Friday, January 07, 2011

MLALA: first impressions

Downtown L.A. is a crappy place to hold a conference. I knew that before in theory, but now I know it experientially: the hotels are far apart, there's not much in the way of decent restaurants in the vicinity, and the main conference hotel and the convention center (both of which host panel sessions) are a confusing and inconvenient walk away.

And, yeah: it's 65 degrees and sunny. But the schlep back and forth and the difficulty of getting anywhere without a car means the weather is not a substantial point in L.A.'s favor. Also, is sunlight really what academics want? Based on the number of black suits and pale, squinty faces I saw yesterday, I'd say no.

But not all locations have equally convenient facilities, and I do like the main conference hotel itself: it's easy to navigate, with decent conference rooms and (more importantly!) a great, lounge-y first floor with two bars and a nice, non-Starbucks café.

More irksome than the convention facilities are several bad decisions made by the organizers. It's unclear to me why they extended the conference by half a day, so that sessions yesterday began at noon rather than around dinnertime. . . but given that they did, they ought to have gotten conference rates at all the hotels for January 5th (instead of just Jan. 6-9th); I have friends who had to fly in on the 5th because of early sessions or interviews on the 6th, and who paid nearly twice as much for that first night as for the other nights. I'm also pissed off that the book exhibit wasn't open yesterday (although it appeared to be open: everyone I know got stopped by a bouncer-like figure upon attempting to enter).

(And, confidential to the Marriott bar that tried to charge me extra for ordering my whiskey on the rocks: not cool, dudes. So not cool.)

But I did manage to see and catch up with a whole crush of people in a marathon six hours, despite the fierce return of my headache, and I got to be someone else's celebrity sighting: Michael Bérubé passed me on the street, looked back uncertainly, and said, "Hey! Are you Flavia?"

So we're off to a decent start.


Renaissance Girl said...

Try Rivera for food. A block from the hotel.

Susan said...

Yes, the $2 charge for ice in whiskey is kind of insane. It goes high on the list of hotel rip offs of "business" travelers!

Z said...

Cab to Thai Town or Korea Town. You will eat amazingly, and you'll spend less even including the cab, and eat better.