I have a dream

April 30, 2007 at 8:05 pm (Los Angeles)


Iranian women in In-N-Out Burger, circa 2007

Just as I was about to munch my second double-double burger on this trip to Los Angeles (not bad after two weeks), I spotted Kathy, left, who used to run an art shop on Westwood boulevard. We were very surprised to have bumped into each other (this meant not being able to devote all my attention to the burger in hand — her cousin Sally didn’t say a word because she chose to precisely that. She also ordered fries “animal style” which I did not know you could do — smothered with cheese and grilled onions and pink sauce. It was delectable.) Kathy said she is getting married and moving to Germany. I told her had visited Westwood and found her shop closed. So thank god for In-N-Out. I say god because the people who run In-N-Out are religious (it’s a private company), but unlike their customers, not about burgers. Discreet Bible citations can be found on its wrappers and at the bottom of its soda cups. I also discovered the other night that family-owned chain has a customer service line that operates until 1.30 at weekends. (What could you want to say to In-N-Out at such an hour?) I have a dream that one day women in Tehran will be able enjoy burgers without being punished for not adhering to Islamic dress codes.

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Email to a comic

April 27, 2007 at 3:18 am (blog, Los Angeles)


Thanks very much for yesterday, it was great to see you so confident
and in your element on stage. A curious thing happened to me on the
way to the Comedy Store though. Across the road from it is a Cuban
cigar place. Mike Tyson was sat outside smoking one and talking to one
or two people.

When I was 17 I was cycling uphill, at speed, to catch Tyson’s first
fight with the UK’s Frank Bruno. The front wheel of my bike came off.
I came to in hospital. My sister was there, in tears, my dad,
distraught — half of my face was purple, my upper lip stitched and
bloodied and I had lost a front tooth; a bit like how Bruno ended up.
When I saw him last night I thought I would share this memory with
him, and perhaps ask him to pose in a picture with me.

Then, remembering his history, I decided not to in case it cost me
another tooth.

Keep up the good work.


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City of Angels I

April 23, 2007 at 4:21 pm (blog, Los Angeles)

The other day my friend Marj took me to a warehouse full of decorative stuff from India.


Some of it was indoors, some outdoors. LA is a strange place. Yesterday afternoon, at a friend’s house, somebody’s therapist was invited to give a talk about “energies” and psychology in the living room. I tiptoed out. Energy — this city guzzles oil and gas like nobody’s business. One look at freeway traffic explains why the US pulverized Iraq and is itching to bomb-bomb-Iran. Still, this corner was India. Not the polluted urban India, but the India of the imagination. And what a fine refuge it is.





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Checking out

April 19, 2007 at 3:04 am (Los Angeles, Voices)


Sorry to say goodbye like this. I had to rush for the train I threw myself under. In two to three days you’ll receive another packet with the DVD I made – CCTV footage of my first suicide attempt, which failed (the 5.30 to Brighton was late). It also contains my final speech to the family. It is my wish for it to be played after the funeral. My last request is that Michael be barred from shovelling any earth on to my coffin. I know he would take a secret pleasure in this, nice though he is. If I hear those thuds I will never rest in peace.

I’ve put cash for Tim’s trumpet lessons in the microwave. It’s important that these continue. He has a future as a trumpet player. Perhaps, when he is sixteen, he can learn the harmonica. I wanted to learn an instrument, but I’m dead now. In a month or two – whatever seems reasonable – you and Michael will be shacked up together. He will become something of a father to Tim, I know. Mike has my blessing – he’s a responsible sort. Still, I know you will honour my wish for Tim to learn the trumpet, well after my bugle has sounded.

Jenny, I hope you’ll read my instructions for the DVD player I’ve specially prepared for you. These manuals start off in Japanese, are translated into German, then French. By the time they reach English they are far from the writer’s intention – how faithful to Ibsen’s original was my father’s stab at translating Ghosts into Persian from Swahili. I remember reading Ghosts at college. The teacher said it was about “skeletons in the closet.” I didn’t know this was a metaphor. I read it and read it again – but there were no skeletons, or a closet.

In my coffin I want you to place a double-double burger from In-N-Out – “animal style”, with grilled onions. I know that you can only get them in California. If you can’t UPS fast food internationally, I don’t want any other brand; but do make me a burger yourself. The thought of spending eternity without one upsets me – it’s dark, I’ll need one. Fries would be good too, who cares if they get soggy. Forget all of my last wishes if you have to, but do stuff a burger in, for me, as a goodbye.

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