L.A.’s 64 Worst, Round 1: Leaf blowers vs. Fry’s

frysvsleafblowers.jpgWe’re so serious about determining the worst thing about L.A., we’re kicking off the 64 Worst Things About L.A. with a heavyweight bout.

Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment.
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 …

leafblower.jpgIn this corner – Gas-powered leaf blowers, the smoke-belching, earsplitting curse and the single leading cause of Saturday-morning headaches (after alcohol).

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?

frys.jpgNow, 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:

torres_blower.jpg*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.

25 thoughts on “L.A.’s 64 Worst, Round 1: Leaf blowers vs. Fry’s”

  1. This is something I found out about fries, from a friend…

    you buy something, you take it back, ask for money back, they give you green paper, you go and get the same thing, you walk out the door tell the door man it’s an ex-change for the same Item (if he asks) walk out, come back the same day with the big green paper, get your money back from the cashier…

    don’t try it…

  2. Leaf blowers hands down.

    At least with Fry’s you can lessen the experience. Research on line, know exactly what you want and get there 10 minutes before the doors open. If you have to exchange, exchange first, but you should arrive 15 minutes before the door opens and wait outside the door.

    There is nothing you can do to mitigate a leaf blower, other than commit a felony.

  3. Never been to Fry’s, so I’m sitting this one out.

    I don’t find the problem with leaf blowers. Yeah, they wake me up in the morning, but that’s good! They get the job done. Maybe it’s because I grew up hearing them…

  4. I love Frys. Horrible customer service, I know. But the selection is awesome, and they have a checkout line that almost rivals the queue line for the Indiana Jones ride… I’m a sucker for POS marketing.

    Leaf blowers, though, are overused almost as much as water hoses when rakes and brooms can better do the job. And they do wake me up – which for me and anyone else who works late, and thus sleeps late (bartenders, waiters, etc) it sucks especially when they start up at the crack of dawn.

  5. Are you kidding, fry’s is not bad at all. It’s great that we have fry’s and are not forced into Best Buys, Circuit Cities and the like which are two million times worse. If you want to hear how bad Best Buy and Circuit City can be, search for them on consumerist.com. They make fry’s look like mother theresa.

    But really i rarely even do fry’s – amazon is the way to go.

  6. Leaf blowers are the ultimate annoyance. There are rechargeable battery operated ones that make way less noise but few are in use by the lawnmower man. Those gas powered beasts are totally unregulated emissions on a 2 stroke engine which is as dirty as a gas engine can get.

    I love Fry’s. It is my favorite adult toy store, except when I need cooking stuff. Don’t even dare put Amazon in the same breath as Amazon. Amazon is the biggest bunch of thieves that will leave you holding the bag on undelivered merchandise or defective merchandise battling FOR YEARS. Amazon is the only consumer battle I have not won.

    Filthy thieving bastards…I wish they were based in LA so we could put them on a poll.

  7. Fry’s? Really? A blight on Los Angeles? Srsly?

    As a native of the midwest, I can assure you that you guys don’t know how good you have it. I would have loved to have a cheesy and inexpensive alternative to Best Buy and Circuit City. We can’t walk into a store and buy a computer cable without plopping 30 bucks on the table. Want to build your own PC? You have about three products to choose from for any component you might be looking for and forget motherboards: Those are only available as replacements through the Geek Squad or FireDog “experts.” (Bahahahahahahaha!) Looking for electronic equipment? Radio Shack, which is a joke of a store, MIGHT have what you’re looking for, though probably not.

    I could go on, but I’ll stop there. Thankfully my career required that I relocate to L.A. and Frys is now always an option.

    Don’t hate on Frys. They’re that store you’ll miss when it’s gone.

  8. Mack..I googled the hatefry’s and had one battle with them. But one battle doesn’t warrant hating or bagging as even decent stores can screw up. Overall in 11+ years and one bad incident.

    The one bad incident was short lived as I resorted to consumber guerilla warfare. I drop shipped the offending item, with receipts, proof extended warranty purchase on CEO Randy Fry along with a copy of a summons I did in word after the City of Industry store gave me shit. By weeks end I had the new dvd player in the car, installed on their dime, refunded postage AND a gift card to make things better.

  9. I’m curious, would you all pay your overworked gardeners more for the substantial amount of time it would take to rake and sweep your yard?

  10. “I’m curious, would you all pay your overworked gardeners more for the substantial amount of time it would take to rake and sweep your yard?” Chimatli

    Just about that say that, but uh yeah, how about that as a poll?

    Would you pay your gardener 50% more to be eco in cleaning your yard (you know if you have a gardner or your building has a gardener?)

    I was reading about this story about this low impact family (living on 5th Avenue in New York, which for people who don’t know about NY that’s like Beverly Hills times ten) and they didn’t want to waste, but they kept their maid, but they were doing it eco…(they said they let her keep her vacuum cleaner, they said that and felt nothing about that.) I just wanted to smack them. They had a little baby too and the baby I bet was going cloth diapers, who do you bet had to clean that up…

    That guy with the leaf blower is a human being. The leaf blower makes his life easier and he’s just doing it, because anal people who don’t pay him enough find it very stressful to have leaves on the sidewalk and they want it done quick.


  11. I changed my mind about leaf blowers a long time ago. I read a financial analysis of the workflow for a gardener. They make so little money that they have to do many lawns every day in order to make anything that even comes close to what’s defined as official poverty status. Raking a lawn takes FOREVER. Blowing a lawn takes very little time, comparatively: they can do more lawns & bring in more money. They’re doing what they have to do. Either pay them by the hour and let them rake your lawn, or suck it up, you, miss “My bucolic Encino peace has been disrupted”. And a gardener blows my lawn once a week in the a.m. I don’t complain. I understand.

  12. Don’t forget that Fry’s is actually a Northern Californian invention.

    The Militant actually digs teh Fry’z. Now if only they had a store in the central Los Angeles area instead of just the transit-unfriendly suburbs (yes he knows there’s a Metrolink station across from the Burbank Store and the Canoga Park store is across from the terminus of the Orange Line). Fry’s in the Little Tokyo – Arts District area? Yes please.

  13. Poor gardeners? C’mon. They choose to take the job.
    Next thing you know you’ll be arguing that meter maids are just doing their jobs as well… well, actually, they’ll be coming up in a 64 Worst poll soon enough…

  14. I suppose one could blame the homeowners for allowing it, but ultimately the gardeners are the ones responsible for flagrantly disregarding the leaf blower law. Certainly they’re just trying to do the littlest amount of work the fastest way possible so they can cram more jobs in and make a little more money at the end. I can appreciate that. But I appreciate my peace and quiet even more and guard it at every opportunity. I guess I’m the bad guy for that but I have no problem wearing that hat.

    Our gardeners come once every two weeks and we forbid them using gas-powered leaf blowers. On their off weeks I rake and sweep up the front yard and sidewalk and I consistently finish the job with my manually powered implements before our neighbors’ crew does with their electric-powered blower.

  15. I just want to say Fry’s is awesome. Where else can you buy ham radio gear, oscilloscopes and freeze dried ice cream all in the same store?

    Just never ever ever ask anyone who works there any kind of technical question. Do your research first, come in and buy what you need and get out.

    Oh the best part is when you’re leaving and they ask if they can check your bags, just say “No Thanks” and keep walking. It’s illegal for them to force you to stop and show your purchases / receipt.

  16. A neighbor (Mt Washington) used a gardener with the gas powered leaf blower..I went on line and got all the info…made flyers…left one for the neighbor, and posted some on phone poles, etc. Gave one to the worker himself who told me he didn’t have to obey the law. I reported it to the phone number (recording)..don’t know how much they follow up, but I left another message for the neighbor with the info that the violation had been reported. Now the gardener uses the electric kind…
    Given the cost of fuel, and the fact that an electric one could draw electricity from the owner’s outlet, I think using the electric ones would be a win/win for the gardener, ultimately. They’re still obnoxious…all the dust creates problems with allegies or breathing problems…Fry’s—easy to say no…I shop online with TigerDirect…no complaints…no hassles

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