I don’t know what compels people/us to compile year end lists. Maybe it’s a way to organize 12 months of discombobulated memories. Maybe it’s our very few articulations of hope – that even though you didn’t get the girl this year, you’ll have your shot in the next. Or maybe we’re just hoping that our bit scraps of experience piece together with someone else’s, and that, in the shot-in-the-dark mentality that is Los Angeles, we’ll make a connection, if only for a starved minute.
So, even though I haven’t made a year-end list in something like a decade, here is mine. Are mine. Inspired by a friend – and by “inspired,” I mean “blatantly stole the idea from” – this is the first of a three-list round up of some my least favorite, most favorite, and most meh LA-specific discoveries I made throughout the year. I’ll start off on the bad foot with my Least Favorite Finds of 2009: the demise of parking in Los Angeles, the closure of my favorite dyke bar, and really bad Korean BBQ.
THE LEAST FAVORITE FINDS OF 2009. Unranked.
The judicial system can’t save us if we’re really that intent on perpetuating injustice. The fight over gay marriage culminated in May with the California Supreme Court’s decision on the legality (not the morality) of Prop. 8. One hundred thirty six pages of legalese about state constitutional revisions versus amendments later, the result was this: a very awkward social hierarchy of coupledom that is wholly dependent upon the date you officially I do’ed. Marriage for some, the lavender blacklist – er, domestic partnerships – for others. Twist as they might, if the California Supreme Court is forced to reach an absurd result, it will. Our systems fail us because we fail us.
Traffic got worse. And it’s not going to get better. Traffic is an easy, often too easy, criticism of Los Angeles, but it’s hard to critique a slam when it’s a dunk. Westside traffic in particular is horrific, and I swear that this year was worse than the last. Instead of taking 20 minutes to drive 5 miles on weekday mornings from Santa Monica to Century City, it more or less took 25, sometimes even half an hour. My girlfriend, leaving the apartment at the same time, would be in Northridge and would have polished off her first cup of tea before I even parked my car. It’s frustrating enough that you’re angry with yourself and everyone else in your way for sharing the road and the blame for the bottleneck; on top that, it’s psychologically frustrating because, in a city whose sprawl already can make it an awfully lonely place to live, the metal wreckage is just that much more isolating. It’s tough to be surrounded by so many people and still feel like you’re in it all alone.
The cost of parking. When you do finally reach your destination, you need to be a high roller, literally – hopefully, by now, you’re carrying a $10 roll of quarters in the junk change section of the car. We’ve covered the topic fairly comprehensively here (and here) on Metblogs, but just to recap the highlights: you’re going to need twelve quarters to buy an hour downtown on a weekday; eight in Hollywood. In addition, most parts of the city, from Santa Monica to Silver Lake, have increased the hours for which you have to pay for metered parking. And heaven help you if you forget to feed the beast.
People still riot after a local team wins a championship. After the Lakers won the national championship, how did we celebrate? By trying to tear up downtown. And, as riots go, it was a pretty stale one at that. Go team!
The Korean BBQ Festival & Cook-Off. Korean bbq trucks, Korean double fried chicken, Korean BBQ — this should have been the year non-Asians discovered that Koreans eat something other than kimchi out of their refridgerated, unmarked jars. The Korean BBQ Festival & Cook-Off in August, in Koreatown and guest judged by such dignatories as the Gold himself, should have been the hallmark event for the cuisine. It wasn’t. Held in a too-small parking lot, the organizers’ severe underestimation of the event’s turnout resulted in cramped quarters; enormous lines; and rather uninteresting “events” that did little to entertain anyone who was waiting the 45 minutes in line to eat. And that’s if you even got a plate – as the lines grew, the food supply dwindled. Hopefully, they will be better, and more organized, next year.
The Normandie Room closes. The Normandie Room – the lesbian bar for Westside lezzies who are too old, too boring, or too tired (i.e., me, all of the above) of the Scene at Here Lounge and Girlbar – closed its doors after a ten year run. Tucked away as it was in an innocuous plaza near a Ramada Inn, it was a great alternative to what can be both the overly gay and the overly heterosexualized atmosphere of WeHo. Sure, the bar could get crazy, but it didn’t have to. You could sit in the corner and nurse a beer or you could lay stakes down at the pool table and make friends, enemies, and frenemies. The little sanctuary that could petered out due in large part to the crippling economy, and I found out about the bar’s all-kegs-go goodbye party in the nick of time. Guess I’ll be seeing more of you, Silver Lake.
That’s it for the least favorites of this year. Let’s end the year on a good note, shall we?