Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan
  • “There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb …… babe!”

    Well, actually there are a lot of hills and pretty much all the mountains that are way beyond me now. I was never much of a mountain climber even in my youth, but I used to be an enthusiastic walker. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy in my feet, osteoarthritis in my knees, and some undiagnosed nastiness in my hips has made it an ordeal now; I can’t go more than a few blocks before I start ... Read more »

  • In which we decide that a road by any other name is still Sunset Boulevard

    No disrespect to Mr. Chavez, but I don’t think they should have changed the name of part of Sunset Boulevard to Cesar E. Chavez Avenue. This is a general principle with me, not changing the names of well-established streets, buildings, or places. (The only thing worse is to name something like that after somebody who is still living.) I was opposed to Cape Kennedy (though I like The ... Read more »

  • Echo Park

    Echo Park... cho Park... cho Park... cho Park In the ‘60s, one of the reasons Chris and I did so much walking on Sunset was that it was the most direct way from Hollywood to Echo Park. After we’d been in LA for a few weeks we found a card on the message board at the Presbyterian Church on Sunset (no longer there) where they used to serve a free lunch every day, concerning somebody who ... Read more »

  • Echo Park to Silverlake

    Not all of Sunset Boulevard is chockfull of interesting stuff, nor does it all jog memories from my checkered past. This is one mile that has the usual assortment of shops, murals, and stairs, and it has some very pretty litter bins (of all things) but my only recollection of the neighborhood is a visit we paid many years ago to a place we call Ted’s Hobbit Hole. It was a tiny apartment ... Read more »

  • The Music Box

    Though colorful, this stretch of Sunset is barely more exciting than yesterday’s, in terms of something to write about. With one exception … Where we parked our car on Vendome Street happens to be the location for one of the funniest movies ever made by Laurel and Hardy in their sound era. Or by anyone else, for that matter. It is “The Music Box,” an inspired ... Read more »

  • Hooray! Hollywood!

    The day started well. As we got out of the car we were greeted by the song of a mockingbird in the tree overhead. We looked for it but couldn’t find it. No problem. When you find a mockingbird you haven’t found much. It’s drab and ordinary. It’s the song that is glorious. You only need to listen for a few minutes to understand why it’s a sin to kill a ... Read more »

  • “Poverty Row”

    In most LA neighborhoods there’s alternate side of the street cleaning, twice a week. You’d better move your car before 10 AM or you can get towed. The neighborhood we were planning to walk through today was a Wednesday cleaning day, and it was Wednesday … and with everybody parked on the other side of the street, there was no place to park anywhere close. We had to drive ... Read more »

  • Out of the closet and deep into Hollywood

    We didn’t cover any more ground than usual today, but some ground is a lot more interesting than others … West of Gower Gulch is one of a dozen or so Out Of the Closet thrift stores. After spending three years in the Five Cities area of the Central Coast, which didn’t have much in the way of thrift stores, Lee hit these places like Sherman hit Atlanta, like a hungry lion ... Read more »

  • La Brea to Fairfax

    This is another stretch that I don’t have a lot to say about. Not that it’s not interesting to look at (which is why I’ll ask Lee to put in a larger number of pictures than she did in her previous photo essays), but there’s nothing really spectacular. However, don’t despair! The next two or three walks should be amazing, as we approach the Sunset Strip. Three ... Read more »

  • The Strip

    Today we plunge into West Hollywood. Which is just like Hollywood, only gay. Not entirely, of course, any more than Castro Street in San Francisco, but you know what I mean. Drop down to Santa Monica Boulevard or Melrose and you often see more same-sex couples than hetero. I once stayed at a hotel on Santa Monica, and it happened to be Halloween. I heard a commotion from my 10th-floor room, ... Read more »

  • Whiskey

    Parking on Sunset in West Hollywood is … not necessarily impossible, but very, very expensive. WH is probably not the only community in America that has installed computerized, solar-powered parking meters that accept Visa and MasterCard, but I’ll bet it was one of the first. You need an instruction manual or a cell phone with a tech support weenie in Bangalore on the other end ... Read more »

  • Garbage Cans of Beverly Hills

    Alerted to its existence by a friend, last night we watched a video from a series called “Great Streets,” from PBS. This one was Randy Newman doing Sunset Boulevard. It was only an hour long, but of course he had access to some places we couldn’t get into, such as The Pink Palace, the old residence of Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield, with its heart-shaped pool. It was ... Read more »

  • Rodeo Drive

    We’ve already driven the next mile of Sunset, and we know that, except for the Beverly Hills Hotel, it’s more of the same: endless hedges and fences with the super-rich slumbering peacefully in their mansions. Boring. So we decided to take a side trip down the world-famous Rodeo Drive. It’s less than a mile long, and consists of four very long residential blocks, then four ... Read more »

  • Where the Sidewalk Ends

    It was bad—we knew it was going to be—but there was the Beverly Hills Hotel to mitigate some of the boredom, at least at first. What I’m talking about, of course, is the Great Walls of BH, described earlier. Today’s walk was more of the same, squared. More walls and towering hedges, to the point that Lee remarked that even the flowers seemed unfriendly to us. Snapdragons, ... Read more »

  • The Dead – Hollywood Forever

    Lee is very much into cemeteries, and I like them, too. Los Angeles has one of the most fascinating collections of famous stiffs anywhere in the world, in about a dozen major graveyards, from the San Fernando Mission (which has Bob Hope) to Westwood (which has Marilyn Monroe). Some are accommodating and don’t mind thanato-tourism. Some are uptight, like Forest Lawn, and won’t ... Read more »

  • Bel-Air

    Fuck Bel-Air May 19, 2006 © 2006 by John Varley; all rights reserved … Read more » Read more »

  • UCLA, and an apology

    First, I’m sorry for my outburst in #14 of these accounts. I was feeling so frustrated that we’d have to skip all of the Bel-Air parts of Sunset Boulevard, because to do so would put us at risk of life and limb. And we tried. I pulled into one of the side streets near where there was a pathetic stretch of dirt path on the south side of Sunset, thinking to find a parking place: ... Read more »

  • Brentwood! … and the OJ Murder Walk!

    How would that guy on “City Confidential” put it? Paul Winfield, that’s his name. Sneering, insinuating … “Brentwood is a quiet little neighborhood just west of the San Diego Freeway. South of Sunset Boulevard it is full of apartments and quiet, spacious homes. Children play baseball and soccer on warm afternoons. San Vicente Boulevard is lined with trendy ... Read more »

  • Pacific Palisades

    Oh, my, how we long for the days of Echo Park, of Silverlake, of brightly-colored murals and bodegas and people walking the streets. How we pine for the weird streets of Hollywood, the trendy folk thronging the sidewalks of the Strip. When you get right down to it, Sunset Boulevard stops being a great walk at the Luckman Building, 9200 Sunset, at the border with Beverly Hills. It’s ... Read more »

  • The Ranch That Jokes Built

    Just a short, winding drive up the hill from Sunset is the Will Rogers State Historic Park. Since it’s a part of Sunset that is unwalkable, we decided to visit it and include it here as the penultimate installment of our hejira from Olvera Street to the sea. Will lived here for a relatively short time, from 1928 until his death in 1935. He built a 6-room ranch house and in seven ... Read more »

  • The Dead – Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park

    As Sunset gets harder and harder to walk on, and less and less interesting, we’ve taken to doing more side trips. Westwood Village is no more than a mile from the Boulevard, and hidden away where I guarantee you’d never find it unless you were walking, and probably not even then, is a place with more stars per square foot than anywhere in Hollywood, maybe anywhere in the world. ... Read more »

  • We end with self realization

    I’d like to say we came down the hill, around a corner … and there it was! The blue Pacific Ocean, looking much the same as when Balboa was the first white man to lay eyes on it. If Sunset had sidewalks all the way, that’s how it would have happened. But since we’ve had to skip large chunks, and elected to skip others, and since we like to end a day’s walk going ... Read more »

  • Coda: The Getty Villa

    In 1945 J. Paul Getty bought 64 acres of hillside overlooking Malibu. He built a house and filled it with his stuff. When he had too much stuff for the house, he built a museum down the hill in 1954 and opened it to the public. When that filled up with more stuff, he re-created the Villa dei Papiri, in Herculaneum, which was buried by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, and opened that in ... Read more »