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by RIP RENSE

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LTSEWH---AGAIN!
Sept. 19, 2007

          Call them Less Than Satisfying Encounters With Humanity, or LTSEWH, just to create a particularly stupid and unpronounceable acronym. All names have been included whenever possible in order to ensure fullest humiliation, though in some cases the more hapless have been spared out of compassion, and the interests of sparing The Rip Post lawsuits.
          
LTSEWH # 1: Butting In
          You know, my memory is just shot. I知 sorry. I forget that the world is a toilet, and a dumpster, and a spittoon, and an ashtray. God, no wonder I知 so bothered all the time. Most everybody else realizes these obvious things, while I知 forever worrying about ways to discreetly and benignly dispose of things that need disposing.
          Silly me!
          I知 ridiculously, anachronistically proper, that痴 all. I知 like the guy in the Extreme Fighting crowd who says, 摘xcuse me, please, the guy who buys a hundred bucks worth of groceries and then tells the clerk, 鍍hank you. I just bought $100 in groceries---why am I thanking them?
          I shouldn稚 even be writing about this as if it痴 unusual, but I can稚 help myself. I知 just constantly astounded at how alien my respect for 鍍he environment is. Even the term, 鍍he environment, amuses me. As if it is some separate thing that exists independently of humans.
          Anyhow, all this throat-clearing is about a very tiny incident, but one so big in implication that I am still reeling.
          There I was. . .
          Walking down Veteran Avenue in Westwood one delicate pre-fall afternoon. Just the usual passing parade of good citizens driving as if late for appointments with hookers. My headphones pumped Bob Dylan, my feet pushed my old bones into a good pace, my face dripped sweat.
          The cigarette butt was still smoking as it landed in front of me.
          That痴 correct, a smoking cigarette butt flew from out of the sky and dropped just short of me, on the sidewalk. I stopped. I stepped on it. I looked up. Did God smoke?
          Well, probably. But in this case, it was just a punk. 
          He was a youngish---twentysomething, I suppose---male humanoid with unkempt curly locks, requisite three-day beard, T-shirt, cargo pants. He stood in a second story window of a nondescript beige apartment building, eyeing me. He had just flicked the remains of his carcinogenic, highly addictive tube of nicotine-jazzed tobacco and chemical additives out the window of his apartment. Whether or not he was trying to hit me, I don稚 know. I spoke.
          哲ice! I said.
          His expression didn稚 change. He just walked away. He probably wondered why I had spoken at all. He probably did not differentiate between me and 都quirrel or 鍍ree. He probably had no comprehension whatsoever as to the relationship between flicking a lighted cigarette butt out the window at a passer-by and the passer-by痴 reaction.
          But as I said, he understood something that I don稚. The world is his ashtray. I just live in it.
          LTSEWH # 2: Be CIA'ing you
          The pedestrian stood on the corner of the intersection. The light was red. He waited patiently, automatically, for it to change. When that happened, he would step off the curb and into the crosswalk and negotiate Barrington Avenue in West L.A.. Safely, legally, routinely, casually.
          Except. . .
          The light changed, the pedestrian stepped off the curb, and a Sherman tank-sized, dust-laden, black pick-up truck with black tinted windows hauled a quick right.
          The pedestrian stopped in his tracks. He thought, 展hat in the hell?
          I know that he thought this, you see, because the pedestrian was me. Inside the tank容r, truck---through the black tinted windows, I could see two hulking male figures with short hair and dark glasses. One of them waved at me, and laughed. I could only think of the rather happy fact that I still had toes.
          As the truck drove away, I saluted it with the decorous raised third-finger so popular and perfect for such circumstances. In response, the driver waved merrily in his rear-view mirror.
          Then it all hit me. The black truck, the tinted windows, the twin hulks with dark glasses. . .
          CIA. An obvious warning. Next time, Rense, we get your toes.
          LTSEWH # 3: Side by side
          Now, I realize I have written of this sort of thing before, but it is phenomenal, I believe, and so I will write of it again. I think I知 on to a brand new trend in territorial aggression. I think we are very soon to hear and read daily reports of 都idewalk rage.

SEND US YOUR OWN LTSEWH'S AND WE'LL POST 'EM here.

         Yet I am so dumbfounded, so brain-frozen blood-dancingly dazzled by this matter that I have not been quite sure whether I can trust my senses. So on this occasion, I was extra careful to pay attention to every detail, just to confirm the reality, or surreality, of the situation.
           I was walking north, and the young couple was walking south. I was on the extreme right side of the sidewalk, taking up about two-thirds of my half---especially when you included my canvas laptop bag. The young couple took up the entire sidewalk, she on the left, he on the right. They walked casually, with a kind of pride of ownership about them, as if perhaps they had paid for and poured the concrete on which they lazily stepped.
          As they made standard-procedure eye contact with me, I shifted my computer bag to my right side, obviously in order to give them more room to pass.
          Well, I thought it was obvious, anyhow.
          If you think the male half of the couple gave any ground, shifted even an inch to the left in order to accommodate my apparent course, you probably believe that Texas is another country. Well, actually---oh, you get the idea.
          I kept my head up, looking straight, waiting for the guy to move slightly aside. Single file, I knew, was far too much to imagine possible. I might as well have waited for the sun to sing 典hat Lucky Old Sun. I壇 say the guy was about 25, maybe six-six, with shoulders were no wider than Sen. Larry Craig痴 bathroom 都tance.
          Bang. His left side plowed into my left side. Not a glancing blow, not a shirt-to-shirt fender-bender, but a full-blown wham-o bone-to-bone smash-up. I had been expecting it, and was braced. I kept walking, though I turned to see his reaction. He had also turned, to see my reaction. I think he looked surprised. A why-did-that-guy-hit-me look, mixed with the white eyeball of burgeoning anger.
          Once again, I am reminded of David Letterman痴 remark in describing the barely audible grunt he received from a blank-stared young woman he had greeted with a 敵ood morning:
          展hat are you, feral?
          Sidewalk rage. I tell you, it痴 coming.
          LTSEWH # 4: Cardio Infraction
          I知 in favor of exercising. I applaud the city of L.A. for even considering the ban on fast-food in south-central, to combat obesity there. I think it should be extended to the country. Aerobics, si, Whopper, no.
          I am not alone in this sentiment, either. The fabulously entertaining SF Chronicle, Mark Morford, wrote of it recently, "It's like a giant middle finger to your heart." 
          Hell, I think there should be tax breaks for people who exercise regularly, who don稚 smoke, who drink in moderation, who don稚 say 田ool, who do not use cell phones on sidewalks, and who never watch Larry King.
          But, well, I don稚 know. Here I go again. I am laboring under this misconception, this wild delusion, that we all live together and share this place, and we must make certain compromises and accommodations in order to get along.
          No, no---that痴 not it. I知 flattering myself.
          The truth is that I知 the only one here who does not realize that other people think they own this town. Stupid me! You know that guy on the sidewalk in LTSEWH # 3? He thinks the city belongs to him. LTSEWH # 1? Same thing. He owns the place, and can flick his butts where he chooses. LTSEWH # 2? Well, no, that was an attempted CIA hit.
          And the guy I知 about to tell you about---who scared the diesel exhaust right out of my lungs while he was "exercising"---also correctly realized that he owns the city, and that I do not, and that therefore he takes priority.
          Let me ask you something. When you are alone on a deserted sidewalk, sauntering along on a benign Sunday afternoon with your spousal unit, taking in local gardens, and trying to pretend that L.A. is not hell on earth, and suddenly you hear someone right behind you---Imeanthisclose---and you go instinctively into self-protection mode because your body tells you that you are about to be mugged. . .what do you do?
          That痴 right, you spin around quickly---no, you practically levitate and jump around, ready to defend yourself, body-block, tuck-and-roll, whatever.
          And that痴 what I did. I heard loud footsteps---from out of nowhere---as close to me as the guy in the prison shower when you bend over for the soap. Along with the footsteps, there was a kind of huffing, grunting. As I said, I spun around. As did my walking partner, Annie.
          We were, in a word, frightened.
          There he was. The Owner of Los Angeles. A pasty-complexioned guy in walking shorts, T-shirt, sunglasses, gym-bag in hand. Maybe 45 or 50. And he announced his business:
          撤ardon me, guys! he shouted. 的知 on my cardio!
          And he walked right between us! Causing us to stop, step aside, and stare in disbelief.
          Yessir. The Owner of L.A. was on his cardio, and we were in his way! How dare us not have anticipated his presence! We should have been grateful that he was 菟olite. The funny thing was, he was on one lame cardio, walking plenty fast to compete in a senior Olympics.
          I mean, what do I expect? That he could have---gasp---walked around us, so as not to startle? Sure, I would have done that, but then, that痴 the difference between me and the Owner of L.A..
          My associate, Annie, did not quite understand the Owner痴 position in all this, though, and I had to stop her from speaking.
          I believe the sentence she was about to shout was:
          展hy should I give a f--- that you are on your f---ing cardio, a---e?
          Oh, my, what a breach of etiquette that would have been.
          I figured it was best to let the Owner go on his way. If you池e the Owner of L.A., after all, you are certainly armed.
          For more LTSEWH's, watch this space---or better yet, buy Less Than Satisfying Encounters With Humanity, The Illustrated book. Send your own LTSEWH's and we'll post them at http://lessthansatisfying.com


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