July 8, 2009

Commerce, Downtown LA-style


Between Ssexxy Accessory and TU-TU fashion, I knew I'd arrived in the garment district of LA.

Unlike how I imagine NYCity's district, with racks of clothes being pushed around by runners between showrooms and ateliers, I also knew I was in LA's district by the smell of grilled onions, fresh for the pupusa take-out lunches. Other tip-offs are the mannequins, neatly lined up, bottoms-out, advertising their wares in a cheeky fashion, pockets and decorative stitching all in a row. There were also extremely fluffy dresses for First Communion, stacks of white T-shirts and colorful socks, as well as hanging garments lapped shoulder to shoulder so they looked like a headless-legless line of chorus girls, flapping in the hot LA breeze.

I was traveling up Maple Street to Michael Levine's--any sewer's mecca. I needed large buttons and Jo Ann's and Hancock's weren't offering anything with any kind of style. Getting to LA is half the adventure for those of us out in the sticks.

Most of us on Highway 60 were pushing 70 miles per hour when a small white car suddenly swerved right, overcorrected, swerving to the left, sideswiping the pick-up truck in front of me, then hitting the cement median wall. At that point, the principles of physics took over, scattering the bumper pieces into the faster lanes, and propelling the car back across four lanes of traffic, where it screeched and crashed into the right-hand wall; several cars stopped to help. We all crept slowly around the debris, then like true Angelenos, picked up speed again. A car with the license plates "Ms. Spedy" swept by me on the right. It was a miracle no one was pulled into the accident. The cynic in me supposed, "texting."

It reminded me of the pick-up truck traveling next to us when Mom/Dad were taking me to the airport last week. A loud explosion, and the shreds of the tire went flying--one right over our windshield. Dad pulled over to the right to give the swerving truck a chance to maneuver, then we slowly moved back into the traffic and on our way.

Back to the buttons. I crept around the block, looking for a meter and found one! Quarters to the rescue, but it wouldn't accept them. I pulled forward the next empty one. Ditto. The two shop owners brought me out a bag to put over the meter, and said, in a lilting reggae-ish patois: "Some folks park here free all day." I hurried over to Michael Levine's, bee-lined for the buttons, where I found what I was looking for. On the way out, I noticed their quilt fabric section. Another day, I thought, until, walking back to my car I noticed a parking lot right next door. One free hour's parking with purchase from Michael Levine's.

I'm not dumb. I moved the car, and headed back into the store.

After a pleasant interlude, I headed home, trying to escape the city. It's common knowledge that if you're not out by early afternoon, because of LA traffic, you won't get home in any timely fashion (as reported on the news radio on the way in: most commuters in Los Angeles spend--waste--70 hours per year in traffic, down from last year's 72 hours).

No mishaps on the way home. I used to do these little jaunts more often, but work, family and church responsibilities had filled my time. So, a sort of an adventure--silly little one--but a welcome respite from the norm.

3 comments:

  1. I can't wait to hear more about the project that took you into LA for buttons. Hope you will share that too.

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  2. Ishn't it just the best thing about summer to be able to take a litle side trip here and there to places that I've thought about stopping by during the school year?
    Enjoyed your last posts.... I've just about abandoned mine, but plan to resume as soon as something notable occurs.

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  3. This sounds like a great adventure. I miss these kinds of exciting shopping trips now that I live out in the sticks!

    How is the reading going?

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