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.


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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You can never find one when you want one

My garden, while only about a mile from where I used to live, is currently 8 miles away.

Interestingly, it takes the exact same amount of time to drive as it does to bike, and since the bike doesn’t burn $4 a gallon gas I usually prefer to ride than drive.

But lately I’ve had this shoulder issue, and it seems to cycle (no pun intended) between ‘getting better’ and  ‘won’t this thing ever stop fucking hurting’.

Today’s physical therapy appointment wasn’t until noon, and since I’ve been in a ‘getting better’ phase, I decided to bike instead of drive. Hey, I’m unemployed and gas is expensive (for the US).

So I hopped on the bike and headed out. I swear I behaved – I didn’t lean on the handlebars and I stayed off of the drops. I got to the garden fine – no pain and I felt really good. I dumped my veggie scraps into my compost bin, watered the seedlings (leeks, rutabegas, parsnips, beets and celery that looks like it’s not going to come up), admired the out-of-control fava beans (looks like I’m in for another 50 lb harvest from my tiny plot), and weeded for a few minutes.

I then headed out as I needed to be at the PT place.

About a mile into the return trip, I started hurting. Bad.

I then, for the first time in my life, decided to do the sensible thing and catch a bus back home.

I found a bus stop and sat. And sat, and sat and sat.

With the clock ticking (can’t be late, don’t want to anger tiny Asian woman who is torturing me), I decided that I couldn’t wait any longer and started riding, figuring eventually a bus would catch up to me and then I could give my poor shoulder some rest.

Except no bus came. I kept looking over my shoulder, hoping I’d see something – anything. Any bus would do.

Nope. Nothing.

Normally, when I’m biking, I have to avoid being flattened by a bus approximately every five minutes, so the complete lack of buses just when I really needed one was maddening.

Every time I looked back and didn’t see a bus, I’d let loose with a torrent of language that would likely shock a sailor. At one traffic light, a police car pulled up beside me, and the nice officer asked me what the problem was.

“I’m hurting and need to catch a bus, but now I can’t find one.”

“So.. they’re just like cops, then?”

Yes, indeed. Just like cops. Only not on a frantic manhunt which involves several innocent drivers getting shot up.

I finally saw a bus two block from my apartment.


Filed under: cranky, humor, life in LA, Los Angeles, mishaps, Non-Work, , , , , , , , , , ,

Once removed

For the past couple of days, I’ve been obsessively watching the riots in England on the BBC live feed.

The only reason I can figure that I’m so obsessed with watching this is that when citywide, out-of-control rioting happened here, I was right in the middle of it and scared absolutely shitless for about a week.

What you can’t get on television is the smell of a city burning around you. It’s not a nice comforting campfire at night smell, it’s the acrid stench of building insulation, plastic goods and other assorted stuff that one really shouldn’t smell burning in a civilized society.

Looking out over the city, there was a thin band of daylight near the horizon, and the rest of the sky was pitch black with smoke. The Emergency Broadcast System had taken over the airwaves and the automated voice was begging people to stay at home and stay calm, but calm was difficult  as there seemed to be far more rioters than police.

Several people who lived downtown had come over to my place because it seemed safer and offered better access to the roads leading out-of-town, but at some point, we realized that two converging mobs had sealed us in and escape from the city was impossible.

So we sat in the living room, drinking cheap beer and watching the televised images of the city burning as the city burned around us.

One would think that I’d have been out with my camera getting the shots of my life (or at least a better TV), but there was something so dark and terrifying about an out-of-control mob that I didn’t dare leave the house after the first foray where I camera’d up, got a few shots and then narrowly escaped getting the crap beaten out of me (no, I don’t have the photos anymore. I was shooting for one of LA’s throwaway newspapers and turned my half roll of film in to the photo editor. Not only were they never published, but I never got the film back).

There’s been a lot of discussion on the web about guns – if they allowed them in the UK, then this wouldn’t happen, blah, blah, blah…

From an eyewitness perspective, I can assure you that even a heavily armed police force and a heavily armed citizenry did nothing to stop or even slow down the looting and burning.

Most of the TV coverage was shot from the safety of aircraft, except for this bit of journalism gold from LA news icon Bill Kurtis:

The only thing that really got the rioting under control was the military.

The National Guard and the Marines rolled down the streets and all of a sudden the darkness began to ebb.

So much so that we decided to break curfew and go have pizza at a place on Fairfax that, back then, was good enough to risk getting arrested for being out of the house after dark.

The restaurant was packed – mostly with people just as relieved as us to be finally getting out of the house, but there were also quite a few police officers taking a dinner break in full riot gear.

They were reasonably relaxed and chatting with us criminal curfew-breakers who crowded around them to sincerely thank them for at least trying to keep us safe and offering to buy them dinner.

As the riots tapered down and it became safe to go out again, there was a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking and blaming and mea culpa-ing but  it was a long, long time before life began to feel normal and the city hasn’t ever really been the same afterwards (although between the riots and Rampart we did get the ‘kinder gentler’ LAPD, which was a nice change from the ‘beat ’em all and ask questions down at the station’ LAPD).

I could do my own comparing, contrasting, and pontificating, but this is getting kind of long, so I’ll just leave with this:

I hope the rioting in the UK dies down quickly and everyone over there is okay.  Until then, I’ll be watching on the interwebz re-living my own past.

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

I’m feeling somewhat better now

I’ve had post-salmonella syndrome for the past week – not sick anymore, but not hungry at all and no energy to do anything. I worked two days, but luckily they were short days – one insert day and one day changing fluorescent tubes in an office building.

Today was the first day that I’ve actually had any energy (although I still kind of feel like there’s a rock in my stomach), so I had to cram everything into one day since I’m working tomorrow. I worked in the garden, got the car smogged, went to the gym and the grocery store, paid bills, and cleaned the kitchen.  Sort of.   Right now it looks like a messy kitchen and not  a science experiment gone horribly wrong, which I guess is an improvement.

Also, it took me forever to get home because there was a shooting on the next street over. Note: not the movie kind of shooting. The gun kind of shooting.
The entire  neighborhood was festooned with police tape and it took me what seemed like half an hour to convince the LAPD that I was a resident and should be let into my house.

As I was unloading the groceries, my neighbor rushed up to me and breathlessly announced that a guy had shot all his kids, but further questioning revealed an unreliable source, so I guess I’ll have to watch the news if I want to find out what really happened.

I’m exhausted now.

Were in not almost bedtime, I’d take a nap.

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

June 2023

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"If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better." -Anne Lamott

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