Last week I went to LA with Noah Cicero to act in the film adaptation of Tao Lin's novella, Shoplifting from American Apparel.
The weather was mostly sunny and cold and I seemed to keep interpreting my surroundings as 'beautiful' in a manner I'd never interpreted my surroundings before.
Noah and I stayed in James Roehl's living room. Outside his apartment were some chairs, a table, a nice view. Throughout my stay I sat there with different people talking about different things, thinking about different things, drinking coffee, looking at trees, etc. I tweeted 'feel unable to process thoughts in a manner that allows me to not want to "quit everything" and get hit by a car ' while sitting there alone.
My first night in LA, after a day of filming on Hollywood Boulevard, I went to a party at Ken Baumann's house re Sator Press, Ken's not-for-profit publishing house that recently released Christopher Higgs' The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, for which the party was being thrown. Recently, in social situations, I've noticed myself feeling acutely like a small, retarded fish with a gimp fin in a sea full of non-retarded sharks and whales, and I immediately felt this as I entered the party. I kept mumbling 'nemo' to myself and sometimes to Brad Warner. Noah saw someone he knew and from that point on seemed to be in a perpetual conversation with people he seemed to know and like. Every time I looked at him he seemed to be conveying an interested facial expression and saying interesting things. I kept thinking 'networking...' and 'I'm going to kill myself...' in a detached, playful, almost meditative manner.
Ken said something like 'It's nice to finally meet you' while smiling and hugging me. He said there was a bar and tacos then pointed to the bar and tacos. I sat with Brad on a couch talking about Zen and e-mails and [aforementioned 'fish feeling']. I said 'I should...try to convince someone I'm Christopher Higgs...and like, sign a book as him...or something...or convince someone I'm Ken...or something' while grinning.
I met Christopher Higgs. He was wearing a suit. I complimented his outfit and he said something about 'going for the James Joyce thing' while grinning. I met Christopher Higgs' wife. We talked about Ohio and MFA programs. She seemed nice and nervous. I met Nick Antosca. I met Ned Vizzini. I met Sabra Embury. I met Ben Loory. After introducing myself he said 'I know you, you're Jordan Castro, you're famous on the internet' while grinning.
At some point I started to feel 'a lot better' about being at the party. I met someone named Jordan who I later found out is an actress on a show that Noah likes. I met Ken's mom. She said 'When you walked in I thought you were James Franco.' I said 'I'm James Franco' while grinning. I said 'I'm...James Franco' while grinning and walking away.
Someone introduced me to Jereme Dean who then introduced himself as 'Hollywood Daddy.' He was holding a large bag of marijuana brownies. He gave me two. I ate them while walking around and feeling happy. At some point I was standing in a circle with Jereme, his girlfriend Gena, Ben and maybe someone else. I said something like 'I feel really good. I'm at a party. Rap music is playing. I feel...really...good...' Jereme made a noise then said 'This isn't rap music.' I realized we were listening to Wiz Khalifa and immediately regretted expressing affinity toward him. I said 'Yeah...like...I mean...but...like...like...but like...you know...like...' while looking at Jereme and Gena and Ben. I asked Jereme what kind of rap music he liked. He said something like 'Eazy-E...old school shit like that. I don't really listen to a lot of new shit man. A lot of that shit's bullshit.' I thought about Brick Squad songs that reference N.W.A. and Eazy-E. A Waka Flocka Flame song came on. I noticed my heart rate increasing. I walked inside. I saw Ken then said something like 'I like Waka Flocka Flame. Is this your iPod?' He said something about being obsessed with gangster rap. I said 'Me too.' He said 'It's all I listen to anymore.' I said 'Me too.' He said something about recently having purchased 'subs' for his car. We talked about the psychology of skinny, white kids like us in terms of our affinity for gangster rap. People danced. I moved my body a little. At some point, it was established that Ken and I would have a 'shitty dance off.' I 'welcomed the challenge' but immediately 'forfeited' after he danced and I realized I would actually have to do something.
I hugged and said goodbye to people, walked into the bathroom, peed a little, made weird faces at the mirror, repeatedly thought 'I'm going to kill myself' and 'What the fuck is going on.'
At James', Noah and I talked about the party, both saying we had a good time. We talked about how everyone at the party either seemed beautiful or intelligent and no one seemed depressed. I said 'I kept thinking "I'm going to kill myself" and like, "I fucking hate my life," and stuff, but, like...in a manner like...it was just something I automatically thought when I felt...something...or something.' We talked then went to sleep.
I spent most of the next day in Echo Park, helping the SFAA crew and walking around. Before the shoot I met Bebe Zeva and Travis McFarland at a Mexican restaurant. I said 'Hi, I'm Jordan' while shaking their hands. We walked into a line to order food. I pointed at a cookie and said 'That looks good.' Bebe agreed and said I should get it. I said I didn't know what to get and that Bebe should decide for me. She said 'Get the chicken burger.' When it was my turn to order I said 'Chicken sandwich and a...cookie...over there, please. Oh, and a cup of coffee.' Others ordered. We sat. Bebe, Travis, Pirooz and Brad practiced saying their lines. Noah and I sat there looking at each other. I said 'I'm going to kill myself...' Noah grinned. I said 'I'm going to...kill myself...' Noah laughed. We talked about suicide. We talked about Noah's brother. At some point Bebe said 'Hold on, I'm having an existential crisis.' The food came. Noah and I talked about the texture of organic chicken compared to inorganic chicken.
At Echo Park Noah and I swung on a swing set in the middle of a lot of young children. We walked then sat near a lake. We looked at ducks. We walked. We met weird fishermen. We talked about Sam Pink and Tao Lin and interview questions and 'the myth' of people as more than people. We talked about how our trip to LA could easily be 'spun' to perpetuate 'the myth of Noah Cicero' and 'the myth of Jordan Castro.' I said 'He graduated college then got on a plane to Hollywood' while grinning. I said 'I should just...embrace the myth...embrace the myth...' while grinning. Noah said 'I feel like it would be easy to just like, put on big sunglasses and go running in the park...if you're famous. I feel like every person I see is a famous TV person.'
At some point, I started processing thoughts in a negative manner—possibly due to feeling cold and/or not sleeping—and I put my hat over my face and lay on grass. I bought a $5 cup of coffee. I watched the shoot. Noah 'body slammed' me repeatedly.
After the shoot, James, Noah, and I went back to James'. James slept. Noah and I sat and talked. Noah went to dinner with an ex-girlfriend. James drove me to Jereme's apartment. I walked on Hollywood Boulevard to meet Jereme while talking to Pirooz on the phone. I told Pirooz I'd call him back. I walked with Jereme. We talked about his job and other things. We walked into his apartment. We sat with his girlfriend and talked about the film, online literature, Sam Pink and rap music. Jereme gave me one of his copies of Sam Pink's yum yum i can't wait to die, a 'Hollywood condom' and other things. Jereme told me about the 'online literary scene' before I was a part of it. We talked about P.H. Madore and he talked about someone named Mather. Someone knocked on the door. When Jereme opened the door no one was there. He looked up and saw someone in the stairwell. The person in the stairwell asked Jereme to turn the music down. I ate two pieces of bread. We walked ~35 minutes to where Bebe and Travis were. On the way Jereme told two stories about the police. We stopped at a 7-11 and bought things, walked then said goodbye.
Bebe and Travis were staying in their friend Kandice's apartment. Bebe met me at the door. We walked up a flight of wooden stairs. I sat on a chair near a table. Travis and Kandice sat on a couch. Bebe sat in a chair near the couch. I said 'Hi' to Travis and 'Hi, I'm Jordan' to Kandice, who was lying with her face toward the couch cushions. Travis and Kandice said 'Hi.' I looked at things in the apartment. I felt aware of my facial expression and whether or not Kandice, Travis and Bebe seemed to want me there. I touched my face a lot. Bebe read questions from her Formspring account and Travis, Kandice and I answered them. Bebe and Travis occasionally mentioned watching The Hills Have Eyes 2. At some point, Bebe moved from where she was sitting to a chair next to me. We looked at things on her laptop and talked about them. Kandice said she felt tired and had to wake up early then went into her bedroom to sleep. Travis went into a bedroom to sleep.
Bebe and I talked about our careers, blogs, opinions re [various things]. We commented on things. We communicated using a word document on her laptop. Travis occasionally came out of his bedroom to get water and/or use the bathroom. He asked Bebe if she was going to stay up all night then said they had to wake up at 6AM. He asked me if I needed a ride to where I was sleeping. Sometimes he said 'What are you guys doing?' or 'What's goin' on?' or 'What time are you going to sleep?' Bebe and I typed things to each other in the word document. Around 3AM I called a cab. I hugged Bebe, said goodbye.
In the cab the cab driver talked about LeBron James. He said 'I do not like that he has tattoo 'the chosen one.' Like...you are not the chosen one. Only god can know the chosen one. You are really so arrogant to think you are the chosen one? ['Loogie' noise]. You are nothing...chosen one. Stupid man.'
When I got out of the cab I felt extremely confused about which house was James' and where I was in general. I called James. I walked, looking at addresses on houses and mailboxes. I called James. I walked into James' apartment. I walked out of James' apartment. I walked into James' apartment. I opened my laptop. I closed my laptop. I opened my laptop and edited a video of Tao, Megan Boyle, Mallory, Brandon Scott Gorrell and I talking about books and other things. I tweeted 'slept ~3 sec and woke experiencing a distinct, "real-seeming 'memory'" of me telling a "stoic, native american man" to "leave my cars alone"' while sitting there alone.
After staying up all night I went with James to Skylight Books, where the SFAA crew was filming. James and I went to Starbucks and got coffee for people. I said 'Hi' to Bebe, Travis, Brad, others. I shook hands with someone who said 'I met you before, I'm in one of Pirooz's classes.' I said 'Oh' then 'Sorry' while grinning and moving my head. I sat on a chair drinking coffee, watching the shoot. I apologized to Pirooz for not calling him back. He said something like 'It's okay, I just figured you were blackout drunk and going crazy or something anyway' while grinning. I grinned.
I sat on a chair drinking coffee. I read some lines to Brad to help him sound more like Tao. Pirooz pretended to 'cut' then told me to do something. I realized people were still filming and immediately felt retarded and embarrassed and self-conscious. I grinned, stuttered. People laughed. I laughed.
Jereme came to the bookstore and acted in a scene. I remembered seeing that Bret Easton Ellis tweeted something about his reading at Skylight Books on Thursday being his last reading ever as 'Bret Easton Ellis.' I saw a sign advertising the reading. Jereme and I each signed a release form. I watched the shoot. Jereme, Pirooz's student, Pirooz's brother and others sat in a small, clean-seeming alley, talking about the price of drugs in LA and the price of drugs in Ohio and other things. Jereme exchanged contact information with Pirooz's student. Pirooz gave Shoplifting from American Apparel t-shirts to people.
We left the bookstore and went to James' where the next scene was to be filmed. Noah printed directions to a bookstore he wanted to go to that was 6 miles away. He left. I walked with most of the SFAA crew to where the next scene was going to be shot. I helped Brad with his lines. I looked at the sky and the park. I took pictures and texted people. I called Mallory Whitten, left her a voicemail. I saw broken beer bottles and cigarette butts on the ground.
Someone said they forgot the marker and Bebe said she forgot her makeup and someone else said they forgot something else and I volunteered to get everything. I walked back to James' apartment, vaguely 'sensing' a person behind me but not looking behind me. At some point I saw that the person behind me was one of the cameramen. He got some things from a bag. I touched some things on a table. I picked up the marker. I saw Bebe walking toward me. She said she couldn't find the lipstick she used in the park and that it needed to be the same lipstick, for continuity. I expressed sympathy and said 'That's...good...that you....care...so much...about...like...' We sat on a couch. Bebe looked through a bag for the makeup while expressing what I perceived as 'frustration and sadness.' I said 'It will be okay...is it...in Travis' car or something?' She said 'I don't think so, it should be right here' while looking through the bag. I said 'Seems...good...that you care...' then 'I feel like I want to...like, pet you...or...something...to make you feel better.' Bebe said something. I touched her back then almost immediately moved my hand away. Travis came inside and said something like 'Everyone's waiting, did you find the lipstick?' Bebe said 'No' then walked outside.
Later, people ate pizza and salad. I ate a large salad. Someone said 'You don't want dressing?' I said 'No.' I said 'This salad seems...good...for being like...a pizza place salad...like...usually it's just like...iceberg lettuce...or...something...like...iceberg lettuce...' while looking at and eating the salad. Someone said 'Yeah.' I walked inside. I sat on a couch. I opened my laptop. I put headphones in my ears. I looked at and edited a video of Tao, Megan , Mallory, Brandon and I talking about books and other things. ''I said 'I feel tired' then closed my eyes. I opened my eyes. I ate a piece of veggie pizza. I ate a dark chocolate protein bar. I said 'I feel better.' James' brother walked into the room I was in. Travis and I said 'Hey.' James' brother did something in the kitchen then walked into his bedroom. Pirooz walked inside. He asked me if I wanted to watch the shoot and help out. I said 'Yeah' then walked outside. I watched many takes of the scene. I said some things to Bebe and Brad. I watched many takes of the scene. I said some things to Bebe and Brad.
James drove with Noah and I to meet Pirooz and Drew at Frolic Room, Charles Bukowski's favorite bar. I was told I couldn't be in there immediately after being asked for my I.D. We walked outside. James took a picture of Noah and I. We met Pirooz and Drew at another bar, which was closed. We met Pirooz, Drew, Bebe and Travis at James' apartment.
At James' apartment people drank beer and tequila. I drank one beer and one shot of tequila. Pirooz, James and Drew sat outside and played guitars. I lay on a couch. I said 'I feel so depressed...I feel so bad...' I texted Mallory and said I felt too depressed to call her or do anything in general. I drank water. Bebe and Travis said things. I ingested things. I felt better. Travis went outside. Bebe and I ingested things. We walked to the bathroom. We looked at the mirror. Bebe said something about the wall being made of a specific material. We made faces at the mirror. At some point, Travis walked inside and said 'What were you guys doing in there?' We said 'Nothing.'
Travis, Bebe and I sat on a couch. Pirooz sat on a chair. Drew and James sat on a futon. Pirooz, Drew and James talked about their girlfriends and wives and other things. Someone opened a word document on my computer and Bebe and I began typing in it. We motioned for Travis to type things. We typed things for a period of time, sometimes grinning or saying things out loud. At some point James said 'What are you guys doing?' We said 'Nothing.'
Pirooz and Drew left. James did something. Travis, Bebe and I sat on a couch. Bebe said 'Who are you texting?' Travis said 'No one.' Bebe said 'Oh.' Travis said 'I'm making a list of things I hate.' Bebe said 'Oh' while making a facial expression. Travis said 'I hate people who talk like Tao Lin.'
I asked if anyone wanted to go for a walk while standing near the door. I walked outside. I walked inside and asked if there was anywhere near James' to buy Arizona brand green tea. I walked outside. I sat. I typed things in my phone. I looked at things. Travis, Bebe and James walked outside. Bebe said 'Aw, have you been sitting here this whole time?' I said 'Yeah.' We talked about going to Chuck E. Cheese. James said he was going to bed. We said we were going to sit there or do something.
Noah walked toward us. He said he went to dinner then a bar with Ned and Nick and had fun. We all sat, talking. Someone said something about feminism. I said 'I don't...I feel like...feminism...like...as a word...like...' then 'Hold on, I'm trying to articulate something...' then 'I'm...having trouble formulating thoughts.' I focused on trying to discern my thoughts while others talked. At some point I said 'Like...the word "feminism" doesn't mean anything...like...if you...like...wake up in the morning and eat spinach or if you wake up in the morning and eat spinach because you're a vegan, you're still like...doing the same thing...in concrete reality...like...I don't know...like...if you want men and women to be paid equally for the same job...then like...that's wanting something in concrete reality...to make things better...not...like..."feminism..." or something.' People expressed confusion re what I was trying to convey. I focused on trying to discern my thoughts. People said things. At some point I stopped trying to discern [what seemed like 'anything'] and sat there, feeling calm and good.
Noah and I walked inside. I ingested something to help me sleep. We talked. Noah fell asleep. I cried silently for a period of time before closing my laptop and going to sleep.
In the morning, Bebe Gmail chatted me saying she wanted to hang out. I asked what she wanted to do. She said Travis got fired from his job and was on his way back to where she was and that maybe we could all get breakfast together. I said 'I feel like...Travis seems to dislike me.' She said she and Travis talked about me on their way to Kandice's the night before and that Travis '[...] thought we weren't having natural personalities and [the way we were acting] seemed fake.' I typed '........' Bebe said Travis liked me. She said 'riff raff of LA.' I said something about the manner in which I felt Travis would comment on my blog if he were a random person commenting on my blog then said I felt depressed. I said 'I sat on the couch last night in the dark and closed my laptop and stared at the corner of the window for like 45 minutes.' I said 'I feel my brain actively working, or something, in a manner like it's not me controlling it, toward "being fine with anything."' Bebe typed things about wanting to support Travis due to Travis having just lost his job. We decided to meet at a coffee shop called Stories.
I logged out of Gmail. I drank Yerba Matte. I looked at things. I logged into Gmail. I looked at an e-mail Travis sent me apologizing for 'the negative comment [he] made' and explaining that it was his way of expressing his feelings of alienation during what was going on. He said he wanted to be bros. I thought 'Sweet...sweet...sweet...' while trying to compose an e-mail that seemed friendly. I thought 'Extra...you know...like a normal person would do...just like...say something extra...' I sent the e-mail.
James, Noah and I drove to Stories. Bebe and Travis ordered food. I ordered coffee. Noah looked at books. James ordered a latte. James, Travis and I talked about the difference between a mocha and a latte. Everyone sat, talked. James left to pick up Brad and drive him to the airport. Noah, Travis, Bebe and I talked about music, our parents, Ohio. Bebe and Travis talked about Travis' past employers. We talked about other things. We said goodbye. Bebe and Travis left.
Noah and I sat in Stories not saying anything. We made eye contact. Noah grinned. We talked. We walked outside toward James'. We walked up a steep hill, sat in James' living room, talked. James walked inside. I walked outside, sat, called Mallory. Mallory said 'Hello' in a manner I perceived as 'like she was very upset' or 'like I just woke her.' She said she felt sick and sad. I said 'I'm sorry.' I apologized for not calling the night before. She said she felt worried about me. I said I was okay. She said I told her I would call her twice but didn't either time. I said 'I'm sorry' while trying to remember when I told her I'd call her. I said 'I called...and left a voicemail...and have been trying to text you like, nice stuff...to let you like, know I'm okay...and stuff...I've been texting you nice things I thought...' Mallory said I'd been texting her nice things but she missed talking to me on the phone and being with me in physical reality. I said I was sorry. She said she was lying in bed. We said other things. I walked inside.
Noah and I played guitar and sang about people we'd met in LA and other people. We laughed. At some point I said 'There should be...like...a Statcounter...that...' Noah laughed then said 'Did you just say there should be a Statcounter for every time I think of you?' I said 'What?' while laughing then 'No...I was going to finish the sentence and say like...a Statcounter that you can like, put in your brain and program to count specific thoughts or something. But that sounds better. That sounds like...a song or something...' Someone said something about recording a song or a CD. James got his laptop and a microphone from his bedroom and put it on a chair. We decided to 'freestyle' a song, using two chords that Noah was playing. James said he would play electric guitar. I said I felt too self-aware to sing. I asked Noah to sing. Noah said I should sing. I looked at James. I walked into the bathroom. I walked out of the bathroom. I took a sip of tequila. I said I would sing. I said 'Last night when everyone was here, me and Bebe typed things into a word document...so we could like, say weird things and it'd be okay...or something...I'll just use those as lyrics.' We recorded for around seven minutes, occasionally singing 'There should be a Statcounter for every time I think of you' as the chorus and repeatedly singing 'Mad hits' at the end. We sat outside. I said 'I feel really good.' We walked inside. We listened to the song. I felt aware of my facial expression and worried that people didn't like my voice. Noah said 'This sounds like, you know that band WHY? This sounds like something the guy from that band would like.' I said 'Yeah' while grinning.
Later, James drove Noah and I to a Mexican flea market. Noah and I walked around while James did something else. We walked into a store. We looked at things. I picked things up, put things down. I said 'I feel like...clothes would be a bad choice...' while looking at and touching a white-and-red dress. Noah said 'Mallory would look cute in this' while touching the dress. I said 'I don't know if she'd like...wear it or whatever...seems...risky...seems risky.' I picked things up, put things down. I said 'Sorry I'm...taking so long to pick something out.' Noah made a facial expression then said 'What.' I pointed to a shirt that had a large M on it in the same font as the Michigan University logo but beneath the M was 'Mexican.' I laughed. I purchased an ugly pig mask and two cute, glass animals. We walked out of the store. We walked into a store. Noah touched things then said 'What would be a good thing for Brittany for her to keep her weed in?' I said 'I think it depends on how much weed she buys.' Noah said 'Like, a little baggy.' We looked at and touched things. Noah bought things. We walked out of the store. We walked toward James. James said he had to be a Borat singing telegram the next day and that he needed to go somewhere to buy moustache glue. We walked toward his car. While walking toward his car a woman with dreadlocks asked me if I knew where any medical marijuana dispensaries were. I said 'I wish' quietly while grinning and looking at the ground.
We got our bags from James' then drove to meet Pirooz for dinner. At dinner, people talked about the movie. We watched some footage on Pirooz's laptop. Pirooz said something about always seeing famous people in the diner we were in. Someone said something about the church of Scientology. Noah talked about moving to LA. I ordered chicken parmesan and a salad. We ate. I said something about not wanting to go to college. We walked outside. James and Pirooz talked about James' future. We hugged James, said goodbye, got into Pirooz's car, drove to the airport.
At the airport Noah and I learned that our flight had been delayed until midnight. We sat outside. We talked about LA. We walked into the bathroom. We walked out of the bathroom. We walked through security. We sat in chairs. We talked about buying every brand of bottled water and filming a video of us drinking them and talking about them. I felt my pants hanging far below my waist. I called Mallory. I told her I was excited to have an 'epic pet session' during which I would tell her about LA. We talked about people I met in LA. Noah wrote 'Say something bad about Bebe' on a piece of paper and held it in front of my face. We walked toward Burger King. We ate chicken nuggets and french fries. We walked into the plane. We immediately fell asleep and slept for the entire flight to Milwaukee, where I ate a cinnamon roll and drank coffee then took another flight to Cleveland.
Things/people mentioned (in order of appearance): Noah Cicero, Tao Lin, SFAA (book), SFAA (film), James Roehl, Ken Baumann, Sator Press, Christopher Higgs, The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, Finding Nemo, Brad Warner, James Joyce, Nick Antosca, Ned Vizzini, Sabra Embury, Ben Loory, James Franco, Jereme Dean, Gena Mohwish, Wiz Khalifa, Eazy-E, Brick Squad, Waka Flocka Flame, Bebe Zeva, Travis McFarland, Pirooz Kalayeh, Sam Pink, P.H. Madore, Kandice Melonakos, Bebe Zeva's Formspring, LeBron James, Bret Easton Ellis, Mallory Whitten, Frolic Room, Andrew Crighton, Feminism, Yerba Matte, WHY?, Borat, Burger King
LA tweets: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Number of times I ate chicken: 6
Number of hours I slept: ~16.5
Number of kinds of lotions I used: 2
Number of emails I sent/received: 18/35
Other coverage: [pictures], Notes on going to Hollywood, Hollywood Shoot: SHOPLIFTING FROM AMERICAN APPAREL, SFAA: Hollywood Shoot, Pt. 2, "LA Story" and "Is Zen Nutty?"