Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Monday: Leaving home to go home (LAX to YVR)

That's what it feels like !

Already? I just got here!  I wake up at 7 am. Out Out, never miss a sunrise on a beach!

Hard to beat: Royal Palms before breakfast ;-)

Not quite awake German drags himself through the hard-to-walk-through sand to the waterline.

Unshaven, Unshowered, not really awake yet

Everyone sleeps in (yes, this promenade was boiling with people yesterday)
I only realize a couple of days later: this city treats even the homeless with dignity  It almost never rains, so there are camps on the lawn areas between the promenade and the bike path, where groups of ~10 sleep at night, The LAPD patrol cars don't seem to harass them at all but keep them safe!  I just looked it up:  A license or permit for street vending or performance is NOT needed in Los Angeles or in Venice Beach.  No need to beg the city to perform. No need to bend one's pride by asking shelters or perverts for a place to stay.  In Vancouver on the other hand it's a boot kicking down instead of a reaching helping hand (or at least no harassing impediments)  How Civilized and Humane !  And the last place that I expected it. I wish George could have spent his year on living on the streets here instead of  in Concrete-without-pity Vancouver.

This creates a completely different type of atmosphere. None of these tight-lipped people demanding by-laws against squeegee people.  None of that paranoid FEAR running rampant in the streets. Just a lot of people with most of their dignity intact being in a good mood. No wonder there is quite a few signs here "Another day in Paradise!'.    
Since it almost never rains here, the 'shopping carts' are super-sized

Check out time at the hotel is 11 am but when I inquire at 10 am (I fell asleep again ;-), I am granted late check-out at 3 pm, maybe even later, without any surcharge.  This is my first time here and I have not shaved or showered yet.

Any wonder I LIKE it here?

A bit later I head to the post box to mail some postcards.  There is an African American hunk of a man wearing a jungle-speedo standing on a ladder handling two loooong SNAKES.

I also have a second glance at a bike rental place (OK, so the chico renting the bikes was cute). It's been 10 or 11 days since my last, slightly flawed bike ride, AND I'm in Venice Beach, where riding a cruiser along the immaculately paved beach bike route is a MUST.

My ride for 2 hours. No gears and a back-pedal brake

NOTE: There are no tight right-angle turns on this bike path, unlike what some retard designer created along the Vancouver seawall !

This is where I turn around

Santa Monica pier

Jim Morrison with a shadowy protrusion from his pants (OK, so maybe I have an over-active imagination

Muscle beach gym

Wrong Direction

Palms with Moon

Maybe it's due to LAX undergoing renovations, but try to eat before you get here.  I found only two very limited food outlets on the outside of the security cordon (Starbucks-like), and the 3 places I saw between the security check and the gate were horrible.
tower at LAX

Do NOT eat here
If you decide to eat at Ruby's you'll be eating at a place without cutlery, with BIG meat patties without any discernible taste but BIG blobs of cheese stuck to them.  It was so disgusting I left half of it on the paper plate and moved to the wine dispenser at gate 67.

The plane is scheduled for take-off at 8;25 pm, but something electrical goes wrong and we only take off at 9:25 pm, which means grabbing a taxi at YVR airport at midnight.

The next morning I will check Expedia again and see direct return flights to Los Angeles including all fees and taxes for CDN$ 240.  Ooooh, SOO tempting!.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Sunday: Doing The Sites and fleeing to a beach

No, I don't particularly want to see the Hollywood Sign, but apparently it is also visible from Griffith Observatory, which is my destination this morning.

I pack early at around 8:45 when I hear what sounds  like 7-9 gunshots in quick succession. Ah Na, probably just some noisy handyman.
I'm finishing this post at LAX (keep it small)

I leave my luggage at the reception and walk towards the bus stop.  I pass 3 houses and at an intersection see youngish people and loud music stream from a restaurant. The people all have a disturbed look on their faces and half of them are doing something with their cell phones and seem to want to get to their cars quickly (women being dragged across the street by their partners).  It's only 30 seconds later, after I hear the first sirens, that I notice the distinguished sound of a helicopter that approaches quickly and starts circling the area while I try to look relaxed and try to put as much distance as possible between me and that corner. 

I take the red line from across the Pantages to somewhere called Sunset @ Vermont
Looki-Look Vancouver. Subway station design DOES NOT have to put people to sleep

The same is true for entrances and exits

There is enough buses criss-crossing the city.

Somewhere it is written that a transit day pass costs $7 and that the Observatory shuttle is free.  $8 and 50 cents are the new prices. 
My ride

I'm on fire ;-)

It being Sunday, Griffith Park is packed with cars. They are everywhere, even blocking the bus route. Then I'm there: Griffith Observatory.

Point of interest

This will probably limit the time I will spend up here ;-(

Charlie's Angels was filmed here

A telescope

The displays are fabulous; no admission; I LIKE!
A clock ;-)

Downtown LA in the distancd

There is a BEACH at the other end !!!

The telescope on my university building was 16 inches; so I'm not overly impressed

Snowboarding country?

Live Long & Prosper!

a comet tail made from comet shaped jewelry !

Planet size envy

A piece of REAL lunar rock in front of a relief globe of the moon

If you're not giggling yet, go re-read your Douglas Adams !

When I come out of the gift shop, I see the shuttle bus just leaving. Darn!  The next one is at least 30 minutes away!  And there is NO SMOKING on the hill.  It's walking time yet again. It takes me about 30-40 minutes to walk to the city bus stop at the bottom of the hill and no shuttle ever passes me.

Pine beetle or drought? No wonder they don't want anyone smoking here


The entrance to Griffith Park. Once I pass that sign, I will be allowed to SMOKE !!!

I'm walking through Bel-Air ! An I the Fresh King or is it Will Smith?
Nicotined-up and no more walking!

 I get off the  bus across from the Pantages,

Yes, Ringo and Paul are right above

Greatness !

walk the two blocks to the hotel to pick up my backpack and there it is: Police tape

I pick up my backpack, have a fabulous curry in a Thai place across the street,
 and look back to last nights hotel across the street.
Hotel on the right and cruiser & tape on the left .
Not the parrot on the bus
For the next 1.5 hours I will be on two different buses travelling through terra incognita.

Right on the first bus, there is a man with a big blue parrot.

For the first half of the trip, I get to listen to which homeless shelter is preferable over others.  People walk the streets with heartbreaking cardboard signs. After riding the 2nd bus for a few minutes, I notice that I am among a different class of passengers now. Younger and with much more  muscle or make-up. Some carry beach towels. The closer the bus gets to Venice the more cramped it gets.  And everyone gets off in Venice

I get to the beach promenade that was quiet on Tuesday and now is a turbulent SEA of people.


The signs say Germany; the bikes say Holland

Every 10th store is a pipe store, for $40 you can visit a doctor who might subscribe medical Marijuana to  you (I kid you now), young and old and rich and poor and homeless mingle with black and white and yellow and  brown in a torrent of people, Music bands alternate with painters alternate with junk artists alternate with break-dancers alternate with bums. What you won't find is that Vancouver mentality of being so much better than everyone else  It's a TRIP!  Walk onto the beach if you need quiet.

OK, I can breathe again, back into the maelstrom!

He's shushing people not to tell the fire fighters that he's catching a ride
 This is roughly where I meet Peter Damien, a street musician.  I had already walked by him but then he wails/sings "The only FREE ride is DOWN", I turn on my heel and dig in my pockets. Don't mess with Karma.
Not my picture

We start talking and I learn that 'since snow is much colder for the poor than for the rich' he ended his existence in Thunder Bay Ontario by selling his car and everything else, came down here, and for the first 1.5 years lived homeless on the beach.

When I meet Peter he wears sunglasses. The similarity is shocking ;-) This graffiti with slightly different text in Venice Beach.

As Peter Demian puts it among GREAT  Venice FOOTAGE in THIS VIDEO:
Venice is dysfunctional but happy !

I also like my hotel: 

a tiny beach view from the kitchen window

Back again into the fray
It erects when he pulls the string ;-)

There is a LARGE group of people clustered around a core from which emanates Drumming.
The POlice naturally finds this very suspicious

What did Stephen Stills text 50 years ago and sing so fittingly last night?

There's something happening here
what it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
telling me I've got to beware!

Jet emissions render the sky into something resembling a broken mirror

Santa Monica Pier in the distance

Then I realize that these little runners following the surf in and out to be able to pick at the freshly exposed sand  are the same type of bird that I saw in St. Malo in December

Who looks content on Venice Beach?

By the time I walk back to the hotel, the POlice can no longer suppress their aversion to gatherings and have exited their vehicles !

But the beach is gorgeous, the mood just right, and I'm distracted.

Later that night (it's almost dark), I walk to the Post Office in town to mail some postcards. At a corner close to the beach, a young homeless guy with a backpack and a guitar has spotted a Ferrari convertible in Ferrari Red right sitting at the RED light. "Hey,Mr. Ferrari, are you going 200 on the Autobahn? Why did you buy that Ferrari?" Mr. Homeless shouts at Mr. Ferrari.  When the ROAR of Mr. Ferrari grinning at Mr. Homeless and gunning his engine when the light turns green has died down, I call to Mr. Homeless "They buy those because they think it makes their d**ks look bigger." 

It's pretty much dark now, but I love what the camera does with the half-light in the picture below.