After a lovely few days in San Francisco, it was time to move on. So, rucksack packed, backpack packed, headphones on, Coldplay pumpin’ (cos I’m from the streets, bitch), and through security I went. I’d remembered to Odor-Eater my trainers so I didn’t worry about stinking the place up with six-months of traipsing wafting into the precious nostrils of my fellow travellers. A coffee and a sandwich later, and I’m up up and away on the back of a flying ostrich. I was a bit surprised to see that I’d be flying on the back of a flightless bird, but, I trust Delta to do me right, and they strapped my backpack onto his back, and I held on around his neck. He was called Clive, and the flight was lovely. Getting a bit thirsty, we looked at a map, and saw Soda Lake and agreed that a Dr. Pepper would be spot on. Damn it if it wasn’t an alkali lake; all salty and not at all refreshing. So we detoured to Lake Cachuma, and gulped down the water and played Hungry Hippos with some real life hippopotamuses that had fallen out of an aeroplane on their way from Africa to a zoo in the Arctic Circle. We used cabbages as balls. I beat Clive, but he’d never played Hungry Hippos before, so I tried not to gloat.
We said goodbye to the hippos, put on our dust masks, and flew into smoggy Los Angeles. I gave Clive a hug and a tip, and got on the shuttle bus that would take me to Hollywood. The driver had two cell phones. One or other seemed to go off every couple of minutes. He didn’t answer either. They both had incredibly annoying ringtones. And through the dirty window, and through the blanket of smog, I could see the Hollywood sign. I’m in Los Fucking Angeles! The bus dropped off six of its eight passengers before me. I said goodbye to the last guy in there, and he just glared at me, obviously miffed to be the last guy. Anyway, here I am. In the rather basic Hollywood Inn Express on Hollywood Boulevard, in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, United States of America, North America, Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way, Local Group, Virgo Supercluster, the Universe. This really is the kind of hotel you see in the movies. A two-level U-shape around a pool with a moody fucker behind a glass pane in the reception office.
One of the big changes I’ve made to my life since I’ve been travelling is mentally finding myself doing stuff rather than thinking about it. I felt like going out and seeing a baseball game, and rather than wait until today – which I’d originally planned to do – I worked out that I’d kinda have enough time to make it to Anaheim to see the cumbersomely-named Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play the Cleveland Indians. (In retrospect, I should’ve waited; having seen a 3-2 game, instead of today’s 14-11 game.) Fairly soon, I’d begun to regret my decision to not hire a car for my time here. By the end of the night, I’d spent over $60 on taxis and trains. Bugger.
I forgot to take photos of Union Station, but I’ll be back there on Sunday, so I’ll do it then. It’s a lovely-looking place. And the guy at the ticket desk was a lovely fellow. I asked him how close the train station was to the ballpark, and he gave me the answer and wished he was going to the game. We had a nice little chat about the Angels’ season so far, and I was away, on the 40-odd minute journey to Angel Stadium of Anaheim.
I’ve seen this place on telly (well, the Internet) many times. I’ve always hated it. And it was good to see the stadium for real, because that hatred got the rubber stamp of authentic criticism. It’s a pleasant place to watch baseball, don’t get me wrong. Decent food (the milkshake at the Ruby’s Diner there was ace); nice views of the field; great views of the, err, freeway; by far and away the best-looking women I’ve ever seen at a sporting event; and you can walk around the whole stadium without missing any action on the field; but, grrrr, it’s that bloody rockery, with it’s dumb water features. It’s so Disney. And it really really bugs me that they let off fireworks when a home team player hits a home run. So I was glad that the first home run of the night was by the first Cleveland batter, Grady Sizemore. A chorus of groans and boos was lovely to hear, especially compared to the ostentatious, showy, shoom-bang of fireworks when the Angels’ Jeff Mathis scored one later.
The national anthem was sung by some lass who had her eye on a singing career with all the Mariah-ish dancing around the notes that she did, and it was sung a good ten minutes before the game actually began. Seems weird to me. Aside from the rather clanging indoctrination of national pride that it seems to represent, I would think that it should be the signal that the game is about to start, not a signal that the big screen is gonna show a big compilation of past Angels glories to a soundtrack of “Enter Sandman,” especially as that song, people of Anaheim, quite clearly – in the baseball world – belongs to Mariano Rivera.
But like most other stadiums I’ve been to, of the people I talked to, they were all nice. An old fella who came along when I was smoking in the designated area, and asked if this was where we could smoke before seeing the big white-on-red DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA sign, and doing a “duh, I’m a doofus” face. We had a great chat with him mainly talking about how the modern world is too cushioning: you can’t smoke anywhere, kids gotta wear helmets on their bicycles, etc.
There was the couple next to me who had a tiny baby with them, and all the people around us, who seemed to also be season ticket holders, greeting the couple and their new ‘un passionately. And just in front of me, there was a father and his two pre-teen daughters. The eldest of the two might have some sort of mental illness. She was cute as an especially cute button, she didn’t talk much, but she yelped and screamed excitedly a lot, and had wandering hands. I had to alert her dad to the fact that she kept turning around to eat the peanut shells out of the spilled beer puddle near my feet. And when I came back from buying the milkshake, she grabbed it off the floor to take a sip. Another time, she put her hand flat on the head of a bald guy directly in front of her. I nearly choked on my milkshake with laughter.
What with not knowing much about the public transport in Los Angeles, I had to leave the game with an inning to go so I could catch the last train, at 10.18pm, back to the city. I stood on the platform, with the floodlit stadium across the car park in front of me, listening to the roars of the crowd as the last three Indians hitters were got out. Then I watched the fireworks that saluted the home team’s victory.
It had been a long day, what with the ostrich flight and rushing around the sprawl of LA. I hopped in a taxi at Union Station, and spent the next 15 minutes with Tim, the chattiest cab driver I’ve ever known. Within a minute of the journey he’d shook my hand and introduced himself. And he spent way too much of the journey with his head turned around as he jabbered away. His opening salvo was that “sometimes when you’re right, it ain’t right.” Meaning, if you know you are right, but don’t want to embarrass the other person, it’s not a nice feeling. Then he went on an odd tangent: that people try to trip you up in conversation, “like, they ask where the cameras are in your bedroom.”
What. The. Fuck?
He went on, “because they know you’ve been masturbating in bed while your wife is asleep.”
I repeat: What. The. Fuck?
His explanation for masturbating was, biz
arrely, that “you don’t always wanna give your shit up, knowhatimean? That shit is expensive!” By “shit” he meant “semen.”
I nodded, laughed, and got back to wondering what the hell he was talking about. We took a wrong turn along the way, but he stopped the meter a minute or so before we reached my hotel because he felt bad about it. I paid up, we shook hands, and he wished me a great stay in LA. Back in my hotel room, I gulped down some red Gatorade (I’ve given up trying to work out what flavour the various Gatorade colours are), and I slept the sleep of someone who needed lots of sleep.