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Hello from foggy and
extremely chilly southern California!  I wasn’t super psyched about this
trip at first (probably why I failed to mention it) just because I often feel
apprehensive about trips away from my kids, and LA has never topped my list of
places I dreamed of going (well, except for when I was in middle school), but
it has been a total blast so far.  

We did the super cheesy bus tour of all
of Los Angeles yesterday, and I completely geeked out at Grauman’s Chinese
Theatre.  I stood in John Wayne’s boot prints, and get this, he doesn’t
have his hand prints; it’s his fist print.  How awesome is that?  I also went inside the Kodak Theatre where the Academy Awards are hosted each year and put my toe on the red carpet, which was mostly roped off.  It was strange because on one side of the theatre, there is an actual shopping mall.  The theatre, like most of what I’ve seen out here so far, is pretty much a facade.  It, apparently, really is all about image.  Nothing is as it seems on the movie screen or television set in your home.  I knew this, but it was still a little weird to see the reality of it.

I saw Marilyn Monroe’s house, which is right next door to Gene Kelly’s.
 I also saw Lucille Ball’s, Jack Benny’s, Anthony Quinn’s, Elvis’s estate,
Humphrey Bogart’s and Lauren Bacall’s houses, and a bunch of contemporary
people’s homes I didn’t really care about. One striking difference between the homes of older stars as opposed to the younger ones is the opulence.  Marilyn Monroe’s house was quite nice, but by Hollywood standards, it is modest.  Gene Kelly’s reminded me of the sweet, all-American house with a white picket fence. The newer homes, on the other hand, seem over the top as do many of the things out here.  I’m thinking specifically of a $2,000.00 sweater I touched, and then quickly placed back on the hanger, at Michael Kors yesterday.  I saw not one, not two, but no less than ten Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches yesterday along with a $2.2 million Bugatti.  To say that some of the people out here are out of touch might be an understatement.  

On the other hand, the level of trash, graffiti, homelessness and general bleakness is the worst.  LA is, hands down, the nastiest place I have ever been, and I’m including the most poverty stricken parts of Jamaica in this.  I told Rob all we needed was a goat to run out in front of our bus on the freeway.  It’s very strange and depressing.  Just when you think your little slice of America represents the nation as a whole, take a trip somewhere new.  Holy cow.

Anyway, I got in the
Pacific Ocean at Venice Beach, which was cold as shit.  The LA triathlon was
yesterday, and I can see the usefulness of a wetsuit. We
saw Santa Monica, Mulholland Drive, which was awesome, Hollywood, Sunset Strip,
and, of course, Rodeo Drive.  I stood outside Tiffany’s and said I needed
a croissant for my picture.  I know that it’s not the same as NYC, but no
one got my reference anyway.  *sigh*  Do people not watch classic
films anymore?  Of course, when I compare myself to Audrey Hepburn, I
guess I might need more than a croissant, but hey.

 My only brush with stardom
so far has been Tony Bennett.  I was standing with my coffee yesterday
morning and waiting for a taxi.  A guy next to me said, “Tony Bennett
just walked right past you, and you didn’t notice.”  

I said,
“What?  Where?”  

“He’s right outside the door.”
 So I walked outside, looked around for a minute, and then noticed that
next to me, with his shoulder nearly touching mine, was a frail and very small man
with some killer 1970’s sunglasses.  We smiled at one another, but I
didn’t say anything.  I felt too stupid.  We just stood together in a
crowd for about five minutes until his cab came.
 His was much nicer than mine.

I took about a thousand pictures yesterday, most of them of driveways and gates that I can’t remember who they belong to now, but I’ll post the others when we get back.  Now that I’m here, I don’t know what I was so afraid of.  I miss my kids like crazy, but it was sort of thrilling to see all the places I had fantasized about as an adolescent, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with Rob and his friends from work.

I’ve also met some super nice folks; even the clerks at Versace and Jimmy Choo were nice.  So far, I’ve had no Julia Roberts experiences with store clerks; of course, I’m not a prostitute, but it’s probably obvious I’m not going to purchase a necktie for $1,000 either.  Anyway, I hope it is; I can’t decide which is more sinful– prostitution or buying a $1,000 neck tie.  I’m sort of leaning towards the neck tie.

All this, and I still have two more days.  I’m going to lunch today with a screenwriter here in town who also happens to be the first cousin of one of the women we’re traveling with.  I’m looking forward to that and possibly renting a bike and riding it from Santa Monica over to Venice Beach.  Between angry cab drivers and insanely expensive dinners that I, thank the Lord, did not have to pay for, it’s been an adventure, but I’m glad I came.  Still, I think Judy Garland said it best:  “There’s no place like home.”