When we last left off I had finally met my new roommate, Connecticut Chris.
The two of us had a bond, being from the Northeast of the USA. Originally hailing from Upstate New York, my sensibilities were very similar to those of Chris. We both found it odd that the beds in our room had been lined up parallel to each other at a distance of 18 inches, when they could easily have been separated by several feet in a an L-Shape. We both found it kind of odd that no one had a key for the house. We both thought it was weird the day a cat tower appeared in the yard, apparently in an attempt to invite the stray cat feel welcome to set up shop on our property.
“Oh, yeah, I thought it was for the birds” said Enrique, the Colombian guy running the house. His thick accent forced me to ask him to repeat himself three times before I got the image of Grizzly Bears playing with the cat tower out of my head. It was an equally ridiculous picture with the birds.
“But I guess this is for cat, so I put the frog to keep him away.”
It was instances like these in the preceding three months that required me to write this blog. I had no one in the house that could see how ridiculous it all was, but now that had all changed.
That’s not to say the ridiculousness ended, however.
In fact, for the first time since I moved in, I was an active participant in the ridiculousness. This was due to the affinity Connecticut Chris and I had for breaking into a thick New York accent. While this commonly occurred around the house, the instance that sticks out the most for me is the drive back from Venice Beach on the 405 one evening. Accompanied by one of the French Canadian girls, we found sanity amidst the nutty traffic by loudly commenting on the surrounding cars like we were in an episode of The Sopranos. As most cars had their windows down while creeping along at 8 miles per hour, the show we put on was not only for the French Canadian.
The following is a 9-second sample of the transcript from the aforementioned car ride home:
JESSE: Look at this fuckin’ guy!
CHRIS (overlapping): Oh yeah, I got a Mercedes Benz, big deal.
JESSE (overlapping): Big deal.
CHRIS (overlapping): Look at me in my Mercedes Fuckin’ Benz.
JESSE (overlapping): Eh, go fuck yourself.
CHRIS (overlapping): I gotchya Mercedes Benz right here.
JESSE (overlapping): Right fuckin’ here.
This is pretty much the way the entire forty-five minutes on the 405 went.
What was great about CC was his sense of adventure. If there was a band playing in Hollywood, he was down. If I got tickets to a Kings game, he was down. If I made some weird ass vegan food, he was down.
Given the fact that I often make dumb mistakes, and even when I don’t something obnoxious manages to happen anyway, it was a blessing to be around a guy that could just roll with the punches. The biggest test of this took place after an afternoon hockey game at the Staples Center one Saturday. Getting out of the game at 3:30pm and having taken the Metro, we were on our way to enjoy the free game of bowling at Lucky Strike that came as part of the Kings’ Stretch Run Pack. Sweet.
Just before we walked in the door, Chris suggested we double check that the tickets didn’t have an expiration date. No expiration date, but it turns out they weren’t valid on Fridays and Saturdays.
Being a champ, Chris was up for my suggestion that we check out a German Beer Garden I had read about online. I had looked at a map online before the game, and it seemed to be in the general downtown area, so I figured it’d be about a ten, fifteen minute walk. I had read a review of Wurstkuche on my favorite food blog, and was really pumped to check it out.
“We getting close?” Chris asked after about fifteen minutes of walking.
We weren’t close at all.
“Seriously, do you know where we’re going?”
“Uh” I joked, “maybe…”
Ten minutes later CC didn’t find this as funny. I had to assure him that I never joke about stuff like that when I really don’t know what’s going on.
Ten minutes later I started to worry that I in fact didn’t know what was going on.
En route, however, we were stumbling upon all sorts of gems that Downtown had to offer to the adventurous pedestrian. I say “stumbling” because we were still pretty hammered from the hockey game, although the longer we walked the more the buzz wore off. Apparently there is a Hookah Row on 4th Street. Eleven shops selling hookahs, all on the same side of 4th Street in the same block. Los Angeles Street had all sorts of cool shops. Little Tokyo had a giant mall in it, which included an empty ballroom that could probably hold events for over a thousand people. One of the random buildings had an incredible park, complete with waterfall and amphitheater (I broke out a little Shakespeare, not gonna lie).
I confessed that the place looked a lot closer on the map than it actually was, but assured CC that we would find it. Until we found it.
On the corner of 3rd Street and Traction Ave was a little rink-a-dink building that looked like it had been abandoned. No sign, no nothing. The only hope was the door that did not seem to be walled off.
CC could see the panic on my face as I realized I had messed up big time. I apologized, and was about to suggest we take off when I figured it was worth at least giving it a peek inside…
As much as Connecticut Chris was a trooper, he wasn’t too happy about the forty five minute walk I had taken him on to an empty building, in search of a German Beer Garden I had never actually been to. I held my breath as I reached for the handle…
Holy mother of God we hit the jackpot. Inside was an amazing place that can only be described as a Los Angeles-German Beer Garden. All my favorite qualities of both. CC and I spent a solid 5 hours drinking beer and eating food. Among the many people we talked to at the long, picnic style tables was an Editor that gets to vote in the Academy Awards. Still sour over the Live Action Short Film Category, I got to give him a piece of my mind and he had to take it. Stinkin’ Academy…
It was safe to say that the presence of Connecticut Chris was going to have a dramatic increase in the quality of my life. It was several weeks later that Chris came along with me to an open mic. As opposed to suffering through it all the way a “good friend” would, he enjoyed it for what it was, asking a few musicians for their myspace info afterwards.
Walking back to my car that was parked a few blocks away, Chris was giving me a run-down of his favorite and least favorite acts. Adding to something he had said about one of the people he didn’t like so much, I was a bit thrown off when Chris uncharacteristically interrupted me.
“Yo. I think we’re being tailed.”
My silence said “huh?”
“Yeah dude, we’re being tailed. How fast can you get into your car?”
I finally came to from the abrupt shift our conversation had taken and realized that we were walking on a dark backstreet in a seedy part of Hollywood, the area that I had heard by far and away the most bad stories about. I did my best to think clearly.
“Pretty fast, but I have to unlock your door manually.” I quietly said, trying not to give off a sense of fear or concern.
“Ok. Ok, that’s fine. Do you have any weapons in your car?”
“Yeah man – a bat, a knife?”
“No” I said. If I weren’t quite so nervous, I may have been able to hash out a complete sentence:
No, Connecticut Chris, I don’t have a weapon in my car to use against whomever it is that is tailing us.
What. Is Going. On.
Tune in next week to find out! In the meantime, a little live action short of my own, based on the trip back from Venice Beach: