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Saturday, August 29, 2009

••◊ Returning to Mecca

Yesterday I took myself on a little birthday shopping trip to the media Mecca - Hollywood that is. The intent was to buy a wireless lav system for my 5D camera, so I can have a much improved field documentary setup. More importantly, the first stop was lunch.

My friend's girlfriend lives in the Silver Lake district in LA, so she sent a laundry list of restaurants to try. I was only going to be in LA for the afternoon, so the selection had to be parred down to one: Local. Local is a place on the north corner of West Sunset Boulevard and Silver Lake Drive just off of 101. They specialize in using local product (thus the name). I'm always a fan of locally produced organic stuff, so that made the choice somewhat simple. People were nice, friendly, and definitely treated you like a local. It reminded me of a place in the University or Fremont districts in Seattle (that's a good thing). Highly recommended if you have to be in LA and feel, well...not like a local.

Since traffic was backed up from Irvine to Santa Ana due to a traffic accident I didn't really have much time to be a tourist. The next stop was Coffey Sound, which is a retailer, rental gear place, and online shop that is situated just across 101 from Universal Studios. The reason I drove all this distance is that I'm really picky about sound gear. On the Creativecow.net's audio professionals forum I inquired about medium priced lav systems. They replied with various suggestions to at least get me on the right track, but microphones really need to be heard to understand the difference. What I ended up getting is the Countryman B6 lav mic and a Sennheiser G3 wireless system. Unfortunately they didn't have any of the B6's pre-wired for sale (just rentals), so I have to wait another week to get those shipped to me. The other two recommended mics: Sennheiser MKE2 and Sanken COS-11 just didn't sound nearly as good at the flat response B6. I didn't even like the mid-bump B6, so that shows you just how picky I am. The G3 purchase was a financial compromise. The Lectrosonics sound a little better in my opinion, but are 4x the cost and I didn't have $5k to spend. Overall, I'm glad I went on this trip in person. Kristie, their sales person, is a super nice gal and spent about an hour with me demo-ing the equipment...and she just bought a pro-tools rig and is ready to do sound post for anyone looking in LA. As a side anecdote, I was thinking just last week "I wonder what ever happened to all those laser disks?" Now I know. Coffey Sound uses them to decorate their bathroom walls.

As you can tell by the initial picture I had time for one brief tourist in-n-out mission up the hill to the Hollywood sign (and yes, I realize I'm whiter than the sign). For anyone looking the directions are 101 to North Beachwood to Ledgewood to Deronda. Oodles of nice homes up there tucked away in the brush. They don't let you hike up to the actual Hollywood sign for some reason. The gate that blocks the road is about another 50 meters up the hill from where I'm standing in the picture. Nick, a tourist from London, gets the photo credit here. He and two other buddies were in LA as tourists. I took a picture of them in return. On the way down, sure enough, there was someone filming in the crosswalk. I had somewhere more important to be - had to go.

Amy Campion is a high school alum and I was meeting her in Korea-town at a place called Cafe Mak just off of Wilshire and Shatto Place. Amy has an MFA in dance, teaches, and manages a hip-hop dance company that performs all over. She is definitely living the Hollywood life, making movies and doing public performances, but more importantly she has an alter ego: "Bgirl Catfox." It seems like celebrities now days have managed to get their alter ego names down to one or two syllables (i.e. Puff Daddy=Diddy or Madonna=Maddy/Mads). Something for her to contemplate. Even in high school I remember Amy as being smart, motivated, and willing to live a more daring lifestyle. The rumor was that she spent more days skipping school than generally allowed to go snowboarding, but made up for it by not having to study very hard.

Back to the subject of food...Cafe Mak offers a sweet potato cake, which is a very different take on cake. It's like Russet potato with sweet milk in a form factor that looks like a scoop of ice cream. So interesting I had to try it.

Since LA traffic is so bad on Fridays I had time to kill before attempting the long haul back on I-5. Traffic moves like a constipated snail before 8pm, and only slightly faster there after. Amy recommended the Los Angeles County Museum of Art a few miles west on Wilshire so I decided to spend a little time there. Among many items are original Warhol's, Picasso's, and many artists I've never heard of, of course. My favorite object among them all was a 10 foot tall metal sculpture that looked like a balloon animal of a dog; shiny Mylar-type finish and all. Fun.

On Friday nights the museum is free with a donation and they also have a concert stage with a jazz band in the courtyard (pictured above). A lot of neighborhood families gather for a picnic in the grass or couples dress up for date night. It's a nice community atmosphere.

So that's it. I'm waiting for the mics to show up before giving the system a go. I guess that will be another blog post waiting to happen.

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