Alright guys, I need your help again... The Ellen Show needs a new Gardener, so I'm throwing my hat into the ring! Please watch/share and tell Ellen I should win!
Many thanks and much love!!!
The 6am flight from Singapore came with first class upgrades! Aaron and I found shower stalls in the Tokyo airport and parted ways at the gate for his flight to New York. Flying east is tougher than west, so I skipped Seattle and headed straight home to Los Angeles.
My roommate Priest had been organizing people to sublet the master bedroom on AirBnB.com. In less than two weeks Priest was able to get the apartment’s entire rent covered. What seemed like a perfect situation was shattered when I came home to find this creature packing his belongings in my living room.
With an enthusiastic handshake and a slight lisp, he introduced himself as “The Creature, but you can call me Markus”
He was shooting a reality show for AMC called “Freak Show” that follows several of Venice Beach’s most interesting residents who perform in the local freakshow on the boardwalk. The way this guy acted seemed like he was performing for a camera that stopped recording hours ago.
The apartment looked as if the entire ‘Freakshow’ cast had been squatting in the apartment. The living room looked as if a Chinese knock-off fashion market had exploded inside. Dozens of pairs of studded shoes, Angry Birds long underpants, costume jewelry and tattoo/piercing equipment covered the floor all the way to the kitchen. The wood on almost every surface had been stained with spilled liquids. The walls and entire bathroom were covered in mysterious black smudge marks.
Our friend Joel “KFM” Brown had been visiting us for about a week so far as well, but The Creature had obviously bonded with Priest. He kept singing Priest’s name has he shuffled his endless piles of stuff to and from different parts of the living room (but never into the actual suitcases).
KFM was giggling nonstop. My roommate looked embarrassed. “I’m so sorry dude. It’s been a long week. I cleaned up this morning, and even asked him to keep it ‘gay clean’, but obviously… Um, the producer’s coming to pick him up at nine.” Priest was already cooking lasagna and had invited over the flight attendant girls whose apartment has a direct view of our living room window (they call us the “Boyquarium”).
When time came to eat, The Creature took a bong into the bathroom and then went to the store to replenish his stash of Lime-a-Ritas.
As the lasagna was disappearing, The Creature repeatedly sang for us to “Hook a nigga up with that corner piece”. He refused to wit with us, and later forced priest to go to the neighbors to reheat the especially reserved serving.
By 8:40, The Creature was singing an original song about how much he loves cocaine. Only one of hiss six bags was packed. I maneuvered around his treasures to find the bathroom smelling like crack. Priest responded, “Don’t worry, he’s just smoking Spice”
…Spice, the semi-legal drugs whose closest neighbor is bath salts.
There was one of my baking pans on the living room floor, containing some of The Creature’s tattoo supplies. Upon moving the pan, I discovered two thick black stains that could only be from The Creature’s ink collection.
“Just get him out of here” I snapped at Priest.
The Creature popped over defensively with a wet towel and manically swiped at the stains, causing them to grow into a two-foot-wide blob of blackness. It looked like he was creating a gate to Hell in our living room. Within minutes, the Creatures’ trip went south as he gave up on the stain and went back to packing. When asking him not to step in the pile of ink and then track it around the brand new carpet, The Creature snapped into attack mode and puffed himself up in my face, “What, gay boy? Why you scared of me?!”
It should probably be explained that I’m one of those people that crazies always try to instigate fights with. It’s like how otherwise-normal dogs go nuts and bark savagely at certain people… Crazy humans are like that with me.
I wasn’t scared of this guy, but I was pissed off. More than anything I wanted to punch this drug addicted bigot freak in the face… but that would probably mean touching his blood.
Luckily the producer showed up a little before ten and helped pack the creatures’ things. While taking out a suitcase, The Creature stopped me in the doorway with a pair of scissors in his hand. He tried his usual line, “Why you scared of me gay boy?!” I looked at the ground and pushed passed. Not getting the reality-show reaction he wanted, The Creature went on to yell about how Priest was his only friend in the world.
After speaking with the tired-looking producer outside, I re-entered my apartment to find a houseplant smashed on the floor. On the upside, all the bags were finally packed and outside the front door. I slammed the door as the creature was on the stairway trying to pick a new fight with Priest.
It’s been days since The Creature left the house, but his face continues to pop into mind the second I start to drift off. Priest swears that The Creature was given a “Do-not-duplicate” key and returned it the night he left… but somehow I still spring awake when is feels like someone’s touching my leg when half conscious at 2AM.
A man who works at the Venice Beach Freak Show is haunting me.
The gift keeps on giving, however: When the executive producers heard what happened, they kicked the issue up to their attorneys and have since refused to communicate about the fact that I will no longer be getting my security deposit back from the landlord.
I’m chalking all of this up to Karmic repayment for a time when I was fourteen in San Fransisco and bet on some bum fights in Haight Ashbury.
It’s an eerie feeling to go through customs in a third world country borderline drunk. It’s entirely legal, but there looms the same feeling from high school when you worry that a teacher at the football game is going to get a whiff of beer breath and once again report you to the School Resource Officer*
An Australian friend named Kay invited Aaron and myself to come along on her family’s holiday to Bali. I figured there was no better way to celebrate my recent 25th birthday than by visiting my 25th country! Aaron was thrilled to come along as well, but refused to take any more goofy pictures with me.
There was a suspicion that I was being invited solely as entertainment for Kay’s teenage daughters, especially when they uploaded our first photos on Facebook and their friends commented “OMG! WTFF?! You promised he’d be shirtless”**
When not receiving $10 massages at the luxury villa in Canguu beach, Aaron and I escorted the girls shopping and on various random adventures around the little Hindu island oasis locked within the devoutly Muslim country of Indonesia. Our official duties included taking cheeky photos to make the girls’ friends at home jealous… and occasionally beating off the frisky locals who wanted to get themselves a piece of under age white meat.
Leaving my adopted Aussie family behind today was like ripping off an enormous Band-Aid (“Oi, that smarts!”). Even Aaron had gotten so attached that he agreed to get in the family photo. My companion and I decided that the least we can do to show our gratitude is to send a Christmas care package full of American delicacies (Pop-Tarts, Twinkies, etc) that are otherwise unavailable in Australia.
Since Bali is not a destination frequented by many American travelers here goes....
The Hindu’s*** and Don't-s of Bali, Indonesia:
DO get a massage every single day.
DONT ask for a happy ending. Indonesia’s Muslim law mandates that the penalty for such an offense is castration. This is a popular penalty for many crimes, despite the unparalleled number of wooden phalluses for sale at every stall in every tourist market (must be a Hindu thing).
DO go surfing at local breaks such as Kuta or Canguu
DON’T Paddle out if there aren’t any other surfers. Indonesia’s reefs, rocks and rip currents kill more people here than Muslim fundamentalists at tourist nightclubs.
DO make friends with smiling locals.
DON’T tell people that you are an American. This is even more important here than other American-hostile countries like, say, France.
DO check out the beautiful (and ample) local Hindi temples and check out a colorful prayer ceremony.
DON’T point to the six grains of ceremonial rice on the worshippers’ foreheads saying, “Hey brah, you got some shit on your face”
DO visit a local coffee plantation and sample Indonesia’s famous “Cat Poo Coffee” (the most expensive coffee in the world!)
DON’T try to save some money by stalking the wild cats in an attempt to harvest the beans by your self. Just about everything in the jungle here can (and will) kill you.
DO sample local cuisine. I recommend or nasi goreng (rice/beans/egg) or babi guling (suckling baby pig) with a BinTang Beer.
DON’T sample the tap water, unless your idea of a vacation is worshipping the closest porcelain God while the locals laugh and call you “Bali Belly”
DO wash your hands as often as possible, such as after using the toilet.
DON’T sit down on those Asian hole-in-the-ground toilets. It's embarrassing that I even feel the need to tell you people that.
DO take pictures of the many infants driving mopeds to work at the Nike factory.
DON’T try to distract them by flagging your newly purchased Angry Birds sequined towel out the car window.
DO visit the monkey forest.
DON’T forget to bring a clean shirt to change into after the monkeys wipe their slimy unmentionables on your back during the photo-op.
DO haggle at the local markets when buying your BinTang Beer tank-tops, indigenous monkey-hunting blow guns, local spices and (of course) giant wooden penis bottle-openers.
DON’T try to sell your friend’s daughters at the local market.
ALSO DON’T get so carried away while haggling that you end up hitting vendors with your recently acquired giant wooden penis bottle-opener (I’m not allowed back at Kuta Market).
That should cover all you need to know about Bali. It’s definitely a trip worth making. Happy Trails!
*High school was tough for me.
**What does “WTFF” mean? Is it different than WTF? Am I already that old???
***Like what I did there?
The adventure started in Colorado. Actually, it started with a goodbye-bonfire in LA with Kiley, Bigfoot, Priest, Alejandro and others ("a weekly tradition!") Aaron, my travel-companion-friend, met me at SLC and we flew into Colorado Springs together Wednesday. A shiny Land Rover pulled up to meet us with Mama-D at the wheel. After Thai food (CO is famous for it's Thai food*)
Mama D drove us up to her mountaintop mansion in a ranch community over an hour from the closest town and/or McDonald's. On the tour, she revealed a shooting range in her barn. I won a duel against an unarmed black guy!
The sun went down and we took it inside the barn for some archery. Aaron was 100X more accurate than either Mama D or me, so I'm not putting any pictures of his shots up just to spite him.
Delta called Aaron in to work early, so unfortunately the poor guy had to hop on a flight the next afternoon. We were up at 6am for white-water rafting. A fun activity, but a little too mellow. I think kayaking is more my speed. Aaron was at the airport after lunch (Chinese food, obviously)
Mama D got roped into substitute teaching at her Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym, so after Chinese massages and then the best Mexican food-stand-food EVER, I attended a Ninja/Hardcore Wrestling class with Mama D. Due to the preciousness of my face, I was only allowed to "roll" with Mama-D and one of her teaching students Tyler... who was way too good looking for me to keep from giggling the entire time.
Mama-D took a video, but it will never see the light of day because (A) I got my ass handed to me and (B) I'm not trying to run a niche porn blog. It looked something like this, but with a lot more of me crying:
My agents called me in for work on Friday to do a scene on How I Met Your Mother where I get molested by Wayne Brady. I had to leave Colorado the next morning. How could I say no to that?!
Back in SoCal, I managed to sneak into Comic Con that weekend with my ninja friends Bigfoot and Priestly.
We spent two days making Priest's nerd-fantasies come true.
Okay, and maybe some of my own fantasies, too...
Priestly even got onstage that night at midnight for the light-saber Star Wars re-enactment ballet!
We were banned from Comic Con for life. We would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling kids!!!
It’s been an intense summer. I’ve bought a new motorcycle and taken a sublet near the beach in Los Angeles for three months. Some of that time has been shared with Chicago as well. The original plan was to be only in Chicago, closer to The Beej. Unfortunately, one visit from Ohio proved that the minor reduction of distance didn’t ease the costs and aggravation of visitation. It’s okay for “Airport” to be your middle name, but it’s a personal purgatory when the airplanes never go anywhere new. Even California isn’t far enough anymore.
Two years of dating long-distance has proved too much to handle. It’s weird to break up with someone when you’re still in love with. As a consolation, I’ve gained a “Companion Pass” on Delta; which means free standby flights! Hopefully I’ll end up rebounding with foreign countries rather than foreign people.
On Thursday, July Fourth, I went to the airport with a backpack, tent, sleeping bag, motorcycle jacket and passport. It was anyone’s guess what flight would be available on America’s third-drunkest holiday. After failing to get three different flights to Hawaii, the stewards suggested a less crowded red-eye to San Jose, Costa Rica. It’s a good destination, especially since the chances of getting back from Hawaii in time to shoot a “Crocs” commercial on Tuesday were slim to none. There was a seat available in first class! They don’t have the same whiskey selection as American Airlines’ first class, and their caviar is sub-par, but it’s hard to complain about such things when bringing a tent in carry-on. As we took off from LAX, California said goodbye with an array of coastal firework demonstrations.
A chatty Costa Rican woman with monstrous fake lips was seated beside me. She must have taken a few Valium before the flight because she fell asleep in the middle of my explanation as to why I plan on catching and bringing home a pet sloth named Wooby... Nice lady, though.
The plane landed at 6AM Friday and I grabbed a traditional Costa Rican breakfast of rice/beans/plantains/eggs at McDonald’s (“They have Wifi, alright?!”). My friend/guide/surf guru/Spanish teacher Juan Jose had a class in town until noon, so after spending two hours screaming at the worst drivers on the planet (excluding Miami), I took a nap in a hammock at a Costa Rican chain restaurant called TacoBar.
We decided to visit Arenal Volcano National Park for a night before heading to Juan’s house on a surf spot called Playa Hermosa.
Two years ago, my older brother had his bachelor party in Playa Hermosa and rented our usual house in the neighborhood Juan Jose manages. It was a fun-filled adventure full of surfing, psychedelic waterfall hiking, drinking games and strippers with C-section scars. One night at a beachside bar, Juan Jose confessed that he was attracted to me. Rather than reveal this information in private, Juan got incredibly drunk and chased me around the bar, trying to grab my ass. I’ve been told that’s simply how it’s done down here.
Since then, I’ve been clear with Juan about only wanting a platonic relationship. Despite this fact, I could tell there was still a glimmer of hope that night as we were swimming in the hot spring. Fortunately, I got food poisoning from my Costa Rican McDonald’s breakfast. Nothing cuts sexual tension quite like involuntarily spewing bodily fluids from every orifice.
Saturday morning was spent recovering and then hiking as many waterfalls as possible before heading south to the black sands of Playa Hermosa. We went for a swim at sunset. Ten-foot waves crashed a quarter mile out as Juan and I bodysurfed the shore-break and practiced Spanish profanities. After Argentinian empanadas and a couple Imperials, I was asleep by 9PM.
Juan had work until 11AM on Sunday, so I attempted to paddle out in Hermosa’s massive surf, despite being the only idiot in the black water. Later we surfed a southern spot called Esterillos, using boards from the development’s rental shop. It started storming around 3, so we hit one more waterfall; a secret one without a name. It had pools deep enough to jump into from above each of it’s three massive tiers. I didn’t take a picture or video of the falls because (A) it was raining and (B) I just told you it’s secret, duh! Even though Juan is not my type, it’s difficult not to french kiss your companion (Nicholas-Sparks-style) when you’re both encased in tons and tons of never-ending barrel. I resisted the urge this time*. I may be a lot of things (actor, model, timewaster, badass, moron) but ‘a tease’ is no longer on that list.
To cap the adventure, we finally saw a sloth on the hike back! I texted The Beej to tell him that I found Wooby, “...but Wooby told me I’m not ready to have a pet” since the closest thing I have right now is a bamboo plant in New York… and last time I checked, it was hanging on by a thread. The Beej still hasn’t texted back yet.
Luckily, the two-hour drive to the airport this morning was in total darkness. If the sun was out, I’d most likely miss the only flight today in order to find another sloth and convince him to let me take him home.
It’s hard to lose someone as irreplaceable as the Beej, but this newfound freedom to have the career and adventures I’ve always wanted is more than a consolation. It’s like a 16-year old who’s just received their first car. The world is magically open and available for the taking like never before. It’s insane to think that this is only the first of these adventures. Usually there’s a personal or financial obligation (such as a modeling contract) when travelling, but now it’s a whole different ball game. The world is my oyster: I’m gunna shuck the hell out of it and then take heaps of pictures… and then put them on the Internet for strangers to see!
Please stay tuned, and enjoy.
*Sorry about that last time in the Caribbean, mom.