L.A. is none too far from Vegas, a day’s journey on an old Honda. To complete this pilgrimage I would go through the Mojave and through its Joshua Trees, through the infernos of Twentynine Palms, Kelso, and Amboy and would stop at the Cabazon Dinos. I would let the CB cool down a bit at the Circle K in San Dimas for there was no sense in breaking down then. I still needed to get that canister of microfilm to Glendale before the Russians, and the LA skyline was in my sights…
I live within my own head, completely and always forever until the end of time and it was always known that I would make L.A. no problem, with worries but no doubts; a fitting end to this strange journey, emerging as some sort of weird man, a gross butterfly pushing out from the American flag cocoon. Few can, few will, understand this strange psychic pilgrimage, and that’s fine. Fuck ’em. This was my journey from start to finish and mission accomplished. It’s true, I can allow myself to rest now, not at all at peace…never, but we’ve done something here, seen a real goal to its end. My goal. With style. Approaching the sprawl, and emerging from the terrible heat of that seemingly lifeless inferno, that magical desert, and descending into the cool, the weird, and the strange civilization of fantastic L.A. was a reward in and of itself and the feeling was one of subdued triumph. The weirdness, the magic, of the west ends here in this all encompassing concrete wilderness, completely American and so real as to be fictitious. The burning questions remain. Who are we? Where are we going? Every civilization has had some sort of answer, some sort of structure so as to help us make sense of it all. The Aztecs rolled heads down their thousand step temples of the sun. As Americans, we look to the West always because for us therein the answer lies. And on the shores of the Pacific, in burning sands and staring out into ocean’s abyss: America ends.
L.A. is a big bowl full of smog and mellifluous, weird and angry vibes. The Pacific Ocean and San Bernardino mountains keep out the intense heat of the desert but contain the fumes of madness. The public transportation system in L.A. is thoroughly awful and anyone who’s anyone drives in this vast concrete supercity. Indeed, Abi claims that the tire and gas companies own the rights to the public transportation superstructure, keeping the service poor and the Angelinos on wheels as some sort of profit driven scheme. Regardless, L.A. is pure sprawl baby, completely paved over, nearly every inch of it. It’s like a giant suburb, the Nassau County of the West and a complete and total creation of man, honking and noisy. It’s no wonder Los Angelinos are an angry lot, although one gets the feeling that they don’t really even know why.
Bradbury Building and the L.A. Downtown: A fairly famous building, the Bradbury has been featured in a number of famous films including Bladerunner and Wolf. Remember that one? With Jack Nicholson? Downtown L.A. is full of weirdness, a pulsing beating heart which you can set your weird watch to because you’re working on L.A. time now. At night, the tents come out. And there are thousands of them, set up on the sidewalk and some spilling into the street. This is like luxury living for the homeless. I know because I had been doing the same for months and most of the tents were better than mine. I’ve never seen a homeless person living in a tent in New York city, maybe in a box or under a tarp, but never in a real live plastic tent . That shit doesn’t fly in the boroughs of greater New York, at least not on a regularly trafficked pedestrian thoroughfare. But they do things differently here I guess, all the way at the end of the West. They have to.
I turned the magical age of 29 in Los Angeles. Just one more year to go before I’m officially washed up and can really look back on all my mistakes with an even stronger zeal. But I’m still here, drinking what’s left from the tarnished cup of wasted youth. The cup is filled with strong drink and I must continue pressing onwards.
There’s a bunch of great cheap bars in the L.A. downtown. They’re offbeat and cool, but the hipsters are moving in now and trying their best at destroying the powerful vibrations of forgotten L.A. I bore this witness firsthand and it makes for quite the scene, all those homeless people and rich children in skinny jeans commingling. It’s hard to decide which subspecies is worse really: hipsters or people in RV’s. They’re the same really and, although they’ll both deny it, they can interbreed. Listen, the first time I wound up Downtown it was via the L.A. Metro coming from Hollywood, and by chance really. It was a great introduction to the L.A. scene when the pedals on my borrowed Huffy melted off near the corner of Hollywood and Vine, iconic seat of Hollywood glamor and power. I knew there was something amiss when an older Latino landscaper slowed his beat up pickup truck just enough for his compadre to lean out the passenger side window and tease me in Spanish about my bicycleta. Image is taken very seriously out here, even by landscapers in old pick-up trucks, lawnmowers jostling about as they thunder off into the sun.
L.A. Library: A sinister site no doubt, but a pretty sweet library that is loaded to the gills with architecture, statues, frescoes, and tilework with a nod toward the Masonic. Completely weird and subversive. This is the nicest library I’ve ever seen, much better than the Island Trees Public Library. The library is also across the street from a statue of a woman standing atop a tall column. Normal in every way except that she be sportin’ a huge cock. Totally representative of the spirit of L.A., like a lighthouse that sends out powerful and strange vibrations to all corners of the empire.
Griffith Park: L.A.’s equivalent to Central Park is a vast area north of Hollywood that’s all hills and desert scrub and full of hiking trails. It feels weird to hike in a huge city like L.A. and it’s a weird place to put an observatory, on a hill overlooking the brightest place in the world. Whatever, nothing makes sense anyway in L.A. and Griffith Park is a fantastic piece of Art Deco architecture overlooking the city of light. It’s the view you’ve seen in countless movies. You can even see the Hollywood sign from here. It is where I would spend my nights, emerging from the mysts of time nude and demanding people’s clothes. Nice night for a walk. Wash day tomorrow. Nothing clean. Right. Right…?
Watts Towers: Simon Rhodia’s artistic, and autistic, masterpiece. Screaming up towards the sky in the ghetto, they are the tallest things around for a ways, infinitely cool, and constructed entirely of concrete, found materials, and broken shards of tile. The city wanted to tear the towers down years ago, their reasoning being that they were unsafe. An outcry of residential furor saved them, and the city relented only after the Towers passed a test to determine their rigidity, with flying colors. What a weird time to be able to make something like this in your backyard, and in the city no less. You can’t even do this shit in the middle of the desert anymore. See: Phonehenge.
Venice Beach: The blood stains remain on the roofs and the palm trees in Venice, which is the de facto place to rollerblade in a neon green g-string. You know, if that’s something you’ve ever wanted to do, in public. Do it here. No one cares. More tents. Venice Beach is a great place, one of my personal faves of the L.A. experience. I would spend my days here pumping iron on muscle beach and prepping for the emergence of the bald Cole Rexton, Hollywood sex symbol and it boy.
Randy’s Donuts: This was on my list of most seeables and I feel a better man having seen it. There’s not much shit out there with personality left. This is iconic America here folks and I predict that it will be torn down within the next ten years. Get your delicious sugary donuts while you still can. They are good, real good, but the sugar in them will make your teeth hurt. But it’s a different kind of hurt that feels good.
The Freeways: Wheels man. The great American road trip comes to an end now and there is no better place for it that the freeways of Los Angeles. Ride them all the way West and into the sea. I would if I could. But the adventure continues…
We’re in old Mexico now.
Staring into the sun.
And Growing old.
The West is the best.