Monday, December 24, 2007

The Beginning of the Long Goodbye

In which we visit some of our favorite haunts and discover some new ones

These are my last few weeks in Southern California, so this morning I determined to take a long bike ride around L.A. and take a few snaps. All these pictures were taken on a single day, December 23.

I lit out at about 9 a.m. and rode up through Toluca Lake, past Bob Hope's old digs, with its million-dollar wooden sculpture-work Nativity Scene, and on up Riverside Drive into the Rancho Equestrian District. The air had that cool, crisp feel and that bright, slanted, crystalline light that you find only in Southern California in the wintertime. I'll miss the Southland winters.

In Griffith Park I came across a coyote. I've seen many of these Wyle E. hunter-scavengers around town, but this is the first time I've had a camera handy.

I rode on through the park and up Los Feliz Boulevard and down to Vermont to looked in at Café Figaro. So-so service, indifferent food, but nevertheless one of my favorite cafés. I sat at the zinc bar and enjoyed some eggs and a Kronenburg.

Part of the bar's soda fountain.

I have never been to famous Roscoe's but I finally found it on my ride up Hollywood Boulevard. I'll have lunch there today if they're open.

Stopped by the Arclight Cinemas, where they often display costumes seen in recent films. It is the world's best place to see a movie. FYI, Charlie Wilson's War was brilliant.

Next I went down to Santa Monica Boulevard to tour the Hollywood Forever cemetery. I had never found it before, probably because it's — not surprisingly — hidden behind a strip mall on one side and a factory on the other. It's a lovely and serene place, a peaceful respite from the din of latter-day Hollywood. Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Joey Ramone are a few of the famed immortalized here.
I peddled back up through Hollywood and up, huffing and puffing, through the Cahuenga Pass and back home for a break and shower before heading back into Hollywood to get some night snaps.

At dusk I went to get an espresso at the shopping center across the way from my apartment, where I came across this fellow and his pet.

Hopped the subway back to Hollywood, alighting at the Hollyood and Vine station.

Across the street from the station is the Frolic Room, a Hollywood classic next to the venerable Patages Theater, where Broadway comes to L.A.

The Frolic Room's unique, futuristic lamps.

In the 1920s Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino would race on horseback down Hollywood Boulevard from the studio to Musso & Frank, where the loser would buy the drinks.

The Stromberg Jewelers neon clock sign. Stromberg's is long gone, but preservationists have managed to keep the sign lit. Other "landmarks" preserved are not so glamorous, including a giant penguin that used to adorn an ice-cream joint (now incongruously atop a dentist's office) and a giant hot dog now advertising a Thai restaurant in Thai town.


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