where the writers are
Gustavo Dudamel

Two good friends were hit head-on in their car on Shakespeare Bridge in Los Feliz on Friday. The airbags came out and they're extremely sore and happy to be alive. They're college English teachers, too. I can see the headline now: "Two College Professors Hit on Shakespeare Bridge." On Saturday, my stepmother, four years older than me, had extremely rapid heart palpitations. The paramedics raced over and found her heart racing at 220. Thanks to quick intervention, she's fine and back home, happy to be alive. And today, a friend called to wish me happy birthday tomorrow. I didn't realize my birthday was so soon. Yikes!

With all this mortality around me, I started thinking about things to do while I'm still on this mortal coil, specifically L.A. things beyond the usual theme parks, beaches, the latest hot film, or a new restaurant. I came up with six ideas instantly:

1) The Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N Fairfax Avenue; 323-655-2510. Charlie Chaplin's feature films are in retrospective throughout September-both his silent movies and his talkies-and many are with new prints. After the theatre's owner was shot in 1997, it looked like the theatre would fade away. I meant to go then, and yet I still have to try it. It's now run by Cinefamily, who are into all things eclectic and historic, silent or not. To read more about the theatre's history, click here.

2) The American Cinematique, at the Egyptian Theatre (6712 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood, 323-461-2020) and the Aero Theatre (1328 Montana Avenue,  Santa Monica, 310-260-1528). I keep hearing of great things to see, such as the Stanley Kubrick retrospective this weekend. I need to follow through. There are often guest speakers with each film, which makes it better than Netflix.

3) Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90038-1899; 323-469-9933. I saw a story on this place on Sixty Minutes, and it's changed the way cemeteries all across American are run, what with the chance to create videos for your survivors, and movie screenings among the graves. My wife and I tried to see a screening of Harold and Maude there, and while we were nearly two hours early, the place was packed and people were being turned away. At Hollywood Forever, you can find the graves of such people as Butterfly McQueen from Gone With the Wind, rock-n-roller Dee Dee Ramone, and director John Huston.

4) All Star Lanes, 4459 Eagle Rock Boulevard North, Los Angeles; 323-254-2579.‎ I haven't bowled for years. The other day I drove past this place, and it looks fun--a restaurant is attached. Something about eating and hearing pins fall appeals to me. The family will probably protest until we get there.

5) Museum of Neon Art, 136 W 4th St, downtown Los Angeles, CA 90013; 213-489-9918. My wife and I have said several times we need to go there, and it's high time we did. Because this is a list of places I haven't gone, I can't add museums I love to this list: The Getty, The Huntington, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The Norton Simon, The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The California Science Center, The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, The Petersen Automotive Museum, and especially the Museum of Jurassic Technology (9341 Venice Blvd, Culver City).

6) Gustavo Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall. 111 South Grand Avenue, between First and Second Streets. Gotta do it. I'm attracted to passionate creators, and Dudamel is going to be like watching lightning during water polo.