The OC and LA

I´ve been to LA a handful of times, and the city is always as big and intimidating as the last time. Within LA county, there´s so many neighbourhoods to visit and experience, and getting between them is hell, especially with the added charm of LA traffic.

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O´Venice, in light of St. Patty´s day

My week was based around visiting some familiar faces. I spent my first two nights in Venice, hanging out with Jake and his pregnant girlfriend and co. I met Jake in Iceland years ago when he was working on a film with Baltasar Kormakur, and we met up in LA once since. I met his friend Peter Harding again, a documentary film maker, for cappuccinos on the beach. Its some of the most decent coffee I´ve ever had in America, from a café called Menottis, and in the evening they´ve got live jazz downstairs at Townhouse to jive to.

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the Orange County Coast

My friend Luke, who I know through a mutual UBC friend, works in music and came to Iceland for Airwaves in 2013, trading an all-access VIP pass for rights to my couch. That’s a solid start to any friendship. This time around I got to surf his couch, with his dog that just got diagnosed with terminal testicular cancer. It was a bummer, so finding our temporary happy place watching Superorganism at the Echo where he books shows was in order. A friend from the WFR course also joined, and we after partied with a guy whose name I cant remember, but his look was unforgettable: he had visibly time traveled to the present from the 1960´s.

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the Surfliner, the train with a view between LA and the OC

Conrad, an American raised in Iceland that I met tango dancing in San Francisco nearly ten years ago lives in San Celemente. I took the train up through Orange County after finally getting my first glimpse of real Californian sunshine. People were out surfing, jogging in their Lululemon get-ups head to toe, and I finally got my first tan of the year. Conrad and I went tango dancing in LA, and drove back to San Celemente late that night with the top down on his BMW convertible, with the heat and music blasting. I cant think of a better way to stargaze.

I met a couple in Reykjavik last autumn who lived in Pasadena, and I met the woman for happy hour in North Hollywood. She´s a dog rescuer by day and got bit by one of her rescue animals, but even with a bandaged hand and her private car full of dogs, she glowed.

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the City of Angels wouldn´t have been much without these darlings

The reunion I cherished the most was meeting Moira, 12 years after we circumnavigated the world together on with Semester at Sea. She was happily married, living in Hollywood with the perfect husband and two cuddly dogs, in a picture-perfect home with their one and a half year old bundle of joy named Dempsey. I can´t believe how its possible to still relate to one another, and keep up with these people, half way around the world, from the many walks in life we´ve had to where we are now, all in different stages. I definitely have to thank social media for allowing it, but your people are always your people, despite how much or quickly the time goes by.

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Birthdays and stars in the City of Angels and Joshua Tree

I started reaping the benefits of a family member working for Icelandair with me and my cousins Boston trip, but then I dragged her to LA to reap all the benefits of my former California livin´, dreams and friends included.

cruisin down Venice beach

We were picked up at LAX airport by a friend from San Diego, who spent the day with us sightseeing Venice Beach, Santa Monica Pier, and Hollywood´s many sunny boulevards. We met uncountable crazies at Venice beach, zooming past us on skateboards yelling ”Under the sea!”, and even the trademark Harry Perry came by playing electrical guitar on his rollerblades. We got our own bicycle cruisers to join in on the boardwalk fun, almost got Sara tattooed,  and were asked forgiveness by the street folk who were either constantly cat calling or asking for weed money.

We went in and out of tourist shops to buy postcards and souvenirs, but otherwise we blended in perfectly fine. I´m not sure if that´s a good or bad thing, but we were also a bit crazy. Sara´s favourite store was the CVS pharmacy (which she could have spent an hour in just ´browsing´), and I insisted on beer and mexican food as our only staples for the entire 5 days we were in California. We drank oversized coffees and In n Out burger as a couple exceptions to the rule, and tried not to look like kids in a candy store everytime we went shopping for clothes – the prices and selections of things were overwhelming to us Reykjavik dwelling girls.

Luke at the Fonda Theatre box office

We were staying with my friend Luke, who works for the concert promoting company Golden Voice. We went to a concert with him on Hollywood Boulevard, where he worked the Fonda Theatre´s box office. There´s an amazing roof top terrace at the Fonda, where we watched Amon Tobin perform, and learned that the bartenders there really like vodka cranberry. We got stuck in ridiculous traffic getting out there, and could only laugh insensitively at Luke´s road rage (favourite quote: ”For the love. of. GOD. GOOO!”). There was another friend of Lukes throwing a birthday party on Feb 28th that we atttended, and didnt realize it was a black-tie/Cocktail dress event, so we ended up looking pretty silly in my new Lululemon yoga jacket and Luke´s faded leather jacket.

Sky House view

Luke and I have a mutual friend named Bracewell from northern California, who I went to school with at UBC, but me and Luke had never met until he came to Reykjavik for Iceland Airwaves ´12 and crashed on my couch in exchange for an all-access pass to the festival. Under those kinds of circumstances, youre bound to become best friends, and we also have our birthdays 4 days apart, so the main mission of this vacation was to meet Luke and the house he rented in Joshua Tree for a weekend out in the desert, celebrating our getting older.

the Joshua Tree

The house was called ´Skyhouse´, perched on top of a hill looking over the town of Joshua Tree and with the national park to the east. The star gazing at night was inexplicable, with numerous firepits and a hottub outside to enjoy it from. The house is meant to sleep 6 people comfortably, we invited about 20, and somehow 26 people showed up. Three of my Berkeley friends (and some of my most favouritest people in life) drove 8 hours+ to join us, Bracewell came, and my startruck cousin was there, which was more of a birthday gift than I could ask for. Sara was star struck because the rest of Luke´s band members showed up, Y Luv (who make great music, by the way… check out their facebook page), and one could safely say their young, bandly influences started rubbing off on her pretty quick…

Pioneer town saloon

We had a day long photo shoot in the desert, compliments of Mike Reiter (whose birthday is also the last week of Feb), after hiking 5 miles around Joshua Tree trails. We visited Pioneer Town, a small village outside of Joshua Tree that was built as the set of a Hollywood western movie and stayed on as a regular street in Pioneer town. I found some big western horses to cuddle there, as per usual, and even rode one that I couldn´t get one without standing on a hay bale for leverage.

We finally drove back to LA, in half the time that it took to leave LA (the traffic is unbelievable in that city), and had one last birthday shebang on Abbot Kinney street in Venice. My friend Jake, who I met in Reykjavik working on visual effects for a Baltazar Kormakur film, had just gotten back to LA after 4 months in Iceland. He took us out to the Taste Kitchen, followed by the best butterscotch dessert in the world at Gjelinas. His music movie producer friend Peter Harding joined us, and gave us a sneak preview to a John Martin film he´s making. He makes all sorts of promotional material for artists and music, and his 9 minute short on Swedish House Mafia´s angelic voice made me totally John Martin star struck.

Hope, half clydesdale

After a few days in the city of Angels, and glimpsing into the lives of Hollywoods gear grinders, we both left LA sunkissed, star struck and shop crazed, with repeated promises to come back soon and relentless attempts to invite our hosts back to Iceland again.