UNITED STATES—A warm bath can be the most alluring thing in the world after a night’s filming in a makeshift football field, up in the mountains of the high desert, where the fierceness of the sun is matched only by the fierceness of the evening chill. A warm bath—that’s all I wanted. We worked from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
I hadn’t slept and now, returning to the city, I disciplined myself and headed straight to 7968 Fountain Ave. It is my Brooklyn, my Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood, my Rosetta stone. Delaying the hot bath, I did my duty first thing and saw that the laundromat I manage was all in one piece.
I then took off in my car moving westward on Fountain toward Hollywood and a rendezvous with a hot bath. There was a blockade at Plummer Park. Blinking arrows pointed me to Sunset. Yonder I could see firetrucks. I outsmarted the arrows and turned the other way on Vista. I quickly ascertained there was no next open cross street. Even Santa Monica Boulevard was blocked. I already felt imprisoned in the Westside and started envisioning a disaster, a gas leak, and Hollywood had blown up while I was gone.
I kept driving south and street after street was blocked. Finally, I rolled down the window and asked somebody if they knew what the devil was going on. They didn’t. My city was cut in half, that much I knew. Now I could imagine what it felt like to be I Berlin when overnight, concrete was poured, bricks laid, and somewhere there was a poor wretch left longing for home and a bath on the other side of the wall.
A befuddled bystander suggested I try Beverly Boulevard. I drove very carefully, taking into account my fatigue and raw nerves. Because of all these blockades, people were not getting where they wanted to go and drivers were rattled. I had to extend them the benefit of being twice as bewildered, distracted and frustrated as myself.
Amazingly there was a break for traffic in Beverly Boulevard. As I passed through the intersection, waved on by smiling policemen, I saw people in black T-shirts, clusters marching down La Brea, waving flags. Don’t you know what you’re doing? I wanted to shout, You’re keeping a bone-tired man from his hot bath and in so doing are stirring up ugly thoughts and vile sediment and lots of head scratching. I was too tired and disgusted and disgusted to be curious about what was going on—I wanted my bath—and felt totally detached from the people in the black T-shirts and waving, red orange and blue flags.
Well, I finally did get my bath and properly rested up. Then it was a Friday afternoon; soon enough it was time to pick up my daughter after school in Beverly Hills, on the other side of town. Still in evidence was the aftermath of the demonstration as I drove down Beverly Boulevard, traffic was slowed and, much to my distress, I found myself again hosting murderous thoughts. I had to let off steam. That’s when I knew it was time, even if I was expected to already be on the other side of town, to park the car and talk to some folks.
Truly I was itching for a fight, a shouting match, but as soon as my feet touched the ground and I took a few steps, I calmed. The first people I saw were a young family, dad, wife and two daughters barely gradeschool age. They were formally dressed, him in a black jacket and her in a plain dress. What was this about? The wife told me about the 1.5 million Armenians killed in 1915—this was the 100th anniversary. The march started at Western Avenue in Little Armenia and wound all the way to the Turkish consulate on Wilshire.
What were the odds that an all-night shoot will again fall on the 200th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide? Pretty slim. I could better take it in stride, and I felt great peace simply talking to some people.
This is something I recommend to anybody. When you find yourself in a stew, try to talk to the source of the stew. You’ll be better for it . . .
Humorist Grady Miller is author of “Lighten Up Now—a diet for the mind and body,” available on Amazon. Mr. Miller may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.