POPROCKS.COM
The online home of Jess Barron

Web content and community expert, writer, editor, blogger, and internet video producer.
Bio | Resume/CV

You can also find me on:
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In 2004, a guy who I don't know named Jeremy Abbate saw my website and wrote a song called "I Wanna Be As Cool As Jessica Barron." It still amuses me. Here's the mp3 and here are the lyrics.

Archives (slowly being reconstructed):
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December 2005
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August 2005
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September 2001
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October 1999
August 1999
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June 1999

See how this site looked in 1998
Poprocks.com screenshot from early 1998
and how the place looked in 2000.
Poprocks.com from June 2000
Yahoo counted me as a "cool person" from 1997-2001. How far have I fallen?!
Yahoo counted me among the "Cool People" in 1997-1998.
The internets have come a long way, baby...

March 2, 2010 We Gave William Shatner a Yoostar System...
William Shatner with Nick, Emma, and meAfter making my red carpet entrance in front of a wall bearing the Yoostar logo, I was inside the pre-Oscars "Suite of 100 Stars" at the Beverly Hills Hotel to introduce Yoostar to the celebs. William Shatner, Captain Kirk in the original "Star Trek" TV series and movies, Bridget from "Girls Next Door," James Pitt from "Avatar," Candace Cameron Bure (a.k.a. D.J. Tanner from "Full House"), Brody Jenner's mom (Linda Thompson), Mimi Rogers, Lou Diamond Phillips, Candy Spelling, Amy Yasbeck, John Heard, former NBA player John Salley and his wife Natasha, Charlene Tilton, Margot Kidder (Lois Lane in the original "Superman" movies), Lorenzo Lamas and his new fiance Shawna Craig, and Lou Ferrigno (the original "Incredible Hulk") all took home Yoostar systems.

I demo'd Yoostar for Joyce ("notaspringchick") Chow from MBN; check out the video:


As for those who stepped up onto the stage to try Yoostar, what movie scenes did they jump into?

  • John Schneider (the original Bo Duke from "The Dukes of Hazzard" TV series) put himself into a scene from "Beverly Hills Cop."
  • Alessandra Torresani (from "Caprica") put herself into scenes from "American Pie" and "The Addams Family"
  • Sofia Milos from "CSI: Miami" tried out the "Blues Brothers" scene "It's 106 miles to Chicago."
  • Alexa Vega (Carmen Cortez in the "Spy Kids" films) played the role of the girl scout in "The Addams Family" scenes.
  • Jessica Hall (Sirius XM radio personality) sat beside Kevin Bacon in an iconic scene from "Animal House."
  • Nia Long from "Big Momma's House," jumped into "The Blues Brothers" car and told John Belushi, "It's 106 miles to Chicago..."
  • Chris McDonald sat on the park bench in a scene from "Forrest Gump"
  • Susan Blakely played Goldie Hawn's character in "Foul Play."
  • Molly Shea from "Sunset Tan" played Cheech's role in a scene from Cheech and Chong's "Still Smokin.'"
  • Darris Love also chose a scene from "Still Smokin.'
  • Alice Greczyn (best known for the 2005 "Dukes of Hazzard" movie) put herself into "Forrest Gump."
  • Gina La Piana (best known as Gabby Ortiz from "Days of Our Lives") took a turn jumping into"The Blues Brothers" car with John Belushi.
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph did a bang-up job of a scene from "Blacula."
  • Stefanie Powers (best-known as Jennifer Hart from "Hart to Hart") jumped into "The Blues Brothers" car with John Belushi.
  • Joyce Chow from MBN also jumped into the Blues Brothers car.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 9:26 PM
February 5, 2010 Judging with Jamie Kennedy
From October to December, the Yoostar Casting Call Tour van traveled from coast-to-coast, stopping at college campuses and malls so that thousands of people could record themselves in movie scenes to compete for a chance to win the grand prize -- a walk-on role in a 2010 LionsGate film.

We watched over a thousand of these video performances on Yoostar.com, and gathered users' input via our Facebook voting application, to choose the top 10 finalists.

Yesterday I met with fellow judges Jamie Kennedy and Jonathan Small (Editorial Director from Break.com) at Jamie's Hollywood studio to watch the finalists' videos and choose the grand prize winner and two runner-ups.

We judged the videos "American Idol"-style, and commented on each of the top 5 performances. Jamie was our Simon. He made the most entertaining and most scathing comments. I channeled my inner Kara DioGuardi. We recorded a video - showing the judging and announcing the winners - that we'll post next week on Yoostar.

In the meantime, enjoy some behind-the-scenes photos from the crazy shoot, which involved a clown, a scantily clad woman, a cameraman "Nick Nolte" doppleganger, and a stolen kidney. Just another day in LA.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 9:52 AM
December 17, 2009 3 Unique Christmas Traditions in Los Angeles
Christmastime in Santa Monica: Shopping Cart Christmas TreeSome people might think that it wouldn't feel like Christmas living in Los Angeles (especially for someone who was born and raised in New England), but I'm here to tell you that LA, particularly the West Side, has its own unique and fun holiday traditions.

Last week, Chris and I rode our bikes to Santa Monica to see the Christmas tree made out of shopping carts. It's called "The Bright Side." and it's been put together by artist Anthony Schmitt at the Edgemar shopping area on Main Street for the past 14 years. It's a great piece of public art because of its multiple meanings; it not only makes you consider excessive holiday consumerism, it makes you think about homelessness at the holidays. Check out my photoset of the Shopping Cart Tree.

This was our third Christmas living in Marina del Rey, and our third year heading to Fisherman's Village to check out the Marina's holiday boat parade. The parade has been happening for 47 years, since 1963 before the marina itself was actually completed.

Marina del Rey Boat Parade 2009We went to view the Marina del Rey Boat Parade with Devora and Ethan, who had been living in a houseboat on the Marina for the month of December.

This year the boat parade theme was "Holiday in paradise," and the best boat was definitely the "Cheeseburger in Paradise." It played the Jimmy Buffet song, and the burger actually opened up and then the bottle of ketchup poured in. It was hysterical.

Check out the full photoset from this year's Marina del Rey Boat Parade, and then see my photos from the Marina del Rey Boat Parade 2008.

Venice Canals Boat Parade 2009Just one day after the Marina del Rey Holiday boat parade, Chris and I biked to the Venice Canals Holiday Boat parade and met Roshanna there. The Venice Canals boat parade has been going on since the late 1970s or early 1980s.

This year, our favorite boats included the Venice trolley, the castle ship, and the viking ship.

There were also numerous Santas throwing candy from their canoes and paddle boats.

Check out the full photoset from this year's Venice Canals Boat Parade and then, see our photos from the Venice Canal Boat Parade last year.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 6:55 AM
August 25, 2009 California Dreaming, Don Draper-Style
"I was in California. Everything's new, and it's clean. The people are filled with hope. New York City is in decay."
--Don Draper, "Med Men" Season 3 episode "Love Among the Ruins"

Earlier this Summer, Flavorpill honed in on "Mad Men" creator Matt Weiner's
June Rolling Stone interview. Weiner says:
I can't tell you if we're going to go to California in Season Three, but as a show, we’re following how the Sixties were about the rise of Los Angeles and the decline of New York. People talk about San Francisco but it was really Los Angeles, and I wanted to show that. In 1960, New York is the center of everything, and by 1975 New York is bankrupt and by 1977 it’s the most dangerous place in the United States. In Los Angeles, there were the Watts riots and obviously a lot of economic turmoil there, but at the same time, every cultural aspect that dominated the United States in the Sixties was coming from there, whether it was hot rods or roller disco.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 1:23 PM
June 2, 2009 Opening Party David Lynch's Photo Exhibit
Michael Kohn Gallery threw an opening party on May 29 for David Lynch's photo exhibit "Dark Night of the Soul." The line went way down Beverly Blvd. I heard more than one David Lynch's photos at Kohn Galleryperson in line (and walking by) comment, "When was the last time you saw such a long line at an art opening!?" But it was worth the wait. (We have all witnessed how gaga I get for David Lynch.)

Many of Lynch's photos on display in the Kohn Gallery (through July 11) elicit for me the same moods and feelings evoked in my favorite of his films. A weird disturbed nostalgia and the creepiness of dreams. That's how I felt about this shadowy BBQ by a too-perfect to be true Pacific Ocean. And this photo of woman giving the finger from the backseat of car reminded me of the teens who cause the fatal car accident in "Mulholland Drive." This hazy couple on the street at night reminded me of the cast of characters Laura Dern encounters on Hollywood Blvd in "Inland Empire."

The photo which most perfectly fits the theme "Dark Night of the Soul" is this photo of a dingy lamp and bedside table with a corner filled with an overflowing pile of prescription pill bottles. That to me, truly communicates the modern American's long, lonely, troubled, sleepless night -- trying to medicate to escape from the pain of old and new terrors.

It all reminds me of the quote from the final episode of Mad Men's first season "The Wheel," when Don Draper (in a mid-day meeting preceding his own "dark night of the soul") pitches his advertising colleagues and the client on a concept to sell Polaroid's "wheel" slide projector:
Nostalgia - it's delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, "nostalgia" literally means "the pain from an old wound." It's a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn't a spaceship, it's a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards... it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It's not called the wheel, it's called the carousel. It let's us travel the way a child travels - around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.

I used to write a column for my college newspaper called "Nostalgia for the Present," and this quote has really stuck with me, and I think it also reminds me of what I like about David Lynch's movies, photos, and art.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 11:26 AM
May 22, 2009 Get Back to Where You Once Belonged
I'm back in LA, after spending last week in NYC for some Yoostar press demos and meetings. Yoostar was written up in Forbes, Good Housekeeping, NY Daily News, and several other places. Follow our Yoostar twitter feed to stay up-to-date.

We've updated Yoostar.com with a new intro video and, and we updated the Roles page to show some of the movie clips you can act in with the Yoostar system.

Also, you may have noticed that this blog looks pretty different (and also that I'm posting to it after over two years of absence). While I was in NYC, my friend Lee pointed out that poprocks.com looked "so 1999." He was basically telling me that my online presence was wearing mom jeans. Ouch. I suppose, it's good to have friends who will be bluntly honest. It's like the time Andy told me that I needed an RSS feed for my blog, or the time JP told me I should not ever -- under any circumstances -- leave the house without wearing a bra. Funny, though, no one ever said there was anything wrong those times when I dyed my hair blue or apricot. I've seen the photos, and I'm surprised I didn't receive more critical feedback.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 12:57 PM
December 15, 2008 Venice Canals Holiday Boat Parade 2008
Venice Canals Boat Parade, 2008Chris and I rode our bikes over to the canals to see the holiday boat parade. (Along with the Marina del Rey boat parade, it's one of the annual Westside traditions.)

We locked our bikes on Washington, and we saw this gal carrying a large cardboard train and rushing down toward the canals.

"Is that where it starts?" she asked us, pointing to a bunch of people underneath one of the bridges. We told her that we thought it was, and she rushed along the pathway. We followed her, and when she arrived a whole floating vessel of 20 or so people began cheering.Island of Misfit Toys, Venice Canals Boat Parade, 2008 They were the "Island of Misfit Toys," and they needed their choo-choo train, and she was the train. She put the cardboard train around her body and hopped aboard.

Other memorable boats:
*'Jaws' boat, complete with (remote control?) shark that followed them around
*S.S. Minnow with the entire cast of Gilligan's Island aboard. It really looked like it was sinking.

Also, check out this set that Chris took with his digital Leica -- they're way more beautiful!

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posted by Jess Barron @ 10:40 AM
Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade 2008
Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, 2008 Along with the Venice Canals boat parade,the Marina del Rey Boat Parade is an annual holiday tradition in our 'hood. Chris, Paula, Thoryn, and I headed over to Fisherman's Village to grab drinks at the original El Torito and watch the Marina del Rey Holiday boat parade. Our favorite boat this year was the Venice Boat. The videos came out a lot better than the photos for me this year. Here's a video I posted to Vimeo of us greeting one of the many Santa Clauses. (We wondered how the parents of Marina del Rey explained this to their kids -- the proliferation of boat-borne Santas converging on the Marina... Marina del Rey Holiday Boat Parade, 2008Was it a nautical North Pole cloning disaster?) And here's some video of our fave, the Venice Boat passing by.

The entries this year weren't quite as elaborate as they were in 2007. A sign of the economy, perhaps, and also I should point out that last year's grand prize was an all-expense paid trip to Tokyo, Japan and this year the grand prize was a Southwest Airlines round-trip ticket to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

Also, check out this set that Chris took with his digital Leica -- they're way better.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 9:45 AM
November 16, 2008 Bike Ride With Smoky Skies
Yesterday we rode our bikes on the bike path from Marina del Rey to Manhattan Beach.

The smoke from the fires spread out from the O.C. over Manhattan Beach and covered the sun, making the sky an orange-y brown. Here's a (possibly more accurate) capture of the sky's color taken with my Canon digicam. We were biking and ash was falling from the sky like snowflakes, getting into our eyes, our noses, and in our mouths. It was apocalyptic feeling. There is a beached sailboat that ran aground, and it reminded me of the scene in Cormac McCarthy's "The Road."

It didn't stop us from getting fish tacos at Wahoo's (and ice cream at Manhattan Beach Creamery for desert).

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posted by Jess Barron @ 11:26 AM
November 3, 2008 Dia de Los Muertos 2008
Dia de Los Muertos 2008, LA Selena, Carlos, Declan, Chris and I painted our faces and went to Hollywood Forever Cemetery for Dia de Los Muertos a.k.a. Day of the Dead on Saturday, Nov 1, 2008.

After we spent 30 minutes or so painting up our faces and Declan's, Carlos looked at the paint box, and saw that it was made in China, and we immediately worried about all the toxic chemicals we had caked on our faces... We washed the face paint off of Declan, but decided to keep it on ourselves.

After walking around at Hollywood Forever, we had a delicious Mexican meal (and spicy chili pepper margaritias!) at Loteria Grill in Hollywood

Check out my photoset on flickr.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 11:10 AM
October 26, 2008 Uncanny Ability to Inspire
Mr. Potato Head made out of cansWe saw these "can sculptures" of Mr. Potato Head, WALL-E, and The Little Engine That Could when Chris and I went to our gym at the Water Garden in Santa Monica. Their goal is to bring attention to a local can drive.

They built Mr. Potato Head because potatoes have nourished hungry people for centuries... It's such a strange thing to think about in LA where most of the people I know (including myself!) avoid carbs and starches as if they were a plague on humanity.

These sculptures were a clever -- and successful -- way to get our attention and remind us that we need to make a donation to the can drive.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 11:03 AM
October 31, 2006 Birtney and KFed Do Halloween 2006 in L.A.
Chris and I dressed up as Britney and KFed this year. we were britney and kfed Check out this video showing how we decided what to wear.

We started Saturday night at the Halloween Vlog Fest party in honor of Amanda Congdon in the lobby of the Yahoo! Center in Santa Monica, and then we were headed to West Hollywood to a fabulous bash at Court's place. My two favorite costumes of the evening were Strawberry Shortcake (a.k.a. Sam of daily online video serial show Sam Has 7 Friends at the vlog party) and a seriously decked-out Marie Antoinette (in WeHo). Check out the photos.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 11:40 PM
September 21, 2006 The Elephant in the Living Room
Graffiti artist and prankster, Banksy, (you know, the guy who famously and fantastically spoofed Paris Hilton's CD that's so cute the way you just draw on stuff and think about yourself all the time opened his first Los Angeles show on Friday, Sept 15 in a warehouse downtown Los Angeles. Chris and Chris and I popped over to take a peak. The elephant's presence was controversial. Check out this article.

The elephant was painted for the show's opening night, but most/all of the paint was washed off or worn off by Sunday when we stopped by the show. Someone outside had done some graffiti of their own outside in the alley that said "How much for the elephant?" poking fun at both the elephant's inclusion at the show and the fact that Banksy was selling prints of his graffiti for $90 and one canvass -- ironically this one "Sale Ends Today" -- for over $2000.

My favorite pieces were the stencil of the girl on the phone (ostensibly to Banksy himself) and she's saying "That's so cute the way you just drwa on stuff and think about yourself all the time." It really shows that he's not afraid to poke fun at himself and is willing to point his fierce criticisms at himself too. This "How's my bombing? Call 1-800-648-0403" sticker he had on the back of the truck was great too. Chris called the number, and it's a Navy recruiting office.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 10:39 PM
August 11, 2006 I Saw a Grown Woman Cry When Her Water Was Taken Away at LAX...
I needed to fly up to San Jose from Los Angeles to attend some meetings at Yahoo!s main office up in Sunnyvale, and I had a very tight schedule and was worried about how the airport situation just hours after the announcement of the London terror plot would affect my trip.bin of banned items at san jose airport If I didn't make it through the security lines in time, I would risk missing my flight, and consequently miss all of the fairly important back-to-back meetings I had scheduled.

Also, I don't know about you, but it sort of just makes me a tiny bit nervous to get on a plane when I think about bombs going off inside planes filled with people. I tried not to think about that and instead worried about whether or not I would be able to get my toothpaste and deodorant through the security clearance. I only had one bag with me (a beautiful over-sized cream-colored Marc Jacobs purse that I use as my overnight bag which certainly would not have survived being checked through underneath the plane), and I was going on an overnight business trip. I don't know about you, but deodorant and toothpaste rank pretty high on my list of overnight necessities for overnight trips.

At LAX haggered travelers were not sure about what they could and could not take onto the airplanes. There was a lot of confusion, because not everyone had had a chance to read the news yet and familiarize themselves with the list of things that were banned. At the security checkpoint, I removed my shoes and put my bag on the x-ray belt and held my breathe as I walked through the metal detector. Luckily, the screeners let my toothpaste and deodorant through. (I had a tiny travel-sized Crest toothpaste, and solid Secret deodorant, so these may have been deemed acceptable. It's hard to say. I didn't ask for clarification, because I didn't want to call attention to these contraband products, lest I risk them being taken away!)

Water and drinks were the #1 thing they were taking away from people at LAX. The grown woman in front of me in the security line was brought to tears when her brand new bottle of sparkling Calistoga water was grabbed and pulled out of her bag. "But I just bought this in the airport!" she demanded to the security screener guy. The guy told her that that didn't matter. "You can't take any liquids through to the gates," he said. He told her she had to give it to them. She started to cry, "But can I just have a sip first, please, before you take it away?" People were stressed and it was making everyone thirsty. (It's very dry and warm in Los Angeles, and this adds to the thirsty-factor.)

When we landed in San Jose (a much smaller airport in Northern California at the bottom of Silicon Valley), I noticed bins filled with banned items taken away from passengers. I snapped a photo of this one with my cameraphone. At San Jose airport, they were taking away deodorant and toothpaste, in addition to water and beverages. Also, I thought it was interesting that they were taking away chapstick too! I felt so thankful that they didn't take away my lipstick and moisturizer. It's very very dry in California, and it's not recommended to give a presentation with dry skin and chapped lips.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 6:16 AM
March 3, 2006 Who Crashed This Ferrari Enzo on the PCH at 162 mph?
Since I've moved to Los Angeles (Venice, actually) 5 months ago, I've seen a lot of crazy things, but this might take the cake.

On February 21, someone crashed this rare (only 400 made, valued at $1 million) Ferrari Enzo on the PCH up in Malibu driving at 162 miles per hour(!) And the guy who owned the car walked away from the crash with just a bloody lip.

It's a huge mystery that the LA Times has been investigating and people have been searching for photos and info for over the past few days on Yahoo!

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posted by Jess Barron @ 6:54 AM
November 17, 2005 Gawking at 'Yahoo! Jocks'
Last night after our day-long editorial conference at The Viceroy (I presented on the topic of "What Works and What Doesn't for Yahoo! Broadband Portals"), a bunch of us Yahoo!'s and our entourage went to a cocktail party at Arianna Huffington's house thrown by Yahoo!'s Lloyd Braun and Scott Moore in honor of Gawker's Nick Denton and Mark Lisanti and celebrating the Yahoo!/Gawker syndication deal. (That's right, you can now check out a random assortment of Gawker posts co-branded on Yahoo! News. Yay. I think. Or maybe that's just the party line...)

Arianna was an amazing hostess. She greeted us all personally as we arrived. (just as sweetly as she greeted Bill Maher and David Mamet.) And her bartenders certainly poured some stiff freaking drinks. Chris took tons of photos, as always of our posse at the party. I'm not so sure I can run for President anymore. Sarah also took a bunch of pics. Sadly, no Arianna. Our reflexes were obviously dulled by the drinks again. While sipping vodka and sodas, I met Gawker's Lockhart Steele, who it turns out is also class of 1996 and also a former college newspaper geek. Lockhart, alas, did not try to pick me up, though our very own superstar editor John Briggs did and succeeded (and I didn't even spill my drink!)

Here's gridskipper's little post about the party. They called us "Yahoo jocks." Dunno what they're talking about. I thought that whole cool vs. uncool, nerds versus jocks thing went outta style in 1987. This means war! You know how I'm so sensitive about these things...

I pinged the URLs to Esther today, and she IM'd back:

esther: funny that gridskipper calls it a 'melee'/gang war and chris calls it a 'love fest'

Chris described the scene more accurately. I witnessed a lot more lips-to-ass contact between the Gawker and Yahoo! crews than any actual threats of personal violence. It was all about the laaaaaaahv. Sweet, sweet laaahv. And I, personally, loved it. You can read more about the party on Defamer, and look at their pics.

After Arianna's, I drove Oren, Rick, and Mali (followed in another car by Heather and Allyson) to the In-n-Out burger in Westwood for some late night cheeseburgers (with onions!). We drove with the top down and blasted Spandeau Ballet's "True" (screaming along at the top of our lungs) as we headed back to Santa Monica to the Viceroy.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 2:23 PM
November 12, 2005 Sake Bombs Over Beverly Hills
Andy is in town visiting from SF, and he met me and the Santa Monica Yahoo! crew at Ariake in Beverly Hills for sushi dinner and many, many bottles of sake, including sake bombs with gold flakes in them (to keep hangovers away!)

You really need to look at Chris' flickr photoset to understand just how the Yahoo! Santa Monica posse rolls. We can't even eat sushi without going completely cray-cray. I put my bright red lipstick on Peter and Yun, everyone wore my cream leather coat, and Andy declared that it was all very different than the Yahoo! get-togethers up in Sunnyvale.

Afterward, around midnight when we all got back to my house in Venice. Kim and Mary Jo brought 30 people over dressed in wigs and flamboyant clothes for a Dance Dance Revolution / Karoke Revolution party. They were their friends, and my Venice-area neighbors who had been drinking all night at The Whaler. This went on until 6a.m. when the beer (and everyone's energy) ran out. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), Chris' camera's battery died around when the party started, though there is this one random pic.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 1:55 PM
November 11, 2005 Iman's Party and Hanging With Billy Zane
Mary Jo is in town from Boston, and last night she, Kim and I ate sushi at Katana and then back to the Roosevelt Hotel where Mary Jo was staying. We were told the hotel bar was closed for a private party to celebrate the launch of Iman's new book "The Beauty of Color." Through some inexplicable oversight, it turned out that our names weren't on the guest list. Mary Jo, street savvy divorce attorney that she is -- leaned in and subtly greased the bouncer $20. We were in.

I am disappointed to report that we did not end up seeing Iman or David Bowie, but we did hang out with a cast of interesting characters until 3a.m., including Billy Zane -- who later accompanied us to the Beauty Bar. He offered us cigarettes, though he did not dance with us. Later Billy's movie project partners invited us up to their suite on the 10th floor of the Roosevelt where the walls in the hallway are all painted dark gray.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 1:34 PM
October 11, 2005 Why Am I Leaving San Francisco for Santa Monica?

I'm excited to announce that next week I'm relocating to Yahoo!'s new Santa Monica office. I'll continue to fulfill my current role as Senior Editor for the U.S. broadband portals (SBC, BellSouth, Verizon, and Plus), but I'll be working among the Full Coverage and Yahoo! News teams who have recently moved down south to be part of the new Yahoo! Media Group.


"Why the hell are you leaving San Francisco?" at least hundreds of people have asked, yelled, emailed, and pinged me. It sounds like some people think I have a lotta explainin' to do -- so here are the main reasons why I'm so glad to be making this move:

1. It's a great opportunity to work among colleagues in the Yahoo! Media Group where most of the new original content on the Yahoo! Network (including Kevin Sites in the Hot Zone ) is being created. I've worked in online web content creation for the past ten years (can you believe that -- ten years?! That's making me start to feel a bit old.), so now that Yahoo! is making a big commitment to creating original content it makes sense for me to be located where it's all happening.

2a. I love San Francisco, but to be honest I don't see as much of it as I'd like to. For the past five years(!) I've made the arduous commute from San Francisco down to Silicon Valley -- I worked for two years at the Microsoft campus in Mountain View and for the last three years at Yahoo!'s campus in Sunnyvale. I spend ten hours per week driving on the 101 freeway, and that's 10 hours too many at this point. Sure, I still do cool things up in SF, like produce a weekly pirate radio show with Allyson and go to my friend Derek's Walk-In Movies and occasionally to see bands -- but the truth is, I'm in Sunnyvale in the midst of Silicon Valley waaaay more hours per week than I'm up in SF. And since I never want to live down in the suburban sprawl of "The Valley," I'm looking at many more years of commuting ahead of me if I decided to continue living in San Francisco and working a decent tech job. Pretty much all the best tech companies: Apple, Google, Yahoo!, and eBay are each headquartered somewhere down on the Peninsula, an hour's drive from San Francisco. I love it when Bay Area people comment about all the traffic in Los Angeles. My commute in Northern California is far worse than any Southern California commute I've ever had.

2b. In Los Angeles, I can live near the Yahoo! office and still live in a great area with cafes, bars, and shops that I'll enjoy. My friend Laura and I just signed a lease on an amazing house right across the street from the beach in Venice . It's only 4 miles from the office, and it has trees in the living room growing down into the ground! (Have you ever heard of such a thing?!) And I just might *gasp* ride my bike to work along the Venice to Santa Monica beachfront bike path.

3. I've lived in San Francisco for exactly 5 years. I arrived in SF in October 2000 just as closing time was setting in over the drunken magic of the dotcom days -- the music was turned off and the dim lights were turned up and everyone had to go home alone to their cold, lonely beds.) My instincts are saying that five years is long enough to stay in one city at this point in my life. I've experienced two neighborhoods in two different housing experiments: I spent 3 years living in a loft in Lower Potrero/Dogpatch and 2 years living with some guy friends in a dilapidated Mission District Victorian. I've met tons of amazing people and been to great parties and seen some incredible things. I'll certainly miss my incredible SF friends (August, Owen, Bethany, Allyson , Bryan, Andy, Jen, Deneb, Derek, Leanne, John, Shannon, Daniel, Mici, and everyone else I'm not naming) and I'll definitely be back to visit, but it's time for a change.

4. I actually like Los Angeles. Here's what I wrote about it in my blog back in November 2001. (Four years ago!) I hope that I'll still like LA now that I'm five years older. We'll hafta see. I'll be sure to blog about it as always.

5. My dog and I are fans of warm weather. Bocce, my tiny fruit bat of a dog -- though velvety -- is practically hairless (and fat-less!). San Francisco weather -- though temperate when compared to Boston -- is still not warm enough for this little dog to go running on the beach. I also enjoy wearing flip-flops every day and walking barefoot in the sand.

Do you love or hate Los Angeles? How about San Francisco? Do you have any tips for me? Well-wishes or anything to add?

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posted by Jess Barron @ 5:40 PM
August 26, 2005 22 Hours in Los Angeles, 2 Hours in a Karaoke Booth
22 hours in Los Angeles
3 hours in meetings
2 hours in a karaoke booth

Allyson, Heather and I flew down to Los Angeles for 22 hours to meet with our Yahoo! co-workers on the entertainment, music, and news teams to discuss all the exciting upcoming content which, of course, I can't tell you about. But I assure you it's cool stuff.

Since I always like to begin any excursion or adventure well-rested (ummm, who am I kidding? perhaps well-caffeinated, or maybe well-dressed), I started the day yesterday on 3.5 hours of sleep because I was down in Sunnyvale at 5a.m. to do some East Coast radio interviews for Yahoo! Buzz on my office landline. (My housemates and I don't have a landline phone at our house and it seems ridiculous to sign up for one when I'm moving to LA in just 2 months.)

The highlight of our trip down south was definitely the 2 hours we spent with Laura, Richard, and Chris in an Asian-style (private room) karaoke place off of Sawtelle in West Los Angeles. I would pay at least $35 for an mp3 recording of our sextet's (the use of this word makes our behavior sound more debaucherous) awesomely-outrageous rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." It certainly brought a tear to my eye. Similarly, witnessing the tortured magic of Chris and Laura's spontaneous and unplanned performance of Akon's "Lonely" can hardly be described. Thankfully, Heather took some photos of it all, and we can console ourselves that soon she will be posting them to flickr.

postscript: Here's Heather's flickr photoset.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 2:53 PM
January 27, 2005 Los Angeles, I'm Yours(?)
"There's a city by the sea
A gentle company
I don't suppose you want to...
Oh what a rush of ripe elan
Languor on divans
Dalliant and dainty
Los Angeles I'm yours...
"
-the Decemberists "Los Angeles, I'm Yours" (a bitter love letter to the city off of a decent album)

"Are you moving to Los Angeles?" several friends emailed and called to ask me this week, after reading Wednesday's LA Times article about Yahoo!s new office in Santa Monica.

Though I am not among the group of Yahoo! folks who have been told they must relocate to LA -- you know how I like to keep you all guessing.

As you know, I love San Francisco and my friends here but the truth of the matter is -- though I live in San Francisco, I don't work in San Francisco. Sunnyvale is such a long commute -- 2 hours each day down the traffic-encrusted, ugly 101 freeway that runs through the middle of Silicon Valley.

When you work 12-hour days and then commute 2 hours round-trip on top of that, it really doesn't leave you with very much "life" left for experiencing the city, seeing friends and going to movies, or well, anything except maybe sleep and sometimes eating. The only time I see my friends and go out in the city is on the weekends. And even that is so tough -- because by the time friday rolls around mostly all I want to do is curl up in my bed and not go out to a club see a band.

So, the option to live in Venice or Santa Monica and work at an office in Santa Monica seems rather appealing to me. As does the ability to be part of the group of people building Yahoo!'s editorial, news, and content realm. As someone who's worked in an news programming job at Yahoo! for the past 3 years, it's awesome to see the company getting behind the ideas of media and content, once again (after a bit of a hiatus after the dot-com downturn).

Plus, as you know, dear readers -- unlike most people who love San Francisco, I also love Los Angeles. By doing this, I am breaking one of the cardinal laws of San Francisco, which is "You must look down dismissively at Los Angeles." I'm sorry -- but Los Angeles is much more of a cultural center than Sunnyvale, California. And Silicon Valley has at least as many ugly strip malls as LA. And plus, the housing and rental prices are still (a bit) cheaper down there. These are things I am thinking about.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 4:47 PM
December 22, 2003 Jeff's 30th Birthday in LA
"I wanna be your Thurston Moore
wrestle on the bedroom floor.
"
-- Sleater-Kinney "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone"
jeff andy and me
I just got back to SF from Los Angeles around 1a.m. this morning, completely drained. Earlier that afternoon I had dropped Jeff off on his flight from LAX back to JFK, and then hopped back onto the 405 heading north. If you subtract the total 14 hours spent driving up and down California -- I spent 19 hours this weekend in Los Angeles, and somehow 15 of those were spent awake. I think Jeff enjoyed the celebration. He kept trying to keep it low-key, and then I would announce loudly, "It's Jeff's 30th birthday -- aren't we gonna kick it 'till dawn? Who's in on this?!?" Doesn't he understand that "low-key" isn't even a remote possibility when I'm around?

After dinner with Paul, Anne, and Raj at The Galley in Santa Monica, I kidnapped Jeff and Andy and fed them Sparks and other stimulants and drove them up on Mulholland Drive at 4a.m in my rented convertible with the top down and heat on full-blast. Sleater Kinney's "Call the Doctor" was blaring from the speakers as Jeff and I screamed along with the lyrics. As we drove down Beverly Glen, we came down the hill to Belle & Sebastian. Then I drove east on Sunset Blvd through Beverly Hills and into Hollywood so that Andy could take a photo of the neon Yahoo sign.

Jeff, Andy and me (and Bocce!) slept on one inflatable mattress on Hillary's living room floor. We slept across the mattress the wrong way so we could all fit, but our heads and feet were hanging off. They're both over 6 feet tall, so I don't think it was very comfortable for them. I went into the fetal position in the middle, so I was perfectly fine. I had a dream that night that we were sleeping in a rowboat out in the middle of a lake.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 5:52 PM
November 9, 2001 California -- It's the Cheese
"Happy cows make great cheese, and happy cows live in California."
--a cheesy quote from California dairy farmers’ ubiquitous "It's the Cheese" tv ad campaign.

"California is the only state that touches both Mexico and Canada."
--Mindy, my (actually quite) intelligent friend who received her B.A. from Vassar.


Three things:

1. It's November 9, and it's 75 degrees, and I'm wearing sandals.
2. As of next week, I will have lived in my loft for one calendar year. I'm actually planning to stay here one more year. This fact may not sound exciting to you, but this will be the first time since I was 17-years-old (ten years ago) that I've lived in the same dwelling for longer than 12 months.
3. I really do love California. Well, mostly I love Los Angeles and San Francisco (I can say with some certainty that I do not love Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, San Diego, or Davis. But I will admit that there is still something interesting about places like Pasadena, pre-fab Palo Alto, and Sausalito.)

Though I do not unconditionally love all the other California cities, there is something I do love about driving the 5 from bottom to top, my eyes lingering along the vast bountiful fields filled with fruit year-round, intersected by elaborate aqueducts, and lined with neat rows of plants and trees. As I reach northern California, I can't help but ogle the gorgeous soft rolling grassy green hills. Unlike the jutting mountain-like hills of New Hampshire or Vermont, northern California's hills seem take special care not to block out the sun.

Sometimes I think I'm one of the only people who loves both San Francisco and Los Angeles. I am, quite possibly, the only person foolish enough to admit in writing that I love Los Angeles a bit more. A few days after moving to SF last fall, I was invited to a loft party in SOMA. While being introduced to a woman around my age, I accidentally mentioned that I had just moved to the city from Los Angeles. Her immediate self-satisfied response was, "Well, at least you're in a better city now!" I tried to explain to her that not everyone is completely brainwashed that the Bay Area is the best place to live, but it wasn't worth getting in a bitch fight and/or shattering her idea of reality.

When I lived on the East Coast in Boston in 1996, I always assumed I would move to San Francisco. SF was so cool -- it was the dot.com epicenter -- (and I was already working at Monster.com and completely bought in on "The Revolution," as stupid as that now sounds.) Los Angeles seemed sort of tacky in comparison. When I was trying to get my employers at Wildweb to pay for my transfer to Los Angeles in 1999 (from Boston) my friend and manager, Eliot, a former Angeleno, had warned me, "People in the Bay-Area treat Los Angeles as if it's this big, dumb dog. And Los Angeles maybe kind of just accepts that stereotype, because I don't think LA really cares about the image as much as people might think. But anyone who lives there knows that LA actually has a lot of things, particularly in Los Feliz and Silverlake, that are just as cool, if not cooler than anything they have up there. Plus there are more artists."

With Eliot's assistance and a bit of luck, I did end up being transferred from Boston to Los Angeles, and when I arrived there, I found a place that was so strange and filled with people who all had huge dreams and bizarre quirks. I was convinced, and still am, that it had to have been created by someone's imagination like some kind of trippy cartoon. The way the sunlight hits the buildings at 3 in the afternoon, the shadows and colors are so dramatic, you constantly feel like those scenes in a movie where they close-up on the lover beaming down over the beloved's face. (I swear I wasn't much of a romantic until I moved to Los California.)

I know, no one's supposed to love Hell-ay, but I did. I fell in love with the city no one was supposed to love, just as easily as I fell in love with the goofy messed-up boy in my life who was daring me to love him.

When my friend Jeff and I decided to go west just over two years ago, he was living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which he loved, except for the sweltering summer heat waves that kept everyone inside hovering around an air conditioner. Jeff and I had been friends since we were fifteen. We grew up in a Massachusetts suburb and met in a public school Latin class. Three years after my graduation from Vassar, I was living in Cambridge, MA and hating everything about the uptight Bostonian East Coast attitude. I had already been bitten by the Burning Man bug, and realized that the majority of Black Rock City's inhabitants hailed from the West Coast.

"When a lot of people get together in the best places things go glimmering. The thing is to have a lot of people in the center of the world, wherever that happens to be. Then things go glimmering." I beckoned Jeff to move west with me, peppering my speech with lines from "Absolution," one of my favorite F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories.

Two of our other friends Paul and Hillary already lived in the City of Quartz. Paul lived in Santa Monica studying architecture at Sci Arc and Hillary lived in Hollywood and worked in acquisitions at Fox. Jeff became convinced. The only decision was whether to find an apartment in cool-kid Los Feliz or out by the sparkly ocean in Santa Monica. Our jobs on the Westside dictated our choice, and I found that I could be happy living anywhere in Los Angeles, even in West LA where we were surrounded by UCLA kids and families with Spanish-style bungalows with immaculate lawns.

Maybe I loved Los Angeles most because I hit it at an interesting time in my life. I was really ready to begin everything. I wanted to dance all night to glam rock in Hollywood clubs with strippers and guys in bands. I wanted to dress even more flamboyantly. I wanted to learn to rollerblade while watching the sun set over the ocean and licking the salt from my lips.

Maybe I loved Los Angeles because I hit it at an interesting time in its life. I saw the entertainment dot.com bubble from the inside. My P-2-P MP3 start-up company was headquartered in Beverly Hills and majority-owned by mogul Michael Ovitz. The people I met were writers, photographers, painters, musicians, and actors (some whose names you’d recognize, and some who you would not), and they didn’t all hail from New England or go to college in the Northeast. They had their own unique dreams and they weren't doing these things just because their families expected them to.

A few weekends ago while walking barefoot on San Francisco's Ocean Beach, Mindy and I were speculating about which, if any, states could successfully succeed from the Union. "California is probably the only one that could do it, right?" I ventured.

"Well, California is the only state that touches both Mexico and Canada," Mindy said.

"California doesn't touch Canada!" I exclaimed, and both of us immediately started laughing.

"I can’t believe I said that," Mindy said, while still giggling. "It's stuff like that that makes people in Washington and Oregon hate Californians."

I admitted that I sometimes pictured the map that way too. I suppose that confirms it -- we're officially Californians now.

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posted by Jess Barron @ 8:39 PM
October 24, 2000 A Love Affair with Los Angeles
"I'd give my life just to dream with you on a bed of California stars."
- Billy Bragg & Wilco "California Stars"

I'm not sure exactly how it happened, but I somehow convinced Gareth to leave his life in Denver behind and move to California to live with me. I must have some incredible powers of persuasion. I've only known him for one month.

I accepted a new job. I'm working for Microsoft in Mountain View, California. Sorry, but I can't really tell you what I'm going to be doing, because it's kind of a secret. I had to sign the usual all-encompassing non-disclosure agreements. I assure you that the projects I will be involved with will not harm anyone and should in no way risk causing a thermal-global-nuclear war.

The job is great (and I'm going to be working with my friend Allyson again!), but this unfortunately means that I hafta leave Los Angeles and move to uber-expensive San Francisco. I'm starting next week, so my langorous days of unemployment in LA are coming to an end. It's weird because four years ago when I first wanted to move to California from the East Coast, I thought I'd move to San Francisco. I never even considered Los Angeles, because I didn't think I'd like it. But now that I've lived here for a year, I love LA, and I'm afraid that San Francisco will pale in comparison.

I feel like I will be arriving in San Francisco just as the party is ending. You know, when the dim lights are turned up and the ambient music is turned off and everyone realizes that the night of drunken magic is drawing to a close and they have to go home to their cold, lonely beds. As T.S. Eliot so eloquently put it, "This is how the dotcom revolution ends -- not with a bang, but a whimper." (Of course, Eliot was talking about the world and not the "dotcom revolution," but since dotcoms have comprised my entire world for the past four years, I suppose you will accept and understand the substitution.)

What's more -- all the people I know in San Francisco (and most San Franciscans, actually) hold a disdainful attitude toward LA. They'll tell you that LA is full of traffic and smog and vapid people, but they don't even stop to realize that their city (and its Southern appendage Silicon Valley) has 100 times worse traffic, the streets are dirtier, and their population is almost entirely twentysomething technology people whose cocktail party chat makes actors and film industry people look smart, interesting, and even deep.

Don't get me wrong, most of my friends (in both cities) are twentysomething technology people, it's just that in LA (as opposed to SF)I also have friends who are writers, film-makers, actors, and writers, not to mention waitresses, masseuses, and public school teachers. I don't think those kinds of people can even afford to live in San Francisco anymore because the rents in the city are so ridiculous. But in L.A., rent is fairly cheap (when compared to Boston, NYC, and SF), so the city has a much more diverse population.

I've been spending the last few weeks of unemployment trying to enjoy LA and do some of the things I don't normally have time or inclination to do. You can check out my photos from the Getty Center, Point Dume in Malibu, The Mondrian, Earth Dance, Santa Monica Pier, and Beauty Bar.

The worst part about moving to San Francisco is trying to find a decent studio or one bedroom apartment that allows dogs that is less than $4000 per month in rent. Gareth and I drove up to SF yesterday to go to some open houses. We saw a loft in the Mission that we really liked, but we weren't ready to commit to it yet. (And we can't realistically afford the $6000 initial deposit until I start work.) We definitely like the loft spaces in SOMA, but we don't want people to resent us and think that we're dotcom yuppies. It's just that lofts have such great feng shui and they generally seem to allow dogs to cohabitate with humans.

Reasons Not to Leave Los Angeles:

  • Jeff
  • J.P.
  • Selena
  • Lawrence
  • Ray
  • Karaoke at the Farmer's Market
  • 88.9 KCRW
  • driving north on the 1 through Malibu
  • The Museum of TV and Radio
  • drinking by the pool at The Standard
  • shopping on Melrose
  • meeting people like Monica Lewinsky
  • fabulous fastfood drive-thru options like Fat Burger and In-n-Out Burger
  • Rollerblading at the Santa Monica Pier and through Venice
  • Karaoke at the Smog Cutter
  • The Silent Theatre
  • the weather
  • the fact that living in Los Angeles is like living inside a cartoon

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 11:35 AM
  • July 11, 2000 4th of July South of the Border
    selena and I celebrate vicente fox's victoryOut of a desire for spontaneous travel to someplace we had never been, Selena, John and I went to Mexico City for the 4th of July weekend.

    We experienced the Mexican elections and the ensuing celebration first-hand. Vicente Fox won, overthrowing the PRI party which has ruled Mexico for over 70 years. When the results were being announced, a large crowd gathered at the Angel of the Revolution statue, waving flags and singing. Cars driving down Paseo de la Reform were beeping out little tunes with their horns, and the drivers were waving flags out the windows and giving the two-fingered "V" for victory sign. There wasn't any violence, just people cheering and celebrating.

    It ended up being quite an inspirational experience; we had never seen a whole city so excited over politics. Remember, we live in Los Angeles where violent riots break out when the Lakers win a basketball game. We also spent a day climbing the pre-Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan -- which I am proud to say I climbed all the way up despite my fear of heights and my impractical (but-ever stylish) platform sandals. Check out the photoset.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 7:18 PM
    June 11, 2000 Dying to Disco
    Barry's Boot camp is killing me. My entire body was in pain all weekend from Barry's "Disco Friday." Eighty push-ups, hundreds of squats, and almost a thousand crunches -- and let's not even talk about the running. Barry can tell if you're doing less than the required speed during the sprints. I know what it is like to die to disco music. There are muscles in my hands and wrists that are crying out as I type this.

    On Saturday Jeff and I got to Santa Monica by 9:30 a.m. and then we rollerbladed north of the pier to the end of the bike path. Then we went back south through Venice. Afterwards Jeff incited me to jump in the ocean, so we changed into our bathing suits on the middle of the beach (by holding up towels around each other while we were changing). We went up to our chests in the water and played in the waves, which were huge and kept knocking me down. We were giggling the whole time. Jeff got a bit of a sunburn. He's been away in New York for the past three months, and in comparison to me and Paul he looks very pale. (Jeff and I have both always been extremely pale with our freckle-y Irish skin, but now when I look at myself I am shocked to see that I am tan. I am no longer officially a goth girl. Sorry folks.)

    Last Wednesday night, Jeff and Hillary and I went to the El Rey to see Sleater-Kinney and Bratmobile. Selena and Steve were there too. The show kicked ass. Bratmobile opened, and they started with "Love Thing" off of their 1993 album 'Pottymouth.' It begins with the singer Allison Wolfe screaming in a Valley girl accent, "Admit it, innocent little girls turn you on, don't they?" JP put that song on a mix tape he made me back in our Vassar days. That song rocks.

    Sleater-Kinney were incredible. The crowd was bouncing around completely ecstatic. They played "I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone," and "You're No Rock'n'Roll Fun" and they did an inspired cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival's song "Fortunate Son" (you know, the song that goes:
    "It ain't me. It ain't me. I ain't no Senator's son./
    It ain't me. It ain't me. I ain't no fortunate one.")

    The one song I really wanted them to play was "Good Things" off of 'Call the Doctor.' I didn't think they would play it, and they didn't give it to us in the first encore, but I was thrilled when they came back for a second encore and started it with "Good Things."

    I was pretty close to the stage, so I took some photos of Corin and Carrie.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 6:47 PM
    June 4, 2000 The Busier the Better
    If you were wondering and waiting in antipication of why my car went "Boom!" last weekend, here is the official answer: It turned out that my pretty blue Beetle's battery exploded. Alas, it wasn't covered under the warranty, because as the mechanic guy eloquently and existentially put it: "sometimes you get a bad battery."

    But, it's all fixed now -- and I suppose my experience with the explosion could've been a lot worse. Like if I had driven to Tijuana for Memorial Day weekend.

    I will just file the whole car incident under "How to lose $400 without really trying." Grrr! I really need to remember to sign up for AAA. Selena tells me that membership includes a bail bond. Apparently, in the event that you are ever thrown into the clinker, those Triple A peeps will front your bail. That's pretty sweet.)

    The last few days have been some of my favorite since I've moved to Los Angeles. I've been feeling so good, and doing things that I'm enjoying so deeply.

    I guess it began with Tai Chi on Thursday morning. I knew I needed to try lots of new activities to help myself to not focus on Lee and to also get me to start trying all the things I wished I could learn. And that very morning Selena came in to work with a book of all kinds of courses. We started looking through it together and decided we wanted to take: belly dancing, bartending, tai chi, yoga, self-hypnosis, drum lessons, conversational Japanese, and DHTML. We had to narrow it down a bit, so that we could focus properly and so that we'd have *some* free-time left. We decided to save belly dancing and conversational Japanese for later. But then we decided that we're going to join Barry's Bootcamp too. We're starting that tomorrow, and we're going to be doing it every day at 6:45 AM. Yes, that's AM. Wish me luck. It may just be too hardcore for the likes of me. We'll see.

    So, Selena and I started going to a Tai Chi class last Thursday night, and it really helped me to get over the negative funk I was in. It takes so much concentration to learn the movements, that I was able to get completely out of my head for the three hours while we were in class. It's one of the only activities I've found that is completely relaxing for me. It eradicates all of my anxious feelings. Now every morning and night I keep practicing the postures we were taught, and I can't wait to learn more this week. I wonder if yoga will be this good. I can only hope.

    On Saturday, I had breakfast with Adam (who is the singer for Timonium, a darkly ethereal band I might go see play this Tuesday night at the Silver Lake Lounge, but I'm not sure because that's the night that Jeff comes back from NYC). And then we went to Rhino Records (which, as it turns out, is only about two blocks from my house). We spent a few hours there, hearing new music on the listening stations and also listening to older CDs in the used section. Adam told me that he thought I would like a British band called Broadcast, and when I listened to their CD "The Noise Made By People," I fell in love. I bought that CD and also Dimitri from Paris' mix CD "A Night at the Playboy Mansion." I also bought a few used CDs (Laika's "Sounds of the Satellites" and Shudder to Think's soundtrack to the film "First Love, Last Rites.")

    After Adam left, I went up onto the roof of my apartment building and listened to music on my discman for a few hours. I mostly focused on the Travis CD "The Man Who." It's a great album. My favorite song is the first track "Writing to Reach You" (yeah, it's probably not surprising that a web writing person would relate to that one, huh?) I just love the opening lyrics:
    Everyday I wake up and it's Sunday
    Whatever's in my eye won't go away
    The radio is playing all the usual
    And what's a wonderwall anyway?
    Because my inside's on the outside
    My right side's on the left side
    'Cause I'm writing just to reach you
    But I might never reach you
    I only want to teach you
    About you
    But that's not you.

    This morning I went bowling in the Valley with Ray and Selena. I learned how to bowl the real way, (as opposed to my old method of just rolling the ball with both hands in the between-the-legs stance). After bowling we had coffee at Buzz in West Hollywood.

    And then I went to visit JP, and we had a great time. After that I went to see Robert Mapplethorphe's controversial exhibit "The Perfect Moment" at the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 10:16 PM
    May 29, 2000 We Like the Cars, the Cars that Go "Boom!"
    This past Saturday night while en route to a party, my car exploded in my friend Chris's parking garage. Well, it didn't really explode. It just went "Boom! really loud and scary-like, when I put the key in the ignition. The doorman inside the building even heard the "boom!" And then the whole thing was dead, and there was smoke coming out from under the hood. It was very scary; you can even ask JP. We couldn't understand why a new Beetle that had just turned two-years-old would do something like that. It didn't stop us from going to the party, though. Chris kindly drove us, and we put off calling a tow truck until our return.

    Chris works at Anteye, this website where users submit their film and video shorts. I met Chris through Kim, one of my friends from home who I've known since 4th grade. They went to U Miami together.

    The party was cool. Chris and his friend Patrick are absolutely hysterical. I pretty much forgot about my car's demise until we returned to Hollywood later that night to call the tow truck. It cost $220 to tow my car from Hollywood to Santa Monica Volkswagen. Grrrrrr! And I don't even know what's wrong with it yet, since it was a holiday weekend and no one has been in to look at it. I seriously hope that this mysterious problem is covered in my warranty. Cars should not just go "boom!"

    JP and I went to another party that Chris invited us to on Sunday. It was at some producer guy's house in Santa Monica. He had a huge deck that overlooked the ocean. It was gorgeous. But it's in a weird part of Santa Monica and it took JP and me two hours to find the place. At least we were able to entertain ourselves in the car by playing Hole's "Celebrity Skin" and every mix tape we had access to.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 7:33 PM
    March 29, 2000 Scour=Seinfeld 90210
    I really *am* living inside a cartoon, or perhaps some twisted-micro-topic-dissecting Seinfeldian sitcom.

    Yesterday at the office (i.e. Scour.com in the 90210), Camille was telling me about her bizarre mayonnaise phobias (brought on by working at a sandwhich shop with a woman who licked the spoon while transferring a large vat of said oily-eggy substance into smaller containers) while we were snacking in our office's kitchen (which like kitchens at most decent start-up companies is always well-stocked with Pop Tarts, Red Vines, Kit Kats -- I couldn't find a website for Kit Kats, but I did find The Kit Kat Ranch, a bordello in Nevada, Corn Nuts, M&Ms, Pretzels, assorted sodas, and Perrier), when Kris wandered in. Overhearing our conversation, she said, "You think that's gross? You wanna her something really gross?" and then proceeded to tell us about the "universal sponge."

    According to Kris, one of her girlfriends is married to a guy who used to do something very dubious in his bachelor days. When this friend of Kris's was first dating this guy, she discovered that he would use a sponge to clean his toilet, and then use that very same sponge to wash dishes. It was his "universal sponge."

    Camille and I were shocked and repulsed. Caroline (who was photocopying in the vicinity) could not believe it either. The way we see it, sponges can make a progressive one-way transition through household tasks (for instance, you can use a sponge to wash dishes for a week or so and then when it gets older it can be used for cleaning counter tops or the sink and then when its even older, it can be used to clean in the bathroom), BUT once a sponge is used for something other than dishwashing, it CANNOT make the move back to being a dishwashing sponge. There need to be some lines drawn. You should not have a "universal sponge." Apparently, this guy has learned the error of his ways and now subscribes to the separatist transitional theory of sponge usage. In any case, I'm just glad I never ate dinner at his house.

    Later in the evening, I was eating take out vegetarian in the conference room with the rest of the web development team, when it came up that I had gone to school at Vassar (that kind of stuff always comes up -- that's precisely why people go to sorta pretentious-y schools like Vassar in the first place) and Ilya, one of our site's founding engineers, said, "Oh. You went to Vassar? I know some people who went to Vassar."

    "Were they guys or girls?" I asked. (A fairly reasonable question.)

    "I'm not sure," he responded.

    "You don't know your friends' genders?!?" I started cracking up.

    He explained that he couldn't remember which of his friends went to Vassar, and therefore since he didn't know which friends were the ones, he wasn't sure of the genders. I guess it makes sense. Sort of.

    From there, we heartily launched into the topic of whether robots had genders. We all agreed that we naturally assumed that R2-D2 and C-3PO (sci-fi savants the web engineers immediately announced they were played by Kenny Baker and Anthony Daniels) were male, although R2's gender is left somewhat ambiguous.

    Out of nowhere, John insisted that Moffit the Daggit from BattleStar Galactica was played by a monkey. Nobody else believed him. "That's an urban legend. Moffit was just a puppet," Shac said. So, we pulled up the Internet Movie Database on the overhead projector, and did a search for Battlestar Galactica, and found that Moffit wasn't listed. That didn't solve any of our problems.

    "Does the IMDB not list animal actors?" I wondered, appalled at this unfair treatment.

    Sure enough, we looked up Lassie, and there wasn't even a mention of the series' star.

    Then we returned to our Daggit debate, and after some dedicated searching on John's part, we found The Battlestar Galactica episode guide which tells that Moffit the Daggit is played by "Evie the chimp." Score one for John.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 4:55 PM
    March 27, 2000 Living in LA Is Like Living Inside a Cartoon
    I've said it once, and I'll say it again: living in L.A. is like living inside a cartoon. It is everything that spending my formative years within inches of a television screen prepared me for. Sometimes when I'm walking through my well-manicured West L.A. neighborhood under palm trees and sunny skies, I expect a team of key grips to come through and slide away the lush back-drop. It's as if everything around you has been digitally enhanced. Flowers are blooming year-round; you can always smell Eucalyptus trees and honeysuckle. And my neighbors even talk to me when I pass them on the street!

    But, get this: I work for a start-up Web company (Scour.com), and our office is on Maple Drive in Beverly Hills. How many start-up companies have offices in the 90210 zip code?! If I didn't know any better, I'd swear I was on television.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 9:54 PM
    March 16, 2000 Viper Room, Part 2
    This email chain was in response to Allyson's email about our star-studded evening at the Viper Room's secret Cult show...

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Jess Barron [mailto:jessb@poprocks.com]
    Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2000 3:14 AM
    To: "Allyson"
    Subject: Viper Room Cult show reported about on Alloy.com

    Hey Allyson,

    I just noticed a report about our Viper Room/Guinness Toast party on Alloy.com. Go to:
    http://www.alloy.com/a2k/todayinalloy/newsandgossip/
    and scroll down to the entry for March 6 where you'll see:

    THE GUINNESS WORLD RECORD
    Looks like all you need to do to get stars to participate in a publicity stunt for free is serve them beer - lots and lots of beer. At least, that worked for Guinness, the Irish beer company that organized a 60-city, 300,000 person toast to (what else?) the wonders of Guinness in order to make it into the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records in the category of "Largest Simultaneous Toast." Joining the L.A. toast party at the Viper Room were such celebs as Johnny Depp, Tori Spelling, David Boreanaz, Alyssa Milano, Edward Furlong, Donovan Leitch, Rose McGowan, Matthew McConaughey, Vince Vaughn, Steven Dorff, and Paul Rudd. Sounds like quite a kegger!

    If you scroll further down to February 11, you'll see a report mentioning Monica L's boyfriend Jeff (Boggs) who writes for the Tom Green show. I coulda scooped them on *that* story. He convinced her to go on the show, the night they were out at Lava Lounge with me...

    MONICA LEWINSKY TO BE ON THE TOM GREEN SHOW
    Think that the Tom Green episode where he gave his parents lawn, er, art was funny? Well, that's nothing compared to what he's got planned next: Tom, Monica Lewinsky, and a camera crew, all in Tom's hometown together. Check this itinerary: First night in town, make a late-night visit to Tom's parent's bedroom. Next day, have Monica pose for a an Ottawa Sun feature on local beauties. Stop for coffee. Steal coffee filters to wear as hats. Toy with reporters by promising to make "a major announcement" about Monica and Tom's status as a couple soon, even though Monica is already seeing Jeff Boggs, one of Tom Green's producers. (So THAT'S how she ended up on the show.) We can't wait for this episode to air!

    -----Original Message-----
    From: Allyson
    Sent: Thursday, March 16, 2000 9:53 AM
    To: 'Jess Barron'
    Subject: RE: Viper Room Cult show reported about on Alloy.com

    WE MISSED TORI SPELLING?!?! Ooops, I mean... WE MISSED JOHNNY DEPP?!?!

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 2:14 PM
    March 15, 2000 Ray Santamaria's "Starwhore" Email About our Scour Lunch
    An email my friend Ray sent out after our starstudded Scour lunch today at The Newsroom:

    -----Original Message-----
    From: "Ray"
    Sent: Wednesday, March 15, 2000 5:09 PM
    To: the Scour peeps
    Subject: Starwhore Newsletter #2 Circulation, 11

    Dear Reader,

    I hope you enjoyed the first edition of the Star Sighting Newsletter, now titled, Starwhore Newsletter. In addition, please be aware that I spoke out of turn by providing the URL of Starwhore.com. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, it's taken. While I'm negotiating the purchase of Starwhore.com (I don't usually have $15 mil in my bank) you can reach us at Starwhore.org. Anyway, we have a fun filled Newsletter for you that I'd like to call "Five Finger Discount." Read on and enjoy!

    Ray Santamaria Editor In Chief, Starwhore.org

    Five Finger Discount

    It was all about five today. I checked my horror scope, but no numbers. What is the meaning of five today? My soul was searching for the truth as I hopped into the car with my four friends for our secret rendezvous at the inconspicuous Newsroom Cafe. As the five of us (hmmm, five...) walked in, my heart, among other things, began to pound as the first female I noticed in the place was none other than Superman's girlfriend herself, Lois Lane. No, not crazy Margot Kidder. She's off in an alley somewhere bumming Prozac. I'm talking about sexy, anorexic Terri Hatcher. I had no idea who the dweeb was, but who's looking? For a split second we looked at each other. There was something in our gaze. Something unsaid passing between us. I don't think she really knew it was me who farted.

    In my starstruck haze I realized I left my wallet back at HQ. Drats! A starwhore's worst nightmare! One of my cohorts said he would cover me. No problem. We went to sit down. But wait! Was this the day of Super Heroes? Wonder twin powers, activate! Make me into the shape of...Batman! Against the back wall of the cafe was none other than Batman himself, Michael Keaton! Wait a second! Michael...Terri. Does Superman know about this? Sure, they were at different tables, but c'mon! Coincidence?

    At the table, another peep of mine mentioned the Jack Frost movie that Michael Keaton did. I punched him and threw ice down his shirt for even bringing that up. I told him he should go apologize to Michael for even seeing the movie. Whatever. But, Jesus, he is losing his hair isn't he?

    Blah, Blah, Blah. Yeah, I forgot, that punk rock kid from Son of Sam was waiting next to us for a table. Adrian Brody. What's he done lately? He was waiting for a table just like us. Puleeeeeze.

    So, my secret agent team and I enjoy our meal and try to hide our identities by not looking around the room too much. The key to being incognito is to avoid eye contact. It was working till I noticed a young man in dark sun glasses and a tacky suit. He looked like he was in the mob, or even in the CIA pretending to be in the mob. My crew and I pondered the possibilities only to realize its Michael Imperioli (loose cannon "Christopher" on the Sopranos). Wow. He really gets into character, doesn't he? Didn't he have something to do with Son of Sam? Another colleague says he was a writer.Hmmm. Coincidence? We also saw Michael on the way out of the garage. He got into the back of a Nissan Altima. Hmmm. His character recently got shot. Coincidence?

    Just when you think it's over, it's not.

    We're eating. Having a good conversation. There's this woman at the table across from us. She's facing me. Why won't she look at me?Ê I'm wearing Maharishi! I put product in my hair this morning! What gives? Probably a dyke! Whoa! It is! It's Sandra Bernhart! I won't hold it against her.

    As you can see, it was a very exhausting lunch. Five secret agents who had their privacy invaded by five stars (and two Internet geeks).What can you do?

    I'll tell you.

    Get your lunch for free, beeeee-aaaaaahtch!

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 6:00 PM
    March 1, 2000 Allyson's Email Following the Secret Cult Show
    An email Allyson wrote to her friends after her weekend in LA, where I took her out to the Viper Room for The Cult's secret show (thanks to Ray):

    _______________________________
    From: "Allyson"
    To: everyone
    CC: jessb@poprocks.com
    Subject: LA Story
    Date: Tue, 29 Feb 2000 01:16:12

    To all my celebrity stalking friends --

    I was so fortunate to arrange a visit to LA this past weekend and to have plans with one JESS BARRON, the very same day she did secure two spots on the VIP GUEST LIST to a suprise Cult show at none other than LA's infamous Viper Room where the not-so-fortunate RIVER PHOENIX did pass his last moments on this here earth. Needless to say we experienced multiple celebrity sightings covering the worlds of music, film and television... With the highlight of our evening being my exchange with Mushmouth-style hat-donning FIONA APPLE:

    Me: Watch out, it's wet there. (As Fiona Apple sits next to me on a couch where someone had spilled a drink.)
    Fiona Apple: Oh! You're right.
    Me: I think someone spilled a drink. Do you want me to move over?
    Fiona Apple: No, I'm fine. I'm just happy to sit down for a while! (smiling, sweet)
    ME: Okay.

    Furthermore, below is the complete list of stars witnessed by Jess and myself, in no particular order:
    1. DAVID BOREANAZ
    2. MATTHEW McCONAUGHEY
    3. FIONA APPLE
    4. MARILYN MANSON
    5. ROSE McGOWAN
    6. ERIC ERLANDSON (from Hole)
    7. TOM PETTY (possible)

    Not a bad take for one night out. Many thanks go to Jess for showing me the best possible of times in the world's capital for GLITZ, GLAMOUR and, as she aptly pointed out, DETACHED and UNAFFECTED Hollywood WANNABES. Long live the Viper Room, free Guinness, and waify little singers.

    THE END

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 9:08 PM
    November 15, 1999 Meeting Monica Lewinsky
    From: "Jess Barron"
    To: everyone I know
    Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 11:02:52 PST
    Subject: I hungout Monica Lewinsky Saturday night

    Sorry, but I just *had* to share this. I'm still in a state of shock. Everyone who is familiar with my articles from last year at WildWeb will be aware of my ongoing curiosity about/ fixation with all things Monica Lewinsky.

    (I hope you won't find it annoying, because it's my favorite LA story so far. I have many more gory details for those who are interested.)

    I went out Saturday night with a high school friend (Betsy Jordan, for those of you who went to Algonquin) and we ended up hanging out with Monica Lewinsky at this Hollywood bar called the Lava Lounge. We didn't just see Monica, or run into her. We hung out with her.

    How the hell did this happen? It turns out that Betsy's friend Tammy (also from Southboro, MA) is good friends with this guy named Jeff Boggs who writes for "The Tom Green Show" and who is Monica's current object of infatuation. He's not the type you might imagine Monnie would be into. He's not extremely powerful; he's not the President. In fact, according to this guy Jeff, Monica told him she likes him "because he reminds her of Chandler on 'Friends.'" Egad.

    So, we were out with this guy Jeff having a few drinks at this bar called Lava Lounge talking about how he's dating Monica, and how she is completely obsessed with him. Of course, I wanted to meet her and I also wanted to be sure he wasn't bullshitting us, so I teased him, "OK, if Monica is so obsessed with you, call her up and have her meet us here."

    Jeff has her in his speed dial on his cell phone (of course) and he calls her up. Her answering machine picks up and he leaves a message for her to meet us at Lava Lounge. I got all disapointed because I figured she was out for the evening and wouldn't get the message until later, and we would miss our chance to meet her.

    Within 30 minutes she showed up at the bar. She must've been either screening her calls or religiously checking her messages for his call. She saw Jeff right away, and approached our booth. It was so surreal. She looked exactly like you would expect her to. Black pantsuit. Not too hip looking. Kind of big poofy hair like she had on the Barbara Walters show.

    Jeff introduced Betsy, Tammy, and me to Monica as "his friends," and she shook each of our hand. It was bizarre. We were trying to be so nonchalant and act like she was this totally normal person, but it was soooo hard to keep from cracking up. After a few minutes of feigned normalcy, Betsy and I excused ourselves for the ladies room and, once inside, started giggling uncontrollably.

    The plan was were were going to get her to come out to Mel's Diner with us after the bar closed, and then we would all go back to my apartment, which is only four blocks from Monica's building. Betsy reminded me that I would need to surreptitiously and quickly remove the "Being an Intern Sucks" Clinton scandal magnet from my refrigerator so that Monnie wouldn't see it.

    Alas, when last call was announced, it turned out that Monica wanted Jeff to go home with her (alone, of course), and that she had no interest in hanging out with this gaggle of girls who were Jeff's "friends." We tried to convince her to come to Mel's with us, but she just wasn't into the idea. Jeff told her he was coming out to get food with us, and she ended up going home alone around 2am.

    Some Monica-related deets I gathered during our evening drinking with this girl:

    1. She is living near me in West Los Angeles.
    2. She does nothing all day. No job or anything like that.
    3. She is moving to New York in December, so I only have a few weeks to completely befriend her.
    4. She is extremely uncomfortable/jealous around girls, and very touchy-feely with boys. This is another obstacle to my becoming full-fledged friends with her, but I will overcome it. So be it!
    5. She actually admitted to us that she is kind of sad that the media hub-bub around her has died down. Can you believe it? This girl is certifiably crazy.
    6. She took an immediate dislike to Tammy who works for "Politically Incorrect" -- a show which has slammed Monica left and right.

    Jeff also filled us in on the more physical aspects of his (just 5 dates, so far) relationship with Monica. Not too much has happened so far. In fact, at one somewhat intimate moment, she said to him (and I find this disturbingly hysterical) "I know what you want, and you're not gonna get it yet." And the sickest, thing is we all know exactly what she was referring to. Yikes!

    Ya gotta love LA. (Or not.) So far, I'm finding it to be exactly like living inside a cartoon. I can't ever stop laughing.

    Your friend (and soon to be Monica's -- so you'll only be one degree away from her), Jess

    -----Original Message-----
    From: "Raj"
    To:
    jessb@poprocks.com
    Subject: Re: I went out with Monica Lewinsky Saturday night
    Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 15:04:12 EST

    you rock my world, JB

    Raj-Jess-Monica-Bill

    I think that's how people should sign their name from now on. With their most famous degree of seperation.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 2:52 PM
    October 20, 1999 Living in the Wild, Wild West
    If you've wondered why I haven't updated my online journal in a few weeks, it's because I've been in the process of moving myself and all of my material possessions (including my computer) from Boston to Los Angeles. WildWeb transferred me out to the west coast to help open their new office. I've been wanting to move to California for at least a year, so I was glad to get the opportunity to finally do it.

    I am enjoying L.A. so far. Bocce and I are currently staying at Hillary's apartment in Hollywood. She and I just signed a lease on a new place in West Los Angeles with Jeff, who resigned from his job at The Nation earlier this month. He's leaving New York to come out here and live with Hillary, Bocce, and me.

    During the week I've been in L.A., I already witnessed an incredible car crash (a Range Rover flipped over outside our window on Hollywood Boulevard while Hillary, Chris, and I were eating dinner. The driver emerged from his overturned vehicle completely unscathed. The weird thing is that just minutes before we saw the accident, we had been talking about all the crazy car crashes they were able to cram into each episode on CHiPs) and ordered beer from Pink Dot.

    Our new apartment is OK, I suppose, though the style is this terrible faux colonial. There were borders around the top of the walls (I insisted that they rip them down when they repaint the place for us next week) and a fake brick floor in the entry way. I hate that I'm so tied to aesthetics, but it just isn't the kind of place I imagined I'd be living in. I guess I'm afraid we're going to be living in condo hell with all of the trappings, including gated parking and central air conditioning. I'm most worried about the negative effects such a place could have on Bocce. She is a delicate creature with refined sensibilities about taste and style. Being forced to live in an unattractive environment could cause permanent scars on her already issue-ridden psyche.

    Lee had told me again and again that I would probably want to live in Los Feliz or Fairfax or Hancock Park. And J.P. had been insisting that I get a place in Los Feliz/Silverlake which is where he lives. But Hillary said that that area is too long of a commute to Century City where she works. Also, Jeff and I figure that we will be working somewhere near the Westside. WildWeb is currently looking for office space in Santa Monica.

    Since we were looking for a three bedroom that allowed dogs, there weren't many listings available that suited our needs. So, we signed the lease on this apartment in West LA, sort of near Westwood. And I really shouldn't complain about our new place that we haven't even moved into yet, but when we visited Paul's apartment in Santa Monica this weekend I found that his place was exactly what I had imagined and hoped that my apartment in Los Angeles would be like. His place has hardwood floors (as opposed to our wall to wall carpeting) and funky tiles in the kitchen and bathroom (as opposed to our linoleum). What's more -- he has a view of the Santa Monica mountains, while our view is comprised of the stucco apartment building across the street. I told Paul that he won't be allowed to come over to our apartment. I'm sure his classes at SCI-Arc have only enhanced his natural disdain for unpleasant architecture. Once we move into this place, Jeff, Hillary, and Bocce and I will need to completely embrace our new home. I won't have anyone copping pretentious attitude about our place. At Jeff's behest, we will keep a sense of humor about it and possibly invest in a few naugohyde recliners to tie in the whole "look."

    Our new place has three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two balconies, central air, a fireplace, parking, and a dishwasher -- so I really have no right to complain. I especially shouldn't be complaining since I will be inhabiting the master bedroom which has two closets -- all the better to contain my copious clothing collection (and my omnipresent alliterations -- which I assure you, I will keep inside my closet from now on. Your eyes and ears should not be senselessly bombarded by my letter repetition addiction).

    Jeff arrives in L.A. next week and it'll be interesting to see how the three of us get along living together. We've known each other since our high school days in suburban Northboro, Massachusetts. I hope this experiment in cooperative living doesn't end in disaster. As far as I'm concerned, as long as we procure a TV so that we can watch "Dawson's Creek" and "Buffy" each week, everything will go swimmingly. We may also want to build a confessional booth a la MTV's Real World so that we can spill all of our angst and dirty secrets to a video camera on a weekly basis.

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    posted by Jess Barron @ 10:03 PM