The First Couple Days of Travel

4:30ish Friday, October 30, 1998

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This is quite nice.

I'm sitting on the strip mall's outdoor patio thing having a Kool and a Sam Adams watchin' the cars go down Sepulveda Ave. Just spent 2 hrs at Kinko's doing some last minute web travel research. See, the thing is, I've got 5 more hours in LA to kill before my flight that was screwed up by my travel agent. Instead of spending the day in Hong Kong on the airline, I get 10 hours in LAX. Thanks Mike. Retard. Gonna mosey on over to the Wells Fargo and get some cash. Listening to Reggae music on the outdoor PA system.

Doesn't sound to exotic? Well, it's only my first day.

I'm adjusting to being a traveler: walking into liquor stores with a big pack on, having to ask everyone for help or directions. I kinda feel like a homeless guy, just sitting down in the middle of a place that other people move through. Going to have to get used to floating. Think I'll have one of these taxi guys that are hangin out take me to a movie theatre.

9:45 PM Friday, October 30 1998

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Attention travelers! You are NOT required to give money to solicitors. This airport does not sponsor their activities. Repeat. You are NOT required to give money to solicitors. This airport does not sponsor their activities.

Whoo. Hot now. Made it through check-in and security, waiting for boarding. I was kind of worried about checking on my luggage. The woman at the counter suggested I try to carry on my (lead-like) bags.

So today I went to Pleasantville and it left me feeling better than pleasant. What a wonderful romantic movie. It's doing a big postmodern literary thingy all over the place, trying to be "To Kill a Mockingbird". I came out so happy, absolutely in love with the world. Man, that buzz after a good movie is better than drugs. I know why Americans build great temples like Pacific Theatres (on 831 Nash in El Segundo) to the movie gods.

When I came out of Pleasantville I asked the security guard what time it was and put my bags up on a nice, wide, clean, 4 foot high cement wall. He watched me as I hoisted my butt onto the slab and then he said, "No sittin'." I looked to the sign riveted to the wall: "The rules of conduct strictly enforced." Apparently so. Being buffeted about by authority was indeed ironic after Pleasantville (I guess you need to see it to understand) but for some reason I couldn't explain this clearly to the security guard who merely wanted to know "Was it funny?"

We paused as he chuckled over the reports of a "gagging" coming across his walkie-talkie. I looked over to see a real Fire Dept. truck drive up to attend to a hotel patron across the street. Then a fuckin' hook and ladder rig comes screamin' around the corner and bears down on the small crowd of bell-boys in their red vests and white sleeves. "Quite a scene it was"

I spotted a cabbie gawking at the "emergency" and headed over for a ride. As I got yelled at through the loudspeaker of a cop car I was positively giddy. He was parked there with his lights off (Yeah, I saw him. So what?) and I started across that deserted street just a little early. "Do not cross against the RED!"

Given this authoritarian context, suddenly I felt comfortable as an outsider but my cab ride started my nerves going again 'cause I realized I was travelling, not just hangin out, and once again in danger of "not getting there". This is a big, expensive, important trip, after all.

PLEASE, maintain visual contact with your baggage and other personal belongings at all times.

Gotta go get a beer to wash down the pills.

11:11 AM Sunday, November 1, 1998(it's actually 7:11PM on Saturday back on the leftcoast of US)

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Wow. Highlights of my trip so far are a movie in LA and a massage chair in Hong Kong. I'm freshening up at the airport's "Plaza Premium Lounge" for $28. I balked at the price at first but as soon as I saw this place I didn't care. I'm treated like a king ” which is a big change from being a piece of shit with a waterbottle on a 747. I'm waiting for them to clear the shower for me and then I'm all over that. This place is beautiful. The airport is super quiet and empty and I'm listening to some soft rock. There's all I can eat and drink, computers with flat panel TFT450 displays, a home theatre, awesome, simply powerful massage chairs ” when you lay back and they're workin on you, you're bouncing and rolling and looking like an alien is going to burst out of your stomach ” and a kick ass view of the airfield. I'm so hot on this place, it's too bad I only have 6 hours to spend here. The airfield is exquisite. There's no oil stains on the concrete. The cars are bright Tonka yellow and red and everything else is silver or grey. They even have real misty mountains just like in those Chinese landscape paintings.

My flight was a cold bumpy mess. I medicated myself through most of the 15 hours just like a deep space traveler. Can you imagine being one of the flight attendants and pulling an 18hr shift and running the whole time, never even sitting down? With bitchy old Chinese ladies screaming about their heart conditions? I don't think I can. So anyhow, this obnoxious guy (who had his own damn seat) decided to sit in the extra seat next to me that I was going to sprawl on. Then he proceeded to take the armrest and try to sleep on me for the rest of the flight. I couldn't find a single person I wanted to talk to ” except maybe the Chinese-American born-again Christian CEO of a surprisingly successful Y2K-bugfix software company that sat next to me.

This was my plane ride:

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(dashes are sobriety, asterisks are beerbuzz, poundsigns are codinefuzz, and underscores are loss of consciousness)