Adventures in Los Angeles: Day Two

June 15, 2007

I woke up at ten AM today.  That’s a respectable time to wake up when you’ve got nothing to do.  Of course… according to my circadian rhythm though, I’d slept till 1 in the afternoon… so that got shot to shit.  Even when I’m responsible, I’m still a bum.

So, bright eyed and bushy tailed, up in a warm, LA morning… what did I do?  I shuffled out my front door, to find a fresh USA Today waiting for me.  I took it with me down to the bar and ordered a bloody mary… no I’m not an alcoholic.  I just wanted the bartender to think I was.  She saw through it though, when I made the "oh my god this drink tastes like an afterbirth with celery" face.  I cant even pretend to be an alcoholic.

I shuffled upstairs again at around 11:30, and flipped on the TV.  Two hours and two dinosaur shows later, it was 1:30 in the afternoon… and I had to decide whether or not I’d actually go explore the city.  I didn’t.

Now, I know what you’re saying: "Geez Andrew… you’re in LA… a new city.  Why wouldn’t you want to go out for a drive?"  Well I’ll tell you.  Because I had an orientation to get to  by six tonight… and the last time I went out for a drive, I got so hideously lost that I had to call my girlfriend and wake her up to have her mapquest my pathetic ass back home.  That’s my girl… Sacajawea.

Yesterday, at about 3 in the afternoon, I decided that I wanted to see the Hollywood sign.  It’s just one of those things that you do.  So I hopped into my champagne hyundai, "The Golden Goose," we all remember, and set out to check shit out.  I had no idea where I was going… and only knew that Hollywood was northeast of where I was.  So I jumped on Slauson (a road whose name I recognized) and drove until I found another I knew… and a long story short… I wound up smack dab in the middle of Inglewood.  Yes… that’s right.  I went south instead of north.  Michael, Erin’s brother, via text message suggested that I roll up my windows, pump up the bass, put on my sunglasses and look like a badass.  Michael didn’t know about The Golden Goose though.  I imagine that he had expected me to look like some kind of Latin drug lord, or a hitter.  Dark, greasy hair pulled back into a sharp pony tail, shades, a constant sneer.  I’d have an intimidating name like "The Sand Spider" or "El Pollo Diablo."  But I wasn’t riding in a black on black acura with spinners and neon lights in my undercarriage.  I was cruising around in a gold-colored jack in the box, with pasty skin, listening to NPR.

Gun store, liquor store, liquor store, gun store. 

Luckily, I didn’t go southeast.  Compton.  I’m terrified of Compton.

I’ll die if I go to Compton.

Believe it or not… having written that… I’m suddenly gripped with the urge to go to Compton.

I’m not going to Compton.

Compton is bad.

Compton.

Anyway… so I make my way north, and am on my way to Hollywood, when I realize something.  I hate Los Angeles.  It’s not a seething hate, like the one I have for New York.  It’s just a general dislike.  The roads are awkward and narrow in places… there are way too many lights.  The civil engineers must have been two guys with Parkinson’s, some construction paper and a box of crayons.  I’ve never known traffic like this.  "But Andrew, you went out at 3 in the afternoon" YEAH I KNOW… still… fuck LA traffic.  The drivers are careless and stupid.  People really do just wander over into your lane.  Pedestrians don’t step out into traffic… they dart out in front of your car.  Everyone’s driving either some kind of mercedes, or a charred-looking, smoke-spewing pile of shit. 

Another observation:  I’m the only white person.  I’m not kidding.  Everyone’s either angry-looking and black, or fat and latino.  It’s really intimidating… I’m officially the lamest person for miles.

Anyway… the further north I drove, the more white people I saw.  The swollen hombres in their tricked out, piece of shit hondas began to morph into plastic-faced soccer moms who peered over the steering wheels of their SUVs… craning their tightened necks from side to side like cobras, as they searched for someone to cut off.  Douchebag, Californiaized nitwits sauntered down the sidewalks, donning their torn up jeans and tribal-patterend t-shirts.  Everyone here has a faux-hawk.  Everyone smokes cloves, and are always talking on their cellphones.  It had to be Hollywood.  It was.  There was the sign, a jumble of blocky letters, etched onto the side of a big green hill.  I’d made it. 

I pulled over and got out… looking out at those letters whose siren songs have caused so many thousands of people to dash their lives to pieces in a quest for celebrity.  I like that sign for that much, at least.  Still… leaning back on the hood of The Golden Goose, smoking a cigarette and leering at a squadron of heavily perfumed starlets, a voice cropped up in my mind.  "You’ve got to drive back eventually."

The sign wasn’t worth it. 

I know, I’m an old coot… but it was BEDLAM getting from Culver City to Hollywood.  It’s just not worth it.  I drove past Mann’s Chinese Theater… a place I’ve actually wanted to see for years… and saw groups of pudgy Midwesterners swarming around it, snapping photos and peering down at famous people’s feet.  I don’t want to be that guy.  I just don’t like being a tourist.  So I drove back to Culver City.

Those memories poked around in my head this afternoon, while I stared at my shoes, which shrugged at me, suggesting that they were just as cool with hanging out at the hotel as I was.

Five-thirty rolled around, and I hopped back into my car and head over to Antioch.  It’s a cute little setup.  Not very campusy… more like a business complex… but they’ve built little cafes and stuff in the courtyards, and planted little copses to sit in, which they ruined with little plastic signs, demanding that people not feed the squirrels.  I will, of course, be feeding the squirrels.  Fuck those signs.  I like squirrels more than people anyway.

I sat in for a two hour orientation, where we went around the room and did the whole, "hihowareya" nonsense.  I learned that Antioch is in the top 5 low-rez MFA programs in the country… and 30th overall.  That’s kinda cool.  One of the fiction students is a tattoo-laden burlesque dancer who moonlights as a pole-dancing teacher.  She’s totally a suicide girl… I just know it.  It would be awesome if she wasn’t 30 and ugly.  I’m thinking of asking her if she knows a good place to go for a tattoo here in town.

For the past few years, I’ve entertained the notion of having Kurt Vonnegut’s asshole " * " tattooed on my body.  It’s pretty important to me… as it’s a visual mark of my fucking hero.  Plus… I pretty much love the idea of having two assholes.  That desire had died down over time… but his death has given it a second renaissance.   It might just be a goobery affectation… but I like the idea of getting a Kurt Vonnegut tattoo while I’m away at what essentially is writing camp, regardless of how many times I insist on calling it a SYMPOSIUM. 

Anyway… so I’ve finished my first orientation… more to come tomorrow, and I’ll be having my first workshop, which should set the tone for the rest of my trip.  I’ve got two people in my workshop whose abilities I really do respect… and three others who I think are imbeciles.  I’m going to make that known.  We’ll see how that shit goes.  I’ve got a whole bunch of seminars to attend… but not as many as I had thought… so maybe, if I’ve got the opportunity… I’ll end up checking some shit out later on in the days to come.  As for right now… I’ve got more dinosaur shows to watch.

So long bitches.

Oh… and I’m having a good time.

Byeeeeeeeeeeeee

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One Response to “Adventures in Los Angeles: Day Two”

  1. dora Says:

    1. the devil chicken? seriously?
    2. i have taught in compton. watts, acutally. and it’s not that scary, at least not in the daytime. grow some fucking balls and drive down the main ave. at least you can say you’ve done something manly in your life!


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