Home to Hollywood

heros

Hollywood: the entertainment capital of the world and the main reason I’ve day dreamed about Los Angeles since I was nine years old. It’s the home to America’s most beloved movies and television shows and everywhere you go in this city, you’re surrounded by the industry!

 

If you love to watch a screen (whether big or small) it comes to life right before your eyes. Everywhere you look, you can almost guarantee it’s served as a backdrop in one film or another (even the Buca de Beppo around the corner).  All of the major production studios are scattered around the city and many of them even find unique ways to open their doors and let you in. Whether you want to grab a cup of joe with an old Friend at the Central Perk Café at Warner Bros or travel the back lots at NBCUniversal Studios where you’ll find The Voice, Amity Island, and even Whoville. There’s something fun about interacting and seeing firsthand how and where some of your favorite movies are made.

IMG_6404You don’t have to take a tour or be on set to see where the magic happens. Like I said everywhere you go has played a role somewhere. Of course, it’s hard to miss some of Hollywood’s favorite backdrops like the iconic Hollywood Sign and don’t forget to take a trip on Mulholland Drive! While traveling through the city you will also probably pass or cross over the LA River, (not much of a river) home to one of my all-time favorite movie, the drag race scene in Grease (Go Grease Lightning go!)

When you’re here, there’s also always the excitement of you never know who you’ll run into (literally). Twice on my recent evening jogs in a quiet residential neighborhood I’ve passed a filming session for Julia Robert’s new TV Show, Homecoming (before you ask, no-I didn’t see her or any of her co-stars, but I did see the lighting guy, and he’s just as cool). As far as other sightings, I’ve seen countless Bachelor/Bachelorette stars, multiple E-personalities (even though I didn’t really know who they were), and a few of my favorites like Aaron Paul and Tyra Banks!

doj_instagram_17The key to seeing celebrities is mostly being able to be aware of your surroundings and knowing where and when to pay attention (something I’m not great at, but I am super good with faces!)  You could see someone at dinner, while out shopping, or even walking down a street (all places and real-life situations I’ve seen someone.)  When you do see someone, just keep it cool and gage the situation!  But come on we all know those few people that’d we’d freak out if we ever walked into a room and saw them, that one person standing right in front of us. I’ve gotten into convos where I try to think about who that person would be for me… sure, a few years ago it would have been Adam Levine, but I’ve seen him and we’re not getting married anytime soon so I’m over that. My inner middle schooler though, would still probably lose it though if I saw Zac Efron or Robert Pattinson though! I have been known to get more excited over the fact I actually spotted and recognized someone than the fact of their celebrity status or who they are. I mean when it comes down to it, they are normal people just out trying to live their everyday lives, but you bet if I run into Ellen, I’m going to ask her to take a selfie with me! I’d love to hear who you’d freak out over meeting! Send or message me your fav celebs and I’ll keep you posted if I ever run into them!

The most important way to experience the movies though, is still by actually going to a movie theater to watch a movie.  In LA there’s no exception, even when on vacation it’d recommend going to see a movie because it can be a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else and it plays a huge part in this city’s history and future. To get a unique LA movie theater experience, you can purchase tickets to sit where the stars sit for movie premieres at the Chinese Theater or see Disney’s latest hit at the El Capitan theater.

I love seeing a movie at the actual theater for many reasons that aren’t just butter covered popcorn. I think it’s so special to sit down next to your loved ones or sometimes even complete strangers to sit and experience a movie together.  The feeling of sharing a laugh with a room full of people during the latest Melissa McCarthy movie or jumping so high out of your seat during a trailer for an upcoming horror movie that it leaves the whole room laughing afterwards-that’s movie magic. It’s less about what you’re actually watching and more about experiencing it together and sharing that memory.

Movies literally bring people together in so many ways!  In LA there are some very unique ways to experience a movie especially a classic. Why sit where the stars sit, when you can sit right next to one of the greatest stars of all times (and by sit next to I mean set on top of…)  One of the greatest traditions in LA is to go see a favorite movie at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.  You’ll actually be surrounded by some of the greatest entertainers that ever lived while you watch some of the most praised and loved movies of all time. With theaters the way they are nowadays, the comfort of your own bed is no longer an excuse. You can find theaters that are even better and comfier than your couch at home.  At iPic for example, you can sit in a recliner (big enough for two) that goes all way back. They’ll give you a pillow, a blanket, and free popcorn. You will also then have the chance to order things like sushi, steak, dessert and other delicious meals and they’ll bring it out for you. Now I don’t know about you but that sounds way better than what I’ve got at home.

Look, I know how expensive movies are getting, especially if you want to enjoy an experience like iPic, but trust me… I have a secret.  (It’s not much of a secret any more but it’s still so new to me that it feels like a secret.) If you love going to the movies, listen up this one is for you, finish reading my blog then before you go do whatever else you’re going to go do, you’re going to download Movie PassMovie Pass is the answer to your prayers and is exactly what it sounds like. It’s not a scam and it’s not too good to be true, but it is the greatest thing ever! It is a service that you subscribe to (just like Netflix) and for $10 a month you can see as many movies in theaters as you want (well up to one per day and you can’t see the same one twice-but still! That up to 31 movies a month for $10 total).

This is how it works… You sign up online or through the app, they they’re going to mail you a Movie Pass Card (it looks like a “credit card”). Once you’ve activated your card, you can go to select theaters in your area (in LA they’re everywhere, in Boone and Ames, don’t worry you can use Movie Pass at Movies 12 AND North Grand Cinema I already checked!) Once you have your card ready and you’re at the theater you select the movie and showtime you’d like to see and then click check-in. Next, you’ll go purchase your tickets, when you get to the counter to pay you simply swipe your Movie Pass card and then they take care of the rest. Some select theaters will even let you reserve your seat and ticket online, so you don’t have to show up extra early but check in with your local theater. The first time I ever used movie pass I would have paid $14 for a ticket at that location, but with Movie Pass all I paid was my $10 earlier that month and it had already paid for itself. Just keep in mind that this is a heck of a great deal and please don’t try to scam the system and ruin it for the rest of us. You can’t use your movie pass on other people or multiple tickets AND you can’t use it in combination with concession stand purchases.  Just take your “free” ticket and enjoy the show.

Now you have NO excuses not to go see the latest and greatest movies. If you just go to one movie a month, it’ll pay for itself. Since being out here, I’ve used my Movie Pass to see Life of the Party, Oceans 8, and Tag (all movies I’d highly recommend for very different reasons!) Next on the list is Incredibles 2, Jurassic World Fallen Kingdom (supposed to be awesome) Gotti (supposed to be horrible) and Hereditary (if I can find any friends brave enough to go with me).

Bonus: When I went to see Tag I also saw the trailer for Bad Times at the El Royale and it was the most beautiful, terrifying, magical, and creepy trailer I’ve ever seen. If you’re confused how all those adjectives fit together, check it out right now.

***Credits start rolling***

Don’t get up and leave your seats just yet! This city is known for making movies and a lot of people work in this industry. People appreciate every roll and all the effort that goes into make a great film.  With that being said, don’t be surprised if people stick around so that they can cheer and clap when their friend’s name scrolls across the screen! It’s worth the wait to see the joy!

This week my advice is to go to the movies and share an experience with other people. Whether the movie truly speaks to you or is the worst thing you’ve ever seen, there’s nothing like crying, laughing, and sometimes screaming all together.

Share with me what movies you’re excited to see or what your thoughts were on ones you’ve seen recently! Comment below, email dayofjae@gmail.com, or DM on Instagram!  Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for all the latest updates >>^^

 

 

Taking on Traffic

takingontraffic_hero

windsheild_driving_car

(While this picture wasn’t taken in LA and it isn’t me driving…. It is still my car and I took it!)

Well… I’m not an Iowa any morethat’s for sure. When you come to visit or move to LA if the palm trees and sunshine aren’t enough to immediately tell you you’re in a new place then it’s only a matter of time before you find yourself stuck in traffic on the 101 freeway and the message reads loud and clear.  Traffic here really does suck.

There are a lot of rumors that surround Los Angeles and transportation (but there are a lot of truths about them too).  In just a short time of living in LA spread out over a few years, I’ve experienced it all from using public transportation, trying out all the rideshare services, and even driving!

Everyone says that the public transportation systems suck in LA and well if you’re someone whose use to living in New York or Chicago then you’d agree. Los Angeles is a different kind of city because it’s so spread out compared to cities that have skyscrapers and believe in building up into the sky.  When I first lived in Los Angeles for a summer internship, I was testing it all out.  I lucked out rented an apartment that happened to be less than a block away from a metro stop. For me to get from my apartment in North Hollywood/Studio City all the way to Universal City for work, I walked one block, got on a metro bus for one stop, transferred to a metro subway for one stop then got off and walked across the street to work. Easy Peasy! All this took about 45 mins each way and cost about $5 round trip.  Sounds great, right? Well since moving back it’s my understanding that that was a pretty rare and unique experience that I’ll probably never find again.

Unless you find yourself in a similar situation where you live in close proximity to a stop, it can be very challenging.  There’s not very much parking at the metro stops and stations so you have to walk or Uber to catch a metro ride. The metro lines aren’t as well connected as in other cities either. You could find yourself in a situation where you have to go all the way downtown to make your connection train and then back track on a different line to get to the neighborhood you work in! But none the less public transportation does exist if you’re willing to make it work.  I also think that most of us are too stuck in our ways and tailored to this idea that “we have to drive” to even find a route or see if there’s a public transportation option available to us. Not as many people are willing to trade in their road rage for sitting next to strangers, but if you’re the kind of person that can actually get your morning started by either answering emails, reading a book, or even taking a little snooze in public—then it could definitely be worth checking out! Yes, it might take you a little longer, but you have more of an opportunity to make that time worth it and be productive.

One morning during my internship, I woke up a little later than usual and knew I wasn’t going to make it on time if I took the subway.  I decided to Uber instead and actually learned that going to work in the mornings was cheaper and quicker by Ubering rather than public transportation. The Uber ride would take 15 minutes and cost about $1.75… purely amazing and life changing (I now had an extra 15 minutes to get ready every morning or get to work even that much earlier which for me is a big deal!)

 

When I lived in LA the first time Uber and Lyft were still pretty new concepts to me, but before long they became my life line.  When my mom and I arrived at LAX we had plans to immediately rent a car for the weekend, but that idea quickly turned into a nightmare. Long story short, I’m just going to let you know that I will never try renting a car from a rental place close to LAX ever again.  If you’re here for a short period of time, trust me it’s not worth the stress, waiting, and money!  Just download a rideshare app instead- I swear! I convinced my mom right then and there we were going to just Uber all weekend and 12 minutes later our driver was coming to pick us up and saved us from all the struggles.

Uber has been a life saver in many different moments. It made getting around in Los Angeles easy, “quicker,” and was pretty affordable considering the alternatives. My mom and I both loved getting to meet different drivers and hearing their advice and life stories while we also got to sit back, relax, and not worry about directions, parking, or which exit to take. People often get in the discussion of whether Uber or Lyft is better, and everyone has a different response. Some drivers drive for both services and will tell you different things. For me, they’re both about equal. I’ve had great luck with both and some frustrating moments with both. Most importantly I’ve always felt safe on both and when there were times I ran into issues both customer services responded quickly and were very helpful! If I have time and am not in a hurry I usually check the rate with both and then pick which ever one will be cheaper. Usually though, they’re pretty close so I pick whichever one can have a driver there the quickest.

My favorite thing to do in LA (in terms of traveling and traffic that is) is to take Uber pool. Uber pools or Lyft Lines are ride options offered in the app (they’re usually only offered in your major metropolitan areas though). They allow parties of 1-2 riders to share their ride with another rider usually for ½ the price of the original ride. Generally speaking it only adds an additional 15-30 mins onto your trip.  I’ve seen some of the neatest areas and neighborhoods and met some amazing people all because of Uber pool. For example, one Saturday I was going to Manhattan Beach and we stopped and picked up another girl in her mid-twenties who was also headed to that beach. Neither of us were meeting anyone until later that afternoon so we decided we’d just go to the beach together and hangout. We spent the entire afternoon discussing our lives back and forth with a complete stranger and then at the end of the day we both went our separate ways- but it was a really great time.

While that was an amazing experience, you do have to be careful and smart about it. Although I haven’t had any bad experiences, I do choose not to pool later in the evening or when I’m closer to certain areas of town. Also, as often as you meet some neat people you’ll also get passengers who do not want talk or even look at you (we all have those days). If you’re in a hurry and crunched for time, don’t rely on pool just because it’s cheaper.  It’s not always a guarantee that they’ll get you there on time especially with traffic. Do everyone a favor and pay the few dollars more just to take your own ride in those situations.

When I moved back to LA a month ago I had decided not to bring my car and planned on ridesharing everywhere. I wanted to get reacquainted with the area once again and I wanted to see if I really needed truly needed a car… Almost immediately I regretted that decision. Uber prices had definitely gone up and I was living in a less central area compared to North Hollywood (now I’m in the San Fernando Valley). My expenses were rapidly adding up and it took too much time to plan ahead to rideshare.  So, I needed my car but now that I had a new job and I couldn’t go back to Iowa to get it. I had looked into shipping it and that was going to cost about $2,000 which did not seem worth it.  On to plan b… My boyfriend, being as great as he is, agreed to drive it out to me. I’ve had a car now for two weeks, which I know doesn’t seem like a long time, but it’s made all the difference. I was beyond nervous to drive at first… I had no idea of how to really get anywhere and I had never drove in traffic like this before. But now, I’m thinking to myself, what was I so nervous for. Right now, I live and work in the valley which is no different than driving in town in places like Iowa City or Ankeny, Iowa. Yes, the freeways are a little different though especially during rush-hour. I’ll tell you what though, I’d rather drive in LA than Chicago because at least people here are lucky to be moving 10 miles an hour where in Chicago everyone’s flying down the interstate at 85 miles per hour. The biggest thing you have to pay attention for is people cutting you off and swerving in and out of lanes usually without using turn signals. Motorcycles are also terrifying because they can weave in and out of traffic going 60 miles an hour even if you’re stopped. If you stay alert and pay attention though, you’ll be fine! Just stay focused on your lane and the lanes next to you, be greedy when you need to be, don’t be a jerk, and take turns when you can!

 

There’s another key difference when driving in LA (typically the guys you’re with will notice it first). If you’re anything like my boyfriend, Dad, or Uncle the first thing you realize is that you’re always surrounded by fancy cars. The people here drive a lot of different cars than you might be used to. My dream Mercedes G-Wagons are everywhere, and Tesla’s might as well be the new Prius in LA County (even cars like a Rolls-Royce aren’t that uncommon). Make sure to keep your eyes on the road though so that you don’t accidently fender-bender a Lamborghini.

(And then there’s cars in Cali like these…good thing though, people would see me coming from a mile away.)

 

If you’ve ever lived in Iowa City, you know parking there sucks so naturally I was worried what it’d be like in LA but honestly, it’s not that bad in most neighborhoods. There’s a lot more street parking then you’d think (but you better be ready to parallel park), parking garages are actually pretty cheap especially with store validation, and you can valet at almost every restaurant for like $8-10 plus tip if you’re really in a hurry to meet someone.

Overall the rumors are pretty accurate. While living in LA without a car isn’t impossible, it certainly makes life more difficult if you’re living here long term or commuting to work every day. I’ll leave you with a few more tips to take into consideration if you’re planning to visit or make a move. Don’t pay attention to how many miles something is away. That number means nothing here and will actually make you more frustrated. When plugging an address or location into Google Maps just look at the time of how long it’s going to take you to get there. Next tip is to then plan accordingly. Always give yourself at least 15-30 minutes more than it says you need to get there whether you’re driving or ridesharing. Accidents do happen frequently which is usually why the freeways can get backed up at any time of the day. Most importantly just keep an open mind. Expect traffic so then when you hit a rare patch of no traffic it’ll feel like a winning situation. Last but not least, if you do find yourself getting behind the wheel use your GPS, stay focused, keep a spare phone charger in your car, and just go for it. If I can find my way around and maneuver the traffic being the most defensive Midwest driver there is, you’ll be fine!