30 July 2008
I haven’t written a blog entry in more than 3 weeks. I think about it – I do. And then I just say, “eh?” and lie down on the couch reading historical novels. And I realized that this happens every year to me around this time: My Summer Ennui.
It’s about this time of year that it hits me that it is, in fact, summer and that all this hot weather and tank tops aren’t going to be going away any time soon. I can’t write because I CANNOT THINK IN THIS HEAT.
I’ve lived in much hotter places, like Los Angeles, but this Belgian 80° F (26°C) stuff is still too hot for me. It will all be too much for me when I am an old woman and I imagine I will have to retire somewhere like Siberia to avoid it all.
Why does anyone like hot weather? It’s so inhumane! How does anyone sleep in the heat? I can’t! If I lived in some equatorial region I would quite literally never sleep. I would roam the streets at night looking for air-conditioned bars. Sleeping in the heat is unbearable. I can’t get comfortable by scrunching the duvet in some direction, and usually one mosquito who found a way to sneak in to our house will spend the entire night buzzing around my head. And if I’m lucky, if I’m lucky one of my cats will leap on my head in an attempt to get to the mosquito. If I’m even luckier my cat will eat said mosquito whilst perched casually across my face while another cat tries to tackle him to get the mosquito away from him. I will mumble, ”There’s a person under here!” feebly from under the cat heap but it will be to no avail.
Then during the day: What to wear? If I wear jeans I’m too hot. If I wear a skirt, my legs are too white. And a jacket is right out of the question. I love wearing jackets. They’re sort of my “thing”. I remember years ago when I was still living in Los Angeles, I had this wonderful oh-so-hip jacket that I liked to wear everywhere I went. Since I usually only emerge in the early evening it wasn’t too much of a problem, but I do remember there was this one occasion where it was unbearably hot and I was wearing my jacket walking down the street towards a gig. I was in a horrible mood because of the heat and I was eagerly anticipating the cool slap of air-conditioning that would hit me upon entering the club. So this lady stops me on the street and says, ”Aren’t you hot in that jacket???!!” and I shouted, ”Yes! It’s too fucking hot in this city! Why do people live here??!!” Then I let out a random scream of embarrassment and ran away. I looked back and she was just standing there looking at me like I was crazy. And maybe I was. But I never would have got that crazy if there had been a cool breeze.
Another time I had to go to this stupid job interview that was clear across Los Angeles and there was a heat wave and it was about 104° F (40°C) outside and I had to drive there and I didn’t have air conditioning in my car.
The directions I had to follow were ridiculous and I’d had to wear nylons because I needed to look “officey”, so I was basically encased in synthetic fabrics in the pounding heat, and there was hardly a breeze because traffic was at a standstill in so many places. I was miserable and sweating and then I started crying because I still had to work a day job because I didn’t have a trust fund like so many of the other comedians and my only other option would have been to work comedy clubs on the road and clearly I didn’t want to do that because that would have meant a whole life of driving to Godforsaken places in my non-air-conditioned car. I was sobbing like a baby and people in air-conditioned cars next to me were staring at me.
When I finally got to the job interview I was 45 minutes late because of the traffic and I was so covered in sweat that I looked like I’d just fallen in a pond, and to top it off, unbeknownst to me at the time, all that crying had made my eye makeup run down my face in a blurry blackness. Plus I had a pounding headache which was probably the beginning stages of Heat Stroke, so my mood wasn’t at its’ best.
When some colleague of the person I was supposed to interview with said that because I was late everyone I needed to talk to had just gone to lunch and I’d have to wait nearly 2 hours, I think something rather important in my brain just snapped. I didn’t say a word, I just walked outside, opened my water bottle, poured it over my head, and headed home. As I was walking toward my car, I glanced over my shoulder and the colleague person was staring at me through a window like a frightened prairie settler.
Later, the employment agency that had set me up with that interview left a message on my phone machine reprimanding me for my Very Strange Behavior. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job.
Not my fault though. It was the heat.
05 July 2008
I have been living outside the US for 9 years; first in the UK, and now in Belgium. That’s a pretty significant amount of time. Enough time that my accent has long since lost that nasally twang and now hovers rather indefinably somewhere over the mid-Atlantic, I’ve accepted that ice cubes aren’t always present in drinks and I’m totally OK with the concept of instant coffee. I’ve adjusted fine; it’s American friends I talk to on the phone occasionally who haven’t.
Every year around this time I have a conversation that goes something like this:
FRIEND/RELATIVE IN AMERICA: So what do Belgians do for the 4th of July?
ME: The same thing they do on the 3rd of July.
F/R.I.A: they celebrate it for two days??
ME: No, they don’t celebrate it at all. It isn’t a Belgian holiday.
F/R. I.A: So how are you going to be celebrating it?
…And it is at this point that I wonder if they honestly imagine me standing in the middle of a Belgian street dressed all in red, white and blue, a hotdog in one hand and a sparkler in the other as the Belgians go about their normal activities around me.
And that would be a vegetarian hotdog by the way.
I’ve been a vegetarian for 20 years! There isn’t anyone I know who doesn’t know this! And yet still I also get phone calls in November asking, “What are you doing for Turkey Day?”
Do these particular Americans not remember how I was with the 4th of July when I was there? It has never been my thing. Why would I participate in a holiday that revolves around 3 things that I’m against: Meat, Fireworks, and Blistering Sunshine? Fourth of July parties were always an ordeal for me of having to bring my own package of Vegetarian hotdogs and then spending half the party standing there supervising while they were on the grill to make sure no one let them touch the meat. Then I’d hunt around for a bit of shade to sit in and watch as everyone else ate the rest of my Veggie Dogs (because they taste much better than the meaty ones).
Then just as I’d be nicely settled into a lawn chair drinking a Piña Colada and perhaps having a nice conversation, the party host would invariably shout, “Come on everyone! Let’s head down to the beach to see the fireworks!!” …No, let’s stay here where the beer and chairs are, I would think, but I’d end up getting swept along with everyone else. At that point my mood would begin to plummet as I overanalyzed the banality of it all.
Yes, I am the Ebenezer Scrooge of Independence Day.
Fireworks are like The Emperor’s New Clothes and everyone reacts with “Ooohs” and “Aaaaaahs” as if reading from a script. I can think of very little less impressive than fireworks. They are so predictable: They go up as one little light and then they burst into a big flower shape. Yawn! Once you’ve seen one fireworks display, you’ve seen them all. The only skill involved is that the people setting them off manage to light the fuse without blowing their hands off. Whoop-de-do. And every year some kid somewhere does manage to blow a body part off. Who ever came up with the idea of marketing explosives as entertainment? …”Here, kids, here’s something with gunpowder in . Have fun!! Whoops! Don’t light it in your hands, you might – -“ KERPOW!! …..Ooooooh! Aaaaaaah!
This year some of our friends invited us over for a “4th of July party for Jovanka” which was really just an excuse to get together and drink some beer. No barbecue, no blistering sunshine, and no fireworks. Just the way I like it.
03 July 2008
So I was out for a walk the other day and I saw this car. Luckily I still have the camera that I “borrowed” from The Russian a few weeks ago so I took a picture of it.
I couldn’t figure out what they were trying to say here. Was it a statement? Was it a request? Had they just got through seeing The Secret and they were “putting it out in the Universe”? Did whoever owned the car also have cars with the words, “Money” and “A Stable Relationship” emblazoned on them?
I spent enough years in Los Angeles to have personally witnessed the High Priest and Priestess of self-promotional vehicles owners; Dennis Woodruff and Angeleyne, respectively.
Angeleyne is the lesser of the two. She began her quest for Fame on a series of billboards in Los Angeles.
Her goal? To be famous. Period. She wasn’t an actress or a singer or even a model; she just wanted to be famous for nothing, making her perhaps the only truly honest person in Hollywood, also one of the few truly successful ones. She wanted to be famous for nothing; She is famous for nothing. Mission Accomplished! She’s so famous that people, including me, would squeal with delight whenever they’d spot her in her signature pink corvette.
I once made a wish in my mind while I was driving late one night, then I stopped at a red light and she stopped right next to me. And the next day the wish came true! Coincidence?! I hardly think so, my friend.
Dennis Woodruff’s story is a little more involved and far freakier. Legend has it that he came to Hollywood in the 1970s to be a star, it wasn’t working out, so he started decorating his car (which he was living in) with pictures of him in the windows and crazy colors and the plea, “Cast Me” lest you weren’t getting the message.
Every time he got a different car he would doll it up in the same fashion.
Meanwhile he started making his own independent films, which he would sell out of the back of his car. At first, people thought he was just crazy. But after several years of this he began to gain a little respect as a Hollywood fixture. Hollywood hipsters started paying big bucks for his cars and he started having cult appeal and getting cast in films – his little plan had worked! Oh don’t get me wrong, he was still crazy, but in Hollywood “crazy” sells as long as it’s packaged right.
What gets me is why this elusive thing called “Fame” is something that people think they want. It seems to me that fame would be a rather huge pain in the ass. Famous people are constantly scrutinized. They are followed and photographed and examined by a maniacal portion of the public who are waiting to see them at their worst so they can hold up pictures of them and scream, “See? Those famous people are all idiots!!” when all the time they themselves would like nothing better than to become one of Those Famous People.
Why? Can you imagine how annoying it must be to constantly be interrupted and be made to sign a piece of paper that is being shoved under your face? And by the way, what are autographs for, anyway? A sort of “I was there” proof that you actually “met” (accosted is more to the point) that particular celebrity? Surely something is wrong with the state of your relationships if your friends demand written proof? And then who’s to say that you didn’t just scribble the word “Madonna” on that napkin yourself? It doesn’t sound like your friends are trusting you much there buddy, so unless they’re expert handwriting analysts, you’re going to have to do a lot better than that. Can you get a DNA sample next time?
I’ve had teeny tiny tastes of fame, and that was enough. Not for me, thanks. It feels decidedly odd to have people grinning at you like you’re some sort of Circus Freak just because they saw you on Tee Vee the night before. If I ever did accidentally become actually famous, I would hire an actress to do all my interviews and public appearances. She’d be the one having to constantly worry about her weight and what her hair looked like, while I’d be in a back room somewhere eating pizza and speaking into a prompter she’d be wearing so she’d have clever things to say. This way if someone criticized “Jovanka”, I’d be able to disassociate myself from “her” and join in the gossip saying, “Yes, she has got really fat lately……Bitch”.
But whatever I say on the subject, people will continue to pull silly stunts in the quest for notoriety. Maybe Dennis Woodruff has developed an international following, with people from different corners of the globe aspiring to his greatness.
Still it’s interesting to note that when some Belgian guy saw this:
He decided to pare it down, remove all the bells and whistles and produce this:
No nonsense, straight and to the point. Because Belgians don’t go for all that crazy stuff.