Out of the Frying Pan and Into a Slightly Less Hot Frying Pan

I woke up, ate some breakfast, and decided to walk down to the beach. Along the short walk there I realized that, while Long Beach seemed tame and refreshing in comparison to the manic clusterfuck of LA, I was still in densely overpopulated and spiritually bankrupt southern California. Really if it weren’t for some green signs on the highway, you’d never know you were in Long Beach vs. LA; there’s not even a slight break in the urban sprawl to separate them.

This sentiment was really driven home when I witnessed this extremely misguided and poorly executed likeness (tribute? effigy?) of Martin Luther King on someone’s porch. The only reason I even knew it was Martin Luther King was the initials “MLK” plastered across its baseball cap. It appeared as if someone had tried to give a mannequin blackface makeup, but used malnourished feces instead of paint. Take a second to really take in the details here. There’s even dead flowers on the left. This is the work of a true american.

‘ya blew it.’

The other pedestrians didn’t seem to understand what I was laughing at, which brought the hilarity full circle, because now I accidentally look like a total racist asshole for laughing at someone who accidentally looks like a total racist asshole. I stifled my laughter and quickened my walking pace. LA is very meta. I don’t think it knows it.

Just as my smug cynicism is reaching critical mass, I notice a beautiful plant on the sidewalk that sets me straight. A bee even flew onto it right as I took the picture, to remind me that everything is beautiful and I am dumb for thinking I know so much about things.

I get to the beach with renewed faith, only to have it dashed by dump trucks and a sickeningly thick layer of smog on the horizon to match. My god is a merry prankster with a wicked sense of humor. 

I eventually ward off the Fear and see that there is a nice paved bike/pedestrian path along the entirety of the Long Beach shoreline. I strap my guitar to my back and take off down it towards some menacing looking cranes. You can sort of see them over the dump truck in the picture above.

After a mile or so of walking, I reach the promised cranes, and realize my trek has brought me to a marina. The cranes suddenly make more sense. I walk further down a long rock pier that juts out past the sand into the water and play some guitar to the seagulls. Some guys nearby are drinking beer and ‘hunting’ birds with a slingshot. I turned around and got a picture of downtown Long Beach from the marina pier:

After walking for several miles, I long for a quicker mode of transportation. Recounting last night’s parking nightmare, I don’t dare move my car. So I grab Wes’ bike (that he freely offered to me along with his home) and start off toward “Hilltop Park,” which allegedly holds the best view of the area. Along the way I saw an interesting street sign:

i’ve never seen a sign that took the time to explain itself.

After a strenuous uphill ride, I found out they weren’t bullshitting about the view. It was spectacular. Once again, though, LA’s meta-beauty/ugliness started to fuck with me. As always, the phone pictures don’t do it justice.

I got snapped out of my melancholy philosopher trance by a group of teenage asian boys. They were talking about skydiving or something, and the only pronoun they seemed to know was “my nigga.” I counted more uses of the word “nigga” in a ten minute conversation than in the entire running length of Django Unchained. Think about the stereotypical valley-girl using the word “like,” every 5 seconds. Now replace that with “my nigga.” They went on to describe how “my nigga Jackie Chan went skydiving to rob some niggas,” and how “my nigga, his parachute broke but he killed them niggas in mid air and stole the golden skull, my nigga” I fled the deluge of pubescent douchebaggery to return to Wes’ home to cook dinner with him.

When I got back we whipped up a mean chili and ate it hungrily while discussing the folly of veganism. At one point I remember him emphatically saying, “I’d never abuse an animal in any way, but I’ll eat the SHIT out of one.”

During our after-dinner conversation, he told me about how he loved New Orleans, so played him some good old fashioned delta blues. He got a phone call and informed me that we would be receiving more couchsurfers tomorrow, one from Brazil, and another from Denmark. I was to coordinate with the Dane to let him into the house while Wes was at work. I ate some peanut butter with a fork and went to bed.

—————————Day 2————————

I woke up and wanted to just chill out for a day, but my body quickly rebelled and I became restless. The wanderlust has gotten into my bones, I guess. I stubbornly sat on the computer for a bit, but the restlessness grew to an unbearable point, so once again I stormed out the door in a foreign place with no plan, but this time with a bike. I rode deeper into the marina and developed a fantasy of meeting some seafaring ruffian that would take me on a random adventure out on his boat. This didn’t happen, so got a picture as I rode:

This is a huge ass ship that Long Beach is very proud of. It has its own exit from the highway. 

The “Queen Mary”

Even after several miles, the restlessness still drove me, so I rode downtown to this cool commercial park called “(something) Lagoon” 

All the biking had made me hungry, and I remembered something that Wes had told me earlier: Long Beach has the largest population of Cambodians in the world outside Cambodia. They are all concentrated in an area appropriately called “Cambodia Town.” I rode there hungrily to sample what was sure to be an exotic delight: Cambodian food.
Once within the boundaries of Cambodia town, this fantastic-looking writing appeared everywhere. Cambodian, I presume.

The city even puts it on the trash cans: 

I wandered for a bit before deciding on this place:

The menu was confusing so I just asked what the most popular dish was. The cashier pointed out the “House Special” with pork, beef liver, shrimp and beef stomach. Sounded good to me. $5.50 and 30 seconds later I was handed a steaming hot bag of food. 
It looked a lot like Thai food, but tasted much different. It was extremely good. The spices were different than anything I’ve had, so I can’t really describe it. But it was damn good.

 I was so impressed I got this dessert afterwards. It was coconut, sweet rice, kidney beans, and some kind of sauce sauteed on. It was strange and tasty as well. I noticed that all the deserts had beans in them. I guess beans are a dessert item in Cambodia.

It was nearing the time for my rendezvous with the Danish traveler, so I returned to Wesley’s home, satisfied. Instead of the Danish guy, I found another guy, who introduced himself as Tyson, in the house. Apparently a friend of Wesley’s, here to check his mail and use the internet. 
Shortly thereafter, the foretold Dane arrived and introduced himself as Andreas. He was extremely earnest and upbeat, and spoke very fluent English. He is also one of the most unintentionally funny people I have ever met. For some reason, the combination of his accent, his face, and his extremely affirmative personality was hilarious to me. So funny, that when I talk to him I have to try very hard not just burst out laughing. I get a huge shit-eating grin every time he talks to me and he seems confused by it. I wish I could explain it, but you would just have to meet him. Here he is below with Tyson:

Andreas (left) and Tyson (right)

Not long after, Wesley arrived home with yet another couchsurfer, Rafael from Brazil. He spoke great english as well and was very cool and friendly. Here’s him and Wes:

Rafael (left) and Wesley (right)

We all hung out, I played some guitar, we ate, then I went to bed a little richer for cultural experience. Thanks, Wesley.

One thought on “Out of the Frying Pan and Into a Slightly Less Hot Frying Pan

  1. - says:

    Top fuckin notch. Keep it up!! “I get to the beach with renewed faith, only to have it dashed by dump trucks and a sickeningly thick layer of smog on the horizon to match. My god is a merry prankster with a wicked sense of humor.” bahahahaha


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