This pic is of my friend Rakefet waiting for her car at the Sixty Hotel in Beverly Hills. She has graciously given us permission to post it here. An inveterate selfie shooter, the Waiting Room Project welcomes another member. She is an enormously talented actor, comedian, and now film producer finishing her first short film. If you get a chance to catch her act, don’t miss it. Thanks, Kef, for the photo.
(NB. When a guest shoots in color, I post the unedited photo as shot. Stay tuned for more guest pictures.)
Jury Duty. That pale green summons that strikes fear and anguish into the heart of every citizen. In years past, you had to report on the Monday of your weekly commitment of service and wait for your name to be called. Or as many of us wish, to not be called. But you have to wait. And wait. In what is usually an institutionally bleak room along with scores of other prospective jurors.
In all the years I have been reporting, I have never been empaneled. I came close a few years ago. A group of us was called and I actually sat in the jury box during the “voir dure” where attorneys ask questions of the prospects to weed out anyone they deem might produce an unfavorable result for their client. I was to be juror #8. The D.A. read a summary of the charges as the defendant sat there stone-faced. The charges were horrific. Crimes against a 14-year-old girl I won’t detail here, but they were as bad as you might imagine, short of murder. We all looked at each other aghast. The unspoken agreement passed between all the jurors. Guilty or not, we were going to fry this guy. The questioning of the jurors proceeded until time for the daily recess. We all had to report back the next day. When we arrived in the morning, we were told there had been a delay. We sat around until late in the afternoon when a marshall came in and told us we were all excused, they had struck a plea bargain. What a relief.
Now, they have a system whereby you can register and take the orientation online and call in every evening for a week to see if your presence is required. Last year, I missed the final day’s call-in, and later received an imperious summons to report without fail the following week or face criminal charges. So I sat in the room pictured above with about a hundred or so people all staring at their phones. No one spoke with anyone else, no human interaction, just the soft tapping of fingers on screens.
Once you report and if you aren’t called, having sat there for a day, you are then excused; you have rendered your service, and are exempt from recall for another year. As I was this day.
Waiting is a transitory activity. While you are in the waiting room, you look for things to help pass the time. Magazines, your iPhone, conversation, meditation. Whatever you find to do, it isn’t really why you are there. Wouldn’t you rather be sitting on your couch reading National Geographic? Sitting at your desk checking your emails? But no, you are here filling the minutes, trying to turn that non-time into something vaguely productive. How long you will remain is a fluid interval. It might be five minutes. It might be half an hour. I once waited for a doctor for more than an hour. And that was before the iPhone.
Finally, your name is called and you leave the limbo of waiting for whatever it is you have been waiting for. Here, one lucky soul has escaped and is on his way to fulfillment. Others here aren’t so fortunate.
Last March I visited my cousin in Phoenix. She takes care of her aging mother and her daughter who just graduated high school and her son who attends ASU. While I was there, B, her mother wanted to go for a drive. The Rock Springs Cafe is about 30 miles north of Scottsdale and is renowned for pie. So we all piled into the car for the half-hour drive.
While this is not intended to be a review of the Rock Springs Cafe, let me just say, the “world famous” pie was underwhelming, as was all the food. We make better pie at home. Way better. The place was jammed, however, and the waiting crowd spilled out into the packed parking lot. It seemed like the clientele were mostly travelers. There were scores of RV’s of every size and scads of families with strings of children in tow making their way across the blazingly hot tarmac. It’s amazing what a little good press will do for mediocre food.
While I was waiting, I noticed this semi-professional waiter passing the time until he could get to the burgers and pie.
I have a couple of health issues that require regular blood tests every year or so. Nothing serious, just routine monitoring. I usually just have the blood drawn at the doctor who is requesting the test, but for some reason, I had to go to St. John’s for this particular test. I don’t exactly recall what it was, but I found myself in the well-lit waiting room and discovered this photo. Yes, that’s the tip of my finger sneaking in the top left corner; darn iPhone and its microscopic camera. Some might say it ruins what would otherwise be a splendid work of art, a commentary on the philosophical aspect of waiting. I could spend an hour trying to Photoshop it out, or just leave it as an organic part of the image, a bit of authenticity. More a commentary on my fat fingers. I’ve been taking pictures for more than 50 years and still can’t keep my damn fingers away from the lens. So much to remember.
We visited my cousin in Phoenix, well, actually Scottsdale a few times during 2014. Both she and her mother had some medical challenges and we found ourselves spending a bit of time in hospitals. Fortunately, nothing serious. Mostly testing. As I have observed, hospitals are rich sources of material for the Waiting Room Project. From cavernous waiting arenas, to a couple of chairs and a plant, you can find plenty of variety, with and without people. There is a lot of waiting going on all over the building. My favorite of this series is the first one in the upper left. Which one do you like?
I love Costco – The home of the $600 toothbrush. What I mean is, when you go to buy the electric toothbrush that is on sale for $79, full ADD kicks in even if you don’t have it.
“Oh look at these storage boxes, we need some of those. And some ink for the printer. In fact, we need a new printer. And some new towels. This is a great bottle of wine for the price. And a brick of Parmesan. And a package of lox. And some mushrooms. And a chicken. Oooh, Calvin Klein polo shirts for $19.95. I’ll get the purple one, the blue one, and the grey one. And a 3-pack of reading glasses. And some cans of tuna.”
And, and, and and. Suddenly your cart is brimming with items and $600 later, you have a new toothbrush.
Jake was living in Palm Springs and we went to Costco to get him a new phone. His old one had gotten lost or broken or died, I can’t remember exactly which, and Verizon was having some kind of promotion. He ended up with a Samsung Galaxy for a ridiculously low price, a modest increase to my bill, and a bunch of free accessories. No toothbrush.
On the way out, I noticed that in Palm Springs, the food court is inside the air conditioned building, unlike our Marina del Rey Costco where it is outside. Probably because of the heat. But it’s a dry heat.
We bought a Groupon for this winery that included a special tour, tasting and a bottle of wine to take home. Solvang is a little “Danish” hamlet north and inland of Santa Barbara in the Santa Ynez Valley – the region made famous by the movie “Sideways”. The exit off the highway, US 101, is Buellton, home of Pea Soup Anderson’s, a requisite stop for travelers from LA to San Francisco. It is a nice day trip from LA, and we had taken Jake there on a few occasions, notably to check out the Solvang bakeries (they have great Danish there) and to eat at the Hitchin’ Post restaurant, featured in the movie. This time, it was just T and I making the journey. To spend the time before our afternoon appointment we visited a new distillery, checked out another winery, and sampled some of the noteworthy baked goods in town.
Once at the winery, we sat in this room with other wine aficionados awaiting our tour time, the last of the day. Our guide led us through the pressing and aging room, filled with oak barrels, and finally into the tasting room. He was very funny, sharing bits of wine lore, anecdotes about the winery, and the do’s and don’t’s of tasting. Do hold the glass by the stem, never by the bowl, and serve it at the proper temperature to name two. The wine was passable, the company was lively, and the afternoon mostly enjoyable.
We dined at the Hitchin’ Post which, due to its massive popularity fueled by exposure in Sideways, had lost much of the original intimate feel. It seemed more touristy, less local and the food just wasn’t quite as good as I remembered it. Still, all in all, it was a pretty good steak and a very pleasant day.
Jake, Terry, and I want to the L.A. County Museum of Art one fine June day to see the Stanley Kubrick exhibit. We were sitting at one of the cafe tables having coffee waiting for our alloted time when I snapped this photo. The exhibit was fabulous. Memorabilia, equipment, scripts, letters, props, production sketches, stills, and notes from every film he directed, some projects that never came to fruition, and photos from the beginning of his career as a young photographer for Life magazine. We spent an engaging couple of hours exploring the intricacies of his thought process and visual style. I learned about a his early films, read letters he wrote to some self-righteous clergymen about Lolita, saw a wonderful miniature model of the War Room from Dr. Strangelove, special lenses he used, and a wealth of other fascinating exhibits.
I took this photo of Jake through one of the lenses Kubrick used during the filming of 2001: A Space Odyssey, that ended up on Jake’s Facebook page as his profile picture. It is still there as his page has been “memorialized” by FB which means existing friends can still post to it – no new people can be added – and presumably will be up for as long as Facebook exists. His friends post messages to him from time to time and I occasionally put up things I think he would have enjoyed. Somehow it helps keep his spirit alive. For whatever reasons, I haven’t been back to LACMA since that day.
Standing in the checkout line at Staples, I encountered this guy who really knows what he is doing. Must be a professional. Or he is good at following directions. Either way, it makes for a compelling commentary on the state of our societal mores, the compulsion to obey random absentee commands, and the willingness of mankind to delay gratification for the sake of social order.