So I’m sitting here late at night in Tanzania posting about Los Angeles. I’ve done my nails so I look presentable though somehow the lightest of touch made one of them get all messed up. So I just put on a load of topcoat and hope that’s going to work. Anyways. Promised post one of nine (christ, I’m ambitious).
Of course this post can only start with a photo taken from an airplane. How could it not? The flight was ok. I sat beside an American who alternated between asking a lot of questions and then not really wanting to hear the answer. I think that’s an American trait if I ever heard of it. I don’t think it’s negative; it’s just that when they say “how are you?” they really mean “hello.”
I ended up staying somewhere from Airbnb which was sort of like a hybrid rooming house. It was cheap and cheerful. Not dirty. At first I was a bit anxious but I calmed down after spending more time there. I’d recommend it (look up “Sogo Residences” on Airbnb) and will probably stay there next time I go to LA unless someone’s willing to foot the bill for fancy digs.
I didn’t go to the conference the day I arrived, instead opting to explore my new neighbourhood (Little Tokyo) and generally wander around the city. I did end up going to The Last Bookstore since I found out that they closed late and had a little wander along the streets. I’d recommend The Last Bookstore highly. They have a whole floor of dollar books. It’s insane. I regretted that I couldn’t take back as many as I”d have liked. Of course I couldn’t take any of the books I bought with me to Tanzania, due to weight, and due to the fact I bought a Sony e-reader to avoid this very problem. So I have them all waiting for me at home, and I lust especially after Baudrillard’s America. I love Baudrillard. I’m a bit of a freak. :<
The Last Bookstore also has a few small studios/galleries upstairs with very interesting works, and a wool store that has beautiful products… if only I could actually knit anything other than a “scarf” (i.e. a too short, uneven, lumpy length of wool that wouldn’t fit around anyone’s neck).
The dollar book section is actually on the same floor as these galleries and what have you, and on my second visit with Marg and Andrea, I found an entire shelf of Russian books! I like reading them and marking them up to improve on my Russian. Consider my surprise when I found this book with my dear friend Stalin on it. I had to do the same pose.
I snapped a few more photos on my way home and put everything away. Being a geographer, I strive for routal efficiency (not actually an expression), so I decided a “straight line” home was best because I was tired and wanted to sleep. However little did I know that this decision would take me directly through Skid Row. I only figured this out when the hobo-structures along the sidewalk became increasingly elaborate. I did what any sane person would do, so I furrowed my brow and speed-strutted my way out of there, making it back to my room in record time.
The next day I set off for the conference, ready to learn and meet people and totally not be anxious about anything.
The hotel where the conference was was lumpy and a bit weird but the elevators afforded very nice views of LA, seeing as many of the smaller group presentations were on floors 30-32. The AAG is huge. It’s insane. So many people. I went to a few talks and then I ended up meeting up with my adviser, Marg, Andrea, Sarah, Jenna, Karen, another professor and probably about 2.3 people I forgot because I’m a terrible person. We went to this Thai place and had some nice curry. While the others headed back to the conference to watch a film, I had to finish up a paper for a course, so I went back to the room and spent the night perfecting my genius. Then the wifi went out so I put off sending it, and then I’d forgotten, but the professor was forgiving.
The next day I spent most of my time at the conference and didn’t explore really at all, beyond going to MOCA which was under renovations… so only 100 pieces were out. I had two favourites:
I ended up realising that Los Angeles, at least downtown, has a terrible late night food experience, as in everything is shut by 9. I don’t understand. Maybe it’s just downtown, but I ended up eating again at Wurstkuche, a sausage hall down the road, twice. The crocodile andouille was ok, but I prefer something a bit less crunchy? So the next time I got this Bockwurst. And obviously duck fat fries because, well, gras de canard. And of course a Kostritzer. On tap. The beer was the best part.
The best part about going a second time to Wurstkuche was seeing this mural on this brewery which I forgot to return to:
On Friday morning it was my time to present my paper and I was super nervous and scared. Luckily my presentation was at 8:40am, meaning hardly anyone was there because it’s godawfully early.
After my talk went well (spoiler alert: I thought it went badly), two of my favourite people, Jenna and Pat, took me out for lunch before we went to VENICE BEACH. I was excited, since I thought I couldn’t get out there due to my lack of driving ability and will to take the bus that far. Jenna and I each got a CLEANSE juice thing in a jar, and despite their slightly terrifying name, they were delicious.
I learned that matching t-shirts is a thing. I also learned that palm trees are amazing. And that it is too cold for swimming, but I didn’t bring my swimsuit anyways. The boardwalk is overwhelming, though it’s also an interesting demonstration of classic economic geography theory, since there are so many of the same shop located very close to one another. Competition and that. Also ridiculous marijuana doctors where you pay $40 for nothing.
I also took this sweet seagull photo on the pier. I am in awe of this perfect moment captured. It ended up flying away and my seagull friendship never quite manifested in the same way again…
As the sun lowered in the sky, we decided to reconvene downtown for supper at a location decided later. We ended up eating Indian food and it was amazing. I love eating food as a group – everyone chooses one thing and then shares it all with the others. The waiter was unsure about making my order spicy but I insisted and then had to add extra chili anyways. On the way to this restaurant I walked down Broadway and looked at the sad closed theatres and, I swear to god, I saw a pregnant 12 or 13 year old in one of the theatres that had been converted into a church.
The next day was Marg’s paper series, so I woke up a bit earlier and bought another amazing sencha latte and bacon doughnut at Cafe Dulce in Little Tokyo. Their lattes are amazing and I think their secret is steaming the tea leaves in the milk rather than dumping steamed milk on a tea bag (I’m looking at you, Starbucks). This was the smaller of the two doughnuts. It was enough, even though I probably could have eaten at least 10 more.
Marg’s talk was amazing. I liked the whole group (though I was late since I got into an argument with a hobo). After the series was done, Marg, Andrea, Chad and I decided to venture out onto Sunset Boulevard to find a wall dedicated to a musician whose name I’ve totally forgotten now because I’m an insensitive and terrible friend, Andrea, and I’m sorry.
Also a slightly odd man took us into the shop by the wall and showed us some very cool, rare audio equipment and told us how sound worked in a way that made him sound crazy but when we thought about it actually wasn’t. Then we got tacos, because, well…tacos.
We separated from Chad because he and Sarah were going to a game of some variety. Maybe even going to the Game. The Game? I don’t know. But I know they had a good time! Andrea, Marg and I proceeded on to Union Station to check out its Art Deco wonders.
After Union Station, it was only natural to cross the street to El Pueblo, the place where settlement in LA started. We even went to LA’s first house.
For supper we went to Little Tokyo to this charming place who had a ridiculous 15-minute challenge. It’s called Wakasaya . I ordered the regular version (25$) of the challenge dish (which costs 50$ if you fail). I got so full, but everything was nice. The fish was very fresh, and while I think locals here probably go elsewhere, since it was emptier than other places I’d seen, for us from a place where the only fresh fish is lake fish, it was good. Andrea had her first sushi experience (as far as I could recall) and it seemed to go pretty well!
Since they were flying out early, they had to leave. I ended up sleeping the whole night and getting to the airport too early in LA, since my flight was delayed. It kind of sucked.
But in any case, I want to go back. And I swear I’ll finish the other 8 posts.