Week 13.5 - 12/10/03
Ever since all the 24-grocery stores went on strike roughly three months ago, it's been a lot quieter in the South Bay late at night. I have yet to find a coffee shop or restaurant at which to hang out during my security shift. One thing that is open however is the blessed Hermosa Beach Arco station.

There are three types of gas stations in LA. The first is your typical pay-at-the-pump, may-or-may-not-have-a-convenience-store, 170-cent-gallon station. This includes your basic Chevron, Shell or whatever else you might find anywhere else. A couple steps down from this are your "Thrifty" stores (of which "Thrifty" is appropriately the main one), where gas is ass-cheap (155 cents or so) but your fuel may not have enough octane in it to qualify as flammable, much less last you to your next oil change. These stores accept only cash, or barter, for better gasoline. And in between lies Arco.

Arco sells legit gas as a price roughly ten-cents cheaper than most places. You can also by beer, as well as other amenities. And most importantly, you can buy these things 24-hours a day. I rolled in at about 3:15am last week and asked the guy if I could still buy forties at this hour - he just kind of looked at me, then at the open fridge next to me as if to say "well, obviously". I asked him if I could buy forties 24-hours a day. He just kind of looked at me again. I guess anything being sold at 3:15am probably means that it's sold all day long, unless you're at a porn store or something. I told the guy I'd be back soon.

Gabe, Elia and I also had the unique experience of taking in a Sunday morning football game at one of the South Bay's many sportsbars. Football in LA is an odd thing, since there are ten million people living here and somehow no NFL team. I guess the market's not big enough or something. Additionally, nobody who lives in LA is from here in the first place - one of the several reasons people site for why Los Angeles has no soul. Anyway, the moral of the story is you go to a sportsbar on a Sunday and no two people are cheering for the same team. The place we went to had 30+ TVs in it and needed most of them - there were about 18 different games on at once, and little alcoves of fans cheering for all of them. And when some TVs started showing highlights of games on other TVs, while those TVs were showing highlights of games on still other TVs... it was all very confusing. Especially on one hour of sleep with an Arco forty already in my belly at 11am.

Finally, a Thanksgiving recap, since I didn't have the pictures to support it before. Essentially it was a mad dash to Phoenix, a 16-hour sleep, some good family time, some golf, a big meal and back again. The most interesting part of the trip was perhaps my uncle's new car. If you can call it a car.

Sometime in the 30's or 40's, the Germans came out with a jeep-like automobile that became known as "The Thing". After being used in WWII as a nazi war vehicle, The Thing went into a period of not being made, before being revived again in the late 60's. Only about 100,000 or so were made, and only a third of those survive today. And my uncle drives one of them.

As a birthday present from my cousins, my uncle Daryl (who once lived in Zambia and bartered for a Toyota Land Cruiser with the nationals) got his longtime wish of owning a Thing. And it's quite a Thing indeed.

A mutated relative of a small jeep, the Thing most closely resembles a cross between a Humvee and a Go-Cart. It has picket floorboards as if from a toboggan, and roughly three buttons for driving on the front dashboard. The Nazi-Engine is the back and the trunk is in the front, including a spare tire that is hooked up to the windshield fluid sprayer, so that fluid is sprayed by letting air out of the tire and pressurizing the hose. You have to stop every once in a while and fill the tire back up or you canít clean your windows anymore. Also on a Thing everything is an accessory Ė including the windshield. Yes, when my uncle got it he had to go out and by not only the canvas covering but also front and side windows to put in. Otherwise you just roll around with doors and thatís it, like youíre riding in a big wagon or something. When I asked him what a driver would do about all the wind and rocks and stuff hitting you in the face when you drove, Daryl replied ďI guess you wear goggles.Ē

So thatís about it, everything up to today. Oh and I came back to Redondo for Thanksgiving part 2 with Gabeís family involving all of us seated in holiday fellowship around the uncovered ping-pong table. It was all very festive. Stay tuned the rest of the week for the (eventually) continued Idiot Olympics. Unless I break my typing fingers in wrestling tomorrow.

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