Sunday, May 17, 2009

Part V Los Angeles
March 29 - March 31

The initial shock of driving into LA was not as great as I though it would be. From the freeway, LA looks a lot like any other big smoggy town with sky scrappers, industrial areas and the like. It was thrilling to see exits for Hollywood BLVD, Sunset BLVD and Santa Monica BLVD. Sarah has some friends that live in San Pedro, a burb of LA that we were going to stay with. I was happy to have them as a safety net and way to ease my toe into the hot bath tub of LA.

Sarah’s class was in Burbank, another burb of LA and I accompanied her there. LA, I learned, is really a very big conglomeration of smaller cities and suburbs. Burbank had a quaint city center and an even quainter farmer’s market. I discovered some fun used book shops, a couple interesting curio shops, the library and several breweries. I immediately felt better about LA. In fact, I didn’t encounter anything LAPDesque, no movie stars and even the glitz and glam seemed to be absent. I met Sarah for lunch at a brewery called BJ’s and we sat on the outside patio deck. I had a Belgian Wit and Sarah had a red ale, both of which were superb. After her class we went to Hollywood.

To be honest, I had though Hollywood would have been more glamorous, especially the Walk of Fame. However, the streets were lined with touristy knick knack shops and there were more tourists than Carter has pills. The first star that I saw was Brittney Spears. There are more then 18 blocks of stars and we proceeded to walk at least 1/3 of them. My eyes were pinned to the sidewalk. I was entranced by the famousness of it all and I read off the celebrity names that I recognized out loud. It’s amazing how intriguing the rich and famous are. There are people who are famous just for being famous! We saw Robin Williams, Bruce Willis, the Beatles, Bing Crosby…the list goes on and on. I took pictures of them all! We also saw the Chinese Theater where many stars had put imprints of the hands and feet in the cement as a sort of tribute or commemoration to a man named Sid. After much walking we were disappointed that we hadn’t seen the famous Hollywood sign on the hill so we figured out to how to drive by it. As we returned to our car, we saw a bunch of folks clustered around taking pictures of something off in the distance and looking through binoculars. My Aunt has a motto that often rings very true, “It there’s a line, stand in it.” So Sarah and I did just that and discovered that the point of interest was indeed the fabled and aloof Hollywood sign!!! It is amazing that we missed it because it became obvious that we would have been able to see it many times while we were walking the Walk of Fame. I guess that we were too focused on the ground. We were relieved to finally have observed this iconic and tacky land mark and triumphantly returned to San Pedro.

I said goodbye to Sarah the next day and explored Ben and Megan’s neighborhood of San Pedro. It was Sunday so downtown was fairly quiet. However, the Ports O Call Village was hopping. It was overrun with Latinos and Asians all amassing to eat fresh platters laden with seafood and garlic bread. They were taking in the tourist shops and generally having a damn good time. I slipped into some of the quieter art shops which were obviously remnants of an older and high society time. One of the proprietor informed me in a Brooklyn/British accent that she had dated Clark Gabel for four years and that the Ports of Call Village had been the most ritzy and upscale destination in the LA area. She seemed disappointed in the change but I think the area was still quite a destination. I spent the evening in the San Pedro brewery. I had a very tasty chocolate porter and chatted with a nice fellow who turned out to be quite creepy. I had originally hoped to stay one more night with Ben and Megan’s but the situation seemed tense and Ben and Megan’s family were in town so I decided to go to San Diego a day early. I wandered about Long Beach and lounged on the clean white sand for a couple of hours before catching a Greyhound bus South.

The Hollywood sign as viewed through the set binoculars on premises

The Beatles' star begins the Hollywood Walk of Fame

The Harry Potter Kids' foot and hand prints outside of the Chinese Theater
The star dedicated to Bruce Willis

The food production at Port O Calls Village, San Pedro

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