Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

A little over a year ago, shortly after his election win, Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa was seen on every local Los Angeles television news outlet “aggressively” attacking the LA pot-hole problem by going out into the field and filling those roadway annoyances personally.  Smiling, and with sleeves rolled above the elbow in anticipation of the backbreaking blue-collar work in which he was about to partake, he posed for the media wearing a fashionable workman’s hardhat, and wielding a stout shovel that he deftly used to ever-so-gently pat a smattering of asphalt into a shallow depression on a not-so-busy San Fernando Valley street.  And the media was there to capture it all.

I always sort of knew Villaraigosa was a bit of an attention whore, but at that moment, I had no doubts.  Not that it really matters in the long run, nor is it much of a surprise (the man loves being on TV) but now, thanks to a leaked confidential memo, the entire city of Los Angeles can see what a prima donna our mayor truly is.

I just think it’s kind of funny.  Sometimes, the Los Angeles Times redeems itself.

Detail oriented

The Mayor Needs It — Now

Villaraigosa is no rock star, but he gets the treatment. OK, where are the breath strips?

By Duke Helfand, Times Staff Writer
July 26, 2006
No carbs. Just fish or chicken. And keep a takeout box handy in case he has to rush. Tea, please (green, with four packets of Splenda). Water (bottled, preferably room temperature.) And never leave his sight.

In the year since he became mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa has undergone a transformation from garden-variety public official to something approaching a rock star, drawing crowds wherever he goes.And attending to L.A.’s celebrity mayor — according to a confidential memo — is no small endeavor.

It’s up to a swarm of harried aides to keep the boss hydrated and happy, primped and pampered, ensuring that he has clean hands and fresh breath (he gobbles Listerine strips by the pack).

Villaraigosa is chauffeured around town by police in a black GMC Yukon.

Two personal assistants, assigned to him in alternating shifts, tend to his needs, shadowing him from morning to night and keeping him in view at all times should he need anything. His seven press aides field questions from reporters, arrange news conferences and keep him in the loop about breaking events.

These sorts of details are expected to remain private — part of the stagecraft that keeps the frenetic mayor gliding effortlessly and relaxed through the city.

But the two-page memo, “Staffing the Mayor,” offers a rare glimpse into the mania behind the man. The instructions — distributed to everyone who works for the mayor and obtained by The Times — portray a chief executive focused on detail and comfort, always appearing in control and on message.

“Your job is to remain at all times within the mayor’s line of sight,” the memo states. “You should constantly adjust your position so the mayor can see you and call you over if need be.”

Villaraigosa, of course, is not the only public figure who likes royal treatment.

Some date the current wave of celebrity pampering to a mischievous act by a hard-rock band.

The group Van Halen once placed a clause in its contract requiring bowls of M&M candy, with the brown ones plucked out. The Rolling Stones responded a year later by demanding candy bowls filled only with brown M&Ms. From there, the practice took hold — Britney Spears, for one, demanded full-length mirrors and Pop Tarts in her dressing room — and has eventually crept into politics as well.

Vice President Dick Cheney asks that his hotel room TVs be tuned to Fox News, while Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) crafted similarly picayune requests of hosts during his presidential campaign — right down to his preference for noncarbonated bottled water.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, already a Hollywood celebrity by the time he entered politics, demands that his staff keep rooms cold because he doesn’t like to sweat. And he often travels with a hair and makeup artist (he took one on a trade mission to China last year), a Hollywood speech coach and another personal aide who carries his papers and places important calls.

Villaraigosa comes to his position more modestly but has developed expensive tastes of his own. Once a labor organizer, he now enjoys a good meal and a pricey bottle of wine. On one recent occasion, he asked the chef of a downtown Los Angeles restaurant to prepare his foie gras specially for him, and he selected a $140 bottle of wine, pronouncing it a “good value.”

Villaraigosa’s staff deals with more mundane details: Newcomers receive step-by-step directions for assisting him before, during and after appearances.

Aides are instructed to carry Listerine breath strips, business cards, two pens, a Sharpie marker, a notepad, a small hand sanitizer, bottled water and an extra copy of briefing materials and speech cards.

Assistants also are reminded to greet the mayor at his car when he arrives at an event, giving him “a full breakdown of the situation,” and to arrange seating near an exit “so that he can leave discreetly if need be.” And they are directed to “have backup exits in case a new route is needed to avoid certain situations such as unruly crowd[s], aggressive constituents, protesters or media.”

Staff members must keep an eye on their own behavior as well, staying in constant eye contact with the mayor but not getting too close. “A 3-5 foot distance is usually good,” the memo states.

Aides need to stay alert at receptions and other crowded gatherings where the mayor is schmoozing. “While staffing the mayor your focus should be on him, not on networking or mingling with guests,” the memo states.

And what if the mayor is a no-show?

“Never under any circumstance should you answer why he is not coming if you do not know the answer,” the memo says.

Deputy Communications Director Joe Ramallo downplayed the significance of the instructions, calling them “suggested guidelines” that carried over from the mayor’s two years on the City Council.

“Give me a break,” Ramallo said. “This is a mayor who is more engaged and active around the city than any other in L.A.’s history. By the standards of most officeholders who have much larger staffs, he is not tightly choreographed. You’ve seen him in action.”

Villaraigosa’s exacting attention to detail can include impatience at those who foul him up. He grew visibly frustrated last week when a translation system failed to work adequately during a town hall meeting in South Los Angeles. “Fix it,” he barked.

He shoots annoyed looks at reporters who forget to turn off their pagers or cellphones during news conferences. “I’m a driver,” he said in an interview Tuesday, “but I’m fair.”

Aides get the message — but won’t comment unless their names are withheld, for obvious reasons. “Everything needs to be impeccable,” one said.

“It’s good to keep the boss happy,” another added.

Others outside the mayor’s office know that it’s smart to please Villaraigosa.

Giuliano’s Delicatessen & Bakery on the second floor of City Hall started carrying Listerine breath strips last year after a Villaraigosa aide asked if they were available.

Now a Villaraigosa staff member arrives once or twice a week to buy strips or to pick up a small Cobb salad the deli prepares — without olives or dressing — just for the mayor, manager Raul Medrano said. The breath strips have become so popular that sometimes the deli runs out.

Standing beneath a framed photograph of Villaraigosa and deli employees posing behind the counter, Medrano said, “We go through a case a week.”

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Hey! Here’s a fluff piece on Daryl Hannah and how she managed to get tangled in the tree at South Central Farm. Let’s read, shall we?

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What Sent Hannah up a Tree

By Robert W. Welkos, Times Staff Writer
June 16, 2006

The actress, arrested at a protest this week after 23 days on the urban farm, is no newcomer to activism or environmentalism.

She became a vegan at the age of 11 after she befriended a little calf being hauled by a truck that was parked near a road. The calf kissed her face for about an hour. When the truck driver appeared, she asked him what the calf’s name was. “Veal, tomorrow morning at 7,” he shot back.

Even if there is any truth to this preposterous story, she let a calf lick her face for an hour. An hour! That’s quite a make-out session for human beings, let alone human/bovine.

At 12, she got into a big argument with her father because she didn’t want her taxes ever going to support war. He told her that if she didn’t pay taxes she’d go to jail.

That must explain why she doesn’t work that much anymore–she wants as little of her money to go to taxes as possible so she doesn’t end up supporting war all that much.

The education of Daryl Hannah, activist, was underway.

What we’ve learned so far… men are bad. They eat meat and fight in wars.

As she perched in a walnut tree this week waiting for sheriff’s deputies to arrest her and other protesters at an urban farm in South Los Angeles, it may have seemed that Hannah, now 45, was just another actress parachuting in to generate publicity for another cause.

But that’s probably not true. I’m sure she’s been following the plight of the South Central Farm and the squatters who lived there for years. I’m sure she was an expert on the subject. I mean, what sort of idiot would put themselves out there like that to support a cause they’d only found out about in the last month or so. That’s just ridiculous.

And in fact, publicity is part of what she’s after, Hannah agreed. But unlike some activists in Hollywood, she pointed out, she really tries to live what she preaches.

Take the “graywater system” she uses to irrigate the garden at her house. It’s sinkwater, bathwater, “water used in runoff,” she explained by phone Wednesday afternoon as she prepared to head to an appearance on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”

…who managed to give one of the worst soft-ball interviews I’ve ever seen. Jesus Christ, Larry King suck balls.

Six years ago, Hannah said, she stopped driving cars fueled with petroleum. Now she drives a bio-diesel-powered 1983 El Camino she found on the Internet. Whenever she needs fuel, she orders 55-gallon drums of B-100 bio-fuel, made from recycled grease from fast food restaurants.

Okay, that is kind of cool.

Hannah said she learned of the plight of the urban farmers about a month ago from a friend, environmentalist Julia Butterfly Hill. The farmers were defying a court order to vacate the 14-acre plot at 41st and Alameda streets, which had reverted to private ownership.

“About a month ago?” Only a month ago?! And from someone names ‘Butterfly?’ Jesus. Okay, forget what I said above. Daryl’s an idiot again.

“I was first of all shocked and surprised that I had never heard about this before, having spent so much time in Los Angeles,” Hannah said.

Obviously you’re quite sheltered in your ‘graywater’ compound there, Daryl. The South Central Farm conflict has been in the news for years, and it’s really been front page material for the last six months at least.

The pace of her acting career leaves her time for other projects, such as the “sustainable video-logs” she makes about “inspirational and cutting-edge developments in green culture and lifestyle.” She puts them up on her website, http://www.dhlovelife.com .

‘The pace of her acting career…’ id est, no one’s offering her any work these days so she has plenty of time to fuck around in walnut trees.

‘Blade Runner’ android

A willowy blond whose screen success has fluctuated over the years (that’s one way of putting it), she saw her career revived as the one-eyed assassin Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake) in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” movies. But her favorite role, she said, remains the gorgeous android Pris in Ridley Scott’s 1982 dark, futuristic thriller “Blade Runner.” She also said she loved playing a troubled exotic dancer in 2001’s “Dancing at the Blue Iguana.”

Her real life, at times, generated more publicity than some of her films. For instance, off and on she dated John F. Kennedy Jr.

“At the moment, I don’t have a boyfriend but I have had boyfriends,” she said.

Good for her. I feel better for knowing that.

Her next film is an Italian production to be shot in Spain and Italy. “I think I’m the only English-speaking person in it.”

Because has-beens can’t get work state-side anymore.

She shrugged off the idea that some people joke about the wild characters she has played over the years a mermaid in “Splash,” a buff prehistoric woman in “Clan of the Cave Bear,” a gigantress in “Attack of the 50-Foot Woman.” “That’s what I do for a living. If I just played the girlfriend every time, it wouldn’t be very interesting.”

Yeah, and ‘Clan of the Cave Bear’ and ‘Attack of the 50-foot Woman’ were memorable roles. If you say Daryl Hannah to most people just walking down the street, they’re going to either come back with ‘Splash’ or mermaid, because that’s the only real notable thing she’s done.

And ‘Blade Runner’ is one of my favorite films of all time, which has nothing to do with the fact that Daryl Hannah was in it.

She went to the farm to make “an emergency episode” about its fate for her video-log series.

“I went down there to shoot a segment and fell in love with the farm and the farmers in particular,” she said. “I decided to do what I could to try and purchase the farm on their behalf.”

Come on Daryl. You really tried to do all that you could? Really? Really?

She began calling anyone she knew who might be able to help, including people in politics and entertainment.

“I called Willie Nelson. I called Martin Sheen. I called a ton of people.”

Wow. She can use a phone all by herself.

Hannah also joined Hill and environmental activist John Quigley on a platform about 40 feet up a walnut tree on the property. Quigley, a professional climber, said he trained Joan Baez to climb the tree and she stayed for a night. He also trained Hannah, who spent several nights in the tree, at 12 to 14 hours a stretch.

This is just funny. Quigley trained Baez and Hannah to climb a tree. That’s just hilarious.

The night before the authorities came, Quigley said, Hannah began feeling under the weather and slept in a tent below for a few hours. “On the morning the sheriff showed up, I spotted them and called out. She was on the rope and up the tree in about three minutes. It was an amazing athletic feat.”

Tears fill my eyes, and pride makes my heart swell to know that Daryl Hannah climbed the walnut tree in about three minutes.

Quigley said that a lot of people connected with the protest are concerned because Hannah is taking the brunt of the backlash. “People say, ‘These Hollywood people, why don’t they grow food on their land?’ That sort of thing.”

Well Quigley, Daryl put herself out there as the celebrity who was spearheading this cause, and since we live in a celebrity starved culture, the media is going to latch onto that. I mean, she really didn’t do anything to dissuade news outlets from speaking with her, did she? In fact, it’s apparent from her actions that she encouraged it.

Anyway, who really gives a shit about Joan Baez anymore?

Mark Warford, communications director of Greenpeace USA, noted that celebrity involvement is not always good for a cause.

“There are a ton of lightweights, complete featherweights, who think their name recognition is going to help an issue when all they are really about is just trying to score a headline,” Warford said.


In Hannah’s case, Quigley said, the local farmers have embraced her.

…and helped her bolster her career.

“She’s been living on the farm, interacting with the community, learning about the issue. She has a depth of knowledge and caring for what is going on down there with or without the TV cameras.”

Which is why she went on Larry King Live I’m sure.

Hannah was booked on suspicion of resisting a court order, a misdemeanor.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been arrested,” she said. She said she is “laying my body down on the line.”

How about laying it on some train tracks?

Since her arrest, she said, her phone rarely stops ringing. “Benicio Del Toro just called now. And Los Lobos. People are calling and offering help in droves. I’m cold-calling people I don’t even know.”

So the phone doesn’t stop ringing, but you’re cold-calling people you don’t know?

She was at the farm for 23 days. When the authorities finally arrived to arrest the squatters and pluck her out of the walnut tree, Hannah said a strange peacefulness came over her.

“God, I finally get to take a shit. I’ve been holding it in for 23 days!”

“I knew what I was doing was taking a principled stand. In fact, there was a very strange and unexpected sense of calm that came to me while I was coming down. It made me more confident that I was doing the right thing. I was standing by my convictions and standing in solidarity with these farmers.”

What you were doing was standing on privately owned land, and after repeated requests to vacate those private premises, and with a court-ordered eviction notice, you were rightfully arrested.

Even the police seemed to sense it, she said.

“If you take a principled stand, the Sheriff’s Department will treat you with a lot of respect. They don’t treat you like a criminal who just held up a 7-Eleven. They treated us with a lot of respect and courtesy.”

That’s their job. Plus they were excited they got to meet that mermaid chick.

Hannah was guarded about disclosing where she lives, but in previous interviews she has talked about homes “in the Rockies” and in Malibu.

Hey! Here’s an idea. Why don’t you invite all those squatters who were kicked off of Ralph Horowitz’s property–you know, the ones you were in such ‘solidarity’ with–and have them move into your home, and onto your land, and start growing crops and fruits and flowers.

You obviously don’t mind when it’s on someone else’s land. Why not let them live on yours? No? I didn’t think so. Okay, what about all those celebrity friends who were calling you and supporting you. Maybe they’re open up their compounds and let the squatters in to farm? Yeah, probably not.

Hannah said she believes in “living in a reasonable fashion.”

“What I mean by that is, my house is very tiny. It’s a one-room house, actually. I added a little bathroom and closet on because there wasn’t one.”

It is a stone cabin that used to be a hunting lodge in the 1920s. There is a moss deck that serves as a living room. “And it’s really lovely,” she said. “There is no need to have a billion-square-foot house to live in. People very often think that bigger is better. I just don’t agree. First of all, you wind up rattling around in houses that are not homey.”

I doubt even a hunting lodge from the 20s is all that tiny.

She grew up on the 42nd story of a skyscraper in downtown Chicago. “I had a normal city kid’s life,” she said. “In the summers, which was sort of my saving grace, my father sent us to the same camp that he went to as a kid. It was in the Rockies. You lived in a covered wagon. There was no electricity. You backpacked for two months. You’d groom horses, dig latrines, pitch tents and that kind of stuff. It really taught me about nature and the value of and beauty of being connected to all things. Until that experience, I really felt like an alien in the world. Nothing made sense to me. Once I went to camp, everything made sense.”

Deleted inappropriate comment concerning pedophiliac camp counselors.

Ecological lifestyle

To Hannah, there is no differentiating between being an environmentalist and being an animal-rights activist or humanitarian. “I don’t draw distinctions. If you care about human life, you have to care about the environment. If you care about the environment, do you not care about human life?”

And remaining ill-informed about many of those issues is what makes her so cool.

She doesn’t use just any lightbulb in her stone cabin. She uses compact fluorescent bulbs. “They save energy. Like, for example, you can get a bulb that has lumens power of a 100-watt bulb but it actually only uses 15 watts.” Hannah buys biodegradable household cleaners, laundry detergent, shampoo and dish soap.

[applause applause]

“Why would I want to be eating off a plate washed with chemicals that are toxic?” she asked. “Common sense dictates that if you buy nontoxic products to clean your house, clean your laundry, clean your dishes, even clean your body, you will spend less time going to the doctor.”

I hardly ever go to the doctor (except for regular check-ups), and I eat of chemically cleaned plates, and I wear chemically cleaned clothes. Hmmm… maybe I could have cool telekinetic powers if I used nontoxic products to clean all my stuff. Maybe that’s what I’ve needed all along. And here I’ve been trying to move pencils and bend spoons with the power of my mind for years and all that was keeping me back was all my chemical cleaners. Damn!

All this does not mean that Hannah lives a “frontier house” existence. “I have a computer. I have an iPod.”


“It’s fine if you want to live a Spartan lifestyle and get rid of all your possessions and live like a monk,” she said. “That’s wonderful, but not necessary to live a healthy, sustainable lifestyle.”

And hopefully, this will be the last time I ever mention the name Daryl Hannah.

God, I’m such an asshole.

Currently reading:
Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001
By Steve Coll
Release date: By 28 December, 2004

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I think it's interesting how many insano's, left-wingers (and some conservatives), and in general, conspiracy theorists, maintain such a prodigious faith in the infallibility of George W. Bush and his current government concerning the attacks of 9/11. I personally think Bush and his administration have done a horrible job in general, but particularly with the lack of any sort of prescience (or at least action on what they could piece together) regarding the attacks on our country on September 11th. They're too dumb to have pulled off something like this.

The conspiracy theorists mentioned above however, must have the most heartfelt admiration and confidence in Bush and his ilk to believe that the government could have possibly pulled off something as big and extravagant as the 9/11 attacks, while being able to keep everything so hush-hush. They also must be complete assholes (the conspiracy theorists, not Bush, though Bush is an asshole.)

Anyway, the below clip is a couple of months old, but unfortunately it will continue to be relevant for decades as crazy folk persist in grasping onto tendrils of information that they blow out to ridiculously colossal conspiratorial proportions.

To whomever happens to come to this blog, you know that I hold no credence in 9/11 conspiracy theories. But I'm not an expert. Instead I prefer to point to people more knowledgeable than myself (just about everyone) to argue in detail my basic beliefs–in this case, 9/11 conspiracy theorists are whack-jobs.

This time though, I thought I'd let Penn & Teller speak their mind about this controversial subject. It aired on Showtime's Penn & Teller's Bullshit! a couple of months ago, but as I stated above, this subject will sadly continue it's relevancy for quite a while.

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