lost, for a little while


destination: los angeles
June 27, 2011, 12:14 am
Filed under: trips

Vodpod videos no longer available.L.A. Tour, posted with vodpod

This is the reason I came to L.A.

Yeah, I’m not talking about Sunset Boulevard or Rodeo Drive, or even Sprinkles Cupcakes (though my key lime one was divine). I’m talking about Nathan.

This road trip started out as a way for me to finally see all the places in the United States that I’d been meaning to visit, but by virtue of me being too cheap to shell out for hotel rooms, it also became a way to see each (and nearly every) one of my best friends, who have been scattered all over the country since high school graduation. And it’s been such an amazing journey rediscovering how special and uniquely different each of them is. I’m friends with some interesting, amazing, inspiring people.

Nathan and I met when we were both studying abroad in London our junior year of college. He had his lists of all the things he wanted (needed) to see and do in the city; I was trying to wing it as much as possible. Somehow, the friendship worked.

As the video above only hints at, Nate’s a complete ball of energy, always fidgeting, dancing, drumming on every surface possible, and his enthusiasm’s kind of contagious, which is part of the reason he’s so much fun to be around. So, Los Angeles? City of glitz and glam, Hollywood history, palm trees and fancy cars? I could kind of care less. L.A. with Nathan? Now you’ve piqued my interest.

JUNE GLOOM

We got through most of Nathan’s famous L.A. tour that day, but as fun as it was to see the handprints at Mann’s Chinese Theater,

My John McClane impression

the random witch house nestled among upscale Beverly Hills mansions,

I'm baffled by this

and the concoctions at Sprinkles,

Attractive

the highlight, for me, was the Tim Burton exhibit at the LACMA (it actually is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art–go Nate!). I’ve been to plenty of art museums by this point, so I’m a fan when one offers something original and out of the ordinary. The exhibit featured the art of Burton, who’s more known for the movies he creates. Yes, a lot of the sketches, models, and paintings tie in with the characters and stories of his films, but there was also a nice collection of his early work, including stuff he did when he was still in high school. The fun factor here is recognizing hints of his style that would become apparent in his films many years later.

In addition to this, I think the amazing thing about the exhibit is the sheer volume of items there were. It lets your mind switch over from thinking “Tim Burton, filmmaker” to “Tim Burton, artist,” and shows just how much work he puts into each of his creations—including his films. He doesn’t just sketch doodles of his ideas; as the exhibit shows, he often takes his ideas further and makes elaborate paintings, 3D models, and costumes when brainstorming characters.

I guess if you absolutely hate Tim Burton’s style, then the exhibit isn’t for you. For everyone else, it’s a fascinating look at the work of someone who without question creates some of the most unique stories ever.

Sycamore Cove State Beach

Even though we were battling June Gloom—the monstrous haze that seems to descend upon the city of Los Angeles each year around that time—Nate and I decided to try a hike in Malibu. We took the Sycamore Canyon trailhead, and I gotta admit, I was not impressed as we made our way up the hill. The sky was overcast, the surrounding landscape was pretty ho-hum, and I didn’t have high hopes for the ocean view once we reached the top.

I’m sure, ordinarily, it’s stunning, but the water that day was a slab of slate gray below a sidewalk-colored sky. I was ready to chalk the whole thing up to a win for June Gloom, but then, as we sat at the overlook, we saw a pair of dolphins cresting through the waves. Then two more. Then even more. I have no way of knowing what the total was, but it looked like at least a half dozen dolphins swimming around not too far from the shore—more than I’ve ever seen at once from the beach.

So, the hike? Worth it. Especially since, on the way back down, we saw a rabbit and a pair of quail with their tiny hatchlings. (Remember, for me, animals = win.)

On the drive back, we stopped at a farm stand I’d seen on our way out, intrigued by the signs that promised Balsamic Lemonade and Basil Limeade. We sampled both and were won over by the lemonade, which had a hilarious, bitter, anti-L.A. tirade written on the bottle’s label. Check it out: Malibu Monkey Lemonade.

My 2 seconds of fame

One of my solo activities while in the city was to attend a taping of one of the late-night talk shows that are filmed there. Obviously, I wasn’t going to be scoring tickets to Conan last-minute, so I took what I could get and signed on to see a taping of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

In retrospect, I probably should have gone with Jimmy Kimmel, but I naively thought it would be best to avoid his guest, Paris Hilton, in favor of Craig’s: a female explorer with MS who just got back from the North Pole. Note for future reference: when in Hollywood, stick with Hollywood.

I arrived at the CBS parking lot not knowing what to expect, and first had to wait in line outside the chain link fence with the other wannabe audience members. The instructions online had said to dress as if you were going on a movie date, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the people in line chose to ignore that advice. Or, worked with the logic that movie theaters are dark. Either way, I shouldn’t have worried about picking through my stash of quickly-fraying clothes for something “date”-acceptable.

After we were checked by security, we were led to a row of benches just outside the studios and arranged according to where we would sit in the audience. The people directing us were both irritatingly enthusiastic about the show and irritatingly authoritative about who gets to sit where and no, you aren’t allowed to go to the bathroom yet, stay seated.

Then, the warm-up comedian came out and gave us a quick pep talk before we were finally allowed to walk up to the studio. Once there, they handed out some candy, which was a pretty genius move. What better way to have an enthusiastic crowd than by hyping them with sugar? Meanwhile, the warm-up comedian was telling jokes and we had to practice laughing on cue. At anything. No matter what.

He wasn’t a terrible comedian, but there’s something about forced laughter that just makes you feel kind of dirty. Like you just sold a little of your soul for a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. I wasn’t a fan.

Finally, Craig Ferguson came out and they started the show. It was a strange thing to watch because first, he spends the majority of his monologue up close and personal with the camera, and second, the actual stage—which always looks fairly large on TV—is tiny. I’d never seen the Craig Ferguson show before, so I was a little baffled by all the puppets and the skeleton robot sidekick, but it was certainly an interesting thing to experience.

At the LACMA

I don’t know that I could ever live in L.A., but after more than two years, I finally got to see Nathan again. L.A. trip: success!

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