This evening's Obamajam seemed particularly brutal for a whole lot of people, possibly because the new route forced the closure of the Santa Monica Freeway, La Brea and Wilshire (and interconnected cross streets) at the peak hour for commuters. It didn't help that President Obama dropped in at Roscoe's House of Chicken 'n Waffles en route to his two $38,000 dinners in Hancock Park. (And unfortunate for me, since after being forced off Wilshire and Olympic by the stopped traffic I thought I'd be smart and try Pico. Bad guess.) Roscoe's wasn't exactly an impromptu stop, as the White House pool report shows. And it's not in West L.A. either — let's go with Mid-City — but the pool reporter is from the New York Times, so she gets a break. (Roscoe's website goes with West L.A., but let's call that a little geographic marketing.) Excerpt:
Pool had to enter from the rear, to see booths full of early-dining families stretching and craning their necks excitedly to watch POTUS, who already was at the counter ordering for himself and nearby aides, including Valerie Jarrett, Jay Carney, David Plouffe and Marvin Nicholson. With him was Representative Karen Bass, the Democrat who represents the area in the House. Our camera colleagues say POTUS ordered the No. 9, “Country Boy” – 3 wings with choice of waffle, potato salad or French fries ($8.90, according to the menu) – among other things we couldn’t hear. He quickly moved to the cashier.
POTUS, coatless and shirt sleeves rolled, then walked to one side of the restaurant and greeted the diners in each vinyl-covered booth. After he’d shaken hands and chatted with a young African-American boy who looked to be about 10, and moved on, the boy turned to the white man he was dining with and said, “I’m never going to wash my hand again.” For minutes afterward he continued to hold his left hand aloft, fingers spread, as his eyes followed POTUS around the room as if in wonder.
It was a diverse crowd. POTUS moved to a second section, posing for cellphone photos with from one to six diners at a time, and then to a third, larger section to repeat the routine. Pool could not hear all the small talk, but it sounded just so – like small talk. One man with a woman and two children said to them, “He sounds just like he does on TV!” Later POTUS made his way to their table and the Latina girl of about 12 jumped up with a tablet for him to autograph. As the man (her father?) took a photo, he said, “If you work hard, you can be just like him.”
Earlier, after posing with two young girls while a couple, presumably the parents, took photos, POTUS congratulated the adults for having two beautiful daughters and added, “I’m big on girls.” At the next booth, a Latino man jumped up for a hug – diners nearby applauded -- while his female companion just sat there.
The pool was ushered out and onto West Pico Blvd. for a good 10-15 minutes to wait. At one point we could hear chants of “4 more years!” One aide came out with 5 styrofoam food containers, soon another came out with a carton of canned drinks, Pit Bull, and a couple minutes later, after a second round of chants, POTUS and Rep. Bass exited, each holding one plastic and one paper bag of food.
KNX must have set off a thousand screams when it reported about 5 p.m. that the intersection of LaBrea and Wilshire would be closed until midnight; luckily, they were wrong. But getting across town was tough for many thousands tonight. About 9 p.m., westbound Wilshire was still closed at the Wilshire Ebell due to Obama's presence at the Melanie Griffith-Antonio Banderas home in Hancock Park. The length of Wilshire was expected to close later for the motorcade to return to the Beverly Wilshire hotel, where barricades were up all day.
Earlier, Obama spoke at the home of James and Mai Lassiter to an audience that included Magic Johnson. "I’ve said this before – this election will not be as sexy as the first one,’’ the president said. “Back then it was still fresh and new. I didn’t have any gray hair. Everybody loved the ‘Hope’ posters and all that. This time it’s – we’ve got to grind it out a little bit. We’ve got to grind it out. But the cause is the same. And my passion is the same. And my commitment is the same.’’
LA Observed on KCRW: I make my peace with the Obamajams in today's radio piece. Listen at KCRW.com.
Earlier: It's an Obamajam day in L.A.
After the jump: YouTube video of Obama and his lengthy motorcade outside Roscoe's.
LA Observed photos