So there I was, one testicle deep in the world of Spanish porn, unsure as to how I got there.

It began back in October of 2005 when I saw an article in El Mundo (a right-leaning major daily periodical) and a full-page ad in a reputable national music magazine for Follar Tour: La Gira del Infierno (Fuck Tour: The Tour from Hell).

According the website and ads, an entourage of real people—which ostensibly means people who aren’t porn stars—tour various cities throughout Spain and Portugal and engage in coitus on stage or within roped-off areas as the public looked on en masse.

Coitus?

I initially thought these events only happened in the American subculture that is hedonistic Southern Cali in private houses where seemingly normal people get together and grope, pull and penetrate strangers with invitations.

But no, this was not merely a swingers subculture or phenomenon.

It was something more insidious.

Tickets were 40 euros per chico, 25 euros per pareja (couple) and chicas got in free.

Eye-brow raising titles to events included:
“sex boxing”
“pool sex”
“uniformed exhibition”

As well as your standard hardcore completely-devoid-of-erotica in any way:
“gang bang”
“threesomes”
“facials”

In all, there were supposed to be 35 events along with DJs and live bands starting at noon and ending at midnight.

This was to be held in November 2005 at La Riviera, a covered dome where I’ve drank beer many times before and been wowed by such acts as Wilco, LCD Soundsystem, and Jane’s Addiction (and one time seriously disappointed by Jack Johnson) since I moved here.

I almost went to this, somewhat out of curiosity but more in hopes of selling the idea to any one of the trendy Maxim-style offshoots such as FHM, Stuff, and Loaded.

I even queried Penthouse and Hustler.

Hustler pays about $1,000/article.

That’s a lotta cabbage, let me tell you.

But a good friend was visiting me from the states that weekend and I didn’t think this was the kind of sightseeing she would’ve had in mind.

Several reports corroborated a lackluster outcome:

No one showed up until 5 pm.

Low ticket sales and a disproportionate number of men put the massive public orgy into slow-starter mode.

Music was intermittent–since initially there was really no one there to place music for–and later it was spotty, sometimes not having a DJ or band for up to two hours at a time.

And it ended early.

If the first follar tour was a failure, you couldn’t tell.

Several months later, Exposex billboards began popping up all over Madrid.

Kiptobin8a_1

Then, the next day, as I’m thinking about what all this odd exhibitionist sexual behaviour means, a strange email comes into my inbox.

Kiptobin8b_1

A Spanish porn actor, Whilly, was looking to get his website translated.

In exchange, he couldn’t pay me but he offered the possibility of witnessing one of his scenes being filmed.

I really didn’t want to see porn being filmed, but I thought there might be a story in it.

So in pursuit of amateur journalistic excellence and a few emails back and forth, we met for a drink in his flat.

He offered me a beer, which I accepted graciously.

He drank orange juice and wiped his palms on his jeans twice.

He checked his cell phone.

The apartment looked like it hadn’t been dusted or cleaned properly since he moved in, nor had he spent any time considering how to best utilize what little space there was.

In explaining this, he revealed that Barcelona was his hometown and he sometimes goes back to film scenes there.

He stays with his family.

They don’t know what he really does.

His phone rang, he answered it and politely said that he couldn’t speak right now because he was busy.

“I’m with a friend,” he said.

He hung up and explained something: he considers his life somewhat difficult because he usually answers his phone by his screen name, which is (errr—I highly recommend you don’t visit the following link if you are under 18 or offended by porn) Whilly Foc.

Of course, when friends or family call, he has to make sure to answer it coolly and reply to any questions about life as if life is normal at the bank.

He used to work at a bank.

He showed me his latest doctor-signed STD certificate–to prove that he was clean.

Sure enough, he was “clean”.

He then said that the previous offer of getting me into a shoot was off the table.

Getting a director to agree to allowing a journalist be present during the filming of a scene is extremely difficult.

So in exchange for translating his website, he would be able to get me into this upcoming ExpoSex conference.

“The world of porn”, he explained as he pulled out his phone again to check the time, “is very closed. This expo is the first of its kind in Madrid and I can get you interviews with actresses or actors, even directors.”

He wiped his palms and looked up at me and smiled.

“Hell, if you want, you can get up on stage and fuck a girl.”

I respectfully declined this offer but said that I was interested in the interviews—for the article.

For what felt like the 10th time in 20 minutes, he looked at his phone.

“I’m waiting for a call from a director,” he said.

“The thing about this business is that you have to be on call and ready to be somewhere within an hour.”

No wonder he quit working at the bank.

As I was about to leave, he opened up his dusty laptop and said, “Have you seen any of my scenes yet?”

“Ahh, no. I’ve seen the pictures on your website from your scenes though.”

Wrong answer.

I should’ve said Yes, I’m a huge fan.

Low and behold, he fires one up.

“It’s with this Romanian girl,” he explained, “who is morbid.”

Morbid (or morbosa in Spanish) means she’s nasty, that she’s really into it.

So there we were Whilly and I, in his apartment, watching one of his scenes with a morbid girl.

Foreplay was peaking and I couldn’t really do anything but watch the screen in silence, with him.

If I looked toward him, it would be awkward; if I looked away, it would somehow seem that I wasn’t interested in Whilly the “actor” as my lurid-Spanish-human-interest-piece-for-Stuff.

“Look at the way she does that. Isn’t that incredible?”

“Yep.” I answered.

The video, he revealed, took over an hour to shoot and the final scene was anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes long.

He wondered what they did with all the excess.

He skipped through much of it, showing me the highlights.

I nodded in agreement and offered the occasional “uh-huh”; he wiped his palms.

Whilly Foc looks like this in every photo I’ve seen of him.

Kiptobin8c

He dons a broad, schoolboyish smile on his wide face and a thumb is up.

Always way up.

Sometimes he points (with his index finger) directly at the person he’s next to and extends his thumb up without even trying.

Kiptobin8d

Either way, the thumb is up.

So I accepted the invitation to ExpoSex, an ultra-trashy sort of Oscars for the world of Spanish porn.

Its objective, according to the website, is “to normalize the sector at all levels, cinematographic, distribution, industrial, etc.” and to provide “an integral meeting point for people in the business, including the public.”

It was held in a now defunct bullfighting ring an hour outside of Madrid.

Kiptobin8e

Inside, there were four stages and a slew of stands with all types of standard pornography (thousands and thousands of DVDs and videos), sexual toys, penis enlargement kits and all other types of tangible spam related to this business.

A woman, dressed head to toe in a black leather suit, looked like a mannequin.
Kiptobin8f

Normally mannequins look like women.

A naked woman leaped and sprang on stage to a rock band behind her.

Kiptobin8g

There was no singer.

A strip tease act by a porn actress picked a manfan from the audience and put him in a chair…

Kiptobin8h

…while a pop song repeated the chorus melodramatically: “Nothing is better than your love.”

Finally, after being there for two hours, Whilly introduced me to an actress.

Her name was Alba Sanz.

After seven years of being in the business, she sees no reason to get out of it.

After such time, she is still getting nominations for “best actress”, like this year, and thinks that she has a good four or five years left in her.

The interview was conducted at a table situated directly in front of a large plasma TV where a film–her film–was being shown.

Kiptobin8i

It was the one for which she was nominated as best actress.

I found it difficult to maintain eye contact with this plasmatic distraction pulsating in the background.

I asked if I could have a photo of her trying to look sexy.

Kiptobin8j

I didn’t have the heart to ask for another one.

She looked wholly spent by years in front of cameras that had sucked every last drop of soul she had left in her.

She didn’t look demeaned or exploited but simply hollow.

A shadow of her original self from when she began in this business.

Sex was just her job.

I wondered when was the last time she had sex for the in-itself enjoyment of it or if she had ever had sex that allowed her to feel interconnected to someone.

Or when was the last time she had sex without a camera recording every action.

An elephantine sensation of pity covered me.

I felt a sudden urge to escape.

Almost three hours in a sex-filled porn-worshipping dome and seeing the general public all together  in this “integral meeting point”, I was exhausted.

On the way out, a fetish crew had wrapped a man in plastic like a piece of luggage in an airport.

They were deciding what to do with him.

The crowd seemed to take notice when the woman pulled out a clothespin and tried to attach it to his nipple.

Then a man started burning a candle behind them, grinning maniacally.

Kiptobin8l

(Of particular interest are the crowd in the back—now rather alert—and the perplexed expression of the bald man on the left and the short 60 year-old red-haired woman who hasn’t quite grasped the essence of what’s going on.)

I’ve never understood S&M and after witnessing this, I am sure I never will.

After the show, I came home and got a message from Whilly saying that he had won best actor.

Kiptobin8m
(I wonder if the trophy’s raised arm had its thumb up. And it seems very odd yet quite fitting that he looks like a human-sized thumb pointing skyward.)

He invited me over for another drink to discuss his future plans for the website.

I politely declined.

I’d had enough of erotic-less sex tours for one lifetime.

But Whilly was now widow-peak deep in that world.

And that this most certainly meant more scenes, trophies, tours, conferences, excess and undoubtably many, many more thumbs up…

Kiptobin8n

Good luck Whilly.

Pretty much all my life I’ve been a dog person

Growing up
There’s always been one breed or another
In my house

“I can’t remember what you look like,” I admitted to Cole one day. “I know I thought you were a bit on the yummy side, but let’s face it, I was drunk and slovenly and talking shit on a chaise to a total stranger.”

He paused.

“Check your email,” he said.

He’d sent me a photo of himself walking away from the camera. A tall body and the back of a messy head was all that was visible.

“You’re an asshole,” was all I could muster.

“Check it again.”

I checked.

“Yep, you’re funny.”

I examined the crime scene. Self portraits with spilled red paint can appear quite realistic and gory if you squint hard enough.

“Nice. You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you.”

The months passed. Two of them, to be exact. Weird things kept happening that hinted at a cosmic intervention working for us as a couple.

One night Cole went to a dinner party in LA and sat next to an old friend to whom he described the tall, mad Australian girl who was capturing his heart and mind from the other side of the world. His friend looked at him quizzically and interjected, “Oh. You must mean Zoë Brock. Where the hell is that wild horse of a woman these days, anyway?”

Soon I would be heading to Fiji, to begin work on a book project I’d been commissioned to research and write for, a project that fell by the wayside after many hapless adventures in paradise and a falling out with the contractor. In Fiji I’d be harder to contact, via email or phone.

“You know,” Cole stated one day. “All I need is a formal invitation and three days notice, and I’ll be anywhere you tell me to be.”

It was a scary proposal.

Do you meet your perfect person, only to have them be a lesser creature in reality than what you imagined? Or do you keep the status quo and let this cerebral love stay an indefinite, intangible, gossamer thing?

“Maybe,” he added. “We meet soon, or maybe we never meet at all? You decide. By the way, a magazine I never subscribed to just arrived INSIDE MY HOUSE, and the cover story is ‘Romantic Getaways For two In Fiji’, just so you know.”

A mystery? A sign?

Compelling, confusing stuff.

So I did what every sensible Australian girl in Melbourne does when confronted with a dilemma….

…. I flew to Sydney and got wasted.


“This is an insane story. You have to meet him.”

“I’m terrified.”

“Shut up. You have to invite him.”

“What if it’s horrible, Sar? What if he has a tiny little invisible penis?”

“Well… Considering he’s that tall it’s almost an impossibility. Granted, that would be a fucking disaster, but you’re never going to know unless you meet him.”

“Pass me the damn tequila.”

“Lemon? Here, salt. Tell me more.”

“I don’t know what else to tell. Tall, dark, and kinky as a twisted pipe-cleaner.”

“He sounds perfect.”

“Did I mention he works for an environmental cause?”

“You’re fucked then. This is it.”

“Oh god.”

“Invite him. Now. Here, tequila, laptop, email…. now.”

Blearily I typed.

Dear Mr —— Esq,

This is a formal invitation written on behalf of one Zoe Brock, by one Zoe Brock, to invite you to join her in Sydney, Australia at your earliest convenience, for fun, frivolity and other indoor sports, maybe, and to potentially accompany her to Fiji (unless homicide has been enacted upon either of the above parties, by either one of the above parties) within the allocated Australia-time.

Sincerely and with much trepidation,

Zoe Brock.

I pressed ’send’. The tequila repeated itself in my esophagus.

“Now you’ve done it.” Snickered my dearest friend. “He is SO going to have a tiny little cock.”

“Fucking hell.”

The airport was crowded and the throng made my head splinter.

“What sort of asshole gets a flight that arrives at 7 am anyway?”

I flushed, realizing I was muttering to myself, and tried to breathe without hyperventilating. The last three days had been a heady mixture of dread and anticipation, suspicious wishes and tentative hope.

From my perch on the railing that separated arriving travelers from the hordes awaiting them I had an ample view of the doors, but there had been no sight of him. It was past 8 so surely he must be through customs and baggage by now? I shifted, nervous, fraught with icky tension, and scanned the crowd of people waiting for someone special or new. I surveyed the crowd of lifted, expectant faces, the broad smiles and eager eyes and… oh, shit… there… on the outside of the crowd… watching me with a wicked glint and a rumpled demeanor… stood a tall, scruffy devil in a Gucci tuxedo.

He grinned.

I blushed a horrid shade of brilliant vermilion.

I smiled. Shy.

We stared at each other with quizzical joy.

“Hello,” I squeaked.

“Hello there.”

“Nice tuxedo.”

“Thanks. I thought you might not recognize me unless I wore it.”

“Did you change into it on the plane?”

“Nope,” he beamed with pride. “I checked in wearing this sucker and, let me tell you, I got some hella props from the brother behind the desk.”

There are moments in your life when you are overwhelmed with certainty. Of course I say this with the ugliness of retrospect and the knowledge that the love affair I’m describing didn’t have the strength, foundation, or capacity to survive the difficulties it encountered, but for a while there it was the most obvious thing in the cosmos. The world had thrown us together.

Those first few hours were an odd dream. We fitted. It was so easy and nice, so right and natural. We were dazed.

The hotel was perfect and the French bubbles cold. I can’t remember if we drank from glasses, or straight from the bottle, regardless, we didn’t need alcohol, we were already intoxicated.

We got naked. We screwed and giggled and played and talked and fucked and kissed and laughed and examined each other. It was beautiful.

Drunk on sex and love and duty-free booze I confessed my size-terror. He was amused. “That’s nothing,” he replied. “My friends have been telling me all along that you were probably a man.”

The next day was Cole’s birthday and we celebrated with feasts and wine and sneaky, public sex in a park as the afternoon wore into night. And the next day we flew to Fiji.

Paradise.

With an edge.

If I’d known how Fiji was going to impact on my spirit and sanity, and ultimately upon my new relationship, I might not have gone, but I didn’t know that and I boarded the plane with a hope-filled heart and head dizzy with love.

To be continued……

His name was Cole and beside him I looked like a midget.

At six feet tall this is no mean feat.

We met at The Chateau Marmont late on a Spring evening. I wore red leather fuck-me boots and eyes of smoky green, he wore a vintage tuxedo with the word GUCCI embossed all over it.

I looked hot and he looked ridiculous, but in a most intentional way.

We started talking by accident, somehow drawn to each other from across the room, snug in the cushions of a beaten-up chaise. It wasn’t a long conversation, but it was an electric one. We recognized each other but knew we’d never met. He made me laugh, he drew me in, and five minutes later I left him to catch a flight to Australia with no idea when I’d return. I scribbled my email for him in his raggedy journal, downed the remnants of my vodka with regret and stood to go.

Cole stood too, bound by his southern gentlemanly impulses.

“Jesus!” I laughed as he unfurled. “Are you wearing heels?”

My memory of his reply is hazy, but I know it was filthy. I cocked my head, smiled and disappeared, tipsy on white spirits, out into the night. And, in an instant, the vision of that scruffy, lean and towering creature vanished from my mind.

The jet lag was, as usual, revolting and Melbourne had already begun to turn cold. My suitcases remained unpacked despite my being back a day or two, and my sadness at having to leave America was compounded by the last vestiges of a deep depression and a fear of the unknown. I was lost, confused, without direction and had returned to live, by necessity, with my mother, an adventure neither she nor I were much enthused about embarking upon.

Still, I was alive

… but then I received an email.

“Zoë,

Excellent meeting you at the Chateau… As we talked about good passages I thought you might appreciate this one:

Smoker paused, He was, this night, experiencing a familiar buoyancy — rather to the detriment of his diplomatic skills. In the inside of his big boxy black suit there nested an enticing email from his cyberpal “k”.  In response to Smoker’s query “what kind of a role do you think sex plays in a healthy relationship?   She’d e’d: ” a minor 1. have we all gone stark raving mad? let’s keep a sense of proportion, 4 god’s sake it should only happen last thing @nite, as  a [email protected] prelude 2 sleep.  none of these dreadful sessions. I find a few stiff drinks usually helps– don’t u?”  Reading this, Smoker became belatedly aware that his most durable and fulfilling relationships had been with dipsomaniacs.  To put it another way, he liked having sex with drunk women.

There seemed to be three reasons for this.

One: they go all stupid.

Two: they sometimes black out (and you can have a real laugh with them).

Three:  they usually don’t remember if you fail.  Takes the pressure off.  Common sense.

I hope you are well and that Australia is more rewarding than LA, which at the moment — for reasons that have nothing to do with the weather or surf or anything of the like– seems a bit like Bakersfield without the glitz.
Cole

I wasn’t sure how to respond, but respond I did.

Cole,

Fortunately I am not one of those of those overly analytical and earnest types who sit around trying to discern why exactly an almost total stranger would send me such a daring passage, or what his intentions were behind it.

Considering that I was several vodkas down, and at least a bottle of sake, when I threw myself shamelessly at you on that chaise, then I’m surprised as hell that your face springs immediately to mind. It’s a nice face. Look after it.

I’m stagnating in Melbourne and doing such un-Zoë things as meditating and taking time to smell the pretty flowers. This is unlike me, for I am normally thinking up bitter diatribes and sarcastic remarks about such Californian past-times.

See you, Smoker.

Z

Zoë,

There could be numerous explanations for such an email but the ones that matter boil down to three:

1)  I am a dipsomaniac and, not so subtly, I am suggesting a good dipsomaniac romp — if in fact dipsomaniacs have good romps which, and here perhaps I reveal too much, I am not sure is possible…
2)  I am not a dipsomaniac sex addict and therefore this would eliminate #1 but spawn two separate possibilities as to why I led with such a daring passage which a) and b) are meant to identify:
a)  I wanted to see if whether or not you were one of those overly analytical and earnest types who sit around trying to discern why an almost total stranger would send such a daring passage  which, if you were,  could elicit  two responses from you which are examined in the names of sub category (Y) and (Z) and one response from me in the name of (X):  because, (Y) You would never write back for you could just not figure out what to say; or, because (Z) you would write back but it would be something like: “Please never contact me again and I am calling the cops “;  and, a response in the form of (Y) would have resulted in (X) my utter lack of interest or, in the case of (Z), jail time, which could be considered (X—).  So a chart of this response would look something like this:
Y=X=utter lack of interest
Z=X=jail time
Y+Z=X—=utter lack of interest and jail time (worst option)
b)  irreverence unearths  irreverence, even in the cloud of a haze of a sake/vodka, and such an email might be designed to confirm such a theorem and in the process identify an admirable quality that the two people on the chaise might have had in common.
3)   Similar to #2– I am not a dipsomaniac — but sending such an email is a way of trying to get laid — admittedly, an odd, and possibly piss poor one, but men are men and we will try anything for sex and  you can’t trust us for a minute.

Not to worry:  smelling flowers and meditating are quite good things, particularly when they are done outside of LA where the world still views them as counter-cultural; moreover, such activities usually inspire particularly brutal diatribes and sarcastic remarks when you return and find those people doing them in LA who still think they are counter-cultural in LA and therefore are not sincere, which means you can unload both barrels of what I guess — when you want it to be –  is a high caliber mouth…and if I am wrong about the high caliber part, then I am certainly not wrong about the beauty of it or the fact that you are really fucking tall…. do you date short guys?  I was wearing stilts underneath my tuxedo and that is why I want to know.

C

C,

Because you so suavely managed to avoid answering any of the questions you yourself posed, I feel obliged to use my own expertise as a semi-retired dipsomaniac (but still a general maniac) to help you out.

Yes, dipsomaniacs DO have good romps. They just have problems remembering with whom, where, why and even IF they took place. This syndrome is generally accompanied with a vaguely sore feeling in the nether regions and confused yet (hopefully) satisfied expression.

No I definitely am not the earnest type. In fact, earnestness is my one of my least favorite character traits. This is why I have scorned the ‘acting track‘ – shudder – for the last year and resigned myself to a complete and utter nervous breakdown in Australia. My aversion to all things earnest has earned me numerous detentions in high school, some rather unflattering nicknames around the globe, and gives me the opportunity to have fun at a funeral, something I did very recently.

I am allergic to charts and math. In response to them I suffer from the following –
X= modelitis
Y= meltdown and
Z= facial tic

so X+Y+Z= the need to resort to dipsomania and have a bloody good romp as a consequence.

AH.

OHHH…. I see where you were leading….. nice!

The cops are weary of me and wouldn’t help me out if I begged them too, so you are safe for the moment.

Your (2)(b) earns you the most Brownie points and makes me wonder how many frequent flier points you have accumulated. Australia must be about 70,000.

Men are not the only horny creatures, Australian women can scare the crap out of their native counterparts.

Yes. I am tall, but I’m worth the climb. There are 6 feet of me all up, and I wear 6″ heels to intimidate people, because I fucking well can, you shortarse.

Z

For weeks we wrote to each other without ever speaking. It was a game, an intrigue. Neither of us could sleep. The things we wrote to each other were exciting, crude, weird, fantastic. We were elevated above the mundane by our refusal to even touch on the most obvious of questions. There was no talk of birth dates, star signs, schools and personal history, there was only imagination.  We skipped the details and got straight down to the mentality of each other.

One day I asked him why he’d never called me, considering my phone number was part of the automatically generated signature at the bottom of every email.

Instantly the phone rang.

My heart skipped, stopped and raced as I reached for the receiver.

“Because you never asked me to.” Voiced a slow drawl from across the ocean.


To be continued…

I’ve been a casual toast consumer since I was a kid. Wonder Bread and Sunbeam were magical words in that long-ago suburban Florida kitchen with the orange linoleum.

Not that I worship toast or anything, but after all these years of toast consumption I realize how oblivious I’ve been (albeit blissfully) to its rich history and the hard-working professional scholars out there unearthing the truth about the toaster, without which bread would just be bread.

I’ve been hurt.

In the past my heart has been so broken that I, in fits of dedicated melodrama and self-pity, thought that I might actually die. The ache has been so deep, profound, prolonged and intense that just inhaling and exhaling cut my aortic tissue like the dull blade of a blunt bread-knife on crusty, stale rye.

Pain.

Grating.

Cutting.

Sawing.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Slice. Slice. Slice.

The fact that human beings are capable of feeling emotional pain so intensely that it becomes physical is a strange phenomenon. So strange, in fact, that scientists do not know how, or why, when we feel heartbreak, our hearts actually ACHE.

It is rumored that we can even die from this pain.

In 2003 Johnny Cash died within 3 months of his wife June. For some it is clear that Cash died of a broken heart. Nobody really knows. Broken Heart Syndrome is commonly attributed to the death of a person whose spouse is recently deceased, and is clinically different from a heart attack because the patient had few risk factors for heart disease and was previously healthy prior to the heart muscles weakening.

It’s one of ‘those things’.

You know.

“Those things”.

Like missing socks and unexplained stains on pale beige carpet.

Like broken down cars in desolate places.

Lately I’ve wondered if accidentally inflicting heartache is worse than feeling it myself. My thoughts are inconclusive, but the turmoil is steady and nauseating. I loathe myself but am powerless to end it. I cannot force myself to feel something I do not. I cannot will my heart to open when who-ever has the damn key has buggered off down the pub with his mates, the dog, and a couple of rent-a-scrags from the local lap-dance emporium that exists in a parallel universe inside a donkeys ass, with neon lights, chrome plated karaoke booths and busty, shrewish barmaids who lick beer foam from manicured fingertips and whisper throaty suggestions into the hairy, lice-infested ears of bored customers.

How’d you like them apples?

I realize that, if I want to get to the bottom of heartbreak, I must first get to the bottom of love.

That’s right.

Love.

‘Tis indeed a funny and elusive thing.

Like fairies.

And just as mystical.

It’s never around when you want it, completely invisible if you search for it, and smacks you over the head as soon as you decide you’re content and satisfied without it.

See? Just like fairies.

And, again just like those sneaky fairies, love is hard to hold on to. If you try to hold it close it’s little legs will kick and grind while tiny teeth bite into the fleshy palm of your hand and petite, gossamer wings beat out frenzied flutterings against your gripping fingers.

Love, like fairies, does not like to be trapped.

Love, and fairies, prefer to fly and flit and dance around your head and heart, like pesky gnats and flies on a summers day.

Free.

Love.

Some people go a whole lifetime without ever experiencing it. Others seem to fall over it, arse over turkey, every five minutes. Some of us find lasting love while others get brief spurts of it that spur them on to greater heights and bigger dreams. To others, still, it is a burden, something to be embittered and weighed down by, a heavy chain around a bowed neck.

But what is love?

I don’t mean the love we feel for our fathers, mothers, children, friends, pets or the fresh lobster pasta and triple vodka Bloody Mary’s at The Ivy, but the ‘falling-in-love’ love, the one that renders people stupid and leaves them dribbling in padded corners.

WHAT IS IT?!!!

I’ve felt it. I’ve given it. I’ve received it. I’ve even been lucky enough to have the giving and receiving of love occur at the same time, WITH THE SAME PERSON!!!! A rare occurrence indeed.

BUT WHAT IS IT????

I’ve felt it, but I can’t define it. I’ve had it, been uplifted by it, lost it and missed it. I’ve looked under rocks for it, seen glimpses of it behind mossy-barked trees in dappled glades behind waterfalls and rainbows…. but I’ve never been able to say, for certain, what it really is.

So lets give it a whirl, shall we?

Sigmund Freud once speculated that a man could be in love with a woman for six years and not know it until many years later.

Sigmund Freud was, in my opinion, a fucking quack.

Wikipedia defines love as “a basic dimension of human experience that is variously conveyed as a sense of tender affection, an intense attraction, the foundation of intimacy and good interpersonal chemistry, willing self-sacrifice on behalf of another, and as an ineffable sense of affinity or connection to nature, other living beings, or even that which is unseen. It manifests itself in feelings, emotion, behavior, thoughts, perception and attitude. It influences, underlies and defines major patterns in interpersonal relationships and self-identification.”

Fuck that.

The more I read the less I know, the less I want to know, and the less I give a shit about the question.

It starts to strike me that we, humans, are unable to define love, but are sometimes adept at expressing it, if we’ve felt it, that is.

I poke about on the Internet and finally discover a way to solve some of our problems with love.

I come across THE LOVE CALCULATOR.

Beguiled by the sheer brilliance of this contraption I type in my own name, and that of another. My chest flutters. I breathe. Trepidation fills the air. I press “calculate” and read what follows.

miss ass bandit loves attention deficit disorder




74
%




“Dr. Love thinks that a relationship between miss (ass) bandit and attention deficit disorder has a reasonable chance of working out, but on the other hand, it might not. Your relationship may suffer good and bad times. If things might not be working out as you would like them to, do not hesitate to talk about it with the person involved. Spend time together, talk with each other.”

Apparently it’s as easy as that.

And somehow, no matter how silly that sounds… I am calmed by it.

Zoebrock14i

x

When I’m standing in my socks, on a slightly damp doormat, the moisture seeping through into the creases of my toes as an older couple in trench coats thrusts pamphlets on sin and temptation into my hand, I feel a little indignant.

Los Angeles has caught a cold.

She sniffles, shivers and pulls her hills and canyons tighter, trying to brace herself against the chill.

“Man,” she says. “It’s, like, totally cold outside.”

She’s right.

Yesterday dawned with a blueish tinge. The air was crisp and clear under a sky of brightest blue. Even the smog had been frightened into submission, it was too cold for haze and the brown gases and sooty dust and slunk back up the tailpipes and chimneys from whence they’d emerged.

It was like a new world.

A clean one.

And so I went out.

Be-sneakered and happy I climbed the earthen trails of Griffith Park, winding under ponderous eucalyptus and umbrella fig-trees, bidding a chipper “good morning” to celebrities and stepping over piles of defecation from leashed Labradors and wild coyotes.

As I climbed I grew warmer.

My blood pulsed through my limbs and the pitiful, weakened sun climbed upon my back and bid me carry it along the paths. It was as light as a feather, but warm as a lovers embrace.

I smiled to myself, mystified. People often judge my city without knowing her, and it’s their loss, for she is truly beautiful. I looked around at this wilderness within a city and marveled that it had taken me less than a five minute walk from my Hollywood home to get here.

I climbed higher, emerging from the tree line just below the observatory.

It was open. I went inside. I opened my mind as it opened it’s doors, and suddenly I was just a speck in the cosmos.

In space everything is round.

We are surrounded by roundness.

We walk on a ball.

We breathe in round particles.

Dots.

Our tides and emotions are dictated by a globe.

I forget these things sometimes.

It was nice to be reminded.

My life, too, moves in circles.

Little orbits around big and small occurrences.

I spin around and come back to the beginning, then zip off in another cycle, on a different trajectory, but I always seem to come back to the starting point before finding another path.

This makes me happy.

I like to see circles in my life. It makes sense, somehow, to swing like the giant pendulum that hangs from the observatory…

… and to never be still.

I, on the other hand, don’t have a great machine with which to watch my life unfold.

To my knowledge there are no white-coated scientists observing me and making notes.

I do not think I am someone else’s experiment. But then again, I could be wrong.

Perhaps there are eyes trained down upon me, just as we have eyes trained skywards?

Perhaps there is a slot in our roof that slides back to reveal a giant telescope focused towards us?

Perhaps not.

In any case, here we are. Inexplicably.

Little dots on a bigger dot that looks like every other tiny dot out there….

… and it makes me feel charmingly insignificant.


On September 11, 2001, there was a small American flag mounted on the wall above my desk at work. By that time it had been there for several years.

Wall decorations are not my forte, but anything that breaks the monotony of gray is a welcome thing. And I’ve also felt quite patriotic about the U.S.A. ever since I was a kid.

For a large part of my life, this patriotism was mainly a result of me being born here. Later I realized that our country wasn’t perfect and that in fact there were many reasons to be ashamed of it.

But still, I reason that many people emigrate to the U.S.A. for the opportunity it affords the common person, and while other countries do some things better than us, I think our system of government and our culture are overall pretty great.

These days, though, I don’t feel pride when I see an American flag bumper sticker. I am often embarrassed when I run into Americans abroad. Ignorance and a lack of decorum have for me ruined many genuine displays of patriotism.

There was a short time after September 11th, as the country bonded in a time of domestic and emotional crisis, when I was happy to see flags popping up on cars and in offices and in shopping centers.

Great, I thought. Too bad it takes an attack on our soil to stop the national sleepwalking epidemic, but so be it. Glad to have you folks on board. The more people we have thinking about government and politics and our country’s position in the world, the better off we’ll be.

Man, I was so wrong. Turns out that many of these patriotic bumper stickers are simply a way to identify people who, rather than think in depth about our country and its challenges, want to marginalize our democracy into a “you’re with us, or you’re against us” mentality.

Of course I’m not speaking for every single driver out there whose vehicle is labeled with an American flag bumper sticker. It’s wrong to paint with too wide a brush.


But I do get the feeling that many conservative people believe they have a monopoly on patriotism. They don’t.

They do have a pretty good handle on bad style, though. On a transatlantic plane ride, it’s not hard to spot travelers from the heartland. Men, you aren’t required to wear a plaid shirt with pleated, tan Dockers. Women, why not try something other than light blue elasto-band jeans and the red-white-and-blue T-shirt?

Anyway, just because a person is interested in the political opinions of other countries, just because you don’t believe it’s just to paint the word “freedom” on naked aggression, that doesn’t mean you hate American freedom.

Most political ideologies have at least some merit, and a blend of them would probably work best.

But I’ve been worried for a while that the country is so polarized that we’ll never reach another consensus on anything.

The recent Congressional elections, however, may have proven me wrong. On top of that, an amazing thing happened over the holiday break.

My conservative dad, who I love to death, expressed discontent with the conflict in Iraq for the first time. My mom said, and I quote, “I sure do like that Barack Obama.”

I’m not expressing a political statement or an endorsement here. I have no idea how my parents will vote in the future, and it’s none of my business.

But I know how they’ve leaned in the past. And if they would even consider something different…well, then maybe we all can.

*Dress code joke courtesy of Nelson DeMille.

Last week, several newspapers picked up the report from the U.N. announcing that the world’s urban population is about to surpass the rural total for the first time in history.

They say, on August 16, 2008, the shift will happen.

It’s not accurate.