(Seriously, people, I know you're out there - I have a counter on my dashboard that tells me that you've been reading so you can hide in the darkness of the Internet all you want, I know you're there.)
Anyway, I hope everyone had a lovely 4th of July (almost a month later, what is wrong with me!?), celebrating the fact that none of us have British accents or a real royal family by blowing shit up and eating disgusting amounts of food. I stayed in, cleaned my house with the AC blasting and only ventured outside to watch the fireworks from the alley with my neighbors because drunk people in the park is not my idea of fun.
ANYWAY. The "fun" part of my holiday was a real adventure (kinda? There were no bad guys with guns, car chases, or mega mysteries to unravel) in our own town! I've lived in the LA metropolis area my entire life, even lived in the city itself for 3 years, but only did a handful of touristy things in that time. SO last friday (July 5) my parents decided it would be fun to go on a historical tour of old Hollywood/Beverly Hills/Los Angeles. I'm thinking old buildings, film trivia, classic films and how El Pueblo de Los Angeles became the big bad LA we know and love.
We were so. wrong.
|The Art Deco facade of the Pantages Theater. Photo by John O'Neill from Wikipedia Commons|
Meet us on Hollywood Blvd., a mere two blocks west of the Pantages Theater. The Walk of Fame, Grauman's Chinese Theater, The Egyptian Theater, "Hollywood & Vine," - you get the idea? So we're walking to the meet-up spot (this adventure was so ghetto in a hilarious way, I'm not even kidding), and we're passing all these HOLLYWOOD SOUVENIRS shops. You know: cheap t-shirts, postcards (yay!!!), ugly trinkets, key chains, and the creme de la creme, miniature Oscars. Cheap, plastic, made-in-China, miscellaneous sizes of those fancy Academy Awards that look like somebody's Uncle Oscar. We passed one with a huge display of this tourist trap fodder and my dad turns to me as we prepare to cross the street and says, "We should buy a bunch of those, and distribute them to opposing experts after their depo or trial testimony."
What you need to know is a) my dad is an expert witness in trucking litigation, b) he has several specific other experts against whom he regularly testifies, and c) some of them (I will not be naming names) tend to stretch the truth a bit to the point where if it wasn't so funny they'd be outright liars.
So he suggests we start handing them Oscars after their "performances"? I started laughing so hard I almost didn't make it across the street. (Maybe it wasn't that funny and maybe you had to be there, but I thought it was the funniest thing I'd heard in a month.)
Moving right along. We get there early, are told to come back in 20 minutes. We go in search of smoothies. Smoothie fail. Smoothie success, then running to catch our fancy, double-decker tour bus. No. No no no no. Janky, craptastic, not-enough-seatbelts, broken awning, open air, van/golfcart. To carry 12 people and a seeing-eye dog. I wound up scrunched between my youngest sister and a large man who was very kind but fell asleep halfway through the tour. I was also asked repeatedly to take iPhone pictures for the vision-impaired woman sitting in front of me. But the dog was very well-behaved. He sat on the floor in the front seat very patiently.
The van/bus/cart/thing starts moving and we dart in and out of traffic on Hollywood Blvd., and head to the Hollywood Bowl and the 101 (apparently these are tourist attractions?) and up to Mulholland Dr. for a decent view of the city and the Hollywood sign. (There were a number of European and East Coast tourists who were bitching about "all the smog" when in reality it was the marine layer that was keeping us cool combined with some low cloud cover because it RAINED a bit later that day... Oh well, maybe they'll leave sooner.) Then it was a tour of the Hollywood Hills and guess what: Celebrity houses. I got to see Nichole Richi's house (sp?), Eddie Murhpy's abode, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel's pad, JLo's place, and so on.
|NOT our bus. Shamelessly stolen from TripAdvisor|
So to Chinatown we went. And got lost along the way, because Los Angeles. But we finally got there and found a place to park and were looking for a place to eat. We thought about going to Joe's Italian Restaurant, because a big Italian restaurant in the middle of Chinatown is a little too fantastic to pass up, right? We couldn't find the entrance. Not even kidding, the front door wasn't a real door. It just looked like a door. That wouldn't open. So we kept walking. A few blocks down we saw a sign for "Chinese BBQ & Seafood." Seemed safe enough, so we ambled over and let me tell you. It was just like you imagine wandering the back alleys of Chinatown would be (I? Am I the only one who imagines these things?). The outside of this restaurant looked tiny and dark and dingy. It was called Hop Woo BBQ. (I can't make this stuff up.) We walk in, and it's brightly lit, huge, and lovely. We sit at a big table in the middle of the room and get a big (okay, little) pot of green tea (which was fantastically delicious, by the way) and are left to peruse the menu. I had to remind my little sisters that this was actually Chinese food, not Chinese take-out. And M--- (ever the picky one who won't eat fish) searched for orange chicken while the rest of us debated the merits of shrimp in lobster sauce over some other thing I couldn't pronounce.
In the end, we got amazing food, including the best, most delicious shrimp and asparagus I'd ever tasted. I could rave for weeks about how fantastic that shrimp and asparagus was. As in, for my birthday next year, we're going to Hop Woo BBQ so I can have the shrimp and asparagus.
Also, as we were leaving, we passed a lady on the corner selling 2 aquatic/marine turtles for $7. In a tiny aquarium. My sisters and I almost talked our parents into getting 2 or 6, but when the turtles get bigger we would need to put them in a bigger aquarium and that's a lot of work. I'm still holding out hope for an alpaca, though. (The alpaca thing is a WHOLE other blog post...)
|My very own solar-powered Luck Cat!!!|
My sisters and I got a bunch of postcards and a few fans, I got a set of real chopsticks and they each got a tiny lucky cat. Then we went into a plaza place and looked in a few other shops, took some pictures, wondered what the heck the Ooga Booga Store is, looked at a giant bronze Bruce Lee statue, and threw pennies in the most interesting wishing well I've ever seen. It was set up like a waterfall/pond water feature, with a few statues of Buddha and other deities I'm not familiar with, and it was tiered. On the different tiers there were bowls and signs like "Luck" or "Wealth" or "Love" and other things that people might wish for. It was really lovely, and there were dragonflies, honeybees, and butterflies and tons of flowers all around it, and kids throwing pennies and adults sitting on benches and it was almost like I was in Munich again, discovering beautiful little things in unexpected corners.
But do you want to know the best part of the whole day, reader? The best, most precious part that I'm almost afraid to speak out loud? The whole day, from leaving at 10am to getting home at 5pm, we didn't fight. My mother didn't snap at my sisters, my father did not complain to my mother, my sisters and I laughed and joked together and my parents and I did not clash. Not once. The only time we grouched was when we had smoothie failures and when we were getting on the van/golf cart/bus thing. That was it. But we weren't upset with each other, we were upset with the circumstance - circumstances which we were able to look back and smile on only hours later.
It was an adventure, AND it was someplace I'd never been before. Which means that in one day, I was able to cross TWO things off of my New Years' Revolutions. Isn't that wonderful?
In other news, Gary comes home next Friday, I have some book reviews coming (finally, I know!), and my newest penpal in Missouri is quite a lot like me and writes deliciously long letters.
See you soon!
My lucky cat waving goodbye. He usually sits on the windowsill where he can get lots of sun, but he's hard to photograph there.
**Unless otherwise noted, all images in this post are copyright Whitney Miller. If you wish to re-use one of my shitty iPhone photos, please e-mail me via my Contact page