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.


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