Totally Unauthorized

A side of the film industry most people never see.

Tour de Courthouse

A few weeks ago, as I was leaving work, I was pulled over.

I had a burned out headlight, and given how incoherent I was after a 14 hour day, I’m surprised the cop didn’t haul me out and administer a field sobriety test, but he just gave me a fix-it ticket.

As he was finishing up, he told me I could go to any police station in the city to get a sign-off on the repair, and then go to any courthouse in the county to pay the small fine.

Sweet. I currently reside within a ten minute walk of both a police station and a (small) courthouse.

I figured I’d get the headlight fixed, get it inspected, then get it off the books and not even have to burn a gallon of very expensive (for America) gas.

So this morning, I rolled up to the West LA police station, ticket in hand, and asked at the desk to have someone check my car.

I was met with blank stares from the attending officers.

After an uncomfortably long pause, one of the civilian volunteers said “I’ve got this” and handed me a sheet explaining that the LAPD isn’t authorized to inspect vehicles and I’d have to drive to one of the county sheriffs’ inspection stations to get my signature.

Fine.

Except that the nearest inspection station happens to be in Beverly Hills.

I hate driving in Beverly Hills.

Under normal circumstances, the traffic is horrific because it’s apparently déclassé  to time one’s stop lights, but now it’s springtime and the tourist bloom is beginning.

In spring and summer, the normally crowded streets of Beverly Hills become impossibly clogged with tour busses and rental cars.

Which is great – the city and the county greatly appreciate your visit and your tax revenue, but residents tend to snap when traffic speeds drop from ‘slow crawl’ to ‘perambulate’.

This results in tempers accelerating from ‘recreational asshole’ to ‘nuclear war’.

Generally, I prefer to bike or bus it through the area – I can either sail past the problem or be encased in the T.Rex of vehicles and be safe from random punchings or headlocks.

But, if I must drive into the fray, 10 am on a weekday is a good time to do so.

Rush hour’s mostly over, and the lunchers haven’t started stalking parking spaces.

So, off I went – thinking I’d get inspected and paid off and then be back home in time to catch the afternoon talk shows.

I guess I wasn’t surprised when the clerk told me that although I got my inspection in Beverly Hills, because my officer had checked the ‘Chatsworth’ box on the ticket, that’s where I’d have to go to pay the fine.

To those of you not familiar with Los Angeles, Chatsworth is not near anything.

Not a freeway off ramp, not any sort of landmark, not any sort of train or bus stop or life support.

So because I’d tried to save gas by not driving, I then drove to the edge of civilization.

Where I stood in line for what seemed like an eternity behind a woman arguing with anyone who would listen that her failure to appear for her court date wasn’t her fault because she’d lost her phone and had written the judge a letter proving her innocence.

Lucky for me another window opened and I paid my $25 and then fought traffic back home.

I have work tomorrow (non-union, but it pays and it’s with a bunch of guys that I really like), and since I’m going downtown I’m going to take the bus.

I’ve had enough of the car for now.

 

Filed under: life in LA, long long drives, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, Off-Topic, overspending, travel, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Streets of Beverly Hills

For the past few months, I’ve been taking part in a visual survey documenting road hazards for cyclists in Los Angeles.

That translates into riding my bike around and taking pictures of the shitty roads crisscrossing our fair city.

I don’t understand when and why Los Angeles county decided that having usable roads was near the bottom of the priority list, but cycling here can be an adventure.

There’s a choice if one is going to commute by bike – road tires or fat knobby mountain tires? There are advantages to both. The road tires, which is what I ride on, roll easier so you can go further, faster with less effort, but the fat tires can roll over the city’s plentiful potholes with less of the breaking and crashing.

I like the lower rolling resistance of the road tires – I made my choice, and I’m happy with it, but I do have to worry more about pavement than do the mountain bikers.

Today, as I was riding home from the garden, I spotted this:

P1040305

And this:

P1040307

And this:

P1040309

Oh, and this:

P1040313

And last but not least, this beauty:

P1040318

These are not so much potholes as they are small canyons. All of them on the same 2 mile stretch of road in the glamorous metropolis of Beverly Hills.

I’m not even sure a mountain bike could roll over those top two, and while I can roll over the last one I’m not sure I’d be able to keep all of my fillings in my head.

So what I have to do – since this stretch of road has no sidewalks – is veer out around the potholes into the path of the luxury SUV driven by the guy talking on the cellphone and simmering road rage.

There’s a residential street just north which has better pavement, but since there’s a stop sign every block it’s slow and frustrating.

Happily, though, the roadway is due for a reconstruction project which will mean a complete repaving (not just shitty asphalt patches), and there seems to be support for bike lane striping.

This is especially wonderful news since Beverly Hills has historically been, um, resistant to bike lane striping (and bike racks, and people on bicycles), even though the city’s streets are wide enough to accommodate bike lanes without giving up traffic lanes or parking (both are legitimate concerns for motorists).

But of course, the consultants hired recommended some weird mixed use travel lane which will just put cyclists and other undesirables in a center lane and right in the path of angry drivers.

But until whatever happens happens, I’ll still marvel at the crappiness of the street right in the middle of Beverly Hills.

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, rants, , , , , , , , , ,

The Big Yellow Joint* lands in Beverly Hills

As a promo for the new episodes of Arrested Development, Netflix has sent the Bluth Banana Stand on tour.

After missing the first two days (The Grove and somewhere in Culver City) due to not checking twitter upon rising in the morning, today I logged on first thing and found the location: The Paley Center in Beverly Hills.

Sweet. The Paley Center is super cool (and they were screening the entire series in the theater) and is, as a bonus, on the way to the garden.

Workin' it

This location featured a Never Nude convention.

Cutest Never Nude ever

Never Nudes

The security guard handed out stickers and greeted each person with “hello, Mr. Manager!” regardless of gender. Sweet.

Movin' up in the world!

As I’d so desperately hoped, they were giving out actual frozen bananas.

Bluth Frozen Banana

I thought about getting in line again to get another one (to save), but then I realized it would melt before I got home so I went inside and watched a couple of episodes and then went to the garden.

My grapevine’s making grapes. They’d be bigger if I ever fed or watered the thing, but since the birds get most of the grapes I don’t see the point.

Baby Grapes

* The Big Yellow Joint

Filed under: life in LA, Los Angeles, Non-Work, Off-Topic, Photos, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Random midweek holiday photos

Equal opportunity holiday decorations at the Grove:

Equal opportunity holiday decorations

And I’m not sure which one cracks me up more – the chandeliers in boxes or the palm trees wrapped in decorative lights:

Christmas decor in Beverly Hills

Hmmm… Chandeliers win. By a nose.

Filed under: camera, Nikon, Photos, , , , ,

Doughnuts and sticker shock

My weekend started early. 7:15 Saturday morning, to be exact – which is when I had to be at the MRI place in Beverly Hills.

Perhaps I’ve just got the Simpsons movie on the brain, but an MRI machine looks a lot like a giant doughnut.

I’m serious.

It’s round with a hole in the center, and the patient lies on a stretcher which slides into the center of the doughnut. I didn’t go all the way in, so I sort of felt like a misplaced sprinkle.

We use MRI machines as set dressing sometimes, so although I’ve seen them before, I’ve never heard one before. An MRI makes a really loud buzzing noise that sounds like the airlock alarms in a bad 60’s sci-fi movie, and it keeps buzzing for most of the time that you’re in there. Good thing the tech gave me some earplugs – but if I ever have to have another MRI, I’m bringing a pair of those noise canceling headphones that are given out out on set when they’re using machine guns.

Also, after reading pages and pages of strongly worded warnings about removing all metal from my body to avoid dire yet unspecified consequences, I didn’t go far enough into the machine to even need to take off my pants (metal zipper) or bra (metal underwire).

Talk about anti-climactic.

After my MRI, my main mission of the day was to buy a new hairdryer.

When I was drying my hair Friday night, my hairdryer made an awful grinding noise and smoke came out of the back end. Luckily, I was able to put my years of experience with electrical power to work and quickly deduced that it was somehow fucked up and I would need to replace it. I figured this would take about 10 minutes – waltz into Target, pick out a hairdryer, then go home and watch the cat do battle with the packaging.

Wrong.

The problem is that I live in a building which was constructed in the early 1920’s – a time when folks didn’t have that many electrical things, so 100 amps of power for an entire 2 bedroom house was seen as more than enough.

Note: If you have a house that’s been built in the last 10 or 15 years, you probably have close to 100 amps of power just for your kitchen.

So when I stood in the hair dryer aisle at Target and perused the selection – every single hair dryer there was 1875 watts (or higher – one of them was 1900 watts).

That’s fucking insane. That’s almost two thousand watts*. That eats my entire bathroom circuit, especially if I want to, say, have a light on while I dry my hair.

So I tried the discount beauty emporium next door to Target, and was confronted with the exact same thing – nothing under 1875 watts. I asked the salesperson if she knew of anywhere to buy a lower-wattage hair dryer and she looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “Why? More is better, right?”

Not for me and my old, crappy wiring, it’s not.

After looking around for a couple of hours seeing nothing but dryers I couldn’t use, I finally found a 1200 watt model in a “premium” beauty supply store in nearby Larchmont Village – for the low, low price of 100 bucks.

That’s right – A fucking C-note for a hairdryer.

I must have looked shocked because the saleslady started into some pitch about some mineral in the dryer that would make my hair extra fabulous and then people would love me (or something), but what I was thinking about was that she really had me over a barrel.

I could spent four weeks looking for a dryer on Craig’s list and probably not find one under 1800 watts (which I’m to understand has been the norm for a while), or if I did I’d have to drive out to east bumfuck and wade my way through a sea of ravenous pit bulls only to find out that the owner didn’t read the wattage correctly and I couldn’t use the dryer anyway, or I could just suck it the fuck up and buy the one that was so expensive it was giving me hives just thinking about it.

Turns out, this particular beauty supply store has a 15 day return policy, so if I don’t like the dryer (or can find a cheap one somewhere else within that time frame), I can return it for a full refund.

Since I doubt I’m going to find one (although I’m looking), this thing better get my hair really fucking dry.

* The highest-wattage lamp that we use which can plug into a normal household plug is 2,000 watts. These lamps are notorious for popping breakers and blowing fuses when they’re plugged into the wall on locations.

Most household circuits are two thousand watts each – the exceptions being the bigger 3,000 watt circuits designed for the fridge and the clothes dryer. You can spot appliances that use more than 2,000 watts – they’ll have a funny-looking plug on them that won’t plug into a regular receptacle.

Filed under: life in LA, Non-Work, Off-Topic, rants, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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