Sunday. Breakfast on West Adams, but I don't think it was actually the West Adams neighborhood. Out of the three tables occupied in the place at 8am, two of them were filled out by LAPD. That's usually a good sign, as it comes to quality of food. One of the best breakfasts I've had in LA was at the Academy comissary in Elysian Park. That and Nick's, which used to be run by ex-LAPD, though I haven't been back in many years and heard that it's gone downhill since then. But you hear that a lot about a lot of places. Sometimes it's even true. Anyways, I had the chilaquiles with carnitas and a lot of coffee. Dependable.
Back to Wonder-Con. Spent most of the time there at a writing roundtable sort of thing. Probably more useful for people on a different stage of their arc than for mine where I was. Eh. Happens. Honestly, that's it. By the time I was done there and had walked a bit of the hall, I was kinda done with the place. Enough so that I wasn't going to wait to try and run into people I'd yet to see. Maybe next time. Like I said before, the important stuff at the show had happened on Friday. We'll see if anything comes from any of that.
Drove up to the westside to visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which believe it or not, I'd never been to before. I'd heard a lot about it and wanted to go, but things just never worked out properly. Rode the 405 up to La Cienega (okay, it's Jefferson way down there) and followed it up through one of the biggest urban oilfields still operating. Yeah, we're still pulling the crude right out of the ground there. Was a time that California (not Texas, mind) was producing over 25% of the world's oil. Not the US'. The world's. It's still pumping. Wilmington, Carson (that gas works isn't just for show) and Signal Hill. There's a long stretch of pumping well heads and tanks just out in the open, not disguised at all. Though in fully urbanized areas, the towers are hidden under facades. They look like telecom switch banks or something. You wouldn't know it at first glance, but they're there. Tried to get some pictures but no good angles made themselves available. Noted it for the future.
Heat and breeze tussled the entire way up, and I got plenty of both as I passed low stucco and empty asphalt lots, finally evening out to ocean breeze as I went under the overpasses for the light rail before turning hard to the ocean. Parked at a side street off of Venice Bl and laughed at the 2-hour parking sign on the street where there were tents set up and cars that had taken root before our last president had been sworn in, or at least that's what it looked like to me. Walked on over to the museum and wasn't sure what I was getting myself in for. Dodged the backed-up traffic queue for the In-N-out and photographed the translucence of the red-pink succulents on a field of squirming green ground cover. LA remains alien and weird when it wants to.
As to describing the Museum of Jurassic Technology, well, that's tough. First of all, it's more art exhibit and tribute to oddball mania/obsession more than it is a museum. It's an art project that slipped its enclosure, and that's just fine by me. On the offerings list today, Anasthius Kirchner and his oddball natural philosophy, the trailer in America in the 20th century, Ricky Jay's collection of disintegrating celluloid dice, something about bees, fantastic bestiaries and alternate antedeluvian explanation theories (ah, it makes sense now.) Being submerged in someone else's manias is a hell of a thing. Radical submission. You can't question the curation, because it's there and set whether you like it or not. You can roll with it and maybe learn to love it or just leave. Narration on exhibits was too soft, music was too loud, writing too oblique. Or was it the opposite of that? You'd have to be there to know for sure. Unfortunately, I only had a short time there (meeting a family member who I hadn't seen for some time and I'll just leave it at that because it's frankly best.) I took in what I could and some of it picks at me still. I'm certainly going back, hopefully for a much more leisurely visit.
Though I will say that their bookstore was maybe the single most dangerous bookstore I'd stepped into that whole trip. Which was saying something. As it was, I only made it out with a copy of SCIENCE FRONTIERS II (from the Sourcebook Project press) and a book on sacred geometry. I could've walked out with just about the whole damn catalog stuck to my fingers.
Nosed my way through traffic on the 110 because that's where I like to spend my time. Checked into my hotel of record in Burbank and soaked up the AC for a few minutes before heading out to grab some dinner ahead of the evening's plans. Which were not set. As long as I've been coming down to LA, I've been meaning to get over to Universal Citywalk. Yeah, it's a tourist trap and it costs a goddamn fortune to park there. But there's a fair bit of vintage neon that I'm not going to see anywhere else. And I do love neon. But then on the other hand, friends were going to head over to the Egyptian in Hollywood to catch a noir film or two (given that Noirfest is running right now, and continues, with TOUCH OF EVIL last Saturday). That could be good, too.
I mulled over the options as I sat town at Bob's Big Boy in Toluca Lake. Sadly, the neon out front was not running, even when I was leaving and the sun was well down. A bit of a bummer. As for the place itself? The double-decker burger wasn't quite as good as I remember it, but the particular scent of the seasoning salt on the fries and the red relish on the burger was quite the whammy. I ate more than my share of those (and Pappy Parker fried chicken) when my family went to the Big Boy in El Toro (which I believe is gone now and has been for awhile). It didn't make me feel like a kid or anything, but there was a Proustian jolt on the first hits. Then reality set in and it was just a kinda dry-bun burger, but I was good and hungry, so I didn't argue.
Opted for the noir screening with friends. I don't figure that Universal Citywalk is going to burn down anytime soon. Maybe I'm wrong. I'll live with it if I am.
Got to Hollywood early ahead of the screening and parked up Cherokee and walked around Scuzzy Disneyland for awhile. Ocurred to me that I was walking right past the exact location of the Last Prayer club, as described in QUEEN OF NO TOMORROWS. Got a chuckle out of that (particularly since an nearby address is a community policing substation - ha.)
Hollywood Boulevard is weird. It's still a magnet for weirdos and crazies and families gawking, tour busses and ride-hailing cars stopping at sidewalks with little or no notice. The whole place smelled like dank and bacon-wrapped hot dogs jammed with grilled vegetables. I couldn't tell you how many vendors I saw selling those all over the place. Lots of Jarritos on ice, too. Club tunes pumping out of open bars and dudes loudly out-duding one another with deals they were close to closing or other ephemeral achievements. If I could've bottled that confidence and sold it, I'd have made a mint.
Oh, and lots of neon. Not always beautiful. Not always vintage. But a lot of it. It still fills out the air in a way that nothing else does. It brings in an atmosphere, even inside a street-front fortunetelling parlor or wig shop or second-hand clothing store or just an evocative name left enigmatically up on a wall. Nothing else is like it. Don't tell me those LED signs are just as good because they're not. I can tell the difference.
Photographed an odd selection of stars on the Walk of Fame. Didn't find Godzilla's, but there's always next time.
Made my way over to Grauman's Egyptian after walking the busy blocks of Hollywood (as far down as the Pantages on the east side and, uh, oh geez, to the Roosevelt on the west). The film was THE NARROW MARGIN, a b-level potboiler, but about as good as those things get. Sure, there were a few janky moments, but there were laughs and wisecracks and heartache and dilemma and triumph. What more can you ask for out of your entertainment?
I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot or leaving it out on purpose. But you get enough of the picture.
Slow drive over the hills back to Burbank and plans to get up early to get that good light out somewhere.
That didn't happen.