My college statistics professor once said, paraphrasing no less a luminary than Mark Twain, that there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Literary scholars can debate whether Twain intended to suggest that statistics were just another kind of lie. My statistics prof was pretty clear on the point that in business, in advertising, in life in general, statistics are often used to mislead the public. Simply using the phrase “4 out of 5 dentists” sounds better than “80% of all dentists,” even if they represent the same number. We should always question why a statistic is given to us in a certain format.
According to the infallible internet, Los Angeles, California, experiences on average 33.7 rainy days a year.
Sharon and I recently got back from a quick trip to LA. We arrived at LAX on a Friday afternoon and left the following Wednesday morning. It was rainy and chilly on all but one day, the Monday before we left.
If the rainfall average is even close to accurate, this means that we experienced 14.84% of the annual total while we were on vacation. That is an impressive, if ultimately meaningless, statistic.
33.7 annual rain days doesn’t sound too bad. It stands to reason that many of them will come while a large part of the USA is experiencing winter weather. My personal experience sounds bad whether you call it “5 out of 6 vacation days with rain” or an “83.33% rained-out vacation.”
The truth is that it didn’t really matter that it rained. We weren’t traveling to California to sun ourselves on the beach or hang out everyday at the hotel pool. Sunshine and more visibility would have been a bonus, but the rain wasn’t a dealbreaker. We still had a blast, even if I didn’t exactly pack the correct wardrobe for wet, chilly weather.
Weather concerns aside, we didn’t really do the best job of planning this trip. We were staying at the Hollywood Roosevelt, a grand old hotel on Hollywood Boulevard across from Grauman’s Chinese Theater and on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It was our first time in Los Angeles, and we wanted to do Hollywood right. However, in spite of all the Academy Awards advertisements on television that we saw prior to leaving Arkansas, neither my wife nor I took into consideration that this year’s Oscars ceremony was being held just down the block from our hotel.
Oscar night coincided with Sharon’s birthday, and we had made reservations at Musso & Frank’s Grill (more Old Hollywood for you) for that evening. Turns out, this was a bad idea. The 95th Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Dolby Theater, also on Hollywood Boulevard and adjacent to the Chinese Theater. The roads were barricaded and guarded for blocks around the venue, making what would have been a short hike to Musso & Frank’s a nearly impossible journey.
I mean, we could have arranged a ride-share (taxi cabs are apparently an anomaly in LA, which is diametrically opposed to our experience in NYC), but our journey to catch a ride would have been longer than our original path to M & F’s and in the opposite direction. We elected to dine at the hotel and watch the Oscars on television. We couldn’t really see much from our fifth-story window, except for a slice of Madame Tussauds wax museum (with its irritatingly loud video billboard) and a bit of The Coffee Bean across the street. Most of what would have been a spectacular view of the Oscar festivities, at least of the street in front of the theater, was blocked by the Cinegrill sign you can see in the pic below.
By the way, the Hollywood Roosevelt is the oldest continually operating hotel in Los Angeles, built in 1926 and later renovated in the mid-1980s, with a million-dollar mural painted on the bottom of the Tropicana Pool by David Hockney. The hotel was the venue for the very first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929. Its Spanish Colonial Revival style is breathtaking. You’ve seen it, probably without knowing, many times in television shows and movies. Walking into its lavish lobby gave me a strong sense of deja vu.
Marilyn Monroe lived at the hotel for a couple of years when she was first starting out. A long list of other Hollywood stars have stayed there as well. Like every older hotel I’ve ever been to, it’s rumored to be haunted. My batting average vis-à-vis seeing a ghost remains unchanged, however. I really wanted to see the ghost of astrologer Linda Goodman, who wrote some of her books in a suite at the hotel. You see, that would have been ironic, because I also don’t believe in astrology.
We saw no movie stars—living or dead—while we were there. At least, I don’t think we did, although I’m sure there are many actors I wouldn’t recognize if I ran into them on the street. I did see Chris Connelly, who was apparently staying at the Roosevelt as well. Connelly is a journalist and frequent contributor to ABC News’ Good Morning America, as well as a correspondent for ESPN. You’d recognize him if you saw him. My wife said she didn’t know who he was, but that she would take my word for it.
While we were in Hollywood, we took the TMZ bus tour. It was a lot of fun, focused primarily in Hollywood and Beverly Hills. My wife won a t-shirt in a celebrity face-guessing game.
The only day it didn’t rain while we were in LA was Monday. Fortunately, that was the day we chose to go to Universal Studios. It was crowded, but we didn’t have to wait long to get on the tram tour. I’d seen the tour on television for years, but it was great seeing the Psycho House and the shark from Jaws in person. There was also a King Kong and a Fast & Furious 3D portion of the tour that was impressive.
During our time at Universal I managed to get a bit of a sunburn, especially on the top of my head. What do you think? Is my hair thinning?
It rained again on Tuesday. We took another bus tour, this time out to Santa Monica and Venice Beach. If the sun had been out, we probably would have spent more time at the beach.
We had a 6 AM flight out of LAX on Wednesday. We were up early and ready to get back to Arkansas, pick up our dogs from the pet resort and enjoy the rest of my vacation from the comfort of home.
Everything didn’t go as planned. Nor did we expect it to. We always remain open to a change of plans. That prevents a lot of frustration. We didn’t make it to Griffith Park and we didn’t see the HOLLYWOOD sign, but we checked off a lot of other boxes on our wish list. We had a good time and a memorable vacation.
2 thoughts on “Hooray for Hollywood (March 2023 Vacation)”
This blog post was such an entertaining read! I completely agree with your statistics professor that statistics can definitely be used to mislead people. But my question for you is, if you were to go back to LA again, what would be at the top of your list to visit that you didn’t get to see on this trip? Thanks for sharing your experience! Well written post and very informative. I love the way you narrated your experience of LA.
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Griffith Observatory and the iconic sign would definitely be on the list. But I believe my wife’s number one regret was not getting to eat at Trejo’s Tacos.