Monday, May 12, 2008

L.A. Without a Car: Day Six

Today, the other Getty. But first I took advantage of the DD or Downtown Discovery. This is a route taken by the Dash buses on weekends. For the full price of ten cents (senior fare), I hopped on right outside my hotel for a tour of downtown L.A.: Little Tokyo, Civic Center, Pershing Square, the library, Macy's, and south to the newly developed Staples Center. Then back again past Bunker Hill and the Music Center. Of course I'd already visited several of these places, but the ride gave me a good overview. Passengers could get off at any point, but I stayed on until I was nearly back to the hotel (thus missing Chinatown), and boarded a bus on Sunset Boulevard.

Sunset is another of Los Angeles' LONG streets, running from downtown, more than 20 miles to the ocean. At first we passed through an Hispanic neighborhood, Silver Lake, then Hollywood, which is still somewhat seedy. The houses grew bigger and the gardens more lush as we passed though Beverly Hills and past the pink Beverly Hills Hotel. "Sunset Strip" is an area of very posh shops in Bel Aire where the houses are protected by high walls and high tech security systems. The few people who got on and off the bus at this point were mostly Hispanic, and I assumed they were hired help in the Bel Aire mansions.

After having ridden buses all week, I must comment on how civil most of the drivers and most of the passengers are. Many disembarking passengers thank the driver, and many drivers go out of their way to help passengers make connections. It occurred to me that the infusion of Hispanic and Asian cultures has possibly mellowed the sometimes arrogant Anglo manner and the occasionally belligerent Afro-American attitude.

A transfer at UCLA and a short bus ride up the hill took me to the Getty Center. This is the second Getty complex, built to house the "rest" of J. Paul Getty's fantastic personal art collection, the "rest" being everything but the ancient Mediterranean art. Like the Getty Villa, the Getty Center is an experience as well as museum. Visitors are lifted up the hillside on an air-cushioned tram to the multi-level cluster of pavilions. The gardens and the water features are as much a part of the architecture as the white marble and glass buildings.

There were offers of tours and orientation videos which I bypassed, and instead, headed for lunch on the Garden Terrace. Then I wandered at will through the galleries of European paintings from the 14th to the 19th centuries. There were galleries of sculpture and decorative arts --- furniture, tapestries, and ornaments, mostly too ornate for my taste, but much admired by many visitors. The only disappointment was the absence of a gallery for illuminated manuscripts. I know there are a large number in the Getty collection, and I think a subset is on display at times. But I guess they're not as spectacular as damask-covered royal beds and gold-trimmed china figures.

Since this Getty is also free, many people take advantage of the opportunity. The crowds are well managed, and the many security guards have their work cut out reminding inexperienced museum-goers to follow the rules: no eating or drinking in the galleries, no flash photography, no tripods, and no touching the art work. I was dismayed to see adults climbing around the outdoor sculpture and through the water features to have their pictures taken. I overheard a conversation between an irate guard and a person I took to be his supervisor over what to do about someone who had been indecently clothed (or unclothed).

I didn't stay long enough to observe the sunset which is reputedly spectacular from this vantage point. I reversed my bus route, getting off this time at Sunset and Vine. A walk along the star-studded sidewalk brought me to Hollywood and Vine where there had apparently been a bad fire --- several fire trucks and a Department of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigative van surrounded the building on one corner. I think the fire was completely out, but firemen were hanging around to prevent people from entering the site.

Tinsel Town lost it's sparkle some time ago but there are signs that it's coming back. There are still vestiges of the old glamour; at a small theater for gay and lesbian films, there was a minor celebrity happening. A big black limo pulled up in front of the building, the passengers were photographed as they got out of the car and one curvacious blond was wearing a long, skin-tight gold lame dress.

After a hamburger and shake at "Original Tommy's", I took the Red Line of the light rail system (this branch is a subway) back to Union Station and the hotel, and fell into bed.

Shirt-sleeve weather. Wore a sunhat.

Oregon pedometer - 10,793 steps


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