Christmas Eve in California

Day 1 of my holiday adventure...

So my plane is leaving Kansas City at 8:20 AM and since I’m traveling on Christmas Eve I figure I ought to get to the airport a couple hours early. That means getting up really early which also means getting a lousy night’s sleep.

One more important factor in this story: I’m using my cell phone as an alarm so I can’t turn the volume down.

Then Spirit Airlines sends me a text at 1:40 AM warning me that there are long lines expected at the airport…no shit, Sherlock, it’s Christmas Eve. Thanks for the heads up and disturbing what little sleep I’m going to get.

At 2:34 AM Spirit texts me again to let me know my gate has been changed.

At 3:00 AM Spirit texts me to ask if my travel plans are flexible and maybe I’d like to blow off Christmas and get a travel voucher for some other date that won’t involve hand-to-hand combat to find space for my carry-on bag in the overhead bin.

At 3:04 AM Spirit wants to know if I want to upgrade from that crappy middle seat they assigned me to something on the aisle or maybe looking out a window; a small fee will be involved.

At 4:34 AM I get another Spirit Airlines text about changing my flight and that’s when I say the hell with it – clearly I’m not getting back to sleep, plus if I’m going to have to fight the extras from The Walking Dead to get on an airplane, maybe I should get an early start and bring a machete.

Now here’s a picture of the Kansas City Airport when I arrived:

No cars at the curb, no line to check a bag, no line at security.

I’m relieved, but clearly someone at Spirit needs to get their shit together and if I ever figure out just who that is, I’ll be sure to send them a series of texts starting at 1:40 AM.

Hollywood Boulevard

The LAX shuttle bus drops us off at Hollywood and Vine and it doesn’t take long to figure out it’s like finding diamonds in a dog turd.   

There are homeless people living one block off Hollywood Boulevard, although I’m not sure you’re technically homeless if you’ve been there so long you’ve had time to construct living quarters out of plywood, cardboard, plastic sheeting and a stolen shopping cart. Bare mattresses are laid across sidewalks with somebody’s worldly possessions stacked nearby.

Meanwhile, a few hundred feet away people are getting their picture taken with Spiderman and Grace Kelly’s Walk of Fame Star.

My son Paul – who currently looks like he’s auditioning for the lead role in Jesus Christ, Superstar – reports that a lot of that Hollywood glitz and glamor wears off once you’ve seen someone taking a dump on the Walk of Fame sidewalk while a family from Iowa goes by on a tour bus.

This is us at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. Happy to report neither one of us felt the urge to relieve ourselves, although that might change if I find out Rush Limbaugh has a star on the Walk of Fame.

How to win an argument

Apparently, Paul avoids Hollywood Boulevard because it’s packed with tourists, scam artists and people who are on drugs or ought to be. I say I want to see it anyway and it turns out Paul knows what he’s talking about.

It’s a human circus with way more clowns than normal and eye contact can get you trapped in an exchange with someone who wants a cigarette, money or the chance to explain how the government is spying on us which is of course crazy because that’s actually being done by Facebook.

Then, on the walk back to Paul’s apartment we come around a corner and there’s a cop standing beside a patrol car and he says, “Guys, go the other way.”

He says it while pointing a gun in our direction.

Turns out the cop is actually pointing his gun at a guy in a car who has his hands up, but we walked into the background at a bad time.

Now that I’ve experienced it I gotta say having a gun pointed at you while someone makes a request is a very convincing argument. We go the other way and have no idea how things turned out because I’ve heard the phrase “innocent bystander” way too often and didn’t want us to join that club.

Besides, I’m not all that innocent.

The Diamonds in the dog turds

So far I think I’ve done an outstanding job of making Hollywood sound dismal and disturbing and that’s partially correct. Now here’s a picture of Paul standing outside his apartment building:

An apartment building that was once owned by this guy:

That’s right, Charlie Chaplin used to own Paul’s apartment building, and that’s the door to the Little Tramp’s former apartment.

I’m a sucker for this stuff.

Just down the street from Paul’s building are the apartments where Nicolas Cage and Johnny Depp lived before they got famous and Johnny moved to France and Nicolas decided to take up permanent residence on Mars.

The sane half of the two guys in the Disaster Artist lived a bit further down Paul’s street. Musso and Frank Grill – a restaurant used in a lot of movies and books – is just around the corner and the building where Jimmy Kimmel shoots his show is a few blocks down the street.

If you get the right angle on the right street and look north, the HOLLYWOOD sign is just up the hill.

Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Hell, yeah

After a long day of slogging around Hollywood, Paul suggests we get takeout and watch something on TV…and he finds a channel showing Die Hard. He read the piece I wrote earlier this week asking if Die Hard was a Christmas movie and thought it would be fun to watch it with me on Christmas Eve.

Paul has yet to buy that mansion in Beverly Hills and invite me to live in his pool house, but until then I’m pretty happy to spend Christmas Eve watching Bruce Willis with the son I haven’t seen in months.

Paul orders Thai food and we go out in the street to wait for the Uber Eats guy to arrive and while we’re standing there in the darkness a guy on a skateboard wearing a serape comes rocketing down Paul’s hill, flies past us going about 142 miles an hour and disappears into the night headed in the direction of Hollywood Boulevard.

That’s Christmas Eve in Hollywood.

Merry Christmas, everybody.