Thursday, March 31, 2016

Things to do in Los Angeles

[An incomplete list.]

Meet Rachel and Ben at LAX. Hi, Rachel and Ben! Driving back to Rachel and Seth’s place, discover that Rachel’s car has a tire with a leak, the work of what looks like a big plastic spike. Buy a can of Fix-A-Flat. Hope. Hear the sound of rim on street. Pull over by a hydrant — the only available spot — and change tire. Everyone participates: guarding against traffic, reading jack directions, finding the spot for the jack, loosening lug nuts, jacking up the car, changing the tire. Appreciate the benevolent neighborhood elder who watches over us. The only person strong enough to loosen the lug nuts: Rachel. Talk about this point often, with pride. Go to El Coyote, “Serving Los Angeles Since 1931.” Look at pictures of the stars who have eaten here: Shirley Temple Black and Fred Willard mean the most to us. James Hong (from the Seinfeld episode “The Chinese Restaurant”) ate here. Eat. Drink. Chips, guacamole, salsa: excellent. Fajitas, okay. Margaritas: weak. Ambience and neon: extra great. Before going to sleep, have a cup of tea: first caffeine since the early afternoon.

Get a new tire. Get three more new tires. They’re needed. Walk many blocks while waiting. It’s counter-cultural to walk in Los Angeles. Visit a used-record store. One curmudgeonly owner, one assistant, many, many LPs. Walk to pick up car. See Jane Lynch having lunch at a restaurant table right on the sidewalk. We love her from Christopher Guest’s movies. Walk on by, in appropriate leave-the-stars-alone fashion. Get car and go to Larchmont Bungalow, a lovely place to have lunch. Have lunch. Bison burger. Salads. Turkey melt. Note to self: “tea” in Los Angeles doesn’t always mean “black.” Go to Salt and Straw. Freckled Woodblock Chocolate? Yes. Notice that the ice cream becomes more enjoyable as one continues to eat it. Go to Landis Gifts and Stationery. Buy paper for writing letters. Look in many other stores. Looking, not buying, is plenty of fun. Return to home base. Sing many songs with guitar and ukulele. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” now with fambly-improvised lyrics on two coasts. Go to Pann’s before dropping Ben at LAX. But it’s Monday: the restaurant’s closed. (Diners close on Monday?) Go to Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles instead. Great chicken, great cornbread, great macaroni and cheese, good waffles. Iced tea, black and unsweetened. See Ben off. Hug. Watch Karen Kingsbury’s “The Bridge Part 2” on DVR. It’s rather dull, and not nearly as bad (that is, good) as “Part 1.” There’s no Bridge (the bookstore) in “The Bridge” , which takes away most of the fun. Have a glass of wine.

Wake up to horrible news from Belgium. Go to an office-supply store. A kind employee does Rachel’s xeroxing for free. Go to the post office to buy stamps. The post office doesn’t take cash. Go to the Hammer Museum. See the exhibition Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933-1957. Look for evidence of our friend Seymour Barab’s sojourn at Black Mountain as a visiting musician. He’s not in the exhibit but he’s quoted in a book in the gift shop, recalling a summer of “esoteric incomprehensible conversations” between Charles Olson and Stefan Wolpe, each trying to out-talk one another. As far as Olson is concerned, that sounds about right. See the exhibition Still Life with Fish: Photography from the Collection. Allen Ruppersberg’s photographs of roadsigns with magazines are terrific. See the exhibition Catherine Opie: Portraits, photographs that look like paintings by Old Masters. One photograph looks like Jonathan Franzen. Yes, it’s Jonathan Franzen. Then discover a Millet and two Van Goghs in the permanent collection. The Hammer is a perfect museum: lots to see and find interesting, but not exhausting. And free, always. Go to Simplethings for lunch. Cobb salad, Cuban sandwich, meatball sandwich. A tie with Roscoe’s for best food. Go to The Grove. Looking, not buying, is plenty of fun. Go to Clifton’s for dinner. Experience vague film-noir feelings in the downtown parking garage. Experience vague film-noir feelings on the downtown sidewalks. Where is everyone? (Aside from the panhandlers.) Experience strong surrealist feelings in Clifton’s. It’s like the Grand Cosmo of Stephen Millhauser’s novel Martin Dressler , with meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Look: here, or here. Stuffed animals. A sequoia. A chapel. Four floors of cafeteria, the upper floors now closed. And a basement with a phone booth (minus phone). Wonder about the large blue object on a desk in a Red Bull billboard. (A Bluetooth speaker.) Watch the news. Give up. Watch Fixer Upper . Have a glass of wine.

Walk to LACMA. Learn from a helpful LACMA employee going in to work that the museum is closed for the day. We got our Mondays and Wednesdays crossed. Cross the street to visit the Craft & Folk Art Museum instead. See the exhibition Little Dreams in Glass And Metal: Enameling in America, 1920 to the Present. Learn about enameling. See the exhibition Made in China: New Ceramic Works by Keiko Fukazawa, witty commentary on consumerism and patriotism in the People’s Republic. Like the Hammer, just enough museum. Walk to Farmers Market. Notice a billboard for Mad Old Nut. Notice how few people are walking on any given stretch of sidewalk. Browse in Farmers Market. Buy two apples at Farm Boy Produce. It must not be unusual for people to buy single pieces of fruit: they have napkins. Eat lunch at Lemonade. Ahi tuna, avocado and cherry tomatoes, beef with miso, chicken and kale, chicken with mozzarella and pesto, chili soup. A best-food tie with Roscoe’s and Simplethings. Go to Book Soup. Looking, not buying, is plenty of fun. Go to Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, a street full of old furnishings and old clothes. Try on hats. Feel the weight of a 1940s(?) men’s coat. Looking, not buying, is plenty of fun. Be impressed by the array of books and supplies in The Writers Store. Screenwriters need brass fasteners, brass washers, and mallets. Go to Genghis Cohen for dinner. Something happened there to inspire the Seinfeld episode with James Hong. The food really does taste like the New York Szechuan of bygone days. Do Facetime with Ben. Watch the news. Give up. Watch Modern Family . Watch Flip or Flop . Have a glass of wine.

Learn about peripheral vision and flexibility. Go back to LAX. Hug.

Thank you, Rachel and Seth, for a wonderful four days in your city. We are fam-b-ly.

[A hydrant in Flattville, as seen in Google Maps. Thank you, hydrant, for giving us a place to stop and fix a flat.]

More things to do in Los Angeles
2014 : 2012

comments: 4

Frex said...

Frex=Fresca (as you know)

This totally made me want to go to LA, which is a first. (I was there for a minute when I flew in for my brother's wedding north of LA---my father drove us all north and the highway was terrifying!)

Favorite line:
"Experience vague film-noir feelings in the downtown parking garage."

Michael Leddy said...

I didn’t know what I’d think of LA when we first went out there. But I’m with Randy Newman: I love LA. Even when it feels like real noir. I hope you get there.

Elaine said...

Just this week became aware of Keiko Fukuzawa. Wonder how she wound up in China.....

Michael Leddy said...

The PDF says artist’s residencies.