Los Angeles, CA
Surprisingly after our little New Zealand Fruit Fly fiasco, USA accepted us with open arms and within 30 minutes of our flight arriving, we were out the terminal door. We found out fairly soon that LA was all about the movies when almost immediately I was referenced to a Matrix character by our shuttle driver. The guy was really clutching at straws; when I said my name was Jason Neal, he shouted “ah, Neal, like Neo, from The Matrix” – I didn’t really want to question his insanity, especially when once upon a time American Citizens were given a free gun when they opened a bank account. Once we reached our hotel set right in the middle of Hollywood, I caught a conversation between someone from New York and another from New Jersey – on that intro I seriously thought it was all about to kick off, luckily it didn’t. All that there was to do now was walk the crazy streets of LA. I use the term ‘crazy’ in its most highest state of meaning due to array of mentally deprived, brainwashed crazy faces that crossed our path. One moment, a guy who actually looked like a regular student around our age turned to us in the middle of a crowded crossing and started talking directly to us from a distance of about two metres about ‘a guy who had been shot in Las Vegas because he was gay’. This was just the start. On a separate not, it is safe to offer a homeless person Coca Cola without them chucking it in your face and asking for money instead. We managed to escape the madness of the Hollywood Boulevard and board a bus to become stalkers for a day and spot celebrity homes. Apart from seeing a lot of gates who apparently belonged to famous people, I learnt 4 other interesting things that day: 1. Some people in Hollywood have way too much money 2. A lot of Hollywood celebrities rent houses for more money per month than we could potentially earn in a year. 3. Every celebrity travels by a 4×4 with tinted windows so you’ll never see one anyway 4. There are amazing houses with pools you could only dream of that are only used for ‘rehab’…in complete disagreement to the lyrics of Amy Winehouse, if they tried to make me go to rehab I would say “yeah, yeah, yeah” Afterwards, waking down the Hollywood Walk of Fame was great, btw, still awaiting my star Hollywood. Although I do have doubt when I see the likes of Kermit The Frog as a star, I mean really? If green things are allowed, then why not the Incredible Hulk or even the Wicked Witch of Oz. Our street entertainment was part of the many crazy people in this city as many people dressed up as a famous characters and walked through the streets asking for photographs which you would then have to pay for. It’s quite disturbing seeing fat guys dressed up as Batman and a dozen Catwomen all chatting to each other on the sidewalk as though it’s normal. As early as 8pm I think I got into bed and collapsed after all the excitement of seeing all these out of proportion characters and 12 hours later decided it was time to get up. Our first breakfast experience in the hotel was rather more like a battle to get a waffle but after much patience we had finally eaten our unhealthy American breakfast and headed out onto the streets once again. Basically we decided to stay around Hollywood, check out more sites, have coffees, eat burgers, you know, the American way and then check out a premiere for the newly released ‘Get Hard’ with Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart. So there we stood, a safe licking distance away from the celebrity red carpet awaiting the stars. To be honest, as interesting it was to be at a premiere, it really just highlights the divides of LA. Them on one side, the celebrities, the press, the glamour and glitz and on the other side, what I call, face lickers, crazy dressed up dudes (on this occasion two versions of Johnny Depp) and screaming fans all divided by a road full of 4×4 ‘pollution machines’ and hybrid ‘why bother’ cars. On our arrival back to the hotel, we experienced someone who was using the in-house pay phone to speak with the government about President Obama and how he knew him. Obviously this is untrue as we know it, but for this Latin American cleaner, it was very real. He went into depth about his wage increase and was taking as if he was an advisor in the White House. The next day we awoke and headed to the bus stop, on route we experienced yet more ‘face lickers’ talking to themselves. I can only describe this as what happens in the game Grand Theft Auto. If you have ever experienced this game, then you will know when I say that the people here sound exactly as they do in the game when you are walking past them. I thought it was all made up, but they actually mutter random things and suddenly have ticks of an unusual nature. When we finally reached the bus stop we then experienced a fight between a homeless skateboard dude and an afro-american woman who wasn’t pleased about something. Feeling slightly unnerved, we thanked our angel that the bus came, driven by a bus driver who’s voice could of been used to star a character from the Simpsons. The bus was to go see the famous Warner Bros which was a highlight, not so much for the chance of seeing celebrities, but for the huge and flexible setup it boasts. As we were driven through the fake cities it was amazing to compare all the famous movies sets it once was home to including a cult classic in friends. It was interesting to really see how big Central Park actually is, just a corner bit of grass alongside the fake high street. After of which we was taken through to the set designers, prop sites and where they filmed a few tv shows. One of which was the kind of ‘memorial of friends set’. Basically it was the friends cafe Central Perk that had been dismantled and put together as it was originally. Although time was short, it was a delight to see your favourite TV show in really, including sitting on the sofa every friends character had once placed their backside upon. Our confidence to make sure we squeezed every little bit out of our three day adventure in LA included an afternoon trip to Santa Monica – seen as our flight was not until 1.30am in the morning.