Sunday, October 3, 2021

This trip to Los Angeles: Koreatown, Mulholland Drive and the Wax Trax! Cold Waves Festival

While the Great Bridge of San Pedro was not visible from my hotel window this trip, I did have a very nice view of the Los Angeles skyline and Koreatown down Olympic Avenue.

I spent all four nights in Koreatown and was surprised with just how large the Korean neighborhood is in L.A. They have developed an entire pocket of Los Angeles consisting of about three square miles just west of downtown. The place seemed centrally located, and I liked feeling that I was relatively close to many of the sightseeing locations Los Angeles is famous for.

I flew into L.A. on my birthday in hopes of encountering several days of rest there in the city. I discovered the Cold Waves Festival in conjunction with Chicago's legendary Wax Trax! Records was scheduled at the Mayan Theater during that time, so I picked up a ticket for that as well.

I wanted to spend some time at the beach again this visit, so I planned a trip out to the coastline via Mulholland Drive, a route I'd seen recommended in the past. I also took a trip up the Pacific Coast Highway through beach communities like Malibu and Santa Monica. I apparently visited just in time, as a massive oil spill came ashore the day I flew out of town, killing marine life and birds and closing some beaches along the coast.

The Leo Carrillo State Park is located in Malibu where Mulholland Highway meets PCH. I took several minutes to relax before heading up the coast. Folks were surfing, kids were frolicking and jumping excitedly in the sand, and there was even a group of people who set up a tent near the waterfront. Me? I just snapped some photos of the birds and the waves as they rolled in from the Pacific Ocean. That would be a fantastic place to camp.

I chuckled as I drove through Malibu on PCH and found a road sign that graciously instructed me where to turn to get up the hill.

During my drive on Mulholland, I found a scenic overview for the Universal City area of Los Angeles. The stop is one of several similar scenic lookouts along that particular stretch of road as it winds in the hills above the city. Someone placed a chair at the spot for visitors and passersby, and some empty wine bottles at the location indicated people like to hang out here and get a little silly from time to time.

A pretty impressive light and rear-projection show accompanied the Front 242 concert during this year's Cold Waves Festival at the Mayan Theater. 242 is one of the bands I began listening to frequently during the period right after high school, when I often found myself hanging out in Houston's progressive and alternative dance music nightclubs. The band sounded fantastic this evening, and I'll likely see them again on this tour in downtown San Antonio.

To borrow a term that Consolidated's Adam Sherburne used during their set, this type of concert lineup -- 80's industrial, particularly the Wax Trax! bands -- is a "nostalgia show" for me and would probably be enjoyed best at 300 Westheimer in Houston (a stage this band has stood on a time or two). However, I found the Mayan an extremely beautiful venue and a fantastic place to see a concert.

My immediate thought: Screaming ancient beasts in pools of murky water. I stopped by the La Brea Tar Pits one morning to check out the sites. According to Wikipedia, "Natural asphalt (also called asphaltum, bitumen, pitch, or tar; brea in Spanish) has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years." You can actually see gas bubbling up in the pond while you stand there staring at these old elephants. Smells like black gold. Texas Tea. You would think this type of place would be located somewhere remote, like out in the desert or some other secluded area, but these bubbling pits of blackness are actually at a busy Los Angeles intersection adjacent to buildings and businesses.

Although I'd been up to the Griffith Observatory on a previous trip out West, I'd never been able to take in this incredible sight at night.

This photo, taken with my cell phone, doesn't do the view justice. In fact, no photo could. You have to stand at that wall and look out over the city to experience this properly. A rather large crowd had congregated at the top of that hill Friday night (at least three or four times the crowd I'd seen there during a previous daytime visit). My best experience that evening was walking over to a more secluded area on the opposite side of the observatory to look out over the city for several minutes.

Check that place out after dark.