Expectantly we waited by the Hilton in downtown San Francisco for the bus to take us to Tom and Nina. A man waited beside us with a large pile of luggage and a backpack which seemed to be mysteriously barking whenever a pedestrian strolled past. On closer inspection the bag contained a small yapping dog. It was to be a taste of things to come. Finally we got on the bus and settled in for what was to be almost eight hours of bus glory. The bus lines which were very cheap ($25 a piece) went on a route which was probably the least scenic route possible. As soon as the hills of San Francisco faded into suburbs we were left with desolation mixed with farmland. The American form of farmland. Endless rows of the same plants and ominous buildings on the horizon. We were treated to an awful screening of an American football film, played at a screamingly high volume. We watched our own movie early on and were luckily only occasionally distracted by the cheers of the onscreen crowd. Emmily was delirious by this point (if not before) with H1N1, or so the constant advertising reminders seemed to indicate. We made one scenic stop along the way at a town which Tom called ‘Cowswitch’. A beautiful parking lot and Burger King amidst emptiness. A fetid breeze carried the stench of what I can only describe as manure gone wrong. The by-product of a type of farming which America does so well. Factory farming. An apparently infamous cattle farm. Luckily for Emmily she was oblivious to all this with sinuses filled with goo. We managed to finish our journey without killing each other or the remaining passengers and found ourselves on the delightful Hollywood walk. The facade of what was probably once a glorious celluloid dream, degraded into a desolate strip of porn theatres, homeless people and us. We were greeted before long by a grinning Tom and made our way into the much nicer West Hollywood.
First mission, food. Tom takes us shopping to 3 separate supermarkets for our needs. This is not unusual it seems, as later on in the journey to get stocks for new years we went to 5 different supermarkets. Oh the many choices of purchasing freedom. Speaking of which booze is scarily cheap, only the best Tequilla for us this New Years. On the eve of 2010 under the full moon the four of us head to Brian’s, a friend of theirs hosting the nights festivities with Nina as his event planner. Tom and Dot are made heads of interior decorating whilst Nina and I head out with Brian and Mark to gather the party goods and make everyone dinner. Helpers soon arrive in the form of Rachel and Lauren and the kitchen is full of gorgeous women and the smell of home-made pizza. The house looks amazing. Balloons wriggle all over the walls and projectors splash light on various surfaces. But my favorite is Brian’s fire bowl. A glorious contraption one not only can stare at for ages but can also be drawn in. Watching the flames play around in your patterns.
After a grumpy day of nursing a new years eve hangover we hit the road to see the Museum of Jurassic technology, with a just a few hiccups along the way.
The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a small and unassuming building in the newly developed area of Culver City. If you did not know what you were looking for you would slip past without a thought. If you did know what you were looking for you would still be in for a surprise. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a museum dedicated to the advancement of knowledge of the lower Jurassic period. A series of exhibits, curiosities and wonders. Dark hallways filled with sepia apparitions, mystical rooms with the sound of bells whispering secrets of knots, sculptures on the eye of a needle, 3D x-rays of flowers, an in-depth look into caravans and the medicinal uses of sucking on the beak of a goose. http://www.mjt.org/
Waking up to another beautiful sunny day. Even when it rains it’s but a gentle mist. Sitting around laptops checking out the world beyond these shores and researching things to do around town. Tom starts noodling on his guitar, Tahn is downloading material for a science showreel and I begin scribbling in my diary as we plan what we will do when Nina gets home from work. Hikes into the Hollywood hills become an arduous joy, a relief from concrete and sirens. Canyons and mountains stretching as far as the eye can see with snowy tops and letters spelling out where we are, in case we forgot. Beautiful views of the sprawling metropolis and polluted sunsets af the most amazing colors. A giant chair at the top affords the perfect photo moment.
Wondering the streets in the gallery hunt. Everywhere takes so long to get to as everyone agrees LA is a car city. So much amazing art, my favorite ones are the video gallery in the design center and this crazy shop called “Soap plant Wacko la luz de Jesus” a bookstore/ gallery/ every kinda nicnak and thing thats amazingly cool. Much secrecy surrounded our next escapade, but the name Steel Panther evoked images which were pretty much on the money. We went to a kitschy bar, The House of Blues, done up in a ‘metal’ motif. Drinks were pricy, but dangerous and the atmosphere was rowdy and slutty. Steel Panther were the epitome of misogyinist hair metal performance. Theatrics, comedy and horribly awesome crudeness. Covers of classics, but mainly their own tongue in cheek take on the genre. Debaucherous fun!!
Early one morning we rose to an epic public transport adventure. Two busses and a train. The last of which had luxurious, hard plastic seats with a thin layer of fabric which we enjoyed for over an hour and a half. Then we arrived at ‘The Happiest Place on Earth.’
That’s right folks…. DISNEYLAND!!! Intense!!! A brightly colored wonderland populated with singing robots and swarms of children, high on dreams and sugar. Everything has sugar in it, even the cowboy barbecue we had for lunch. By early afternoon we were exhausted with the sugar blues. But a ride on splash mountain put the smile back in place and covered us in wet… YAHOO! Nothing like ZipaDeeDooDa to make the world right again.
The next morning Dotahn had a brilliant idea. Let’s get the train back to downtown LA, it’ll be quicker!! Like all good adventures it became all the more complicated and expensive. At least we had a nice long walk.
In the sun.
With no food.
We arrived in downtown LA and spent a day in the galleries. MOCA and the JANM. Where we saw the amazing James Jean and other Giant Robot artists. It was a fantastic show, strange, pretty and inspiring. Then we spent a little time in little Tokyo whilst waiting for Tom and Nina. The gang arrived and we were ashered forth to the most amazing bar we have ever been to. A descent into the 1920’s, iron stairs into a huge steampunk wonderland. A bunker filled with iron-works, copper panels, gaslights and projections of silent films and silhouettes. http://www.edisondowntown.com/
After a huge dinner in Chinatown, Emmily and Nina headed home so they could get up early for yoga in the Hollywood Hills. Tom and I entered a dark and stinky alleyway to a club, aptly named ‘The Smell’. were both met with an interesting show of some young hardcore bands. The best being Death Sentence: Panda! The first flute and clarinet based hardcore band I have seen.
But when one tells of the times in LA ones story must include the UNO wars…
With more days filled with galleries and wandering the streets of LA, unfortunately our time with Tom and Nina came to an end. We had a farewell dinner with the crew, Tom’s brother Sam, his wife Lorraine, Dink (dual income no kids) and Brian.
And yes, there was more UNO
Untill Emmily spilt water over everything
PS: Oh, and there was a ferris wheel.
Farewell LA. For now.