From Point Conception to the Mexican Border...
Nathan Callahan’s subversive and thought-provoking essays offer a lively deconstruction of contemporary culture at its most profoundly absurd. The rich and powerful, the sexually challenged, the religiously restricted, dogs, dopes, dreamers, the famous and infamous all come to life as Callahan encourages listeners, from a distinctly Southern California perspective, to peer into the center of the dream and snicker.
The Best Reward is No Award
An Acceptance Speech
When people are creative, we often call them artistic. But I can’t even tell you what art is. No one can. And I think that’s the point. There are beautiful things that people do that defy description.…more
The Enlightened Phlebotomist
Ways of Seeing a Blood Test
Every year, my personal physician wants to drain blood out of me for testing. I oblige and the results, so far, have been excellent. On the other hand, my visit to the phlebotomist — the one who draws my blood — makes me ill at ease…more
High Comedy at LACMA
A County Museum of Art’s Black Flower
LACMA is now focusing its hilarity on Swiss architect Peter Zumthor’s Black Flower — a proposed major new museum building that, from the air, looks like a giant gleaming tar pit— a tar pit among tar pits...…more
The Ghost of Chuck Smith
Happy Halloween to a Lost Soul
I saw the ghost of Chuck Smith last night. The recently-deceased founder and minister of the Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, California was hovering in my kitchen, a white evangelical vapor. In the 1960s, Chuck co-opted flower power and became a key figure in the Jesus Movement. His sermons featured a laid-back form of fire and brimstone geared for baby boomers. In Chuck’s gospel, evil took the form of heavy metal music and Jack ‘o lanterns. Now, as a cloudy apparition in my kitchen, he looked like a prop at goth Halloween gig...…more
You Have No Idea
What a Bad Introduction Sounds Like
“You have no idea” is always the wrong thing to say. Authority, age or wisdom offer no exception to this rule. To say, “You have no idea” is a discourteous presumptive dead end no matter who you are. Period..…more
The Unknowable Selfie
Looking at the Tech Mirror
I shot my first selfie wearing a straw hat and a fake mustache. I was 11 years old. It was me alone looking at myself as someone else. Since then I’ve shot mirror selfies, hubcap selfies, car bumper selfies, arm-length selfies, window selfies, happy, sad, comic, and dead serious selfies. I still haven’t seen me.…more
How to Protect a National Pastime
When I first saw the San Diego Padres camouflage baseball jerseys, back at the turn of the century, I assumed that these silly costumes would go the way of Pump Up Trainers, Pogs, Hair Mascara and Tamagotchis. A team named after Spanish priests won’t score wearing war gear, I thought. But I was very wrong...… more
The Department of Peace
My Would-be Sister’s Pilgrimage
At the Department of Peace, when we remember our wars (when we bring back our dark heroic past) we remember all the things that were and would be. We remember that complications beget complications; that the world’s weaponry is outrunning any ability to control it; that we make mistakes. We believe that that when young people go into a recruitment office they should see dead bodies, not stars and stripes and medals being pinned to chests. They should see scorched earth, deformed babies, dead relatives and damaged lives..… more
My Chilean Pen Pal
Monkey Fist from Tia Tooth
As far as my family knew, Allende was spelled with a “Y”. And my pen pal? Hugo didn’t seem to care about politics, either. As my Secretary of State Henry Kissinger plotted a military coup against Hugo’s President Allende, Hugo and I innocently bounced “How’s the family?” letters up and down the Pacific Coast of the Americas.
The Seventh Inning Smoke
Uncle Charles and the Beautiful Losers
Uncle Charles’ Dodgers won the National League pennant in 1941, and again in 1947, 49, 52, and 53. Great shakes, except they were defeated in the World Series every one of those years by their cross-town high-rent rivals, the New York Yankees. That explains a lot about my Uncle. It’s how he learned the dance of the beautiful losers..
Vicious or Stupid?
Aunt Pike’s Graduation Advice
When the Mercedes cuts in front of you; when a friend screws you; when Charles Manson winks; when the neighbor turns you in; are they fully aware of what they’re doing, just plain ignorant, or a bit of both? Are you vicious for thinking they’re stupid? Are you stupid for thing they’re vicious? .