What You Can Learn from the LA’s Abandoned Street Couches
Archaeologists have long known you can learn heaps about a culture from its trash, and the Los Angeles street couch is no exception. These artifacts say more about us than just laziness. They tell stories of butts and passion and bad television, maybe even birth and death.
Pay enough attention, and you’ll start to realize these couches fit into certain categories, even though they won’t fit into your compact car. Pay enough attention, and a taxonomy appears.
The Cushionless Couch
This is the most common species of Los Angeles street couch, and all sofas without attached cushions meet this fate within a few hours. Those cushions might as well be currency for the homeless, and once they’re stripped, the couch is guaranteed a long life on the curb without any takers.
The Whole Living Room on the Curb
Nothing quite says “forceful eviction” like an entire living room chucked onto the sidewalk. Unlike your regular street-couch sightings, which tend to happen toward the end of the month, the whole living room on the curb can be seen almost any time.
The Young Punks of Disneyland
I’m standing in front of Space Mountain worrrying I won’t be able to find the Neverlanders Social Club. It’s an ordinary Sunday in Disneyland in November—sunny and beautiful in that Californian way and packed to the gills with tourists—and I’m concerned I’ll miss them in all the hubbub. They told me they’d be decked out in their Disney gear, but a lot of people here are wearing park-themed merchandise. Then I see them coming and realize there was no way I could have missed them.
There are more than 30 Neverlanders moving toward me as a pack, cutting a path through the crowd. They’re wearing handmade mouse ears and hats, and many of them are covered in tattoos—they look like one of the minor gangs from The Warriors, or some cult in a postapocalyptic wasteland where Mickey Mouse is worshiped as a deity. Each member has a patch of a character that represents his or her personality—the 30-something couple who founded the club, Angel and Cindy Mendoza, are Donald and Daisy Duck.
Everyone is staring as I walk with them to It’s a Small World, a boat ride at the tip of Fantasyland. As we round the Matterhorn Bobsleds, “regular” park-goers snap photos of the Neverlanders as if they’re celebrities. People point; parents tell their children to take note; jaws drop. Angel says with a shrug that they’re used to this commotion by now. When you’re the biggest Disneyland fans in the world and wear that love on your sleeve—literally—you’re bound to get some odd looks.
Last time we went to one of Corey Feldman’s parties he freaked out and called us a pervert and accused us of photoshopping images to make him look bad. He also banned VICE (and cameras) from future parties. So when his Valentine’s Day party came along, we snuck in and brought illustrator Johnny Ryan with us.
Did you hear? We went to another one of Corey Feldman’s parties. Cameras were banned, so this time we brought artist Johnny Ryan with us.
We Went to Another One of Corey Feldman’s Parties
By now, the tale of woe that is Corey’s Angels is the stuff of legend. We went to his birthday party last year, took a bunch of photos he claimed were doctored to make the party look bad, and then our writer was accused of being a pervert. The irony of Corey Feldman accusing someone of sexual deviancy at a party where he charged men $250 to hang around women in lingerie was clearly lost on him.
After a few weeks of Corey furiously tweeting his displeasure over the article, shit died down. Corey went back to retweeting any and all compliments he could find, and all seemed normal… until we saw an ad for a Corey’s Angels Valentine’s Day party. Which was, naturally, scheduled forFebruary 22nd.
It’d be fair to assume we would have learned our lesson and stayed away this time, but like the producers of Lost Boys 2, we went greedily went back for seconds despite having every reason in the world not to. Through cunning, guile, and perseverance (and a $300 entrance fee), we made it back to the Feldmansion.
Obviously, under no circumstances, would Corey allow someone from VICE back to one of his “parties,” so I came up with a pseudonym and invented the backstory that my guest was from out of town and looking to get crazy. The party had a dress code where all men had to wear suits, so I sucked in my gut and squeezed into my Sunday best. Cameras were banned this time around, so I took the illustrator Johnny Ryan with me to draw what happened.
If $300 seems like a lot for two grown men to go to a party, you’ll be horrified to learn that it almost cost more, as Corey’s assistant called me up and tried to claim that the advertised “Early Bird Special” on their website should have been discontinued before we bought our tickets and that we’d need to give Corey an extra $200. We simply refused to pay more and went on our way.
Jerry O’Connell Is Currently Doing Some Kind of Super Artsy Thing in Los Angeles
Shia LeBeouf’s performance art piece in Los Angeles has changed the way our society looks at celebrity. It’s a groundbreaking work, the likes of which have never been seen before. Obviously, copycats were bound to start springing up, eager to siphon off some creative juice from such an original piece of art. Fortunately, the first one out of the gate to get a taste of the action was My Secret Identity star, Jerry O’Connell, who opened a performance art installation right next door to Shia.
A massive crowd formed, eager to get a glimpse at what their hero had in store for them. Literally, the line was almost all the way to the next storefront. I counted at least fifteen people. It hit twenty at its peak. It was overwhelming, much like Jerry O’Connell’s performance in Kangaroo Jack.
The line for Shia LeBeouf obviously took a massive hit because of Jerry’s presence next door. The only remaining visitors to Shia’s installation were nobodies, tourists, normal people, fatties, and Time magazine writer Joel Stein. I couldn’t be bothered.
There was a real excitement in the air. Everyone was getting into the spirit of things. Especially this guy, who thought to do his own art project on the sidewalk. Thanks to his ingenuity and me being complicit with his attention-seeking, he is now famous. What a paradox. Really makes you think, eh?
As I made my way through the door, a palpable sense of dread overtook me. What could be in store? Surely, I would be learning something about myself, and connecting with a human being in a very real way. I’d definitely cry. He’d definitely cry.
Los Angeles Is Miserable: An Introduction
The second decade of the 21st century might be remembered as a golden age for the city of Los Angeles. In the past five years, America’s second largest metropolis has seenrecord-low crime rates, a slow-and-steady expansion of mass transit options, a rapidly gentrifying urban center that some are calling the “next great American city,” and two NBA championships for our beloved Lakers. Yet a large portion of the city is still totally depressed like it’s 1992 all over again. All those pretty winter landscapes you see on Instagram are actually a sign that 2013 was California’s driest year in recorded history, and that we’ll all be brushing our teeth with toilet water if it doesn’t rain soon. Sure, crime is down and downtown has a bunch of fancy new hotels, but a few blocks from those hotels is the biggest homeless encampment in the nation—Skid Row.
A private, independent commission endorsed by former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa calledLA2020 recently released a controversial report claiming that almost 40 percent of citizens in Los Angeles currently live in “misery.” What qualifies as misery? The report says that poverty and lack of access to necessary services does the trick. It takes only a cursory glance around in any direction, on any street in this city to see the truth of that statistic. Forty percent is a major chunk of a city that boasts a population of over 4 million people—plus neverending suburban sprawl—but the number of people who live in misery in LA is probably even greater than that.
Charles Bukowski Wouldn’t Have Gotten Drunk at a Bukowski-Themed Bar
Charles Bukowski was a drunk. Not just a drunk, but the drunk. Nearly two decades after his death, he remains the patron saint of drunks. That being the case, naming a bar after him makes sense. It’s been done, many times, before: New York City, Glasgow, Boston and Amsterdam all possess watering hole homages to the alpha male author. Santa Monica’s week-old Barkowski can now be added to that list.
The deification of Bukowski, and other tortured, inebriated artists of his ilk, is a task best undertaken by those who have not experienced actual suffering. There is no better place to find said demographic than Santa Monica, California, a bourgeoisie beachside burg more well-known for its outdoor shopping mall than its self-destructive poet population. According to Barkowski’s website, its namesake’s “writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.” Santa Monica is not Los Angeles. Los Angeles, or at least Bukowski’s Los Angeles, is where you go when you want to drink $3 draft beers surrounded by human detritus. Santa Monica, however, is where you go when you want to pay $9 for a poorly poured, half-filled glass of Chimay. Barkowski sells poorly poured, half-filled $9 glasses of Chimay.
Barkowski’s interior is essentially the same as that of its predecessor, the Air Conditioned Lounge; nothing has been done to alter its nondescriptly modern black and red color scheme and padded leather walls. Enormous glamour shots of Buk’ drinking and gazing into the distance, alongside framed printouts of trite quotes about women and incarceration, are the only things that differentiate the new bar from the old. In one photo, he’s shown cradling a Schlitz tall boy; in the interest of synergy, Schlitz tall boys are available at the bar. For $7. If Schlitzes were $7 in Bukowski’s day, he wouldn’t have been able to afford a drinking problem, and Barkowski would have a decidedly different theme (“Papa y Beer Hemingway’s,” perhaps?). When it came to preserving the authenticity of the Bukowski theme, $7 Schlitzes and the “A” health rating sign hanging above the bar were but two of a myriad inaccuracies.
I Spent a Day Exploring Gwyneth Paltrow’s Los Angeles
Early last week, owner of a cursed vagina and mother of Gwyneth Paltrow, Blythe Danner, said that she felt criticism of her daughter was unfair and fueled by jealousy. Speaking to something called Naughty But Nice Rob, Blythe said, “I feel she’s just extraordinarily accomplished in every area and people don’t like that, some people don’t like that, people who are bored and sit on their asses all day and just tap away. I mean I don’t read any of it, I just find it so disgusting.”
My gut feeling was that Blythe’s words were bullshit, and any animosity toward Gwyneth is justified. But I couldn’t think of any specific reasons that I disliked her.
As Einstein or Shakespeare or someone once said, “don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” So, in order to better understand Gwyneth and whether or not my feelings of pure hatred toward her were warranted or not, I decided to spend a day walking in hers. Not literally, obviously. A pair of her shoes probably costs more than I will spend on clothing over the course of my entire life.
Luckily, Gwyneth recently launched something called the Goop City Guides app. Goop, for the unfamiliar, is a lifestyle brand Gwyneth made, seemingly with the intention of rubbing her own charmed existence into the face of anyone who signed up for her weekly mailing lists in the hopes that it would be ridiculous enough to be funny. It never is.
The most recent edition to the Goop empire is the app, which lists all of Gwyn’s favorite spots in Los Angeles, London, and New York. As I’m currently in Los Angeles, I decided to see what she’d recommended here.
The LA section of the app has an introductory video, narrated by Gwyneth, welcoming you to Los Angeles, a place she refers to as, “the city of my birth, the city I always return to and will forever hold a special place in my heart.” As she says this, we see dreamy, sun-bleached shots of the palm trees, florists and markets that populate Gwyneth’s Los Angeles, and none of the homeless people, garbage, and wall-poops that populate mine and everybody else’s.