Monday, July 17, 2006

welcome to world war four

Almost killed a guy on the way home tonight.

It wasn't on purpose, of course. I don't travel the streets of Los Angeles waving a handgun out the window and yelling at traffic to just "gimme a reason" or anything like that. (Though I'm pretty sure there are stretches of California commute-crete that feature just that from time to time.)

I was just driving, only a few hours ago. I had just left the Happiest Place on Earth (also known as Amoeba) and was making my way out of Hollywood. My head was full of the eight--count 'em! Eight!--CDs I had just acquired and, I was tired. I was preoccupied by the $90-odd dollars I just dropped and if I spent it well and on top of that, I was a little unlucky. Or lucky, depending on how you look at it.

I was looking for the 101 freeway heading north, and for those of you who haven't spent time in this part of the country, I'll explain. Though LA is mythologized as the birthplace of freeway, we have not perfected them as a means of transportation. I mean, that's obvious, look at our traffic. But on top of that, sometimes it feels as if we're busy hiding the freeway from the average driver, perhaps out of pity. "Yes, that's the 170 right over your head, but really, are you sure you want to get on that thing? Think about it, you'll have time. We're only going to drop an onramp on maybe every fifth or seventh major intersection." There are areas where you can look up the freeway's skirt for miles and feel like you'll never actually get on the damnable thing. It's not the freeway that is LA's signature totem; it's the velvet rope.

ANYWAY, there are several ways onto the 101 in Hollywood, and my favorite is just off Argyle and Franklin. Unfortunately, in my sensory-overloaded state I thought it was Franklin and Vine, which is where I made my left turn and found a pair of pedestrians.

One was in the middle of the crosswalk, so I waited for him to pass and then began my turn, only to fail to noticed someone ELSE who had just started his trip across Vine. It was dark and that corner isn't very well lit. Now, it wasn't a close call, really, no squealing of tires, no evasive actions. I eventually saw him and slowly angled the Nissan to a stop just to curbside. He, on the other hand, had seen me for some time.

He was in a white shirt and royal blue shorts, and looked like a slightly more squat (and slightly more furious) version of Clipper point guard Sam Cassell. In fact, maybe it was Sam I Am, who can be sure? In any case, there I sat, my car accidentally 'parked' at a 45-degree angle into the top of the crosswalk, and Sam is very upset, and understandably so. He's fleshy and pink, I'm big and metal. We're not made for each other. He's stomping his feet and yelling something, and his eyes are wide and white. It's somewhat unfortunate that my windows are rolled up and I can't hear his opinion of me and my mistake.

I'm repentant. I'm apologizing and gesturing for him to please, go about your evening and proceed to your destination. Or words to that effect. I'm in the wrong here, so if there was a way to mime that I was at fault and felt terrible, I was doing it.

But Sam is very upset. He stays just steps from my fender in the crosswalk and puts his hands on his hips, looking down at the pavement and taking a deep breath, apparently wondering what, just what was going to happen next in his day and, indeed would he have to kill someone just to set the whole thing right?

Suddenly I'm getting upset.

I've apologized, I've most definitely not hit the guy and what else can I do? Before I know it anger has begat anger and I'm yelling--insisting!--through my window, "I'M SORRY," and shrugging exaggeratedly, hoping we can just go about our lives. Finally, he raises his hands and forgives me, nodding and saying something to me that looks like, "Okay, it was an accident and your display of guilt appears genuine. I will allow you proceed this time." He continues to the other side of Vine and I continue toward Franklin its terribly inconvenient onramp, which of course wasn't on Vine at all. It was located a U-Turn away on Franklin and Argyle.

And I'm angry, and puzzled as to how it happened. I completely failed the test. Being at fault here I was supposed to just let the other guy be angry and be friendly and understanding and soon after dispute is diffused. But...he got angry, i got angry with this crazy mix of embarrassment and frustration and it didn't have to be that way. I got caught up in the moment, which I guess is how it happens.

Hopefully next time it'll go better. I'll hit the small black button that rolls my window down and speak softly and calmly. Anger will go one direction, get lost and look around and wonder what it's doing in that neighborhood. I can dream, can't I?

'Let the Music Take Your Mind,' by Grant Green

Tough choice on what to post in the wake of all that, but I like to think this slice of jazz funk (what became 'acid jazz') from Grant Green's fantastic live album "Alive" (which you really aughta own--you'll recognize bits of it were used by Us3 and Tribe Called Quest, to name a few.) This massive song's a Kool & the Gang cover that wipes away any bad mood or vibration, and it's not just Green's fluid guitar that does it, it's drummer Idris Mohommad's relentless groove bouncing all over that snare. I'm pretty sure if this were playing in my car during the above exchange things would've gone much, much better.


At 1:17 PM, Blogger briana said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger briana said...

Hasn't he heard that only a nobody walks in LA? Seriously though - accidents happen, misplaced indignance sucks.

Great pic, btw.

At 9:24 AM, Blogger chris said...

Thanks, Briana. The above is a shot of this freaky museum just outside of Tucson. I'm not sure how exotic hunter's lodgeish heads mounted to a wall adds up to a positive educational experience but...there it was.


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