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Monday, September 26, 2011

Middlerun Does America, Day 10

On Sunday I got the bus up to Hollywood. Getting anywhere in LA is a real ordeal if you don't have a car, so it took forever to get there and I still ended up having to walk the last six block or so. On the way up there I came by an In-N-Out Burger on Sunset Boulevard. I've heard of In-N-Out Burger a bunch of times, so I decided to try it out.

In-N-Out Burger is like something out of a 50's high school movie. Unlike most of their competitors, their menu is very simple; there must have only been about five or six things on there. They even wear those paper hats you see in movies. I ordered their famous Double-Double (double beef, double cheese), and a root beer. The Double-Double was pretty epic. I'd never had root beer before, but it's pretty nice. After those 670 calories of deliciousness, I set off towards Hollywood Boulevard.

Hollywood Boulevard is a strange place. There's a couple of blocks of glitz and glamour, surrounded by hundreds of run-down souvenir shops, smoke shops and other low-rent crap. It's amazing how much things can change in the space of one block. It was the same in San Francisco: in one place you've got a flashy shopping district, and then a couple of blocks over you've got a decaying slum full of homeless people. I can't figure out what keeps these neighbourhoods so localised.

I took a few photos of the big theatres, trying to skirt the crowds as much as I could, and then went to check out Grauman's Chinese Theater, where celebrities make handprints in the cement slabs. Of course, the place was crawling with people, which made it hard to take photos of any of the prints. I did manage to get a good photo of the slab where the Harry Potter stars made their impressions, but I later found out that the photo got corrupted by the camera. (It does that sometimes, I think the memory card is faulty.) I was really annoyed when I realised the photo was ruined because I had a great title in mind for when I put the photo on Flickr: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prints.

After that, I slowly forced my way through the sea of people to the shopping centre on Hollywood and Highland, which has a platform designed to give a good view of the Hollywood sign. After taking a few completely unnecessary photos, I continued on to the Hollywood Wax Museum. It was pretty much what you'd expect, but still fun, and included entry to the Guinness World of Records which was good too.

After seeing as much of Hollywood as I felt I needed to I got the bus back to Santa Monica and another one over to Venice Beach. Being Sunday the place was alive with hundreds of people walking along the Venice boardwalk (which isn't even really a boardwalk) and almost as many stalls selling assorted T-shirts, jewelry, arts, crafts and other stuff. Especially sunglasses. There were more sunglasses than a worldwide blindness convention.There's also a huge number of medicinal marijuana recommendation places there. And of course equally many smoke shops providing the relevant equipment.

The boardwalk has all sorts of weird and crazy people. One common sight was guys trying to hand out CDs and asking people to put on a pair of headphones and give their music a listen. They seemed quite convinced that thrusting headphones at passersby is an important step on the path to musical success.

Another fun thing along the boardwalk is the Venice Beach Freak Show. There's a good post about the Freak Show over at Boing Boing, so it would be a bit redundant to go into much detail, but suffice it to say that it's a fun place to visit if you like seeing animals with more than the usual number of things. Which I do.

I got to Venice late in the afternoon, so after one pass of the boardwalk it started getting dark. I watched the skateboarders for a few minutes and then got a nice wholesome chili-dog for dinner.



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