The six month L.A. report card continues apace this week: Today, I'm taking a look at some things that have been hard/unpleasant about my new home.
Tough L.A. Adjustments
Driving: We make it 3,000 miles across a snowstorm-ridden continent in a 14ft. Penske rental truck with a weak engine — no problem. Four days later, our rental car from LAX blows a tire two hours after we've rented it. All of the sudden, it seems to me that Tom Joad pretty much had it made compared to me. I start to suffer what used to be a "nervous breakdown" and huddle next to the inoperable Ford Focus whimpering a litany of curses and lamentations as Jessica arranges for roadside assistance. Seven years in New York have not been conducive to learning how to change a tire. (Or how to perform many other practical tasks for everyday living.) All this happens before I've even become a car owner and enjoyed a rush hour commute on the 10.
Owning a Car: Back in March, I venture out to Silverlake, to the El Cid, to meet some friends. I park my newly beloved '99 Saab on a clean, well-lighted street. I enjoy some camaraderie and cabaret. When I get back to my car, the passenger side window has been bashed out. Welcome to L.A. Mr. Joad. Ironically, my car alarm has saved my noble steed from any further degradations and kept my laptop in the backseat safe from theft. The punks must have heard the alarm and fled with no further damage. This is ironic, because I hated car alarms in New York with a savage alacrity. On the hated-noise-pollution scale, car alarms fell somewhere on my shit-list between weekend jackhammer operators and Donny Deutsch. So it's ironic that a car alarm saved me thousands of dollars and a trip to the Northeast police district desk. Thankfully, Ove, my excellent mechanic at Viking Motors on Pico, found me a very-reasonably-priced used replacement window and installed it flawlessly two days after the incident. After this, things really start to look up on the auto front.
Not walking: It's true. I drive everywhere now. It's only an aversion to Applebees appetizers and T.G.I. Fridays entrees that's keeping me below 300 lbs.
The hot rental market: I expected finding a great place to live here would be a piece of cake compared to NYC. That didn't turn out to be the case thanks to the credit crash and the fresh spate of greedy landlords and newly-out-of-a-home-renters.
Coffee Shop Screenplay Writers: In New York, it was the overly-mouthy conversational geniuses that turned my face reddish-green with spleen. You know the type — forever expounding on the emotional and linguistic resonances between the indie pop album of the month and the early novels of Don Delillo at 'please notice me' volume. (Uh, wait, that was me.) At any rate, here in L.A. it's the over-earnest screenplay writer in the coffee shop that bugs me unto near violence. This forever-multiplying breed of predictable poseur troubles me deeply. I suppose the only thing for it is start that "project" about the plucky Midwestern-bred New Yorker that comes West and discovers something new about himself…