Having moved back to Southern California a little more than a year ago, I realized I never explored Los Angeles even though my whole childhood to early adulthood was spent within 20 miles of the city.
Possibly inspired by my recent binge of Wild quotes found on Pinterest
while drinking a bottle of red wine, I decided to embark on a solo trip to the jungle of Los Angeles. My plan was to hit up various places I had heard about over the years, and those that came up in my search of “nerdy Los Angeles places to check out” (just keeping it real…). I made a list of places to venture and picked a date for the upcoming Saturday.
I woke up that morning with an erie feeling that something was going to happen. My pessimistic-ass self assumed it was going to be something bad. Still determined to carry on with my plan, I headed out for LA… silently praying I didn’t get pulled over or end up inspiration for the next Taken movie.
Much to my surprise, it was as though I was in the exactly perfect place at the perfect time all day. I ended up meeting two women whose interests in art/pop culture/music/inappropriate joke matched my own so well that we spent five hours exploring the Arts District together. I am so thankful for these two women as they showed me galleries that I would have never noticed and other hidden gems that did not appear in my google search results.
After parting ways, I set off to Echo Park as I wanted to visit the Time Travel Mart. This storefront is a novelty shop which funds 826LA, a non-profit organization which works with grade school aged kids on developing their writing skills. As a writer, nerd, and bleeding-heart, this place has been on my list of “must-visits” for years. It was not a disappointment, as the shop is filled with interesting items and energetic children popping in and out. My imagination was certainly stimulated after visiting.
By chance I came across a comic book store a few blocks from the Time Travel Mart. Immediately attracted to the name, Alternate Universe became the first comic book store I ever visited. Ironically, the scene when I entered was straight out of Big Bang Theory episode. There were approximately 40 men playing some type of card game (it wasn’t Pokemon but that is all I got…) at tables taking up 80% of the shop’s open area. Those who looked up to see me walking in were as surprised as I was. The majority stayed viciously focused on the game at hand. To say the least, I was hyper aware that I was both the only female patron in the store, and likely going to make an idiot out of myself in front of all these guys as I had no idea what I was looking to buy.
Luckily there was a super rad gal working, whose enthusiasm for female heroines made us instantly bond. I ended up with an armful of books and truly inspired to fully to commit to comics and graphic novels on both a recreational and scholarly level. I can hardly call myself a pop-culture analyst if I have never participated in such a historic aspects of the genre. ( I actually ended my day at Meltdown Comics, a well-known establishment in Hollywood where I enjoyed their standup comedy show and vast array of indie-comics.)
My day continued on, filled with subtle signs and moments that I can’t really describe other than to say my certainty only grew that the powers that be were smiling down on me (For example, I managed to return to my car seconds before the traffic cop started writing me a ticket… can’t beat that luck).
I also stumbled on the most perfect book while wandering the Labyrinth at The Last Bookstore in DTLA. If you have been to the upstairs part of The Last Bookstore then you know that the organization of books is minimal at best. It is not like Barnes and Nobel, where you can browse the catalog to see whats in stock. Yet, that is the beauty of this establishment…
I literally stopped dead in my tracks as my eyes landed on Communication in the Age of Virtual Reality. Part of my educational background is in Communication and my fascination with VR stems from my awareness that this technology will act as a catalyst for the next step in the evolution of human communication. VR is going to change not only the mode of communication, but also how we process information and experience other realities outside our own. Finding this book was like fate slapping me in the face. I have yet to finish it, but I am absolutely intrigued by the level of theory and conceptualization of this research, considering it was published far before any VR technology was truly being created and implemented…
I intended this post to be an expose of sorts on the pop-culture gems of Los Angeles. But the entirety of my experience led to this being more of a personal account of how awesome the city can be. My perspective on LA prior to this day could be summed up by features such as Hollywood, Skid Row, Traffic, the Staples Center, & more traffic. And this is coming from someone who grew up the next county over. I have only just tapped into the treasures LA has to offer and see myself continuing to explore LA and engage with other Angelenos through shared love for the city.