Thursday, December 17, 2009
Los Angeles- in praise of celebrityhood
We then strolled over to the California Experience. I am not sure why there should be a theme park about the very state in which its located, but setting that aside- the park is sort of lame. The first ride we went on was California Soaring. As we waited in line, a 10-year old boy was terrorizing a little girl who was in line. He was roughing her up. His younger brother reminded him that he was treat girls with respect. As the 10 year old continued to be rough, I told him to stop. His little brother then snitched to his mother. That resulted in her coming over and asking if I felt the older boy was disrespectful to me. Talk about being on the spot. I didn’t want to get into the middle of this situation so I said that I didn’t notice. The mother then told the boy to get out of line so that he could not ride. A. and I discussed the merits of this approach. I thought it a bit harsh but felt that this was a repeat problem for the kid so the mother probably was just looking for an excuse. She had a blond mullet, by the way.
Back to Soaring- the ride is supposed to be like a hang glider tour of the Golden State. It’s a motion simulator ride that would be a lot more effective if, when soaring, you wouldn’t see the dangling feet of those in the “glider” ahead of you. Anyway, there were some effective flying sequences that encouraged my phobia of heights to kick in. I am embarrassed to say that I had to close my eyes from time to time. A thought the ride was full of lameness. We walked over to the Tower of Terror in a fake movie backlot. This must be the west coast version of the Orlando MGM Studios. I am always impressed with the detail that Disney puts into the rides and this is especially true with regard to the Tower. The lobby of the old hotel is so authentic to the 1930s. Anyway, the ride is not nearly as good as the east coast version. The drops are good, but the car does not move through the “hotel” as in Florida. There was a young woman sitting behind us that was sooo loud. I think she was trying to look afraid and cute to her adolescent male friends. Maybe they liked it but we didn’t. A young guy next to me kept flipping the bird during the ride. I don’t have a clue as to why. We went to the section of the park that is supposed to be an old-fashioned boardwalk. Fake nostalgia as I call it. The California Screamin’ (yes, they left off the “g” just like our president does when he addresses working class audiences) roller coaster is decorated to appear like a wooden coaster but it has a loop so that we were not fooled! The best part of the coaster was the zero to fifty five 5-second acceleration at the start. We also road the Ferris wheel that has a clever system where the cars are on rails so that they move and swing back and forth during portions of the ride, although the wheel stopped a lot to let people on and off. That was it for the “attractions” at the California Adventure. .A thought, and I agreed, that the park is weak and that it lacks focus. Not sure what it was trying to communicate, if anything, about the Disney heritage. We left the park around midnight.
We finished far earlier at the Museum than we thought we would so drove into downtown LA. We wanted to see the Geffen museum, but could not find an entrance. Maybe it was the insistent rain, but signage was almost totally lacking. Also no one seemed to be walking into the building and we didn’t want to park and walk in a downpour to find an entrance. So we bagged it.
Someone once said that LA is a collection of suburbs in search of a city. I can see why. The downtown, like many newer cities, has broad streets with great stretches of sidewalks between buildings. It is anything but pedestrian friendly. In the old northeastern cities, buildings are closer together and seem to draw walkers from one to another. Not so in LA. Not being compact makes downtown LA seem unhurried, unexciting, and empty. There is also some terrible architecture here. The federal buildings are hard on the eyes, but that is true in many cities. It seems like the 1950s through the 1980’s were a very dry spell for governmental architectural design. The Disney Concert Hall, in contrast, is magnificent. Gehry’s design is flawless and the flowing shapes of the façade help to temper some of the angularity of the buildings in downtown LA. I wanted to take pictures, but it was raining too hard. There are a few preserved art deco buildings in this area that are also quite beautiful. Overall, we were disappointed.
All in all LA was a disappointment. A. thinks it is full of cheaply made buildings that fill up every inch of space possible. In fact, we went to a small vegan restaurant in a little strip mall. It looked to be maybe 15 years old. As we were eating, the ceiling started to leak. I mentioned it to the waitperson who said “Yes” and went about her business. I guess in heavy rain, leakage is expected. I thought the LA had more one and two story warehouses than I have ever seen. This evident while driving along the freeways, and especially in the Hollywood neighborhood. The good news is that the LA area is replete with good vegan restaurants. We went to one in Santa Monica (the RFD Bread Company) and one near Mulholland that I particularly liked. The former was pricey with good food; the latter was less expensive and had the very best green iced tea that I have ever had. I also had a chance to read about how cruelly animals are treated in the food industry.
It was wonderful being with A. We are very much alike and say or think the same things in unison. She is very, very bright. She is well read and retains what she reads. She makes a father proud.