Recently, I’ve made a few trips up to Los Angeles to meet with clients and prospects and do some Beaming Bohemian business. You may remember that I lived in L.A. for five years before I moved to Japan in July of 2002. As apprehensive as I was at the time to move from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles, those five years provided excellent career opportunities and cemented numerous friendship and business contacts that have remained even during my eight years overseas.
The downtown revitalization had just begun when I left in 2002. At that time, many folks still drove downtown to work, and went home to the Westside. The reverse is true now. It is difficult to travel East in the evening and West in the morning. Heck, it’s tougher to travel anywhere at anytime, the housing boom even affected my little neighborhood where side streets like Ohio and Sawtelle are no-go’s by 5pm. L.A. traffic has always been, but seems even more nuts than I ever remember.
Even with L.A. drivers being more rude than San Diegans, for example, there are some disturbing trends that would really give me pause if I ever needed to move back there.
1. No one behind you for miles and you get cut off… pulls out in front of you or on the freeway or where ever. The space in front of you is just way more enticing than all the free space behind you. So much so that some folks even speed up to cut you off.
2. The folks that speed up to cut you off when you have miles of free space behind you have a tendency to do so right before an intersection where they slam on their brakes to turn right.
3. At a stop sign when you are angled to turn right, a car will pull up on your left, in what seems an effort to turn left. But the driver decides they don’t trust your judgement, nor do they want to wait for you and they turn right around and in front of you.
4. Also at a stop sign, and it seems particularly popular during the evening hours, the person behind you will pull up to the right of you and go through the intersection ahead of you instead of turn right.
5. There still seems to be no concern for crossing over five lanes on the freeway to narrowly make an exit that you know the driver takes probably everyday.
6. If a driver is in the wrong lane, it doesn’t matter where anyone else is, how it affects everyone else or how dangerous the maneuver is… it is clearly impossible to just go in the direction of traffic, out of the way for a block or so, make a u-turn somewhere and get back on track. I saw a guy in the left-hand turn lane on Overland and Pico who decided that he needed to turn right on Pico instead and bolted across the traffic at the green light so that he could go the direction he wanted.
7. The second the light turns green, everyone celebrates by honking.
8. If you do not have a green arrow to turn left, it is still expected that you will turn into oncoming traffic to make your turn. At least that’s what all the honking in the back screams. Nevermind it’s not clear, just GO!
9. If you are forced to park on the street and unlucky enough to not be able to put your front or rear bumper right up to a driveway, you will find that the kind people who have also parked on the street have made it impossible for you to move even an inch.
10. Even when the traffic is not heavy on the freeway, it seems that the general rule is to drive rightnext to the person in the next lane. Match their speed and leave no room for error.
Ten is probably enough. Truth be told, I never use my horn expect when I am in L.A. It is frustrating, it is stressful, and it makes me glad that I live in San Diego.
What L.A. driving habits have you seen develop over the last several years? Do they bother you or do you just let it roll off your shoulders?
When I’m in L.A. for business, I do my best to squeeze in a few social visits. Last night, I enjoyed the chance to catch up with my friend Tony. We were both at a loss of where to go. We decided we could both stand a good burger. And so we agreed on Father’s Office in Century City, out there by the old Helm’s Bakery. I had never been there and it had been a good long while for Tony.
For a Wednesday night, the place seemed overly packed, but we managed to get a seat at the bar and eager to eat, quickly got the bartender’s attention. There is only one burger on the menu and much to my dislike, it came with bacon. So I ordered, “The Father’s Office burger, but with no bacon please.” The response was a little surprising, “I’m sorry, we don’t make any modifications to our menu items.” I looked at the girl with confusion and said, “I’m sorry? What?” And she repeated, “We make no modifications to our menu items.”
Was “no bacon” a modification? I would think that it was just a simple “leave off” request. I didn’t ask to change the recipe or use elk meat or something elaborate. So I kind of shook my head in disbelief that there was like, zero accommodation, and ordered the sweet potato fries with my burger. Tony ordered the “No modifications Father’s Office Burger with unmodified fries.”
The sweet potato fries arrived as an appetizer with blue cheese aioli. And that was great. The aioli complimented the fries well. When our burgers came, I handed over my bacon to Tony and stole a few regular fries, which are served with garlic parsley aioli. When the bartender asked us if we needed anything else, Tony asked for ketchup. The bartender said, “I’m sorry sir, we don’t serve ketchup.” We looked at each other, looked at the bartender (who must have this conversation often, I would suspect) before Tony leaned in and said, “You don’t serve ketchup? I can’t put some ketchup on my fries?” The bartender said, “No, sir. We don’t serve ketchup.” Tony leaned in a little closer and said, “You don’t have any ketchup anywhere in this establishment?” “No we don’t,” was the response. Tony came back with, “Really. Dude, between you and me, is that reasonable? What kind of restaurant doesn’t serve ketchup with fries?” All the bartender had to say was, “Sorry.”
As someone who works to build brands and positive, purposeful brand communications, this little episode really stuck with me. Tony and I laughed it off, but only after we made a few loud comments to each other, “What kind of restaurant doesn’t serve ketchup?” “Well, aren’t we all super strict here in Father’s Office? No modifications and no ketchup, gosh darn it!” I mean, really. How can any restaurant take themselves that seriously? Why do people in LA like to go to restaurants where they’re treated like crap? Because that’s what “no modifications” and “no ketchup” say to me.
I took a peek at their website. Not only is it one of the only restaurant’s I’ve seen that doesn’t have a menu on their website, but Father’s Office is for certain the only restaurant which has a “Menu Policy.” It reads:
Please be aware of our menu policy. We do not permit any substitutions or modifications to any of our menu items. Outside food and beverages are not permitted. Dessert items including birthday cakes are not permitted.
Father’s Office may have a great beer menu, but this ridiculous Menu Policy spoils all the fun. I won’t be doing business at Father’s Office again. I’m not able to make any modifications to my schedule.
Before Mette came to California, I put together a full itinerary with links to websites, photos and descriptions so she could begin to look forward to her “Shanna Tour.” I did much the same thing when my Japanese friends visited in August of 2007. I like to do these kinds of things. It does make for long days and not so much relaxation, but I suspect that most people would want to get as much out of the experience as possible and see as much as they can see while they are here.
San Diego is a much more enjoyable place to tour someone around. Traffic is kinder, there are more attractions and frankly, San Diego is a much more beautiful city than Los Angeles. But one thing LA has over San Diego – Hollywood. That can be good and bad. But when you have a guest in town, Hollywood is a big draw!
I planned for today to be our Hollywood day. We started off with a VIP tour of Warner Bros. Studios. When my J-peeps were here a few years ago, we toured Paramount studios. Both are quite similar and you see and learn just about as much. Not sure the WB deserves a “VIP” status. I would expect a bit more VIP service, like being able to say hello to Zachary Levi as we pass the Chuck soundstage. But I’ll let it slide this time. ;p
After the WB tour, I tool Mette to Bob’s Big Boy for an old-fashioned hamburger. These kinds of diners are not sprinkled throughout San Diego as much as they are Los Angeles. And I hadn’t eaten a Bob’s Big Boy hamburger for at least a decade. It was delicious! (Which reminds me that I have yet to go to InNOut Burger…what’s wrong with me?)
After lunch, we took the 405 to Sunset Boulevard and made the long drive on the famous road all the way to Western. We turned again at Franklin so that we could pass by the Scientology Celebrity Centre and then go up Beachwood for the best view of the Hollywood sign. We then went down Highland and into the parking structure so we could walk Hollywood Blvd and visit Mann’s Chinese Theater. We took a good look at all the hand and footprints and several stars on the Walk of Fame. We did a little shopping at the H&M there (worst H&M I’ve been in by the way) and made our way back to the hotel.
After a rest and some decisions, we headed to the Third Street Promenade. We went for another Mexican feast at La Sandia, before we caught The Black Swan at the AMC. My goodness was that a fantastic movie. I knew/met Darren during my AFI days. I was completely impressed with this film. I loved the story, the performance, the editing, the filmmaking…just superb. I hope Darren receives the Oscar this year. It is well deserved.
And that’s a wrap!
Happy New Year! It’s 2011! How about that! What did you do this year for the holiday? Where did you celebrate? I enjoyed O’Brien’s with Sarah, much like I did ringing in 2008, but this year I did NOT kiss the bartender at midnight! ;p
I think it’s safe to say that most of us are happy to put 2010 behind us. For many of my friends, it seems, this past year was a struggle. I think we are all welcoming a new year, a breath of fresh air in with open arms and lots of optimism. I am definitely ready to start anew.
As many of you may remember, I’m not one to make a long list of resolutions each year. Sometime while in Japan, I decided to just make a theme for the year. 2010, for example was “Rise to It” which was part of a movie quote “Life is an occasion. Rise to it.” And that was how I was feeling at the beginning of 2010.
My theme for 2011 is – The Reinvention of Shanna B. – I think it’s perfect for what lies ahead of me this year. I’m in new surroundings (sort of), I am leaning towards starting my own business versus getting a job, I need to figure out where I will live (SD or LA) and have the greatest hope that love will be mine. I think that all gets summed up nicely in “Reinvention.”
I’m excited for this year, excited for all that is to come and ready to move forward and toward great things.
What would your theme be this year?
Here’s another shot of Sarah, Jake and I – the terrible threesome for the evening:
Whenever I make a visit home, I always split my time between San Diego and Los Angeles. L.A. is like the other place I grew up in the sense that the five years I lived there were really remarkable years of growth for me both professionally and personally. And it was in L.A. where I met some the most important friends in my life.
The tough part about making a visit these days is splitting up my limited time between everyone and having those too-short moments be meaningful. But I think I managed to do well this visit. Even stopped by the City Club and after a good chat with Larry, remembered exactly the stuff I’m made of – important during this challenging time in my life.
Worst part of Los Angeles – the traffic! THAT, I do not miss. It took me two hours+ to get out to my friend Sheryl’s house. Absolutely maddening. Even in the slower lanes, you have the jerks who get right up on your tail and ride your bumper. And for some reason, the drive between San Diego and Los Angeles seems to have gotten longer. Well, driving in the pouring rain up to L.A. probably doesn’t help the situation any. But for as many times as I’ve driven that route, it seems to have been stretch out a bit! It has – right? ;p
One of the fun things I got to do in L.A. was go see my hair stylist. Josef is my favorite. And I’ve gone to him for years now. Even living abroad, I usually plan a visit to Umberto’s in Beverly Hills. I’m not really a Beverly Hills kind of girl, but I have always splurged on my hair. In Japan even, I found a great stylist in Howard and would visit him on my visits to Tokyo. My hair is kind of my thing. And I let Josef do whatever the heck he wanted, because the look on his face when he first saw me said it all…The no bangs, one length thing was NOT working for me! And you know he made a good point. Bangs point to the eyes and if you have a pair…well then. So the bangs are back and my hair is all layered up and ready to grow…let’s hope that it will continue to grow quickly and get past my shoulders soon! This photo here shows off the new look the day after it was cut.
With two of my dearest friends in L.A. I discussed the issue of SKYPE. I’m telling you now, this is a fabulous tool to stay in touch and communicate. It doesn’t matter if you have video or not. Just to be able to talk live and hear your voice – that’s a lot of goodness right there. I use it all the time for work, as our offices are spread out over SE Asia. We chat, speak, hold conference calls and even send documents. So please….please please please. Load up skype on your computer and let’s stay in better touch – I MISS YOU!!!
I knew immediately that I had landed back in California. Standing around the luggage carousel, I watch as nearly everyone put their phone to their ear or talked loudly with their hands-free robotic ear piece safely clipped on. I’m sure every single person on my flight was some super major important person who just couldn’t wait one more second to retrieve all those way super important and urgent messages!
Walking though the terminal on the way to the United desk, I heard a smattering of “right on” and “dude” and “cool” with a sprinkling of “that’s how I roll” and “you know what I’m sayin’?” Aaaaahhhh…California. Home.
With boarding pass in hand to San Diego, I waited at the gate and heard the following conversation between two ultra-hip dudes, sitting right behind me…
Dude 1: Have you ever been to that restaurant Helen Back?
Dude 2: Hell and back? What?
Dude 1: No. Helen Beck. It’s play on words. It’s a pizza place. Do you know it?
Dude 2: Oh, that’s funny. No. Is it good?
Dude 1. That place rocks, dude. It’s like my favorite pizza place.
Dude 2: Really? Sounds cool.
(1 minute pause in the conversation)
Dude 2: So what’s the style?
Dude 1: Of what?
Dude 2: Helen Back. What style is it?
Dude 1: What do you mean what style?
Dude 2: Like, what kind of toppings do they have?
Dude 1: Dude, it’s a pizza place, you can get whatever you want. Their sauce is the bomb.
Dude 2: That’s cool. I’ll have to try it out sometime.
Dude 1: Yeah, you should, it rocks.
Dude 2: Yeah.
Dude 2: Do you know about McGuires?
Dude 1: No, never heard of it.
Dude 2: Oh, it’s the best. But I don’t think they have one in San Diego yet.
Dude 1: Probably why I don’t know it.
Dude 2: Right on. If it was here, you would totally know it dude. It’s really good.
Dude 1: Oh yeah?
Dude 2: Yeah. It’s good to go there when you are like totally starving and stuff cuz you’ll leave full. That’s for sure.
Dude 1: Cool. Sounds awesome.
Dude 2: Man, I love that place.
(pause and then the beginning of a conversation about a co-worker)
Dude 1: I don’t really know him that well, but he seems cool.
Dude 2: Do you know what he does when he’s like, hanging out?
Dude 1: You mean like activities?
Dude 2: Yeah, like what kinds of things does he like to do?
Dude 1: I really don’t know. But he’s cool.
Dude 2: Yeah, he’s cool.
At this point as I was jotting down notes from their mind-blowingly intelligent conversation, I had the urge to turn around and smack the two of them and yell, “You two are exactly the reason I don’t live here! You idiots!” But I imagine that random act of anger would be met with a really profound come back such as…
Dude 1: Wow. That was like totally unnecessary and uncool of you.
Dude 2: Yeah, totally uncool.
Welcome to California! Let the vacation begin!
Los Angeles, California – No angels here. Traffic in L.A. serves as my reminder and motivator not to re-settle there. Drivers are crazy, obsessed with honking their horns and always in such a rush! S L O W D O W N people!
Yesterday I returned to my little corner of the world here in San Diego after spending the last two weeks in Los Angeles. This was the first chance I’ve had to get away for a bit since I returned from my travels at the end of July. I was happy to have a little break!
You see, I’ve been spending day after day after day at my computer doing my research for job opportunities, sending off letters and networking my bootie off (not really, cuz it’s definitely still there!). So I welcomed a break to visit some friends, and give myself a well-deserved mini-vacation.
I house sat for a friend who was in Europe for 10 days, which also gave me some much needed alone time, a chance to reflect on my travels and assess the path I’m taking with my career. I still managed to network a little more of my bootie off, though, as I visited the City Club, chatted with my former boss, co-workers, and members. I even attended the annual wine expo, indulging in just a few tastes of really good wine. Yummy.
Sheryl and I hit a hotspot for happy hour and dollar tacos, as well as hit the Central Market for lunch one day – tame in comparison to Asian markets! But I felt right at home!
Steve and I caught up over a fantastic dinner, our conversation falling easily back into our comfortable and stimulating rhythm. We’ve developed the habit of closing the restaurants we frequent. Just love his company.
Carol, Bruce and I got caught up on the laughter which always ensues when we start telling stories. Carol and I covered good ground in L.A., from a Greek restaurant around the corner from her house, to InNOut in Westwood, to Billingsley’s and an afternoon at the Grove. I can’t believe how many beautiful homes have been sold and torn down in the area, only to have Italian-themed condos go up. The side-street traffic in West L.A. is a nightmare because of it!
Coffee at Pete’s on Montana and 14th allowed me to catch up with Sarah and the boys, Dan and Paulie, and meet a fantastic couple, Phil and Paula. Pete’s is always good for great conversations and lazy weekend mornings.
On my way back to San Diego, I stopped in Torrance to visit with the Eisenberg family. Michelle and Justin are about to welcome their third child. Sarah and Bryan are preparing for their new sibling, too. I most enjoyed our dinner conversation, which included the kids telling or making up jokes and Bryan enjoying the idea of finishing his food after saying, “Nice to eat you!” before each bite.
Among all that fun, I did manage to make significant progress in my networking efforts. Things are really heating up!!! In fact, I even have a job interview this week! I’m so excited! I don’t want to jinx it, but I will say that it’s exactly the type of job I’ve been hoping for and I would be based overseas with lots of international travel involved. So fingers crossed. I will update you when I have more news.
Whew! It’s been a busy couple of weeks!
On the Bright Side,