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The Roadium ~ Torrance

5:39 PM PDT on May 21, 2007

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The Roadium ~ 2500 W. Redondo Beach Blvd. Torrance, CA 90504

"Welcome To The Terrordome" is what is playing in my head. Welcome to the Roadium, and get ready to rumble through the rubbage, and rummage like a bear through this bazaar of bizarre, as well as oh so everyday objects of questionable value and negotiable worth. The Roadium Open Air Market is open 7 days a week and for over 40 years has been sporting one of sunny California's largest high traffic outdoor swap meets. The place was built in 1950 by Pioneer Theatres, with a 480 vehicle capacity, and located down the street from El Camino College.

Those who would profane the Rodium as a place lacking any significant historical value, might say the same about the Ballona Wetlands, currently being desecrated to make way for concrete condominium coffins. While the architectural design is less than genius, and the projection screen itself wasn't built to full cinematic scope, this is a place where dreams have been made. Who's to say The Roadium has seen better days? An article published 4/14/2002 in the LA Times by Terry McDermott traces back the beginings of N.W.A. to a man named Steve Yano, "the uncrowned king of a swap meet music underground." This article is required reading. "The beginning of the end of life as we know it occurred here, on a beaten patch of asphalt out in the vast, flat no man's land of greater Los Angeles..."

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People working hard for the money, in and out of the hot sun. Count the time it takes for these men to pack up their wares in the time it takes one taco all-star to fill 7 salsa cups.

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The stalls generally appear configured like long furrrows of a plowed field. This being urban, concrete farm country, everything is in season. And in some way or another, these products are what we take from the earth- and give back to the earth, in landfills and down storm drains. Where is the lost and found- I'm in it!

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Somebody inspecting a masterpiece. Could it be a forgery? The frame is smashing! Believe the true story of a $4.00 painting sold at a garage sale for its frame, which hid a 1776 copy of the Declaration of Independence. Shop for antiques on Wedsdays.

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What do these boots, golf clubs, scimitar, and keyboard all have in common?..

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It hasn't rained here in a long time. These sticks recall the fate of pirates, out of water and marooned at the Roadium.

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"I Can't Stop Loving You"

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This metal smith will polish your championship Laker rings while you do a loop.
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And now we arrive at the Roadium Cafe. A boom box nearby plays 2-Pac's "Only God Can Judge Me". Don't think the Roadium was made famous for its tacos. Indeed, I think next time we'll bring our own lunch basket and sit near here under the shade of broad limbed ficus trees, observing waves of Angelenos sweeping every which way through the rows. After spotting a couple hand held Tecates, it stands to reason that the unofficial policy here is B.Y.O.B. Of course, you risk expulsion and the cost of your $1.00 parking fee. Now, I'm not the taco police, and I'm partial to home-made tacos, anyhow. We give thanks for the food of life. However, this duo of carne asada and chicken taco seemed to have suffered from dehydration. In a desperate attempt to retain their tastiness long enough to for me to reach them, they had minced themselves into bittier bits, their taste all the while bleeding away on the grill. Their size was ample, but the salsa was unable to revive the exhausted meat. Instead, we recommend the hot dog. Yes, you- the one with the giant jalapeño on your bun. If this is dog food, I'm in hot dog heaven.

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before...

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after.

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Death is everywhere- even at the swap meet. Caskets available on "lay away".

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Remember the episode of Miami Vice when Det. Ricardo "Rico" Tubbs stages a sting at the Roadium?

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"I Love L.A." - Randy Newman

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Taco's truck ride to the Roadium.

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"Drive-in theatres may die, but swap meets live on forever..." - Ken M.C

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