California Dreamin' or Top Ten lessons learned from a weekend on the West Coast


One week ago today, as my plane touched down in Hartford, Conn., I felt exhausted.

Taking a redeye flight out of Los Angeles International Airport at 11:30 p.m. was partially to blame for my tiredness, and so too was a mid-trip emergency that required a nervous flight attendant to wake the entire cabin in order to inquire if anyone with medical knowledge was on board.

Though I wasn’t the one in need of attention at the time, the plight of a woman whose blood pressure had suddenly dropped to near-fatal levels had me on the edge of my seat for the remainder of the trip home and with any thought of sleep pushed quickly from my mind.

Still, my recent trip to California wasn’t all raw nerves and fried brain cells. Though before I left I had planned to compose a blog post honoring the many musical treasures of the Golden State, my plans have changed and instead I’m going to share a list of observations I made during my treks in and around the tourist beat that is downtown L.A.

So without further ado, the following is my list of top ten lessons (in no particular order) learned from trolling the streets of Hollywood for the weekend on someone else’s dime. Thank God for journalism conventions.

1) The standard uniform for many street musicians I encountered in my travels appeared to be tight jeans, tank top, flannel shirt, and an ever-present ski cap. Why such layers of clothing and finely-knitted headgear is required in a state whose “worst winter in years” meant overnight lows in the 50s I may never know.

2) Any street musician whose act is accompanied by a buxom blonde dressed like Hawkman from DC Comics who also plays a violin with a bow made out of a balloon, becomes infinitely more watchable…for about five seconds.

3) When walking around Universal Studios’ City Walk district in the evening, time should always be made to check out the one and only Flat Top. As the only solo artist performing entertaining pop and lock dance moves, while also educating his audience in the art of seduction and the finer points of freezer storage technique (hint: anything that has been in the freezer for 147 months is old) he’s pretty hard to miss. And in his own words, if you aren’t smiling by the time you leave his show, “Tell your brain to tell your face.”

Watch video of Flat Top in action here:

4) Making the short walk to taste the delicacy that is In-and-Out Burger is definitely worth the wait you will inevitably spend in line. However, when the walk back takes you through a movie set featuring Michelle Pfeiffer and Elizabeth Banks the extra calories you just gained won’t trouble your conscience nearly as much.

5) Hearing the music of Frank Sinatra floating up from the hotel bar truly can be one of the simplest and most pleasing sounds one hears after a long night spent braving the LA Metro system. A spot-on crooner who belts out the tunes of old blue eyes with this much precision is welcome company any day of the week.

6) Speaking of braving the LA Metro, these posters were everywhere on the subway cars. Call it an unfortunate sign of the times, but I had no idea this was a big enough problem to merit a public service campaign. Sad.

7) Not nearly as sad as the observation above, but after spending each morning waking up to a view where you can see the famous Hollywood sign ensconced in the hills, peering out the blinds at mid-March flurries in Western Mass. just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

8) Call me selfish, but this beverage shop needs to open up a location on the east coast immediately. After indulging in close to half a dozen free samples a day, I was surprised to learn from the manager that the business has only seven locations worldwide with three in California, three in Kuwait, and one in Dubai. Opening up shop or two in Boston doesn’t seem like much to ask, but rumor has it that the next market to be tapped is Thailand.

LA Kings

9) When taking in an LA Kings game at the Staples Center (see photo at left), the place to be isn’t rink side. If you want to really experience the nightlife, catch the outdoor rock show featuring bands like Franki Doll and The Broken Toys that plays outside on a patio during games. Don’t worry, I’ll save you a seat at the fully stocked bar.

10) And finally, Bennie the Bucket Man, this gentlemen said you have just been served.


In other news, the more I listen to this song the harder it is for me to decide if it’s a particularly obnoxious earworm or just an insidious and blunt form of product advertising. You be the judge.

Check back soon for more posts later this week, and don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter via @NE_Underground.

Author: Michael Cimaomo

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