Book the limos and roll out the red carpet. It’s screening day at the New York Film Academy (Los Angeles)! We drove back to 3500 Riverside with the top down, for the last time. We shall miss this little commute with the wind in our hair every morning. Tom usually sits in the back where there is a bit more wind available and looking in the rear view mirror it looks like his hair is alive and very excited about something.
They show the films made by all the 10-13 year olds film school for the previous two weeks; beginners and intermediates. There was, shall we say, a range of quality available and its here where I reach for the classic Jerry Seinfeld episode to say that some were truly breathtaking. Tom’s commercial (which you can see on his blog: tlplays.wordpress.com) got big laughs. Everyone got the joke and it was one of the best received in the hour long presentation. He was disappointed that he didn’t get enough time to film everything he wanted for his second piece, but it actually told the story without the need for the full plot and everyone liked the visual trick he played with the lead character. Well done Tom!
After photos and email addresses and goodbyes we drove home to confront the reality that we are actually leaving tomorrow. P locked herself in the bathroom shouting “no, no you can’t make me” and had to be enticed out with the promise of lunch somewhere nice. That turned out to be Little Dom’s Italian in the Los Felice neighbourhood. It has a sort of posh fifties feel, with curved banquettes and Formica tables edged with rippled stainless steel and menus where you can’t quite picture what it is you are going to get. We were trying to work out why it couldn’t quite be in New York or London and decided that what set it apart was the clean bright light pouring through the big windows. The food was interesting and nicely put together and Philippa’s was big enough for sandwiches the next day too…
Just up the road from Little Dom’s is Griffith Park and the observatory. It is such a lovely spot with commanding views over the city and the San Fernando Valley. The downside is the traffic which c r a w l s up the side of the mountain to get there. After spending twenty minutes getting to the start of the ascent we pulled into a space and walked the rest of the way, passing most of the cars that were ahead of us. Satisfying!
The Observatory is a venerable and popular institution and was humming with visitors. We got tickets for a planetarium show and lying back in the seats looking at the vast domed roof, P and I were on the edge of sleep. It’s a great show though, swooping through the stars and back through the history of astronomy. We exited into a wall of sunshine.
At the front of the observatory amateur astronomers had set up their telescopes and we squinted at a hazy crescent moon and flares of gas burning on the sun. It struck me, standing in the ninety degree heat, that its astonishing when you consider how far away the sun is, that just moving a little bit closer to it on this planet can make such a difference.
And home again in the late afternoon sunshine to finish the packing before our final excursion. We had vowed that THIS time, we would see the Hollywood Walk of Fame and all the madness that goes with it. We walked through the lanes on the hillside after sunset, with our tower receding into the distance and the Hollywood sign coming into view around the ridge. When we got to the Walk of Fame it was completely packed.
People were having their photos taken next to the pavement stars of their favourite celebrities, street performers dressed as people’s favourite celebrities were trying to get in on the act for a tip. Michael Jackson mingled with Chewbacca, and Spiderman teased a Minion about who was getting the most business. There were glow sticks and hot dogs and buskers and neon all along the pavement.
We found the area in front of the Chinese Theatre with the handprints and footprints and “Thanks Sid” on most of the older ones in tribute to Sidney Grauman who brought Hollywood to Hollywood. His were the original handprints but I looked in vain for them.
Last stop was Mel’s Diner, a Hollywood institution for decades in a building little changed since the forties.
Tom had a mighty milkshake and we looked back on our Hollywood experience. We will be sad to leave. It’s always nice to live a life with few responsibilities and a lot of sunshine.
On the walk back we paused at our garage to fetch something from the car and discovered the door wouldn’t open. Given that we were leaving at six the next morning this was an issue… I rang the agent and fifteen minutes later Douglas pulled in in his Tesla. After replacing the battery in the door lock with one raided from a smoke detector in the house, we had the door open again and Douglad and I chatted for a bit. He’s a tall good-looking guy who said he’d left Vancouver to do some modelling in California and stayed, becoming a Real Estate agent. “This is a boom city at the moment” he said. “It’s planning on a population increase of 38%. There are property developers coming here from Vancouver to develop Downtown. New Yorkers used to come to LA and sneer. Now they want to move here.” I know what he means. You can feel the industry in LA; cars belting along packed freeways, frenetic pavements and cafes packed with execs and hipsters. It’s laid back, but it’s also all business…