Monday, August 02, 2010

That neighbor

They're kind enough, my current neighbors. Back a couple years ago we had medical students renting the house next door. They were quiet and nerdy and smart and didn't open their windows, or shades for that matter. The year rolled by, med kids off to residency then returning early in the morning tired and dazed. They wouldn't come outside or socialize. They were here to rest their head and move on. And so they did. Gone in a day after the older Asian landlord decided to raise the rent. The med students, likely already six figures in debt, had to go.

Next up was another med student and her husband and their little girl. They made more noise than the zombie med students, but nothing abnormal. They dealt with the place, the bright blue carpet, the screwed up sprinkler system and the air conditioner that wouldn't or couldn't work. This is the 91030 so it's not slummy, but the Asian landlord who owned two other houses in the neighborhood barely made it out to our area from her perch in Manhattan Beach, but only to gather some rent or complain about property lines or make a fuss about small demands made by the people paying not just her mortgage, but most likely her Mercedes car payment, too.

The sweet young, struggling family made their way through the year and we became friends. Their daughter played with my 5-year-old son and the dad asked advice about lawn care and sprinklers and tree trimming. For a moment in those instances I was my dad only half the knowledge and a quarter of the skill, but I pressed on offering whatever advice I could albeit pretty basic at best.

Another 12 months rolled by and just as we were getting used to parkway conversations they moved on. The rent went up again and back came the now crazy Asian landlord lady barking about property lines and the height of the citrus trees and other trivial manners that I couldn't make sense of.

Now the new family shows up. A smart looking crew with two kids. He's Australian, she's Chinese and a neurologist at USC. His Australian accent is appealing and friendly and the kids are cute, quarky and boisterous. They have energy and at first it's fun. We'd exchange hellos and talk about the sprinkler problem. We escalated to problems in the world and the school system and cool places in the area to eat, shop, drink, and socialize. Soon we had a BBQ at their place, which was innocent enough until something clicked in my head: their kids are crazy. Not crazy in the sense that I wouldn't trust them with a steak knife, but in that they didn't have any sense of boundary.

This BBQ social event eliminated any boundaries from there on out. Soon a simple shuffle to my front porch found me five minutes later exchanging pleasantries with said Australian. He came out of nowhere with a "Hey mate." Innocent enough. Later on, a simple watering of my lawn recreated the same scene and the same hello. On it went. Then came their kids. Any sort of tip-toe to the grass by my son caused an echoing "Hi Luuuuuuuuuuuuukkkkkkkke" from their daughter 30 yards away on their front porch. It happened without fail for days and weeks on end. Ultimately Luke responded with a "[Sigh] Hi Name Here...[Sigh]" My socialite son was now having an issue with playing pretend on his own front lawn.

Things calmed down for a little while. Perhaps they got the message. Maybe they didn't have the "Neighbor-on-the-front-porch" sensor turned on. Maybe they just didn't like us anymore!

It returned. Luke's out front, neighbor girl comes over. Luke appeases her maybe because he can't stand it any more, or because he was surprised by her stealth ways or maybe he was interested in playing with her on the lawn after all. Nonetheless, this venture to the dark side created my biggest pet peeve imaginable... when kids decide to enter your home with asking. Our front door was open and while Luke came in to eat, in came the two wildcat kid neighbors. It happened once and while I was annoyed, I didn't think too much of it. Then it happened again, and again, and over and over. A couple times the little girl asked for a snack or water and my jaw dropped. Neurons were out of control in my head thinking, attempting to grasp the situation. One part of me admired her nerve, the other part made me despise her parents. "Where were they?" I wondered. "Why do they do this to me?" I wondered more. How do I send the message that this isn't cool without offending someone who could very well be my neighbor for years?

I was lost. Finally I just concluded that if I say nothing it may go away and they will get the signal, the picture, an idea that maybe Neighbor Tim is not down with kids just popping in the house, or on the porch.

For now it seems to have simmered down. It's unfortunate that they are "those neighbors" but then again I think that maybe they think I am "that neighbor" too. Time will tell. To this day we still chit-chat every once in a while and for the most part they are a quiet crew. Time will also tell if they hang around. My guess is the crazy Asian landlord will hike the rent and we will get another serving of the unknown.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The mindless, runaway blog entry, part 1-?

Writing for me is not easy. Often I run into moments when I know there is good material to feed off, but can't quite determine how to express an opinion or elaborate on what already exists. In the past I would rattle off blog entries on just about anything, but lately I have run dry.

Maybe it's because what I do for my profession is write, handle freelancers and read material that eventually ends up in my magazine. It's similar to the chef or massage therapist or carpenter who does the deed all day then comes home and wants nothing to do with the trade.

But of late I have concluded that writing a blog helps me with my profession. When I was scratching out a blog entry every day way back when I was also writing more for the magazine. Then when I slowed to a halt on the blog, so too did the amount of words I would write for the magazine. It's a conundrum. For me, a blog is not for anyone who may read it but for me. In essence it's an exercise that helps me get down to my "fighting" weight for the thing that makes me money–my paying job.

Thinking about media...
Recently, I have been thinking about media. At a recent work-related event I noticed that there are way too many photographers and very few magazines to utilize those images. So great sports photographers are left with blogs and websites. It's a shame really, and while the magazine I manage clearly has the best cycling photography bar-none, it could never afford to, nor could it physically house all the images that are generated. And so blogs and websites have become the main depository for great images. It's bizarre to me to look at an image on a screen. Photography is meant to be printed on paper, bound in glue or saddle stitched, used as candy for an article–in a magazine.

If you ask any good cycling photographer today, they will tell you that getting their images in print is the single most important thing. It's final. It's not digital. Eventually that digital link disappears into the ether, becomes archived. Goes away. With paper, it stays. Printed. Embedded. Inked on to a surface. It remains.

Blogs are neat don't get me wrong, as are websites. And while some people think that the printed book or magazine will disappear, I fervently disagree. While blogs have created a whole new medium for the average "Joe" to put down thoughts, report on events, mis-report, assume, etc, they have also diluted the world with drivel and inaccuracies.

So what's the point of this off-kilter, unfocused blog entry? Not sure. And to those who believe that printed pieces will go away I say "blat" to you.This is the end of mindless, runaway blog entry, part 1-?.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's been a long time...

Not sure why I haven't blogged in a while. Perhaps it's my inability to think of anything interesting, or maybe it's because I have too many things in my head that are certainly blog-worthy, but way too much effort to spit out. I guess I have been in a creative black hole. (Next action, hit SAVE and come back to this wandering paragraph).

Okay I am back. The one thing I have been thinking about lately is the 1980s. A time when I grew up, became a turd, wore clothes that were lame, listened to lame music, had lame girlfriends and some good ones, and so on. At the time, things were lame. Living in that decade was lame but good at the same time. Ups and downs, trends, clicks, cool people. (Hitting SAVE again).

Then I see my 11-year-old son in the distance. It's me! The same clothes, reactions and taste in music. He's wearing skinny jeans and surf shirts, Vans, wearing his hair similar. How does this happen? How does this Tween start listening to Modern English, English Beat, Thompson Twins, etc? I conclude that it's just part of our society. He's impressionable, but the 1980s? For him, the 1980s are vintage, which means I'm old now. I don't want to be old yet, but I am there.

Vintage for each of us means something different. For me, vintage is the 50's, 60's and maybe the 70's. It's when cars were big and bold, music was real rock-n-roll, hi-tech was a home phone and a color television. For someone like me who didn't live during that period or experience it, it seemed like a simpler time, innocent and naive.

And now that my son has "forced" me to look back at the 1980s, download New Wave tunes from iTunes, I think about the fun times, the innocence, the things I/we hid from our parents, the things they found out, the sports, the stupid mistakes a teenager makes, the moments when you experienced something new like driving and cool music and hot girls. There are certain memories I hold that I will pass to my kids. I always wondered why I became a good fielder in baseball and now know and realize that I can attribute it to throwing the tennis ball against the wall above our garage door for hours and hours. It increased my eye-hand coordination exponentially. Over and over I threw it, and grabbed it with the glove I still have in my garage until I was bored or tired or both.

I remember my dad buying a dirt bike from the local shop, bringing it home in a crate, putting it together, and how I was scared to ride it out of the garage. To me it was fierce and I subsequently wheelied down the driveway–not on purpose.

I remember being a pain in the ass when my sister brought over her first serious boyfriend named Rich. I could see the two on the couch wondering when I was going to bed. I remember the cul-de-sac and the endless games of baseball and hitting line drives off the neighbors motorhome over and over, and basketball games that went late into the night courtesy of a flood light my dad would set up next to a basketball pole that he sunk two feet into the cement.

I distinctly recall–though my mom may not–scouring the grounds of my high school searching for a misplaced report card I was supposed to show to the athletic director in order to prove I had the grades to continue to play.

I am sure we all have these stories that are stored way back in the depths of our minds. They don't come to surface without some sort of trigger. It may be a childhood friend recalling instances, or music, or a son who has found the style and music of the "vintage" 1980s appealing. For me, thinking about those days came about via music. Now I am obsessed with those "glory" days and bands like Psychedelic Furs, OMD, and even Duran Duran! Thinking about the obscure New Wave bands I liked reminds me of the two Spanish exchange students who made the most awesome mix-cassette ever! I totally wish I still had that. (Hitting SAVE).

Eleven-year-old son: Dad what's a tape?
Me: It came before the CD and after the vinyl record.
Eleven-year-old son: What's a record? Do we still have CD's.
Me: Uhh.