Tag Archives: Los Angeles

The Internet Keeps Changing How We Drive

I’m not shy about my feelings towards L.A.  There are many things I don’t like about this city.  These include but are not limited to: trendy cupcakes, trendy green juice, $14 salads, a sense of entitlement, an alarming number of grown men and women who are still children, small parking lots,  no parking lots, people who are on the gluten-free diet but also don’t know what gluten is, and a lack of water.

But the worst part of this city, without question, is the LA traffic.  There are just too many people in this city.  There are too many cars trying to get to the Hollywood Bowl, Dodger Stadium, and Santa Monica Pier.  Highway pileups begin way before 5pm.  City gridlock can happen anywhere, at anytime.  For drivers in LA, going 10 miles can easily take an hour.

People have been trying to find solutions for years: carpool lanes, anti-gridlock zones, and certain no left turns at peak traffic hours.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a fix for the LA traffic problem.  Getting around is a major struggle for everyone.  

You have to be resourceful.  You have to find shortcuts and tricks.  And they don’t always work.  What may be a shortcut one day could add 30 minutes to your commute the next day.  But the one thing you can always count on LA for having is trends.  And just like its annoying green juice trend, LA has driving trends too.

Turo’s (previously known as RelayRides) Los Angeles car rental crew recently put together a drivers guide to getting around the city.  In it, they share tips and tricks from local bloggers who know the city best. What I immediately recognized in most of the answers was trends.  Thanks to apps like Waze and Uber, people are moving around the city differently.  Instead of driving and parking, people are spending the extra money to take an Uber.  People’s favorite “secret” shortcuts are being exposed because of apps like Waze.  Trends change the game.  It will be interesting to see what sticks and what doesn’t.  Here’s that infographic.

Driving.Tips.In.LA

If you looked at it closely, you might have seen a familiar name.  Yep, right at the bottom left there – yours truly.  Now this whole article makes sense, Randy!

Turo is a peer-to-peer car sharing service.  Think of AirBnB for cars!  People who have a vehicle to spare can rent it out to someone in need.  Renters always have a variety of cars available to them, and at much cheaper rates than you’d find at more traditional rental services or airports. 

One of Turo’s most appealing features is its large mixture of model options.  Since your selection is pooled from real people all over the city, not just a garage or a lot with a few different models, you have a much bigger variety of cars to choose from.  If I’m trying to plan a road trip up in the mountains, I’m not going to want the same type of vehicle that I’d pick for city exploration. 

I love the way that the internet and technology are connecting people and ideas.  I love that these new ideas are creating trends that change how we do things.  Turo isn’t going to fix LA traffic, but LA is certainly a perfect city for a cool service like this.  It’s also the perfect city to rent a car and GTFO using Turo.  Check them out here:

www.turo.com

Go trip yourself.

-Randy

Doing Things in L.A. – Griffith Observatory

When I was living in Seoul, I made a list of 50 things I wanted to do or see in the city before I left.  My students (all adults) always loved looking at that list and asking me why I put certain things on it.  It was a great conversation starter.  Most of those things on that list were just the usual tourist attractions I read about in guide books.  But at the end of my year in Korea, I had checked off almost all of them.  The only things I never accomplished were “Swim across the Han River,” (my students told me I’d die trying) “visit the Blue House,” and “eat Beondegi.”  Beondegi is silkworm larvae.  It had a very distinct smell and was sold everywhere.  I don’t know how I missed out on trying it.

Anyway, the reason I brought up the list is because I was surprised how many of my students had never done many of the things on it either.  Seoul is a giant city, yes, but I couldn’t comprehend how someone could live in a city for most of their life and not go to the most popular attractions.

Then I moved to L.A. and I began turning into the students I criticized.  At first, I went to all the places any tourist would: Hollywood and Sunset Blvd, the Hollywood sign, Santa Monica Pier, Beverly Hills, etc.  As I began to feel more and more like a resident though, I stopped exploring and stayed at the places I was familiar with around my apartment.  Recently, I realized that when you live in a big city, you feel like you have all the time in the world to explore.  You’re not a tourist rushing to see all the sites in a few days.  You can visit them whenever you want, as many times as you want.  So you put them off, and do lazy things like watch TV and go to your usual bars instead.  You’ll get to it later.  Although, like many others, you never do.

So this month, I decided to go to one place I’ve been putting off for over a year- Griffith Observatory.  Considering it’s practically in my backyard, it’s amazing that I’ve never been there until now.  I took these pictures with my new GoPro Hero 4, which I’m very impressed with.  Check this place out!

I have no problem exploring places outside of LA, but maybe it’s time I do some exploring inside the city too.  I practically write “I Hate LA” in all of my posts, but I’m clearly missing out on a few things here.  Perhaps I should make another “50 things to do/see” list.  If I do, swimming across (or down) the L.A. river will be one of them!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  See you next year.

The Perks of Being a Production Assistant in Hollywood

Since my life currently consists of spending 12-14 hours a day at a studio,  I thought I’d take a few minutes to write about my life as a production assistant in Hollywood.  Yes, production assistants (PAs) are the lowest on the entertainment industry totem pole, and yes, you’ll see a lot of articles floating around about how terrible it is to be one.  But being a PA isn’t that bad, and it certainly has some great perks.

I’ve been a set and office PA (working for the team that films the show/movie/commercial) and a Post PA (working for the team that edits and finalizes the show/movie/commercial) on many different projects since moving out here.  The PA duties vary from project to project, but essentially, you’re the assistant to everyone you work with.  You do whatever they ask, with a smile on your face.  Sometimes it’s getting lunch for the team, setting up chairs, printing out documents, and making DVD copies.  Other times it’s driving two hours away to get a producer their favorite salad.  As a PA, you have to expect you’ll be asked to do anything.  But here are the perks:

Getting to go on all the studio lots and sets for free

As a PA, you’ll either work on or be asked to drive to any of the major studios around Hollywood.  You just have to flash your drive-on pass at the gate and go right in.  It’s fun to see the general public waiting in line for a tour or sitting on the tram, knowing they paid a small fortune to see something you get to see every day.  Also, you pretty much have free roam of the entire lot.  On any given day you might see your favorite actor walking around or your favorite show being filmed.

Look, a fake street corner! And yes, even I paid for a studio tour one time.  Anyone recognize the show/town?
Look, a fake street corner! And yes, even I paid for a studio tour one time. Anyone recognize the show/town?

Working with major talent (celebrities)

Even better than just seeing, you might get to directly work with major talent, too.  They’re certainly just normal people, but it’s still fun to interact with them, if allowed.  As a PA, you might be in charge of keeping their trailer tidy or walking/driving them to the stage.  Sure, you may get a few divas, but most of the actors are very professional and nice.

Catered lunches and unlimited crafty

Many times lunch will be paid for by the production.  Sometimes, as a PA, you’ll be the one running out to get it, but a free meal is a free meal.  It gets even better when lunch is catered.  They spare no expense to feed top-level talent and crew.  Health nuts, vegans, and junk-food enthusiasts will all be pleased.

Crafty, or unlimited snacks, is another perk.  If someone can’t wait for lunch, there’s usually a whole kitchen, room, or table filled with candy, chips, fruit, cereal, desserts, etc, that’s available for anyone to eat at any time of the day.

Getting to watch your TV show/film on the big screen in a private theater

This is a perk that would mostly only apply to Post PAs.  Once an episode/movie is close to being finished, it gets played in a huge, private theater for important people to make notes and to finalize sound.  The producers and editors will sometimes bring along a PA just in case anyone needs anything.  Many times you just get to sit back, relax, and watch an advance screening of a TV show that everyone else will have to wait another two months to see.

Wrap Parties

Wrap, which means the production has finished filming, usually follows with a wrap party.  If you worked on the production, you’re invited to the party with all the cast and crew.  Unfortunately, when you’re a Post PA, and they film in another state, you can’t go.  You sometimes get the invite, but sadly you just have to throw it away.  As a set/office PA, you can definitely go.  I’ve heard the wrap parties can be quite a blast, but unfortunately, I’ve never been to one.  All of the productions I’ve worked on so far either didn’t have one or I was a Post PA working in another state.  Someday I’ll get to take advantage of this perk!

Wrap Gifts

When a show finishes, the producers or director (or people way more important than you) may give the crew a gift as a way of saying thanks for all of their hard work.  This can be anything from a shirt, to a watch, to amusement park tickets.

Being privy to show information before the public

Many times PAs have access to scripts and early cuts.  It’s always funny to see the public’s reaction to things you knew about months ago.  I love reading reviews, fan theories, and incorrect spoilers about shows I worked on.  Of course, you’re not allowed to share any of the information you know, so no one knows that you know, and therefore, you’re not special. But at least you know you know.  8)

So the next time you hear a PA complaining about their job, remind them how good they have it -unless they just drove two hours for a salad.  That’s just cruel!

Is that New York City?!?!
Is that New York City?!?!                                                     No.

Big Bear, California – Cabins, Lakes, and Free Parking

road trip randy

Everyone I know speaks highly of Big Bear.  If you live in LA, it’s where you go to get away.  Church goers attend retreats there.  Big time television producers have their second and third homes there.  Some athletes even rent cabins and go there to train.  Me? I just wanted to stop choking on polluted air in Los Angeles and get away for a weekend.

You know that saying that goes something like, Los Angeles is the only place where you can go snowboarding and surfing in the same day?  It’s a lie.  First, you can’t go snowboarding in LA.  The nearest “real” mountain is two hours away.  Second, what about the rest of California?  Surely there are other beautiful places with mountains and the Pacific in close proximity of each other.  Typical Los Angeles arrogance, thinking they’re so unique.  Anyway, that’s how I learned about Big Bear- as one of the few snowboarding mountains only two hours away.  Then I learned it’s a great place to visit in the summer too.

big bear drive

The drive there is actually really enjoyable.  Once you get about an hour out into the San Bernardino area, the scenery really changes.  The road starts to wind and get really steep as you drive into the mountains. Palm trees turn into pine trees, and you only see a house or building every mile or so.  The higher you go, the better the view becomes.  You hug some of these turns and realize that feet away from you are giant cliffs that lead into valley down below, or giant cliffs that could lead to your death with one wrong move.  Either one.

road trip randy

Once you get into Big Bear, you don’t really feel like you’re high up in the mountains, but you definitely feel like you’re away from the city- less annoying people and more space.  For me, it reminded me so much of northern Michigan.  The air is clean, the giant lake sparkles, and nature greets you everywhere you look.

What I especially liked about Big Bear was how diverse the different areas of the lake were.  On one side you have the city, with the touristy village.  Then on another side you have your public beaches.  Then on the other side is the residential road with houses and cabins that takes you right next to the calm water.  It’s a nice drive around the lake.  I would know.  I got lost looking for a hiking trail and had to drive around it three times.

THE VILLAGE

It probably wins awards for village you’d most likely see in a snow globe.  Or in a propaganda video.  It’s beautiful.  Meticulously taken care of, clean, and it has lots of parking.  If you’re going to Big Bear, you have to check out the village. The main area is a small street that’s ideal for spending a few hours in.  There’s basically only one building for everything you need – ice cream, post office, theater, souvenirs, etc.  However, there are a handful of restaurants in the front.  Grab an ice cream cone and take a walk down its perfect sidewalk.

road trip randy

THE HIKING

I went hiking on the Castle Rock trail.  It’s tough to find, but well worth it if you do.  Big trees, giant boulders, and one hell of a view at the top!  Once you get close to the top, the trail stops being a trail and turns into a boulder climb. It gets kind of dangerous if you don’t have good balance.  There was a family in front of me that wasn’t too athletic (think multiple Augustus Gloops from Willy Wonka), but they were leaping from rock to rock and climbing over one another as though they wouldn’t die if they missed a step.  Crazy.

road trip randy

road trip randy

road trip randy

road trip randy

THE FOOD AND DRINKS

I’m a big fan of dive bars.  If I’m in a fancy bar or restaurant I usually don’t know what to do with myself and end up punching someone. The great thing about small towns, like Big Bear, is they usually have plenty of dive bars.  It’s fun to see who are the locals are and who are the tourists.  I went to a small one not too far away from the village.  It was the perfect dive bar.  Dollar bills on the wall, license plates on the ceiling, and business cards in the bathroom with the faces of the people currently sitting at the bar.  It couldn’t have been better!

THE BEACH

I can’t be certain because it was my first time at Big Bear, but it looked like there were only a few big public beaches around the lake and then a lot of smaller “private” ones.  The public ones were nice- people were paddle boarding, swimming, and kayaking.  But what I really liked was that you could stop off on the side of the road, almost anywhere, and make your own private beach.  No one was around.  Just you and your thoughts… and a random pirate ship passing by.

road trip randy

road trip randy

road trip randy

I didn’t spend a lot of time at Big Bear, but I definitely see why people love it.  Angelinos go crazy if they see real, green grass and a tree that isn’t a palm tree.  I think that’s the appeal of Big Bear for them.  It’s real life. No billboards, no glamorous parties, no chronic traffic problems (you can park for free on the side of the road at Big Bear!!!), no rat race.   For a few days everyone is just living.  And relaxing.  And enjoying.  And appreciating the good things in real life.  And then not too long after, they drive back to LA… and turn back into their miserable, narcissistic-selves.

Big Bear, you were great!

road trip randy

I made this short video when I was there.  If you like it, please consider subscribing to my channel.  I just created a YouTube account and would love your support!