Returning to Los Angeles




Near Palms Springs or so, I wake up and look outside to see this windfarm. I’m amazed at our destructive innovation. Even this way of collecting clean energy corrupted this landscape against red mountains.

We pass through orange groves, and I think about structured rows and equal distribution of energy. In the jungle, in true nature, there are no farmer’s hands guiding our survival, only competition and natural selection. We’re clever to have gotten this far, to no longer be affected by such factors as uncertainty and low yield.

~~~ 

The Sunset Limited arrives in Los Angeles on a cool morning. Union Station is busy, as expected, and full of weirdos. A shoeless woman talks to herself: “You a lie, ho.”

I’m expecting a lengthy layover, so a friend picks up me for brunch at Basix in West Hollywood. Around 11 am, my girlfriend arrives from San Diego, via Amtrak as well. She’ll join me for the rest of trip north and east.

Our first stop is Las Vegas, or so we plan. Because there are no trains going to Las Vegas, we have to take a Greyhound bus, contracted by Amtrak. Along with 10 other passengers, we wait. And wait. And wait.

Three hours later, still no bus. We are told several different stories: the bus was searched in Fresno for a possible bomb threat. (Coincidentally, there had been a fatal Greyhound accident just two days ago.) Another story involves a fire. A third story seems more plausible: it broke down.

The bus coordinator, a short Hispanic man seems to be on our side at first. After hours of our complaining and waiting, he tells us that a van can take us over to the Greyhound terminal, from which our bus to Las Vegas will depart. Some passengers are willing to do that, but I am immediately suspicious. I say to the other passengers: “He just wants to get rid of us. I’m staying.” Other passengers agree: “How do we know they’ll honor these tickets from Amtrak?” The bus coordinator gives us no answers.

We are irate around the 4th hour. It would take 6 hours to get to Las Vegas, and by then, we will have missed our first of two nights there. It was pointless to go because we would be there for one night, then get right back on a bus to Bakersfield, and finally to Oakland. Our hotel reservations were non-refundable, too.

The bus coordinator offers us only 1 night of a hotel at Metro Plaza Hotel, across from Union Station. It was ok, except the second night cost us $100. (We could not leave any earlier because our itinerary was set for us to arrive in Oakland, CA on July 25th.)

Although this is an unexpected stay in Los Angeles, we enjoy it. I’d lived here for several months, in Culver City, when I first arrived from the Philippines. LA is not one of my favorite cities; it’s a visceral dislike that I cannot explain. It could be, too, that an ex of mine is moving here, so I want to avoid it.

We go to Truck Stop at Here Lounge that night with my LA friend and her girls. We bypass the line and get in quickly. The wet dancing girls on the bar did not disappoint, but it was ridiculously packed. I am told that there are really only two places on West Hollywood for lesbians. As big as this city is, why is that the case? If I were an entrepreneur with proclivities for nightclubs, I’d definitely fill the need. Alas, I’m much too deep in academia for such a change.

Later, we go to a karaoke bar, and I try soju for the first time. It was mixed with orange juice and deceptively sweet.

The next day, we head to a Mexican market across the street and find La Noche Buena, which has the most amazing, moist, well-seasoned fish tacos. If I return to this city, I will find this place again.


Afterward, we grab some churros from Mr. Churros, who overcharges us because I asked for it in English. The previous costumer received 4 for $4, while I paid $2 for 1. I decide to let it go, and we walk to an art gallery at la Instituto Cultural Mexicano, which was showcasing artwork on The Chicano Moratorium.


We take the subway, which is so clean, compared to NYC or Chicago, that I get an eerie feeling. The white security guard approaches us: “Where are you gals from?” and not in a friendly way. He was looking for information. We head to the Walk of Fame and do the usual tourist things.

Taking the subway back, we get a glimpse of the racial tension here.

A drunken Mexican is shouting: “This is our countreeeee!”

“No, you’re immigrants,” says a Caucasian male.

“We’re all immigrants,” says someone else.


Later that night, we see Inception at the Regal on Olympic. I’d like to see Los Angeles again, at another time. I can’t say I miss it, but it was a good visit.

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