BOTCON AT PASADEN-AGAIN
(griffin's 2014 BotCon adventure)
The tour today would cover - Pasadena to Los Angeles CBD, to Hollywood
Hills (Griffith Observatory), to Hollywood (downtown), to Santa Monica
(on the coast) and then back to Pasadena via three highways (north to Sherman
Oaks and then east to Pasadena).
Hopping on the bus at about 8.45am, we headed off towards Downtown (CBD)
of Los Angeles, along a couple of highways.
Our Tourguide started telling us a little bit about Los Angeles, since pretty much everyone on the tour didn't live in LA.
The Greater Los Angeles County has a population of 15 Million people, with an average wage of US$40,000 (about AU$44,000 at current exchange rate, compared to AU$57,000 earnt by Australians)
It is technically a desert because there is no natural river flowing
water through the LA area (there are huge man-made concrete stormwater
drains that are nicknamed as a river).
Los Angeles is a Spanish name for Angels, as it was part of Mexico (a colony of Spain) before it was acquired by the United States after their war with Mexico in the mid 19th Century (which also earned them a pretty big chunck of the south western part of what is now the USA, just before the American Civil War).
LA was first settled in the 1700s by the Spanish, but became a major city when Gold and Oil were discovered in 1876... yes, just after Mexico gave up the territory to America, so bad luck to them.
The Film Industry of Hollywood became a major drawcard to Los Angeles
as well, and is one of their biggest industries today.
The story claimed by our tourguide is that before Hollywood became the place for movies in around 1910, New York and New Jersey were where (silent) films were made by a monopoly company in America, but a film-maker wanted to head to the West Coast where the weather allowed for more days per year for filming. Now apparently, this film-maker went to Arizona (next to California) to make his first movie, but the day they were going to start, it rained, which was unseasonal for Arizona (a desert)... so he drove to Los Angeles and filmed at what later became Hollywood, liking it so much that he set up his studio there instead of Arizona.
(not sure who this was, as my searching online came up with two different film producers setting up in Los Angeles)
Since a lot of Transformers toys these days are based on American cars,
we don't get to see as many of the real things on our streets back home,
so it is a bit surreal to see "full size" Transformers toys driving around.
This was one I managed to get a photo of as it was traveling along side us for a while... Binaltech Broadblast.
As we approached our first point of interest at 9.30am, we passed by
this place that is said to be famously good, so it is now on my list of
places to try out if I ever get the chance.
The California Science Centre... sounds like an interesting place to
check out next time. It had a stealth bomber out the front, that
is part of the Aerospace museum next to it.
The Aerospace museum, which houses the Space Shuttle Endeavour after
they retired the program in 2011. (Endeavour, Atlantis, Discovery, Enterprise,
Pathfinder and Explorer, which is now called Independence, are on display
all around the country now)
Across from the Science Centre is one of the stadiums used for the 1932
and 1984 Olympics. It apparently seats 90,000 people.
Next to it is a Sports Arena that is famous for its concerts.
Felix the cat, is an iconic Trademark, currently belonging to a car-yard.
Some interesting sculpture on a church.
The famous Staples Center, where sports games are held.
Driving through the centre of the city, we went through what was once
the theatre district. All rundown and abandoned now... and with more
theatres than Broadway, it is a sad sight of a long-lost era.
City Hall, which is very iconic.
Our first stop at 10am was at the Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The name makes you think it is something kiddie or fantasy themed like Disneyland, but only has the Disney name because it instigated by a donation in 1987 by Walt Disney's wife after he died, and finally completed in 2003, bearing his name as the bulk of the funds came from his name or Company.
It has been in many movies because of its unique design and exterior steel plating. That exterior was originally too shiny in some parts when it was completed (it would heat up office buildings like a parabolic mirror), so the surfaces were scoured to reduce the reflection.
This is the Bona Vista/Bonaventura Building... build in 1976, and featured
in lots of movies because of how icoonic it is, and how futuristic it looked
when it was built.
Next we drove near the US Bank Building, which is the tallest building
between Chicago and Japan. It is also iconic, and featured or destroyed
in various movies.
The building next to it looks weird.
On the right is Los Angeles Opera, which was across the road from the
Our second stop at 10.30am was at Avera Street, the oldest part of Los
Angeles, with the oldest surviving building.
We had 15 minutes here, and it definitely had a very colonial Spanish/Mexican feel to the area.
In the main square, there were statues and plaques detailing some fascinating
info for anyone interested.
Off to one side of the main courtyard was a side-street of little market
stalls, with souviners, knock-offs and food.
One of the restaurants was selling cactus... but I didn't get to try
it. I was too busy looking for Churros (straight donuts), but failed.
Other people did, but it was too late to get them when I saw them eating
The oldest known surviving house in Los Angeles, just four years short
of 200 years old. Almost as old as Australia.
Some of the snacks I found, that looked to be of Mexican origin.
And knock-offs, that were also probably of Mexican origin. I found
so many different ones just in this little markets.
Skull pottery and religious things.
At the main courtyard was public toilets. The Male toilet had English
and Spanish on it... which looked funny, as Hombre in western culture is
more of an alpha male dude or homie, so makes it look like that toilet
is not for the more wimpish, geekish men.
Another look at City hall, with the US Bank tower at the back.
This here is a massive 10 storey construction at the Grand Arts High
School, that serves no purpose and has nothing inside. It is basically
an over-extravagant expensive sculpture that helped make this the most
expensive public school in America, despite being a relatively small school
in size. It has also had three different names in its short 4 &
1/2 year history.
Heading past Chinatown along Hollywood Highway, we headed up to the Griffith Observatory, getting there a little after 11am and having about 15 minutes to look around.
This place was shown briefly in the 2007 Transformers Movie.
(image from the Movie, taken from the internet)
And this is what it looked like in person.
It had a view over the city... on a usual smoggy day.
It also had a view of the Hollywood sign.
Plus a James Dean monument, for a movie that was filmed here with him
A panoramic view of Los Angeles, Hollywood and Century City.
A sundial at the front.
Before we left, Dispensor wanted some photos taken with him in them...
Next we drove to downtown Hollywood, where the Chinese Theatre and Walk of Fame stars are located.
(Continued in Part Two)
Go to part two of LA Tour
Or - Return to THURSDAY 19th JUNE
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OZFORMERS - The Australian
Transformers Fansite for News and Interaction (started way back in
1996 - probably the oldest Transformers fan community in the world)
BotCon website - The official Collector Club and Convention website
To contact me --> griffin @ otca.com.au