On a cloudy day, I avoided weekday traffic going downtown by driving in mid-day, away from the crush of cars that happen before 9, after five, and any time between eleven and one when the lunch-time diners head out to the great eateries in Chinatown, Little Tokyo, or Olveira Street. It's a weird of way of thinking about one's day, in terms of peak times for traffic, but this is LA, and one is licensed to exist between worlds that don't normally exist anywhere else.
If the confusing alleys of knockouts and cheap goods were not out of place enough in the long and straight avenues of downtown Los Angeles, my parents' discussions about illegal fireworks, dog meat, and drug trade made for a surreal experience akin to one Polanski may have conjured with his film about the city.
A "B" safety and cleanliness grade from the Los Angeles County Health Inspectors--and death knell in any other place. As Mr. Bourdain so keenly said, "a little honest dirt never got in the way of a good meal."
Beef lips, pork blood, chicken hearts...such a sight would have been exotic, if not for its ubiquity in Italian chain grocery stores.