November 12, 2019, Santa Monica-
There are any number of iconic streets across the country, and in the Los Angeles area, in particular. U.S. Route 66 ends (or begins) here, a scant few blocks from where I stood just moments ago. Several of the streets around this quadrant are enshrined in my childhood memory, albeit from TV ( Sunset Boulevard and Strip remain in the Long-Term Bank, thanks to Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, who was the king of smooth). Route 66 itself was the province of George Maharis (“Buzz Murdock”, Kookie’s heir apparent).
It is Wilshire Boulevard, though, which has the most cachet- It starts here, overlooking the beach and hosts some of LA’s great museums. Wilshire leads the visitor to UCLA’s turnoff, to Hollywood and, eventually, to Koreatown.
At its western terminus, St. Monica herself is the traffic icon, standing between Wilshire and the long drop down a steep cliff.
I chose to walk, from the far end of Third Avenue’s Promenade, to this overlook.
So, the true glory of Santa Monica, these days, lies in how the city is making itself pedestrian-friendly. Third Street Promenade, like other urban pioneering efforts, is a well-planned and relaxing venue for people, of all walks of life, to re-center themselves. My first order of business, after checking out of Rest Haven, was to find breakfast. That matter was resolved by Santa Monica’s branch of LA’s Le Pain Quotidien. Mini-pancakes and cafe au lait sufficed, as there will be a lunch meet-up with a family friend later on, in Hollywood. LPQ is my kind of spot, though, with a long communal table that goes against the “keep away from my turf” ethic that is so prevalent in many American establishments. Strangers here are truly “friends you haven’t met.”
These are just a few of what LPQ offers.
The long row does have its share of kitsch, in the form of dinosauria. At least, it’s imaginative kitsch.
Bella, another signature cafe, would have been my breakfast choice, had not LPQ stared me in the face, when I first left the parking garage.
Walking towards the beach overlook, I was captivated by a small boy, who was re-arranging these chess pieces, under his mother’s watchful eyes. I sat a few rows away and pondered his “strategy”. For a four-year-old, the little guy was doing quite well.
Such is life, in one of Los Angeles’ most eclectic satellite communities. Now, it is time for me to head to yet another of those: Hollywood.