Finally, we found a time when the Los Angeles freeways are bearable. Sunday mornings. Maybe this place isn’t as unchurched as we’ve been led to believe. Or maybe everyone had a really late Saturday night, which explains why so many Clippers arrived 30 minutes late Sunday for the 12:30 p.m. tipoff.
But the trip to Staples Center from our LAX hotel was smooth. No traffic. This is quite the place with no traffic.
I used our frequent freeway frustrations to educate my youthful colleagues on the best song ever written about the dichotomy between LA and Oklahoma. “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma.” Shelly West and David Frizzell, circa 1981.
I’m no country music fan. Most of it is garbage. But the lyrics from “You’re the Reason” remain as strong now as they did 33 years ago.
“Here the city lights outshine the moon.”
“Everyone’s a star here in LA County, you oughtta see the things that they do.”
“All the cowboys down on the Sunset Strip wish that they could be like you.”
And the evergreen “Santa Monica Freeway, sometimes make a country girl blue.”
The Santa Monica Freeway has made me blue many a time. And the San Diego Freeway. And the 101. And dang near every freeway I’ve been on.
The guys weren’t all that impressed. Getting a pass is A.C. Slater, who was born about 15 minutes ago and lived in California until four years ago. RFD, a child of the hiphop generation, he gets a pass, too, I suppose. “You’re the Reason” was recorded before RFD was born. But Johnny Damon? Bartlesville raised and OU bred? He ought to know this song.
LATE NIGHT DINING
We finished up at Staples Center probably 7 p.m. California time, except Johnny Damon, whose video work takes much longer than ours. So we all headed back to the hotel, and A.C. and I told Johnny Damon we’d wait to have dinner with him. So about 10 p.m., we head out.
The hotel concierge said our options were limited. Said most places close at 10 p.m. on Sundays. We told him we didn’t mind driving a little. He said it didn’t matter. Said you’d think things would stay open in LA, but no.
So he sent us to The Cheesecake Factory, which Johnny Damon likes and A.C. had never tried. I’m no big fan of The Cheesecake Factory. I don’t particularly care for cheesecake, and I like my restaurant menus a little shorter than a Tolstoy novel. But it’s always pretty good, and I didn’t mind going – my daughter and her family took my wife to OKC’s Cheesecake Factory on Sunday night for Mother’s Day, so it made me feel a little closer to home.
Turns out, the concierge was a little wet. Driving to The Cheesecake Factory in Marina Del Rey, we saw several restaurants open. I guess they’re a little hard to keep up with in a place like LA.
Anyway, The Cheesecake Factory was hopping. We got right in, which you should at 10:30 p.m., but our waiter said there had been a two-hour wait most of the day.
It’s too bad we were there at night. Marina Del Rey is just north of LAX. It’s an affluent, unincorporated seaside community. The actually marina apparently is the world’s largest man-made small-boat harbor, with capacity for more than 5,000 boats. Looked really cool. I wouldn’t mind going back in the daylight. So long as it wasn’t to The Cheesecake Factory.
LA PRESS CORPS
I know this goes against convention, but the Los Angeles press corps is maybe my favorite in the NBA. Bunch of nice fellows. Of course, we’ve gotten to know them quite a bit over the years. Playoff series against the Lakers in 2010 and 2012, now the Clippers in 2014.
But Broderick Turner and Ben Bolch of the LA Times, Mark Medina of the Daily News, Bill Plaschke of the LA Times and ESPN’s “Around the Horn”. Super guys. Plaschke in particular is a super guy. And very complimentary of The Oklahoman. Sorry, detractors.
The LAX Marriott is a perfectly good hotel. And we got a great rate, $119 a night. But it’s a little like a New York hotel. The rooms are very small. What do I care? It’s just me. I don’t need a bunch of space. But the bathrooms in particular are very small. Hard to even turn around. That’s the way it is in New York, where space is at a premium.
The LAX Marriott also is undergoing renovation. Seems to be a common occurrence wherever we stay. The parking lot is being redone, so parking was a total mess – and $27 a day, for self-park. Valet was $36 a day. We valeted the first day because we were told there was no self park, but I got rid of that after the first night. Either way, we paid more to park our rental car than we did to rent it. My total bill for a three-day rental was $81. The parking included some kind of surcharge. That’s very New Yorkish, too.