If you don’t live in or around LA or the suburbs, you may hear about the crappy traffic, but the main issue with the place is how far things are from each other. To get anywhere you have to get on the infamous 405 at some point. LAX is 30-45 minutes from the hotel we were staying at on Ventura even on the highway. It seems like everything is half an hour away from wherever you are which isn’t too bad a drive (except in traffic), but is murder on the wallet. However, actually driving in LA is insane and it’s better to have a native behind the wheel.
I wanted to stay in a hotel that was close to the venue, but still rated as being safe and clean. The Courtyard by Marriott in Sherman Oaks was a 45 minute walk from the venue according to Google Maps (but only 6 minutes by car, figure that one out) and it was near restaurants and shops. I’m no expert when it comes to travel, but I am reasonably experienced in walking everywhere. That’s not entirely feasible in L.A. At least their public transportation runs late, but things close really early there, even on the weekend, and they open relatively late in the day. It’s weird to say, but Sarasota keeps better hours than LA.
We got settled in the hotel and, I don’t know about Shawn, but I was exhausted and we hadn’t eaten for twelve hours. We decided to go to P.F. Chang’s which was a Chinese restaurant in the shopping center down the street from the hotel. I accidentally guided us in the opposite direction (don’t let me navigate when I’m tired...), but we turned around and got on the right track.
The food was delicious (I had crispy honey chicken, omnomnom) and while I was still tired, I definitely felt better so we grabbed a cab and went to Griffith Observatory. Wow, that was far away...but very much worth it.
I did adjust the brightness/saturation a bit on the sunset photos, but only because the camera (my Casio point and shoot) adjusted to 800 ISO and it looked like crap.
Griffith Observatory is amazingly beautiful. Of course, it’s most well known for the James Dean and Natalie Wood film Rebel Without a Cause, but while I was up there, I kept thinking about how Heather Langenkamp and Johnny Depp went to the Observatory in 1983 for a character building date before they shot A Nightmare on Elm Street. God, I’m such a geek...and I love it!
Anyway, my brother and I caught two shows at the planetarium, which is something I highly recommend doing: Centered in the Universe which is about the expansion of our knowledge about the space that surrounds us and how much more is still out there to explore, and Lights of the Valkyrie which is about the Northern Lights and the early vikings’ interpretation of them and the stars. It was really great stuff made even better with a live narration. The woman who narrated the shows kind of sounded like Susan Sarandon (whom I love), and though that was distracting, she was excellent and added a special slice of awesome to the show.
Before we left for L.A., I did research on some things to do and see there. I knew that Kevin Smith recorded his SModcast podcasts live so I looked at the schedule and found out that he and Jason Mewes were doing Jay and Silent Bob Get Old at the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club in Universal CityWalk. Score! We got a cab from Griffith to CityWalk (which was surprisingly close, but definitely not within walking distance, like most of LA) and went right to the Lovitz theatre to make sure we got tickets. The show was slated to start at 10 and we got there around 8:30 or 9. There were still tickets, but a line had already started.
We wanted to see the show, but not THAT badly so we walked around CityWalk. Here in Florida, CityWalk is HUGE, but they had more space to work with. In LA, since it’s next to the working studio park and in the middle of the city, it has to be small and build upwards for more space. It’s not only small, but loud and bright. CityWalk in Orlando would be that loud and bright, too, if it was in such a limited space with every club and bar on the strip vying for your attention.
We stopped in at Things From Another World because I thought it would be awesome. The one I went to in the Portland / Seattle area has a large collection of awesome Japanese toys and cool things like that. The TFAW CityWalk was cool, but not as cool as the one in Washington. So weird to say that... Other than that, we didn’t really stop in any of the shops, even the gigantic GameStop.
We got in line at just the right time because we were still relatively close to the front of the line, but soon after we got in place, the line blossomed into a long, unwieldy snake that wrapped around the sides of the club and possibly further.
We got to the door and the guy asked us how many were in our party and I told him that there were only two of us. So he said, “Would you like to sit up front?”
I wanted to say “Hell yeah we wanna sit up front!” but I calmly replied, “Well, yes, we’d like to...” So he pointed us to these seats:
How great are they? So great! Although, really, it seems like there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The club is small, but it’s also tall with three stories of seats relatively close to the stage.
Eventually, Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith come out and talk for an hour or an hour and a half. The Get Old podcast is really just like the two of them sitting down and chatting, but they have the live, paying audience. It was absolutely worth $40 total to see it live! If you like Smith, you’re in L.A., and they’re recording Get Old at a club, either the SModcastle or at Jon Lovitz or wherever, I highly recommend it. It was hilarious, a great way to end our first day in L.A.!
After the show, we went back to our rooms and collapsed to prepare ourselves for Saturday where we were going to check out Hollywood Boulevard, Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and the Chinatown New Years Parade with a quick stop by a landmark that's very important to me and my career.