Dylan Jones: I put the pedal to the metal and nearly totalled my Bentley on my way back to Beverly Hills

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The Independent Online

Downtown Los Angeles is not known for much. I stayed at the old Biltmore Hotel there more than 20 years ago and it felt as though I was in a different city, a different state completely. On my first night in LA, I'd taken some friends to dinner in Hollywood and then cockily started driving back downtown, thinking it would take me 10 minutes.

In the end it took me three hours, as I drifted in and out of Watts, Compton and many other places a white boy in a rented Mustang shouldn't be at two o'clock in the morning. I felt as though I were in a West Coast sequel to The Bonfire of the Vanities, and I was so scared of stopping the car that by the time I got back to the hotel I thought my bladder was going to explode.

Heigh-ho.

I went downtown again a few years ago to visit the Standard Hotel – which until the Soho House opened a few months ago had the best rooftop bar in LA – and nearly totalled my Bentley as I put the pedal to the metal on my way back to Beverly Hills (the car span through 360 degrees, like we were in a Bugs Bunny cartoon). But until last week, I hadn't been back for five years. Honestly, why would you?

I went to visit the Grammy Museum – 30,000 sq ft of interactive rock'n'roll situated bang in the middle of LA LIVE, the huge sports/entertainment centre. It houses some wonderful exhibits, not least the stage outfits of artists from Elvis to Beyoncé. When I visited, there was an exhibition devoted to the late Sixties, including Janis Joplin's 1966 Porsche 356c cabriolet, covered in swirling psychedelic graphics. It made me want to jump right in and drive myself to the Sixties, although all I really needed to do was walk upstairs and see Joplin on film, along with Jimi Hendrix and everyone else who has ever made a half-decent record.

My favourite room was the hall where they play a loop of noteworthy acceptance speeches. Along the middle are glass cabinets containing various different incarnations of the Grammy award itself. The current design has a base made out of a patented zinc alloy called Grammium.

Just so you know.

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'

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