Friday, September 24, 2010

That's Where I Want To Be!

I have made peace with New Jersey.  Beverly Hills has the worst drivers.  Every time I venture into this deathtrap of packed cars operated by wholeheartedly unaware drivers I fear that I am going to die.  And every single time almost do.  You ever play that game Traffic where you have to shuffle around wooden blocks or cars in order to get yours off the board and to safe haven?  Well, it's like that.  Only at 40 miles an hour.

And I say "wholeheartedly" because you have to try to be such a bad driver.  The near death experience I had today involved two young women, or cunts, going five miles an hour down the middle of an intersection in heavy traffic(because it's never not heavy).  Here's roughly how it looked:

Even as I slammed on my breaks, as my tires squealed, as I blared my horn the two Beverly Hillians just kept on giggling.  That's right.  Kept on.  As in they'd been laughing the whole time instead of fearing for their lives in some sort of confused panic like decent human beings.

I hate Beverly Hills.  You know how it's portrayed in movies and television as being full of really stuck-up self-absorbed jaggoffs?  It's pretty much true.  I was chilling at a Starbucks and actually saw a guy in a sports jacket talking like Ron Whitey from Futurama.  The thing is, it looks just like every other town ever.  Well, except for all the gates.  Every house has a gate.

And that's the big hint right there.  That's better than any metaphor I can come up with.  Gates.  Isn't it funny how the more money people have the more they worry about it?  Poor people aren't worried about money.  We're worried about the things that money gets us.  Like food.  And shelter.  But rich people, they have all the things they need.  So they need to protect their money.  You know,'s so very green?

Don't get me wrong.  I want to be rich.  I need to be rich.  Here's a formula I've come up with.


Pretty sound, right?  But I can't ever imagine hoarding my money.  I'd rather like to think of myself as that rich buddy who's always buying you beer.  What the hell do I need?  Food.  A place to live.  Some money to travel around.  A Mini Cooper S Convertible.  To live the life I want I need, what, a hundred grand a year?  Two hundred, maybe?  What the hell am I gonna do with the rest of the gobs of money I see my future self possessing?  See, that's what freeloading friends are for.  And maybe I'd buy a casino.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tree Fiddy

L.A. is different from Philly.  No shit, you say?  Well, son, you are correct.  No shit, indeed.  But it’s different in odd ways.  I still don’t really get L.A. and I doubt I ever really will.  For instance, I hear tell that Central L.A. is like a ghost town.  Like, there’s a whole city there with restaurants and theaters and bright lights, but nobody cares.  People just don’t go there.

One major difference is listening to the radio.  They actually play good music out here.  They don't just recycle the same ten songs that they've been playing for the last two hours.  And every other song I hear on the radio is an L.A. song.  I think it's a law around here that if a D.J.'s playlist is not %50 +1 L.A. music they get fined by the FCC.  I actually heard a station play E.L.O.'s Fire On High which was then promptly followed by a Bad Company marathon.  Now, I only know that the radio out here is decent because my car doesn't have a CD player and driving twenty minutes takes a fucking hour.

Traffic out here is absolutely ridiculous.  When I get back to Philly(hopefully in ten years and not in two months) I will not complain about traffic.  I will not get angry.  I will not yell.  I will not flip people off and then proceed to cut them off because I've lost all goddamn patience.  I think that with all the driving around I've doing I've been able to hit the speed limit a total of maybe five minutes, spread out over the course of four days.  The roads are ginormous, but that doesn't seem to help.  You can have a four lane road going one way and it will still have four cars side by side going 30 mph.

And they're apparently craaazy about giving out tickets to pedestrians.  If you're standing at a red light and there are no cars on the road for miles you still have to wait.  It's like L.A. is specifically designed so that you can never get to where you need to be on time.  And you can take either the freeway or the regular roads, but it doesn't matter, because you can either crawl on the freeway or deal with the traffic lights.  Neither are faster.  To be fair, I haven't tried the public transportation, but I'm pretty sure that both of the buses in this gigantic city have the same issues.

You can't just walk down the street and hit a bar.  Also, bars don't open until five.  And they close at 1:30.  What the hell?  I thought L.A. was supposed to be fun.  I went out for lunch and drinks with a friend of mine the other afternoon and we ended up driving around for a half hour looking for a bar that was open.  We finally settled on a place down the road from Pink's(apparently the best hot dog joint in the world, though I'm still not sure whether my friend was lying or not).  It was a restaurant, not a bar, and the beer list was as follows:

Light beer
Light beer
Light beer
Mexican light beer
Light beer
New Castle Brown Ale (the darkest beer they had)
More light beer (but this one's fancy, 'cause it's from Italy!)

The wildlife here has some real balls.  The other day, I'm walking home from a bar with a buddy of mine and this raccoon is just sitting on a fountain.  It starts staring us down, so naturally I instigate.  I hop up and down and wave my arms.  It ducks behind the fountain and I think "Showed you.  Fucking raccoon."  Nope.  Wrong.  Mistake.  The thing runs through the foliage, growling, stalking us down like we're in Jurassic Park, it's a t-rex and we're some poor stupid sheep.  I still don't know how we got out of there alive.  Plus, the bugs here are enormous.
What is that?!  It was giant and green and shiny!  This shit ain't natural.

There are two banks.  Literally.  Wells Fargo and Bank of America.  Now, other than the larger free market issues that this presents, it creates a mild inconvenience for me: I have a Wachovia account in Pennsylvania.  I was recently running low on funds, so I decided to consolidate my accounts.  I wanted to cancel my savings account and move everything onto my checking account so that I didn't overdraft.  In case none of you are up to snuff on your megacorporations, Wells Fargo just bought out Wachovia.

I walk into the bank down the road and the very nice agent tells me that if I want to transfer funds I have to talk to the teller.  The very nice teller tells me that she can only transfer funds, but that she can't close any accounts.  If I want to close them I have to call the bank that I opened the account in.  So I go ahead and have her transfer all of my savings into my checking account, then call the bank and the very nice lady on the phone tells me that if I want to close the account I have to come in and do it in person.  I calmly explain to her that that would be physically impossible, so she gives me a customer service phone number to call.  I call and the very nice customer service rep closes my savings account.  In which I still somehow have $3.50.

And I lied.  I will always get angry, yell, swear and flip people off.  Behind the wheel or not.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Pretty Ruddy Unlikely

I think there's a gremlin following me wherever I go.  I'm talking food after midnight kind of shit.  But it's never anything major.  It's always just a series of minor inconveniences that seem to go wrong at the exact perfect time to screw up my whole day.

Today was the start of my second full day living in Los Angeles.  I woke up at 7 in the morning, my body beginning to adjust to having gone three hours back in time.  I immediately started searching for jobs and apartments, all set to head out and build my new life out here on the West Coast.  But the gremlin had other plans.  I thought I would go outside, get in my car and park outside of my current base of operations.  You know, for easy access.  But during the night my little gremlin friend crawled under my hood, hot wired the car and killed the battery.

At this time I did not suspect the gremlin.  Things just go wrong.  It's a part of life and as a mature, well-adjusted adult I should be able to handle this.  So, I get my friend to try and jump start the car.  We push it across the busy four lane road and into a parking lot.  But what I hadn't realized at the time was that the gremlin had drained the battery completely dry.  So, defeated, we pushed my car back out onto the street and I called AAA.

Now, my AAA card only exists digitally.  In order to actually be able to get the tow I needed a physical copy of my card.  I set about printing it out, but, alas, the gremlin had it in his disturbed little brain that this simple process had far too few complications.  He crept on into my computer and gave the printer such an erroring that I couldn't even delete it from the queue.  It just stayed there, like an old dog being put to sleep that was just too stubborn to die.  Then when I tried emailing it to a friend so that she could print it the gremlin decided that the email should fail for absolutely no reason.  With enough time wasted the little bastard decided that the flash drive I transferred the file to should just go ahead and work.  So, with card in hand I headed out into the bright sun ready to greet the tow truck driver.

It was at about this point that I began to suspect the gremlin.  Because all of his plans, his tireless and ingenious scheming, were all leading up to this moment.  Just as I approached my car I looked at the other side of the road to see the tow truck pulling away.  I desperately flailed my arms, waving the piece of paper that my card had been printed out on, somehow believing that this was the international sign for "Don't drive away!  I'm here!  Take my car!"  But it was all for naught.  And as the driver turned his truck down the other road I swore I could see that son of a bitch hanging off the back, his eyes gleaming red, his long fingers stretched high, grinning and waving.