Saturday, October 13, 2012

What to see and do in LA

It’s a slow day in LA.  Lindsay Lohan had a screaming fit with her mother in a limo and was yelling that Mom was on cocaine.  Ho hum. I know this is the time of the year when people start planning their holiday 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.  Same with January Jones... assuming she doesn't hit you and flee.

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 an Umami Burger. It’s all the rage. I have no idea why. You’d think there was cocaine in it.  Lindsay Lohan's mom swears by them. 

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.   Also, plan your trip around my book signing at the Barnes & Noble at the Grove on October 29 from 7-9 pm. 

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 Laker game at the Staples Center.  Oh wait. You'll never get tickets.  Go to a Clippers game.  They're more fun anyway.  

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.


Doug Thompson said...

Paul Moyers was fired??????? I guess I've been away from LA too long. Always thought of Myers as Tom Snyder-lite.

As for Amoeba, I've spent entire days in there, looking through the stacks of vinyl and CD's downstairs and video stacks upstairs. It's the HOLY GRAIL for record collectors, although Rockaway Records in Silverlake is still a damned fine time killer.

I do still miss the Towers store on Sunset down the hill from Spago, but then there's always Book Soup across the street to keep me occupied for at least an hour or two.

chas said...

Hey Doug-You have been away too long. Spago hasn't been on Sunset for quite a while.

The Grove is also good for celebrity sightings. The last time I was there I saw Ken Levine.

Mike said...

The Rainbow Bar & Grill on Sunset.
If Motörhead aren't touring, Lemmy'll be sitting outside. He drinks Jack Daniels & Coke and smokes Marlboros and it's your round.

Michelle said...

What about the spaceship? I guess it's not in the touristy part of LA, but near enough to LAX and the EXPO park

Johnny Walker said...

I think I did most of the things on this list (the none silly ones, anyway). I'd add:

The Farmer's Market: Right next to The Grove, this is the non-sterilised version, and far more interesting as a result.

Paramount and WB do studio tours, which if you're into films and TV (and really, why would you vacation here if you weren't?) are fantastic. Tons of history, and better (if less impressive) than the Universal Back Lot tour for film geeks... Although you should do the Universal tour, too.

Also, try the Truffle Burger at Umami. Yum!

Alan said...

I'm from the MidWest and I remember, years ago, when I told my mom I saw Griffith observatory she asked me if it was named for Andy Griffith. I said, no, Melanie.

Anonymous said...

I'm a second-generation LA native,and I ride the subway all the time. You know those people who serve you your coffee at Stabuck's, your bugers at Bob's, bussed your table where ever you eat, and parked your car? All LA residents who got to work on the subway, and went home again after on the subway.

Try riding the subway at rush hour; it's CROWDED!, and not with tourists. Between the cost of a car, the cost of insurance, the cost of gasoline, and the remnants of the ruined Bush economy, many of us in LA below the 10% level don't even own cars any more.

Other tourist advice. After you've walked down Sunset, try walking down Santa Moncia Blvd. Not only will total strangers offer you rides, they'll pay you to - ah - "hitchhike" in their car.

D. McEwan said...

Sorry, hit wrong button. I wrote the "I'm a second-generation LA native" comment directly above.

maryclev said...

I teach in Brentwood now, not too far from Vincente Market. Stopped by there during lunch and saw Mark Harmon doing the grocery shopping thing.

Not as big a star as Paul Moyers, but you get what you get.

Cap'n Bob said...

Don't forget the Bradbury Building. Nearby is a Farmer's Market, from which you can ride the inclined rail car (Angel Flight?) to a nice fountained area and take a short walk to the odern art museum. Parker Center isn't too far a walk from there.
Better yet, see the Gene Autry Museum of the Old West.

BigTed said...

Go to Hollywood Boulevard, where you won't see any celebrities, but you'll find throngs of other tourists walking with videocameras pointed at the sidewalk, hoping to capture names that appear a billion times on the Internet. You may also run into ratty, unlicensed costumed superheroes and Sesame Street characters, but they're probably too busy getting interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel to notice you. And be sure to go back after dark, where for a $30 parking charge you can stand in line and not get in to a nightclub.

Terry said...

Ken, this is in no way related to your post, but it is a Friday Question that popped into my head while I was watching Cheers earlier today.

I saw the episode where the Carla attacks the obnoxious Yankees fan and it got me to thinking about the role the Red Sox played in the tone of the series. At the time of Cheers, the Red Sox hadn't won a World Series in many, many years. They had the reputation of being losers, yet Boston fans (myself included) loved them anyway, not unlike the gang at Cheers.

So my question is this: if the show had gone on the air after the 2004 Sox win, do you think it would have changed the tone at all? The gang did spend a good amount of time in those early seasons commiserating about the Sox, even if it wasn't related to the main plot of the show.

Anonymous said...

I thought Moyer's contract expired and they wanted to renew it for far less than the reported $2mil he used to make, so he told them to take a hike.

I don't think we'll ever see the likes of a big-name local news anchor again. Local TV news isn't the draw for stations it used to be, so stations will stick with cheaper, replacable talent.

Anonymous said...

Apparently Ken doesn't get out much to some of the places he recommends. Sunset Blvd is riddled with homeless people now-the scary brand-so it's best not to walk there.
The subway's are riddled with gang wannabee's and not many police officers. They own the place, and they know it. Assaults occur there daily that aren't even reported. No place for any tourist to explore.
Parts of the city have changed a lot in the last 5 years. It's not that safe anymore. Average people are struggling.
With that in mind, you forgot to mention a tour of any Gelson's or even Ralphs market parking lot. There you can see middle-aged women parked in their SUV's with all their worldly possessions. Saw one the other day with two cats dealing with their new home: the back seat.

Johnny Walker said...

I walked down Sunset Boulevard twice the other day. Saw some characters, but didn't feel unsafe.

I also checked out the subway. Looked very nice and clean and underused.

One more thing worth seeing: The Book of Mormon. They have a lottery at 5.30pm each day, too.

GC from France said...

While visiting, don't forget to play LA anthem "2Pac - To live & die in LA"

Liggie said...

In many LA-based movies, a character goes to some high-up spot at night and.looks down at the city lights spreading out forever. Is that the Griffith Observatory?

Joey H said...

Don't forget the LA Coroner's Office gift store.

D. McEwan said...

"Anonymous said...
The subway's are riddled with gang wannabee's and not many police officers. They own the place, and they know it. Assaults occur there daily that aren't even reported. No place for any tourist to explore."

I ride the subway all the time. It's clean, full of people af all ages, and I have NEVER seen, encountered nor heard of ANY assaults on it ever. (And if they're not even reported, how do YOU know about them, Mr. Anonymous?)

You really need to get over your pathological fear of poor people, Anonymous. Maybe you could do that after you learn how to type your name. (But isn't it nice to have Mitt Romney guest-commenting?)

Ted said...

Does Rosemead qualify as L.A.? If so, go out there on a Sunday for Dim Sum. Heaven!

RCP said...

A rather sedate option is the walking tour of old movie theaters on Broadway through the LA Conservancy. If you're into architecture and Old Los Angeles/Hollywood, you can enjoy the exteriors of about a dozen theaters - the oldest dating from 1910 (now a storage area behind an electronics store, but the movie screen remains). Access is granted to a few, including the Million Dollar Theater. You'll also visit the Bradbury Building (there's a great scene in The Artist that was filmed on its stairs). If you hunger for more action, rent a car and drive on the freeways during rush hour - if you're not used to it, you'll feel like Dennis Weaver in Duel.

Marco said...

One of the greatest things when visiting LA (for a TV show fan) was the now closed Hollywood Museum. The actual Cheers bar set was placed there (have been sitting in Norm's place and my wife and me were also allowed to go behind the bar. Also sat at Fox Mulder's desk because the set of his office from the X-Files was placed there, too.

Also sat in Picard's captain's chair and saw some Borgs hangin' around the Enterprise set.

To me, this was the highlight of our trip to LA in 2003. Sure, we also went on the Warner Brothers VIP tour and saw the Friends set also also actually wandered the Gilmore Girls set. Saw the set of Kig of Queens and much more.

But the Hollywood Museum to me was the best thing. Too bad they closed (at least that is my information). It was fabulous and the tour guide was witty and nice.

Storm said...

(Homer drool) Gahhhhhh... frosty milkshakes in silver goblets and double cheeseburgers with that AWESOME ketchup/relish goop? HEAVEN. I MISS BIG BOY!

I've been meaning to make a pilgrimage to the Bradbury Building for a while now, to take photos of my 40's costumes. Then I'll head over to Hollywood Forever and pay respects to Vampira, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone, and Adrian.

And hey, if you make burlesque costumes for a living, the Frederick's Museum is the cat's feather-trimmed satin pajamas. Trust.

Cheers, thanks a lot,


Jon Reeves said...

Alas, the Frederick's museum closed around 2005.