Let Them Eat Starbucks


by James Killough

Global warming has left my former city of residence, London, sweltering in spring, and Los Angeles gloomy and chilly.  While Tuttle and I were driving back from the gym yesterday, he looked at the sky and sighed, “I feel so sorry for the homeless people.  They come out here for the good weather, and they get this.”

It was a Marie Antoinette moment that reminded me of the time my mother and I were walking back from a cinema in the dead of a New York winter, black slush seeping across the sidewalks.  Mum was clad crown to ankles in mink, so we walked over an area that was free of frozen guck whenever we could, which meant the subway grates.  A train passed beneath us, and a gust of warm air surged from the grates.  “Oh, how lovely!” she exclaimed.  “No wonder people like to sleep on these things!”  There’s an upside to everything when you’re in fur.

Those gusty subway grates really know how to fluff a girl. Kirsten Dunst flutters through Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette."

Today’s weather is markedly more like it should be in LA right now, with highs in the low paradise.  I was pondering the Marie Antoinettes in my life when a Hollywood schizo outside the CVS pharmacy on Cahuenga stopped me and said, “Excuse me, sir.  Do you know if it’s going to be May 21st?”

“It’s bound to be at some point,” I replied.

“So it’s the end of the world on May 21st?”

“Wouldn’t that be nice?”

“Praise the Lord!” he said.

“Praise Him!” I shot back.  No use disappointing my beloved schizos by getting into a theological debate when cigarettes awaited purchase.  Best just to agree.

Today was one of those pleasant days spent slogging through California State bureaucracy, when I was tempted to see how often I can say my favorite line in these circumstances: “Which part of ‘civil servant’ don’t you understand?  The civil, or the servant?”  I’m regrettably too polite to actually ever say that, but I mutter it a lot.

It started out in the morning at the Beverly Hills Superior Court House.  No, I wasn’t defending myself against a wicked landlord, or any other lawsuit.  I was trying to register a fictitious business name, a.k.a. a DBA.  I thought I might try this more recession-friendly route; it’s twenty-six dollars to do a DBA rather than spending a grand or so incorporating properly, which is what I usually do.  But a DBA/fictitious business name you have to do in person, rather than leaving it with your lawyer.

On the way over, Tuttle and I spotted a familiar female schizo who staked out the territory outside the Methodist Church on Highland and Franklin years ago and has made it her piece of street.  In her mid-sixties, she was dressed in leggings and a diaphanous mini-shirt, and was busy organizing her push cart.  “Oh, look,” remarked PFC’s very own style maven.  “She’s been doing long skirts for years now.  I guess hemlines are up this year.”

Just because you live in East Hampton doesn't mean you can't look homeless.

The barely civil servant at the Beverly Hills Court House told me that they don’t in fact do DBAs there, which my now-erstwhile bank manager had informed me with absolute authority they did.  This meant I had to go to Van Nuys, basically throwing myself halfway across California.  Okay, just halfway across the Valley, but still.

I am still carless in LA, and after ten months that arrangement is still working out quite well.  If I really need a car, which is rarely, I can rent one.  Otherwise, I work from home, so there is little point to having a car if you live in an area like the Hollywood entertainment district, which has great public transport.

For the car-deprived, getting to Van Nuys means taking the subway to North Hollywood and changing for something I’d never seen or tried before, the Orange Line bus, a super-sleek bendy bullet bus that runs along its own purpose-built roadway through the Valley so that it is unencumbered by traffic.

I have long since shed any embarrassment I once felt at taking public transport in LA, something that was inconceivable last time I lived here, in the late nineties/early naughties.  I now think that unless its absolutely necessary, like Tuttle having to drive to Beverly Hills every day from Hollywood for work, then you’re more the fool for having a car than not.  The savings is enormous, and there is no risk of ever getting a DUI, as a good friend of mine did following a bender one night with me.  He ended up paying thousands of dollars fighting the conviction, then had to attend whiny AA meetings and other state-imposed brainwashing, and to this day still has to breathe into a machine attached to the starter of his car and wait for three minutes while it checks his alcohol level and allows him to drive, seven months after he was pulled over.

A far cry from "Speed." The future is now with the Orange Line.

I was trying not to pay attention to the others on the bus, focusing instead on Blackberry Texas Hold ‘Em poker (I’m now worth over twelve million dollars, having lost thirty-one million when the system reset itself a month ago).  But it was hard to ignore that this was a particularly gargoyle-ish bunch of passengers.  I thought to myself, LA public transport really attracts the detritus of this city.  This is worse than usual.  They all look like mongoloids and retards.  This was, of course, a very un-PC thing for me to think, but as long as I wasn’t voicing it out loud like some Hollywood schizo, then I was safe being only inwardly a heartless monster.

I was particularly fascinated by a strangely seductive woman sitting opposite me with a long neck she seemed to have trouble keeping upright, festooned in dainty bling, with smudged smoky-eyed make-up, as if she’s been made up by one of the skany trollops from the Gatsby Beauty Salon in Jerseylicious.  She was muttering in Armenian to another rather freakish man with shoulders up around his ears seated beside her, who had tried to share her seat when they got on, until he understood that he was supposed to sit on the other side of the pole that separated their seats.  He was clearly smitten with her, and she cooed at him as if they were deeply in love.  Awww, I thought.  It takes all kinds, but they do find each other in the end.

At Woodman Station, all was explained: half the bus, which included the droopy long-necked Armenian bird with smoky eyes and dainty bling (she really looked decidedly avian, ostrich-like) and her muddled cohort, was deftly wrangled by three handlers, who hustled them off the bus to a special needs center across the street.  There I was thinking I’d been unkind to the public transport-riding populous of LA, when they literally really had been mongoloids and retards.  It turns out the super-sleek bullet Orange Line, the pride of the Valley, is really a short bus some Monday afternoons.

And lest anyone think I’m trying to get in on the Trig Palin/Wonkette retard controversy, I’m not.  I can’t afford to lose advertising on this blog I don’t already have.

Comments: 3

  • Jason Brooks April 26, 20112:13 pm

    Great window to your world as my life is filled with large SUV’s, pick up trucks pulling horses, sheep, and dairy cows. The vivid picture makes me want to visit and ride on public transportation.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Jason Brooks

    • James Killough April 26, 20112:22 pm

      Hey, Jason. Thanks for reading. I wouldn’t mind the farm life, trust me. Do you sell at a local farmer’s market here in LA?



  • oldancestor April 26, 20117:57 pm

    A special road just for public transport? That’s a cool idea. I hate being seen on a bus, but if I’ve got my own special road, the experience is more inviting.

    In New Jersey, we try to be like Europe, minus the good trains, scenery, architecture, and culture. I mean the one-lane roads that have to carry millions of cars every day. My 45-minute commute to a job that is about 11 miles away, thanks to using a highway that was put in before the American Revolution.

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