This is the place
There is no place
Quite like this place
Anywhere near this place
So this must be the place

Those words are written in large black lettering above the front entrance of the Nickel Diner. It’s where I had breakfast this morning, my third visit. I ate a breakfast and a dinner here the last time my number came up for the foreign services tour of duty in Los Angeles. I can find no fault with the sign’s reasoning or the conclusion. Breakfast consisted of a bacon-crusted, maple-glazed homemade doughnut and hot black coffee. After my first full night of uninterrupted sleep and no unwelcome monsters lurking for me in the Dark Woods of Email that doughnut was a welcome — and delicious — respite.

I’m back in Los Angeles for another week. I won’t go into a lot of whinging about how the work part of the trip is going other than to say that the workload has significantly cut into my exploration time. At least so far.

Last night was relaxing despite the sports outcome. I broke out of the office at a reasonable hour and made my way to Big Wangs at Grand and 8th to watch Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Down 4-1 entering the third period, the Blackhawks mounted a valiant surge to pull within one goal with four minutes left. A Flyer empty-netter in the final 30 seconds sealed the deal for Philadelphia. The series is now tied at two each. I was the only Blackhawks fan in the bar. The Lakers won the first game of the NBA finals Thursday and I haven’t gotten the impression that most Angelenos have much interest in this year’s Stanley Cup. I walked in wearing my Brent Seabrook sweater and asked where they were going to show the game. The staff — some sporting Flyers t-shirts — were quite accommodating and turned on two 60″ HDTVs for the pregame. By the time the puck dropped I was surrounded by eight 60″ HDTVs and two giant HD projection screens all playing the game. Aside from the aforementioned Flyer-friendly staff, there were about a dozen Flyers fans watching the game, too. I struck up a congenial conversation with their ringleader. He turned out to be a comedian from south Jersey who’d moved to LA about six years ago after another five-year stint in Las Vegas. It’s true. You can look it up.

Wednesday night I resorted to old school measures to follow the game. Well, high-tech old school. I was stuck at work at the Times with no access to a TV (let alone a TV with Versus). So I streamed the trusty WGN-AM radio broadcast to my computer and listened that way. But despite my throwback to old time hockey appreciation, the Blackhawks fell to the Flyers in overtime: 4-3.

But to close on an upbeat note, Whirl informed me that one of my photographs of the 2009 Dragon Boat Races in Ping Tom Park was finally published in the guide in this week’s edition of Time Out Chicago. I even got paid real folding money for it. Given the number of photography and movie shoots I’ve been seeing on the streets of Los Angeles at night this week that little bit of success has got me thinking. Maybe it’s not too late to be a star!

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