HAAAAAYYYY I’m Back!

vegas_march26

Did that cracked out picture get your attention? KimitheBee and I were laughing at this statue at Caesar’s Palace for a good minute and saying “DERRRR!”  We probably also looked crazy. Just like this horse.

Believe it or not, but I am attempting to resurrect this blog. No nightlife pictures, since I’m old and can barely stay awake past 10pm, but I would like to start documenting my adventures around town again.

So! This past weekend, KimitheBee and I took an impromptu road trip to Las Vegas to visit our families. We were really only in Vegas for one full day, but in that short period of time, we stuffed our faces with poke, hung out with our loved ones, walked the Strip for a bit, ate some old school wax bottle candy (the kind where you bite off the top of the “bottle” and then suck out the juice), and even stopped off at the Diner-saurus Park at Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner on the way back home.

All in all, I think it was a nice trip.

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[Pictures] LA Pride Festival 2012

Today is the last day of LA Pride, but for those who aren’t able to make it, I took some photos at the Festival yesterday. I thought about attending the parade today too, but the idea of getting trampled on by a sea of gays who all tower over me didn’t seem like a lot of fun. The Festival yesterday was surprisingly tame, even in the Erotic City area, and there were tons of great informational booths, live entertainment, SWAG, food booths, and some kind of water play area with a big inflatable slide.

Caught the tail end of Life Down Here’s set at the main stage (they rocked, by the way). Saw Nene from the Real Housewives of Atlanta riding in a golf cart and eating a snocone (is that what they call it here?). Saw many out and proud boys and girls. Won tickets to…I have no idea what.  Saw what I think was some kind of random underground party in a dark parking lot somewhere. Not bad for a Saturday afternoon.

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LA Pride Kicks Off Today in West Hollywood!

It looks like we’re in the middle of Gay Pride season and this weekend is LA’s turn to celebrate! Today and tomorrow is LA Pride in West Hollywood with a festival, parade, and all kinds of awesome booths and entertainment.  Above is a map of the celebration grounds for those who are interested. I’ll be in attendance this afternoon taking pictures and promise to report back on all the fun.  You can purchase your tickets online for either a one or two day pass. See below for more info.

Just as a warning, parking will be tight, but the LAist has provided some helpful information on using public transportation here.

From the LA Pride website:

Saturday 12:00 Noon – 12:00 Midnight
Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

The 2012 LA PRIDE Celebration in the newly renovated West Hollywood Park is the largest gathering of the LGBT community in Southern California.  Enjoy live entertainment on multiple stages, headline performances, all new dance venues, numerous exhibitors, food and drink vendors and thousands of members of our vibrant and active community!

Check back soon, for more up to the minute details as they become available.

Festival Admission
Get your tickets HERE!

Regular Admission is $20
$12 for Seniors, Disabled and Veterans
Free for Children under 12 and Active Military

Beverages
A wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be available. Beverages purchased at CSW Beverage Booths may only be purchased via drink tickets. Drink tickets may be purchased for $1.00 each at a variety of locations within the festival grounds. Over 21 Wristbands are required to consume any alcoholic beverages. You must be 21 years old and possess valid ID in order to purchase, consume or possess any alcoholic beverages.

Exhibitors
This is YOUR time to be celebrated, entertained and informed by visiting more than 150 exhibitor tents at the LA PRIDE Festival here for your enjoyment. Take advantage of one of the largest gatherings of local LGBT community groups, social organizations, artisans, activities and specialized businesses in the Greater Los Angeles Area supporting of the PRIDE family.

First Aid
The large RED CROSS on the festival map marks the location of the First Aid Station. Medical teams will also be available at both entrances, as well as throughout the festival lot, and can be identified by their uniforms and medical insignias.

Pets
Due to Health Department rules, ABSOLUTELY NO PETS are allowed on the festival site. The ONLY exception is for certified assisting animals. This rule applies to all pets – exotic as well as domestic.

Safety
West Hollywood Sheriff’s deputies, private security and volunteer “safety” monitors will be in abundance and constantly roving the festival site. In the event a problem should arise, please ask for assistance.

Special Services
ASL Interpreters will be available for the deaf and hearing-impaired near the Main Stage of the festival site. Interpreters can be requested for all areas of the festival with staged performances.

ADA Accessibility
Christopher Street West is dedicated to ensuring full access to all individuals, regardless of disability. Individuals requiring assistance should visit the INFORMATION BOOTH during the event. Additionally, interpreting services will be available at all stages, entrances, and information booth.

Information Booth
The INFORMATION BOOTH will be located just inside the festival entrance on San Vicente Blvd. just south of Santa Monica Blvd.

Hawaii Author Lee Cataluna to Read at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena

I was really excited to find out that local author Lee Cataluna would be doing a reading here in Los Angeles to promote her newest novel, Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa (which is also Bamboo Ridge’s #99 issue).  Her first book,  Folks You Meet at Longs, is actually one of my all-time favorites. I remember that my friend Joni and I would read the monologues aloud together, laughing so hard that there were tears in our eyes. I love how she could simultaneously break your heart and yet make you laugh in the same paragraph. It’s one of the many talents I admire about her and her writing.

The event is next Tuesday (February 7th) at 7pm at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.

You can buy a copy at Bamboo Ridge’s online store here.

Below is a bit of information from Bamboo Ridge:

Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa, a novel by Lee Cataluna, is the story of Bobby, a bumbling, affable, small-town miscreant on Maui, and his wildly misguided attempts to go straight after serving three years in jail for a stupid drug-related offense. His sister Doreen lets him stay on her sofa until he gets his life back together . . . for a few days . . . a week at most . . .

Cataluna will read from her novel on Tuesday, February 7 at 7pm at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena. Mark Haskell Smith, author of Delicious, said: “Lee Cataluna has written a book that is both laugh-out-loud funny and heart-wrenchingly poignant, often on the same page, as her ex-con narrator becomes a pidgin Shakespeare and guides us through the underbelly of paradise.”
Author R. Zamora Linmark writes:“Guaranteed to make you laugh and think while breaking your heart at the same time, Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa is Lee Cataluna’s blues rendition about that inevitable wear-and-tear called ‘home’ and the wounded people in it who love and lean on each other with hurt attached. Most of all, it is about redemption on the rocks, about one man’s desperate attempt to start all over, to hang on to whatever meaning’s left in his life, knowing the odds are against him. A remarkable debut novel—no, make that an instant classic—from one of Hawai‘i’s exciting and original voices.”
LA playwright Ed Sakamoto called Cataluna a “freakishly talented-crazy writer whose Three Years on Doreen’s Sofa is a bust-your-face, laugh-out-loud joy ride.”
Lee Cataluna was born on Maui and raised in plantation houses in Wailuku, Kōloa, and Ka‘u. She was a 2004 recipient of the Elliot Cades Award for Literature and her first book, Folks You Meet in Longs, received the Hawai‘i Book Publishers Association’s Ka Palapala Po‘okela Award for Excellence in Literature. Her play, Da Mayah, was included in the anthology He Leo Hou: A New Voice – Hawaiian Playwrights, which also received the Excellence in Literature Ka Palapala Po‘okela. After working for ten years in local television and radio, she became a columnist for The Honolulu Advertiser and currently writes for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser while a graduate student in the MFA Creative Writing program at the UC Riverside, Palm Desert campus.

Never Forgotten

photo by Derek Jensen

I can’t believe it’s been 10 years.  Airplanes have been flying overhead for hours now–commercial or military, I don’t know–but it feels weird. When I woke up this morning, I watched the CNN livestream of the memorial service in NYC for a bit. I imagine one day my children (or my cats, who knows) will ask me where I was on 9/11, much like how I’ve asked my parents where they were when Kennedy was shot.

I was just shy of eighteen on September 11, 2001. My parents were out of town, so I was house-sitting with my best friend Miriam. The night before,  we fell asleep together in the living room watching some stupid movie about I don’t even remember anymore.

A call on the house phone woke me up a little before 3am HST. It was my other best friend, Jen, and she was sobbing uncontrollably. I wiped the sleep from my eyes and sat up.

“Something happened! Turn on the TV!!!” She was practically yelling in my ear. “Someone bombed the World Trade Center.”

“What? It’s okay, everything’s all right,” I reassured her, searching for the TV remote in the darkness.

“What’s going on?” Miriam yawned.

“I’m not sure,” I explained. “Here, talk to Jen while I look for the remote.”

I handed the phone to her and got up to turn on the light. I found the remote wedged between the loveseat cushions and flipped on the television, thumbing through the channels in search of a news channel. I thought I was watching a movie, like a scene from Independence Day. It was unreal.

“Tell her I don’t think it’s a bomb,” I told Miriam to relay to Jen, listening to the news anchors share what little info they had. “People think it might be a plane?”  I watched as smoked billowed out of the first tower and while Miriam was still on the phone crying with Jen, a plane hit the second tower.  I knew it was a plane from the livestream on television. The plane appeared seemingly out of nowhere, passing the first tower and then disappearing behind the second tower. A few moments later, there was an explosion from the building.  The news anchors weren’t sure what caused the explosion at first, but soon the information started pouring in. I remember Miriam telling me this was the beginning of WWIII.

While Miriam and Jen consoled each other over the phone, I reached for my cell phone to call my mom and stepdad who were now stranded in San Francisco. I woke them up and my mom sounded much like I did when I first answered the phone: confused.  We stayed up after the sun came out and my dad picked us up later and took us to breakfast at Zippy’s to calm our nerves.

My mom and stepdad were trying to fly back to Hawaii from Seattle and ended up getting stranded in San Francisco for a few days. My mom said it was a ghost town, only the cable cars were running. They were staying at a hotel in downtown and there was fear that the financial district nearby was a target, so my stepdad called a relative in the suburbs, they checked out of the hotel, grabbed the last available rental car, and headed out of the city. When they flew home, she said the pilots made sure to introduce themselves to the passengers as they boarded the plane. They reassured them everything was safe and it was okay to fly, but reminded them to speak up if they saw something weird. My mom said it was strange at the time, but now it’s common to see pilots watching the passengers shuffle in. It’s crazy how quickly things have been forced to change.

In the months after 9/11, I didn’t sleep well. I lived in Manoa Valley with my ex and her friend in this tiny studio and when the planes passed through, it made the walls shake. I’m not sure if they were commercial planes, but the sound of them roaring through put me on edge. I didn’t sleep properly until I moved out of the Valley and that was nearly six months later.

I lived in Washington, DC for three years during college. A few times I got off at the Pentagon metro stop, mainly to transfer to other lines, but once we stopped outside so I could see the 9/11 plaques near the bus station.  A big portion of the Pentagon was closed off, still under repair, and I remember feeling heavy when I left.

I just want to take a moment and remember those who lost their lives that day and give thanks to the first responders for all they did.

Where were you on 9/11?