Los Angeles, Day Four

I’m in LA for a week. I’m going to try to write something about my trip every day. I hope you enjoy it.

Day four in Los Angeles began with taking my friend Dmitry back to the airport. Neither of us slept well the night before; the party or parties raging across the hotel did not stop, and well past one am our entire room was still shaking. Calls to the front desk produced no results.

Things were quiet in the morning. Dmitry packed up his stuff and I dropped him off at LAX. On the way home, craving something simple and predictable, I grabbed a customized submarine sandwich from a chain that has made its way across the nation. I’m not going to say where, but you should probably be able to figure it out.

I brought the sandwich back to my room and mulled about for a bit. One of the reasons I wanted another person with me in LA is because I am very much a homebody. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going out, or than I can’t stand being around other people. It’s just that when I am by myself, I am not motivated to go out. I placed an ad on the strictly platonic section of LA’s Craigslist page and headed out the door.

My first stop was Meltdown Comics, both because it is somewhere I’ve always wanted to shop and because I had a ticket to see Harmontown that night, and wanted to scope the place out. I parked nearby and walked the neighborhood. Meltdown Comics is on Sunset, near Fairfax. I walked along Sunset from Crescent Height Boulevard to La Brea. It was cool to see in person places I’d heard referenced in podcasts. Had I walked a little further west, I would have happened upon the legendary Chateau Marmont.

I headed south at La Brea, following it to Fountain. This took me into a more residential area that was loaded with apartments. I continued west on Fountain until I hit Vista, the street my car was parked on. I headed back to my car so I could check the time remaining on my parking meter. An hour.

I walked back to Meltdown Comics and perused their wide selection, picking up three trade paperbacks — Sharknife, One Small Voice, and The Waiting Place, and a zine, Devastator. With the exception of Sharknife, which was recommended to me at some point, I had never heard of any of them. This trip is about trying new things, after all.

When I brought the books to the register, I drummed up a conversation with the cashier. We spoke for a few minutes about where I should park that evening, when I should really arrive. I mentioned that I was visiting from Chicago and he noted that he had a friend who had just moved to LA from the midwest.

At this point, I had about forty minutes left on the meter, so I headed into an establishment that looked like it might have been a cafe. Had I looked at the sign, I would have known better: it was Vintage Enoteca, a wine bar. This is the moment I got really daring: I had a drink, on my own, just because that’s the place I’d walked into. A waitress left me a brunch menu and a wine menu. I ordered a meatball panini and a glass of blackberry sangria. I was so excited to try it that I started eating before realizing I should have taken a picture.

The second half of my sandwich, along with sangria.

The sandwich and the sangria were both delicious, and the greens served alongside them were also quite good. All the meals I have eaten in LA has been fantastic, save Saturday’s sad breakfast. I find myself wondering how much of that is because things are fresher and how much of that is because I have been trying to visit local establishments. Maybe it’s a combination of both; In-N-Out is a pretty big chain, but their burgers blow away pretty much any other fast food burger I can recall.

As I ate, I checked my email to see if anyone had responded to my ad. I got one solicitation for sex, which was probably auto-sent by a bot scouring Craigslist, and two actual replies. One was from a woman who lived near the airport, the other a student in West LA. I asked each of them what they’d like to do, neither one responded. For fun, I told the probably fake sex-bot that I would love to take her up on the offer after we’d taken in some of the sites and talked over a nice lunch.

After settling the bill for my lunch, I walked back to my car. I had eight minutes left on the meter.  I drove back to my hotel in order to pack up the books I’d bought, do some writing, and grab the ticket for Harmontown I’d foolishly left on my nightstand.

Two hours later, I drove back out to Meltdown and found a parking spot very close to the store. I joined an already large group of people waiting to get into the show and alternated between checking my email and browsing the store’s collectibles. The sex-bot sent me a photo of “herself,” and I responded by asking what from MY ad she wanted to do. I flipped through a few independent comics, but didn’t really feel like spending any more money, so I just bided my time until the show began. Among the tumult I thought I heard someone shouting my name, which was weird. I walked around the store, but saw no one I recognized.

Although I was standing close to the door before the show began, I was not in the first group let in. I was in the second, but I quickly discovered most of the seats near the stage were reserved, and the open seats were filling up fast. After missing a few opportunities to some surprisingly fast showgoers, I found my way to a chair along the aisle and quickly claimed it. The seat beside me remained empty for a while, until a man asked if it was taken and promptly sat down when I said it was not.

The man introduced himself as Paul, and he, too was interested in writing. He’d moved to the area just a month prior, and was still learning his way around town. We exchanged numbers and agreed to talk more soon. It was time for the show to begin.

Harmontown, for the uninitiated, is a live performance by Community creator Dan Harmon, comedian Jeff Davis, and other random guests. These guests often include his fiancé, actors he has worked with, and regular viewers of the show. The show also features Dan, Jeff, and others playing Dungeons and Dragons.

I was incredibly lucky to get the ticket that I did. Not only had the show just returned from touring, it was the hundredth episode. It was a fun show. For me, the standout moments were Dan’s ranting about his obsession with what strangers think of him and a trivia game created by a regular audience member.

I gave Paul a ride to the nearby Metro station on Highland, then headed back to the hotel to write and sleep.

Posted on May 19, 2014 and filed under Travel.