“Have some chocolate to go with the extra parking space you took.” So read the note. Perfectly centered, in a large and elegant ink-jetted font . . . bordered with chocolate syrup and stuck face-down on my windshield, directly in the driver’s line of sight. I was unremarkably street-parked next to Hollywood’s 101 Coffee Shop at the bottom of the Hills.
Months earlier, in the same neighborhood, a veritable essay was stuffed under my wiper, welcoming me to the “Asshole Parkers Club.” The writer’s foaming-mouth fury was palpable in his increasingly angled and unruly hand. (A motorcycle parked in front of me had since departed, leaving the note writer to assume that I’d committed the vile sin of leaving 3 feet of 90068 curb vacant.)
Otherwise-genial local Jekylls become horrible Hollywood Hydes while parking, and Bally’s gym on El Centro Avenue makes a prime spot to witness this mutation. Bally’s multilevel garage spirals next to the main building, meaning that the first vacant space you come to is not necessarily nearer to the gym’s entrance than those higher up. Yet patrons will halt and hit the hazard lights at even a flicker of human activity near a parked vehicle. Traffic gets backed up out of the structure, sometimes snarling the intersection of El Centro and Selma avenues, while drivers drool over the possibility of a lower-level spot, with a dozen spaces gaping but a few feet away.
Bear in mind that this is a place where people come to exercise. Yet our parking psychosis is such that we’ll literally stop traffic to (maybe) save 20 steps on our way to . . . the step machine. (For the really far gone, there’s also an elevator up to the stair machine.) Our conditioning to covet convenience trumps all, and, even for gymgoers, the concept of incidental exertion is apparently an anathema.
BALLY'S TOTAL FITNESS1628 N. El Centro Ave., L.A., (310) 916-8659