We're driving through Sacramento as I write, on the way to Reno Nevada, where Pat is going to take his last $100 to a casino and turn it into a small fortune. The Saab Story's radio has finally followed its old friend the Air Conditioning to the great Saab dealership in the sky (may they forever rest in peace) and the Coolant Hose we have come to know and yes, even love, has the sad, existential look of a hose that is not long for this engine.
After San Diego, we headed back to LA, spent some quality time with our friend Andreas, and checked out the Getty Museum with my brother, before meeting up with Nora again. In our Naivete, the four of us thought we could just waltz up to a Dodgers game in the second inning and buy tickets on the night that they were giving away Eric Gagne Bobble-head dolls to every fan, a prize so coveted amongst LA baseball enthusiasts, that the game had the 6th largest attendance in Dodgers history. The scalpers we tried to buy from were arrested just as we were about to close the deal, and we had little hope of getting in as we trudged closer to the stadium.
After some more attempts, we found a sketchy looking doorman and asked him if there was any way to get in with no tickets.
"yeah man, but you gotta do it now before my boss comes back. 20 bucks each and I'll let you through to get the bobble-heads and you can come right back out again."
This was my first and hopefully last experience of the seedy LA underworld of illegal Gagne bobble-head smuggling, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. We walked away shaken and distraught at the depths to which people will sink to store up earthly treasures for themselves, with no thought that even the most beautifully wrought ceramic Eric Gagne doll will not be worth even a cent in the world to come. After some more walking, it became apparent that Jan had disappeared. As we searched around for him amongst the security guards and ticket collectors by the stadium, our eyes fell on a door, temporarily unguarded, creaking slowly back and forth on its hinges. After some moments of panic, I plunged through, trying to look alternately confident and confused, and Pat and Nora followed a few minutes later, with Nora muttering "No! No!, Turn back, Abort mission!," under her breath. We found seats with difficulty, poured contraband Jim Beam and Tequila into our $3 cokes, and settled down to watch the Dodgers trounce the Expos 13-3 in a packed stadium. This was extremely fun.
After LA we headed for Jan's childhood home of Topanga to hang out with his old friend Amanda and her parents Maggie and Rick. We went for a long walk in the hills which culminated in Jan having to go on ahead and bring the car back while Pat and I lay sprawled on the road, very sick of walking. The next morning we filmed a conceptual piece with our Super 8 camera about Jan getting pregnant and ultimately dying in childbirth.
Topanga gave way to Pismo Beach, where we discovered the "Target game," which has become our stalwart friend the past 3 or 4 hundred miles, especially now that we have no radio. Our Road Atlas is sponsored by Target Convenience Stores, and it has a chart on the back with every Target location in America. I can say now, without looking, that Wyoming has only 2 Target locations, one in Cheyenne and one in Casper; that Texas' biggest Target accumulations are the 15 in Houston, 5 in Dallas, and 7 in San Antonio; and that California boasts a massive array of Target stores, including 2 in Fresno, 2 in Chino, 1 in Bakersfield, and 4 each in Sacramento and San Diego.
After a day in Santa Cruz (and another HR Derby triumph for me), we hung out with Derek in Oakland, and spent a day in Berkeley, where I had a less than satisfactory interview with a Comp. Lit. professor who felt that I didn't have a narrow enough focus. We took in an A's game and watched them choke in the 7th Inning against the Yankees after A-Rod hit a dazzling homer to tie up the score. Jan left the key on in the Saab overnight, and according to the clock on the dashboard, our poor battery struggled on until 9:30 A.M. before it gave up. AAA fixed us up pretty quick, but the whole ordeal was too much for the radio. The next day was San Francisco with Greg Gomes, who became one in a long line of people to fall to my ferocious batting skills at Home Run Derby. We are currently in grinding traffic on the 80, comically running out of the car to push it every 5 minutes or so when traffic starts again, to forestall overheating the engine. Next stop Reno, the biggest little town in America (1 Target location).