Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Why I hate the MTA (excuse me, METRO!) - but am still happy!

Well, my Valentine's Day was ... different, to say the least! Not quite what I'd expected, thanks to the crack team* at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority (and for all I know they may BE the team that's on crack - not that I'm making any slanderous accusations or anything, just a personal opinion).

I snuck out of work 15 minutes early, planning to get home a little early so I could make myself look gorgeous for my anticipated evening with the incredibly handsome and sweet Steve P. Unfortunately, the MTA decided to sabotage my journey (and undoubtedly a lot of other would-be Valentine's Day journeyers as well) by first stalling a train at the 7th & Metro station, thus forcing all trains to run on a single track for about an hour; THEN when that problem was removed, by setting off a smoke detector at the Vermont & Santa Monica station.

Now the MTA (excuse me, Metro!) has an interesting way of dealing with situations like this: they throw all the train riders out on the street and abandon them to whatever adventures may ensue. Now you'd think, since they run the bus lines as well as the trains, they'd immediately reroute as many buses as possible at street level, so as to accommodate all those poor lost souls. Naaahhh! But what's funny (funny strange, not funny ha ha) is that they TELL the poor lost souls that there will be lots of buses waiting for them at street level - and by the time the P.L.S.'s get to the street, and find out that, of course, there ARE no buses - they can't get back into the train station again because of the "potentially hazardous situation" below.

Ha ha! Funny Metro! You always make my life so interesting.

Fortunately, my hero and knight-in-shining-armor, Steve P., risked life & limb to drive allll the way from the beautiful San Fernando Valley to sleazy Vermont & Santa Monica to pick me up, and we wound up having a nice evening after all, dining at the historic Bob's Big Boy in beautiful Toluca Lake.

AND he gave me lots and lots of beautiful roses. So phhhbbttt to the MTA and all their minions!

I'm still gonna tell the Mayor on you, though.

Friday, February 03, 2006

The day the music died ...

Some people remember exactly where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot; or when they heard the news about Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and The Big Bopper.

Me, I remember exactly where I was when I heard that Karen Carpenter had died.

It was a rainy Friday morning, February 4, 2003. I was sitting in my pickup truck in the parking lot at Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in Tustin, California, where I worked as a word processing operator. As I sipped my morning coffee, I turned on the radio just in time to hear the last few bars of "Superstar" by the Carpenters on KFI AM 640 - which was still a Top 40 music station at the time, and not the combative talk radio station it's grown into since.

"That was 'Superstar'," said the DJ, "and if you're just joining us, we've just learned the sad news that Karen Carpenter passed away this morning from a heart attack."

I was stunned. Karen Carpenter? Dead? of a HEART ATTACK for God's sake?? She was only 33 years old! Who dies of a heart attack at age 33? But of course, not long afterwards we, the public who'd loved her and her beautiful voice for so long, found out what everyone in the entertainment industry seemed to have known all along - Karen was a victim of a strange disease called anorexia nervosa.

Now I'd been a Karen Carpenter fan since my early teen years. She was everything I wanted to be - beautiful face, beautiful hair, beautiful voice, beautiful everything. Oh, how I longed to sing like Karen Carpenter! I would sit in my room and sing along with her, playing their albums on one of those old plastic turntables, trying and failing to match that clear, sweet tone. (I'm still trying, even today.)

And she was beautiful too, and slim! Yes, I envied her for that too. And could never understood the sniping critics who, early in her career, insisted Karen was "too chubby". When was this lovely young woman ever "chubby"? To me and millions of young girls who were FAT, not just "chubby", Karen was "just right".

If only she'd been able to listen to us, and not to the critics. But she took their nasty comments to heart, and because of them, it is now 23 years since that beautiful voice has graced the world.

And those critics - the ones who drove her to her grave - they're still out there, alive and thriving. Ever watch a show called "American Idol"? Now I have to be honest - I enjoy the show. But watch it sometime. Watch how the judges, particularly Simon Cowell, never EVER miss an opportunity to insult a contestant's weight. Many of those contestants are young, impressionable women - about Karen's age when her career began.

How many of them will hear that voice - instead of their own - and wind up like Karen Carpenter?