I planned to do it for a long time and finally did it: collecting sounds and stories along the most famous street of Los Angeles that has been called a snake, a vertebrae, an icon and many other things. After this journey I can only urge anybody living in or visiting Los Angeles: take a day to go down Sunset Boulevard starting at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway going East!
I know - this will make you miss a gorgeous Sunset at the end of your trip. I promise it is worth it because
1. There are much more exciting things happening at night in the neighborhood 30 miles East where the city’s most famous street has become Cesar Chavez Avenue.
2. Another gorgeous Sunset will be waiting for you on any other day.
Why take a whole day to go down Sunset Boulevard? Because you will know a lot more about Los Angeles, the city’s culture, history and characters after this trip than after a day on the beach or in the hot sun on the Walk of Fame. I know, I know - you HAVE TO see the stars and the finger prints and the HOLLYWOOD sign and you have to put at least your toes into the Pacific. I did it when I first got here. Just don’t waste too much time so you can still take the Sunset trip.
Along endless turns you will meet monks and immigrants, producers and bellboys, Hollywood newcomers and celebrities, homeless and real estate brokers, rich and poor, optimists and fatalists. Drive with the top down if you have a convertible so you can smell and hear the city too. If that is not an option open the windows. Take breaks for meditating, eating, drinking, window shopping, people watching, praying and dancing. Go with the flow, stop where something catches your eye or your ear. Listen to stories of the people you will meet along the way.
If you stop early in the West you might see a lake with windmill, houseboat, waterfalls, turtles and remains of Mahatma Gandhi. Further East you could listen to a piano player while having lunch in Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite booth at the Beverly Hills Hotel, get Hot Dog, fries, a drink and a view to the Sunset Strip for less then ten dollars, check out designer stores, clubs, coffee shops and galleries and explore the oldest part of Los Angeles where the Boulevard - now Cesar Chavez Avenue - leads into the exciting, creative neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Watch out for book events, a farmer’s market and Live-Mariachi-sessions at midnight.
I promise - they are at least as unforgettable as the sun setting over the Pacific.