How to Misspend a Quasi-Holiday

I Didn’t Exactly Go Ape

The day after Thanksgiving is a sort of quasi-holiday. To millions, it’s Black Friday—made specifically for people who love to shop at crowded malls for what they really don’t need. I didn’t want any part of that, so I went to Universal CityWalk, ostensibly to watch a movie. When I got there, I found that of all the movie options, none of them seemed particularly attractive to me. And the shopping choices were mostly for out-of-town-visitors or young people who think that Hot Topic is the place to be seen. (I wouldn’t be seen dead there!)

Fortunately, CityWalk is not a bad place for lunch, if you don’t mind chain restaurants that specialize in the inauthentic. I had a good spicy Polish dog at Pink’s, looked around a bit, and started back home.

Taking the Expo Line Downtown

Today was not a brilliant success by any measure, but it wasn’t bad. Sometimes it’s fun to watch all the tourists try to wrap their heads around Southern California. Of course, I didn’t take the Universal City Studio Tour, where they mostly congregate, but I saw a few hundred trying to get food or shopping for souvenirs. You can’t find a single book in the place, but there are T-shirts and twonky decorated socks galore.


Deep in Cinnabon America

Universal City’s City Walk

Universal City’s City Walk

There are parts of Los Angeles that are no really for Angelenos. They are for the Flyover People who come to see a fake-o version of my city. I paid my 35¢ and took the Metro Rail downtown, transferring to the Red Line subway to get me to Universal City. I used to enjoy going there more when Gladstones 4 Fish was located there, but now there are other glitzy (mostly chain) restaurants that promise more than they deliver.

The whole place was crawling with tourists, including many Chinese and Japanese who were taking cellphone photographs of everything. I had a decent Smokehouse Burger at Johnny Rocket’s, and wandered around seeing the sights. In my hands was a book, Hunter S. Thompson’s Generation of Swine about the craziness of the 1980s. Well, Thompson is gone now, but things are crazier than ever. For one thing, I was probably the only person in the place who was carrying a book. Everybody else was playing with their smart phones, taking pictures of the sights, and of each other, proving conclusively that they were in striking distance of the sights.

I am of an age which confers a certain degree of invisibility. I have no tattoos, no beard, no wrinkled camouflage shorts with dozens of pockets, no smart phone. I felt like some ancient saurian dripping with mud that had just crawled out of a primitive past. But then, did I have anything in common with the scads of tourists? Not really, nor did I have anything against them. We were just inhabiting different planes of existence.

In the end, I felt good about myself. I felt I had nothing to prove. I left my camera at home, and didn’t take any pictures with my flip phone. I did read a few chapters of Hunter Thompson, and I felt that was good.