Tuesday, July 04, 2023

College Tour de force

Team Brutalism spent time in Southern California for spring break in an apparent attempt to set a world record for the greatest number of college tours completed in the shortest amount of time. We successfully toured eight colleges in five days, which left about 47 minutes for freestyle fun. 

Which schools, you ask? Every.single.one.of.them.  (Assessments of each, in order of visit: best-looking guys, too shiny, just right, too "cohort," too snooty, love it, no way, too Jesus-y.) It's science, people!

While there, I was reminded of my conflicting feelings about the LA area. I would not be so extreme as to say I have a love/hate relationship - I'd say it's primarily love with a soup├žon of head-scratching mild amusement. In the "Oh, LA, don't ever change" category, please enjoy the following:

And as with every trip we ever take, we enjoy exploring and come away with a ton of fun memories. So with that, I offer:

SoCal, the College Tour Trip:

We stayed in a super-cute cottage in Culver City, which was half a mile to Sony Studios, close to downtown, and also close to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook; and the Ballona Creek bike path which links Culver to Marina Del Rey: 

A little fam bike ride on the Ballona Creek bike path

Another gentleman riding his bike -
to bring his groceries home, via the
bike path. Oh, LA...

Up to the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
At the top

Our lil neighborhood's proximity to the studio meant we had a Jason Alexander sighting at the adorable and mostly hidden neighborhood deli down the street when I literally ran into him as I was heading outside after purchasing my coffee. I immediately ran up to Canetto who was outside the store and told him he had to go back into the store to confirm it was Costanza, which he happily did as Seinfeld was his favorite show of all time. 

We also had a neighborhood denizen who seemed to be doing some sort of high-energy martial arts whenever we walked through our neighborhood park - he was either aggressively pursuing his sport or high on meth. We'll never know. 

We visited a couple of smaller colleges on the first day of the touring agenda, and after walking about a zillion steps, went to dinner before heading back to our place. I had not eaten that morning and had half a gin & tonic pre-dinner, which was the catalyst for this: 

The near-constant sunshine seems to ensure people are outside enjoying the weather at all times, which is why we came across scenes such as this on every campus:

We had two more tours planned the next day, which put us near Pasadena - where we conveniently had tickets to a recording of "America's Got Talent" at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium. Our daughter had never been to a television recording before, so this was very exciting for her. I have never seen the show, but pickins' were slim for the date we were able to do this and we ended up about five rows back from judges Simon Cowell, Howie Mandell, Heidi Klum, and Sofia Vergara. 

My friend, Jimmy, actually found us in the audience when 
the show aired a few weeks ago. I seem to have a seed caught 
in my tooth. Tim is unamused. Avery is enthusiastic. 

After touring schools the following day, we headed to Hermosa Beach in the evening. We walked on the beach and played our favorite game of "Is that a skunk or is it weed?" It can literally be either there, and we are never sure. (Flashback: when we lived in Hermosa in the summer of 2018, I noticed what I thought was a cat in the next-door neighbor's backyard one day. Investigating further because...CAT!, I realized it was actually a skunk! At the beach! Some research showed there is actually a bit of a skunk problem in the South Bay. How? What? Oh, LA...)

The following day, our daughter visited with an old friend in Newport Beach for a couple of hours. After we dropped her off, Canetto and I wandered into a restaurant called Joey. As we walked past the lineup of Bentleys outside with Tim in shorts and me in ripped jeans, I asked the supermodel/hostess if we were dressed appropriately to have lunch there. She said we were "perfect" and offered us a complimentary glass of bubbly while we waited for our table. We then had a great lunch and the best service, ever. Yay, California casual.  

Another evening, we opted for a tour of Sony Pictures Studios, which was a short walk from our rental. Our tour guide for the evening was Keith Coogan - a character actor you will recognize if you have seen "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead" and "Adventures in Babysitting," He also starred in bunch of national commercials and some other films outside his babysitting oeuvre. Notably, he is the grandson of actor Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester from the Addams Family) for whom the Coogan Law was named, which is pretty cool. (Cool that he got legislation passed to protect others...sad that he had to.)

                      Canetto doing his best Kramer impression on the Seinfeld set at Sony. 

Jeopardy! is! filmed! there!, too!

Our last night in town, we headed to downtown Culver City, which is home to some cool restaurants, the Culver Hotel, and the bougier cousin of Whole Foods, Erewhon Market. While I appreciate Erewhon's eco-conscious packaging and their vast assortment of sea moss juices (gak!), the pricing on most things certainly makes it a "not for my weekly grocery shopping" kinda place. I considered purchasing a reusable Erewhon shopping bag for my friend as a memento from the trip...until I priced them. And while she is definitely worth it, I would not be able to live with myself if I spent $135 on a CANVAS BAG.  

It was also during this excursion that we visited Salt & Straw - where you go for the black olive brittle and goat cheese ice cream, but stay for the spritz of culinary perfume ("flights" of this are available online so you can experience this in the comfort of your own home - likely after a gummy or two). When my daughter asked the lovely person helping us what exactly culinary perfume was, she replied with a straight face, "ice cream does not have an aroma, so this gives it a bit of an aroma and also a little extra flavor." (See "Oh, LA, don't ever change" above.)

And some other pics from the trip:

Venice: where you pay for a $5 million house to overlook algae.
Perhaps this is where Erewhon harvests the sea moss for their juices?

#irony #veniceisgross

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