Monday, August 21, 2017


“Behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory, and they shall cover the face of the earth, so that no one can see the land. And they shall eat what is left to you... and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day...”
                                                                                               Exodus 10: 4-6

As I anticipate the upcoming thirtieth glorious year I have lived here in lovely Palm Springs, my mind overfloweth with appalling visions of crowded sidewalks, congested streets, overflowing restaurants, clogged traffic, lumbering RVs signaling left from the right turn lane, jam-packed movie theaters, supermarket aisles swarming with pallid Midwesterners buying cheap Styrofoam beer coolers and fluorescent green float noodles... in short, all the horrendous mental pictures that can only mean one thing: once again, inevitably, it’s TOURIST SEASON!!

Dammit to hell! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr...

Do I sound like a crusty, cranky, misanthropic old curmudgeon? Good, because that’s exactly what I am... at least from October, when the weather cools and the tourists arrive, through the end of May, when the intensifying solar furnace finally scares away the few remaining vacationeers (‘snowbirds’), who mistakenly consider daytime temperatures of 101° to be “hot”. (We long-term locals don’t even take notice below 110°.) Then –Hallelujah!– the roads clear, the crowds vanish, the birdies sing (until they collapse from heatstroke) and peace reigns once more in our sleepy little desert paradise.  

Of course, a churlish attitude like mine is distinctly at odds with those of the city fathers, merchants, and restaurateurs, whose livelihoods more-or-less depend on this annual invasion by multitudes of cash-dispensing out-of-towners. Yeah, I get it, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. I mean, how would you feel being mired in traffic behind a behemoth Winnebago from Saskatchewan going half the speed limit and slowing down to gawp at every Burger King as if it’s the Taj Mahal?? Trust me, you wouldn’t, especially when it transforms what would be a ten-minute drive during off-season into an hour-long patience-shredding nightmare.

Meanwhile, since I really don’t want to stroke out from road rage, over the years I have adopted certain survival techniques to keep from losing my mind: First, whenever I’m compelled to venture forth into the tourist maelstrom, I’ve learned to stick to hidden back roads and out-of-the-way routes; which, while longer distance-wise, at least aren’t frozen into near immobility like the main thoroughfares. Also, I have gotten to the point where even from a distance I can instantly recognize –and execute fast lane-changes to avoid– many of the alien license plates, especially those from states where everyone, and I do mean everyone, seems to be in desperate need of remedial driving lessons. (The worst of these odious plates sports a detestable little green tree; every time I spot one, I can feel my blood pressure exploding upward.)

But you know what’s really odd? Despite this systemic antipathy toward tourists, I have actually spent most of my life living in various vacation destinations: St. Thomas, in the Virgin Islands; Eilat, on the shores of the Red Sea in Israel; New York City (a brobdingnagian concrete termite’s nest but nonetheless a tourist mecca for sure); and even Washington D.C., where nary a day goes by when the entire metro area isn’t smothered under a tidal wave of visitors. Come to think of it, the only time I truly escaped the tourist hordes was when I lived by myself on a small family farm in Northern Virginia: twenty-five acres, me, my cat, some cows, and blessed peace... “Far from the madding crowd”, as it were.

Now, by way of being somewhat less of a grouch, I suppose I could –should?– try to feel a bit more welcoming toward all these goggling, clueless, perpetually lost, sunburned, camera-toting, traffic-jamming, beer-quaffing, economy-stimulating human locusts... but no, I’d better not. My Malcontent Certification is coming up for renewal, and I can’t take a chance on it being revoked.

In conclusion, let me say this: If you’re ever thinking about coming to Palm Springs, my advice is... don’t. Just say ‘no’. Please. It’s not all that great, anyway. Would I lie? Dusty, hot, boring... Seriously, why not go somewhere really interesting, like Tristan da Cunha?

Y’all be good (or not),
Lannie Woulff

Sunday, August 13, 2017


Having lived my first five decades on the male side of Gender Street, I am naturally familiar with the ever-ongoing masculine imperative to be obsessed with all manner of “guy” things: Cars, sports equipment, firearms, motorcycles, snakes, knives, cherry bombs, dirt, profanity, fake rubber vomit, enormous dogs, itching powder and so forth. It’s all perfectly natural, and to be expected; as the old rhyme goes: “Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails.”

But perhaps the most guy-ish, testosterone-y thing of all is... wait for it... drum roll... FACIAL HAIR. Beards, mustaches, sideburns, muttonchops, handlebars, the nubs; by whatever name, they are all variations on a hirsute theme that’s as old (maybe even older) than homo sapiens itself. Have you ever seen a depiction of a clean-shaven Neanderthal? I haven’t.

Now, back in my guy days, I too harbored a powerful longing to obscure my distressingly smooth features with coarse black hair... although, in my case, the coarse black hair never really materialized, or even got much past the silky fuzz stage. Possibly my body was trying to inform me that I was really a girl and that I should abandon such a futile endeavor, but in any event, my efforts were... well, somewhere between pathetic and dismal. Being a bullheaded sort of fool, however, I did  finally manage to grow a meager mustache –it took me three years– that would have made Fu Manchu die of embarrassment, which I mistakenly believed made me look more manly. (To this day, I cannot look at old pictures of Mustachioed Me without wanting to hide in a cave somewhere.) In the end, I shaved it off the same day I quit wearing a filthy disgusting baseball cap and initiated my gender transition. The ‘stache has been gone for going on two decades now (hallelujah) and will never come back, thanks to five years of incredibly painful, incredibly expensive, and incredibly worth-it electrolysis... yay!

Where am I going with this? Well, I’ll tell you. One of my current pet peeves/rants/diatribes has to do with the fact that nowadays so many men of all ages run around sporting the wildly-popular, damn-near ubiquitous Unshaven Look... what I refer to as The Scruffies. As you may have guessed, I am NOT a fan of this trend; to me, it makes guys look unkempt, shabby, lazy, smelly (even if they aren’t), unsavory, and generally primitive. Plus, looking at these horrible facial umbras always makes me itch. What on earth possesses guys to do this?? I simply can’t see the attraction; although, full disclosure, my beloved Significant Other assures me that LOTS of women not only don’t mind, but actually LIKE fields of bristles on their men’s cheeks. Well, possibly so... but if you ask me, they need to have their heads examined.

When did this Scruffy phenomenon start? Where did it originate? Well, here’s my theory: Those of us getting on in years surely remember the 1980’s television series Miami Vice, with its pastel colors, cigarette boats, non-stop gunfire, and criminal druggies being dispatched by Detectives Tubbs and Crockett... the latter played by perpetually unshaven Don Johnson, who, I firmly believe, established for all time the archetype of the Scruffy Sexy Hero. Thanks a lot, Don... I loved your show, but why-oh-why couldn’t you find a damn razor??

Of course, many –in fact, probably most of today’s young Scruffies never even heard of Don Johnson or Miami Vice... and yet, here they are by the millions, polluting the landscape with unshorn facial follicles by the trillions, and it just drives me nuts.

As it happens, I am greatly blessed to have two magnificent young gentlemen in my life. One is a nephew, brilliant beyond words, thoughtful, kind, with a heart bigger than the planet Jupiter. The other is my soon-to-be stepson, a genial six-foot-five ripped Adonis who is so blindingly gorgeous that he blots out the sun... I kid you not. Do I even have to bother telling you that BOTH of these incredible male specimens are card-carrying Scruffies? With heavy facial growth?? Whenever either of them comes for a visit, I cringe inwardly, hoping against hope that they will have picked up a Bic or a Norelco or a machete and MOWED THE LAWN... For the love of God, Montressor!

Needless to say, my wishes go unfulfilled, and I end up being heartily kissed by what feels like a wire barbecue brush. Naturally, with typical male good humor, both my beautiful boys find Lannie’s "Scruffy" issues quite hilarious. They chortle, tell me how much they love me, kiss me again (ouch!) and promise to shave the next time.

And, you know, bless their hearts, once in a blue moon they actually do... but not nearly often enough. And it grows back overnight! Hopeless...

Envisioning a clean-shaven world,
Until next time,
Lannie Woulff