We went to Venice Beach today and strolled along the grubby boardwalk to Santa Monica pier.
It's been fairly overcast today, but down in these parts one can still get burned through white cloud, as I found to my great cost in San Fransisco last summer, so we very wisely plastered ourselves in sun cream.
Venice Beach is the Camden Town of LA. The dope-soaked air hums with the sound of hippies busking and all sorts of restaurants, bars and shops selling crystals and tie-dyed scarves spill out onto the beach.
We walked past the House of Ink, which has become famous as the location in the show Tattoos After Dark, which Nathan and I have been watching keenly of late. It was actually quite thrilling to be there!
It was everything I expected Venice Beach to be in terms of ludicrously muscly and beautiful people darting everywhere on Segways, roller blades and electronic skate boards. One bloke was being pulled along on his skate board by a dog.
At one stage we were approached by a young black lad who asked us if we'd like a copy of his album. Our friend, Luke, stopped to take a look, before politely saying he didn't have any cash on him to buy one. The bloke suddenly turned nasty; "so what? You don't like black people?" He then pursued us down the board walk yelling obscenities. Chip. On. Shoulder.
There were lots of people selling art along the board walk. Many of them were selling really lovely pieces for next to nothing, which made me very sad. Some of them were selling absolute rubbish. Proper tat. But then what is worse? Great art that doesn't sell, or a deluded artist whose work is rubbish?
We had lunch outside a charming little cafe whilst a busker on the sidewalk softly sang to us. She sounded like Christine McVie and made such a lovely sound that Nathan immediately went over and bought her album. I think the act of actual busking here must be illegal, because most of the people singing on the boardwalk were selling albums with little signs which said "will accept tips." There certainly weren't any people playing in front of little hats full of loose change.
We walked along the sea front to the Santa Monica Pier, which is a fairly old school sort of a place with terrible rides, and copious stores selling strawberry lemonade and churros. We spent a long time dropping quarters into a coin drop machine and ended up with a Minion toy each after winning a bewildering number of tokens, which might have been as a result of dropping huge quantities of quarters into the machine!
Our taxi driver home was a curious chap. As we drove along, he pointed at a massage parlour and said "they give the best massages in LA in there." I asked why, and he told me it was because the women who do the massages (how can I put this?) offer happy endings... which, for a car filled with gay men felt like a somewhat misjudged statement!
We had dinner in a very fancy restaurant tonight up in Beverly Hills, which is known for its steak dishes, which would have been disastrous for me had they not made me a delicious salad and given me fries covered in Parmesan and truffle!