Touristing It Up In Santa Monica

July 27, 2012

Santa Monica Municipal Pier dedication marker

I had some business in Santa Monica, so I decided to spend the extra dollar to get on the bus and visit the beach. The initial view of the place when one hops off the bus is an odd one. In stripes along the horizon is a boardwalk/theme park on the pier, an ocean and beach, an enormous parking lot, and a highway.
There was quite a crowd out, but I guess you’d expect that on a Friday afternoon.

The first attraction at the beginning of the pier is a building with a gift shop on one side and a merry-go-round, soda fountain, and arcade machines on the other.

The penny-squasher, electro-shock (“passion tester”) machine, and female Zoltar I expected; but the Mutoscope was a surprise. In my film history class, the teacher said only a few existed in the country nowadays, and there I was staring right at one. For those of you who don’t know, a Mutoscope is one of the original nickelodeon machines. It shows movies in the form of a giant flip-book (often with thousands of little paper cards) through a peep-hole style viewer. It was invented by W.K.L Dickson (after he left the employ of Thomas Edison) as a motion picture machine that was different enough from anything Edison had invented to defeat Edison’s numerous attempts at patent infringement lawsuits.

I wonder if this was the Mutoscope’s original paint job.

There were lots of rides and junk-food vendors galore, but there were also some kind of off-the-wall activities. The one that seemed the most novel was a trapeze school just sitting there amidst everything else.
At the end of the pier, past numerous representatives of the local homeless population that were attempting to eke out a living as “performers” (viz., loudly playing a boombox while flapping a puppet around), were groups of amateur fishermen – some of which were probably also homeless. I wonder what kinds of fish they catch there, and how palatable they really are.
The beach itself was mostly interesting for sociological reasons. Everyone was either traversing the wooden walkway to the shoreline or clustered all around the outlet of the walkway with towels and umbrellas. As you can see, the rest of the beach was empty. It has always been my habit to walk the length of beaches I visit. Not so for others, I guess.

The view from the pier

View from the staircase above the beach

I took a self portrait when I got down to the sand. The plethora of french fry stuffed pigeons and seagulls floating overhead made me nervous, but I decided that my wide-brimmed hat would protect me in the event of an bird excrement-related malady. Unfortunately, the very moment that I went to take a second photo of myself, that hypothesis was tested when I saw the shadow of one of the winged sewage factories cross my own, shortly followed by experiencing the sensation of a hot-one landing on my head. Luckily, it was small and mostly sand so I was able to clean it off fairly easily. However, I’ll let that be a lesson to me in the future not to tempt fate.

I had to start studying for my final exam, so I decided that was enough for one day. However, it’s worth mentioning that on my to catch a bus on the 3rd St. Promenade I  came across a house with some of the most remarkable gardening I’ve seen in a while. I don’t know who lives here, but isn’t this one of the most striking examples of exterior design you’ve ever seen? Just fabulous!

I had intended to take video, but I forgot to bring the battery for my video camera. My regular snapshot cam’s batteries died too, so some of these were taken with my phone.


Let’s Go Shopping! – Santa Monica

I was invited to my cousin’s wedding (which happened on July 28th), so on the 24th I decided to go shopping for a new dress, shoes, etc. Since I’m of rather limited means, I decided to visit one of Santa Monica’s Goodwill stores first. There was an interesting display out front in the form of some birds perched on a bike.

Parrots in front of Santa Monica Goodwill store.

Blouse and gown.

I found a nice pink, frilly blouse, but just about everything else was was size 12 – four sizes to small – and the nicer dresses (which were also too small) were about $29 minimum. Awfully overpriced for that place. Fortunately, a lady in the store told me there was a mall nearby and gave me walking directions. I didn’t know it, but all those stores were on the famous 3rd Street Promenade. I got a really nice $24 gown at the Sears to use with the blouse. It’s funny that a brand new gown cost me less than a used one would have.







After that, I wandered around a Bloomingdale’s and the rest of the mall.

Note the unusual fountain on the right.

A short distance down another street was a strange dinosaur-ish fountain and some stores with rather outlandish window displays.

A flag made entirely of shoes that filled a store window.

When I got back to Westwood, there were a couple of funny things I noticed. I didn’t get a photo of it, but someone was stuffing copies of the book The Da Vinci Code under the windshield wipers of all the cars on Weyburn Avenue. Also, there was a huge number of stereotypically snooty guys out wearing polo shirts and driving around in Porsches. I assume they came for the Farmer’s Classic (tennis competition at UCLA).

Shopping and display area behind tennis stadium.

My new shoes.

A couple days later, I got some shoes for the wedding (and some non-sneakers to wear in Paris, so I wouldn’t look like such a tourist) at a Ross that’s a fairly long, but manageable, walk from UCLA for about $10 and $14, respectively.