Thursday, June 25, 2009

Metro Journal: June 24 Little Person Tokyo

My friend Steve just started a two-month sabbatical. As an act of vengeance love, he pretty much has full-time parenting duties to his 2-year-old son, Caden. As I am still unemployed, we decided to try to get out and take little day trips.

Our first day trip was to Little Tokyo. The plan had a little subversive agenda on my side: to spread the joy of public transportation. Steve lives a couple of miles from the North Hollywood Red Line Station. The Red Line is perfect for going to Little Tokyo, as I've done on multiple occasions. And yesterday's weather forecast was just about perfect for strolling around during the day.

I decided to take the bus over to Steve's house in Burbank and meet him there. It's about a 10 mile drive. I've spoken before about how even though the two cities are side-by-side neighbors, it is a pain to get directly from Glendale to any part of Burbank west of their downtown Media Center, which sits on the east side of Burbank. As far as the bus goes, at best it would seem to be an hour trip, but mine was a little more because of timing issues. There's no way to do it without taking at least three buses or walking a lot. And two of the three buses I took don't even run on weekends, which means no bus goes within half a mile or more of his place on weekends. But I got to within a block of his home without a hitch and got a lot of reading done in the process.

Caden tried to convince me he had shotgun for the ride to the Red Line station, but after his dad came out he got in his child seat. We drove to the station, parked, took the escalator down, and Caden helped Steve get his ticket from the machine. (I already had my Day Pass loaded on my TAP card.) Then even more escalators! A train was waiting (this is the start of the line) so we all sat down. Caden seemed most fascinated with the doors when they opened at each stop. I guess if a door opens, he feels a real need to go through it. That sounds like an interesting philosophy. The train got fairly crowded as we were moving along, and for awhile a man sat down in the seat next to me and talked about his 3-year-old. Steve asked if 3 was any easier than 2. "Nooooooo!"

We got off at the Civic Center stop, which is where I usually get off, except the first working up escalator from the platform we found put us on the Temple St exit. I always got out at Spring so I was a little confused, but outside we figured out where we were and strolled down toward Little Tokyo and to the little mall with the Kinokuniya Bookstore. We ate well at the Curry House and then hit the bookstore. Actually, I hit the bookstore. Caden was getting restless and apparently insisted on going up and down the stairs to the third floor several times before his manga-loving father was allowed to enter the Holy Land.

After I had perused the craft books and Steve had found some comic art books, I took him to the Unbearable Cuteness of Being Aisle. I pointed out some of the mamegoma items where the seals are wearing seriously cute costumes. Steve wondered why someone would dress baby seals in costumes. "Because it's unbelievably cute." He smacked his head. "Of course!" He got a mamegoma mug for his cuteness-loving wife. They didn't seem to have any nice impact-resistant San-X mugs, though, so Caden will have to wait. Meanwhile, I became Caden's Least Favorite Person for a little while because he, rather understandably, did not want to leave Super-Cute Overload Aisle empty-handed. (I have a hard time leaving it empty-handed, too.) He got upset when I repatriated some stuff. By the time we got outside and found a fancy water fountain, though, he had forgotten about it. Steve and I had plenty of time to show each other what we got, because Caden was busy with throwing every leaf he could find into the fountain. And because leaves aren't really good for throwing, they would often just plummet back to the ground and he would get multiple opportunities to throw the same leaf.

We decided to walk to Union Station. The first time I went to Kinokuniya last year, I had actually walked from Union Station. We ended up walking the long way around, but it was really nice out. And we walked by a lovely Federal Building which apparently had a prisoner holding area inside, I assume for keeping people brought downtown for trial in the multitude of courthouses there.

Caden was pretty much totally passed out in his stroller by now. We walked to the Olvera Street historic area across Alameda from Union Station and went into the old firehouse I had noticed back in October. It was cool. The building dates back to the late 1800s and acts as a museum for fire fighters in Los Angeles. The docent kept popping out amazing facts, like how sulfuric acid, mixed with an alkali, was used to fight fires. Another of the park's docents finally cut us short. It seems the museum was supposed to have closed half an hour earlier. My feet were tired from standing there almost an hour, but the guy had some great stories. I couldn't help but think my father would have liked to see that place, with its old, horse-drawn chemical engine.

It had magically become 3:30, so we decided we should straggle home. We went into Union Station, past the ambulance with lights blazing that was parked right in front. After I left Steve with directions to the poopy-diaper disposal and then the Red Line entrance, I took the Gold Line up to Pasadena and then the 780 into Glendale.

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