Sunday, November 30, 2008

California Part 2 Star Gazing

Sunset Boulevard:

So here we are on a mission to discover California’s most notable landmarks. And since it’s Trina’s first trip, we have to see the really hot spots. We’re hitting the A-list.

First stop: Sunset Boulevard and Grauman’s Chinese theater where movie stars are canonized in concrete . Trina has heard of George Clooney, but wonders, who are all these other people. Jane Russell? Marilyn Monroe? John Wayne? Losing interest quickly, we switch to a new form of sidewalk entertainment, the Walk of Fame. I have my photo taken with Nat King Cole’s marker. Trina poses with Celine Dion’s star. A lot of aspiring actors are hanging around pretending to be famous celebs. One is dressed (more of less) like Spiderman. Another appears to be Freddie Krueger. And there are two Marilyn Monroe look-alikes wearing white dresses, waiting for a passing subway breeze. They volunteer to pose for photos and then hit you up for a “donation”. I take a pass and suddenly one of those dreamy Marilyn Monroes gives me a dementedly dangerous look. Thank God I stayed away from Freddie Kreuger! We ask a security guard where to go to get a good view of the famed HOLLYWOOD sign. He tells us to go around the corner and look up. Clearly, we are tourists.

I drive Trina down Rodeo drive. She is unimpressed. Especially since she knows I can’t afford to buy anything there. Who’s the genius who decided it's pronounced Row- Day-Oh instead of Row Dee-Oh. Oh, Oh Pleeeeze!

Trina decides she needs to take a tour of the Movie Star homes. With visions of Cellulose Celebrity Sightings, we speedily embark in our rented Suzuki Sidekick. Well, we go as fast as you can in a Sidekick. Apparently a lot of people have taken the tour of Movie Stars’ homes. And it would appear that after the first bazillion tourists stopped in to say hi, all the Movie Stars took evasive action to protect their privacy. They installed very high hedges and imposing iron gates around their properties. So, we spend two hours touring hedges and gates. We see Courtney Cox’s hedge. We pass by Paul McCartney’s Gate, and Ringo Starr’s gate too. Or was it George Harrison’s? Paul was always my favorite. He has a lovely gate. We also go to see Ellen DeGeneres’ gate. This is a little embarrassing. The road leading to Ellen’s house is fairly narrow… and when we get to the end of it, there’s a BIG gate. It’s a private road. Sorry Ellen! I have to k-turn about 6 times to turn around, pretending not to notice the agitated looks from Ellen's household staff as they glare through the bars of Ellen's Mega-Gate. But hey, I’m here to tell you. It is one heck of a gate. Undaunted, we press ahead, up into the Hollywood Hills. We tool around Muholland drive and see Jack Nicholson’s gate. It’s not that impressive. But I understand he has quite a nice compound in there. We also see the gate for Britney Spears’ home. That doesn't really count because Britney lives in a gated community. So, while we did see her gate, that particular gate also belongs to a lot of other people.

We accidentally drive up to an overlook with a beautiful view of the HOLLYWOOD sign. There are lots of other tourists there, a busload of Germans having just pulled in. We ask one of them to take our picture. This German guy claims to be a serious photographer. And later, when we see the picture we can tell he is good. It’s a nice photo of Trina and me. Unfortunately, you can barely see the famous HOLLYWOOD sign behind us.

Melrose Drive:

The following day we visit our friends, Jon & Jean. Trina wants to shop on Melrose Avenue. Once there, we find lots and lots of Thrift shops. Apparently, Movie Stars like to sell their expensive wardrobes to us peons. Sadly, Jon and I do not find any Givenchy gowns for $15. And we don’t find anything for Trina either. Suddenly, there is a hubbub! People with cameras start running around. It is the famed Paparazzi!! One of them explains that Michael Jackson has returned from the MiddleEast and is going shopping. We wait expectantly, hoping the gloved one will stop to say hi. (We're feeling especially needy after being snubbed over at Ellen’s place.) Suddenly, there he is. Or rather, there is a fleet of Cadillac Escalades with tinted windows speeding down Melrose. People on the street jump up and down and wave. I’m sure inside one of those massive SUV’s Michael is waving back. The next day, the tabloids are full of reports explaining that Michael went furniture shopping, in his pajamas. But we depart Melrose Avenue with no gowns, not even one of Michael’s sequined gloves. It’s now getting late. We hop on the freeway. Traffic stops dead. An accident? A naked girl running down the median? Michael in his PJ's? Nope. It’s a wildfire. One of the biggest highways in LA is closed at rush hour just because flames threaten to incinerate us commuters. We go the back way home, past Jack Nicholson’s gate, past Dr. Phil’s massive concrete wall. After a quick 2 hour detour we have covered 12 miles and we are home for dinner fashionably late, at 8:30pm. Jon’s lovely wife Joan has kept the meal simmering. Supper is delayed but delicious. We chat into the night, sitting by Jon & Jean's gorgeous outdoor pool, keeping a watchful eye out for scary nocturnal creatures lurking out in the sagebrush. Coyotes. Owls. Michael Jackson.

Next time, Sea Elephants Meet the Velvet Fog

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