City of dude’s shoulders

I ride the train to Los Angeles once a week now. It’s a good deal in a number of ways. It costs $17 round trip in pre-tax dollars. It’s less stressful and less wasteful than driving, and safer.

The train goes backstage in Southern California. The path goes through infrastructure, industry, and poverty. Huge warehouses stretch blocks in each direction. Hundreds of trucks fill acres of parking lots. Freight trains take a solid minute to go by at blurry speeds, dragging steel girders and tanks of plastic granules and stacked bulldozers and mysterious bumpy tarped plinths.

In one yard a crane holds up a locomotive while workers wrench on it from below. In another, a gigantic wooden beam three feet on a side stretches to the horizon. Huge junkyards hold crushed cubes of metal.

People live right up against the tracks and keep their style. One tiny house shows off a backyard entirely full of cactus. A pudgy Mexican dad floats in his pool as we roar by. Gang members argue next to an old Monte Carlo with a flat.

If you drive the freeway you see a million Dennys and gas stations and malls and orderly little suburban box homes.

Ride the rails and you’ll remember: Los Angeles isn’t tinseltown, it’s the biggest port on the West Coast and a Chicago’s worth of trains and trucks and warehouses and factories spewing steel and oil and toxic tanks and aircraft parts all over the world.

So this one’s for Commerce, California. Keep the hard hats on and pay your union dues, L.A. The people on the train see you, anyway.

Main Street Afternoon

Yesterday I found myself on Main Street in Huntington Beach at early dinner time, so I put all my change in a meter and went for a walk, followed by Guinness and fish ‘n’ chips.

For those who don’t know the area, Main Street is the tourist trap and party zone of Huntington. Like Newport and Laguna, it has surf shops and souvenir crap and some theme restaurants. Unlike the others, it has tough guys, mean cops, real bars, and some genuine menace at night. Also, non chain restaurants!

At six on a weekday there wasn’t much going on, but the people watching was good on my longish walk.

I walked by a guy who was parking a new Porsche. He was small and strong, with a skintight shirt and a little gold chain, and hair cut close. Not someone you’d want to mess with. As he was getting out of the car, a friend greeted him, obviously someone he hadn’t seen in a while. Porsche was in a hurry, but stopped to talk. The Friend was generic overweight white guy with goatee, t-shirt over belly, shorts and flip flops. Porsche was dark, probably Mexican.

FRIEND: Hey! I heard you were into some stuff but I didn’t know you were, well, um, [gesture at Porsche] into some stuff like THIS.

PORSCHE: Huh, what’ya mean? [starting to look annoyed]

FRIEND: Well I, uh. I heard you.. um.. had been on “vacation.”

PORSCHE: Aah yeah… [nervous, more annoyed] That was a ways back. ANYWAY. [picks up phone]

The next chapter was at the Irish bar, where I had my meal. It was almost deserted, so I got a good outdoor seat for people watching.

The inside seat on the sidewalk was occupied by two very young teenaged girls, who were completely hyperactive. They kept asking random passers-by for a dollar. They said “hi” to almost everyone, and some people stopped to talk, including a middle-aged motorcyclist with salt and pepper hair, a couple of skater boys, a couple with a cute dog, etc. They asked me how old I thought they were. “Fourteen,” I said. “Thirteen!” they declared, triumphantly.

Next to me on the patio was a party of thugs. There are a lot of tatted up guys with hats pointing the wrong away in this part of the world, but these were the real thing. One guy had the Suicidal style bandanna half over the eyes, and all of them had obvious gang tats, just not from gangs I knew of. The teenaged girls asked the thugs: “Would you date us if we were 18?” and they blanched.

They were very friendly thugs. They were discussing what assholes people were around here, and asked me if I was local. I agreed with them about the local “quality” being stuck up and tiresome, especially the ones who think they’re tough. I urged them to consider this to be Disneyland and relax and enjoy it, and they thought that was a fine idea. They were from Chino Hills. When they left we all slapped each others’ hands and exchanged names and good will. I told them to watch out for the cops.

Meanwhile, the cops were about 50 feet away giving the skater boys a massive overkill search and detainment.

Next door at Sharkeez (VERY BAD STUPID BAR) there was a party of New York Baller Types, puerto ricans and black people, having a great time being incredibly drunk and loud. They were almost out of control, but very cheerful. One of them was the Designated Funny Guy in the group and had a ghastly screeching laugh.

The teenaged girls, of course, went over and introduced themselves, making an Enrique and a Shawn very nervous. More handshakes and amusing fear on the part of the New York Ballers, who did not want anything at all to do with suburban jailbait.

As I left, the cops were finally releasing the skater boys. It was classic HBPD: they’d ignored two unattended children, a party of hardore gangster criminals, an obvious dope dealer, and an out of control loud yelling party of out-of-state brown people just to fuck with some local kids on skateboards.

Anyway, that’s Main Street at six pm. At around 11 pm on a weekend night it’s what you’d expect.

This is a very confusing luau

The continuing coverage of the coke freak living at the fancy hotel with his dead girlfriend packed in dry ice today spat out this gem:

“Jose Suntes, co-owner of ABC Ice House in Laguna Niguel, said a significant amount of the product would be needed to keep a body frozen. A caterer throwing a luau would typically use 20 pounds of dry ice each day to keep a 120-pound pig frozen, Suntes said.”

http://www.ocregister.com/ocregister/homepage/abox/article_1996918.php

Newport Beach Police Blotter: A Waitress’s Life

From the Register:

A man, who appeared to be a transient, had entered Bay Burger Restaurant, in the 600 block of East Bay Avenue, a few times during the weekend and asked for a server by name.

The man said he wanted to take the server along with him on his “lifelong quest.” He came in again Sunday and began walking toward the woman, who was eating during a break, but abruptly stopped and turned around when he noticed a cook was watching.