Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   relocating to Downtown Los Angeles
Monday, November 18 2013

location: northeast 16th floor, Hotel Palomar, Westwood, Los Angeles, California

This morning we checked out of the Hotel Palomar, loaded up the car, and drove into tower-studded Downtown. For the next three days we'd be staying in an Airbnb apartment, and the plan was to meet up with Christy, the woman whose place we would be renting, at noon. We got to downtown a little early and had about forty minutes to kill, so we hung out in the pleasant outdoor front patio of a coffee shop on the corner of Wilshire and Beaudry drinking soy cappucinos (the machine wasn't working correctly, so Gretchen's ended up being strangely dilute). Apparently this neighborhood, which is technically just west of the Central Business District, is grossly overbuilt and there are many more condos than buyers. Consequently there is advertising on every available surface trying to lure people to look at supposed "luxury apartments." Across Wilshire from where we drank our coffee, a small brownskinned man with a large hat twirled and pulsed a sign encouraging people to investigate the condo options at 1010 Wilshire. Apparently the man's manipulations of the sign were such that his hands stood the risk of cuts and blisters, because he wore tight-fitting black gloves. Clearly this was a sign-twirling professional. I hoped he was paid enough to afford the marijuana necessary to make his job bearable.
Christy was a no-nonesense youngish woman in a smart pantsuit. Owing only to her requisite towering heels, she appeared to be about average height. She quickly showed us to our parking in the garage somewhere in the basement of Piero, her rambling (and, judging by the photos on Google Maps, brand new) condo complex, and then took us up to the room, showing us how to use the essential key fob almost as a side effect. "Help yourself to a bottle of wine," she encouraged. And then she was gone. The whole thing had only taken about three minutes.
For those who are unfamiliar with it, Airbnb is a web-enabled marketplace of short-term apartment rental. Someone with spare room lists it on Airbnb, someone in need rents it for a day or more, and the two parties later rate each other like on Ebay. Airbnb itself takes a commission on every transaction. There are, of course, Airbnb horror stories, but Ebay has taught us that a web-based rating system is usually enough to keep people honest and well-behaved. Our particular apartment was tidy and antiseptic like a small hotel suite; clearly it was set up to be rented out exclusively via Airbnb.
Our Airbnb apartment was about 30% cheaper than the room we'd stayed in in the Hotel Palomar and it came with some additional perks. Somewhere in this rambling complex was a pool and also a hot tub. As with the Hotel Palomar, there was also a fitness center and a business center, though the business center probably didn't cost $24/hr for internet access.
Despite continuing non-summery outdoor temperatures, we decided to take immediate advantage of the pool (34.052331N, 118.261031W), which was across St. Paul via a walkway on the 4th floor. We went directly to the hot tub, and though I never got warm enough to brave the cooler waters of the heated swimming pool, Gretchen swam for awhile. After emerging from the hot tub, I lay on a chaise lounge facing the sun, where it was warm enough to dry in the light breeze blowing in from the 110 (or wherever).
Later in the afternoon when we got hungry and decided to set out for food, we elected to walk west into the adjacent neighborhood of Westlake. It was hardscrabble, largely Hispanic neighborhood, a riot of storefronts badly in need of paint with trash blowing in the wind among sidewalks crowded with pedestrians, few of whom were even as tall as Gretchen (aside from the one Caucasian giant striding through). The scene looked distinctly Third World, but in a prosperous Third World kind of way. Ideally we wanted a Mexican restaurant that was authentic but not too authentic. Strangely, though, we passed almost no Mexican restaurants on a walk that ranged as far as MacArthur Park. The few we did either smelled disgusting or appeared to sell nothing but soupy meats. There were a number of Chinese restaurants (all of which featured signage exclusively in Spanish), but we were in no mood for that. The only purchase we ended up making was of a quart of orange juice (so I'd have something to put my cheap Trader Joe vodka in).
Gretchen did some calling around with her local vegan contacts for leads on Mexican food in Downtown Los Angeles and that was how we found out about Señior Fish, which supposedly had tofu options. So we drove downtown, parked at a $7 flat rate lot (for lack of a better alternative) and ducked inside. When Gretchen quizzed the cashier about the vegetarianness of the beans, he let slip that all of it had chicken stock in it. But then he pleaded ignorant and went in the back, only to emerge with news that everything was vegetarian. Gretchen didn't believe him, asking "really?" and looking him in the eye, but he stuck with his story. So she ordered some rice and beans and a couple tacos and I ordered a big burly burrito built around tofu and avocado. It was absolutely delicious. [Later Gretchen would quiz a young woman working as cashier at a Señior Fish in Echo Park and she would admit that the rice and beans all had chicken stock in it. So what is the point of even bothering to offer a tofu option?]
After our meal, we walked around the adjacent neighborhood of Little Tokyo, making snide remarks among ourselves about the gratuitous weirdness of Japanese culture (and sushi culture in particular). What is up with Hello Kitty? If I can understand it at all, it appears to be, like toddler beauty pageants in the American south, the casual societal acceptance of sublimated pedophillia. And why do sushi restaurants all look like bathrooms or operating theatres? We walked past a bank and it looked like as a good a place to serve sushi as any of the restaurants that were actually serving it.

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