Monday, January 23, 2006

This past week, I had the utter joy of Jury Duty. After years of ducking it, or being dinged from service before having even to show up (and this before I was even writing this blog, so how did they know?), I finally got caught.

I got the notice in December, and duly, if dully registered. I was not looking forward to it. Several friends and co-workers had served, all of them at the courthouse three blocks from my palaitial hovel in the industrial triangle area of Beverly Hills. They had a great time- get in at, oh say ten, lunch from 11:30 to about 2, shopping and out of there by 4:30. So when I received the notice at first I was pretty okay with it. I could see myself spending two weeks getting up at nine or so, maundering over to Koo Koo Roo, for lunch, hanging out at the library, and being home in ten minutes. All with the joy of having sat in judgement of some poor sap, and for once having that judgement being served with the full force of the great state of California. Instead of just in my head.

But then I opened the envelope. They were sending me to traffic court. At 22nd and Hill. Ew.

So I followed the instructions on the hand-out and called every day the night before to see if I had to truck down there. Sunday night: don't have to report Tuesday (Monday was MLK day). Tuesday night: don't have to report. I was feeling perky- I may get out of this clean! Wednesday night: please report to the courthouse at 8:30 AM. D'oh!

So I wnet into work early and got some things done, changed my outgoing message, turned on the "out of office assistant" and duly reported. To a big room on the top floor of a dingy '40's fascist-deco building off Washington Blvd in a part of LA that I call the middle of nowhere. I was there with about 50 or 60 people. The ladies running the show were giving a very polite speech that basically spelled it out for you: you can run, but you can't hide. You can get a postponement of your jury duty, but you ain't getting out of it. Short of a sudden fatal stroke that is. Even then, you will be required to appear personally to explain to the judge that you were dead, and you'd better have a copy of your death certificate with you.

There was a large group that took the opportunity to postpone. I didn't see any reason to myself, it wasn't going to be any less inconvenient in three months, and I was already here. There was very obese woman who was moaning on and on to the poor, very disinterested woman from the courts that this "just wasn't the right time for her" to do jury duty, but made sure to tell her that during other, more stress-free times she would "love to serve on a jury". Before finally deciding to postpone, she botton-holed several people in the crowd to tell her story. I buried my face in my murder mystery and tried to look as if I only spoke Latvian whenever she lumbered in my direction.

Some of the creativity of the people trying to convince the poor woman that they should be excused was pretty remarkable. People suddenly lost all knowledge of English, were struck with illnesses ranging from diabetic coma to Dutch elm disease; whatever could be thought of in the fond hope that the woman would smile upon them and pronounce them freed from jury duty...forever! Vain, however was the hope, these ladies had heard it all before. To the sudden loss of English people whe would ask if they were citizens, and if they were naturalised, if they took the test in English. To the suddenly paralised, she asked if they had driven to the court. She'd heard it all, and had an answer for everybody. People either stayed, or they slunk off and took their postponement.

So there I waited. There was a TV on, tuned to the local ABC station. I've always thought that daytime television was some sort of evil cabal by big business to force you to going back into the workforce by showing the the crappiest drek in the world during the day. I read my book, only glancing up once in a while. I particulary noted some of the bad acting on some of the soaps, I briefly thought that I should have pursued acting with more vigor than I did- surely nobody could be worse than some of the people on "All My Children".....

I'm always amazed at the way that people act in public. People in this group picked their noses, had loud and frighteningly intimate cell phone conversations (note to new cell phone users: It's a radio device, you don't need to make up for distance with lung power. And I don't want to hear about your last STD test. Really), and genereally acted as if they were in their own little bubble, unobserved by 40 other people. One woman decided to kick off her shoes and put her feet up. Oy.

I finished my cheap murder mystery. Luckily I had another one. My own version of an earthquake preparedness kit- I may not have water of food, but I always have books and cologne. I may dehydrate and starve, but I'll always be amused and smelling nice.

3:30 pm: they are calling out names. I miss the cut! Whoo hoo! They said we'd be out of here by 4: 30; life is looking good!

4:00 pm: nothing happening, I am feeling very smug.

4:10 PM: they call the rest of us. Sh*&@%*$&)@%$!!!!

4:20 PM: they load us into the courtroom. They are basically marking the territory; if they didn't set our butts into a courtroom and swear us in, they'd have to let us go. The judge gives us a 10 minute speech about the importance of jury duty, blah blah blah, and tells us to show up at 11 am the next morning.

The next morning, I stop into work and do some more work, then go to the courthouse. I tell myself that it won't be that bad, even if the trial lasts more than 5 days (the limit that work will pay for, and they say that they very rarely do last longer in traffic court) I have 20 or so unused vacation days, and sick time. How bad could it be?

We get in to hear the judge start another bit about thanking us for our civic-mindedness, blah blah blah. He then says that he will reward us for this by telling us that our case was settled before we came in, and we are free to go.

I briefly consider going back to work. This is a very brief consideration. I go to Malibu for lunch. It's a beautiful day.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Celebrity Sightings

The other day my boss decided to take the lunch hour and run off to Larchmont Beauty supply on an errand. Never one to miss a chance to check out that store, I tagged along. My boss got her hair stuff, and I got a green tea iced blended.

On our way back to her car, she spotted a minor celeb from "House" I believe having lunch and loudly babbling into his cell phone. I didn't see him, but it made me remember some of the celeb sightings I've had here in the years I've lived in LA.

Some of the most memorable:

Faye Dunaway having coffee at a restaurant in West Hollywood. Contrary to reports, she was very gracious to her server (me- this was when I first moved here), and very low-key. She also looked to be about 35, tops.

Following a scary-skinny girl up Robertson when meeting a friend at the Newsroom. This woman looked like CGI she was so thin. Sinew and bone wrapped in Juicy Couture. As I turned to enter the restaurant, she looked over at me and gave me the most winning smile. Lara Flynn Boyle. She had the most lovely skin, but darlin', eat something.

And perhaps the best star sighting ever...

I was meeting my friend at (the now sadly defunct) Tail O' the Pup for a hot dog in West Hollywood. There was an enormous black Mercedes landaulet from the '50's out in front, and happily, delicately munching one of Tail O's finest was...

Ella Fitzgerald.

That's why I love LA

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Los Angeles Times has an article today about how people these days are not going to the movies as much as they used to. They ask patrons at various cinemas around town why this is happening. I think they might have made more of a point of asking people who are leaving Blockbuster, but what do I know? I would think people who are going to the movies, well, go to movies.

In any case they ask "Could it be the prices, the parking, the patrons?".

Ya think?

Here's the reason I don't go to the movies much anymore: the last movie I saw out was the last Star Wars flick. Not only did the tickets cost a whopping $13.50 at the Grove, but you also had to pay two bucks to park. All to sit through about six years of commercials in a crowded theater full of screaming shildren on cell phones (and perhaps, crack) eventually to see a movie so devoid of humor, sweep, interest or anything redeeming at all as to make me think that not only should I get my money back, Hayden Christensen should refunded personally. Naked. Riding a pogo stick. Just for wasting my time.

This is, perhaps why I am rarely asked my opinion for publication.