America 2016: Day Fifteen (9 June)

I was midnight blowing my Midwest money
At the Whiskey on the Sunset Strip
Just trying to catch a buzz, listening to some Guns
You dug I wasn’t trying to be hip
With those Malibu eyes, Hollywood smile
You know I couldn’t leave you alone
Cause you make me feel like Beverly Hills
On the cover of Rolling Stone
– Frankie Ballard
Thursday 9 June
Left Chicago this morning – pretty much against my will. As I mentioned yesterday, the more people I get to know here, the harder it is to depart. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
Had a great flight out to Los Angeles on Southwest. No baggage fees, multiple drinks and snacks and very friendly crews. I should’ve mentioned my enjoyment of Southwest when we flew from Los Angeles to Chicago two weeks ago, but it slipped my mind amongst the fog of eighteen hours of flying. I’ll definitely fly with Southwest wherever possible from now on.
Los Angeles was a little overcast when we arrived, but there was a pretty spectacular sunset later as some of the cloud cleared. Watched the first period of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final between Pittsburgh and San Jose, had a snack at Denny’s, which sits adjacent to our hotel (the Travelodge near LAX International Airport – a really good sized room close to a lot of attractions) and headed out to North Hollywood to meet our friend, Nate Morton.
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The incomparable Nate Morton.
I absolutely could not live in Los Angeles because of the traffic. The rush hour seems to last from about 6:00am to 8:30pm and you scarcely achieve speeds higher than 20mph during this time. So, the endless lines of slow-moving traffic make things awkward when you need to use the bathroom fairly desperately. And then, very desperately.
As occurred last night. Had to jump off the nearest exit – we found ourselves in Beverly Hills, and it was like something from a TV show, lavish mansions, impossibly expensive and exotic cars and palm trees that reach for the sky – and travel what felt like an eternity to find a gas station with a bathroom in the suburbs.
Strangely, you don’t see gas stations on the sides of the big freeways and interstates here like you do anywhere else in America (and in Australia, for that matter), which is unusual. Just made it in time. Bought a packet of Lays chips so that I could use the facilities. Pretty sure it was the best purchase I’ve made this trip!
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Neon guitar at Universal CityWalk
Hanging out with Nate is always awesome. For the uninitiated, he’s a professional drummer, an insane talent, and works on American version of The Voice. He can tell a story and a joke like no one else, and it’s impossible not to have a good time. We also end up meeting other cool people…like Mr Jonathan Mover, who, as it turns out, is responsible for – amongst many other songs with artists like Alice Cooper, Aretha Franklin and Elton John, to name just three – the drums on one of my all-time favourite songs, “Lay Down Your Guns” by Jimmy Barnes. He’s basically drumming royalty, according to Nate. I’d take that as gospel.
We watched some live music at Universal Bar and Grill, then went up to the Hard Rock Café where Nate is a celebrity like the Wellers are celebrities at Taste of Wheaton. We watched Nate talk his way into the parking lot, by telling the lady on the gate that although he didn’t have his parking laminate, he did indeed work there – and ended up having to show photos on his phone of him drumming on The Voice. Incredibly hilarious. I think she just let him through to shut him up? Eh, whatever works.

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The bartender at Hard Rock, Mache, is a really cool dude, and happily made us mystery cocktails – which we later found out had vodka, smoked rum, cranberry juice and pineapple juice – that tasted absolutely heavenly. Had a nice BBQ chicken with coleslaw for a late dinner. Laughed so hard my cheeks and stomach hurt. That’s a regular occurrence with Nate.
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A Mache special.
Great night – sleeping in tomorrow, then hiking up to the Hollywood sign.

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