Secret Pop

Oct 4, 2001

Unmentioned but not unworthy of mention

This has been one of the busiest and most interesting weeks in my life, and yet I haven't set aside a spare moment to document a bit of it. It's a shame. Even with a memory like mine -- a memory that sometimes prompts folks to wonder if I'm some sort of genetically-engineered freak created in a laboratory deep in the bowels of the Ozark Mountains -- I will inevitably forget the little bits and pieces of this time. And that's a shame.

I just started a new job. And I am moving to Los Angeles. I'm in a sort of residence limbo at the moment, but I will be moved eventually and will begin a life in a new city. It's the first time I've ever picked up and moved off on my own. With the exception of college, and that doesn't really count. I will have no preordained social system on which to fall back. I'm really on my own this time. It's scary.

I'm in love with the stretch of Los Angeles that I see on a daily basis. I rue the obligation of getting to the office, wanting instead to be able to pull my car over and take pictures of charming old buildings and kitschy mid-century advertising. I drove past something I have so far been unable to identify (the number of huge hangar-like warehouse structures and RVs makes me think it's a studio of some sort), and there were two Japanese girls taking pictures of each other in front of a fountain, and the sun was shining, and the sky was clear, and I so wanted to hop out of my car and be doing the very same thing. It's nice to be moved to want such things. I have become so accustomed to passing my drive time on the phone. For the first time in a long time, I actually want to drive through town quietly, just taking stock of things.

Today, I was jaywalking from the parking structure to my office building, and a few cars were kind enough to not mow me down. A very cheerful guy with a shock of dreads atop his head congratulated me on having stopped traffic today. "You look great!" he said. It made my guilt-ridden 10 A.M. stroll into the office far less stressful. And then I was relieved to find that I was still the first one in in my department. Little mercies.

Last night, I ate at the Apple Pan ("Quality Forever"). I was disappointed to find that it was really just a burger joint that has apple pie for dessert, as opposed to a purveyor of ridiculously-sized apple dishes. Giant apple pancakes. Apple pan dowdy. Apple brown betty. That sort of thing. But I'm glad I know that now, and I'm glad I found it out by actually parking it on one of the highly sought-after stools at the counter and ordering from the brief menu. If you're wanting recommendations, I had a hickory burger and fries, and they served my Coke in a little white plastic cone cup perched in a red plastic base. The fries were yummy.

There's a bakery in Beverlywood that I drive past in the morning that proclaims it's "Famous for Quality." I always find this sort of marketing amusing. There's also a store with a giant lightbulb in front and a Chinese and kabob restaurant that smelled impossibly delicious when I stood outside taking pictures of the sign. Granted, I fully intended to make fun of the vision of this restaurant, but I'm now on a quest to eat there and find out what on earth could possibly smell so good. And there's the enormous toothpaste tube, squirting out the word "Katz" (of "Katz Dentistry") in thick white cursive letters. It sometimes makes me wish there was even more traffic to slow down my drive. People who actually live in L.A. and have to drive any distance at all to work hate me for saying things like that. I imagine one day soon the wonder might not be so pronounced, but I'm savoring every bit of it right now and am not anxious for it to dissipate. I don't want to have lived in this city for three years and find that I've never been to the places people travel great distances to visit. I'm going to exploit my new zip code in grand fashion. Even if that means buying my groceries at a non-union market. I'm dubious about the possibility of any notable experiences taking place in a Ralph's.

Today, if all goes as planned, I think I will go spend my lunch break at the La Brea Tarpits, breathing in sickly fumes and writing in my journal. It would be fine if one or both components of my activity imparted a transcendant high.

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