While North Carolina somewhat mysteriously tried to recreate the Atlanta Snowpocalypse of 2014, we went to LA (on a trip planned fully 2 months in advance, mind you).
We had such a great time I feel like I need to extend some shout-outs to the people & places responsible.
This was our first AirBnB experience, and it was lovely. We stayed here.
This was the view out the front window:
We were staying in the Echo Park neighborhood, which, we found out, is the neighborhood where Aimee Semple McPherson started her Angelus Temple (which apparently persists to this day). She was the preeminent radio preacher of the 20s; she also spoke in tongues & did faith-healing. The character Sharon Falconer in Elmer Gantry was based on her. We were bummed that Elmer Gantry isn’t available for streaming.
For the first time in the history of our decade of vacationing together, we batted 1000 meal-wise, at the following restaurants:
- L&E Oyster Bar
- Ray’s and Stark Bar @ LACMA
- In-N-Out Burger
- Silver Lake Ramen
Here’s the carrot salad at Allumette:
We did the omokase at Kiriko at lunch, which was only about half as expensive as it would have been at dinnertime. Every single piece of fish was sublime. I don’t know where Kiriko stands in worldwide sushi rankings (although Jonathan Gold ranks it pretty highly in LA), but if you’re normal mortals & not wealthy world travelers, it’ll maybe go partway towards fulfilling your Jiro dreams.
The next most remarkable thing, across the board, was the freshness of the vegetables, and the willingness of non-vegetarian restaurants to really experiment with & put the vegetables front-and-center. Obviously the year-round California growing season helps enormously, but I still feel like our local restaurants could learn a lot.
In fact, generally speaking, nearly everything we ate at nearly every place in LA pretty much kicked the ass of just about anything you’d find in the Triangle (not surprising, given LA’s size, although it’s not like we were eating our way down some LA top-20 restaurant list, since we couldn’t afford to eat anywhere like that). Someone should tip off the New York Times; LA might just be the next Durham.
We didn’t just eat, of course. We saw a documentary about a rich obsessive named Tim (the guy who invented the Video Toaster back in the 80s, for those of you who were paying attention to computer graphics in the 80s) who became convinced that Vermeer had used a particular type of mirror apparatus to paint his paintings, and decided that the only way to prove this was to reconstruct Vermeer’s workroom/studio, including all the furnishings, in order to then paint his own version of Vermeer’s “The Music Lesson.”
It’s called Tim’s Vermeer & is pretty fascinating. For some reason Penn & Teller made it. It will apparently be playing the Triangle in the spring.
We saw the final chunk of the James Turrell retrospective at LACMA, which was even better than I had hoped. I’m pretty sure we subsequently decided to try to visit as many of the publicly-held Turrell SkySpaces as we can on any/all future vacations.
We checked out the Getty Museum, and spent most of our time outside because the weather was gorgeous, as were the gardens and the architecture:
We drove down Sunset Blvd to the beach:
We revisited the mighty Watts Towers, and this time took a tour led by a guy who had grown up in the neighborhood, who reminisced fondly about climbing up the 99-foot towers when he was a little kid:
We also revisited the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which seemed to be slightly the worse for wear compared to the last time we were there. Still a fascinating experience, but there were several exhibits out-of-order (and not just the intentionally broken one). If you’ve never been, it’s still worth a trip.
But if you’ve been before, maybe you won’t want to risk damaging your memories (although you should probably make a donation or buy something in the online gift shop to help them make repairs & keep the weirdness alive).
Our rental car came with this demonic feature that counted up the number of minutes spent in the car. At the end of 5 days we’d spent nearly 10 hours in the car, which I guess is as much a part of the LA experience as anything else.
Since the gods conspired against us, architecture-wise, on this trip (everything was either closed for renovations, mysteriously closed in February, or only open on weekends), we’ll be returning to LA. Probably in midwinter again, because honestly, the very best part of the whole trip was the weather, particularly in comparison to the snow-related news coming from back home.