Disneyland without Mickey

Down here in La-La land, everything is bigger that it needs to be, brighter than it ought to be, louder than I want it to be and appearances are always more important than reality.  I saw all of this today at The Grove, a fancy mall adjacent to the Farmers Market I remember from 50 years ago at Fairfax and 3rd.

The Grove is in Los Angeles, just south of West Hollywood and east of Beverly Hills.  It glitters and glows like Las Vegas in the desert, and reminds me of nothing so much as Main Street Disneyland, without Mickey and Goofy.  Getting off the elevator from the parking, (if you haven’t chosen to use the valet parking) you see a concierge desk with very well dressed men and women standing ready to help you with your packages, dinner reservations and whatever else will improve your shopping experience.

Hollywood or Anaheim?  It's hard to tell.

Hollywood or Anaheim? It’s hard to tell.

The entire mall is only  a couple of hundred yards long–the trolley is for show and giving the kiddies a thrill, not really needed for transportation.

The driver looks like he was created in central casting.

The driver looks like he was created in central casting.

There are good stores here–Nordstrom, Barney’s, TopShop, etc.  There is a huge Barnes and Noble and an immense Cheesecake Factory.

I met my brother here, and we stopped into a beautiful restaurant called La Piazza, with dining al fresco to enable better people watching.  I thought I was just ordering a snack, but got the greatest cheese plate I’ve ever seen:

Four different Italian cheeses, breads, jams, hazelnuts, grapes, strawberries and blackberries.

Four different Italian cheeses, breads, jams, hazelnuts, grapes, strawberries and blackberries.

The service was slow, but we weren’t in a hurry.  Dudley the dog was tied up near us, and the little kids all were looking at him.  We spent a pleasant hour watching the sun go down and the crowds go by.

The big anchor stores pay the rent, but it’s the little stores that give a mall character.  I saw one here that I doubt I’ll ever see again–a bookstore featuring just one publisher, Taschen.

The best art books in the world.

The best art books in the world.

Taschen is the publisher of the finest art books made.  There is nothing in this store that you will find in Barnes and Noble, just gorgeous books printed large and well.

The massive book in the window is the photographs of Sebastião Salgado, a Brazilian photographer of world reknown.  The book retails for $4,000.  A signed copy, including a hand-made print of one of the photos, is $10,000.  My birthday is in February.

Not everything here is expensive:

Snap-together lights.

Snap-together lights.

These are cheap light fixtures–they snap together in many different configurations so you can decorate on the cheap.

There are also many kiosks along the walk, some selling $59 jars of Dead Sea Salt to exfoliate you skin, others selling hundreds of variations of blinged out iPhone cases.

Speaking of the iPhone, there is an Apple store.  And since the new iPhone 5S was released this week, there was a line to get in:

Apple kindly set up the tent for shade, and has an urn full of umbrellas in the unlikely event of rain.

Apple kindly set up the tent for shade, and has an urn full of umbrellas in the unlikely event of rain.

This was a very slow line.  Every 10 or 15 minutes a Apple clerk would come out and let a few of these people into the store.  There is a woman on the far left in a head scarf–it was more than 45 minutes before she got to the head of the line, and I don’t know how long she had been there or how long she would have to wait in the store before she could dance on out of there with her shiny new phone.  I’m waiting for next year, and then I’ll do it all online and wait 3 days.

The decor of The Grove is delightful.  There is music playing, of the Sinatra variety, and art installations as well:

Kids just naturally relate to art.

Kids just naturally relate to art.

They have a pond in the center of facility, with an incredible fountain system.  It’s even better than the one at the Bellagio in Vegas, albeit much smaller.

You could watch this for hours, mesmerized.

You could watch this for hours, mesmerized.

The sunset from the 5th floor of the parking garage (which is far from cheap), was spectacular.

As sun sets slowly in the West.....

As sun sets slowly in the West, we bid a fond farewell………….

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2 thoughts on “Disneyland without Mickey

  1. Chris, You may not know but the developer of the Grove had an option on Golden Gate Fields in Albany to develop a similar area on the bay that was rejected. Regards, JackGarfnkle

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