Occupy AM 640

30 10 2011



I admit it: I listen to John and Ken. Yes them. The two white dudes on AM 640, who holler about illegal immigrants, LAUSD, State-workers, taxes and whathaveyou. Angry white men with wives and kids, middleclass, in their 40ies. Most of the time, I listen to KCRW, but some afternoons, I need my Jon and Ken fix. Because I want to know what the “Other Side” thinks, how they justify their reactionary, conservative and men-ways of perceiving the going -ons in our world.

But that’s not all: I sometimes actually like them. I enjoy their often-righteous anger and their sometimes-reasonable reasoning. Sometimes they are just so right. And when they really laugh about something bizarre, like the Octo-mom or Schwarzenegger, their laughs are infectious and they make me laugh too. Sometimes it’s a guilty laugh, because they are just so, well just so right about things one should not laugh about and certainly nobody laughs like them on the all-serious left-wing stations that can get a little bit dour and boring. Lately, specially when I was on my match.com-dating rampage I met a lot of guys who listen to them too; with the same feelings of slight guilt, but hell, when they’re right, they’re right.


Today, I went to the tent-city of “Occupy-LA”. I meant to go days ago, but I just opened my new store, then I had a fashion show, then I came down with the flu and it looked like I was going to miss this event. I was still slightly sick today, but when I heard that Jon and Ken were planning to visit the site, I took a handful of Advils and drove down there with Lisa Derrick from Firedoglake.com with $91 worth of peanut butter jars, pounds of bananas, apples, 35 loafs of bread and jars of applesauce.

The sight of the tents, the smell and the look of the diversity of people living there, took me back to a déjà-vu I did not expect at all: I felt like I was back in Vienna, 1976, the end of the summer, as a very young teenager. The only difference was that, here in LA, it was warm and sunny, but back in Vienna in September and October of 1976, it was starting to be bitterly cold. The City of Vienna had opened up a long abandoned meat factory and slaughterhouse for the summer as a cultural playground for bands, theater, dance, reading and parties. Thousands of people gathered through he warm summer nights and for many, like me, it was the first time to be free, to watch the bands we had listened to on the only radio station that played this kind of music for one hour a day, to enjoy our kind of culture, not our parent’s. The place was called “Arena” and when September came around, the buildings were supposed to be bulldozered and destroyed to make room for a shopping center.

A few of us decided to stay, to occupy the Arena and demand to keep it as a cultural center for the emerging punk=rock and cultural scene we had enjoyed all summer. The few turned into hundreds and more and more until the place was filled with people unwilling to leave. I was one of them. Even though I went back to school in September, I made sure to return there every afternoon, every evening and soon enough, a whole new city bloomed inside the historic slaughterhouse. It was my first experience with police-brutality, hunger, cold nights in sleeping bags and growing solidarity with my fellow occupants.

Just like Occupy LA, the mix of people was – well, mixed. A lot of druggies, crazies, the usual super-left wing idealists, trying to turn this event into their own agenda; from “Free Palestine” to God knows what, that had little to do what this was about: the cry for a place for just us, free from supervision and control, free from the usually expensive concert events and any kind of suppressions of our emerging creativity. But most of us were just kids, still in school, artists with a need for a space to work and to live.

My grandmother baked cakes for my sister and me to take there and other parents and grandparents, a lot of celebrities and journalists joined in and after two months of heated discussions on TV and in Newspapers, the place was ours. We had our very own cultural space and only because we did not allow the sometimes brutal and aggressive police force, the threat of cold and no food to run back into the safety of our parent’s houses.

Today, after Lisa and me delivered the much needed nourishment, Jon and Ken from “The stimulating” Radio station AM 640 showed up. Surrounded by stone faced security goons with visible weapons under their impeccable suits, their eyes hidden by sunglasses, they slowly made their way deeper into the center of the occupied tent city.

“The conservative pigs from the Rightwing Radio station are here” was soon followed by a howl of “We are the 99%”, “We are the 99%”, a hostile chorus that did not allow for any kind of meaningful conversation and turned the event into a cacophony of screams and burning rage.

“We can see your weapons, pigs”, a toothless man behind me raged, trying to make his way to Jon, who, with his headphones on, sweat running down his face, tried to find a place in the crowd that would leave him enough room to breathe.

“Shut up, please, you are making us all look stupid”, I hissed, while I tried to capture as much as possible with my iphone camera, “They are trying to listen and they have a huge audience”, I pleaded with another angry occupier. Eventually, some of the smarter people in the crowd realized too, that this was a chance to get across what “Occupy LA” is about. I was able to film a few conversations that were articulate and expressed what this is about.

Ken (or Jon?) interviewed a young single mom, half her face covered with a black scarf, with her four months old baby strapped to her chest. Another couple told about how they were screwed out of their home by a Bank of America scheme. Story after story emerged of people who had lost their jobs, their homes, their cars and their savings by unscrupulous banks and greedy criminals who will probably never see the inside of a jail cell where they surely belong.

All this was interrupted by “Commercial Breaks”, where Ken (or Jon) read their bizarre “You have a house, a car, a family, but your rotting teeth and gums and your horrible breath….” And “…. come and get your free eye-exam for the first 90 callers…..when you mention Jon and Ken….”

I never knew that they really read this stuff live. What a surprise. I always thought that this stuff was pre-recorded, but no, it isn’t.

Showroom of Perfection SUCK ME Chapter 11

10 03 2011


Suck me             

After my second assignment for the LA Weekly, about the pitfalls and triumphs of being a fashion designer in LA, I get hired to write an expose about all the doctors that advertise in the LA-Weekly, offering cheap lipo suction and more.

“Wouldn’t it be fun to send you to those sleaze-doctors and ask for lipo suction, I mean you can’t weigh more than 95 pounds, do you?” My editor suggests during our four hour lunches, we indulge in every other week or so.

“Yes, that would be pretty weird, if they agreed to do it”, I laugh. “But I don’t think it’s gonna work out, I mean, look at me. That would be really crazy”

“That’s the point,” she says. “But promise me one thing. Seriously. Get a bone density test. Please!”

“Okay, sure, no problem”, I lie. I’m already excited about my new assignment and I’ll say anything to get her worried eyes off me. I’m fine. I’m skinny. And this is all I have.

The next day, I start me job. Surprisingly, I get an appointment for the same day! Off I am, to Beverly Hills, a little superior and convinced that I will have to use at least some of my imagination, I mean lies to be exact, to get this story going. I mean, who would offer to suck my ghostlike skeleton body? No way.

The first appointment is easy. I expect to be thrown out in less than a minute.

I’m wrapped into a cheap paper gown and pore, just short of enraptured, over the “Before and after” photos at the “Beverly Hills Surgery Center”.

My 11-year-old daughter is a healthy 130 pounds. I am a successful fashion designer and I just bought my second house. I weigh 95 pounds, but honestly, in my mind, I’m a fat pig in a city of hungry ghosts.

And here I am.

            When it is my turn to consult with Doctor Oskar, a big-boned man in light green scrubs, he first points to a photograph behind his desk. It’s of a group of Laker Girls. He proudly explains how he has “done them all.”  The girls look alarmingly boring with their same-sized breasts and store-bought lips. He hands me his book of frenzied “thank you” letters and “before and after” photographs. The letters hum with gratitude: “Hello from Hawaii, thanks to your boobies I enjoyed my vacation” and “I love my new thighs, I named them after you.” I think about naming my thighs, and settle on Freud and Jung.

            After I tell the doctor that I want liposuction, he leans back and cracks his knuckles. He sits silent for a second and then asks: “How long have you been thinking about this?”

“Forever”, I lie. “Every time after I eat”, would be closer to the truth.

           I have to push my T-shirt up and he fondles the imaginary roll of “fat” edging over my waistband. He walks to the other end of the room to fill up his Styrofoam cup with scorched-smelling coffee and looks at my stomach again.

 “I definitely could improve this, specially here in the back,” he pinches my skin, “probably with micro-liposuction. That’s a very easy procedure and since you’re not overweight, we’ll give you 10% off.”

Ha! What a deal. Since, as the good bulimic I am and lately, also quite anorexic, I’ve done pretty much all of the surgeon’s work already.

He stands up and sticks his hand out.

“Ms. Li, our coordinator Bill will be with you in a second to set up the details for your operation. A pleasure to meet you!”  He rushes out.

            While I wait for Bill, I picture the doctor lying on the couch in his office, masturbating to the image of him getting fondled by the Laker Girls. I also think about my boyfriend and hopefully soon-to-be-husband, the celebrity- junkie- writer. Women throw themselves at him.  They call him “Junkie Jesus” and “ the Patron-saint of Dirty Girls”. As always, I wonder what he is doing right now.  That hamster treadmill inside my brain never slows. I wonder when it will finally snap.

      Bill has the air of a former weightlifter gone to flab. He wants to sign me up right away. For only $5000 I can be sucked to perfect flatness next Monday – if I put down a third of the cash right now and order my “pressure garment” no later than today.

 “Actually,” Bill suggests, “Order two garments. Because of the leakage. You wanna be able to change it when you need to!”

            Leakage? That startles at first, but then I think, “What’s a little leaking? The road to perfection is bound to have a few puddles.”

 $5000 to be sore, swollen and packed like a Jimmy Dean link into a stained pressure garment in the screaming heat of an L.A. summer to reach a perfected version of myself. How bad can it be?

            I come from a family of doctors and pharmacists and I even dropped out of med school, just there long enough say that I went. Plastic surgery fascinates me because it’s like designing a dress: remove a piece here, add something there and change a few details until it’s perfect. Many years ago my mother decided that I’d “never get a husband with this nose” and dragged me off to get my oversized potato-shaped nose minimized. It worked. I mean, I’m almost married now. To a cheating and violent poser, but, hey, he has power, money and prestige. My family expects no less and I comply.

            My next stop is at the “New Me Institute”. The ad is from the LA Weekly, a garish full-page model that looks like the kind you get when you can’t afford the real deal. She is, no other way to say it, a beast, with darkly outlined rubber lips and breasts up somewhere by her throat, showing it all off in a porn-style string bikini.

Doctor Shola, a squat guy in a too large white coat, enters the exam room where I’ve waited for 20 minutes, glances at the clipboard and asks:

“Lipo? Lift your shirt up and pull your pants down,” and suddenly, before I can pull back, he pats my face, gently stroking a strand of hair off my forehead. “I can make you beautiful,” he says and turns to his assistant who looks like an older version of the slightly mauled girl in the ad.

“She’ll need six areas. Write it down and have her sign it.” Then, trying to touch my face again – this time I’m prepared and jerk back – he smiles and utters perhaps the most terrifying words I have ever heard: “I’ll be your doctor for life. Let me make you as beautiful as God wants you to be” 

          I force what I hope is a smile on the face he wants to re-arrange. “You’ll be so much happier with yourself, I promise,” he says. And that’s that. Coat flying behind him, he rushes out the door.  The assistant, with her absurdly nice demeanor now steps in as my new best friend in the battle against the accumulated mass of imperfections that is my self.

“I’ll give you a special price. Because you are the ideal patient, not overweight with just a little to correct. I wish all our patients were like you. There is an opening – someone cancelled for Monday at 7.30 a.m. Usually we have a waiting list of at least a year, but you are lucky. Is this going to be cash or credit card?”  I promise that I’ll check my calendar. Passing through the waiting room I see young and pretty women, chugging from their plastic water bottles.

    A block away, I meet Doctor Petrowsky, a tall, burly man in gray scrubs with a grimy-looking mask hanging off to the side of his neck. His face looks sweaty and tired, but he carries with him a cloud of energy when he bursts inside the narrow examination room.

After a cordial greeting he hands me a thick folder with “Before and After” pictures and leaves me alone with them.

     Most of the photos include faces lacking clarity, in part because the light is so obscure, but also because their expressions are a little nonsensical, pre-op drugged probably. After I have thrown my clothes in a heap on the chair and changed into a paper garment, Dr. Takowsky returns and looks at me, taking in my whole body with his surgeon’s eyes.

“ Honey! You need a lot of work.  Your waistline, your abdomen for sure, and see, here! Here on your inner thighs, here can you see?” he explains, excited and almost convincing. But I can’t really see it. “ What? You can’t see the fat on top of your inner thighs, all the way down to your knees?” He sighs. “This needs to go. Turn around,” he commands.

My paper coat crackles. “Oh, and here we will have to do a fat graft to fill out your trocanter, you’re down to the bone here.  You don’t eat much, do you? But I can fill that out.”

“What is a trocanter?” I ask.

“It’s your hip bone, feel, here.” He leads my hand to the spot between my hipbone and thigh.

“There is an indentation that is very unattractive. I need to graft your fat onto here, to make you more rounded. Believe me. It’s a much sexier look”

         Incidentally, this is the other question I’ve been burning to ask: What do they do with the fat? I mean, is there a black market for cellulite?  Maybe they sell those troughs of yellow fat to the penis implant doctor down the hall. Or do they turn it into small movie stars?

            “I’m so glad you asked. “ he beams, “Because I developed an amazing way to use the fat. Let me get you my special labia book.”

            An assistant cracks the door open and whispers: “Doctor, the lady who just got the Botox collapsed. “

 “Oh her, she just got up too fast.” He says, not concerned at all.

“ What if she dies?” the girl sounds nervous. The doctor slips out discreetly.

            I’m still only half dressed, when he storms back in.

“You’ve got to look at this book! What I’m about to show you is easily the most, the absolute most important and powerful procedure any woman can and should have done. I developed it, kind of by accident, but let me tell you, once the first girl called me afterwards, I knew I was on to something!”

            He starts off by reading gushing ‘Thank You’ notes to me: “The best thing I’ve ever done for myself,” “Really hot,” “Way more sensation,” “My boyfriend almost cried,” and “He looooves it” – the same idiotic letter over and over.

            And what he shows me blows me away. Naively, I hadn’t expected to see “Before and after” photos of women’s sex-organs.  The “Befores” have all sorts of different looks: lots of flesh, little flesh, loose skin flaps, the occasional gaunt and collapsed looking vagina. The “Afters” all look the same: swollen mounds of protruding flesh and puffed-up, over-inflated tire-lip labias.

            “This one married a millionaire three weeks after and so did she,” narrates Dr. Takowsky.  “And here’s my friend’s wife, and here’s another doctor’s wife. Oh, look at this! Isn’t the difference amazing?” 

            It is. Amazing. I’ve never thought about myself that way before. No one I’ve gone to bed with has ever been gung ho and then glimpsed me with my panties off and said “Sorry, baby, but I’m strictly a Puffy Labes-man.” I can almost see the Details article now, companion to their “Biggest Dicks in Hollywood” story: “Which Starlets Have The Fattest Fuck-Flaps!”

            I excuse myself to the bathroom and check. It’s all there. Not like those puffed-up camel toes, ready to burst, but really, that’s the one area I’ve never felt bad about. Until now.

            The doctor waits for me. But suddenly, when I look at those vagina pictures, I see something else that gives me the creeps: The women in the photographs are unconscious, still under anesthesia. They are smeared with iodine and badly bruised. The most jarring view is the blood under their asses on the operating table. It’s like a cross between a Debbie Does Dallas and CSI.

            “I could charge $5000 for this, that’s how effective this is. But I’ll do it for $1000; if you get all the other stuff done we’ve talked about – $3000 for the lipo, $1000 for the fat-graft on your skinny hips and $1000 for the labia plumping. And I promise, I’ll set you up with my friend, a doctor, when you’re done.” Terrific – He’s more than a doctor; he’s also a pimp!

         But as he has grown more and more animated, I start to like the guy.  Of all the doctors I have seen, this one has passion. Why not let myself be transformed into a power-pussied, tiny-waisted, round-hipped vision of perfection?

            When the receptionist leans towards me with her paperwork for my operation, her blouse falls open and reveals tanned, round and firm breasts – the fruits of working here. I crane my neck to see what she writes on the page in front of her and for one terrifying and happy moment, I see myself walking out with a prescription for Vicodin. That’s just what I need, a plumped-up pussy and a Vicodin habit. Heaven on earth! But she grabs it and stacks it away with my unpaid pay-slip.

            “You’ll get all this once we receive your payment of at least one third of the amount and set your date for the operation” She smiles.

            Almost out he door, the doc calls me back: “Its not easy to perform good lipo suction. It’s hard, physical work. Here, feel my arm!” The arm he sticks into my face is almost twice as big as his other one. It feels like rock, strong and steely. He truly wants us all to resemble perfect little Barbie-dolls and he has the arm to prove it.

       I imagine just for a moment what a woman in Nigeria would think about getting the fat sucked out of her thighs? Ironically, so many enlightened Americans have second thoughts about cliterectomies, foot binding and any rituals of a sexual nature. But they think nothing of having a hollow-wand device, called a canula, inserted in their skin through incisions – a painful blood-ritual some of us Western females put ourselves through and pay thousands of dollars for it. This almost makes sticking plates in your lip or stretching your neck with silver rings to giraffe-like dimensions look like getting your ears pierced.

            At 4 am, I shoot up from a fitful sleep. How can I get my hands on five grand? I want Dr. Takowsky to sculpt me into perfection – so I’ll never feel lonely, ashamed, loath full and stupid again.  My new fantastic looks will heal my soul and stop my husband from cheating. A bargain at 5000 $!

I have yet to establish a college-fund for my daughter. But once I’m beautiful, this will all take care of itself.

       My next consultation is with Assistant Professor Doctor George Rudtkin from the Cosmetic Surgery Department at UCLA.

As I slip out of my clothes, with the professor perched on his stool, crotch-height before me, I want to run. I paid my way through art-school as a nude painter-model. But somehow, even though I’m in my underwear, I feel more naked in front of those doctors than when a whole class of students looked at me.

            The Professor picks his way carefully along my stomach, my thighs and my back.

            “I don’t think that you would see any improvement from lipo-suction. There really isn’t any fat here,” he finally speaks with a quiet confidence. “And your thighs are very nicely shaped – I wouldn’t change them at all.  Have you considered seeing a therapist?” He asks with concern in his fatherly voice. For a choking second, a thought cuts the air off to my anorexic, in need of help self.  Then, my breath returns.  And with it, sanity.  I am, as I mentioned, barely a Size Zero when retaining water.

The obvious finally occurs to me:

 I suffer from perfectionism; lethal insecurity and the mistaken believe that I’ll love myself the moment I wake up from surgery. Or that surrendering to this bizarre kind of medicine will turn me into a person who isn’t frightened to go to the dentist, to fail with my career, to lose my husband or of wearing the wrong thing. And that maybe, just maybe, I can stop throwing up after every meal and starve for days. That kind of suffering can only be cured by something else.

But what that could be, I don’t know yet.

As it turns out, the LA-Weekly does not run the story. I get paid, very well indeed, but not published. There is too much revenue in those ads. They can’t afford to jeopardize this and who knows, one or two of those doctors will sue, so no.

“Did you get your bone density test?” My editor, who has become the mother I never had, asks during our next lunch.

“ I have” I say meekly.

“And?” she waits.

“Well, the doctor who performed it, was joking with me at first. He said, they don’t usually get such young women to test, but then once the machine was rolling, he got very serious. “I’ve never seen a young and shapely women like you with such disastrous results”. Then he left the room and came back with a more senior doc and they repeated the test. Even worse.

“Young lady, you have full blown osteo porosis. Full blown. Look at this!” He showed me a read out that clearly showed the state of my bones. They want me to go on one of those fucking meds that can destroy your jawbone. No way”

“Are you sure you don’t want to take those meds?” My editor asks, now really concerned.

“No. I’m just gonna gain some weight and I’ll be fine” I say as I tuck into my rice. “Lets talk about our next story instead! What if I go to sweatshops, pretending I’m a poor Russian girl without papers, of course, looking for work? I could hide my hair in a scarf and stay a few days and write about it. That would be a story they can’t decline!”

“Great idea?” my new mom agrees. “Send me an outline and I submit it”

This time, I wait until I’m home to purge all the deliciously fatty and salty food. I’m on to my next story.












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