Meditations on an Empty Mini-Bar

Another week of airports, rental cars, hotels, theme parks, metering lights, and smog. I won’t say that the novelty is dead, but it has been beaten savagely and left lying on the side of the road. The project itself is still extremely cool. And taking short convenient flights to stay in nice hotels in nice suburbs gives me no right at all to complain. But that’s never stopped me before.

Turns out that Universal CityWalk is a lot more like I remember it, if you go when everything’s still open. You pass by hundreds of tattoos spread among two or three people, exhausted children in tow staring wide-eyed like they were right out of a Depression-era photo. All the big Universal attractions the kids go nuts for like Woody Woodpecker and E.T. and Popeye and okay I admit it I’m a brand snob. But c’mon — right near the Hot Topic they had a bunch of chairs set up so that the crowds could watch a movie on the big screen for free. That movie was Big, the heartwarming 17-year-old comedy about a young teenager who has sex with Elizabeth Perkins. You can’t pay people to see the thing.

Headed back from dinner, there was a woman at the public open-air karaoke booth doing “Zombie” by The Cranberries. You get points for confidence, lady, but that song doesn’t even sound right with a professional singing it.

There’s a big convention of cell phone people — sorry, mobile technology professionals — which means lots of bald goateed guys in suits sitting out among palm trees wrapped in Christmas lights having conference calls over their Treos. And sitting in the hotel drinking a three-dollar Coke and looking out the big picture window over the Hollywood Hills (I think) and the lights of LA in the distance, I come over all funny-feeling. It’s somewhat soporific. Maybe LA’s not so bad; maybe it would be okay to live and work here. Be one of them.

But then I’m reminded of Solaris, and how his wife sure did look pretty, and seemed just like a real person, but in the end she had no soul; she wasn’t real. That made a difference to George Clooney, and it still makes a difference to me. For now.

And right in the middle of my complaining, who should show up at the door but the hotel guy with a complimentary fruit basket. Nothing ruins a good rant like privilege. Ah well; these grapes would be okay if they’d only had the foresight to peel them.

Plus I just thought I had the last elevator but right at the last minute some dude sticks his hand in the door and pushes his way in, meaning that I had to hold for another 8 floors the humongous ear-splitting fart I’d been wanting to let.

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