LETTER FROM L.A.: Skid-dish; Runaway Hollywood; Naked Men on Bikes
copyright 2002, Jim Chevallier
our first rain in a while this weekend. In L.A., this is very scary.
of all, most Angelinos simply don’t know how to drive in the rain. Which is to
say, they drive the same way they would in our normal, 90% sunny weather. This
makes the already unnerving freeways truly terrifying. So any rain is a
good reason to take surface streets.
when it hasn’t rained for a while, you get to play Brake Roulette. Will your
brakes work this time? Place your bet. The reason being that all the dry
weather allows oil to accumulate on the roads. The first rain loosens this
lubricant enough to make it dangerous, but not enough to wash it way.
first explained this to me after I’d been driving down Laurel Canyon, which
peaks at Mulholland Drive and then descends steeply, and had hit my brakes
after rounding a curve and finding another car stopped up ahead of me. It had
rained recently, and I’d dimly noticed a large moist spot as I came around. The
opposite lane, coming up, was packed bumper-to-bumper with cars. As I braked,
my car immediately started to spin left - directly towards the driver of
another car. I realized later I must have been pumping the brakes, because
suddenly the car stopped – an inch away from the other driver’s door.
has certainly made me far more cautious on freeways and steep inclines. Still,
you’d think slow-moving traffic on a level surface street would be fine, no?
Apparently not. Last night, after listening to sickening near misses behind me
in a long slow line of traffic, I rounded a curve at about 15 mph and… veered
right into a barrier. Presumably placed where it was because I wasn’t the first
to lose control on that particular curve.
some fun events, a lot of people stayed home last night. Now I know why.
runaway production weren’t bad enough, now Hollywood wants to leave. Not to go
to Canada; just to get out of L.A.
other words, like the Valley, Hollywood now also has a secession movement. And
they had a big party at Arena Café, one of several nightclubs owned by Gene La Pietra, who is spearheading the
(If you saw “Austin Powers in Goldmember”, you’ve seen La Pietra’s
discos.) Lots of good food, though
those who got there late had to wait on a line a block-long to get it. Balloons
everywhere, including those dropped on the crowd later and those twisted into
dolphins, teddy bears, toys and anything else you requested by a tall young guy
whom I was about to tip until somebody told me he was a financial analyst! He
does this (brilliantly) as a hobby. The decent DJ set was interrupted by a raw
but energetic band and soon after the speeches started. La Pietra talked first
and longest, and then other candidates for local office introduced themselves.
point, La Pietra told the large crowd they were proof of the large-scale
support for his movement. But I suspect
that more were supporters of free food. At any rate, the anti-secession
demonstrators outside didn’t look very pumped either. Certainly not as pumped
as all those balloons…
that’s Hollywood and the Valley. Beverly Hills probably would secede as well,
if it weren’t already a separate city. So, who’s next? Venice? Another
secession or two, and we can call L.A. “The American Balkans”.
the acting world, you ask? Slow, slow, slow. Or so I keep hearing. My yoga
teacher did shoot an episode of “She Spies” recently, but she booked it a while
back. And one woman was lamenting that her boyfriend was doing (gasp!) theater because things were so slow.
a street fair on Venice’s colorful Abbot Kinney Boulevard included the usual
street fair suspects – funnel cake and lemonade stands, for instance -, its
unique character won out. Lots of galleries and craft stores were open, not to
mention numerous restaurants, including one selling white sangria. One
trendy furniture store had a rock band playing on a small loft, while a crowd
in its garden swilled beers. And I doubt you’ll see a bunch of naked men on
bikes at many other fairs.