Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Los Angeles

So after a great couple of days in San Diego, we loaded into the rental car and headed north to L.A. We checked into this cute boutique hotel in the Fairfax district called The Farmer's Daughter and prepared for a couple of days running around this sprawling city.

Kelley: On the first day we hit all the tourist spots just to check them off the list. We drove through Beverly Hills and had a poolside drink, then continued down Sunset Boulevard and into Hollywood to see the walk of fame. It's one of those things they say you have to do but really, just don't. It is crawling with the worst kind of tourists. Chris was not having it, so we left after a couple of pictures and headed to Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. The fried chicken definitely lives up to the hype. So yummy!

Chris: Hollywood Boulevard is indeed a nuisance, down there with Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco and Chicago's Navy Pier. And the walk of fame becomes a joke when you see some of the names and realize it must only take a publicist and fifty bucks to get on it. Still, plenty of folks are smitten by it all, including the teenage girl who was camping out across the street from Grauman's Chinese Theatre ahead of the premiere of "The Hangover" that night.

Kelley: Next up, I wanted to see a movie at one of the state-of-the-art theaters, so we headed over to the famed Cinerama (now Arc Light). The sound system and digital picture were good but I wasn't blown away. I guess we have pretty good theaters in San Jose.

Chris: They weren't showing "Up," so we went with "Angels and Demons," which didn't help the experience any.

Kelley: After a day of being in the car, Chris and I realized L.A. really is a town of drivers. Unfortunately, it was driving us crazy (no pun intended). So we opted to walk the two or so miles to Barney's Beanery, a bar in West Hollywood with a lot of history. It once was the last stop for travelers on Route 66 and a hangout for old movie stars such as Clark Gable and Clara Bow and, later, for rockers Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. More important, it was very un-L.A., and after a day of valet parking and an "are you on the list" type of a scene, it was exactly the place we needed to unwind.

Chris: I forget the details, but the bar's collection of license plates purportedly began during the Depression. If a customer could not pay for his meal, he left the plate as a sort of collateral. Now, a cup of chili was probably a nickel, and car considerably more, so I'm missing something. But it was all very interesting. And the three-dollar home brew very tasty.

Kelley: The next day we headed to Venice Beach. Of all the places in L.A., it is the only neighborhood in which I could see myself living. The beach is just a few blocks away and the houses that run along the canals are full of charm and character. The beach cottages are great, but some of the modern architecture is just spectacular. I think some of my Dwell magazines have even rubbed off on Chris.

Chris: I had no clue about Venice, and what a surprise! Kelley definitely has opened my eyes to the world of design. I often still don't know what I'm looking at, but I like what she likes, which certainly is good for all involved.

Kelley: From there we decided to take part in one of the current local trends: the Kogi BBQ truck. L.A. is known for it's taco trucks, but this one is getting a lot of attention in part because it serves great food but also because every day it sends out its location via Twitter. We began following the trucks' feed and decided to hunt it down using the GPS on the iPhone. We found it in Santa Monica with a line about 30 minutes long ... but it was so worth the wait.

Chris: Korean short rib burrito = soooo good. Listening to two studio dorks in line behind me gushing about how some new script is "so Aronofsky" = less so.

Kelley: Later that night we went to the hipster-esque neighborhood of Silverlake to grab dinner at The Kitchen. Then off to bed for an early morning of hiking Runyon Canyon.

Kelley: Runyon Canyon is in the Hollywood Hills amid homes owned by the young and famous. We thought this might be the spot we would spy our first credible celebrity, but it didn't happen. Instead there were dogs everywhere (accompanied by their celebrity dog walkers) and young wannabe actresses sprinting off those last two pounds. We had no idea it was actually a heart-pumping, sweat-inducing trail, but the views from the top were worth it and it was nice to escape the concrete jungle for a few hours.

Kelley: After the hike we cruised Beverly Boulevard so I could peruse the design and furniture shops before ending up at Barney's again for the first game of the NBA finals.

Chris: We passed on Scott's offer of $175 tickets to Game 1, in favor of watching among the Lakers fans. The crowd was largely into it, though not as much as I expected, with a few folks interested only in being seen; and after L.A.'s easy victory broke out in chants of "Olé Olé Olé!," apparently the custom. Also, it is here I spotted our first celebrity (such as he is). Gregory Smith was familiar from the Mel Gibson movie "The Patriot" and, more so, from the old WB series "Everwood," which, at the risk of opening myself to ridicule, I used to enjoy. (I remember stumbling upon it in the UK, where it was less imaginatively titled "Our New Life in Colorado.") Still, as Kelley reminds me, I've not seen a "real" celebrity if I have to immediately follow the name with "you know, the guy from...".

Kelley: Friday we said goodbye to Hollywood and hello to Burbank, where most of the big studio lots have been since the 1960s. This was the day I had been anticipating the whole trip: Conan Day! I absolutely love Conan O'Brien and, even though I'll admit he hasn't hit his stride yet on "The Tonight Show," when he does there is no one funnier on late night. I always wanted to see "Late Night" in New York but never scored tickets. So after a long wait in line, we entered the new set and I nearly (read: actually) sweated right through my shirt. I couldn't believe Conan was so close to us. It was basically my version of seeing a rock star in the flesh.

Chris: Yeesh, Kel. Get a grip. I, too, am a fan, and this was much more fun than (and without any of the cringing of) my only previous stint as a member of TV audience, at the Jerry Springer show. Conan was good, but we also savored the breaks between segments, when the inner workings of the show were revealed: the powwows about jokes, the hair and makeup touch-ups, and, best, the guy who made sure that Conan had enough Diet Coke in his coffee mug.

Kelley: The rest of the weekend was spent with our good friends Robin and Scott. They are both teachers in Burbank and were nice enough to let us stay at their new home. On Saturday the four of us went to a baseball game at Dodger Stadium. I'll admit that their stadium epitomizes L.A. in the '60s -- very mid-century modern with palm trees. But their fans are absolutely the worst. I've never seen so many people escorted out for unsportsmanlike behavior. I mean c'mon! If you can't handle the competition and opposing fans in next seat, you really aren't mature enough to attend a game.

Chris: You might think Kelley's opinion is skewed by her being a Giants fan. But I'll pile on, too. Certainly the fans' preoccupation with smacking beach balls and looking for fights is annoying. Worse, though, was the sense that any ribbing would be misconstrued as some sort of affront. I've been to Boston for games between the Yankees and Red Sox -- perhaps the biggest sports rivalry in America -- and while there was plenty of trash talk, it was for the most part good-natured. Their fans seemed to realize it's just a game. No doubt there are socio-economic differences that I am too dim to expound on, but Dodgers fans, at least those with us in the left-field bleachers, were much more territorial and less willing to let someone have a go at them.

Kelley: Those Dodger fans definitely left a bad taste in my mouth, but all was forgotten after going to see the absolutely hilarious "The Hangover." So funny!

Kelley: By Sunday we were ready to get home. We'd been away for over a week, and while the pet-sitters' updates on Santo were much appreciated, they made us miss our kitten. We happily said goodbye to the traffic and the push-button-to-start (?!) rental car, and we certainly won't miss their fans. That said, it was a great time cruising around SoCal.

You can go through all our pictures here.

Posted by Kelley at 9:57 AM | 0 comments