Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last Hurrah

When I set about to do this blog it was about me. What would make me happy here. What would make me like LA more. What would give me an adrenaline rush. But over the year I began to realize this experiment was much more about you. It was about the reader, about sharing places with people so that they could become part of the city, so that we all can interact with our surroundings on a much deeper level.

So has it made me love LA? Well, it has certainly made me appreciate it more. There are so many parts to the city, so many totally different communities that seem to have only one thing in common- they are filled with once or future dreamers. We hipsters in the East dream of fame and artistic fulfillment. The immigrant communities downtown dream of a better life, a better future for themselves and their children. In the Westside we have those contented that their dreams have been satisfied, or jaded because they just weren't satisfied enough. Further down the coast there are those who dream of a perfect wave, and get to ride it everyday.

I will keep updating this blog occasionally when I happen upon somewhere awesome and hope you can all use it as a reference point. It has made me so happy to see how many people outside LA, outside America, have become readers and I encourage everyone out there to keep exploring, because once you become stuck in an everyday, neighborhood rut, the child is truly gone.


Los Angeles Zoo

Olvera Street


Descanso Gardens

Museum of Tolerance

Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn

The Alexandra Hotel


Craft and Folk Art Museum

Murphy Ranch(Nazi Compound)

Derby Dolls


The Queen Mary

Bronson Caves

Angels Flight

Kayaking in Marina Del Rey


Mosaic Church

Renaissance Faire


LA River Path

Watts Towers

Riding the Rails


Self Realization Fellowship Shrine

Coldwater Canyon Park

The Magic Castle

Reagan Library


Jumbo’s Clown Room

Griffith Park Pool


Car Show at Bob’s Big Boy

Autry National Center



The Brewery Art Walk

LA Kings at Staples Center


Norton Simon Museum

Westwood Village Memorial Park



Madame Tussaud’s

Flower District

Mulholland Drive

Love, love

Hadley Meares Dec. 31st, 2010

Mulholland Drive

Twenty One Miles. That's how long Los Angeles' most fabled highway runs towards the stars. And I made it my goal, as this was my last grand adventure, to drive all those miles alone. I absolutely love Mulholland and think it is traveled way too much by douche bags and not nearly enough by my friends.

I started in Hollywood, my mix cd already playing. Up the hill from Ventura Blvd I went behind a slow tour bus and it wasn't fifteen seconds before I saw a film crew on craggy rocks capturing the dusty view below. I then passed several tour vans, a bunch of hikers on their way to Runyon Canyon, and couples stopping at several scenic overviews. The road twists and turns, takes all you attention, and makes you feel like you are on a roller coaster, constantly on high alert.

As you get higher the hills become green and shaded, the views more spectacular and the mountain parks more deserted. The houses are large and rambling until you dip into Sepulvada Pass and enter hidden castle land. Private gates, private communities, castles on hilltops and no one around but a Bentley whizzing past or a security guard in a little booth.

Once you rise above Beverly Hills you can see the ocean on one side of you, the Valley and snow capped mountains on the other. At times the road becomes so narrow and treacherous you fear you may drop into one of the private pools or coyote filled canyons below. A glimpse of a tennis court here, a looming gate there is all you can see for all the green leaves. Then you dip again into another canyon, then again...and you are in private school land, private community land, and then you breeze by the American Jewish University.

But suddenly, at about eight miles in, I broke out of my present tense revelry. Mulholland vanishes and becomes a populated dirt hiking trail. I found myself going down, down Encino Hills. I tried to get my GPS to take me to the rest of the road- but to no avail. You see, I have been to that part of the road that takes you to the ocean and to the end of Los Angeles County. It is beautiful- green mountains, spectacular estates and gorgeous open spaces. But I had a UNC bowl game to watch, and I don't know, something was holding me back from reaching the promised land. Maybe I'm lazy, for I know the road is a lame metaphor, but boy is it accurate.

Ease: A
Content: A
Subjective Coolness: A (great alone to ponder and get away, romantic for a date, exciting for out of town guests, fun for a group of crazy friends...)
Overall: A

Directions: Look it up! God knows I couldn't figure it out.
Hours: All hours, darling.
Price: Gas, your sanity.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Los Angeles Flower District

In the middle of the worst part of downtown LA there is an overwhelmingly magical block. Two giant warehouses filled with thousands of freshly cut, exquisite wholesale prices. It smells like heaven, looks like a giant series of Monet paintings, and reminds one that no matter how broken this city, this country seems, basic commerce is still alive and thriving in the most unlikely places.

Just the fact that there is a "Flower District" warms my heart. In 1913, Japanese growers started the Southern California Flower Market. Then came the Los Angeles Flower Market across the street, and the numerous small shops that sprang around them. It is where many florists, clever brides, hotels, rich ass Beverly Hills people and others get their flowers. Need an orchid? Well, baby, not only are there several orchid stalls in the two markets, there is also an entire orchid store where you can pick up a seedling for only $8.00.

Today the area is an absolute feast for the senses. In one vendor stall two ladies were cutting and arranging Christmas wreaths, in another a restaurant owner was picking hundreds of flowers that were being loaded into a cart. Another woman transported garlands down the street on a little tractor. And then there are the flowers- lovely, mostly very high quality (you will not find these in your local supermarket) specimens of every color and size imaginable. A bouquet of blue hydrangea, one of my favorites, could be found for as little as $7.00, a flirty and fun tropical bouquet was only $5.00 and there were hundreds of bouquet quality roses for all you brides- to- be.

This is the best of LA. Places like this and my beloved farmers' markets exemplify what is unique and extraordinary about California. Our rich cultural diversity, agricultural superiority and entrepreneurial spirit all collide in the markets. There is a feeling of camaraderie, and the interactions are pleasant and equal-not filled with the bitterness and suspicion so frequently felt in city life.

Basically, nature rocks, right? And who knows- maybe the flower trade is controlled by the mob, maybe people are murdered in their beds for the best cuttings of gardenias. But there is nothing more beautiful and pure than a single flower, and no matter what Dr. Phil says, sometimes it is best to take beauty at face value.

Ease: C
Content: A
Subjective Coolness: A
Overall: A-

Directions: CONFUSING. Located on the 700 block of South Wall Street. From Hollywood take 101-S to the 110-S. Take exit 23A-C and keep left, following signs for 6th St/Wilshire Blvd. Merge onto 6th Street. Turn right onto Wall Street.
Hours: Trade hours start at 2:00am, but for we mere mortals the hours are: Mon, Wed, Fri:8am-12pm; Tues, Thurs, Sat: 6am-12pm
Price: Website says $2:00, but I just walked in for free, because I am a rebel. There are decks all around for as low as $3.00. I just parked in hour parking on a side street.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Madame Tussaud's Hollywood

Oh, Hollywood Blvd. Full of the sound and fury, signifying nothing but broken dreams and the wealth of Scientology.Outside Madame Tussaud's, in the heart of this grimy American nightmare, dusty carnival barkers screamed at Liz and me from megaphones to come inside, shoving pamphlets in our startled faces. After we paid A LOT to get in we looked at each other wearily and made our way to the start of the tour, which is on the third floor. After stepping off the elevator we realized we may be entering the first ring of Dante's Inferno.

It appeared to be a disco filled with screaming children.

Yes, it was that bad. George Clooney leered at us from a VIP table. Loud music pumped club beats and little girls ran around the figures of hot current celebs, oddly positioned like some low rent version of Raphael's, "The School of Athens." From Carrie Underwood to Lady Gaga, the girls posed and shrieked around them while poor Jennifer Aniston stood opposite Brad and Angelina, her molded eyes glued to their every non-move.

The second floor was much quieter, since the kids had no idea who any of the figures were. It was dedicated to the older folks (which we are now, I suppose), to our last great century. We slowly started having fun, dissecting if that really looked like them ( Ingrid Bergman: NO, Bette Davis:YES), if they were really that tall (Jimmy Stewart:YES, Robert Redford:NO) and why they were still displayed (Mel Gibson, Tiger Woods). Oh, and who the hell was that. Seriously,who is this lady to the left? If you can tell me I'll give you the mold of my wax hand ($12, on the first floor).

By the time we hit the Star Trek section, the sports section, the superhero section, the classic movie section, we were having a grand time. It is like a 3-D "US Weekly", it made you want to gossip, it inspired dialogue and shared history and a sense of wonder. We both wanted our pictures taken with various high end statues and became giggly and happy when they turned out well. Hello, Jack. By the first floor, we were like more jaded versions of the little girls we had seen upstairs. It was a lot of fun.

The most interesting exhibit was the smallest. Narrated by Beyonce, to appeal to kids (although we were the only ones there), it explained the way a wax figure is made. It also told the fascinating history of Madame Tussaud, about how she was forced to make the death mask of Marie Antoinette's, and what an absolute pioneer she was in the art of self promotion. You can touch all the figures, which I really love, and though they feel like insubstantial Barbies, the best of them capture a human essence that is just as captivating as a great painting or photograph.

Which brings me to my unnatural love of glorified mannequins. In ancient Rome and through medieval times the statues we now see as white were painted fantastic shades, the colors of life. I have never gotten over my absolute love of realistic dolls, painted effigies on tombs, any statue by Bernini. I'm just a total sucker for fake people. I guess it's a good thing I live in Hollyweird.

Content: B
Subjective Coolness: A-
Overall: B+

Directions: Right next to Grauman's on the Strip. Trust me, you will not miss it. They won't let you.
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 10am-6pm. Friday-Sunday: 10am-8pm.
Price: Ridiculous. $25 at the door. $20 online. Plus $10 for parking. If you can, be smart like Liz and walk

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


When I was little one of my many odd obsessions was a giant coffee table book on the history of fashion that I found at a used bookstore. I read it over and over again, ogling the clothes. Other girls and boys may have dreamed of designing the clothes but I always dreamed of wearing them, of being the muse. Vanity starts early.

For those former children who spent hours doodling clothing designs, or mansions I dreamed of inhabiting, or movie sets I hoped to work on, there is the Fashion Institute of Design and Marketing (FDIM). It's located in downtown LA and for some reason you are not allowed to take any pictures on the campus--which I find totally bizarre. The campus itself is a colorfully slick affair, well maintained and filled with a diverse student body. It has the frenetic atmosphere of a busy New York street, complete with a nice but slightly dirty adjacent city park and lots of security.

The reason I came to campus was to check out the FIDM museums and shops. First there is the Study Collection, which has rotating exhibits. The current exhibit was a collection of women's wear from 1850-2000. There were thirty different dresses on display, all exquisitely crafted and unique with beading, silhouette, dye or embroidery. I learned many new factoids from a packet that FIDM students had put together ( which the awesomely friendly security guard handed me). There was a to die for sea foam green 1930's crepe evening gown, a pale silk tunic dress from 1911 that I would wear every day if I could, a lovely lace covered ballgown from 1853-I love that sloping shoulder look-and a hideous dress called a Robe de Style from my usually beloved 1920s.

Attached was a tiny but very eclectic museum shop with high end jewelry, clutches, nick knacks, art books, and clever gifts.Many of the items were designed by FIDM students or graduates and the jewelery was particularly impressive. I then got a pass from security to go to the Annette Green "perfume museum" located on the second floor, which bills itself as the only museum dedicated to fragrance in the US. Shocking I know. It was just a microscopic room, with a small exhibition about male perfume (though I did love the "Stork Club Cologne" in the shape of a champagne bottle).

An unexpected treat was the FIDM Scholarship Store; a thrift shop filled will cool items. Designer wedding dresses for $200, bolts of fabric cut to order, $2.00 bags of assorted buttons, cute $10-$25 dresses that were way too small, tons of necklaces and $4.00 ties. It's kind of a smaller and hipper TJ Max. Parking isn't terrible, there are $5.00 lots all around. But unless, like me, you really love staring at dresses and imagining their original owners, or yourself in them, I wouldn't suggest making a trip to FIDM. But if you are in the area you should by all means check it out, especially the Scholarship Shop. This isn't a bad review though- when I got home I finally sewed two buttons back on one of my favorite dresses. I've been putting it off for about three months.

Subjective Coolness: B-
Overall: B

Directions: Take the 101-S to the 110-S, exit at the 8th/9th Street exit and keep left. Turn right at South Grand. 919 S. Grand.
Hours: All different- check out the website:
Price: Free, besides parking and shopping indulgences.