Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Day 12 - Escape from L.A....

I tried to post this yesterday and as I was typing I found myself back on my home page with no post for some I'm going to try again.  Forgive me if this one sounds a bit like I am sick of telling this story.  I didn't even want to relive this day once, let alone twice...

I'll say it again:  If you ever get the chance to go to Los Angeles, DON'T GO!!!!!  It was the single most underwhelming, filthy, disappointing, ugly, cheap city I've ever been.  Seriously.  Skip it.

The day started out easily enough.  Traffic into L.A. was surprisingly light.  Even the morning radio show hosts we finally stumbled upon were surprised. 

There was a little bit of fog once we got from El Cajon (where our hotel was) in towards the bay.

And, really, it was a pretty drive spent smiling at each other and loving that we were going to get to see our Marbles Kitty in one more day.  Bittersweet, really.  But finally we made it to L.A.

The air was yellow.  No joke.  There was trash everywhere.  The graffiti was uninspired, ugly, and contained none of the pride and artistic flair of Chicago graffiti, and I'm being completely serious.  It looked painted out of a hurried sense of duty and not out of any personal pride.  I chalked all of this up to it being the outskirts or town...but once we got further in, it was no different.

This building lightened my spirits, though.  How funny!

We decided to hit Grauman's Chinese Theatre first, so we could see the glitzy, glamorous Hollywood side of the city.  Oh, how misguided we were.

The first thing we saw once we parked the car and ventured off of Orange Street was this:

Can you guess whose star this is?  There were people openly weeping over Michael Jackson's star, and his offerings were overshadowing the nearby stars, covering up the likes of Queen Latifah. 

Look at this one, for comaprison.

Poor Farrah.  All alone witout a single flower...

But once we got past that crowd and past the shady people who were trying to sell the mourners bus tours ("See The King of Pop's Famous Haunts!"  So classy.) Grauman's Chinese Theatre was actually pretty cool.

This is where they have the  handprints of celebrities in cement.  It sort of made them seem less untouchable and more like regular people who just had really great jobs.

...or robots.

The Governator has surprisingly small hands:

I was shocked they weren't giant man paws.

We waded trough a sea of Asian teens who were, for some reason, crowding around the Harry Potter slab.

I was unaware of this particular cultural obsession...but seriously, without any exaggeration, we were the only non-Asians trying to take a picture of the thing.  And they didn't seem interested in anything else there.

After that, we decided to hit the Walk of Fame, where they have the stars with celebrities' names on them.  We saw everyone from:


(one of my favorite authors)


Seriously.  Godzilla had a star.  I took a ton of photos.  So if there's a star you'd particularly like to see, let me know and I'll email it to you.  I've got about 300 of them.

(For the record, I just had to upload this whole post to a new editor because it kept trying to underline my text for no reason and there was no way I could shut it off.  Once I'm done with this post, I'm going to drink a bottle of wine.  Cripes!)

Oh, let me tell you why L.A. was super underwhelming.  You know how you expect The Walk of Fame to be glitzy?  Glamorous?  Hip?  Trendy?  You picture cute shops and high class bars and stuff along the way, right?  No.  We thought so too, and we were so wrong.  Past Grauman's, it was like souvenir shop, seedy bar, porn shop, lingerie store, souvenir shop, porn store, seedy bar, seedier bar, porn store, dancewear shop, souvenir store, souvenir store, Mc Donald's, porn store, empty storefront, etc.  Oh, and outside of every souvenir shop and some porn stores were people selling bus tours, pushing them on you and not taking no for an answer.  That, or bums.  And this was a MONDAY!

There were times when I thought I was about to get mugged.  It was seriously scary.  What the hell happened to make this area so absolutely shitty?  Ugh.  After about an hour in town we both had headaches (and I don't GET headaches).  We decided to leave the area to try to visit some of the studios.

That area was actually a bit nicer.  We went to Warner Bros.

No famous people to be found.  The studio tour was $45 a person, which isn't that bad of a price, but it was our last day of vacation and we were quite poor, still.  We most definitely didn't have $90 to blow.  I mean, we ate at McDonald's in downtown Hollywood, for god's sake! 

So we left from Warner and went to see if we could find Disney.  We sort of stumbled into it.

There was no one to stop us at the guard hut, so we just follwed the visitor parking signs and got out of the car.  We didn't know quite what to do, so we headed for the most impressive building there to ask for a tour:

Yes, those are the 7 dwarves holding up roof.  It was really impressive, actually.  Check it out.

So we went in, and there was a security guard named Jeff on duty.  We asked him about tours.  He said we could go in any building on the lot except this one, since it was the executive building.  A well dressed man I didn't recognize got out of the elevator and said hello to us...he sort of looked like he expected us to ask for an autograph or something.  And after smiling awkwardly for a second, he walked off.  No idea who he was. 

So, we were still incredulous about being allowed to just stroll around.  I asked, "So, we can just wander around?" 
"Wow...Warner Bros wanted $45 for a guided tour.  This is great." 
And he stops...looks at us, and goes, "Who aer you here with?"
We just looked at him blankly.  " one?"
I told him we just drove in and parked...that no one asked us to stop at the hut.  He looked REALLY confused, like his brain just did a 1080 or something...
"Oh, then you guys can't actually be here at all."
Robb asked if we could take a few photos of the courtyard and then leave.  He said as long as we promised to ge back in the car and go.  So we did.  I told him he could put my arm behind my back and lead me to my car if it would make him feel better.  He said he didn't really care what we did, that we could probably wander around because he wouldn't run to catch us in this heat.


We just took some pictures and got back in the car like nice, honest tourists, sadly.  And then we looked at eachother and went, "DANG IT!!!  We could have just wandered around Disney!"  Yup...we're too honest.

So we drove around looking for the Hollywood sign, going past Capitol Records:

Very famous.

We fially found the sign (it's harder to find than you'd think):

It was also dirty and underwhelming.  Smaller than I thought it would be. 

We had to print out our boarding passes for the next day, so we were pressed to find a library by 4.  I entered a search for libraries into our ever-so-trusty VZ Navigator and it led us through crack town and bumville to a library that was covered in police tape with a big red sign in the broken windows that said "LIBRARY CLOSED!!!"


So we looked for another one and ended up here:

and here...

Korea Town (which is HUGE!!!).  We finally just went right downtown into the awful horrible traffic and found a FedEx Kinkos.  Blah.  We both felt sick, so we left the city into horrendous traffic and ugliness.  But we were grateful to be finally leaving L.A.  I needed a shower.

To make up for the horrifyingly disappointing day, we stopped off on a scenic overlook near Camp Pendleton to watch the sunset.  Despite the sore throat and headache, it was romantic.

It was the last sunset we'd see in California for a long, long time.  So we spent an hour or so just sitting, watching the rabbits and each other.

That would be the ocean, a tank track, and me. 

The sun sank lower and lower (while we listened to the Camp Pendleton boys shooting in the distance)...

And finally the day was over...

and we went home to shower and wash the L.A. off of ourselves.  Little did we know that it would stick with both of us far longer than either of us wanted.



Melissa Blake said...

Nice shot of the Hollywood sign! :)

Kathy said...

I didn't even know you were going to Hollywood or I would have warned you. It really is in the worst part of town. You actually were lucky to not get mugged. I get pollution headaches too.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

It's awful. Horrifying. Ugly.

Teresa @ good-grace said...

well... I'm glad I ran across this post. It's nice to know I'm not missing anything fabulous. I'm so sorry that you guys had to spend your time off in such a miserable place... (I liked your observation that the graffiti there wasn't anything like the artistic stuff you find in Chicago.)