Here I am. But where the hell am I?
The sky is grey, I can’t see a single palm tree and the mess outside of the airport is something to behold. Hundreds of cars that don’t seem to know where they are going and yet they’re all trying to cut each other off at the same time.
I wonder how many hundred of thousands of writers, actors, directors, crews and other movie folks over the decades have stood here in this same spot and had the same thought that I’m having now. Maybe this is a huge mistake. But hey, you can’t judge a city by it’s airport.
So, towing all my worldly possessions behind me in my black suitcase, I find the Shuttle service that goes to my hotel on the other side of town. This is a feat in itself. No one seems to know who is going where, there’s a polyester uniformed, clipboard holding 5ft woman with 1ft of hair barking instructions into a walkie-talkie.
She takes my name tells me to stand over there and wait for the Hollywood bus. Over there has no sign and neither does the shuttle bus. If I hadn’t asked her, I’d have no idea how to get on the road. Already it’s all about who you know.
Finally the shuttle pulls up and I get on, along with a Japanese family and a black woman with the most multi colored braids I’ve ever seen. I don’t want to look like the kid from Yonkers, but man it’s hard not to stare. That hair! What does she do for a job?
But soon my head is filled with other thoughts. And not good ones. I look out the window as we drive along and I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever seen an uglier city than LA. I keep waiting for it get better.
Surely these stucco, hobby kit buildings are only near the airport? No, they go everywhere. Oh, the pollution does too. Still no palm trees. It’s raining. There’s a McDonald’s. And another. And another. And another fast food chain. And more Starbucks.
Everything at eye level is beige, drab, filthy, beat up or under arrest. And then there’s the people, or total lack of them. There are no pedestrians. None. It’s like Vanilla Sky empty.
I crane my neck to see the…the…the, I don’t know. The Harbor Bridge, The Statue of Liberty, The Eiffel Tower, The Mount Fuji. You know, the thing. The bit. The whatever up in the sky that you can see from everywhere and that everyone orients themselves by. But there’s nothing.
I settle back in my seat. Lucky I got a return ticket.
Then I notice that the black driver is listening to talk radio. Two white DJs are going on and on about the “immigration problem”, which I gather is an interchangeable term for “Mexican”.
DJ1: …if we just grant an amnesty to all illegals, well all that does is send a message to Mexico City that America is there for the taking.
DJ2: Absolutely, in fact, I think the people who should be most angry about this immigration problem is African-American men.
I thought the driver was going to throw the radio out the window after the first comment, but the second one I thought would be the final straw. Instead, he turns it up.
DJ2: Any job that a Mexican takes is one that should have gone to an African American man!
I’m amazed that you can actually say that on the radio here and not be arrested. I’m also amazed that the driver isn’t yelling all kinds of obscenities by now. Instead he points at the radio and at the top of his voice yells:
Driver: DAMN STRAIGHT! THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT!”
Maybe I should have taken the Blue Pill. I turn to the other people in the car. Multi colored weave just nods her head in agreement.
I turn to the Japanese family, they look as confused as I am. Thank God someone in this bus thinks this is crazy too. The mother leans over to me:
Mother: Excuse-u me, but, do you know where is Disneyland?
This town is weird, foreign, scary, a let down and held together with tape. Maybe you can judge a city by it’s airport.