Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Wednesday Night in My Life

Thinking of making myself linguine and clams tomorrow night, I traipse west to the bigger of the two 99 Cents Only stores within a literal stone’s throw of each other, one on Wilshire, just past the coffee shop in which that scene from Pulp Fiction was shot, and the other on 6th and Fairfax, just south of Molly Malone’s, where Terry Reid played a couple of weeks ago. I pass the La Brea Tar Pits. I pass that alleged work of art in front of the LA County Museum of Art comprising a great many old street lights, arranged symmetrically. Real men don’t eat quiche or read the poetry of Mallarme, and real artists disdain symmetry because it’s boring and obvious. I pass the magnificent old May Co. building, which continues to make empty promises to become a museum of Hollywood costumery. It was tres elegant decades ago, and my mother used to love to shop there. I, both boyish and a boy at the time, sometimes accompanied her.

In 99, a middleaged black man who resembles the Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Pedro Baez, whom I enjoy thinking of as Joan, is having a spirited debate with someone he alone can see, his voice a garden gate that badly needs WD-40. The yuppie music (Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, that sort of thing, and I detest it) plays soft, and there is indeed something to turn off — the accursed yuppie music, which I can’t fathom the store’s largely Third Worldy clientele much enjoying. Which isn’t to say that one doesn’t regularly glimpse luxury automobiles in the parking lot. 

I am astonished to discover that there isn’t a single clam on the premises, albeit much, much canned tuna. I had also hoped for some radishes — radishes having enjoyed a special place in my heart since I had to grow some my first months in junior high school, in Agriculture. The Los Angeles Unified Public School District seemed to assume that a boy should learn to grow his own vegetables, as well as to make a napkin holder in Wood Shop and a decorative trivet in Metal Shop. Were those the days, or what? But there are no radishes either, nor any MSG, which I read this week isn’t bad for you after all, unless you consume a great deal of it, and I am a person of staunch moderation and irrepressible frugality.

I used to much prefer the dismal smaller store on 6th because of the long lines at the big posh Wilshire one, but the place’s manager seems to have streamlined the process. With some linguine, some garlic salt, a big avocado, and two bottles of the grapefruit juice with which I like to mix vodka when it comes time to self-anesthesize in mid-evening, I get in the shortest queue, behind a tall, skinny young woman in cowboy boots and incongruous long drop earrings of the sort one might wear to a gala awards presentation. She has ear buds in her ears, so we do not exchange pleasantries, but on the other hand, we say nothing unpleasant to each other either.

I had intended to spend half an hour on my exercycle enjoying the new Dave Eggers book I like so much, but decide that lugging my purchases home has been sufficient exercise. I fire up Netflix on my iMac and watch Peaky Blinders, marveling at the enduring prettiness of Cillian Murphy, whom one might think of as the Irish Johnny Depp, and who I believe to be miscast as the cold-hearted gang leader. It is very reminiscent of The Sopranos, though set in the British Midlands of the 1920s, and very good. I ingest some medical marijuana, think of trying to put together a twist band to be called Joey Stalin & His Totalitariennes, and retire, having survived another day.

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