Ah, the bright lights, the big city, the sirens, the image. LA. Los Angeles. The City of Angels.
I landed in the City of "Image is Everything" stink, tired and maybe a little hungover, and greeted my absolutely angelic friend with all my pungentness as I collapsed into her car.
I was about to enter the "ghetto". As you can imagine I was expecting busted cars, graffiti everywhere, hookers on the corner, drug deals going down, the odd shooting, the occasional car chase, and the constant ear-splitting peal of sirens. Imagine my disappointment when we pulled into America Suburbia. I was to be denied the excitement of the movies! And here I thought film was a correct representation of the world. Such a rude awakening.
My time in LA was all about accomplishments. I ate Chinese take out from a box (yes I know for some people this is no big thing but where I'm from Chinese takeaway comes in a flat plastic container), I ate a hotdog at Pink's (where a "Martha Stewart" dog turned into a "Mushroom" dog. Dammit! Its not like I have an accent or anything!), had my first chilli cheese fries (also at Pink's, and it didn't get lost in translation), had my first taquitos on Olvera St, went to a LA bar (which was so suffocating in that everyone there was all about how they looked, how they looked when they danced and how much fun they weren't having. Ol' Maori here tho' just got on with it and had a bit of fun, much to the horror of some onlookers I suspect. But I did see some taking the piss on the dance floor as we were leaving. Hurrah!), got my Japanese cellfone unlocked (thanks Chinatownland), and went to the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show (he's pretty funny) and saw The Kooks (a bunch of British lads). Oh, and I got told by some Irish chap at another more fun bar, that having short hair was brave and empowering for a woman. U-huh. LA does some funny things to foreigners I reckon.
I visited Whittier Blvd, which architecturally speaking looks like you've stepped back in time. Very 1950's ish. Fantastic! Apparently its one of the main shopping streets for East LA* (the predominantly Hispanic part of LA) and once upon a time the young fullas (or perhaps not so young) used to cruise up and down the Boulevard. It must have been a sight to see in the 50's- all the guys in their Caddi's and Buicks and wotnot, with their hair in that duck tail thingy that was popular back then, their stove pipe jeans, and the girls in their puffy skirts, bouffant platinum hair and bright red lips. Ok so this is obviously Hollywood influenced but it still would've looked cool.
Leaving LA was just as bad as leaving anywhere for me. Stood in line for ages before figuring out that I was in the wrong one- I'd been standing in the line for passengers with boarding passes and I hadn't even checked in yet- typical! I'll blame that on the alcohol and lack of sleep as opposed to obvious stupidity. Once in the correct line, it was all about the wait. Various flights being called to various parts of the counter. My turn came and the dude disappeared! Just stepped out for a minute or two. This was at bout 12 (ish) and our flight left at 1300. When he came back he was gonna make me buy an onward ticket 'cos Mexican authorities require it (yeah right, like anyone cares about NZ passport holders), but in the end let me go without forking out any money. Success! Then up to the horrendously long line that I had been a part of before, where I got pulled aside for the pat-down explosives check thing. Sigh. Bright side tho', got on the plane more or less straight away.
LA. The non-touristy way. Latino flavour everywhere. Wonderful!
*its a good idea if you don't have an address for immigration to not put only "East LA" 'cos they want an actual street address. if you put only a vague whereabouts in that space you get pulled aside; like I did. American Immigration know how to complicate even the most simplest of procedures; you get shown a movie before you arrive in the US telling you what'll happen when you get there and being assured it'll only take a few minutes. Bollocks! Utter rubbish! and any other expletives you'd like to add.