Chaos Attraction

Ten Things I Don't Get About LA

2008-06-12, 4:12 p.m.

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So, Jess and I went into LA for the day.

1. We arrived at the train station about a half hour before the train was about to leave, and the lot was FULL before 8 a.m., and there was no nearby parking anywhere else. (Indeed, most of the lots we saw later were totally full.) So we ended up panicking and not finding a space until oh, 8:23 a.m. The train was leaving at 8:25. Suffice it to say, we did not have the time to buy tickets. I'm dumb and think that this is Amtrak (it isn't) and that you can buy a ticket on the train if you have to (not on this line, you can't), so it doesn't worry me too much when the conductor sees us running and waves us on.

Once on..."Got a ticket?"

"Um, no...parking blah blah OH CRAP."

He says we can retroactively buy a ticket when we get to LA. Very nice of him, especially since he pointed out, repeatedly, that it's a $400 fine for getting on the train without a ticket. He let someone else without a ticket on (we weren't the only ones with parking issues), gave them the $400 mention. Another guy, who I guess was a regular passenger, mentioned that he DID get the $400 fine ("so, when's your court date?"), from that conductor. Then the conductor tells us the story of how he caught some dude hiding in the bathroom in order to avoid paying...

Jess was totally scared by this and later was all, "I had to go to the bathroom, but I was NOT leaving that guy's sight."

2. We got off at Union Station, where we most definitely bought tickets retroactively. Incidentally, a train ticket from Laguna Niguel to LA costs less than me going from my town to freaking Martinez. Cheaper prices in SoCal? WTF?

3. Then we went down into the station and headed over to the Metro subway, where we bought more tickets, which were also suprisingly cheap. They have signs all over saying that you're on camera ("Don't worry, you look great.").

Now, I've been on BART a fair chunk of times. When you go in BART, you pay for a ticket, and before you go in to catch the train, you put the ticket through a machine. When you get off, you run the ticket through the machine again in order to get out, and it takes the money off the ticket then.

NO SUCH THING exists at the metro. Seriously. Nobody and no machine exists to check that you paid up at any point in time. I repeat: WTF? Yeah, supposedly Someone's Watching, but I didn't see any security guys about once you went into the metro, and do you think someone's going to come out if you don't buy one and still go into the subway? I wonder.

4. We got off in Hollywood, which I had never been to before despite all my previous trips to SoCal. It is...decidedly unimpressive, I'd say. We got off by Grauman's, which was prepping for some Warren Beatty tribute later on. Random people dressed like movie characters (2 Spider-Men, 3 Jack Sparrows and one Catwoman) were milling about. We saw the various people in cement. Most of them have very small feet.

5. At the nearby mall, they have a casting couch(!) statue at the back end of it, with a long winding path stemming off from it. There are various quotes written on this path related to Hollywood life, but none of them are attributed to whoever said them. They are all signed "Composer" and "Movie Star" and "Actor." Why the heck would they not use names here, of all the star-whoring places?

6. About every two or three stars you walk by on the sidewalk, someone is offering you a tour of the stars' homes.

I freak out on city streets. I am terrified every time a stranger starts talking to me (see below). Every time we got hit up, Jess would politely decline and I would get more and more wigged out.

I really hate walking down city streets.

7. Hollywood is kind of grotty and boring. We left and went back to the metrmo, where we promptly got assaulted by a homeless man. Of COURSE he's got the stringy hair and baseball cap, just like the homeless guy who grabbed me on the street in the town I live in once. (If you're a guy who always wears a baseball cap and are over 40, why must y'all act like creeps? I swear, I have way too many creepy old guy in baseball cap does something terrible to me stories.) He asks Jess for a quarter. She tells him she has no cash (true), politely, and he gets pissed off. I'm sure it didn't help that I was standing there slurping a drink. He made some crack about DNA and then blocked my way to the escalator. I actually shoved the guy and got on. Good for me. Thank gawd he didn't follow.

8. We went back to Union Station and had lunch at Olvera Street, which was much less crazy. Somehow every single craft booth there had the exact same items in it, except for the candy booth.

9. On the way to the train station, some woman was walking down the hall with her nipple pointing out of her top. Deliberately.

10. This time, we bought a ticket (you can't buy them more than 3 hours in advance or behind- wtf?) and showed up early to the train. AT NO POINT IN TIME DID ANYONE EVER CHECK US FOR A TICKET once we were on. The conductor walked through and told me to get my feet off the seat, but that was IT. Clearly THAT was more of a priority than collecting $400, checking to see if we had the legal right to be on the train. One last time: WTF?

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