Saturday, March 27, 2010

In Search of Dr. Horrible

Laundry day, see you there...

So apparently this laudramat is a real place. Who would have thought that thing seen on tv or internets would have to be real. But, apparently they are. And near the laundramat is the pond that one Captain Hammer zipped around in in his paddle boat. My mission? Find these two locations.

It seemed like a perfectly perfect plan. I had acquired the location of the two spots via the internet. A past student of mine who now painstakingly follows these blogs – no doubt to some day write another play about my life – sent me a link to their locations. The laundry had a real live address. This would make reaching it quite simple. The pond had a location in a park – in Echo park to be specific – and I drew a map to it. Reaching it should be equally simple

I was off to the buses. I believe it was the number 704 that took me all the way down to Echo Park (a conveniently named stop.) Now this is an important stop to know if you're visiting LA without a car. Not only does it allow you access to such an important laundry – and I know that you all care very much about important laundries – but it also gets you to within a few minutes of walking distance to Dodgers Stadium. If baseball season had begun, and wasn't still a few weeks off, I would probably have made more use of this locale. But as it stood, there was nothing happening at the ball park save for a convention of some sorts. And while going to a convention inside a baseball stadium would have been interesting, approaching the people guarding the pedestrian entrance did not seem to be my best choice. I think they also would have made fun of me – no one walks in LA!

So off to find the Laundry. It was a few blocks from where I jumped out of the bus, and reaching it I decided that I would buy little packs of Tide for friends and Dr. Horrible fans to enjoy. Of course, once inside, I saw that said Tide dispensing machine was out of order. Many pictures, and a video were created. Songs may also have been sung. The people sitting on the benches, watching their clothes spin, trying to decide what to do with their day after this painful task was completed, well they seemed a wee bit confused. Like in high school when I used to sing songs from the Little Mermaid in the halls. Confusion. But every now and then people would join in. No one joined in today.

Laundry visited, and enjoyed, I wondered if this was where the show was supposed to have taken place. Because this location? This street? Not the type of area I'd picture the characters frequenting.

Still, there was to be a delightful park around here – I saw it on the google maps – so off to go find it.

I walked down Stadium Way and looked to my right, constantly trying to find a place to walk off the road, and head into the park. There were no sidewalks here, but I did pass no less than seven hospitals all clustered together. One even had a sleep clinic. Smashing!

Still no sidewalks, but I started to pass free public washrooms. And parks. And basketball courts. The people here – no one would walk to these? Everyone drives? I felt so out of place using my two legs to power my movements. What a fool I was. What a fool indeed – though, the Shakespearian fool is the only character that gets to speak truth, so I guess the fool is an alright thing to be, yeah?

Still no access to the park.

Alright – it was time to rethink. Time to head back to the crossroads, and take the other street that would box in the area where this supposed park was located. Step, step, step – I was under fire! Hundreds of gunshots rang out! The sounds, bursting through the trees! Ah, but nothing but the sounds of the blasts, and still I stood. So all in all, must be some poor shots trying to end my life. I carried on. Rounding the corner things made a wee bit more sense. I had come across the Police Academy. What I had heard were people firing in the shooting range. That explained the big Alpha-shout of “Ough!” when the firing stopped. It didn't totally explain it – but remember, in America you can become an officer of the law directly out of high school – no University required.

I'm going to take a moment to wander on this police tangent. Yesterday I was watching COPS. It seemed like a cultural experience to be sure. Now the police know they're being filmed. The things you see are what happens when the police know they're going to be shown around the world. Let me break down the three cases from yesterdays show.

1. A black man runs when the police chase him, he out runs them with ease, and finally just stops and lets himself get cuffed. The officer chasing him is out of breath, and remains this way for the next seven minutes on camera. The camera man with all the gear seems fine, but this cop – he never regains composure. He starts yelling at the man, telling him what to do. The guy in cuffs calmly explains his name, and asks what the problem is. The officer yells at him telling him he stole a car and then ran from the police. The man explains that the car is his, and he ran because he was being chased. This is no doubt hard to understand as every time he “fits a description” terrible things like being thrown against his car, hands cuffed behind his back (as just happened) probably ensue. The cop continues to scream at him, and devolves into nonsense sounds. Four other officers show up – a good use of resource for a calm man in cuffs who can prove the car is his.

Finally they go to the woman who called in the complaint. It is a crazy white woman, still standing by the pay phone. When they ask her why she called in about him stealing her car, she start with a story about how a month ago her and her friends were sitting in their house, and he came busting in, and held them captive for hours, and wouldn't let them go. This involved story has nothing to do with anything, nor little basis in reality, as the police then try to fast forward her tale.

Oh, today, she explains – well, she was at the phone, and he came by and stole her car, then she grabbed the car, then he dragged her along the road, and tried to run her over and kill her.

By this point the police realize she is nuts, but they have cuffed this man, and now take him in for running from them.

And this is the least crazy of the first two – we'll avoid the third – as the point will get across. Still I think it's important that you understand the mentality of the police system in some states – when they know they're being filmed. Next, try to picture how they act when they're free from the camera.

2. A boy called the police as he was being abused by his family. The police show up, and the boy is gone. The father and his brother are there. They explain that they were just watching the game, drinking beers, and that the brother flew off the handle, and kicked the dad. The father has a bruise to back this up. Then the boy went outside and kicked the tire of the car a few times, and walked off.

The boy returns, we learn that he is a homosexual growing up in this small town. This kid probably has a rough life, to say the least. He is asked why he left after calling the police. He explains because he was angry, and needed to get away from his family. They had, after all, just been beating him – he shows scratches on his hands and feet to prove this. The police say that his family didn't mention that, and that they said he had kicked his father – and mentioned the bruise to back this up.

The boy says yes, he did that to get away.

Well, even though his family isn't pressing charges, he's going to have to go to jail for the night for domestic abuse. Theres a Zero Tolerance policy about domestic abuse in this county.

At this point I'm flabbergasted. Are you kidding me? The kid was beat, probably for having the audacity to be gay, and perhaps not wanting to watch the baseball game – dad's been doing some drinking – kid is scared enough to call the police but when they come he's gone, so they believe the first story that they hear, not caring about who actually called the police, or why? At this point I think it can't get worse.

Putting the kid in the car, the officer says, “Look, I'm not saying it's fair – but someone had to go to jail tonight. Next time it might be one of them, but today it was your turn.”

What?! How is this ok? How is a country fine with a justice system that works like this. Even the police know it's crazy. And this is what they show on national television. How is anyone supposed to take it seriously? At first blush you really do think Canada and America are quite simple, but little by little you start to notice things.

And this is why I don't screw around at customs checks. Yes sir, thank you sir.

Right – so there I was at he police academy. I asked a woman working there on the grounds if she knew where the pond was.

“First sir, we're going to walk back onto the sidewalk, off the grounds,” (I had taken one step onto the grass.) “and then we can talk.”

After I was off the property she was quite lovely, and as helpful as she could be. She didn't know of the pond, but pointed me in the way of the park entrance. Following her advice I soon reached it, and learned that had I walked one hundred more meters the other way, I would have reached an entrance there too.

I took many pictures of the park map in order to not get lost from here on out.

Following the I ended up going through a great rise in elevation to Angel Point road. This would take me around the park, in theory. It offered me great views of the city in a few directions, and then took me to some strange memorial that looked like a brightly pained weather machine of sorts.

I also used the view to look over the park to see if there was any pond, like the one in Dr. Horrible, or the one on the map. There was none in sight – none on the map – and none that anyone had seen. How was this possible? It should be noted I'd spent nearly two hours searching for it at this point.

Well – I enjoyed my day in the sun, got to walk though a lovely park I'd have avoided otherwise, and not died. All in all, you have to happy about these things. It was with a jump in my step that I headed back down towards the bus stop, wandering through little communities and getting a feel for Suburban LA life along the way.

One hour of bus riding lately, including overhearing crazy people talk about meeting up later for one to show the other around town (and by crazy people I mean people willing to talk to strangers and offer them tours around town – so not crazy, but nice, though in this day and age those two things can be almost seen as the same, yes? Sad sad world.) I was back. Time to eat some Johnny Rockets hamburgers, and run into the best waiter I'd yet seen – earning from me a substantial tip. He worked his game well, knew how use non-verbal communication to make you feel like he was letting you in on a secret when unlimited fries and refills were mentioned, and writing boss in the ketchup tray? Fantastic.

When the staff had to sing for “Respect” he also seemed to not be hating his life. These are all charming things.

Good for you, Erik. Good for you.

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