Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Southern California A Tale of Love and Hate

Installment Two: LA

Ok so now we move on to the Golden State Trip #2: Los Angeles or simply "LA". 

Locals draw fine lines between Orange County (I kind of like the City of Orange - and not much else - in the OC), East County, LA and its varied neighborhoods, the beach cities, and "The Valley", but to everyone outside of Southern California, its all just "LA".  

Me I have always had a total love hate relationship with LA. I ache for it.  I hate it.  LA is more than a place, it is a lifestyle. It is the only place in America where locals name freeways starting with "The".

For most visitors the essential trip to Southern California simply includes a day or two at Disneyland, Universal Studios, and maybe a trip to the beach at Santa Monica.

To me, visiting LA is waiting in line for a chili dog at Pinks. It is a morning spent wandering around the "World Famous" Farmers Market (with slices of pie from Du Pars available 24 hours a day). LA is an afternoon movie at the Chinese Theater, or gumming some mochi ice cream in Little Tokyo.  It is getting lost gawking at the stilt houses in the Hollywood Hills. It is a trip to the LA County Museum of Art and an afternoon at the Autry Western Heritage Museum.

Although nobody back east wants to admit it, LA has damned fine buildings.  I don't mean the modern ego based dreck like the Getty (gee whiz, why couldn't they have left the best last piece of open land in LA open?). Think of how much good the Getty complex could have done if it had been built somewhere where it repaired a damaged site, instead of subjugating a perfect one?  

No, I mean truly LA buildings.  The stuff that only works in Los Angeles.  Roadboy's Law #1: if you can pick up a building and move it from one city to another, and it works, then its a bad building. Buildings should be "of" the place where they are built.

So I marvel at wonders like the LA City Hall, the Mission Inn in Riverside, and the Bradbury Building downtown with it's eerie filtered light "sci fi" victorian steel interior.

Albert C Martin's Iconic LA City Hall

The Interior Rotunda of Riverside's Venerable Mission Inn 

I adore Bertram Goodhue's magnificent downtown LA Library and the Hollywood Bowl.  LA is the Formosa Cafe, the Hollywood Forever Cemetary, and the Observatory in Griffith Park. It is the old Wilshire Bullocks Store, the fountain in MacArthur Park, and the Wiltern Theater. It is arts and crafts houses in Pasadena, and deco masterpieces like the Sunset Tower and the LA Union Station.  To me all of that is truly "LA".

The LA Library

Feel free to blow off a visit to vapid Rodeo Drive (refer to my note about La Jolla in San Diego). Instead go stroll the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica or visit Old Town Pasadena. Go to Venice Beach for an afternoon. I know I'm a hypocrite, I can't handle Mission Beach in San Diego, but I'm somehow just fine with Venice Beach. Go Figure?

Suggestions where to stay: The Checkers Downtown, Rennaisance at Hollywood and Highland, and the Magic Castle Hotel (Hint - it is the only way a non-member over 21 can gain access to the private Magic Castle).

All I ask is that you take some time and decide what the real LA is to you.

Then when you find yourself about ready to scream, point the car north and head for Santa Barbara  Update 2011: See my post for Santa Barbara and eventually William Randolph Hearst's "Castle" at San Simeon.

Roadboys Travels © 2008 / 2011

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