Posts Tagged 'public transportation'

My Brush with Low-Level Religious Terrorism

Ok. For someone who has lived in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, I have an odd confession. I hate driving. I’m not scared of cars, but I loathe being dependent on them. And the grinding tedium of stop and go traffic often leaves me more aggravated than a full eight hours on the job. So I take the bus a couple times a week.

The thing I like about the bus, aside from not lining Dick Cheney’s pocket with more of my hard-earned money, is that I get a half-hour or so of reading in before and after work. It’s a nice buffer between the bustle of the office and relative quiet of home. And this morning I was eager I dive into my new book, Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart. I’ve been wanting to read this puppy since I read an excerpt in the New Yorker some two or three years ago. Yet the moment I get a seat and open my book, some guy next to me who looked like a thinner version of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and who was sporting an outfit that looked like a silken Mao suit opened his book, the Bible, and started spouting off a sermon. Using the bendy part of the bus as his pulpit, he delivered Biblical commandments in a booming, sonorous voice that was almost impossible to block out. Almost immediately, I pipe up saying, “Please don’t. This is a crowded bus…” but that didn’t even register. Between Western and Westwood, I don’t think the guy paused for more than five seconds. I realized with greater and greater frustration that there was no way I was going to be reading my book this morning. Nothing short of a kick to the teeth is going to shut him up.

He continued, “You work five days a week, six days a week. But then you send all of your money at clubs, the bars. You hook up with prostitutes. Go to crack houses?” Jesus, how does this guy spend a weekend? Once we rolled into Westwood, he shambled off and the whole bus said a collective, “Hallelujah.” Yes, I thought. This was my brush with low-level religious terrorism.

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Links (7/21/08)

From my trolling of the internets:

The Chinese government, terrified of something embarrassing happening during the Olympics, have successfully embarrassed themselves. They’re forcing bars not to serve blacks or Mongolians. Link

And there’s this really depressed photo essay of the down and out Silvertown neighborhood of London. Link [h/t Ted]

More green screen hilarity with John McCain. [h/t Joan]

A really cool, if regrettably short, article about the town of Baarle-Hertog in Belgium.

Baarle-Hertog borders the Netherlands – but, because of its unique history of political division, the town is sort of marbled with competing national loyalties. In other words, pockets of the town are Dutch; most of the town is Belgian. You can thus wander from country to country on an afternoon stroll, as if island-hopping between sovereignties. [via BoingBoing]

Believe it or not, Los Angeles used to have the finest public transportation around, thanks in part to Henry Huntington. There was the Pacific Electric Railway company AKA “The Red Cars” which had streetcar lines reaching to the San Fernando Valley, Santa Monica, and Santa Ana and there was the competing Los Angeles Railway (LARy) that was also known as the “Yellow Cars.” They were ripped out in the early ’60s and soon afterwards Los Angeles became synonymous with traffic snarls and freeway shootings. Some historical background can be found here. And here’s this youtube clip from LA Curbed about the last days of the LA Railways. Sigh.

This Week’s Links (5/24/08)

My weekly culling from the internets:

America, the 97th most peaceful country in the world. Has a nice ring to it.

If you’ve had enough the US of A, here’s a list of six micronations. And I’m not talking about dinky nations like Andorra, Liechtenstein and the Vatican. Micronations are states of often dubious legality consisting of one or a couple people. The most famous one is Sealand, an abandoned oil platform a former WWII military platform in the North Sea. Last year, I bought a Lonely Planet guide book on micronations which is a blast to read. Recommended.

Tales of a high school douchebag.

And then there’s his tale of junior high school students who are rebelling against Bush’s idiot No Child Left Behind program. (I honestly can’t think of a single thing that Bush has done right as President.) (h/t Ted)

A great article by the New Yorker’s George Packer about the (thankful) decline and fall of conservatism. Packer makes an interesting point that for most of its reign, and especially after the end of the Cold War, conservatism wasn’t really FOR anything, just against things — anti-abortion, anti-government, anti-tax etc. When they got to the actual task of governing, from Reagan on proved to be really inept.

Hilary as the black knight. (from Americablog)

Why men should go to a barbershop.

The perils of drinking your own urine.

Exactly. And speaking of cars, here’s a guy who loves cars WAAAAY too much.

A photo gallery of Japan’s burakumin. (via Boingboing)

The idiots in LA’s metrolink spend millions to bring down a blog that criticizes it. Way to use tax payers money.

New Weezer video featuring some of your favorite faces from Youtube. (h/t Joan)


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