Finally getting to know California
This year’s TCMFF was unlike any others I had attended. This year Brian and I opted to spend a few more days in Los Angeles exploring the area outside of Hollywood and Highland.
We decided to make this year more of a vacation and spend a few more days in L.A. because I had changed positions at my job and didn’t know if we would be able to attend the festival in 2019. So we decided to go all out in 2018.
We flew in the Wednesday before the festival. Our tradition is to meet up with our pal Angie and have lunch at 25 Degrees at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, but this year we changed it up a bit. Instead of spending the day at our usual haunts along Hollywood Boulevard we made plans with our pal Lauren to spend the day anywhere else. We dropped off luggage our at the hotel and met Lauren at the Roosevelt to start our adventure. Lauren, a native of Southern California, had insisted for the last year that we get ourselves out of the Hollywood area.
When I first started going to Hollywood/Los Angeles, I hated it. I thought it was dirty, busy, loud and not the California that I had dreamed of for so long. Sure I loved that I wasn’t in the Midwest and I was in a new place, but it wasn’t the Malibu Sands Beach Club that I was promised as a child. The drive from LAX to the heart of Hollywood on my first trip was so depressing. I saw more oil derricks and fewer palm trees. What fresh hell was this? For two years I stepped off a plane, onto a shuttle, stepped out onto a dirty curb on Hollywood Boulevard where I spent five days until I stepped back into a shuttle and onto an airplane. That was the Los Angeles and California that I knew and Lauren wasn’t having any of it.
Months had been spent on the phone discussing where we would go and what we would eat. The one place I really wanted to go more than any other was the beach. I had seen the Gulf and the Atlantic, but I wanted to see the Pacific. I have always loved the ocean so much, and I was dying to see it on at least once on a trip to California, but I didn’t want to force everyone to drive an hour or more to Santa Monica just so I could see the ocean.
Lauren is incredible and must have sensed my desperation because after our happy reunion we were off to have lunch Oceanside in Santa Monica.
There are so many things I have forgotten over the years, but what I felt when I finally saw what I thought California should look like, that’s something I’ll never forget.
After some photos, dipping my toes in the water and putting my feet in the warm sand, we walked over to The Back on the Beach Café for lunch. We sat outside where we had a fantastic view of the ocean and the Marion Davies Beach House. I’ll talk in later posts about Davies’ film ‘Show People,’ but, Davies is one of my favorite silent film actresses and favorite female comediennes, so having the added bonus of visiting her beach house was mind-blowing.
As much as I wanted to order a Marion Davies salad, I couldn’t do it. I went with the grilled Caprese sandwich. Honestly, I think I was just too excited to think about eating which says a lot about the day.
After our lunch, we went to explore Marion Davies’ old beach house, now the Annenberg Community Beach House.
The Annenberg Community Beach House sits along the Pacific Coast Highway and was built by William Randolph Heart in the 1920’s for Marion Davies. The estate featured 100-plus rooms and the most gorgeous swimming pool I have ever seen. They hosted parties with such guests as Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, and Louie B. Mayer. The property was sold to the state of California in 1959, where it operated as the Sand and Sea Club until 1994 when it was severely damaged by an earthquake.
The Annenberg Foundation provided a $27.5 million grant that allowed the estate to be restored. The site was reopened as the Annenberg Community Beach House in April of 2009. The Marion Davies Guest House holds special events from time to time and tours.
We peeked through the windows, took in all the views and posed for some photos before we headed off to our next destination.
Driving up part of the PCH was precisely what I needed to get right with California. I fell hard that afternoon for the California I was finally being introduced to. It was worlds away from Hollywood and what I had thought of the West coast for two years. The air was crisp, and the views were spectacular. This was finally a California I could get on board with.
We made our way back to our hotels where we made plans for the night. Our friend Roger was going to join us for dinner in Beverly Hills and dancing in WeHo. Unfortunately a few days before we left I had gotten very sick and was still trying to recover. My taste buds were off, I was battling a fever, fatigue, a stuffy nose, and deep cough. I planned to just go ahead and take some DayQuil and power through.
Back in September (2017) I had bought a beautiful black caftan to wear on this trip. I had never owned or wore a caftan before, but I found this simple black vintage number with a blue and pink sash and fell in love. It was perfect for dinner at La Scala where I inhaled Mozzarella Marinara, Spaghetti Bolognese and Crab Cakes. It was every bit as incredible as I had imagined. After dinner, we hit up The Abbey for a drink, and I believe we went to Mickey’s after that, but to be honest, I was done.
I was running on a couple hours of sleep a bit of jet lag and the back end of the flu. I was miserable and still had a few days ahead of me. I had to call it a night.
We got a Lyft back to our hotel and prepared for the official start of the TCM Film Festival the next day.