Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sunset Strip Trip

So, I've been to LA twice in the last week, to see a band and to see a movie. Although I only live about 60 miles south of downtown, I rarely get here. There's nothing much here I want, although I do have a hankering to go to the Getty. After all, I've lived here twenty years so I could hit the local kultcher repository about now.

Anyway, last Wednesday I drove here by the I5/101 route, more properly known by its technical name, "The Parking Lot". Still, even at 10 mph, the sight of LA city center appearing on the left hand side never fails to bring out the awe in me. I don't know why – I lived in London for twelve years, but London is differently big. It's huge and massive and hulking. LA by contrast is tall, willowy and thin, a sort of supermodel city. Seeing that group of spires clustered together in the desert landscape is a surprise and delight each time. LA makes up for the little bloom of beauty, though, by having about sixteen zillion square miles of two-storey strip malls surrounding the center.

Yes, I took a cellphone photo. Sue me.

I was going to the Roxy Theatre on Sunset Strip. The strip is a thin ribbon running horizontally along the hills to the north of LA. There's a steep drop from the road to the LA basin with all kinds of difficult-to-park-on steep winding streets leading up and down from it. The Roxy is a tiny club at the sleazy end of the strip, along with the Viper Room, the Whiskey-a-go-go, the House of Blues and the infamous Rainbow Bar and Grill, a hang out of Led Zeppelin.

The last time I visited here the nearby Continental Hyatt House was being renovated. Known as the Riot House, it was another site of infamous rock and roll mayhem on the part of Led Zeppelin in the early seventies. It's now a new hotel called the Andaz. The famous TV-hurling balconies are gone and there's no sign the new management wants anything to do with the sleazy clubs a block further down. What I hadn't realized is the even more infamous (to Led Zeppelin fans anyway) Chateau Marmont is just one block further east. When people said it's in Hollywood, I assumed the rich part – I mean, the name alone suggests that! – but it's a block up the hill from the strip. I looked for the windows from which Led Zeppelin peered in 1969, but couldn't see them from the road.

Chateau Marmont/Led Zeppelin

I could have popped in to ask which room Jimmy Page was wheeled into on a cart by the roadies, covered in whipped cream, as a treat for the groupies. Or for that matter, which bathroom it was where Jimmy Page watched a groupie get more than friendly with a few baby octopuses during her bath time.

Yes, it's the sleazy end all right.

On the plus side I racked up something like 14,000 steps on my company pedometer.

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