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10:16 am - Sat 6/5/04
With Special Guest Star--Kevin Knights

With Special Guest Star--Kevin Knights

Sat 6/5/04 (1:23 a.m.)

My friend Kevin is visiting from Lansing.

A couple days before he came, I started feeling a lot of anxiety, worrying that he wouldn't enjoy himself while he was here, that we wouldn't have much to say to each other after the first hour or so, etc and so on.

Well, we're a couple days in now, and I'd say "so far so good". If he's bored or unhappy or uncomfortable in any way, he's doing an excellent job of hiding it.

Making more of an effort than when Mark and Jane first visited to actually do "L.A. things" with my guest; yesterday we went to Chinatown, and today we visited the LaBrea tar pits (and the accompanying museum).

One thing I'm realizing with Kevin here is that, while there's a definite "sub-set" of things that we both respond to and enjoy, I'm moderately clueless in terms of guessing what he will or won't like.

In other words, I have a lot to learn about this young man!

He wasn't into Chinatown the way I thought he'd be. I think he had a good time, but I assumed the "kitsch factor" would have more appeal than it apparently did (Though I had the distinct feeling he wouldn't say no to a silk smoking jacket with a giant dragon embroidered on the back).

(And just like the last time I was there, I felt a strong pull towards some of the cool pointy things they sold–swords, switchblades, etc–but contented myself with buying only an inexpensive, though attractive, white plastic Buddha.)

One thing I think we were both equally enthused about was the O.K. Seafood Restaurant we went to I'm surprised we didn't both break into song at some point, we were so happy!

(I don't remember what he had, but I had Shrimp with Lobster Sauce, and a side of eggrolls.)

I also sort of enjoyed the adventure of getting there (Turned out I had been misinformed–the metro does not go directly to Chinatown–but we still managed to make it there with not too much fuss and bother; Basically you have to take the metro to Union Station, get off, then take the "Dash B" bus. Not too tough, especially now that I know).

The only thing that really effected my enjoyment of the day is the fact that my feet are acting up pretty bad (Kind of sucks, cause I can't figure out a way to see L.A. without doing a shitload of walking).

(Drifting off here...)

(8:37 a.m.)

We went to Hollywood Video last night, to return the videos we'd rented (One of which–Lair Of The White Worm they had to give us another five days on, because they'd left these metal clips on the dvd case and we couldn't open it).

Of what we've seen so far...

1. Bubba Ho-Tep

I thought that was good, campy fun. And as I think I've said already, there was a surprising amount of heart to the venture (And any dvd that comes with a commentary track by "The King" is worth the price of a rental!)

2. Willard

Kevin and I both agreed that this one was pretty much a dud.

Much to my surprise, Crispin Glover was actually not "perfect casting" for the title role. If you can believe it, he was actually too weird to play a guy who's controlling an army of rats.

Bruce Davidson played "Willard" in the original. It's been a million years since I've seen it–and I don't think it's any kind of "classic"-- but my memory of his performance was that he was a somewhat sympathetic character. While Glover, on the other hand, is creepy and unlikeable from the get-go.

3. Stevie

Again, I was struck by the fact that one good documentary is worth more than all the "reality shows" on tv put together.

It's directed by Steve James, who did one of the masterpieces of the form, Hoop Dreams (Which you should run out and see even if you don't give a rat's ass about b-ball).

In Stevie, James goes back to see Steve ("Stevie") Fielding, a twenty-something man he'd been a "Big Brother" to back in the 1980s.

"Stevie" had not had the happiest life before James entered the picture (While he was a grad student at, I believe, the University of Chicago), but James comes back hoping against hope that things had somehow "worked out" for the young man.

They haven't. "Stevie" is a mess–Psychologically damaged by abuse and neglect, a series of foster homes, a dysfunctional family life, and a lot of alcohol and marijuana–and as our story really begins, he is, in all likelihood, going to be doing some serious jail time for molesting his 8 year old niece.

The story is wrenching, and very complex; what struck me was the terrible position some people were in, caring about this young man, feeling sorry for him (And maybe, like James, feeling guilty for "not being there" for him) and all the while, not being able to reconcile that caring with the terrible thing he'd done.

I found it very thought-provoking, and sad, and of course, it made me think a lot about my own life and experiences.

I definitely had a lot of "That could have been me" thoughts while watching the movie. And even with that said, I didn't come away from the movie feeling superior about how I've "made it" or "survived" or what-have-you, while guys like Steve Fielding have gone under.

Instead, I basically thought "I lucked out"; Take away Mrs DeHaven, take away an above-average intellect and imagination, and I'm basically in the cell next to "Stevie". Not for child-molesting–Thankfully, that's not one of my psychological kinks–but for some kind of serious acting-out.

But I've gotta wrap this up and hop in the shower.

But now, I've got an interesting little treat for you, something I've never done in Diaryland before.

Here's a word or two (Or maybe three) from my friend Kevin:

Hello all. It's a strange feeling writing here. On the one hand I have no problems writing and do so on a nearly daily basis in some form or other. On the other hand I've got a strange the-spotlight-is-on-me-feeling and I don't know my lines. Okay. I just read what Jim wrote and I can say ‘yeah, what he said'. I too had a moment of anxiety as the plane was nearing landing that I was going to be hanging out with Jim for more than a week and we'd run out of interest in each other within an hour and then just sit glaring at each other for the rest of the vacation. But I chastised myself for just being silly. I'm never bored with Jim and we seem to have a state of comfort with each other that feels natural. It doesn't feel like three years since we've physically seen each other.

As Jim says, so far so good. Between seeing the sights of the big city and hanging out with Jim, I'm having a really good time. Yesterday we saw the La Brea tar pit site and I was entertained and informed. There is one fenced in pit pretty much in it's natural state. It smells just like a freshly paved road. Not surprising since it is basically the same stuff as man made asphalt oozing out of the ground. With bubbles and blooping of methane gas and hydrogen sulfide that I refered to as Earth farts. There was a moment where we waffled about going to the LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) or the Page La Brea Museum and we opted for the La Brea museum which I'm glad. Lots of stuff about how the pits work and were formed, the history of the site in relation to people, the thousands of fossils they've found there of ice age animals. Big ice age animals like the full sized mammoth skeleton on display and things as small as bugs and mice. There is a working cleaning and sorting lab on display and one of the things sitting on the sill was a fossilized mouse toe bone probably half the size of a grain of rice. And further down there was a box with dozens of them. Talk about meticulous and tedious work sorting through the dirt to find something like that. Probably the thing that I have the hardest time getting my mind around is that I'm in one of the biggest urban areas in the world. 12,000 years ago there were nothing but mammoths, bears, lions, saber tooth cats, wolves, other wild beasts, and plants.

I think as this time I'll wrap up my portion of things and turn the keyboard back over to Jim. See ya.

The museum was interesting (I was pretty impresssed with the "mouse toe bone" myself).

I came away from the museum feeling like, once again, some perspective was in order; we were looking at things that were, in some cases, thirty or forty thousand years old; My life is not even a "blip on the radar screen" in the great scheme of things, so maybe I could just try to relax and have a little more fun now and again.

And speaking of "fun", I think it's about time Kevin and I hit the road...

See ya!

 

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