"You drove that guy away,” said the wife to her husband as I picked up my gear to decamp. “You drive everyone away.”
This was at the iPad bar at the airport, and she was right. I willingly went over to sit by a crying baby than sit next to the fellow who used the iPad counter as a reason to watch loud music videos, serene in his lack of interest in anything but the sights on the screen and the tinny sound blasting out of the bottom.
Hey: if they didn’t want people to play whatever they want, they wouldn’t have put them out. Right? Right. And if they wanted to discourage people urinating on the carpet, they wouldn’t have made it so absorbent.
But. I love this airport. It’s one of the finest in the country, if not the best. I’m serious. It’s not the airports with the huge soaring atriums I recall, it’s the ones that made sense, immediately, and did not have a long concourse with sad little bars and sad little restaurants where sad clerks stand there waiting for someone to come up and order a pretzel. The airports that don’t seem as if they’re perpetually under construction. I remember when airports had nothing but HOST restaurants with horrible food and cigarette ash everywhere, and the new style repays your decision to show up a few hours in advance.
The Minneapolis airport has replaced most of the old boring parts with new seating and restaurants and bars, so even the end of the concourse feels like a destination. But look at this:
It’s 1977 all over again.
By the way, I was granted TSA Pre status, for no reason I can possibly imagine. It's great. You can keep your belt and shoes on, your liquids can be concealed, laptop doesn't have to be out. Just like it used to be. It's possible the reason I was granted the status was to give me a taste of life in Expedited Security, so I'll cough up $85 to ensure I need never experience the charnel-house horror of the regular line, with its stripping indignities and desperate clanging of bins on the table.
If so, it worked.
If you’re reading that, it’s a miracle! I usually write something in the airport, then think “Who the hell cares?” and take it out. But I love that sign.
After a flight with the Federally Allowed Maximum of screaming babies, I was in LA: cooler than expected. Light jacket weather. Like I care: i’s 71 degrees warmer than the place I left.
That’s the view from the balcony of the Marina Del Ray hotel, under renovation; when I laid down for a nap I realized that the one thing they haven’t gotten around to replacing are the elevators, which groan with apprehension every time they are summoned. Now off to Venice to meet people and have fun.
Fun it was, although I suppose I’ll know just how much fun I had after I get Facebook notifications telling me I’d be tagged in a picture. No one ever had to think about this before. No one got a postcard saying “A photograph of you arguing and drinking has been posted to the public square.” I can’t see where this is an improvement in any way.
It was all terribly witty and adult and civilized and sophisticated and one of the late-arriving guests TPd the trees in front of the house. SO, we're out front gathering up the bathroom tissue from the bushes and branches, and I'm thinking, this is quality toilet paper. It's like, 4-ply. I wonder if that's in the local ordinances in Venice. None of that cheap raspy Wal-Mart one-ply stuff.
After the party we were in that dangerous mood where the high spirits on the ride back combine to a sudden resolution to keep this magical night going! We ended up at a sports bar that had no customers at 12:30 on a Saturday night, which is generally regarded “a bad sign” in the hospitality trade.
Up the next morn, eventually; missed the free breakfast handed out to all because the hotel was under construction, and they had to Apologize for the Inconvenience by giving everyone unlimited quantities of institutional eggs, hard sausages, and limp pancakes coated with some sort of shellac that made the syrup run off and get all over the hard cold bacon, which may have been made from wood. That was my experience on Monday morning, when there was an actual Inconvenience for which they wished to Apologize: the workmen were jackhammering off the tile by the elevators, and every time a civilian came over they had to stop. Hard looks of frustraton: c'mon, in, out, up, down, make up your mind.
"Don't stop on my account!" I said, but I'm sure the state of California has many laws about jackhammering in the presence of someone who is not wearing a respirator and thick leather suit and a hardhat in case an errant chip shoots through their temple.
It’s not an old hotel. It was once a Marriot and then a Doubletree by Hilton, and now it’s a Singlewood by Marriot or a Treblebranch Suites or something I’m supposed to care about, bond with, get the app, sign up for Loyalty Rewards, and present my card at the desk t get 14% more fawning. What matters is comfort and silence. Not the name. The room was fine,but the elevators down the hall emitted particularly penetrating groan that seemed to soak through the entire floor. I was rooms away from the lifts, and heard them sigh and worry all day and all night. By the time I got used to it the jackhammers started.
On the morning I didn't have the free breakfast I wandered to a shopping center and had a breakfast bagel, whcih I ate with some doubt, since the sign outside said that the State of California had determined that this area had chemicals which could cause cancer. These signs are everywhere. They mean nothing to anyone. They've made Caifornians into a hardy breed: well, that's a risk I'll just have to take, then. Everyone in the bagel shop was looking at a glowing rectangle. I read the newspaper. I will never lose my preference for the printed page when dining; no matter how rich the options on your mobile device, it still feels like you're reading a cereal box.
Had a little time; walked north up a rather raw commercial road, the only pedestrians being scraggly dudes looking for change and people with haunted faces wearing six layers of clothing. On the other side of the street were some magnficent developments that faced the great Pacific, but the work required to cross the street seemed excessive. Technically there are crosswalks and technically there are pedestrian signals, but I gather it's bad form to actually use them.
In the afternoon the van came and off we went to USC for the Event. The Ricochet Podcast 200. . I love college campuses: old good architecture of the twenties and thirties, and the unmistakable bad architecture of the mid-late sixties and beyond.
You have your choice. You could have buildings with witty details:
Strangle stylized melanges:
Or things like this.
Ah, the old “emphasize the mass at the top of the structure” style, beloved by all who want things to gloomily loom overhead, sneering at the people who scuttle in to do their petty little chores. The row of arches on the top is particularly hilarious, as if architects felt guilty if they didn’t toss in something historical for old alma mater.
The gargoyles and grotesques are from 1926, which my hosts said was positively medieval in the terms of this young state.
I was intrigued by the VKC library, a dull brick thing inspired by the Soviet pavilion at the World’s Fair, named after a USC pres and enthusiastic culler of the lower orders:
A passionate supporter of eugenics (which he described as "the science of good birth") and related sterilization programs, von KleinSmid co-founded the Human Betterment Association. He argued that "The acceptance is even now upon us, and the application of the principles of Eugenics to organized society is one of the most important duties of the social scientist of the present generation.”
Well, such unfortunate things we can forgive these days, it seems. Here's the spiritually uplifting building:
The event: met lots of grand people and signed books - just delight to meet readers and listeners from waaay back. Look at this from my point of view: working alone, posting, just putting it up day after day year after year - and then you walk into a room on the other side of the country and THERE THEY ARE! The audience.
Filled the room; about 400 people. I did less MCing than I thought I would, but that was fine. Favorite moment was probably praising Pat for his great TV show, and apologizing for not phrasing that in the form of a question. (I think it said “it’s always that or come on down.”) Then to a Venice restaurant called: the Tasting Kitchen, where you submit to the Cook’s Will, and a series of things come out, and you sit there with an eager look on your face as the lineage and composition and raison d’être for the dish is explained, and then you start. First was a thimble of hot spicy tomato soup with a zingy substance on the lip of the container, and you couldn’t quite place it: Comet? Bon Ami? Nothing you’ve had before ever. You don’t know if you like it, so you have to try it again. I still don’t know if I liked it. Probably means I didn’t. But everything was interesting and most of it was incredibly delicious.
Back to the hotel and fond farewells and up to the room to hear elevator's lament. Got out the ironing board and did the shirt and pants for the next day. You may get a standing O in a glittering room on a balmy California night and then find yourself saying "this artisanally carved beet exceeds my expectations" but at the end of the night you want to get a jump on the day to come.
Also, you're wired, because it was just such a marvelous time.
UP TOO EARLY because the people in Minnesota texting me forgot to factor in the time difference. Having already ironed, I didn't have much to do. Ah: complimentary breakfast! This was when I discovered what it really was, and I was almost glad it didn't have French Toast. Buffet-line French Toast seems to curl in on itself, as if assuming a protective posture.
So now I’m on the plane heading home, editing pictures and preparing the Bleat for upload.The fellow next to me has no awareness of the space he is taking. His legs are in my domain. He has taken up the arm rest and expanded his meaty self a few inches into territory I claim, but do not occupy. He is reading Dan Brown.
The fingers of winter stabbed through cracks in the jetway and let you know just where you were and who was boss. I hate coming home in the winter from places where it wasn't, but I cannot complain. It's a wonderful life. Elevators and institutional eggs aside.
PS there was a Bleat yesterday, eventually. did it in advance and remembered I'd forgotten to upload it when I woke at 3 AM because the heater kicked on with great gusty noise. I could have gotten up and made sure it was there instead of remembering oh, yeah at the airport. Mea Culpa.
Updates on the right - More Richie Rich comic book. Work Blog between noon and one and Tumblr now and then! See you around.