Every Thing Tastes Better With Bacon

There’s always something familiar when you go to cities in other countries. You’ll see something that reminds you of home-a person, a place, a store, whatever. One thing you typically see, no matter where you go, is McDonald’s. Now I’m definitely not a fan of Mickey D’s, so I don’t understand how it can exist in countries where the local food is so good-like Paris, France, for instance, where we spent most of our time.

Now understand that France has unbelievable food, and it’s not anything weird-well, they do have frog legs and snails, but that’s not everywhere. Back to Mac D’s, the place will be blitzed, I mean packed with people. Every time a skater feels the need to go and get a Big Mac and fries or whatever, I always ask the same thing, “How can you eat that crap when there’s so much good stuff to eat out here?” They always have the same response: “It’s better here.” Personally, I think it’s just a different flavor of crap. To me it smells the same, so the taste can’t be that different, right? Well, ask some skaters, I guess, because nine out of ten of them eat it and I don’t.

I kind of felt bad for Ed Templeton because he’s a vegan-he doesn’t eat any animal products-and has to find out where the vegan restaurants are wherever he is. So he sits home and goes online to some sort of vegan Web site or chat room, and he gets the location of each vegan restaurant in the area. My question is, “How the hell do you fill up on a big bowl of steam?” He seems to be able to do it, though.

I really can’t understand the whole vegan thing because everything tastes better with bacon, and you know it. You know what-if you see Ed, ask him, and he’ll probably tell you the same thing. I was trying to stick ham in his toothpaste so he’d start eating meat again, but it just didn’t happen. He kept a close eye on that stuff, and I think he was on to me.

One day I think I’ll be able to break him down and get him to eat a cheeseburger or something. Maybe on the RVCA trip. (I also kept telling Ed his art sucked, and he thought that was pretty funny. He got me back, though, by telling me I was going to die on the way home-thanks, dick, all in good fun. Hey Ed, by the way, if those pictures are good, then I’m a genius.)

Another familiar sight you can find almost everywhere you travel is that black-and-white lady in the green circle-yes I’m talking about Starbucks. I don’t even know if I can write that name without putting the little “c” in the circle next to it-you know, the copyright sign. I think they might try and sue me. Well f-k them, because I drink enough of it for me and three other people. Yes, I’m guilty, I enjoy a nice cup of Binkles now and again. Who am I kidding? I drink it every day. Not in Europe, though-they have great coffee out there, so there’s absolutely no need for it. Again, if you go by a Starbucks-anywhere-it’ll be packed to the gills with people. God, they do it right.

Everyone who hates on it and says stuff like, “They put all the mom-and-pop shops out of business,” and “They’re evil,” and all that other crap, I’ve got some news for you: one, if you’d had the idea of taking a cup of coffee that costs 50 cents and selling it for four dollars, you’d have done it, too; two, for a part-time job at a coffee place, they pay pretty damn well; three, about the mom-and-pop stuff, check this one out-I hope you’re not sitting on some Ikea or Pottery Barn furniture and watching a movie you rented at Blockbuster. So when you’re e-mailing all your anti-Starbucks, anti-establishment, free-hippie-love, legalize-weed, down-The-Man, and all-that-other-crap letters, thank that rich bastard Bill Gates. Damn The Man!

Hey, let’s talk about this in more detail. Yeah, sounds good. I’ll meet you at Starbucks and we’ll talk about it over some iced venti soy mocha chai tea half-skim half-regular decaf latte. Don’t forget your iMac!

Something you see everywhere in the world, no matter what country you go to, squatters-homeless kids who usually beg for change so they can buy beer. If they do live somewhere, it’s in an abandoned building, and then they claim it as their own. I think there’s a large number of them who’re just rich kids who think it’s cool to be slumming it for a few days on the streets before they go home to their mommy’s house. They’re everywhere. If you’re not sure who they are, I’ll tell you.

They always wear the same green army clothes, black tees, combat boots, spikes and chains hanging off their clothes and backpacks, and have tattoos and piercings are all over them. Some of them get some crazy tattoos on their faces so they can assure themselves a really great place in society. They usually hang out in squares and public parks and ask for change and always travel in groups.

I used to see them on Avenue A in NYC before it turned into this hotbed of trendy yuppies who wanted to be artists. They thought they got a great deal on their 350-square-foot studio, which costs about 1,700 dollars a month and that their mommy pays for. Most of the money that Mom gives them is spent on drugs, ’cause that’s what cool Lower East Side artists do. Hey, by the way, your art sucks. Get a job.

Where was I? Oh, yes-squatters. They always walk around with dogs, too. I always thought that it was to protect them from other invading squatters, dope fiends, pimps, skanks, skallywags, or whoever. Which may be, but an interesting side reason is so they don’t get arrested, ’cause the police can’t take them to jail and leave the dogs staying on the street with no one. Very smart. I thought it was dumb having the dog ’cause it’s one more mouth to feed, but hey, there’s tons of garbage in the big cities and dogs will eat anything. I think squatters eat anything as well.

Most of the time, they’re harmless-they just look pretty rough. So if they ask you for change, don’t be afraid-just tell them you don’t have any. Of course, by our hotel, there was the same group chilling in the square with their dogs and piercings, just juggling some tennis balls. They were kind of like circus performers but really bad at it, so you gave them change just so they would stop.

Sometimes you think that you see someone from home. You might be walking with your buddy, and you look through the crowd and say, “Hey, is that Kenny Anderson?” and then you’re like, “Yes, it is! Hey, Kenny! Kenny!” but the next second it’s, “Oh, my bad, that ain’t Kenny. That’s some other guy.”

Well, I was sitting down eating in this restaurant in Amsterdam, and I saw this guy who looks like my friend Jay. I started telling Ed and Jimmy Arrighi that he looks like Chico’s roommate Jay, so I called his name once, twice, and to my surprise, it was him. He works for some singer dude named Drago. He does video work for him or something like that. I don’t really know exactly what he does for him. He’s Chico’s roommate, so he may be shady-I don’t ask questions. The less you know, the better off you are.

I start talking to him, and he was like, “I’m here with Drago.” I look over his shoulder to see the crew he was rolling with, and they looked like they were about to make a video. It kind of reminded me of the Dave Chappelle skit when he’s doing Prince playing basketball. I thought they were going to bust into a song on the spot. They were filing the video, that’s for sure. I guess that’s the deal-when you’re a rock star, you’re always a rock star. I wonder if they’re ever like, “Hey, you know what? I’m not going onstage in this getup. I’m just going to wear my PJs or something.” Or if a rapper would smile in a photo or come on stage by himself without 40 backup singers screaming, “Yo, yo, yo!” into the mic. That would probably upset the balance of the world, and the whole place would go topsy-turvy. There’d be anarchy, and we’d resort to acting like animals and killing each other. I guess I’m going way off the subject.

Another person we ran into on our travels was Scott Bourne. Everyone had to get interviewed for some French magazines at this distribution place, and Scott lived in the building. I think he’s relocating himself there. Good luck in France, Scott. Also, when we were leaving a skate spot and getting in the van, Oliver Barton and Pete Eldridge pulled up right next to us on there way to Lyon. I made sure to make some off-color comments about Ollie’s mom just to get a rise out of him. He’s always so in shock when I say stuff like that to him. He’s British and very proper-he never played mother jokes in the schoolyard when he was a kid. I just like the look on his face when I rip him with a monster mother joke. I’d tell you one, but there’s no way that it’d be printed. I spoke with him afterward about it, and he thinks it’s completely hilarious, so I always make sure I leave him with a doozy. I had to give him a couple for his ride and scream a few more out the window of the van before we split up in traffic.

One thing you can always find are exchange students from the U.S.-and yes, we found them. There were tons of them in the hotel we stayed in, and they were all different kinds. The first group of girls we ran into were drunk partiers. They didn’t care about school, studying, or anything. At one point, they were drinking and saying, “Damn, I’ve got a final tomorrow.” I said, “Why don’t you stop drinking and go study?” They looked at me like I had two heads.

At one point, a few of us were hanging out with them, and Austin Stephens walked into the room. It was like the scene in Zoolander when Hansel comes in and he has a DJ playing theme music. He came in for about five minutes, looked at some CDs, answered a few questions, and left. When Jimmy and I went upstairs, we made a whole new persona for Austin. We started saying he was being all deep and mysterious. At one point we started to make things up that he was saying-like we told Ed that when the girls asked him how old he was, he answered with, “In Earth years or my soul? ‘Cause the soul is centuries old.” Ed would say, “Did he really?” And Jimmy and I would be like, “Yeah, he did.” Austin would get bummed and say, “I did not!” Jimmy said at one point they were trying to talk to Austin, and he was off in space somewhere, and then he’d snap back into reality and say, “I’m sorry I had a vision of a baby crying and a mother reaching … ” Of course Ed would be, “Did he really?” And being the dicks that we were, we responded with, “Yeah, he did.” Austin was just sitting there saying, “No, I didn’t!” Cool stuff, man, cool stuff.

There was another group of girls there who actually wanted to get an education, study, not party, check some e-mails, and go to bed. We only saw them at the computer. They’ll probably be my bosses one day, so I won’t say anything bad. Then there was the last group that’d be on the Internet for hours. What the hell are they doing on that thing? I think they’d set up meetings with their friends online and chat with them. Or go to some Internet-friend-meeting Web site like MySpace or Friendster and see if they had any new friends. I think when I got on the computer I’d be on it for about ten minutes-at the most, check e-mails and I’m out. These kids are mailing everyone they know and their mothers. I know they also would use those corny-ass Internet e-mail emoticons like this one :)-oh man, how corny can you be? Make a phone call if you’ve got that much to say.

Sometimes it’s hard to try and be part of a new culture when it’s so easy to be connected with so many things at home-cell phones, e-mail, McDonald’s, Starbucks, et cetera-so we all tried to be part of the culture as much as we could. Heath Kirchart and I would get crepes every morning for breakfast-ham, egg, and cheese. We’d always try to drag people with us-sometimes Leo Romero, Justin Reagan, Jon Minor, or anyone who was up at the time. In the evening we’d get dessert crepes that everyone would be down for-usually, nutella with bananScott Bourne. Everyone had to get interviewed for some French magazines at this distribution place, and Scott lived in the building. I think he’s relocating himself there. Good luck in France, Scott. Also, when we were leaving a skate spot and getting in the van, Oliver Barton and Pete Eldridge pulled up right next to us on there way to Lyon. I made sure to make some off-color comments about Ollie’s mom just to get a rise out of him. He’s always so in shock when I say stuff like that to him. He’s British and very proper-he never played mother jokes in the schoolyard when he was a kid. I just like the look on his face when I rip him with a monster mother joke. I’d tell you one, but there’s no way that it’d be printed. I spoke with him afterward about it, and he thinks it’s completely hilarious, so I always make sure I leave him with a doozy. I had to give him a couple for his ride and scream a few more out the window of the van before we split up in traffic.

One thing you can always find are exchange students from the U.S.-and yes, we found them. There were tons of them in the hotel we stayed in, and they were all different kinds. The first group of girls we ran into were drunk partiers. They didn’t care about school, studying, or anything. At one point, they were drinking and saying, “Damn, I’ve got a final tomorrow.” I said, “Why don’t you stop drinking and go study?” They looked at me like I had two heads.

At one point, a few of us were hanging out with them, and Austin Stephens walked into the room. It was like the scene in Zoolander when Hansel comes in and he has a DJ playing theme music. He came in for about five minutes, looked at some CDs, answered a few questions, and left. When Jimmy and I went upstairs, we made a whole new persona for Austin. We started saying he was being all deep and mysterious. At one point we started to make things up that he was saying-like we told Ed that when the girls asked him how old he was, he answered with, “In Earth years or my soul? ‘Cause the soul is centuries old.” Ed would say, “Did he really?” And Jimmy and I would be like, “Yeah, he did.” Austin would get bummed and say, “I did not!” Jimmy said at one point they were trying to talk to Austin, and he was off in space somewhere, and then he’d snap back into reality and say, “I’m sorry I had a vision of a baby crying and a mother reaching … ” Of course Ed would be, “Did he really?” And being the dicks that we were, we responded with, “Yeah, he did.” Austin was just sitting there saying, “No, I didn’t!” Cool stuff, man, cool stuff.

There was another group of girls there who actually wanted to get an education, study, not party, check some e-mails, and go to bed. We only saw them at the computer. They’ll probably be my bosses one day, so I won’t say anything bad. Then there was the last group that’d be on the Internet for hours. What the hell are they doing on that thing? I think they’d set up meetings with their friends online and chat with them. Or go to some Internet-friend-meeting Web site like MySpace or Friendster and see if they had any new friends. I think when I got on the computer I’d be on it for about ten minutes-at the most, check e-mails and I’m out. These kids are mailing everyone they know and their mothers. I know they also would use those corny-ass Internet e-mail emoticons like this one :)-oh man, how corny can you be? Make a phone call if you’ve got that much to say.

Sometimes it’s hard to try and be part of a new culture when it’s so easy to be connected with so many things at home-cell phones, e-mail, McDonald’s, Starbucks, et cetera-so we all tried to be part of the culture as much as we could. Heath Kirchart and I would get crepes every morning for breakfast-ham, egg, and cheese. We’d always try to drag people with us-sometimes Leo Romero, Justin Reagan, Jon Minor, or anyone who was up at the time. In the evening we’d get dessert crepes that everyone would be down for-usually, nutella with bananas. If you’ve never tried it, you need to. I wish I had one right now, actually.

We also went to Jim Morrison’s grave. There was a cop there, and it was fenced off because all these people would come and write crap all over it. That’s not all they’d write on, they’d write on everyone else’s graves, too-pretty disrespectful. Some people would even chip pieces of the headstone as a souvenir-what the f-k is on your mind? They had to replace it. So if you go there with the idea to write, “Jim ain’t dead,” “the Lizard King rules,” or something dumb like that, smarten up, guy! Those are people’s final resting place, you disrespectful bastards. You can miss him, stop by, leave some flowers, and play “Riders On The Storm” on your iPod, and then bounce. Actually, that sounds good right about now-not the “Riders On The Storm,” but bouncing. I guess that’s it for this chapter-’til next time.

ananas. If you’ve never tried it, you need to. I wish I had one right now, actually.

We also went to Jim Morrison’s grave. There was a cop there, and it was fenced off because all these people would come and write crap all over it. That’s not all they’d write on, they’d write on everyone else’s graves, too-pretty disrespectful. Some people would even chip pieces of the headstone as a souvenir-what the f-k is on your mind? They had to replace it. So if you go there with the idea to write, “Jim ain’t dead,” “the Lizard King rules,” or something dumb like that, smarten up, guy! Those are people’s final resting place, you disrespectful bastards. You can miss him, stop by, leave some flowers, and play “Riders On The Storm” on your iPod, and then bounce. Actually, that sounds good right about now-not the “Riders On The Storm,” but bouncing. I guess that’s it for this chapter-’til next time.