A columnist’s jaunt in sunny L.A.

Now that the April Foolery is over, and our good friend Otis Bocchini has hung up his quill, the essential question remains . so did everyone have fun on spring break? Or did you just spend the majority of the week huddled up in a quivering ball on some hotel bathroom floor? Now that you’re rested, it’s time to get back to work. You’ve gotten your midterm grades back, and we can’t have Mommy and Daddy finding out how you blew off the first half of the semester come May.

I went to Los Angeles for spring break. As a J Street connoisseur one of the first things I noticed was the abundance of fast-food chains. L.A. must have 10 times as many fast food places as the East Coast. Just in terms of burger joints in addition to McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s there are also Jack-In-the-Box, In-N-Out Burger, Carl Jr’s and Fatburger. All four have excellent burgers but are obviously kept out of the East Coast by an inability to survive in our harshly competitive cutthroat market where as in Darwin’s jungle only the strongest survive. That, and their fries suck.

Los Angeles has so many fast food places because everyone drives everywhere. To go down the block people use their cars. A Southern Californian without a car is like a GW student without a cynical attitude – both exist, but it’s not long until the frustration associated with not having one forces them to acquire one.

All these cars lead to a lot of highways with a lot of traffic. Aided by fellow GW students and LA locals Christina Kaku and Robert Wyman, I got to sample the splendor that is congestion on the 5, the 10, the 110, the 101 and the 405. What all these numbers mean, well, I have no idea, but we covered a lot of L.A. because Christina and Rob had a little problem with knowing how to get from Point A to Point B. Look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.

In addition to traffic, I partook in that other great California institution – surfing. My sister’s boyfriend Dan, who lives a couple of blocks from the beach and surfs every morning, took me to the local surf shop to rent a board. While Dan has a cool surfboard, I was stuck with a giant long board. Strutting around the beach with this 9-foot bright blue foam monster I telegraphed NARC to the regular surfer dudes. Thus my attempt to infiltrate Patrick Swayze’s gang was thwarted, and L.A. banks continue to be robbed by Uncle Jimmy and the Gipper.

Surfing is a very Zen-like experience. There’s nothing quite like hours and hours of nonstop battering from crashing waves that slam your head into the sand and snap your limbs back at unnatural angles to teach you respect for mother ocean. Out there, clinging to my board, every square inch of my body sunburned and bruised, my fingers all pruney, I made my peace with God. In other words I begged him to spare my insignificant life.

The main reason for my visit was to see my friend Kevin, who is a film student at the University of Southern California. I went to a screening of student projects on Friday – seeing films that featured the gratuitous use crappy special effects and incoherent plot twists that wouldn’t impress members of remote Amazonian tribes who use tree frog feces as currency – and got the impression that these people are foolish.

I got to meet the Speilbergs and Lucases of tomorrow, which is like coming to GW and meeting the presidents and ambassadors of tomorrow. I sat in on a couple of classes in this film school, and, trust me; the only place we’ll be seeing their names is in the adult section of Tower Video. Not that I’m ever looking around in that filth.

USC students do have the advantage when it comes to fashion. I saw girls in clothing other than tight black pants and halter-tops, and the sky did not fall, the sea did not turn to blood, the Red Sox did not win the World Series. I never did see anyone in a suit and tie, nor, for that matter, evidence of any students having internships, which may be a sign of the Apocalypse. I mean really, how do they expect to get a job without interning experience?

Crazy Californians. East Coast rules!

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