Posts Tagged ‘humor’

Los Angeles: A tale of 255 cities, and counting

March 5, 2014

I spend hours in my car some days, stopping to use a bathroom, pick up another coffee, shovel a sandwich into my mouth… and what’s struck me the most is how disjointed and changeable LA is.

A few roads from extreme wealth – extreme poverty – back to extreme wealth… Limousines fight for lanes in the traffic with guys pushing shopping carts. A begger in Beverly Hills has a sign: Beverly Hells. He says he’s hungry. I didn’t know Thunderbird was a meal, but I guess it’ll do for him just for today. I wonder if he’s a screenwriter?

Wall to wall white people in one place. Then suddenly you’re grabbing lunch in what Fox News would call “Not even America”. There’s Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia… etc etc.

LA feels like a place that’s grown and been destroyed and grown again without much planning.

This, of course, is part of my city’s beauty.

Don't mess around in this neighborhood... I drove past twice, to see what happened. Nothing did. Then again, I'm white.

Don’t mess around in this neighborhood… I drove past twice, to see what happened. Nothing did. Then again, I’m white.


About 50 meters from the no cruising sign. This place. I love the police lights on the roof. And I shudder to think what kind of tattoo you get for $20.


It rained this week. We were mostly glad, because there’s a drought. But the traffic in LA was worse than ever.


Believe it or not, this is the sign for a grocery store. Where I will never shop.


Olympic Blvd looking oh so California, as traffic ruins another sunset for millions of Angelinos.


I will never understand this… how Americans don’t like to have people cheering for the other team in the same bar / stadium / town. It’s so childish.


Jesus Save…. and then it cuts off. Huh. Does he? I see this every day. I just love where it is, right in front of this city full of sin.

Issues, issues, issues… okay, let’s talk.

November 2, 2011

Is politically correct language universal? No, but that doesn’t excuse being hurtful. I can’t figure out if I’m just being stubborn or if I have a point when I say: Human rights and humor are both more important than your knee-jerk sensitivities.

I find Americans PC in the most bizarre of ways. They are huge on lip service (by which I don’t mean then men also give oral, although it was one of the first things I was offered by an American – over the phone, in a motel).

They seem obsessed with using the most PC of terms. Terms which they consider universally PC, even though they actually aren’t. Like African American. Which isn’t PC in South Africa obviously. Even African isn’t, because that excludes white Africans. And Africans who call themselves “coloured” or “indian.”

Words may not be just words, but statues are often just statues. This mini ms. liberty found down an alleyway when looking for a shady place for lunch with a New Yorker friend of mine.

Words are just words… or are they? I got into an arguement (and they’re all nasty, so let’s ditch the pretense) with a couple of people who are part of a campaign against the use of the word “retarded”. Ever. In any context. I feel it’s fine to call someone who has no diminished mental capacity / differences “retarded” when they are deliberately or lazily being stupid. I feel it’s okay to refer to the use of the word “natural” to refer to cage raised chicken as “retarded”. I feel it’s okay to say “that’s so gay” when referring to hazing rituals – or merchant ivory movies.

But while I was quite rudely dismissive of the people who jumped on my blog post about sewer videos and halloween columns with their two-minute noodles, microwave-ready slogan, “Spread the word to end the word, your use of the R word is offensive and disappointing”, the whole thing reminded me that I have my own sensitivities.

For instance, I wouldn’t be okay with anyone referring to cage-raised chicken as “so nigger”. Even if they said it had nothing to do with black people. And I can’t even bear to write down the word “kaffir” most of the time, even though I occasionally see certain limes labeled that way here.

So am I being retarded to over-react to the finger wagging of a few poster? After all, I live in America, where words are more important, apparently, than health care, geography, or the right to marry who you please in any state. Or… does that fact that I am genuinely trying to be funny – not writing an essay for school and referring to racist South Africans when I used the word “retarded” – give me any latitude here?

Willing to talk, and listen on this issue.

PS. Here’s my latest masterpiece. Har har…

American Dream from Jean Barker on Vimeo.