Venice Beach Boardwalk is located
in Venice. The district in West L.A. is
known, of course, for its boardwalk, but
also for Muscle Beach and its cast of
performers like break dancers, fortune
tellers, glass walkers and vendors of
novelties, T-shirts and street foods. It’s
great for walking and bicycles. It was
home to the early beat poets and artists
of the ‘50s. The hippies took over in
the ‘60s, the druggies in the ‘70s. Since
the ‘90s, it has become a popular spot
for tourists and natives alike, drawing
50,000 on weekends.
What is a visit to old Hollywood
without a stop at the Beverly Hills Hotel
(affectionately known as the “Pink
Palace)? It was painted its trademark pink
and green in 1948. The Polo Lounge
was established in 1941and frequently
drew celebrities like Humphrey Bogart,
Katherine Hepburn, Howard Hughes, Liz
Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and the Rat Pack,
to name a few.
We arrived as night was falling,
determined to see some stars one way
or the other. The Polo Lounge was full
already. We went to the bar and were
entertained by Tony.
He made it clear that his name was Tony,
christened that name by his mother
and he was not to be called Anthony.
He also tried to tell us that it was his
first week on the job, but his dexterity
behind the bar belied that. It was clear
he was confident and was having fun.
We ordered hor’s doeuvres and out
came Pepe, the second act, to entertain
us by making our steak tartare in front of
us. Pepe told us he was from Tijuana.
I asked him if he knew Caesar, the waiter
from Tijuana who invented the Caesar
salad. Pepe said he didn’t know him,
but Caesar was more famous than the
donkeys of Tijuana. Indeed!
Next, we were on to the Chateau
Marmont Hotel. The Chateau is not
the most expensive hotel nor is it the
most elegant. Yet arguably, it’s the most
famous with legendary as a common
prefix. Hidden away above Sunset
Boulevard, the Chateau was built in1929
after a French Chateau and has always
been a hangout for the Hollywood elite
and rock and roll royalty.
We walked into the lobby that was filled
with brocade couches, sconces and a
nude painting. A sort of shabby chic, it
had a certain fustiness but it was alive.
There was a young family with three
kids running around loose. The waiter
had a certain impishness and a
sparkle in his eyes condoning
probably the way
the stars ran around in the old days,
Orson Welles, Richard Burton and Liz
Taylor, among many. Robert Mitchum
was arrested there on a dope charge,
John Belushi overdosed and died there,
and Lindsay Lohan spent a week there
before she went to rehab.
The hotel has also been a muse for
many artists, including Hunter S.
Thompson, Dorothy Parker and F. Scott
Fitzgerald. The novelist A.M. Holmes
wrote, “Being at the Chateau is like
being in a place that is out of reality,
a sacred place, a church… our Los
Angeles lady of creativity.
So whether you’re looking for
inspiration, the perfect cocktail or a
quick picture with your favorite star,
is just the iconic
scratch that itch.
magic still works.