Sunday, November 18, 2012
THE GREAT LOS ANGELES WALK 2012 RECAP: Braving the Rain From Downtown, Through Melrose and To The Ocean
The starting point: Walt Disney Concert Hall
Rain? What rain?
OK, so it was a bit wet this year. But nonetheless, at least 200 passionate Angelenos woke up early and braved an early-morning drizzle to take part in the seventh annual Great Los Angeles Walk.
The best part? Most of the Walk-ers braved a downpour or two and made it to the very end, 17 miles later! (Although the length is in dispute -- Google Maps claims we walked 16.92 miles, but several pedometers clocked in at closer to 19 or even 20.) More than half of this year's participants were brand new to the Great Los Angeles Walk -- which makes it even more impressive that so many of them weren't turned off by the rain! (Of course, we were expecting closer to 400 or more participants had it not been so gloomy on Saturday morning.) Folks came in from San Diego and elsewhere to pound the pavement, and this year see Melrose Avenue up close and personal.
Maybe it was the rain, or perhaps it was the shorter route than last year, but Great Los Angeles Walk veterans told me they felt much less winded this year. "Overall this Great LA Walk was less exhausting than prior ones," one regular, Raul, wrote on Twitter. Another Walk-er, Rhema, noted that she completed the Walk even with a bum knee, and mentioned how great other Walk-ers were: "Great day, Great walk, Great people! You guys are a good bunch. When my knee was giving out everyone stopped to make sure I was OK and asked if I needed something. GLAW participants are a very cool bunch!!"
Along the way, this year's Walk centered on Melrose, where Walk-ers walked by Paramount Studios and Raleigh Studios; unofficial L.A. Democratic party homebase Lucy's El Adobe cafe; the epicenter of L.A. bike culture at Heliotrope; the famous Melrose shopping district, home also to the Groundlings, the Golden Apple, the Improv and others; the tremendous (and colorful) Pacific Design Center buildings; the original Tommy's shack; the Ukranian Cultural Center (formerly Jensen's Melrose Theatre); legendary Brooklyn's Bagels; and so much more.
This year's Walk kicked off with a bit of a history lesson behind the Walt Disney Concert Hall, as shared by volunteer Bob Scales, who also worked on the building's construction. Then our pal (and L.A. expert) Chris Nichols, who's behind the popular Los Angeles magazine column and blog Ask Chris, gave a pep talk to the Walk-ers. (Thanks to both Bob and Chris -- and my embarrassed apologies to Big Parade LA's Bob Inman, who I had every intention of introducing as well, but then in my frazzled state, completely forgot.)
The crowd outside Valerie Confections.
At 9:15, we embarked on our journey -- leaving the Disney Hall and turning west on 1st, which quickly turned into Beverly. At Beverly near Virgil we were welcomed by Valerie Confections (3360 W. 1st), which had free, rich hot chocolate (with homemade whipped cream!) waiting for us, as well as homemade gourmet pastries. Truly yum. Valerie Confections will be selling pastries on Saturday mornings, and I know we'll be back to enjoy items like lemon tea cake with pomegranate frosting, creme fraiche scone and apple/pear pie with caramel. Did I say yum?
Tai Kim serves up ice cream goodness at Scoops.
From there, we walked up Virgil to Melrose, and immediately headed West to start the portion of the hike down this year's featured street. But soon we were at Heliotrope, where Scoops Ice Cream (712 N. Heliotrope) maestro Tai Kim was busy working overtime selling ice cream to the Great Los Angeles Walk masses. Normally Tai opens the store at noon on a Saturday, but he was gracious enough to open it at 10:30 for Walk-ers. PLUS, among Saturday's flavors were two breakfast-themed ones created especially for the Great LA Walk: Maple Cap'n Crunch and Cornflakes. Both were delicious. And with lines out the door, I'm sure this was the first Scoops experience for many of our Great LA Walk participants -- and I'm pretty sure it won't be their last.
The crowd outside ink.sack.
We then continued down Melrose, from East Hollywood into Hollywood, and then West Hollywood. Near La Cienega, our pals at ink.sack (8360 Melrose) had prepared special lunch packs for Walk-ers: A gourmet turkey sandwich, a banana, granola and water, all for just $8. The regular ink.sack menu was, of course, available too.
Swift walkers got to the end as early as 2 p.m., but the biggest crowd hit the ocean at around 5 p.m. for a group shot. As always, there were Walk-ers who did the event right, stopping at The Village Idiot on Melrose for Bloody Marys, etc. For the after party, Santa Monica's Wokcano gave us a large space to sit down and enjoy happy hour drinks, while Smashing Young Lad & Co. set up a digital photo booth for all of us to take photos as souvenirs. (You should have received them via email by today.)
The rain may have kept some people away, but it meant that the Walk-ers who decided to brave the event were still gung-ho and happy to be there. If anything, surviving 17 miles in the drizzle gave all of us an even bigger badge of honor. Even my 7-year-old, the Blogger Kid, walked about half of it. (Next year he wants to do it all. We'll see.)
Read most of the Tweets from the day -- at least the ones with the #glaw hashtag -- here!
Post your Great Los Angeles Walk photos to our Flickr stream here.
Still want a t-shirt as a souvenir? They're available here: http://greatlawalk.spreadshirt.com/.
We'll post a link soon (or else, even post them here) from the after party's photo booth.
Some pics from the day:
Chris Nichols talks to the crowd.
The crowd listens.
I talk to the crowd before we embark. (Pic by Anthony Uy)
And we're off!
Passing by downtown.
Shakespeare? Cat? Shakespeare Cat?
'Tis the season: "The Nutcracker" now on stage at the Bob Baker Marionette Theatre.
Some take the bridge, some do not.
The people of Los Angeles, in mural form.
Something I had never noticed before: The United Firefighters of Los Angeles is based in a building that looks like it's literally on fire.
Filipino history mural in Historic Filipinotown.
The original Tommy's!
You think the $2 bath deal is still in effect at the Hotel Lafayette?
I shall name this chicken "Holly."
Ukranian Culture Center. Opened as a silent movie theater in the 1920s.
The Octagon "Church on Melrose"
Maple Cap'n Crunch and Cornflake, among the flavors at Scoops!
As Michael Jackson looks on, a crowd anxiously awaits the 11 a.m. open of their friendly local medical marijuana dispensary.
OK, what's going on here?
The woman in the billboard is clearly shocked at seeing so many people walk down her street.
Will likes what he sees.
Brief detour to check out the house that Jack London allegedly slept in.
Anthony and Spidey.
Monsters on Melrose.
Kids, just stay away from Peter Pan. Stay. Away.
Thank You, Andy Warhol.
The Record Collector for 39 years on Melrose. (Photo by Anthony Uy)
Where The Wild Things Are: Cake Edition.
Widely considered the ugliest building in all of Los Angeles. Located at La Cienega and Melrose.
Vacancy at the Royal Santa Monica!
Whoa. What are they about to cut off that horrible-looking dog?
We made it to the ocean at around 5 p.m. -- where we met with several other finishers! Some got there earlier, and some later. (Photo by Anthony Uy)
Thanks to Chris Nichols; Bob Scales; Bob Inman; Tai Kim from Scoops; Joy, Will and the guys from ink.sack; George at Wokcano; Joshua from Smashing Young Lad & Co.; kim from Spin PR for finding us Wokcano; and Stan from Valerie Confections for participating in this year's event! And most importantly, thank you to the 200-plus die-hard Los Angeles fans who took part in the walk!
Save the date for next year -- Saturday, November 23, 2013. If you're looking to do more urban hikes before then, make sure you check out the regular epic walks that Big Parade LA puts together. Not only is it good exercise, but their walks are filled with history, culture, music and a lot of fun.
Here are some links to other recaps of this year's Great Los Angeles Walk. Send us your links!
The Great Los Angeles Walk 2012 Flickr Pool