He swore they were the last tours he would ever give, back in the spring – but Charles Phoenix is giving his Downtown Disneyland Tours again! I went on one in April, and had a wonderful, hilarious time rediscovering Los Angeles. I’ve always been fascinated with downtown L.A., because the external image of the city is always that it has no center, and no history. But seeing it through Charles Phoenix’s eyes, with his love of architecture and the absurd, was an amazing experience.
Part of the tour is, obviously, the comparisons with Disneyland, which makes things even more interesting. Some parts of downtown, when built, were as artificial and crowd-pleasing as Disneyland. And sometimes, the comparison just shows the greatest extreme in Los Angeles, by putting a sanitized, carefully planned environment, against the misguided decisions and eventual decline of downtown. The film created on the tour (link goes to the 15 minute version up on YouTube) shows a lot of the sort of nostalgic hopefulness of the mid-century Disneyland era, juxtaposed against the modern despair and poverty filmed in downtown on the day of the tour. I can’t explain it better than that – you just have to watch the clip.
Or, better still, go on the tour. Tickets are on sale on the website for the 11/5 and 11/12 tours – and they WILL sell out. Soon. As I’ve written before, Charles Phoenix is a cult unto himself, and a very funny, brilliant, colorful cult at that. His popularity is growing, and extremely well deserved, and I look forward to seeing more histo-tainment over the holiday season.