Archive for the ‘May 2010’ Category

Universal City – May 23, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

You know how I said LA is ugly?  You know how sometimes tell the truth?

Spent a bit of the day at Universal City Walk.  You cannot get further away from Venice visually, spiritually or any other “ally” that this place.  It’s a theme park, and what appeared to be a receptacle for all things that bad restaurants have to offer.  There’s a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.  A Hard Rock Cafe.  A Saddle Ranch Chop House.  A Tony Roma Grill (Isn’t he a football player or something?).  Plus the requisite KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Subway etc.  And a couple of chain stores like Nike, Abercrombie & Fitch and Billabong, all with doors flung open and blaring competing bass heavy turbo rock.  I wanted to tell the entire place to turn their music down.  There actually IS a theme park as well as a cinema complex, but frankly we couldn’t be bothered.  We paid and extra $6 for “preferred” parking which was a ride unto itself – 10 minutes winding around in concentric circles only to end up in a spot overlooking the main entrance.  God only knows where one would find the regular parking  – probably about where the parking spot we abandoned in Hollywood was.

Kind of like spending the day at Canada’s Wonderland, only without the rides.  I have officially gone once.  Now I never have to repeat the experience.

There were some amusing things to be had:

We did spend the morning in the farmers market which I will report on tomorrow.  And the afternoon was spent shopping on Melrose which is charming (small boutiques, lots of skull imagery, fun stuff).  All was not lost.  But the “Hollywood” parts of Hollywood are rapidly revealing themselves to be the least entertaining parts for me.  You need to see them once, then never again.  There are too many real neighbourhoods and canyons to explore.

Plus I should do some work too.

Venice Canals – May 22, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

You know how I said LA is ugly?  You know how I lie sometimes?

Well, LA IS ugly, much of it anyway.  And then there’s Venice.

Venice was developed in about 1905 by a guy named Abbott Kinney (one of the main arteries was named after him – it has great little antique stores and coffee shops).  Originally the site was a marsh and the canals were dug to drain it.   Kinney developed an oceanside resort complete with cottages and an amusement park.  The park is gone and several of the canals were filled in, but a few remain and they are one of my favorite places to be.

The main thoroughfare Venice reminds me quite a bit of the Annex, and living on the canals must be somewhat akin to living on the Toronto Island.  Plenty of born and bred Angelinos don’t know that the canals even exist.  The ocean is but a block away, there are no cars on the canals, there are plenty of “walk streets” (no cars on these either) that peg up from the boardwalk to the boulevard.  For  a walker this place is paradise.

Noelle and I went for a jaunt.  The place is normally populated by droves for fearless geese and ducks that were not really in evidence today.

Plenty of charming cottages, plenty of much bigger places where little cottages must once have been, but I suspect there are building limitations as nothing is taller than three stories and mercifully people seemed to have designed their homes to retain the integrity of the area.  Lots of people have kayaks and canoes for their daily (albeit limited) exercise.  I would live here in a minute.  Too bad the smallest cabin is worth over a million dollars.

The boardwalk (we didn’t go today) is a whole other surreal slice ‘o life.  Every old hippie in America must see this place as mecca.  Muscle Beach is here, and all tonnes of street performers and tattoo artists and bad t-shirt vendors.  And miles and miles of pristine beach, all to be experienced amidst the mild fug of good weed.

More adventures tomorrow.  Noelle just checked the weather and it will be warmer where you are than where I am.  Clear skies here though.  I created yet another LA moment for myself while we where whipping up the Pacific Coast Highway towards Malibu.  Top down, windows up, heater on full blast.  Screw you, environment!

More later, love to you all.

Franklin Canyon – May 22, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

So, Los Angeles is not (for the most part) a pretty city.  Mostly strip malls and low rises, very few examples of nice architecture (although there are some beautiful old theatres downtown that I hope to get to photograph later).  That being said they canyons are amazing, and smack dab in the middle of crazy concentrated areas.  I met my friend in Beverly Hills and she told me about Franklin Canyon, which is literally a five minute drive from downtown BH.  There’s a reservoir and you can walk for miles without seeing a soul.  Here are some pix.  I imagine I am going to spend some quality time ghouling around in a few of these.

And if you can’t take that great rural feeling, there’s always the Hustler store on Sunset to restore your equilibrium

My pal Noelle is in for the weekend and I have decamped to a two bedroom condo in West Hollywood while she is here and my poor landlord from Whitley is fixing the broken stove.  I will send some photos tomorrow.  Kind of the apples & oranges of rental living.

Watching Mean Girls and going to bed.

The Getty Museum – May 20, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

So, as you all know I had my meeting cancel yesterday and instead spent the day at the Getty Museum.  One of the most beautiful places I have seen.  The grounds are as spectacular as the collections.


Although frankly, you can’t find a lot of fault with this sort of thing

Did you know that Degas is done in PASTELS??????  I had no idea.

Also, they have a fabulous restaurant which is always a big plus in my books

Soft shell crab sandwich with avocado aoili on panini with shoestring fries.  Mountain view is complimentary.

So whilst traipsing about the museum, I decided to engage in a rousing game of “What Would I Steal?”.  The rules are basic:  In each room you have to pick the item that you would nab for your home viewing pleasure.  There are no limitations on size but you are allowed only one item from each and you HAVE to pick a single item from each and every room. This is more difficult than one might think. Imagine this game at the Francis Bacon exhibit I saw last year.  Imagine a lifetime with a screaming cardinal in your living room.

In some rooms you may want everything, in others you would be hard pressed to live with anything.  (I must say there was one entire wing where I found myself shaking my head in amused disbelief and murmuring gently “Oh, the French”).

This game finds its origins with a similar pastime I spent playing with my sister in our rare moments of childhood civility called “Sears Catalogue”.  As one might assume, you had to go through the Sears catalogue and pick an item from every opened page.  The toy section was easy, but once you traversed into sections such as the dread Women’s Lingerie with it’s medieval beige polyester full body armour the pickings got slim.

Sidebar:  My sister and I used to also steal my well endowed and beleaguered mother’s bras and screech around the house wearing them on out heads like conjoined twins yarmulkes.  Many years later, with biology and genetics being the cruel beasts they are this scenario could possibly be repeated with our own respective undergarments.  Only in my case perhaps being doffed by a smallish rhesus monkey with a very high forehead.  Anyway.

If you are curious my museum winner was the following.  Not sure why, may have been my mood or the day.  Not familiar with the artist and the era isn’t traditionally my fave, but there you have it.

So there’s the Getty.  LACMA is next on the list.

And if those are not reasons enough to visit me in LA, surely this is:

Happy Thursday!


The LaBrea Tar Pits – May 19, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

For Brian, because he asked:

The tar pits, in all of their mastodon swallowing glory.

Things That Are Near Me – May 18, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Pinks:  A hot dog institution whose doors I will never darken

The world’s most terrifying window display

My next new favorite shopping establishment

The much ballyhooed sign

Yeah, this could prove to be a problem.  Five minute walk away.

Proof that I am supposed to be here – hell, I already own property it would seem!

Things that are not near me:

A bookstore.  Seriously.  I have walked/driven over hell’s half acre and have been in some of the finest malls in the land (if there is such a thing) and I have yet to see a single book store.  I know there is a Barnes and Noble in Santa Monica, should I be so inclined to purchase a fine Grisham paperback or perhaps the last in the “Twilight” series (two things easily achieved in any airport) I am fine.  Would that I may want to purchase something akin to literature I may be SOL until July.  Here’s hoping I can still read by then.

The Layout – May 17, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

So, here’s the apartment:

Here’s the lobby:

And here’s the ride:

It is cold and grey here today – probably nicer in Toronto than LA, so the top has remained firmly UP on the ‘stang.  I achieved yet another american milestone and shopped at Walmart today.  I had to buy weights for the boot camp I signed up for.  The instructors were impressed that I showed up in the “rain” which we would probably have described as a light mist.  I feel like an Inuit with a thousand different words for snow – these people simple cannot comprehend precipitation.  The class is held in the park beside the LaBrea tar pits.  Archeologically beyond compare, visually underwhelming.  And a little stinky.

Spent the day wandering, programming my new GPS (I do feel a mild sense of defeat on that one, but getting lost here can be epic) and emailing half the production personnel in the Southern hemisphere.  Off to the unions tomorrow.  I did manage to squeeze in LA moment #2 – I followed a very beleaguered Barney-The-Purple-Dinosaur along Sunset Blvd, replete with head gear, obviously on his way home from entertaining the masses on Hollywood Blvd.   Why he didn’t see fit to remove the headpiece I cannot say, but the visual effect was fantastic.

Hope all is well with you and yours.

Keep the emails coming!


Restoring The Faith – May 16, 2010

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Well, in an effort to start settling in I just came back from a wander to the local farmers market.  And holy hallelujah, it was better than Mecca.  First of all it is about 5 short blocks from the apartment.  And it is huge – about four blocks long, teeming with the best of Southern California agriculture of which there is plenty.  I forgot that the vast majority of produce is grown and shipped from here.  I bought several baskets of strawberries which are organic and local.  I am used to buying “strawberries” the ubiquitous fruit.  Here there are a multitude of varieties and they are all delicious.  I have trounced home with broccoli apples, oranges, lemons & asparagus (all local and organic) plus some wild copper river salmon.  Oddly enough, no pears but they did have artichokes the size of my head.  On the way home I popped by the local coffee shop for a jasmine tea and was served by a young lad so deliciously stoned at 10 in the morning it was a wonder he could stand. Now I am off to the local electronics store to buy the wares necessary for my stay (disposable cell for local calls, small analog phone for my magic jack, maybe a scanner/printer combo).

So, trying to settle in.  I have already been asked for directions, a phenomenon that has occurred every single place I have ever travelled to with the exception of Indonesia (and I was asked for directions in Singapore). I guess my look isn’t really geo-specific.  All I need to complete my establishment as a quasi local is t0 be propositioned by a homeless guy.  And hell, I am a block from Hollywood Boulevard, I should be able to knock that off in short order.

I am also a block away from three of the finest stripper boot stores in greater Los Angeles.  I am sure there will be more on THAT later as well.

Hope everyone is doing well.  Please feel free to inundate me with news from home.  I miss you all.