LA Unconfidential #4
April 30, 2000
Welcome to Redondo Beach, my new home. I’m in recovery after my initial conniption about living in a place featured so prominently in a Beach Boys song. I moved today, so y’all can come visit, now. Before, you would have been snuggling up next to me at the un-homey Homestead Village. As of today there’s a spare bedroom here for any of you who want to take part in the sport of visiting giddy mischief upon the unsuspecting locals. Just as soon as I figure out how to work the garage door, I’ll be seriously dangerous.
The experience of finding and moving into a new home has proven to me that “Internet time” has ramifications beyond the obvious. Normally, I can’t stand spending money on things I don’t really want. When you move into a new place, in a country with different voltage standards, you’ve gotta fork out for a whole lot of stuff that brings none of the normal joy of a consumer frenzy: washing machine, refrigerator, vacuum cleaner and an unintoxicating list of other crap that distracts disposable income away from real priorities, like a candy-ass red convertible.
In real life, you can ameliorate the pain of draining the sports car fund by buying second-hand. And, normally, that’s how I walk away from the process thinking I’m pretty smart to keep my shekels from gracing a retail margin. So, off I went this morning, driving around looking at four-year-old Maytags. My forbearance—normally short-wicked enough to stump an atomic clock—has definitely been influenced by my new professional environment. I gave in to the “fuck it” paradigm in record time. After about the third classified ad-inspired suburban appliance inspection, I ran stop signs on the way to Best Buy, collared a sales guy, and had him walk me around the store telling me what to get. Done in 46 minutes. Right down to the freakin’ ironing board.
Why’s that Internet time? Because with the time I saved, I went to the office.
Actually, shopping with the salesman at Best Buy was perversely fun. Guys know how to shop without turning it into Gestalt experiential therapy. It’s hunt and kill, not gaze in wonder. But you still do a weird kind of dance. Two guys talking about spin cycles, for instance, is hilarious. Both he and I knew, beyond any whisker of doubt, that I would never, ever give a spin cycle another thought regardless of the length of my natural life. But there we both were, doing our level best to pretend that spin cycles really are pretty damn important. And I have now thought more deeply about reverse agitation than I ever conceived possible. Don’t even get me started on automatic fabric softener dispensers.
On much more important matters, I have been startled to realize that, because of my move, I have to re-learn a bunch of stuff about which I was once confident. California wine doesn’t taste like Aussie wine. And before you get your panties in a wad with the exhalative force of your “No duh!”, consider for a minute just how weird it would be if, all of a sudden, a chardonnay didn’t taste like a chardonnay anymore, and a merlot washed over your tongue like some alien elixir. Having to taste varietals with which I thought I was familiar, seemingly for the first time, is disorienting to the amateur wine wanker such as I. It’s also a good excuse to drink buckets of the stuff in the name of re-education.
A brief professional update: work continues to get more challenging and more fun each week. Another day passes and I’m further behind. In the course of normal daily work, there is no way to avoid rounding corners that reveal new alleys of activity demanding pursuit. It is the source of fascination and frustration, excitement and anxiety. At a start-up, there is no way to “get all caught up”. It even exceeds consulting in its relentlessness. For those of us who are dysfunctionally intense about our passions, it is a candy store.
The biggest event in the last work week was an addition to my little Media and Content team: a web editor. This is a strange beast. Like almost all ‘net job titles, this one is almost meaningless, yet no web-based company can function without such animals. If you buy them at maturity—which comes not only after puberty, but also after the exhaustion of any fascination with Starbuck’s products—they command a pirate’s chest of Doubloons. You can, however, grow your own, which is my approach. High risk, but cheaper and more fun. I just hope she can spell.
For those of you who have been occasionally replying to L.A. Unconfidential, keep your e-post-it notes coming. In a land of 300 million people and no dinner date, your offerings, however brief, however filled with what might otherwise be considered trivial drivel, are a lifeline. And I’ll accept them as the best you can do if you’re too damn lame to come visit.