It seemed a good time to get out of town, what with trains derailing at Union Station and Metro escalators randomly accelerating, sending people, including those who had come to D.C. to restore sanity, to the hospital.

There are palm trees and crazy tall billboards outside this glassy hotel room on Sunset Boulevard, one of them touting “LA to Instanbul Non-stop Launching on March 3, 2011!” And the panoramic view of Los Angeles is stunning. There’s a rooftop pool and temperatures in the 80s, whereas when we left frosty D.C., two men had spent some eight-plus hours trying to identify the reasons why our boiler was failing to produce any heat.

The place is both as remarkably different and as remarkably the same as it was when I lived here some 30 years ago. Jerry Brown is the governor again, but the smog is long-gone, and everything looks like it’s been scrubbed clean. And the traffic hasn’t changed a bit—it’s just that the years had erased the memory of just how bad it really can be: after setting out to drive 11.69 miles, 75 minutes later we arrived at our destination.

We wondered, at 5 a.m., whether all that noise, the shouting and banging and the blaring sirens, was traffic related. It went on and on like a bad dream, and we finally staggered to the window to see what was up. It turns out there was a reason this too-hip hotel was so cheap: it’s being picketed by Unite Here Local 11!

We hope you get your hours and your health care benefits restored, Unite Here Local 11, but next time, might you consider waiting until 9 a.m.? Instanbul might be the more peaceful next destination, although as we are well aware after staring at this billboard for three days, we’ll have to wait until March 3 to get from here to there non-stop, at least for the Turkish Airlines route.