After sleeping, sort of, on the train I ended up with an sinus infection/little bleeding blisters on and couldn’t hear out of my left ear for the first day navigating LA. They don’t sell painkillers on Amtrak, but the kitchen attendant said he would punch me in the face if that would help.
We instantly morphed into LA babes and brought cold-pressed juice before taking a bus the wrong way. The “Cool and Trendy Artist Loft” we had found on Air B&B did not have windows, as it did in the pictures, or a bed. It did have turtles though, which smelled a little. I went to buy drugs then met Noah and our new ACNE studios girlfriend, who joked with us about gender equality and the liberation of the female nipple. We started the game we had been looking forward to and yelped: “Vegan” finding a restaurant within two blocks.
A vegan Rueben is just the ticket after an accidental juice fast. Within a few hours we also wanted pizza. We walked for half an hour to a lively spot where we split a large happy-hour “Seitan meats Jesus,” saving half for breakfast. The bus that came every half hour didn’t stop for us, so we gave our bus fair to the fellow who asked for it and walked back to the “loft.”
When on vacation you have to instagram your house-made almond milk latte, the cost of which justifies extended loitering in exacting ambiance. We walked for another day, bought fruit with salt and chile in little Mexico, found ourselves in little Tokyo and discovered that museums are closed Tuesdays. Playing the game again we found a spot that made vegan Pho and served kombucha cocktails. Our waiter boyfriend was vicariously excited about our being vegan in LA. The map of our trip is a series of polygons whose pinpoints are food icons – probably food icons with a “V” and a little fucking leaf.
We followed “the rule” (crossing streets based on which pedestrian signs were illuminated) to avoid returning to the loft before absolutely necessary. In this way we found a late night book and record store where we loitered until closing. Our new book store boyfriend returned our backpacks and talked to us about Murakami (who’s memoir I had just bought).
I met with Tom and Tom of CalArts for lunch. Some amazing stairs and hills connected my location to the cafe where Noah was drinking iced coffee and drawing. The sun in California is so soft compared with New Mexico. It’s like a slightly clingy friend who won’t stop hugging you. The prototypical barista is essentially the same but maybe a little higher-end: nicer glasses, a sweeter smile, probably fewer PBR cans in their recycling.
Noah and I walked to the Sage Bistro, where any sandwich has the option of being served on a vegan croissant. I had the jackfruit nachos and we split a waffle with coconut ice cream for desert. We spent several hours in book and record stores following that, filling in blanks in our noise and Murakami collections respectively. We wanted to visit a little all-black boutique we had spotted when following “the rule,” and Noah went into another record store to ask for bus change. I sat outside with a beachy kid’s dog as he went into the record store next door.
The boutique, Akai Ito, ended up only being open on Tuesdays and by appointment. Top 40 rap was echoing from inside so Noah called to make an appointment just then. The music must have been too loud because no one responded. A woman in a mall-goth outfit came to the door and we walked in behind her. The boutique owner gave us ample space to look around. After about 15 minutes he asked if we were from Berlin. The collection was small and well-curated, out of our price range until he said everything was 40-60% off for us. He asked if we had seen “the rest” and pointed us to a metal wall, which turned to be a pneumatic door. “When I found out this place had a blade-runner door I knew I had to be here.” Stacked shopping carts with fluorescent tubes provided ambiance and luminosity – they were left over from the Comme des Garçons flagship store in the 90’s. Noah and I each bought tops made from vintage deadstock Japanese military fabric. Mine has a faint white circle and says: “Unseen.”
The only time we broke vegan restaurant separatism was for a snack (vegan chili cheese fries, root beer and IPA) at a late night diner a block away from Akai Ito. It was fun to have our appetites and personal culture be the protagonists of Los Angeles, I look forward to being a wealthy international art babe and living this way all the time ;)