L.A. Confidential

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I just got back from a lovely five-day trip to Los Angeles. Some highlights:

  • My roommate, who was kind enough to do most of the driving, was honked at/flipped off by California motorists six times. I counted.
  • On a whim, we decided to spend one night at the Hotel Queen Mary in Long Beach (the ship was bought by the city after it was decomissioned in the '60s). I got the feeling we were two of, like, 12 people inhabiting the entire establishment. The pixyish woman who checked us in at the front desk was odd in a dorky/sarcastic way. (My roommate said he hoped her strange behavior could be explained by drug use, because otherwise, she was just plain weird.) Other employees at the hotel were across-the-board rude. I asked the woman at the front desk when the lounge closed. She acted like that was the strangest question she had ever heard (a reaction we got whenever we asked about something) and said that it "should" close at 11 p.m. Well, the sullen guy at the bar flatly refused to serve us at 10:20 p.m, which pissed my roommate and me off. While we were being turned away, I noticed the storage closet behind the bar had what looked to be a pin-up calendar adorning the wall. It was something you'd expect to see in a car shop or some pimply-faced teenager's bedroom--real professional, guys. The only nice person at the hotel was a gentleman whom I guessed was a valet. He offered my roommate and me a complimentary newspaper as we were leaving, and we wanted to recommend him for a raise. So, yeah, taking into account the subpar service and the fact that the Hotel Queen Mary is about as authentic as Tombstone, I won't be setting sail on their sucky ship ever again.
  • A word to the wise: An order of pancakes at The Griddle Cafe, 7916 Sunset Blvd., is meant to be shared by two or more people. My roommate and I got separate orders and were shocked by the mountain of food that came our way. Our waitress, who smirked when we told her what we wanted, shared with us that she was forbidden by management from warning about the portions. The pancakes were good, though--even if I could only finish about a quarter of them.
  • It's nice to know the kids who give tours to prospective students at UCLA are just as perky, loud and obnoxious as the ones at the University of Arizona. My roommate, who was admitted to UCLA as a Ph.D. student, had to meet with faculty members, so I sat by a fountain and read while he did that. Various tour groups, full of wide-eyed high school kids, paraded by, and I repeatedly heard about the rivalry between UCLA and USC. Did you know some dastardly USC students put red food coloring and detergent in the fountain one day, causing pink suds to inundate the courtyard in which I was sitting? I repeatedly gathered it was quite the scene, with professors running out of their offices, flailing their arms. One tour guide volunteered that he spends the vast majority of his time at UCLA hating USC, instead of, you know, learning. The grating, overly chummy way in which he was talking to parents and propsective students alike would have turned me off to the university right then and there. As it was, listening to all that chirpy cheerleading practically made my ears bleed.
  • Amoeba Music always rocks.
  • I complain about Tucson traffic all the time, with the constant stopping and going and all the elderlies who are unable to break the 25-mph barrier. But, man, was the trip home from L.A. pure hell. The traffic in Southern California added two hours to our drive. By the time we got home, at well after midnight, I thought for sure I was suffering from deep-vein thrombosis. So be thankful for what you have, Tucsonans; traffic is killing L.A.

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