By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
I lost myself in the music, the moment, I owned it, and temporarily eluded M&M. North of Beverly, however, he exhibited some skillful maneuvers to gain ground, swerving in and out of lanes, screeching and scrapping his way around other cars. Once aside me he veered Baby Blue close to my Civic, as if, like Craterface gouging Zuko’s Greased Lighting on Thunder Road, he was intent on doing some serious damage to my new ride. Colorful combinations of words spewed from his mouth. “Pull over, li’l bitch.” “. . . kick your muthafucking ass.” “You’re dead, punk-ass ho.” Realizing he was within spitting distance, I quickly closed my windows.
Then M&M tossed what must have been a lighter, judging by the impact and the mark it left on the passenger-side door, and swerved in front of me, his momentum causing Baby Blue to fishtail over to the other side of the street and face the opposite direction . . . the direction in which he kept going. The lack of lights and cameras confirmed for unknowing passersby that this wasn’t an action sequence for a low-budget film but instead real life, where one never knows who he’s fucking with.
I was reading the paper at the Rose Cafe in Venice when a well-heeled mother, very preggers, plopped her two small children — one about 4 years old, the other a sobbing, bellowing toddler — down on two tall stools and then left to stand in line for food and coffee. The toddler immediately started kicking the steel leg of the chair and intermittently yelling and howling. She came back and said something to him when the screaming got a little louder, causing him to cut his volume ever so slightly, but not entirely — probably because her version of the “firm hand” of parental discipline appeared to be more of a limp wrist. The moment she got back in line, the kid upped both his decibel level and his chair-kicking campaign.
I had a choice: Sit there until I got a migraine from the piercing howls duking it out with the high notes of Vivaldi blaring from the café’s speakers or take charge. I looked straight at the toddler and said in a firm voice, “You need to be quiet. It makes it not nice for all the other people here if you’re making all this noise, so please stop right now.” Miracle of miracles, he did. All it took was an adult talking to him seriously, a lone voice outside that vast sea of go-right-ahead mommying telling him, not cruelly, that I wasn’t going to just sit there and suffer his brat-hood. (Yo, mom — maybe your kid is testing you to see if you love him enough to give him the discipline he needs? Just a thought!)
My reward for my triumph in managing the unmanageable? His mother marched over to my table and demanded, “Did you just reprimand my child?!” Mustering an air of Gandhi-like calm (out of a less-than-Gandhi-like urge to bug her senseless), I told her I did. Her jaw dropped — all the way to the stretchy stomach of her chic L.A. yoga-mommy maternity wear. She launched into a bit of how-dare-you-ing and huffed, “It isn’t your job to reprimand my child!” Maintaining my Formica veneer of Zen, I agreed with her — no, it isn’t my job — and what a shame that the person whose job it is isn’t doing it, thus forcing the task on irritable strangers in cafés. Unwilling or unable to contest logic, she scooped up her offspring and took them to stand in line with her — far away from the odd Satan Girl who takes issue with having her eardrums exploded by toddlers when she’s attempting to read the newspaper in venues not clearly marked “Nursery School” above the door.
And yes, I know it’s fun to dress toddlers up in Petit Bateau and all, but kids do need discipline or they’re sure to become unmanageable brats in the short term, and their own worst enemies for the rest of their lives. Maybe just because you can afford to have kids, you shouldn’t necessarily foist yourself on them as a sorry excuse for a parent. Yes, there seems to be a child-trend — children as the hot new status item in Los Angeles. Have one, dress one, show it off on Montana Avenue! But as alluring as it is to join in the mommy-chic, perhaps women ill-equipped for the actual job of parenting might consider investing in a couple dozen Hermès handbags and a couple dozen matching Lincoln Navigators instead? —Amy Alkon
He Shoots, He Scores!
Amount received by Lakers players for each point scored during the 2003-2004 regular season (based on salaries):
Player: Salary ÷ Points Total Season = Amount Per Point
Kobe Bryant: $13,500,000 ÷ 1,557 = $8,670
Shaquille O’Neal: $26,515,000 ÷ 1,439 = $18,425
Gary Payton: $4,917,000 ÷ 1,199 = $4,100
Karl Malone: $1,483,000 ÷ 554 = $2,676
Derek Fisher: $3,000,000 ÷ 580 = $5,172
Devean George: $4,545,000 ÷ 604 = $7,524
Rick Fox: $4,549,000 ÷ 183 = $24,857
Slava Medvedenko: $1,500,000 ÷ 563 = $2,664
Kareem Rush: $1,096,000 ÷ 459 = $2,387
Luke Walton: $366,000 ÷ 174 = $2,103
Team Total APP: $65,000,000 ÷ 8,052 = $8,072