I Want to Live in NYC Until I Hate it Again

1924166_677182189313_8048_nRETURNING HOME, I spent a few days with old friends that I hadn’t seen since I’d last lived there.

I jumped between late-breakfasts, and espressos, and brunches, and beers, and late-lunches, and overpriced cocktails, and dinners, and house parties in neighborhoods that I’d never really spent time in before. Moving around New York makes me feel like I’m on a backpacking trip; I end up covering a much smaller geographic distance, but I end up doing way more things in a single day than I would otherwise.

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Blending In With London Tourists

AFTER MY GIRLFRIEND LEFT LONDON, I stayed on Rowan’s couch for a week. He was the first person that I’d met at my transglobal internet television job. We bonded at 12am PST / 9am BST over our mutual interest in Art, Spanish, and The Sugar Hill Gang.

He’d regularly send me inexplicable pictures of lions, links to mixtapes, and info about art openings in Culver City. We were good friends online. We’d only really hung out in real life for 45 minutes the last time I was in London; now he was handing me the keys to his house, and the keys to his beloved blue bicycle.

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Quit Your Job Abroad and Move Back Home

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On Mexican TV

YOU’VE JUST GRADUATED from college and you have absolutely no idea what to do with yourself, so you drive from California to Alberta for no other reason than someone invited you to serve beer at a music festival.

Somewhere between Jackson Hole and Missoula you get word that a family friend is looking for teachers at a high school in Mexico, no experience required. Hey, you have no experience, you should apply.

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Through the Sonoran Desert to a Baseball Game

WE LEFT LOS ANGELES at 6am. Dad was driving, so I was asleep before we even merged on to the 134. I woke up just outside of Beaumont. A billboard emblazoned across the highway in Old West font read: “Gramma’s Country Kitchen — God Bless America.”

I live in a multicultural liberal bubble; I sometimes forget that our country is currently embroiled in a debate about which kind of Republicanism should dominate conservative thought. God or Capitalism? That discussion hasn’t quite reached the blue corridors of LA, but we found it at Gramma’s. Just 80 minutes outside of LA you realize you’ve hit the middle of the country.

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Fast times at the Flavor Convention

I CUT A LADY OFF ON KATELLA. You have to be brutal in Disneyland traffic. I’m not some goofy, dumbo out-of-towner looking to spend the day with Goofy and Dumbo, I came to the Disneyland hotel on business! Well, actually, I’m here for a friend who’s here on business.

An old buddy is opening a frozen-yogurt-by-the-ounce shop. He invited me and a few other guys to help him test yogurt flavors and toppings. I decided to come because: (1) I moderately enjoy sampling flavors and toppings; (2) It was an opportunity to spend time with a good friend; and (3) I thought that “Fast times at the Flavor Convention” would make an awesome title for an article.

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Quit Your Job and Travel the World

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Donkeys in Medellin

YOU SEE THOSE PHOTOS OF YOUR FRIENDS frolicking around Phuket or Goa or Barra de Navidad. You decry these people as dropouts and slackers who’ve rejected modernity. They look like they’re having too much fun and not getting anything done!

You are sitting at your desk eating a turkey sandwich from the cafeteria. It tastes like it was made weeks ago, defrosted, and put into a plastic container. You hate this daily routine: lunch in front of your computer pretending that you are somewhere else. After months of jealousy you finally decide to take the plunge and join this itinerant kingdom of voyagers.

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Orange County’s Best Malls and Industrial Parks

I RELUCTANTLY TELL YOU that I live in Orange County. A temporary relocation across the Orange Curtain is almost a rite of passage for Angelenos: a purgatory where nobody wants to move. Older LA-natives will reminisce: “oh yeah, I did a 2-year stretch out in Fountain Valley back in ’96,” “I had to live in Anaheim for the better part of 2002,” and “I don’t really remember, but I guess the rent was just cheaper in Costa Mesa.”

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Why San Francisco Hates Los Angeles

I’M FROM LOS ANGELES, and I love San Francisco. I’d never call it San Fran or crowd the streetcars on my way to eat Ghiradelli chocolate and Boudin bread bowls of clam chowder at Fisherman’s Wharf. We’re Californian too! We respect your vibe man!

But many San Franciscans see it differently. You can be brutally attacked (read: coyly judged) for merely mentioning that you’re from Los Angeles.

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10 Los Angeles Dive Bars

LOS ANGELES HAS a plethora of watering holes for every demographic. There are sports bars for witless tourists, speakeasies for $15-cocktail-swilling foodies, and exclusive lounges for celebrities and those willing to pay a premium cover charge. This list is none of those. It’s a guide to bars with cheap drinks, lively characters, and a lack of pretension.

These dives are all easily accessible by public transportation and can lead to an exceptionally fun night. Cheers!

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How To Drink Four Loko (Sort of) Responsibly

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Over the past month, college campuses have started to ban or otherwise reduce availability of the increasingly popular Four Loko. The combination stimulant and depressant has led to hospitalizations amongst college-aged binge drinkers. But for mature fun-seekers, the drink isn’t just for rappers any more: it can be a cost-effective way to feel the euphoric effects of far more expensive drugs in the midst of this Great Recession.

On Friday night, after discovering that the Barcade in L.A.’s Koreatown is unrelated to the one in Williamsburg, we sat down at a diner to eat french fries and drink more beers. As I was making poor ordering decisions (stay away from the BBQ beef sandwich), my friend Cate mentioned that she enjoyed the “Premium Malt Beverage with Artificial Flavors • Guarana • Taurine • Caffeine and FD&C; Red #40.”

My girlfriend Nicole mentioned that I was also familiar with the drink. She recounted the story of her first week in grad school, wherein I solo’dly drank a Fruit Punch flavored Four Loko and accompanied her to a laid-back party. At some point in the evening the party became entirely silent. I had screamed, “I HATE YOU MOM, WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS TO ME!”

If my girlfriend were any less cool, that antic may have resulted in the termination of our relationship, but luckily she thought it was funny. She also knew that my craziness was the direct result of the 23.5 fluid ounces of the heavily caffeinated 12.0% alcohol elixir.

That wasn’t the only time I’d experimented with the drink. This summer, I went to a metal show at a party store under the JMZ in Bushwick. I drank Lokos with my loco friend who’d previously invented the 32 Ounce Dunkin’ Donut’s Irish Coffee. (Combine one large Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee with a a pint of Irish Whiskey and a hint of Bailey’s.)

After that Four Loko encounter, we walked around Brooklyn sloppily drunk but surprisingly coherent. I remember going to a Mexican bar that turned into an underground strip club, and that later it took me 25 minutes to unlock the front door to the apartment. The morning after I felt like I was coming down from drugs. Because, I was coming down from drugs. (Four Lokos = drugs.) That day I patronized several toilets at two Whole Foods locations in Manhattan.

I might be crazy but I like Four Loko. Mostly because I think that knowingly ingesting something that makes you “feel like shit” is totally funny.

So, at that restaurant in L.A., the people at the table agreed that we should all drink Lokos together. “Four Loko Con” had officially been organized. It would take place the following night, and would be strictly BYOFL.

* * *

En route to the Four Loko Convention, we stopped at a liquor store that had run out of the drink, but did sell Nicole’s favorite cookies from Guatemala. We continued to the liquor store on Sunset and Silverlake, the one that a popular buzzband named themselves after. We bought the store’s three remaining Four Lokos, all “watermelon” flavored.

Armed with our flavored-brewskis, we walked the rest of the journey discussing our fears at how the beverage might affect us.

The crew from the previous night was already assembled. The host finished watching Billy Elliot while making an appropriate mixtape for FourLokoCon.

We joined the organizing committee at the dinner table and discovered that the Watermelon flavor was surprisingly tasty. Charley offered us straws. Straws don’t work. I lost four inside the container before I opted to just sip from the can.

We talked “Loko math.” If a Four Loko contains 23.5 ounces and is 12% alcohol, how many drinks is one Loko?

I supposed that one Loko was “equivalent to 1.5 beers and a Red Bull.” The experts back in Bushwick responded online with a better formula:

one Loko is Lk=[(%ABV)(oz)]/.705
the energy is factored in as ‘magic’.

So a ‘Loko’ is a reasonable unit of measure which should be used to objectively analyze an evening’s fun.

That night I would have 6 Lokos worth of fun.

* * *

More people arrived. They’d bought out the grocery store’s entire supply of Four Loko.

Everyone got a little thizz-faced. First impressions of the drink were described as “this tastes like cleaning product and Jolly Rancher.”

The convention reached quorum and my memory started to become hazy.

Someone said “Josh looks like he entered another dimension.” Later, Facebook albums would reveal this to be true.

While I was dancing, I took note of other’s reactions. Joel’s face became flush and he announced that he’d won the “Hapa redness competition.” Laysa belted out freestyles. Nicole fell onto the floor laughing. Andrea taught me about macroeconomics. Mike made fun of Nicole’s Guatemalan cookies. Girls started tackling boys. People kibbitzed about the future of news, and the role of race in the arts. Someone cried, then proceeded to breakdance. Halloween candy was thrown into the air. Everyone was singing. It probably looked like some Ken Kesey-ian Acid Test.

Nicole and I left to check out a party across the street. We didn’t know anyone there but we managed to eat a platter of crackers. Nicole wanted to take their container of hummus, but I was convinced that the guy who’d just walked in was planning to kick my ass, and I decided that we needed to leave immediately.

Back at FourLokoCon HQ, a girl started to gnaw on my beard while simultaneously attempting to bite my girlfriend’s nipple. People were being dragged home. The party started to dissipate. We found a ride. I walked into my house, and passed out on the couch.

The next morning I woke up with no hangover, and no qualms about the night before. Photos were already on Facebook by 10 a.m. Consensus was in: everybody had fun at FourLokoCon. Everyone survived.

* * *

As a professional on the subject of flavored malt liquor, I have two points of advice:

1. Use the drink responsibly. The reports of hospitalization among college students is related to their overconsumption. Just because the drink is called Four Loko does not mean you should drink four of them (that’s 16 “Lokos” of fun, bro, and that is not fun.)

2. If you’re inspired to drink these dranks, do so ASAP. The signs seem clear: we’re probably going to be facing a national moratorium on Four Loko, reminiscent of the Great Sparks Purge of 2008. Drink them — with some caution — with friends at your own Four Loko conventions while you can. Or, maybe better: just save them as collectables for your grandchildren.

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