We’re here in Los Angeles. I wasn’t looking forward to L.A. much but now we’re here I really like it. Maybe as Heather says it’s because it’s full on America and it sure is. We’ve travelled down Santa Monica Boulevard, fought our way through the frights and visions of Venice Beach and eaten burgers in Hollywood Highlands Mall. We’ve put our feet in Humphrey Bogart’s feet and our hands in Bruce Willis’ hands. He’s got small hands that man. I’ve got way bigger hands than him but am nowhere near as famous. Somethin’s going on there. We’ve driven past the Hollywood bowl and through UCLA frat house territory. One of these was pumping gallons of water out of a first floor window to fill up a smashed up truck on the lawn below for a beach party. (This would make sense in Birmingham but here there are of course miles and miles and miles of perfectly good beach just down the road).
I say down the road but these are long roads. There’s a lot of driving in L.A. and there ain’t much perambulating. We have walked a bit, but it doesn’t get you very far. Walking is banned in some neighbourhoods. Violators are prosecuted. Move away from your shoes … don’t even think about it … get off your feet and into the car. One of these long roads the 10 lane 405 looms past our hotel. Open your window and you could be standing in the middle of it. Our hotel though is swanky but also provides a little taste of home – it looks like a taller version of The Rotunda and lights up at night like Tyseley Waste Incinerator. But Tyseley Waste Incinerator hasn’t got a pool, more of a pit, and isn’t just off Sunset Boulevard, on the edges of Bel Air and Belmont. (No offence to the Small Heath Highway).
We’ve been making full use of the Hotel Shuttle bus which will take you anywhere within 3 miles of the hotel. The last couple of nights our driver has been Brian. Brian is great. He’s got some good stories, mainly about celebrities who’ve let ‘emselves go and catering. He showed us the ‘In n Out’ burger restaurant. All they sell is burgers. You go in, you get a burger, you go out again. Simple as that. As Brian says – you want a fish burger, forget it; you want Chicken nuggets, you’re in the wrong joint.
There’s a guy in there, his job is just doing the buns – all day, the buns. There’s another guy, he’s frying onions all day – they smell him a mile off when he goes home. Another one he does the tomatoes, another he’s flipping burgers all day. Brian tells us he used to work in a restaurant. He would be steaming the hot dogs, frisking the fries, frying the corn dogs, all kinds of stuff. And flipping the burgers of course. It sounds like a great restaurant. It served a double banana split (not one banana split but two) in a wooden pig trough. If you ate it you got a ribbon. You got a ribbon and then you got a fanfare and a drum roll. Then everyone in the restaurant would oink at you. So there’d be drumming and oinkin, drumming and oinkin, drumming and oinkin. And then you got a certificate saying “I made a pig of myself today!” He was also telling us about the zoo. This restaurant served a ‘zoo’. A zoo is a big old bowl of ice cream, with all the toppings, every topping. It’s for kids parties and is supposed to serve about 10 kids. One night three guys came in – “they were all red in the eye, they’d been smoking something”. They demanded a zoo. Each. Brian said, “Come on … you guys are high … these are supposed to feed 10 kids … on their birthday” “We wanna zoo man. Come on … we wanna zoo … we wanna ribbon. Just give us a zoo man” Brian managed to talk to them down a bit and persuaded them to share two. One of the guys though, he was determined – he wanted one all to himself. And he ate it. Brian was impressed. “I wanna ribbon man. Where’s my ribbon. I ate the zoo man!” Brian went to get him a ribbon. He figured he’d earned it. When he came back to pin it on him and get the drum out he found that the guy had filled the bowl up again. “He barfed that zoo straight back into the bowl. Man. Can you believe that?He ate it mind. Just couldn’t keep it down”. The restaurant also served a six foot sandwich on a log but we got back to the hotel then. Tonight Brian told us about a pick up truck he’d seen flipped up on it’s tail, “like the leaning tower of Pizza, but the leaning tower of truck” Brian still can’t figure how he got it there. I hope Brian will drive us again soon.
The show opened today to enthusiastic responses from the Skirball faithful today. Tuesday seems to be the day for the older visitor. They came to see us and then a free showing of Jaws. Well it is L.A.
POSTSCRIPT: This entry is way too long. But this is a big city.