Yes, I agree, I deserved to be sat next to a big fat person for thinking Jesus, I hope I don’t have to sit next to a big fat person on this flight.

Yes, I agree, I deserved to be sat next to the biggest, fattest person on the flight after watching this person in particular walk down the aisle and thinking Jesus. Like that one right there.

No, I don’t agree, Zara and I deserved to be moved up to the empty bulkhead where the extra leg room makes a trans-Pacific flight feel like riding a recliner with wings, and yet, that’s exactly what happened. After the sweetest long-haul night flight I’ve ever had, we awoke to find we were about an hour and a half out of LA. Nothing is worse than feeling like you’ve slept for twelve hours straight, only to find that you’ve only been out for twenty minutes and your destination is still a sleepless eleven hours and forty minutes in an economy seat away.

Of course, there was the obligatory crying baby to contend with. That’s always fun. She was a white-haired, Swedish-looking girl who couldn’t have been more than two years old, with a reddened face that looked perpetually ready to crumple into sulky tears and loud yells.

As we stood in the long line to pass through American customs, I fantasised about a close-up shot where I emerged from off-camera like winged justice to slowly and deliberately press a banana cream pie into this kid’s face. As an afterthought, in my mental movie I did the same to her brothers, inoffensive children who had never done me wrong. If a job’s worth doing…

It took approximately five seconds after getting into the ever-lovely Lenore Zion’s car at the airport to remember: LA is awesome, man. West Hollywood, Delancey, bandannas and beware of hipsters and model-looking girls hanging outside clubs at eleven at night.

So this is what we’ve done so far:

Dinner at Delancey: with Reno Romero, Lenore Zion, Lisa Rae Cunningham, and West Hollywood council’s Lindsey Horvath (we roll with the establishment, yo). The pizzas here are far too big. And the wine is delicious. Romero is a hurricane that swept through a caffeine factory, Lisa Rae bounces between literary linguistics and representing Jersey pride at the flick of a switch, and after months of TNB-inspired conversation between myself and Lindsey Horvath, I have to recommend her as the best advertisement for moving to WeHo Angelenos are ever likely to come across.

Lunch with Loory: Greenblatt’s Deli in Hollywood. Hot pastrami dips, bottomless coffee, giant sandwiches and Canadian waitresses who rap Buck 65 tunes. This is where Ben Loory comes to meet with his consiglieri and capos and discuss what percentage of the paving unions to cut over to Joey the Breadknife – Gary, Indiana’s most feared and hated mafia boss.

Patriotic Pants: I have yet to see these things, but while en route to locate the Griddle, Reno and Zara found a pair of pants from the same clothing designer who created Old Glory herself. With one leg striped with the colours that never run, and the other spangled with stars, these are the pants I want to take with me on my trip – my one job before leaving for Vegas is to add these to my suitcase.

TNB – LE, LA. The Nervous Breakdown’s Literary Experience, Los Angeles, was a who’s who of West Coast talent. Lenore and Zara MCd five kinds of hell out of The Den, while Michael Mazochi brought the music and Marisa Matarazzo, Zoe Zolbrod, Stacy Bierlein, Gina Frangello, and a vaguely New Zealandish Australian read.

Whereas the audience… damn.

Brad Listi and his wonderful wife Kari, Rich Ferguson, Bex Adler, Ben Loory, Joe Daly, Lisa Rae Cunningham, Yvonne de la Vega, Raindog, Rachel Pollon, Reno Romero, Milo Martin… and an assortment of friends, partners, family and fans… all of whom were kind enough to wait for the Celtics-Lakers game to finish and the reading to begin – it’s amazing how seamlessly a bar can translate from hosting a basketball videocast to a top-tier literary event.

Now it is late, and tomorrow we set off the bright lights of Las Vegas. Upcoming – Flickr slideshows, the triumphant reunion with Iron Duke Haney, and more tales of the City of Angels.

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SIMON SMITHSON is an Australian writer and editor. He is currently based in Melbourne, Australia, but frequently finds himself in Los Angeles and San Francisco. His work has appeared on both sides of the globe in print and online in publications such as BLIP, Every Day Fiction, Beat, The Loop, My Sinking Boat, and more. He has a tumblr at www.simonsmithson.com and he runs a lifestyle experiment at www.selfhelpless.net.

27 responses to “TPAC 2010: Day 2,3: Auckland Airport, LAX, Los Angeles”

  1. Becky says:


    Are you wearing Birkenstocks?

    The body language in the photo of Lisa, Lenore, and Lindsay is priceless. Price. less.

    Riveted. Two head tips. TWO. Who was sitting there? In the middle? Reno? He must be one suave fella.

    • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

      Reno is captivating. I can’t lie. The man can spin a yarn.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        Ain’t he just?

        And no. They’re thongs. No Birks here.

        • Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

          simon, my aussie friend, here in america “thongs” are women’s panties of the g-string variety. just so you know. (we often refer to our summer shoes as sandals.)

  2. TammyAllen says:

    If Jesus was alive today he’d have to get himself a job.

  3. can’t wait to sit next to you on an airplane.

  4. Lisa Rae Cunningham says:

    i still have pride in new jersey? i thought i’d shaken it off. well, eating pizza with a knife and fork is where i draw the line. i’m not catholic anymore either, but i still won’t dissect a live baby. nothing to do with commandments, just good ole-fashioned right and wrong.

    you and zara and everyone else your mad dash through the states brought together to celebrate your journey are the most wonderful crowd i’ve met since moving to los angeles. i think a TNB commune would make a fantastic reality show, minus the cameras (and potential criminal and/or pornographic evidence).

    happy trails!

  5. Jordan Ancel says:

    Greenblatt’s is the best deli in LA. So glad you made it there!

    Nice sofa you guys got there. You’re living the sweet life!

  6. Greg Olear says:

    Simon, for the remark about the kids, I’m going to allow Dominick to wake you Wednesday morning right after he gets up at 5:12am.

  7. Joe Daly says:

    I loved seeing everybody’s ink. We should do a feature on the “Tattoos of TNB- a Pictorial.”

    It was fun meeting everybody. Bizarre that there were no surprises- everyone looked like their gravatars (sans light sabres) and had the personality one would expect. Next time I’m hiring a dog sitter and staying later!

  8. oksana says:

    I used to own a pair of patriotic pants…when I was 18 and still too unaware of how they made me look. I wish I had predicted that I’d meet a guy from Australia with a yearning for such pants; I would’ve kept them just for you.

  9. Judy Prince says:

    Love it, Simon and Zara; keep it coming. You’ll have PLENTY of time to sleep when you get to Olears’ place. 😉

    Also love your tag: “Too many writers to possibly list this late at night”

  10. Tom Hansen says:

    Who’s wearing Birkenstocks goddammit? Simon? Say it ain’t so buddy….

  11. Zara Potts says:

    I can confirm there are NO birkenstocks here. Or Crocs.

  12. Simone says:

    Getting bumped up to seats with more leg room is a serious bonus! Nice!!

    Can’t wait to see more pics!

  13. Uche Ogbuji says:

    What you talkin’ ‘merican already? When you said “patriot pants” I figured you were thinking star-spangled Y-fronts.

    Anyway, re the trousers, OK pants, make sure they’re parachute patriot pants. A mix of “Please Hammah, don’t hurt ’em” and “Living in Ameeeeerica…Whooh!” I can picture.

    And yeah, I agree with the consensus. TNB is too good-looking to be so cerebral. When that commune is established, I’ll come with the coconuts.

    • Becky says:

      We are wasting our lives.

      Looking this good, hiding out behind our computer monitors.

      We should be out there, sharing our sex appeal with the world! Or at least each other. Writers are cliquish and tribal like that.

      Then behind closed doors, we can whisper criticisms.

      “Becky’s hair is trite. Just kind of lifeless. But did you see her nose? TOTALLY overwrought. I mean, my God. Take it down a notch.”

      • Uche Ogbuji says:

        But our monitors enhance our tans

        OK, so maybe not me.

        And BTW, I think you’re totes commune-worthy, trite hair or no.

        • Becky says:

          I hope so. I think it was at least partly my idea.

          As far as I know, my husband’s ethnic heritage will be used to shake down a guilt-ridden federal government for a base of operations.

          They say “homestead lands,” we say, “PARTY.”

        • Uche Ogbuji says:

          Ah was it? I can’t keep up with our lot, the garrulous glamorous.

          I think the only ethnic claim I can rightly make is against the British for maxim-gun diplomacy in their early 20th century pacification of Igbo territory. But if I can score reparations for all that, it should be a great contribution to our rum and drum fund.

        • Becky says:

          Well, I don’t know. The commune idea is at least as old as the site. But its most recent iteration involved me and the husband and grifting the feds.

          Also a tiger trap. To catch hippies, I think. It’s a work in progress.

  14. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    You have a red bandana, too, right? Some colors will get you in trouble.

    Happy travels.

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