7.21.2012

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.

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