biKos : –MuSIc 4 yOuR pOst mOdErn HEaRT–

I wonder if the Czech 5 year-old who sent an email to his uncle, carefully scribing his english into phonetics, really understood his eponymous action. That earnest phonetic declaration would eventually come to name one of the best post modern bands in Los Angeles.

Gabe Pearlman’s nephew closed his email that night, “bikos i love you” instead of the intended ‘because I love you.’ It was that innocent and earnest declaration, that stuck with Pearlman for seven or so years and it was the word, “bikos” that would later be the clear choice when he was tasked with naming his newfound art-audio ensemble.

Pearlman, from Culver City with it’s duality of green lawned homes and famous arts district, was a self-described athlete. In the late nineties, he went to a particular rock show. “It wasn’t just any rock show, it was Elliott Smith”. As Gabe says, “words can’t describe how I felt after seeing that show.” Gabe knew he wanted to play guitar. Hearing Portland’s Quasi only further fueled him.

Nurtured in an environment of music, where his mother wrote finely crafted songs on piano, that could only be described as ‘mystical,’ Gabe’s mother inadvertently extolled the theoretical value of the structure of songs, and immersed him in language, it’s context, even the lyrical sound of words themselves. Later, taken with the allegorical quality of Joanna Newsom’s lyrics and the unmistakeable polyrthymic quality of her music, Gabe learned to play guitar and kept adding to a book of collected poetry. His first explorations into voice training found him signed up for a class “…with a bunch of middle school girls who sang in musicals..” Gabe says with a laugh, ” …but I learned a lot, I sang a Rufus Wainwright song for my first recital”

What happened next could only be called a organic machination with a decidedly serendipitous outcome. Over the years, Gabe continued playing and writing; and as he looked around, he noticed that he shared a similar musical taste with some of his best friends. Gabe had met Austin Wester, Jaron Halmy, at the “Culver-Palms Family YMCA Youth & Government program and Daniel Hur had been a high school friend. The tinkering began, and soon the guys were jamming. The next stage in the lineup was found at a mutual friend’s party. Gabe had heard Dave Jones play and worked up the nerve to ask him to join Bikos. A veteran of L.A. Punk, Dave originally carried the bass duties with the illustrious Magnolia Thunderpussy, and later played with El Vez, Josh Haden, That Dog, and Carnage Asada, (whom he still plays with today). Mustering the nerve Gabe asked Dave to join bikos, and Dave jumped at the chance. In a weird turn, it was later found that Dave, who is a bit older than the others, had been a ‘babysitter’ for some of Austin’s friends when they were young; taking them to Jawbreaker shows and the like.

bikos moved from jamming in Gabe’s room to Dave’s garage playing against a backdrop of black flag, husker du, and saccharine trust posters. Soon the space was filled people, found art, strings of pearl lights, the smattering album covers pinned to the walls and ceilings. A homage to the band’s favorite sounds, and letters. Dave played bass, Daniel growled on lead guitar, Austin pounded the drums, Jaron tapped on the keys, while Gabe sang. A summer conference saw a friendship with Michaella (Miki) Burton and during an ad hoc audition during some down time at the conference, Gabe invited Miki to sing for the voice of “Carmen” in a song the band penned called, “Waldo and Carmen Sandiego”… after working on that song with Miki and hearing Miki’s playful yet mysterious voice, the band implored “well? is she in the band??” the answer was clear, her voice belonged.

The true bikos sound is a handmade occurrence, nothing forced, a post- modern-punk inspired sound that is in love with love, dying to be touched. It uses words, in and out of context, double entendres and signature bikos’ solid songwriting. The wordplay and energy wears an earnest nod to Saul Williams, Aceyalone and wears some of it’s hip hop alliteration on it’s sleeve. Vocally, Pearlman’s voice is playful, manic and yet welcoming with a histrionic quality that only serves to intrigue the listener. The music recalls David Byrne, Pere Ubu, Modest Mouse and Neutral Milk Hotel, to name a few. The Pearlman /Burton unique vocal entanglement gives cause to wonder if the bikos sound wasn’t what the The Brazilian Girls’ were really aiming for after all!

The first record, “Make your Sound Sound” (released in November of 2011) was mixed by Dean Nelson, known for his work with Beck, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Thurston Moore, amongst others, was completed with a successful Kickstarter project. It extols a diverse roster of songs ranging from the staccato post punk rant “You Want it” to “Silhouette Vase” a smartly written punk song that opens with shades of a jangly Cure song and closes with an unexpected punk vibe.

The Second record an E.P., entitled “Let Down Your Avant Garde” was released on April 3rd of 2012 and carries on that eclectic spirited word play. It is a more focused effort with songwriting that seems more confident, punchy and honed. It includes songs such as post punk anthem

“Y3k which includes a punchy post punk rant and Burton’s perfectly layered vocals.

“…too late to round down.
no documents of stay.
the new fate, its coming ’round. yet I’m still in a haze…
“…In 999 we were neighboring carnations but I gave up before the calendar year
It was much the same for y2k
broke it off fearing the end was near…”
“…what are we gonna do in 2012?
It’s said the world, world, world won’t make it through What are we gonna do in y3k,
if I can’t see my time turns into you?”

Ultimately a deftly written and inquisitive diatribe into the uncertainty of our modern times.

“Disobey The Wand” is a serotonin enhancer effortlessly swinging through several time changes with Pearlman and Burton crooning in tandem, “Yours is my favorite face, Your lips are my favorite taste, your body’s my favorite place, it’s silhouette my favorite trace.”

Songs like, “Fun, Fun, Fun at the MJT (Museum of Jurassic Technology) present a melodious ode to stumbling on love and actually “getting it right.”

“Waldo and Carmen Sandiego” is a tongue in cheek, clearly impossible love-rock duet between the two well known kids characters.
A comedic yet longingly human exchange.

See bikos live they’re fresh from recording their second full length record with Dean Nelson and the first record and E.P. are still available.

bikos live is more fun than watching L.A. hipsters eat hybrid “Pizza-Salads” amidst Melodious Vintage electronica, which by the way, is apparently a super common things to do in L.A. these days…

So Raise your serotonin levels with bikos’ post-modern musical idiosyncracy. It’s the sound of vulnerability, the longing for joy and connection, and…Oh yes…a bit of a glockenspiel.

No Marty & Elayne complex here! New Sounds at Taix!

Taix !!!! A place for old post-punk, Waiters, and pork pie hats (old location pictured)

The family name is pronounced like “Tex,”  As in “Tex and the Horseheads” someone might say. Actually I’d say that to help someone with the pronunciation but that’s me.  People have been known to almost come to fistacuffs arguing that the correct pronunciation is “Tays” but Mr. Raymond Taix settled the score many times over if you ever visited Taix.   Call it what you want but it’s the only french restaurant bar in Echo Park.  Dimly lit as the soft focus segment in a dreamy film sequence.  A dream that is real enough to enjoy.   Someone is whispering, “life is better in a soft light, it is to be taken in a slow drag, sitting in a high backed chair and small groups of friends crowded around a glowing table center candle”  At Taix, you could also easily conjure a 1959 Sammy Davis lounging earthily with friends as he enjoyed his stogie alternately flashing his wildly large white teeth.  Yah baby, it’s  “Lux-pack” but with a slight “hideous kinky” 1920’s prohibition aura still hanging like a hard fog.   The restaurant’s beginnings were seen during this tulmutuous time and on any given night it’s denizens can be equally quirky and mysterious.  Take a gander from your generous chair and find Hispanic Dodger fans, gay couples, blue-haired grannies, frivolously laughing and enjoying the vibe.  A few pork-pie hat-wearing, uber-hipsters looking to partake in the slow vibe and listen to music.

In order to guard against “Dresden Room Syndrome”  (Also known as the “Marty and Elayne Complex) Taix has recently employed the booking skills of  L.A. Musician Greg Franco, whom in 2006, L.A. Weekly called an “iconic auteur”  Franco, having earned that moniker as front man for L.A., for alt punk bands: The Blasphemous Yellow (1979-1985) and Ferdinand (1986-2002) and currently the New Zealand famous but L.A.based outfit, “Rough Church,” Franco has been a lover of Taix for twenty plus years.  A friend of the recently passed Ramond Taix,  his cuisine and love of good music.  Punk rockers, No Rockers, Low Brow, Americana Freak Folk, and people anyone with an earnest story and sound, can offer their soul against a backdrop of  realtors in bad suits hissing into cell phones, or Art dealers slunked down low, frock of darkish or silvery hair over one eye. Also skulking are Music industry dendrites, Record store barnacles, people ‘only there to see a friend’s band’ play” invariably mix with the “funky place’  that time forgot.  Some of the waitstaff are from your grandparent’s era some are in incredibly micro miniskirts with tattoos creeping round their shoulders and necks serving  exotic and ridiculously rich and meticulously prepared rattatoullie, or duck salad amongst other quintessentially French fare.  I’ve been told The creme brulee and  tart tartin are Tres magnifique!

If you have NEVER needed any “step’ programs, then you can make note of  this Secret Alcoholic tip!!!!!   At the beginning of the fiscal year, Taix corralls all the extra alcohol that didn’t sell well, and puts it to the right end of the bar!  HELLO LIQUID GARAGE SALE!!!  $3 no matter what time of day! Martini at 10AM?  no problem!  but drinking responsibly will ahem…keep you from having to do those meetings, if you know what I mean.  It’s a little bit like a Bitchen Bordello that doubles as an alt / indy music breeding ground.  The likes of Ferdinand, Patria Jacobs, Rough Church and many other local L.A. bands, singers and songwriters have taken in the french lounge mystique that is Taix and filled the air with song.  Tokyo Police club a darling of the


Tokyo Police Club played a gig here...

indy scene rocked Taix via the Culture Collide event.  Taix is a sonic crib with Escargot De Gourgogne if you will, a place where you run a good chance of seeing ‘so and so’  before they were… you know…signed and living in Palisades or Laurel Canyon trading kitchen remodeling tips with Anthony Keidis or some shit.  Taix is a little bit Vegas lounge  and a little bit  haunted mansion.   It’s definitely a LOT of  rock and roll!   Think High Fidelity with Marie De Salle singing a sweet vibe unto herself nursing some  sorrowful wicked beverage.   A true Los Angeles original.

Booking list coming soon!

There is plenty of street parking or you can valet for only $2.50.

Taix French Restaurant – 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90026  Ph: 213.8.1265

~Christina Long

Find the folks mentioned at the following:

Rough Church @

Patria Jacobs @



Taix French Restaurant
1911 Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel: (213) 484-1265

THE BIKE WILL SAVE THE WORLD!!! …and Amazing stories of Car-less people.

The bike is our best new mass mode of transportation

I’m thinking the bike will save the world.

Think I’m crazy?  Maybe so, but I think they are an important piece in the puzzle of community happiness.   Think this a ludicrous statement?  I personally don’t think so.   Let’s look at where where we are now and what our obesity and depression rates are and then come back to the table and talk.

What tribe chose this place anyway?

Most of us in the major cities located in The United States actually live in or strive to live in the suburbs. With very little critical thinking beyond the concern for our supposed safety, playing a role when we chose our domicles. We chose these developed un-healthy, semi-functional,  in some cases ultra-private living territories we call “suburbs,”  “Gated communities” “ranch developments” “estates” etc. “neighborhoods” or “just plain housing tracts.”   These all function within and are part of the “sub-urban” experience.   To live in a “sub-urban area”  means to live below or  “away” from the urban or “populated”  area.   Nevermind that the syntax became de rigour somewhere around 1982 thanks to a little more than “B” movie starring Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher., but what were we trying to get away from?  People whom we deemed untrustworthy? people of questionable influence? the freeways? the real or perceived crime? Some would say yes.  Yes to all of it.

With nose held high

Nevermind that now ‘The  “burbs” have become as heavily populated as those unfortunately shunned seemingly lower class  urban areas.   The ‘burbs’ still holds it’s nose high and carries on with it’s air of self importance.  It smacks of faux privacy and self importance.  The children of those tribes that migrated to the burbs after making it in the city or coming from rural areas as farmlands went bust, were sold or went corporate, are all grown up and quite tired of the sleepy nonchalance, ultra privacy and ultimate disconnection that is ‘the burbs.’  They are taking on the city and it’s unpredictability, it’s surprise, and yes it’s grittyness.  That means the people, the streets the problems and the promise.  They are concerned about connection over privacy and in walking instead of driving.  Yes the city is congested at times and that is where bikes come in.  Agile, easy to fix, store and wildly real with the wind in your hair, people are moving about around you.  Journeying in and around the city and as a result becoming healthier.  Many traverse to the town center on theirs, locking them up, meeting friends purchasing the days meats and vegetables and toting a knapsack full of foodstuffs for the night’s and next breakfast’s meals.

Getting rid of those  “Horseless Carriages”

With more daily exercise be they daily jaunts into town for errands or pleasure rides carrying greater distance, the move toward abandoning those horseless carriages spewing filth into our precious air, and opting for two wheeled romance,  the connection, daily movement, surprise, dichotomy and the sheer unpredictability of a riding a bike,  we are poised to become healthier and ultimately happier. We know that exercise creates a remarkable increase in the ‘happiness’ chemicals serotonin and dopamine and what better natural way to keep those in balance or increase them than to ride?  Bikes are being welcomed back into our lives as devices of health, wellness and symbols of personal assertiveness.   Look out suburbia as we migrate back to the cities for cohesiveness, affiliation and take our bikes with us for happiness.

BREWERY ART WALK – Doin’ it their way…

By Matt Mason
April 19, 2010
From Los Angeles Metblog.

I went to my first Brewery Artwalk yesterday, and was truly inspired. Seeing the tremendous variety of artwork, and interacting with the artists where they live and work, was mind-blowing.

And what an environment it is. Billed as the world’s largest art colony, the Brewery arts complex (former home of the Eastside and later Pabst breweries and the Edison Power Plant) felt like it could have been in Oregon, or upstate New York, anywhere but within the city of Los Angeles. The studios in the one-story buildings each had front “yards,” with plants, lawn furniture, interesting trinkets, and even a hot tub or two. Inside, while some of the studios had distinct living and working spaces (often the living spaces were the lofts upstairs), others had a more seamless flow between the two. It was fascinating to see how different each space was, reflecting the personalities of the artists. Some of those artists, by the way, were painfully shy, and it must have been weird for them to have strangers tromping through their combined homes/work spaces.

As might be expected, the artwork ranged from painting to photographs to jewelry, mixed media, video, and more. However, we found the prices to be surprisingly high, up to at least $ 9,500 (why do art prices so frequently end in multiples of $ 500?) Much of this art was not priced to sell, in my opinion, and, according to our observations, sell it didn’t. We only saw one item sold, an attractive and reasonably priced ($120 or less) lamp. I began thinking about the whole art vs. commerce tension. I can understand how many of these items must have taken scores of hours of painstaking work, and that the artists would not want to part with their babies for less than a sum that reflected all of that hard work. And perhaps many of these artists are selling commissioned pieces beyond the gaze of art tourists such as myself. But it seems to me that some of these artists could use a bit of marketing assistance (especially for those artists or their assistants who hid in the corner when potential buyers came through their studio doors).

This artist had a terrific PEZ collection. 3 Elvises on the right.
Likewise, I was pleasantly surprised that admission to the Artwalk was free. They could easily have charged a modest admission price of, say, $5 to $8, and still have attracted thousands of people. Moreover, we really lucked out on parking, which some say can be difficult. We showed up at after 1:30 p.m., and the parking staffers (who were pleasant and efficient) opened up some non-spots right inside the entrance to the neighboring UPS parking lot for us, so basically we got the third spot in. That also made for a quick and easy exit, and a very low-stress afternoon overall. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

Speaking of cheese, the only knock I would give the Artwalk is the food. Inside the complex, there were basically two choices — the crowded Barbara’s restaurant, or the crowded food tent that was heavily biased towards meat items such as grilled hot dogs/sausages and beef ribs (and I am in no way intending to recall a certain verrrry long comments thread here from a few months ago). Whether or not one tries to take into account the demographics of who attends the Artwalk, it seems to me that more food options would make sense, and dollars.

So maybe next April, or next October, I’ll be back with my own snacks. But I’ll definitely be back.

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1 Comment
Jodi Kurland (jodi) on April 20th, 2010 @ 6:12 am

I love the Brewery Artwalk and often go twice a year. We only made it for a short time last Fall and didn’t manage to go this past weekend. I’m bummed, but will hopefully get there for the next one.

So ‘This is Spinal Tap??!!” (“adventures in damage control medicine and ultimate spin.”)

I really don’t need my body anymore, it’s just causing me problems. I’m really upset that my brain decided to forshadow an “event” and create such a rush of agitation, bewilderment and commotion. I’m sure that neurologists, anesthesiologists, interns, and the like waited like hungry hyaena under faux gum tree cover just outside the Emergency Room at the ‘newly re-designed’ Huntington Memorial Hospital.   Swallowing their baded breath, eager to “figure out my brain mystery” and get a little piece of the ‘disaster pie,’ every kind of medical mortal, a few days ago, was invoked in my honor.

When I felt, what the doctors now call a ‘thunder-clap’ headache, (no it’s not some sort of head swelling associated with a venereal disease, but an uncommon
sudden onset headache),
I was astounded, a bit frightened, and knew at the moment it struck that something was askew. Very badly askew.   This wasn’t just some sort of tension thing, nor was it ‘the worst migraine’ you could ever imagine, it was a lightening bolt to the brain, whom felt as though it had no recourse but to explode.

Holding my head in my hands and falling onto my bed, I told my husband through whispers, “something’s not right.” What an understatement that was.  I could see that, his face was white. He tucked me into our little Mini Cooper and off we went bumping and thumping along the ill-repaired 210 freeway. Once we arrived, the supposedly trained, ‘laymen looking’ triage team scanned my face and looked at me with suspicion. I was sure they were thinking,  “yah, right lady, headache…come to the emergency room…oh sure…you’re sick…riiiiight….ah ha…okay.” I peered at them through my hands and said, “I feel like i’m gonna die..”

Not a migraine, not the mommy!

After sitting in an intentionally uncomfortable chair, (they don’t want fakers to get comfy I would assume), I searched for a flat place to lay down, no dice. For some strange reason there is no place to do this in an E.R. (Which smacks of serious un-coolness as most people with real emergencies don’t want to;  or can’t be, upright for too long!)   The E.R. rats got me in semi-quickly (guess they thought better of their quick visual and sneering assessment when I threw up into one of their ash trays – I was thinking, “There! You see?”  Proven with vomit!

Surprisingly I quickly got a CT scan and then was sent out to wait, non-supine, I might add… to be called in for a lumbar puncture. Wait!? did they say, “lumbar puncture?” isn’t that a fancy way to spin a “SPINAL TAP?” ‘why yes, dear’ i heard my own voice say…There I was, a wikipedia-informed girl with a pounding headache that was making all information foggy, slow and sort of otherworldly.   I definitely heard, “Lumbar Puncture.
‘ My husband looked at me with his handsome dark eyes and grimaced and said, “well, honey, they have to rule out a ‘brain event,’ the CT scan is only 98% accurate, and we want to be 100% accurate.   That’s just great, I thought…you marry a guy whose employment history includes quality control and measurement analysis, and that’s what you get…”the quest for 100% accuracy.”    I should have been happy about his insistence in total quality management and accuracy, but I was so scared of the dreaded “spinal tap” that I would have been happy to roll the dice.

THIS is Spinal Tap!!!

I jauntily stepped toward the wheel chair, helped by a miniature Paula Abdul with a gold tooth and a starbucks cup in her hand,

Paula with Starbucks, not unlike the grimy coffee sucking intake technician in E.R.

and swung my bum into the canvas chair. I rolled to my torture room, where a bespectacled and bearded phlebotomist awaited my fresh blood filled arms. Being quiet and anti-compliant as my body has always been, it’s veins quietly rolled and shrank in horror as the phlebo’s large gauge needle approached it’s endolethium. I knew this wasn’t a good sign, it was obvious my body was not interested in having an I.V. inserted, nor was it happy about the impending lumbar puncture.   I had never had never joined my fellow birthing friends in accepting an epidural as an analgesic to the direct pain of childbirth, though they sang the praises of them.   I had a bad experience with epidural with my first and only one at Andrew’s birth. The tap itself didn’t hurt , but it was the medicine they sent through it was what really caused a strange effect on my body temporarily paralyzing me so that the baby had to be palpated out of me!  read: ‘squeezed’ out of me by nurses and doctors. But with this procedure, they are just drawing out some fluids.  what could be simpler? or less nefarious anyway? i reasoned.

My body was right. What started out routine was quickly seeming barbaric, as the 22 gauge needle went into the epidermis (the doctor gave me the ‘ol…’this is to help you not to feel pain’ routine) – but here’s the dichotomy; which the patient is usually too sick, woozy or plain slow to suss out…and that is that, THE DOCTOR IS STICKING A NEEDLE INTO YOU (WHICH IS PAINFUL RIGHT?) IN ORDER THAT YOU DON’T FEEL PAIN!! Well this conjecture is obvious, but as a person in pain or some sort of intractable position, you just don’t want to bone up to any critical thinking at a time like that.   The needle went into my back with a burn and i let out a quashed yelp.   The doctor was mid-diatribe of a blatant description of what his tools were doing to me during the procedure, and what they would be doing after the invasive procedure.  A larger needle has then entered into the crevice between my L3 and L4 vertebrae and was now ‘SUCKING’ fluid out of me! This wouldn’t sound so bad if it didn’t FEEL SO WRONG!


Apparently your brain immediately senses the loss in cerebral spinal fluid and momentarily turns in your cranium. It’s no longer floating correctly being bathed in cerebral spinal fluid! Your world spins, you want to wretch and there is hot lightening in your back along with a weird sucking ache from where the needle’s collection compartment is being changed quickly so as to draw at least 20cc from you. That’s alot of CSF and your brain can’t make it that fast. I was given oxygen (STAT, is what i heard through my Easy Rider floatation experience, where I heard my voice far far away from me, as I screamed and called for Steve my husband). It actually flashed through my mind that I might now know what torture actually is and how the Abu Gharib prisoners might have heard their own voices as experienced water-boarding!  I had been ‘outside’ of myself for a moment and it was shocking and strange. During my ‘out of body weirdness’ I heard the ER doc in a tight muted but still panic-stricken voice tell the Nurse’s assistant to get me ‘on the heart monitor’ and get me ‘oxygen STAT!’  I was back in my body as soon as they layed me down and gave me oxygen.  I can’t help think  that all of this would have been bearable had Nigel Tufnel been floating around there with me, telling me that ‘you can’t dust vomit,’ or ‘this one goes to eleven.’ with his longish cleft chin and seventies-like feathery- do.

"We've got armadillos in our trousers, it's really quite frightening."

That would have been the virtual WD-40 to the fix I was in, but we all know that reality bites and neither Mr. Tufnal, nor the effervescent, charmingly dim but hugely likable Mr. Derek Smalls couldn’t have soothed me at the time.

Le Show still rocks my boat, but Harry, Derek, or whatever incarnation he is in would have been a welcome distraction.

After resting for the predisignated time, signing oodles of paper, and drinking the prescribed amount of fluids, I was told the L.P. showed no cranial blood, so I wasn’t having a stroke, hemmorage, or an anyeurism.  I was happy.  My brain was happy.  I was put in a wheelchair and released me to the cloistered but cool confines of our Red Mini and into the loving hands of my hugely helpful husband Steve.

When I got home I layed down for an hour or so and felt pretty good, save for the headache!  Nackers! that’s what I started out with!  Well it wasn’t the nefarious sort, that blasted “Thunderclap” species.  I payed no mind.  The addage, ‘no pain no gain’ was somewhere on the tip of my tongue  as I washed a cereal bowl or two, so that the kids had some clean ones to choose from.   Placing the last bowl into my strange looking Ikea dish drainer, my spine started to course with lightening.  The electrical charge went all the way up to my head and my entire back, and  was seizing up quickly.   Even while laying down and not moving, the pain increased until it was unbearable. Soon any whispering wind through the window that caused me to slightly flinch caused the electrical shocks and tightness. I could not move. I spent the night taking ibuprophen hoping that this was just a stage and that the L.P. was in such a sensitive area that this must be one of the stages of ‘getting through it, to get better.” By the next morning, the birds were singing and I woke up with tears meandering down my cheeks.   ‘Back to E.R.” my mother said, who had kindly come to ‘watch me, handle  the house and ‘kid-stuff’ during the day while my husband went to work. Back in the glaringly fluorescent E.R., the gum chewing facebook updating certified technicians rambled about ‘what restaurant to get take-out from.  “Look, I’ll shave my chinstrap if you don’t like Zancou Chicken, one semi-bearded thrity-something male pleaded ‘  The elder of the flock gave a concerned look and sent out a scout apparently to retrieve a wheelchair for me.  I watied a few minutes until ‘chinstrap’ came back and announced that they were going to admit me and do a ‘blood patch.’  Once in the procedure room it was explained to me that the lumbar puncture had breached my dura and the resulting hole had not closed. furthermore, what seemed to be life-giving CSF was leaking out! I wondered if I’d soon be again listening to myself from far away and up above if everything leaked out!? My mind was racing, outstripping logical thought.   Soon I was prepped, shorn and put into one of those ridiculously cheery patterned gowns.  Mine had cherry fruits with small laughing faces on them.  Not a sign of luck.  I laid on the thin operating table ready for the procedure and the door opened once again.  I was staring right into the eyes of the host of “Man-vs.-Food.”

Dr. Ali...Your secret is out, you also host Man vs. Food!

Okay, you have to be a food channel viewer to key into what I’m talking about here. My anesthesiologist was a carbon copy, I mean TWIN of  Adam Richman, the host of “Man-vs.-Food” an  amazingly funny show.   I should have taken this as a sign of good luck but I was shivering with fear and the comfort of a funny celebrity twin doing my procedure was no match for my tenuousness.  I soon found out that the “fix” to my ‘leaking cerebral spinal fluid problem’, was to go in the same way, and then pump in my own blood in hopes of it forming a “patch.”  This did not calm me.   I will admit,  “Man-vs.-Food-twin” was kind, explanatory, sweet, and explained the entire procedure to me. I figured I’d get the meat of the matter, and this answer would either soothe me or sink me.  I asked boldly whether this typically hurts as much as a lumbar pucture.  MVF – twin just grimaced (he looked even more like his long lost t.V. land twin. but sans ketchup, hot sauce or bits of pickle on the corner of his mouth. He offered,  “well, all I can say is that we’re going back into the same area. There!  I had my answer.  As I bared my precious L3 and L4 to him draping my torso over a padded stainless surgical steel tool tray, I squeezed the hand of a nurse that looked alot like my mother. I shivered, tried to stay still, and took a deep breath. I hardly felt the needle!  and MVF (Man-vs.-Food) injected the blood that he had drawn from my arm quietly into my back.

He finished the procedure, put a band aid type patch on my back, took off the surgical masking and came around to talk with me.   Beaded sweat permeated his brow, his side face area and upper lip were soaked. Was he worried? Was he running in circles as the needle was sucking up fluid? maybe he had been doing some Billy Blanks exercises in order to keep his ‘core’ toned, you know you gotta fit those into your everyday life! as Billy says…but my senses were thinking critically. He was nervous.

Over the next few days, at home I once again became an electrical pin cusion and proceeded to partial paralysis. This time in E.R. I was admitted, and MRI’s were ordered. I pictured myself  like a hot dog being stuffed into a cornbread wrap being heated up with magnets. This didn’t help,

Once at the MRI lab I invoked great joy in the  MRI technicians as they realized that the patient they were setting up and sliding into the machine was a latent  clausterphobe!  Imagine getting a patient on a gurney only to pull them out 30 seconds later crying, saying that they ‘just can’t do this’  because they felt like they were being entombed?  That was me.  I never would have known until that moment, but the fear is very real.  My husband expained to me that the MRI was open at the other end! (Stupidly noone had shown me the full architecture of the machine, nor does one have a vantage point when laying on a gurney so as to see that the machine is actually open on the other end).  Nevertheless, my husband  stood at the other end and stroked my forehead and hair until the test was done.  What a cool guy.  he represented a  way out if I absooutely had to get out.  It’s comforting to know that if you ‘freak out,’ for lack of a better term, that someone can rescue you.

The act can be a claustrophobic event.

I spent the next two days doing tests and finally, amazingly…got the one brain MRI that peratained to the original problem and wasn’t just damage control. That MRI unequivocally ruled out any past brain event that might have been the reason for the ‘thunderclap’ / ‘sudden onset headaches’ FINALLY! but…even when you think you’ve got complete honesty and intractibility, you get spin. As great as the hospital staff was (demanor, care, manner, attentiveness, services..) once admitted, every good scenario seems to have it’s caveat. “Your brain is perfect!, the MRI shows a healthy brain!  the attending doctor said.- we, however cannot rule out this as a precursor to an upcoming event in the future, as this was an MRI without contrast.”  But we don’t forsee anything because your veins are all clear! There is no sign of mass or distress!

This is when it’s a good thing to be an optimist, or a non-critical thinker, or even just to be the type of person that ‘spin’ actually works on. I could be called a pessimist, but I think realist is a better description. It could still happen. It could happen to anyone for that matter.   I don’t want it to happen, but I am savvy enough to know that this hospital and it’s doctors were doing ‘damage control’ and ‘making me feel better about my situation. Neverheless they actually did seem to care, which is so rare these days.  To actually have that translated to you, whether you are a consumer, a patient, an employee…it takes a well trained and well selected group of people to translate this through their jobs.

I’m glad this hospital kept ‘spin’ to a min.  I can’t say they didn’t engage in a little bit of it, but they did it to keep me from worrying about something which none of us can control.   Forcing doctors to tell the unequivocal truth is important.   I do understand the semantics used about my MRI.  What can I do about it? what can anyone? Until then, no worries.  I have the choice to put those possiblities in the back of my mind and use them as experiences whose data might need to  access one day in a even life-threatening circumstance.    To the medical industry thanks for the care but don’t spin me…unless you’ve got Nigel, Derek, David and the gang standing down waiting to hang out with me.

NCLB: Our Children… Left Behind and basically handed to recruiters for the military? Be outraged!

NCLB is more than Under-funded and Under-planned, it’s Under-handed.

Here’s my list of nefarious things about NCLB and…WE CAN AND SHOULD PROTEST THIS first one ASAP!!!….

(at the end of this entire post..there is an amazing video on this subject, don’t forget to view it)…

#1 NCLB gives military recruiters the names, social security numbers  and addresses of your children!!!! (once they they become juniors in high school!!! – boys and girls alike).  You must opt-out of this process, but the problem is that neither of these two facts are publicized, so our kids sixteen and older are ripe targets for recruiters.  They are then allowed to call your homes, talk to your young adults (teens), and visit them on the school campus without your knowledge…unless of course you opt out.

Here’s the part of NCLB that puts this process in motion:

NCLB  Section 9528

  • Requires that school districts release the names, addresses and telephone numbers of juniors and seniors to military recruiters upon request unless an Opt-Out form is signed and returned.
  • In LAUSD the Opt-Out form must be returned to the local school by OCTOBER 27th, 2007.  All others check with your school district.

ASVAB – a way to get around the “Opt-Outs”

  • The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a voluntary military placement exam used as a general aptitude test for career options.
  • IT IS A MILITARY RECRUITING TOOL and was given in 75% of LAUSD schools in 2005.
  • Schools are guilt of violating family confidentiality by giving military recruiters access to private information gathered from students via the ASVAB testing information (including social security numbers)
  • Military recruiters use the ASVAB to ignore the Opt-Out process.
  • The ASVAB skirts parental rights by giving incomplete information to parents about it, and by releasing private information to military recruiters without parental consent.
  • The only way to ensure student privacy is to use other aptitude diagnostic tools instead of the military entrance exam.
  • It’s voluntary, don’t take the ASVAB.  If you choose to take it request Option 8 that means scores will not be released to military recruiters.


  • The Pentagon has been collecting a centralized data base without Congressional authorization of over 700 pieces of information on millions of youth between 16 to 25 years of age.

Act to Protect Your Privacy from Military Recruiters!!

You may be harassed at home by military recruiters because your name, address and phone number will be given to them by your school — unless you tell your school to not give out the information. To exercise your legal right to have this information kept private, you should notify your school office as soon as possible. Some school districts may provide their own forms for this, but they must obey your request no matter how you submit it. You can write your own letter or use the one below. (I was told at our school that they will not consider a handwritten note from a parent, that we MUST use one of the official forms.  Use a letter or form for each individual student and keep a copy. It is not required by law, but we recommend having a parent or guardian also sign.

Section 9528 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 2001 (No Child Left Behind) mandates that school districts must provide
the contact information (names, addresses and telephone numbers) of juniors and seniors to the military upon request unless an Opt Out form
is signed and returned to the school.

Students must Opt Out every year.

here is the link to the paperwork that must be turned in to The Pentagon allowing you as a parent to “opt-out” your student from potential recruitment, which NCLB gives them the right to do.



More information on NCLB in general:

#1 NCLB does not FIX anything!  It is making our students, teachers and administrators suffer.

NCLB has good intentions: It aims to improve teacher quality, provide school choice for families, and hold schools accountable for academic achievement. It does this last bit by measuring kids’ performance in grades 3-11 and in a very unfair and odd way.

Additionally, results must be reported in such a way that demographic groups are reported separately. This way, a school can’t make progress with some groups, while leaving others behind. This disaggregated data reveals the performance by ethnic identification, income level, and disability status. It has the capacity to shed light on the dark corners of discrimination that has been historically reinforced by our multi-tiered school system.
In fact it creates problems:

One the  biggest problems with NCLB is that it stipulates 100% compliance by the year 2014. That is to say that every group of students in every school is responsible for performing at grade level by then, and in every year between now and then, they are to make what is known as “adequate yearly progress,” commonly referred to as AYP. This means that they must meet the linear target between where they are now, and grade level proficiency. The thing is: every school, in every district, is being held to the same standard. They are all expected to reach that common standard by 2014.

It’s a great idea, but the supports necessary in order for schools to reach that performance level are not in place!  If a school has been performing at grade level all along, they’re golden. If a school is serving a community that has historically been underperforming, they are in big trouble, because every year that they haven’t made AYP-which increases proportionally the further they are from grade level performance to begin with-the greater the gains they must make each year.

So, if a school which has been lacking the resources and supports in order to demonstrate proficiency misses the AYP target one year, it must not only meet that target the following year, but also hit the next target on the linear path to proficiency, as if they had never gotten off track. This is nearly impossible. It’  The problems in a school not meeting AYP are always varied, complex,  and sometimes ethereal. And what happens if a school doesn’t make AYP by 2014? (I mean really, once you’ve missed it one or two years, the chances of catching up are quite slim.) Well, there is no plan for that. Your school gets redesigned- but the kids are the same, and so are all the unsolvedand unaddressed problems that made the school unsuccessful in the first place, are still there!

So what should be done?  While it is true that some data indicate some things that are useful, but testing is not the silver bullet, and we are killing our kids with it, and there is no excitement in the curriculum and no spark to interest the children in learning.  (What happened to the ‘wonder of learning?)  Isn’t it more important to plant the seeds of curiosity, organization and critical thinking?  This cannot be done with a mundane one size fits all curriculum where teachers have no ability to make their message maleable! and creative!   We need to provide low-performing school communities with the enrichment opportunities that are known to correlate with what are  thought to be the cause for later high academic achievement.   We need to make teaching a harder job to get, and a more attractive professional choice.

We need to recognize this as the keystone issue that it is: the fundamental reform of our schools is not the work only for teachers and administrators, this is a civil rights issue.  These are our children, we have a right to give our children a public education.  We pay our hard earned tax dollars into the state and federal coffers in order to fund a fair and just curriculum.  There are items here which should be an outrage.   This is a community development issue, and a global economy issue.  The fight to end NCLB requires the commitment of everyone in every sector in our society.  Let’s take our children’s education back.  Childhood is a journey, NOT A RACE!!!!

#2 NCLB is underfunded

This destructive program is imposed and enforced by the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, which has made federal funding for public education contingent on the states holding teachers and schools accountable for “achievement” as measured by student performance on standardized math and reading tests, with the putative intention of narrowing and eventually (by 2014) totally eliminating the “achievement gap” between students in affluent suburban schools and students in innercity schools. The law stipulates punitive measures for schools that don’t measure up. These schools, invariably already cash and resource starved, must use some of their federal Title I funding to pay for private after-school tutoring programs

#3 NCLB is underplanned

#4 NCLB turns schools into starving wolves punishing chronically ill children as truants as their continued absence dilutes the AYP and state monies.  Schools are quick  to litigate against students’  parents until either the family leaves the school or  complies with inordinate and almost insurmountable compliance process in order to avoid truant status,  per the California state attendance rules and the definition of  “truancy.”

#5 NCLB turns kids in to wonderful test takers and strategizers!  Not critical thinkers!  (there are classes on ‘test taking strategies!)

#6 NCLB schools are indirectly encouraged to cease funding ART, MUSIC and even PHYSICAL EDUCATION, in order to reapportion funds to accounts that support raising test scores and providing  for remedial options for children who are not making progress toward the school’s goal.    Monies are thought to be better directed toward the goal of   Making AYP and hence getting closer to “100% proficiency,”  therefore they opt to take from art, music and P.E. in order to assure better test scores in the basics and make sure they don’t miss achievement of the AYP.    (Usually Physical education is not taken out of the curriculum but minimal benchmark changes  are made with less or lower cost equipment.)**

#7 NCLB slaps so much work on kids in order to ensure that they test high and contribute to the school’s AYP, that the stress is detrimental. We experienced 12-13 pages of homework every night, where my son (who was an “A” student at the time and still is), would work from after school, through dinner and even after bedtime in order to complete all of the tasks assigned to him. Sometimes sneaking a flashlight in his bed to finish his assignments.!  This was common with other students also.

#8 NCLB creates a “one size fits all” curriculum by grade, higher achievers must wait and do busy work while students slower to grasp concepts struggle to understand curriculum. Higher achievers are not challenged. On the flip-side “mentally challenged” or “special education” students are given the same curriculum as the standard students and mandated to reach the same goals!

#9 NCLB Makes teachers statisticians. There is no intuitive teaching aspect to working with children. There is no personal touch, in fact, teachers cannot even touch students. No pat on the back or handshake unless those occurrences are mandated by curriculum and are necessary to a learning module.  There is only speed-tests, test taking strategies and rubrics.  It is now well known that students can be classified by ‘learning style’ for example: tactile, verbal, viusal, and any combination therof. The problem is that even with this knowlege, there is very little flexibility in the NCLB curriculum that allows the teacher to reach individual students via these concepts.

#10 NCLB makes time ‘of the essence’ as each student must have scores that contribute to and help the school reach their AYP. (Adequate Yearly Progress), or they will become a liability to the school. Each school must achieve AYP every year and each and every student must be deemed 100% “proficient by 2014

#11 NCLB places a “monetary value” on a student’s capacity to attend school consistently.  (If a student’s cost to attendance ratio is skewed by illness, therefor necessary absence, the school will try to rid themselves of the ‘liability! . See my older post ! This is happening to me, (my son and my family)!!!