Wednesday, July 2, 2008


I'm just back from southern California. I had a conference in Anaheim, and decided to front-load a vacation to Los Angeles before being subjected to mascot-sized Disney characters.

I've been to LA once before, around 1990. It lived down to every expectation I ever had about the place: it was disorienting, weird, short, I loved it. From the smug, muscular identical twins in yarmulkes, strolling down Santa Monica, to the ghostly white man in Silver Lake who stepped out on his balcony and said "Hellooo...are you the people from Chicago?" (how did he know?), it was a delight straight out of The Day of the Locust. In Echo Park, someone in an earthquake-cracked house peered at us through dusty venetian blinds, which snapped shut when they realized I saw them. As we stalled in traffic on Sunset one night, we noticed a pretty girl stripping down to her panties and bra in a fast-food parking lot, and then into a new outfit, as if it were the most ordinary thing in the world.

Our host was my boyfriend's brother, a film editor. His roommate was almost an LA archetype: a production assistant on a game show; lots of blond, feathery hair; favorite hobbies included surfing and skateboarding; wanted to be a music star like his idol Michael Bolton (!!!); painted, in acrylic, photo-realistic pictures of animals, such as the memorable "Cougar Playing with Bubbles."

Los Angeles saved it's best for last. On our final day there, a city crew was trimming trees in Silver Lake. The noise was a little grating, but we were busy packing and hardly took notice. My boyfriend went outside to tap sand out of his shoes and socks. All at once, a big man appeared out of nowhere. "Stop making so much noise!" he said in a dark tone. My bf laughed, thinking he was kidding. "It's NOT FUNNY! It's giving me a HEADACHE!!" the man snarled, and then he noticed an icepick scar in the man's forehead, you know, like a botched lobotomy. He ran inside the house. "Bolt the door!...Where's the key??!!" After colliding into each other and fumbling with the keys, we finally managed to lock the door. When the production assistant/cougar painter arrived home from work an hour later, the angry man had disappeared.

Well, that's enough reminiscing for tonight. Here's an answer to the most Frequently Asked Question about my trip. Taken 6/27, somewhere in West Hollywood:

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