When I went on Instant Messenger tonight, my friend Bob jumped in from Florida:
He is so right. Helaine, Steffie and I find this lifestyle and this place very appealing. I would go in a second.
Whoa! What am I doing? People at work read this blog. Don’t worry. Southern California is an obsession I’ve had forever.
Be quiet for a second. What do you hear? Nothing. No phone ringing. No offer. I came close with KCAL years ago, but I don’t think it’s meant to be.
So, we’ll continue to come out every year or two… continue to be teased by California… and life will go on happily in Connecticut.
As nice as California seems, my Connecticut life isn’t too shabby. After all, it affords me these trips to California!
Where were we?
We have stuffed ourselves like pigs on this trip. Every night has featured a spectacular dinner with appetizer and desert. There comes a point where enough is enough. That came this morning.
Instead of going someplace nice for breakfast, we decided to go to Starbucks and eat light. I had a bagel and coffee. Helaine and Steffie were similarly pedestrian in their meal.
We sat outside. It wasn’t long before Cleo, the dog, came and made friends with us. As we learned, her owner, now working on a movie in production, needed to give Cleo away. She was living in a place with no dogs allowed. Very sad, but we couldn’t bring Cleo back on the plane with us.
This was to be a shopping day. Before the trip Steffie had decided on some stores and some areas she wanted to visit.
I will admit it. She travels in a totally different world from me, especially when it comes to style and fashion. As I have learned during this trip, there are trendy stores, ‘celebrity’ stores, written up in People and US Weekly, featured on “E” and VH-1.
The names of these stores mean nothing to me, but to Steffie, this is a big deal.
We went to two or three of these ‘name’ shops on Robertson Blvd. in West Hollywood. While Steffie and Helaine browsed stores like Kitson, I walked the streets.
Actually, there’s a lot to learn.
For instance, just before the corner of Robertson and Beverly, there’s a sign warning that the intersection is “Photo Enforced.” Adjacent to a few of the traffic lights in the intersection are boxes with strobe lights and cameras.
Run the intersection, and you get a moving violation with photo showing you, the red light you’re running and other pertinent details! I saw it in action. Very sobering.
A block away from the shopping is Cedars-Sinai Hospital. There’s the Max Factor Pavilion, a center with Steven Spielberg’s name on it, and (just outside the hospital) the intersection of George Burns Road and Gracie Allen Drive!
This is Los Angeles, a factory town for TV and the movies. Getting your name out is everything.
Next stop for shopping was Melrose. I’m not sure why, but I gently begged off. I just didn’t want to walk into store-after-store-after-store.
Trust me. This is great sport for Helaine and especially Steffie. And I’d be right there with them if these were computer or camera stores. I dropped them off and decided to go on a search for the Hollywood sign.
I had done this before. There are places where the Hollywood sign is very visible, and then a block or two away, it’s gone. And, if you try and drive toward the sign, you quickly find none of the streets are parallel, nor lead in a single direction for more than a few hundred feet.
Nothing in my luck changed. I saw the sign, headed toward it and then lost sight of it. I got lost enough to end up on a ramp for the Hollywood Freeway with Burbank the first exit.
I got off and looked for a way to loop around and reverse course. Before I could get back on the freeway, I saw I was approaching Mulholland Drive.
Mulholland Drive is a twisty two lane road that runs through the peaks of the Santa Monica Mountains. The Santa Monica Mountains are what separate the ocean side of Los Angeles County from the San Fernando Valley (aka – The Valley).
Back in the 50s I used to watch The Bob Cummings Show. Bob, a perennial bachelor, would always talk about taking his dates to Mulholland Drive.
I turned onto Mulholland and it wasn’t long before I saw the entrance to a small parking lot. Immediately, I knew it was a scenic overlook. What I didn’t know was I had hit the motherlode for seeing the Hollywood sign! Not only that, the overlook also had an amazingly commanding view of Downtown LA and most of the west side of town.
I drove on, pulling to the side of the road a mile or so later for a view to the east of the entire San Fernando Valley. The sky was blue, the visibility was high.
None of these spots are for the faint of heart. These are steep mountains and the best view is close to the edge. In case you’re looking to get these vista, here’s my best guess of where I was!
I was excited at my find, but no longer had a reason to be on Mulholland. I drove to Laurel Canyon Road, made a left, and headed back toward Hollywood proper and Melrose Avenue in particular.
Melrose Avenue is where you go when you need something that looks good with your new piercings or to match the ink color on your tattoo. Whereas most of the parts of LA we had visited so far were pretty and well to do, Melrose Avenue is gritty.
I took a shot of a trash can filled to the brim, because I think it’s indicative of the Melrose feel. So are parking meters covered in concert posters and band stickers.
Amazingly, I found both a parking spot and Helaine and Steffie. As they continued to shop, I continued to shoot photos. This is a very photogenic street. And every ethnic, racial and socio-economic group is well represented.
Well, everything but middle aged white guys. I was the token.
We headed back to the Century Plaza to get ready for dinner. Tonight we were heading to The Ivy on Robertson, where earlier Steffie had shopped.
This was our fourth trip to The Ivy. There are two reasons for that. First, the food is spectacular. Second, there are always celebrities there – always.
Once I sat back-to-back with Martin Scorsese. Drew Barrymore walked by and stopped to talk with ‘Marty.’ The last time we were there, Steffie and Helaine saw Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit.
Tonight, our reservation was for 7:00 PM and we had requested to sit outside. Please, don’t be fooled. Outside in LA means under the stars, but adjacent to a propane heater. Even on a cool night, you’re nice and warm.
More importantly, from an outside table you get to see and be seen.
It didn’t take long for Steffie and Helaine to realize Cojo (OK – I called him Cujo, not knowing who he was), aka – Steven Cojocaru, was at a table nearby.
I’m not going to explain who he is because either you know him and are excited, or don’t and are a loser… like me.
Cojo was sitting at a table with a woman (unknown) and Al Roker, weatherman from the Today Show. As it turns out, I know Al. I’m not saying we’re best friends, but we know each other.
The last time I saw Al was at the White House in Washington. How many people can say that?
Years ago, Al made a very kind gesture to me, recommending me for a job that I didn’t even know existed, and I’ll never forget it. He is first class and one of a kind. He deserves whatever success he has… maybe more.
After dinner, I went over and said hello, and we chatted for a few minutes.
Helaine and Steffie felt the evening was a total success! I agree.
As always, the food was superb and the service attentive. We shared an appetizer pizza and I had linguine with all sorts of seafood. For desert I had ice cream and hot fudge over a pecan square. There were no leftovers from me!
By the way, the Ivy shots here on the blog are ‘stock’ shots taken in the afternoon. So as not to come off as a yahoo tourist, I was asked to leave my camera at home… and I did just that.
I’m probably not supposed to say this, because she’s very private about it, but today was Helaine’s birthday. Going to The Ivy was part of our celebration, and it lived up it our expectations.
Tomorrow is our last day in Los Angeles before heading to Palm Springs. We’ve planned a day at Universal. More tomorrow.