| FACES OF LOS ANGELES |

Beverly Hills & Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Ahh, Beverly Hills. The home of the absurdly rich, the profoundly famous, and one of the most well-known zip codes, of all things - 90210.

While I stayed at a hostel in Hollywood, I decided to take advantage of some of the offerings that the hostel provided, including group trips to various places in the area. One of them was a walking tour of Beverly Hills during which travelers had the opportunity to visit the homes - albeit, at a distance - of prominent celebrities from Michael Jackson to Elvis Presley to P. Diddy to Miley Cyrus. I can't say that the trip initially appealed to me; the idea of touring around the neighborhood of celebrities that I don't really give a damn about didn't arouse my interest at all, and thus wasn't on my priority list for things to do on my vacation. The idea of touring a movie studio like Paramount - now that sounded cool.

But, reluctantly, I signed up. And I ended up being glad I did it.

Sorry, no celebrity sightings this time, and thus no celebrity photos below (although, I admit, that would have been cool).

However, below are photos both of the tour and of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. After the tour ended, I walked (and eventually scootered) 3.5 miles to the famous art museum, specifically to its most popular outdoors exhibit - Urban Light. Plenty of photo ops here - especially at sunset!

Enjoy!

This guy was the host of our tour. He carried around an iPad to show us images of aerial views of the many mansions we visited, as well as a bluetooth speaker to jam some tunes along the way. This latter item was handy for when we were approaching houses like Michael Jackson or Elvis, as our guide would play their music along the way in addition to songs by other artists as prefaces to their houses - a nice little touch the tour. It also helped that he was friendly and knowledgeable about the subject matter! The dude had probably done this tour umpteen-thousand times, and he still seemed to enjoy it.

Interestingly, our host described an experience during which, while on a typical tour, the travelers were suddenly greeted by Mark Wahlberg. Evidently he got out of his car, took some selfies with everyone, and went on his way. Not so typical after all! The USA Hostels Instagram page confirmed this for me - and it was at a spot I recognized from my own Beverly Hills walking tour. But unfortunately we didn't get the privilege of a Markey Mark guest appearance. Booooo.

This is Jamiee and Vik. They're both from Australia. They were both out in LA while their country was experiencing devastating wildfires. Eventually I became friends with them on the tour, and we ended up hanging out in the days after since we were all staying at the same hostel. The next day, the three of us and a few other friends we made all hiked up to the Hollywood sign and then devoured some greasy burgers after. They completely enriched my experience in LA, and I'm still in touch with them today!

After we toured through the neighborhoods of the rich & famous (including the Playboy Bunny mansion, where we got yelled at by a person on the intercom for approaching to closely to the gate out front), we visited Rodeo Drive - the well-known upscale shopping district of Beverly Hills & Los Angeles in general, where celebrities are fond of going to shop. Our guide described an experience in which he was standing on the sidewalk with his tour guests, looked over to his left and saw Arnold Schwarzenegger in a convertible, smoking a cigar at a stoplight. Unfortunately he didn't get any photo op with the Governator, but it was a cool sighting nonetheless.

Anyway, as we approached the heart of Rodeo Drive, I saw this woman pictured above doing a photo shoot with her "photographer." She looked like the quintessential Los Angeles fashionista, with her colorful tie-dye dress and pink lipstick as she slid her sunglasses down to peep the pictures of her. It was such an LA moment to me, I just had to capture it, even though it meant sort of sticking my camera in the face of a complete stranger and her friend...heheh.

As we neared the terminus of our tour, we were crossing the street in downtown Beverly Hills when I guess I turned around and saw this dog clearly enjoying its fabulous LA life. The car was at a stop, so I asked the guy inside if I could take a few pictures, and he didn't mind. I snapped away and captured this. What a diva. A very furry diva.

Woah, it's me - a tourist! After the tour ended, I stuck around Beverly Hills for a bit to enjoy some - wait for it - a Chipotle. Something I could find anywhere, I know, but I care not because it's just so good. I then proceeded to walk back toward Rodeo Drive and then, in classic Forest Gump style, I dunno...just kept walkin'. Along the way, I took a bunch of photos of whatever caught my eye. One of the things that caught my eye was this reflective glass. This ended up being both a fun, hilarious, and absolutely embarrassing moment for me. I snapped photo after photo, trying to get the right look & expression. Eventually, as I'm taking more, I notice something behind the glass - a woman approaching me. She's smiling and waving at me, and while I felt a bit embarrassed from that alone - fearing I probably look like another vain LA'er obsessing with photos of himself - I looked more closely and there was an entire room of people, sitting around a table, evidently in some kind of board meeting. They ALL witnessed me doing this, no doubt, and I'm sure they were cracking some laughs as I continued taking photos in complete oblivion of what was behind the glass. But even though I'm sure they sort of laughed at my expense, I couldn't help but laugh, too. It was just such a ridiculous and amusing moment. I just had to laugh at it, and I walked away hardly able to contain myself. Sometimes laughter is the best antidote to embarrassing moments. It certainly wasn't (and won't be) my first - embrace it!

After walking about 3.5 miles, I stopped at a camera store to purchase a 28mm lens, because I didn't bring any with me like a smart person. I was so aggravated with myself, but I was so happy and sincerely not regretful to grab a new lens while I was out there. And it was a prime lens! Thanks Sonny's Camera!
My next destination was the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, known as LACMA. I'd been reading good things about the Urban Light display/exhibit there, and it looked cool as hell. So after my lens purchase, I found myself a Lime scooter and zipped down the street to LACMA. I took so many photos here because the sun was beginning to set, and the colors in the sky (and on the ground) kept changing. This girl was with a few friends, and I mustered the gumption to ask her if I could take her photo doing this pose. She was cool with it, and I was so stoked about it. Afterwards, she even took a few of me on my cell phone, which was super nice of her. Thanks actual stranger!

Photographing kids as an adult male completely by himself is always an uncomfortable and strange experience. But sometimes you just see something candid you feel an urge to capture. This was one of them. I loved the way this kid sat himself at the base of the lamp post in his puffy yellow jacket, seemingly alone in this maze of lights.

For some reason this couple caught my eye. In another photo, the man on the right is looking up, seemingly in wonder, but I ended up liking this one more.

These girls just looked so chipper together that I just felt compelled to capture their joy. I don't recall whether this was candid, or if I asked if I could take this. Either way, I remember them being friendly and jovial.

Like the girls in the photo above, this girl just looked so joyous as she hoisted herself upon the lamp post that I wanted to capture this joyous moment of hers. However, the security guards didn't much care for it - climbing on the posts is actually a no-no. She wasn't the only one I saw get scolded. But I'm glad she got to embrace it for a moment!

This really was like the Urban Light maze of joy. The girl in the photo above reunited with her friend when she came down from the lamp post and shared some laughs - probably laughing at the fact that she just got shunned for being naughty. I was laughing, too.

Next stop: HOLLYWOOD!

View Part I: Downtown