Arriving into the US can often be an anxiety inducing process, what with the intense grilling and extensive finger printing at immigration – with the ‘will I get through?’ question playing in your mind. We’ve all heard the stories. And then there’s LAX, with its vast creaky old infrastructure. It’s not exactly the epitome of a 21st Century Airport, and arriving yesterday showed just how much of a mess LAX is in. It’s in the middle of a huge multi-billion-dollar modernisation (the largest public works program in LA’s history) that includes extensive remodelling of the terminals and the building of an Automated People Mover (APM) train system linking the terminals. Yesterday, instead of stepping out of baggage reclaim and into a cab, you now emerge into unmitigated chaos, forced into a packed shuttle service to a far-flung car park area with make-shift cab and Uber ranks. The works are supposed to be completed this year, so here’s hoping for a greatly improved LAX for future visits.
We’re staying in Venice Beach. We only have a few days in town so it’s an easier walking area than say downtown or West Hollywood, but of course with all things American, distances between city blocks are deceiving. What looks like a few blocks on the map becomes miles, so no wonder the side-walks are empty. Everyone drives here! And if you get lost, don’t expect to find a passer-by or, if you do, chances are they don’t know where they are either! For instance, today’s mooch around Venice clocked up over 10ks.
Still, it’s gorgeous here, if not a tad crazy. The light in Venice Beach is sharp and clear, the sky a jet blue and the impossibly tall spindly palms (known locally as ‘Skydusters’, or Washingtonia filifera) gently sway in the sea breeze. The beach front at the end of North Venice Boulevard is your classic tourist haven (trap) – cheap burger joints, beer barns, tattoo and ice-cream parlours, cheesy t-shirt shops and interestingly, Cannabis shops (or Cannabis and Weed Dispensaries) as they’re called here. There are even dudes on roller skates offering rolled up joints for $5 (wads stashed in top pocket). The beachfront here reeks of dope and fried food. It’s a league of nations of tourists with a smattering of crazy-eyed locals doped out of their heads – just avoid eye contact. ‘Zenned’ out yogis (Chihuahuas included) chill out in the winter sunshine despite the deafening music pumped out of boom boxes and grand pianos (yep, on the board walk) and any number of artists, grifters and craft-makers sprawled out with their wares.
It’s been legal to possess and consume cannabis in California since 2018, but you still need ID to get into a store. There’s a very upmarket ‘Cannabis Dispensary’ on Abbot Kinney called MedMen (get it?) www.medmen.com – a cross between a 21st century apothecary and a naughty lolly shop. It has everything ‘weed’ here – naughty (but nice) edibles, vaporisers, weed ‘heads’, concentrates, oils, pre-rolled joints (for every occasion), drinks and topicals – and everything in between that you can think of. Oh, and MedMen has a free home delivery service.
There are two other things you notice here straight away. The homeless situation in Venice Beach is significant. There are rows of makeshift camps set back from the beach that some locals claim has left their neighbourhood ‘lawless’. It’s clearly a problem that needs urgent attention, but there’s no obvious sign of the authorities addressing this, so enforcement continues to move tents from one block to another. How sad. The other thing is the amount of RV’s in Venice. They’re everywhere, sometimes lined up bumper to bumper. And they’re huge! And battered. There are no local laws banning people from living in RV’s in residential areas, so Venice has become swamped with them. And again, the inevitable thing here is that the local residents suffer. Garbage piles up, sidewalks are blocked with belongings, whilst others dump their toilets directly onto the street! Wow, just scratch the surface in a place and it’s amazing what you discover.
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Goodness, your description, after extolling certain charms of Venice Beach, makes me think of that knight of the Middle Ages Urban de Kay. 😜
Stay safe amidst the vagaries of LaLaLand, and safe travels onward.
I look forward to the next blog.
Lunching at Chateau Marmont, as you do, and thinking of you as the dressed up fabulous somebodies / nobodies / White Lotus esque wannabes flounce through. LA Baby!
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I’m puzzled by this new Jetpack app. Not sure if my replies are getting through
I’m seeing your replies
I switched my loyalty from the Chateau to the Hollywood Roosevelt.
Go take a dip in their enormous pool painted by David HOCKEY.