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Published On 08-07-2010 , 7:06 PM

The Staples Center was the place. Right there, located in the same breath, a person could take in the Nokia Theater and the Los Angeles Convention Center. There was, also, a huge configuration of restaurants and other glitter stuff.

But I wasn't able to eyeball the splendor as I was desperately looking to find accommodations for my not-so-brand-new Oldsmobile.

It was the night that Pasadena took over the Staples Center complete with a VIP reception on the rooftop. Our seats, in the famous structure, were on the floor.

After looping around several roadblocks and navigating past one-way streets that weren't pointing in the direction I needed, I finally came to a parking structure, pulled in and promptly had to head back out.

"Twenty-five bucks!" announced the attendant.

Next try was just across the street. But, alas, a uniformed attendant asked me with a snippety attitude for my pass.

"Huh?" But she did become extremely accommodating when it came to directing me from the entrance to the far end exit that would take me back to the streets.

Ah, the streets of Los Angeles. Out there on the golden pathways of the big city, there were indeed a few lots that fit my pocketbook but unfortunately they didn't fit my inability to hoof five blocks down Figueroa to the big night of watching the Los Angeles Sparks vs. Chicago Sky basketball game.

The flier for the event said Pasadena's new police chief, mayor, superintendent of our public schools along with other dignitaries would be in attendance.

The John Muir Drum Corps that gets feet to stomping and the Sue B. Dance Company that wows crowds with their every performance were part of what Brandi and I missed.

As we headed east on Olympic Boulevard, away from Stapes, Nokia and the rest of the elements of affluence I named Plush Town USA, within just a few blocks we crossed the border into another country.

My kid didn't miss the realization that money matters. The further east we drove the more I griped about redevelopment and big time investors. By the time we crossed the bridge over the trickle of water called the Los Angeles River and were stopped in front of the old Sears building by Soto Street, the sites we had witnessed coming through the garment and wholesale districts made Plush Town USA seem as far away as Century City or Beverly Hills.

But Pasadena taking over Staples Center was only about 10 minutes behind us.

After turning north on Soto Street, we cruised through my old Boyle Heights neighborhood while we headed toward the City of Roses and the comfort of knowing which streets were one-way and the place where I'm generally familiar with how to find parking.

Boyle Heights stands as a visual reminder of America's diversity missing the dollars of investors, redevelopment and political clout.

When it comes to reminders, that high cost of parking and the too far to walk was my entire fault - I know better. May this experience put me back on track because having a ticket to a VIP reception without asking the bigger question - "Where's parking?" - means you wind up in another country. That's just how things go.

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1. I loved the article with all the humor that Shilee is able to weave throughout her story. It never fails. Shirley's writing is so entertaining/informational/and makes me laugh out loud as I am reading her colums.

FYI for the San Gabriel Valley editors: The title of the piece written in the Daily New was "L.A. is No Country for Free Parking", which was a bit confusing, and certainly didn't sound like Shirley would have written it. I rather liked Shirlee's title, " VIP Tickets Ain't Nothing If you Ain't Got a Parking Pass" which was much more befitting of the article, and would have, in my opinion, elicited many more readers, only because WE LIKE SHIRLEY'S STYLE! Besides, Shirley would have known that L.A. is not a "country". Please pay more attention to Shirlee's style of writing, including her "catchy titles". She is a valuable resource for your newspaper. That is, if you don't tinker around with her writing!
From a Loyal Fan since early 2009
- by Carol Hambarian, 08-08-2010, 5:42 AM