SPEED-DATING Single? Unattached? No one who will miss you should something terrible happen? Building at Corner <—————————
Meeting For The NO KIDNAPPING Club Are You A Pretty Lady Who Hates Kidnapping And Wants To Discuss It With Other Likeminded Individuals? Us too! We Are Definitely Not Kidnappers! Come To Our Meeting And We Will Totally Not Kidnap You! (No Cops) Building at Corner <—————————
KNOW HOW TO MAKE A PROFESSIONAL-LOOKING NOT CREEPY SIGN? We could use your services Please bring a resume and portfolio to the Building at Corner <—————————
Auditions: Female Singers With Nice Feet Must Have “Cute” “Petite” Feet Must Not Get Weird About Us Taking Pictures Of Your Feet Bring Sheet Music (Accompanist Provided) Building at Corner <—————————
HEY LADY SINGERS! Come Into This Dark Mysterious Building, Why Not Worst-Case Scenario The Endless Cable News Coverage Of Your Almost Certain Grisly Abduction And Gruesome Dismemberment Followed By Lengthy Trial, Interviews With Cops, Friends, Loved Ones, Lifetime Movie, Book Deals For All, Early Home Movies Taken “In Happier Times,” Etc., Etc., May Bring Some Much-Needed Exposure To Your Fledgeling Musical Career Building at Corner <—————————
There’s a big Disney billboard on the corner of Franklin and Highland. I pass that billboard all the time and I’ve never seen it advertise anything that isn’t a Disney movie. I guess Disney owns that billboard? Or has a long-term deal with whatever company leases it out? I’ve noticed a few other themed billboards in this city — such as the always CBS billboard on the corner of Fairfax and Beverly or the electronic Showtime billboard I pass when I walk down Santa Monica — and they give me hope that some Hollywood marriages last.
My birthday is two weeks from today. I’m turning 28. This is the State of Raphael at 27.
Navel, start gazing!
I’ve lived in LA long enough now that I find mildly overcast days to be oppressively saddening, but not so long that I’m unaware of the ridiculousness of that fact and not so long that I’m not a little bit embarrassed by it. In about a month I’ll have not lived in Brooklyn for three years, which is as long as I lived in Brooklyn. I like LA. It’s been good to me. But part of me still thinks of myself as a transplanted New Yorker, even though I never once felt like a New Yorker when I lived in New York. Maybe I will always to some extent feel like a visitor, even if I live the rest of my life here.
I can tell that other people here see me as a New Yorker, by which I mean they see me as an intellectual, by which I mean they see me as not one of The Beautiful People. I was reminded of this yet again when Emily got me a pair of tickets to the MTV Movie Awards earlier this summer. It was pretty much wall-to-wall Beautiful People. “Everyone here looks exactly the same,” said Caroline. “I don’t mean they’re all attractive. I mean they all look exactly the same.” At one point, while waiting in line, a woman turned to us and said, “Oh, thank God. I was beginning to think I was the only person here over 35.”
I said, “Yeah, ha ha, okay.”
Charlie Sheen was a presenter at the MTV Movie Awards, and the crowd loved him, just as they loved Chris Brown at the VMAs ten months earlier. The house went crazy for Charlie, applauding every reference to his wild bad boy persona, drowning out my drunken shouts of “You’re a horrible human being!” and “You hit women!”
I chose to think it was The Beautiful People who were cheering for Charlie Sheen, just as I choose to think The Beautiful People are responsible for many of the world’s problems. They’re fundamentally empty, these Beautiful People (I grumble bitterly to myself) because they’re allowed to be so why wouldn’t they be?
My thick-framed glasses and perma-scowl are statements of allegiance to my not-Beautiful team. My crooked teeth and barely concealed receding hairline — people on both sides know what these things mean. I am guiltier than anyone of drawing these lines in the sand between the Tias and the Tameras, of fetishizing my own sophisticated ugliness. It was “over 30” the woman said at the MTV Movie Awards, not 35. But it’s a better story if it’s 35.
I tend to think of my body in similar terms as my car. It gets me places, but I don’t really understand how it works or what I need to do to take care of it. Sometimes, it makes weird noises that surprise me, or just stops working for seemingly no reason. I probably should clean it more often, but does it really matter all that much? It gets me places, my body, but it isn’t really me.
I mentioned this to someone recently, under the mistaken belief that it was a charming thing to tell someone, and she said, “Yeah, but if your car breaks down, you can just get a new one,” and this seemingly obvious observation shook me to my core.
My car broke down a couple weeks ago and I got a new one. I call the new one Deep Blue, because it’s blue. In many ways it’s an upgrade over my previous car (which I called The Mach Five, because I thought it looked like a race car), but instead of a CD player it only plays cassettes.
The one cassette I own right now is a tape I made for myself when I was a kid. It’s called “Twisters” and it’s me shouting out body parts and colors — “Left foot… red! Right hand… blue!” — over background Paul Simon music. The idea was I could unfold a Twister mat in my bedroom and put on this tape and play a round of Twister by myself. When I describe this tape to my friends I like to play up the foolish entrepreneur angle — “I thought this idea was going to make me a millionaire!” — and sidestep the convoluted Rube Goldberg loneliness of wanting to play Twister without other people.
I did a good amount of traveling this year. During an impulsive solo road trip tour of the American Southwest last winter I stopped for the night in Heber, Arizona, a small snow-speckled town at the top of Tonto National Forest. When I got in, the room at the Best Western was completely unmade. There were no sheets on the mattress, one small blanket was draped over a chair, and six naked pillows sat stacked on an end table. I told myself I was like a ghost, just passing through. Nobody would ever even know I was here, I thought. The alarm clock radio was the exact same kind I had when I was in high school, and I took this as a sign that this moment, like all moments, was just for me.
There’s a comfort in being a ghost, an outsider, in playing Twister by yourself, in being a New Yorker in LA, in being emphatically not one of The Beautiful People. But I think if you want to keep growing it’s important to never get too comfortable.
My goals for 28 are the same as they are every year — to take more risks, to tear down walls, to avoid the comforts of consistency, to be a little more open to being a little less lonely.
I’m getting there, I know it, slowly but surely.
I’m starting a new job in a week and a half which I’m very much looking forward to. Things are happening — it’s an exciting time to be Raphael.
I have good friends in LA, when I remember to call them. The weather is nice. I like it here.
I was in the Whole Foods on Santa Monica Boulevard when this Sheryl Crow song started playing and I frantically looked around to see if anybody else understood what was happening. I ducked through the aisles on the verses so that every time the chorus came back I could be with a new group of people so maybe I could have a moment with somebody where we both simultaneously realize: She’s saying “Santa Monica Boulevard” and that’s where we are! This song is about where we are right now!
It’s easy to get lost in a city as big as LA and it’s easy to feel lonely. It’s easy to feel like you’re spending a lot of your time just looking for a parking space, and a lot of your energy just trying to remember where you parked.
I didn’t expect everyone to just freak out all of a sudden, in the middle of the Whole Foods. I just kind of wanted someone to make eye contact with me, and nod and be like, “What you’re feeling right now? I understand. And I feel it too.”
FUN FACT: If, one night while driving up the 5, somewhere between Los Angeles and San Francisco you pass a gas station on fire, like really on fire, on fire on fire, like a fire in the movies, bright and tall and awful and kind of gorgeous in how terrifying it is, and if before you left you kept getting delayed so you hit rush hour and it took you forever to get out of the city and your car stereo stopped working so you had nothing to listen to but quiet, and if earlier that day you went in for a twenty dollar oil change and ended up paying almost two hundred, and if in general you feel like you are constantly being inconvenienced, after you pass the fire (the one that’s bright and tall and awful and kind of gorgeous in how terrifying it is), the first thing you will do is keep driving for a very long time without stopping. Then when you finally stop, you will sit in your car for a moment and take a deep breath. Then you will step outside and look at the stars. You will feel very very small and very very helpless and very very grateful that you get to be alive.
I’m standing in the parking lot outside M Cafe on Melrose where I just had a delicious vegan meal (hummus and falafel wrap, table for one). I can’t get out of my parking space because someone else is blocking me in. What do I do? OPTION A: I go into the restaurant and I shout, as casually as I can, “Hey, does anyone have a black Honda Civic parked outside?” Then everyone in the restaurant looks at me, with their eyes. The problem with this option is that it’s IMPOSSIBLE, so it’s clearly off the table. I already tried it twice. I went back into the restaurant and stood at the front and opened my mouth like I was about to say something, but then when I got to the part where I actually had to say something, instead what happened was I blinked and when I opened my eyes again I was back in the parking lot. OPTION B: I wait out here next to my car until the owner of the black Honda Civic finishes his or her or gender-neutral pronoun’s meal and comes out and moves his or her or gender-neutral pronoun’s car. There are two problems with this option. One is the English language’s lack of a satisfactory third person possessive gender-neutral pronoun. I know some people use “hir” but I don’t like that, because to my ear a combination of two different historically loaded pronouns does not make one neutral. Some people use “their” even when describing a singular person in the interest of gender neutrality, but I just can’t bring myself to do that because God damn it, we’re trying to have a society here and societies need rules. MORE RELEVANT: the problem with Option B is that when the owner of the black Honda Civic comes out of the restaurant and sees me waiting there, I’ll feel like a real passive aggressive asshole. We’ll both feel bad, and there’s no reason I should ruin two nights. I’ll feel guilty for making the other person feel guilty and I’ll feel like a real loser that I couldn’t just do Option A. OPTION C: I go for a long walk and come back for my car after the restaurant closes. This seems to be the only viable option. Thoughts?
If you’re in a cafe and a cute girl asks you to watch her computer while she goes to the bathroom, when she gets back, say, “Hey, just so you know, while you were gone a burglar tried to steal your computer, but I stopped him!” Then she’ll say, “Oh yeah?” and you say, “Yeah. I did a really good job of watching your computer. This cafe is full of burglars.” Then she’ll say something like, “Ha ha, thanks.” Then smile and say, “No problem.” Then don’t say anything for five hours. Then go home.
hollywoodissuperficial asked: Did you go to the Red Lion Tavern tonight because YOU'RE a Tim Heidecker completist? and you had predicted his team's trivia victory? and witnessing it was to be jewel in your Tim Heidecker crown (an aquamarine maybe? were you there for the aquamarine question?)?
This question is from someone you don't know who knows your work, by the way. I would have introduced myself in order to be more of a normal person, and not a creepy Internet person, but you got up and left right when I was doing head math because of the check.
What? That is crazy! There are spies everywhere. I had no idea my hukilau dance was so popular that I would get recognized in public.
FYI, everyone else, if you are trying to put together a trivia team, this is what I bring to the table:
1) I will insist that William Faulkner wrote a book called The Idiot and the Bell, Probably.
2) I will insist every round that we should “double down” even though, after having it explained to me several times, I still possess only a vague idea of what “doubling down” means.
3) I will insist that Kelsey Grammer guest-starred as himself in a 2001 episode of Frasier.
4) I will insist, after the scores are announced at the end of each round, that we “probably should’ve doubled down.”
5) I will insist, repeatedly and loudly, that an onyx is a kind of snake, even after the correct answers have been announced, and even after we’ve looked it up on wikipedia, just to make sure. Then later, when I get home, I will google until I find something that proves me kind of right.
I found this postcard at one of my favorite Hollywood coffee shops, which just goes to show that anything can happen on Rex Manning Day. Got an audition this week? Ethan Embry, star of Can’t Hardly Wait, Empire Records and That Thing You Do, wants to help you “make some great choices, get solid with the words, and find your life in a new character.”
professionallush asked: One time I was driving down Santa Monica Blvd and I saw you on the sidewalk and I was on the phone and interrupted my friend and said "Oh! I just saw someone I recognize from the internet on the sidewalk! Nevermind!" Where were you going?
FIRST THINGS FIRST, while we’re talking about driving down Santa Monica Boulevard: I’ve created a great Driving Around Southern California Mix I want to share with you, and everyone. It is this:
1. Jenny and Johnny’s album “I’m Having Fun Now” in its entirety
2. Best Coast’s album “Crazy For You” in its entirety.
That’s it. Both albums fit on one CD and it’s great Driving Around Southern California Music. I guess if you wanted to be creative, you could alternate tracks, whatever, I’m not going to tell you how to live your life.
NOW TO YOUR QUESTION: I’m not sure where I was going on the day that you saw me, because I live right above Santa Monica B. on Ogden and I walk a lot, because walking is one of the few things I miss about New York, and also it’s the only exercise I get, because I’m aiming for a nice Jared the Subway Guy Physique — my goal in life is to be good-looking enough that I can be allowed on television and near children but not so good-looking that I don’t have to be interesting and I forget how.
NOT THAT YOU ASKED BUT: You should have said hello! I know that saying hello is easier said then done a) when you’re on the phone with someone else, b) when you’re in the car driving somewhere, c) just in general all the time anyway, CASE IN POINT:
Just today I completely embarrassed myself in front of the cute barista I like at this cafe I go to (NOTE: I am not trying to imply that I am like the cute barista in the story of you driving by me on Santa Monica Blvd; we’ve moved on from that, we’re talking about me now). Every time she walked by I kept looking up and smiling at her, like a creep, as if we shared some private joke, and every time she just walked by, pretending not to notice, because of course we DON’T share some private joke (unless the private joke is “Hey, who’s this creep?”). I had meant to start a conversation with her when I ordered my hot chocolate (YES I go to cafes to drink hot chocolate — I don’t like the taste of coffee and part of me is secretly afraid if I drink it too much I’ll get addicted, OKAY? Plus, I wasn’t even going to go to the cafe today — I was going to go to the park and read, but then the weather was gross so I ducked into the cafe on the off chance that the cute barista I like would be working there, and then she was and I pretty much had a heart attack, ANYWAY, as I was saying) but I didn’t start a conversation with her when I ordered my hot chocolate because there were people waiting behind me and it didn’t quite feel right but then when I paid she whispered “Thank you” and I felt like that meant something, and this just in: I am fourteen years old apparently.
So all afternoon I sat at a table by the counter trying to read my book but also trying to think of some way to start a conversation that wouldn’t involve me having to buy more things, because let’s face it, I’m not made of money, and if I was there are better things to spend money on than hot chocolate (e.g. I think I’m finally at a place in my life where I’m ready to start experimenting with argyle socks). But even if I could start a conversation, how could I possibly maintain it, but also what would be the point of it anyway, and also why do I keep coming to this place. (There’s a period at the end of that sentence because I’m not really asking, I’m telling.)
Anyway, the point of this story is I can’t talk to people in quote-unquote real life but I can (to a degree) articulate things in my blog, and in my comedy, and my various other projects, where I have time to map things out, and where I can assume that no cute baristas that I like are reading. So I’m always happy to meet people who recognize me from the internet, because I feel like when they recognize me, they’re not just “recognizing” me in the sense of, “oh, that guy looks familiar,” they’re recognizing me in the sense of identification, as in “hey, that guy represents something that I recognize.” Which is why you should have said hello (even if in this specific situation, it was technically impossible): it’s always nice to be told that we are something recognizable.
PUT ANOTHER WAY: After I embarrassed myself by not talking to the cute barista I like at the cafe I go to and left without saying goodbye (which made me hate myself so much I wanted to vomit (upwards, so that it would fall back down on top of me)), I knew I had to blog about my experience and that would make the whole thing a little better. It’s like when you stumble on the sidewalk and you look around to see if anyone saw you and everyone kind of pretends they didn’t, but what you really want is for someone to make eye contact with you and smile and kind of shrug as if to say, “I saw it, and it’s okay.”
She’s right of course; I’ve been putting off washing my clothes for too long. Every night I go to bed thinking: tomorrow is the day, and every day I discover an endless series of not-my-laundry to do. I’ve long run out of clean clothes, and I’m right now maybe a week past passing-for-clean clothes, so I’m sure I do smell like a hippie, and I can only hope in a good way, but I have a feeling my friend was being charitable, because you don’t usually tell people they smell like hippies when you mean it “in the good way.”
Is this oversharing? I think I read about that in an op-ed once. I apologize for nothing. Like I said I’ve had a few drinks, but more importantly, I am blogging on my portable phone (don’t let anyone tell you we aren’t living in the future; that person is a liar) because I am at a bar and that is not my home and this is the internet and that is my home.
There was a pretty girl that I talked with for a little bit, but she didn’t ask me any questions about me, and I consider that a turn-off. However, I also hate talking about myself, so maybe that poor girl never had a chance. I build walls, old news, we get it, moving on.
Here’s the thing: It would be so easy to just do my laundry, and it would be so easy to just make small-talk with people I don’t find interesting, and it would be so easy to turn off the phone and try to live in the moment without commenting on it and silently judging everything. It would be so so easy, but it’s even easier not to.
And so (a needle pulling a thread) I smell like a hippie, and I build up walls, and I had a few beers, and Live from the corner of this bar, it’s Saturday night.
Hi. My name is Raphael and this is where I write about my feelings. I am in the comedy group Olde English and we made this movie. I currently live in Los Angeles where I spend the majority of my time trying to find a parking space.