by: Siren Williams
"15 Things to Do in Hollywood, CA". It sounded like a fair enough online article. Perhaps there was more to Hollywood than the giant sign on the mountain, visiting with old friends, and maybe driving through some ritzy neighborhoods, but we hadn't the foggiest idea what. "Ripley's Believe it or Not... Wax Museum... " I scrolled and scrolled until I found something I thought was worth a damn. "Amoeba Music". Now that's more my style. Giant music store? Shit yeah, I could go for some of that.
We got in the car and I decided to set the GPS on my phone. "A-M-O-E-B....." "Let's just drive straight to this place and then park near there and walk around". It was a plan.
As soon as you pull off the highway into downtown Hollywood, you immediately see the Capitol Records building. We drove through and parked a half-block from Amoeba Music, where I would proceed to curse at a parking meter for approximately ten minutes before it looked as though it may have given us permission to park for an hour and a half. We decided to find some food.
We found a place on Google Maps called Farmers... something. We walked around a less-than-sightly block to get there, and once we were there we looked around for it, only to realize we were staring right at it. We got inside and ordered our food, but the card was declining through their Square card reader. "It's bent a little, so I have to hold it a certain way when I swipe it". He tried again. "It's still declining." So he swiped it again. I knew that with the way he repeatedly swiped the card, nothing was going to change. You have to hold bent cards firm and straight for them to work, and if they don't, you enter the card into the system manually. "It's still declining". I grabbed my card, "Sorry.", and walked out.
We walked around the corner and, lo and behold, there was a Wells Fargo. I walked in, explained the situation, told them I needed a new temporary card, got it, and we were on our way.
We found a little Mediterranean spot called "Feast" around the corner that Google claimed was one dollar sign ($) as opposed to three ($$$), so we checked the menu, both agreed on chicken and rice with baklava desert, all for less than $30. Maybe even less than $25. In downtown Hollywood, that was a deal.
On the walk back to the car, we started paying a bit more attention to the stars on the sidewalk. There were a lot of people I'd never heard of, and then there were plenty that I'm sure have had their fair share of photos taken. I found a few empty stars, so there's still some room left.
"Oooh, hold on, here's Audrey Hepburn!" ..."Oooh, wait, here's Michael Landon!" "Beach Boys!"
By the time we got back to the car, the parking meter had just ran out of time. We topped up another couple of hours and headed over to Amoeba Music.
We walked in the door and I immediately lost Brandon, and frankly, didn't give a damn. This place was huge. The main room was vinyl and CD's, and then there were smaller rooms off from there, and even an upstairs. I spent the majority of my time in the new and used vinyl section. I found a great "Hollyweed" shirt for Brandon, which was ironic because he'd just told me the story of the people who changed the big sign to read "Hollyweed", and fascinated, I had to look it up. I hope they don't prosecute those people. That sign is massive and they had to use ropes and some degree of rock climbing skill (which I know nothing about, so forgive me if it doesn't involve a lick of rock climbing skill at all), and it takes balls to get up there and do that. That's a historical moment, in my opinion!
We finally found each other in the music jungle and picked out a couple of things for ourselves and decided to get the hell out before we spent anymore money.
Our next stop was the Hollywood sign. I'd researched and found a few spots to see it from. One routed you through a neighborhood, and the next specifically said, "If you don't want to sneak through a neighborhood...". Next thing we knew, we were taking that second route right through a neighborhood. "I thought that thing said you specifically DIDN'T have to go through a neighborhood!" It's not like you're just driving past houses. You're going up a windy little mountain road with yuppie homes, with $100k cars parked along the side of the road on both sides making it difficult to get through in some spots. "What is up with this!" We finally reach an open area at the top of the mountain where there was a park. We could see a line of cars parked along the road so we just pulled in at the bottom, at the very end. We played the tourists part, since we were among other tourists anyway. We took photos of each other in front of the Jeep and the Hollywood sign. We took selfies. We changed the lens on the camera and zoomed in, again, fascinated that someone could get up there and alter those letters with trash bags and sheets the way they did.
When we left, we continued around the mountain where we actually got an even better view, and got even closer to the sign, where you could see just how enormous it really was. There are houses that are literally right under it, on the next mountain. What an incredible place to live. "Where do you live?" "Oh, I just live under the Hollywood sign". Could you imagine?!
We drove over to East Hollywood to a friends studio to see what he was up to. It was right next to a giant blue Scientology complex. I'm still in utter shock and disbelief, confused about what in the hell those places actually area. They're HUGE, and are armed with guards.
Our friend Rik said, "Hey we're going out tonight for Halloween! Your Cocoa Beach friends are coming too. David Dreyer, Philip Salick". Everyone knows Philip as Lazer out in California, which threw us for a loop. "We're gonna see our friends band, The Birth Defects"
We drove all the way back up to the hotel, got ready and went back to LA to Philip's house where we met up with everyone. What a rad group of guys. And what a treat to be able to hang with some Cocoa Beach people all the way out in LA, who just happen to be buddies with someone from Hollywood that we met in Costa Rica. Small world.
Brandon was given an astronaut outfit to wear upon entering the house, and I was given a head piece that I surely should have been wearing with a flapper that I, unfortunately, do not own. It worked nicely with my very 70's dress and tall brown boots that were reminiscent of suede go-go boots. The astronaut outfit was from a guy from the band Mastodon.
We left Philip's and went to The Griffin a bar in LA that was hosting two bands, "The Birth Defects" who were to play as AC/DC, and another band called WAND who were to play as Neil Young. We walked in with Rik and followed him up to the very front to meet with the other guys who had arrived in the Uber before us. Rick stood two feet in front of the lead singer in his "Birth Defects Eat Shit" shirt with his fake beer belly strap-on. Both bands were fantastic. The Birth Defects were literally like watching an AC/DC concert happen just steps away.
After the second band finished, we looked around and found Philip. Then we walked outside and found the rest of our crew, obliverated, yet still standing. The guys all wrapped their arms around each others necks (and waists) for a photo, but I managed to sneak a little video instead.
It was a late night, but probably the best we've had in California yet!