Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Notes on Runyon Canyon

-You can truly wear whatever the fuck you want. Last week, I saw someone wearing sweatpants with the words “I’m beautiful” spread across their crotch and a band-aid on their face adorned with a cockroach.

-You will overhear the most incredible conversations. Someone will no doubt be trying to figure out how to grow their Instagram following — but listen closely for conversations about Snapchat, too.  

-For fun, you can try imagining the same path in Seattle, with hikers trudging through sprinkles while listening to esoteric, existentially-alienated novels Audible.

-The path loops around on the right and curves so you can see all the progress you’ve made, which is very helpful for motivational purposes. This is definitely the Tony Robbins of hiking trails.

-The view of Los Angeles, often shrouded in a mist of marine layer and smog, mainly looks out over Hollywood, and will make you feel powerful, which is helpful if casting agents have been making you feel small.  

-The path doubles as a catwalk for dogs. 

-You will wonder how many #runyon #canyon #la #fitness #view #smog #wemadeit hashtags are being created every nanosecond.

-Sometimes, you will see people who look as if they’ve stepped off a magazine cover. Resist the urge to hold your gut and whimper. Remember: these people would be aliens in any other zip code.   

-The path is jagged, with sheer drops on some sides. If you are a disaster-phobe, it’s a fun place to imagine dying in an earthquake. Or maybe that’s just me.

-People are very obsessed with Runyon in both negative and positive ways. East-siders will brag about having never been, make you feel a cliche for liking it. West-siders, generally, will not. But it’s crowded and well-known enough that hiking it is not a notable thing. 

-Runyon is two-faced. It’s got a good side and a tough side. The tough side, which curls around the right, will push you to your limits. Try doing that for a few visits and then reward yourself with jaunts up the more enjoyable left side.

-Marvel at the diversity of your city. Chat with an Orthodox Jewish dude and then make awkward eye contact with the host of the “gay bachelor.”

-LA is one of those cities you sometimes feel like you’re just floating through, and the feeling is even more enjoyable when you’re standing at the top of a hill, looking down at the smog, like some kind of superhero. It’ll make you feel like a wispy, sinewy cloud tail.

-It’s also a great place to listen to Terry Gross talks to someone about racism.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Inside the Heads of the People You See in LA Traffic

Man with buzzcut in neon blue Toyota Yaris near Wilshire and Santa Monica

This dude is listening to the Serial podcast and starting to think about what his friends would tell the police if he were accused of murdering his girlfriend. He is way more suspicious than Adnan. He is truly such an asshole to people, he'd totally be in jail for life, no question. He likes listening to the podcast because it reminds him how precious his life is, no matter how much he complains about it. Maybe it's the freedom of choice that makes life so hard. Maybe life would actually be easier in prison. He'd have already failed by then, and wasn't there something freeing about failure? He sometimes wishes he wouldn't have moved to LA, wasn't surrounded by so much success. Maybe, then, he wouldn't feel like such a fuck-up all the time.

Blonde woman applying makeup in silver BMW 535d Sedan near Beverly and 3rd Street

The move to the hills of Los Feliz was something she had always dreamed about, ever since moving to Los Angeles from Nashville fifteen years ago. She'd already made the social climb to the top but now she was physically going to be moving to the top of a hill overlooking Sunset boulevard. She would have a view of the city, her own (small) pool, and a veranda covered in vine. And yet, she was terrified of feeling so cut off from the world. There was a Joan Didion story that seemed particularly apt but she couldn't remember the name. Maybe she just wasn't allowing herself to feel happy. Maybe she was scared of the self-intimacy. Maybe she liked the sound of squabbling neighbors. She'd have to ask her therapist about that. In any case, it felt good to have the choice itself. She felt grateful, or at least hoped she would feel so at a certain point in the near future, just to have that choice.

Woman dressed in black picking her nose in blue Toyota Camry 

The people on Instagram made it all look so easy, with their perfect fucking bean salads and paleo chicken recipes. She hated that she was part of keeping the collective delusion alive. In her position as the celebrity chef's social media guru, she was in charge of styling the food photos, picking the inspirational quotes ("Don't get too intellectual," he'd told her) and engaging with the fans. It wasn't the superficial nature of the job that made her depressed, but the fact that she didn't believe the quotes she was posting. All they did were remind her how far she was from realizing her own potential. She wished she was living the life of a features writer for Vanity Fair, or that she'd at least submitted something to a literary magazine in the past five years. Now the best she could hope for was that someone would comment on her funny caption and tell her it made their day. It was becoming all too easy to make someone else's day.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

This Play-Doh Applicator Needs More Flair

Play-Doh is deleting comments from their Facebook page after parents expressed outrage over a new penis-shaped toy.


Dear Bob,

Saw your sketch for the applicator tube the other day. Looks stark...needs more flair. Don't think kids will be able to hold it well, either. Can you make a ridge that circles up the tube for easy grippin'?




Hey Sam,

It does look a bit plain, huh? I'll make that ridge for ya!





We just got a memo from R+D re: beads which kids looooove these days. Can you make a ridge of beads that circles the tip of the applicator? Thanks bud.




Hi Sam,

I appreciate all the research you're putting into this and I'd love to design that ring of beads for you. This dough applicator is going to look really artful and interesting!

I'm just a teensy bit worried that, with the beads and the ridge, this applicator pen might start to look like an adult-oriented pleasure object? Just my POV, could be totally off. Don't mean to imply that's what you're goin' for. But...do you know what I mean?




Nope, can't say I do, Bob!


Okee-dokie, just my imagination then. Get your brain out of the gutter, Bob! Hahaha.

I'll get right on those beads.


Hi Bob,

I totally forgot about it, but we need finger holders at the base of the tube. Alright?


Ha, you must mean the base of the shaft? 'Cause this is what it looks like now:


Sorry, that joke was in poor taste. Sometimes I joke when I'm uncomfortable. It's a compulsion, really. My wife always complained about it (things were really bad when her Mother died).

Obviously, we are all just trying to create an object that allows children to use their imagination  + satiate their hunger with a little non-toxic dough now and then.

I didn't mean to imply whatever you think I meant to imply.

All the best,




Just kidding: we love the new design! It looks like Rapunzel wrapped her hair around a beautiful tower.

Thx so much,




I've been having dreams where plastic penises (penii?) fly towards me. Today one pierced my heart and I died on a trash can. When I woke up, my mouth tasted salty, like Play Doh, and I felt like vomiting.


WTF, SAM? I'm being crucified by management! You told them I wanted to put the beads on the fucking penis? You're the pedo creep who wanted to make a fucking sex toy for toddlers! I will fucking recruit Fucking Kim Jong Un to hack this mainframe and find the emails. YOU WILL WAKE UP IN A PENIS-SHAPED CASKET, MOTHERFUCKER.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Surviving Winter in Los Angeles

You're sitting on a repurposed car seat, typing on an IKEA desk. The bed next to you has legs that sit in circular plastic plates to keep out the bed bugs. Your legs are twitching. Earlier today, in a state of manic depression, you pretended you were giving a tour of your apartment on MTV Cribs. "Here's the couch we got," you say to an invisible audience of millions. "We found it on the street."

Sometimes, you compare your living situation to a prison because it makes you feel better. "At least we have a fridge," you think to yourself. You spritz some cologne in the stale air around your sad desk, just to try to remember what it was like being an upper-middle-class kid in the 90's. Then you sneeze because you're allergic.

A cold draft slips in through the windows -- that is the only punishment winter knows how to inflict on Los Angeles. It's more annoying than anything else, like a bee that wants to pollinate with your ear.  

Your partner is in the other room, immersed in a goddamn script. The sight of him so focused and full of passion enrages you. How is he able to write when all you want to do is reorganize the bookcase again, buy a wicker basket to hide the computer cables, paint the bedroom burgundy, then burn the whole place down and move to Venice? 

You take the pool float that's been taunting you from the corner of the room and stick it in the shower.   

You close your Netflix window, bidding adieu to the fantasy lives that provide momentary pleasure. You close your Twitter account, furious at the New York literati that never pay any attention to your quips. You close Facebook because you're neither pregnant nor outraged about something. You throw the New Yorker across the room because it's just too fucking good.

You sit at the computer and think, there's got to be something you can do with all of this.  You're not going to become a YouTube troll. You're going to use all this alienation and loneliness. You're going to be a Jenny Lewis song and rise up with fists. You're going to be a better listener, a better partner and you're going to treat the cashier at the supermarket with the kind of patience Sarah Koenig treats the investigation of a botched murder trial.     

You're going to survive winter in Los Angeles. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Annie is DONE with L.A.

At the Target store, Annie had made sweeping declarations, dismissing entire departments of the store for selling stuff that was “depressing and cheap.” She didn’t want to buy a microwave or a TV at Best Buy and was adamantly opposed to any IKEA furniture. The light fixtures at Lamps Plus were “too ornamental,” and the waste baskets at Bed Bath & Beyond were “too corporate hotel lobby.” She didn’t want to buy a case for her new iPhone because scratches were just a part of life. “Do you want me to get Botox for my face too?” she’d asked Mark. “Can you not handle the aging process?”
Mark was quiet when he was overwhelmed, which was how he often felt around Annie. Her judgmental attitude towards Los Angeles, which she’d not-hilariously termed “Los Blandulous,” had made him a bit testy, to say the least. She seemed to want the relationship to implode but couldn’t wire the explosives correctly, so it would only cave in, and then he’d repair the missing pieces in time for her to flip the switch again.
Mark had wanted a juicer but Annie was convinced that juices spike blood sugar levels. “They go right through the roof,” she’d told Mark. So they settled on a blender because the pulp in a smoothie was fibrous enough to not cause artery problems. “Annie, you’re 27 and you don’t have diabetes” Mark had explained. “You’re not going to end up at the hospital from a smoothie.”
“Well, you’re trying to be healthy so I just thought I’d share that little tidbit with you,” Annie had said.
“Unwarranted,” Mark had replied.
It had been only their second full shopping day. They’d had great luck at Jewish funded thrift stores, especially Jewish women funded thrift stores, but today all they’d done were the big box retailers, which Annie had decried just as soon as she’d suggested them. On the 405, stuck bumper-to-bumper with a Grilled Cheese food truck, Annie had finally broken down.
“I can’t do this anymore!” she’d wailed. “I just can’t be around you any longer!”
“Annie, this is a stressful time for both of us,” he’d said. “I promise things will settle down soon enough.”
“No they won’t! This is our life now, scuttling from Target to WalMart, arguing about worker’s rights, breathing in pollution. I can’t have it! I won’t have it anymore!”
And then she’d opened the door of the car and stepped out, grapevined between the idling cars before running towards a thin strip of greenery on the freeway’s edge. She’d flicked Mark off before disappearing behind the foliage, never to be seen again.

Friday, April 11, 2014

5 Thoughts on Moving to LA

People in LA communicate more through windshields than they do in person. This is terrifying. My own relationship to driving has evolved considerably since arriving but IS THAT REALLY A GOOD THING?

Yesterday, I came across a social media job application that asked, "Are you a huge fan of Lloyd Alquists's Epic Rap Battles of History?" and "Do you listen to PewDiePie on your way to work?" In fact, knowledge of Youtube subculture seems to be a prerequisite for many LA-based writing jobs. Can we just have a group crying sesh about this right now? I just really need to cry or barf or something and let it gooooo.

When it's sunny and I'm sad, I can convince myself it's because River Phoenix died less than a mile from my apartment and not because I lack health insurance and oh my god I think I need a meningitis vaccination. 

All of my Instagrams have the tinge of tropical vacation and thus seem rude. Really the smog (sorry, "marine layer") and strip malls would intrude a lot more if Instagram wasn't made of squares. This should not surprise anyone.  

Mostly, though, I like it here, and I feel relaxed and pretty happy a good enough amount of the time to want to stick around a while. My anxiety is in check, I'm eating better than I have in forever, and I feel like there are tons of opportunities to get better at writing and even make a buck or two. I'm comforted by the fact that this is the land of the screenwriter and that so many creative people live here alongside the bimbos and snobs. I fell hard for Berlin and then it fucked me up. Here I just feel like I'm taking a nice, warm bath.  

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

How Could You Leave Us? A Pre-Deactivation Facebook Survey

 Facebook is 'dead and buried' to older teenagers, an extensive European study has found, as the key age group moves on to Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat.
"Mostly they feel embarrassed to even be associated with it. Where once parents worried about their children joining Facebook, the children now say it is their family that insists they stay there to post about their lives," wrote Daniel Miller, lead anthropologist on the research team. 

Oh noes!

It looks like you'd like to leave Facebook forever! Before you make the big decision to delete your profile, including all pictures, status updates, friends and messages until the end of time, we were wondering if we could ask you a few questions? This won't take long, and we promise we'll delete your account after you email us a video of you crying in front of your webcam and mouthing the words "Never Again."

Can you tell us why you're leaving Facebook? Check all that apply. 

__ Dad discovered emoticons.

__ Mom is taking ironic status updates seriously and commenting below them "What shnooksie?! I'm scared: call me NOW." 

__ The babies...they're everywhere...

__I've been getting ads for gay cruises after saying one thing in support of gay marriage. I can't afford a gay cruise! Do you know how much those cost? And they're tacky as hell! 

What do you think about when you think about Facebook?

a) Netipot: a disgusting, yet sadly necessary, daily routine.

b) Zuckerberg, or just a nice, cool dude who wants to connect people.

c) All your friends posting the latest trendy things to do.

d) Mom posting a sloth meme that somehow relates to Obamacare.

What would make you want to stay with Facebook?

a) Software that creates a wholesome profile based on one's most non-offensive interests that only parents, bosses, former teachers and hated acquaintances will see. 

b) A sophisticated algorithm that blocks status updates that contains words like "grateful, inspired, literally, ermahgerd and Beyonce." 

c) The ability to peer into a friend's hard drive and watch all of their pornography.  

d) More sex, drugs and bigotry. 

Compared to who I am in real life, my Facebook self is...

a) More careful about sharing anecdotes that could be construed as racist.

b) Supportive of others success in a way that over-compensates (so as not to sink into a vat of jealousy and self-pity).  
c) Almost never facing in that one ugly angle. 

d) Breezy and inauthentic, like the robot that answers at Apple customer service. 

Has the presence of Facebook in your life ever made you wish (check all that apply): 

__ Your friends were uglier / less successful / weren't all discovering the same Upworthy video at the same time?

__ You had accomplishments to share beyond "This weather sure is cold. Am I right or am I right or am I RIGHT?"

__ Your parents still relied on AOL IM?

__ You could find a filter for double chin?

Have you ever... (Check all that apply)

__Looked at your profile through the eyes of a frenemy?

__Posted a status update that could be construed as a "cry for help"?

__Received three likes for a status update about a fishing trip -- all from novelty cat accounts created by your parents? 

We're really sorry you've decided to leave Facebook, but we thank you for helping us understand why it's not "cool" anymore. We hope you find ways to share things -- like a new job or a fruit salad recipe -- through more applicable means like Foursquare, messenger birds and / or telegram. Good luck...


Mark and the entire Facebook team

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Heil, Y'all!

Rob arrived late to the job interview. He’d planned his day to get there on time, but things had kept piling up between him and the time of his appointment. By the time he’d found the address, narrowly avoiding a light pole as he Google-Mapped and biked at the same time, he was breathless.

“Hi, I’m here to see...um, Jean. From the production department. Is this, uh, do I have the right place? Is this Melge?” he asked, still panting a bit from the stairs. Of course the place wouldn’t have an elevator or air-conditioning.

“Yup, you’re in the right place. The perfect place actually. Have a seat and Jean will be out in a few minutes.”

Rob stared down a beanbag, wondering whether it would hold him.

“So, like, right here is okay?”


Someone was playing gangster rap but Rob couldn’t tell if the music was coming from inside or outside the building. It was one of those reclaimed spaces -- with exposed brick and all that. Really quite nice.

“Beautiful day today, isn’t it?” Rob remarked to the woman behind the desk.

“Yeah. I haven’t been outside much today, but it looks nice from in here. I guess.”

Heels began clomping from behind a door and out stepped a slender woman dressed in a baggy Iggy Pop T-Shirt and jeans.


“Are you Jean?”

“Yeah. Hi, there,” she said, reaching in for a frail handshake.

“Why don’t you come in?”

She ushered him through a door and into a hall lined with wooden desks and iMacs.

“This is sales.”

“Oh,” Rob said. “Nice.”

“They’re miserable today,” she said, pointing a finger out the window as they walked through another door and past a moose head adorned with a tiara and mardi gras beads.

“And here’s editorial,” Jean said, sweeping her pointer finger around the room. They’d reached the end of the hall; it wasn’t that long.

Out of the corner of his eye, Rob could see someone photoshopping a woman wearing a thong. He could also hear the sound of leaves rustling as someone moaned.

Jean turned around and looked at Rob directly in the eyes.

“They’re working on a documentary about this drug that makes you want to have sex with trees.”

“Cool,” Rob said.

“I should have made you sign an NDA before I said that. Anyway, this is my desk. You can sit here." Jean pointed at a 70’s office desk plastered with rock club stickers. 

“So, as we wrote on Craigslist, we’re looking for someone on a freelance basis.”

“I know. That’s perfect for my situation.”

“Okay cool. So, before we get going, I have to say that we can’t actually pay you.”


“Well, we can offer you revenue-sharing, based on traffic. You know how that goes right?”  

“Aren’t you, like, a billion dollar company?”

“Exactly. We look great on resumes.”

“Um. Okay. So how lucrative is this revenue-sharing model?”

“Well it depends. Did you see our video about the woman with the largest butt in Senegal?”
“I think.”  

“Our cinematographer made $10,000 from that.”


“Exactly. Sky’s the limit!”

Jean opened a bottle of Club Mate and brought it to her lips.

“What about some of the meatier documentaries. Like that one about rebels in the Congo?”

“That didn’t get as many views. But Russian prostitutes did well.”

“I see.”

“So, our attitude is kind of like, If you’re great at what you do, you’ll be rewarded. If not...’”


“You will also have to interact with our commenters.”

“Okay cool.”

“So I’m not sure how familiar you are with our editorial voice, but basically imagine as if you’re Werner Herzog but plastered. Possibly on acid.”

“What if I don’t do drugs?”

“Just use your imagination. It's not that hard.”

“Okay. Well, I’m super flattered you’ve invited me here.”

“Of course. We loved your piece on that transexual singer...what was her name again?”

“Pepto Abysmal?”

“Right. What a trainwreck. ”

“Thank you so much.”

Jean’s phone buzzed. “Shut up shut up shut up.”

“Is everything okay?”

“I’m really impressed by you, Rob. I think you’ll make a great addition to the team. You’re not like all the other Berlin artist waifs we’ve been interviewing. Would you like to sign the Non-Disclosure Agreement now so I can give you details about your first assignment?” 
“Okay, sure. Let’s do it.”

Jean slipped him a piece of paper filled with German.

“I’m not proficient. I probably should have told you that before.

“Of course you’re not. You’re an American in Berlin. Just sign it,” Jean said.

“Okay,” Rob said. He was starting to feel like he would do anything Jean said. If she had asked him to get naked and fuck her on the desk, he would have obliged.

“Great,” she said, after he’d finished signing the NDA. “Now I can tell you about your first assignment. It’s about gay Nazis.”

“Gay Nazis.”

“Right. They’re out there. We want to meet them. Infiltrate their world, make friends with bouncers, and start filming inside of the bars and sex clubs where they meet.”

“You want me to film inside gay sex clubs?”

“Mark, we’ve filmed Columbia’s most notorious drug gangs. We released the infamous Vladimir Putin sex tape. This is not going to be a problem. We’ll provide you with security.” 

“Okay. After this, can I pick my next assignment?”

“We’ll see what kind of tape you get,” Jean lit a cigarette. “Let me be straight with you: It’s going to be tough. Germans hate being filmed. They’re scared of Google and Mark Zuckerberg, too. Bunch of paranoid pansies, if you ask me.”

She exhaled into Rob’s face. Rob noted that her breath smelled sweet and noxious, like a dragon who’d accidentally swallowed a Menthos.  

“When do I start?”   

“Soon as possible.”

“Well, uh, danke. For the opportunity, I mean.”

Jean stubbed her cigarette in between a pair of porcelain breasts.

“You don’t have to pretend to be the nice American here, Rob. We’re not your commie roommates. We’re, as you said, a billion dollar company.”


“I suppose I should introduce you to the team, then.”

Jean rose abruptly and motioned for Rob to get up as well. He noticed that she was missing a middle finger on her right hand, which looked a bit like an optical illusion.



“Not nothing. You just looked like you were about to faint.”

Rob breathed in sharply.

“I know your type, Rob. You look at my finger and think about dying because you’re a hypochondriac. You’re trying to figure out how it happened: if I took drugs, if I cut it off, if I’m an extreme sports kind of person. You’re probably judging me. But you know what? Go ahead. I’m not ashamed of my nub. Because it allows me to see the truth in other people. Because when people look at it, I can see all of their insecurities.”

Jean stared into Rob’s face with the intensity of a judgmental elderly lady on an U-Bahn train.

“Are you on Facebook?”she asked.


Jean typed something on her keyboard then looked up.

“I can’t find you. Don’t tell me you’re trying so hard to be German you’ve devised some unfortunate pseudonym like ‘Barry Brandenburg.’”

“No, I should be on there. Robert Delancey.”

“Okay. Added. I’m going to send you a link to a group. Don’t join it under your name, of course, but you’re going to scope it out for us. Have you heard of a Nazi fashion brand called Thor Steiner?”  


“Check it out.”

Jean twisted her computer around to show Robert a picture of a slender blond women with a ponytail stepping into a BMW. The name “Steiner” was bejeweled in Gothic font across her white tank top.  

“Those are some flashy threads. She looks like a Czech Hooker.”

“They’ve rebranded. Now they’re trying to go for a more sleek and stylish look; Zara for young, urban, twenty-something Hitlerites.”

“How do you know they’re a Nazi brand?”

“Well, of course all explicit Third Reich iconography was banned in Germany after the war, so Steinar uses coded references like the number 18 and 88 for Hitler and an eagle for German pride. They’re also devised a sleeve that conveniently stiffens when the wearer raises their hand to eye level. Anyway, I have a tip from a very good friend that some in the bear community have been spotted wearing this shirt.”

Jean pointed at a blonde man wearing a shirt which read “Nordland” above a Norweigan flag. He looked suspiciously like an Abercrombie model.


“Yes, Robert, bears, as in: hairy gay men. How long have you been living here again?”

“Seven months.”

“Jesus Christ. Anyway. It’s clothing signifiers like these that’ll help you spot a supremacist. We need you to wear the Thor Steiner so that the people we want you to meet will approach you rather than the other way around.”

“Say what now?”

“Don’t worry, you won’t have to risk your life by wearing anything around Kreuzberg. Just buy the sweatshirt online and save it for the night of your assignment.”

“Isn’t there an easier way to do this? There’s gotta be like an OKCupid for Jew-haters or something.”

“No, we need the footage. We want to know everything about these men: what they eat, what they watch, where they go out. Maybe one of them has a secret affinity for Seinfeld. Accidental hypocrites are the best.”

Jean motioned for Robert to move.

“You should be thankful we’re giving you an assignment. Most of our freelancers have to pitch everything they create for us.”

Jean and Robert walked down a second hallway, this one stubbed with gum like stucco.

“This is Ira,” Jean said pointing to a man with Jesus hair.

“Sup,” Ira said. “‘Where you from?”

“Get back to work Ira. You guys can sniff each other’s butts later.”

“Wait,” Rob said. “There’s something I still don’t understand. Gays were persecuted in the Holocaust, too. Why would a gay German today identify with Nazis?”

“Why do people hate? Why are there wars? I don’t care. Do you realize how many lazy readers skip over content until they find the word Nazi? It’s basically the Daily Telegraph’s entire M.O. At least we have a unique angle.”

“I hung out with a bunch of Neo-Nazis once. Fuckin’ crazy bastards in Moscow. They almost got me banned from the country --- super long story,” Ian said.

“Ian, stop. Just...stop,” Jean said, then turned to Rob and whispered “Ian’s a compulsive liar.”

“I heard that. Don’t listen to her, Rob.” Ian leaned in close to Rob’s face. “Dude. Be careful here. I’m getting followed by a drone because of a story I wrote about Israel the other day. Could’ve spotted that little fucker in the sky from a mile away. It was either that or...a bird.”  

“That’s....terrifying. Do I get a desk, Jean?”

“Freelancers don’t get desks!”

“We all exist in the cloud! We’re practically dead.”

“Truer words,” Jean replied. “Now if you two don’t mind, I’m going to just leave. Like now. So bye, welcome to the team, blah blah blah, don’t fuck this up for us.” Jean walked out of the room.

“Rob, was it? Jean told me you studied Anthropology.” Ian said the word “Anthropology” in a seductive Latin American accent.

“Yeah, mainly primates.”

“Whatever, I have a sociocultural question for you. Check out my former boss’s LinkedIn profile here...eyebrows raised, squinting into the distance, dangling sunglasses from his hand like the world’s biggest douche. Looking at that face makes me want to implode my former office with explosives, Fight Club-style. Ha ha. So my question is, why do I visit his profile so often? Is it the satisfaction I get from realizing I’ll never be forced to interact with him again? Or is he still somehow haunting my subconscious?”

“I’m not sure but I am always visiting the Facebook profiles of people I vaguely pity.”

“Right? WHY DO WE DO THAT? Someone should really write a story about that.”
“I’m pretty sure someone has.”

“Maybe they have. I don’t read any American media. Just stories ABOUT America. Gives a more honest perspective, you know?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“What do you read?”

“What? Oh, lots of things. Sorry, I’m still processing what Jean just told me to do.”

“Processing? Don’t be a lesbian Rob, ha ha. See this?” Ian suddenly adopted a grave look and pointed at his temple. “It’s meant for the doing.”

“I see.”

“I’m going to tell you a little story now about the doing. It involves mescaline, ketamine, Berghain and feeling like you are climbing THROUGH an LED light.”

“What is ketamine, exactly? I mean, I've heard of it but...”  

“Only the ball trippingest confidence booster ever. It makes you feel positively supreme. Why don’t you know about Ketamine? Don’t tell me you came to Berlin because of a job or to ‘learn German.’”

“No, I came here on a short fellowship but my funding ran out a month ago.”

“I knew it! Oh man. I KNEW it. You’re one of those expats.”

“What expats?”

“You’re not here for la vie boheme. You’re not even here to experience the cultural moment that is Berlin in 2013. You probably have no appreciation for this beautiful yet tragic city’s heady mix of international arts and culture.”

“That’s not true. Last night I saw a modern dance performance where a Korean girl stomped in a circle of mud for an hour and a half.”

“That’s nothing,” Ian said, sighing. “You wouldn’t believe the parties I went to here in the 90’s. Christ, you know Berlin is getting soft when academics move here to have a safe, quiet, professional life.”  

“Next you’re going to tell me that Berlin is over.”

“Berlin has been over, you’re the final nail in the coffin. Anyway, what are we working on today?”

“Some story about gay Nazis.”

“Oh heil no.”

“Oh heil yes."