Number three is: Los Angeles, US
By Charlie Smith / Designs by Shinya Dalby
Los Angeles is a dream. It was dreamed not by the Native Americans tribes who roamed thousands of years ago nor by the Spanish who build missions and roads nor by the Mexicans who broke free from Spain and raised cattle on perfectly temperate rolling hills. No, it was dreamed by the white man in the roaring 1920s when 80% of the world’s films were produced here. Film lifted Los Angeles from city/region to something much, much more. Its economy had no tether and its people had no real sense. Reality, in fact, became totally distorted, beginning in the roaring 1920s and continues to be distorted today. A dream. It is wealthy. It is expansive. Mary-Kate Olsen takes her lunch on the palm-lined streets and so does Ashley Olsen and so does their newer, more popular sister Elizabeth. Why here? Sans exaggeration, any beautiful woman, at one time or another, makes Los Angeles home. They move from colder states, worse countries, and imagine that stardom is just around the corner. It is not, for them, and they will retreat to colder states and worse countries still, but for the moment they are on the top of the world and so are you. The beaches are not spectacular. The Los Angeles basin contains poor beachbreaks and Malibu and Lunada Bay (ridiculously localised) but Trestles is a short drive away and so is Dane Reynolds. Everything in Los Angeles is a short drive away (which means two hours). And beautiful women line the way.
Where to stay: Convention says the west side, either Venice Beach or Santa Monica, but convention don’t float in a dream. Stay at the Chateau Marmont (suites from $US525 but do try for the poolside bungalows at the $US2200). It is nested in the Hollywood Hills, far-ish from the beach, but is the most gorgeous in imitation French style. There is a pool and Howard Hughes used to peep on girls sitting by it. There are stars and starlets and the ghost of John Belushi. He died of a heroin overdose here. It is expensive but living LA on the cheap is not a good look.
What to see: Not Hollwood. Stay in Hollywood but don’t play. Play on Abbott Kinney, in Venice Beach, which has very fine restaurants and very fine bars and very fine coffee. Maybe the best coffee in the city. Hipster girls roam wearing very high-waisted jean shorts and very short shirts. Also Disneyland. It is a breathing example of 1950s utopianism. Also, East Los Angeles. This area is almost completely Mexican and can be rough but the tacos are out of this world.
Where to eat: There is a restaurant in Santa Monica named Capo and it might be one of the best restaurants in the world. It is non-descript, hiding beneath a dingy stucco façade, but the wine list is as big as a telephone book and the oysters taste like cream. There is also a restaurant in West Hollywood named Traktir. It is Russian and the caviar will make you cry. There are tacos and donuts everywhere, most good to great.
What to dodge: Dodge the valley. The media will talk about African-American gang violence in South Central and Mexican gang violence on the east side but both of these are over exaggerated. The real threat is sexually transmitted disease from actors and actresses who work in the San Fernando Valley, the northern portion of Los Angeles. The valley, as it is commonly called, is the porn hub of the world. Recently, at a valley Starbucks, Stab sat next to a very busty and leggy blonde. She tempted, and was tempting, but also tainted. She, like every other woman in the valley, is a trap. A momentarily pleasurable, infinitely damned trap.
Culture: None. It is why Los Angeles shines. There is no pretence. There is no looking down the nose. There is no faux intellectual speak about Manet or Monet or Julian Schnabel, though Stab, personally, is well-acquainted with the Playboy covergirl currently dating Mr. Schnabel. Sure there are museums and an art scene and an independent music scene but fuck it all. Watch IMAX blockbusters instead and laugh like you were in Idiocracy. A fine, fine film.
Politics: The best! Celebrities love a good armchair bourgey-bourg liberal diatribe. They are totally clueless about how trite they sound and how transparent their empty squawking is, but it is all amazing. A pleasure to behold. They speak about the honor of President Obama, having the first black President in our time, at the same moment that they berate their Mexican help and curse their Mexanity.
Work: You will tend bar but you will say you are an actor. You will wait tables but you will say you are an actor. It will take three years before you have enough money to get a fair cocaine addiction. You will never be cast in a roll. You will share an apartment in Los Feliz with two other bartender-actor-waiters and every weekend there will be a party. Enjoy the years before cocaine addiction takes completely over.
Surf friends: Surfers in Los Angeles are spread far and wide. They don’t surf well, by and large. They surf passably. Dillon Perillo is my favorite and he surfs well. His parents are rich and he lives in Malibu. He is handsome. The world is his oyster from Capo restaurant.
Weather: The weather is perfect virtually year ‘round. A 3/2 in the winter, a short-sleeved full in the spring, trunks in the summer and the fall. Except June which is worse than any winter and it is better to leave Los Angeles and go to Palm Springs. There are many gay men in Palm Springs. Enjoy their house music and enjoy their company.
The Good and the Not-So-Good
+ The waves are way better than their rep suggest (Salt Creek, Trestles, even Huntington), the whips are cheap (40 gees’ll get you into a Porsche Cayenne) and if y’detour into the Valley you might even take down a real-life porn gal! Hello HIV! (Not necessarily a plus.)
- It’s a city built around a spaghetti of freeways. Every town, every beach is accessed from an off-ramp. LA ain’t no rainforest.