I’m just going to put it out there: I bloody loved LA. Many people told me that I wouldn’t. It’s a concrete sprawl, they said. It’s so phoney, they said. Well I couldn’t agree more. There are two things to do in LA: make movies, and go shopping. If you try to make the city into anything bigger or better than that, you will be disappointed. But allow yourself to give in to all that cheese and sunshine and you will be happier than the proverbial larry. I know I was.
Arriving in the States from New Zealand is a jarring experience. We took off from Aukland at 7.30pm on the 17th March, and landed at LAX at 9.30am on the 17th March. Ah International Date Line, you trickster. Effectively, we had three St Patrick’s Days; one in Aukland, one in LA, and one during the 12 hour flight as the Air New Zealand flight crew all wore shamrock hats and there was a Guinness pie option on the dinner menu. But we were pretty smug to get an extra day in California, and we put it to good use.
We started our first day in the city with a coffee from the Dogtown Coffee shop in Santa Monica (the last decent coffee we were to get in America), original site of the Zephyr Surf Shop, where modern vert skateboarding was born. That is the first thing about LA that I fell in love with: as well as being at the front and centre of most popular culture, much of modern counter culture has its roots there too. My brother was obsessed with the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys when we were kids, which is about the kids in the Zephyr surf team, and how boredom and a California drought lead to the birth of modern skateboarding. It’s a fascinating film and I definitely recommend it.With coffee in hand we boarded a brightly-coloured ‘Rasta Bus’ near Santa Monica pier for a driving tour of the city. The only way to see the vastness of LA as a tourist is on wheels, and surrendering the driving to someone else is a definite win in my book, especially when they have good stories to tell and heaps of celebrity gossip.
We drove down to Venice Beach first of all (back past Dogtown coffee) to check out the boardwalk and Muscle Beach.Then it was back on the bus and up the freeway to Bel Air, to check out some seriously leafy ‘burbs, the obscenely massive Spelling residence, and the back door of the Playboy Mansion. No, not a euphemism, we actually pulled up outside Hefner’s back gate and peered inside. Ok, I’ll shut up now.Other memorable moments were Rodeo Drive, including the store that Julia Roberts was humiliated in in Pretty Woman, seeing the Hollywood sign and a spectacular view of the city from the Observatory, and the Groundlings Improv Theatre where my number one hero Tina Fey started out in comedy.
We also swung by the beautiful art deco police station in Beverley Hills, locally known as the ‘Lindsay Lohan Hotel’ (soon to be under Justin Bieber management).I was less thrilled by Hollywood Boulevard, where the Hollyweird come out to play. The Chinese Theatre, the Dolby and the Walk of Fame are liberally populated with more than a few alcohol-scented people in ropey Iron Man costumes charging $10 for a photo.
While walking along the street two girls leapt in front of Chris and started filming themselves twerking on top of one of the stars on the Walk of Fame. Which was, erm, special. I do not understand the youth today. Put your bottoms away ladies.
I think I’ll just hang out with Humph here.But all the weirdness aside, I couldn’t help but love LA. Think about all of the films and shows you have ever loved, the ones that have a special place in your life or your memories. There is a good chance that many of those will have been made in LA. Plus this is the city that Buffy came from. Nuff said.