Wednesday, December 23, 2009

lax > jfk

By Pauly
New York City

25% chance my flight was going to get canceled. Those were the odds. The result? Flight went off but delayed an hour. At least I got out of LA even though I didn't mind the two-day delay for my Christmas holiday.

The balmy weather in LA, almost two perfect. 60 plus degrees. Everyday. That's the reason why people (and people meaning me) live in a city with cancer-inducing pollution, a former Terminator as our Governor, redunkulous amounts of traffic, and a severe lack of culture where everyone is waiting for their big break.

Although 60 degrees is considered the dead of winter in LA. Fashion whores look for any opportunity to wear something different, eager to showcase the winter lines of their favorite designer. I shake my head in disbelief at those morons. It's 60-fuckin-3 degrees and waif-like models are wandering around Beverly Hills sporting purple puffy jackets and cashmere mittens like they're about to race the Iditarod.

LAX was swarmed with people flocking back to their hometowns. They had presents. Lots of them. And bags. Big bags. With puffy jackets presumably, or whatever generic medicines that their maids were able to smuggle over the border from the pharamcias in Tijuana. You wanna make grandma smile during the holidays? Surprise her with a jar of blood pressure pills (her cost $300) that you got in Mexico for $5. But don't tell her that you also got a tattoo, bottle of tequila, a blowjob, and a drippy penis for $20 more.

The more that people carry with them to the airport for short holidays or vacations is an indicator of their personality. That's why the security line was backed up to the next terminal. The overpackers are weak, insecure, and need help. Less is more. Especially when you travel during the busiest time of year. The airlines are doing everyone a favor in charging them $25 a bag. If we didn't have to take so much shit with us, they wouldn't have to haul less crap around. I suspect that at least 25-30% of anything in any piece of luggage is not going to be used - a pair of dress pants, a sweater, a book, DVD player, whatever - but people need material items to be secure. To stay sane. They also slow down the travel process. Shit I was going on two (possibly three) trips and I traveled light (I only took a certain bag with me because I needed extra space for the Hawaiian shirts for Miami. Don't ask.)

Exit row. Aisle seat. At least I got a seat on the packed plane. I won the lottery after all the flights got thrown out of wack because of the winter storm over the weekend. The exit row meant that I got to pre-board. I escaped the throng of masses and frugal fight for overhead space with cheap bastards trying to jam overstuffed bags into tiny crawl spaces that barely fits a dead hooker let alone my sleak new TSA-approved bag.

I have had horrible seat karma the last couple of years. Crying babies. Annoying children. I'm a magnet for them. And that run badness continued with the family with two young girls that made me want to listen to The Shins and slit my wrists before we even pulled away from the gate. Jesus fuckin' Christ those hellcats were loud and spoiled little shitheads that couldn't sit still or keep their mouths shut for five seconds. The screams from the one girl were penetrating my Bose noise-canceling headphones. The father gave up and asked for wine. I wish he gave it to the kids. At least that would excuse their behavior.

Well, shit, my kids are drunk. Whaddya gonna do? Merry Christmas.

The young woman in my row in the tight brown Juicy sweats stewed in agony. She was a rookie. Just iPod buds and no pills. Thank god for the last sliver of Oxycontin I ingested that afternoon when my back flared up.

I watched a show called Hoarders and one episode where an old lady slept on piles of her own diapers in her rodent infested kitchen. That show was about the same people who were in line with me at LAX. Shit piles. Dead rats. Sounds like a Bukowski poem.

My flight landed at the height of morning rush hour. I got lucky and didn't have to wait long in the taxi line, but I drew the stanky cab. It reeked of sweaty feet and curry. I held my breath as I piled in and started reading my email. We barely moved on the Van Wyck. The drugs had worn off. I tried to listen to music on my iPod to keep me sane, but that couldn't make the traffic disappear. 100 minutes of torture.

The red eye guaranteed no sleep. I operated on fumes on Tuesday morning as I walked through the streets of the old neighborhood. Sign of the economic times. New apartment buildings and condos sat empty. No buyers. One construction project had halted as a skeleton of concrete slabs shot up out of the ground, and eyesore among the smattering of stores decorated for the holidays. The one video store on the block and the only bookstore in the neighborhood were vacant. Gone forever and driven out by rising rental prices. Even the kosher pizza place couldn't keep up and had to close their doors.

I ran into Vinny the Barber who told me that I looked like a bum. He promised to squeeze me in if I stopped by on Wednesday morning. I woke up early and even set my alarm. We spoke about a variety of topics from Tiger Woods to the international date line to the time he told me he ran 32 miles in a single day. He asked me what kind of poker stories I was writing about. I mentioned something about a potential cheating situation.

"You know about that guy they caught cheating at a poker game on Arthur Avenue?"

"No, when? What happened?"

"This was a couple of years ago. They caught him and chopped off his hand. With an axe."

"What did they do with the hand? Toss it in the East River?"

"Fuck should I know? Probably fed it to the dogs."

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