Day 10 was to be the most uber-touristy day we spent in America. In a way that perhaps is telling as to how touristy we really are…as it was also arguably the best day.
Drove to Starbucks for the appropriate start to the day, then we were ready for LA.
Drove through Belair, then Beverly Hills, then down Sunset Boulevard. Belair and Beverly Hills were both impeccably beautiful; gigantic and opulent houses hidden by giant gates and fences. Sunset was filthy and unappetizing, but home to cool spots of renown like the Viper Room (sadly famous for River Phoenix dying right out the front) the Laugh Factory and the House of Blues.
Headed to the much-recommended Californian specialty hamburger joint In-N-Out Burger, home of the world’s smallest menu. Delicious burger and shakes, horrible fries. There’s also a Bible verse on the bottom of every cup. Mine was Proverbs 3:5, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Good advice!
Shoe-shopping for Jenny, a quick drive down Hollywood Boulevard to see where we’d be heading later and then off to Paramount Pictures for our guided tour.
Our tour guide Ben was very funny, very knowledgeable and very tongue-in-cheek. He took us through Paramount’s extensive history, including the fascinating phase when it was owned and operated by single mother of two Lucille Ball, and the measures she took to off-set the paparazzi. Lucy landscaped part of the grounds to look like her backyard in Los Angeles and another part to look like the front of her New York apartment. She’d then invite the press in, individually, under the condition that they publish photos of her with her kids in the ‘backyard’ and at her ‘house’ so she looked like a great mother, before going straight back to her office 20 metres away. She’d also demand that they quote her exactly as she said things like, “well I don’t know HOW you tricked me down, here at my apartment in New York.” Canny lady.
We also saw Katharine Hepburn’s gate and dressing room. Ted Danson and Woody Harrelson’s naked prints (they lost a bet – another great story – but the prints are only hand and footprints, thankfully), Humphrey Bogart’s foot positions (he was famous for having no idea where to stand on stage) and Dr Phil’s stage and set.
Then…Community. Went around the set, into the cafeteria, couch area, Troy & Abed’s house and fort. Annie’s bedroom. Took lots of pictures, but waited until, as our guide said, “when my back’s turned”. While waiting outside for our tour guide to scope out their set 2, then walking down the street suddenly…here comes the cast, walking side-by-side, just as if they were in the show at the time. Joel McHale was even texting on his phone, just like Jeff Winger. Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) and Danny Pudi (Abed) came to have photos with us – we weren’t allowed to approach them.
To be honest, Yvette actually went out of her way to come over to us. They were fantastically nice, Yvette asking about our trip and Danny happy to oblige for photos. “Yvette, hold my Coke Zero. I’m not being paid to sponsor Coke Zero…yet.” He was a little bit Abed in real life.
To finish the tour we saw the NCIS LA set, then took a longer tour through the Happy Endings set, saw Amanda Peet and her (real) family off-set at Bent, then drove through the Glee set and saw the water tank/car park whe they do water scenes in movies. It was very impressive that they can switch between a car park and ‘wet area’ with such ease.
Finished the tour, grabbed a Coffee Bean coffee (one of three major chains in California with Peats Coffee and, of course, Starbucks) and then off for a stroll on the Walk of Fame. We saw a few famous stars. We also saw some less exciting sponsored stars, (The Walk of Fame is proud to give Absolut Vodka an honorary star in thanks for their support!) and a few major ones (Anthony Hopkins, Tom Cruise etc) then dinner on Hollywood Boulevard at a pizza joint. I ordered a famous Mexican Chicken Salad (yes, at a pizza joint. Bear in mind I had pizza for lunch the day before. Also, shut up.) and a Sam Adams, before we left to drive to the LA Business District to get to LA Live and the Staples Center.
Before we got to the Staples Center, it was hard not to notice the tent city set up in the heart of LA Live. Was this #occupyLosAngeles? No. It was a tent city full of Twilight fans, who were camping put to wait for Monday night’s midnight premiere of the new Twilight film. But wait Mike…didn’t you go to the hockey on a Thursday?
Thanks for asking, yes I did. But the Twi-Hards were there, about 700 of them, waiting in their tents for FOUR DAYS. Arguably the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. They even had their own security and their own ‘Twi-fi’ set up for them. I really wish I was making this up. But I checked the number and everything. It’s the final confirmation that society is getting dumber.
We headed to Staples and had a great time – the ice hockey was amazing. But that’s all to be detailed further in my American Sports Odyssey post.
EDIT: We had intended to go to Graufman’s Chinese Theatre to check out the famous handprints, but couldn’t because it was roped off. Tin-Tin premiered there that night! If we’d stuck around we probably could have seen Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost etc. Ah, well.