Archive for the ‘fast food’ Category

America’s freakish food

August 9, 2013

I’m sure food all over the world is pretty freakish these days. But I reacted worse to American food than I have to anything, anywhere, and when I wondered why, I started looking into it. And I wrote a column for News24 about what I found out.

For instance, did you know how much poison is on your cranberries? That your blueberry superfruit smoothie contains neurotoxins? It’s gross, really. From http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/

Five Servings: how much pesticide residue the average American kids gets in their food, per day.

Five Servings: how much pesticide residue the average American kids gets in their food, per day. from whatsonmyfood.org

Health food, right? Wrong...

Organic. So, health food, right? Wrong…

Yeah, it's full of garbage.

Yeah, it’s full of garbage. Biggest ingredient isn’t even a cereal! It’s Soy Protein Concentrate…

This will kill you. Not the bus. The food being advertised on the back of it.

This will kill you. Not the bus. The food being advertised on the back of it.

Where the beef industry wants you to believe your meat comes from.

Where the beef industry wants you to believe your meat comes from.

Where your meat really comes from.

Where your meat really comes from. And you haven’t wanted to throw up until you’ve driven that road and stopped and made the mistake of opening your car window and smelling all that cow shit. They don’t graze. They eat corn meal while choking on their own farts until it’s time to die.

It’s all really bad for us. And it will probably kill me. But am I complaining? Sorta. Would I rather be dying of eating than dying of starvation?

BBQ with mac and cheese (a meal in SA) as a side dish. This will kill you. But you won't care - it's that good.

BBQ with mac and cheese (a meal in SA) as a side dish. This will kill you. But you won’t care – it’s that good.

Dying of eating. That’s for sure.

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Nobody really wants to be fat. Not really.

January 21, 2013

Sure, ideas of beauty change, are constructed by society, and even the biggest supermodel will go mad if she compares herself to others in order to assess her professional worth. But you know in your gut if you’re just – I’ll say it – fat. Yes, you do. Oh, yes you do.

This is good to bear in mind. The so called hot people are freaks of nature. Most of us are just beautiful in our own ways.

This is good to bear in mind. The so called hot people are freaks of nature. Most of us are just beautiful in our own ways.

I find it very hard to believe people who tell me they “love” their bodies just the way they are three times a day while hiding them under great big T-Shirts and refusing to go to the beach for shame. I also think we give ourselves a hard time about how we look for all the wrong reasons sometimes. I have no doubt that ideas of beauty are constructed. Yes, they’ve definitely changed. Allow me to illustrate:

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Beautiful. These days she couldn’t get a modeling job – not even as a plus sizer.

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Beautiful. But today she’d spend her life thinking she had “fat arms”. Which is bull.

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Beautiful. In some times, places and cultures, some people still can’t see that. Like John Mayer for instance.

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Beautiful. But when you google Meryl Streep the most suggested (i.e. poplular) search phrases are “Meryl Streep Young” and “Meryl Streep hot”.

But the fact that what’s considered “beautiful” in magazines changes doesn’t mean that doesn’t mean being so fat that you can’t walk to your car, or so fat that your knees are caving in, or so fat that you have veins in your ankles by the age of 25, is something anyone chooses.

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There’s a fetish for everything, including dandruff. But I struggle to believe that the woman suffering from obesity pictured here actually wants to look like that, but more importantly it’s hard to believe that she wants to FEEL like that.

This isn't beautiful either.

This isn’t beautiful either.

It’s become fashionable to cater for obesity, to treat it as if it is not a problem, the same way we cater to anorexia as if it isn’t a problem. Now, I know being mean to fat people wouldn’t help at all. But overeating is an addiction. So I’d vote for being nice to people who eat too much, just as I’d vote for being nice to heroin addicts. But I’m not going to pretend I think a giant camel-toe is attractive.

Fact is, getting fat happens slowly. I learned this recently, over the two and a half years I’ve lived in the USA. I arrived here at a healthy weight, initially lost a few kilos because I didn’t have a car, and then slowly but surely went from lean, to padded, to plump, to actually, very nearly medically overweight. I noticed when I went to the clinic for a checkup here in California. The doctor said nothing about my weight gain. I was relieved, until I realised he was just scared of offending me.

What was next? I wondered. Full-on obesity? Fuck that for a joke.

So at the risk of being politically incorrect, I’ve downloaded a calorie counting application for my cell phone and started exercising, eating healthily, and… yes it’s working. In about five weeks, I’ll be able to look at myself in the mirror without wincing. In two months, I should be able to stand how I look in set photographs. The best thing about it actually is that it provides an outlet for my competitive, OCD nature, a focus for my stress about other things. Instead of wondering if I’ll ever make a truly great film, I just get to feel good that I had strawberries and yogurt for breakfast and it only cost me 200 calories. Silly? Yes. Shallow? Oh, most definitely. But sometimes it’s important to be shallow, like when you break your leg, or get maleria, or gain 8 kilograms your body really, really doesn’t need.

Safe to love, not safe to love…

December 29, 2012

So we are clear: I don’t write about signs because I’m too stupid to realise that if I just posted pictures of cute animals I could have much more traffic to my blog.

It’s not like I don’t have ACCESS to cute animals.

See?

That’s a Cow and Calf in Nature’s Valley. Cute, right?

 

Og Moma! "Stay away from my baby" says that eye.

Og Moma! “Stay away from my baby” says that eye.

And here’s a ginger cat that will only drink mineral water.

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This kitty at Wild Spirit Backpackers only drinks from the spring water tap. Such a clever kitty.

And here’s a lonely calf whose momma has been taken away…

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Free range. But lonely! Don’t get too attached though.

Awwww. CUTE. This little calf hasn't figured out that it can't have it both ways and keeps trying to scratch its own head with its hoof while drinking.

Awwww. CUTE. This little calf hasn’t figured out that it can’t have it both ways and keeps trying to scratch its own head with its hoof while grazing.

What's for sale? Is that a real kitty?

What’s for sale? Is that a real kitty?

It's a real cute kitty! In a basket. I have no idea what we did with these before we had the internet.

It’s a real cute kitty! In a basket. I have no idea what we did with these before we had the internet.

Awwwwwww…. cute. And with cuteness, of course, comes Jean Barker’s Little Lecture on Hypocrisy, customized for your displeasure.

That calf won’t have her momma for long. Even on a nice, organic farm, the male calves get taken away and fattened for slaughter, and the females get weaned and turned into milk cows asap.

Thinking about this, I realized why most Americans (as the most extreme example – it’s a general western thing) mind so much if you kill a dog and don’t give a fuck if you torture, and then inhumanely transport and slaughter, 10 million cows a day to McDonalds, Burger King and In ‘n Out: They / we maybe, have been taught that it’s safe to love dogs because they won’t be farmed for their meat. And cats are also Safe to Love, because although cats would happily farm humans for meat given half a chance, we aren’t going to eat cats, because they taste like crap. Same reason we don’t eat penguins. Dogs survive by sucking up big time.

And they know it’s unsafe to grow emotionally attached to a cow or a chicken or a pig (or allow your kids to) because that cute cow is gonna cop it. Self interest, as usual, explains our so-called morals.

So Americans call the Koreans and Chinese barbaric for eating dog, or become furious / feel nauseous when they see Cheval on the menu in France. Why can’t people see past the things they’ve been taught to feel and realise that feelings are not an indicator of right and wrong? Does the fact that I can love dogs AND consider eating them make me a psychopath – or the only sane person I know?

 

From elevator farts to pinnoccio to pie charts: leftover signs posted

August 15, 2012

Sometimes life makes no sense. This week, I’m having a new version of an old dream at night. I’ve had it so often I’m often lucid in it at this point, but still unable to control the emptiness I feel no matter how I force it to end. So in that state of restless randomnity, I WANT to write, but I have nothing. Nothing in particular to say after wandering through my own day like a ghost.

I don’t remember who facebooked this, but I knew instantly that it belonged on this blog. What better way to introduce a post about nothing in particulars? I guess it would be time to stop looking and start living.

Pinnoccio is one of my favourite characters. So favorite that I have dated him and even married him over the years. Usually by the time he becomes a real boy, he’s someone else’s though.

The result of your actions will be an equal and opposite re-action. But this is my beef with Karma: it doesn’t seem to strike the person responsible. So for example, the people who voted for apartheid are mostly in Australia whining about SA to anyone who’ll listen. The people suffering its bad karma are in South Africa, suffering. This makes no sense, and frankly, is proof that if god does exist, he desperately needs a secretary.

Zuma is part of the bad karma. He’s not the worst president in the world, but he is ineffective, sexist, nepotistic, unable to form a coherent voice from the multitudes of voices within the ANC, and prone to obvious stupidity. This makes him not unlike Mao / Stalin, the obvious references in this satirical artpiece. I’m reading about Mao at the moment in the form of an amazing Biography/Autobiography, “Wild Swans” – the story of three generations of exceptional Chinese women. That book’s probably half the reason I’m so down on humanity at the moment.

And here’s what I miss about home. Stuff like this. This sign picture, taken by Nick Aldridge, who I hope won’t mind me using it in low res. here, was snapped at the Red Hill Shebeen. Red Hill’s a beachside community. Each of these little holiday towns has a little township next door (yeah, not much has changed since apartheid days out there) that supplies the holiday-makers with cheap labor and so on… I’ve been to a lot of them because I had this fairly dangerous habit of getting drunk and deciding to visit on the pretext of buying something. My poor, poor boyfriends…

Taken by screenwriter Leslie Rann, in the elevator of her LA apartment complex. Hilarious, how they explain the exact science of the smell moving around. It should really say “Please do not remove head from ass while in elevator. We prefer all your holes to be plugged while in public places.”

Summarizes how most people feel about pie charts. Although I’m not that into pie, here. Americans like them sweet. I miss the little individual ones you get at gas stations in South Africa. My favorite: Mutton Curry. One of those and an appeltiser the morning after a late night and you’re ready for a day at the office!

Right. Now I can finally delete all that shit from my desktop. Thanks for listening.

Chick-Fil-A pays the price for their cheep, cheep, cheep homophobia

August 4, 2012

Chick-Fil-A not only speaks for Jesus (how presumptuous) but also has opinions about its customer’s personal lives. Eat more chicken? Eat less [insert body part here]. I don’t think so. Your funny ads don’t mask your hate speech.

Lesbians kiss in protest in a branch of Chick-Fil-A.


Chick-Fil-A – national chicken chain known for its Christian links (it closes on Sundays, that’s how old school it is!) is not the only fast food chain to be heavily linked to religion. Lots of chains have openly Christian agendas, including In-‘n-out burger (check the bottom of their soda cups for bible verses) and Tyson, supplier of cruelty-full meat to theme parks, prisons, and schools across the USA.

But Chick-Fil-A crossed the line by announcing its opposition to gay marriage recently, with crazy republican Michele Bachmann’s square-jawed support.

Of course, they’re trying to fudge the issue. Are “fudge packing” jokes bad taste in the context of my outrage at their homophobia? I guess so… Anyhow, Here’s how they try to wiggle out of it in their website FAQ in answer to a fake-sounding question:

“The Chick-fil-A culture and service tradition in our Restaurants is to treat every person with honor, dignity and respect –regardless of their belief, race, creed, sexual orientation or gender. We will continue this tradition in the over 1,600 Restaurants run by independent Owner/Operators. Going forward, our intent is to leave the policy debate over same-sex marriage to the government and political arena.”

Sure, so the stories of you firing employees who came out aren’t true, then? And we’re supposed to ignore what your Chief Operating Officer said – even though he hasn’t apologized? Here’s what their COO Dan Cathy said in defense of Chick-fill-A’s donations of millions to anti-gay groups. He prayed for “…God’s mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.” Sorry, but that is not open to interpretation. He’s dragging Christianity back two centuries. What’s next – black people? Mixed marriages? Women’s rights? Cause the Bible’s not into those either. Using your brain is the cause of progress and enlightenment. If God’s against intelligent reasoning? Well, then I’m against God.

As I drove into Hollywood today, I passed this building about a mile from a branch of Chick-Fil-A. We have no idea what Einstein thought about homosexuality, so not sure this group can truly claim his support.

Was Gandi gay? Who cares in one sense. But he didn’t eat the Christian kinda chicken either, being Hindu. As the “Young Turks” point out later in the video linked below, this information underlines how discrimination is so terrible. You might oppress the person who will liberate your nation. The Indian government, meanwhile, wants to purchase and destroy the letters between Gandhi and his lover to protect their image of their national hero…

Protesting in the hot sun. Not too sure what side the dude in the white suit is on, but it could be either.

It’s good to see people standing up for something. I may go hang out for a while myself. Although if I get arrested, I get deported, so I don’t really have a fair shake.

The protesters were still there at 5pm when we returned after taking the Koreans who’re visiting form Busan to see Hollywood’s walk of fame and on the way to a beachside restaurant in Malibu.

I used to love this billboard. No longer, now that I know what’s behind it.

Can’t wait to see Chick-Fill-A’s next ad campaign: What will it be? “Eat Less Cock?” Whatever, you intellectual and cultural troglodytes. You are not welcome to your opinion, because it’s a litany of hate that dirties Christianity and obstructs the slugglish old religion’s inevitable entry into the 21st Century world.

Jesus is always saving people. Someone needs to return the favor, and save Jesus from the clutches of these dead-meat-peddling haters. Talk about “audacity”!

… even chicken feet and stewed silk moths and stuff…

July 18, 2012

Remember how I said I would try to eat EVERYTHING in Busan, South Korea? Well, this led me down a rather scary path the other day. (This post is kinda  a continuation).

I was lucky to be being guided by Professor Lee of Dongseo University’s film school. He was obsessive about making sure we ate a lot of different things. But sometimes it’s the small things – like how different a shop you see all over LA is when you see it in Korean form.

This is what you can buy at the counter in a 711 in Busan. As everywhere, the name 711 has no relevance to when it’s open. Some are 24 hours. Most are 9am -5am. The things that look like Melrose Cheese snacks are revolting. They’re noodle paste flavored with fish, with lumps of cheese embedded in them. Like the little dried fish snacks, definitely an acquired taste.

Insane amounts of food, but the hotness kinda leaves you feeling energetic rather than sleepy. I didn’t see a fat person until the day we went to a place that’s like their McDonalds – Lotteria Burgers.

A Japanese style restaurant, with some Korean adaptations. First, you cook your veg in the soy-salt water as soon as it boils, then add the meat, which you parcel inthe lettuce and bean pods provided. Then you have soup. And then you make a rice porridge (savoury) in the pan with what’s left. A huuuge meal. Delicious.

Baby Abalone: Did not eat, I confess. I sort of wanted to even though it’s wrong, but Professor Lee said “In Korea we do not eat seafood on raining day.” And that meant we were not permitted. I’m guessing this is a superstition dating back from when food was less fresh on rainy days, as it’s hard to catch fish in rainy weather. I don’t eat fresh fish sushi for a couple of days after rain, myself. But this fish was LIVE, so it’s illogical.

World’s greatest – and probably least ecologically sound – fish market.

There’s water constantly running through. Everything in there is alive and you can have live octypus. Which freaks me out because a) they have these strange old man faces and b) you can die if a sucker attaches to your throat, which can happen even after it’s chopped up if you’re unlucky.

Korea’s seafood industry is an issue for me. It’s destructive to the livelihoods of countries like South Africa who don’t have the military might to defend their shorelines (the government bought some corvettes but can’t afford them or their maintenance, so they’re rotting in a harbour, mainly in use as navy party boats). The Korean ships rape our fisheries, and land fishers and small fishers suffer as a result due to government conservationist efforts to allow dwindling stocks to breed by protecting them with modern environmental laws. Yes, it’s a mess.

A trend I noticed – clearly a few years old – of showing the head but including a teeny weeny little body. Do you trust a chef with a big head and no body? I do, after eating there.

Chicken and beer! It’s a thing in Busan. You get various plates of fried chicken and draft beer that tastes a bit like Castle draft. For $10 I ate and drank more than I should have. The guy in the foreground looks grumpy because the Korean students were busy playing an elaborate prank on us by making us think they were having an argument among themselves. Or they were, and the whole “prank” think was a cover up… And it was awesome.

Chicken feet. Cool texture – like savoury chewing gum. I have had them before, in Transkei, stewed with tomato and onion. “Walkie Talkies” / “Chicken Dust” (Heads and feet) are a South African classic. These Korean were so chili hot that I had to spit though. So much chili that I was glad we were with two film producers, as they were able to get the restaurant to give us shot-glasses of milk.

“important for health. a healthy diet is important for children as well as adults.” Relevant to hamburger joints – how?

In*joy Lotteria. Not too sure I want to eat a hamburger named for random chance. Mind you, McDonalds is worse.

See the bowl of brown things? That’s bugs. Silk worm moths. After they hatch and lay, they’re harvested for food, which is cool with me. I just didn’t enjoy the crunching sensation as my teeth bit into the scales on their backs. They tasted like the smell of burning tyre rubber. So, not good. But hey – I proved I’d eat anything right?

Whale meat restaurant: When I said I’d eat everything in Busan, I didn’t bank on this. Whales amaze me. They’re so big, so peaceful, so strange. I want them to live. They are also endangered, and I love the underdog – always have. So no, I didn’t even think about it.

One of my fellow students loves this $1.30c soju, because “he gets a different girl every night”. But then he also added: “I think it’s just the same girl with different hair”. Soju – and this is a cheap mainstream brand – is Korea’s vodka, but ranges from 20% – 40% proof depending if it’s distilled or not. Priced from $1 a bottle to $79 a bottle too.

And that’s it. I ate. I drank (a little) and my student colleagues and I I made a movie about death and life and stuff. I sang “Englishman in New York” at a Karaoke place (in Korea, you and your friends get your own room.) I loved it.

Eating Everything in Busan, South Korea.

July 14, 2012

I feel a sense of wellbeing that I’d forgotten feeling. Sure, I’m exhausted from walking up and down hills, sunburned because everything you put on, you sweat right off in the humidity. And… no that’s about it! I’m really happy here. It’s a lot more like South Africa than America is. A big part of what I’m loving wasn’t familiar – the food.

kimbap

Kimbap! This, believe it or not, is breakfast. The roll has sushi rice, veggies, flat slices of fried egg, and pickles. Sounds weird? I adore it. This was the breakfast our hosts from Dongseo University’s film department gave us every morning in the bus on the way to the film set.

I think part of the reason I am so happy eating here is that I love, love, love rice. I may also secretly adore MSG, which is in everything, and glutin, which is in everything too. Our team’s producer is gluten-intolerant and has been struggling. The Koreans have never heard of this problem and think she’s just a very fussy eater. Poor girl.

This pig wants you to eat her.

Although I eat pescatarian in the USA, mostly, I have abandoned that here as have all other veggies on our crew. It would deprive me of almost everything as pork is used a lot in cooking and flavoring the food. Koreans have a friendly and humorous relationship with the animals they eat. The pigs are excited to die. The fish are displayed in tanks outside restaurants. They’re alive, and you can pick out what you want. Talk about “fresh”…

The little picture of the pig and the cow means that those are their specialties. The animals have dialog: “We taste good!”

Wait… I think (I hope) that this isn’t a restaurant. Mostly because I’ve heard cats taste terrible. As far as I’m concerned, either all animals are food, or none are. In my opinion, cows and pigs are just as loveable as dogs and cats.

It’s wonderful to get away from the franchise culture that’s making American eating less and less interesting by the day. The fear of eating anything that might cause stomach issues means many people won’t eat somewhere that doesn’t have an “A” health rating. My feeling is they probably just eat too much for their body to process. I eat everywhere (I’m currently working my way through the mexican hole-in-the-walls on Tustin street, with the goal of trying them all). And I am fine, I swear. Here, small, cheap eateries become famous for their food and will be busy all day until they closing time.

KFC? This is actually a regular Korean restaurant; just the branding is definitely a reference. I don’t miss that kind of food, at all (not that I ate it in the USA). Or hosts graciously gave us deep fried breaded chicken for dinner one night, to give us a break from rice. It seemed tasteless and poisonous by comparison to the food we’ve been enjoying.

If the person in the picture above the door and the person in the doorway look similar, it’s because they’re the same person! This is fairly common in Korea. I find it really charming. We actually ate next door, where the owner / cook was about 80 and had bright purple hair.

This place specialises in late night octopus stir fries. We hit it after set one night. Yummy. The cinnamon tea was the nightlight for me though. It’s made with cinnamon, sugar, and honey. Boiled. Cooled with chunks of ice. Helps takes the heat off the spicy red bean sauce you stir into your meal.

Celebrities cash in on their fame by lending their picture to food joints. This is a rare thing: a franchise. The lady in the photo is a well known actress. Korea has a thriving national cinema. The government encourages it and protects it from American encroachment. It’s really inspiring – and the movies are great.

Unless you’re getting take-out, the food is served in china or metal bowls, and you’re provided metal chopsticks (in one fancy place, silver!) and a spoon to eat with, as well as jugs of water and small cups about the size of American shotglasses. I love it and it’s a great relief after the wastefulness of American eateries. I feel excited and blessed and renewed by Busan. It’s most similar (for me) to Antananarivo in Madagascar, just much bigger and very high-tech. I could live here – I really, really could.

PS: I’ll add more pictures of cool restaurant signs in the next few days. I have to leave now to go on a mystery trip to a mountain.

Oil is the world’s heroin

June 20, 2012

Ya, you knew that already. And I love my car as much as the next man, so I’m not pointing fingers here. The thing is, there are other ways to fuel your car, to get you that great coffee you need, and to keep your computer running.

As you can see, most of the oil is used for getting around. This mostly means moving goods around. In our import-export economy, transport of goods, people and information drives oil consumption. This would explain the black grime that coats my balcony in California, where the air is relatively clean by US standards. Image source: http://www.beodom.com

I recently discovered an organisation called Fuel Freedom which focuses on alternative energy sources, rather than lifestyle changes. This is probably a smart move – Americans don’t want to stop using a plastic spoon every time they stir their coffee. Some fellow-students and I made a #psa video (that’s public service announcement) for their campaign. It’s kinda fun, and only 1 minute long. Take a look.

 

Personally? I think America should stop disposing of everything. What’s so hard about washing cups, Starbucks? Why must every motel guest throw away their plate, cup, spoon and water glass in the morning? It’s ridiculous, how personal “health” and convenience needs have created a sense of entitlement, to destroy the world while going on about freedom and the children and saving the animals. By which they mean the plague of poodles and other small, cute, useless dogs that pet stores have unleashed upon the planet. And don’t even get me started on smokers who toss their butts no matter where they are. I have ended relationships for less. You may as well piss on my bathroom floor… (but don’t) because one day I’ll be swimming in the sea and one of those things will float past me.

I haven’t forgotten Ken Saro-Wiwa, who Shell’s lawyers had murdered by the Nigerian Government for the crime of protecting his people from big oil. Big oil will kill. And it will keep killing, in Afganistan, in Iran (coming soon to a TV near you, now featuring Israel as America’s bitch) and in probably in Egypt. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ken_Saro-Wiwa

 
All I wish is that I’d had a couple of extra days to work on the music for my film. It’s kinda rushed and the deadline was firm: The 18th.
 

Sea Point Promenade’s latest greatest things for me, and a touch of ennui.

January 8, 2012

In between my existential crisis, aka “when will America’s consulate allow me to get on with my life” and my attempt to make a short film while I’m still here – if that’s not forever – and my various visits to my past and my many reunions with loved ones, I squeezed in a walk on the Sea Point Promenade today. Isn’t it beautiful? One of my favourite places on earth.

Messages on the sea wall for Mandela's birthday in 2010.

The most beautiful park I've ever seen.

An outdoor gallery - this series of sculptures has lasted a year, despite some vandalism and weather damage.

It’s Cape Town’s Central Park, although most people in Cape Town don’t get the chance to live anywhere near it and have to drive or bus in. (I’m all for low cost housing in the area where I own property to solve that problem. Bring it on.)

The latest trends are public art and open air gyms.

It's a rocking horse...

... it's a rocking horse that talks out of its arse. And its mouth. Kids love this and have looooong conversations with each other through the mouth to ass telephones.

Here's how it works.

The outdoor public gym: Designed for adults, but mostly used as a jungle gym by kids in between swims in the sea.

The rules. No this, no that. I'm pretty sure someone's breaking them as I type this, and getting away with it. Ya South Africa.

Still standing here, in what used to my home, I felt sad. I don’t really have a purpose here right now. I can’t get a sim card without my father showing up with his ID cause my apartment is rented out so I don’t have an address. I am all about work – it makes me who I am  and I have nothing much to DO, really. Limbo feels more limbo-like now that everybody I know has gone back to work and winter term has started without me, and I am still here, staring at the perfect sea view.

I know I sound ungrateful. But I can’t help it. Though it’s amazing here, there’s only so much great steak you can eat. Only so many times you can swim in a perfect blue ocean. Only so many times you can hug your friends before you wonder… when can I go back to the torture and pure hell of making movies?

This holiday needs to end. ASAP, hunnybunnies.

Oh but first, a quick #PSA.

Dear America. THIS is a hamburger. As the lolcat said "IF I KAN HAZ CHEEZBURGER CAN I HAZ ZIS ONE PLEEZ"?

Nude ladies, “Friends”, pool, karaoke and hamburgers at Barney’s Beanery, West Hollywood

March 24, 2011

Do I have to blog about it every time I go to Los Angeles? Well, probably, until it stops seeming like a place of magic and dreams; everything I expected of it and more.

Traffic. Rain. 35 Miles in three hours. Thank God for CD changers and conversation.

Been going to LA a lot at the moment because the Writer’s Guild is holding a weekly interview / screening / discussion series with famous TV writers – last week was an amazing session with Steve Levitan of Modern Family. Today I got roped in to checking out Friends‘ Marta Kauffman and David Crane. And I didn’t expect it to be half as amazing as it was. I loved it so much that I now… briefly wanted to watch the whole 10 episodes of the series for (believe this or not) the first time. I doubt I’ll actually go through with it though, don’t worry.

The original pitch and treatment. Check it out - it seems Friends was originally titled "Bleeker Street" (like in the sad Simon & Garfunkel song) and later the slightly cheerier "Insomnia Cafe".

Anyhow, we wound up at Barney’s Beanery afterwards. It is awesome – and proof that America will turn anything – ANYTHING, NO MATTER HOW ALTERNATIVE – into a commercial undertaking. The place is basically a collection of all the USA’s rock ‘n roll glorification, thrown together in a faux dive bar atmosphere, with a technology coulis.

Great burgers, better mash, and a beer list that made me very happy. A 10pm happy hour too. And all the healthy options and mild food choices that keep All-Americans and Hollywood types content.

Of course, you want it to seem “real”, right?

This picture of a sexy lady pasted on the booth wall, the slightly worn leather seats, and the Wednesday night karaoke all contribute to the pleasant illusion that you might be somewhere in the real world.