Los Angeles, 29 December 2014

Monday started with a rude awakening, but most of the rest of the day was spent in Los Angeles at LACMA and the Farmers Market.

Small fire

Melody and I woke up hungry enough that after showering, we went straight to breakfast, letting Kellen and Noël sleep in. We had been seated for only a few minutes when the guy across the table from us jumped up and shut the doors going to the hallway. We noticed a smoke-like smell, and realized the guy was trying to keep the smoke and smell out of the dining area.

Yes, smoke and smell.

Soon the fire alarm sounded and the two of us proceeded outdoors. After a minute or so, the alarm turned off, but looking inside we could still see smoke. The woman working behind the desk ran back to see if there was still a problem (yes, she did that), and was alternating between being on the phone and running around.

The alarm came back on, and by this time I texted Kellen and Noël to let them know it was an actual fire, not just an alarm. In the meantime, the two of them were awakened with the first alarm, but when it turned off, relaxed. When it went off again, Kellen proceeded downstairs and outside. Noël followed not long after; she ended up not having her phone, since she didn't go back to the room when the second alarm sounded.

People milling around outside the hostel

People milling around outside the hostel

We stood around, wondering when the fire department was going to show up, which is when they did and went inside to check things out. A second truck showed up a few minutes later, but they seemed to be going back and forth but pulling out nothing more than a portable extinguisher, so we were figuring the fire was pretty well localized. Our room was on the fourth floor on the opposite side of the building, while Kellen and Noël's was on the third floor, but closer to where the fire was. We started figuring out what would be lost if the whole building burned down, since that's what one does in such situations.

There were lots of people in pajamas, and some straight out of the shower with just pants and a towel. Since it was chilly outside (even for us Seattleites) we went down the block to a café which fortunately had a table for four, and we fleshed out our breakfast while Kellen and Noël got theirs (Kellen was the only one who had his wallet; good thing someone had money). We hung out for quite a while, checking every now and then to see there were still fire trucks and people milling around outside. Eventually people were given the all-clear to go back in, which we did. The smoke smell was pretty evident downstairs, and we could sense some in the corridor on the fourth floor, but none in our room.

So that was the start of our day.

After finishing getting ready for the day, we set out to catch the bus across Wilshire. We were going to get four all-day passes, so we boarded the bus ready to pay when the driver said he had run out of passes. Asking if we should wait for the next bus, he told us to just board. OK, then.

We rode through Beverly Hills and got off at Fairfax, right next to LACMA. It was getting close to lunchtime, however, so we went about a mile north to the Farmers Market.

Farmers Market/The Grove

While both Pike Place Market and the Los Angeles Farmers Market are both year-round markets with permanent store fronts, that's pretty much what they have in common. We did find a couple produce stands, but there was much more of an emphasis on places to buy lunch, pastries, candy, and other prepared foods. We did find an aisle with meat sellers (and saw the back area of one where they were pressing hamburger patties) which was interesting to see. Melody and I split what was a huge corned beef sandwich for lunch, after which we all met up again and were ready to move on.

We then proceeded to The Grove to take a quick stroll among the stores. One of the first things we saw was an animated water fountain which was coordinated to music (sort of like the International Fountain at Seattle Center, or a small version of the Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas). There were quite a few high-end stores, and it was fun to also watch the people wandering around.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

We were ready to head back down to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As we walked onto the grounds, the first thing we saw was Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer. It's a huge rock you can walk around and even underneath. Yes, it does look well-supported.

As we got to the ticket windows, we once again decided to divide an conquer. Melody and I started out first in the special exhibit hall, and the first thing you see is the Samurai: Japanese Armor display. Not only was it impressive that there were so many complete sets of armor, but they were all from the collection of one couple. It was interesting to see the different styles and materials which were used.

Next door were works by Pierre Huyghe which was easily the strangest installation I've seen in a long time. As you walk in, the person at the entrance asks your full name and then announces your arrival into the whole space. Several of the rooms had a fur coat randomly thrown onto the floor in the corner, there was a dog with a pink leg walking around, and when you walked out the doors you saw a statue with the head replaced with a beehive. The most amusing part was we saw a guard facing into a tight niche, and it occurred to each of us that it may have been part of the installation, but looking more closely he was just doing something on his phone.

Our next destination was the Pavilion for Japanese Art to take a guided tour through the museum's Netsuke gallery, a room devoted to the small (about 1.5" across) pieces which were used to help secure small containers to an obi. The group started out very large, but thinned out quickly, which made it easier for us to look at the items as the docent was talking about them. About half way through the tour I noticed there was a woman taking a video of the talk, and it occurred to me she was recording the whole thing.

Ready for a shift in culture, we next walked through Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s, which concentrated on German Expressionist cinema. Naturally, Fritz Lang was well-represented (MMetropolis), with huge original posters, movie clips, and even a large statue of Maria, the most iconic image of the film. The installation itself was interesting, with lots of walls curved going up and down (rather than being curved left-to-right) and two-sided video screens hung all over.

Melody and I were about museum-ed out, so we went to grab a snack since it was a bit before we were planning on meeting up with Kellen and Noël. When everyone was ready, we walked next door to the La Brea Tar Pits, but just stayed long enough to get a smell of the asphalt, watch the methane bubble up, and look at the mammoth sculpture.

Back to Santa Monica

Back to Wilshire and Fairfax to catch the bus. Melody had checked out the fares ahead of time, since it wouldn't make sense to purchase all-day passes for one ride. As we boarded, we confirmed with the driver how much we owed, and he told us a lower amount than we anticipated. Ended up we paid the equivalent of one all-day fare for eight one-way trips.

We got off the bus right near a grocery store so Melody and I could get food for dinner, while Kellen and Noël went back to Sea Salt Fish Fry, since they enjoyed the place the night before.

Back at the hostel, we all were wondering what the next morning would bring.