Friends were in LA visiting from Canada. We drove to the Marina.
Friends from Canada: What’s that dancing guy doing over there? Is he on drugs?
Me: He’s advertising the apartments right there. He flips the sign around and throws it in the air to direct attention to the open house at the complex.
A man in Los Angeles joined his wife in toasting their first home purchase, a starter home in the Los Angeles area. Located just outside Baker, California, the home is a converted way station for telephone lineman, built to offer shade and refuge from the desert heat for lineman far from major roads and neighborhoods.
“It’s a shack on a dusty plain, but it is home!” the man said. “We have a lot of work to do to get it ready, because we have a little one on the way.” His wife smiled, patting her tummy.
The home features two cots, two shelves with canned vegetables, and a dusty old typewriter used to fill out lineman reports. The man plans to use the typewriter to work on a novel he has had in his head for 5 years. “It’s a thriller about Russian propaganda infiltration in US social media. A real page-turner.”
The man works in Los Angeles, a 171-mile trip one-way. “That’s why I’m glad I bought the Prius when we did. 50 miles to a gallon!” he said.
If you are heading to LA for fun or business, make sure you take time to visit the booming downtown area. Here are three “insider tips” that will make your visit extra special.
Twenty-cent Ice Cream Cones
Every day at the Grand Market a guy in a green suit and top hat sells 20-cent ice cream cones. Double cones are 40 cents and triples are 60 cents. Get there early because the line goes around the block. To get this low price you are required to participate in a country line dance on Grand Avenue that takes place every hour on the hour.
Free Lakers Tickets
One hour before every Lakers home game, the coach of the moment walks out on the balcony of Staples Center and throws free tickets into the plaza below. Some nights they give away 10 tickets and other nights it could be 100 tickets. It helps to have martial arts skills because it gets very competitive. Last year three people ended up in the hospital fighting for Lakers-Celtics tickets. One guy was stabbed by another fan wielding a “Lakers 3-Peat” ball-point pen.
To promote bike riding downtown, the city gives a new bike to each visitor. You must ride the bike at least once a day during your stay. After that, you are free to take it home with you to Des Moines, Atlanta or wherever you live. Please do not remove the slogan painted on the down tube which says “LA – So Fake, So Fabulous.”
I was at the LA Metro Rail Willowbrook/Rosa Parks station today waiting for the Green Line to Redondo Beach. The north side of the platform looks toward the downtown skyline with the Hollywood Hills in the background.
A guy standing near me asked, “Is that Las Vegas?”
I said, “Yes, sir, that is Las Vegas.”
He looked at me steadily, nodding his head slowly.
I couldn’t take it, so I said, “No, I’m kidding. That’s downtown Los Angeles.”
He half-smiled but kept nodding his head.
Now that I dug the hole, I tried: “LA and Vegas are similar — a lot of hopeful people gambling on a big score, but will probably crap out.”
It was all I could think to say. He continued nodding, lost in thought.
“Can you hold that door open for one second?” I cheerily said to the hipster leaning against the wall near the door as I bobbled a large pizza and drinks for Mary and me, trying to exit.
Everyone in the joint was in a good mood. The front of this place in Eagle Rock is always packed with people signing up to get a table or picking up carry-out orders. It was buzzing.
I lifted my items over the heads of the crowd to make it easier to move forward.
He didn’t have to move his body or feet from his spot on the wall, just bend his right elbow to reach the door handle and hold it. Surely he would help out.
“Well, I’m not a doorman!” he said with disdain, not moving a muscle.
A normal person would just move their hand up and snag the handle, but he didn’t want to seem like he was “the help.”
I guess it would diminish his standing in a hyper-competitive town?
“You can’t hold it for two seconds?” I said.
With the face of a 9-year-old who has been told to clean his room for the 10th time, he grabbed the side of the door with his hand.
“Thanks, I apprecia….” I started to say as I stepped into the open space. When I was halfway through the doorway, he let it go and it smashed into my right leg, the pizza nearly flying onto the roof of a nearby parked car.
A young dude in this copy and office services store has been doing his best Michael Jackson dancing and singing routine for an hour now. No one is here at 4am except him and me and one staff person (this location is open 24 hours). He’s not loud, sort of whisper-singing as he moves around the floor, creating his own lyrics. One of the lines I remember was “I wouldn’t take the meds they gave me” as he moonwalked by the copiers.
The Los Angeles Clippers basketball club was founded in 1970. That was a crazy year. That same year, they staged the second Atlanta International Pop Festival, which had anywhere from 200,000 to 400,000 people in attendance. One fan said, “Or, if Trump was there, he’d say there was 5.7 million people.”
The Clippers franchise started out as the expansion Buffalo Braves. The Braves moved around a bit and landed in San Diego in 1978 where they were called the San Diego Clippers. They picked up again and headed north to LA in 1984. Like many expansion teams, they didn’t do real well for a long time, and only began really winning consistently when Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and others joined the team. “I didn’t do real well my first years either,” a Clippers fan said. “I was a virgin until I was 37, and that only changed because the lady who cuts my hair took pity on me.”
At home, the Clippers use Staples Center, as do the LA Lakers, LA Kings, and LA Sparks. A Staples Center spokesperson said, “It’s expensive to have all these teams here. But we save money where we can — for example, after every Kings game, we bust up the ice into cubes and use them for drinks in the private sky boxes.