The LA Diaries, Part Three

March 26, 2004 10:27 a.m. LAX
No book tour stuff today. Scott flew into LA this morning for my brother’s wedding. I am reunited with my cell phone, so while I was sitting in traffic about 10 miles from the airport, he called me and we broke in the phone. I don’t really have the knack of talking and changing lanes, so we arranged a meeting place and I hung up. On the way into LAX, the cops stopped my car at an off-ramp and searched it. Heightened security at the passenger loading and unloading zone. Because I’m in a rental car, I did not know how to open the trunk or comply with any of their other requests. I guess they decided I could not be too much of a threat if I could barely operate my own car.

Random observations about cell phones:

1. I find that having one makes me want to use it. I keep hoping that someone will call, that the phone will ring. And I find myself thinking about who I could call. Does wireless technology create a need in us and then satisfy it?

2. Observed frequently around LA: Two people sitting together in a restaurant, each talking on their cell phones throughout the meal. Surely this is the beginning of the end–the decline of civilization.

Tonight’s the wedding rehearsal. The worms will stay behind at the hotel. It’s not their scene.

March 27, 2004 11:17 p.m. Holiday Inn
Glorious, glorious wedding at their home in Sherman Oaks.
My baby brother’s a married man. Folks, meet Rebecca Stewart.

March 28, 2004 9:04 p.m. Holiday Inn
Absolutely nothing to do today. I cannot remember the last time I had a day with so little to do. Saw the newlyweds off to their honeymoon, floated in the pool, ate sublime Indian food with my new in-laws. Early to bed.

March 29, 2004 9:12 a.m. KCRW, Santa Monica
Vacation’s over. I’m at the public radio station, which is located in the basement of a building at a community college. When I arrived, I told the guy at the parking booth that I was here for a KCRW interview. He asked me what I was going to talk about on the radio; when I told him, he took a step back.

“Earthworms! Really? You know, one time I was at Yosemite…” and he told a story of hundreds of nightcrawlers coming to the surface after a rainstorm at the park. He wanted to know whether or not it was too warm in LA to raise nightcrawlers—he needed them for bait. I told him they’d probably be fine. If it gets too hot, they can just burrow deeper.

The interview with To the Best of Our Knowledge went smoothly. I was all alone in the recording booth, just me and a copy of my book and the host’s voice in my headphones. It was a typical NPR-type interview, quiet and thoughtful. I was more thoughtful, too: more reflective, maybe, than I’d been with Nancy a few days before. I think we had a good NPR vibe going. I’m not sure when the show will air, but you can go here and look for it sometime around Earth Day, April 22.

4:46 p.m. Santa Monica Third Street Promenade
Just dropped Scott off at the airport and came down here to shop and get some dinner. I looked in the bookstores for my book. Borders had one copy that I couldn’t find at first, but it turned up eventually on a crowded shelf of gardening books. Barnes & Noble had a half-dozen of them prominently displayed, covers facing out, on the top shelf of the nature section, in the back half of the store with the computer manuals. Midnight Special, which recently moved off the Promenade because of skyrocketing rents, didn’t have it in stock, but the manager was excited about the book and promised to order some. I told him I was in LA from time to time because my brother lives here. He asked me to call their events coordinator about setting up a talk next time I’m in town. I told him I would.

I wish Scott didn’t have to go home early. LA makes me so lonely. There’s something so soulless about it, this image-conscious place where pop culture is manufactured and sold. For such a crowded city, it can feel very empty. Jason & Bec are in Hawaii on their honeymoon, both families have gone home, and I’m here for just one more day. The hotel seems so empty with everyone gone. Tonight it’ll just be me and the worms back in the room.