I, Los Angeles

I’m finally home. Roughing it in the provinces (Chicago) has been hell on earth. The Asians here don’t skulk looking like outnumbered victims. Here they constitute a population. Walking across the USC campus for a cup of coffee (USC Arabesque architecture is a beautiful rip-off of UCLA’s), I saw that it’s Gender Studies Week — there will be a Trans-Asian panel this afternoon. Even the Trans-Asians here can speak. A guy just winked at me. I listen to the delightful babble of Spanish in the coffee shop. My half-breed cousin, Ali, who works at USC tells me that there will be a REMIX Celebration on campus to celebrate our first mixed race President. Oh well, at least they’re trying.

The flight over was bumpy. Weather in the midwest is predictably horrific. As the stewardess explained how to use the oxygen masks, I turned to the guy next to me and explained, “I am a like a child, so in the event of an emergency please fix the oxygen mask on your face first.” He laughed, “I’ll make sure mine is securely fastened before putting yours on.”

Los Angeles greeted me with a breath of warm air and two traffic jams between 9 and 10 PM. One, on Fairfax, we suspected of being due to a “flash anti Prop 8 rally.” How cute! I haven’t seen a flash protest in years! The swarming LAPD choppers and cars blocking Fairfax welcomed me back into the prickly embrace of sanctioned fascism as a way of life.

At Damianos (“Mr. Pizza”), the manager who used to berate the Eastern European waitresses he picked up from the dock (threatening them with INS) no longer worked there. Instead we got a Hispanic waitress running wild, with no discipline or fear of the authorities whatsoever. She was dressed in a Target bought Run DMC t-shirt and a princessy bow in her hair, which was fitting since she was a real little fucking princess. More interested in dishing up big bowls of spaghetti to Robert Forster at the table next to us, she kept bouncing along to tell us “don’t worry. I’ll be right with you.” After taking half an hour to pull my beer out of the refrigerator, she bounced up to tell me “don’t worry. Your beer will be up in a moment.” “This isn’t my worried face, honey. It’s my pissed off face.” The whole time I was fixed on watching Forster stuff mound after mound of spaghetti and meatballs into his mouth. It was mesmerizing. There’s a reason people make spaghetti at home — no one looks good eating it in public. I kept chastising Ali for turning around to look while I couldn’t stop giving him my grossed out look in the restaurant gloom. (Damianos has no lights other than an apparantly new set of green Christmas lights strung up). I’d been eager to get some pizza down my throat for the whole flight. When I mentioned it to the guy next to me, he asked “Who goes to LA for pizza?” I explained how disgusting I found Chicago deep dish pizza. He scoffed, saying that Chicago has the best pizza in the world. I asked him where a good place to get some would be, and he answered “I come from an Italian family. We make our own pizza.” “That’s great. Since you’re not in a position to make me some, I’ll settle for some LA thin crust.”

I’m happy here. As I finish writing this, now in Westwood, I return from racing to the car with quarters only to find the meter man fixing my meter and giving me a free two hours. Exuberantly, I shouted to a silver haired woman passing by, “It’s been ten years since I’ve been in LA. God, I’ve missed this place.” She joyously welcomed me back.

Right now the city is going through The Great Shakeup exercises — the biggest earthquake preparation activity in world history. Kids are going to school with bloody make up, and have been briefed on the degree of their injuries. The community is coming together with triage on every street corner. Last night, as I looked at the Hollywood sign and Griffith Obervatory from Ali’s window, he mentioned “There was a big fire up there, over by Griffith, a little while back. The view was spectacular.”

I acknowledge that this city is hell on earth, but I fit. I never want to leave. This place shocks me an with an electric feel. I especially don’t want to leave for SF tomorrow night, but I promised some friends that I’d come visit. Since they did me a few good turns once when I was a homeless man with three cats, I feel obliged not to renege. Tonight I’ll be heading off to Meltdown Comics. Hopefully, they’ll have a copy of The Loaded Bible, which I’ve wanted to grab for some time.

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6 Responses to “I, Los Angeles”

  1. Milla Says:

    wow, 10 years since you’ve been back? loser.

  2. darknessatnoon Says:

    I was back five years ago, but I almost OD’d on pills, so I barely remember it. I was told this morning that I was very charming at dinner with a well known political artist when I was last here, so that’s heartening at least. Even at death’s door, I remain a good conversationalist.

  3. Milla Says:

    OD’ing on pills? amateur.

  4. darknessatnoon Says:

    I know. You taught me so much, so I feel like I majorly failed you.

  5. Milla Says:

    but the remaining a good conversationalist part during a meltdown — now THAT is impressive.

  6. em Says:

    damiano: mister pizza – home of hardboiled egg pizza and midnight slip n slide — memories!! and on a late note, i think that the Obama song should be a remix of George Kranz’s Perfect Beats uber-club classic Din Da Da:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCcJl5aUYnQ(o-ba-ma)what do you think?

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