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Consider this: For all its balmy weather, gorgeous environment and beautiful young things, L.A.’s got a nasty streak.
This throbbing vein of whiny, grating energy runs through Los Angeles – the asshole Hummer drivers on cell phones, the eye-pollution of endless billboards, the short-tempered Santa Ana season.
Two of the biggest scourges, after traffic and crime – face off today in the first bracket of L.a.’s 64 Worst Things.
Which is worse – Leaf blowers? Or Fry’s Electronics?
Let’s see …
Supposedly invented in the 50s – before anyone made much of a connection between screaming 2-stroke engines and LA’s thick, chewable air – they got popular with hardworking gardeners. Before long, their tenor whine began overwhelming the baritone drone of Saturday morning lawnmower squads in the weekly symphony of noise that keeps L.A.’s yards looking spiffy.
They’re fast! They’re efficient! And they’re … (he rummages around for the sound clip and comes up short) … they’re LOUD: B b b b b deeEEAAAHHbbdbdbdb b d d b b b b b d d d a b b d b b b d B BBBBWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH …
You want to put a bullet through the fuckers. Just. To. Shut. Them. UP.
Unfortunately, they’re attached to otherwise harmless human beings, so all you can do is suffer.
I run my office from my house, and our gardeners – god bless ’em otherwise – have an uncanny knack for arriving and kicking on the blowers right outside the window every time I have a 9-party conference call on a short-deadline project.
Beverly Hills outlawed the nasty little gas-burning machines, Why can’t the rest of greater L.A.?
What’s that? We … we already outlawed them?
Now, In the other corner we have Fry’s Electronics, a true heavyweight of suck.
The cheesy space-alien assault in the Burbank store, the tacky Tiki awfulness of the Manhattan Beach store, the soullessly-huge, alice-in-wonderland figures cluttering up the Woodland Hills store, and row upon shelf upon stack of merch.
None of it conceals how randomly complicated and stupid the parent company has made even the simplest of tasks for its mostly-young, barely-coping staff.
To gauge the true horribility of Fry’s, just try returning or exchanging something – anything, really – with a receipt in your hand and the credit card you bought it with. Or ask a complex question about any piece of equipment that might not be on their shelves.
But wait, in reality – is Fry’s as bad as all that? Do we just hate on it in the way we hate on New Yorkers? Because we often just don’t “get” them?
Or have we failed to appreciate Fry’s for what it is – a paragon of dull-normal American mediocrity? Is Fry’s really hell on earth? Or just easy to bag on because it’s not brilliant – just the ho-hum 9th Circle of Heck, staffed by a dull-eyed, mostly-harmless army of the darned?
Are we being fair here?
Only one way to find out – Put it to a vote:
*Okay, so I have to confess, there has been at least one leaf blower I didn’t want to instantly destroy when I saw it: Artist Ruben Ortiz Torres gave a leaf blower the lowrider-custom treatment a few years back in a LACMA show. Arch, funny, dead-on, and handsomely polished, to boot.