Flashes of Los Angeles, as I shut down Operation Pasadena and prepare to be on the road again.
1) The road.
With no time left to use it, I discover 6th Street. You can have lived here all your life, worked here for years, and still find another (better) way to get from one side of it to the other. It’s particularly good for the Pasadena-to-midtown stretch: the 110 to downtown, and 6th west. Driving here feels like negotiating: I’ll see your sun blinding you off the face of the enormous iridescent office building lurking over the 110 North, and raise you a Cone Zone construction closing off your exit. There’s no one way to get from one place to another, only a series of guesses.
2) The Fairfax corridor.
There’s no more alien pizza, or cosmic pizza, or all the wrong names I ever gave Nova Express. I had two of the three most significant meetings of my time in Los Angeles in that all-night, sci-fi-decorated Fairfax pizza joint. i only remember one of them, but I know the other one happened. And now it doesn’t exist. If anything is a confirmation that I should be leaving town, it’s this sad disappearance. The front is boarded up.
We end up in Canter’s instead. A friend suggests that everything in life that isn’t theater is the green room. I buy sunglasses and a suitcase in the thrift stores, observe the selection of vintage menorahs, walk the walk, and eat the kugel.
3) The Heath Ledger Experience.
Waiting in line at the Grove. Running into the theater, dignity abandoned, scrambling for seats. One of the most wonderful performances I have ever seen, or ever hope to see. We laugh loudly at all the wrong places, at the most violent moments, when his acting is superlative. Which is a lot. I’d watch Christopher Nolan direct the phone book.
I was guilty of some of the cheesy reasoning folks have been throwing around about his death, BSing with a philosophy professor friend of my parents’ that a dark role makes your outlook on life darker, that playing the Joker drove him over “the edge.”
But that’s just not true. I don’t know how anyone can say that the performance actually drove him mad, when any actor would be so proud of that performance that it would drive them to greater sanity. He knew how good he was, and he was enjoying being that good. He was on top of his game, technically perfect, and proud of it.
Makes me believe, even more, that his death was an accident.
(I created a new category with this post, location, for things that are about places but not necessarily just about traveling. All my observations on place have been travel-related, for the last year, but I want to link into them with a more grounded noun.)