Wednesday, May 10, 2006

All this for $1.25


I survived the bus ride and it was actually pretty fun. I borrowed my friend's iPod and created a soundtrack to go with the scenery, which was itself quite fascinating in its repetitive suburban blandness. For an entire hour, as the bus cruised down Venice Blvd towards Downtown LA, all I saw out the window was a seemingly endless series of auto repair shops, used car dealerships, smog check stations, window-tinters, fast food chains, carpet shops, and furniture stores, plus a few check-cashing places, Western Unions, and taquerias mixed in for variety's sake.

The ride gave me a feeling I imagine many visitors to New York get: the feeling that this is a city so big, you can get lost in it. That never happens to me in New York, it seems too small and familiar, and there are always too many people around. But something about the way the sun shines so unforgivingly on everyone in LA makes this place seem huge and impersonal. The sidewalks are not constantly crowded with people, and there's something private and nice about that, if not a little isolating.

The ride was peaceful but, of course, there's always that one eccentric crazy person that is a requirement on every city bus the world over. She sat in front of me and carried on an enthusiastic conversation with herself. When she spoke, her sentences were punctuated with a short air-pump of her right fist, index finger extended to further drive her point home. Over the course of an hour, as the bus grew full and then empty again, she remained, her conversation continuing uninterrupted. Finally, as we entered downtown, she got off the bus and I was the last one on.

As we worked our way through the downtown area to Union Station, things looked familiar again. The streets were smaller, the buildings taller, and instead of selling car parts, all the storefronts were displaying baseball hats and t-shirts and socks. It looked a lot like 14th St west of Union Square, with all those random low-budget luggage and t-shirt stores. But instead of saying New York, Brooklyn, the Knicks, or Puerto Rico, all the shirts and hats here said Los Angeles, Compton, the Lakers, and Mexico. I quite liked downtown, though I didn't really get to spend a lot of time there.

Anyway, after a week of listening to non-stop drum circles and Hare Krishna chants, I left Venice and came to stay at my sister and brother-in-law's house up near Pasadena, where I am now. But before I left, I made a point of spending extra time on the boardwalk in search of Acid Casualty. I'm disappointed to say she never reappeared.

And now my trip has finally come to an end. I am leaving this afternoon and I'm eager to get home. I would like to be able to get back to work tomorrow, but that depends on how tired out I am by the flight and jet lag. If I don't drive tomorrow, I'll be back in action next week, and back to dealing with gridlock, Jersey drivers, and drunk passengers. It'll be good to be home.

71 comments:

David Gridley said...

Interesting how we can find familiar things no matter where we go but I bet you'll be glad to be home as well.. interesting read as usual. Thanks!

Joann said...

As a taxi driver I take passengers to and from the airports, never traveling myself. So I live vicariously on their experience. Even if LA did not suit you at least you got to be the one flying off.

Dylan said...

Jersey drivers. Whoa there miss. Glad you enjoyed your trip and that you're happy to be returning home. Oh New York, no place can compare.

Anonymous said...

"And now my trip has finally come to an end" Glad to see you did try the acid. Fun ain't it

charam63 said...

Hope you enjoyed your trip to California. In any place you come to visit, you must seek out the good and just shrug your shoulders about the bad.

Btw, Pasadena is a pretty town. Downtown L.A. is interesting especially if you go to the Union Station-Chinatown-Olvera Street areas.

Daniel said...

Hiya, MP:

Cool - I just noticed your blog was added to the links on the gothamist home page!

Brenda said...

There's no place like home.

Anonymous said...

All the auto repair stores you described made the street you were riding down sound a lot like 4th Avenue in Brooklyn.

Drunken Master said...

Given how vast LA is, I'd say you got more than your money's worth on that trip.

With everything so spaced out, and everyone driving, no wonder California seems so aloof.

Anonymous said...

"all I saw out the window was a seemingly endless series of auto repair shops, used car dealerships, smog check stations, window-tinters, fast food chains, carpet shops, and furniture stores, plus a few check-cashing places, Western Unions, and taquerias mixed in for variety's sake." --- sounds like Long Island.

noefarmer said...

Finally, you're coming home.

catkins13 said...

Cali may be nice but we missed you M.P.. Welcome back!!

Anonymous said...

I work in downtown, went to school in Pasadena, have friends in Altadena, and went to Venice this last weekend to look for Acid Casualty. Sorry... didn't see her. But I did see the usual favorites: muscle beach speedo guy who dances in random spots, roller skating boom box guy, stand like a statue guy, and the world's greatest wino! Hope you enjoyed my neck of the woods!

RabbitExpress said...

I enjoyed your trip. I can't go anywhere as exicting as what you did, so reading your blog, and reading about your exploits, well, very interesting. When you get back home, enjoy what you think is normal.

Anonymous said...

So do you think America will become L.A. with a few N.Y.'s here and there?
Did they not talk you into staying; or they couldn't understand if you didn't want to.

Indytom1200 said...

I am glad you enjoyed your vacation. I am looking forward to reading about NYC again. I love the place, but haven't been there in years.

Mad Cabbie said...

Going back to hacking after a long vacation sucks, When ever I do that it takes me about two weeks to get in to the groove of cab driving.

San Francisco Taxi Driver said...

Downtown LA is cool. It seems that no one in LA knows it's there. As you wrote, you were the last on on the bus going into Downtown. I've joked that no one in LA knows where LA is. When I visit LA I always stay Downtown. I stayed at the Omni last time, the Hilton the time before. I was able to walk everywhere, shopping in the Fashion District, the sports center, etc. The rest of LA is a waste of time after you've seen it once. Tool wrote, "one great big neon distraction, something to keep you all occupied"...

Mad Cabbie said...

Whe ever I get back to hacking after a long vacation, I get depressed and quite, it takes me about two weeks to get in to the groove of cab driving. When I start yelling at my passengers, then I know I am in full gear. Welcome back!

mariasoledad said...

I think youve tried to compare NYC with Cali. No good, each places has its own charme.
There´s no place as home. Its looks like they were two Americas . the East and the West.
Glad that youll go on telling us your stories from NYC.
I would love to fly fron Buenos aires to NYC and getting to know you.

Anonymous said...

By now I'm sure you have landed back in the real world...and I woul like to say "Welcome Home...NYC has missed you!"

LA is great to visit once or twice in a lifetime but you couldn't pay me $10 million dollars to live there. I'll stay right here with the sounds of the Midtown Tunnel traffic, crowded sidewalks, and the Yankees!!

Anonymous said...

What a drag....

Pasadena and Venice.....that's your taste of my beautiful South Bay.....Shame on you....

No Manhatan Beach?? No Hermosa?? No Long beach.....No Big Bear??

You missed it girl.....

Dave in Richmond, Virginia said...

If anyone is looking for offers, I'll definitely accept $10 million to move to LA. I'll even bring my wife. Buy one get one free.

When I was young and just heading out on my own I went to LA on business. I went exploring and found myself wandering straight into Venice Beach and what I believe was the famous weightlifting spot. So weird to be in LA: everywhere you go is a random familiar street name or canyon name or something from various TV shows and movies. Its comforting in an otherwise strange place.

Later in life I went to a wedding at Sandra Bullock's house where I met some authentic Hollywood movie people. They are very, very different. They don't live on our planet.

Kristi said...

i bet you will be happy to sleep in your own bed, and walk down the familiar streets.. well more like drive!! good luck chick keep it up!

wil said...

Safe journey.

Remember, El Lay is more a state of mind than an actual location.

BBC said...

What? You didn't go to pier 55 in Longbeach? You may as well stayed home hon. BBC

Cheetarah1980 said...

crazy people are the biggest reason I'm not a fan of city buses. them and screaming children. oh and litter between the seats. basically i just hate city buses.

Anonymous said...

You may find yourself going going back back to Cali. Cali.

LookinginmyRearviewMirror said...

Loved your blog as always! So glad to have you back in NYC so I can read more of your adventures!

Dana said...

Hello MP, Hopefully you made it home safe and sound :) I think you enjoyed your trip?? I am sure it is nice to be home. It is much more exciting to read about you in New York than you in LA. What i mean is that i live here in (Cali) so i know about the busses, the driving with asssholes on cell phones, the colorful people in Venice etc. I myself try to stay away from Downtown to much traffic. Well take care and be safe.
Peace

C. Nicholas Walker said...

Wow! Is it just me or does it sound like you're getting used to LA? Maybe even, dare I say, liking it?

By the way, I've added you to my front page under "Other Blogs to Enjoy." Be proud to know that you're currently in the company of only two other blogs. The celebration for this rare honor will be tomorrow in my bathroom. Lots of candles. Creepy pictures. S&M toys. You know, a party!

meesh said...

Glad to hear that the public transit experience was punctuated by the obligatory loud n' crazy traveler. Ahhhh, the bus. :)

I remember when I first moved here and actually got lost going from the grocery store to my apartment. Everything looked the same! How do you distinguish between one strip mall and another? I'm happy to report that I can now make it to Albertson's and back, but it was tough going at first. In NYC all the streets make sense 'cause most of them are numbered and they run north/south or east/west. It's not my fault that other cities aren't put together with such forethought and intelligence. :) lol! I miss the 1/9 train and the cab drivers.

royleeub said...

Welcome back home

Julio said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julio said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julio said...

Have a safe trip HOME!!!

http://www.injokes.com

Imagesmith said...

Well it will be good to have you back home!

Imagesmith said...

Well it will be good to have you back home!

maria inés said...

I don´t see my mesage that I send you yesterday.

Well, I hope youve enjoyed your trip. Your country is as big as mine. And some cities are far away from home, some time looks like other country and we allways want to go back home.
I´m the one from Buenos Aires. Glasd to have you back.

maria inés said...

I would like sometime you answer me. Is it too much to ask?

Anonymous said...

sLA seems to have had an odd affect on your writing style...it's different somehow...

Kim said...

When I lived in Tampa, I used to ride a city bus (after my car was stolen...) to class. I would spend my time on the bus writing about the passengers. Never a dull moment. It was actually rather entertaining. Heck, I think I miss it! Not that I want my car stolen again....

DS said...

LOVE THE BUS!!!!!! NOT

TOOK A BUS FROM UTAH TO NYC ONCE THAT WAS FREAKIN' HORRIBLE.

Anonymous said...

I am so, so bummed I didn't know you were in my area!! I live in Pasadena, a hop-skip from Altadena! I would've taken you out for some delicious grub and coffee. I think you're a super cool chick and I really admire you. Plus, I could use some driving pointers with all the distracted boneheads around Los Angeles. Oy, don't get me started.

I'm sorry you have to deal with so many assholes. But reading your encounters with assholes makes me feel not so alone. You certainly handle it with more class than I do. :D

EverJack1 said...

Welcome back to 'the Apple', M.P.

EverJack1

Anonymous said...

so glad you are making your way back to NY and looking forward to hitting the road again! Nothing like getting back home after a trip!

Not sure if you read these comments butu just want to say that you are doing great as a writer. You have a way with words that the everyday person can relate to and I cannot wait until th eday comes when your book gets issued!

Have a safe journey and thanls for the entertainment!

John
Montreal, Quebec

Anonymous said...

Can you get jet lag from such a short flight ??

maya pedersen said...

the best part about going to ca is coming home to ny..

maya pedersen said...

the best part about going to ca is coming home to ny..

The Stupidity Police said...

Hi, M.P.

I don't know how you or your readers might have missed Steve Vaught's story, he's the guy who walked from San Diego to NYC and just finished up his journey a few days ago. He was on CNN, Good Morning America, The Today Show, etc, etc. His main impetus for undertaking the journey was that he was chronically depressed about accidentally running over and killing two pedestrians.

He caught my attention the same way you did, by using his website (not a blog) to chronicle his experiences.

Everyone should check this guy out at http://thefatmanwalking.com/.

The thing I love about this guy, Steve, is he is trying to conquer his inner demons by walking all the way from coast to coast. He has a few choice things to say about the undesirables along the way but all in all he is really tolerant of us humans and the stupid things we do.

Remember that this guy is WALKING across the country. He doesn't have a 3K lb piece of metal surrounding him and comforting him with protection so he can cast judgment and contempt on the rest of the world from a position of safety.

M.P. the next time you converge on an intersection while a pedestrian is a little slow getting to the other side, and maybe after the light has changed, I'd hope you might remember Steve.

Love you and your blog, babygirl.

Anonymous said...

hey i used to be a freak and live in nyc back in the late sixties and early seventies but haven't been back since seventy six and after reading your stories sure get alot of memories from living in the best city in the world. your stories are great. keep up the great work and stay safe., baldyking@email.com

NiHao said...

I'm with you, whenever I leave the city now I find the suburbs fascinating. "How cute, you have to drive to a strip-mall to buy milk!" I'm not sure my hosts always appreciate my candor, but it keeps me amused.

Jared said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jared said...

Just reading your blog for the first time today. Very cool. Looking forward to many more posts.

Girl Watcher said...

Watching the news tonight heard about "Taxi Ray" 80 year old gut giving free rides (works for tips only) Have you ever met him?

Whozfan said...

Mommy's alright, Daddy's alright, they both seem a little weird.

R2K said...

: ) just wait till you find a watch like i did.

Anonymous said...

cool blog. I have been reading a cool one, Journeys of Abigail, you should check it out. These two guys are flying a DC-3 cargo plane in Central America delivering guns, drugs, gold, what have you

Journeys of Abigail

Anonymous said...

indeed

Jocelyn said...

Just a funny note, I was reading under my Snapple cap this morning... and needed to share. The first person in the US arrested for speeding was a NYC Cab Driver.

I am from NY and I think the only thing cab drivers don't do it speed :)

Just some fun info for a monday!!!

greg said...

Today's my birthday and I was hoping for a new, NYC-related blog entry by you as a present. :/ j/k

athens said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
athens said...

Thought you might be interested in this.

MargueriteV77 said...

Venice - my home for ten years in sunny LA. I dug the photos of the boardwalk - this was my "walk" every day for those years. Seems like nothing has changed. Even though I had an ok time living in LA, I don't miss it. My home will always be New York, no matter where I am living. I am a New Yorker wherever I go. NativeNewyorkerMaggie

Carmi said...

You can take the cabbie out of New York, but you can't take the New York out of the cabbie.

Safe trip home.

Anonymous said...

New entry please!!! PLEASE!!! PRETTY PLEASE WITH SUGAR ON IT!!!

Saf said...

It feels like ages since your last post - we miss you!!!

Anonymous said...

I'll feel alot better when you get back to the basics of bashing drivers from Joisey.

still_wayne said...

Hi I read your blog sometimes, and enjoy it. I live near Seoul, in South Korea, and I thought you'd be interested to know that women cab drivers are pretty common here. I've had 10 or so since I've been in the country (3 months) and I don't take cabs TOO often.

Philip said...

Oh I get it. That's looking down at some city from the plane. I thought it was pavement! Hmmm.

dan said...

I used to drive a Yellow Cab in Boston, 1971, after graduating college. FUN! Love your blog. I see HOLLYWOOD MOVIE all over it!

http://nevertoolatetobegin.blogspot.com