Sunday, May 28, 2017

Have You Seen LA Lately?

Obligatory 'on my way' picture 
My First Freeway
A beautiful day in the neighbourhood
LA public transit: the EXPO line 
Santa Monica beach! My first of several trips here, a 20 minute ride from my digs
LA: a lot of sand, a lot of people 
Santa Monica Pier
First steps into the Pacific Ocean!
Selfies are totally justified when travelling solo
Also LA: a lot of cars
Colour saturation
Streets and alleys of Culver City 
Echo Park, Downtown LA in the background 
More Echo Park where I spent a glorious few hours drinking iced coffee and scribbling in a notebook
Also witnessed a girl rescue a dog from the inside wall of the lake where he had somehow wandered
Little tiny wildlife reserve in the centre of the lake 
Arrived here by taking a train to Downtown LA then 15 minutes on a bus.  Downtown LA is pretty seedy.  This park however is pleasant and well cared for.  LA is a weird weird town.
They have ducks on the West Coast, who knew
Palm trees continue to inspire in me the thrill of the exotic
Yes I took a lot of pictures but I really had a wonderfully lazy day here
See? Half asleep
Later that same day... 
Everybody wants to go to - HOLLYWOOD
This is Hollywood.  This is the weirdest place I've ever been.  It's like Times Square on crack.  It's a looong strip of touristy souvenir shops, cheap burger places, sex shops and the Harley Davidson shop, and it's also the place where the most famous, wealthy and beautiful people in the world gather sometimes to walk on a red carpet in $1000s worth of designer apparel.  And everyone's just cool with it. What?!?!?!
I unfortunately couldn't get good pictures because it was dark and the stones are light so when the flash goes off it all gets washed out.  In front of the Chinese Theatre (where they have the Hollwood premieres) are the hand and footprints of decades of stars, with a signature and often a message.  This is Gene Kelly - my feet and his were EXACTLY the same size.  I mean.
Front of the Chinese Theatre.  Again...this is a strange place. 
This is In-N-Out burger.  It's a thing on the West Coast.  I enjoyed it, it was very cheap...but NICE TRY Los Angeles.  The clear winner is New York's own Shake Shack - it costs a little more but the burger buns are better, their special sauce is more special and the French fries are superior.  But it was a good effort.

At 9.30pm, I went to see an improv show at The Groundlings theatre.  This a famous LA improv troupe that has some alumni now huge on the USA comedy scene - Kristen Wiig and Will Ferrell are the biggest.  I saw an evening of comedy sketches and one improvised scene - it was fantastic, the performers were stellar and most of the sketches were laugh out loud funny.  


A cookie with pink icing because Birthday!
Same face new age
Venice Beach - the kind of wonderfully tacky place that is just fun to stroll through so that's exactly what I did, surrounded on all sides by head shops, places to get henna tattoos or (polyester heavy) vintage clothes, the smell of marijuana and guys on skateboards.  So rad, dudes.

After strolling through the chaos on the boardwalk I took a looong walk all the way along the beach until I got up to Santa Monica Pier 
All the while listening to one of the two huge playlists I made for my trip, featuring Animal Collective, The Flaming Lips, Communions, Ibeyi, Antony and the Johnsons, Beck, Elbow, Spiritualized and Yo La Tengo among others.
Somewhere around here I passed someone I knew from AMDA.  They didn't spot me but I thought it was a fun coincidence.

I went home from Santa Monica on the train, cleaned up and got ready to go out for a very nice evening of French food followed by bossa nova and a cocktail (and a surprise Birthday pudding) in the Culver City Hotel, which is the hotel where all the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz stayed while filming in nearby Culver City studios.
Guess I didn't take many pictures on this day...I went to Santa Monica again, this time with a friend, we walked, we sat, we ate, we bought postcards and I got Lauren a keyring, we had amazing ice cream
AND about 30 seconds after this picture was taken we saw a SEAL swimming in the sea right in front of the end of the pier - he popped out of the waves and disappeared, then reappeared much closer and looked straight at me before popping back under for good.  I squealed and I'm not ashamed, it was so cool.
Here's a cat who was staying in the same place as me.  
Union Station is a very beautiful art deco building, I should've got more/better pictures

Hiking the Hollywood Hills! Aka walking uphill.  But you're supposed to call it hiking I don't know why. I had a green smoothie in my hand when I started and I felt terribly El-Ay
Also when I set out two people were jogging and they passed me and I recognised them both as former AMDA NY students, they recognised me too and we had a fun moment of 'omg fancy seeing you here!' so that's two AMDA NY encounters in a week, we really are everywhere.
First sighting of Griffith Observatory
And there's the Hollywood sign!
There...look closer...
See?? Yeah fun fact, it's REALLY FAR - films TV and photographs, and probably also time spent in New York/other cities where you can get up close to all the famous landmarks, have led me to believe that the sign is very accessible, you can climb on it, sit by it, take pictures right in front of it.  Well you could but you'd have to know how to get there over all the hills.  I did not and alone at 6pm on a Wednesday didn't seem like the moment to try.
So this is the 'in front of the sign' picture requested by Lola.
The famous LA sprawl
The famous Observatory where parts of Rebel Without A Cause was filmed and more recently La La Land...I did see it, and according to that film I was going to come here and dance-levitate my way into space.  I did not.
Closer to the sky

Not pictured: the random luxury homes dotted around the hills, from one of which I could hear someone doing their trumpet practice
Another, sliiightly closer attempt

Such good Me time
After I came down out of the hills and stumbled upon the very cool and interesting neighborhood of Los Feliz (to which I shall return) I got back on the train to return once more to Santa Monica
To watch the sun go down.

This was the beginning of the sunset - it became quite spectacular, the sky turned pink and with it the Pacific which is a very beautiful thing.  I stayed at the beach for a while until after it got dark, standing in the surf and enjoying its meditative effect.

If it seems like I didn't do an awful lot during my time in Los would be right on the money.  That was exactly the point.  I read, I wrote.  I strolled, instead of striding.  I SLEPT. I ate really well and enjoyed every bite.  I watched films with friends. I hung out with a cat.  I listened to so much music that I've been meaning to get to.

Part Two of my West Coast adventure to come - a new city awaits