In 1988 I did stupid things with the ridiculous amount of credit I’d managed to acquire. It seemed there was no card I didn’t have and it all began when on a lark at the age of 20 making about 13,000 a year as a courier for a travel visa company I submitted an application for an American Express card, listing my title as a Regional Consular Liaison.

To my surprise they didn’t laughingly reject my otherwise unqualified ass. Neither did Nieman Marcus three years later — and it was at their flagship store in Beverly Hills during a spree I couldn’t afford that I bought all sorts of stuff I didn’t need — including these throwback Ralph Lauren Polo-brand sunglasses. I loved the styling for some 12 years, up until  the frame around the right lens cracked in 2000, as can be seen in the image above.

The condition I long thought they’d also been in was Gone. After several years spent fruitlessly searching for a repair shop that could restore them, I was pretty sure I’d pitched them in the trash, perhaps as far back as 2004 when I’d moved in with Susan. But yesterday while looking for something else entirely I found an old eyeglass case at the back and bottom of a drawer, opened it up and there they were.

I prefaced with all that because back in August Los Angeles magazine came out with its annual Best Of issue and while I flipping through it I found a brief on just the place that just might be able to do the trick: Paul Gross Eyeglass Repair, a literal hole-in-the-wall shop inside a dry cleaners in Glendale. I tore that page out of the magazine and saved it — albeit somewhat forlornly given the high probability I had thrown the glasses away.

Then with the shades so serendipitously rediscovered I went looking for that piece of paper I, of course, misplaced. Eventually I found it, and I’m planning a visit to the place to see if a resurrection can be made to happen.

UPDATE (9:22 p.m.):

Et voila! How nice it is to have my old friends back after a decade. Funny thing though … Paul tried to talk me out of it saying where the break was he couldn’t guarantee the soldering job would last. How much, I asked. $25, he said. I told him that for sentimental value alone I’d probably pay $75 just to have these shades whole again, even if for just a day (though I’m going to treat ’em with ultra care in hopes they last longer than that).

Riding home last Friday I somehow managed to hit a big enough bump or pothole to dislodge the business end of the awesomely bright rear blinky light on my bike, leaving me with nothing more than than the rear casing attached to my saddlebag.

I used some of my small strap-on LEDs in the interim until a couple days ago when I could roll to the Bicycle District Square Gateway Homeland Zone Quadrant Town Epicenter at Heliotrope and Melrose where the literal hole-in-the-wall shack that ist Orange 20 Bikes is located.

Honestly, my last couple visits haven’t gone so well. I was sold the incorrect style of brake cable on one occasion, and most recently I purchased a new set of tires only to get home to find they weren’t the same size.  Trifling and resolvable matters too be sure, but frustrating nonetheless. Coincidentally, both of those visits took place while co-owner Jim C. was elsewhere.

See, Jim besides being a legendary cyclist who knows a looooot about bikes, is also a guy who will take the time to do right by you, and he’s the reason why on my way home Tuesday I passed by Palms Cyclery on Motor north of Venice and Chubby’s on La Cienega south of Guthrie and kept on going straight to O20 — whether Jim C. was there or not.

If he hadn’t been, I would’ve just bought the light and bailed without asking anyone else working there for advice with a situation my bike had developed because frankly and in all likelihood I would’ve been blown off. It’s happened before. Never by Jim C.

Fortunately he was there, and as such after purchasing the light I troubled him to check out the clicking sound emanating from around the headset/stem area that had started sporadically enough but had since grown to be a maddening almost-constant reminder that something wasn’t right.

But what? Was it damaged? Was it metal fatigue? Was it a potential hazard either way?

Keep in mind Jim C. coulda said  “well it could be symptomatic of a problem that will require me to take a look and cost you money for labor and parts,” and I would’ve been all “OK.” But instead Jim C. stopped what he was doing, came outside and manhandled the bars of my bike a bit and heard a couple clicks and said there’s no damage, there’s no fatigue, and no it’s not a potential hazard either way. Then he told me a simple DIY fix that involved me greasing the stem bolts that hold the handlebars in place and also the insides of the stem because by most accounts he said it’s just simple dry metal-on-dry metal contact that’s occuring somewhere in there that’s in need of a little lubricationalization.

I did that this morning and guess what: no more clicks. None.

And that is why Orange 20 is my go-to bikeshop.

Sorry if this is gross-out material, but as to the freaking OMFG! humonstrocity of the cerumen impaction from which I had been unknowingly impaired, all I’ll say is that my doctor’s discovery of it a during a flu bout visit a few weeks ago prompted a return trip this morning so that his nurse could patiently flush the stubborn thing from its hideout in my left ear canal with some sort of medieval turkey baster suction/irrigation device.

It only took three tries over the course of several minutes, but having to suffer through the endlessly repeating and loud squish-splash-whoosh all up in my head made it seem like an eternity. The benefit of not having an indecently large globule of gunk plastered up against my tympanic membrane? Yay! I can hear like a 30-something’er again out of the left side of my command module!

To celebrate me stoically suffering the procedure and emerging from it a better hearing human being, I opted to reward myself (as if I needed an excuse) with a quick visit to Coco’s Variety Store that I previously raved about here on the Los Angeles Metblog. On that first visit with Susan I was satisfied with purchasing just one box of the notorious Hamster’s Lunch, but after discovering the wonderful hamster figurine included with the rather unpalatable snack, I’ve been wanting to collect all 12 of them!

Thankfully I limited myself to just two boxes this trip and I was pleased to find my lonely Roborovski hamster now has the company of the following two friends: a Dzungrian hamster on wheel (that spins!) and a somewhat worried and hand-wringing bipedal black-bellied hamster:


On the way out I also scored myself a couple gumball machine saints for the low-low of 5o cents each. It doesn’t get more dynamic a duo than the two the machine dispensed as if answering my prayers as to which ones I wanted: the Guardian Angel and the Virgin of Guadalupe!


Gotta admit I’m inclined to leave the guardian angel hanging because it’s tough to give five to someone who looks so unguardedly unenthusiastic. And on the subject of the lady in red, I almost hate to say this but can I also just point out that at first sinnerly wrong-way glance the virgin’s prayer hands could be misconstrued as an ample decolletage showing through a peekaboo gown.

Oh I’m so going to hell.