building a room with no way out
Saturday, July 8 2000
street theatre LAPD-style
In the morning, Kim, Jolie and I took Sophie for a walk up to Wilshire to get breakfast items (there's rarely anything to eat in our refrigerator). On the corner of Wellesley and Wilshire we came upon a sight seemingly tailor-made to induce paranoia in your average Saturday morning pot smoker. Tucked away virtually unseen in Wellesley both to the north and south of Wilshire, a couple of motorcycle-riding LAPD officers were waiting in line, watching the trans-Wilshire crosswalk. Whenever a motorist failed to yield sufficiently to a pedestrian in that crosswalk, an officer would tear off after the vehicle, pull it over, and issue its driver a ticket. It was a sting operation to enforce pedestrian rights, but it was also high street theatre. A small crowd had gathered to watch as one sucker after another was taken down for crosswalk yield violations. People dining outside the nearby Seattle's Best were treated to virtually nonstop entertainment.
For Jolie, this was yet more evidence of the good and decent job done by the LAPD. She has an unusually pro-police attitude, especially for someone spending so much time hanging out at the decidedly leftist & otherwise anti-authoritarian Dr. Susan Block Studio. But Jolie has some rather strong views against certain kinds of crime (for example, spousal abuse and the manufacture of crystal meth), and police crackdowns against such crimes leave her with generally good feelings about cops. She occasionally even talks about her desire to quit the Block studios and become a cop herself. (Mind you, Jolie isn't the straightest arrow ever shot from a bow; she can be fairly hypocritical when it actually comes to obeying laws.)
Overall, most of the onlookers viewing the pedestrian crossing sting operation seemed to approve. This was to be expected; most of the onlookers were also pedestrians who had risked life and limb to walk here from nearby West LA and Brentwood condos. Indeed, as Kim, Jolie and I were audibly cheering the busting of certain motorists, we were joined by a random lady who cheered along. "There needs to be more street theatre like this," I proclaimed, and the anonymous lady giggled agreeably. Only one person seemed to be upset by the spectacle: a blond woman walking by turned to us and said ominously, "You got to be careful. They got my friend in one of those traps!"
And so, as intended, Kim, Jolie and I walked around for the rest of the day with a feeling of warm fuzzies for the Los Angeles Police Department. I'm sure they have plans to do plenty more populist street theatre around the metropolis. In the aftermath of the Rampart Scandal, they have some catching up to do in the realm of public opinion.
By the way, the street theatre aspect of this particular sting operation was more important than just its value as good PR and entertainment. It had something else that would be lacking in a completely technologic sting operation (such as one utilizing hidden cameras). A public sting operation with physical cops, lots of onlookers and hopefully, as with this entry, a certain amount of press coverage, has a strong educational value. In this particular case, people were learning by visual example exactly what consitutes a violation of a pedestrian crossing.
The entertainment and educational value of this sting operation got Jolie and me to thinking. What if there was a television channel that carried nothing but sting operations 24 hours a day? It would be wildly popular (such programming could surely support plenty of advertisements), but it would also teach people about the laws they're expected to abide. It would be like Cops, only it be live and uncensored. Such a show wouldn't be too hard to set up: the LAPD would send a satelite uplink van to all their sting operations and then get a cut from the advertising revenue. Maybe then they wouldn't have to raise quite as much cash busting peaceful hippies for their medical marijuana.
A little before noon, Kim and I took Jolie back to her apartment in Venice. Then we parked somewhere along "trendy" Abbott-Kinney and did the usual Abbott-Kinney stroll, which means we wandered into a few too many furniture stores. I had to piss really bad, but there was absolutely no alleys available. So we went to a place temptingly named "The Fire Hydrant." It featured a gated outdoor dining area. Almost everyone there had come with their dog. It was restaurant designed to be dog friendly, within the restrictions of the law of course. This meant no dogs were allowed inside. Just outside the door, there was a set of rail-defined enclosures outfitted with water bowls. This was the "barking lot," and usually dogs consigned to this area did just that. My main interest at this point was to use the restroom. But I did the proper thing, first making a purchase. When I finally found myself emptying my bladder, it felt like the sort of pleasure against which legislation is normally written.
Months ago, Kim had identified Venice as one of her preferred places to live in the greater Los Angeles area. During the recent Anthea period, Kim found herself wishing we'd moved to West Hollywood instead of West LA. But now that we're hanging out so much with Jolie, Kim is again interested in Venice. As we were walking up and down Abbott Kinney, Kim was paying unusual interest in the commercial property. She was telling me that some day we should open a business down here.
When Kim found a "for lease" sign in the window of the offices of Wired Magazine, she immediately set up an appointment using her cell phone. The monthly rent on the 2,500 square feet was something like $6,000, but Kim didn't pause to do the math. And so, despite my attempted rebellion, we soon found ourselves being led around the prospective property by its architect and builder, a greying 40-something-year-old man. I must say, the Venice offices of Wired Magazine are certainly lush. There were no identifiable cubicles; it was just a spacious, rambling, casually-defined, non-rectangular space outfitted with occasional workstations and bookshelves, many of them holding past issues of Wired. Interestingly also for a Saturday, nobody was there being a martyr for the corporate cause. As we were leaving our tour guide made a point of wishing our company luck.
By this point in the day, I'd had enough of walking around and just wanted to do something else. But Kim insisted that we needed to pick up some food first. Either we needed to eat at a restaurant or we needed to stop by Trader Joe's.
On the way westward down Pico en route to Trader Joe's, we passed an intriguing new restaurant called Mr. Cecil's California Ribs. Kim thought the place looked cheap & interesting, so we 86'd the Trader Joe's mission and parked at the adult bookstore adjacent to Mr. Cecil's. I don't know the whole story behind Mr. Cecil's, but it appeared to be an outgrowth of the cook's interest in welding. Indeed, Mr. Cecil's welding shop maintained a kitschy presence in the back. By no means was this prime restaurant real estate; to the south was the 10 freeway, no the north was ever-busy Pico Blvd, and to the west was an adult bookstore. But it featured an outdoor dining area, so it could pass for dog-friendly, always a consideration on a hot day when you've brought your dog with you.
The service wasn't that great (our Hispanic waiter actually apologized), but the place had only been open four days and logistics had yet to be worked out. Most importantly, the food was excellent. It featured a sort of a Texas/Louisiana cuisine, the specialities being ribs, cornbread, catfish and baked beans. The babyback ribs were particularly exceptional. And it delighted Sophie that I had something to give her discretely under the table.
no way out
Back at home, all hell broke loose.
Sophie in the "Barking Lot."
Too bad, no dogs allowed!
Some defaced mirror glass along Abbott-Kinney
This glass was crystal-clear.
Kim at Mr. Cecil's, showing off some ribs of her own.
Mr. Cecil's California Ribs on Pico near Centinela.
Behind Mr. Cecil's is a kitschy welding shop.
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