Thursday, November 08, 2007

walking in l.a.

the beast is in the shop (again), undergoing a major overhaul of brakes and related systems. in addition to this costing me a bundle, it's left me without transportation till tomorrow at least, maybe longer. but i had stuff to do yesterday. so i put on my hightops and prepared to do some walking.

i also took a couple of cabs. while a passenger, which i rarely am, as well as on foot, of course, you see things you don't see while driving a car.

for my afternoon meeting at the farmers market on third and fairfax, i took a cab -- only to canter's, to keep the cost of the ride down. i passed the line of newspaper boxes next to the deli's parking lot and saw a homemade "missing pet" flyer ... bearing a photo of a great white shark. ooookay. as i neared the auto shop, i spotted the beast outside one of the repair bays. across the street, a handful of striking WGA members wearing red and black were picketing at the entrance to CBS.

i was early for my meeting, so i meandered through the market and then strolled down the grove and back. i put joe henry on my ipod to block out the sappy music on the loudspeakers. the trolley trundled past, not too many people on board. santa's house was half-constructed in the middle of the plaza; scaffolding enveloped the statue that usually marks the spot, poised to become the house's chimney. stores are now hiring holiday help, and that little booth that sells those hideous crocs is offering them in horrible hybrid-shoe form with laces. this reminded me that i'd also seen them in a catalog, lined with fleece. will the madness ever stop?

rounding the bend by nordstrom, i beheld more workers, busily assembling the grove's giant christmas tree, which was nearly finished. they drill holes in the trunk and stick in the branches -- a live fake tree. weird.

passing by the apple store, i saw a guy duck in who fit the description of the person i was supposed to meet. i randomly wondered if it was him. a few minutes later at the appointed rendezvous spot of the clock tower, the same fellow walked toward the cluster of chairs where i was sitting. i pointed and asked if he was him. he was.

after the meeting the sky was more overcast. it almost felt like rain. i called the doc to see if he was up for a visit. this time i walked right past the picketing writers, holding a thumbs-up in support while conversing with the doc. a few steps later i saw someone i know -- the indefatigable scenester/record mogul jim freek, who was with a friend. i said hi and waved but didn't want to interrupt; plus, i had just phoned the doc and didn't want to cut him off.

i passed fairfax high, where the football team was going through its paces and ROTC drill team members were spinning their rifles. then i entered a quieter world north of melrose on waring, full of little houses and duplexes with their tiny fenced yards. the sky remained ominous. it was already getting dark.

hung with the doc for about an hour, watching the news, talking about the writers strike, and greeting the cat when he deigned to appear for a bit of worship. then i called another cab.

it was rush hour, but traffic was OK until we turned onto crescent heights. then it was total gridlock. crawling toward the intersection of laurel cyn and hollywood, the driver and i held a brief consultation, and i decided to just have him hang a right on hollywood and park. i paid him and headed home on foot.

more joe henry in my ears as i made my way up little laurel. now it was completely dark, but the side road wasn't nearly as congested as the main part of LCB. sometimes it's empty like that; other times it's completely gridlocked too, as people seek the "shortcut." i love little laurel, with its eccentric array of cottages and mansions packed and stacked together, all shielded by bushes and trees and half-obscured by fences. i love the old-fashioned streetlights and how the lamps in- and outside the houses illuminate the winding way. it felt peaceful, even with the mass of idling vehicles just to my left. i could even hear, over the music in my headphones, the burble of a fountain or two. the path meanders, sidewalk giving way to gravel, then dirt, then back to sidewalk again as you approach the country store.

up the steps past the store, i spotted the laurel canyon gallery and remembered i've been meaning to check it out. on the last steep stretch to my house there's no sidewalk at all, just a worn path, and sometimes no path so you have to walk in the street.

i caught a rare break coming abreast of the house: no traffic either way. dashed across the road, checked the mail, and climbed the last set of steps to home. my reward was a demanding greeting from a hungry cat, homemade chicken noodle soup and a leftover doughnut, and the second-to-last disc of heroes season 1 from netflix. all but the cat was devoured.

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