The trip was quite an experience and a pretty fun one at that. First off, so as to get it out of the way, the British Parliamentary debate did not go so well. My partner and I went 2-4 meaning we won two debates, placed third (out of 4) in three more and came in last once. I did not know what to do since this was my first time ever doing Parliamentary debate so I was out of it for the first couple of rounds and as a result my partner had to carry the weight.
Aside from the debate the trip was great. We saw albino deer on the way to the airport, which was an interesting starting point for the experiences I was about to come across on this trip. Our plane arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday night. The next morning I took my PAM 204 (Economics of the Public Sector) pre-lim, administered by the professor that accompanied us on the trip, in the hotel at which we stayed. The tournament didn’t start until Saturday so we had a whole day to tour LA. We drove to Hollywood and saw the walk of stars as well as the handprints and the actors/actresses’ signatures forever carved in the concrete outside of the Chinese Theater. I walked by the Kodak Theater where the Oscars are held. Surprisingly, the theater is not its own building but rather connected to neighboring attractions on both of its sides…how TV can fool you.
We then drove to the Disney/ABC studios to meet with a Cornell speech team alum who now works for ABC and was an executive producer for the movie Traffic. On the way to the studio we had a perfect view of the forest fire burning trees on the mountainsides outside of Hollywood. We got so close ash began to fall and the smoke blocked the sun making the setting around us like a scene out of Volcano. The meeting was nothing special, just a way to raise money via alumni. What was the highlight of that night though was eating at an Italian restaurant called Ago courtesy of the alumnus. It’s partially owned by Robert DeNiro and I just happened to be sitting at a table right behind Fred Savage. That’s right Mr. Wonder Years himslef. I honestly didn’t make a second glance because the food could not have been better. The mozzarella melted in your mouth and my crabmeat risotto DELICIOUS! I don’t think I’ll ever think of Italian restaurants the same. They will now be held to the standard of a restaurant that costs about $85 per person.
The tournament ended early on Sunday since we didn’t make the playoffs. So we had about six hours to kill before our flight departed. Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica Peer were our tourist destinations before we headed back to New York.
Santa Monica Peer (the one in Forest Gump at the end of the movie) was our spot for viewing a nice sunset and watching a street performer, who was frankly disappointing (he balanced glasses of water on his chin). What I will remember for, no doubt, the rest of my life was my experience on Rodeo Drive. Before I get to the stores we decided to count the luxury cars we passed by. My job was tallying Mercs and BMW’s. I stopped once I reached 20. There had to be at least 20 more. My professor’s job was tallying Porsches and Land Rovers. He stopped when he got to 20 as well. My debate partner focused on exotics. Since I stopped very early on I decided to count exotic cars as well. I counted 11 before I got tired since people kept driving by in the likes of Aston Martins, Lamborghinis, Maseratis, and Rolls-Royce’s. It was no fun; they were all over the place.
As for the shopping, any upscale place one could imagine was there. For appetizer Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren did the job, stores that are upscale to the rest of us but pocket change for those in Beverly Hills. When the spare change is gone, places like Hugo Boss, Versaci, Prada (which had no signs, no windows, and you had to knock on the door to be let in), DeBeers, Cartier, Fendi, Max Mara, Cole Haan, Chanel, Gucci, Dior, Bvalgari, Tiffany, Louis Vitton, and many more were there to occupy the rest of your income. It was very interesting to be scrutinized by security guards as well. One guard followed us for an entire block. I guess my camera made it obvious that I was a tourist about to commit grand larceny. I also walked into a store, saw a tie I liked, and looked at the price tag…$200, for a stupid tie that looked like and felt like one I bought at TJ Maxx for $13. What amused me was that an employee came up and asked if he could help me. I said no, just looking. He began to walk away, but his manager hurried up to him and promptly said, “Not him, go help the woman with the Louis Vitton bag.” I almost burst out laughing. What cracked me up was when I was walking past a Hugo Boss window and a guy and his girlfriend were looking at a mannequin. The man, very seriously said, “Brown shoes with striped, gray pants…that’s amazing.” I laughed out loud on the spot. I couldn’t help myself, but think I’m glad I don’t live here. It would be Stepford Wives, except in reality.
Seeing that my blog has turned into one Jenna might write, but with less humor and more of a 7th grade writing style, I will cease blabbering about my trip to a world that is separated from reality.