I have lived in the same general area of Los Angeles for most of the nearly 30 years it has been since I escaped from Iowa (which I did as soon as I was sure my parents couldn’t send a sheriff to bring me back). It’s North Hollywood unless you want to call it Toluca Lake or West Toluca Lake or Studio City Adjacent or the NoHo Arts District, which people do for reasons that mostly have to do with property values and status. Regardless of the name, I have resided in the same neighborhood forever (except for a couple of short stints of living in other parts of town not worth mentioning) and lived in the same apartment building for nearly 19 years (!!#**#!@).
One street north of me is a street called Camarillo and if you take it east you cross into Burbank (which is usually only called Burbank) and the street changes names to become Verdugo and you see this:
The Shoe Car has been in front of or next to Victor’s Shoe Repair (3810 W. Verdugo, Burbank for the record) for as long as I have lived in this neighborhood. I’d say I have probably driven by it thousands of times and I have always wondered what kind of car or truck gave up its life to become a Shoe Car. I’ve always wondered but never stopped to ask. Today, I did.
The Shoe Car was originally a Toyota 4-Runner. It has been an iconic bit of the Los Angeles scenery for decades and believe it or not it still runs!
It reminds me of the kinds of things Mary and I used to see on our Plucky Survivors adventures – the muffler men and the giant chicken statues and the like. There is a lot of whimsical and wacky here in Los Angeles but I have either been too busy to pay attention or simply couldn’t be bothered to seek it out. I think I have missed a lot because of that, so herein is the lesson for Day 2 of The Year of Living Differently: stop and smell the Shoe Cars.
I’m kicking off The Year of Living Differently in Las Vegas, which has offered me a veritable all-you-can-eat buffet of new and different. I dined at a couple of restaurants I have never visited before; I went in to an Apple store for the very first time (verdict: a little creepy); I felt J-Lo’s ass. Well, I felt the ass of a wax mannequin of J-Lo but only because the person giving me the tour of the Madame Tussaud’s in Las Vegas told me to (the statue blushes when you do it – cute).
But of all the new things I did, the one I’m going to pick for my inaugural TYOLD item is that I rang in the new year on the Las Vegas Strip.
Now, I know what you’re thinking and yes, I have been in Las Vegas before on New Year’s Eve. One of my very first trips back in the 1980s was over the holiday and I remember sort of vaguely looking up from the slot machine I was playing at The Stardust as people shouted “Happy New Year” and that was pretty much it. I spent the Y2K New Year’s here at a Bette Midler concert (they passed out little pen lights in case the power went out – they all read “I Flashed Bette Midler”). I watched the big fireworks show one year from my hotel room at The Stratosphere with my parents and brother.
But I have never been outside on The Strip with the teeming hordes at midnight and let me tell you something, I won’t be doing that again… ever.
They shut down the street and hundreds of thousands of people jam together to drink, party, and yell “Whoooo” a lot. I went outside at about 11:45pm and I got about 20 feet from the door and was stuck. There was no way to go any further; no way to go anywhere, really, so I just stopped and accepted that this was where I was going to welcome 2014. This is what my view was:
My hundreds of thousands of new best friends.
It was insane and uncomfortable and both hot and cold at the same time and a girl named Kayla spilled her beer on me and I haven’t had my junk touched that often since that weekend on Fire Island in the mid 1980s.
But I’m glad I did it, just to say that I had a classic Vegas moment and that today, I did something I have never done before. 364 more things to go…