I’m not really one for big cities, particularly when I’m trying to relax on holiday, so it was inevitable that Los Angeles and I wouldn’t hit it off. Well, I kind of walked away with a bit of a love-hate thing for the city, really. Parts of it are cool – mostly around the coast, but as for Hollywood…forget it! Dont believe the hype in the travel brochures, people. Those photos of happy, smiling people posing on the footpath next to a clean, glistening Walk of Fame must be air-brushed! The parts of the Walk I came across were grimy and long-forgotten. Think: ciggie butts floating around all over the place, chewy stains and gorbies. I saw a fresh one right next to Bob Hope’s star. Shameful!
While I’m having a whinge, the Hollywood sign left me with an empty feeling, too. Its hard to get a good photo when there’s so much pollution in the air that it forms a thick grey smog across the city. A guy tried to convince us it was “Sea Mist”, but we didn’t buy it. He’s only kidding himself. I ended up taking the best photo of the Hollywood sign near Sunset Boulevard a few weeks later (the day before we flew home to Melbourne):
Admittedly, the only reason I went to Los Angeles in first place was to catch up with a record dealer and to clean out the vintage clothing stores. In terms of record shopping, boy did I score some doozies – It was hard to know when to stop. I went to visit a guy who sells records from his garage. Naturally I spent most of the day digging and listening to 45’s. The stuff I was putting aside was mostly r&b and soul-jazz – I wasn’t coming across any Latin, which was disappointing. But then, like MAGIC, the Postman arrived in his funny little post truck and walked up the driveway with a massive box in his hand. It was a box of never-played Latin 45’s, direct from New York City. What luck! I bought a helluva lot of them, but could easily have bought more (damn you, airline baggage limits!).
In contrast, my vintage clothes digging was down-right disappointing. So many people had talked it up, too, which is never helpful. I tried everywhere. Sure – there are a lot of stores around, but the stock was… kind of boring. The best stores I found were out in Burbank- they’re more on the ‘thrift store’ tip, but the quality of garments was outstanding. The prices were even better.
One store that was a little pricier was Playclothes, but you can see why – It’s jammed with exceptional vintage from the 20’s right through to the 80’s. I bought some nice pieces here. The other place worth checking out is Retro Row in Long Beach. The highlight was Meow Vintage which sells deadstock garments and accessories.
Now that my shopping tips are taken care of, let’s get back to the story…
So there we were, cruising on the freeway in our Mustang convertible looking like a couple of tools. No-one else had the top down on the Number 10… and for good reason. There is nothing more nerve wracking than speeding along, with your hair in your face and a monster truck riding your arse so hard you can’t even see its headlights while semi-trailers pass you on both sides. We learnt very quickly that having the top down on a major arterial did not the romance make.
We had intended following Route 66 out of LA towards Palm Springs, but because I spent so long buying records, we ended up getting caught in peak-hour traffic and had to give it a miss. A bit of a shame, but that’s life. At least I got to photograph some nice old signs while we were waiting to move along.
Three hours later we drove into Palm Springs, which was like driving onto another planet. In the moonlight, the mountains and canyons of the Coachella Valley resembled a lunar landscape. Then there was the eerie flash of red lights that flickered across the flat lands for miles and miles. The lights were attached to wind turbines which were packed in tight together and followed the highway as far as the golf course. Once we got into the main drag of Palm Springs, you could see why it would have been the hippest holiday hang in the 20th century. The architecture, that lunar backdrop, the palm trees; oh and don’t forget those springs!
Yeh – I knew I was going to dig this town.