Friday, March 13, 2009

CALIFORNIA DREAMING

Much like a New Yorker who moves to L.A. and complains that there is no snow and no proper seasons and that people are shallow and dress like bums, I am forever a transplanted Angeleno hundreds of miles away from my homeland, lacking sunshine at times and ocean breezes and not truly adapting to the relaxed pace of things.

I haven’t managed to get beyond my narrow Angeleno point of view despite ordering sweet tea with just about any meal and attempting to drive like I don’t care where I’m going or when I get there.


One thing that I can’t get used to in Atlanta is that in L.A. it seems there is always a taqueria down the street. When I lived in Pasadena on Los Robles Avenue, there was Puebla Tacos (location #3 2057 N Los Robles Ave), one of the finest taquerias I have ever been to nearby. Head east from there down Washington Boulevard and there’s Burrito Express (1597 E. Washington Blvd.), another exceptional little takeout place. Though it didn’t use to be the case, there are now numerous taquerias in West L.A. and practically everywhere in the city.


Here in Atlanta, there actually is a taqueria down the street that I live on. But it is the dumpiest little hovel and the burrito I ordered there was uninspiring. Most people would be afraid to go in this place. There was also a faux taqueria run by a small Mexican restaurant chain on my street, but it closed a few months ago, and wasn’t what I was looking for anyways. If I really want the authentic taqueria experience, I have to drive a half-hour to Buford Highway, where there are blocks of taquerias surrounded by Chinese and Vietnamese eateries, an unparalleled abundance of scrumptiousness. You can find boba over there too. My favorite taqueria on Buford (though I haven’t tried that many) is Taco Veloz (5084 Buford Highway NE), which is a little shack with an eating area that is basically a tent with some tables inside and a drive through. They make a spectacular spicy green salsa. There are even a couple of taco trucks in the area and though I haven’t eaten at them, I always start clapping and yelling “taco truck!” when I see one. You are definitely an Angeleno down to the marrow if you get sentimental over taco trucks.


When I get hungry and I’m driving in downtown Atlanta, I am always disappointed that I can never find a taqueria amongst the many takeout spots, as I would in downtown L.A. It’s always wings or hot dogs or wings and messed-up Chinese food or fried chicken and wings. It may seem a small complaint, but being an Angeleno, and not having good burritos readily available is maybe well, a little less worse than being a French gourmand living in Uzbekistan (I imagine it’s hard to find foie gras there).


Another petty gripe that I have is that there is no ocean here in Atlanta. There’s one about four hours east, but that’s hardly convenient. Personally, I don’t care for beaches, which are sandy and gross and even if it’s okay to lie or walk on one for a little while, you always end up with sand between your toes and then it gets in your car and then eventually in your bed. You can shower, whatever; there’s no way to avoid at least a little bit of sand ending up in your bed. But it is always a relief to at least know there is an ocean nearby. In Atlanta, I have no such comfort. On the Westside of L.A., there’s a fantastic ocean breeze that cools the air on a hot day like ice cubes in a glass of cream soda. This ocean breeze doesn’t reach Pasadena or even Hollywood, but it can make the Westside of L.A. seem heavenly at times.


It’s not right to complain about the weather in Atlanta. The winters are for the most part mild. Fall features a dramatic change of color that one cannot find in L.A. Spring is gorgeous, though it sometimes leads too quickly into summer, which is inevitably brutal. Everything is soaking wet. There are bugs crawling on your eyebrows. It becomes hard to tell the difference between one’s eyebrows and bugs.


There are some lakes beyond the suburbs of Atlanta, but those are no substitute for oceans. I’m from L.A. I don’t know what the hell to do on or around a lake except get bitten by mosquitoes. If there’s fish in a lake, I couldn’t care less. What would I want with them? Lakes are to oceans what speed bumps are to mountains.


I know people live in really shitty places like Texas or Michigan and I have no right to whine about lacking an ocean breeze or that I have to drive a half-hour to find a decent burrito. I don’t have to scrape ice off the windshield of my car or eat crabs or talk to some moron wearing a cowboy hat. But I am a goddamn Westside Jew and I want a vegetarian burrito with guacamole right now and some very spicy hot sauce on the side and some horchata and I’d like to eat it outside, perhaps reading the L.A. Times, with a nice ocean breeze cooling me off and no bugs on my eyebrows please!

1 comment:

EL CHAVO! said...

Man, yer funny! Sorry to hear about the lack of tacos and ocean breezes. Did you hear there's even a Korean taco truck making the rounds now in LA?