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.