72 Hours in L.A.
photos and words by felicia williams // april 2015 // shop our urban inspired goods
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we are beginning our decent into Los Angeles. Skies are clear and the temperature is at a perfect 75 degrees."
Friday Afternoon Virgin Flight to LAX
Stepping into the California sunshine is like sinking into the most pleasant bath: the air hugs me, the sun envelops me in the most intimate of kisses and I find myself smiling like an idiot, drunk on my own feeble attempts at photosynthesis. A perfect 75 degrees! Yes, queen!
After a quick conference with my fellow weekend warrior, author and social media guru Colin Wright, we have our plan of attack. As museum junkies, we rationalize that The Getty Museum is sorta on the way to our hotel, so opt to head their first before checking into our downtown digs.
Our cab slips into the ever present stream of L.A. traffic, thick with fellow passengers and drivers. The windows are down and the sun glints off the hoods of drop-tops, while numerous majestic palm trees dot the avenues.
I lean my head back against the cab seat, close my eyes behind my vintage Italian shades and drift into a sunny stasis. The palm trees stay within my mind's eye and I think to myself, given climate change and the drought strangling California, how many more visits will I have before these icon trees die off and are replaced by their more appropriate cousins: cacti and succulents?
We arrive at the entrance to the Getty just shy of 3pm. A white tram takes us up the hill to the main grounds, its track cutting a picturesque but rickety curve through the landscape.
This is my first time at The Getty Museum, and for the uninitiated, it is magnificent! The white paneled exterior stands in stark contrast to perfect blue skies. Getty's grounds are immense, and their galleries boast collections of modern and ancient photography, painting, sculpture and mixed media.
First order of business is to check our small amount of carry-on luggage and find a crisp chardonnay to enjoy. We end up taking a well deserved lunch break on a quiet terrace, dripping with vines, enjoying sumptuous bites of our expertly prepared burgers, while bubbling over with mirth at things I can't remember. I do remember that at one point, I curse loudly in front of a family seated nearby with a small child. I feel immediately ashamed.
With our afternoon of culture and arts complete, we begin looking for transport to downtown L.A., but not without effort as cabs are sparse and Uber was even sparser. After nearly half-an-hour, we grab a cab and arrive safely at the Ace Hotel and check in.
Our boutique room is beautiful, with just the right amount of quirk meets sexy chic. I quickly pop up to the rooftop which is abuzz with Los Angeles glitterati and soft beats.
We end our night with sushi, cocktails and good tunes, ready for a great Saturday.
"Traffic is like a force of nature. There is no sense in trying to understand it. Simply accept it."
Saturday brunch in Venice and dinner in West Hollywood
We master our morning with expertly brewed espresso at L.A. Chapter and take an Uber into Malibu. My sense of time-to-destination is completely ruined: I have never spent so much time in a city where a car engine roared at the core of its heart. Thankfully Collin, a former L.A. native, keeps a cooler head than I and gets us to the right places, with the right amount of time to spare.
Our first stop is Duke's Malibu, a ridiculously cheesy but wonderfully funny Hawaiian themed restaurant to catch up with friends of old. We over indulged in tacos, fish and brunch libations. Afterwards, our group makes its way to Venice for a walk along the busy streets and through the beautiful canals.
My nut brown skin soaks up the rays of sun while my lens soaks in the landscape. Some of my, err, fairer friends begin to melt from the heat.
After walking ourselves to exhaustion, we say good-bye to Venice and head back to the Ace.
Later that evening, I surprise Colin with a surprise party at Zinque in West Hollywood (sorry, I meant to say WeHo).
I secretly coordinated a get together of some of his former L.A. cohorts, to help him celebrate his upcoming birthday.
We are a rowdy, and at times, raunchy bunch. The group drinks copious amounts of wine under the stars and I have fun hearing all of the behind-the-scenes stories about my unsuspecting friend.
The night ends with another Uber drive back, a debate about the virtues and short comings of bowling and whether I have finally settled on my choice of dress for tomorrow's event....
"Please take your seats immediately. The MTV Movie Awards will begin in five minutes."
Sunday morning photo shoot, MTV Movie Awards in the afternoon and after party at L.A. Live
I meet with Evan, my hoodie model, at 8 a.m. after having decided that 7 a.m. is too ambitious. I'm on my second mocha and my mind is set to 'GO'. We laugh, catch up about the last time we worked together (remember the concrete lamp?) and get down to business.
I make quick work of the shoot and spend the rest of the morning exploring the nooks and crannies of downtown L.A., fascinated by the theater fronts lining the various boulevards.
I check my phone. Noon. That leaves only a few precious hours before the event to get ready and get there. The sweat starts to bead at my temples.
Listen, friend. My look for tonight has been a source of some serious stress for the past several weeks. Ask anyone. They'll tell you. I've gone to every store, every site and scoured every corner of my closet to come up with the look.
I stand in front of the mirrored armoire, staring between the five options I brought with me, including a sixth I bought while in L.A. and throw up my hands in exasperation.
I take this moment to shoot an icy glare at my friend Colin, the jerk.
In the end, I decide to go with a bespoke piece I found while hunting in Marrakech. It's a long, light hanging dress, made with a beautiful filigree of bronze silk, hanging in three sheer panels along the curve of my body. It ends in a quilted hem, sewn from vintage fabrics found in Morocco. I complete the look with an African inspired clutch, chunky adornments and caramel, leather heels.
Colin looks smart in a deep blue suit from Suitsupply, dark tie and walnut colored wingtips.
A glance at the clock shows me that we're running behind, so we grab our effects and head to the show.
After party with a departure to SEA the next afternoon
The 2015 MTV Movie Awards are fun, especially with our VIP drinks in hand, and stand-up comic and show host Amy Schumer absolutely nails it. The show is short, but that's no biggie. The real event is the after party.
The after party isn't far from the venue, only a few blocks east and proves to be the clincher for the evening. I am showered with praises for my daring and original dress, with several random strangers snapping pics and requesting duo-selfies. Colin shoots me a smug I-told-you-so-look. I nibble my chicken and waffles in a glow.
Dance, dance, dance. We take to the floor along with the other guests as Lady DJ turns up the heat on her tables. "Awesome shoe guy" is really amping up the crowd: no one can not dance in his boisterous presence.
Hours after, we exit stage left and call it an evening, but not before we have a few minutes of fun with an impromptu photo shoot in the back alley of the Ace.
The next morning, we pack and coffee on the rooftop of the Ace. I close my eyes and feel myself soaking up the last of L.A.'s rays, sighing with pleasure at the feeling, before calling one last car to take us back north, into the gray but welcoming haze of Seattle once again.