We took the metro to Union Station to meet up with Charles, a humorist, author and "ambassador of Americana," who I've seen leading tours around Downtown LA multiple times on my weekend downtown adventures. But today, we were part of the group following the guy in Mickey ears with a megaphone. And while I'd already been to a lot of places on the tour, today I saw them in a whole new light... looking through the layers of history surrounding us daily if we just take the time to look at them (to paraphrase a certain tour guide :)
Next we took the gold line one stop north to Chinatown, where I haven't been in years. We threw pennies in the wishing well (think Snow White's well at Disneyland), had egg rolls at Hop Louie, and saw the just-reopened, frozen-in-time office of the first Chinese lawyer in LA, You Chung Hong.
From Chinatown we hopped on our tour bus and went to El Pueblo de Los Angeles to walk through Plaza Fire House No. 1, the first firehouse in LA, which is now a museum showcasing an old horse-drawn fire engine and other historic equipment. This made me think of my grandpa....
From the fire house we walked across the square to Olvera Street. I've eaten there twice and browsed the shopping stalls. But today we went into Avila Adobe, the oldest existing house in Los Angeles, went up on a roof to view the recently restored, controversial "La America Tropical" mural, and had an amazing taquito at Cielito Lindo.
After taquitos, it was time for lunch (ha!). We walked down the street to Philippe the Original, where I (and many others) believe the french dip sandwich originated. I had a beef french dip, potato salad and a bite of blueberry pie. Delish!
From Philippe's we took the bus up to the Bradbury Building, a national landmark, which for years was called the only important piece of architecture in Los Angeles. Numerous movies have been filmed there, including Blade Runner. And I've been there before thanks to my friend Cwennen, whose office used to be located there, and walked around it as a bustling office building. Today, it was very quiet and museum-like.
Then it was back on the bus to visit the neighborhood Charles says would be a block behind Main Street USA, Carroll Avenue in nearby Echo Park. It was one of the first neighborhoods in Los Angeles and is also home to the largest concentration of Victorian houses in LA, including the house where Michael Jackson's Thriller video was filmed (below, lower right).
After hearing about the historic homes, we drove down the hill and around the corner a bit to the Bob Baker Marionette Theater. We saw about a fifth of their current show Fiesta, then had ice cream and cake in the party room.
Then it was back on the bus to return to Union Station where our tour ended... but not before taking a photo with our tour guide. Here's to super-fun, photo-filled Sunday fun-days! :)
A little over a week ago, Apple held one of their big press conferences and announced they have new products you need to pay hundreds of dollars for that I will never buy because #iluvmydroid. Snooze. Yawn.
But then they introduced my favorite band (now that Bon Jovi is minus a Sambora) and announced that every iTunes user in the world was getting a gift in their account -- a free copy of the long-awaited new U2 album "Songs of Innocence."
That woke me up. I knew the album was almost ready. They'd been working on it for years. It was supposed to come out last year. Then it didn't. Then it was going to come out before the end of this year. But no date was announced. I kept waiting. Then I got distracted and all excited about the new Foos album coming out in November.
Never did I guess U2 would go from zero to a thousand and give it away to everyone (whether they wanted it or not) at the exact moment it was announced. I was so excited!
Then I got home to check my iTunes (since #ihaveadroid) and became perturbed. It wasn't easy to find. (Thanks to the peeps on the Apple message boards who also felt my pain and shared the secret of going to iTunes Preferences -> Store and checking the friggin' "Show iTunes in the Cloud purchases" box.)
I finally got it downloaded and started listening. My immediate favorite song was "Song for Someone"... a sweet, lyrical Bono love song with Edge singing harmony that builds up like a classic U2 hit a'la "With or Without You" or "Walk On."
Then I really started listening... trying to figure the "very, very personal" songs out, because one of the things I love and miss most about buying albums is reading the liner notes and analyzing the little poems put to music known as song lyrics.
I started loving "Every Breaking Wave." Then "Iris" .... classic Edge strum, strum, strum... Larry bang, bang, banging beat, building up, with the music traveling in circles as Bono tells a story over it.. this time about his mom, Iris, who died when he was 14. It reminds me of pre-Unforgettable Fire U2. And I can already see that song in concert with bright flashing lights traveling the stage as Bono runs around and Edge stands there strum, strum, strumming in one spot. It's very different from the song Bono wrote when his dad died, ("Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" from one of my favorite albums, "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.") but he had a lot more history with his dad...
Then two days ago I read this on RollingStone.com. Thank you for not making me figure it all out anymore. For those that don't want to click, based on an interview with Bono, the songs chronicle their young, innocent, pre-super band days.
Today I was connecting with the haunting "The Troubles" and "Volcano" -- they fit my mood this week at work. Volcano is also very '80s to me, which is a good thing ;)
Overall, I think I will like and listen to this album a lot. It's definitely more on the Achtung Baby/All That You Can't Leave Behind side of the collection (where I love listening to the whole album, no skipping) than the Zooropa/Pop side (where I listen to "If God Will Send His Angels" and "Staring at the Sun" and ... that's about it).
It was definitely worth way more than I paid for it (ha) and I will probably be one of the suckers that actually buys the album when it's physically released on October 15 so I can get the book that comes with it (see liner notes comment above ;) and the acoustic versions of four songs... because I'm also a sucker for anything played unplugged.
What do you think of your free gift? (That Apple actually paid $100 million for... nice promotional budget!) And who wants to go to a U2 concert with me next year to hear it live? :)
With the appearance of a FedEx tag on my front door, today became my favorite day in September -- Season Ticket Box of Goodies Arrival Day!
Not only did I get another "Luc Robitaille-Authenticated" container of melted ice that the LA Kings won the Stanley Cup on, but I got my discount card and all my tickets, which are awesome!
The Kings went all out on the season ticket books this year! Not only is every player (not just the long-contracted stars) on a ticket (I guess that means no one is getting traded this year :p), but every ticket has a different photo of Stanley Cup Championship happiness on it and the special games have special tickets.
This is my favorite ticket :)
(Glad they used a photo of him sticking out his tongue! Haha)
I also love seeing this every year when the Star Wars theme is played. (But one note to many of the lightsaber-carrying audience members in attendance Friday night: The theme from "Superman" is not a "Star Wars" song ;)
So this past week a bunch of my friends had birthdays (HBD Niki, Dayna, Jodie, Shane, Barrett, anyone else I forgot), but only one (hi Katharine) decided her friends needed an educational experience as part of her celebration ;)
So last Sunday, friends of Princess Katharine got up early, cursed slow people in the Starbucks drive-thru in front of them (ok, that was just me) and trekked down to the Natural History Museum to walk first amongst butterflies in the soon-to-close Butterfly Pavilion and then amongst dinosaurs and bunches of stuffed creatures auditioning for Night at the Museum 3.
A lot of photos were, of course, taken... especially of pretty butterflies:
Then, inside the museum, this question was posed:
Well, this is the belly of a reeeeallllly big dinosaur suspended from the ceiling:
And these are two dinosaurs about to attack each other (well, if they were still alive ...)
Other important questions were also posed in the museum:
...but the exhibits there were real human skulls and stuffed real animals, which creep me out. So no photos of that. Sorry.
Instead, let's move onto lunch.
We were going to go to uber-hotspot-of-the-moment Eggslut in the Grand Central Market in downtown LA, but the line was half the length of the market (long-ways).
So instead we explored and got a variety of yummy stuff. I ended up at Berlin Currywurst, where I had a delish medium-heat brat, and german (don't dare call them french) fries:
Then we relived the birthday girl's childhood and got ice cream at McConnell's Fine Ice Creams. I, of course, had my fave: mint chocolate chip. It was delish!