Thursday, March 27, 2008

z-list celebrity

here's some LADD trivia: in addition to heading LADD publicity, judy gloom also serves as league archivist.

over the years, the Dolls have amassed treasure trove of media footage, which i diligently collect on DVD, inventory, and promptly toss into a box at the bottom of my closet labeled "LADD archive." i have long wanted to put our footage on this "interweb" all the young people are abuzz about, but i am just a crotchety old analog archivist, content to while away the years the inside my closet, crotch full o' cobwebs, buried half-alive in documents, subsisting on a diet of silverfish.

in truth, i was lacking the software, disk space and time to convert the dvds and upload them. fortunately, a benevolent friend of the Dolls, the type of guy who has done so much to earn his title of LADD Athletic Supporter, stepped up to help me out. hooray! LADD TV is now live on youtube.

of special interest to the Hollywood Librarian's readership is the No Reservations segment, filmed about a year and half ago at the old Doll House, which you can watch here.

this is a photo from that shoot, taken outside phillipe's original, home of the french-dipped sandwhich. it appeared in Anthony Bourdain's book, No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach. a couple of months ago, i was "recognized" at the gym from the photo in this book.

and once, i played a nurse in a music video.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


before the fight crew/sirens game on saturday, i was approached by ref and long-time LADD athletic supporter, BK.

BK: i spent some time reading your blog this morning.
JG: oh really? how did you find it?
BK: i was just looking up some stuff online, and happened across it.

here i waited, anticipating some kind of commentary, obligatory or otherwise, e.g. "good stuff," "what drivel!" "you need more cat photos," or "stop crying about your ankle already," but nothing followed, and i felt compelled to fill the weird silence.

JG: yes. i have a blog. i write things on the internet where anyone can read them.

we stared at each other for a few seconds before he skated away.

with the exception of georgia, i sometimes forget that people read this thing, and BK's comment (or lack thereof) served as a reminder. it further reminded me of the ambivalence i feel at the prospect of people actually reading what i write in this very public place.

unrelated: i have felt especially pressed for time lately, which is odd because i only do paid work about 23 hours a week. this does not include commuting, and all of the volunteer PR work i do for the LADD, but still, it's not like i'm held captive inside a library or office 40 hours a week.

because of this perceived time crunch, i have become more determined to milk the maximum potential from every minute of my day. for example, i will listen to fiction on my ipod while washing the dishes. right now, i am blogging from the reference desk at work. and last week, i ate my lunch on the bus, en route to the gym from the library. as i ate my pasta from its Tupperware container, i listened to a short story on my ipod. next to me sat a prune-faced woman wearing a head scarf (who would not have looked out of place in a russian bread line), happily popping ruffles potato chips into her puckered mouth.

i am pretty sure that eating on the bus is unhygienic, and quite possibly disgusting by most people's standards. i am probably two steps away from eating my dinner while sitting on the toilet, which is, of course, efficiency incarnate.

speaking of questionable hygiene, last night i had dinner with the aforementioned georgia and kathy at a relatively new vegan restaurant - the kind of place where i think you may need a tattoo to get through the door. the food was yum, exotic beer was on tap, and we had to raise our voices only slightly to be heard over the vaselines blasting in the background. as i was finishing up my delicious tacos, i took note of a pine cone-sized roach scuttling down the wall. i considered whether or not to point out this six-legged patron to my companions, but decided that i didn't want to potentially spoil what was left of our dining experience. shortly thereafter, i excused myself to the bathroom. upon my return, i was greeted by georgia with: "OMG! we just saw two huge roaches!"

so my new my buddy had a partner in crime!

the three of us concluded that no roach(es) could keep us away from the fried pickles at this particular restaurant. honestly, i'm relieved there's a new dining spot to fill the filthy hole in my heart left by the 2003 closure of the deliciouslessly vegan and unabashedly C-rated Luna Tierra Sol Cafe.

unrelated to any of this, i will conclude with a good article about the role of wikipedia in academia.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

getting hurt

i use my body more than most people i know. when i'm not playing roller derby, i'm training to play roller derby, which translates to several skate practices a week, haunting the YMCA, running to the top of one of my neighborhood's many glamorous hills, etc. i also made a decision about a year ago to live without a car. transporting yourself sans motor means depending on your body to get you where you need to go. i have never regretted that decision until recently.

dragging your old bones around town on a bum ankle is shitty. for two weeks, i couldn't ride my bike, or even walk to public transportation. but left with no other options, there were occasions when i did these things anyway, sometimes in the rain or the dark or the cold (often some combination of the three), and possibly to the detriment of my recovery. it has been eight weeks since i tore ligaments in my ankle, and i am not healed. presently, i would put myself at about 65%.

the fight crew has a game this weekend, and i will not be skating. this is my second consecutive game on the injured list. sitting next to me in the gimp section will be another fight crew jammer, leia mout, who is suffering from a knee injury. in addition to our physical injuries, we are both deeply sad, betrayed by these bodies we've worked so hard to condition.

when i talk to other women, civilians, about roller derby, i often hear, "i would love to do that! it sounds like so much fun! but i'm afraid of getting hurt..."

i never used to worry about getting hurt, but the past two months have afforded me time to reflect on that reality. i've concluded that being hurt is for the birds (shitbirds if you want to get specific), and i've developed a greater appreciation for the deal-breaking status "getting hurt" holds for some would-be derby girls.

not unlike the players in other full-contact sports, derby skaters get injured all the time. looking at the bigger picture, i realize that a sprained ankle ain't no thang. it will heal, and i will skate again, and what i need to do is stop feeling sorry for myself and focus my energy elsewhere. but there is so much energy - i have amassed a surplus in recent years, reserved for physical activity - and it's so fucking hard to not expend it doing the things that make me feel good: skating, running, riding my bike.

i think the only reason i've been able to write this is because i'm finally starting to improve (i think. i hope). my limp is mostly gone, and i can bound down the stairs the way i used to, and the aching in my ankle no longer wakes me up at night. nothing will be amputated. it's not terminal. i will survive.

and when i'm ready to start skating again, i'll probably forget this nasty business ever happened even though i shouldn't.

the fight crew recently lost a skater to a head injury. she sustained a concussion during practice, and has suffered from seizures in the months that have followed. she says that her personality has changed, she's depressed and she forgets things. she told us a story about driving and reaching for a cigarette, removing the cigarette from its pack and placing it between her fingers. she made a move to light it, and looked down to discover another cigarette already there, burning. she had no memory of lighting it or smoking it. she didn't know how it got there.

this skater talks about coming back after the seizures stop, when her doctors give her the green light. i'm not sure when or if this will happen, but her determination is both amazing and frightening.

jamming during 2007 championship bout

Monday, March 10, 2008

please forgive the duplication

while most folks i know are loath to lose that precious hour at the start of daylight savings, i woke up yesterday morning and reset the clock on my nightstand with gusto. hello sunshine!

spring is still a couple of weeks away, but at 75 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky, you wouldn't know it. yesterday i celebrated the near-perfect los angeles weather by riding my bike through griffith park. if i had a doctor, this would most certainly be against his orders, but i don't, and so i went, oblivious to the ache in my ankle. riding up the winding park roads, there were so many moments i wanted to get off my bike and hike the trails, but i knew this would be more damaging than the bike ride, and so i resisted.

i rode up through the hills, and eventually landed at the observatory. i'd never been there.

my injury-induced blogger's block persists. instead of writing about the observatory, here's a related post from my other (not-public) blog, written before i got hurt:

I keep running into Chris - you know, Michelle's brother? I hadn't seen him since we were together, but suddenly he's around the Doll Factory a lot. He's friends with an artist who rents studio space from us. Some nights during practice, on my way to the bathroom, I skate through the empty factory - the spaces where our track isn't - the industrial-looking void filled by bands and vendors and fans during the games. In a room to my right, I'll catch a glimpse of Chris sitting among the dozens of red velveteen-covered busts his artist-friend has made. Affixed to the head of each identical bust is a red velveteen Mouseketeer cap. Chris and I will wave to each other as I pass.

The first time I saw him was back in September, and it wasn't inside the Factory. I didn't recognize him right away. I was riding my bike down Hollywood Blvd, running errands, trying to get everything together before I left for Europe that Monday. I stopped to lock my bike somewhere between Hillhurst and Vermont when I heard my name spoken as a question: "Meghan?"

Standing on the sidewalk, waving at me, he knew that I didn't know who he was. "It's Chris! Tony's friend!" I took him in: the round face, light brown skin, receding hairline. I looked down and saw the belly hanging over the top of his pants. Finally, something clicked. Synapses fired, connections were made, and I saw that house in Highland Park. Early Fleetwood Mac on the TV screen (pre-Nicks and Buckingham). I heard Michelle's band in my head, I saw the 45 on our turntable. And then I was back in our old apartment - at a party we had. Was it a housewarming? Lewis took those black and white photos of us in the Herman Miller shell chair. I was sitting in your lap. Chris was there that night, and I still have those chairs though lately I've been thinking about selling them and upgrading to something more comfortable.

"Oh! Chris! Hey, it's been a while...."

We spent a couple of minutes catching up. He said he was headed to Barnsdall Art Park to fly a kite and would I like to come. He was with another guy, someone I'd never met before, but who looked exactly like the sort of dude who would hang with that crew from our past: crooked teeth, shaggy hair, ill-fitting thrift store clothes. I had promised myself that I was going to fly a kite this summer (this was actually an item on a "to do" list somewhere), but it hadn't happened yet, and here it was September. Summer had other places to be; you could feel it in the breeze. Besides, I was leaving for London in a couple of days. It was now or never.

"OK," I said. "I'm going to Rite-Aid first and then I'll meet you there."

At Rite-Aid, I bought the travel-sized toiletries I needed for my trip plus an ice cream cone. Then I made for the park.

At the base of the grass-covered hill, a Frank Lloyd Wright building perched at its summit, I locked my bike. I climbed to the crest, and when I got there, I turned around and looked. The sky was so blue it ached. I stared into into the face of Mount Hollywood, and the domes of Griffith Observatory twinkled at me. Do you remember that it was closed the entire time you lived in L.A.? It finally reopened after five years of renovation - enough time for us to come here and break up; for you to move to Seattle and then back to Tucson; for me to live through a whole relationship with someone else. I haven't been to the Observatory though this is also on a to-do list somewhere.

Just to the left of the domes was the Hollywood sign: Home, an unpacked suitcase waiting.

Chris hadn't designated a meeting spot. When I turned away from the mountains, I saw a diaphanous penguin hit the sky, sunlight pouring through it - a flightless bird, soaring! This was my signal, and so I followed it.

I found Chris unfurling his line, fishing in reverse, the two-dimensional bird flailing above. Beneath us, splayed out on the grass, his friend was taking pictures as if to prove this day really happened, that we did this thing: We went to the park and flew a kite. Chris handed me the line.

"You want to give it a shot?"

I held the line, felt the tug, watched the penguin twist and dart, slicing through the places where -- in some other city -- there might be clouds.

I read Shortcomings recently. I know you hate Adrian Tomine, but christ, if he isn't you. The Ben Tanaka character, I mean, who reads like a stand-in for the author. It's the constant mocking of everything and everyone; the impossible introversion; the fetishization of white women; the fear of change; the unrelenting negativity. These things make me think of you.

We passed the line back and forth and the friend took pictures. We didn't talk much. Chris told me that he and Alana had broken up. I had a hard time picturing her in my head. Long brown hair and crooked teeth? Seems about right.

I've never found another mouth like yours. Or met someone who makes me feel like you did during those first few months -- before I got pregnant and unpregnant; before we moved in together; before we came to L.A.

Sometimes I think we were always trying to get back to the beginning: You in Tucson, me in Tempe, the driving back and forth across the desert to see each other, and how the very first thing we did, always, was fuck. We'd walk through each other's doors and immediately shed our clothes. Molting snakes, we'd slide into each other's beds, and coil around each other. You were terrified of cars, but you learned to drive for me. Funny how you're back in Tucson, still driving after all those years on foot, and here I am in L.A. of all places without a car.

I never wanted to come here. The thought never crossed my mind until I met you. But look at me now: flying a kite over this city I've made my home. I was wrong about this place. I'm sorry I gave you such a hard time about it.

Soon, I will be riding my bicycle through Normandy on my way to Paris. Outside of Rouen, the rain will start. L.A. has spoiled me. Despite all of the preparations I've made for this trip -- the miniature containers and vials I've filled with my potions, the tiny loofah, the portable speakers so we can dance in our hotel rooms -- I did not pack appropriate rain gear or even a pair of contacts. As the chateaus and pastures and masticating cows blur past, above me the air is crashing. The clouds are too heavy, and so they release their burden onto the four of us, the bicyclists below. The water splatters across my glasses and soon I can barely make out the wheel spinning in front of me. This is why cars have windshield wipers. My companions saw this coming. They are wearing waterproof jackets while I grow heavy with the weight of so much water. I do not give the signal to stop because what's the point? The moment we do, I will be cold. I convince myself that I am moving so fast, the liquid is flying off me, incapable of sticking. It cannot penetrate the fortress of my cotton hoodie. It is a delusion, I know this, and meanwhile, my clothes are reshaping themselves, forming a wet cast around my body. I am being Plaster of Parised. I pretend not to notice.

In the middle of all this countryside, there is a store, a big gray box rising into the gray sky, an almost imperceptible break in the landscape. We stop. Inside this box, it's a bargain basement closeout kind of store, and they are selling Nutella and picture frames at heavily discounted prices. From behind the glass of these frames, of which there are dozens, the same attractive French couple smiles at me. Nearby, something catches my eye: the sheen of plastic packaging in my periphery. Beneath the plastic are a man and a woman in matching rain ponchos. Hers is red, his is blue, and between each of their legs is a bicycle. Their feet are planted on the ground as if they have reached the final destination on their journey - a white room. They are dry, and their ecstatic grins mirror my own. The ponchos fit over their handlebars, protecting their hands and thighs from the imaginary deluge they've escaped. They're practically tents, so we each buy one, and outside of the gray box, we slip into our new outfits, modeling for each other. We look like the Beatles on the cover of Help!, and we pose for pictures, the requisite documentation. Then we remount, pointing ourselves toward Paris. We depart the parking lot in a single file procession, floats sailing in a parade, red and red and blue and then red. Our ponchos are expanding, billowing: flags of victory.

In a few weeks when I return from London, I will step outside the airport and, as predicted, summer in Los Angeles is gone. Fall has arrived, but the palm trees don't notice. I will wear a cardigan, and come winter, a jacket. Maybe a scarf when I'm riding my bike near the Silver Lake Reservoir at night, past our old apartment. I prefer the summer, but if we're really being honest, the weather doesn't change much here.