Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"A Day in L.A." - Craziest Day of My Life

I posted this on facebook June 25th, 2009, but it fits as a great blog post.  Enjoy the craziest day of my life:
I woke up knowing that my only real commitment was a Red Cross presentation in Beverly Hills. I did the regular morning routine. I had to drive to the Red Cross to pick up a projector and a laptop, then I paid to park for the day at UCLA.

Farah Fawcett died. Not really a big deal, but it gave me something to Tweet about. Life stayed pretty uneventful until about 1pm, when I headed to Beverly Hills. Just before leaving I made sure to check the Sprinkles Facebook page to see if they had a 'word of the day'. They did (some French word, calubear?, for the chocolate they use).

I was giving a Disaster Preparedness Presentation for low-income seniors in Beverly Hills. I had to call the service coordinator to let me in to the building (their building is over a Whole Foods). I was starving and hoping I could set up quickly and grab a snack before starting. Out comes this HOT girl (apparently the coordinator is a 25?-year-old, Beverly Hills hottie). They provided ice cream sundaes to the people who showed up, so at least I got to eat something. The laptop was password protected, so it took me 4 phone calls and discussions with a few people to actually get my presentation running (I was sweating-- a little worried that it wasn't going to work). The presentation was actually for twenty or so old ladies, which some of you know is a perfect audience for me. It couldn't have gone more perfect (except for the argument that broke out between two old ladies: "Don't you tell me. I survived World War II!" As I was wrapping up, the coordinator told me that Michael Jackson had died and was rushed to UCLA.

I had to return to UCLA, but I thought I would swing by Sprinkles and see if there was a line. Nope. I parked, walked in, got a 4-pack, and asked if I was in time to say "Cal-ah-bow". The girl laughed. I raped the pronunciation, but apparently was early enough in the day to get a free cupcake. A FREE Sprinkles Cupcake! As I was getting back in my car, I got a text asking if UCLA was a mess. I hadn't thought of that. I was on my way there, but this was the first time that I was worried it was going to be a zoo.

UCLA was a zoo. There were a half dozen helicopters over the campus. News vans lined Westwood. Traffic was moving slow enough on Westwood Blvd that we probably could have stepped out of our cars. People (mostly students) packed around the hospital. I managed to get my exact same parking spot (so the pass I bought earlier was still good). I got to tell my Chinese office-mate about MJ's death, and he asked me to come with him down to see the craziness. We did. I soon realized that it was going to be impossible to get anything done. So, I got an idea.

It was 5pm. Rush tickets for Dirty Dancing at the Pantages start selling at 6pm. I have my car on campus... there's a chance. So I got in my car and headed over there. Between getting back off campus (I took back streets through the fancy neighborhood east of campus), and getting through traffic, I got to SMB & Vine around 6:30. I had to pee so bad that I thought I was going to have to pee in a water bottle before getting out of my car. Just after Sunset & Vine, I saw an empty street spot as I was cruising by. I hit my brakes (got honked at) and backed into it. Shit, no change. I used 2 quarters to park at Sprinkles. I found 1 in my book bag. It got me 8 minutes. Can't help it, gotta make it happen. I had to pee, and I had to run to Pantages (only a block or so away). As I rushed out of the car, I saw news vans across the street and 2 cop cars parked around me. Oh well, no time to see who it is.

I ran to the Pantages. They had tickets, so I got a ticket in the Center Orchestra for $25. Awesome! As I walked away from the ticket line, I grabbed for my keys in my pocket. Nope. I must have pulled them out with my wallet at the counter. Turn around. Nope. Shit, did I drop them? Retrace my steps back to my car. Did I mention I have to pee pretty bad by now? Nope. Keys are in my ignition. Everything is locked. I guess I can go see if the cops can help. Guess what? MJ's star in Hollywood is at 1555 Vine. That's what all the commotion was about (incense and dramatic people stopping foot traffic and singing MJ songs). I asked one of the entertained cops if they could help. They offered to call AAA. No thanks, I can do that.

So, I call AAA. They respond "No problem. It's been a crazy day everywhere, especially over at UCLA." News reporters and crazy MJ fans having a party across the street (literally) from me, locked out of my car, doing the potty-dance. AAA shows up in a Yaris, jimmies my lock open in 30 seconds, and takes off. I figured things were finally going to calm down.

I drove to the Pantages parking lot, paid $10 for the rest of the night. I knew my best chance to pee and eat for cheap was at the McDonalds south of Sunset on Vine. So, I took a road parallel to Vine (to avoid the MJ party). I was a block south of the parking lot. Around the corner I saw a crazy accident. A taxi had hit an SUV so hard that it had rolled over on its side. It was the craziest accident I had ever seen, yet there was nobody around. Where are the ambulances and tow trucks? My eyes were huge and were clearly giving away how impressed I was with the caliber of the collision. I saw a guy in a security outfit looking at me. I figured he was there to protect my car in the lot next door. Then I realized it was a New York City Taxi. Holy shit. This is a movie set. Sweet! I kept walking knowing that I just happened upon my first Hollywood set blocking off a road.

On my way to McDonalds, there was a 3rd Eye Blind concert on the next block. It's funny when that's the least interesting thing to happen in a day. A guy out front was looking for tickets... in a Michigan Jersey. I threw out a "Go Blue" and continued to McDonalds. Upon returning from Mickey D's, I asked one of the bored-looking security guards what the set was for. Apparently, it was for the Heroes Season 3 Premiere. As we were talking, a Universal Studios Truck pulled out of the street and drove away.

Dirty Dancing was quite disappointing by Broadway Musical standards. I would have left before the curtain call if I had an aisle seat (hell, I went outside to walk around during intermission and almost left then). More than anything, the dancing (since it was mostly ballroom and they had a big name choreographer) should have been more precise. I found myself annoyed with just about all the characters (except Penny, who was hot and a great dancer). I don't think they had one amazing singer. Driving home lacked any events, and I finally passed out.

Beverly Hills hottie. Old lady presentation. Free Sprinkles Cupcake. UCLA a zoo for MJ. Managed to get Rush tickets without peeing myself or getting a parking ticket. Hollywood a zoo for MJ at his star, while I locked myself out of my car across the street. Stumble across a set for Heroes. Dirty Dancing was lackluster. That's a day in L.A.
Hope you enjoyed that little novella,

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