Saturday, December 11, 2010
Glad to be Home
I’m not a big fan of LA. The traffic is hideous, everything is expensive, and where I have to stay is about an hour away from the ocean. Flying in and out of LAX is fairly miserable (although the security lines are much quicker than what you find on a bad day at Denver International Airport) and you tend to run into people talking loudly on their cell phones about the TV shows that they’ve been involved in recently.
That isn’t to say that the place doesn’t have its charms. The weather was wonderful and there are some truly wonderful people in the area. While I never really think of it as a friendly town, the truth is that I usually have some great conversations with absolute strangers and in the most odd places.
The young lady who worked the front desk, the lovely lady and her son who were seated with my co-workers and me at Tokyo Wako one night (a place similar to Benihana), a serviceman coming home from a trip to Australia with his family, and a Rhodesian gentleman who left his home country after Robert Mugabe’s government took his home all helped make my days a little happier. LA will never be my kind of town, but, if I were to be honest, there are far worse places to spend a few days.
Anyhow, these are a few pictures from the trip. All were taken with my iPhone and were then modified either on the phone or on my laptop.
This first picture is dark because I was more interested in the shapes and the shadows than I was in the colors. The view is from the hotel and the gentleman to the left is the Rhodesian man I mentioned earlier. After fleeing Zimbabwe in the early eighties with only what he could carry on the plane and a few dollars in his pockets, he made his way to the US and started a business. He provides limousine services and says that business is great. We chatted a bit while he waited for Doctor Suchandsuch and I waited for my ride to the office. Typically I rent a car when I’m in town but decided to let my co-workers shuttle me around this time. I’m glad I did.
I’ve never flown American Eagle, but after my last few trips on United I decided I needed to find a new carrier for my business trips. I wasn’t disappointed. The folks at American and American Eagle were wonderful and the flights got me where I was supposed to be with minimal fuss and very nearly on time. Through my own stupidity, I also managed to miss my flight Friday morning but making changes and finding a later flight was easy and painless. It did leave me spending a good portion of the day at LAX, though, so I spent $50 for a day pass to the Admiral’s Club where the seats were nice, I had high speed Internet access, and where I could find a clean bathroom. I don’t fly often enough to need a membership, but it made the wait much nicer.
I plan to fly American again when I head to Vegas in January and look forward to giving them an opportunity to keep my business.
One of the odd things about flying American Eagle into LAX, though, is that the planes go into a small terminal a few minutes away from the main terminal. Passengers check in and go through security just like anyone else, but then they board little buses that shuttle them to the little building after driving around the runways. When we flew in, the bus driver played a canned tape that explained that we would be going to the main terminal and that the trip would take a few minutes. “Airplanes have the right of way,” the recording helpfully explained.
This next picture was taken in that little terminal. I snapped it when I noticed that people had started to gather around when Bill Clinton came on to explain why Democrats should embrace the Obama-negotiated tax deal. Most of those people had been ignoring the TV until Clinton showed up and I was struck by a few things: first, that in the world of former Presidents, Bill Clinton is a bit of a rock star, and, second, for all that President Obama has been lauded for his speaking skills, he has nothing near the skill of Clinton. Clinton has warmth, humor, and an easier manner, he showed a better grasp of the political situation, and, simply, he has a charisma that our current president can’t match.
Now, Clinton was also in love with the sound of his own voice (and his State of the Union addresses were testimonies to his own unbridled ego), but it was interesting watching him working the press corps with such skill.
I still can’t decide whether it was brilliant to bring in Clinton to help sell the deal or if it was tremendously self-destructive because it showed President Obama to be a much weaker politician. It felt a bit like a Hail Mary pass from a president who still has two years left in his first term and that speaks of an administration willing to take a big risk for a small win. Perhaps that’s not how the Democrats see it, but my Republican mind is smelling a little desperation.
Notably, that Christmas tree is very nearly the only holiday cheer that I saw in the town. It was surprisingly un-Christmasy throughout.
This last shot is taken from my seat while I was flying out. It never translates quite right, but it was a beautiful sunset and a great view.
I’m glad to be home.