#2. The Headshots
Being a gigantic nerd who loves video games and the apocalypse, when you say, "Let's get some headshots," I reply, "Sweet, I call Bill. I had to be Zoey last time." But no, they're not talking about shooting subhumans in the skull (sigh, they never are when you want them to be, you know?) they're referring to the blown-up, soft-lit faceporn that is the cornerstone of the auditioning process. And everyone has them: No matter how ordinary or down to earth a person might seem, no matter what they look like, or how unlikely it sounds -- if they live in L.A., there's a 1 in 3 chance that they have a stack of gigantic, glossy pictures of their own face burning a hole in their briefcase. And they will be absolutely astonished to learn that you do not. The really twisted thing is, this has nothing to do with personal vanity or delusional pipedreams: It's a universal requirement of the culture. My wife was looking for part-time work when we first moved down here -- nothing to do with the entertainment industry, mind you, mostly receptionist positions or social work -- and every single job required headshots with the resume. To answer the fucking phones.
An example: Soren Bowie works at the desk behind me. All joking aside, he's a perfectly normal, well-adjusted, modest and down to earth kind of guy, who only occasionally hunts men for sport. Here's his headshot:
Michael Swaim and Cody Johnston work in the far corner, because they're video people and not allowed to associate with the more civilized text editors. They're protesting the apartheid, but they can't cross the Writes Only line, so they're easy enough to ignore, for now. These are their headshots:
I'm not saying having these things reflects on them negatively, it's just surreal. Those are my coworkers. The people that man the desks surrounding mine. And yet they all have to have these weird, cheesy glamor ID cards, regardless. It's like the government is assembling a watch list to help ensure only the beautiful people get on the Doomsday Arks. Maybe someday, after I get this cocaine habit to stick, I'll have to look into it as well. But for now, the closest thing I have to a respectable self-portrait is the defensive cell phone pic my wife snapped after she came home from shopping and realized she forgot the Jameson.
Obviously, I will not be on that Ark.
But all of this -- the chrono-negligence, the beast with a thousand mouths, the Bioshock-style mad cosmetic surgeons, the mandated face-badges - it all pales in comparison to the biggest, most shocking, most soul-destroying aspect of Los Angeles. Something no movie, TV show or blood-scrawled prophecy could have properly prepared any sane human soul to experience.
#1. Beer Costs Like $9 Here
Nine motherfucking dollars! Per pint!
Sure, that's for a middle-to-above-average brew, but what is this, post-collapse Russia? Is money so meaningless that we have to measure it in wheelbarrows? Where are the human rights protesters?! Fuck Wall Street, why aren't the hipsters camped out in the parking of the 7-Eleven?
Jesus, I thought I made a pretty good living, but in reality, I earn like three cheap beers an hour, max. Do you know how heart-stoppingly depressing that realization is? I need a steady rate of at least $5/hr just to get out of bed in the morning.
Welp, I guess there's always the valley. Guess I better start making some phone calls. How much do gloryhole attendants make these days anyway, and what do you mean, you need a goddamn headshot?!
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Or you could argue that I'm being unfair, that you live in Los Angeles and have a fantastic work ethic, but that sounds hard: Don't you have people to do that for you?
For more from Robert, check out The 5 Most Badass Things You Could Actually Ride to Work and The 5 Most Badass Things Ever Done By Jungle Cats.