Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Car Woes...Did I mention that Los Angeles is the worst city on earth?

Fuck The City of Los Angeles! I was issued a 2nd PARKING TICKET in ERROR in front of my own home...Can these meter maids not read a parking permit? I can only imagine how much money the local economy loses because workers have to protest erroneous parking tickets. Luckily I'm not a member of the workforce at this time, but for the second time in 8 days, I will be down on Pico Boulevard presenting my case to some obese (I can say this confidently because I observed that ALL of the personnel at this Parking Department branch are obese women) woman who will decide my fate. However, even if the City decides against me, I will NEVER pay this parking ticket.

Oh, and last night, after the show at the UCB Theatre, I was walking with a friend toward my car when I noticed a man and woman were ON my car...They were dry humping as their(?) baby in a carriage sat on the sidewalk. Thank you considerate people for using my car as a pay-by-the-hour motel! They did not even offer an apology...FUCK LOS ANGELINOS!

The Comeback Kid...

WEEDS Season 4 has been amazing. Perhaps the best yet. I loved Season 1 but the show gradually went downhill, hitting its nadir near the end of Season 3. I thought WEEDS was hopeless but I decided to give it a try again for Season 4. Wow! Now I am hooked. Season 4 has some of the funniest episodes of the series and the characters have grown in brilliant ways. Albert Brooks' performances as Lenny Botwin have been priceless.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Age of Entitlement: Parking

LA sucks because everyone has an attitude of ENTITLEMENT. It's sad, pathetic, and really starting to get to me. Here are three examples of entitled idiots I have encountered within the past week, all surrounding the daily task of PARKING.

Parking Incident #1 - The Bitch With The Meter

Since I am no longer working at Endeavor, I don't have the luxury of using the Endeavor parking garage. Thus, when I went for my daily luncheon with Ryan (we are on a "break" from Judi's Deli) to Mickey Fine's (a pharmacy/eatery one-two punch with solid food...the only drawback is the place smells like the old ladies who frequent it) I was frustrated when I couldn't find street parking. Ryan only gets an hour for lunch and had to be back at Endeavor by 2, and it was already 1:11. In response to this time crisis, rather than continue my quest for street parking, I drove an extra two blocks to a City of Beverly Hills parking lot that features a meter in front of each parking spot. Turning around my previous bad parking luck, someone was pulling out of a spot, just as I entered the lot. Perfect! I pulled in, stepped out of my vehicle, and placed a quarter in the meter when....a woman pulled up in her car and stepped out. She said, " I've been waiting in this lot for ten minutes and I'm late for a dentist appointment, can I have your spot?" I replied, "I'm sorry, but I'm late for a lunch meeting, so no, you may not." Note: This woman was nowhere near me when I pulled in to the spot. She then went on a diatribe that I was going to have a "bad day" and "terrible things" were going to happen to me. I almost gave in to this bitch, simply because I didn't want her to key my car or slash my tires...but I stayed calm and polite and explained that I'd already put money in the meter...this didn't matter to her, and she continued to rant and threaten me...just another day in Beverly Hills, 90210.

Parking Incident #2 - The Close Parker

I, like many "normal" people park my car on the street outside of my house. The other day, I parked behind another car, leaving the length of 2/3 of a car between the back of my car and the driveway of the building next door to me - thus, not enough room for another car to park. When I returned to my car two hours later, I saw that some asshole had parked his car literally up against the back of mine, meaning he banged his front bumper into my car, pulled back a bit, and then re-parked, with the front of his vehicle touching the back of mine. There were scratches galore and paint not cool. After kicking this schmuck's car a few times, I noticed that the person is my neighbor, as the vehicle had a parking pass for the same district as mine attached to the back of the car. Always a believer in The Code of Hammurabi (an eye for an eye), I promptly decided to rip off the jerk's parking permit before I left the scene (to cause this personal aggravation and financial loss comparable to what was done to me)...needless to say, I've been parking around the block as of late to avoid any physical conflicts.

Parking Incident #3 - The Spot Stealer

Parking around the Upright Citizen's Brigade Theatre in Hollywood is never fun, but it was especially not fun the other night when the Celebrity Scientology Center (across the street from the theatre) closed down three streets to stage some concert for their members. After driving around and around for fifteen minutes, I finally found a lady pulling out of a spot. I waited in a parallel position to her car with my blinker on. As she began to pull out, from out of nowhere, a guy in a Camaro with his lights off (at night) STOLE the spot I was waiting for by sliding into it before the other woman was completely out. When Mr. Asshole stepped out of his car, I said, "Sir, I was clearly waiting for this spot with my blinker on. Does that mean nothing to you?" His response was, "I live on this street, and it's hard to find parking, fuck off."


Zoot Suit Riot

The suit. A fixture of the American businessman.

Since I was a kid, I associated the suit with success. I wanted to be a guy that wore a suit to work.

Suit=status=power=money=success=everything most people want in life...

However, only when I entered the suit-wearing working world did I realize that suits are a whole load of bullshit, especially when the weather dictates shorts and a t-shirt for anyone who doesn't have a dress code.

Suits are outdated. I was at Santa Monica Acura getting an oil change and peeing. I looked on the bathroom wall and saw a series a photographs labeled "Santa Monica Pier Circa 1920." Sure enough, in each photograph every man was wearing a suit to walk on the fricken boardwalk. Now that must have sucked. While society has made some progress by not dictating that people where suits to their leisure activities, workplace dress codes are mainly stuck in a bygone era.

My friend Mike recently became a lawyer. Mike is a casual, young guy like me. I posed this question to him:

If you, as a lawyer, were wearing the t-shirt and shorts you are wearing right now and we took a bum off the street, gave him a shave, a shower, and a business suit, and then asked people if they would want you or this bum to represent them in court, they would obviously choose the dapper bum. I know this doesn't paint the picture with the most details, but how is someones ability to do a job correlated with the clothing they wear? Many-a-shady-car-salesmen wear suits, yet why do we still associate this item of clothing with honesty, intelligence, success, etc....Conclusion: Our world is messed up.

Kudos to companies like Google that don't have dress codes for their employees. However, this is not only admirable in the progressive sense, but it is practical as well.

Can I really be focused on my work all day when I am trying to soothe the rash on my neck from my tight collar? Answer: No.

For all future jobs, a deal-breaker for me is wearing a suit..I guess I'll wear them to weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, and I have no problem whipping out my tux for special events, but I hereby proclaim that I will never wear a suit to work again, never, no matter what!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Epiphany On Demand: The Exodus Begins

A few weeks ago, I invited my buddy Dustin to come to my improv show at the Upright Citizen's Brigade theatre. Dustin and I had planned to work the following day on a script called "Dustin's Flying House," a children's television show we wrote for him to star in. Prior to the show, Dustin informed me that he had to cancel our meeting to attend the funeral of his friend who tragically died by drowning in an undertow off the coast of Panama while on vacation. Now, for a guy (me) who had already been contemplating the meaning of life on a daily basis, this knowledge sparked something inside of me. I thought to myself: If I were going to die tomorrow, would I go in to work and be a man-secretary/slave? 

Answer: Absolutely not. 

And then, for reasons unbeknownst to me, a crazy little thought jumped into my head: If I knew I only had one week to live, but had to work somewhere, where would it be?

Answer: A Pacific Northwest winery.

Call me a sucker, a hopeless romantic, crazy, all of the above, or none of the above, but after two months of gradually losing all of my idealism, a rush of passion suddenly overcame my mind and body.  After a quick Google search, I realized that the harvest season was just 'round the corner.

Granted, many of my ideas never come to fruition (I have an approximately 30% Idea to Reality completion rate), but at this juncture I immediately called my high school friend Jeff Gliner. I knew that Jeff was looking to make a radical change to his successful food and beverage management career. I pitched him the idea of us going to work at a winery for an undetermined amount of time. Though Jeff was so desperate to leave his current job (as he'd reached a never-ending plateau in his daily mental stimulation) that he probably would have gone along with me suggesting that we become the first people to cross the North Pole wearing only bathing suits, he accepted my offer.

Within a couple of hours, I'd  sent the following e-mail out to dozens of wineries across California, Oregon, and Washington:

To Whom It May Concern:

I have always dreamed of working during the wine harvest season, and now, having been sucked into corporate America, I want to go back to my food and beverage roots. One of my best friends (a food and beverage manager at JP Morgan in New York) and I plan to come to the Pacific Northwest in a few weeks to learn about the winemaking process. We will surely work in the office when needed, but we really hope to be in the fields and cellars to learn all aspects of the business. Please see our attached resumes, and let me know if you have any available positions. I am strong, in good shape, energetic, and I have a great sense of humor. I am very aware of the long hours that I will have to work. I served as the food & drink editor of my college newspaper and two publications in England. I have visited wineries all over the USA, Europe, and Israel and I am passionate about wine. I am available to start immediately.

*I am not strong nor in shape, but I will be...someday.

And with that, I decided to change my fate and work the land like billions of indivudals before me. These crazy thoughts were validated in my mind 48 hours after sending out this batch of e-mails when Los Angeles was struck by a 5.4 magnitude earthquake. After this event, I thought to myself, if I were to die in this office, that would be pretty lame, and I would not have achieved any sort of fulfillment...What if the quake had been a 6.4 or a 7.4 or an 8.4? I would have been toast and had nothing to show or my 22+ years.

Needless to say, some winos who sympathized with our cause, despite our lack of formal enology experience, started calling back. Within a week, Jeff and I had two job offers: One from a winery in Oregon and one from a winery in Washington. Though living the Napa/Sonoma dream was our first choice due to its proximity to San Francisco (and thus civilization), this was an unlikely reality as the California harvest (located further South) was due to begin in less than a week. We were more than content with having even two options, as we knew that accepting us a package deal would be difficult, as many small wineries only hire one or two "harvest interns" for the season. Because we applied so late into the "staffing season,"  we were lucky to get offers at all...

Please read the following story (author unknown) to rationalize your own thoughts:

* I read this story in THE FOUR HOUR WORK WEEK, which is currently #1 on my Books You Must Read Immediately list...

An American businessman was standing on the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

"How long did it take you to catch them?" the American asked.

"Only a little while" replied the Mexican.

"Why don't you stay out longer and catch more fish?" the American then asked.

"I have enough to support my family's immediate needs" the Mexican said.

"But," the American then asked, "What do you do with the rest of your time?"

The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, t ake a siesta with my wife, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, senor."

The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, and eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise."

The Mexican fisherman asked, "But senor, how long will this all take?"

To which the American replied, "15-20 years."

The Mexican was puzzled. "What then, senor?"

The American laughed and said, "That's the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO (Initial Public Offering) and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions."

The Mexican replied, "Millions, senor? Then what?"

The American said slowly, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos..."

Friday, August 15, 2008

No, Your RSS Feed hasn't gone crazy - Sid the Kid is back!

2 principles:

1. The unexamined life is not worth living.

2. The unlived life is not worth examining.

On May 19, after traveling the world, learning, and writing for the better part of a year, I planted myself in Los Angeles, with the dream of becoming a television/film writer. After spending a couple of weeks applying for jobs and purchasing a car, I landed at The Endeavor Agency, run by Ari Emanuel (the character Ari Gold from Entourage is based on him).  Many smart people told me, "If you put in a year at an agency, you can work anywhere in Hollywood." So, I gave it a shot, and within a week, I was Lloyd from Entourage. But I soon realized that working my way up from the mailroom was not for me. I detested wearing a suit. I detested being a finger jockey tied down to a computer all day to work as an agent's slave. And I detested the 12-hour work day that was more creatively draining than I could ever quantify. 

Oh yeah, and I made $9.40 an hour at Endeavor. For the record, the minimum wage in San Francisco is $9.36 an hour, so I'm making as much money as factory workers, day laborers, janitors - actually I'm probably making far less than these salaried individuals. And I was not given any vacation days nor health insurance.

For example, the other day, when I was having my license plate installed, Mike W., the guy who sold me my car a few months ago (who is a great guy and totally goes against all car salesman stereotypes) told me that I could get my car washed for free while I was at the dealership. He suggested I throw one of the "service" workers a $10 tip in exchange for the free wash.  Mike W. said, "He only makes ten dollars an hour, so it's nice when people help him out." At this point there was nothing but bellyaching laughter inside my head. Not only did I make less money than this unskilled, non-high school educated guy who was washing my car, but he received his hourly wage plus tips. To put this in perspective, my little sister who works as a restaurant hostess and a friend's brother who work as a lifeguard make nearly double what I make per hour.

My conclusion is that the entertainment world is MESSED UP! The reason is that there is high demand to work in the entertainment industry because of the supposed glamour. Yes I was alone with Kevin Bacon in an elevator at Endeavor (I told an intern that whenever you see KB alone you are supposed to shout the name of any actor/actress you think of thereby initiating a game of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon and KB will follow by shouting out another name) and yes I was alone with Sienna Miller (we kept it clean, don't worry)...but other than one awesome conference call with filmmaker Errol Morris and standing next to John Stamos (no talks of a Full House revival, at least not yet) for a few minutes, I was generally just a monkey with zero glamour.

Administrative jobs in the entertainment industry pay low across the board, with a lack of health insurance and other standard benefits as the norm. If there's one union that needs to be formed in America, it is the Hollywood Assistant's Union (Local 90210), as this is the most abused, underpaid, overworked group of individuals I've ever come in contact with in my life.

This leads me into another theory: Why did I go to college? I loved Penn, don't get me wrong, but other than the connections I made from going there, I've realized that I rarely use any of the knowledge that I obtained in the classroom during my "real world" experiences. I'm beginning to see why schools like Drexel and Northeastern focus on "externships" that are practical, real-world applications of what is learned in school rather than classroom learning.

After years of swearing I would never work a low-paying job and even more years of swearing that I would never become some desk jockey, this is what I had become...the tale of my exodus from this world is coming soon...