IMG_5415I got ripped off and I have no one to blame but myself.

It began a couple months ago when I bought a pair of Danner boots for work, pretty much one of the most popular brands of footwear for those in my profession.

When they arrived I plotted a course to take them to a place south of Downtown called Code 7, my go-to place to get ’em shined up right, since I’m the posterboy for How To Suck At Shining Boots.

Trouble was, I found out that at some point between my academy adventures and the present, that particular branch of Code 7 had closed down (in fact their website still lists the LA location), leaving their only one other store waaaay down in Long Beach.

So I employed the inturnet to find me a suitable local replacement, which lead me to Willie’s on La Brea south of Olympic. The place looks amazing; spacious and chock full of old-school equipment to make or repair any manner of footwear, I dropped off my boots for their standard $12 shine but was intrigued by the proprietor’s pitch for his Cadillac service. Costing $42 it amounted to the boots being left for a week wherein they receive six coats and polishes resulting in basically a pair of leather mirrors on your feet.

I picked up the $12-shined shoes a couple days later and was satisfied with how they looked. Not Code-7 dazzled, but they’d do. The proprietor even blamed it on the boots, noting that the Danners I’d bought were made in Taiwan (what’s up with that Danner?) with a leather not of the same quality as those made in the USA. That fact of course gave him the opportunity to re-pitch me to fork over the green for the Cadillac treatment. He said it would take that type of work to really make them truly glow. So the seed that had been planted got fertilized. I was simultaneously intrigued by the concept of spending almost half of a hundred dollars on a shine as I was repulsed by it.

But the intrigued side of me won out and a few weeks ago when the $12 shine had looong worn away, I dropped the boots off with the promise that a week later I’d be in total freaking awe.

A week later, I wasn’t in total freaking awe. Certainly they looked all right, but really not much better than the $12 shine. Coincidentally (or conveniently) the proprietor was not on-hand, so it was a surprised shop employee who had to endure my brief line of rhetorical questioning, which consisted of “I paid $42 for this?” as I stormed out.

Let it be known that the irony is not lost on me that for the $42 I threw away, I could’ve driven them down to Code 7 in Long Beach with that amount of money in my pocket, waited for them, bought lunch, tipped the server, paid for the shine, tipped the shiner, driven them home and still had about $10 left.

To make matters worse whoever did the quarter-assed job at Willie’s applied polish to e-v-e-r-y leather aspect of the eight-inch uppers of the boot — a complete waste of time, material and effort since those parts of the boots reside unseen under the pant legs. The only thing that work accomplished was to piss me off further because it meant that pulling the boots on or taking them off left black waxy residue on my fingers. The only thing I hate more than a crappy ridiculously expensive shine is to have to scrub off proof of its complete over-priced failure from my digits twice a day.

Now you’d think I’d’ve been steamed enough to march them back to Willie’s, fling them in the proximity of the proprietor’s head and either demanded a refund or at least a make-good, but instead after wearing them on-duty just one day I was so ashamed at being such a total sucker that I chocked it up to being an expensive lesson learned and instead dumped them into the bottom of my locker and went back to wearing my old trusty boots. Once out of sight and mind the Danners sat until yesterday at end of shift when I hauled ’em home and this morning deployed my meager skillset in stripping them and starting from scratch.

Suffice it to say that at the end of that ordeal, they still need a boatload more of elbow grease, but at least my Chrysler-level work (seen at the top of this post) looks far better than Willie’s so-called Cadillac.


imageProbably. And not that I would ever give even the most meticulously clean off-ramp panhandler money (though I have been known to hand out snacks or water to them on occasion). But still, even though I unbendingly consider them all low-grade con artists, I’d probably have a  scosh more respect for them if they’d at least police the litter around their base of operations.

license_20130415071614_94143At right is a re-creation of the vanity license plate I saw on the ass of the ridiculously large and and even more ridiculously expensive-looking Fleetwood Revolution LE Earth Schooner cruising eastbound ahead of me in the No. 3 lane of the Pomona Freeway on Friday.

Maybe your interpretation is the correct one, but my reading of the incomplete words was as “SWEAT SUCKS,” which was followed by a semi-incredulous shrug of my shoulders while thinking that if the vehicle’s owner is proud to broadcast his or her or their aversion to any type of physical activity either laborious or recreational that produces perspiration, so be it.

Whatever floats your land boat, Jabba.

But then I got close enough to read the custom frame around the plate (also re-created below), and though it clarified things entirely it opened up a whole other level of incredulity, while inducing some chuckle-induced eye-rolling:

frameInstead of “SWEAT SUCKS,” the plate was an approximation of “SWEET SUCCESS.”

Full Disclosure: I am of the unwavering opinion that with the possible exception of 0.00002 percent of ALL the vanity plates in existence in the galaxy, the rest are lame.

So it is that from so unapologetically biased a basis I decree this particular plate is among the other 99.99998 percent, first and foremost because in the list of unwritten rules regarding vanity plates (the first one being: Don’t get a vanity plate), one of the top ones is:

If, in the course of requesting and acquiring a vanity plate, there is any possible ambiguity in the lettering that could cause a misread, you shouldn’t get that vanity plate.

I can just imagine this owner smugly ordering and blissfully attaching this plate to his spanking new Fleetwood’s backside, proud to proclaim his financial achievement and totally blind to the fact that it can be so easily misread… until it’s finally brought to his attention by other lesser motorists at various red lights or RV parks.

“Ha! ‘Sweat sucks!’ That’s funny! I hate sweat, too!”

“No! It’s ‘Sweeeeeeet successssssss!’

“Oh. Well… ‘Sweat sucks’ is better.”

“But it’s –.”

“Whatever, dude.”

Eventually it happened enough times where the owner frustratingly figured he had to get the frame to put a stop to the madness. And that’s where the unwritten subsection of that unwritten rule above comes in, involving the unfortunate after-the-fact realization of the confusion inducement:

If, after acquiring the plate you only then are made aware that it is being misread, you should immediately surrender the plate and by no means purchase and install a customized frame to clarify and or correct and or otherwise correctly and completely spell out the misinterpreted wording.

Of course, there’s no real penalty for breaking these rules, just as there’s no real cure for dumbshit. But in looking further into this specific violation one wishes there were ordinances prohibiting a person’s transgressions against basic common sense — for their own safety!

Allow me to explain, by showcasing the specific recreational vehicle in question, one which  veritably turns full-sized quad-cab pick-up trucks into Tonka Toys like this, by the way (click it for the bigger picture):

2010 Fleetwood Revolution 42W LE 3 Slides + full sideslide

Check out the size. This beast is 43 feet long. It’s powered by a 400-horsepower diesel engine. Width and height I’d guesstimate to be 10 feet and 12 feet, respectively. Something that big comes with a big price tag. A quick check of the internut found used and new ones in a price range spanning $200,000 to $400,000.

Four. Hundred. Thousand. Dollars. Gasoline not included.

In a nutshell: the vehicle alone makes a bigger-than-bold statement. By itself it already screams FLTHYRCH, so putting a vanity plate as a backside exclamation that augments that blaring point is RDNDNT at best and DNG STPD, at worst.

Why stupid? Well see, it’s all well and good if the only attention this vehicle attracts is from the likes of mild-mannereds like me and the reactions don’t go past smirks, chuckling and eye rolls.

But seeing as it’s piloted by a privileged 1-percenter hogging up the public highway lanes across this great city, county, state, and country, rolling along surrounded by the rest of us 99-percenters, there are inevitably some far more desperate and angry than I who instead of seeing a humongous RV with a lame vanity plate and a lamer explanatory frame, sees a giant bag of money driven flagrantly by someone who just has to be an equally ginormous tool. Maybe they imagine a neon sign in the rear window that says RIPE FOR THE PICKING and/ or a bumper sticker that reads:

THAN $10,000 IN CASH.

Maybe it’s a 65-year-old handyman who’ll be lucky to retire at all and sees nothing funny about it. Maybe it’s a 20-something day laborer with a family back in Mexico who hasn’t been able to send money home in a month for lack of work. Maybe it’s a gangbanger and his homies with nothing better to do. Maybe it’s a guy rapidly approaching 50 who’s putting himself through a training program at his own expense in hopes of landing a job that barely pays him in a year a tenth of the top-end cost for that RV. Oops, that last one’s a bit too close to home.

Without belaboring it any more than I’ve already belabored it, my point is: One person’s “success” is another’s “sucks.”  Especially so the latter when it’s those that fail at recognizing they’re doing themselves no favors by flaunting their SUCS to those among us who think that SUCS.



There’s a subset of strangers and acquaintances I meet and or interact with out there who — despite all evidence to the contrary — find it perfectly acceptable to call me “Bill.” I find it fascinating. What I also find fascinating is that it’s not a two-way street. If I did go by “Bill” I would bet the odds would be preeeeeeetty long that anyone would auto-default to “Will.”

To me this kneejerk opt-in to an overtly familiar short-version of William is an intriguing  paradox because anyone familiar with me knows I don’t cotton to Bill in the slightest, and if you’re not familiar with me why are you going there without even the courtesy of asking my preference or permission to do so?

Does this substitute-B shit happen to  the world’s Waldos and Wades and Walters and Warrens and Waynes, Wendells, Wesleys, Winstons, Woodys, Wyatts and Wyntons?

“Hi. How are you, I’m Don Geevadam.”

“Hi, Don. I’m Walt Weethadoubayoo.”

“Pleased to meet you, Balt.”

Halt! Never happened. Never bill — I mean: will.

But it happens to me. And when it does — far more than it should — I am quick to correct, as in this screengrab example below that I’ll leave you with from a Facebook exchange this morning with the Auto Club of Southern California over my disappointment that a new program I was interested in wasn’t available to us because our Ford is a hybrid (slightly enlarged if clicked):



Two things you can count on angelenos to bitch and moan about: rain and traffic.

Orb weaver doesn’t give a shit. Orb weaver’s bad ass. Rain? Feh. Traffic? Go ride a bike, says Orb weaver.

The President of the United States is in town and it’s all about the gridlock everyone gets stuck in. Boo. Hoo. I swear, Khaddafi could’ve been found living the low life in some City Hall sub-basement and the top story would be how much worse the traffic is in and out of the Civic Center because of the ensuing lockdown.


The second time in my life that I biked up and over the Sepulveda Pass was last weekend during my Autocalypse Now Ride. The first time? Waaaay the hell back in 1991. I remember it well because it was a rather epic ride. The woman I was dating at the time had decided to go to the beach in Santa Monica with her daughter, and since I’d already been planning on biking from my apartment in Glendale to a morning softball game in Sherman Oaks, I thought what the hell and decided to bike the rest of the way to the sea.

Think about that for a second: Glendale to Sherman Oaks to Santa Monica. Roughly 31 miles. With a league softball game in the middle. Twenty years ago. Pardon me for crowing a bit about it.

Of course the trek was predicated on my crossed-fingered hope that I would somehow be able to locate my girfriend on the crowded sands somewhere between a pair of predetermined lifeguard stations. If so, I could throw the bike in her trunk for a drive home. If not, it was going to be a long and exhausting ride back to Glendale.

Much to my relief I found her. But that successful conclusion is not the point. The point is that from a bicycling perspective of Sepulveda Boulevard between the two decades that separated my riding it, we’ve come a long way, baby. Both literally and figuratively, with some of it good and some of it leaving a helluva lot to be desired.

When I got on my bike last weekend, the vast majority of the ride from Silver Lake to the top of the Sepulveda Pass was done over a nice mix of Class I bikeways and Class II bike lanes. We had the LA River and Chandler bikeways connected mostly by the Riverside Drive bike lanes. Then the Chandler bike lanes to the Orange Line Bikeway. South of Ventura a bike lane’s been laid down almost to the top. And that bad little bit o’ almost is what I want to focus on.

But before I do, in salute to the good that’s been laid down, let’s remember that in 1991 there was no LA River or Chandler or Orange Line bikeways. There may have been a Riverside Drive bike lane, but there certainly wasn’t a striped lane on Sepulveda.

So I was cheering and marveling all along that first 27 miles from Silver Lake up through Sherman Oaks, but I quit rah-rah’ing just as we were arriving at the three-lane Sepulveda Tunnel when the bike lane abruptly ended, leaving me entering the tunnel with fellow rider Ann past a dark signal light above a Bike sign which hung above an  “In Tunnel” sign (at left, click to enlarge) and wondering what confederacy of dunces decided such an apparently malfunctioning after-thought would suffice in protecting cyclists when they are at their most vulnerable/least visible.

Inside the tunnel I saw there was a sidewalk to our right to desperately bail out to if needed and I reached back to turn on my rear flasher to provide some type of increased visibility. But about midway through when a procession of vehicles (including an MTA bus, several passenger vehicles and a Super Shuttle van) entered the tunnel behind us, I moved to the middle of the No. 2 lane and decided to forsake any coolness by augmenting my rear light with some serious flapping and waving of my arms in hopes my funkily animated silhouette might draw the drivers’ eyes before they were right on top of us. With two southbound lanes all vehicles cleared us smoothly, except the van which somewhat unnervingly got to about 10 feet behind me before it got a chance to change lanes.

Note: It’s distressing times like that when wheeljockeys blithely steering thousands of pounds of steel up my ass  that I wish I had a double-barreled paintball gun with which to level at their heads and splatter their windshields.


As evidenced by discovering two relatively fresh piles on the parkway today while sweeping up the frontyard and sidewalk, either one dog-walker or more have become perfectly OK with their pooch pooping in front of our house and then failing to remove the fecal matter.

As such I’m mulling over the following options for signage and could use guidance among the following three I’m considering:

  1. Please scoop your dog’s poop
  2. If you’re not a dick, up the dogshit you will pick
  3. Circumstance and a dogged (no pun intended) sense of righteousness will eventually conspire to allow me to catch you not cleaning up your dog’s dungheap. So by all means, go ahead and let your pooch crap in front of my house — again. But be warned: when that glorious day of reckoning arrives, I shall race down like winged vengeance upon the steaming pile, palm it from where it lays and do my level best to decorate the back of your head with it.

No. 1 is respectful and direct, but I like No. 2’s Yoda-esque truth. No. 3, though, is very, very satisfying, but would require a pretty large piece of cardboard, hope that the offender isn’t too short-attention spanned, and probably a good lawyer to help get me acquitted of any assault charges. Thoughts?

Next Page »