First Run-In with LAPD Produces My Very Own “Lebowski Moment”

Dispatcher: “9-1-1, what’s your emergency?”

Me: “Yeah, uh, someone just threw a glass bottle at my car while I was driving down Santa Monica Boulevard.”

Dispatcher: “OK. What started the altercation?”

Me: “I said ‘fuck you’ to him.”

Dispatcher: “OK, we’re sending a police unit over…”

Ask anyone who knows Los Angeles what the worst part of the city to drive through is, and I’d bet my life that their answer is “Hollywood.” The whole area is a constant cluster fuck of rich locals driving their $100K cars way too slowly, adventurous Angelenos heading for a hike in the hills, and tourists wandering around completely befuddled as to why the famous “Hollywood Boulevard” is so underwhelming as an attraction (that’s an entirely separate blog post someday).

Based on where my apartment is in the Culver City area, there’s no worse place to have to drive to than Hollywood. It’s just far enough away that taking the freeway through downtown almost makes sense. Except that in LA, taking the freeway should always be a last resort. If your life is depending on it, I guess you should consider taking the freeway. Otherwise go side roads. When I inevitably have to suck it up and visit Hollywood, the goal is always just to get there and back without incident.

Saturday afternoon’s drive home from Hollywood can best be described as “with incident.” And it was this incident that finally made me google the sentence “when should you use 9-1-1”.

LAPD’s website answered: 911 should only be used for an emergency. An emergency is a life-threatening situation, crime in progress, or serious crime that has just occurred.”

Something tells me what happened to me and Julie on Saturday at 5pm was not an emergency in the life-threatening/serious crime sense. But does anyone bother to remember their local police department’s phone number these days? Do people have a bunch of emergency contacts stored in their phones? Or do people react to all police-necessitating situations like I do and lazily dial 9-1-1?

Maybe it’s best if I start from the beginning. Let’s see…how to best describe my driving habits without having my girlfriend’s parents read this and panic over the kind of maniac who’s driving their daughter around. I guess you could best categorize me as a combination of “ultra-aggressive with safety in mind” and “short fuse towards any driver who makes a mistake.”

And LA suits my style perfectly. LA driving is on a level of aggression I’ve never seen before. It’s like I’m sharing the road with 10 million other Ross’s. And if there were 10 million of me on the road, I imagine there would be plenty of controlled road rage. Normal things like swearing, flipping each other off and giving people the handjob sign as a symbol of your annoyance level (don’t pretend like you’ve never escalated from the middle finger to mimicking an HJ at somebody…I have no idea what that’s supposed to tell someone, but we all do it).

So when Julie and I were driving down Santa Monica Boulevard Saturday afternoon and I started honking my horn and screaming at a cab driver who just cut across three lanes of traffic, cutting me off in the process, I couldn’t help but be a little bit proud of him. He’s a man after my own heart. He needed to get in the left lane immediately and just went for it. Screw all the other drivers. While part of me respects that aggression, another part of me loves to antagonize people who do stupid shit while driving (cutting me off is one of those things).

When I pulled up next to this cab at the next traffic light, his window was down and he was staring at me. He mumbled something to the effect of, “Screw you, everyone does it.”

Ask my Mom what it’s like trying to get the last word in against me. It doesn’t happen. So just to make sure he knew I disagreed with his driving, I replied “fuck you” and then pulled forward a few feet. The next thing I know the cops are swarming around me, trying to revive me and checking to make sure I know where I am. There’s flashing lights and police sirens everywhere.

Wait, no, that’s not what happened at all.

The next thing that happened was the cab driver threw a glass bottle and hit the back of my car. I think I would have been less shocked if he had pulled out a gun and started spraying bullets at the side of my car. I immediately backed up a few feet to pull even with him again, and asked in a completely shocked voice, “Did you just throw something at my car?” His response? “Fuck you.”

Every detail at that point is foggy except for his license plate number, which Julie and I immediately wrote down. He sped off one way (yes, I believe he did in fact get the last word, dammit); we slowly drove the other way, completely shellshocked. Who throws a glass bottle at a car in the middle of a crowded intersection? What kind of cab driver loses his mind after another driver says “fuck you” to him? Doesn’t that happen to him probably 15 times a day?

So I dialed 9-1-1 a minute later for two reasons: 1). Shock. I didn’t know what to do, really. What’s the protocol for this? Let it go? Sure it wasn’t a life-threatening situation, but there was a crime in progress wasn’t there? And 2). I didn’t know how much damage had been done to my car. I figured it would be best to get it on record with the Police in case the bastard had messed up my car.

If I could do it all over again, I probably would have pulled off to the side of the road and looked at the back of my car before calling the cops. Turns out there was no damage, and all the cops did was not-so-subtley lecture me on the unimportance of the incident. They couldn’t have been more honest about how little of a priority this was to them.

But for anyone who’s ever watched The Big Lebowski and wanted their very own “leads? yeah, sure, just let me check with the boys down at the crime lab”  moment, I got mine. After we asked if they were going to find the guy who did this to me, the cop said, “Yeah, um, another unit is checking him out right now.” Suuuuure they are.

What’s the point of this article? Fuck, I dunno. For me to vent, I guess. For me to get reader feedback on whether “throwing a bottle at a car” is the next logical escalation in the altercation I had with this guy (I think he should have spit on my car before throwing a bottle, that’s the correct order in my opinion). To warn any reader who ends up in a car with me that there’s at least an outside chance this could happen again, considering I don’t plan on reducing the number of “hand job mimics” I pass out on a daily basis.

Oh, and for anyone in LA that wants to boycott the cab company with me, it was a Beverly Hills Cab driver:

beverlyhillscab

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NFL Round 2 Recap: Saying Goodbye to 4 More Unworthy Teams, Kicking Myself Out of the Bar and Much More

Good lord. Am I tired. The football players have it easy. They only had to live through one game this week. We had to deal with the emotional swings and constant anxiety of four games in two days. It really does feel like I just played in four football games. After the Wildcard Round’s “as much fun as a funeral” theme, the NFL sorta owed us this kind of weekend.

And after the football gods continued to punish me for some unknown reason with week-after-week of sub-.500 picks against the spread records, I finally bounced back in a big way. Let’s review my personal glory first:

  • 4-0 against the spread in my picks.
  • Made my biggest bet of the season on the Patriots to cover. I always stay away from betting the Pats, but this weekend felt like a can’t miss opportunity (the bet was basically six times my normal-sized bet, that’s all I’m willing to say).
  • 2-2 in the four prop bets I listed in Friday’s blog (not counting the bets that don’t pay off until next season). The nice thing about 2-2 is that the biggest long shot was on the winning side for me. Russell Wilson to have the most passing yards this weekend (15/1 odds). I really hope at least a couple people took that bet on my advice because the Atlanta-Seattle game went exactly as I expected and Wilson’s 385 passing yards easily beat the competition.

But the silly part about life as a football prognosticator is that you can put up a great record with picks in a given weekend but still be wrong with all the reasons you decided on those picks. Here are four things I got wrong in a big way this weekend:

  1. “Knowshon Moreno will have the most rushing yards of any running back” – It’s hard to lead all players in rushing yards when you don’t even lead your own team in that category. Moreno had 32 yards on the ground Saturday, which was only 51 yards less than his teammate Ronnie Hillman. Upon further review, it looks like Moreno had the 13th-most rushing yards of all players this weekend. Just barely missed that prediction.
  2. On my reasoning for taking the Ravens to cover against Denver: “And what if the Ravens’ far superior special teams puts up a touchdown? That’ll be a huge swing.” There were some special teams touchdowns that were big swings in this game, but both times it was Denver scoring on returns. I also still picked Denver to win by seven and “perhaps take their foot off the gas and allow for the Baltimore backdoor cover.” Wrong and wrong.
  3. On why the 49ers would handle Green Bay: “Mike McCarthy really is a bad coach and that’ll rear its ugly head sometime soon…Mason Crosby has been an unmitigated disaster and that’ll rear its ugly head sometime soon…As good as Rodgers is, his offensive line has been Pittsburgh Steeler-esque all year, and a team like San Francisco might really make them pay.” Of course McCarthy didn’t make any major blunders, Crosby made his one field goal attempt and nailed all four of his extra points, and the Packer O-line only gave up one sack. This game was entirely on the Green Bay defense.
  4. “You cannot overlook the fact that the Pats dropped 42 on the Texans without the services of Gronk. That’s the biggest X factor of this game in my opinion: New England is probably the healthiest team out of the eight remaining playoff contenders.” An X factor is defined as “A variable in a situation that could have the most significant impact on the outcome.” Not only did my “Patriots are the healthiest team” mantra become immediately wrong when Gronk, Danny Woodhead and Chandler Jones all went down in the first half, but the health of New England wasn’t anything close to an X factor (and of course I’m very happy to be wrong about this one).

Just like I did during the Wildcard round, I spent most of Saturday at Rocco’s Tavern in Culver City watching the games, and then planted myself on my couch for the Sunday schedule (but rather than let Julie talk me into a healthy meal for Sunday, we decided to do a practice run of our chili before next Sunday’s chili cook-off that we’re winning attending). If you thought last week’s recap was disjointed and random, you’re really going to hate this week’s. Saturday was spent trying and failing to pace myself at the bar (evidenced by the fact that I had to kick myself out of the bar with seven minutes left in the 2nd quarter of the San Francisco-Green Bay game), and Sunday was spent breathing heavily into a brown paper bag because of the anxiety that comes from having to wait until the last game of the weekend to see your team play. The rest of this blog isn’t so much a recap of the games as it is a smattering of random thoughts from the weekend:

-I was so worried that everyone was as amped up about football this weekend as I was that I showed up to the bar Saturday afternoon 40 minutes before kickoff. I told Julie that’s the only way we’d get a seat at the bar. Luckily we were able to choose among the 24 empty barstools when we got there. But more importantly, one of the only people who beat us to the bar was this older gentleman wearing a Peyton Manning Colts jersey. As the game got underway, he cheered his poor lonely heart out for the Broncos. It got me thinking about the proper protocol and etiquette when an iconic player on your favorite team goes to play for a different team. I couldn’t really draw from any personal experience because in my lifetime a player as adored as Manning was in Indy hasn’t left a Boston team and gone on to have success with another team. I decided to email the one Indianapolis fan that I know and ask his opinion. Here’s his response:

  • I have hated the Broncos and Elway since he (the overrated horse-toothed piece of garbage…) dissed the Colts when he came into the draft.  Unfortunately, this year I was cheering for them. The Bronco loss bothered me more than the Colts loss. I’m still a Colts fan, but I’m still a Manning fan. I’ve discussed this with hardcore Packer fans who went through a similar experience with Favre.  There is no good solution. It’s not as bad as the Sandusky situation at Penn State, so there are worse things in sports, but it really sucks.”

-Even though he was a little vague with his answer, I loved the unprovoked shot he took at Elway and the probably-unnecessary comparison to the Sandusky-Penn State thing. I’m stunned that he says the Denver loss bothered him more than the Colts’ loss. That seems backwards to me. If Tom Brady is playing for the Los Angeles Superficials four years from now, I highly doubt I’ll care even one-tenth as much about that team’s playoff run as I will about that year’s Patriots.

-Final thought on this: If Brady was in the exact same situation as Manning is currently in, I think I’d still root for him to do well, and watch his games with more than a casual fan’s interest. But his jersey would be hanging somewhere on my wall. I wouldn’t be wearing it out in public, and I certainly wouldn’t be cheering on his team with the same intensity as I cheer for the Patriots. I pray that I never have to deal with this stuff when it comes to Brady.

-Before kickoff of Denver-Baltimore I was actually torn on who I wanted the Patriots facing in the AFC Championship (I was that confident in a Pats win on Sunday). On the one hand, a Ravens win meant home field advantage for New England and in my opinion the lesser of the two possible opponents (I’m on record as tweeting 10 days ago “Baltimore has no shot against Denver”). On the other hand, wouldn’t an epic, turn-back-the-clock Brady vs Manning showdown for a spot in the Super Bowl be an amazing game? There aren’t too many more chances left of seeing something like that.  I know this is a lame way to think about things, but I also considered the fact that losing to Manning and the Broncos would be an easier pill to swallow because unlike the shit-talking, never-won-anything-important Ravens, the Broncos probably wouldn’t rub it in our face as much. Say what you want about Peyton Manning, but his teams have traditionally been humble in victory.

-All those thoughts rattled around in my head until the moment Manning ran out of the tunnel in Denver and the bar I was at erupted with cheers. Then I remembered how fun it’s been to root against Manning in the playoffs, and how every Manning playoff loss only widens the gap between him and Brady in terms of the best QB of this generation (and possibly of all time). So it was decided, go Baltimore.

-If you remember last week’s recap blog post, when I was drunk during the Wildcard round at this same bar, I spent about 15 minutes writing this blog’s URL on every coaster I could get my hands on. I checked all of them at the bar on Saturday and didn’t find any of my customized coasters. Either the bartenders threw them out immediately, or the bar’s customers saw the website and wanted to be sure to remember it and took the coasters home with them.

-I was so certain that the cold weather and the two-week layoff for Denver would make this a slow-starting game that I bet the under of 44. With four minutes left in the 1st quarter, there were already 28 total points.

-Obviously I don’t need to recap all the big plays that happened in this game…there were many and you’ve all seen them by now. But how about Champ Bailey getting repeatedly torched? The consensus I heard from talking to other fans and scanning twitter is that people have been giving respect to Champ for years by not throwing in his direction, so no one could have guessed that he was old and slow because he’s never tested. Is he really that bad all of the sudden, or is Torrey Smith just that fast? And how delusional am I for convincing myself that Aqib Talib and the Patriots defensive scheme are better equipped to defend the Flacco-Smith combo than Denver was?

-I found out what makes Julie nearly crap herself from laughter…when two players from the same team collide with each other and one of them falls to the ground with a thud. This happened in the 2nd quarter when Tandon Doss of Baltimore was returning a punt and got crushed by a teammate. Julie almost fell off her barstool, and she was only two drinks deep.

-Speaking of Julie, I finally found the perfect combination to get her to pay attention to an entire game:

  1. Let her make a bet on the game (I always let her make an 8-team parlay where a $1 bet wins like $250). This way she’ll have a specific team to root for.
  2. Take her to a bar. Not being at our apartment means she can’t spend the game cleaning, cooking, napping in the other room or playing with the dog.
  3. Get her to the bar 40 minutes before kickoff so she can consume all the latest info on Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest before the game. Then and only then will she put her phone away and stare at the TV with me.

-As a time-waster during commercials on Saturday, I sent texts to all my friends whose teams were in the playoffs wishing them luck and what not (except you, Brad. You root for Seattle so I refuse to wish you good luck). My college friend who’s a big 49ers fan texted me back and said him and his fiancee had tickets to Book of Mormon on Saturday night so he was DVRing the game and hoping to watch it in its entirety when he got home. This brought up my third internal struggle of the day (the others being the “iconic player who leaves your team” conundrum, and the “should I root for Denver or Baltimore” dilemma)…when is it appropriate to DVR a game? Turns out, I’ve already hashed out this conflict in a past blog post, so really there’s no struggle. In my Pulitzer Prize-nominated blog post titled “Watching Sports on Tape Delay: A Stressful and Chaotic Practice,” after much debating and analysis, I ultimately said, “…the only appropriate time to watch games on tape delay is for early-round playoff games in all of the major sports.”

-This means my friend was not in the wrong for trying to make the DVR thing happen on Saturday night. Maybe the more important issue is why his soon-to-be father-in-law didn’t know to look ahead to all possible dates for 49er playoff games before selfishly buying him tickets to Book of Mormon for Christmas. The nerve of some people.

-Over the six hours at the bar on Saturday, I probably went to the bathroom 13 times (my bladder turns into an 86-year-old man when I drink). Most of those visits to the potty were uneventful. Here was the most eventful one: I walk into the two-urinal, one-sitdown toilet bathroom and grab the one open urinal. I hear a guy coughing a totally normal cough in the stall. The man standing next to me at the other urinal says, “Sounds like a crying dog in the desert…I hate that sound.” For those of you who know me and my non-confrontational approach to life, you know I just gave an awkward laugh and continued with my business. But then the awkward silence really got to me so I said, “Oh, have you heard a lof of dogs in the desert crying?” He responded, “Three tours in Afghanistan…you tend to hear lots of dogs in the desert crying out there. And then they shoot them and eat them.” Another awkward laugh/acknowledgment from me. And then he walked out of the bathroom. And, guys, get this…he didn’t wash his hands.

-Out of the 100+ texts I exchanged with people during the Saturday games (almost all of them football-related), my favorite one was from my brother who simply wrote, “BTW…mini eggs now in stores.” We weren’t in the middle of a text conversation about anything related to that. He just knows me and knows how to make my day. Cadbury mini-eggs are simply the greatest candy ever invented. That’s not up for debate.

-So the Ravens kicked that field goal in the 2nd OT around 5:35pm PT, and the NFC game was already under way. I can tell you that I threw myself out of the bar around 6:15pm. I think I can best convey to you why I took no notes on the Packers-49ers game and why I had to go home to finish watching through the following pictures:

I tried to tell myself I’d only drink beer so that I could make it through two games at the bar, but then as soon as I show up at 12:50pm, this is staring me down:

IMG_1982

No, not the Red Stag. The Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey (aka my kryptonite). And then 3pm rolls around and it’s two-for-one happy hour on all drinks, so this happens:

IMG_1985

And then when I try to be a good sports writer and continue to take notes, this happens:

IMG_1991

That is literally the only “note” I took on the second game. If you’re having trouble navigating my writing, the top says “sober” and the bottom says “drunk.” I hate when I make graphs that have unclear values for the X and Y axes.

Let’s move on to Sunday’s games. Sober and at home means a lot more football notes and a lot less random stories:

-God damn Seattle. I started writing their eulogy about six different times during their game on Sunday morning. And since they were looking like a no-show for the first three quarters, my eulogy focused on how their 10-6 record (if you don’t count their fake week 3 win) was tied for the 8th best record in the league, and how the only playoff game they won was against a team literally playing offense without a quarterback. It was some of the happiest writing I’ve ever done. And then of course Seattle stormed back in the 4th quarter, even got what looked to be a game-winning touchdown with 31 seconds left, before Pete Carroll iced himself with a last-second timeout.

-So instead of that scathing burial for the Seahawks, I gotta give them credit. Two road playoff games in a row where they looked done after one quarter, and instead they fight until the very end. They were probably a little bit overrated by the time the playoffs started, but they’re going to be a playoff-caliber team for the next few years at least.

-Fine, a little bit of schadenfreude. It was awesome to see Richard Sherman get beat badly on one of the Atlanta long touchdowns, and then to see him continually go offsides on the extra point attempt until he got his team a penalty for doing it. That’s the kind of selfish asshole I knew he was all along.

-What a crazy final minute in this game. The craziest part, for me, was when color commentator Brian Billick suggested that the Seahawks kick a field goal and then try to get an onsides kick. They were down 27-21 with 44 seconds left when he said that.

-Glad to see Atlanta finally win one, but based on their near-meltdown in the 4th quarter, I think it’s perfectly appropriate that the 49ers are favored on the road.

-I’ll keep my thoughts on the Patriots-Texans game short because I was more than a little vocal during the game on Twitter. But the referees…I mean, c’mon. If that game is called down the middle, the Patriots win by at least 24. Every time the refs made an incorrect call against New England, I wrote “DICKING US OVER” in big letters in my diary. I’m counting four of those right now.

-It was a game where every big call went against the Patriots, and I’m not even saying that all those calls were wrong. Even the calls that could best be described as a coin flip went against them. Don’t think I won’t factor all of this in when I pick Patriots or Ravens later in the week.

-I would say there were two really outrageous calls from the officials. First was the unsportsmanlike penalty on Brandon Lloyd in the 2nd quarter when he threw the ball directly to the referee at the end of a play…you know, like the players are supposed to do. The ref wasn’t looking, it hit him in the arms and bounced away, and he was clearly embarrassed. That directly took four points off the board for the Patriots as they were forced to kick a field goal because of the 15-yard backup. The second, possibly more outrageous call, was with 10:20 to go in the 3rd quarter when Owen Daniels fumbled the ball after a -1 yard pass. The Patriots recovered on Houston’s 25 yard line. Game over. But then the refs decided Daniels’ forward progress had been stopped. Not even the biggest Texan defenders or Patriot haters can agree with that call. The refs cost New England either three or seven points with that call.

-The CBS broadcast pointed out how Belichick didn’t even react to Shane Vereen’s 33-yard touchdown catch in the 4th quarter that put the Patriots up 38-13. He looked over to see that it was a touchdown, and then turned back to his defense to continue strategizing. A lot of jokes were made about his lack of reaction, but my favorite was a tweet from David Portnoy, the guy who runs barstoolsports.com: “Pete Carroll would have been doing the lambada…Belichick is coaching.” It’s just a great joke that reminds us of the difference between a perceived “great coach” and a real great coach. And you can totally picture Carroll with an over-the-top celebration after that play like the cheerleader he is.

-So with 30 seconds left in the game and Houston down by 13, Phil Simms says the Texans should go for a long field goal and then recover and onsides kick to get a shot at the end zone. That makes two color commentators on Sunday who didn’t have a clue as to what the score was in the final minute of the game. Way to bring your C+ game to the greatest sports weekend of the year, boys.

I leave you with two more pictures that I enjoyed from the weekend…

What the hell is wrong with Sterling Sharpe?

IMG_1987

I’m talking mostly about the eyebrow…Did he get it shaved in the shape of the Minnesota Vikings’ helmet symbol on purpose?

And what species is this, exactly?

IMG_1989

My Culver City Neighbors: Conserving Paper Even When Losing a Found Turtle

So the sign below is currently taped to a telephone pole a block away from my apartment. I never thought an 11-word sign could cause me to have so many questions. What happened here? Did someone find a turtle in the neighborhood and post the original sign, which said, “FOUND TURTLE CALL (310) 558-XXXX?” And then I guess the finder lost the turtle again so the original owner decided not to put up his own sign, but instead just alter the existing sign, changing “FOUND” to “LOST,” adding that it was “8 inches” and that “she got out of the backyard“??? And I guess the original owner wouldn’t want people calling the original finder so to cut out the middleman, he updated the sign with his phone number?

I guess another possibility is that a really dumb person lost their turtle, and they accidentally wrote “FOUND” instead of “LOST” on the sign. When he went to update that mistake, he noticed he also put down the wrong phone number initially, and he decided there’d be a lot better chance of his turtle being found if he added the super-helpful details of its size and the fact that it got out of his backyard.

Are there other possibilities? Maybe the alterations were made by some punk kid just fucking around? Would love to hear any other logical explanations you have.

 

 

 

 

 

-Thanks to Julie for pointing this sign out.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet on LA’s Toughest Physical Challenge

Do these stairs look intimidating?  I can’t tell if this photo does them justice, but they are fucking ridiculous.  I’ve tried walking up them twice now, and the next time I go, I’m taking camping gear and setting up shop at the halfway point on night one.  It’s about a three-day journey to the top at my pace.

I haven’t even begun exploring LA’s most difficult hikes or running trails, but I’m calling it already: this staircase at the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook in Culver City is the toughest workout you can get in the city.

Beyond the fact that it’s like a third of a mile straight uphill, the stairs are completely uneven and awkwardly spaced so you’re sometimes taking two or three steps in between each stair.

I’m throwing out the challenge to all comers now: visit me in LA and run all the way up the stairs (and live to tell the tale), and I’ll buy you In-n-Out Burger or Five Guys as a reward.

If you think you’re in shape, I promise you’ll rethink that after the staircase-of-death challenge.  Just look at the people in this picture who are either stopping mid-stairclimb to rest or actually having to sit down on the stairs.

The allure of the stairs is the promise of amazing views of the entire LA area at the top.  I tried to take a picture of the view, but threw up all over my phone instead.

Adventures in Relocating: Exploring the Five-Block Radius Around my Apartment

I guess by now I was supposed to have explored a lot of Los Angeles, considering I moved three weeks ago.  The girlfriend arrives on Friday, and she’s probably gonna ask me all sorts of questions I don’t have answers for, like, “Where’s the nicest beach?” and, “Where do you like to get your hair done?”

Only problem is I haven’t been to the beach, and I definitely haven’t gone to the salon since I’ve been in LA.  The first 10 days were a waste because I was laid up on the couch with a herniated disc in my back that was caused by three straight days of moving (OK, it wasn’t anything nearly as severe as a herniated disc; it was actually just a stiff neck, but a really stiff neck!).

But once I was out of the ICU, you’d think I’d start exploring my new city, right?  Am I allowed to say that exploring LA completely on my own never sounded like fun?  That I’m not in the same mindset I was when I traveled by myself through Europe and Australia three years ago, willing to go anywhere and meet anyone?  Also I knew that once Julie got down here she was going to want to explore all the popular places anyway, no matter how lame I tell her they are.  So I’m waiting.

But before I moved down here, LA experts told me that I better live in an area that had everything I’d need close by…restaurants, bars, grocery store, hospital, homeless shelter, and any friends you actually want to keep up with.  Obviously this is because of the ridiculous traffic and how spread out the city is.

So if I couldn’t explore all of LA in my first three weeks, the least I could do is explore the five-block radius around my apartment.  I wanted to know what’s within walking distance, hoping to minimize how often my car leaves the garage.

Here’s what I’ve discovered is within reasonable walking distance of my apartment:

-Essential fast food: In-n-Out Burger, Rally’s Burgers, Wendy’s…In hot weather, I typically average nine milkshakes per week.  All three of these restaurants meet my requirements of proximity and shake thickness.

-Essential fast casual Mexican: Chipotle…How I haven’t eaten here for 20 straight days is a mystery.

-Restaurants: Millions of them, an abundance of Thai places, Harrison Ford’s son’s restaurant, no big deal

-Bars: My biggest concern moving to Culver City was a perceived lack of dive bars in the area, places I could get a $2 PBR and the only food they serve is the three bags of chips hanging in the corner.  I still haven’t found any true dive bars in walking distance to my apartment, but I have found a couple decent sports bars.  They’ll each go through try outs in August to see which one turns into my Sunday football bar.

-Grocery Stores: Trader Joe’s, Albertson’s, Smart & Final.  The S&F is so close I could go purchase something right now and get back before you finish reading this sentence.

-Cosmetic Surgery Facility: For the ass implants I’m planning to get eventually.

-Hospital/ER: For future slipped disc issues

-Starbuck’s: I still don’t drink coffee, but I can suck down a hot cocoa like a champ.

-Farmer’s Market: Tuesday afternoons, meaning if you live in Culver City, you have to choose between having a job or getting fresh vegetables.

-Movie Theater: Apparently it’s a good thing this is so close because my go-to activity for when I’m bored and by myself is seeing a movie.  I’ve seen four and counting since I’ve been down here on my own.

-Frozen Yogurt: For when I’ve overdone it on milkshakes.

-Dry Cleaners: Assuming one day I come out of retirement and look for a job, might have to get the suits that currently sit in a ball in my closet dry-cleaned.

-Brazilian Steakhouse: Already bought a Groupon deal to eat here soon. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a brazilian steakhouse, slap yourself in the face and then go find the nearest one now.

-Sony Studios: People have suggested I should sit outside the Sony buildings and write movie scripts all day, theorizing that someone who works for Sony might see me and offer me a job.  More likely someone will see me there day after day and call the Cops.

-City Hall & Police Department: No idea what the benefit is to having these things close to me, but it can’t be a bad thing, right?

-Culver City Park: A pretty decent park that includes basketball courts, baseball fields and a skate park (three things I will never use), running/hiking areas (which I will use), and a pretty sweet dog park (debatable whether I’ll ever use this or not):

-Balona Creek: Sure, there’s nothing pretty or scenic about it (see picture below), but it’s a four-mile bike and running trail that goes to the beach, meaning you can run or bike to the beach and back and never have to deal with cars or traffic lights.  Even if some of the Yelp reviews told stories about women getting attacked by homeless people along the creek, well, good thing I’m not a woman (if Julie ever has to be on the trail alone at night, I’ll arm her with a butter knife or water gun).

-Flower Shop: Obviously good to have right next to my apartment for when I piss Julie off by suggesting she ride her bike alone along Balona Creek.

Basically what I’m saying through this long-winded blog is good luck getting me to leave Culver City once I do the obligatory one month of LA exploring in July.

Adventures in Relocating: Apartment Hunting, “Move-in Ready” Cleaning and Sexual Offenders

So the clock is ticking on the month of May as I have only eight more free days before June 1st to get my life from a state of chaos to a state of organized chaos.  While it seems ridiculous to be wasting this precious time blogging, maybe recapping the progress I’ve made so far will lower my stress level.

Here’s where things stand with the relocation efforts as of Friday morning, May 11th:

Apartment Hunting

-It was official yesterday: We have an apartment in Culver City locked up with a lease starting on June 1st.  It’s funny how location, a fancy-looking complex and an amazing sales guy can make you forget about your ideal budget for an apartment (but I swear I’ll use the pool and the gym all the time!)

-I almost panicked when one of the first people I mentioned the signed lease to said, “Culver City?  Why would you want to live in that shitty area?”  He’s someone who is supposedly very knowledgeable about LA, but then he said Culver City is in the “valley,” and I realized he’s actually just a fucking moron.  So I think I’m still happy with our location.

-No, I won’t include a link to the building we’re going to live in because it never seems like a good idea to put your exact address on the web.  You can email me and ask nicely if you really want to see.

-It took us two-and-a-half trips to LA to find the right apartment.  I consider my roundtrip to LA and back this past Tuesday a half trip because I was there for less than four hours (but was in the car driving down and back for over 11 hours).

-In total, we made 17 appointments to see apartments over the course of those LA visits.  I believe we only went into nine of them because the other eight ended up being “drive-bys.”  Drive-bys happened when we felt like either the apartment was too far removed from civilization or when we feared for our lives because the neighborhood it was located in probably experienced a lot of actual drive-by shootings.  Of the nine places we really looked at, three would only show us “model units” instead of the actual units we’d be living in.  Sorry, but you can’t convince me to sign a lease based on the theory of “your apartment could potentially be similar to this, but we’re not sure until you put a deposit down.”  If they had allowed us to live in a model unit Arrested Development style, that would be a different story.  A few other places just weren’t a good fit for whatever reason.  There was the in-law apartment where the owner who lived in the main house was about 92 years old.  I’m not living in a place where there’s a 95% chance that my landlord would die only a few feet away from me within the first month. There was the lovely homeowner who when I asked her how maintenance gets done in the apartment said, “Oh, that’s easy.  I’ll send you a YouTube video on how to fix things when they break.”  And finally, there was the leasing agent who told us he wouldn’t live in the area we were looking if he was us…as he’s showing us an apartment he theoretically should be trying to sell us on.  It’s a good thing the place we locked down worked out because it really doesn’t feel like we found too many other options.

-If there’s one thing I’m most excited about with a new apartment, it’s picking a junk drawer.  I’m actually bringing a box down to LA that’s filled with take-out menu’s, rubber bands, Sharpie’s missing their caps, some old Christmas cards that should have been thrown away five months ago, a stapler, a mouse trap and a deck of cards.  I cannot wait to fill up my new junk drawer.

Moving Logistics

I’ve secured a moving truck for us to drive down to LA on June 1st with all of our possessions.  I don’t have a lot of experience with this so I wasn’t sure what size truck to get.  I went with a 16-footer.  Since Julie isn’t yet an expert on driving a manual transmission, which my car has, she’ll be the one driving the semi down to LA.  My hope is that I’m not updating the blog on June 2nd with a picture like this:

Cleaning

-Unfortunately before I can pick my new junk drawer, there are things to do at the old apartment in San Francisco.  It would be nice to leave this apartment the same way my roommates and I left our college apartment at the end of senior year…basically without cleaning the place at all and then simply telling the landlord to use our security deposit as our final month’s rent.  I don’t know how we got away with that without a lawsuit, but I have a feeling my current landlord wouldn’t really be on board.

-Not only is our landlord expecting us to clean, but she told us it needs to be “move-in ready” in order for us to get our full security deposit back. To me that’s a very subjective measuring stick.  What’s move-in ready to me may not be move-in ready to her.  For instance, I have no problem moving into a place that has a giant circle of dried paint embedded into the carpet, and even better, the dried paint has a large piece of broken glass stuck inside it:

You may not be able to see this clearly, but it’s paint that’s been there for over six years with a large piece of glass trapped in it

-She may not think of that as “move-in ready,” but if I cover the entire carpet in white paint and then stick random pieces of glass in the paint, will she maybe think that’s the type of flooring she originally put into this apartment?  Luckily if she does tell us she needs to replace the whole carpet and that it’s coming out of our deposit, my Uncle Steve owns a furniture and carpet business in Massachusetts, and I’m sure he will gladly ship a nice carpet out here free of charge to help the cause.

Sexual Offenders in Your Area

-As I was reading through my new lease yesterday, I noticed a section about sexual offenders.  I didn’t really pay attention to what that section was telling me because I got distracted by this link they included: http://meganslaw.ca.gov/disclaimer.aspx

-The next thing I know it’s three hours later, and I’m still screwing around on that MegansLaw website.  Go ahead and give it a try, but just make sure you have some time on your hands.  I was searching for sexual offenders in my new LA neighborhood, my current SF neighborhood, and even the neighborhoods of some of my friends.  Once you’ve done the same, you’ll naturally start drilling into the individual offenders to see what they look like, what their crimes are and what documented scars and tattoos they have.  If you’re like me, your imagination will run wild when you read the crimes because the descriptions are vague.  For example several of the offenses I saw were tagged as: “LEWD OR LASCIVIOUS ACTS WITH A CHILD UNDER 14 YEARS OF AGE.”  I’d like to know what these acts were specifically and how much “under 14 years of age” were the children.

-For those of you worried about me and Julie, relax.  The closest sexual offender to our new apartment probably isn’t doing much offending these days:

That’s everything for now.  Time for me to re-read the manual for my new vacuum to see what setting will suck up a “dried paint and glass” combo.