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Monthly Archives: October 2009

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Sunday: Hollywood!

Can you believe how long this day was? More of Matt & Christopher’s fabulous Los Angeles trip report:

  • Sunday — Our Hollywood day! I was looking forward to the idea of taking the Metro from downtown to Hollywood, but we had a few stops that required driving our car. Before heading out, we had a serviceable breakfast in the Bonaventure’s food court. Over bacon and eggs, I snapped a bunch of photos of those glass towers and tile floors. I liked the Bonaventure signage, too – Helvetica in lozenge shapes, color coded by area. Very 1979. Obviously, I must have looked somewhat bonkers to other guests when snapping shots of the restroom sign off the food court. Whatever. The nice, uncongested drive out to Hollywood turned a bit harried when we couldn’t figure out the area parking meters. A call to the hotel concierge helpfully smoothed things out, however, and we were off walking down Hollywood boulevard in no time. I wanted to take photos of Joyce Compton’s star in front of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, so we made that our first destination. Even though it was only about 10 a.m., the hurlyburly of tourists and vendors was already under way. Much of the boulevard is as trashy as ever, but there are also a lot of cool Deco-era buildings everywhere. I took pics of those, and the Egyptian and Graumans Chinese theaters, noticing the ever present people dressed up as superheroes in front of the latter (notice Spiderman in the photo above). The street also had some kind of slick new mall-type development that was swarming with tourists, which I couldn’t understand — who travels across the country to shop at a mall? Now, shopping at a cool movie-centric bookstore like Larry Edmunds I can understand. That was our next stop, but unfortunately we got there too early and the place hadn’t yet opened (their website had the wrong hours posted). So we headed back in the car and drove around the tiny yet upscale neighborhoods in the Hollywood Hills. Lots of neat little Spanish-style homes settled on twisty little roads reside here. Getting near the top of one drive, I was surprised to find John Lautner’s Garcia House — an amazing ’60s home that was memorably demolished in one of the Lethal Weapon movies. I actually snuck up on the driveway and took a picture of the home’s breathtaking view. We also saw High Tower Drive, one of those quintessential L.A. spots featured in the movies The Long Goodbye and Dead Again. I so want to live in that Streamline Moderne beauty on the right side. We drove to the Hollywood Bowl, took pics of the awesome sculptures out front, then parked and waited for the Hollywood Heritage Museum to open. This gem is a restored barn that was originally used as Cecil B. DeMille’s offices in his earliest years of filmmaking. The museum is a small affair with lots of fascinating mementos relating to DeMille, Paramount Pictures, Rudolph Valentino, and assorted restaurants and nightclubs that no longer exist. Christopher and I spent about 90 minutes there, a good chunk of which was spent talking to the volunteer manning the place — a guy who works for a local prop house designing period-specific paper ephemera for film and TV productions (man, I would love to have his job). The fact that this place was empty at the same time the boulevard was swarming with mall-craving mouth breathers says a lot. If you’re considering a trip to Hollywood, go to this museum. Ahem. We drove back to central Hollywood and spent about an hour exploring the funky Larry Edmunds bookstore, buying a small stack of books and film stills. Time was approaching for a late lunch. Originally we planned to dine at the legendary (and old) Musso & Frank Grill, but being closed Sundays forced us to pick something else. I spied a cute little hot dog joint nearby, so we went there instead. Skooby’s was an excellent choice, a place whose menu included fresh-cut fries and Mexican Coke in bottles. We ordered to go and had a relaxing meal in nearby Selma Park, just off the street of the same name where we parked. At this point, I want to mention that Selma Avenue also adjoins Crossroads of the World, which is possibly the cutest place on earth. Meal finished, we got in the car and headed back downtown. Back at the hotel, we explored the rotating restaurant and bar on top of the building, gawking at the gorgeous cityscape at night. Then we bought some smoothies for dinner, and settled into the hotel room and watched The Simpsons. We knew we’d have a busy day Monday, so we got to sleep nice and early.

Saturday: L.A. Is My Bitch

We’re back from our trip to Los Angeles. We did a lot in five days. In the end, both of us agreed it was the best trip ever. I will have some photos to share later on, but first a travelogue of what we did. I was going to write up all of our trip in one blog post, but there was simply too much! For now, I will regale you with what we did the first day.

  • Saturday — An early morning. Left at 5 a.m. and got to Long Beach at about 10:30. We had a lunch scheduled later on with our friend Dan (who lives there; lucky him), so after finding a parking spot we walked around the piers and the commercialized areas around the aquarium. It’s funny how, after all these years, the ocean is so exotic to me. Since Christopher was in a seafood mood, we settled at the King’s location downtown for a long lunch of good conversation with Dan. This was an excellent, relaxing way to start off our trip! We said our goodbyes to Dan and headed off through the treacherous freeways towards downtown L.A. (actually, the traffic was surprisingly okay for L.A. the whole time we were there). After a bit of confusion with the one way streets, we finally located the fabboo Westin Bonaventure Hotel where we were booked for two nights. I always loved this hotel, going back to when it was the setting for the waitressing sitcom It’s a Living. Architecturally, the place is forever stuck in a retro-futuristic ’70s, which is totally cool with me. It’s also laid out in a crazy way, with elevators going only to certain floors and restaurants and shops perched confusingly on rounded balconies above the expansive lobby. I dug it! Luckily, our wedge-shaped room was furnished with tasteful late ’00s decor. Later that night, we met with Christopher’s old friend Shirley for dinner. Shirley once worked as Edith Head’s assistant and now has an office at FIDM (where the current Project Runway season was filmed). She had tons of entertaining stories about everyone from Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn to Joan Crawford. It was such a trip driving around in her car and having her point out every important building in the area! She took us to a trendy Beverly Hills eatery called Orso. This place had the neatest outdoor patio with giant trees and subtle lighting in an environment that vaguely reminded me of the restaurant inside Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean. As we sat down, I noticed a beautiful woman sitting at the table next to us that looked exactly like actress Wendy Malick of Just Shoot Me fame. I tried hard not to stare (luckily she was in the same sightline as Christopher), but this lady did speak with actressy hand gestures to the gentleman dining with her, so I’m gonna say it was her (and damn, she looked great). Although it was after 11 p.m. when we finished our meal, we weren’t exhausted at all. Shirley drove us around, showing us Bullock’s Wilshire, Paramount Pictures and all the fancy homes in that area. All in all, a night that could only be described as magical.

Dog-Gone (Temporarily)

For the next week, will be on vacation in Los Angeles. While we won’t be able to visit a locale as exquisite as the dog-shaped café above, we have a full itinerary and will be taking tons of photos to share later. See you then!

Image from California Crazy by Jim Heimann and Rip Georges.