I know I do a lot of talking about leaving L.A. which I would love to do, not because I hate L.A. but because I cannot sit still. I am bored. I need a change of scenery and world travel (a former-hobby and life's ambition) is a temporary impossibility. Trust me, if I could afford it, I'd be raising Archer on the Orient Express, out of a suitcase, and English would not be his first language. In dreams, perhaps but this is reality. The reality is here and now: Los Angeles, the most misunderstood city in allllllll the land.
This month will be my seventh anniversary here. Seven years. Eight apartments. All but one in Hollywood. West Hollywood. East Hollywood. Hollywood. The magic place where the actors look like bums and bums are selling their homemade films on the sidewalk. The magic metropolis where everyone is famous and no one asks for an autograph. The wasted wonderland where husbands get carjacked and the people stop to look for cameras.
Welcome to MY city and if you hate it here, go home.
Los Angeles is the easiest city in the world to make fun of and every time I leave, everyone does. It doesn't matter if I'm in San Diego or New York or Whereversville.
"You live in L.A. I HATE L.A."
"How do you STAND it."
"It's just so fake and everyone has boob jobs and the TRAFFIC."
Los Angeles is the "joke-about city" the place everyone can hate together. People seriously bond over their Los Angeles loathing and I'm going to go out on a limb dot com to call everyone on their shit-talking and workshop L.A.'s busted image.
Because I have yet to read anyone blogging about how cool and down-to-earth Los Angeles is, I'm going to go ahead and do that. Not because I'm annoyed at the fact L.A. bashing is about as obvious as Bush-bashing (the president, not the pubes) but because the people who come to L.A. as tourists go to all the wrong places. In all fairness, that is nature of "the tourist". What I like to call Eiffel Tower Syndrome, a terrible disease.
There are two kinds of people in this world, the kind that visit the Eiffel tower when in Paris and the kind who stay as clear away from it as possible. I like to think of myself as of the latter and hope that if you, dear reader ever come to Los Angeles to visit, you will put forth some effort to look a little deeper. Los Angeles may have thick, botoxed skin but there is something going on below the surface. A lot of something, even.
And so I am including the following list of places NOT TO GO if by chance you ever decide to visit us. The following places are full of people NOT from L.A. and therefore give us a bad rap. The following places are full of TOURISTS. Attempt them and be disappointed.
And so, Do Not Go Here:
Melrose (between Fairfax & La Brea) is the most popular destination for tourists and teen girls driving up from San Diego. I know because many a summer me and my girlfriends hopped in my cabriolet convertible and headed to Melrose for cheap shopping and platform shoes. People who live in L.A. do not shop there. Shit is cheap and about as ghetto as these finger nails and if you're looking for celebrity sightings, the closest you're gonna get is Ice T's wife... She hangs out in front of the Subway.
2. Hollywood Blvd, Walk of Fame/Hollywood and Vine/ Graummans Theatre
I suppose it's cool to step on Mel Gibson or take a photo next to Shirley Temple but other than that, the walk of fame is home to every runaway in North America and they all camp out with their dogs and beg for money. It isn't glamorous, people. Hollywood Blvd is the armpit of Los Angeles so do a drive-by if you must and call it a day. I'm sure Hollywood and Vine was a beautiful, classic location in the thirties but these days it's busting with broken souvenirs and broken noses.
3. Map of the Stars
If you read this post you will know, the map of the stars is about 30 years outdated. Why the fuck bother?
4. Venice Beach
You can buy your bong elsewhere, trust me.
5. The Hollywood Sign
You cannot actually go to it. Not like they did in that episode of 90210. You can see it from anywhere south of Sunset. Spending a day trying to get the perfect photo in front (Beachwood would be the place, although Hollywood and Highland has a very tacky walkway where you can pose in front of a giant griffin and see HO WOOD in the background. Nice) is a waste of time when you could be really exploring the really great nooks and crannies of L.A.
6. Rodeo Drive/Beverly Hills
Beverly Hills is so over. No one goes to Spago anymore and Rodeo Drive is a joke. No one shops there except the people that think people shop there. Know what I mean? The paparazzi doesn't even drive by anymore, too busy hiding out behind Mary-Kate Olsen's robes on Robertson. I guess if you feel the need to pop into Gucci or have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory, please by all means do so, but contrary to popular belief, that is NOT experiencing L.A. L.A in the movies, maybe. Indeed there is a difference.
7. Sunset Strip
It smells like beer and exhaust. The Rainbow Room is full of sorority sisters and just because River Phoenix died in front of the Viper Room does not validate it's existence. The bands that play there usually suck. Same goes for The Roxy and The Whiskey. In the 80's they really rocked. Now? The only good show I've seen in the past 7 years was the 3rd annual Air-guitar championship.
8. 3rd Street Promenade
It may be by the beach but the beach isn't much to look at here and the stores are bo-ring and the only think worth seeing is the one-man-band and his skills as an engineer. He has somehow rigged a mouse-trapesque concoction of guitar, drum, and various utensils and is famous for his twist on "Secret Agent Man." Yes, that's right, the rocking Chinese man and his band of one sing "Secret Asian Man" like nobody's bid'nis.
Okay, scratch that. You should totally go to 3rd Street Promenade.
9. The Grove
It's a mall with a trolley and a Mac store and everyone who works there is an asshole. I mean... NO WONDER YOU HATE US!
10. Hollywood & Highland/ Kodak Theatre
Once a year the Kodak theatre is a glamorous Oscar-hosting piece of architectural ass. On every other night, it's part of a really tacky mall. A mall that is currently home of the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. That is all.
you should go here:
1. Runyan Canyon
Sure it's a dog park and a hiking trail but it's so much more. Once Errol Flynn's debaucherous estate, it now belongs to the city and is open from dawn till dusk (you can break in after hours, if you desire and hike the trail with a flashlight and a bottle of wine. Creeeeepy.) Runyan boasts hidden parks and mysterious gullys as well as a run-down tennis court a la Great Expectations and just about every celebrity in town. If you hike Runyon canyon, you will see movie stars and will also overhear stories about them you wish you didn't.
(Enter Vista or Fuller, above Hollywood Blvd)
2. Larchmont Village
By far the quaintest, coolest, bestestest block of shopping and happiness and I'm not just saying that because I live three blocks away. Please visit the antique guy on the corner. He has a whimsical story for every piece he is selling and has photos of my dogs in the window. Larchmont also boasts the best children's clothing store in the world, Flicka and the greatest pizza place (Village Pizzaria) in the city.
Larchmont Blvd. Between 3rd & Beverly
3. The Cinerama Dome
By far the coolest movie theatre in the world. Not only is The Dome of historical and cultural significance but there is no cooler place to see a movie.
Sometimes the director will show up and say hi, or the editor, or the key-grip or whoever. Movies look and sound amazing and everyone claps at the end of the movie and stays through the final credits because likely, the people watching the film helped make it.
You can even grab a cocktail in the lobby of the box office while you wait.
6360 Sunset Blvd (next to Amoeba, so you can get your rare EP fix)
4. The Walt Disney Hall, MOCA, Downtown
Buy tickets in advance as they sell out pretty quickly. The L.A. Phil is well, the L.A. Phil (I'm married to a classical musician so I don't want him to make fun of me for trying to reference something I know very little about, but...) and the Frank Gehry designed Disney Hall is unlike anything you have ever experienced, unless you have been to Bilbao. Regardless, it is a beautiful place full of beautiful sounds. Stop by MOCA on your way over (located across the street.)
135 N. Grand, Downtown
5. LACMA/LA Brea Tarpits
I have lived most of my L.A. life down the street and have spent many a day cruising the halls of LACMA and the Tar pits (Page Museum.) The park is perfect for a picnic and rolling down the grassy knoll on your head. The permanent collection is as good as the temporary collections and the Page Museum has been a fave since I was a kid.
5905 Wilshire Blvd
6. Micelis Restaurant
The first Italian restaurant in Los Angeles, Micelis is the most charming little place in the city. Food is cheap and the waiters have been there since the Ice Age. Pianists serenade while you eat and servers sing along. A bass player joins him/her on Fridays and the second Tuesday of every month, the most amazing 167 year-old woman comes to play. Miceli's is old Hollywood. The real deal. I would happily live there if I could and Archer and I could run a coat-check.
1646 Las Palmas (Just below Hollywood Blvd)
7. The Getty
The permanent collection is mediocre but the experience is awe-inspiring. The architecture. The garden. The view. If you are a photography fan, the photography exhibits are always gorgeous. I have spent many an afternoon rolling around in the grass, above the world.
8.The Burgundy Room
One word: Torrance. He's the doorman and he has been there since always. Do not be intimidated by his stature. He has lived, man, and has the stories to prove it. He also reads Dostoevsky in his director's chair out front and knows every patron by name. I will always have a soft-spot for Torrance. He has counseled me on many occasions and let us smoke in the bar even when I wasn't allowed to. Ask Torrance (very nicely) to sing you song and you will be blown away. I promise.
I haven't been in a few years and hear it gets really packed so go on a Monday or a tuesday. At midnight the girls set the bar on fire.
1621 1/2 North Cahuenga (Between Sunset & Hollywood Blvd)
9.Hollywood Forever Cemetery
The old movie stars may be dead but in the summer, they materialize before you. Every week movies are shown in the cemetery so you can see the stars, among the stars. Morbid and fabulous. Only in L.A. you say? Hell yes.
10. The Hollywood Bowl
Where else can you see Belle and Sebastian play with the LA Phil? Bring a bottle of wine and a bag of food, Eat, drink, share your cheese with the couple in front of you. Good times. Good times.
City of Angels, I got your back. Your skinny little pint-sized back AND your front.
We may be a freak show but what city isn't?
L.A. may be the whore in a land of prudes, but she embraces her whoredom and does so with grace in True Religion jeans.
Los Angeles has amazing places and boasts great characters. Plastic, some. Trashy, of course but underneath her surface there's a lot of good stuff. There are beautiful places and wonderful things to do. There are places for kids to play and some of the best dive bars in the world. There are doormen who sing and old ladies who rock-out and cemetery picnics in the summer.
I invite you to look a little deeper. Yes, I said deeper because we aren't all plastic. We're paper too.