Thursday, February 19, 2009

Unsold Cars

If you're flush with cash (and who isn't these days) it's probably time you bought a new car. As evocatively told in the British newspaper Guardian, international automakers are sitting on a growing reserve of unsold, new cars, even after factory furloughs have failed to sufficiently scale down supply to meet the slump in demand.

Some of the images of the docksides and storage lots with vast expanses of unsold cars are a pretty sobering reminder of the scale of globalized consumerism and the consequences of the recent downturn. 

But truly, if basic market economics still hold any water, if you ever wanted 10 Hummers for the price of 1, now's probably the time to make that happen.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

American Apparel's Crusade Against Colorfastness

According to this nifty Fabric Feature Chart, the colorfastness of American Apparel fabrics is 'Superior.' So what's going on here? 

I've had this American Apparel t-shirt since Christmas and have washed it maybe three or four times the same way I wash all of my t-shirts, and yet, unlike my beefy ts or the ones from The Gap, I'm getting this sickly-looking orange rot appearing in the collar area. And this isn't the only one. In fact, most of my other American Apparel t-shirts (of whose fit and softness I am a big fan) display similar fading, or not-so-colorfastness. 

Pointers anyone?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A Most Mysterious Event Indeed

This morning I got in my car parked on the street in Russian Hill and found a Pizza Hut pizza box inexplicably sitting in the passenger seat. The last time I saw my car, on Sunday night, there was no pizza box in the car and I haven't had pizza, let alone Pizza Hut, in a long time. 

So, like, WTF?? After verifying that my special lady wasn't playing tricks on me, my best bet is that I somehow left my car unlocked and since it was raining last night, some drunk dude on his way home needed a warm dry place to eat his pizza. Lacking the stuff to make it home, he tested car doors until he found mine unlocked. 

So to that guy, you're welcome. And thanks for not stealing my car or anything in it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Hell yes. I paid off my college loan debt today!

It's been a long struggle, and I just want to thank my family and my teammates and Jesus Christ for giving me the strength to persevere. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Rosie's Cracker Barrel

If you read closely, I'll occassionally leave you with life-altering advice. Without dropping a more obvious prelude that I feel strongly about what I'm about to say, here's another point of emphasis: next time you're in Carmel go taste wine at Rosie's Cracker Barrel, which is located about 11 miles up Carmel Valley Road off of Highway 1 west of Carmel-by-the-Sea. 

You'll probably meet Kiki and her completely blind dog and have an awesome time tasting wines from off the beaten path while learning about supernatural plant fertizilier and the ins and outs (mostly) of the music industry in LA. 

The wine's were great too, and not that stuff you'd just casually bump into, but local gems from local winemakers, probably small production, thought I haven't done the research yet. I particularly enjoyed the Otter Cove Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir from Richard Oh which was amazing. At the end of the tasting, we committed financially and had our wine binge broken by a refreshing pilsner served in a mini pint glass. This I found so amusing, which may also have been the residual effects of my tasting on an empty stomach buzz, that I took a picture with the idea of recording what it would feel like to take down a regular pint if you were a 36 foot tall giant. 

Rosie's is currently being rebuilt, but the authenticty and the funk are still there in what has been the most low-key and intimate wine-tasting experience I've had in California. You should doubt my authority of course, but try Rosie's anyway just on the off chance I could be right.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Feeling It in Big Sur

Since I'm fairly obsessed with Clint Eastwood (see Gran Torino) and can't see any reason why everyone else wouldn't be, I thought I'd share this tidbit: Clint used to be the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. This was in the '80s when Dirty Harry was pretty much the paradigm for cops across the country. As a result, nobody's stealing purses today in Carmel. 

Plus which it's pretty scenic with a goodly amount of diversions, like golf and whale-watching, so we left the wind and the rain in San Francisco on Friday night to find unexpectedly beautiful weather in Carmel on Saturday. 

We stayed at the Cypress Inn which is nice, particularly if you travel (as I do) with a pet dog. Cats aren't welcome, but dogs are pretty much insisted upon. In the lounges and bars of the hotel, about 25% of the crowd at any given time was canine and usually of a pretty aristocratic pedigree: great danes, standard poodles, English bulldogs.

The scene at the Cypress Inn is, like much of Carmel, pretty swinging for 50+ empty nesters who treat their dogs like human children, so be sure to check that out if I've just painted out a pastel of your particular fetish. (Don't forget to bring your dogs papers as the 'show quality' of your dog will certainly come up within the first 30 seconds of conversation with anybody and determine your own quality.)

Like I said the weather was beautiful on Saturday, so we headed down Route 1 south to Big Sur and had a pretty quintessential California kind of day. The surf was up and we were treated to soaring vistas with crashing waves all day long. We had artichokes and white wine for lunch and spent the afternoon hiking at Garrapata State Park, which I highly recommend for anyone planning a visit. 

The beach is spectacular particularly in what seemed like big surf. I wouldn't say I'm good at estimating wave height, but these were at least in the 15-20 foot range consistently, with the occasional monster being much larger and soaking the unwary and nearly sweeping our little dog out to a watery death. 

All along the beach, there's a 50 foot cliff separating the sand from the headlands above and several creeks make small waterfalls and pools as they tumble down towards the sea. Callow lilies were blooming along these streams and at the end of the day, with the sun lighting up the sea like a plain of molten gold we saw two gray whales making their way up the coast from Mexico.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Big Trees

Two weekends ago I did something I'd meant to do since that freshman-year religion class where we read the Celestine Prophecy and got all metaphysical on the spiritual potency of old growth forests. 

Yeah. So I found the next-to-nearest grove* of redwood trees to San Francisco, Armstrong Grove, in the Russian River Valley, and went there by myself to see about things, the Universe and interconnectedness, feeling part of something.

I took the East Ridge Trail and was generall satisifed with the solitude. It's not exactly tourist season in California, but I still had to jog on a few occasions to beat a group of people I heard behind me. 

Once off the East Ridge, I dropped back into the main valley, where the big trees are and found the highlight 'Colonel Armstrong' tree. It's tall and thick and old and impressive. Sure to satisfy your redwood jones.

*The closest is Muir Woods and if you think you're going to find solace and spirtual oneness there, you must be prepared to do so with the ass end of a European tourist peaking out at you from the spandex waistband of his soccer warmups.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Saturdays at the Shooting Range

Me and some homies hit up the Jackson Arms Indoor Shooting Range in South San Francisco on Saturday.

I got my hot little hands on a .44 Magnum so to realize my Clint Eastwood fantasy, but found out moments later that they were out of ammo. Buzzkill. So we tried the .357 only to realize that the cassette was so caked with gun powder residue that the bullets wouldn't slide in flush. So both revolvers were no-goes.

No matter, we got some slugs and a 12 gauge pump action Smith & Wesson shotgun and you can tell from these pictures that the action was pretty hot.

Nothing kicks like a slug and the noise it produces on the first shot was enough to make everyone else in the pistol range crane their necks over to see what the bleep was going on. We all left with bruises on our shoulders. 

That's stock target #12 below, our preferred target of the day, letting you test your skills taking down a unabomber type who's taken a PYT hostage.
 I lit him up, with a couple of game-enders right between the eyes.

A slug is basically a wad of lead the size of a C battery. At shotgun velocity it's simply devastating, particularly to paper targets. 

Obviously, I'm proud of my work.

Odd as it sounds to say, our day at the shooting range was a day of unity and brotherhood. Sure it was an incongruous mix of riff-raff down there: the off-duty 'stars' (read: cop) with his fully automatic assault rifle; the aged Black Panther; the white power militia leader and his unsolicited advice; the Asian gang banger and his girlfriend lighting up targets with her custom snubnose 9mm in 5-inch heels and clubbing pants; but they all belonged. It was the most diverse crowd I've seen in one place since college.

Monday, February 2, 2009

We're Melting Gold Baby!

All in all I think it was a pretty lackluster performance by Madison Avenue during last night's Super Bowl. For $100,000 per second of airtime you'd think companies would strive to create a little more resonance.

Last night's best ad, in my opinion, was the spot featuring high-profile financial disasters MC Hammer and Ed McMahon. But even this remarkably honest self-effacing brand-abasement isn't new. MC Hammer's a repeat offender in this sort of coming-clean advertising, having appeared alongside Kevin Federline in Nationwide Insurance's 'Life Comes At You Fast' campaign.

But most of what we saw last night seemed very familiar. Wackiness for the sake of laughs without much real association with, or message about, the brands it claims to be promoting. I guess the message in this risk-averse economic environment, is just that, stick with what you know, Bud Lite will keep being nutty, Coke will keep being family-oriented, Pepsi still doesn't have a clue. And the most forward-thinking marketing we'll see is from those companies with the lowest-concept business models (read: the least to lose).

Lastly, what exactly is the cultural and economic harbinger of 'we're melting gold baby!'? It seems a celebration of a distinct downward shift in consumer economics. Certainly is a carpet bagger of sorts, emerging triumphant in less than triumphant times for the American consumer. Should we be distrubed by the fact that they can spend a few million dollars and feel condfident they can reach the right audience this way? Is this the early whisper of doom for American free-market capitalism? 

If Cash4Gold is right, and we're returning to simpler economic times, maybe we should start hoarding our metal.