Sunday, June 11, 2006

Only A Nobody Walks In LA

The warning from my friend was unequivocal - do not make eye contact with anyone. Keep your head in your book and do not look up. The consequences of failing to heed this advice can be dire - a crazy will interpret your gaze, no matter how brief, as an invitation to exchange views on the world and you will be drawn into endless discussions about nothing.

While this advice has gotten me quite far in Howard Zinn's "A People's History Of The United States", I also got on the wrong train the other day because I wasn't paying attention to the stops. Doh! That cost me at least half an hour.

I live in an area of Los Angeles known as the South Bay, which is a utopian, beach-side suburban bubble of middle class SUV drivers who take their cafe lattes with nonfat milk and run on the beach pushing strollers every morning. Work, however, recently was relocated to Mars and the traffic between Mars and the South Bay is horrendous.

So, when my job told me they were relocating to Mars and invited me to come back now that we have shows in production again, I had two choices - find a way to take public transportation or find another job. This was a tough choice, however, as I am a native of this beautiful, yet insane, city and we natives undergo strict indoctrination about the disgrace of taking public transportation. As part of the indoctrination program, the 80's band Missing Persons sang the timeless classic "Walking In LA", the chorus of which goes

Walking in LA
Walking in LA
Only a Nobody Walks In LA

I had lengthy discussions with friends. Consulted maps. Checked the timetables. Weighed the costs. And found three compelling reasons to fight the indoctrination. 1) I hate traffic. 2) I am a cheapskate and 3) I refuse to fund another $600 million retirement for Exxon Mobil's CEO.

So I am a nobody now. I take the train and a bus or two to get to work and I love it. For an hour and some change (depending on which trains and buses I catch), I get to read, hide in a bubble and, if I can monitor the stops without making eye contact, have peace and quiet for myself. I show up to work relaxed and get home relaxed.

Although I mistakenly made eye contact with the chatterbug on the morning bus the other day and suffered through his endless babbling the entire ride to downtown LA, it reminded me of how isolating our cars are. If I went from my suburbia to work and back, I would never have occasion to encounter all sorts of people who do not live in my ivory tower; all the people for whom taking the bus is not a luxury, but a necessity because they can't afford to drive; the teenagers with their babies, the beggar duo who catch the redline with me in downtown and who switch up the stops at which they will spend their day "working"; the crazies who desperately need medical treatment.

The car is one of the most isolating inventions of modern times, second only to the computer. Try giving it up for a day. You would be amazed by how many people you meet; how many people look "scary" from afar and end up being polite and giving you a seat; how many kind people there are who share a laugh with you at the fact you got on the wrong train. We are all connected, for better or for worse, and if we are going to improve our society, it is time to reconnect to everyone whose fates are intimately intertwined with our own.

"You must be the change you want to see in the world."
Mahatma Gandhi


At 6:50 AM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger chad said...

Hey II,
Kudos to for shaking off the disgrace of public transportation. I have been reading an interesting book lately entitled Affluenza which you have probably already heard of. In case you have not, the authors describe how the epidemic of consumerism and pseudo-affluence took over the United States in the last century. (The book was written after the authors produced a PBS special of the same name.)
The long and short of it is: we have been condition by society, and society was conditioned by clever marketing for years to value things that are actually bad for us, but good for business. We value driving big gas-guzzling cars, living on 2 acre plots in 3000 sq ft homes, and we value endless trinkets (clothes, the a bigger flatter TV, etc). However, when you sit down and think about how much these things enhance your life you become aware that, you have been duped. As you have discovered, if more middle class Los Angelinos commuted on the trains, it would not only improve the air quality and the cost of fuel, but might improve the community, as people leave their lonely castles and armored attack vehicles. America sold out the village to seel more widgets and now were are reaping the rewards with a generation of cold self-absorbed disconnected citizens. Anyway, if you have not read the book, it's a must. I'll post on it before too long, and send you a link.
(I know I have been MIA, but I graduated from Dartmouth this weekend, so hopefully things improve from there.)

Embracing the bus,

At 7:41 AM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

Slightly off topic. "Eye contact with crazies". A story for you, from about 20 years ago.

My Mom and youngest sister (who was about 20 at the time) were in San Francisco doing some Christmas shopping. They were getting ready to cross the street. On the opposite side of the street was a Crazy! The Crazy was 6 feet plus, 200 pounds plus, and shouting gibberish. As my Sister and Mother crossed the street, my Mom briefly made eye contact with the crazy (big mistake). As my Mom reached the other side of the street she sensed a presence behind her, and turned just in time to see the Crazy release a punch leveled at her temple, and she fell to the cement from the blow, slipping her scalp open. For just a second, time appeared frozen. Spectators were in shock, the Crazy was screaming, and my sister, who is tall, strong, and athletic, jumps the wacko, and starts pummeling him. She is now screaming at the screamer as she pounds him. The sidewalk is packed with people, yet they all remain frozen, as my Mom bleeds on the sidewalk. The crazy decides to flee the scene, and my sister goes after him. She chases him a couple of blocks then realizes her Mother is "cold cocked" on the sidewalk. She runs back to my Mom, and finds some US Navy guys tending to her. She ends up with stiches, a black eye, and a slight concussion.

The next day, my Sister, Brother, and Dad spent hours driving around San Francisco looking for this guy. I don't know what would have happened if they had found him, but I think they would have extracted some revenge.

As an FYI, don't mess with my Sister. She's a bad ass.

Ten years later she was living in the Land Park area of Sacramento, having a cup of coffee early in the morning and spied two teenage youths peeking in the car window of a neighbors parked car. She sees them break the window and reach in and steal a purse. She immediately begins screaming at them and races out of the house in a t-shirt, and pajama bottoms and bare feet. The youths take off, and my brother-in-law runs out of the house thinking "what the hell", as he sees his wife racing down the street screaming at the robbers. The kids are scared shitless, and as she's gaining on them they drop the purse and keep running.

Moral of the story, "don't make eye contact with crazies, and don't phuck with my sister".

At 7:57 AM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

There is no public transportation where I live but people in the country are a bit offended if you don't say hello to strangers and avoid eye contact. The lack of anonymity makes for better behavior and even while driving, I usually have the top down so other drivers are looking at a person , not a box with blacked out windows.

Living urban - where your life is circumscribed by the hostility and insanity of others seems alien to me these days - as does the notion that 3000 square ft is a large dwelling or that 2 acres is a lot of land.

It's probably a flimsy argument, but living in cities sometimes seems the root of many of our problems. Long commutes, traffic congestion, criminals, crazies status seeking and bad air - I don't miss these things a bit.

At 1:13 PM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

I can attest that II lives in latte-drinking suburbia. I will NEVER drive to another event at II's house!! The traffic is so terrible on the freeway, and when you get off, the streets are no better.

I only live 4.5 miles from work, so I just drive, but I'd have no fear or problem with public transportation. I grew up taking the public buses to and from school, and I always enjoyed it. But I'm a big guy, so I guess I don't really worry about people trying to fight me too much.

The irony of life is that the more we accumulate, the more energy we have to spend keeping those accumulations in order. Gandhi owned nothing, but was probably 1000x happier than Trump. Feck all this material stuff. I can't stand it.

At 1:31 PM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Chad - Nice to have you back and congrats on graduating. I hope this means you are back in the blogosphere to share your wisdom. Never heard of the book until your brother mentioned that you have been really taken by it. On your recommendation, I will definitely pick it up and please write a review for everyone.

Mr. Sleep -

I like your sister already. A little fire is a good thing. Your sister sounds like my sister. Her friend got mugged in Spain and my sister chased the guy and beat his ass to get the purse back. My dad didn't have boys, so he raised my sister and I as if he did. No such thing as backing down from a fight.

Captain - 3,000 square feet isn't a big house? Is your part of Florida peppered with mansions?


You better come to the next event! Although I completely understand about the horrific traffic. We have to find you a new route. :-)

At 2:02 PM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

II, my sister is an aspiring triathelete at the age of 45.

My commute today is 28.8 miles and takes 30 minutes. I could telecommute but miss the social aspect of work. My wife commutes 55 miles each way, and spend 150 minutes on the road daily. Gas prices are taking a big bite out of our cash flow. We live in a bucolic area, on 3 acres, vineyard, etc. We have discussed moving, but don't want to pay double the property taxes we are paying today. Plus our home has great local views, and has many, many natural trees. It so happens our house IS 3000 square feet. The wine cellar I'm building will add another 200 square feet.

At 2:23 PM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger Intellectual Insurgent said...

Your wife commutes 110 miles. Ouch. There aren't any trains or jobs closer to home? BART isn't in your parts? That has to be brutal for so many reasons.

At 3:52 PM, June 12, 2006 , Blogger mrsleep said...

No BART. We live near Auburn, she works in Woodland. I've tried to get her to change jobs, but she really likes the people she works with. There really is no workable public transportation solution for her. She puts about 35000 miles a year on her car, probably a bit more than that. I tell her she has to make the car last 5 years, that's a LOT of miles to put on a car before we bury it. I'm trying to talk her into getting a VW Diesel Jetta or a hybrid for her next car. We need something that gets better than 35 miles a gallon. The Jetta Diesel gets 45+, plus a lot less engine maintenance. She has a mini SUV now that gets maybe 22 miles a gallon, but she loves it. I chose not to fight it last time, but gas prices will force the issue this time.

At 9:10 AM, June 13, 2006 , Blogger Hillary For President said...

If we relly wnat improve are society, all we need do is elect a lady hillary clinton for president.

that is all.

At 10:36 AM, June 13, 2006 , Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

That's the joy of living in the country - space, peace and clean air.

Here along the coast, 10,000 feet is a mansion - and just barely. but they don't sell land by the square inch as in California

At 12:39 PM, June 13, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

In order to secure my attendance, you must provide transportation, and you must pledge not to verbally assault me to my wife (i.e., guzzle Haterade).

At 12:39 PM, June 13, 2006 , Blogger bombsoverbaghdad said...

In order to secure my attendance, you must provide transportation, and you must pledge not to verbally assault me to my wife (i.e., guzzle Haterade).

At 8:49 PM, June 13, 2006 , Blogger Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Nobody walks in LA.

Missing Persons, Terry Bozzio and singer Dale Bozzio embodied the truth about LA.

I was there but two weeks ago. And there will never be a substitute for cars.

And for any number of rational reasons, I will NEVER walk in Los Angeles. I would not EVER relinquish my body to the gangs or the crazies or the disaffected or the genetic mutants.

And only genetic mutants take public transit in LA.

Get the hell over it.


At 4:57 PM, June 15, 2006 , Blogger Stalin the Shark said...


Are you attracting Hillarybots?

Ick ick ick!

Here in NYC, nobody uses cars; it's a dead giveaway of suburban status. Besides, public transportation is usually cheaper and faster; $2 gets you from the Bronx to JFK in less time (and more comfort) than a car.

:-), StS

At 10:16 PM, December 05, 2014 , Blogger oakleyses said...

polo ralph lauren, prada outlet, oakley vault, christian louboutin shoes, cheap oakley sunglasses, tory burch outlet online, true religion, michael kors outlet, coach outlet, prada handbags, michael kors outlet online, chanel handbags, louis vuitton outlet, tiffany jewelry, gucci handbags, burberry outlet online, kate spade outlet, michael kors outlet online, coach outlet store online, michael kors handbags, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet online, tiffany and co jewelry, longchamp outlet online, ray ban sunglasses, michael kors outlet store, louis vuitton, nike air max, longchamp outlet, red bottom shoes, true religion outlet, polo ralph lauren outlet, jordan shoes, michael kors outlet online, nike outlet, ray ban outlet, christian louboutin, nike free, nike air max, burberry outlet online, kate spade outlet online, louis vuitton outlet, coach outlet, longchamp handbags, louis vuitton handbags, coach purses, christian louboutin outlet

At 10:19 PM, December 05, 2014 , Blogger oakleyses said...

converse pas cher, nike roshe run, hermes pas cher, nike roshe, true religion outlet, ray ban pas cher, north face, nike air force, guess pas cher, mulberry, scarpe hogan, hollister, true religion jeans, ralph lauren pas cher, ralph lauren, sac michael kors, burberry pas cher, hollister, louis vuitton pas cher, michael kors uk, oakley pas cher, air max pas cher, nike free, michael kors canada, louis vuitton, nike air max, sac vanessa bruno, nike air max, chaussure louboutin, north face pas cher, vans pas cher, air jordan, nike blazer pas cher, longchamp pas cher, sac louis vuitton, louis vuitton uk, lululemon, tn pas cher, longchamp, air max, ray ban uk, lacoste pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, timberland, new balance pas cher, barbour, nike free pas cher

At 10:23 PM, December 05, 2014 , Blogger oakleyses said...

babyliss, new balance outlet, replica watches, vans outlet, mcm handbags, celine handbags, beats headphones, nike trainers, nfl jerseys, giuseppe zanotti, jimmy choo shoes, ugg boots, birkin bag, asics shoes, canada goose outlet, ferragamo shoes, insanity workout, nike huarache, chi flat iron, hollister, abercrombie and fitch, uggs outlet, north face jackets, north face jackets, mac cosmetics, soccer jerseys, canada goose outlet, uggs outlet, uggs on sale, bottega veneta, instyler ionic styler, ugg boots clearance, nike roshe, valentino shoes, lululemon outlet, ugg, marc jacobs outlet, ugg outlet, longchamp, ghd, reebok shoes, ugg soldes, p90x workout, soccer shoes, wedding dresses, mont blanc pens, herve leger, canada goose outlet, canada goose

At 10:28 PM, December 05, 2014 , Blogger oakleyses said...

ugg, gucci, canada goose, iphone 6 case, hollister canada, vans, canada goose, swarovski uk, pandora jewelry, air max, ray ban, pandora charms, moncler, timberland shoes, moncler outlet, moncler, canada goose, replica watches, louis vuitton canada, uggs canada, coach outlet, juicy couture outlet, converse shoes, thomas sabo uk, nike air max, juicy couture outlet, ralph lauren, hollister clothing, moncler, hollister, supra shoes, louboutin, toms outlet, oakley, canada goose pas cher, parajumpers outlet, moncler, wedding dress, baseball bats, converse, swarovski jewelry, links of london uk, lancel, moncler outlet, pandora uk, karen millen, moncler, montre femme

At 7:10 PM, September 23, 2015 , Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

ninest123 09.24
oakley sunglasses, tiffany jewelry, tory burch outlet, ray ban sunglasses, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin shoes, michael kors outlet, oakley sunglasses, burberry outlet online, michael kors outlet, replica watches, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, uggs on sale, oakley sunglasses, longchamp outlet, michael kors outlet, burberry, polo ralph lauren outlet, replica watches, michael kors outlet, christian louboutin outlet, oakley sunglasses, nike air max, gucci outlet, louis vuitton, michael kors outlet, ugg boots, tiffany and co, cheap oakley sunglasses, longchamp, longchamp outlet, prada outlet, ray ban sunglasses, louboutin outlet, prada handbags, ugg boots, nike air max, ugg boots, polo ralph lauren outlet, louis vuitton, louis vuitton outlet, ugg boots, nike outlet, michael kors, jordan shoes, louboutin

At 7:15 PM, September 23, 2015 , Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

burberry, new balance pas cher, michael kors, coach outlet, sac longchamp, true religion jeans, mulberry, oakley pas cher, ralph lauren pas cher, louboutin pas cher, ralph lauren uk, nike free run uk, north face, true religion jeans, michael kors, ray ban pas cher, true religion jeans, sac guess, nike air max, air jordan pas cher, vans pas cher, nike air max, nike free, tn pas cher, coach factory outlet, air max, coach purses, nike roshe run, chanel handbags, coach outlet, hollister pas cher, converse pas cher, abercrombie and fitch, north face, true religion outlet, nike blazer, hogan, kate spade outlet, hermes, longchamp pas cher, lululemon, nike air max, timberland, nike free, hollister, michael kors, michael kors, kate spade handbags, air force, ray ban uk, lacoste pas cher

At 7:17 PM, September 23, 2015 , Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

instyler, nike air max, oakley, ferragamo shoes, herve leger, jimmy choo shoes, nike huarache, giuseppe zanotti, celine handbags, mcm handbags, hollister, north face outlet, ray ban, beats by dre, hollister, converse outlet, vans shoes, nike roshe, hollister, soccer shoes, lancel, ralph lauren, louboutin, insanity workout, valentino shoes, new balance, wedding dresses, mont blanc, abercrombie and fitch, asics running shoes, reebok shoes, chi flat iron, longchamp, nike air max, nike trainers, north face outlet, converse, p90x workout, soccer jerseys, vans, timberland boots, mac cosmetics, lululemon, ghd, baseball bats, nfl jerseys, birkin bag, nike roshe, gucci, babyliss, iphone 6 cases, bottega veneta, vanessa bruno

At 7:20 PM, September 23, 2015 , Blogger ninest123 Ninest said...

pandora jewelry, marc jacobs, moncler outlet, coach outlet, canada goose, replica watches, bottes ugg, michael kors outlet online, canada goose, pandora charms, wedding dresses, ugg boots uk, doudoune canada goose, canada goose outlet, moncler, karen millen, louis vuitton, moncler, links of london, pandora jewelry, moncler, michael kors outlet, toms shoes, moncler, barbour, ugg pas cher, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, louis vuitton, supra shoes, swarovski crystal, juicy couture outlet, montre pas cher, thomas sabo, doke gabbana outlet, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, canada goose, louis vuitton, moncler, sac louis vuitton pas cher, canada goose outlet, swarovski, michael kors handbags, hollister, canada goose uk, juicy couture outlet, moncler, moncler, canada goose, louis vuitton, barbour jackets, pandora charms
ninest123 09.24


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home