Thursday, June 21, 2007

What to see and do in LA

It’s a slow day in LA. Paris is in jail and Lindsay is in rehab. I know this is the time of the year when people start planning their vacations and if Los Angeles is among your destinations, here are a few things to see and do.

Walk along Sunset Blvd at night close to the curb. You never know which star is going to hit you with their car. You might get Halle Berry’s autograph and insurance information.

If you want to see celebrities go to Vicente market in Brentwood. Okay, it may be Dom DeLouise but it’s a name.

Go to Phillippe’s French Dip sandwich place downtown. Great atmosphere. You might be standing in line with the mayor, a homeless guy, and a rock star. Not sure if they do it anymore but Phillippe’s used to be the weekly hangout for former circus clowns. The Nate N’ Al’s for bozos.

Have a Pinkberry yogurt. It’s all the rage. I have no idea why. You’d think there was cocaine in it.

Visit the Grove. This is Disneyland without rides. An outdoor shopping mall that looks like Main Street USA. LA’s version of an urban neighborhood – Cute by half facades and an Apple Store.

Bobs Big Boy in Toluca Lake takes you back to the fabulous 50’s, when there was car service, double-deck hamburgers, thick milk shakes in silver goblets, and the greasers from high school who beat you up are there to terrorize you again.

Drive the Wilshire incline down to Pacific Coast Highway because starting in October it will be closed for renovation… probably for twenty years.

See a ballgame at Dodger Stadium. Bring a transistor radio to listen to Vin Scully for the first three innings. Then bring a portable TV to listen to Scully call the rest of the game.

Ride the Metro. LA has a great subway system. But don’t ask an Angelino for directions to a station. No resident of the city has ever heard of the Metro.

For you culture vultures, there’s the Getty Museum and the Fredericks of Hollywood Museum of Bras.

Go to Mann’s Chinese Theater and see if your feet fit into the footprints of big stars like Marilyn Monroe or Trigger.

While in Hollywood, fall by Amoeba records. It’s the largest, greatest, most comprehensive record store you’ll ever see. And the staff of scary, tattooed, pierced, spiked hair freaks with chains dangling from every orifice are all courteous and knowledgeable.

And then there’s Chinatown, Jake. Of course there’s Chinatown in every town.

For souvenirs and gifts for those folks back home, swing by Melrose Ave. and check out the fine selection at Condom-nation.

Sight-seers, there’s always the La Brea Tar Pits. Big black pools surrounded by chain linked fences. It’s amazing to think that way back millions of years in prehistoric days dinosaurs fell into those pits and constructed those fences.

Get a Map of the Stars Homes. Who knows? You might get lucky and see Ronald Coleman coming out to get the paper, or Lucille Ball throwing out Desi.

Unfortunately, LA’s top tourist attraction, the Lever Brothers Soap Factory has closed. The tour of the lye vats was not to be missed.

And there's only one Sir George's Smorgasbord left. Best salisbury steak in all of Arcadia.

Don’t forget the Griffith Park Observatory where they filmed classic scenes from REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. True story: the observatory was named for wealthy tycoon Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, who donated the land. In perfect Hollywood Babylon fashion, he once served jail time for getting drunk one night and shooting his wife, convinced she was conspiring with the pope to murder him.

Which reminds me, see Phil Spector’s house too.

35 comments:

The Crutnacker said...

For the record, Jake, there is no Chinatown here in Louisville, Kentucky.

There are; however, people who say, "She's my sister AND my daughter!"

Anonymous said...

Bob's in Toluca Lake: scene of my first public humiliation as my buddy and I had to push his seldom-starting '50 Chevy out of the curb service parking lot one Friday night after the Burbank High School football game. Go visit. The waitresses are still laughing...

Matt Bailey said...

what do you think about the immigration issue?

My Blog

John said...

Went to The Grove during my vacation trip just before New Year's -- they still had the Rockefeller Center-sized Christmas tree up and the trolley snaking its way through post-holiday shoppers up and down the Main Street, but the harken-back-to-ye-old-days atmosphere of pre-World War II Christmases was upset just a wee bit by the two ultra-buff topless male models in tight pants standing just inside the Abercrombie & Fitch storefront. Ho Ho Ho indeed.

Ian said...

Well, Matt Bailey, I think the immigration issue should be debated elsewhere. However, if you'd like to add a comment about Ken's most recent blog entry, go right ahead.

Ken Levine said...

Thank you, Ian!

D. McEwan said...

"Rebel Without a Cause"? Do you think anyone under 50 remembers it? Sure I remember it, but I'm an old fart. How about, it's where they shot the Governator's nude scene in the first "The Terminator"?

Actually, I'm so old, that I think of the Griffith Planatarium first as Jor-El's house on Krypton in the first episode of the George Reeves "The Adventures of Superman".

But by all means visit it. It's just had a multi-million dollar renovation, and it's all spiffed up and super looking. That great copper dome will look all coppery and pretty for at least another couple months before it turns it's usual green again.

Mermama said...

It must be some summer solstice mojo, but I was just talking about Bob's this very day and wondering if it was still there. Haven't been to LA in some 10 years and I can still remember the fries with a side of blue cheese dressing... thanks, Ken! for the walk down memory lane.

The Crutnacker said...

In all fairness to Matt, you did mention Chinatown, so perhaps he thought the door was wide open.

Or perhaps it was Bob's Big Boy. Bob might be an illegal immigrant because he changed his name to Frisch's Big Boy when he moved to this area of the country.

Justin said...

Hmmm. In fairness to Matt Bailey, someone whose favourite book is Harry Potter and favourite movie is The Matrix might be forgiven for not grasping the thread topic.

Soms said...

I am South Africa. We are currently experiacing winter and boy is it cold on this side.This year the weather is much colder than the past few years due to a few earth challenging disasters (4 those who watch the news)...I enjoyed your site ..........boy I wish I was in LA this year......

DodgerGirl said...

Summertime in L.A. means Hollywood Bowl time. Ah, the joys of stacked parking, random wine bottles rolling down the cement stairs and an entertaining musical performance.

Teddy said...

I used to live on Cahuenga right near the Bowl. Many was the time that I would walk out of my apartment in the morning to find random wine bottles sitting on my front step. Empty Sociables boxes, half eaten brie wheels, and the occaisional mid-level studio exec were also strewn about.

Anonymous said...

By the "Wilshire Incline" I assume you mean the ramp at the foot of California St., a block north of Wilshire. And your advice is correct: the view while driving down the incline is one of the solid classic Southern California sights.

Anonymous said...

But please tell visitors to avoid the Pantages end of Hollywood Blvd. at all costs. I walked around before a Wicked performance last weekend and was saddened by the crumby seediness.

Good Dog said...

There's always Pinks - found wherever drunken starlets are clambering awkwardly out of their SUVs.

Paul said...

Nice roundup, especially the Metro. I purposely avoid living on the Westside just so I can use the Metro. I can't wait for them to expand it further.

But don't tell people to go to Pinkberry. It only makes them think we're insane for liking that paint thinner yogurt.

lady macleod said...

very nice little tour guide. congratulations on being a Blog of Note. Nice blog, and hello from Northern Africa. I lived in L.A. for a couple of years, it is a fascinating city.

Erin Murphy said...

I'd have to include a visit to Sprinkles Cupcakes on little Santa Monica in Beverly Hills. Nowhere else can you wait in line for an hour with the rich & semi-famous to buy a $3.25 cupcake! Although the red velvet cupcakes are worth both the wait & the price.
The J. Paul Getty in Malibu is my favorite, but you need to make reservations since the remodel.

Brian Howe said...

Hey, this guy from the Chicago Tribune,
Michael Phillips, sounds like he's been reading Ken's blog, too.

Here's his comment on the flick Evan Almighty:
"You know what Evan Almighty needs? Jokes. That's what it doesn't have. Jokes are valuable in a comedy.

DC said...

It makes me feel pretty good that I've done a lot of the things on your list, Ken. But it also gave me a lot of great things to check out as well in this metropolis!

This is a great blog and I'm happy I stumbled upon it today via the Blogger site! I'll definitely be back!

Anonymous said...

what about the witche's house in Beverly Hills?

IQCrash said...

I've lived in LA all my life, and haven't even seen half the stuff you're talking about.

To quote the cinema epic Mr. Deeds:

The sights are great.
I've seen the sights.
I love the sights.
Let me show you a Los Angeles most people will never see.

nocturnation said...

Phillipe's! I love Phillipe's, although it's tough to convince even native Angelenos to venture that close to downtown with me.

If you do make it to Griffith, make sure to stick around for the documentary about the recent renovation (Civil Engineers do it in the dirt, indeed!)

Other activities to consider:

Pancakes at The Griddle

Take the drive from N. Hollywood to the Pacific on Mullholland

Visit the historic L.A. street lamp "museum" located in the parking lot of the Rite-Aid just south of Sunset on Vermont

Eat at Yamashiro's for overpriced, underwhelming sushi served with a spectacular view of the city.

Drag the strip of Santa Monica between Doheny and Fairfax and marvel at the sheer number and variety of 18-30 men holding hands with other men.

I love this city.

fj said...

Is it too early to start Ken's Mayoral campaign?

Lairbo said...

Thanks, Ken for the reminders. Ah, Phillipe's...

Baseball just doesn't sound right unless Vin Scully's calling it.

A big, me too, to nocturnation's vote for Yamashiro's (and your critique is right on target).

For a view from the other end of town, try Gladstone's for Fish at the end of Sunset; you don't go for the food but there is worse.

Yer all makin' me homesick for the Southland.

Mike Barer said...

I think of Phil Spector as our "OJ"

D. McEwan said...

I think of OJ as our OJ, but Phil Spectre of Death is welcomed into LA's large Pantheon of the Rich & Homicidal.

Don't park AT the Hollywood Bowl. Park at one of the free, uncrowded Metro Red Line parking lots, (For me, the North Hollywood Station), take the Red Line to Hollywood & Highland (10 minutes from North Hollywood.), and then walk up Highland three blocks to the Bowl (Yes, I know I used the W word. Walking is NOT illegal in Los Angeles.) After the show, when you're tired, the walk back is downhill, and you'll be Red Lining back to your car while the people who parked at the Bowl are still mired in the traffic jam.

This native Angeleno uses the subway all the time. I haven't parked at the Music Center in 6 years.

Bizzy Girl said...

Been to the Chinese Theatre and put my hands in Ms. Monroe's prints. Exhilarating indeed, but MAN why didn't someone tell me Trigger was there too??? Dang it I'm horse-kicking myself for missing that one...

Cathy Krasnianski said...

Sir George's! Ah... What memories that brings back.

The only place you neglected to mention is Pinks, where I could swear the hotdogs there are encased with condoms purchased from Condom-Nation!

VP81955 said...

I love Los Angeles, and in a few years when I'm of sufficient age (and providing I have enough money), that's where I want to spent my retirement years. That may sound a bit weird, but I'm an urban person and L.A. has so much going for it as an economic and cultural center. I want to thrive on its energy.

Dwacon said...

Um, how dare you leave out having a beer and gourmet burger at Father's Office in Santa Monica?

What kind of tour guide are you?

Paul Duca said...

Doug...has Tallulah ever been on the subway,?

Tallulah Morehead said...

"Doug...has Tallulah ever been on the subway,?"

You can't be serious. I travel ONLY in my Lincoln Incontinental, chauffeured of course. REAL stars NEVER drive themselves.

Cheers darling

Anonymous said...

Among best things to eat in L.A., try a hot pastrami at Johnny's. It's a hole in the wall on Washington Place and Sepulveda Blvd. If pastrami ain't your thang, then go to Tito's tacos just up the street. Killer tacos.