Happy City Hall-oween X

DTLA - City Hall is a jewel of Los Angeles. Even as the Civic Center has seen a collection of expensive new buildings, the 1928 edifice stands stately and regal. It’s a destination for any Angeleno or visitor. 

[Get DTLA stories in our daily email newsletter.]

On Oct. 31, however, things change, and City Hall transforms into one of the spookiest, strangest places in all of L.A., a building where many enter, but few come out the same. In honor of Halloween, here is the 10th annual, completely imaginary tour of the building. Happy wanderings in the structure haunted by Mayor Eric Gar-zombie, City Attorney Mike Fear and Councilman Paul-tergeist Krekorian. 

On the Run: You open the door to enter City Hall, but before you pass through, a slim, square-jawed, jazz piano-capable man in a nice suit comes racing by you. Hey, it’s Mayor Eric Garcetti! You want to shake his hand, talk to him in either English or Spanish, but he just quips, “Off to New Hampshire!” and runs out the door. It seems he could walk, but that’s not the case — he’s running, zipping along like he has somewhere to go, go, go! What is Garcetti running for, you wonder?

What in the World Is Eric Garcetti Up To?

Developing Situation: You head to the third floor. You turn a corner and see a crowd. “There’s one!” someone yells, and the group races toward you. They swarm around you and someone reaches into your pocket, grabs some money and says, “This is for affordable housing!” Another snatches a credit card and quips, “We need this for park creation!” Another hand dips in another pocket and pulls out your checkbook, and there’s a cry of, “Linkage fee!” The grasping hands won’t stop. You’re about to faint but suddenly think of something. “Leave me alone! I’m not a developer!” you scream. “Not a developer?” grumbles one of the grabbers. “Not a developer?” another asks with disappointment. The gang immediately loses interest in you and turns away, looking for a developer. 

Eye in the Sky: You head down a different hallway and hear a buzzing sound. You look up and see something flying. It has one black eye and is looking right at you. Hey, it’s an LAPD drone, though as soon as you think that a voice from the drone booms robotically, “I am not a drone. I am a small unmanned aerial system.” How did the LAPD not-a-drone know where you are? Is it following you, or does it just seem to be following you? Is it recording you? Will the footage be saved? Can it recognize your face? Your license plate? Your cat? You have so many questions about this not-a-drone. Then suddenly it goes buzzing off in another direction. It seems your questions about the LAPD not-a-drone will never be answered.

Better Days: You head toward the elevator. You notice a 60-something man who is trying to get the attention of anyone who walks by. There’s something a bit appealing about him, but only a bit — you feel this guy’s best days are behind him. His teeth are nice, and so is his suit, and he’s trying really hard to command attention. He approaches. “I’m Antonio Villaraigosa, and I’m running for governor!” he enthuses, sticking out his hand. You don’t care. Villaraigosa has a newspaper under his arm. It has Monday’s date, but today is Tuesday. “Yesterday’s news,” you think. Villaraigosa keeps trying to get people’s attention, but he’s not having much success. 

What Art Thou Thinking, Antonio?

Captain of the Ship: You hear a voice booming in the distance. “Row! Row!” it commands, and you head toward it. Soon you glimpse a boat in the middle of a hallway, with a man wearing a George Washington-style hat standing in the stern, and 14 individuals grasping oars. Is that the father of our country? No, it’s Council President Herb Wesson imagining himself as the father of our country, and you realize that the rowers are the 12 men and two women of the City Council. “Row! Row!” orders Wesson, and row they do, which is fascinating, because there’s not actually any water, but no one dares speak up. “Row this way!” Wesson says, pointing left, and row they do. “Keep rowing!” demands Wesson, and row they do. Hey, they’re rowing in circles, but no one is willing to say anything to their leader. “Row! Row!”

Imagining Herb Wesson's Wonderful Night Out

On the Run, Part II: You head toward the mayor’s suite, hoping to talk about the goofy boat. You pull open the door just as a dignified, part-Latino, part-Jewish guy wearing an L.A. 2028 Olympics pin zips through. It’s Garcetti again! You didn’t realize he had returned from his previous trip. “Sorry, gotta run to Paris for a climate meeting,” he says, and you wonder why the mayor of L.A. is taking on something usually handled by a national leader. He charges past you, never slowing down. Walking would be just fine, you think, but this is a guy with places to go. You wonder again, what is Garcetti running for?

Not in My District: You head toward Council Chambers. You see the boat parked by the door, and inside the council members are throwing something around. What are they tossing? It’s a football, and before you can think Rams or Chargers — which is a joke, because no one in L.A. thinks Chargers — you recognize that it’s a political football. Then you see it has the word “homelessness” scrawled across it. Why is this political football of homelessness being tossed back and forth? How come the moment one council member catches it, he or she tosses it to another council member? No one, it seems, wants to hold onto this oft-fumbled ball — they all want someone else to be the quarterback.

Honey Trap: You’re frustrated. You need a drink. Then you’re approached by a man in a really expensive suit. “You look like you’re having trouble in City Hall,” he says. “Let me help.” You ask for directions to the water fountain. He escorts you there, then hands you a bill for $650. Nooooooooo! It’s a lobbyist! Your mama warned you about City Hall lobbyists, and you’ve fallen into the trap. You start to run. “Wait, I can help,” the lobbyists yells. You run harder.

Raise-ing the Game: You round a corner and stop to catch your breath. A young woman approaches. She holds out a document and a pen. Wow, this paper has a lot of zeros. “I’m representing the mayor, the council and other important people. Here’s the contract you wanted. Please don’t go out on strike.” You look closer and see a lot of clauses about annual raises and time off and more raises and training and more raises and then more raises. What beanbag head approved this deal, you wonder? You look quizzically at the city staffer, who blushes and snatches the contract. “Sorry, I thought you were the head of a public employee’s union. Pretend you didn’t see this. Don’t tell the media about these raises!” She races off. 

Over the Edge: You’re disappointed by what you’ve encountered in City Hall. You look for an exit and see an arrow, but it’s next to a sign marked “City Pensions.” You follow the arrow. You pass through a door, see more arrows and keep walking. You hear a whooshing sound and see that the “City Pensions” arrows lead to a cliff. You look over but can’t see the bottom. What could these City Pensions arrows falling off a cliff mean? Before you can figure it out, an attack dog growls, “You’re not supposed to pay attention to this!” The dog races forward and knocks you over the cliff. You fall and fall until you black out.

On the Run, Part III: You wake up by the entrance to City Hall, where you started. Was this a dream? You stand up and dust yourself off. Then the door swings open and a gently graying man in a nice suit with 95,400 Instagram followers comes running out of the building. It’s Garcetti again! “Sorry, gotta run to Minnesota and the Hamptons and Las Vegas,” he chirps. He never stays still, never walks. It seems that L.A. can’t contain this running man. You wonder one more time, what is Garcetti running for?


© Los Angeles Downtown News 2017