Bitchy Bingo - A Different Kind of Garden

Let this be known: transvestites take their bingo seriously. For real, bitches, for REAL.

Last night's adventure in our fair city took us to Bitchy Bingo at Lips. This was a garden of glitter, an orchard of organza (or fauxganza, as the case may be), a vineyard of sparkly beaded shimmery spandex and feathers and fake eyelashes and chi chi's, and probably some duct tape under all that. It was a real Victor Victoria thing, minus Julie Andrews and all that amazing show(wo)mansip. There were many fruits in this fair garden, maybe even a few nuts, but no vegetables.

The waitresses gave us quite a talking to, as there were some shoes worn by a particular person at our table which were not up to drag-queen standards. "Listen, bitch. . .you are too pretty to be wearing those ugly thangs on your feet. I don't care if you got bad knees! Get you some heels, and just walk real slow. Just creep! Just move slow and smooth! My feet hurt like hell but at least I look good!! Take it from me, little miss ugly ass shoes, you need something new. Why don't your girlfriends take you shopping? What, don't they love you?" and on and on and on.

A few of performers were amazing, a few were less so, and all were bitchy.

CC won the first round of Bingo, and got a free T-shirt and some plastic tumblers. Tres chic. MK won a huge ration of crap from some very tall and glamorous ladies about her shoes. I ordered a virgin pina colada and got not just a fluffy drink with whip-cream and a cherry on top but many doubles entendres to boot. We all left winners.


Today is a Special Day

August 26 is a very special day.

It is Women's Equality Day , a day where we commemorate the women's suffrage movement, highlighted in this documentary film clip.

August 26 is also National Dog Day, which should never, ever, ever be confused with National Corn Dog Day, which is March 21.

Celebrate accordingly.

Building a Garden - Literally, not Symbolically

This week, I started my garden. It turns out that residents of SD can go to the Miramar Landfill Greenery and pick up as much compost as you can carry. . . FOR FREE. My tax dollars at work! Yes!

The Miramar Landfill Greenery collects, shreds, and composts yard waste, old Christmas trees, and other plant matter scraps and goodies. These goodies get bulldozed into huge piles to compost for a few months, then bulldozed into another huge pile to be picked up in large batches by a bunch of really strong and intimidating dudes in a big truck who looked like they knew what they were doing, and in small batches by over-educated white ladies in fuel efficient cars.

I took home one Yaris of compost, and started on the garden. A "Yaris" is a measurement of volume that is larger than a cubic cubit, equal to several bushels, and is less than a pick-up or a mini-van.

Follow up to follow soon. Stay tuned to Far Flung! We'll keep you posted even when there is nothing much to post!


Sightseeing in Our Town - Part II

Sightseeing in Our Own Backyard - Part II,
also known as
The Amazing Painted Utility Boxes of San Diego.

San Francisco might have the famous Painted Ladies, Mexico City has the famous Diego Rivera murals, and painting horses is all the rage at fancy rehab hospitals (check out pg. 5 of this article), but none of that holds a candle to the Amazing Painted Utility Boxes of San Diego.

These works are simultaneously transcendent and utilitarian. They transform the typical utility box from an easily overlooked, gray, metal, boxy and forgettable obstacle into an everyman's gallery; a unique canvas upon which the people of our fair city can express their vision, their identity, and their creative prowess. These utility boxes cease to be just a big hunk of city-works stuff that is in your way while you are on your way somewhere else, they instead are a destination in and of themselves.

I apologize for the weird spacing. Keep scrolling down. You'll live. The last picture is of firemen, so it is well worth the extra effort.

This utility box is just fierce. Look at that leopard, so confident and aggressive in temperament. This painting would be perfectly at home on black velvet. Look again. . .it took a moment to even notice it is on a utility box, didn't it? This utility box was photographed in University Heights, near my new favourite restaurant, Chicken Pot Pie Shop (blog post about this starchy wonderland is upcoming).

What are those zebras doing? This utility box is in Hillcrest.

This cloud is crying rain tears. Maybe it is crying about the litterbugs who left trash in the gutter.

Scooby is about to be beamed up by the mothership. On the other side of this utility box, Daffy is riding a magic carpet, and Yosemite Sam is bar-b-q'ing over a wash tub. My instincts tell me that a bunch of stoners painted this utility box. Photographed in Ocean Beach. Yup, probably was a bunch of stoners.

This nature-scene-themed utility box shows a delicate and sandy environment full of tombstone cacti and Mt. Fuji-esqe mountains. While we are in a drought, and this is the desert, the pictures are more fanciful than they are a true and accurate representation of this area of the country's flora and fauna. I do like the bird that resembles an osprey, and I really love the jackrabbit eyeing the "warning high voltage inside" label. Photographed in Roseville.

The painted birds of paradise flowers really make this bus stop more scenic and pleasant. They are much easier to maintain than real flowers, too. You almost can't tell they are utility boxes and not real flowers at all! Majestic floral utility box photographed in Loma Portal.

This sunset-inspired utility box is lovely. I like the beach break with 2 lines of white water, and I really enjoy how two of the palm trunks merge and then abruptly end, and how one of the palm tops is magically suspended on no trunk at all. It is as though the brilliance of the sun, or the high-voltage utility box innards seared right through the tree. Photographed near Old Town.

Dr. Seuss lived out his final years in San Diego, so it is appropriate that his contribution is commemorated on this respectable canvas.

More Seussiness, just down the block from the other pic.

White Rabbit, and next utility box down the block is sporting a Cheshire Cat. Guess the neighborhood. Get it right, and I'll send you some cookies.

This one is Dr. Seuss meets TeleTubbies.

This whimsical little number has Humpty Dumpty sitting on, well, it doesn't at all look like a wall. It looks like a dirt pile. Humpty does look tense and his legs are all tangled up. There were no king's horses nor were there king's men. Maybe this is just some Dumpty cousin, and not Humpty at all. This utility box gets extra points for painting its protective poles to match the palm trees lining the block. You almost can't tell they are just drunk-driver deflecting bollards!

This beautiful utility box also incorporates its guard poles into the overall design. I enjoy how small the scuba diver is compared to everything else. Maybe he is just far away.

This one is my personal favourite. This huge and well-fed octopod is reading 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea. The building behind our octopod buddy is not Atlantis. It is our neighborhood library.

Bringing up the rear in our tour of glorious painted utility boxes is this doozey of a box outside the San Diego Fire Department Station 15. I love how on one side, the fire truck is coming right at you. On the other side, there is a swirling menace of flames and smoke. But, fear not, because on the last face of the utility box there is a strong firefighter, shown in dramatic silhouette, fighting a huge blaze, and, dare I say, winning against the flames because fire fighters are heroes and they save the day.

Feel free to start up a heady debate on the artistic merit and thematic resonance of the work, its multiple dimensions, how pop culture and fine art intersect in post-post-modernist contemporary art, the influence of primitivist stylings in an "anything goes" medium, or if you just like the pictures.


In Case You Were Wondering

In case you were wondering, I am a total bad-ass of home improvement.

In my current phase of unemployment/job hunt/soul searching/sleeping-in/ going to the gym in the middle of the day, I have spending a good part of my time upgrading our shit-hole rental apartment into a more livable and stylish space. If I am not working for money, I might as well be working for improvement in our quality of life.

We moved into this particular shit-hole because it met many of our criteria: lots of windows, few shared walls, space for me to grow some veggies and flowers, walking distance to the beach, and most importantly, affordable in one of the more expensive cities in the US on one paltry post-doc income.

One of the striking design elements of our shoebox by the sea was the liberal use of indoor-outdoor carpet. The carpet not only was ugly, but had a distinctive odor. There is a reason why eau de mildew, pet accident, and old dirt are not used in aromatherapy blends. They are nasty, that's why.

Knowing that our landlord is a very nice and lovely woman who is not the least bit interested in putting any money into our shack, we (meaning just me) decided it was better to apologize for after the fact, like when we move out in a few years, for changing the floor rather than asking her for permission, being told no, and having to live with the carpet that gave me a rash.

One of the benefits of being unemployed is that it gives me lots of time to stalk good deals. The internet is a horn of plenty for those willing to put in the legwork. I found a contractor who installed a laminate floor all over some fancy-pants house in Rancho Santa Fe and had a few hundred square feet left over. Oh really? You don't say! Hmmmm. . .I live in an apartment that is only a few hundred square feet! I bought said laminate floor from said contractor for about $ .55 a square foot. What a deal.

I tore out the indoor-outdoor carpet to find a slowly decomposing, somewhat moist, very sandy carpet pad. Did I mention we are 4 blocks from the beach? Who in their right mind thought carpet was a good idea near the beach? The carpet pad was choc full o' bad smells and about 8 lbs of sand.

After tearing that out, I found underneath the pad some carpet cutting utility blades left over from the installation of said atrocity, circa 1988, some old-school asbestos 9x9 tile, and what was probably once a very decent wood floor. The wood floor had lots of water stains. Let's hope those were water stains and not stains from other wet things. Sanitized the floor with industrial strength restaurant floor sanitizer just in case.

I stuffed as much of the old carpet in our trash bin as possible, but even though our apartment is tiny, our trash bin is tinier and could not hold all our old carpet. I loaded the rest of the carpet into my little hatch-back Toyota. Once night fell, I disposed of the evidence. I drove around the neighborhood looking for unlocked dumpsters behind big apartment complexes, bars, and Jiffy Lube. I would pull up, leave the car running, and unload just one or two strips of carpet into the dumpster, then drive away. This way, I didn't fill any one single dumpster with our detritus, and if, for some reason, our landlady was checking dumpsters, she wouldn't notice the carpet and recognize it as HER indoor/outdoor carpet. "Hey! I recognize that stain! That is from the crummy apartment with lots of potential I am renting to the scientist and his currently unemployed wife!"

The big error in this plan was leaving the carpet in the car all day while I finished working on the floor. The car cooked in the sun for hours and then was thick with dirty old cat-box/mold smells. I don't recommend it.

Installed the foam sub-floor vapor barrier layer thingy. I didn't know which side to face up, and found instructions on the internet saying silver side up, as well as silver side down. Excellent! I am right either way!

Installed the laminate floor, did a kick-ass job, and then put on new molding and quarter round. That's right, I totally installed a new floor and new molding. I know my way around a power saw.

Also found on the internet - several ceiling fans for $12 a piece. I replaced the kitchen light with a little ceiling fan. Check out the film. That is the ceiling fan, totally working, lights on and everything. The house has not yet burned down, as my task of wiring in the fan was not faulty. It rocked.

So, in case you were wondering, I am, in fact, a total bad-ass of home improvement.