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Hollywood, California, October 9-12, 2003
& a side trip to San Diego
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We skipped TORís closing night festivities in favor of a road trip south, through miles and miles of monotonous sprawl, followed by miles and mils of monotonous scrub-covered hills with the occasional glimpse of the Pacific before we hit San Diego. My brother and his fiancť have a swell little place overlooking the freeway in the North Beach area of town, sort of the Midtown Atlanta (back when Midtown was still artsy and gay) of San Diego.
San Diego is smaller than Atlanta, coming in at around 1.1 million
people. Itís minutes from Mexico, geographically if not culturally.
Though there is a large Mexican populace, you donít see many more brown
faces here than you would in much of the U.S.
We had dinner in JNís backyard, serenaded by the sounds of the highway below, then headed out for a couple drinks at Zombie Lounge, 3519 El Cajon Blvd. (619) 284-3323, mostly empty on a Sunday night save for a few patrons watching, appropriately, Return of the Living Dead, a zombie movie featuring a bunch of punk rockers (also appropriate for the venue) who are turned into brain-hunting zombies.
Monday we hit the famous San Diego Zoo, an incredible park housing a diverse menagerie of beasts.
|Koalas sleep 18 hours a day or more, so they're not much to look at, sort of like cute teddy bears suspended in trees. This one woke up just long enough to glance at the crowd before going back to sleep.|
|The elephants were pissed off because one of them had been sequestered and, according to the tour guide, the other two suspected he was getting food without them. They were kicking things around and throwing dirt. We decided if they broke loose we wouldn't hesitate to trample the strollers and other tourists behind us to get out of the way.|
|Sunbathing gharials, a fish-eating crocodilian.|
|The orangutans are fun to watch. This one lounged while others played.|
|Swimming polar bear.|
|R.O.U.S.'s - capybara, the world's largest rodent.|
|The tiger was playing up in the trees, then walked down to the water right in front of me. Unfortunately I had a zoom lens on at the time and couldn't get a decent shot of him up close.|
|Either this tree panda is sleeping, or he just loves the smell of his own ass. Maybe both.|
These two were providing a live sex ed class for the kids, even if the parents didn't want to talk about it.
"Uh... they're mad at each other," one father told his kid.
Way to start screwing up your kid's perceptions of sex early, dad!
The koalas were cute, the tortoises humped, but the most impressive thing in the park may be the plant life and the trails they provide for wandering the park. Itís almost worth the admission just for the walk. The only unlikable part of the zoo is the road that runs parallel to the walking path that allows the zooís tour busses to cruise much of the park. Goddamn, there are some lazy fuckiní people. But by the end of our walk, we hadnít seen the entire park and our feet were throbbing, so I canít bitch too much. It might not be a bad idea to take the bus tour first to scout out what youíd like to see up close, then plan your hike around the park. Itís almost too big to handle on foot in one trip, especially if you have other sights to see the same day.
|Did you know giant pandas drink Coke? What, you thought they ate bamboo?!?|
We hooked up with JN & RB for another backyard dinner then SW crashed while the rest of us partied on, hitting a series of interesting bars, such as the vaguely train-themed Whistle Stop, all empty on a Monday night.
|Tuesday we had to prioritize - it was our last full day in sunny
SoCal. So we started off at Balboa Park, a sprawling series of lawns
and museums and such, which also contains the zoo. Some of the
museums are free on Tuesdays so it's definitely worth the visit.
First stop, the Museum of Man and their accompanying exhibit hall of torture instruments. The torture exhibit was excellent - disturbing, as it should be. But the main Museum of Man was pretty dull. It's small, so it should strive to do one thing at a time and do it well. Instead, they try to do 5 or 6 things at a time and it's not quite enough to impress me. But I'm jaded after so many years of museum trekking.
I did like the Inuit snow goggles, though. Very New Wave 80's style!
A few doors down is the Museum of Photographic Arts, hosting some very nice collections. It's not very large either, but has some very interesting collections.
We cruised some of the thrift stores in the North Beach neighborhood, then decided to make a quick run out to the beach just to say we'd gotten our toes in the sea. The beach we chose is right next to a naval air base so planes and helicopters flew in for landings just overhead, disrupting the otherwise serene scene.
Despite how it looks in the pictures, SW isn't a big fan of the ocean and FN is.
We grabbed some good Mexican food for dinner, then headed out for the evening's festivities at Red Fox Room Piano Bar and Steakhouse, 2223 El Cajon Blvd. (619) 297-1313. It's basically an attempt at an upscale restaurant for the neighboring hotel but weíd been told the food is overpriced for the quality. The main draw is the piano bar that features some surreal stuff later in the week. Unfortunately, early in the week itís all but empty and our small group made up most of the clientele.
|The place is done up in dark paneling with brown and orange stained glass, sort of a retro lounge that would look great in a noir film.|
And before we'd even had a chance to really get to know San Diego, it was time to go. They were still playing the Johnny Cash show on the flight home and even though I'd heard it twice already I couldn't help but tune in from time to time.
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