Friday, April 15, 2011

How To Get To Los Angeles

How To Get To Los Angeles

Step 1. Wake up before the sun rises. Place your bags, carefully packed, in the trunk of your car. Bring a bag of beverages and snacks. Start your engine and drive away from your home.

Step 2. As you drive, notice the oil pressure light on the instrument panel blinking. Pull over and look under your car. See motor oil bubbling out like honey. Turn around and drive back to the garage that changed your oil and checked your engine only yesterday. Show them the problem.

Step 3. Wait for an hour in a grimy room with nothing to look at but “Field and Stream” and “Sports Illustrated”. Search for cups near the water cooler. Find none. Just as you nod off, be startled by the mechanic who worked on your car yesterday. Listen as he tells you that he made a mistake, he didn’t put the filter on properly, he just put in new oil and put on a new filter, he’s really sorry, he didn’t mean to do it, he wants to make amends because he’s in a twelve step recovery program and a Vietnam vet. As he begins to cry, tell him that everything is fine now.

Step 4. Drive very fast to make up for lost time. Find your way to Interstate 5, the chute, the column that connects north to south. It is filled with butterflies. They will splatter onto your windshield every minute or so. At a rest stop, look at the grill of your car. It will be smeared orange and yellow and black. You have to kill a lot of butterflies to get to Los Angeles. Once on the road again, it is advisable to monitor the road ahead and your rear view mirror for police who drive cars in odd colors—candy pink, sea green, sky blue—in order to fool drivers like yourself. Reach central California in the afternoon. Begin to sweat.

Step 5. Start to climb the Grapevine. Pass Angeles State Park. Notice the low twig bushes that cover this bizarre landscape like mold. Pass Knott’s Berry Farm, Six Flags, Magic Mountain. Do not be impressed…hold out for Disneyland. Descend into Los Angeles. See Universal Studios nestled into a craggy hill to your right. Fantasize about the sound stages and the actors who are there right now. Yearn to act there until you feel like crying.

Step 6. Check into the Dunes Motel on Wilshire. Marvel at the glass slat windows, the brick wall painted white and the framed paintings of flamingoes, all there since 1957. Invoke the spirit of Raymond Chandler. Sleep on the bed and try not to imagine how long it’s been there. Get lice. Spend the rest of your time itching.

Step 7. You must shop on Melrose. Pretend it’s a bazaar at the end of the world. Admire the steel gloves, the medieval dresses and suits made of copper and alligator. There will be a kind of music you have never heard before. It is important that you listen and let it alter your consciousness.

Step 8. Take a drive up Sunset, past Tower Records and have dinner at La Mediterraneé. Watch people eat while wondering what they do and how much they’re worth. After dinner, venture into Beverly Hills. You will be dressed for weather in the valley and it will be very cool in Beverly Hills—almost cold—so be prepared to shiver.

Step 9. Late in the next day, say goodbye to L.A. As you drive with your back to the city, wonder when you will return and if you will ever work there. You’ll be tired from your trip and the oncoming headlights will hypnotize you. You must roll down all windows and turn on the radio. When it’s very late and your only companions on the road are truckers, you will begin to hallucinate. You will see overpasses and freeways that aren’t there. You will see office buildings and whole towns that aren’t there. Do not be alarmed. This is normal. Sing as loud as you can. You will careen into the butterfly zone again and they will smudge the windshield. Remember to bring paper towels and glass cleaner because the wipers alone won’t do the job. You have to kill even more butterflies to get back home.

©JEF 1997

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