Sunday, April 20, 2008

Feeling Touristy

One of the things I wanted to be when I grew up, circa 1991, was to be a tour guide – seriously. I got the idea after riding the studio tram at Universal Studios, where visitors get a chance to see movie sets and visual effects. Some highlights include the Bates Motel from Psycho, King Kong (but only from the waist up), a re-enactment of a San Francisco earthquake (complete with BART replica), the Jaws shark, and a flash flood effect. Back then all this was magical to me because they’d made these rather fake-looking effects look good in the movies. My tour guide’s name was Lisa and she was terrific – she made the tour informative and fun, even though she probably gave at least a half dozen tours a day. Going on that tour made the world of movies exciting to me, which is probably why I work in the entertainment industry (on the periphery).

Sometimes Rene and I pretend we are tourists here in LA, even though we’ve lived here for most of our lives. The thing about LA is that it’s so big and many people who’ve lived here for years haven’t seen everything. There’s a lot to see – just the other week we drove up to the Antelope Valley to see California poppies bloom, and a few weeks before that we visited the Getty museum. In the coming weeks I’ll be visiting Olvera Street, a historic landmark here in LA. It's fun exploring this city and finding ways to fall in love with it all over again.

A few weeks ago we also visited Citywalk, which houses several restaurants, retail stores & a movie theatre, and is sandwiched between Universal Studios theme park and Gibson Amphitheatre. This was THE place to hang out back when I was in high school a decade ago; now it's probably been replaced by The Grove, where they sometimes film scenes for shows like The Hills.

We visited Citywalk on a Sunday afternoon and found that the majority of people fell into two categories: (1) tourists or (2) people who came to watch a movie. We were in the minority – locals visiting just because – and found it interesting how the place had changed. Gone are the old places we used to visit, like Wizardz (a bar-slash-magic theatre) and Gladstone's (now replaced by the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.). Back then the most popular attraction was people-watching, especially on weekends when teenagers and college kids would show up with their friends and try to meet new people. Now the most popular attraction is iFly, where skydiving is simulated inside a giant plastic tube using a badass fan. Lessons were being held when we stopped by, and we glimpsed a few brave souls getting blasted to the top of the tube. The instructors seemed pretty blasé about the whole thing – they're probably used to having people like me gawk all day long.

The second most popular attraction was a street show – a couple of guys performing breakdancing moves and stunts. They had attracted a pretty sizable crowd by the time we got there so we didn’t get to see them performing their act. We did, however, get a solid half hour of people watching before we called it a day. Check out these kids celebrating a Quincenera:

And of course I took a picture of Rene "riding" a motorcycle because it was there:

More pictures here.

1 comment:

Camels & Chocolate said...

Ha! Funny, I was just there ;-)