June. Summer. L.A. School’s out. Suddenly you can drive down Wilshire Boulevard at 5 p.m. and move more than 25 feet at a time. No one’s tearing to soccer practice, or late to a basketball game, or trying to make a guild screening or poach a client or close a contract.
Most of that stuff’s on slow-go anyway, and on top of it -- it’s summer. You get to the Federal Building and the 405, and it is possible to discern an intersection, rather than a parking lot.
There’s a traffic jam downtown, but that’s because of the Lakers parade, brought by the largesse of Casey Wasserman, Jerry Perrenchio, Haim Saban and Eli Broad, who agreed to foot the bill so the city wouldn’t look like an NBA humbug.
Everywhere you look in LA, not only has the usual traffic thinned, so has the usual business bustle. From Ventura to Santa Monica Boulevard, storefront after storefront stands empty, while other shops have signs promoting deflationary sales: “70 % off!” before the inevitable: “We’re moving online!”
Is it the summer lull? Or has the recession hit with a vengeance, and it just feels nice because L.A. has good weather?
It’s quiet at 6 p.m. on the terrace of the Four Seasons Hotel -- no junkets today -- and a gentle breeze reminds the visitor that June gloom is on its way out.
Further east still, Hollywood is partying, but with the brakes on. At MyHouse on the corner of La Brea and Hollywood, VH1 and JetBlue got together to throw a benefit for the Save the Music Foundation.
The food -- recession special -- is small dollops of mashed potatoes, with the fixings.
The firm young female flesh is dolled up in a new manner: the hostesses wear white men’s dress shirts, with no pants, and black thigh-high boots. Meanwhile, anyone can bid on charity items at open laptops -- lunch with Shaq, anyone?
At 11 p.m., there’s a traffic jam back at the Federal Building. It’s the American-Iranians, who are shouting for free elections and democracy half a world away. Cars honk; people bearing signs wander out into traffic.
Tonight, they got a big crowd; hey, it’s June, it’s 70 degrees out. A beautiful night for a protest in summer-ready L.A.