Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The World of Make Believe

A cold has kept me in a horizontal position for a few days. What happened in Haiti put a damper on my blogging. And four days of rain have kept me off my bike, even though I'm in the midst of my epic "20 Jerseys - 20 Rides" tour. It's time to write about the tour again.

If you've read my blog, you might know that I enjoy riding up to the Hollywood Sign, that nexus of myth and reality. Think of Hollywood, of course, and chances are we think of movies. Think of Culver City, though and chances are most of us will think, "Where's that?" In fact Culver City may be more about film making than Hollywood.

Culver City is a small town that lies just south of West Los Angeles, and is largely surrounded by Los Angeles. It has a lovely downtown, quiet residential streets, and it's home to the Sony Pictures Studios - which sits on the land once owned by MGM - and the Culver Studios.

From wikipedia, here's a list of some film made over the years in Culver City:

From the Culver Studios website: "The Culver Studios is also the birthplace of Baywatch, Mad About You, The Nanny and Arrested Development."

I decided to make an early evening swing through Culver City, passing by both the Culver Studios and Sony. First I slipped on a jersey - the ninth of my 20 - that my daughter, Nora, gave me a few years ago, made by Fox. Unlike many cyclist's jerseys, this one doesn't boast overly gaudy graphic; I'd call it's design unpretentious.

When I ride into Culver City, I usually take the route I did this night, cruising through residential streets that took me from my home in the historic South Carthay neighborhood west, into Cheviot Hills, then south on Bagley Ave. across broad Venice Blvd. into Culver City. At the intersection of Bagley and Venice is the wonderful, whimsical Museum of Jurassic Technology, which truly must be experienced to be understood. It's one of the treasures of Los Angeles.

A few blocks later and I was in front of the Culver Studios, on the eastern edge of downtown Culver City, where a pedestrian walkway separates the Pacific Theater multiplex from the delightful Culver Hotel where, according to the hotel website, nearly all of the one hundred and twenty four "little people" who played munchins in the Wizard of Oz stayed (and apparently played). And a film crew for an ABC t.v. show was finishing up their long day, packing up equipment on the edge of the walkway.

I continued south, to the base of the Baldwin Hills (site of the 1932 Olympic Village), and entered the Ballona Creek bike path, which runs about six miles from its start, on La Cienega Blvd. to the Pacific Ocean, at Marina del Rey. I rode the path for only a short distance, though, hopping on at Duquesne Ave., and exiting at Overland Ave; the highlight of the ride was the view of Ballona Creek, which looked like a shimmering ribbon of blue and gold, reflecting the last colors of the sky before darkness settled in for the night. This is not the Los Angeles most people have in mind when they conjure up the city.

Making my way up Overland Ave., I passed the entrance to the Sony Pictures Studios. Soon I headed for home. On the way, I made a quick stop at Hamilton High School, which appeared in the old t.v. show, Room 222.

In a few minutes I was home, having dinner with my wife, sitting in front of our t.v. watching a make believe world.

Click on the photos to view larger-size images.

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