The Handful of Things I Managed to Do in L.A.

While I know Los Angeles isn’t known for it’s public transportation, I thought I’d give the train a try. My first stop was the science center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor, which has been on display there since October.

Slant ViewI love space. I have always loved space. I am unable to understand how other people cannot love space. The exhibit on the shuttle program is really interesting, and does a good job highlighting just how difficult and dangerous space travel can be, and how unstoppable the drive to explore remains in spite of those challenges. A few years ago I started writing a play about the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and seeing the Endeavor in person made me want to rush back to my computer and start writing again. I overheard one of the employees giving a demo on the effects of pressure to a group of school kids.

Upon revealing what extreme pressure can do to a marshmallow, one of the kids yelled out, “That’s magic!”

“It’s not magic,” she replied, “It’s science!” Indeed it is.

Fashion AlleyAfter the science center I took the train to downtown, where I wandered through the jewelry district, the historic district, and eventually the fashion district. Within the fashion district are long pedestrian streets full of stalls. There are shoes and hats and sunglasses and absolutely everyone is speaking spanish. Mannequins form lines with their butts sticking outward to show off the designer jeans. The butts are all the same: perfect, round, bubbles. After a while their uniformity began to make be uncomfortable. I don’t have a bubble butt. No one does. Not like these anyway. But they were everywhere. It was like I was being watched. Stop looking at me, mannequin-halves. You can’t make me into one of you. I won’t join your bubble army.

I was getting tired, but felt my L.A. trip wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Hollywood. I looked up the location of the famous Chinese Theater (the one with the handprints in the sidewalk), and hopped on the train again. I got off in tourist-central, where everything you’re told about Hollywood happens for your amusement in the span of four city blocks. A guy dressed as Ironman offers to take a picture with you for five dollars, and a group of what appear to be mennonites sing in a choir on the corner while passing out fliers asking you to turn to the Lord.

TCL Chinese TheatreAfter some good people-watching, I get to the theater. Formally Grauman’s Chinese Theater and later Mann’s Chinese Theater, the building is now TCL Chinese Theater and is currently under construction. In addition to the disappointing change in brand, the Theater is temporarily closed and the entire front of the building surrounded in construction fences that fully obscure any view of the famous footprints. Better luck next time I suppose.

At this point I still hadn’t seen the big Hollywood sign, and I spot some hills in the distance that look promising. My feet hurt, but I am willing to go at least two blocks in search of a good view. I am able to get a partial viewing, but determine that a better look will be an un-walkable distance away. I head back to the train station, satisfied enough with my accomplishment.

On the way a pair of Germans in a convertible pull over and ask me if I know where the Hollywood sign is, and I relate the information I gathered some 90 seconds previous. I am a regular magnet for lost tourists when I’m traveling. I think it’s because as a tourist myself, I am likely to be frequenting the same general areas, and maintain a fairly relaxed disposition. As a pickpocketing deterrent, I try very hard to maintain the appearance of knowing what I’m doing and where I’m going. Put together, it makes me a convenient and approachable person who seems like she knows the answer to your question. And I usually do know the answer, like with the Germans in L.A., of the Brits on the San Francisco cable car.

I called it quits after that, knowing that I was going to be hiking in Griffith Park the next morning with my recently arrived sister (more on that in the next post). I actually had a lot to do on my L.A. list, and I didn’t get around to most of it. Something about the smog, the traffic, and the fact that everyone I talked to who lives there hates it made me less enthusiastic about exploring the city. I’ve lost a lot of friends to Los Angeles. I majored in drama in college and so many of my fellow actors moved down to make their dreams come true. Many are doing just that, and I’m happy for them, but I don’t want to be one of them. I suppose I didn’t want to see much of L.A. because I didn’t want to get tricked into liking it. Or rather, I didn’t want to get tricked into moving there and tolerating it like so many seem to do. I added Randy Newman’s “I Love L.A.” to my road trip playlist, but I just can’t seem to get into it. I’ll keep it on there though, in hopes that it will become more appealing as I move east. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and hopefully that includes L.A.