Archive for August, 2015|Monthly archive page

Highway 1 Revisited – California recommendations

Easy-riding in Venice CA

Easy-riding in Venice CA

LA

sunset marquis hotel pool los angeles

Sunset Marquis hotel [Sunset & Alta Lomo]

Fun for its rock excess vibe/history and proximity to Sunset Strip, plus it’s something of an oasis despite being a stone’s throw from Sunset.

mels diner drive in sunset boulevard los angeles
Mel’s Diner [8585 Sunset + Hollywood & Vine]

Made this old school diner my office. Great for breakfast and lashings of ice tea on a scorching day. The table-top jukebox adds to the pleasure.

book-soup book store sunset boulevard los angeles

Book Soup [8818 Sunset]

A proper independent book store which is a joy to browse. Also has a bit of vinyl tucked down the back.

gjusta los angeles venice

Gjusta [320 Sunset Ave, Venice, CA]

A bakery in an old boat factory – lots of exposed brick and Californian healthiness. Not cheap but fun to eat out back – in particular yoghurt & honey and beigels. Met a starlette here.

venice-canals-bridge los angeles venice

Venice Canals

Where Venice gets its name from and where Jim and The Doors got photographed. A tranquil backwater well worth a wander.

San Luis Obispo

boo-boo record shop san luis obispo

Boo Boo Records [Monterey St]

An absolute top record store with lashings of vinyl, new and second-hand. Total delight.

Big Sur

upper-creek-and-lower creek house big sur california

Deetjen’s – Upper Creek House

The quintessential cabin in the woods – off the grid, back to nature, cosy fire in the hearth (as opposed to the horror movie sort).

Monterey

Monterey Bay Aquarium_Kelp Forest

Monterey Aquarium

I’m not usually too in to such things but this is a real model for how to present nature and sea-life. Wondrous and beautiful.

Old Capitol Books [559 Tyler St]

Fine second-hand book store with a big selection and plenty of gems.

San Francisco

boogaloos valencia mission san francisco

Boogaloos [Valencia & 22nd]

Fun diner with staff who like comic books and stuff, in a striking Victorian building (old drugstore?).

baby blues bbq mission st mission san francisco

Baby Blues BBQ [3149 Mission St]

The real McCoy. Honest to goodness American food – great sauces and staff.

Biking the Bridge [Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito]

Cross the Golden Gate Bridge on a two-wheeled steed. Joyful and thrilling, especially when you’re being wind-blasted as you cross the bridge. Blazing Saddles was a good bike supplier and the name is irresistible of course – get 20% off by booking online, even on the day.

City Lights [Columbus & Broadway]

Perhaps a cliche of San Francisco …but who cares – a genuine book-lovers’ bookstore with, of course, an illustrious history. Live life to a different Beat.

City Lights 2015

City Lights 2015

City Lights 2004

City Lights 2004

Baby Blues BBQ

Baby Blues BBQ

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The Last Hurrah (for Hollywood)

Charlie Chaplin Kid Auto Races at Venice 1914 little tramp

We left LA with two final movie things to delight us and cast a glittering light on the City of Angels. First, I found out that the apartment we were staying in – apart from being on the same street Jim (Morrison) used to live on – was adjacent to the location of the first movie in which Charlie Chaplin appeared as The Little Tramp. It is now a dog park but back in 1914 it was the site of the ‘Kid Auto Races at Venice’ where Mack Sennett produced a 6 minute short directed by Henry Lehrman. My second son has Charlie as a middle name in honour of Chaplin.

Last time we were in LA together (when he was 4) we were hosted by my Paramount friends at a house Chaplin had built for his mistress. This time (he is now 15) we enjoyed spotting various Chaplin traces around Venice (mostly murals) but it was only on our day of departure I found out in detail why they were there.

The other movie moment to adorn that day was when the same son spotted a face he recognised in the place we went en famille for breakfast, a bakery called Gjusta also in Venice, located in an old boat-building factory adjacent to Gold’s Gym of Arnie fame. It had been Arnold Schwarzenegger’s birthday the day before and by chance I spotted, when out running along the beach, that his image fills giant-size the wall behind Jim’s mural ‘Morning Shot’. So after a breakfast with a bit less raw meat than Arnie would be used to (Gjusta is pretty California nutty-crunchy), Enfant Terrible No. 2 spotted this hot girl he recognised from the big screen and I had the pleasure of seeing him pluck up the courage to speak to her, plan his approach and execute it cooly. She turned out to be Cody Horn from Magic Mike. Her father is chairman of Walt Disney Studios and was formerly president of Warner Bros. so I guess “How did you get into movies?” was not worth the asking. No, to be fair, she was very warm and charming and happy to be engaged in conversation, as well as plenty glamorous so she helped bring our LA stay to a perfect, fitting end.

cody_horn_actress

We drove out of Gjusta with the LA Road Songs CD aforementioned Paramount pals made for us on our Route 101 trip 11 years ago playing loud and headed North to do the reverse trip…

highway-101 ventura california USA

Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer
The nights are stronger than moonshine
You’re gonna go I know

‘Cause the free wind is blowin’ through your hair
And the days surround your daylight there
Seasons crying no despair
Alligator lizards in the air, in the air

Simple Pleasures – It happened in Monterey without thinking twice

Castro Canyon, Big Sur

Castro Canyon, Big Sur

Watching hummingbirds. Learning about nature. The way sea otters lie on their back (favour backstroke). Second-hand bookshops. Record stores in the USA. 60s book cover designs. Clam chowder. The sound of streams. Being naked in nature. Wood fires. Travelling as a family. Hippies. 70s American cars. Sandals when covered in dust. Eucalyptus trees. Strawberries. Watching waves. Watching surfers. God Only Knows. 

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson

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