Saturday, June 25, 2016

Getting Denied, Turned Away, Trapped in Traffic, Stood Up and Let Down and Pissed Off in the City of Angels: I Vowed Never to Return, and then --- Something Magic Happened

Have you ever made travel plans, only to see them fall apart, one by one, once you reach your destination?  Here is my story.

Okay, so it's clear I like Union Station. Always the best way to enter the ugly sprawl that is the Los Angeles so hated by so many people.  I understand their disdain.  For me, though, it's what you'll find amidst all of the mind-numbing vastness that draws me down there time and time again.

Is there a more beautiful train station in the country?  In the world? 

The tunnel to the trains, once a barren walk through, has been greatly upgraded with with uplifting  panoramas.

Charmer on a bus:  There's Peppy, whom I sat next to on the 780 out to Glendale.  I touched the frosty top of his nose, and he smiled back.

First big let down: Had the streets not been so clogged with traffic, I would have arrived at my first destination of choice, Moonlight Rollerway in Glendale. Rink owner Dominic, above, is one of the best dance music organists ever, having put out dozens of tunes set to regulated metronome dance tempos (fox trot,tango, waltz, etc.)  We are friends, and I wanted to to say hello  

Had I arrived in good time, I would have spent an hour or so simply listening to Dominc's pulsing music, which takes me back to my boyhood in roller rinks.  You may recognize Dominic's rink in movies and TV shows, many filmed there   

BUT, my bus into Glendale was so late, to have walked the rest of the way, as I planed, would have not given me enough time to make an early exit. A bummer.

Next morning, on foot to another let down ...

Setting out for the new Broad Art Museum downtown, I took a familiar walk down a dreary stretch of Vermont.  Full disclosure: Urban decay fascinates me.

Once upon a time, so vital.  Now, they hang around like abandoned skeletons.
Biggest dream buster of all:  I went the stunning new Broad Modern Art Museum, hoping not to find a long line. Last time, the waiting line, just for a chance to maybe get in, was so long that I gave up.  Yes, I hate waiting.  You can book a free ticket on-line, but two or three months ahead. And, still, I assumed that with the museum now open for nearly a year, there would no longer be a line.

How wrong I was.  That damn long line was still there. I am now officially suspicious of a sly promotional stunt by Mr. Broad, going Barnum on us, to create the illusion of  his venue being still (and maybe forever, if enough people will put up with his cynical charade) the HOTTEST ticket in town.  After a half hour, I walked to the front to ask a staff member what were my chances. She said quite good, but once I got a ticket, I would be waiting in another line for around one or two hours!    XX*!!xx+|{"{{##@!!!!!

I refuse to be a pawn for Mr. Broad, who, I'll bet, loves the image of perpetual lines clamoring to get into his spectacular galleries. I walked off.  Never again. The Getty on the Hill?  Free, too, and I've always walked up, only waiting a few minutes for the next train up the hill.

Glorious Restoration:  Curtain up on the reopening of the famed Clifton's Cafeteria on Broadway. A must-see item on my list.   I took a dash down there.  Love those dashing little buses that feel like private drawing rooms on wheels.

Thus multi-storied architectural extravaganza, bathed in moody lighting, offers a dazzling variety of settings, including cozy little alcoves.   You keep climbing up stairs to yet more options.  I wondered if in its early days, a higher floor offered adult pleasures. Well, study the decor!

People sit in all kinds of places.

But, I did  not dine at Clifton's.  My heart that day belonged to Traxx at Union Station, where I usually entertain one meal during each visit.   I enjoy sitting at a table out in the lobby.  This time, all were taken, so I opted for the restful courtyard.

Not stood up, simply left a little wanting. I would like to have raved about mt seared wild Salmon  Trouble was, the skin was too stiff to cut into, so I easily pushed it away, as if it were detachable.  Do salmon wear topees? 

Another big let down:  Since they've been talking up a glorious renaissance underway for a number of grand old  movies palaces on Broadway, I wanted to check out the scene.  Not what I expected.  The theaters seem fairly lost in a very pedestrian street, far more Tijuana than Hollywood.  Who would want to come down here?  Totally unsold on the idea.

Redeeming serenity:  Next goal, I took a long bus ride out West Adams to the Peace Awareness Labyrinth and Gardens.   You need to reserve a free ticket on line to be admitted.  Even for the same day.  They put you through some hurdles.

Surprisingly confined to a rather small space, there is s section of descending walking paths through  lush exotic vegetation, and one can find a comforting respite from the humdrum city. 

Here on the circle of something to do with working out one's problems, you are suppose to follow an intricate circular path while working out your issue, in stages. The path pulls you deeper into the middle, and then it takes you out in a  less arduous walk. Can't remember what my "problem" or "issue" was.  The heat that afternoon wilted my inner Plato. I dispensed with the challenge as if it were an "E" ticket in the original Disneyland. (Please don't tell them; they are lovely people.)

Sorry to report, a semi-let down:  Website photos lend the appearance of a vast and deep landscape, the very opposite of  what I found.  But I did enjoy walking the intimate paths, and sitting on chairs.

Back to being let down:  I had to take a ride on the heralded new new Expo Blue Line. And it made me blue.  Far too many stops make the journey an ordeal.  Whatever scenic elements are worth taking in (hardly any)  they are fairly obscured by  the stern utilitarian barriers, which make the ride feel like being shuttled through a high security zone. 

From what I heard, I expected a lot more. This is nothing like the rather entrancing Gold line from Union Station  to Pasadena and points beyond, the latter, I think, over track running parallel to one of LA's ever delightful freeways.  Get OFF at Pasadena.  

Crap!  Even the Santa Monica beach scene stood me up! Can you find any sun in this picture?

Bus ride into Hollywood Hell

Onto one last chance: My spirits down to near zero, I was wondering, why do I come to this city?  I had little desire to return.

I had wanted to save the trip by catching a performance of a new musical, I Only Have Eyes For You, playing that night at the Montalban in Hollywood.  More than enough time to get there.  At 5:40, I boarded a Number 4 in Santa Monica for Hollywood.

Moved at a good clip, then slowed down to a  crawl. In  Hollywood near Fairfax, traffic came to a near halt, and the bus had to follow a bypass.  All around were automobiles stalled in a sea of vehicular hell.  The end of the world, it looked to me.  I hate this city.  I'm never coming back!  But then, back on Hollywood Boulevard, traffic thinned out, and then a rush of wheels beneath me!

We might make it!   Two hours had passed.  Still had ten minutes to get there.  The bus coasted like a breeze, and put me off at Vine, eight minutes before curtain.

I ran down to the theatre on wings of joy -- my last night in LA might not be the last.  Settled on one of two lines, At the  window, with my billfold out, I asked the lady on the other side of the glass for an inexpensive seat.

She looked at me, then she inquired:  Does it matter where you sit?

No, anywhere, I answered.

She picked up a ticket and raised it in her hand.  "I am giving this to you"

Front row, orchestra.  I was stunned.  "Free?" I said.


Well thank you!

I could not believe myself.  NEVER have I ever been given a ticket from a theater ticket window seller.

Had Fate sent her a message: We have one last chance not to lose that guy. It's up to you.

The show's songs and production numbers engaged me passionately.  My review of the show can be found here under the subject category "musicals." 

Next morning, shunning the underground like a death sentence, I took the Sunset #2 downtown, and transferred to a Dash for Union Station.

Back to the starting point.  Okay, LA, you got me again.  How could I ever desert you after the ride that got me to the theatre on time, and  the free ticket handed me by the lady on the other side of the glass?

It may be an urban nightmare, but I gotta tell you, this town has a heart, and it can even feel like a city of angels.

Photos not by Showbiz David:  Those of Moonlight Rollerway and the of the musical, I Only Have Eyes for You, at the Montalban.

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