YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Three Hells and a Heaven

Hell Ii: 103 In Riverside

August 01, 1996|TOM GORMAN

Question: When is the bikini-wearing, roller-blading, snake-toting, body-piercing, tourist-trapped beach community of Venice considered to be a little corner of heaven?

Answer: This week, when four reporters were sent around Southern California to savor the weather, which was hot (Silverado), hotter (Riverside), hottest (the West Valley) and cooler ("Momma, pack the pythons! We're moving to Venice!").


It's annoying how some people can seem so cool.

Scores of lawyers heading to the courthouse for 1:30 p.m. appearances, office workers strolling downtown during lunch hour, wearing suit jackets and blazers. And they don't seem to be breaking a sweat.

And it's 103 degrees.

I can only marvel as I wipe my brow, pull a sticky shirt away from my skin and push my slipping sunglasses back onto my sweaty ears.

At least I'm not the only one suffering the heat.

At her hot dog cart near Riverside City Hall, Mary takes the melting Snickers bars and Almond Joys off her table, sealing them in a plastic bag and placing them on ice.

Pedestrians seek storefront awnings as they stroll the Main Street Mall pedestrian promenade linking City Hall and the Mission Inn. Others seek refuge from the blazing sun by bunching beneath the shade of jacarandas, liquid ambers and pines.

Lunch diners who usually prefer the outdoor seating of sidewalk cafes and boutique bakeries are instead cramming around the indoor tables; latecomers begrudgingly accept outdoor seating protected by sun umbrellas.

At Simple Simon, the featured soup of the day is gazpacho.

There's no wait for seating in the gorgeous outdoor courtyard at the Mission Inn Restaurant, a popular expense account venue. Of 25 outside tables, only six of the shaded tables are occupied--and all 10 of the unprotected tables are forsaken.

Out front, Tamrat Kassahun, manager of valet parking, is hot in his requisite blue blazer, relieved only that he can send underlings to fetch parked cars that are, he laughs, cooking at 1,000 degrees.

"The heat, the smog . . . I've got to move to Oregon or Washington," he mutters.

At the TCBY yogurt shop, business is only about two-thirds normal because its normal diet of foot traffic is down. Sometimes, it's too hot even for frozen-confection businesses.

During my three-hour downtown tour, only one person is spotted resting in the direct sun: some fellow sprawled on the grass in front of the city library. A denim jacket covers his head. He may have been there for days.

A pavement-level water mister beneath a patch of grating along the Main Street Mall provides the greatest heat relief. It is a favorite among giggling youngsters and teenage bicyclists. Two women in nice dresses tentatively walk through the waist-high mist, and emerge with smiles.

But The Suits seemed to avoid it.

Must be coldblooded lawyers.

Los Angeles Times Articles