My film-related adventures began in Culver City, one time home of MGM. The lot may be gone (the site where the lion roared is now home to Sony Pictures), but the lion remains in a sculpture in Town Plaza next to the Culver Hotel.
Oh Lucy...actually this art honours the Culver Studios around the corner, which was operated by Desilu for a time. Another nearby street is named after the first filmmaker to work out of the facility, Thomas Ince. After his death under mysterious circumstances in 1924, Pathe, RKO and Selznick International filmed at the site.
Speaking of RKO, I stopped by the studio's main facility at Gower and Melrose, now operated by Paramount.
Ever since I received a coffee table book about RKO when I was a kid, I've been interested in the studio's history - partly due to the films it produced, partly because of the perpetual state of instability that caused it to be the one major of the studio system era to completely collapse.
Further north on Gower, a serene scene of Canada Geese roaming around the Hollywood Forever cemetery. This almost meant dodging large amounts of goose and duck poop while looking for recognizable names.
Among the actors to be found is Tyrone Power, whose grave inscription is the "good night sweet prince" passage from Hamlet.
Douglas Fairbanks Senior and Junior have an impressive plot...
...while Johnny Ramone continues to rock on. Gabba gabba hey.
The large number of feral cats nestled by the mausoleum enjoyed their lazy afternoon.
Winding my way to Sunset Boulevard, I snapped photos of TV studios and streets named after founders of religions. I hopped out of the car to check out Amoeba Records - some friends had recommended their San Francisco branch. I had to restrain myself from spending the rest of the day digging through bin after bin of music. To save time, I dodged the lengthy rows of clearance items. The picture above barely conveys how much is stuffed into the store.
A brief stop at Hollywood and Vine allowed for snaps of the Hollywood Walk of Fame. I parked next to Lloyd Nolan and Charles Laughton. Plenty of long-forgotten names lined the sidewalk - do members of the Vera Vague fan club hold a yearly pilgrimage?
Further west on Hollywood Boulevard, I wandered through the tourist craziness around the Hollywood and Highland Center. From the attempt to evoke the Babylonian sets of D.W. Griffith's epic Intolerance to the costumed hordes who look like movie and TV characters with varying degrees of accuracy. I kept waiting for the large number of Jack Sparrows to battle it out.
And yes, that Homer was freaky.
As one pedestrian noted, it's no shock that his star would be found in this area.
After a trip down the Sunset Strip, I headed towards the coast...and finally had my first glimpse of the Pacific. Drove by the Santa Monica Pier, but the traffic and crowds were too insane for my liking (blame fatigue). Instead, I flipped through a copy of Los Angeles magazine I picked up earlier whose cover story was on cheap eats. After browsing the listings, I headed back to Culver City...
The winner was Cafe Brasil on Washington Boulevard. The article had recommended the all-day breakfast, but I went with the snapper dinner. The well-seasoned fillet came with rice, black beans, plantains and a bowl of lentil soup. Very satisfying.
Before heading back to the hotel, I stopped to browse at a nearby Barnes & Noble. While standing and flipping through a guide on the central coast, I felt a rumble below me. The shaking lasted a few seconds but felt like an extended, slow motion quarry blast (I grew up across the road from a site with occasional blasting).
Others in the store were stunned but reasonably calm. The quake turned out to be a 4.7 shaker centered slightly to the northwest. Just another part of experiencing the Golden State.
Full set of pictures. All in this post taken around Los Angeles on May 17, 2009 - JB