Sunday, October 7, 2018

Los Angeles: Acute City of Angles

As of this writing, of any city so far this trip, I spent the longest amount of time in Los Angeles. I didn't really expect to go there - my mind was originally set on immediately flying from Alaska to Asia, but I'm really glad I did. While I'm writing this only a few weeks after the fact, so much has transpired that we'll see what all I can remember.

What drew me to Los Angeles was a generous offer by a couple friends (Sean & Rachel) from Philadelphia of the use of their couch. I figured that would cut costs significantly and it would give me a home base (plus, of course, I'd get to see friends!). I arrived at their spot in Culver City sometime around seven in the morning and, after a quick nap, Sean brought me along to a writers group he had been attending daily. The writers group (Writers Blok, LA) turned into a wonderful therapy session for me - I got a lot of writing done over the next week or so.

After writing (and, I think, another nap), we went out for sushi and walked around Santa Monica for a bit, generally having a good time.

While I'm sure I have specific stories, most of my life was pretty much the same - attend writers group, wander around (or not!) and generally take a bit to just be someplace, as opposed to heading to the next destination. Perhaps we could block this off into "excursions":

THE DOWNTOWN EXCURSION - as many of you have figured out, what I like to do upon reaching a new city is to go visit City Hall. That's precisely what I did here. It wasn't super touristy, but it had a very pretty view of the surrounding city. After City Hall I walked up Olvera Street, got a French Dip at Phillippe's, and wandered around Chinatown, writing a poem in that library. Not quite content, I then wandered down to Little Tokyo, got some ramen, wrote a poem in that library, and just generally looked at things (Central Market, Bradbury Building, etc.). It was a full day, but, since I was out of the house, I went up to attend a taping of a podcast.

THE HARMONTOWN EXCURSION - the podcast Harmontown is a strange beast. It's an explosion of whatever Dan Harmon (creater of Community and Rick & Morty) has on his mind whatever day they're taping. I enjoy the podcast, so I figured I'd attend one of the sessions. Getting to MacArthur Park a bit early, I went to get a beer in one of the closer bars. What an experience - I was one of three patrons there and one of the two bartenders (a woman from El Salvador) was REALLY into my beard. If I weren't my awkward self, this could have turned into a romantic rendezvous. As it stands, however, I am still awkward and, after a few beers (one freebie intended to get me to stay), I left the bar to go to a podcast. There was a stop for booze on the way - a mistake, to be sure).

The line outside had a few folks in it already, including one guy who had answered a post I made earlier about meeting up for drinks. Denver, from Sacramento, traveled around in a converted USPS van - the van had a bed that lowered from the ceiling. We had an alcohol-infused blast before, during, and after the show - though I suspect those caught in our vicinity were less happy about the situation. I eventually made my way home by bus, train, and taxi - the latter being necessary because I fell asleep on the train.

THE SANTA MONICA EXCURSION - was much more tame than Harmontown. Having seen the beach, but not walked on it, I figured I'd go dip my toes in the Pacific. I did the boardwalk and checked out the camera obscura, then popped into a somewhat weird mix of Eagles bar and British pub for dinner and a drink. After that, I hopped to another highly recommended pub, then home again.

THE UCLA EXCURSION - what's been left out of this narrative is a ton of wonderful sight-seeing suggestions by my friend Jen. She suggested I head up here and check out the Hammer museum and UCLA in general, which I did. The museum only had one room open, but that was okay, and UCLA was okay - I suspect I needed more tips or a guided tour or something. I also ate a burger from In-n-Out, which was also okay.

THE HOLLYWOOD EXCURSION - to make a long story short, I took the metro up just east of Hollywood (Vermont & Sunset) and had brunch. Then I walked until I couldn't take it anymore and tried to go to a bar Jen recommended - the three clubs. Unfortunately, it hadn't opened yet, so I went to another spot and made friends. When my feet got itchy, I hopped over to Charles Bukowski's old haunt, the Frolic Room, where I had quite the encounter. Some unpublishable poetry and a subway ride got me back to my living space.

Somewhere after this I moved from my friends' spot to a hostel downtown (in the "arts" district). My next few days were spent wandering around in that area, though on my penultimate night I went back to Culver City to see Sean, to go to writers group, and to grab a drink with my cousin Paul. After wrenching a lot of thoughts around in my head, I figured out that the airfare was about the same to take a trip from Los Angeles to Honolulu, stay a couple days, then continue to Osaka, stay a couple days, then continue to Bangkok. It would cost a bit more staying and eating-wise, but it would cut a twenty-some hour flight into three manageable segments.

On the morning of September 24, on my cousin's recommendation, I went to Randy's Donuts. As there was a huge line, I didn't partake - rather, I went to a nearby Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles and met up with my cousin. After eating, we spent the rest of the morning touring the area around LAX and chatting. Shortly thereafter I was boarding my flight to Honolulu.

Arrived September 15, left September 24. Spent $1,008. Most of that was probably spent on a thousand tacos.

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