Tuesday, November 16, 2004

14/10/04, Los Angeles

The drive up to LA from, er, SD, takes a couple of hours. The road is wide and full of cars. Americans follow the Chinese road policy of, ‘once you are in a lane, stick to it, no matter what your speed. If you have to overtake, pick whichever side is clearest.’ Where Americans stray from the Chinese way is that the (hard) shoulder is not to be driven in, even in times of congestion.

In LA, there is 1 car for every 1.4 people. On the roads approaching it, it is more like 1.1. Nearly every car has just one occupant. You can see this by the fact that we were one of the few cars in the car-pooling lane. We had two people in ours.
It used to be that the car-pooling lane was for cars with 3 or more people, but it was under used. So they lowered the number to 2. Still it was underused. Now there is an electronic toll system, which means people who are alone in their car, can use the car-pool lane, but pay a fee every time they do. It’s still under used.
Well, maybe an oil crisis will sort that one out.

LA is a big sprawling mass. It has districts the size of towns. We started off at the famous Santa Monica Pier. Like piers everywhere, it’s heyday was many summers ago, and it is now faded and a little seedy. Some things, are universal.

We drove around the more prestigious areas, where the houses are big and hidden behind big walls. Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Et Cetera. It’s where the stars and their lawyers live.

In the shops you can buy maps showing the houses of the famous. Stalking is too easy here - not to mention the sheer number of stalkable people. There are even tours which take you to see the places of the rich and famous. Just the outside, of course. It’s all a little disturbing. But, armed with one of these maps and a subscription to a movie magazine - so that you know which films are being shot abroad and with which stars - it is easy to pick the best houses to squat.

Obviously we saw a few of the must-see items, including Mann’s Chinese Theater - the premiere premiere movie theatre. We also saw a few of the star paving-slabs, which feature the names of movie people both famous and sometimes obscure or forgotten. There isn’t a panel that chooses people, rather it’s done by petition. The road is long and you only have to see a few to get the gist. I didn’t see it except in the newspaper, but apparently on the Christopher Reeve one someone had left some flowers, which I think is just an accident waiting to happen.

Dinner was in a Cuban restaurant with awesome Mojitos. I have a feeling enjoying Cuban cocktails constitutes moral turpitude, so I better not say any more about it.

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