Why? Because of the yarmulke.

Let me back up a few days.

Perhaps I mentioned that the dishwasher gave me an EO error. I think that’s what it said; it was a few weeks ago. Googled it, expecting to learn that a fragment of a frame of an awful Michael Jackson / Disney collaboration was stuck in the grinder. It meant that the drain was clogged. I grunted much under the cabinet, clearing lines, snaking hoses, and it worked for 37 minutes, then gave me the EO again, like Wicked-Witch guards. OH EO. The EEEEOh.

You know, I never thought I’d get a hug from someone who knew the Wicked Witch. But that’s another story.

As the days went on I became accustomed to opening the dishwasher after it shut down with an EO, and starting it up; seemed to work. Then it made a sound as if it was gargling thumbtacks. The sound grew worse. I called the repair company, and on Thursday a repairman arrived.

He was not happy about anything, especially the standing water in the dishwasher.

“Stinky water,” he said. Three times. So I knew. Just so I knew. He got out a stool and a turkey baster to remove the water, and if there’s anything you like to see when the repairman’s on the clock, it’s a stool and a turkey baster. Every time I went downstairs to see how things were going I got a grim progress report, usually relating to the brand itself.

“People like LGs until they stop working. They should stick to TVs.”

Okay. I am SORRY I BOUGHT THIS BRAND. But when a repair guy complains about the difficulty involved, I tend to assume I’m being jobbed. If the repair guy says “just so you know, this unit’s wedged in real tight, and it’s hard to get out. See this part here? Normally I don’t have to take that off, but I had to. And the grinder is in the back, which is why I couldn’t go in through the washing wand, here. Boy, it’s always something!” Earnest can-do grin.

That’s what you want. You don’t want I hate this brand and the way it’s configured sucks and other mopey sulky suggestions that this is all your fault. Let me state for the record that I have never, ever, had an appliance repairman over who didn’t criticize my choice of appliance and indicate that he would’ve bought something else. And I’ve had three in the last three years: Fargin’ Fridge had the bleeping ice-machine actuator go teats up, and yeah, people like that Electrolux but when they go south it’s a nightmare. The control panel for the old Thermidor stove died, and yeah, people like them until the circuits short out and they can’t find the parts, sorry. (I found the parts in a minute on the internet.) It’s always MY FAULT something broke and they have to come and fix it.

Well. After three hours - at $95 per hour - he can’t find all the glass that’s making the noise. It might be back in the pump. Okay. And? Well, he’s going to call in a guy who knows this brand real well.

Because asking “what brand do you have” and sending someone who knew it intimately is not on the checklist of questions they give the operator. Well, the Specialist shows up, and he’s all grim business. At this point I am just a bystander, albeit one with a stake in the outcome, but it’s more like a friend's uncle watching his brother’s kid get a heart transplant. They pull a handful of polished glass nodules out of the pump, and place them on the counter as if My Shame Has Been Revealed, as if I fed the dishwasher yards of automotive safety glass for kicks and grins.

They’ve never seen this much glass.

I tell them that we have three glasses break recently, as far as I know, and each had a thick glass bottom. A tall Fiesta glass, a standard tumbler, and a special Enterprise 1701-D highball glass I got as a going-away present when I left the Washington DC bureau. It’s amusing to think that the sole survivor of that ceremony got demolished 19 years later by a dishwasher resulting in ruinous service charges, but that’s life.

Problem is, they say, there’s still glass in there. They can’t get to it without replacing the pump. It’s now six hours into the event. Grim faces all around. Total failure. I understand that this is not a standard service call, but if you’re telling me I’m on the hook for six hours of grunting and it’s not fixed, well, no.

But! Because I’m a long-standing customer of the repair plan, they’ll cut me a deal: only $340 to not fix the dishwasher. They’ll have to replace the pump, though. And there’s labor for that; takes at least 20 minutes to get the dishwasher out, so that’s 45 minutes in and out, and then there’s the time to install the pump.

How much is the pump? No one knows. It’s a mystery. Ballpark me! Six bucks? Four hundred. Can’t. The senior guy leaves, and the guy who was unhappy about the Stinky Water stands in the kitchen for 20 minutes trying to get a price. He calls around. No one knows. For all I know part A830fSNG5J has been superseded by part A830fSNG5H, and there’s a minor difference that makes swapping one for the other a questionable endeavor - the pump connect, for example, could be proprietary. You run into a different proprietary pump-connect and Katie BAR the FARGIN’ DOOR, because all bets are off.

I tell him to call me with a price when he gets it, which he does a half-hour later. It’s the surprisingly round price of $300. So, $340 not to fix it, $300 for the pump, and $190 for additional labor.


I call the Billing Department, and get a bored lady somewhere in Omaha. I say that I am disputing a charge, I realize that she doesn’t have the authority to adjust the bill, and I would like to speak to a manager. She says he will call me back.

The robot at the end of the call asks if I’d like to participate in a survey. OH yes. I answer the questions with care, because I don’t want the bored lady in Omaha to get dinged because I was unsatisfied; she did what she could. So my answers are UNHAPPY UNHAPPY UNHAPPY THRILLED BEYOND COMPARE UNHAPPY and so on.

The manager does not call me.

Next day. Manager calls me. He’s looked over the records. It seems I had a lot of glass. It seems this was a difficult call; the notes say the dishwasher was hard to get out.

I wanted to ask “anything about the stinky water?” but no. He notes that the techs had already adjusted the bill down, and here I kindly interrupt before this goes horribly wrong. I note that if he has my records in front of him he’ll note there were two calls on a fridge because the first one misdiagnosed the busted actuator, and two calls on the stove, with the customer supplying the control panel because the tech was unable to find the replacement - which I had secured with a simple web search. I understand that your policy is to require continuation of the service contract for 12 months after a repair, and even though the dishwasher is not in my service plan, does that apply here?

He said he would knock the service charge down to a hundred bucks, whereupon I said I would respond in good faith by not canceling my service, and would add a dishwasher to my plan.

You may say: why? Because of the yarmulke. Last week at Target I was stowing my purchases in the vehicle and realized I had not held up the 12-packs of Coke to be beeped. Two of them. I know for a fact that I’ve stowed my bags and forgotten about the 12-packs and put the cart back and driven away several times over the years. At the time I thought: we’re even. But I felt wrong about that thought: next time.

Well, the other night I was at Target, and the clerk was wearing a yarmulke, and the very presence of a item of religious observance lit up my conscience, and I held up the 12-packs and told him to beep them twice.

He looked at my cart; they know it’s not the number of 12-packs, but the individual flavors. Inventory and demographics wants to know what you buy. I explained that I had gotten away with two 12-packs the previous week.

A trainee was watching - a late-middle-aged woman, learning how to scan and bag. She said “well that’s nice of you!” and she meant it.

I said well, you get annoyed when the scanner makes a mistake, you ought to do the right thing when it’s your mistake. Thinking to myself: if my daughter had been with me the first day, I would have gone back. Don’t want to be a different person than the one I want to be for my daughter.

The guy with the yarmulke was more intent on showing her how to credit me five cents because I had my own bag.

Anyway, I was a pushy customer with the repair people, and they cut the bill to a nubbin, so yes, I’m going to make a pro-active statement to show good faith and give him a Positive Resolution instead of a red mark where the peeved-off customer quit for good. It ends well and everyone’s happy and I feel as if I’ve been a Good Person -

which lasts about 4 seconds, because I know that even if I changed from this service plan to another company, it’s all drawn from the same pool. The guy in the van looks at the paperwork, sees who he’s supposed to be working for, and puts on the jacket with the right logo.

In the end, the techs who showed up got paid. The enormous energy company that contracts out the repair work ate some cost but kept a customer. I got the satisfaction of knowing I argued down a bill.

It would be a happy ending except the dishwasher doesn’t work and I have to buy a new one. Other than that, it all worked out great.



Wonder what this is about?

Where is this? That's easy. See the overlang and the curved roof at 11 o'clock of the word "In"? Sure.

If you look closely, you can see an old sign . .

. . . now painted over.

If you pan down on the image you'll see even older ghost signs, revealed when the adjacent structure - present in the 1950 footage - was demolished. We move along:


Oh, I think we can find that quite easily.

These shots always make downtown LA look like a rival for New York or Chicago.

I know I'm compressing the story and Angelinos will roll their eyes, but still: I was amazed to discover that the old LA exists to this day. They just deserted it. Tore down the picturesque - i.e., falling down - residential section, moved the business district, let retail bleed off to the burbs, and let the old downtown just sit there, unused. Better than razing it, of course; that would be like taking apart the pyramids.

But what of the movie? Noir? I think so:

The bad guy is one of the most unnerving actors of the day, Hamilton Burger.

Okay, William Talman, but he'll always be Hamilton Burger. Interesting to note how he went over to the right side of the law in "Perry Mason" but stil played the heavy.

Every now and then, you see someone in a bit part, and wonder:

Linda Leighton, 1917 - 2005. She played several roles on . . . Perry Mason.


More downtown LA.

I've no idea - but why not leave something for the LA enthusiasts in the audiecne to tell me about?

The movie gives us nicely composed shots whenever it can; high-contrast shots give it the requisite noir feel:


And then there's this. The car's one thing - that's an amazing vehicle. The Beetle before there was the Beetle. But look at te background.



The other side of LA: miserable shacks. And oil wells.



You don't think of "The Oil Wells of Los Angeles" anymore. The Los Angeles City Oil Field - I'm assuming that's where this is - was discovered in 1890, and went on to produce half the state's oil. It's now residential except for one working derrick.

Anyway: the Wikipedia piece on the movie says the dancer-moll worked at a place called "Burly Q." No. It was the Bijou. The author mistakes what the tough guys called it.


As the crooks are winnowed down one by one, we get nice moments like this:



But of course the ringleader is the last to go, and brother,




Short movie. Short theme. Forty-five seconds that set the scene quite well.





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