Palm Ouchies

        After a bus ride into the city almost as enjoyable as your average Greyhound trip during which I cherished my ability to sleep anywhere at a moment’s notice, we invaded Chinatown. Nothing too special there; basically, lots of goods looking like they just took a rough fall off the back of a truck. We split up on the subway as my friends hit Hollywood and I’m off to look into the 1 occupation where stupidity’s probably an asset.
        After getting treated to a megaphone-wielding evangelist praising the lord in English and Spanish, I arrived at a nondescript office building tall enough to likely house legit businesses. The front door featured a besuited lady sending me around the back. There, dudes in decent duds directed me around each turn and up to the 16th floor with little enough ambiguity that even the most meatheaded of models could handle the journey. I filled out your basic address / general info form plus a few superficial additions, including one I had trouble with: had to ask one of the handlers exactly what my hair color is. In a private room, a totally unmemorable lady measured my jacket size and snapped a few pictures during which I restrained myself from sticking out my tongue. Next, I join about 25 other people in what I ended up doing for the majority of this asinine affair: sitting in a room watching Adam Sandler in “Big Daddy.”
        Nobody was very talkative, but I did get a few mumbled “yeah”s when I asked if everyone else had gotten a card from some random person on the street. After a good third of the good movie, one of the more annoying people ever walked in. a vice president of something, her voice emanated from lips pumped overly full of something and grated on my nerves, her voice a mix between Lambchop and a smoke detector. I stuck around, half hoping to embarrass her, and was rewarded with one of the least intellectually stimulating lectures of my life. my favorite was her explanation of why models should only put 4 or so photos on the back of their “comp cards” (=self-aggrandizing 8X10s sent out to agencies): “because, like, the more pictures you put on the smaller they have to be he he.” Especially excellent was the video explaining the onders of using Transcontinental Talent’s website as a digital comp card, which made sure to have the narrators speak very slowly, use limited vocabulary, and frequently repeat its key points.
        Wrapping up the ridiculousity was an interview with 2 of the people who can “make your modeling dreams come true.” A lady sat there smiling while I bullshitted about Philly with some guy. After having me smile a few times and stand against a measuring tape, he informed me that, at 5 11, I “just barely made high fashion.” After more BS, I was informed that I was in the supposed only 3% getting a “callback” (=phone interview?) because “he likes my personality,” which somehow is something agents care about? I lied and said I’d still be in L.A. Monday, told them I was glad this wasn’t exactly like “Zoolander” (response was less laughter than I would have liked), and left the interesting but inane bound for the beach.
        Venice Beach is best described, for me, by one spot I stood in. I was slightly onto the beach from the boardwalk, which would leave me with beach, boardwalk, and volleyball if I’m really lucky at the New Jersey beaches I’m I’m used to. Southern California is a beach of a different caliber. To my left, a short boardwalk with more independent, non-touristy shops than Ocean City’s monstrously long boards, a playground, merchants on the boardwalk-beach border hawking psychic analysis, artwork, and everything in between, homeless people dozing uninterrupted, and a shirtless and shoeless little old Indian man walking across broken bottles with a large volunteer from the crowd on his back. Front and rear are pristing beaches complete with volleyball. To my right, the sun sets many shades above larger-than-I’m-used-to waves and a drum circle (=people expressing themselves with percussions and dancing plus onlookers) jams with more participants than you’ll find out for reasons other than inebriation in all of Wilkes-Barre. Needless to note, an exhilarating scene for somebody who’d be shoveling snow if he was home right now.
        We laugh at and commiserate with a slightly crazed, very hairy fellow sporting an American flag hat who sells stickers bashing Bush and offers an “Animal Holocaust Museum of Horrors” before leaving the boardwalk Hollywood-bound. Nothing amazing from the little bit I saw, mainly souvenir shops selling Oscars and stars on the sidewalk featuring names of the once famous, most of which I didn’t recognize. We meet up with a chunk of the Kenny cousins and head to West Hollywood for L.A. Improv, a venus my “Let’s Go” landed. Although many of the comedians’ acts were basically bitching about married life and Sarah Silverman’s act was this weird, free-flowing, pseudo-racist thing, going paid off with the unannounced guest: Chris Rock showed up! He was funny, but you could definitely tell he was trying out new material. Then again, why else would he play a venue with fewer than 50 people?
        Palm trees are for looking at, no matter how much fun you think climbing them would be. I ran out of the comedy club to try it and made it about 5 feet up before scraping back down to earth. My reward: long scrapes on 3 of 4 appendages and splinters throughout my right hand. Oh well: you live, you learn that you need long pants and gloves to climb palm trees.

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