Saturday, October 16, 2004

The Toilet Paper Fiasco, Working An Annoying Phone Sales Job 20 Years Later..

Woke up at 4 a.m Wednesday morning and got a lot of work done before I had to leave for my horrible soon to be ex- pt job that I started Monday. (Thursday turned out to be my last day.) Just as I was ready to leave, I noticed there was no toilet paper on the premises. Throwing some newspaper in the john with a note to my boyfriend saying "Here. Use this til I buy some more TP." was not an option. So at 7 a.m. on a weekday morning, I set out to buy some toilet paper in Hollywood. WRONG!! The Korean market didn't open til 8 or 9, the Armenian market 8:30, the Arab market had no time posted, Rite-Aid opened at 8 a.m. and Sav-On and 7-11 were too dangerously located for me to maneuver. I finally got some at the bodega(Mexican market) at 8:15. Not only does L.A. close earlier than New York or Chicago, it opens later! But the weather's better and the people are cuter, so I'll stay...

Needless to say, I was late for my phone sales job. And that's what it was. It was a legitimate company selling a legitimate product to inbound callers, BUT if you sit at a cubicle and read a script into a headset while staring at a computer screen it's PHONE SALES. I hadn't worked in "phone sales" since Metarie, LA in '95 (was there a week or 2) and prior to that I'd sold "time-shares" in L.A. when I was a kid. But a desperate need for $$ drove me to it at my advanced age! When a caller said to me on my 5th or 6th call, "you know, I can barely hear you, but I definitely hear someone (a supervisor, not the CIA) listening in", I knew the 1 week mark, much less the 2 week mark, was out of sight. Temp agencies, here I come..

Saturday, October 09, 2004

M83-Dead Cities,Red Seas & Lost Ghosts

Occasionally, I like to expound on something other than my boring yet bizarre life, so here's a review of French electronica duo M83's latest CD.

Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts
Mute Records

Although they have been lauded in their home country and the UK for a few years now French electronic duo M83 (Nicholas Fromageau and Anthony Gonzalez) have just entered American consciousness with "Dead Cities, Red Seas and Lost Ghosts" The 57 minute CD is replete with huge swirls of synth and layered vocals. Is it New Age gibberish or coherent music? It seems the days of Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream are long gone, and aside from a few well-known groups like Mogwai, there's not much to replace them.
Gonzalez and Fromageu, along with UK synthmeisters Saso and fellow Frenchman St. Germain, counteract the mundane image of "ambient" electronic music. The 53 second intro with realistic chirping birds sounds bright and positive start with booming synthesizers that encompasses the without overwhelming then the full bodied "Unrecorded" the vocals here add to it, they are not just an afterthought.

"Run Into Flowers" begins with the familiar booming of a TV theme song, but the sturdy drumbeats give way to church like harmonium. The sheer "surround sound" production is most evident here; it's no muzak as the female vocals flit in and out between cracks in the syhnth waves til the final haunting fade out. "In Church" carries the harmonium a bit further, you can almost see the votive candles, though it grows monotonous after awhile. The eerie "America" hones in with whistling, children's screams follow, and it segues sudden rush of of frenzied sound, including what appears to be arguing couple. All this activity winds down into the peaceful denouement of swishing water and chirping birds. It keeps you wondering what you'll hear next.
"America" is followed by the plaintive "On A White Lake Near A Green Mountain" and "Noise", a wistful soundscape that doesn't resemble its title at all. "Be Wild" a playful combo of popping notes and squiggles, is truer to its moniker. With "Dead Cities", M83 manage to give shape and variety to a musical genre that is a mystery to the causal listener.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

I Guess Cheap Instant Coffee In The Breakroom Is Part of my Past

This May I began looking for a full-time, 9 to 5 office job after I recovered from a broken tib/fib. After being unceremoniously dumped by my previous employer before said injury healed, I held out hope that maybe, somewhere in L.A. there was a kindly by the books office that would hire an office manager/writer/AA with 8 years New York experience.

Well, it's October and I'm freelancing and starting my own business, so obviously the answer was a resounding NO. Now mind you, I 'm on a new track and I'm not trying to complain too much-I like writing and picking up part-time office work when I can, but I'm thoroughly befuddled by my L.A. jobseeking experience. I went on 15 interviews for full-time jobs, mostly for support positions in publishing and the arts, and got zero job offers. The funny thing is that even in previous "bad" job climates, I'd always land a job on my second interview, and if I was really unlucky, on the third. So I wondered "Wait a second. I'm in L.A. Is it that I'm not a 22 year old Paris Hilton clone?" My friends in other cities assumed this was the case, and were shocked when I described the interviewers as normal looking people. I dunno. I guess people in the Midwest think everybody in L.A. looks like Brad Pitt or Pamela Anderson.

Most of the ads I answered were on Monster, Careerbuilder or HotJobs. I've seen some of the same jobs listed again a few months after receiving my "thanks, but no thanks" letter. Oh, and by the way, I had never written a thank you letter after a job interview til this particular search. Didn't help. After thinking about all the successful interviews I had in NY, Chicago, and during my first year in L.A., I realized that the people who hired me had a real (not forced) sense of humor. So, just like my cognitive therapy book claims, having a personality that's compatible with your prospective officemates is more important than your skills or experience. I get the sense this matters more in L.A. than in New York. In New York, all they care about is that you can do the damn job. Here, I've had prospective employers tell me that co-workers always go to lunch together or socialize together after work. They make it sound really important, like a condition of employment.

I think I'm sticking to consulting and freelancing. After all, that movie "Office Space" did cut really close to home.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Various Bric-A-Brac/R.I.P. Scott Muni

Sad news for all you New Yorkers and ex-New Yorkers. Legendary DJ Scott Muni passed away last night. He was one of the founding fathers of classic rock radio, and along with Allison "The Nightbird" Steele, Vin Scelsa, Pete Fornatale, and Dave Herman comprised one of NYC's great radio line-ups over at WNEW. Sigh. And who are the influential DJs, circa 2004? Cane, the Cabbie, and Mancow? Time marches on...

R.I.P. Scott Muni

Has this woman guested on the Maury Povich show yet?

Is He Cheating on You?

What do y'all think of Britney and her might be fake marriage to her financially challenged boy toy? Didya really expect anything more from the gal? Now could she just go away-I don't want to hear about her neck or her big legs or any portion of her anatomy for awhile. Could we please pay attention to young female pop stars who can actually sing and/or write songs, like Xtina, Arvil and Nellie McKay. (No, not you,Jessica. You go away, too & take your sister with you while you're at it.) As for all you businessman types who are pining away for the newly-married(???) Britney, just play her greatests hits DVD when the wife and kids are away. Just don't leave any tell-tale signs on the couch when you're done, K?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Shantytown By The Denny's

So today I decide to be adventurous and go out for breakfast instead of eating cereal by the computer.The Denny's on Gower is usually crowded, so I attempted to walk to the other one in the vicinity (by the 101 exit). Yes, I know, you're not supposed to walk in L.A., but I lived in New York too long and can't shake that antiquated way of thinking. Anyhow, the lawn in front of the restaurant was full of homeless people sleeping on blankets, in addition to at least three shopping cart pushers. It's sad that people have to resort to living that way but things seem to have gotten worse in this area since I moved here in 2000. I wonder if that will change when the high school across from KTLA opens. Maybe the school's resident street gang will scare the homeless guys away. And the city is building a microwave transmitter right by the freeway exit. I tell you, this neighborhood is getting more picturesque by the minute. I should mention, though, that the combo self-storage place/nail salon on Hollywood/Bronson is quite spiffy.