Saturday, September 1, 2012

LA: The Search for Class

It is necessary to preface this post with this: I'm not LA's biggest fan.  My friends there tell me this is because it's trendy to hate on LA, but this is not a recently developed sentiment of mine.  I grant that LA offers a lot of cultural experiences and noteworthy attractions, and there's an irresistible buzz that one might stumble upon a celebrity around the next corner.  But the socioeconomic polarization depresses me and the traffic congestion frustrates me and the Scientologists frighten me and the skinny bitches (excuse me) make me want to throw up, but not in a bulimic way.  Still, it's fun to visit, and if LA's where I have to go to see my friends every once in awhile, well, I guess it could be worse.

Charlotte hosted us near Pasadena, at the Spanish-style house of a family friend for whom she was dog-sitting.  It was a charming place with a bar that reminded me of something from The Graduate and a bathroom that looked like the Chanel make-up counter at Bloomingdale's, over-stocked with spanking-new lipsticks.  

The first night she picked us up from Union Station and we headed to a colorful Oaxacan restaurant for mole, margaritas, and Mexican music, where we met up with Char's boyfriend, Josh.  Later that night we went to a hipster bar in the middle of a questionable neighborhood that had an awesome vibe and is apparently frequented by Terry from True Blood.

The next day we focused on Venice Beach, which I rightly knew would blow Letizia's mind.  She was ooh-ing and ahh-ing her way down the boardwalk as we tried on stunner shades, watched a bunch of Ken-doll Europeans practice their Olympic rings talents, turned down medical marijuana, drafted a screenplay for the rad skateboarding chick at the park, and checked out people with fairy tattoos and orange hair and rap albums for sale and giant signs dedicated to Jesus.  Sensation overload.

For Letizia and me, despite all the other great things we saw there, the highlight was the gospel concert taking place in the center.  People were dancing and worshiping unabashedly and we only wished we had had enough gumption to join in because it looked like more fun than anything, ever.  See for yourself.

We spent the afternoon relaxing and chatting at the pool at Char's house with her parents, and I think this was the highlight for Letizia, just getting to see a real family in a real house in LA.  There's nothing like getting a private, personal experience in a new city and seeing how people really live there.  Plus they all watch True Blood, and she never has so many people with whom she can discuss that show.

Then that night we all met up with Ian in West Hollywood and there are no photos and perhaps you should be thankful, because the neighborhood is rather, shall I say, cheeky.

On our last day, we braved LA's metro system to meet Ian back in Hollywood for lunch and a visit to the Getty museum.  He took us to a retro establishment called The Apple Pan, which was famous for its classic burgers and apple pie, and we indulged ourselves.

The Getty was fantastic.  Its collection is expansive, with everything from the Italian Renaissance to Impressionism to 20th century American photography.  (Really, there was a lot more, but these were the highlights for me!)  The main exhibit we wanted to see was Herb Ritts, who is famous for his predominately black and white photos and commercials that venerated the human body's lines, forms, and musculature while challenging society's conventions of gender and race.

There was also a great view over the entire city, where we could see from downtown all the way to the coast.

The structure of the museum was also beautiful.  I told Ian that I'd heard that the architecture of the museum tends to overshadow the collection.  He groaned and responded, "Charlotte said that, didn't she?"  Spot on.

 (Wide angle photos credit: Letizia Nardi)

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