Desperately Seeking Downtown Los Angeles
I heard that. Yes, just now. You snorted when I wrote "downtown." So did a bunch of others when I told them of my quest to see "downtown L.A." Idiot? Yeah, maybe. More on that later.
So we got to L.A. (pronounced as Cheryl Crow sang it in All I Wanna Do: with a long drawled "L" and a short, Canadian "A") and the freeways kept routing us around the tall downtown buildings in the distance. Crow's song was a torturing earworm in my head:
This ain't no disco
And it ain't no country club either,
This is L.A. ("Elllle, Eh")
What I learned very quickly was that in this vast cementscape (I like it better as one word) of L.A., you cannot survive without "the Disneyland Effect." Never heard of it? The Disneyland Effect is a last hope for stressed drivers dealing with 6 lane highways (12 across in both directions) moving at 85 miles an hour looking for their exits. Or not. You could also be crawling along looking for your exit--trying to get the hell away from the traffic horror. In desperation, you deliberately choose the back roads or alternate routes just so you can be moving forward rather than in gridlock. In theory, the Disneyland Effect gains you the illusion of fun and movement (even if you're actually driving an extra 30 miles) as if you were actually in Disneyland.
|Tuck and Roll Buggies at Disneyland by California Bear|
Also exploring and trying to get to the L.A. Zoo on a partial Disneyland Effect whim (we were too late), we discovered the Gene Autry Museum of the Wild West (we were too late to get in there, too. I desperately want to go back):
|Gene Autry and his horse|
|Creative Commons license photo of Griffith Observatory of Hollywood Hills, downtown by Boqiang Lao|
We attended a benefit concert for Hollywood Orchard featuring performances by Moira Smiley and her musical friends in the area. When not traveling, Moira calls this place home. It was a pretty awesome excuse to discover the west Hollywood Hills, the amazing Griffith Park and super hikes that gave you views like:
- "LA has a downtown... (spoken at first with a defensive/questioning tone that trails off on "town") but..."
- "Well, LA doesn't really have a downtown, you have the Staples Center and some buildings but..." (from 2012)
- "There is a downtown but it's not like New York or San Francisco, you can't just walk around."
- My husband asked family in Long Beach, "So my wife has been asking people about whether or not they think LA has a downtown." Loud laughter at the absurdity of the question.
- "The downtown is sort of...like...well..." My friend reverts to a gesture. She holds both hands out and makes a box shape. "The downtown is like..." [makes box shape, no words] Not sure what she means exactly but it comes across as "there's no there there."
Maybe it's SoCal logic: if you're constantly driving around something and only viewing it from a distance, maybe it doesn't actually exist? In fact we did make it "downtown." We walked around, had a rockin' salad and confirmed the opinion that...there wasn't much there there. Or it at least it wasn't able to stand up to the draw of Hollywood Blvd.
There is one last thing I have to do--now that I've been to "downtown" L.A. I can't stand typing "L" "." "A" "." It's really annoying. From now on, I'm going to type Elle Eh.