It was a couple of years ago, but L.A. Weekly praised Maja D'Aoust as one of L.A.'s "people to know" in their annual People issue.

What is she? A white witch. Nope, not being racist. Like, a witchcraft witch. I never got around to doing this, but....seriously?


Neon Tour of Los Angeles

Most locals scoff at tour buses driving by, but I feel a sense of pride when seeing one near my home. It's a sign I'm in a enviable zip code. Or adjacent to one anyway. Plus, how nice would it be to cruise atop a city bus in the open air?

That's one of the things that excited me about the neon bus tour of Los Angeles. People meet up at the Neon Museum downtown and pile onto a bus top to cruise the streets of Los Angeles in the cool night air.

If one is scanning their mind to think of a memorable neon sign to check out but is drawing a blank, you aren't the only one. Vegas we're not. L.A. is not a town known to preserve any architectural integrity or history. Most neon signs are gone. The most concentrated area is on Wilshire, between Koreatown and downtown, where Gaylord and other vintage signs lend a little class a la old New York.

Otherwise, we'd be on the 101 looking at a big exterminator sign. The tour guide said it used to be great, with neon rats blinking across it, but they had to dismantle that part because it distracted drivers and caused car accidents. Why were we there then? We sit next to that exterminator sign in traffic every day. And driving by Amoeba Music to listen to the tour guide talk about how their sign is a "Neon Don't" doesn't count, since they think it sucks. No one pays for a tour to see things that suck.

Yes, the tour is a bit gimmicky given the lack of signs. But you can't blame the museum for trying, since they do have an affinity for history. Besides, their little neon museum can't be bringing in that much. It was romantic cruising around atop a bus in the cool night air, a belly full of red wine from the pre-ride reception at the museum. As long as you don't expect to be blown away, it's pretty nice.


Revamped: The Hotel Bel-Air

High-end call girls and foreign dignitaries are getting a nice change of scenery here in Los Angeles. The Hotel Bel Air, which has long been considered the most private retreat in Tinseltown,  has been revamped! Stripped of its dated Laura Ashley decor, designers decided to go back in time to the golden age of Hollywood. It's old-fashioned glamour mixed with the sleek lines of Midcentury Modern design. Think vintage chandeleirs over white Danish Modern couches in white. There's a black and white motif throughout, hit with splashes of lime green bouquets. 

I spent a weekend partying at the Hotel Bel Air, and while I realize this makes me sound like a prostitute, I can guarantee that I only stripped down to my bathing suit. I lounged poolside with dozens of hummingbirds and famous stars, who clustered in this very public, celeb-heavy place to, you know, get away from the public and celeb-heavy places. 

Making way for a new Starbucks

This fire erupted on Adams just as I was passing by. First there was a black burst; a mushroom cloud shooting into the sky. Then came flames. A man was seen running from the scene. My friend took a few photos before the fire trucks arrived.

I don't want to sound insensitive to the owners of the above church, but I was in such awe of the burning building, it made me almost sympathetic to pyromaniacs. This is also someone who spent a half hour on YouTube watching security videos that captured passing tornadoes. I was disappointed upon discovering that there was no video footage of the Thailand tsunami in 2004. Many of us had a child-like wonder of what it would look like, seeing a gigantic wave hovering over a city. Japanese art didn't cut it. Then the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan fulfilled that need for us. We were saddened by the devastation, but also thankful that Japan is technology-minded. We got plenty of video footage of the quake and helicopter footage of the tsunami. We were glued to our televisions.

Like the aforementioned disasters, this fire in West Adams was tragic, but beautiful.


You haven't lived in L.A until you've witnessed...Angelyne

When I first moved to Los Angeles and saw Angelyne billboards advertising, well...her, I wondered, "What is this hot mess, and why do I find it so awesome?" She broke the rules. Hollywood exhibits their wares via theatre, and if they're lucky enough, TV and movies. No one takes out a billboard and says "Hey world, look at me...and my Lucite shoes!"

Come to think of it, we weren't even looking at her, but an airbrsuhed, cartoonish version of her. It was very platinum blonde and hot pink - 80's hot. Old-fashioned hot. Stripper hot.

Asking around, I got the urban legend: "DUDE, she's like 80 years old with mad plastic surgery. She drives around in a convertible pink Corvette and takes out billboards because her husband owns a sweet O.C . Corvette dealership!" But no one was quite sure what she was selling. Thanks to Wikipedia, we now know it was what we had expected. Just her. 

Imagine my surprise when walking down Fairfax and seeing the infamous Angelyne pink Corvette parked outside of Canter's. I dashed inside to meet her. She was old-young, and her face was deformed from plastic surgery. It was clear she was elderly, but her face had been spackled, paved over and pulled back to have zero wrinkles. Her grapefruit-sized beasts were smoothed and catapulted up to her clavicle. It's strange to look at an elderly person and know that they are old, but being unable to pin down any wrinkles or grey hairs as telltale signs. What is it then, that makes people look old?

Instead of being the giggly, Betty Boop-like poo poo pi do blonde bomb (if not shell), she was jaded, and all business. A smile never crept across her face and her voice was hoarse. I asked if I could have a picture with her, and she said only if I bought an $18 Angelyne tee shirt. When she saw that wasn't happening, she pushed past me and scooted off in her Corvette.

I had hoped she would be fun and delusional like her billboards promised. But I think somewhere along the way, she caught on that she was a joke. She decided to cash in on that at the very least, before it was too late.  Check out these outrageous billboards - I'll miss them. They're so vintage L.A. As of 2010, the billboards have all disappeared.