30 January 2008

Imprisoned by the President

I was held captive in Bel Air today. Trapped. There was no way out. And why? Because that futhermucking Shrub was having lunch.

On my way in to the hilltop enclave, I noticed the odd presence of Parking Enforcement and Traffic Control, and way too many cops. I wasn’t sure what was up — fundraiser, filming, nothing better to do — but there’s always something going on in LA. I don’t bother keeping up the details. Yet, when I got to the street I needed to access, it was blocked by a cop and his car. I rolled down my window to talk to the handsome police officer standing guard. He told me I could not go through, even though I gave the name of the resident I needed to see and the address I needed to reach. I wasn’t asked for ID. He didn’t want to search my vehicle, get my prints or strip search me (too bad, he young and yummy). All he could offer was a smile and instructions to go back down to the checkpoint on St. Cloud.

Down I went to the checkpoint, which was a cop car and a baldheaded Secret Service Agent with a clip board. I explained who I was and where I needed to go. Wasn’t asked for ID, wasn’t searched, but was let through and told they would be shutting down access to the street shortly. He couldn’t tell me when it would close or when it would again reopen. I told him, too bad. There were two more cars coming through to attend a meeting, and they would need to be brought up. He smiled and shrugged. I reminded him that people lived here, and they had a right to that life...something I believe Republicans should understand, no?

Of course, we got a call. They wouldn’t let them up. So we went down and we politely explained that, in spite of that Shrub, we were going to bring these people up, and added two more names to the list. It worked. The others were let in and life went on. That is, until we tried to leave.

There are only so many ways in or out of Bel Air, and none of them are a straight shot. Bel Air is nothing but a weave of winding roads on which one can easily get lost, turned back around, or led to a dead end. Bel Air is situated on a hill. There is no “back way”, no “short cut” and no way I would live there. You are landlocked, too far from the beach and no one really delivers (without a $50 minimum).

I avoided the already-known-to-be-blocked route and went past the party (and the disgusting array of Bentleys, Rolls Royces and other eco-unfriendly autos) and down Bel Air Road only to find it blocked and a line of cars waiting. So, I flipped a bitch and went over Copo D’Oro. Blocked and a longer line of cars waiting. So I called a friend and asked if he knew any other routes. He suggested Stone Canyon. Also blocked with an even longer line of cars waiting. Now I was pissed. It was nearing a forty-five minute wait. The line of cars was blocks long (and there really aren’t “blocks” in Bel Air). We sat there with our engines off and irritations mounting, and I did what anyone would do in my situation. I dialed 911.

911, what’s your emergency?
I’m trapped in Bel Air.

I’m sorry?
I understand the President is here so Secret Service has blocked all the exits. I need to leave and I didn’t know who else to call. Can you find me a way out?

911 transferred me to Parking Enforcement who transferred me to Traffic Control who told me it was LA County in charge of this situation. (And, please note, that when I say “transferred”, I mean “waited on hold for ages before anyone picked up”.) Not wanting to deal with the County, I called someone I thought should have more clout: the Mayor. No, I’m not kidding.

Mayor’s office.
Yes, I’m trapped in Bel Air and I need some assistance.

Excuse me?
The President is in town and Secret Service has barricaded all the exits. I need help getting out. I’ve been sitting here for nearly an hour. It’s bordering on false imprisonment.

Let me put you through to an assistant.
Thank you.

The assistant was actually very kind and helpful. He put me on hold to see if they had any information, explained that the Secret Service had indeed taken over and that he would call me back with any further information. (He did call back, but I didn’t have a signal and he went to voicemail.)

Before we hung up, I asked him to pass on a message to the Mayor for me.

“First of all, he [the Shrub] is not welcomed in my city. I didn’t vote for him, twice. However, if he does come back, because this is a free country, he should remember that. I expect that my Mayor will not let his citizens be held captive in such a manner. We have rights and I think the Secret Service can do their job without blocking streets for such an inordinate amount of time. And if they can’t, then the President can just stay at home, or hold his tea parties at the airport. Thanks.”

The assistant chuckled and said he would pass that on.

I then called a publicist friend to ask about sending out a press release about a hostage situation in Bel Air. I had to entertain myself somehow. I got his assistant who said he had to get permission before he could give out any contact info. Sigh. Shortly after we ended our chat, traffic started and I made my way home, an hour behind in my life.

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