Buddha, Marx and Me: Thailand to Cuba
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January 06, 2005
Going to LA was born out of necessity rather than a real desire to go there. (There aren't many direct flights between Samoa and Cuba you see). But once we knew we were going there then we decided to make the most of it and give ourselves a full week there. Also this means we could be there over christmas and so see my girlfriend's friends who live there.
LA is such a disparate space with many different areas of interests in the different districts (Hollywood, West Hollywood, Downtown, Beverley Hills, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu and err South Central to name just a few). It was pretty hard to work out where to stay but we decided to stay first in Venice beach and then move into the heart of the city.
Venice beach is best known for its 'boardwalk' where all manner of crazy people act crazy throughout the day. It's meant to be a bit leftover from the 60's and the whole counterculture thing but now it is more of a freak show. There is a guy who jumps on glass, big white artists boards where you can write a rant about anything you like (sample titles: Avoid Future smokers, Vegas is Auschwitz, There was no Election etc). The boardwalk though is pretty interesting nevertheless; it's a great place to people-watch and this rapper-guy inistted we listened to his CD on his walkman - it was pretty good and he was funny so we bought it.
We walked all the way up to Santa Monica the next day and went to the old fashioned pier. We went on the ferris wheel and then watched the sunset off the edge of the pier. After that we went to a Jazz club which felt like quite an LA thing to do. (As a side note we also went to the comedy store on the Sunset strip - this was bad but not laughably so. I couldn't believe how behind the comedy was. I didn't think it before but now I think Americans are maybe obsessed with race. Sample Joke: 'I am a Jew and my wife is an African-American so I guess our kid is a Jew-egro.' How unfunny is that? So much of the stuff was like that too.)
We did the obvious city tour that you have to do in LA seeing the Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, Beverley Hills Mansions, homes of the stars and Rodeo Drive. Driving around and trying to see the stars homes was ok I suppose but looking at quite big houses often surrounded by big bushes or trees isn't really my idea of great fun. One woman was writing down obsessively the names of all the people's houses we passed...why?
That evening we went to a TV show taping (of The Late Late Show). This was a pretty interesting experience. You would not believe how much they whip you to clap and cheer and laugh. "Laugh even if you don't get it" they said. They have a guy who warms the crowd up by being funny and then he tells you that he will be looking to see who claps the most and hardest and they will be rewarded with prizes. I think it worked though, I laughed at things that weren't really funny and clapped when they told us too. Even when they had to do several takes just to get the clapping right.
On Christmas Day we went to my girlfriend's friends' relatives' house in Bel-Air. This was ok if a bit strange for me as I had never met any of them before. Their house was undoubtedly nice and they were very lovely to have us over. The thing that stands out for me that day was that I felt most proud (as with all our time in LA) is that we rode the buses. The city of the car we managed entirely with buses and walking - even at night. Before I think I would have just taken the easy option and just gone with Taxis but being on this trip I think my confidence has grown a lot which I didn't really predict.
Richard, 6th January, Cienfuegos
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Posted by Richard on January 6, 2005 11:52 PM
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