Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Ride the Sexy Beast (short story)

Here's what happened just after the press junket but before the Biggest Man you ever did see thing...

I'd just gotten in from a press junket that took about as long as the movie itself to get through and I was dead tired. As soon has I poured myself a stiff Cape Cod and kicked my dogs up, the phone rang...it was Charlotte (we'll say) and it was also 7:00. She called me from El Segundo, wanted to hook up for a few drinks and a couple of laughs and I was carless in Pasadena; I had decisions to make.

"I'll sleep when I'm dead," I muttered to myself after agreeing to link up and formed plans with the lady on the other end of the phone line. I hung up, took a huge slug of my cocktail and plotted my course for my new mission. I shot over to Olde Town in a taxi, to await the next L.A. bound train that slithered toward Union Station.
I slid onto the Gold Line and began my odyssey. If you're new to town, it won't take long to notice that the trains out here are really, well, talkative. Upon boarding a subway car an automated voice tells you everything it feels you need to know in a barrage of declarative pronouncements. Not only are you told about the proceeding station (which admittedly is cool the first 6,000 times but the harping robot on the speakers goes on to admonish you for eating and drinking while in transit. You're told not to put your grimy shoes on the erstwhile pristine benches and then you're forbidden to take a smoke -- in the journey that takes place between each and every stop. Soon your eyes glaze over as all of this becomes annoying and seems to continue endlessly.

After reaching Union Station, I ran to jump on the Red Line, got off at 7th Street (Metro Center) -- waited for 20 minutes for the Blue Line train to pull off while listening to Rahsaan Roland Kirk -- and caught the Green Line at the Imperial Boulevard concourse to meet this chick at LAX. All told, it was a 2.5 hour undertaking and I shudder to think of what special kind of hell it must be to do that on the regular, everyday and what havoc that that commute must wreak on the senses. When given a choice between the latter and a chainsaw enema I'd understand why L.A. strap hangers would momentarily pause to weigh their options.

When you're beholden to the Los Angeles MTA as your primary source of gettin' around, it's akin to dating an emotionally abusive lover whose only reliable trait is his/her unreliability; the only constant is inconsistency. The MTA rail system is that animal, definitively -- Having lived in NYC, DC and Atlanta, I call it the Sexy Beast of the mass transportation world [click on the header to see the true size of this monstrosity]. For $3 you can leave the San Gabriel foothills and (eventually) get dropped off literally a stone's throw from the California coastline to behold a SoCal sunset in-the-flesh on the Pacific Ocean which is extremely appealing in that Robert Frost kind of way because "it makes all the difference."

Be all of that as it may, the stress of getting to said sandy locales without a hitch is another matter because it entails riding in conveyances that more or less feel like being stacked in cattle cars with some of Los Angeles' more unsavory characters and sometimes it can get ugly - they rarely show this shite in movies and TV shows, to be sure.

When the big automobile barons lobbied and had all of L.A.'s then extensive network of streetcar tracking removed to make way for the glorious automobile, they forced this city to become umbilically tied to the cars in it -- irrevocably...By the time I got to LAX, it was 10 and change which means I'd spent upwards of 8 hours on a train/bus and/or waiting for one -- more than a full day's work of sucking on diesel fumes and stale armpits, neither being a pleasurable enterprise. Thank goodness the rendezvous turned out to be worth it and that's all I'm going to say about that...BUT, there's always a "but," in hindisight 20/20 I've learned to embrace the finer shadings of a saying my granny used to say: "ain't nobody gonna shit, shave or bathe until some changes are made."

The die have been cast, the Rubicon's crossed and all bets are off. The last vestiges of being a "street-walking East coast transplant" has gone the way of the platform shoe and the Sans-a-Belt pant suit...my hand has been forced; come hell or high water, I'm getting me a set of wheels, yo...now where in the hell is that Craig's List?...Laters.


Blogger Lucio said...

I heard a song on Friday called, "I don't have a car and I live in L.A." by some Chicano band. After the intial response of "that's some funny ass shit," I thought, what would my life be like without a car - here, in the city of tar. I couldn't fathom not having four wheels, a motor engine covered by metal & plastic pieces, and a bucket seat to get me from my El Monte dwellings to the depths of Kelley's Pub in Downey - oh the horror. Mind you, it's only about twenty miles, but a twenty mile radius is all I need to subsist on the world's largest pavement. For this, I offer my condolences.

11:33 AM, March 09, 2005  

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