April 2, 2008

Doing a little West Coast swing

Some observations from my first-ever trip to Los Angeles, the first stop on my two-city tour for work this week. Spent the weekend with a good friend from college, who was kind enough to play tour guide, and I've managed to see far more of the LA area than I had expected to. All in all, an excellent time.

- Why being nice to people matters: my seat assignment for my flight on Friday was waaaay in the back of the plane, on the window. Being somewhat taller than average, I tend to prefer the aisle because window seats usually have less foot-room on account of the curvature of the plane's fuselage. And exit row seats are always a good thing; but the seat-selection for exit rows, the computer said, would have to be handled at the departure gate. Not a promising sign, but I remained optimistic. At the gate, I inquired about a seat change, and was told that the flight was completely full, and there were no available seats, but the lady said she'd put in a request and we'd see what came up. Which sounded a lot to me like, "Don't hold your breath." But again, I remained optimistic.

Fast forward about twenty minutes, when the rest of that gate's staff arrived. The lady I had spoken to asked the arriving folks whether any of them had an extra pen, since she seemed to have left hers at her previous post. As it turned out, only one of them had a pen at all, so there was one pen available for three gate agents. Not an ideal situation, to be sure. I have my backpack with me, since that's what I use to carry my laptop, which has all of the supplies I used to take to class, including a plethora of pens. So grabbed one I hardly use, wandered over to the desk and handed it to her, saying,"And the best part is, I don't even want it back." She chuckled, said thanks, and I went back to my seat.

Another twenty minutes or so, and we're beginning the boarding process. They've already announced that first class is completely full, so there will be no upgrades, and we have a full flight, so the standby folks are SOL. But in the midst of all those announcements, the gate lady makes her way in my direction, holding a long slip of paper. A new boarding pass. Exit row. Aisle. Score. I'm not saying it was because I gave her the pen, but I'm not saying it wasn't, either.

- For some reason, United has decided that, rather than dividing the under-seat space evenly across the three seats in a row, the best approach would be to give the middle seat enough space to house a small third-world family, and the aisle and window each enough space for a business-sized envelope (standing on its edge), a thimble and a ball-point pen.

- Celebrity Sighting #1: Friday night in a small, relatively loud bar in Studio City whose name escapes me (I remember low, red lighting and a lot of noise, which narrows the list to roughly 4,556,533 bars in Los Angeles). Among the patrons, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who I recognize more as "that guy who looks like Robert Downey Jr's older brother" than for any of his acting work.

- Complain all you want about the drivers in the DC area, but compared to the drivers out here we are all extraordinarily thoughtful and considerate on the road. No wonder they shoot at each other. But then, if I had to deal with the 405 every day, I might be a little unhinged myself.

- Run, Fat Boy, Run is a very good movie, and the Cinemadome at the Arclight theater is an exceptional place to take in a film. It reminded me of the Uptown, in terms of the screen space, but it is a very modern, updated theater. As interested as I was/am in Grummann's Chinese Theater, I wasn't willing to suffer through Drillbit Taylor just to have the experience. I think I came out ahead here. Quick trivia on Fat Boy: co-written by Michael Ian Black, formerly of MTV's The State, and directed by David Schwimmer, of all people. And he does an excellent job. And let's be honest, you simply cannot go wrong with Simon Pegg. Hank Azaria doesn't hurt, either.

- I've seen more Italian sportscars here than I have anywhere else outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (yes, Milwaukee of all places. There was this little euro bar near where I stayed while I was there in 1998, and every night there were no fewer than seven high-end sportscars parked on that corner. Lamborghini, Ferrari, even Lotus were well-represented on that hundred-foot stretch of curb. We never understood it, but it was something to behold). Also, more than a few Bentley's and Rolls' out in normal traffic, driving to the mall.

- Celebrity(ish) Sighting #2: Santa Monica is a lovely place to walk around, between the Promenade, which has some exceptional street performers, and the Pier, which has some exceptional views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding beaches. In the Apple store on the Promenade I saw Amanda from that Tila Tequila reality show, A Shot at Love. Neither my friend nor her boyfriend knew who she was, but thanks to the internet-connected computers in the store I was able to enlighten(?) them. The site has switched to Season 2, so her bio is no longer up there. But I will say this: the makeup artists on that show were busy. Either that or she aged a helluva lot since that show ended. Possibly both.

- If you find yourself in Studio City, make your way to Sushi Dan. Trust me. Order the baked langostino roll. You will not be disappointed.

- Ditto for Duke's in Malibu, which offers the added extra bonus of a drive on the PCH. Sitting at lunch, looking at the ocean, watching dolphins go by. Yeah, that'll do. Plus, the food? Delicious.

- Celebrity Sighting #3: Vivian's Millenium Cafe, brunchtime. Order the banana pancakes. But get the regular order, because the large is just absurd (he said, having learned the hard way). But they're very, very good. Sitting about six feet away, just off the patio and doing a crossword puzzle, is Zach Levi. At one point, he disappears into the restaurant, grabs the coffee pot to refill his cup, then heads back to his table with it, offering refills to other patrons along the way.

- Petco Park in San Diego is a beautiful stadium, and an ideal place to take in a game. Our client decided to make an impromptu trip down for the Padres-Astros game Tuesday night, and I went along. We got there early, and wandered through the grounds and every level of the stadium. Great sight lines everywhere. Our client said that it's a very similar environment to the new Nationals stadium, actually. With the small exception of it being very chilly in San Diego that night, it was an excellent side trip to take, and we made very good time both getting there and getting back. And on top of it all, it was a pretty good game; we root-root-rooted for the home team, and they won. Like an idiot, however, I left my camera in my hotel, so we'll have to see how the cell-phone pictures come out.

- There is an endless supply of amazing views out here, to the point where you get oddly used to it. And it's hard to take pictures, since the panoramas far exceed the width of the camera lens. It's difficult to pick which part of the sweeping view you want to capture. I got a few good ones, though.

Next up is San Francisico, for the second (and much shorter) leg of the tour; I head home Friday. I won't have nearly the tourist-time I had in LA, but I do plan on seeing as much as I can fit in. I'll post some of the pictures once I get back home.


carrie m said...

it always pays to be nice to people. unless they're an asshole first, and then all bets are off.

have fun in SF - if you're a sushi fan and can expense out a dinner, try Ozumo. My favorite sushi ever, only behind Sushi Wabi in Chicago. Great drinks too! At Ozumo that is.

lemmonex said...

I really want sushi now...thanks.

And it impresses me to no end that you know Amanda. I loved that piece of trash show.

Arjewtino said...

When I went back to LA a year after moving to DC, I could not believe the disparity in driving styles. I was following my friend on the 101, me in my car and he in his, and he was clocking 80-85 while I felt like I was speeding at 65.

When we got to where we were going, he said, "What did they DO to you in DC?"

Lisa said...

I pretty much learned to drive at age 28 when my friend and I moved to San Diego. I almost threw up every time I had to get on the 5. But it made me a much better (or at any rate less fearful) merger than I would be otherwise.

I wish I were going to SF! Have fun!

Jo said...

You saw Chuck!!! I love Chuck.

WiB said...

Carrie - Sounds great, but unfortunately won't have time this trip. But it's possible I'll be back out here over the next few months, so I'll try to get there next time.

lemmonex - I'm glad it impresses someone. I was a little ashamed of it, myself. That show was something to behold, though. As was Amanda in 3-D, but not in a particularly good way.

Arj - the speed didn't bother me, as I drive too fast as it is. What bugged me were the multi-lane changes at full speed with no signal, that sort of thing.

The drive up from SD after the game was great, all the way up the 5, at a minimum speed of 80.

Lisa - The 5 going south to SD would have been a lot worse without HOV, which we could use. I can't imagine having to deal with all that crawling on a daily basis.

jo - I did. And I'm sure you do. And were he to meet you, he would undoubtedly love you back. Because really, how can you not? :)

Site Meter