Only 10% of Angelinos are employed by the entertainment industry, which means that a large number of real people also live here. We've heard that when you get away from Hollywood, Los Angeles is a city of oil fields, courtyard sculpture gardens, secret societies, and street artists.


But for the first few days, we are tourists. We eat breakfast at Cantor's and lunch at Clifton's and dinner at El Coyote and Parus. We drive up and down Santa Monica and wander around Venice Beach. At the Venice skatepark the best skater is a tiny little kid – we later find out that this is 6-year-old Asher Bradshaw.

Young people with cameras at Venice Beach

Downtown is our favorite part of Los Angeles. It is what we imagine New York looked like in 1980.


Love potions and wedding dresses for sale in downtown Los Angeles

Look! A grid of more things to see:



CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: The Bradbury Building; The Witch House; Randy's Donuts; Broadway Street

We attempt a "Weetzie Bat" tour of city, and learn that Shangri-L.A. is just Hollywood. Laurel Canyon is elite cottages and bumper-to-bumper traffic, and Oki-Dog puts American cheese on the burritos. The fantasy is that Hollywood is hospitable. Or we're missing the point, chasing locations from a 20-year-old young adult novel.

On Wilshire we find the Gaylord Apartments, which Bill Brown describes in "Saugus to the Sea" as a stuck-in-time building full of aging b-movie starlets and forgotten shut-ins. This is frighteningly accurate. Brett goes in alone to snoop around, and comes back to the car pale and out of breath.

"I went in through the bar, which was this old nautical-themed bar that smelled like damp wood, and then into the lobby. I took the elevator up to the top floor because I was going to try to go out on the roof, but the door was locked. So I am walking back to the elevator and I see that one of the apartment doors is open. I peek in and with the light from the window I can see that the room is filled floor to ceiling with rotting newspapers. I am thinking that this might be the room of some hoarder who has died. And I want a picture of the newspapers but maybe that's unethical – and then all the sudden this old man in his underwear JUMPS out of the darkness and screams 'BAAAH!' and I scream and run to the elevator and jab the buttons and get back down to the lobby and run away."