On Thursday, our first full day in L.A., we took a bus to Hollywood. The weather was cloudy, misty, and cool. In other words, it was ideal for me.
The bus ride was easily 45 minutes long. I was impressed with the overall condition of the buses: clean and new-seeming, all had digital signs and computer-generated voices that announced upcoming stops. The bus voice that morning was Generic Affectless Male, but as the bus lurched onto Hollywood Boulevard, he perked up. "Now approaching: HOLLYWOOD!!Boulevard and La Brea." "Now approaching: HOLLYWOOD!!Boulevard and Vine." We got a tiny laugh out of it, anyway.
Jeff and I exited the bus and I found myself standing on Sammy Davis Jr.'s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The star was directly across the street from the Pantages Theater, which we had come to see. The Pantages Theater is an art deco movie palace, and its lobby is the setting for my portrait of Brian and Katherine. Their first date was at the theater. YES I CAN paint that theater!
The theater was busy setting up for The Book of Mormon, a musical I would love to see, but we were a couple of weeks early for that. I asked one of the workers at the box office if I could peek inside the lobby, as I had painted a watercolor of it recently, but she said, "Sorry! We can't even get in there ourselves." I figured as much. Too bad, but understandable. I took a few shots around the box office.
The ceiling of the lobby features a chandelier suspended from a complex structure like this one. Just amazing craftsmanship.
Every conceivable surface in the lobby was decorated, and the box office area definitely gave us a taste of that. Speaking of taste, how about some breakfast?
Um, that is a red velvet waffle with cream cheese frosting, and believe me, I annihilated that thing. Jeff had a waffle topped with a brown sugar and pecan concoction that tasted like a liquified sticky bun. The food could not have been tastier. The weather cleared dramatically while we ate.
We walked down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, pointing out stars to each other (including Godzilla)...
...and getting accosted at every turn by bus tour huckster guys.
The above mural decorates one of the buildings on a cross-street. It looks alright from a distance, but when I got close to it the painter in me wanted to improve--is there any way I can say this *without* sounding like a jerk?--just about all the faces and bodies. Especially the noses. I'M SORRY.
Kind of fun encountering this place!
This part of Hollywood Blvd was loaded with people dressed up like movie characters and superheroes looking for photo opportunities, including maybe six gone-to-seed Spider-Men trudging about in the noonday sun. While I took photos, Jeff observed a fanfic fantasy: a Johnny Depp Willy Wonka "pointed to the package" of a Matt Smith Dr. Who. He also heard someone call a Catwoman a bitch "but in a friendly way."
We caught a couple of buses en route to our next destination, enduring the requisite, tiresome waits for each one. Then we realized that we had forgotten to see the Breaking Bad art show. We had read about it the week before our trip, and for us this show was unmissable. We hopped off the bus in the vicinity of Beverly Hills, shared an iced tea, and regrouped.
Man-with-a-plan Jeff figured out which buses we'd need to take to get to the art show using his iPhone. It proved indispensible many times during our visit. Yesterday one of my L.A. friends on Facebook said she couldn't believe we managed to use public transportion in this part of the city, describing it as an all-caps BOONDOGGLE. She deserves a Nobel prize for word choice. So thank you and way to go, Jeff, for getting us through the BOONDOGGLE. Let's take another look at Mr. Capable (photo by me, Ms. No-Sense-Of-Direction).
We reached the show by early afternoon. Along the way I snapped a photo of an L.A. business typical of the ones we saw while on buses.
If you study the center of that photo, you'll see a mural that (if you removed the lavender shapes) looks almost exactly like my much-loved Fine Line Design, an art project I did for years with my high school students.
The awesome, often hilarious (and free!) Breaking Bad show was at Gallery 1988 on Melrose. This was a small space that even during a weekday afternoon managed to be filled with young-ish fans. I'm going to post a lot of photos of the artwork now. If you don't watch Breaking Bad, I apologize, and also what's wrong with you?
DING DING DING! Jeff's favorite.
Wow. (Hard to take photos without reflections.)
A watercolor! Ohhh the physical need to paint some BB fan art--it hurt!
Heh! Go Mike!
Oh Jesse. Oh Saul.
I was so glad we turned around and saw this, and so was Jeff. We walked out exhilarated.
And then we had a choice: we could take three or so buses back to the hotel, hang around for an hour, and then take a couple of buses back to the sushi place in Culver City where we had reservations later that night, or we could just go to the sushi place and have a late, late lunch. We opted to do the latter. Bus, bus, walk to the sushi place.
Except the sushi place was closed and wouldn't open for three hours. We were near a small park, a Trader Joe's, a Mexican restaurant, and not much else. We decided to hang around that area until sushi time. We bought a baguette and a jar of cookie butter and had an impomptu picnic under a tree. I've been curious about Trader Joe's cookie butter for months, but the nearest store is in Chicago. I was thrilled to finally try this stuff, and it was a revelation. Imagine the texture of Nutella, but it tastes kind of like gingersnap cookies. Smooth, smooth spreadable cookies. Incredible. We couldn't believe how good it was as we sat on the roots of a big tree, ripping off pieces of bread, plunging them into the cookie butter, and watching the world go by. We were having a summah, in the words of Howard Kremer (a necessary reference I doubt people will recognize, but it's so right on).
Later on we loitered over drinks and guacamole at the Mexican restaurant, wandered around the area finding nothing to do, and called Mom to see how the cats were doing. (They were just fine.)
The expensive sushi experience at K-Zo was "EH, but fun" as I wrote in my little notebook. We went omakase that night, which is where you ask the sushi chef to make whatever he wants, and you eat it until you're full. Our chef was a sweet young man who served us barracuda, prawns, fatty tuna, halibut, crab, and salmon, among other things. Insipired by watching Anthony Bourdain eat it many times on his show and proclaim it a miracle food that tastes like the sea and, like, GOD, we tried uni (sea urchin roe but kind of not, look it up) for the first time.
(ff to :47 to see what I'm talking about.)
Our uni tasted like the sea, all right, but in a way that we can only describe as troubling. And at $10 each for essentially one bite of uni, it was insanely troubling. Looking back on the sushi experience, it was special and an adventure, but oh man, another Five Guys burger would have been twice as satsifying for a fraction of the price.
The chilly breeze (accomanied by a strong and inexplicable stank that smelled like a pig farm) coming off the unseen but nearby ocean made us shiver. We waited an unprecedented amount of time for the first of two buses back to the hotel, where we were more than ready to collapse into bed.
Thanks again or reading! More soon! Please *like* my watercolor page on Facebook! Happy Labor Day!