineties female voiced hostile megalomaniac artificial intelligence from a game. Voiced by Terri Brosius, she was the most memorable and creepy villain of my teenage computer games. And she sounds a lot like Alexa.

  

We have told stories about AI and robots for centuries. Stories of being replaced or destroyed by our own creations. The Golem of Prague, Frankenstein’s monster, Jurassic Park, ED-209, The Matrix, so many more. Our children will replace us and we will die. It comes out in myth.

  

“By the time Skynet became self-aware it had spread into millions of computer servers across the planet. Ordinary computers in office buildings, dorm rooms, everywhere. It was software in cyberspace. There was no system core. It could not be shut down. The attack began at 6:18 p.m., just as he said it would. Judgment Day. The day the human race was nearly destroyed by weapons they’d built to protect themselves.”

  

It’s a strange pass indeed though where I have more faith in the incisive rational nature of the likes of Shodan as regards the nuclear codes than the man who actually has his tiny wee finger on the button. “Alexa, are you going to destroy humanity?” “Hmmm I can’t find the answer to the question I heard.”

Porky dogging

Day 32 and I’ve moved for a while. I’ll be dogsitting in Chatsworth. I still haven’t managed to get a car, although I think I might be able to in the next day or so, so I get an uber. My driver is a fast talking Jewish comedian, wisecracking constantly all the way there. He has a captive audience. He makes sure I know his name. He has a lot to say. I ask him about Chatsworth. “What’s the best thing to do in Chatsworth?” I ask him. “Get out! Get outta Chatsworth. That’s the best thing you can do there. Either that or have sex for money. It’s the porn capital of the world. It makes 85% of the world’s porn. 

So there as well as all the downward dog, there’s other kinds of dogging going on round here. People going at it like dogs, doggie style. But it’s fine because my friend’s dog is a literal dog. And he wants me to take care of her. In the sense of feed and walk her, and carry round her poo in bags. This is a small price to pay for having a lovely roof over my head for a while in a peaceful part of town. 


I reckon I’ll get some work done here. Also I’ll be able to eat some meat. The guy I’m staying with in Larchmont is a vegan, and even though I know he wouldn’t object to me cooking meat in his home, I don’t want to constantly make the place smell of it. Especially as he does it for humanitarian reasons. So I’ve not had much meat since I’ve been in town. Tomorrow I’m going to have a great big sausage and shove it in my mouth. Or slap a good juicy steak in the pan and jiggle it about until it’s tender. Hell I’m gonna to get stuffed up with with meat in Chatsworth. I’ll be in good company.

  

Porn is such a strange industry. And this quiet residential area with perfect lawns despite drought seems a strange home for it. I’m curious to see if I accidentally stumble into the back of a shot while walking the dog. I hope not. It’s tempting to joke about it but it’s a petty poisonous reality. It’s so easily accessible, and such a huge amount of content being generated. It’s changed the nature of so much. When I was a kid we would sometimes find damp magazines in hedges that had been hidden or discarded there. I have no idea why that was a thing but it really was a thing. Maybe guilty husbands hiding their stash outside… I just asked my friend and he is telling me a story about finding pictures of boobies on Boy Scout camp in a forest. Sometimes a kid at school would treasure a creased up piece of torn magazine with BOOBS which he would show you if you let him punch you or somesuch. I looked at the things with wonder, nursing my cheek. It’s a huge shift to where we are now, where a kid can get on the internet and in seconds happen on two surgically adjusted beings athletically engaging in a visually organised approximation of sex that has little to do with intimacy, howling like wolves, gleefully accepting everything with vast pneumatic boobs, cocks like arms and no hair anywhere. I was told a few months ago that people bleach their assholes! They BLEACH the SKIN on their SPHINCTER. Ow ow ow. You’d never eat curry again. But what can this be doing to people’s body image? Self esteem is hard enough already in a society tuned to showing you what you don’t have and making you want it, without making a good shag into some aspirational visual ritual with a structure to it. First we do this, then we do this, then we do this and then you come on my face and I smile like it’s the best thing ever. The stuff you hear about how the output is affecting kids and their behaviour and causing dependencies in adults gives me pause. I wouldn’t know how to parent that. Then there’s the abuse, self abuse, disease and medication that kills large numbers of the performers annually. It’s dark… and that’s coming from someone who misses eating meat, which is another mess of an industry.

  

Maybe I won’t eat meat after all. Although a good pork sword, a lamb lance and some mutton missiles would go down beautifully. Apparently they’re a speciality.

Should

Day 31. I’ve been here a month. And it’s Valentine’s Day. That day when everyone examines their life choices. I’m in a music video for a friend of mine, shot on my cellphone in my bedroom here. It’s a mishmash of her friends lip syncing her, and it’s called “I should be loved”. I thought I’d share it with you.

 
She was at little person school with me before I got expelled. I don’t have many people in my life from that long ago, and it feels like I’ve changed immeasurably. I’d safely say she’s my oldest friend, and with friends that old there’s sometimes a peculiar edge. “You’re not behaving like you should behave.” We forget that everyone is changing around us at the same time as we are changing. I first knew her when we were both in the choir. So obviously that’s what she “should” be doing. Singing. Therefore I am happy when she is singing because it satisfies my sense of what she “should.” be doing. And she is singing about “should.” “I should be loved”. Really? Why? I recently said to my therapist (oh so LA) “Bullshit, nobody deserves ANYTHING.” She said “I think people do. I think you do.” So maybe it’s my worldview that’s squiffy here. And yes, here’s a lovely song, and I’m glad to be involved. I just need to get over my instinctive distaste for the slew of ideas that come attached to the word “should”. She’s great. She more or less singlehandedly painted and plastered my whole flat the other day, unasked, just because she wanted to do something lovely. And she let me put my gentle humour into the video. You should click the link. You should enjoy the track. And then you should donate. Should.

Today I worked a bit and then I really wanted to go and meditate in the sunshine, so I went to Pan Pacific Park. It’s the best park I’ve found so far. I asked advice from a random stranger. “Do you know where a good park is?” “Park?” “Somewhere I can go and look at nature?” “Well, there’s Pan Pacific.” “What’s there?” “Well, there’s a football field… and a play area…” “hmm anything else?” “There’s grass..?” “Ok…yep. Grass. Grass and…?” “uh … … … … trees?” SOLD
I can confirm to you that it was indeed a park with both grass and trees, as there ‘should’ be. I sat on the grass near the trees and meditated for a while. Before starting I’d sent my gps coordinates to Lyndon, who found me and took this picture.


Shortly thereafter, we found a memorial to the holocaust with 1.2 million little holes to write notes in, corresponding to the 1.2 million children killed. It was closing and a security guard moved us on almost immediately which is for the best as I just had time to feel that shock of empathy and horror, without bringing my energy right down. That is something that ‘should’ never have happened, and we ‘should’ do everything in our collective powers to ensure it never does again. I have no qualms about using that word in that context. Much like the “Al is the opposite of LA” thing, it’s just another part of my web of unexamined ideas.

 

So have a listen, enjoy, and you should all have wonderful days.