Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Tar Pits

Recently, I was watching a movie called The Hammer. With a story by Adam Carolla, starring Adam Carolla, and obviously informed by the biography of Adam Carolla, you may think this movie is strictly for fans of Adam Carolla. It's actually a really good movie; well worth checking out. I recommend adding it to your Netflix queue.

At one point in the movie, Carolla's character, Jerry, takes a date to the La Brea Tar Pits. If you haven't heard of the tar pits, you're not alone. Based on my experience, I'm the only person on the planet who ever heard of the tar pits before seeing them in person.

Here's the way it plays out almost every single time I drive a visitor past the tar pits:

I heard of the La Brea Tar Pits when I was really young. Maybe it's just because I was one of those boys who was really into prehistoric creatures. I thought everybody knew what the La Brea Tar Pits were. I thought they were a big deal. I thought they were a major geographical landmark that everyone was familiar with, like Old Faithful or Monument Valley. Alley? Valley.

I was still pretty new to L.A. when I was driven past the tar pits for the first time. I was excited. Wow! There they were! At long last!

How disappointing.

No, seriously, it's just a bunch of tar seeping out of the ground. It's ugly. And it smells. Like tar! And some genius got the idea to stick model statues of mammoths and saber tooth tigers in there, in case your imagination isn't strong enough to picture an elephant drowning in tar in the middle of nowhere.

Except it's not in the middle of nowhere. It's in the middle of L.A. Right in the middle of L.A. On a busy street, surrounded by department stores and businesses. There's a Staples next
door, for God's sake!

The tar pits are on Wilshire Blvd, on a strip of road called The Miracle Mile. I love the Miracle Mile. As someone who's paid close attention to the entertainment industry, the Miracle Mile is loaded with landmarks. The E! Entertainment Network is there. (The Soup, bitches!) Variety's offices are there. There's an art museum; and directly across the street is an automotive museum. Biggie Smalls was killed there. And at the entrance of the Miracle Mile, at the Fairfax intersection, there's a fake restaurant called Johnie's. You can't actually get food there. It's used strictly as a filming location. And even though you've never realized it, you've seen that restaurant in dozens of movies, TV shows and commercials.

And then, there's those tar pits. So exciting, and then so disappointing. But, as it turns out, most people don't share my experience of excitement followed by disappointment. They can't get excited about something they've never heard of.

Which is why I've become the biggest champion of the La Brea Tar Pits you'll ever meet. They're the ultimate underdog. They're this thing that everyone should hear about, and be interested in. But no one has heard of them, and no one is interested in them. They may have been disappointing to me for a short time, but now I'm rooting for them. They're interesting, and exciting, and important. And you don't have to go out of your way to see them - they're right in the middle of all the action.

For your consideration, ladies and gentlemen: The La Brea Tar Pits.