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A creative blog by Jim Kalin on The Whole 9

Novelist Jim Kalin lives in Los Angeles, writes a monthly column for Amateur Wrestling News, and has traded in his speargun for a banjo. His wife and son sing harmony.


I can’t sit still in traffic or wait for green lights. I have no patience, although it probably doesn’t help that my car’s stereo system isn’t working, but that’s a recent development. My dissatisfaction with remaining stationary in a car goes back to my youth, well before my sixteenth birthday when I began driving.

My father could never sit still. Neither can I. While reading, eating, or watching a movie, his leg would jiggle up and down. It wasn’t a nervous motion, and he never seemed high-strung. I can only compare it to a cat’s purring. It was his ohm, his inner calm manifesting itself as a motion.

I do the same thing. My wife has to reach over and settle my leg if we are sitting on the couch. And my impatience in a car comes from my father also. When we’d go see the Cleveland Indians play downtown at the old Municipal Stadium, most of the ride was through alleys and back lots so we didn’t have to sit in traffic. My father was the king of short cuts.

I’ll let you in on a secret, a pair of favorite short cuts of mine. The first is the #2 freeway. We live in Koreatown, and this is the best way to get out to Pasadena and those cities. I’ve traveled that route and have never seen traffic stopped or even slowed. But my favorite, my crowning achievement, is The Grove parking structure.

I’ll do anything to avoid the tangled mess and delay that seems constant at Fairfax and Beverly. So I cut through The Grove parking structure. It sounds ridiculous, but it absolutely saves time. I’ll drive in, get a parking ticket, then continue right on through to the other side. The first thirty minutes are free, so it costs nothing, although I’d gladly pay a few dollars if it meant avoiding traffic congestion. And if you have guests from out of town with you, it’s very impressive.

So, what’s your favorite short cut?

  1. 6th is one of my favorites. 6th to Rimpau to Olympic to Highland to Redondo to Venice to La Cienega AVENUE. Call me a backroad Betty.

  2. I would never give that info up, then other people would congest MY hard earned routes.

  3. What’s a short-cut to whaling? I need a few tubes o’ lipstick, stat!

  4. Instead of layering the beans and cheese and onions and olives and cilantro between layers of chips then broiling in the oven, I just mix the wet stuff in a pan, heat, and scoop it out with the chips. Isn’t as pretty, but much quicker.

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