Eight ideas for seeing Los Angeles. in a new light

Eight ideas for seeing Los Angeles. in a new light

1 Blue bee in blue jeans

Los Angeles No. 1 French Bee © Dominique de La Tour

To get into the bath from Orly, without stopping halfway and going through “immigration” at an undue hour, we will opt for the direct and not too expensive Paris-LA of the low-cost French company french bee .Liquette in stretch jeans for the hostesses, short-sleeved safari jacket in jeans also for the stewsthe company with the blue butterfly gives a wink and a flapping wing to the legendary and sturdy “canvas of Genoa” (” jeans“) or “of Nîmes” (“ jeans“): it is this indestructible material that made up the pants of the gold diggers of the Gold Rush on their way to California. The atmosphere on board is therefore intended to be relaxed, with a crew who loves to provide advice and good addresses on LA and, on their return, to exchange their memories – and sometimes their “crew omelet” – with their dear passengers. low-cost.

2 Bad Luck Ranch

Emerging from the Pacific, Los Angeles, its hills and its 88 districts were born from the folding of the geological plates, capturing in their hollows, like a cat in a duvet, tons and tons of micro-organisms. A noble rot that will mutate into hydrocarbons. The City of Angels? An oil field? Yes, since 1,250 wells will be drilled there. In 1892, the first “horse heads” (oil pumps) delivered 40 barrels per day. Ten years later, nearly 2 million. Even more astonishing, at this hour, we always extract “oil” (oil) on South Mountain View Avenue at Ivarado Street. There stands the last derrick in LA, which hardly pumps out its 3 barrels a day – at around $100 a piece. But this oil, you can also see it, smell it, by reaching Hancock Park, on Wilshire Boulevard. Here was the La Brea Ranch – in Spanish: the “Jack of Bad Luck Ranch”. Here are yawning “nests” (pits) of water, stagnating under a crust of black molasses: naphtha, escaped from the folds of the basement, infiltrated by the cracks, spread on the surface.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles N°2 prehistoric animals found in naphtha at La Brea Park © Dominique de La Tour

In the alleys of the park, statues of cattle from the Quaternary era, and above all an imposing museum, contain what was found in the viscous substance: tens of thousands of animals, fallen and stuck in the black liquid after bent over too much, mastodons with twisted tusks, giant sloths, ancestors of the camel and 3600 canis dirusthe super-wolf (1 m at the withers) which features prominently in the fanciful fauna of the Lord of the Rings.

3 The secrets of the statuette

Right next to these sticky pools, a museum is dedicated to the syrupy dream factory that is Hollywood. This is the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. a.k.a Oscar Museum. Between the Lacma (Los Angeles County Museum of Arts) and the Soap Bubble (the “Soap Bubble”, a 1000-seat cinema designed by Renzo Piano), its rooms offer thematic exhibitions and offer popular worship its permanent relics: nunchaku of Bruce Lee, Rosebud sledding from the movie Citizen Kaneelectronic hodgepodge of robots from Jurassic Parkmasks, costumes, sets, cameras, editing tables from the old days.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles N°3 Oscars Museum, Bruce Lee’s nunchaku © Dominique de La Tour

There are also gleaming real Oscars, offered or sold by often well-forgotten personalities. 34 cm high, weighing 4 kg, we detail here 19 figurines (in French in the text), 19 among the more than… 2300 casts to reward the greats of cinema. In France, the César was designed by the sculptor César, but the Oscar? Nothing to do with the name of the sculptor – a certain George Stanley. This nickname was found by a critic of the 7th Art, to whom their shape, stiff as a picket, reminded the conductor Oscar, in a play on the boulevard of the time. It passed into the slang of Hollywood because Katharine Hepburn – renowned for her 150 female affairs – seemed to subscribe to it: Oscar in American slang being one of the names of the dildo… But that, the museum, very “woke”, will not tell you!

4 A studio… bugged

In this vast residence at 624 South La Brea Avenue, Chaplin had his headquarters. With study. Limestone on the outside, pearl gray brick on the inside, the building with an “H” plan was organized around a cortile in the Mexican-Hispano-Moorish style, with an iron moucharabieh and a fountain in earthenware tiles. .

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Los Angeles No. 4 studio of Charlie Chaplin © Dominique de La Tour

Since 1929, Chaplin had been mounting his increasingly politicized films there, under constant surveillance by the FBI, who saw in it a spy in the pay of Moscow and a frantic consumer of naive young girls. At the end, in 1952, the “Commission against Un-American Activities” will take advantage of a promotional tour in Europe of the British actor to cancel his return visa. Refugee in Switzerland, the old Charlot will write bitterly: “To tell the truth, I don’t care if I can return to this sad country or not: I am tired of the moral arrogance of America”. Today, its offices have become the Republique restaurant, ideal for a meal of oysters or a generous brunch. A cuisine with French reminiscences, but very American portions.

5 Like This

In LA, is there a monument better known than her? Yet it is one of the least visited that this unavoidable “Hollywood” sign. It is however possible thanks to the piquant spirit of Elise Goujon (www.losangelesoffroad.com ), you will hike to the foot of the most famous sign in the world, in a group of 10 people maximum. Watch out for rattlesnakes! The parking control being dissuasive in the very chic hamlet located at the foot of the “peak”, the climb lasts a good hour – which Elise makes refreshing thanks to a shower of anecdotes. Thus, the original “sign” titled “Hollywoodland” (“Hollywood lands”), touting a lucrative operation set up in 1923 by a real estate agent to sell off the surrounding subdivision.

Los Angeles
Los Angeles No. 5 Hollywood sign © Dominique de La Tour

An ad, therefore, lit at night by 4,000 light bulbs. Once its land was sold, the vintage Stéphane Plaza let the brand decline, designed to last only a few months. The letters deteriorated so much that, during the restoration, the last four were dropped – or more exactly, dropped –: “L”, “A”, “N”, “D”, in a too pitiful state. . In 1978, the magazine’s founder Playboy, Hugh Hefner launched a subscription to resuscitate the “sign”, which everyone was nostalgic for. Initials requires, Hefner financed the “H”. The singer Alice Cooper took charge of the restoration of the “O”. Today, the sign is protected by cameras and helicopters. This made it possible to follow the peregrinations of the Hollywood puma, a solitary beast condemned to extinction since there is no female around. The feline was euthanized in December 2022: its body was too marked by 11 years of an adventurous and ghostly life.

6 A Cumbersome Gift

Colonel Griffith Jenkins Griffith was very wealthy. He wanted to make a donation for the city that had made his fortune. However, he had the bad taste, during a household scene, to shoot his wife. She survived the marital bullets, but the billionaire had to make a detour through the “prison” box. Indignant, the very moralist municipality of LA first bravely refused the donation, then, reading the amount of the check, made a gentle violence: pinching its nose, it agreed to be offered this magnificent art deco observatory.

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Los Angeles N°6 Griffith Observatory © Dominique de La Tour

It can be visited on weekends only, from Friday to Sunday. Like any observatory, it opens at night to gaze at the stars, but in the meantime, crowds flock to enjoy the very terrestrial panorama of the City of Angels – at least when the smog isn’t too thick. On the esplanade, the monument to the astronomers was sculpted by the same George Stanley as the one who executed the Oscar statuette. The observatory has, among other works, served as a setting for the knife fight of The Fury of Living (1955), last film of James Dean. The actor will be mowed down just after by death at the age of 24, at the intersection of route 41 and 46, further north, on the side of San Luis Obispo.

7 Carrot Beef Elevator

Built by a mining magnate, the Bradbury Building and its neo-Renaissance enamelled bricks was also the setting for many films: blade runner, The Artist, Impossible mission… Legend has it that the builder, a total neophyte in architecture, drew the plans by questioning the dead using a ouija board during a spiritualism session.

Los Angeles N°7 Elevator for beef-carrots © Dominique de La Tour

According to other sources, it was rather inspired by a science fiction novel describing the year 2000. Anyway, this building is one of the few to have preserved the very first elevator system of Otis, raising and lowering his cage using a hydraulic piston. We can always observe the operation. Nicknamed “the Grill”, the building housed the equivalent of our “beef-carrots”, the police force responsible for cooking Lieutenant Columbo’s colleagues by peeling alibis and suspicious enrichments.

8 Hail, Venice of the Stars

Santa Monica is first of all its pier and the roller coasters that form its procession, as if to celebrate with a funfair the end of the mythical route 66 – the last mile of which comes to die here, against the surfer waves of the Pacific north. Not far from there stretches Muscle Beach, the beach where the big arms of California get their beauty done, and Malibu where the most famous lifeguards in the world still scan the horizon – crushed by the bulky physiques of Pamela Anderson and David Hasselhoff.

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Los Angeles No. 8 Venice © Dominique de La Tour

Santa Monica is still the Getty Museum and the villa of the same name, a copy of a Roman villa worthy of the Domain of the Gods of Asterix. As for its hinterland, it is undoubtedly Abbot Kinney’s insane project. This wealthy promoter wanted to provide LA with a copy of Venice.

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Los Angeles No. 8 Venice © Dominique de La Tour

Not content with not leaving the gondolas in Venice, he even had their gondoliers come with her. This leisure park with lake and little train will be completed in a year, but… the municipality hates this eccentricity where each street bears the name of a constellation. In 1927, an administrative court put an end to the madness: in a few months, 100,000 tons of embankment filled the 23 km of watery roads. Only a few canals remain for tourists and cyclists: most have become streets, retaining their name, such as rue Altaïr or Grand Canal, which has dried up as Grand Boulevard. But the name of Venice stuck to the neighborhood.

Text and photos Dominique de La Tour

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Eight ideas for seeing Los Angeles. in a new light

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