Archive: los angeles

Lassen Volcanic National Park

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I can’t tell if the Sierra Nevadas are the most beautiful place on Earth or if it just feels that way because you arrive there via Fresno. Either way, there is a decent collection of mountains, lakes, rivers and volcanoes a few hours from L.A. and it never hurts to spend a weekend camping when Southern California is on fire.


Everyone told us Lassen was better than Yosemite, which I refused to believe. If Lassen was better than Yosemite then I would’ve heard of Lassen. There aren’t many poems and works of art about flying into Sacramento. But after this trip I can unconfidently say, yes, Lassen is better than Yosemite. In fact, out of all the national parks on this silly adventure to see them all, Lassen might be the best of the bunch.


That’s not to say it’s the most beautiful or awe-inspiring, it doesn’t come close. Zion and Yellowstone can smite down Lassen like a freshman trying to sit at the senior table. But it has all the beauty, scenery and relaxation of the best parks in the system without the tour buses. Lassen isn’t the most jaw-dropping national park in the country, but in terms of getting out of town and camping in paradise for a weekend, it’s hard to beat. When we crossed the Canadian Rockies, traversed Yosemite and Zion, we were racing motorcades of tour buses and getting elbowed by tourists and poked by selfie sticks. Lassen is a few hours away with a tenth of the visitors (400K to 4 million), even though we make up the deficit by hitting the car alarm button the middle of the night.


We started the trip with what’s becoming my latest national park pastime: dodging suicidal animals with an SUV in the dark. This time the West Texan bunnies were replaced by Northern California deer. The one-hour drive up the mountain at 9pm was spent slamming the brakes as antlers and eyes darted along the side of the road like an 80s arcade game. Sort of like a Grand Theft Auto version of the E.T. Ride.


Day two we lucked out with the Bumpass Hell trail by arriving on the first day it was open for the season due to snow and ice, which, I apologize for this, meant we got to throw snowballs in Hell. It was a three-mile hike to one of the largest thermal vents outside Yellowstone, which belched up steam like a Turkish bath. We took the King’s Falls trail along a creek that cut through some meadows. Then circled Manzanita Lake doing our best to hope that none of our tens of thousands of mosquito bites contained any Zika.


Per usual for any national park adventure, the largest group of visitors were from Germany. I have no idea why this is, but anywhere we go in the world – Vietnam, Australia, the furthest reaches of Texas and the Sierra Nevadas – we always encounter people on vacation from Bavaria. I have a feeling that if we were to spelunk down an ancient cave in Central America and push aside a hidden door to find Mayan ruins leading to an untouched palace, waiting for us would be a guy named Hans telling us about a great schnitzel place in Munich. I’m pretty sure there are no Germans in Germany, but rather roaming the world with a sensible supply of sunscreen and hiking poles.


On day three we took the long way back to the airport, driving north on the Volcanic Legacy trail with Mount Shasta 50 miles in front of us. It was a quarter-mile hike through the pitch black subway cave, which provided some excellent opportunities to scare the hell out of people (“What’s the date? No, the year. The year!!!”). Then one more hike at McArthur-Burney Falls State Park. The falls were around an hour north of Lassen and looked like someone took a small chunk of Brazil’s Iguazu falls, or the setting for a reality show date, and stuck it in Northern California.


But the best part of the morning was definitely admiring the small coalition of Pacific Crest Trail hikers we encountered. As they took down camp, filtered water and lifted 50 pounds on their backs in the midst of their 500-mile hike, I checked the tire pressure in my Avis rental and ensured we hadn’t lost our phone chargers. Pretty much equally badass.


All-in-all it’s way better to be underrated than overrated. You can do whatever you want, you’re never accused of selling out and you avoid the downfalls to fame and celebrity that comes with being overrated. The Grand Canyon is super sexy, but it’s dealing with the drug addiction, STDs and recklessness that accompanies fame. Meanwhile just a few hours away from L.A. and S.F. is a little indie rocker putting on an amazing show and couldn’t care less if you notice or not. Even if the only other people at the show are a group of loyal Germans who you see at every single show.


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How I Hate This Horrible Gluten Allergy that Plauges My Girlfriend And Keeps Her Super Hot


Curses to this terrible, debilitating scourge of a disease. There aren’t enough words in the most destructive passages of the Holy Bible to convey my hatred for Celiac Disease. Because of this devilish plague that has stricken my beautiful and youthful girlfriend, she is sadly the victim of a disease that makes her super hot. It breaks my heart every day.


I wouldn’t wish this disease upon my greatest enemies, let alone my cherished love, with whom I spend every opportunity to admire her super hotness. If it weren’t for her daily struggles having to eat healthy, wholesome, gluten-free foods, I would identify myself as the real victim in this tragedy. Some would say that it’s just as difficult to watch her battle as it is for her to experience the fight itself.


Whether it’s beer, pizza, fast food, sandwiches or almost any brand of junk food, I shed rivers of tears that my super hot girlfriend is forced to seek a healthy alternative. While I dine on greasy pizza that rains melted cheese down my chin, I feel the beating heart of tragedy for her dilemma. Because of this plague placed upon her, I am forced to deal with a skinny, healthy hottie with the body of an ageless Goddess.


Sometimes I feel as though we, as a couple, are making the sacrifices for people dealing with Celiac Disease, just the same way as Jesus did for humanity’s sins. It is our responsibility to suffer a martyr’s struggle against fattening foods so that awareness shines upon the issue. And just as Jesus Christ before us, the result of this travesty is tight abdominal muscles.


I only wish there existed a way to solve this issue, but fighting fire with fire only magnifies the issue. If we stare this gluten issue in the face and consume the sweet nectar of cholesterol and carbohydrates, it quickly backfires in the most literal sense. Such is the evils of gluten. When she consumes the banned substance, her traitorous body reacts in such a violent way that she becomes even skinnier. I have tried numerous times by secretly sneaking gluten into her meals, but the result is always the same. Damn you, Celiac Disease. Damn you.


I refuse to allow her suffering to go in vain. Even though her hips and belly stay put while the gluten-eaters we envy get larger and larger, I am a staunch advocate for widening the issue. I urge her, and other women who are plagued by a gluten allergy, to take on other allergies in the cause.


If these model-esque, skinny, beautiful women, like the girl who I fell in love with the very first day we met, compliment gluten allergies with lactose intolerance and negative blood-sugar levels, the point will be made. Men will be forced to gaze upon our taut girlfriends who suffer these indignities every day. The pain inflected by our empathy will be overwhelming.


We need to address the problem, draw attention to the issue and promote the disease among as many women possible. It is the only way to accomplish real and effective change. Maybe there will be a day that my girlfriend can eat fattening foods again. I fear every single day that such an event will occur at a very distant time from now. Far, far in the future. Until then, we will do what every other victim of Celiac Disease can do. We can only do our best.

Is There a Helipad On Top of My Fucking Apartment I Don’t Know About?

I'm trying to sleep, guys

Living near the intersection of Sunset and La Brea in Hollywood sort of feels like living in a freshman year college dorm. Whoever was there before you was like, “This place was already fucked.” Everyone just drove across the country to chase their dreams just to find that the neighborhood of Hollywood is one strip club after another.

But all of this fails to explain why helicopters hover just outside my bedroom window at all hours of every single fucking night.

Seriously, is this out of spite? Do we need the 2 A.M. traffic report? Can’t we have a less wake-everyone-the-fuck-up in the middle of the night way of shining a bright light on the looter. Or, y’know what? Let the thief get away. Waking up the entire district of failing creatives in Hollywood can’t be worth that much less than a flat screen TV, can it? Right?

If we live in the neighborhood of Hollywood then our lives suck enough. Can’t we at least get one night of uninterrupted sleep per week? One. That’s all I’m asking for. I will continue to contribute my failures and taxes to the city of Los Angeles in exchange for one helicopter-free night. We did the whole 405-closure thing for an entire weekend. Can’t they keep Black Hawk Down grounded for a single evening? Read more

Outdoor Movies Los Angeles – 2011

2011 Outdoor Movies in Los Angeles. Click on the marker for that location’s schedule, also printed in text below. More locations and films are announced throughout the summer.

View 2011 Outdoor Movies Los Angeles in a larger map

Cinespia – Cemetery Screenings at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery

May 14 – Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
May 21 – The Shining
May 28 – Vertigo
May 29 – Young Frankenstein

Outdoor Cinema and Food Fest – Various locations around downtown

May 28 – There’s Something About Mary – LA State Historic Park
June 4 – Unforgiven – Exposition Park
June 11 – Goodfellas – Exposition Park
June 18 – Old School – Exposition Park
June 25 – The Terminator – Exposition Park
July 2 – The Matrix – LA State Historic Park
July 9 – Edward Scissorhands – TBA
July 16 – Office Space – Grand Hope Park
July 23 – Reservoir Dogs – Exposition Park
July 30 – LA Confidential – LA State Historic Park
August 6 – Fargo – Exposition Park
August 13 – Fight Club – Exposition Park
August 20 – Raiders of the Lost Ark – La Cienega Park
August 27 – Mamma Mia! – Poinsettia Park
September 3 – Close Encounters of the Third Kind – LA Port, San Pedro

Movies on the Terrace – Century City Mall

June 16 – Mama Mia! Sing-a-Long
June 23 – Jurassic Park
June 30 – Desperately Seeking Susan
July 7 – Anchorman
July 14 – Sixteen Candles
July 21 – Joe Versus the Volcano
July 28 – Jumanji
August 4 – My Big Fat Greek Wedding
August 11 – Babe
August 18 – Teen Wolf
August 25 – 50 First Dates
September 1 – Jaws
September 8 – Karate Kid
September 15 – School of Rock

Are The “If You See Something, Say Something” Signs on The L.A. Metro Sarcastic?

I noticed recently that the Los Angeles bus and subway system has instituted the “If you see something, say something” campaign to keep citizens alert of suspicious activity. Am I the only wondering what kind of a pathetic terrorist would take out his attack on the Los Angeles Metro?

For starters, what is the point the terrorist is going to make? If he sets off a dirty bomb laced with C4, nails and shrapnel and blew the entire bus or subway car to pieces, he would kill me and five Mexicans. I am not ready to be memorialized by a bunch of photos of the Virgin Mary, plastic flowers and candles bought at The Dollar Store because a terrorist didn’t know how Los Angeles transportation worked.

You know what constitutes suspicious activity on the Los Angeles subway? Riding the Los Angeles subway. “Who is that guy? He doesn’t look homeless. He might even have a girlfriend. Oh my God, he’s speaking English, call the policia!” Read more

Big Bear Vacation Video

Big Bear is located two-and-a-half hours East of Los Angeles and features some of the best – and only – skiing within two-and-a-half hours of Los Angeles.

Directions: Take the 210 until you go uphill. When you hit water, you’re there.

It is a nice mix of local restaurants and shops that are owned by people who live elsewhere and are staffed by minorities that the real locals hate. Throw in a whole lot of yuppies and you have yourself a vacation destination!

Things I Miss About New York: Racing to Read the End of the Chapter Before the Subway Doors Open at My Stop

This shouldn’t be a nostalgia day. It’s a perfect seventy degrees in the Southland while NYC is getting knocked with those freezing water rain pelts (I think there is another word for this).

I was just thinking about how all the fun has been taken out of reading ever since I moved west. This is partly due to the fact that no one reads books on the other side of the Rocky Mountains, so you can’t really talk about anything you’ve read, and – most importantly – appear intelligent. I think the thing that’s missing most, though, is that I no longer have subway car doors to race when the end of the chapter is in sight.

This is much more exciting than it should be, yet with all the competing media to get my entertainment dollar, it’s freaking awesome. The drama starts a few stops before you get to where you’re going. Let’s say you turn the page and it’s a full block of text without any of those little dot things (again, probably a word for this) to break up the page. And no one wants to put their bookmark between two pages full of text. That’s insane. In-sane.

But then you turn the next page and see that the chapter is over in around seven paragraphs. Then the conductor says your stop is next, and IT. IS. ON.

This is Waiting for Superman times a thousand. We can get kids to read without having them get smarter or ditch their video game mentality. I never absorb a single word under this kind of pressure, but I sure as hell am going to have my eyes cross every single letter. That’s part of the game. There are no cheat codes when it comes to beating the subway doors to the end of the chapter.

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Unfortunately, the closest equivalent to this in L.A. is trying to read without getting into a ten-car pile-up on the Santa Monica Freeway. While fun, the risk-reward ratio is obscene.

The bus isn’t the same. First, no one can read on a bus. L.A. is pot-holed enough, and the city decided to save money by not adding shock-absorbers to the Metro fleet. And things aren’t working out in your life well at all if you’re on the bus in the first place. You’e not going to sweep all those problems under the rug because you got your hands on the New York Times Bestseller List.

This is motivation in its own right to build the L.A. subway to parts of town where people live and want to go. Sure, you can read and race the L.A. subway doors, but there isn’t all that much drama when the train is going to the corner of Western and Normandie before you have to wait an hour for the next bus to get your unemployment check. At least on the bright side, after you have received your last explanation of benefits, you have something to peruse for the long ride home.

I Suck At Dating In L.A. For The Same Reason That Finches on Each Galapagos Island Have Different Beaks

After three years of living in Los Angeles, it’s become obvious that all the genetic dispositions and traits I adapted to thrive in New York’s dating scene are completely useless when dating in Los Angeles. As an east coast sarcastic Jew, I was clearly bred with the ability to pass on my DNA in environments that only exist east of the Appalachian Mountains.

I’m not complaining about this, and it makes perfect sense, but there is really no difference between by ineptness at dating in Los Angeles and why finches on different Galapagos Islands have a wide assortment of beak shapes. Dating in New York versus Los Angeles is no different from how finches on the island where they need long and narrow beaks to get worms out of rocky crags are different from those that need stout and firm beaks to break open hard fruits.

It seems like there were a lot of opportunities for a dirty pun in that previous sentence, all of which were missed. The point is that if you’ve been genetically designed to succeed in New York’s dating scene then you can thrive there. You can be smart to the point of pretentiously douchy, you can speak in nothing but sarcasm, you can talk about books and ride the subway to a park or go for a walk or catch a show. Basically being a Jew is very helpful in New York’s dating scene. That’s your beak.

But if you asked a girl out in Los Angeles by seeing if she wants to ride the subway to a city park and talk about books? You’d probably have a Twitter post written about how creepy you are before she’s hung up the phone on you. And books? I have gone on at least three dates with girls who have said, flat out, “I don’t read.” How do you not read? Who doesn’t read? I’m shocked by this. Is this a real thing? Do you look at signs and just refuse to accept them? “Sorry officer, maybe there was a stop sign there, maybe not. I don’t read.”

That actually brings up the question as to whether or not you can get out of tickets by saying that you can’t read.

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The point, though, is that skills that make you attractive in one place are useless in others. For example, the whole short Jew intellectual thing thrives in New York and fails in L.A., but what about the tall, stupid, muscular guys who favor diamond-encrusted Melrose Boulevard button-down shirts with images of dragons fighting leopards on the back? Sure they do great here, but where’s the sympathy for these fellas when they stroll across 72nd Street and Amsterdam?

It doesn’t have to be L.A. and New York either. Consider other nations. Chinese and Japanese people are weird as all hell, but they have bred the largest – and most insular – populations in the world. Maybe there is a Galapagos finch with a beak that likes to bathe in dead fish blood, as most Japanese people enjoy doing. Yet when they come to Mississippi, all of a sudden they have trouble picking up the cute Southern Belle sitting on her porch (I imagine that all women in the South spend their days sitting on porches). There are also the unique cases of species that can thrive on other islands without competitions, like how rabbits came to Australia and decimated the landscape without opposition. This is like when anyone with an English accent comes to America and can bang (sorry, ehem, shag) anything that moves.

If there is any case for evolution and debunking intelligent design, then it’s not what Darwin discovered on the Galapagos. It’s how those same theories apply when I try and be sarcastic to a girl in Los Angeles. If there was any sort of intelligent design, then I’m sure I would have some of it, and I could move across the country and still get laid. But as it is now, God has left me to my own devices. And my own Jewy beak.

Death Valley Vacation Video

This trip was back in November. About a six hour drive from Los Angeles. I-15 towards Vegas, route 127, then 178 into the park. Stopped by Badwater Salt Flats, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Then around Artists Palatte (purty rocks) and up to Dante’s View, which looks down on the whole valley. Camped one night in Furnace Creek then hiked around the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, saw some charcoal kilns and headed back to L.A.

Auto-Reply E-mail: Drunk In The Office For the World Cup

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