I just found out that the 439 has been divided into two different bus lines. The Hollywood bus took an hour to arrive, making it impossible to get to my first several destinations on time. The holiday schedule has an unwritten proviso: we'll show up when we feel like it, and you'll be damn grateful or we'll leave you standing at the curb. Oh, wait; that's the MTA's regular credo. They tried a promotion a few years ago: if the bus arrived fifteen or more minutes late, your ride was free. That program was rather abruptly cancelled.
Downtown Los Angeles is a real ghost town. Only a smattering of security guards, the homeless and a photographer shooting Disney Hall are to be seen.
No one I mention it to seems to remember a fabulous 1950s B movie set in New york, abandoned in the face of an alien attack save for a disparate band of stranded people in a cafe; a sort of Key Largo meets War of the Worlds meets Lifeboat.
It was a cool movie. I never see it in any sci-fi festivals or invasion-from-outer-space film fests at the local art houses. Too bad everyone thinks I made it up.
Since the MTA didn't feel like going to Silver Lake this morning, and it was already heating up, I ruled out going to Pasadena in favor of going by the South Bay cities; I hadn't counted on the MTA dividing the bus route into two. The South Bay towns have long tried to ensure that it is as difficult as possible for the sorts of folks who go to Venice Beach to visit their towns. Time was when all the beach bus routes would be packed in the summertime with beachgoers. Of late they've been packed with Central American gardeners, housekeepers and nannies heading to the McMansions by the sea.
Fortuantely, we arrive at the transfer point to the other leg of the beach trip with time to spare. The bus driver from downtown to LAX was enjoying the lack of traffic due to the holiday to no end, and made good time.
11:00 a.m., Holly and Main, El Segundo: I make a stop to photograph one of my favorite neon "cafe" signs in all of L.A. at Wendy's Cafe. I popped into Cooke's market where I succumbed to an Orange Crush soda; I haven't seen one in years. I think I drank them exclusively for one summer when I was a kid; when the weather gets hot, nostaglia factor aside, nothing could have tasted better.
At the Jeneral Store, I fell prey to a pair of Havaianas with a cool green-and-yellow Brazilian design that were on sale too cheap to pass up. After only two blocks, however, it was clear my feet were going to need a lot more time to remember back to an era when I wore sandals. By the time I sat down to wait for the beach shuttle, it was debatable that these were the most comfortable flipflops around. The bottom of my feet enjoyed them, but the space next to my big two where the strap rubbed against my skin was wincing and whimpering.
This is a town heavy with retired military, airlines and aerospace personnel. If I couldn't make it to SLO for the Fourth, this was about as small town America as I could expect to find around LA. The Fourth of July bunting up and down the street, and folks reserving their places to watch the fireworks show at 9 o'clock in the morning merely re-confirmed it.
8:30 p.m.: I'm on board the water taxi to watch the fireworks from the water at Marina del Rey. We dock at Fisherman's Village and have a great view.
There are lots of 'unauthorized' fireworks all around, too. Everyone is in a holiday mood; it probably helps that it is, like, still 80 degrees out at 10 p.m.