Authentic Angelenos Experience
By Jacob Pascua
America’s second largest city is home to many celebrities, sunny beaches, a deep-seated ethnic history and some of the finest eats from different parts of the world.
Los Angeles often perceived as an evocative and eclectic city, and rightfully so. The city has much to offer when it comes to art, food, scenery, and culture. Some of the most enchanting murals, breathtaking views, innovative art and exquisite restaurants can be found in the City of Angels. The city will greet you with wonderful sights such as the expressive, gang-affiliated wall messages, shopping carts adorned with garbage bags and rows of ornately pitched tents courtesy of the city’s growing homeless population. Who could also forget the captivating view and sounds of construction work as another undesirable part of the city is gentrified. Los Angeles is truly a magical place where you can see both affluent and impoverished people in the same area. However, the entire city cannot be covered within a day. If you’re short on time in your stay in Los Angeles, the Authentic Angelino Experience can take you through the city’s iconic locations from the sandy shores to the star-studded streets in less than a day.
1. White Sand and Green Waters, 11 a.m.
If you’re looking to spend time and a lot of money at the beach, Santa Monica is an excellent place to go. One of Santa Monica’s most famous attractions is the Santa Monica Pier, right on the intersection of Ocean and Colorado avenues. For over 100 years, the pier has served as a destination for families to have fun and the homeless to beg for money. The pier has its own amusement park where, for a measly price ($5-$10 per ride), you can risk your own well-being by boarding the pier’s popular rides in their weathered and unmaintained glory. From the retro fair designs to the dry, chewed-up pieces of gum left on the seats, these attractions will take you back to a simpler time when people went outside to have fun and amusement parks didn’t restrict themselves to “safety regulations.” Relax with a long walk on the beach with the aroma of sea salt and cannabis overwhelming your sense of smell. Enjoy a majestic view of the sea from the inside of your car as you try to find parking by the shore. Be prepared to pay a small fee ($7) for access to a parking lot, only to be greeted by the sight of ongoing construction and industrial fences as another extension project takes up more of the beach’s natural landscape. Expect to pay a fee in the future as well.
2. The Definition of Art, Broadened, 2 p.m.
When it comes to LA’s art scene, the Broad is an exceptional museum showcasing contemporary artwork central to the city. Admission is free, but you’ll need to reserve your tickets for the first of the month. If you didn’t make a reservation, no problem. You can fall in the same-day standby line for more than an hour to fight among the swarm of hipsters to get your ticket. Inside the museum, you’ll find stellar art pieces such as oversized furniture, oversized balloon animals, oversized JPEG images and the room with pretty lights that your friend posted on Instagram. Each exhibit stretches the boundaries of what art can be by minimizing the standards and maximizing the pieces.
3. Renovated Cultural Cuisine, 3:30 p.m.
Home to multiple vendors with various cuisines, Grand Central Market gives a taste of LA’s different cultures if it appeals to a middle-class taste. Located in South Broadway in the lavish part of downtown, college students and young adults plastered in designer clothing flood the place as they spend their parent’s money on the Market’s finest selection of vendors. Grand Central Market can offer you a vast amount of ethnic dishes such as sushi, tacos, and Chinese take-out. You can find some of the smartest businesses serving simple dishes for at least $5 per item. Eggslut, one of the Market’s vendors, is a poster image of this clever business model serving customers a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich for $6 or $7 if you want to substitute bacon with sausage. However, vendors are not only serving simple dishes for a steep price; they’re putting innovative twists on simple dishes for a steep price. Businesses like PBJ.LA put a new twist on the peanut butter and jelly sandwich by adding arugula ($9) to give a more healthy addition to the lunchtime treat. This place caters to all kinds diets serving vegan, vegetarian, non-GMO, cage free, organic, gluten-free, gluten-full, lab-grown and GMO options. The Market is the ideal place for those who won’t stop talking about their lifestyle choices.
4. The Star-studded Streets, 7 p.m.
In the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, the Authentic Angelino Experience reaches its main attraction in the city’s most genuine setting: the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Home to the famous movie premiere venues: El Capitan Theatre and TCL Chinese Theatre, celebrities can be found walking around the area. Some of the most frequent celebrity sightings include household names such as Shrek, Wolverine and Michael Jackson. Many of them will recite their most iconic phrases like the chipper “I’m ready” of a gleeful SpongeBob Squarepants or the deep and raspy “I am your father” from a stoic Darth Vader. However, the best performance can be seen with Spiderman as he harasses families to take a picture with him for money. What makes the encounter with him more authentic is the fact that he’s been wearing the same costume even outside of his movies and TV shows. With the trademark grease stains on his mask and the classic Spiderman sweat marks on his armpits, you can really tell he’s worn that costume since Toby Maguire played the role of the web-slinging hero. Take a stroll down the sidewalk commemorating some of the most prominent figures in entertainment such as Donald Trump, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey. Each commemorative star celebrates their impact as they’ve touched the lives of many throughout their careers.
5. Starless Nights, 9 p.m.
Right off of Los Feliz Boulevard and Crystal Springs Drive, your Authentic Angelino Experiences concludes at the famous Griffith Observatory. Opening in 1935, the Observatory was created as a place to make astronomy accessible to the public. The Observatory’s main attraction is its scenery. One of LA’s most beautiful nighttime views can be seen from the Observatory’s observation deck. Enjoy the astounding spectacle of several people standing on the deck taking the exact same picture with the skyline at the exact same time. This event is free to watch from sunset to 10 p.m. when the Observatory closes. You can tell the show is starting from the countless flashes of smartphone cameras. Some groups would perform for only one take, others would perform until they’re ready to post the photo on Instagram. End your day with the sight of the city’s skyline as a picturesque combination of light pollution and smog blur the stars in the sky. The Observatory provides a truly unique stargazing experience in which observers can barely see the stars at all.
With its landmark locations, Los Angeles has much to offer in terms of culture, art and scenery. The homeless begging for money or the construction may not sound glamorous as opposed to the city shown in movies or TV shows. But these things capture the true essence of the City of Angels from the dazzling business district to the squalid Skid Row. Looking past Hollywood’s sparkling lens of the city, you can experience LA in all of its gentrified glory. Perhaps on your next visit you’ll find more homeless people seeking food and money at Venice Beach. Perhaps you’ll find a greasy, unshaven Captain America outside of an H&M on Hollywood Boulevard after the series of Avengers movies stop making money. LA’s trademark locations shine in the media as the embodiment of glamor and fame bu beneath that shining exterior lies the Authentic Angelino Experience.