Our new rehearsal space is opposite one of the main Church of Scientology buildings on Hollywood Boulevard.

Parking is very difficult in this area, as many of the metered spots are turned over to valet use at night. (Quite a racket.) As a result, we sometimes have to circle the studio for a few minutes before finding a spot. It’s a roundabout way to experience the city as theater.

There was a sole protester outside this Scientology property last night, holding a placard and occasionally speaking into a small bullhorn. There were, however, two cop cars, double parked, and at least as many police officers on the sidewalk. The cops were mostly bored, though one was talking to a man in business casual clothing – presumably, associated with the beleaguered group.

While looking for parking, we always slow down whenever we see someone sitting in a car. Are they about to leave? Yes? No? “Are you leaving?”

And so when we spotted an SUV in a prime location, right on the corner of Hollywood and Ivar, we all but put our car in park. Inside the vehicle was a woman in her late 30s or early 40s, dressed in business attire, using a wired headset to talk into her illuminated smartphone. Nothing out of the ordinary there – much of Los Angeles lives and dies by the mobile phone. But this particular woman was parked kitty-corner from the Scientology building. And she wasn’t leaving.

For the 10 minutes or so we circled the block, she didn’t budge, her eyes focused on the solitary protest across the street. When we’d finally found parking and were walking towards the studio, she was gone. And the protester was nowhere in sight. But suddenly, the same SUV was pulling a sharp U-turn back towards the empty spot, its driver speaking animatedly into her phone.

The protester, we learned a few steps later, had simply crossed Hollywood to get a slice of pizza.

postscript: After finishing this entry I remembered that when we’d first rounded the corner in question, there had been another SUV with a passenger and driver in the same desirable spot – both white men in white shirts. A few minutes later, they were replaced by the car and driver described above.