Days 9-10: Los Angeles

image

I spent way too much of Tuesday in the car, first following the old route of US 101 (Whittier and Harbor Boulevards) and then circling over to Long Beach. After a very long day of driving, I walked up to Echo Park for dinner. This morning I sent off on foot to Echo Park again for a nice Mexican breakfast and stroll around the lake before driving around a bit more in order to spend more time on foot along Fairfax near Beverly and Wilshire near Fairfax. For dinner I want to down to Silver Lake.

And then, this happened. I was walking down the section of sunsets that’s cut through a hill, so there are no houses or businesses, and I couldn’t figure out why the street lights weren’t working. It was a little creepy. Then I got back in a populated block, and I realized nothing was working.

Assorted observations:

  • Why is it that Los Angeles seems more like “home” to me than San Francisco does, even though I never lived here? Toronto is like that too. I think it’s a “fantasy vs. reality” thing
  • The idea that “nobody walks in LA” is preposterous and just plain wrong LA has some incredibly pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, all of which in fact contain many pedestrians.
  • LA is in fact a very densely populated city. And it’s getting much denser.
  • How is it that I never before know just how much I love Long Beach, particularly the downtown area?
  • it’s actually going to be cheaper for me to check a second bag them to ship back some of the things I’ve obtained here (the stuff from Safeway HQ in particular).
  • in a world with the wonder that is Fatburger, why would anyone ever eat that lackluster and overrated stuff from In-N-Out…with or without Bible verses?

Days 7-8: Los Angeles

Rethinking the Mazda. I actually really like is for city driving. It was just kind of suck on long road trips. Since I take a lot of long road trips (and don’t live in much of a city) it probably wouldn’t be a really good idea. On an unrelated note, I’ve also decided I want to move into this hotel room.

I think I may have written about this before at some point but until three years ago, I’d never really spent any time in LA by myself. I’d always visit with other people and it had always frustrated me. Apparently my instincts were correct; I really have a great time while I’m here on my own. I love this city. Okay, I love a lot of cities, but LA excites me more than most of them.

image

I spent Sunday doing lots of drives that would be hard to do on a weekday. I covered a lot of territory:

  • Took some pictures at the scenic overlook on Mulholland.
  • Drove west on Santa Monica Blvd. as far as the edge of Santa Monica, and came back in on Pico. Pico Boulevard is one of my favorite drives; you get a real cross-section of LA over its course.
  • Lunch at the Apple Pan.
  • Walked around downtown for a bit.
  • Drove out to Pasadena on the 110 and came back and via Highland Park, where I walked around for a little while, inhaling the mildly unpleasant odor of early-stage gentrification.
  • Dinner at Del taco nearby hotel, just because I could.
  • Went on a long, agendaless evening drive, which landed me in Downey for some reason.

image

Monday highlights:

  • Ventured southward on I-5, and returned on Whittier Boulevard. But that was a pretty entertaining Drive, particularly the part through East LA. I’d never been there before.
  • Lunch at Jack’s Whittier Restaurant, which was a Googie wet dream.
  • I rode out rush-hour by doing the laundry. Fortunately, there’s a laundromat next to my hotel, so I was able to go back to my room while things washed and dried.
  • Dinner at Miceli’s in Universal City. This was an incredible 65-year-old Italian restaurant, with a jazz combo and bitchin’ lasagna.
  • After dinner, I want book browsing at the Iliad Bookshop in Burbank. I happened by this place in 2012 and it’s now on my regular rotation. I’m not allowed to buy any more books this trip.
  • As always, I took the long way home.

Days 5-6: Oakland, Fresno, and Los Angeles

image

I picked up the car on Friday morning. I ended up with a Mazda 3, which I don’t love but I am coping with. Despite all the excitement about the Supreme Court decision on Friday, I was really glad to get out of the Bay Area before Pride weekend. So I left my fellow sodomites and my fellow librarians behind, and for the interior and the Southland.

Friday highlights:

  • Lunch at the Hayward Ranch, because a good burger in a dining room that hasn’t seen the sun since about 1966 is always a good thing.
  • Spent the late afternoon at Safeway’s Nothern California Division HQ coming up with some amazing material for Groceteria and discussing some options for them to archive their stuff.
  • Headed south on Highway 99 after a crummy fast food dinner in Livermore. For the first time in a good thirteen or so years, this route actually excited me again. Did lost of photos in Merced. Look for those later.
  • Landed in Fresno about 10:30 at the sketchiest Red Roof Inn ever. This place just sucked. It was a converted hotel from the 1960s that wasn’t converted very well. I went for a late night drive, taking pictures and hoping the room would cool down some. Great pictures, no cooling. Alas…

Saturday highlights:

  • Breakfast at the Chicken Pie Shop, which pretty much eliminated the foul mood the motel had created. Then I did a downtown drive-through and walked around the Fulton Mall for a few minutes before leaving town.
  • I stopped in Bakersfield as well and decided I was allowed to dawdle a bit. Found some great 1960s Canadian road maps in an antique store that used to be a Woolworth’s.
  • Lunch at Wienerschnitzel, just because I could.
  • I finally arrived in LA about 4:30 and checked into my quite wonderful hotel situated between Silver Lake and Echo Park I’ve always wanted to stay in this area and now I’m pretty much walking distance to both. I did good..
  • Went for a twilight drive around Hollywoood, Los Feliz, and into the Hollywood Hills, with a stop by Amoeba Records and shawarma at Zankou Chicken.
  • Currently pondering bed or another quick drive.

Day 4: Oakland and San Francisco

image

I decided to blow off the conference today. Everything was happening in Berkeley and there weren’t many sessions I cared that much about. So I went over and took care of everything I wanted to do in San Francisco instead.

Highlights:

  • Had my big, artery clogging breakfast for the week at the Buttercup Grill in Oakland.
  • Visited my old Kinko’s to print out some paperwork I needed.
  • Took a long walk down Market Street and into my old neighborhood.
  • Did a little record shopping in Upper Haight.
  • Had lunch at Pancho Villa, and then walked Mission street from 16th to 24th. Despite all the gentrification in the mission, Mission Street proper seemed relatively unaffected.
  • Went back to Oakland for a bit before returning to San Francisco to see a friend who now lives in Oregon.
  • Mmmm. Shawarma.
  • Experienced a double BART meltdown on the way back.

I’m leaving the Bay Area tomorrow just in time to avoid Pride. I’m headed for Los Angeles on Saturday. Not 100% sure where I’ll spend tomorrow night yet. but I have arranged a meeting at the Safeway corporate offices tomorrow afternoon related to some material for that other site. I’m kind of excited about that.

Day 3: Oakland

image

Presentation day. Spent most of the day at the conference Things went quite well.

Other highlights:

  • Lunch at Rosamunde in Swan’s Market.
  • Reception at the Oakland Museum of California. Free beer and I got to keep the glass. And the California history gallery was nice too.
  • A nice long stroll around Lake Merritt, which reminded me that I always did like Oakland. if I’d stayed in the Bay Area, I’m pretty sure that’s where I would’ve ended up.

I think tomorrow may involve a bit of shopping Berkeley and San Francisco. And maybe some Pancho Villa.

Back to the streets of San Francisco

image

So I have ventured into the Bay Area for the first time in nearly five years.

Quick assessment:

  • Yeah, in some ways it does feel like a visit home. In other ways, not so much.
  • San Francisco has not become quite the completely foreign environment I expected from things I’ve been reading lately, at least not its physical form. But it’s on the way.
  • The pizza at Gaspare’s is still a wonderful thing.
  • I have absolutely no desire to live there again. Were it not for a few remaining friends whole live there (if only part time), I wouldn’t even see visiting again as a huge priority.

So, about Days One and Two of David’s California Adventure 2015? Let’s go with another pair of bullet lists, starting with Monday:

  • Uneventful and (dare I say it?) almost pleasant cross-country flight once I resigned myself to a $75 upgrade.
  • BART from SFO is nice. It was in place before I left the Bay Area but I’d never used it before.
  • I like my “much cheaper than the convention center and right across the street” hotel.

Tuesday:

  • Watching Mornings on 2 was strangely comforting.
  • Damn. The humidity is intense. I went for a long walk this morning and was soaking when I got back, even though it was only in the low 60s out. I don’t remember things being like this when I lived here. Maybe the drought is only an issue because all the moisture is in the air.
  • There’s lots of construction in Downtown Oakland but precious little visible evidence of large scale gentrification. And my newsstand is still open.
  • Lunch with my friend and ex-roomie in Berkeley. Good food and I only had to ridicule one patron with a topknot.
  • Rode back into SF with Dan across the new Bay Bridge. Saw his renovated flat, and walked around in the neighborhood a bit.
  • Dinner with Dan and Jamie at Gaspare’s, with a stop by Green Apple Books.

Today I will actually be paying attention to the conference I’m here for. My presentation is this afternoon at 4:30.

Long day

image

5:15 – Wake up. Make coffee.

5:30 – Realize I’m supposed to be at the TV station fifteen minutes earlier that I thought. Shower quickly.

5:50 – Leave the house.

6:10 – Arrive at Channel 2. Sit. Wait.

6:45 – Interview begins.

6:47 – Interview ends.

6:48 – Leave Channel 2. Grab breakfast. Kill time until library opens.

7:30 – Go to work.

10:30 – Leave for oral surgeon.

10:45 – Arrive at oral surgeon’s office. Complete paperwork.

11:05 – Begin examination.

11:07 – End examination. Pay $88.00 to find that my dentist was mistaken and that there’s nothing wrong with me.

11:15 – Leave office. Grab lunch.

12:00 – Back at work. Actually get things done.

3:30 – Start a project that really could have waited till tomorrow.

4:30 – Do not finish said project. Leave work. Drop coworker at mechanic.

4:45 – Home. Beer. Leftover soup.

5:30 – Really creepy movie on TCM.

8:00 – Too early for bed. Too late and too tired to do much of anything else, though I’m seriously contemplating doing at least one more thing that lasts two minutes but requires an hour’s prep.

Ten years after

image

With all the family drama this week, I managed to miss the tenth anniversary of my milestone departure from San Francisco after thirteen years there. I had originally planned to get all philosophical about it, but the past few days have been really exhausting and frankly I’m just too fucking tired to bother tonight. Maybe later this week. Probably not.

For now, suffice to say that even though things didn’t turn out exactly as I’d planned ten years ago, I still think this move was one of my better decisions in life. San Francisco was over for me; it was well past time to leave. Despite the fact that a lot of really shitty things have happened to me (personal, health-related, and familial) in the past ten years, a lot of really good things have happened, too. I am pretty genuinely happy with where I am and who I am now. And that wasn’t really something I could say in San Francisco.

For what it’s worth, I’m not as fat now either, although I have managed to find some of that weight I lost over the past year or two.

image

If you’re in the mood, please feel free to relive the cross-country excursion, with all its neon signs, roadside food, and automotive drama.

For reference…

image

Random thoughts for a Saturday afternoon in a semi-rural hospital setting:

  • Involuntary commitments done through a hospital are much easier than those you do yourself at the magistrate’s office, but they take just as long. And I very much wish this were not something I knew firsthand.
  • It takes a special kind of person to be a hospice worker. Seriously.
  • It’s in the middle of nowhere and visiting will be a pain, but you gotta love a hospital with its own lake.
  • Way too many people who work with dementia patients cannot distinguish between a crisis and a problem and act accordingly. Hint: precious few things really qualify as crises.