people speak of cities as not being friendly places. but my sister-in-law told me that other day that you get what you put out. maybe being in a city a long time hardens some people. regardless, i’ve had a wonderful time meeting and interacting with the folks of this city. here are the stories and people my story has now been woven into, however brief the encounter…

took the G bus from the airport to the train station. there i encountered two young peruvian men and an older asian woman. Sebastian is 18 and is looking to go to Berkley for engineering. his brother and traveling companion, Juan, had worked in hotels in the states for awhile, Miami and not sure where else. they were staying in LA 2 days, traveling north a couple days, heading back to LA for 2 days and then flying to New York for 8 days before returning home to Peru. very kind guys and well-spoken. we together enjoyed interacting with Ms. Lee. she adopted us the minute she realized we were not native as we were buying our tickets at the kiosk. her self-imposed mission was to keep us from getting lost and see us to our destinations. she was a very wise older woman with an interesting past, only half of which i could understand through her accent and over the noise of the train. she was wearing animal print pants with a black top and a classy black hat. she was a kind, firm woman who seemed as if she had moved mountains and calmed war lords throughout the course of her life. she gave me some parting wisdom at our last stop together.

i met Brad and Alana Sunday night in Franklin Village. i was headed to the bookstore to find East of Eden by Steinbeck. several people have told me in the last week how much i would enjoy it and that LA is a good place to start it. Brad and Alana invited me into the conversation to give a third opinion on a debate they were having. then we got into the “what are you doing in LA…?” conversation. i told them of my day and they invited me to Upright Citizens Brigade (a very reputable comedy club here) and got me on the wait list for the show that started in 20 minutes. we saw Anthony Jeselnik and then he and a very funny comedian…Chelsea something…debated whether rape could be funny in stand-up via the Tosh heckler. long story, but i felt up-to-date in pop culture for about 20 minutes.

oh! and i ran into Peter Murphy (Keep Orlando Awesome Pete!). didn’t even know he had moved out here! he’s such a nice guy and it was fun to run into someone i sort of know so unexpectedly.

then the three of us headed to Birds for drinks where i proceeded to have a long conversation with a man named Tristan from London. we talked about religion and faith and heaven and hell. he said he has traveled the world over and never talked to anyone with my perspective on these things. that to hear that God and Christianity are about love is much different than duty and rules. it was really a fantastic night actually.

i headed downtown after my bike adventures at the beach to go to an open mic night at The Last Bookstore. i was hoping to hear a bit more poetry/spoken word than actually ended up happening… but before that i grabbed a $1 pastry from The Ground Floor coffeeshop next door. there i met Kevin, from rural north california. he is a piano composer and also plays in a band here. he’s only been here 9 months and is still adjusting to the big city. as we were talking his friend Lee walked up with a medium-size dog whose name i cannot remember. i know next to nothing about dogs and therefore cannot remember what type of dog it might have been. my introduction to Lee, via Kevin, is that he has the most beautiful piano Kevin has ever played on. i asked Lee how he acquired said piano, to which his response was “i ask myself that every day.” kevin then left with Lee to go play on his piano for a bit before Lee had to drive across town to pay someone for something. and i headed to Speak Easy at the Last Bookstore only to arrive and realize i was an hour early, whoops.

spent the morning hiking up to the Hollywood sign via canyon road. at the top i met Trey, a boy from Oklahoma going to school in Denver and spending his summer adventuring in LA. we chatted and then ended up walking back down together. he is studying broadcasting. i asked him what happens when he arrives in what he is currently striving for. he didn’t have a definite answer, only the goal of working hard to arrive at a career in broadcasting. he was a good kid and i remember in particular the funny snacks he brought on the hike – banana, capri sun, fruit roll-up – and the red, white, and blue bandana wrapped around his head.
on our walk i told trey i had two goals for the day. one was to hike to the top of the hollywood sign. accomplished. the other one i told him would take more courage on my part. his last comment as we parted – be courageous. i told him i had talked myself out of it on the walk down, but since he said that i would reconsider. done.

on my way downtown i stopped by Trader Joes and then headed into a coffeeshop called Ten Forward. still not sure where the name came from, never got around to asking. when i moved outside i met a gentleman named Guy. i started the conversation as his pants kept falling down and i suggested that he needed a belt. said i would give him one if i had it, but he asked for a smoke instead. invited him to join my table (i dont think he would have sat down otherwise.). i asked him about the tattoos on his hand, and if he was from LA and how he liked it here. he didn’t talk much and was real soft spoken in his responses, didn’t seem to be used to someone being so interested in his story. eventually the lady inside came to shoo us away. said she would get in trouble with her boss if homeless folks were sitting outside the store. lame. i think i made his day by talking to him; he made my afternoon for sure.

back downtown at The Ground Floor i talked to the owner for awhile – Sami. he is a frenchmen and as a result there are several french people that come in to the shop just to talk to him. we got around to why i came to LA and the fact that i don’t have a job right now. i told him i had been baking and he asked me if i knew coffee…ha, i told him i know too much. he said he is hiring, but i told him maybe next year. he said he’ll still be here then. very kind man. and i’m now sitting in his coffeeshop using the internet.

the portraits of these people and their details remain in my mind, giving me a profile of sorts of los angeles. people’s story and details make more sense to me than most things. looking forward to the rest of the week and all the stories i’ve yet to encounter.