An Oklahoman in Hollywood: A guide for young travelers
Trying to escape the feeling of sandpaper eyelids at 5 a.m. on Dec.27, 2006, as I prepared for my early morning bus departure wasn’t exactly the break I had in mind, but a trip to Hollywood, California, most definitely was. I had pitched the idea to my parents to let me take the Greyhound bus there with a friend to meet some acquaintances that I had made some two summers ago from a band called The Willowz.
OUR BUS RIDE TO HOLLYWOOD:
My yawns smelled like Dr. Pepper, and I had hardly eaten anything halfway decent for myself when my traveling partner, Jake, and I attempted to stay awake through that first night of our bus ride to Hollywood. Of course, we expected to simply crash on the 30 plus hour bus ride to downtown Hollywood, but leave it to me to get motion sick the second we step onto the bus. I tried eating a well-crafted sandwich on the first hour of the ride, only to feel like it was going to come right back up with every forced, gut-churning swallow. So, what’s a boy to do in a predicament such as this?
Dramamine and Nyquil, my friends. God bless America.
This is the best way I can describe my bus ride. I don’t remember much of it because, frankly, I tried sleeping it off. By the way, everything your parents tell you about the Greyhound bus station is, for the most part, true. However, no one really talks to anyone else outside of his or her designated party. Like us, they simply wanted to get to their destination and leave the whole experience behind them. The seats were worth the money ($168 round trip), offering little comfort and minimal movement, but when you cover your entire body with a parka (face included) and put on noise-cancellation headphones, you can be wherever you want.
One and a half days later, we finally began our approach onto Los Angeles at dawn. We passed through Indio, which had some lazy scenery, but as soon as it ended, the dreaded city traffic brought us to a mechanical bull ride for the remainder of the trip. We made our climb over the hills and as soon as the bulging metropolis entered our sleep-ridden eyes, and what do we see? We see the one thing that everyone always talks about, but you don’t know if it’s true until you see it: the smog. For the record, the smog story is 100-percent true. I can’t remember much of anything else until we arrived at The Willowz HQ, which housed drummer Loren Humphrey, guitarist Aric Bohn and bassist Jessica Reynoza. These three young dreamers run a pretty loose ship, but when it comes to getting work done, they are unmatched. Our guide, Willowz singer/songwriter Richie Eaton, lived with his bright-eyed and kind-hearted girlfriend Amanda a few blocks up.
Since Jake and I were both running on a short budget, we limited ourselves to eating cheap, which turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise. If you’ve ever heard the song “Debra” by Beck off of Midnite Vultures, you’ll hear him mention the phrase “Zankou Chicken.” This is, in fact, a tiny Chinese eatery on Sunset Boulevard. Although it had it’s aesthetic value, it’s competition across the street, China Express, was unbeatable. $4 for a Styrofoam container filled with whichever MSG-laced delight they’re serving that day. Also, for your own good, please eat at In-N-Out Burger AT LEAST five times. This is especially true if you don’t snack in between meals, because this makes it all the better.
DRINKS AND CLUBS:
Let’s get one thing straight: if you go out to ANY club in Hollywood, expect to find huge markups on any and all drinks. I myself only had three Heineken’s the one night we actually did not go to a house party and ended up paying $18. Consider that your fair warning. As far as clubs, many were talked about, but the one we attended and ended up enjoying immensely was Cinespace. On Tuesday nights, the restaurant-by-day turns into super-posh indie club by night, sporting some of the hottest DJ’s on a weekly basis. Personally, I don’t give a shit how elite you think you are or how you may be too good for this club, but expierence it,and you’ll understand why there is a quarter-mile line around the block every week. With beautiful girls, untouchable DJ’s and a façade of local celebrities, you should be ashamed of yourself if you don’t come home with a Cinespace story. On a lighter note, I’ve noticed that a lot of people in Hollywood drink 40’s. I’m not sure why, but this has rubbed off on me. I don’t mind it in the least.
WHAT TO DO (AND WHAT NOT TO DO):
DON’T BE AFRAID TO BE A TOURIST. For most people, they see Hollywood one in their life, so make a trip of it and walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard a few times, take pictures on the Walk of Fame, visit the Chinese Theater (but note, the people in costume are NOT employed by the theater), make a stop in some quirky knick knack store and buy something hilarious. After you’re done, be prepared to dig deep into your pocketbook and make the drive to Anaheim for Disneyland! You may find it childish and stupid, but you’re guaranteed to be nothing but smiles by the end of your day at the Magic Kingdom. Soak it all in, and go early in order to enjoy the entire day, especially the fireworks display as well as “Fantasmic!” When I saw Fantasmic, I was sitting alone amongst a group of about a thousand people, and instantly, the most sincere and joyful feeling of childlike wonder came over me as I clinched onto the bars watching this show. Once again, however, your pocketbook will take a beating. Skip California Adventure (Disneyland’s sister park) and you’ll spend $63 for an all day pass, which is well worth it. Factor that in with food and maybe a souvenir and you’re looking at around $100-$120, a small price to pay for the best day of your life.
I’ve found that giving yourself a personal soundtrack on a journey such as this isn’t as big of an art form as one might perceive it to be. Simply picking up a recommended album at AMOEBA RECORDS (the most gigantic and greatest record store on planet Earth) will easily quench anyone’s musical thirst. My personal pick before the trip even began was Phoenix’s latest opus, “It’s Never Been Like That.”
Buy at least two things from American Apparel; Lord knows this section of the Midwest won’t be seeing a store any time soon. You’d be surprised how lazy the employee’s are: You can say that you work at a store in your hometown and they’ll automatically chop 50-percent off of your purchase. Even if you talk to them for a few minutes and name-drop someone famous, eventually the discount will prevail once again.
Drive. Find a new friend, rent a car, whatever. Just get in a car near dusk and drive towards Santa Barbara. Bliss.
THE TRIP HOME:
Nyquil. Journal. KFC Snackers. Music. Sleep. Repeat.