24 September, 2005

The inside of Mann's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard with its huge screen and ornate decorations. This is where you go for that old time theater experience.

This was the most recent impression made in the concrete outside. The earliest ones come from the 1920s.

24 September, 2005

Day 71. Well, needless to say most of the day was shot since we didn't get to sleep until late morning. But it didn't bother me in the least as it no longer felt like I was even traveling. For the first time I didn't feel obligated to wander around snapping photos and being a tourist. That might be a bit annoying to those of you who wanted to see photos of the attractions of Los Angeles. But traveling, taking photos, doing radio, writing, and making a film can all be quite stressful. It may sound funny but after all of this I really need a vacation.

Anyway, we started the day with more cans of ice cold Boss coffee. I started to catch up with eleven days of email and crises. For the first time I turned on the television and was amazed at how much I didn't miss it. Same story, different hurricane. We found an episode of "Carnivale," easily one of the best American shows ever made. Can't believe those idiots canceled it.

As it was now legally evening, John and I felt it was high time to get the day in motion. We both were in the mood for sushi and I wanted to keep the Japanese theme going as long as possible. I looked at some reviews on the net and found a decent place in West Hollywood. They closed at 10:30 though and it was already after 9. So a cab was really the only way. Somehow I seem to have lost my distaste for cabs at this particular time and place.

Los Angeles has never felt like this to me. Perhaps it's the climate. I don't think I've ever been in this city when it was actually cool outside. Plus I had never stayed in the downtown region before. Add to that the return to my home country after being away for longer than I had ever been before and all of a sudden I was really enjoying the L.A. scene.

One $25 cab ride later and we were in West Hollywood at the sushi place which turned out to be really nice. Nowhere near as tiny as some of the ones in Tokyo but it still had a very homey feel to it. I reminisced over octopus and eel and we both talked to the owner about Japan. He had been in this country for a number of years but still spoke fondly of Shinjuku station. It's so great to have a whole new world that's been opened up to you and people to share the memories with. It also seemed to really brighten the mood of the owner and employees to talk about their old home. John impressed the hell out of them by ordering a Japanese drink called calpis.

We felt like going to Hollywood and maybe seeing a movie after leaving the Japanese place. You would think that Hollywood and West Hollywood were close together but they really aren't. So we had to get another cab. This wasn't nearly as easy as it should have been. Hailing them simply wasn't working. So we called the number on the card that the last cab driver had given us. The guy on the other end was super bureaucratic, insisting on knowing the name of the city we were in, an exact address (an intersection wouldn't do), and an establishment name before he would dispatch a cab. And then he said we had to wait 20 minutes. Unreal. Well, we actually did wait that amount of time because it seemed rude to use another company after having one ordered. But after 21 minutes it no longer seemed rude so we started hailing and were met with quick success.

But I don't think I've ever been in a taxi with such a stressed out driver. You would think *he* was the one paying to get somewhere. With every traffic light and every vehicle that got in front of us he cursed and made various sounds of impatience. And when he had an open road he moved forward at top speed. The guy really was starting to scare me. But he also was amusing me. In a sense that's the personification of Los Angeles to me.

We finally made it to Hollywood Boulevard but not to our actual destination as there was too much traffic and our cab driver strongly advised us to get out and walk. We didn't want to argue with him because he was a psycho but he also happened to be right about this. Walking was easily orders of magnitude faster than driving.

We made it to Mann's Chinese Theater and scoped out what was playing. A new Tim Burton movie was starting in one minute. We were doing really well in the accomplishing things with a moment to spare department. This was also the first theater I had been in for months and I couldn't think of a better one to visit. It was huge, really ornate, and tended to attract people who genuinely appreciated films. You know, the kind who applaud at the end, stay for the credits, and not infrequently are actually part of the credits themselves. Watching DVDs on a laptop in the middle of the Pacific was also pretty cool but this was something I had really been missing.

Later we wandered around Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard and took in the whole Hollywood experience. I had never quite experienced it this way before. It seemed so relaxed. There were lots of drunk people, lots of tourists, lots of weird looking types, and they all seemed to be pretty extroverted, starting conversations, asking directions, the works. It didn't seem as plastic as I had remembered it. Just a bit bizarre.

We went over to Mel's Drive-In, a diner-ish place with loud music playing, a hip crowd, and a club atmosphere. The prices were good, the food was decent, and the mood was fun. A good place to hang out and figure out how to get back to downtown since the subway had already stopped running for the night. Don't even get me started on that.

The guy who runs Mel's (the one near Hollywood Boulevard - apparently it's something of a chain around here) told us this great story about someone who had tried to con them after allegedly finding insects in their salad. He knew the story was fishy since the woman had finished the entire salad before saying anything. But the clincher came when she stood up and a little plastic jar of dead insects fell out of her pocket. That earned her a lifetime ban.

Maybe it was the Boss coffee. Maybe it was the cool temperatures. Or it could have been the company or just the thrill of being back in the States. But suddenly everything seemed fun and conversations just went on forever. The one thing that always makes me happy is creativity. When you spend hours brainstorming and coming up with all sorts of new ideas, you know that the one thing you're not doing is wasting time.

We wound up staying out really late again and not getting to sleep until well after sunrise. I had already booked a train for 6:45 p.m. on Monday so I seemed to be avoiding any morning commitments rather nicely.