Note to self: Never, ever, ever again go to the West Side.
Last night, with vague plans of "dinner and a movie," Mrs. Octopus and I decided to drive out to the West Side to L.A.'s new Vegas/Disneyland/Truman Show/Biosphere II outdoor shopping mall, The Grove. There, we had our first absurd L.A. car nightmare.
The Grove's parking garage is eight or nine levels high. We had been there before -- but not on a Saturday night -- and hadn't had any problems. Last night, though, we found ourselves immured in traffic jams -- get this -- in the parking garage.
It is pretty hilarious, looking back, but at the time, it was horrific. Everyone was honking at each other. People were shamelessly stealing spots from each other. The paper-thin veneer of what passes for civilized behavior on the West Side was breaking down. I think one guy, walking off toward the elevators with his girlfriend to enjoy the infinite delights of The Grove after he had scored a parking spot, actually turned to give me, as I sat still trapped in my car, a triumphant, shit-eating grin. Oh, the horror.
People looking for spots would just randomly stop -- falsely imprisoning all the cars behind them -- and wait for people to come back to their cars. At one point, after we had been held captive behind someone's Lexus for about eight minutes, I got out of our car and started approaching the car at fault -- with what course of action in mind, I am not sure and would rather not think about. Luckily, the Lexus pulled into a parking spot -- and out of our way -- just as I was walking up to knock on the driver's door.
After wasting about thirty or forty minutes in this manner, we gave up on the Grove and decided to flee. This took about ten minutes or so, just to navigate the traffic jam down to the exit.
We fled The Grove and drove down to Little Ethiopia -- probably the only redeeming part of the West Side -- for an excellent meal at Merkato. I got a bit agitated when some cretinous bastard slipped in from behind and stole a parking spot from us on Fairfax, but we soon found another spot, and, once we were able to actually leave our car, our evening continued.
Merkato was very good. It was attached to a little café/bookshop/music store, where, being slaves to the diktats of Jim Jarmusch, we bought an Ethio jazz CD featuring some of the songs from "Broken Flowers". We drove back to Los Feliz, listening to the groovy, underwater-sounding jazz, past the Ferrari dealerships, the Chinese restaurants with valet parking, and the UCLA students at the In-n-Out drive thru, resolving never to return.