Los Angeles – October 2015 – Part 2

Melrose Avenue
Melrose Avenue

Much like my first day in ‘The City of Angels’ (something I have never seen, heard or said actually in the city) my second was set to be a hyper touristy one thanks to my two-day bus tour pass. Having left the tour in Hollywood the previous day I thought I’d start the morning on the section of Melrose Avenue I passed through previously and have a look at some of the shops.

Getting there at about 10 I had a chance to explore a little as most of the shops didn’t open until nearer 11 so I walked the length of this section of the street passed The Groundlings Theatre that I visited on my last trip to LA and their new, soon to open school. Most of the street is taken up by clothes shops of different varieties from minor designer style boutiques (none of which I’d ever heard of) along with a few other shops including a comic book store, Japanese novelty & memorabilia store and a toys & games shop.

My first port of call was Mega City One comic book store, on my last visit it went by the name Melrose Music And Comics, but despite the name change the friendly atmosphere, gaming area and great selection was the same. As ever there were many things I could have come away with but settled on a couple of Batman collections and the next in the Transmetropolitan series I am gradually working through.

Further along the street a few of the clothes shops piqued my interest, one in particular, going by the name of Posers, with a great selection of largely British punk, mod and rocker style clothing that was about as far from the Hot Topics and such that sell the mass-produced equivalent of this as you can get. With such a great selection it was all I could do not to leave with a new pair of creepers or ‘Harrington’ jacket.

Dave Lombardo art
Dave Lombardo art

While the clothes in the front of Forgotten Saints looked both overpriced and like they were trying a bit too hard to show their punk credentials, the gallery area hidden at the back of the store held a few things of much more interest.

While only small the walls were lined with artwork created by two of Los Angeles metals most well-known drummers, former Guns ‘n’ Roses member Steven Adler and on-again-off-again Slayer percussion monster Dave Lombardo. Both sets of art were based around their day jobs but showed an interesting new side to the performers and it would have been nice to be able to see more in a slightly more easy to view situation.

From Melrose I repeated part of the bus tour loop up to the junction of Hollywood and Vine where I hopped off to walk along the more easterly end of Hollywood Boulevard. While less notable in terms of tourist attractions this section did feature some notable buildings from the Capitol Records buildings to yet another Scientology centre (there are three or four, including their main ‘celebrity HQ’ within a few blocks) to the huge but seemingly abandoned Pacific Radio building topped with a pair of huge radio transmission masts.

Capitol Records Building
Capitol Records Building

The third loop of the bus tour headed from Hollywood to Downtown Los Angeles. The first chunk of this was a long section with no stops along Sunset Boulevard, passed Amoeba Records, Crossroads of the World (former) Mall and the Cinerama Dome cinema. This was followed by trips through the city’s Armenian neighbourhoods (the area System of a Down originated from) and the Korean community, again showing the diversity of the city.

As we neared downtown we passed through MacArthur Park and I would have quite liked the chance to disembark here and have a look around as, with its lake and fountains, it looked like a nice area. The bus continued though on its route into the man-made canyons between the high rises and skyscrapers at the heart of the city.

I stayed on the bus until we pulled up alongside the elaborate and unique Walt Disney Concert Hall and I headed next door to the newly opened Broad art gallery. Recently built to house the art collection of philanthropist Eli Broad it is itself a striking edifice and free to get in as well. With only three floors I wondered quite how much there would be to see but I was far from disappointed.

Entering the gallery you are directed up a long, tunnel-like, escalator to the top floor where you emerge into a wide, open, white gallery that stretches out all around through various smaller rooms all of which you can see hints of from this central space. Arbitrarily heading right I was confronted by a room of works by Andy Warhol and continuing in a clockwise direction there were hundreds more pieces by artists whose names I recognised and (mostly) ones I didn’t, but all the work was incredibly striking and impressive.

Warhol's Elvis and Marilyn
Warhol’s Elvis and Marilyn

While it was, at points, too busy to easily take in detail, as a collection The Broad was hugely impressive and well worth a visit.

Also fascinating was, on the way out, as I descended the central staircase, I could see into the buildings middle floor where the remainder of the museum’s vast collection is housed in storage.

Back outside I realised that the downtown loop of the bus tour was far from convenient in comparison to the others and I had missed the next bus and there wasn’t one for another hour, so I headed down the hill from The Broad and into the heart of the city.

Walking between the skyscrapers always has an odd feeling and I was surprised by quite how steep some of the hills were in this area, which only amplified the height of some of the buildings. At the bottom of the hill though I headed around a corner and stumbled upon the LA public library, it’s oddly Egyptian styled exterior and gardens entirely out-of-place in this location but all the more striking for it and echoing something of the mall in Hollywood and the old Grauman’s theatre which, I assume, dated from a similar era.

LA Public Library
LA Public Library

From there I headed further into Downtown and got a flavour of what the city must have been like before the evident gentrification began. Heading to Pershing Square and a couple of blocks over to South Broadway the buildings were very dated and, while the architecture could have been striking it all had something of a tired air and I got the impression I probably wouldn’t have wanted to be in the area after dark – though I may have got entirely the wrong idea…

At this stage I met up with my cousins again and we began the drive down to Santa Ana (another of LA counties 40+ cities) where we had tickets to the first night of Tiger Army’s Octoberflame Halloween show. The venue was nicely compact with a unique layout that I wasn’t at first convinced by but was glad of once Tiger Army took to the stage and the pit kicked off. Before the show I didn’t know who the support acts were as I had brought the tickets on pre-sale back in June as I knew it would sell out quickly, so I was more than pleasantly surprised by both The Limit Club (a psychobilly band from Phoenix) and James Intveld (a country performer who produced Nick 13’s solo record).

Tiger Army
Tiger Army

You can read my full review of the Octoberflame gig here but suffice to say it has entered my top 10, and possibly top 5, shows I’ve attended while The Limit Club have since turned out to be a thoroughly nice bunch going by our interactions on social media.

Once again the drive ‘home’ went by with surprising swift and it wasn’t long before I fell asleep exhausted in the early hours of Halloween.

Read about my next two days in LA here

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