Sunday, November 19, 2006

Union Station

union station in los angeles, originally uploaded by aiyah. Los Angeles.

You might expect the main rail station in a big city to be thronging with people, grubby and run down. Well, you'll be in for a surprise. Thank Goodness the American love affair with the automobile has bequathed us Union Station, as it really is the most exquisite railway station I have ever seen (and I've seen more than my share).

The LA subway is very nice, probably because it doesn't really serve anywhere that poor people live, most of whom seem to struggle with the bus system instead. But getting out of the subway at Union station was extrordinary, entering this grand wood-lined and immaculate parket floor hall with the most beaurtiful leather and wooden seating. Stepping outside the architecture is just as magnifiscent - can't date it properly, but very western, mexican and probably 1860s. A trip worth making.

And your excuse for heading out to Union could be to visit Olivera Street, the first street in LA, and home to the oldest building in Los Angeles and a couple of quite decent Mexican restaurants, a more-than-decent mariachi band who will serenade you at your table (could have been irritating, but wasn't) and a long line of stalls selling a range of delightful, faux-Mexican tat.

I bought a toy guitar made in China and a little wooden puppet, all for about $10.


Two train songs ;-)

And one puppet %-)

buy them here :-)~

Santa Monica beach

No matter, whatever you do in LA, wherever you go, you always seem to end up on Santa Monica beach late afternoon, as the sun is starting to set.

The traffic on the Santa Monica highway is awful, but I don't know where all these people go?! The pier is only slightly less tacky and certainly less grand than Brighton, but the Santa Monica beach has sand and sunshine and extends for miles.

It really is quite beautiful.

Santa Monica beach at sunset

The bubble man is much loved. I think I now have my retirement plan.

the Bubbleman

And even on a November afternoon, the sun was shining.

Santa Monica beach

Here's some MP3s

Everclear - Santa Monica

The Guess Who - American Woman

and to buy

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hollywood Boulevard

L..A. Street scene, originally uploaded by Southcoasting.

on Halloween, was full of people dressing up and crowding the pavement and taking photographs of dressed up freaks crowding the pavement.

The Getty Center

is one of the most beautiful art museums I have ever been to.

Incredibly modern, ultra cool architecture and landscaping in a stunning landscape, perched on the side of the Santa Monica mountains with startling views over downtown LA and the 405 freeway, the Getty Centre is also a place of peace and contemplation.

Getty Center central water feature

Cool pure and off-white 30x30" stone-clad inter-connected
campus, arched along two competing directions tracking the
two visible ridges of the Santa Monica mountains.

Getty Center and garden

Architecture by Richard Meier, and landscape design by
Robert Irwin, both equally stunning and perfectly integrated
with the Southern Californian environment.

Getty Center interior staircase

There is a superb exhibition of photography including until February 4th 2007 Public Faces/ Private Spaces featuring some stunning work from Mary Ellen Mark (below) and Bill Owens, and until February 25th Photographs of America from the Berman Collection which is extensive and indescribable featuring work as diverse as Camilo Jose Vergara's alternative American churches and Joel Sternfield's moving photographs of the infamous street corners and motels of America's darker history.

If you love photography, you have to see these exhibitions.


David Ackles - Oh California

Marissa Nadler - Photographs


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Sunset Boulevard

I loved Sunset Boulevard, the length of it, the variation, the tall palm trees. The name holds such romance, from the 1949 Billy Wilder movie starring Gloria Swanson and William Holden and it didn't disappoint. (Read the full film script here.)

Those big houses are down the Beverley Hills end of the road I guess, but the thing about Sunset is the way it changes and grows, but always with the Hollywood Hills as a backdrop and those tall straining palm trees along the side.

It gets kinda grand down the Beverley Hills end, and before then sits the clubs and bars of West Hollywood, but between the Santa Monica Blvd turning and Silverlake it's kinda funky. I stopped there by accident because I was driving west down Sunset for the first time and spotted the Hollywood sign on the hills in the background and had to stop for a photo. You can kinda see it in the second photo below - if you know where to look! I pulled in opposite the Casbah Cafe (3900 West Sunset Blvd), which does excellent coffee, bagels and atmosphere. Then a few days later a gang of us descended on the superb Eat Well breakfast diner just a few doors along (3916 West Sunset Blvd), which must be the best place for breakfast in the world ever, bar none. It was busy, but well worth it.

Map of Eat Well location /Photos of the 3900 stretch below

originally uploaded by Southcoasting

And then there's the sixties, and the stories of Jim Morrison holeing up in some hotel on Sunset, or Love playing in some dive of a club. More on Sunset music later, but for now...

Kim Fowley - Sunset Boulevard (1978)

Buy Sunset Boulevard on DVD or Kim Fowley on CD

Two nights in New York

Only spent two nights in NYC, but they were pretty busy and lots of fun.

Saw lots of art with K in the galleries in West Chelsea. Got caught in a thunderstorm. Went shopping for shoes, successfully (thanks K). Bought a Viva Voce CD. Ate well (beef wraps, thai noodles, french breakfasts) and drank better. Took a train, took a cab, took the subway. I did it all, and still made it to the plane on time.

Saturday night I went out to Brooklyn and met Will from the magnifiscent Thunderegg, Red Squirrel, a bundle of their friends (including the impressively attired two John O'Connors) and friends of their friends. After a moderate and restrained consumption of beers, we went out to see the excellent Cyd Glore's New Masterpiece at Hank's on Atlantic Avenue (surprisingly intimate and local).

In memory of a wonderful evening:

Cyd Glore's New Masterpiece - Upon Reaching

Cyd Glore's New Masterpiece - Dig on Sunshine

Thunderegg -
The American Standard Is Slipping (And It's All Your Fault)

Thunderegg - Hall Pass

Thunderegg are currently in the studio recording their next album!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I'm back!

from the USA. Fantastic trip and I'll try to blog some of it. Slowly. Just glad I was able to bring over some of my European liberalism and good sense in time for a terrific mid-term election result.

Bye-bye George.

Great to catch up with K in Chelsea, if briefly. Fab night out in Brooklyn with Will and his gang. Some great days in LA with R, J, K and L. Good to meet Stephen, albeit briefly, and various other characters.

In the meantime, let's hear it for Allen Ginsburg - America "Go Fuc4 Yourself with your Atom Bomb!"

Did I say I loved LA? Oh, how I loved LA.