Tag Archives: transportation

18th Century French Urban Planning

30 Jan

Disgustingly narrow streets

Disgustingly narrow streets

While cleaning up my apartment I found a letter dated all the way back to 1756. Using my rudimentary Rosetta Stone French 1 skills and advanced investigation techniques, I surmised that this document was in French. It was addressed to the LCDPU (Le Committee de Planning Urban) in Paris and outlined the very serious flaws of a certain French town in the 18th century. The following is my best attempt to translate the words of an angry French citizen, Guy DeparGuy.

Bonjour,

I just moved to a small town 58 km north of Paris called Derangier, and let me tell you it is a real mess! This city makes no sense. Firstly, there are no designated paths for horses. These animals and there masters are allowed to gallop in any direction at alarming speeds, often times pushing humble pedestrians to the side forcing them to walk on disagreeable ground. In one instance, a horse grazed my elbow as I strolled, jarring the variety of cheeses and baguettes loose from my grasp. I had to march back to the market…, which I might add is on the outskirts of town! What the fuck is that?! There should be a central marketplace that is easily accessible to all.

Stupid Sycamore Lane

Stupid Sycamore Lane

And why are there so many churches? Listen, I love Jesus as much as the next fearful Christian, but I also love cheap whores and booze. A few more brothels and bars would be nice. Furthermore, why is Sycamore Lane such an eyesore? I thought a beautification process was in the works last year. Can we get a shrub, bushel, bonsai, anything to liven up that god-awful center divide? Don’t even get me started on the roundabout at the end of the street. Do I wait? Do I go? Do I just walk in circles until I get tired? Very confusing stuff. Anyway, I’m sure you are busy enjoying my taxes, but I want to see some changes!

Considering a move to Lille,

Guy DeparGuy

Bay vs. LA

3 Jul

A good friend recently called me and asked if I wanted to attend a local trivia night in the Bay Area. While flattered by the gesture, I informed the friend that I live in L.A. and unless he wanted to fly me up for the night like some high-end trivia escort, I would have to decline the invite.

“Really? How long have you been down there?”
“Over two years now. You should probably know this information about me”
“Shit man. What are you still doing down there? That place sucks.”

Most Northern Californians would agree with my friend, and most Southern Californians would be oblivious to the fact that their neighbors despise them so much, but at the same time carry an air of superiority that hints that they care more than they let on.

My friend was bummed that he wouldn’t have enough for a six-man team (and someone to crush current events) and then asked me, “So what’s better? The Bay or LA?” As always these debates are a matter of personal preference and clearly the fact I was born and raised in the Bay Area may cause some bias, but I do love L.A. I really do. I also wrote for my school newspaper for a few months so this will be a totally and completely objective look at both regions in hopes of settling the great yell-off.

Weather: LA

LA– Some say LA is devoid of weather. Those people are idiots or ungrateful and sentimental Easterners who miss the “change of the seasons.” Big ‘effin deal. The leaves change color for a couple days, snow is fun and nostalgic for maybe a day if you don’t have to work or be somewhere and rain puts you in a reflective mood until you want to kill yourself. Guess what everyone says after a week of freezing cold, wet and uncomfortable conditions? “I want sun!” LA has 9,000 days of sun a year. I describe it like being in a well-maintained lizard terrarium where everyone moves slow and licks the glass. (Not the best analogy but that’s how I’ve described it to like 5 people) You don’t have to wear a jacket at night and oh boy those Santa Ana winds…don’t quite know what they are, but people talk about them like lost lovers.

Bay– The Bay’s air is crisper and the light less intense. There are so many microclimates that it is hard to make an accurate comparison, but foggy summers in SF seem to be a downer for most who live there. We are all familiar with Mark Twain’s famous quote, “Fuck this fog, I’m kicking it in the East Bay today.”

Nature/Outdoors: Bay

LA– Los Angeles loses this one, but not by much. Everyone thinks LA is some sprawling shithole, isolated from anything beautiful. While there is a serious lack of green within the city, LA is super close to wonderful hiking in Malibu and San Bernardino, cliff jumping in Azusa, skiing in Big Bear and of course water sports all along its inviting beaches. Hey! There are beaches in the Bay too! Yea and they suck. Ocean Beach is freezing, Stinson is only good in summer and far away, and Robert Crown Memorial is just…well…heroine needly.

Bay– Pretty tough to beat the Bay in terms of natural beauty. First of all there is a big and beautiful bay that wraps around the major cities. There is a huge forest of redwoods where John Muir used to go and do things and a park the size of the city itself plopped in the middle with buffalo roaming around. When I was considering moving to LA, I visited my aunt and she was adamant about showing me the Silverlake reservoir and described it as “beautiful.” To be clear, reservoir is not an acronym for something awesome, it’s literally a water containment facility with a barbed wire fence around it next to a patch of grass, but people had come to cherish this small bit of green and blue within the city. Not a good sign.

Traffic/Public Transportation: Bay

LA– No secret here. All you have to do is watch this video to understand how LA traffic drives people insane. I’ve tried herbal teas, reggae mixes and deep breathing techniques. Nothing works. The metro isn’t bad, but it doesn’t service enough areas and if you polled Angelinos, I’m sure most wouldn’t even know LA has a subway system.

Bay– Yes, traffic here can suck too, but I’ve never had to put on Bob Marley to physically stop myself from murdering someone. Muni and Bart are gross, but fairly accessible and if you haven’t pissed in a Gatorade bottle on your way back from New Years, you’re not living.

People/Sense of Community: Bay

LA– This one was hard to call and I’ll explain why. LA has a terrible reputation for being full of pretentious, fake and fame hungry airheads. These people do exist, but they are not the majority and you don’t have to interact with them if you don’t want to. You’re a big boy now. LA is huge! There are so many unique neighborhoods that give you a different flavor of LA life. It’s a melting pot of transients, natives, immigrants, celebrities, and those trying to become celebrities. Here is the double-edged sword. LA is an entertainment hub and industry. People move here from all over the world to make a career out of their artistic passion and craft. I’ve never been surrounded by this many talented and driven people in my life, and that is a credit to the magnetism of LA. This also means everyone moves here for a purpose, not merely for a change of scenery. Careers come first, which means relationships and friends come second. I’ve never been exposed to so much fakery and flakery in my life. Distance between neighborhoods, traffic, auditions, gigs, shoots, shows, headshots and diets are all reasons given for not hanging out, and that’s bullshit. Some call it independence; I’d call it loneliness.

Bay- I think the Bay wins this because of what the area does to people. LA has made me slightly impatient and mistrusting of people’s intentions. The bay tends to attract and nurture a sense of tolerance and curiosity. People are encouraged to be themselves and that creates a very unique region full of interesting and mostly intelligent people. I’m not saying people in LA are stupid, but the general discourse revolves around entertainment, which is to be expected, but exhausting nonetheless. Something brought to my attention, however, is the fierce regionalism that exists within the Bay. There is a certain aura of self-righteousness that exudes from bay folks, which can be perceived by outsiders as pretentious or just downright ridiculous. We’re still pretty sweet though. (Most biased section. I swear)

Food: This decision was excruciating, but I think LA takes it. I’m not a foodie so I don’t know where to get bomb Azerbaijani food, but I can speak on the main cuisines. Affordability and food trucks tip the scales.

Burritos: Bay
Mexican/Latin: LA
Burgers: LA
Pizza: Bay
Korean/Japanese: LA
Chinese: Bay
Indian: I don’t know, it all runs thru me.
Thai: LA
Food Trucks: LA

Oh, but what about Alice Waters and the California Cuisine/Organic farms/Gourmet Ghetto revolution in the Bay? It’s all great, but like I said before I don’t have the duckets to go to Chez Panisse or some Michelin 4 star joint and eat dungeoness crab with gold on top.

So if you are counting at home I guess the Bay takes it, but there is a reason I haven’t moved back yet. LA is a really cool place with a lot to offer and I wish people gave it more of a chance. Why here’s an idea! Now that my friends know that I’ve been living in LA for the last two years, they can come visit and see for themselves how sweet it is, and then talk shit about it when they get back to the Bay.

Becoming a Manny

26 Mar

Watching a man receive a pedicure through a window evokes many feelings. Mostly I want to yell something like, “Come on man, are you serious!” Then the lighter side of my manhood and my liberal upbringing tries to come to his defense. He may have extraordinarily disgusting feet that require small teams of Korean women to hack at his little piggies like deranged butchers. Maybe he has beautiful feet and enjoys wearing open-toed sandals. This has to be some kind of absurd mandate from a wife or girlfriend. He can’t be single and think that sprucing up his feet will get him laid.
“Oh they’re beautiful!” An old woman with that unmistakable ‘give granny a kiss’ intonation gestures toward me.
“What”? I reply, still fixated on the man’s toes.
“Your kids, they’re so handsome!” she continues. I forget momentarily that I am standing next to two young boys.
“Oh, they’re not mine. I’m not the father,” I say with the conviction of a two-time guest on the Maury DNA test results show.
“Then what are you”? says the old woman.
“I’m their older caretaker man friend.” The old woman looks very concerned. She politely nods, takes out her cell phone and either calls child protective services or Dateline: How to Catch a Predator. I don’t comprehend the creepiness of my statement until the five year old asks me what an older caretaker man friend is. “Well buddy, it’s a vaguely pedophilic term that I use to explain my job rather than tell people I’m a male nanny. Using my twisted logic, it’s better to sound like a pervert than come across as slightly effeminate.” The kid looks at me blankly, and then like the champion conversationalist five year olds are, he smoothly changes the topic. “Why is that man getting his toes painted? Isn’t that for girls”? The man looks through the glass and smiles at us. I shake my head slowly. “I really don’t know boys. Apparently not.”

8 Things You Will Encounter During Bus Travel in South America

13 Mar

False. No one is this happy before taking a bus.

1) Reggaeton Recliner– Let me preface this by saying if you are over six feet tall you ‘re fucked. South America is best enjoyed at around 5’9” There will always be a guy who sits down in the seat in front of you and immediately without hesitation or regard for knee caps and menisci will recline as far as he can go. He then usually puts on absurdly loud Reggaeton, Salsa, or Cumbia and pretends not to feel taps on his shoulders.

2) Narcoleptic Recliner– This is a variation of number one, but equally as annoying. This person arrives on the bus and apparently hasn’t slept in months because they immediately recline their seat, fall asleep and begin snoring within seconds. Now maybe this person has just finished back-to-back marathons and has asthma and is narcoleptic and I am too harsh in my judgment. Or maybe they are inconsiderate slobs. Is it even possible to sleep for 16 hours straight without coming down from an acid trip? Do every one a favor and take a quick nap before the bus, snore it up all you want, and then just sit there and stare straight forward like every one else.

3) Segal– Are you a fan of Steven Segal? No? Then you’re fucked. Be prepared to watch at least one and more likely 900 Segal movies. From his memorable role as Jonothan Cold in “Black Dawn” to his striking performance as Harlan Banks in “Today You Die,” Segal sizzles on the small, blurry, and often cracked monitor. Groggy bus passenger audiences sit captive watching his ponytail flail about as he nonchalantly karate chops helpless goons from Rio to Bogota. One time a Sarah Michelle Gellar movie came on, and a man in the front of the bus punched the driver for treason. Segal is king.

4) Balls Cold– If you own Arctic commando fatigues, you are in luck. If you have ever trained to survive sub-zero temperatures then you will be well suited for bus travel in South America. Apparently there are no such things as knobs to control temperature on buses here. The bus temp always hovers around the more reasonable ‘balls cold,’ to ‘cryogenics cavern cold.’ Just pray the trip is under 20 hours, if not, you will be dealing with respiratory illness and or frostbite. According to NOAA, (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) 24 people die in the U.S. every year from issues related to the cold. Last year in South America, 7,000 people died from cold buses and lack of blood circulation due to insufficient legroom. That is a made up fact, but seriously bring a hoody.

5) Anytime Minutes– Someone in your near vicinity will either dial or receive close to 500 cell phone calls. They will have an obnoxiously loud ring tone and will wait until the last possible ring to pick up. The conversations always have something to do with how slow the bus is going and what time they may or may not arrive. Look, we are all on the same terrible bus ride, text your mom or loved one when you are close. We’ll get there shortly barring any horrific accident involving high speeds and sketchy roads… oh wait.

6) Move Bitch Get Out the Way!– One of the most popular practical jokes in South America is to take a big clumsy bus with bad suspension, drive it 100 miles per hour in pouring rain over steep, curvy mountain roads while passing cars on blind corners. Don’t worry, all drivers in South America have watched Tokyo Drift at least three times, you’re in good hands. Sure, it’s pretty frightening for the entire duration of the trip, but once you arrive at your destination you exchange clammy high fives and nervous laughter with the driver. It’s really just a great joke.

7) Gnarly Food Decisions– Bring food and water like you are preparing for a long winter full of earthquakes. While some bus companies provide a luke warm, unidentifiable entrée, the majority will only stop once at the finest dimly lit roadside shack. If you have never tried a cold doughy ball full of raw chicken and old cheese, this is your chance. If you are a brave and self-proclaimed “foodie” then by all means go ahead, but be prepared to visit a farmacia or bano within the next several hours. Oh yea, and good luck with the bathroom. Some buses don’t even have one; others do but never have toilet paper, and some inexplicably read, “For urinating only.” My advice is a big bag of Doritos, yogurt and water.

8) Elbow Battler– If you are traveling solo, chances are someone is going to sit next to you. The best you can hope for is a small girl that doesn’t say anything or move the whole trip. This never happens. You will most likely receive some heavily scented man with a Napoleon complex who swears he needs just as much room as someone twice his size. Dude, I swear I’m not trying to be a dick, I just need a little more leg and shoulder room than you, its just how I’m built. Please stop battling me for elbow position and using every bump in the road as an opportunity to encroach on my already tiny seat.

That's more like it.

Hard Hollers at the Taco Truck

8 Mar


I have the excellent fortune of living in the presence of taco trucks. L.A. is cheese full of these mobile smile bringers. I have never heard anyone say, “Ah shit, there’s a taco truck here.” It’s always more like, “Ohhhhhhh shit!” Taco trucks bring two important things to street corners; burritos and drunk girls. This is one of the most underrated places to meet a girl in your city.

Drunk, Hungry and Horny
During the day the taco truck is a peaceful glimpse into local food culture where day laborers and business folk alike bond over cheap, tasty eats. When night falls, however, the truck is inundated with loud drunks testing out their 9th grade Spanish and spilling Jarritos on their shoes. I realize what I just described sounds awful to most people, but if you are tolerant and swift enough to dodge some wayward toronja, you have the potential to bond with a member of the opposite sex over the three most important characteristics of a 2am creature of the night: being drunk, being hungry and being horny. If you were to check a box of needs and emotions after leaving a bar or club, one if not all three would pop up. The comradery two hungry and horny drunks share while waiting in a line for food is unparalleled. The same girl who was not giving you attention at the bar, will suddenly open up to you like you’re Barbara Walters and her career hangs in the balance.
“What are you going to get?”
“A burrito.” She replies.
“Nice.”
It really is that simple. After that its no holds barred. Ask her favorite color, her thoughts on the Iraq war, her preferred fuck ficky. It doesn’t even have to make sense because you are both experiencing the same emotions and both striving toward the same goal.

Strategy and a Little Bit of Suerte
Let me put it in economic terms. A normal night out at a bar might include cover charges, several drinks, and hours of pursuing girls who may or may not be interested in you. Not to mention taking the risk of drunk driving or having to take an expensive cab ride home. All told it comes to around fifty dollars and a headache the next morning. If you went to your local town fair and there was a tent with a sign that read, ‘$50 to stare at women and then get a headache,’ you would burn that tent to the ground and write a formal complaint to town fair management.
Here is what I suggest: split a fifth or a 30 rack with a couple close friends and play Madden or Call of Duty from 9pm to 1:30 am. Take a bus to your local bar/taco truck area (you can walk, skate or bike too but mind the shit eating in bushes). Arrive at the taco truck just as the bars let out. Find a cute drunk girl who keeps whining, “All I want is a quesadilla! Oh my god.” Slide in line and start up a convo. Remember it starts out about burritos, but then go ahead and get crazy. She’ll be into it. You’re in taco truck world now. Suerte.