Monday, March 30, 2009


Feedback informs me that I’m getting a little bit dreary lately. To combat this impulse, I am at this very moment doing a complicated and joyous dance of West African origin, which in days gone by might have brought forth a god. Since We the People are without gods despite devoting an inordinate amount of our time trying to carve our Republic which may or may not be alive into the Procrustean form desired by those who want gods in the Congress, no gods are forthcoming as a result of my dance. But something else might arrive, equally mysterious and irrelevant to your daily lives and loves. I am going to tell you who I am. My name is Travis Kellerman. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and I came to LA to go to grad school in 2007. Look where it got me. I watched things come apart, and other things come together, and you know what? I decided to do this. I have a master’s degree. What kind of master? Doesn’t matter. And fuck this, it’s all a lie. I couldn’t tell you who I am anymore, I don’t know, I’ve been Walt Dangerfield and Walt Dangerfield is all I want to be. I never even heard of anyone named Travis Kellerman. I’ve never been to Pennsylvania. Although I would go if I got the chance. I hear it’s nice, a little warmer than it used to be so it’s kind of like Georgia now sometimes, only you can still see snow. I’d love to see snow. Is there…oh. News! News saves me from my own self-involvement! Oh. My. God. Are you shitting me? Ladies and gentlemen, Martin Kindred--

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Carl Marks is having the last laugh from his dialectical hereafter. He kicks the buyout program into the public-awareness stratosphere after a career lionizing the people who tried to engineer a better world by killing off a whole bunch of the disagreeable people cluttering it up, and then the buyout program goes down in flames because the people running it turned out to be a bunch of the most conscienceless motherfuckers you ever did see. Ideals, man. Fuck ’em. I never had any. If I, Walt Dangerfield, ever espoused ideals, I was kidding. K-I-D-D-I-N-G. The whole thing goes up in smoke, and up in smoke is where it should be. I mean, we live in a world where species that might have cured cancer by virtue of their dermal secretion are driven to extinction because somebody thought it might be a good idea to build houses in a swamp at the base of a mountain range. If the houses get buried in a mudslide, you know what? This is what you get for not wanting to cure cancer. This is what you get for thinking on a human scale. As human beings, it’s our responsibility to think beyond the human scale. When we don’t, you get guys like Carl Marks. I was watching the movie that made him again last night, The Assassination of Leon Trotsky, and the thing that got me was not De Niro’s performance as Stalin—which is better than Goulet’s but never would have worked in Koba!—and it wasn’t the fucking deranged pathos of Trotsky dying by the icepick after a life devoted to the idea of a vanguard revolution. It was the idea of a vanguard revolution, a group that sees farther and knows better than everyone else. There’s your kernel of why no human system ever works. Communism looked for equality, but people aren’t the same. Capitalism rewards success, but not everyone has the tools to be successful. So what do we do? Theorize? Fuck that. We make movies, we get away with what we can. We are kind to the people around us. Any more than that you can’t expect from a human being. I believe, without reason or justification, that when he had the axe in his head Trotsky knew this. Carl Marks didn’t. I won’t watch his movies anymore.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Hey, you know, it’s a relief to be talking about something other than this whole Laskowski cop-killer fake drama. Here’s the other thing I think is interesting. I remember, a while back although I haven’t pulled the file because listening to my own voice is like being dead, talking about Othello. The thing about Othello is that you have an idealist and a cynic, plus racial tension and frustrated love, or lust anyway. I said something about Iago, and you know who Iago is? Right now I’m thinking Curt Laskowski is Iago. Once he had beliefs, then he lived, and then he found that the beliefs didn’t survive the living. So he had either belief or life, and what kind of choice is that? But there’s a middle ground. It involves a little self-deception, but we all know how to do that. You convince yourself that satisfying your basest impulses, to fuck and kill and avenge, is actually a way of expressing your belief. I think Curt Laskowski knew this a long time ago, but didn’t let himself know that he knew it until his back was against the wall. But here’s what I’d want to tell him: Your back was always against the wall. You’re born with your back against the wall, and you live with your back against the wall, and if you ever get your back away from the wall it’s because you drop your principles and fight. I can’t blame him for that. I can blame him for what he did, but no. I’m not going to judge him for why. Fuck, I said I wasn’t going to be talking about Laskowski, and then there I go talking about Laskowski. I can’t wait to talk about the Dodgers again. Who lost last night, 6-4.

Friday, March 27, 2009


So what do you think about the Dodgers? Looks like one of those ninety-win, almost-make-the-playoffs kind of seasons to me. I would almost prefer incompetence, since then I wouldn’t have to spend all of this time believing, and agonizing over the possibility of being disappointed. My grandfather once told me that sports could teach you something about being a man. I believed it. In some ways, I still do, but I don’t know what it is to be a man when I can opt the other way if I’m willing to undergo a minor surgery and take some pills. I don’t know what it is to be a man when I never played sports. I don’t know what it is to be a man when I can go in the VR and be a woman if I want, or a dog, or Diogenes the Cynic. I almost wish that the cops weren’t going to kill Curt Laskowski, because I’d like to go into the VR and be him, just to see what it is that made him do what he did. How can you rationally analyze the circumstances of your life and conclude that randomly killing a cop at a demonstration is okay, is the thing that you must do? You can’t. Not rationally. So the answer is that rationality isn’t the answer, which brings me right back to the Dodgers. Rationally I know they will crush my hopes. But every April, and even every August when things are still marginally possible, those hopes spring up again. Hope is a fucking dandelion. A cynical, Diogenes dandelion. It challenges us to live up to ourselves.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


You pour yourself into something. Doesn’t matter what it is. You pour yourself into it because at one point you think it’s important. Then maybe you figure out that it isn’t important, but by then you’ve invested too much, and the investment is important even if the thing you’ve invested in isn’t anymore. Is that too general? I will specify. Once I believed that I had something to say about life and politics and art and culture and all of this other shit that somehow is critically important even though you can go days without thinking about it. So I started talking to anyone who would listen, because I needed people to listen. Then I realized that I was doing it for myself, to be listened to, instead for other people because I thought I was saying something they needed to hear. That’s a tough pill to swallow, and a hard trip to take. Out on the other side of it, I said to myself, you know what? Keep talking. That’s all you have, the talking. The listening doesn’t matter. You talk into the void, because it’s all a void, and instead of knowing someone is listening, you trust your sanity and your worth and your life to the possibility that someone might listen. And you know what? That’s enough. The possibility is enough. Once there might have been certainty, but now the possibility has to be enough.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Manhunt. Who doesn’t love a good manhunt? I’m thinking all the way back to John Wilkes Booth, Pretty Boy the hunt is on for Curt Laskowski, and the rest of the world stops. It’s an excuse to talk about something that isn’t happening but will be interesting when it does, except that when it does the story will be over. Ain’t that a bitch? And it’s an excuse to devote bandwidth to something other than all that depressing shit coming out of the Dust Bowl II, and the water sloshing over the Gulf Coast, and the crushing of the movements in the desert Southwest. I mean, who wants to talk about real intractable problems like the insufficiency of currency in a truly globalized and truly virtual market, when you can talk about whether the LAPD had flushed Curt Laskowski out of the Wi-Free in Koreatown? Hell, I don’t. Believe me, I love the trivial, the exploitative, the voyeuristic and the reprehensible. Every once in a while I lose track of myself and talk about something relevant, but that isn’t me. I don’t give a shit about the Issues of the Day, or the Problems of Civilization and Humankind. I can’t. Because I can’t fix it, I don’t know the people who can, and all I can do is take care of the people near and dear to me. If I am kind to people I meet on the corner, if I love and am loved, if I teach my children and minister to my elders, the rest of the world can burn.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I am frenetic. I am the screaming id that wants to kill anything it can’t fuck and fuck anything it can’t kill. I am the monkey let out of the Skinner box. I am the college kid who was home-schooled and finds himself at UCLA. The universe is too big, the pleasures too many and various, the time I lost too much ever to make up and my hunger to make it up therefore too great ever to sate. I am the wendigo, cast out for crimes against the tribe and transformed into a monster with a heart of ice who must eat and eat and never be full. I am appetite. I am wishing, in short, that I had been in the heart of the maelstrom out at Yucaipa. Everett Shankly I could not give a shit about. You kill five people, you get what’s coming to you. But to be in the mob, to be free…I’ve got a VR rig in my head, and there I’m seeing the muzzle flashes. There I’m hearing the thwop of the helicopter rotors, there I’m weeping with tear gas and ducking my head when the batons come down, and you know what? Because it didn’t really happen, I love it. I’m proud of myself for imagining it. I wasn’t there, but I wanted to have been there, and this fake courage feels to me like the real thing. Man, I didn’t know until just now what an asshole I was.

Monday, March 23, 2009


We have a name for the shooter of the cop yesterday, one Curtis Diogenes Laskowski. Now there’s a name that says Stone Killer. Am I wrong? Of course not! Because even if I was, none of you could tell me! Ha! O o o o that barbaric yawp. The drugs are getting to me. So Curtis Diogenes Laskowski blew away a cop named Solomon Briggs. Detective Briggs, this cop-hating narrowcast buccaneer wishes you nothing but the best in the afterlife of your choosing. And Curt Laskowski, you are one lucky crazy gringo. Have fun in prison. If you ever get there. Apparently buyout dealmaker Martin Kindred was in the car, right? First his brother, now this. I bet right now, nothing would clear a room of cops quicker than Martin fucking Kindred walking through the door. But I forgot this Diogenes thing. The famous Cynic, who believed that independence and happiness came from freedom from social mores, who believed that all civilization destroyed the individual…we could use another Diogenes. And, as a bonus etymological lesson, I am happy to inform you that the word cynic comes from a Greek root meaning dog. The dog is cynical but idealistic too, isn’t he? He’ll take a shit wherever he pleases, but you can hit him and he’ll always come back for more. And dogs don’t lie. They might want to, but when you come home and someone has torn up the trash all over the kitchen, I guarantee you the dog is going to look guilty and cop to the crime as soon as you look his direction. Honest, cynical, idealistic, all at the same time. I wonder if Curtis Diogenes Laskowski is that kind of guy.


Is there any two words in the English language…let me start that over. Are there. Are there any two words in the English language that provoke the same kind of response as cop down? No, there are not. Cop down means there’s someone out there who values his own life so little that he’s willing to do the one thing guaranteed to make that life absolutely worthless. He’s willing to kill a cop. If you’re willing to kill a cop, either you’ve convinced yourself that you’re bulletproof, or you don’t care what’s going to happen when the bullets start hitting you. Well, there’s someone like that out there right now, because today at the Shankly soiree somebody shot a cop. Whereupon the rest of the cops waded in and pounded the living shit out of everybody but the guy who fired the shots. So, as the great Vonnegut would have said, it goes. Riots and rumors of riots. People, man. I mean, if you’re not going to kill a cop because you’re in a mad fury about the injustice of commercialized state murder, when are you going to kill a cop? It makes absolute, incorrigible sense. If you’re a certain kind of crazy person.


You have how many years on this planet? First twenty, you don’t know what the fuck is going on. Last ten, you’re thinking about the next time you have to take a piss. So there’s maybe fifty in between, sixty more recently. Unless you’re in Bangladesh, or Florida. How many hurricanes is that in the last six years, on top of an extra foot or so of ocean? Florida’s gonna be a chain of islands before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Unless I take a buyout, which even though I have met Martin Kindred and know him to be a standup guy will never happen because I’m too goddamn old. Yes, LA, I’m old! I was born in the twentieth century! I was alive when Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon! I have conscious memories of Ronald Reagan! And yet you listen to me. Listen to me! In another ten years, you’ll be able to swim from Miami to Tampa, and along the way you’re going to see a lot of bewildered and misanthropic fucking alligators, man, because they had it good down there for a while. So long, Everglades. So long, everything. I think the end is coming. I have a feeling of impending impendingness today, and it impends. The sky is falling, the British are coming, the bases are loaded with two out in the ninth.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Did anyone catch Ingrid Bergman and Mos Def in the new Othello? “By heaven, I rather would have been his hangman!” But that’s Roderigo, and who gives a fuck about him? Even though the recently departed Michael Douglas makes for a fine conniving lieutenant, especially since they spawned the avatar from old footage of him in The Streets of San Francisco. Enough to make you think that SAG is onto something when they strike over live-actor quotas in movie production. And who would have thought Haley Joel Osment would have made such a badass Iago? This I have to read:

Others there are
Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Do well thrive by them and when they have lined their coats
Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul;
And such a one do I profess myself. For, sir,
It is as sure as you are Roderigo,
Were I the Moor, I would not be Iago:
In following him, I follow but myself;
Heaven is my judge, not I for love and duty,
But seeming so, for my peculiar end:
For when my outward action doth demonstrate
The native act and figure of my heart
In compliment extern, 'tis not long after
But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve
For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.

You remember Popeye? He yam what he yam? He’s the anti-Iago, the one character any of us ever knew who was fully and completely himself. The rest of us, we’re Iago, man. We aren’t what we are. I’m not Walt Dangerfield, but what the fuck am I?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen—I grow fond of this mode of address—I’m gonna guess that the Priceless Lifers are going to earn their malcontent protestor stripes today. Word on the wire, by which I mean the wireless, is that a big thing is going to come down, and I can’t help but be excited. Who wouldn’t be? Someone other than a desert separatist lunatic might just show a little backbone today. If it happens, and I don’t even know what it is, I’m going to lose my shit. I’m going to dance a jig, I’m going to drink whiskey and chase girls who would think my sons are too old, I’m going to believe again that there is immortality in the passage of human spirit down through the generations. That’s not too much to ask, is it? From the Priceless Lifers? Maybe today they’re going to find out which lives are priceless. Mine I sold a long time ago, and I didn’t get as much for it as I thought I was going to. So I sit here in my spiderweb and watch it all go by, and I tug at strands, and the things that nourish me, the things whose blood I can suck and grow fat on, are the courageous doomed actions of people who have the misfortune to preserve a shred of idealism in the face of the world in which we all do this thing we call living.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Ladies and gentlemen, kids of all ages, there is rain and rumors of rain. If you’re counting, it’s been 44 days since our last measurable precipitation here in El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula, the previous nomenclature inserted at the suggestion of the marketing guys who dare to suggest that my show is a little too Anglo. Ay caramba! Coming up tomorrow, an entire show done in a pidgin patois of Arabic, Tagalog, Lao, Amharic, and Hindi. A ratings bonanza, 24 hours from right now. Don’t. Miss. It. I might even get a brown person to do it for me. Oh, wait. I’m a brown person. Aaaaahhhh, I need to get in touch with my inner sacred lost brown language that united my people in the face of their oppression and suffering. Nobody speaks nigger anymore, by which I mean everyone does. Damn you, Whitey! Thirty years ago you got Obamafied and now what’s an honest American of African extraction to do? I was all behind the multicultural society, but look what it got me. I have to tell you that my ancestors come from a Land Over the Sea, and were brought here in the Bonds of Slavery. You wouldn’t know otherwise. Bandwidth is color-blind, but at some point I have to come out into the light of day. Then I am seen.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Mars, bitches! Anybody remember that? We haven’t been to Mars. I was promised Mars! We haven’t been back to the Moon. I was promised the Moon! I was promised asteroid miners, and harvesting of helium-3 from the lunar lithosphere that would make fusion possible and lead to Energy Fucking Nirvana! Instead we get pirate avatars popping up from our pillowcases to sell us Brazilian vaccines while we’re busy trying to fuck some woman half our age who swore to us that she’d never been with a man before! Well, that’s what happens to me, anyway. There’s a bright side to information saturation. But I want Mars! I want rockets and domes on the Moon, spacemen! Man, I wanted to be an astronaut. Even after I had to get glasses, I wanted to be an astronaut. That’s my excuse for getting fat, was disappointment that I couldn’t be an astronaut. The future let me down, so I ate a bunch of fucking calzones and fried chicken! The future let me down, so I crawled into the VR rig and pretended I was the Lothario of the spaceways! The future let me down, so I can’t get a job! The future let me down by becoming the present! How dare that fucking future. How dare it…

Monday, March 16, 2009


Today is August the second. It’s my birthday. The first signers of the Declaration of Independence put pen to parchment on this day. The first subway opened on this day. Adolf Hilter became Fuhrer on this day. Myrna Loy, Shimon Peres, James Baldwin, Peter O’Toole, and some guy who recited pi to forty-two thousand decimal places from memory were born on this day; Wild Bill Hickok, Enrico Caruso, Fritz Lang, and William S. Burroughs died. Wild Bill was killed while playing poker, which is kind of the way I’d like to go. On this day in 1980, I was born, in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. I’m sixty-one. And absolutely nothing of note has happened on that day since, except Burroughs dying. I take this as an omen that it’s my day. This morning, in Boston, someone set off a series of bombs triggered by communications from a certain server. If you were getting a ping from that server while you were within sniffing distance of one of those bombs, you set it off. Terrorism-wise, that’s good shit. I think it’s been a while since we had a good old terrorist attack in LA, hasn’t it? I mean, you can’t count every random asshole with a racial grudge walking into a McDonald’s and only shooting the blacks or the Iranians or the Salvadorans or the Jews. I mean something that makes the rest of us walk around a little scared because it’s so random yet so purposeful—by which I mean that it’s purposeful but the logic underlying the purpose is inscrutable to rational people—that it makes the entire universe seem a little less stable. We haven’t had one of those lately. But I tell you what, if that Boston thing happened here, it might do the trick.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


The Federal Reserve today…I don’t give a fuck what the Federal Reserve did. It was important to people whose actions dictate the long-term horizons of my life, but fuck it. I used to believe in infinite horizons. I used to believe that solutions for cancer and global warming were right around the corner, that the bottomless wellspring of human ingenuity would rescue us from the bottomless morass of human venality. That hasn’t turned out to be so. When I was a child, I was assured that cancer would be cured by now. Lies. I was assured that there would be suborbital transportation that would move me from New York to Ulan Bator in five or six hours, should I choose Ulan Bator as a destination. Lies. I was assured that vanishing oil supplies would spur innovations in transportation and energy that would mitigate the effects of climate changes. The jury’s still out on that one, but I don’t think hydrogen cars and more wind farms are going to do the trick when the Chinese are still burning coal like they all live in 1920s Pittsburgh. In short, my auditors, we live in an age of disappointment, and the only reason we don’t know this is that we’re all too busy fucking Marie Antoinette on the fifty-yard line of Soldier Field while Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix play Bolero in an arrangement for two left-handed guitars. In the VR. Someone suckered us, somewhere along the way. The future we bought into was great until we lived long enough to discover that at some point, the future becomes the present, and the fact that it was once the future doesn’t mean that it won’t be all fucked up once it arrives.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


I read today that there have been flare-ups in the water conflict. I mean shooting kind of flare-ups, especially around Phoenix and Las Vegas. You know, if I was a separatist, one of the things that I would make sure of before I separated was that I had enough in the way of resources to support me in the event my separation was successful. Put another way: what the fuck are you thinking, fighting a guerrilla war to stay in the desert? Only in America, man. Only here would we have a sense of entitlement massive enough to make us willing to die for the right to stay in the kind of place that people everywhere else in the world would die to get out of. Wonder if we should call this a civil war. Is it big enough? Is it a threat to the Republic? Is there even a Republic anymore? In my darker moments—and I refer not to my melanin but my serotonin—I believe that the Republic died at the hands of the virtual society. Which of course I have turned to my advantage by becoming Walt Dangerfield, but I’m still grieving. Do I sound sad to you? In another time, I might have been a columnist for the august New York Times, or a respected scholarly journal. But I was born too late, I was born after we’d all been tangled in what we used to call the World Wide Web. As soon as that happened, anyone could say anything and everyone might listen. Nothing was better than anything else. The hierarchies that we depended on to organize our intake of information disintegrated. I’m not sure how I should feel about this. I like doing what I do, and you like me doing what I do, but when there are nutcases fighting an urban insurgency in the remains of a city where I once went to play blackjack, it feels like something ought to be different than it is.

Friday, March 13, 2009


So what do you think about this Priceless Life group? I want to unpack the word priceless a little. The root price goes all the way back to a Latin root pretium, which means value or worth. Okay so far. But then why isn’t priceless the same as worthless? I mean, that’s the kind of thing that makes me love language, but when you’re naming a group of agitators who are apparently willing to shoot cops (if you believe it was Priceless Life who iced Officer Jason Kindred), that kind of commitment deserves a certain precision of meaning. Technically priceless should mean the same as worthless. Now, whoever named this group can’t be held responsible for two thousand years of random deviations of two different words from a misty Latin origin. I’ll grant you that. And I will grant you that I am probably the only person in the entire English-speaking world who cares about this. But something about it bothers me. I just can’t take these people seriously. I should, yeah, I know I should. And while we’re on the topic, or somewhere in the area of the topic, how did Latin somehow come to mean someone who comes from a country that speaks Spanish? Cicero is rolling over in his grave, or would be if he hadn’t been metabolized by worms two thousand years ago and then cycled through the food chain maybe a hundred times. I, who probably include in my body a molecule or two that once formed part of that great orator, pronounce myself here and forevermore against the phenomenon of linguistic drift. Elect me to the Academie Francaise now.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Today’s showbiz news. Britney Spears, with her sixtieth birthday about five months away and her various progeny seeing dollar signs in the new SAG rules about living actors and avatars, has refused to license her avatar rights to her granddaughters’ production company. Seems the little Spearses wanted to make a biopic to finance a plan for a line of Britney car and home daemons. Now the kiddies are suing their grammy because she won’t go along with it, and millions of seventy-year-old Chinese Britfans—who, I should mention, are weirdo pedophiles, or were when they first became Chinese Britfans—will have to make do with their knockoff versions. I read somewhere that avatar rights to Abraham Lincoln were about to be licensed by the Department of Education, but the NEA’s throwing a screaming fit and now Ed’s having second thoughts because of all the congressional bitching. Now what I want to see is an alt-hist, all avatars, that’s a story of forbidden love between a committed statesman with a crazy, housebound wife and a music-hall floozy who gets her first lead role at an outdoor performance of La Boheme in Dealey Plaza. Other Than That, How Was the Play, Mrs. Kennedy? That’s my working title. I’ll be reading treatments over the next few weeks, and plan to have the whole thing set up in time for Britney’s grandkids to sue me, too. The only thing I’m missing is Carl Marks to put the Britvatar in his remake of Come into the Basement, Anastasia, Dear. Hot! Poor Carl Marks.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


My son brought me news today that he’s planning to get skulljacked. I told him, not until you’re eighteen, you don’t get skulljacked, unless—and what I almost said was what my old man would have said, which was unless you want to take your skulljacked ass out and sleep on the street. But then I got suspicious, man, I thought what if that’s what he’s trying to get me to do? Kids are clever, man. Could be my boy doesn’t give a shit about getting skulljacked, but he wants me to give him an ultimatum so he has an excuse not to come home at night. All of this, you ask me, is an argument for being childless. Ask the Bangladeshis, there’s too damn many people in the world anyway. Speaking of Bangladesh, the Walt Dangerfield Square Mileage Reduction Index for Bangladesh is at 25, that’s 25 percent of that swampy hellhole now underwater, with the thirty million people who used to live there causing riots and all kinds of unpleasantness in other places. What do we do about it? If we’re the Indian Army, we seal the border. If we’re the Burmese army, we let them come across and then shoot them because it’s good practice for our soldiers. Here at home, southern Arizona is security-coded orange, people, that means you can’t go there. People with orange clearances don’t listen to Walt Dangerfield unless it’s in super-secret government installations with teams of ninja assassins at the ready. But no one can find Walt Dangerfield! I orbit this culture and look down upon it from afar, beaming my brain into yours, wishing that none of you were listening.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Periodically I succumb to a shameful love of statistics and demographic prognostication. So now I will treat you to some. LA county will be 80% Latino by 2050. If you’re 40 years old today, when you were born there were 3 million white people and 4 million Latinos in LA County, with a total population of 10 million. Now there are 2 million white people and 8 million Latinos, with a total of nearly thirteen million. So Whitey, you went from a third of LA County to a sixth, and Juan, you went from less than half to nearly two thirds. I think there’s more Asians in LA than Anglos now. Let me say that again: more Angelenos trace their roots to Guangxi than to Glasgow. How about that? And let’s not even talk about the decline in the local population of Americans of African descent. There were a million of us in LA County in 2000. Now there’s only 700,000. Put that together with two million of what my great-grandfather would have called ofays, and you only get less than three million out of LA County’s thirteen million. So why are all the road signs still in English? Thank God, and I mean this, thank God for the persistence of cultural hegemony. Without it, I’d have to learn Spanish. Fuck, who knows? Maybe I’d have to learn Tagalog. In a hundred years, there’s not gonna be a white man or a black man anywhere in Southern California. All we’re gonna have is shades of brown.

Monday, March 9, 2009


There’s a flash demo in front of the Chinese Theater memorial, I guess having something to do with SAG threatening a strike over avatar rights. Oops, no. I guess it’s already over. But watching it made me a little nostalgic for when people made movies, and if their personalities were faked for mass consumption, at least there was a flesh and blood person in front of the camera. I’m old! I’m old! Los Angeles, city of hatred for wrinkles and long memories. City of the buff and the buffed, the polished and the peeled, city whose love of glamour is now an industry of virtual necrophilia. And it’s the fault of Carl Marks as much as anyone else. I mean, those of us who have a certain number of notches on our belts remember John Wayne in some damn wine-cooler commercial in 1990 or something, but…nostalgia. Am I nostalgic for that? Am I nostalgic only for my own long-gone nostalgias? Have my years on this earth prepared me only for recursive nostalgia? I wonder if those are avatars actually striking in front of Mann’s. I remember Mann’s. I remember thinking, a long time ago, that if terrorists really wanted to fuck us up, they should blow up Yankee Stadium and Radio City Music Hall and—yes, I goddamn well did think this—the Chinese Theater. I mean, you blow up a bank or a government building, and people wave flags and drop bombs. That works, if that’s what you want. But you blow up a dream factory, man, and the dreams go up in smoke with it. And then wouldn’t you know it, Mann’s burns down after the ’29 earthquake and what do I think? It’s not the way that place should have gone out. Nature shouldn’t destroy dream factories. Only people should do that.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Love each other, people. It’s the one hundred and twelfth anniversary today of the first Academy Awards. Your host: Douglas Fairbanks, whom many of you will remember for his immortal turn as Che in Carl Marks’ late experiment Ernesto in Kinshasa. A sexy man, Douglas Fairbanks, which I can say because I just got laid. Speaking of which, you could be making love to the partner or anonymous party, real or virtual, of your choice right now. So why are you listening to me? And if you are making love to the partner or anonymous party of your choice while streaming me—you know who you are—I don’t want to know about it. Truly I don’t. Any and all correspondence on the topic, as assessed by keyword, will be aspaminated. I am reliably informed that my audio listenership, together with feed traffic, indexed according to lucrativity of perclickitude, ranks me in the top five percent of local net, feed, and old-fashioned broadcast traffic. To which I say Amazing! It used to be you had to play music or talk politics to get those kinds of numbers. Or pretend to help people, or try to save their souls. Me, I just talk. And I am interesting.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


It’s not that I don’t like cops. As the immortal Mickey Rourke once said in a movie based on the life of the immortal Bard of Los Angeles, Bukowski himself, I just seem to feel better when they’re not around. Nothing wrong with that, right? I mean, when cops are around, it means that somebody did something wrong. Or that they think somebody did something wrong, which is often just as bad. So yeah, I feel better when they’re not around. But that doesn’t mean I want them not to be around, if you know what I mean. I have had occasion to need the cops, and whichever motherfucker out there iced Jason Kindred of the Los Angeles Police Department, I hope that when they catch him, no one is looking. Not too likely, I get that, but there wasn’t anyone looking when he did what he did, and part of me just wants to say what the fuck about that? I didn’t even know there was a place left in our City of Angels where you weren’t in the field of at least one lens. Now it turns out that there are quite a few. I used to think that municipal surveillance was the last step on the way to Big Brotherville, but then it happened, and you know what? It didn’t make any difference, because who the fuck cares what I do? Then I got used to it. Then I started to assume it was always there no matter where I went or what I did. And now that I know that’s not true, it makes me a little nervous. My twenty-year-old self is calling me a pussy right now. Godspeed, Jason Kindred. But I still feel better when cops aren’t around.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Today, Carl Marks meets his maker. Today, Carl Marks joins the choir invisible, and we will only have an endless succession of pontificating avatars in his stead. I’m not sure we’re any worse off. I’ve been doing some reading about this buyout thing, as I’m sure you have, and here’s one question: where’s the money going? Marks is old. Not as old as me, but he’s well past the midpoint of his biblical threescore and ten. He’s not worth as much in potential avoided expenses as your average twentysomething pizza delivery guy who gets in a fight with his dealer over an eighth of Kona and accidentally on purpose plugs him nine times with an old Glock he stole from his uncle. Now, he’s made upwards of a dozen movies. For most of them, he only had to license image rights and pay his code monkeys to render, and even if you, my onliest listener, never saw one of his films, there are two billion people in China. They did. And there are half a billion in Vietnam. They did. Carl Marks made some money. His family doesn’t need the two million his buyout is going to bring in. So where does it go? I hope he sent it to me. In fact, I hope he put me in his will. Did I mention I loved Koba!? And hey, I take back all that stuff I said about The Long March. I just didn’t understand…

Thursday, March 5, 2009


It seems wrong to ride the subway in Los Angeles. Just like it would seem wrong to wear a Red Sox hat in New York, or eat a ham sandwich in a synagogue. So I don’t do it. I like to drive. I like to ride my bike. I even like to walk, which you’re not supposed to do in LA, either. You remember the WALK-LA thing? How many million dollars did the city spend on sidewalks? How many trees did they plant? How many traffic patterns did they fuck up trying to sync stoplights so people actually had time to walk across eight lanes of traffic? And then, ten years later, the stop lights were all the same again, you still had to run across the street, the sidewalks were all busted up from the earthquake so you broke your ankle every time you walked a block, and the trees had all keeled over dead because of the holes in the ozone layer or some goddamn thing. We’re good at dreaming out here, but we’re not so good at planning. And speaking of the ozone layer, I’m going to say that one good thing about climate change is the return of the men’s hat. Eighty years ago JFK killed the hat, and about twenty years ago it finally rose from its sartorial grave because we’re men! We go bald! Except if we pay not to. But the hat is the one single salutary epiphenomenon of climate change. I don’t give a fuck if you can grow pomegranates in Nova Scotia now; balance that against our climatological sequel Dust Bowl II out there in Oklahoma or wherethefuckever. But the hat. There is nothing bad to say about the hat.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Sometimes I’m a little disappointed that more of you don’t ask me who I really am. Not that I would tell you, but I want you to want to know more about Walt Dangerfield than that string of phonemes. And maybe you do, but don’t ask because you figure I won’t tell. Correct! The other thing is that I’m realer this way. You know how many eardrums vibrate to the sounds of my electronically reconstituted voice every day? Do you know? Lots. But you don’t even know if that’s true, because as far as you know you might be the only person in the world listening to me right now. What if you were? We’d be having a personal conversation right now. Intimate, even. Because even when I am talking to a million people, I’m talking only to you. And it hurts me that you don’t want to know who I am, that you’re so satisfied with the Walt Dangerfield who comes into your ears that you don’t want to know about the Walt Dangerfield (not his real name) who eats cream of wheat and roots for the Lakers and walks every day to the deli around the corner because that’s what he’s done every day since way back in the fucking days when you used to go buy print newspapers. Outside. You prefer me not-quite real, the way you prefer yourself mediated and wireless and not quite ever yourself. Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contrafuckingdict myself.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


This June 3, Allen Ginsberg would have been 115 years old. In honor of him: City of baking asphalt, of madness blowing down from mountains named for martyrs, of 13 million people strangling on the failure of their dreams, or the realization of their dreams, or the fatal realization that they were dreaming someone else’s dreams all along, and now it’s too late. City of fiber optic and chrome, where avatars of movie stars give you directions to hotels staffed by custom coded daemons. City of the ghosts of orange groves, of vigilante flash mobs and outpatient skulljacks. Eighty percent Hispanic city, with fifty percent cops who can’t speak Spanish. City of forgotten spaces. City of sawed-off shotguns under cash registers, dream factory at land’s end, city of walking in celluloid footsteps. City of pitiless sunlight and exalted dawns. City of the long slog toward the permanent kinetic paradise of adoration and burgeoning traffic. God of thunder, you are absent here except below the surface of the earth, and we like you that way. We cherish adore and worship the fear that arrives with every temblor that isn’t the Big One but might be when we first feel the ground jump and shimmy under our feet. Secretly we all want to crack off and fall into the sea.

Monday, March 2, 2009


Comes news that there’s been a shootout in the middle of a flash mob down in Venice. Remember when you didn’t have to be in a flash mob to shoot somebody in Venice? Oops. Marketing says I shouldn’t date myself. Did you just outclick? You did not! You will not! Because this is Walt Dangerfield, and I remember when you could shoot somebody in Venice anydamntime you wanted to. I remember when it was possible to do something in LA and not have anyone know about it. I remember when the sky was full of 747s circling LAX and traffic choppers circling the Orange Crush, instead of drones circling the perfect vantage point to catch you planning to shoot somebody from the middle of your flash mob. I remember the first time I heard the phrase ‘flash mob,’ and it was a bunch of fag-Mod English kids giggling till they wet their pants because they could send text messages over a cell phone and arrange to meet in a place all at once without anyone knowing. Incredible! Now I got nothing against a good old-fashioned mob. You get wired up enough about something that you want to get out your pitchforks and torches, I say go forth and do it. That Frankenstein monster has to get burned, sometimes there’s no two ways about it. Burn, baby, burn. Aaaahhhhhh, I’m a palimpsest! But flash mobs? How long before that particular fad is over? I’m hoping it’s a generational thing. On in the 2000s, out by the 2010s; back in the 2030s, which would mean that any year now the whole thing will go out of fashion again and people in Venice will be able to fire at will. Man, I pray to God.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


My favorite Carl Marks movie? I’m glad you asked. It’s Koba! That’s the shit—a musical biopic of the Man of Steel himself, Josef Vissarionovich Dzugashvili, with Party officials in blackface to a beat of Isaac Hayes. As an aside, if that was my name, no fucking thing in the world would get me to change it. Robert Goulet’s avatar as Koba himself is a masterstroke, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise. Thing about Marks is that when he’s on his game (and we will forgive him his trespasses, among which I would number British Library and Great Leap Forward), he makes you want to be a communist. Not because you give a shit about labor or because you even know what dialectical materialism is, but because it’s cool, man. And there’s one of his great contradictions. If fascism is partly the pure aestheticization of power, Carl Marks turns communism into an aesthetic proposition with his films, which is more or less a fascist act. He wants you to think, or so he says, and I don’t think he’s lying. But he wants the gosh-wow give-me-some-of-that reaction in the gonads, and that’s where the real power of the movies comes from. Hot hot hot. Now that he’s going to jail, if the wheels of justice grind to that conclusion, we have lost our greatest appropriator of the images of dead movie stars. I hope I sounded appropriately somber there.


We note with interest the scheduling of what we here at Dangerfield World Domination Studios believe to be the first life-term buyout performed on a human being. If you stream this later today, it will already have happened; then again, if you stream this later today, I might already be dead. Our foray into seeing whether insurance regulators will get themselves involved in assigning a dollar value to human life begins at oh nine hundred hours…unless, that is, you believe that it began the first time an insurance company denied someone a surgery based on a pre-existing condition. Man, I remember when I was a kid we had this dog named Sesame. Don’t ask me why. She got sick, and my dad took her to the vet, and Sesame didn’t come home. Me and my brothers, we asked why. Well, kids, the old man said. Sesame was sick, and we couldn’t afford to get her better. Couldn’t afford it? Couldn’t afford it!? Maybe we couldn’t afford to make sure that Jackson Ordonez, for such is the moniker of the lucky first recipient of what our esteemed punditocracy is already calling the Golden Needle, maybe we couldn’t afford to make sure that he would grow up and come to adulthood in such a way that he wouldn’t off his girlfriend and her other boyfriend. How much would that have cost?