To Live And Write In L.A.: Chasing the Sunset

Photo credit:  David Marland

Photo credit: David Marland

By Hassel Velasco

Currently Working On: Untitled Beatles Project
Currently Listening To: “E. Von Dahl Killed The Locals,” The Matches
Currently Reading: Diary Of An Oxygen Thief, Anonymous

Chasing the Sunset

After a week away, I'm back writing another piece for this essay series. I had written seven different entries last week but was unhappy with the results. So I did what any responsible writer does. I erased all of them, drank a couple more pints of Guinness, procrastinated, and went back to sleep.

This past Saturday, I attended a concert by a band I had shrugged off 10 years prior. Back then I was a 20-year-old kid who hadn't missed a Vans Warped Tour since 2004. I remember hearing about a band called The Matches, a pop-punk band from the Bay Area. I remember listening to their first album and not thinking much of it. In retrospect, I feel I crossed off a lot of bands back then just based on what would make me look cooler. So anything my friends weren't into, I wasn't into by association.

Saturday started of like your normal Saturday in L.A. A 7 a.m. call time for a Web series I got cast in. One of my favorite things about working on a set is watching people walk around and, ultimately, watch their entire life stop in order to get a better look at what's going on. People will slow their cars down to a crawl just to get a glimpse of what's being filmed. It's surprising to me that people are not used to it in the film capital of the world. Considering the episode being filmed was mainly centered on a big fight, the cast kicked ass and we finished a couple of hours early.

Later that night, I stopped by a bar called The Monty, and was immediately drawn in by the giant buffalo head in the wall. I proceeded to have a couple of pints before heading into the concert hall. (Note to music lovers: check out a band called Sharp Shock, a great three-piece punk band reminiscent of late ‘70's punk rock.)

The Matches' performance that evening left a resounding, "Why the fuck did you not listen to them before?" thought in my head. I found myself questioning the choices I made 10 years ago. What other things did I pass on that might be worth a second glance? Are anchovies really a good thing on pizza? (Update: they are still disgusting.) How about books? Maybe Atlas Shrugged isn't that bad. (Update: it's fucking terrible. Read the first five pages, gave up, and almost made my best Bradley Cooper “Silver Linings” impression by throwing the book through my fucking window.) How about the beach? I hated the beach a decade ago. (Update: with the right company, it isn't so bad.)

On Monday, I decided I wanted to watch the sun set into the Pacific. Although I've been in California for three years, I've never witnessed the sun tuck itself into the ocean. Accompanied by a good contender for best human, I decided to go to El Matador State Beach and wait for the sunset. It's taken me 30 years to realize how much I love reading a book on the beach, something I would have definitely would have shunned years ago.

We very quickly realized we had an issue. El Matador State Beach faces slightly southwest. The sun was setting a bit north of where we were, so with a half hour to go, we decided to get in the car and find a spot where the sun would potentially bathe in the frigid Pacific waters. We began driving north on the Pacific Coast Highway. As we drove around the mountains that hugged the shoreline, we realized we were getting closer. I was getting excited, things that seemed stupid, dumb, not worth my time as a younger men, were all things I enjoyed doing now. I even had an idea for a book: Chasing the Sunset. (Editor’s note: Copyright protection does not extend to titles, so you’re good!)

Around the next mountain, we found the sun and its final, daily descent. One more thing to knock off the to-do list!  Five minutes to sunset, here we go, just one more turn.

Wait, is that a naval base?

Is the sun setting on top of it?

Who puts a naval base way out here?!

Where did the ocean go???!!!

Son of a bi…

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