Life inside L.A. city limits so rapidly ages its inhabitants-- a rather ironic situation for the de facto capital of nips and tucks. The lines across my forehead deepen every time some jackass pulls blindly out into traffic, not noticing that I'm headed straight for his passenger side door. Or when I get two lanes of gridlocked cars to let me make that left turn, only some bimbo on a cell phone decides to plow her VW Jetta straight into the spot in the intersection that says "KEEP CLEAR" and stay there, as I sit, helplessly curved into opposing traffic while she texts the pretty boy hipster she met last night at Bar Marmont.
Millimeters at a time, those lines deepen. Today's three-mile roundtrip jaunt to the diner for lunch came complete with two near-death experiences. It's enough to make me long for the day when I make enough cheese to pack up this shitbox and move to a place where I don't have to drive. Like Manhattan. Or Amsterdam.
Of course, aside from the vehicular warfare in the streets there are many things to love about Los Angeles. Sun. Warmth. Beaches. Weekday matinee movies. Zankou Chicken. The Hollywood Bowl.
Dodger fans are not one of them.
Along with the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," the din of lawnmowers on summer mornings, and the putter of my mother's yellow VW bug, Vin Scully's voice was one of the iconic sounds of my childhood. My father would set a small black portable radio up on the wall in the backyard and listen to Scully call the action of guys like Fernando Valenzuela, Kirk Gibson, and Mike Scoscia as he went about his weekend ritual of drinking a six-pack of domestic beer and watering the yard. I'd be doing my homework at the picnic table or inside at the kitchen bar and there was Scully's voice, omnipresent in the background as I learned long division, read Animal Farm, or made a papier-mache replica of Mission San Juan Capistrano.
Still, I've always hated the Dodgers, despite being a native of their city. My east coast-transplant mom bought me a Yankee doll during the 1981 World Series, and later, a Yankee Cabbage Patch Kid. That's really all it took to successfully brainwash me. My father was naturally horrified and proceeded to convert Mandy, all of two years old at the time, to his side where she remains to this day.
I love the Lakers, and if I followed hockey I'd like the Kings. I imagine if L.A. had a professional football franchise, I'd be a fan of them too. Just not the Dodgers. Never the Dodgers.
From 1986 on, my parents had season tickets to the Dodgers. I was dragged to many a game as a child, and nursed many a sunburn from roasting out in our field level seats. Sometimes I'd get so overheated my mom would buy those frozen chocolate malts and use them to cool of my face before we'd eat them. I was almost always on the verge of passing out by the seventh-inning stretch. Mom and I would wear Yankee hats and always root for the opposing team, much to the chagrin of my father and Mandy. Back then, there wasn't much cause to feel threatened.
Cut to: 2008. Monday night's game was a blowout for the Dodgers by the end of the sixth inning. Pauly, Derek and I were already talking about leaving. We'd had our fill of Dodger dogs and had enjoyed a few laughs with the four Phillies fans that sat in front of us.
"Conshohocken, PENNSYLVANIA!" shouted one of them repeatedly at a pair of Dodger fans behind us, referring to Tommy Lasorda's birthplace.
The pair responded by attempting to pelt the Phillies fans with peanuts. Then limes. Then beer cups. Only problem was, they were hitting us instead.
Derek stood up and told them to cut it out and stop throwing shit. Which only made them throw more shit. Half a beer hit me and I ducked as Pauly stood up. Words were exchanged. And then, out of nowhere, these two drunk cholos decided to leap across three rows of seats and lunge at Derek.
I didn't see the punch land, as I was busy ducking again. When I looked up, security was coming down the aisles and hauling one of the guys off. Then I saw the blood. Holy motherfucking shit.
As we climbed the stairs up the aisles, people actually started booing us. And throwing more shit. Real classy. I flipped off the crowd as blood gushed from Derek's chin.
Ten minutes later, we were in the security office waiting for the LAPD to arrive. The asshole who punched him was in custody under a citizen's arrest. Naturally, Derek wanted to press charges. After the paramedics put a stitch in his jaw, Derek and Pauly gave their statements to the cops while I waited. I watched a bumblebee slowly die on the carpet in front of me. Remarkably, as dozens of ticket-takers and ushers dropped off their equipment and clocked out after the game, not a single one stepped on the bee.
Here's L.A. justice for you. Drunk asshole punches you at baseball game with hundreds of witnesses. If you want to press charges against drunk asshole, you too must be arrested and deal with the ensuing red tape and the blemish on your record despite doing nothing wrong. That's a lot of explaining to do to prospective employers and/or creditors over one punch. Or, you can not press charges and everyone goes home. Those are the options offered to you by the Los Angeles Police Department. "We don't want to bother to figure everything out, so we'll just make it as difficult as possible for you to seek that justice you deserve, OK? Unless you're famous and this shit is going to be on Entertainment Tonight. Then we'll do everything we can and make sure to keep your publicist in the loop."
Derek's a tough guy. Pauly said he barely flinched when the punch landed. Though I'm not sure how soon he'll hurry back to L.A. after we put him on a plane home to New York with a sunburn, facial stitches, and a bag of antibiotics.
At least he enjoyed the weed.