I am a fast learner; only my third trip down from Valencia and I've *already* learned how to get off the I5 only a few miles south of my onramp and get on to my beloved 405 South for the rest of the journey.
O beautiful I405, wide winding river of tire noise and commerce, how the life force of your riders by the million hours daily soaks wasted into the translucent alabaster of your crushed marble surface!
This is more like it. Once again I got the whole ninety miles in ninety minutes, but I did it at lunchtime on a road broader than Moon River, only lightly sprinkled with spin outs and crabbed black tire-tread skeletons.
Last night I went to Hollywood to see a friend. It's been a long time since I've been to Hollywood. In fact, thinking about it more carefully, I might *never* have actually been to Hollywood. I might just think I've been there because I keep seeing it on the screen, which is the best place for it. Since I never bother to study a map, it didn't occur to me that blocks on Sunset Blvd. were numbered a hundred apart, not a thousand apart as they often are down here, and that the distance between the 6000 block, were I was to meet my friend and the 8000 block, where I had tourist business, would be quite so far. Suffice to say I walked quite a long way and never saw *anybody* in a sequin dress, anybody in a limo or anybody with platinum blond hair. I did see some lights set up and a red carpet, but there was a noticeable lack of thrills running through my body. There are too many famous people no-one has ever heard of these days for me to get excited over a rope line.
The bottom-of-the-hill end was quite remarkable because it was a complete mess, and yet it didn't smell at all. There was that typically American city-smell of fried sugar, but nothing else. Remember it only rains here about twice a year. The sidewalks are as dirty as it's possible to be, but there was no smell. Creepy. And it was almost deserted. It was like a depopulated, pleasantly-warm, dry, neutral-smelling Kolkatta.
Where I was actually going was the Continental Hyatt House, site of major British Rockstar mayhem in the seventies, for Rock & Roll pilgrimage purposes. Oh, and to see the Sunset Tower Hotel, she harrumphs quickly, one of the most beautiful buildings in LA, now restored and looking like a little piece of Gernsback Continuum left herniated into our reality. They're opposite each other on Sunset Strip. Here, at a high point of Sunset, the hotels look down a steep hill, all the way down over central Los Angeles and sweeping out over miles of flat Southland. It's all laid out below you like some awesome realization of a Google Map.
It's said that as this photograph was taken, Robert Plant shouted, "I am a golden god!" It always seemed like an absurd accusation, but now I know about the view, I can see why someone might come to that conclusion, there on the Hyatt House balcony. At least he didn't try to fly.
Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,
And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in [their] hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Matthew 4:5 -4:7)
The balconies are gone now – perhaps someone did try to fly – and the hotel is being thoroughly renovated.
The Sunset Tower Hotel was as breathtaking as advertised.
I took a cab back down the hill, and if the cabbie's rasping was any indication, I should really get myself checked for incipient TB before too long. And then off to meet my friend.
ETA: sistermorphine17 points out more Hyatt renovation information here: http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2007/08/rock_history_fades_on_the.php and here: http://www.laurelcanyonthebook.com/?p=854
ETA: Edited to put in a better copy of "Golden God", with the Sunset Tower Hotel now in view in it. No idea who to give credit to for this photo, by the way.