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Changing Views on L.A.

The longer I am here, the smaller the city seems. At first, it seemed like this vast, never-ending land. I guess it is really big, but Los Angeles becomes smaller based on what parts of it apply to you. I don’t really factor in parts south of the city like Compton and such, anything east of downtown, and northeastern parts other people might consider like Sherman Oaks. Even North Hollywood seems like a stretch because I hardly go there and become is seems weird that Hollywood and North Hollywood are separated not only by a giant mountain, but also by Studio City and the Valley Village neighborhood.

Also, the longer I stay, the more dull it becomes. Every once in a while, I look at the Hollywood sign and think “I’m really glad to be here – I could be in Ohio.” But at other times I wish I were in Ohio. I guess the magic gets lost when you’ve hit up all the tourist spots countless times. I have taken family and friends to see Hollywood Boulevard – Grauman’s Chinese Theater, the legendary clubs (the Whiskey, Roxy, Viper Room, etc.) – the barely visible Playboy Mansion, the former (Aaron and Candy) Spelling Mansion, Paramount/Warner Bros./Universal, the Santa Monica Pier, and the freak show in Venice…not the one you have to pay for, but the free one outside along the boardwalk.

I suppose not enough time is spent at some of these places as the guests might like. I should ask, because the visit is really about them. As a host, it seems difficult to find a rigamarole of things to do because all the aforementioned sites can be seen in a day on a driving tour.

This all comes about because some visitors will be here next week, so it’s back to the drawing board again. Come to think of it, LACMA is nearby and often goes overlooked. They have the cool city light sculpture……and really that’s about all that’s there that excites me. I have no intention of turning this into a tirade or anything, but I wish the Getty Center and LACMA could swap places. The Getty is free and has priceless, massively famous art, while LACMA seems to be more of a collection of a bunch of huge buildings that don’t seems to contain a whole lot. Maybe that’s because they waste so much space. I used to have a membership and recall one entire room filled with nothing but a giant, weaving steel sheet that was like ten feet tall or whatever. Another building is totally devoted to simple Japanese paintings. The Tim Burton exhibit was cool but, after a while, it all started to look the same, in a similar way to the simple Japanese paintings. So maybe LACMA isn’t such a great idea, except for those lights.

One place that always seems to be worth the trip is the Greystone Mansion. Nestled in the actual hills of Beverly Hills, the huge property built by the notorious Doheny family is meticulously maintained and was probably used, in some way, in one of your favorite movies or shows. Plus it’s free to park and walk around. You can’t beat that.

The Griffith Observatory is another good option. On nights when they have star parties, which happen once a month, cars are parked on the shoulder way down the winding canyon road. Despite all the people, it’s a lot of fun. Amateur astronomers bring out their huge telescopes and everyone patiently waits in line for a turn to look at Saturn, the moon, stars locked together in a gravitational pull, or whatever. And like the Greystone, it’s all free.

Okay, okay, I take it back. I take it all back that there isn’t anything fun to do in L.A. anymore…that the magic has worn off. I guess once the dust settles and everything becomes familiar, that’s when it becomes important to step back and told another look at what you have.


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