Saturday, May 16, 2009

What to see and do in LA

It’s a slow day in LA. Kiefer Sutherland is charged for head butting someone. Ho hum. 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 fired local news anchor Paul Moyer 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 stuffed you in a toilet are there to terrorize you again.

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 a 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.

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.

18 comments:

blogward said...

Greasers - now there's a word you don't hear much nowadays.

Doktor Frank Doe said...

I thought China-town was in Orange County boxed in there between the 22, 605, 405, 5 freeways? No? If not then what the hell is that down there???

The Minstrel Boy said...

don't forget roscoe's chicken 'n' waffles, or pink's hot dogs.

those are must go stops when i'm in l.a.

A. Buck Short said...

Here in Dallas, we used to have a Kip’s Big Boy on Northwest Highway, with the same statuary. The reason I think they might have called it Kip’s was that, in Texas, “Bob” is only the second half of a name. Like most of America, we still have the Sonics drive-ins with curbside service. I’ve gone, but never totally enjoyed a meal, being so conflicted about having to tip at a fast food joint, but how could you not? At least until a bunch of ‘em added the drive-thru.

When we out here in the boondocks hear “La Brea Tar Pits,” in LA, we just think Brangelina had come up with another classic name for their latest adoption. You will have to admit that, even millennia ago, those Tar Pits had the foresight to choose an excellent location, right there on Wilshire.

A few more stars’ homes recommendations. After SPECTOR, pop in on another one of the 5 LA crime families, SMERSH (only the Russians could come up with an actual spy organization with a funnier name than anything Maxwell Smart could devise), where another evil genius shot a different actress , because she wouldn’t give him a Blofeld. Oddly this one was turned off because the prick didn’t have any hair.

Then take the 110 south from Alhambra past the Santa Monica Freeway to Mt. St. Mary’s College and tour the Doheny Mansion. Bowl a couple of strings with Daniel Day Lewis; take part in a grisly, raucous, yet laugh-filled murder where hijinks ensue. Proceed in a southwesterly direction to Hebrew Union College; get the name of a good lawyer; continue southwestward on to USC and take a meeting with a recent film school graduate interested in shooting either a road picture or documentary based on all of the above, starring Jason Biggs. Then take the San Diego Freeway to the 101 and follow it north to Neverland Ranch for a combined play date and bankruptcy auction, where you can “bid on a kid.” After being surprised to find out what’s in the Neverland “petting zoo,” reverse direction on the 101 and mosey on over to the Spahn Ranch. Then it’s south from the 101 down the most ironically evil-sounding canyon you can find (Benedict) to the sites of the Tate-LaBianca murders, because one should never forget the classics.

(Incidentally, this is how you can often tell when a film set in your state was either cheated in LA or at least written by a confirmed Angelino; they somehow feel the need to insert the article “the” in front of the number of most major US highways.)

These blogs of yours are always a treat. Did I miss a tour of other famous LA filming locations (beyond studio lots) with that unique Levine take – or can we look forward to something like that?

Finally, is it just me, or do the Tamil Tigers sound like a AAA club that plays in a park on a narrow strip of land called Swat Valley, because in this economy, major corporations remain circumspect about paying millions for naming rights at the same time they’re begging for a bailout?

Jack Ruttan said...

I love L.A. Though when I was there I was riding the bus to get to places, like in "Speed."

But had a nice place to stay, with friends in Westwood. Basketball in the atrium, and lots of good weed.

John said...

I always wondered how the dinosaurs were dumb enough to get past the fences and into the tar pits. I blame the L.A. school board.

The Lever Brothers soap factory may be gone, but the Budweiser brewery off the 405 lives on. Complete with a Motel 6 right across the street. The perfect vacation spot for those who think staying in downtown Las Vegas is too high class.

As for The Grove, Main Street USA probably never thought to inlcude the topless male models standing at the front entrance to the Abercrombie & Fitch store, right next to the trolley ride entrance, during the Christmas shopping season (insert obligatory Carrie Prejean-related joke here).

Tim W. said...

People say I look like Ronald Coleman.

Ronald Coleman said...

People say I look like Tim W.

Desi Arnaz said...

Goddamn it, does anyone have a place where I can crash for the night?

Phil Spector said...

Desi, you can stay at my place. I won't be using it.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Drive to the Slauson Cutoff. Stop. Get out of your car. Cut off your Slauson. Get back in your car...

Tom Quigley said...

Taking the curves going west on Sunset near UCLA at breakneck speeds always seemed to impress any passengers I had in the car who were visiting from out of town -- if they didn't soil themselves first...

A. Buck Short said...

Back from brewery tour. Yeast infection.

Ronald Colman said...

Who's Ronald Coleman?

VP81955 said...

Taking the curves going west on Sunset near UCLA at breakneck speeds always seemed to impress any passengers I had in the car who were visiting from out of town

Assuming they had never heard Jan and Dean's "Dead Man's Curve" (written by former KFWB jock Roger Christian) or are familiar with the life of Mel Blanc.

Incidentally, Jan Berry's severe accident did not occur at that infamous spot; for more on that, and the song, go to http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/deadman.asp

wv: "diateam" -- a bunch of first-class doctors seeking to cure the disease plaguing Mary Tyler Moore, myself and millions of others.

Tom Quigley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Quigley said...

VP81955 said...

Assuming they had never heard Jan and Dean's "Dead Man's Curve" (written by former KFWB jock Roger Christian) or are familiar with the life of Mel Blanc.I knew that Dead Man's Curve was supposed to be one of the curves on that stretch.... Telling my guests would depend on whether or not I wanted to deal with mass hysteria while I was driving...

wv: milin -- how many dollars I'd like to sell a screenplay for...

danrydell said...

Runyon Canyon is one of my favorite places in L.A. Great view of the city. Great place to hike.

I think if you're any kind of movie buff, you have to at least drive by the Sherman Oaks Galleria.

Then to John Marshall H.S., which was used in everything from Grease to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Pretty in Pink and back again.