Thursday, July 3, 2008

LaLa 2

One of the best decisions made on this trip: getting a GPS device. During my last visit to LA, my boyfriend did all the driving, while I read the map. Turns out, I'm not such a great navigator. Many exits were missed.

The car rental guy handed me the GPS without offering any instruction, but when I turned it on, it looked pretty intuitive. I entered the address of the hotel. "She" commanded me to fasten my seat belt, and then fell silent. Where the hell was I supposed to drive? I took the main road out of the airport, feeling a little panicky. She announced "turn right in .2 miles." It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

So there I was, cruising down the I-405 like a local. GPS lady sat next to me, offering periodic reassurances about the route. She seemed almost human...did that mean we could use the carpool lane? A couple of times I didn't respond to her instructions quickly enough, or the traffic was too heavy for me to change lanes in time. When this happened, she would say "recalibrating," with just a touch of exasperation. But for the most part, we got along great.

One of the worst decisions made on this trip: lodging. My hotel was actually a hostel, although it had a few private rooms with baths. When I arrived, a couple of residents loitered outside, smoking. I checked in and carried my luggage up to the room. There were some no air conditioning, for example. LA was in the middle of a heat wave, and I just didn't feel like lying in a pool of sweat while breathing in fumes from Melrose Avenue all night. Also, the sliding patio door lock was broken. I stalked downstairs, prepared for battle. The cool, blond reception clerk with a Slavic accent was unimpressed. "Just because you assumed there was air-conditioning, does not mean that we provide it, madam." I pointed out that there was a little security issue, as well. "We can probably get maintainance to lock the door," she said, clearly not giving a damn. I started raising my voice, but my high dudgeon was interrupted by a woman with a thick Irish brogue. "'Scuse me, d'ya have some towels we can use? The mirror in Number 8 brake in half an' she's bleedin' everywhere! We just need some towels tah stop it!" The blond asked if perhaps calling 911 would be more appropriate. No, the Irish woman insisted, extra towels would do the trick. Another hostel staffer, a considerably more helpful Indonesian woman, took over my case. They had another private room, air-conditioned, but it was on the ground floor right off the public area. I took it. As I carried my luggage downstairs, a security guard ran past me, shouting toward reception. "I just saw her; I think she cut an artery!" The emergency squad arrived a few minutes later.

The new room, Number 1, was right next to the ATM in the lobby. A large wall-mounted air-conditioner at least partially blocked the noise from Melrose Avenue. I turned it on, and after 60 seconds of cool air, it stopped. I noticed that it was plugged into a single outlet along with the television and DVD player, which were also not working. It probably overloaded the circuit. Not wanting to deal with the reception staff again, I searched for another socket. There was one nearby, but one receptacle was occupied by the bed lamp, the other by a mysterious orange plug running to...nothing in the room. I removed the orange plug and replaced it with the plug for the air conditioner. Ahh! The room started to cool again. I headed out to park the car in the hostel garage. When I returned, it was clear that someone else had been in there. The air conditioner was plugged back into the original socket, but now it worked. The orange plug was back in place, with a sign attached:

Yes, the ATM machine was getting juice from my wall socket. A utility extension cord ran under the carpeting and across the entire room. I'm sure that's Moldavia.

The hostel was located near Fairfax Avenue, and the part of Los Angeles that bears the same name. I left the car where it was and set out for dinner on foot. A crowd gathered outside this little gem:

If I hadn't been starving, I would have gone to the show. Who knew that Bergman even made silent films?* Further down Fairfax, I spied a big deli/bakery that looked lively. It was Canter's Deli, a spot featured in travel guides. They make a great black and white cookie! I was disappointed to later discover that I somehow overlooked the adjoining bar, The Kibitz Room.

Canter's Deli [Link]

*Turns out that the SMT shows all kinds of classic films.
The Guardian UK: The Resurrection of the Silent Movie Theatre [Link]

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Jagmenace said...
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