Hi all. My unusually busy period in my freelance career is still going strong, which explains the dearth of new Lists of 9. I was hoping to put this up a few weeks ago, when the calendar still read 2011. Oh well, in any event, this list sheds some light on what life in West Hollywood, California, is like.
- Halloween. The City of West Hollywood hosts the largest Halloween street party in the world. Free and open to all, the "Carnaval", as it's officially named (but I don't know anybody who calls it that), annually packs over 250,000 people into a mile-long stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. Costume contests, food stands, live music, and of course insanely crowded conditions are all to be found.
- Barack Obama. The President made a few visits to the L.A. area in 2011, but his appearance at the House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. marks the first time I know of that a sitting president has come specifically to WeHo. This overwhelmingly gay city is perhaps a little too culturally controversial for your average middle of the road politician, but there's a lot of campaign cash to be raised in this liberal enclave.
- Mötley Crüe. Speaking of Sunset Blvd., the fairly young (three years? Four?) Sunset Strip Music Festival is a one-day summertime extravaganza where old fart bands (in 2011 it was the Crüe, Public Enemy, and Bush) play alongside up and coming rock acts, on stages built directly on top the Sunset Blvd. pavement. Not my thing, but this past year they offered bargain $5 tickets (a $50 savings!) to all of us neighbors who might otherwise be irked by the noise and inconvenience.
- Gay Pride. No surprise here. With one of the highest per capita percentages of homosexuals in all of the U.S., if not the world, you can bet that our civic leaders are happy to close down both Santa Monica and San Vicente Boulevards for one weekend every summer to observe this rainbow flag-festooned parade of gayness.
- The new library. A testament to WeHo's sterling financial situation. One of the few California cities to remain in the black during the economic crisis (thanks to taxes from the city's many hotels, bars, nightclubs and restaurants, as well as hefty revenue from countless parking tickets issued on the highly restricted streets), West Hollywood often has money to burn, and burn it we did on a huge, ultra-modern library. The City Council was so proud that it closed down busy San Vicente Blvd., outside the library, just for its opening weekend.
- The Oscars. No, the Academy Awards don't take place in West Hollywood. They're about three miles away in Hollywood, which is in the City of Los Angeles. But the humongous Pacific Design Center, essentially a "mall for interior designers and their clients", is right across the street from the library, and it plays host to at least one major Oscar party every year: Elton John's AIDS fundraiser. Naturally, the oft-closed San Vicente is shut down then too.
- The Los Angeles Marathon. Although the Marathon's been around for a while, only recently was the route changed so that thousands of runners now trot down the Sunset Strip, just a block from my house.
- The AIDS Walk. Less surprising in this neighborhood are the many road closures due to the annual AIDS Walk in October.
- Repaving. It's rather prosaic, compared to the other big and glitzy events on this list, but West Hollywood is still a functioning city with ordinary things to take care of like sewers, streetlights, and roads. Given all the special events that take place on our streets every year, it's no wonder we need so much repaving.