Wednesday, the day before the official start of the TCM Classic Film Festival is another day full of annual rituals. As experienced at many past festivals, you just can't fit in all the things you want to do while keeping to a schedule of movies you really don't want to miss. Your only option is to stretch out the days and make the festival last longer than it actually lasts. You don't need to time travel (as handy as that would be) you just need an extra day or two off of work.
A dear old friend and I have missed each other for the past many years of the festival. Oddly, we just haven't managed to run into each other in line for a film, at the concession stand, or even passing in Club TCM at the Roosevelt Hotel, or in the lobby of the Chinese Multiplex. So, we made special plans to meet up for lunch at the famous Mel's diner. You know the one. Another branch of the chain restaurant is featured in George Lucas' American Graffiti. It's not the original, but's it's just as fun, and the location is very convenient to the heart of all the happenings of the classic film festival, and so apropos. Especially since American Graffiti is playing at this years fest. I plan on attending the screening at the main theatre if only to hear stars Richard Dreyfuss and Candy Clark talk beforehand about their experiences working on the film. My friend and I discussed the films we were likely to see, and sure enough, our selections did not match up. at all. Good thing we made the time to meet. The friendships you foster at the festival are enduring ones, and well worth rekindling every year. It's one of the things that makes the experience so worth while.
Later the same day, there was a big meet up at the Hollywood Heritage Museum. It's a bit of a trek from the theatres, but it's located right across the street from the American Legion of Honor; one of the most recent additions to the list of festival venues. So, it's a good trial test for the walks you'll be making to the gorgeous theatre nestled inside historic Post 43, which was founded in 1919 by WWI veterans working in the motion picture industry. The get-together at the little barn museum attracts more than a hundred classic film fans. Some people know each other from previous in-person meetings, and others only from the multiple social media platforms. It's well organized by the manager of a Facebook group who secures the museum, and manages the delivery of pizzas, gourmet cookies, and doughnuts! There's even a table set up for the variety of alcoholic and soft beverages many people bring to share with others. It's a three hour event that allows people to easily fit it into their schedules.
I had no set plans for the evening, but I did have a list of things I wanted to do while in LA, and was a good time to do them. First, I wanted a milkshake at 25 degrees, which is the hip and classy diner at the front of the Roosevelt Hotel. Specifically, I wanted an alcoholic one. Never had one, always wanted one. So this was the year. The verdict is that they are damn delicious! I had the Night Owl, made with Kahlua, Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur, chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. Oddly, not as sweet as you would think and absolutely amazing. I followed that with a whiskey sour at the bar located in the lobby of the Roosevelt. Yeah, it's a strange combo, and a lot of alcohol for one evening, but it is a tradition I share with my mom and my sister. Neither one could make it this year, so the responsibility lay with me. It's a sacrifice, but someone has to do it. As it turns out, I met a couple at the bar who were from the town where I was born. First timers to the fest, so they were appreciative the tips I had to share. I feel confident they will become apart of my future traditions.
I made the walk back to my hotel, the Quality Inn on La Brea, two short blocks down and one long block over from the back of the Roosevelt Hotel. It's a lot less expensive than the Roosevelt or the Loews, with parking at no extra cost, and has TCM playing on the TV! It's not much to look at from the outside, but there is a pool, the room is actually very nice, and the building is safe. Although, I do recommend requesting a room on the south side of the building to avoid the sounds of neighborhood residents partying all weekend. You can also choose to walk straight up to Hollywood Boulevard and pick up the Walk-of-Fame at its very beginning and then make your way east to the theatres.
Wednesday was a very full day, and the festival hasn't even started yet. Sometimes I wonder if my age will catch up with me and prevent me from doing all the things I do during the TCMFF. And then I remember, it's the TCMFF. Regardless of the time that goes by, I some how find the energy to tackle this adventure year after year. And I see no signs of stopping.