SoCal 2006

What short, strange trip it was. I shall depend mightily on the use of bullets in this review, as I have neither the time nor the inclination to write six drafts in order to fully expound upon all that I witnessed out West. Bulletsâ„¢: tool of the lazy writer!

  • The flight out was alright, if slightly uncomfortable. Foot-wide seats on Southwest, but hey–at least they’re leather, right? Right? I wouldn’t care if the seats were cobbled together from old, burlap sacks if they’d just make them wider, with a bit more legroom than the current “I will be ridiculously uncomfortable for the next six hours unless I’m under 5-foot-3” width.
  • Touched down in LAX and jumped on the rental car shuttle. The Budget shuttle driver offered barely-intelligible advice about navigating LA along the way. I think I heard something about “cats” and “Sunset Boulevard” somewhere during the course of said “advice.” He then broke out a stack of maps and began babbling in my face about something; I assumed he was just offering maps so I took one and he went away.
  • Picked up my phat ride (a Chevy Malibu) at Budget and was off to Hollywood to meet up with my sister at Panavision. Took a brief tour of the facility there (right next to Hollywood High School–graduating self-entitled brats since 1958!); and saw a bunch of different types of cameras, dollies, cranes, brackets, wizbangs, and flux capacitors. Exciting stuff. My sister had to work the rest of the day, so I was off to Hollywood Boulevard to kill some time.
  • Hollywood High

  • I walked the two blocks up to Hollywood Blvd. and turned the corner to see the amalgamation of wackos, tourists, and street vendors lining the sidewalks in front of Mann’s Chinese Theater, the Kodak Theatre (site of the Oscars) and the El Capitan (Jimmy Kimmel’s studio). The nutjobs in costume in front of Chinese theater were everywhere, forcing themselves upon unsuspecting tourists to get their pictures taken for ten bucks.
  • Hollywood Blvd.

  • I walked around the walkways around the theaters and later found three of them (Snow White, Homer, and Chewbacca) sitting at an outdoor cafe upstairs, costume heads off, smoking some butts. I got dirty looks from all three of them when they saw my camera and I figured that unless I wanted to get into a knife fight with a 6-foot-8 tall carpet, I best not snap any shots. I’m thankful there were no little kids there to be disillusioned by the spectre of a headless Chewbacca.
  • Had lunch at a rockin’ joint called Johnny Rocket’s while flanked by a couple of gay men fondling their fries on my left and an incredibly old man with what might be the longest beard I’ve ever seen on my right. My fries were delicious and, as an added bonus, were cooked by guys who were almost certainly illegal immigrants.
  • Hollywood Blvd. takes all of 15 minutes to digest; not quite what you’d expect for such a famed destination/tourist trap, so I was looking for something else to do after lunch.
  • I could’ve driven around West Hollywood for a while, but opted instead to drive up Mulholland Drive, nearly having a car accident 8 times along the way. It then took my full concentration to navigate the 864 hairpin turns up the mountain, but it was well worth the effort in light of the breathtaking (that smog’s a killer) views of Hollywood and Los Angeles in the distance.
  • Hollywood

  • By the time I got done on Mulholland, it was only about 2:30pm. With roughly three more hours to kill, I think I drove from downtown Hollywood and back up Mulholland five times. I certainly maximized my fuel allowance from Budget doing so.
  • After growing tired of the glitz and glamour (read: fat tourists and elderly hookers) of Hollywood, I left town and headed to my sister’s place in Studio City, overlooking the awe-inspiring L.A. River. Said awe was inspired by water the color of split pea soup, with an occasional “island” of garbage bags littered throughout.
  • LA River

  • I enjoyed the River for about an hour and went to take a nap in my car, awaiting what would turn out to be a phat night on the town. I met back up with my sister and company at Panavision and we then headed to the Pig ‘n Whistle restaurant/pub, where my sister’s boss was playing some folk/rock/contemporary, music in concert. Pretty good stuff; check it out.
  • Afterward, we navigated the back alleys of Hollywood to famous Mel’s Diner, where we partook of some beers and darts. We had a good time there, despite getting dirty looks from the illegal aliens manning the kitchen as I walked through it on my way to the bathroom (I own this town, suckas!).
  • Mel's Diner

  • Much of the following Saturday was unintentionally spent sleeping and recovering from jet lag. I woke up at one, yelled out “sumbitch!” and jumped in the shower before saying “so long” to sis and heading back into Hollywood for a quick lunch with Snake Attack and a gathering of bitterly-disappointed Mexican soccer fans (Mexico had just lost their World Cup match).
  • With no time to spare, I left Hollywood and made my way to Marina del Rey with all due speed. I had been lucky with traffic up to this point, but that quickly changed once I came down the on-ramp to the gridlocked 405. I’d be lucky to make the 5pm wedding in time.

  • But, somehow I did and got to my hotel with enough time to shower and shave before driving down the street to a college buddy’s wedding at the ridiculously “ritzy” Ritz-Carlton Hotel on the waterfront. Gorgeous setting for a great wedding and reception. I managed to bust a move on the dance floor, most likely resulting in a series of embarassing pictures being taken (they’ll never see the light of day if I have anything to say about it).
  • Wedding

  • Road-weary and out of gas, I drove back to the hotel after the reception, where I slept for about 2 hours (never did get adjusted to that time change), then spent the rest of the night either tossing and turning in bed or watching Cool Runnings on TV.

    Cool Runnings

  • Eventually got up, did some push-ups, showered, and high-tailed it out of the hotel parking lot to fill up the tank of my rental car with obscenely-priced gas. Then it was off to Budget and the airport as I bade a fond adieu to Southern California.
  • The uneventful flight back was followed by an interminable wait on the tarmac for an hour because Buffalo air traffic control wouldn’t let the plane already at our gate leave. WTF.
  • Arriving home around 10:30pm, I was asleep within 5 seconds of hitting the pillow, already looking forward to the misery of the next day’s return to work.
  • It was an all-too-brief stay but a good one; I look forward to going again and making it over to downtown L.A. I pray I won’t get lost and end up in South Central.

    Boyz n da Hood

With a spectacular wizbang humdinger of a trip coming up in mid-August (my sense of the space-time continuum is in flux at this time), stay tuned for future trip reports.

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