September 25, 2006
"It's too sprawled out, disconnected... "
"17 million people. This has got to be the fifth biggest economy in the world and nobody knows each other."
That's the quote that was running through my head the most of the time I was in LA, albeit slightly paraphrased, as I hadn't seen the movie in a while. I liked that line because it was a critique of LA that I had never heard before. Most potshots at LA are usually something like, everybody's fake (in every sense of the word), everybody's an actor/screenwriter, you've all heard the same stuff I'm sure. But to come at LA from a sort of existential city planning point of view, I kind of liked that. But Collateral's really not the subject here.
My experience there was very much like what I imagine foreigners coming to the US is like. All anyone wants to talk to you about is where you're from and how it compares to where you are. So I ended up talking about driving a lot, since it's rare to do it in New York, and it's rare to not do it in LA. I'm tempted to say that I talked about driving more than I drove, but really, I spent a lot of time driving.
When I got to LA, I went to the rental car place, having reserved a compact car. They gave me this:
Which I would later nickname "The Beast," although I don't think I ever called it that out loud to anyone. That was my own private on the road joke to myself. You have to keep yourself entertained in traffic somehow. I'm not the best driver in the world, but I like to think I'm not the worst either. Opinion on my driving ability differs greatly depending on who you ask, but there's one thing for sure. I suck at parallel parking. I think I've only done it once since I passed my driver's test (that's probably an exaggeration, but I defy anyone to prove me wrong), which basically meant that if I wanted to park, I needed two spaces to do it. Which usually worked out, somehow. I only really, really parallel parked the Beast once, and it took me about three tries.
Getting around wasn't that hard, thanks to a combination of Google maps, people giving me directions, and my by the end sort of having a vague sense of where certain things were. Google maps can be frustrating though. At one point, it told me to get on a highway, take the first exit to another highway, and then take the first exit off that, and then I'd be where I want. I knew there was a simpler way (friends later confirmed that to be the case), but I didn't know what it was. But it usually got me where I was going. Yeah, so suffice it to say, I drove a lot. At one point, I remember shutting my eyes at night and still seeing the road in front of me, like I had been playing Tetris all day or something.
For the first half of the week, my friend Phoebe and her boyfriend Rob were nice enough to let me sleep on their couch. They admitted they were a little perplexed as to what to do with me, since there's not all that much for a tourist to do in LA if you're not interested in going to theme parks. I'm sure someone will vehemently disagree with that, and to be honest, I'm not sure what I'd do with a visitor to New York for four or five days. But we had a good time, went to some nice restaurants and bars, including the Dresden, the bar they went to in Swingers:
My phone doesn't handle low light well, but you can take my word for it that I was there and I was drinking a martini. We drove around a bit, saw Sunset Strip, which apparently has a "no cruising" policy, which means if they somehow catch you driving on it twice within a certain period of time, they'll give you a ticket. Speaking of weird laws, jaywalking is enforced in LA! People actually don't walk when the sign says don't walk. Crazy.
So, as I'm sure your reading attention span is as short as my writing attention span is, I'm going to make this a two parter. Look out next time for the screening of Robin's Big Date and me exchanging a few nervous, inconsequential words with Kevin Smith. Until then, I'll leave you with this picture I took of an ad that seemed to be everywhere, this lady doctor nagging people and making a pun at the same time:
"Childhood obesity. Don't take it lightly."
September 12, 2006
I'm back from LA. I bet you didn't think I'd have a post up this quick, did you
That's because it's just a link. But it's a pretty good one, I think. My friend Phoebe works for a podcast called Nontourage and I did an interview them while I was out there. So check it out:
September 3, 2006
Being in LA and on an unrleated note, running into people and being jokingly accused of following them
So I'm in LA for the week for a Robin's Big Date (aka, the movie that will not die) screening. But I wanted to share a thought. You ever run into someone twice within a brief period of time? And then the say, "Are you following me, ha ha." I do. And the response I think but don't say, is "No. In fact, if it were possible, I'd like to know exactly where you were at all times just so that I could make sure that I wasn't there too." Thoughts on LA to come.