I’m sitting at a bus stop outside a strip club across from Dino Burger on Valley Boulevard in Avocado Heights. East of East LA, between El Monte and Whittier, in a zone that feels aggressively non-descript except for the snow-capped mountain beyond the auto-wreckers.
It’s car-whooshy on this blue bench, which is an advertisement for an adult store, decorated with a black mask and a vinyl record, and a bottle of lotion.
There’s another guy waiting for the bus, skinny, bearded, and tattooed, with blue sneakers matching his blue baseball cap, so I feel he knows what’s up.
It is sunny here at the curb. Sun, sun, sun. It’s like sunning yourself on a rock on the first day of Hanukkah.
I played a fun couple of sets of tennis with Valerie Garcia, the co-host of the TennisPal Chronicles podcast. She said she felt happy about her new sneakers and fresh strings. She sure played happy, bouncing and scampering.
I was happy to be hanging with her at San Angelo County Park. In between sets, we talked about our shared love of drop shots and also of drumming — how playing relaxed is better than playing tense, although sometimes you just can’t help playing tense.
We played on one court while a boy about nine years old practiced soccer against the backboard on the other court. He was wearing his blue and maroon number 10 Massi jersey, practicing fancy footwork 15 minutes after Argentina won the World Cup. I congratulated him on his victory, which he acknowledged with a modest smile.
Afterward, I got some ceviche at a nearby fish taco place that the locals enjoyed just fine. I dunno. I think I was really in the mood for carne asada.
Next time maybe I’ll check out Dino Burger. That place looks like it knows gristle. Meanwhile, this is the furthest east I have been on the quest thus far. It feels far. More spread out and lower to the ground. Rectangular and empty. Good snow-capped mountains, though. And back in the park, I loved the vaquero sitting in his Stetson hat and leather jacket at a picnic table, alone with his thoughts, like I am now, except for my bearded blue-wearing bus-waiting buddy.
There is still a long way to go on this quest. I anticipate becoming familiar with Foothill Transit and learning my way around the El Monte Transit Center. Valerie said next time, we could play and then jam, which would be great as I have hardly ever drummed with people. She said she’d play guitar and I wouldn’t have to worry if I was bad.