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Back in L.A.

posted at 11:01 am
on Mar. 19, 2000

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There’s that song that came out a few months ago called “Back in (to?) L.A.”  That’s me, in a nutshell.

I had dinner yesterday at the Apple Pan diner.  I would consider it the quintessential American experience, the perfect bookend to a trip abroad, and I recommend everyone stop there on the way home from the airport as sort of a North American Blarney stone.

What makes it so U.S.A., baseball and apple pie (other than the great apple pie they serve)?

First of all, it’s impossible to park at the place, they only have about eight parking spots behind the restaurant.  It’s made even more difficult by the fact that I was there in a group of four people, and we brought three cars.  I had to park on the street and spent a long time deliberating over how much money to feed the meter. Like, if it’s 53 minutes to 6:00, and I put 47 minutes on the meter, will I get a ticket in those last 6 minutes? Or should I waste another quarter?  It’s not just the thought of spending $0.25 for only 6 minutes, it’s also that I know I’ll _need_ that quarter for parking later, and I might get a ticket if I don’t have it then…

The diner was one long counter with a big grill in the middle.  There was an average of 1.2 ketchup bottles per person.  The menu was:
-hickory burger
-sandwich (no one ordered a sandwich in all the time I was there)
-coke / diet / Dr Pepper

I ordered (surprise!) a burger, fries, a drink and a slice of pie.

The burger came wrapped in wax paper, without a plate.  I guess you’re supposed to eat it in one continuous motion, never letting it alight on earth.

The chairs were red vinyl. The counter was Formica. The floor was checkerboard tiles. The waiter added up the bills by hand.  Lunch was approximately eight times more here than in Budapest on average.

And I loved it.


“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

...who said it?

“Almost every American I know does trade large portions of his life for entertainment, hour by weeknight hour, binge by Saturday binge, Facebook check by Facebook check. I’m one of them. In the course of writing this I’ve watched all 13 episodes of House of Cards and who knows how many more West Wing episodes, and I’ve spent any number of blurred hours falling down internet rabbit holes. All instead of reading, or writing, or working, or spending real time with people I love.”

...who said it?

“Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.”

...who said it?

“I play with variables constantly.”

...who said it?

“Only the person who has learned Continual Love coming from a heart of Gratitude/Worship can effectively deal with the problem of loneliness.”

...who said it?




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