June 03, 2008
Shut Up and Drive
It cost $41 to fill up my tank with gas last week, a new record for me since living in this city of constant commuting. Six years ago, $16 was all it took to get me filled up for the road. To say the least, it's hurting like a mofo to travel the slightest distance within these city limits.
I live near Westwood, a mile west of Century City, and during most of my weeks I find myself having to drive to the Hollywood area (the East Side) quite often. And during those drives I usually pass gas stations displaying the most recent price hikes. It's chilling actually. Who could have fathomed paying $4.25 for a gallon of gas half a decade ago? Granted, Sydney, my loyal Focus, maintains an impressive MPG, and my commute to work every day is a blessed four miles each way (a rarity in this town). However, I sympathize with those who have to fill up those larger tanks (not just those gas-guzzling SUVs) and squeeze more dollars out of their wallets.
Most of my destinations are east of me, and I find myself getting quite familiar with the long stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard that runs through Beverly Hills. I know to avoid that pesky pothole in the right lane on the Camden Drive block. I know I'll be greeted by the cardboard-sign-carrying war veteran who stands outside the Catholic church near the Rodeo intersection (he's always in the same pin-striped suit; it is Beverly Hills after all). I even know the red-light pattern during that 2-mile run, and it never fails. I'm guaranteed to hit three reds all the way from Doheny to Wilshire.
The gas price hike is a bitch because it seems to be limiting people from their recreational options. I'd love to take drive down to San Diego, but the round trip is going to cost me two movies and three brunches in West Hollywood. Hell, Santa Barbara should be gorgeous this time of year, but my utility bills ain't gonna pay for themselves.
To those of you reading who live in Silverlake and anywhere else east of La Brea, I apologize in advance if I gradually refrain from trekking across town to hang out. I'm sure we can meet somewhere in between, or perhaps we can alternate weekends in our respective hoods.
One positive that may come out of this crisis: More walking (and cardio)! I love my neighborhood. I love the fact that I can walk to a number of places and still thrive for several days without getting behind the wheel. I have my pick of coffee chains (Peet's, Starbucks and Coffee Bean are all within two blocks), dry cleaning, video rental stores and Middle Eastern take-out (If you're ever in my hood, Sunnin Lebanese Cafe is the shiz). Westwood Village is only a 15-minute stroll away (if I ever want to feel young again and hang with UCLA undergrads who were still clinging to their Tickle-Me Elmos when I was writing term papers on Jane Austen). The Westside Pavilion is just south of me, home to Barnes & Noble (bookworm power!), Nordstrom (rich and bored housewives unite!) and a snazzy, 12-screen fine-arts theater with a bar where I once caught a sloshed Quentin Tarantino mouthing off to a pimply-faced usher.
That kid probably went home after his shift and burned his copy of Jackie Brown.
Oy. I really hope it doesn't get much worse. I'm starting to think we should all learn from this guy (stay for the closing credits, specifically at the 7:31 mark):
Wishing you well at the pumps,
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