Tag Archives: hollywood

Ripley’s… House of Blues… Hollywood at its finest

A Chastity Belt at Ripley’s Museum


Gabriel and I rode Metrolink into Union Station this morning, and took metro up to Highland again. The plan was to go to Ripley’s museum in the morning and then meet my friend Kelly for lunch. Well, I got a call from Kelly with news that she wasn’t feeling so well, and so we were on our own for lunch. We wandered up Sunset Blvd. all the way to Meltdown Comics. I am never able to leave that place without something in hand. We stopped at a deli along Sunset for lunch and then set out for some more walking. My intention was to walk one of the routes from the Walking L.A. book, but Gabriel was already complaining about being bored with just walking, so I wasn’t sure how much longer he’d hold out.

The House of Blues
Pencil sketch and watercolor
(with liberal artistic license taken during rendering)

After walking about six miles or so, we happened upon a cool, old house with a sign that read “outsider art” so I had to take a look inside. It turned out to be The House of Blues. We got there around 4:30 or so, and peeked into the shop. Gabriel found all sorts of things he thought would be necessary acquisitions. We had wanted to go and have something to eat, but they told us that the restaurant didn’t open for another hour or so, but that we could hang out on the benches outside for the wait, if we wanted.

We wanted… we were done walking… tired and hungry. We sat out back on the rocking benches, waiting for the hour to elapse. I figured that I should sketch something while we waited, and uneasily began to render part of the roof of the structure. People I can draw, but buildings and the like, I’m not so proficient with. As the time drew nearer, the level of activity around us increased… fences put outside to corral a potential crowd, security people coming and going, people walking in and out of the building. I overheard some of the security people discussing that they were accepting people into the restaurant only if they had reservations. Well, shee-it, I thought… if I’d have known that I wouldn’t have sat out here for an hour freezing my tooshie off, so I went up to the guy and asked whether we needed reservations to get in to eat at the restaurant. He said we did, but that he’d check to see if he could get us in anyway. *phew* So, we waited a little while longer and were finally admitted inside.

Gabriel and I ordered the catfish appetizer, and I ordered a mojito. For the main dish, I ordered a penne with chicken dish, and Gabriel ordered a breaded shrimp dish, with spinach grits. We finished up with a delish white chocolate banana bread pudding dessert. Steve finally arrived just a little after we finished up our dessert, and ordered the salmon dish, a couple of beers and finished up with a brownie for dessert. Somewhere between that first mojito and the last bite of dessert, I’d ordered three more of them. The food was excellent, and if it wasn’t for my bar tab *cough, cough* it would have been pretty reasonably priced. My four mojitos cost me $36. Our waitress, Joy, was awesome, patiently catering to us even though we’d been there, once all was said and done (and through both dinner courses), for a little over 3 hours. Next time we might stay for a show…

Oh… and Gabriel decided that the Nag Champa bar soap and sachet were necessary additions to our toiletries…

Prowling in Hollywood

Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente

Yesterday morning I decided that I would take the Amtrak train in to the city again, to walk around, sketch and maybe shoot some photos. I’d also planned on riding the Metro rail and checking out a number of stations. Each station was designed by different artists, and I wanted to take a self-guided tour.

Well, the train from Irvine to Union Station was *packed*–I was definitely surprised, as the last time we took it, there was still plenty of room to sit. Folks were lining the passageways, some sitting down in the aisles for the journey. Most of them were Hispanic. Were they all going to the Olvera Street market, I wondered? Once I got to Union Station, I hopped onto the North Hollywood Metro line, intending to ride it to Highland and then backward down the line, checking out each station as I went. The train stopped and I was swept in by the crowd, pushing their way into the train. I was lucky to find a seat. At each stop MORE people crammed themselves into the trains. (How? I can’t even begin to understand; something like seeing how many people can cram into a Volkswagen Beetle). These people were obviously not the well-mannered, habitual subway users. Even during rush hour in Montreal, there is a certain etiquette, a certain courtesy, extended to your fellow-commuter… a communal conscience. These folks had NO inkling that such a thing existed, the way they were pushing their way in. A touch of claustrophobia hit, but by the time we arrived at the Highland station, the crowd had thinned out enough so that I could actually make my way to the doors and got out without any drama. There went that plan…

March 25th, 2006 Anti-Immigration Law Protest
(click on image to get to http://www.actionla.org)

Come to find out, there was a massive protest in downtown L.A. yesterday, regarding an Anti-Immigrant Law. So it was me and a million of my closest friends. Well, that explains it.

Instead, I ambled along Hollywood Boulevard for a bit, stopping at the Starbucks for a coffee and a vanilla cupcake (by golly those things are good!) and then I decided to walk down to Sunset to check out Meltdown Comics. I walked through the neighbourhoods looking at different elements that I may have wanted to photograph or draw, but I didn’t want to stop because I was on a mission. And… truth of the matter is, I’ve not walked for a very long time, and I figured that if I stopped, it would be difficult to get my butt to move again, and I didn’t want to get “stuck” in a spot where I’d have to call a cab to haul me out of… too far from the closest Metro station to get back to Union Station in time to catch the train. My camera, as I discovered, is too f*cking heavy to lug around… LOVE it, but damn it’s mighty uncomfortable to carry around in a bag slung around my shoulder. I’ve decided that I will soon invest in either a camera phone, or a small digital camera which doesn’t weigh a ton. I had a second bag with my wallet, etc., and my drawing tools and Moleskines. And… I always feel like such a fraud when I pull this bigass camera out of my bag to shoot photos, when I’m so not the “pro” photog.

Anyway… I get to Meltdown and think I’m going to faint (partly due to the fact that I’ve just walked one and one tenth of a mile, and partly because of the sheer VOLUME of stuffage). I also determine that I smell like a wet dog and feel appropriately embarrassed. Perusing the aisles, I find some gems: a couple of zine-like comics books–Stories from the Ward, Book Three, by Lark Pien. The cover looks like it was printed with a Gocco, which suckered me in immediately. The second gem was Celso 3, Timmy’s Happy Day by Celso. Weird. Twisted. I *like* it! Some very good line art. It’s all inspiration. The third book I picked up is a compilation of comic strips from a variety of artists, all bound into a very cool tome: Headstatic (ed. Jay A. Hacker III). Wow… the line art is amazing and the stories are good. For twelve bucks, this was a steal. And finally, the ‘piece-de-resistance’… “La memoire de l’ame” (The Memory of the Soul), a collaboration between Jean Giraud (aka Moebius) and Jean-Jacques Launier. It is an illustrated novel whose illustrations are nothing short of breathtaking. I’m looking forward to reading through it–it’s been a while since I’ve read anything substantial in French.

By this time I’m getting rather hungry, and since I haven’t really had any breakfast (cup of coffee at home; a chai tea latte and a vanilla cupcake at Starbucks) I’m getting famished. But I don’t want to eat just *anywhere*–I decide that I would walk down Fairfax to Santa Monica Boulevard, and head down Santa Monica until I reach all of the restaurants near Melrose. I stop at yet another Starbucks and sit down with a Mocha. This is definitely a caffeine-fueled excursion. I made it as far as Robertson Blvd. and pretty much ran out of steam. Skewers was the place of choice for lunch/dinner (at around 5PM at this point) where I had a couple of skewers of chicken and lamb chunks, a bowlful of Jasmine rice and some pita and hummus. Yum! It was good, but I’m sure better than ever because I was starving! I left there to head back to the Metro, so that I’d get to Union Station in time to catch my southbound train. While waiting for the 304 bus at the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and San Vicente, I pulled out my camera to shoot some streaming light photos. I’d felt too self-conscious all day to pull my camera out, but now that darkness had fallen, I didn’t mind so much (and hoped no one would notice). I snapped a couple of long exposure shots of the intersection, leaning the camera against my chest for stability. While I was doing this, a black man who was walking by said “You shooting pictures of all the gays?” “No,” I replied, “I’m shooting pictures of the lights.” “Yeah, there are lots of lights. But anyway, I *am* gay.” ??? Like I care about his sexual orientation?

I’ve conceded that although L.A. is a big metropolitan city, it has a different feel to it than others I’ve been in. It has a juvenile delinquent feel to it… like every person that ever decided that they didn’t want to grow up lives here, and is in your face about it. It’s the teenager wanting to be looked upon as sophisticated, but clunking around in shoes that are too big, and heels too high. It also has a layer of grime to it; not a carefully aged antique grime, like the grime of, say, New York, but more like a bar room floor kind of grime, where folks have been flicking their cigarette ashes all night and using it as a spittoon–that kind of grime. It made me feel like I needed a shower (and I probably did).