Tag Archives: Los Angeles

L.A. is not home to me. It never will be, never could be. It’s dry and sprawling, full of sun-bleached buildings and strip malls. It bears no resemblance to the damp and mildewy place in which I live. But there are a handful of people I love who’ve managed to make Los Angeles their home, and so a few times a year, I head down there.

The term fish out of water isn’t strong enough. Try fish out of planet. It’s like the story of The Ugly Duckling if the duckling were, say, this little guy (and also, he never turns into a swan).  Me and Los Angeles? We make no sense. I fumble through the city, a squishy mortal in possession of her original nose and a pair of barely-D-cups which have proven themselves not impervious to the ravages of time.

I am not comfortable in Los Angeles, save for one place: The Getty Center.

There, I am at home. Perched on a hill above L.A., surrounded by visiting college students from Asia, clusters of German tourists, families, and a sprinkling of white-haired, opinionated old ladies from Jersey who hate everything, I am completely in my element.

My peeps.

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Yesterday, I visited my mother at her home 20 minutes south of Seattle. As I left, I noticed a few tiny snowflakes begin to fall. It was unexpected – it’s late in the year for snow, and the forecast had predicted the temperatures would be warming up, so I had on only a thin jacket. Before I got on the freeway, I had to stop for gas. I stood next to the pump in freezing temperatures for seemingly forever, while my tank filled up. For the rest of the ride home, I blasted the heat on, in hopes that it would warm me up.

That was over 24 hours ago, and I still have the chills. So in an effort to banish what lingers of this miserable winter, here are ten photos from our trip down to Los Angeles and San Diego from a few weeks back. May they keep you warm. I’m off to get some tea. And by tea, I mean “whiskey that’s been microwaved.”

  1. Organized birds, Los Flores Viewpoint on the Camino Real (near San Diego, CA).

    They stand in line better than most Italians.

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  2. I order wisely. Enormous lobster, San Diego.

    Pinchy would have wanted it this way.

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L.A. traffic. Ignore the dead bugs on the windshield.

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I’d like to think that, as a Seattleite (Seattlite? Does it matter?) I know a thing or three about traffic. It’s taken me 25 minutes to move 25 feet before (east side, rush hour). I’ve nearly cried in frustration at our city’s gridlock, pressing my head against the steering wheel in the middle of a parking lot that was once a moving road.

And one time, I heard the traffic reporter on the radio describe our city’s congested areas as “epicenters of disaster.” When your traffic is so bad that it inspires that kind of poetry, you know your city has something singular going on. But, hometown pride aside (and yes, I can be prideful of my city’s traffic. Especially if Minnesotans can gloat about balls of twine) I have to say – the kids in L.A.? They beat us when it comes to traffic.

So, um … congratulations, I guess?

Rand and I drove up to L.A. from San Diego a few weeks ago – he had some work to do there, and I wanted to visit some folks (including my brother, who you may remember from such blog posts as “Shit My Brother Says” and “My Brothers Weigh in on the Full-Body Scanners”, as well as such traumatic events as MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD). We left fairly early in the day, and did a pretty good job of avoiding gridlock.

And then, to turn a phrase an acquaintance of mine used after ingesting too much of an illegal substance, shit got weird.

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While Rand was once again showing off his public speaking skills (and meting out crazy doses of charm) I decided to roam around the city a bit. The only problem? Everything in L.A. is miles from everything else, nothing is within walking distance, and I didn’t feel like driving. Los Angeles is a terribly walking city, but we were fortunately rather close to Venice Beach, which made for a semi-interesting walk.

1. Surf/Swim sign

I wanted to walk up to it and scream, Dont tell me what to do! But I thought people wouldnt get it.

I wanted to walk up to it and scream, "Don't tell me what to do!" But I wasn't with anyone I could embarrass.

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Since yesterday consisted of an entire post dedicated to my mom’s insanity brilliance, I thought I’d take a minute to talk about my brother, Edward

Rand and flew down to L.A. for about 24 hours last week. It was a quick trip – there and back, with one night in a hotel (which is likely the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to pack for, because I take just as many toiletries for one night as I would on a week-long trip). Oh, and a quick opportunity to see my brother.

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He drove us around a lot, which is uncharacteristically kind. We grew suspicious that he was going to charge us.

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There is a peculiar soundtrack that plays in my head every time we travel down to visit him. While not a fan of most of the Gavin Rossdale catalog, I often think of the song Everything Zen whenever I go see Edward. In particular, I think of this line:

“Should I fly to Los Angeles, find my asshole brother?”

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Rand and I were wandering around in L.A. last week (did I mention that nobody walks in L.A.? It’s because nothing is close by) looking for decent food near Venice Beach.

We did not find any. Instead, we ate at a restaurant so bad, that the vast majority of the food was left on the plates. The waiter asked if anything was wrong, and we just shrugged and said we weren’t hungry. This was woefully untrue. We were starving, but the food was crap. And it wasn’t crap as in “Good food prepared badly.” Instead, it was “bad food presented honestly.” There was little we could do, and telling the waiter it was awful would just risk him bringing us more food. Sometimes a chicken soft taco is simply a chicken soft taco. You can expect no more from it.

There’s a lesson there, somewhere.

As we walked back from our dismal and depressing meal (fear not our lack of sustenance – later, Alaska Airlines would serve us a mixed green salad topped with chicken, blue cheese, pecans, and dried cranberries. It made my heart sing) we saw the beginnings of what could only be an epic battle to the death.

Behold Contestant #1:

Um ...

What can Lexus do for you?

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It’s a Lexus. Posing as a UPS truck. I’m not going to pretend I understand what’s going on here, but offhand, it looked like someone was trying to pass off a very expensive vehicle purchase on the company dime.

“That $60,000 charge on the corporate card? That was for shipping costs. Yeah.”

Either that, or the Lexus had just been cast as a UPS truck in an upcoming role. It was simply getting into character.

Rand joked that a real UPS truck was going to drive up and kick its ass. Moments later, we saw this roll by:

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Contestant #2:

UPS Delivery truck

It’s brown. And it’s pissed.

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The first time I landed in LAX, I was 14. I was spending a few days with my brother, who was a freshman in college at USC. I remember gawking at the layer of smog and the sprawling, bleached-out landscape. When I got off the plane, my brother, for possibly the first and last time in his life, looked happy to see me.

“This place is a shithole,” were the first words out of my mouth.

“I know!” he replied happily. “Isn’t it great?”

And I suppose for him, it really was. He was away from home for the first time, living in L.A., and trying, truly trying, to become a movie star. (more…)

You may have heard that spending time with someone from your youth will cause you to behave in much the same way you did when you two were close friends. If it’s a high school friend, you’ll act like high schoolers when you’re together, and the same is true of middle school and elementary school. Presumably friends from nursery school drool on themselves and pee their pants when they hang out together as adults.

The psychological phenomenon at play is called “associative regression”. But I prefer the term used on an episode of How I Met Your Mother: revertigo.

And, consequently, I feel that revertigo may have been at play when Katie, a friend of mine from middle school, and I spent a day together (along with Rand) in Los Angeles over the holidays.

The evidence:

Quit taking photos of balls!

"Quit taking photos of balls!"

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