Monday, May 12, 2008

L.A. Without a Car: Day Two

Up early, bath, breakfast. Then I was relieved to be able to sign on to the hotel wireless without trouble. But I was mildly dismayed to discover that in the process of fooling around last night, all my previously saved files had been deleted. It's not a big loss, except for the photos I took yesterday. I have a flash drive with me, but I've forgotten how to use it with the XO computer. Until I figure that out, I may not be able to post these daily accounts on my blog.

I walked toward town, downhill then up to the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. It's on a hill overlooking the downtown, aggressive points and angles, faced with stone the color of dirty orange creamcicles. The interior is more successful. The altar is at the east, as is traditional, but this is also the downhill side of the site. The architect has taken advantage of this by creating dark, upward-sloping entry halls on either side of the sanctuary. The worshipper is then released at the top into a big, softly lighted open space, sloping down-ward to the altar. The tone is cool and muted, with light coming through alabaster panels. The baptismal font at the back is a cross-shaped immersion pool with continuously overflowing water.

Twenty-five tapestries decorate the side walls of the sanctuary. They depict saints from throughout the ages intermingled with images of contemporary children and young people of all races. The faces are portraits where the likeness of a particular person is known, or modeled after real people for those figures from the more distant past The tapestries must have been made on a computer-controlled loom; they are much too large and complex to have been woven by hand.

Walking back down to the center of town, I passed by the Music Center. The Mark Taper Forum and the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion seem more closely surrounded by other buildings than I remembered. The Disney Music Hall is a typical stainless steel confection by Frank Gehry.

A senior day pass ($1.80) took me out 3rd Street to the Farmers' Market at Fairfax where I ate lunch. The place is still comfortable with its 1950s ambiance. It's a good place to engage in people-watching. There are tourists and locals, and it's easy to imagine that some of the people eating there are from the entertainment industry. I'm particularly fascinated by the elderly glamour girls. One was wearing a sleeveless, leopard-printed t-shirt, brown skirt and a pert, brown straw hat --- definitely not a sun hat. Another in the Lady's Room, was giving her face a complete cosmetic make-over: foundation, bright red lipstick and black eye-liner and mascara to go with black dyed hair. One bleached blond was wearing lots of gold: large pieces of jewelry, belt, bag and shoes. They all wear fancy, high-heeled shoes and walk as if their feet hurt. I can fantacize that they're former mover stars, but it's more likely that at most they once had a few bit parts and years later are still hanging around, hoping for a break, and maintaining the look that was popular 50 years ago. Today's glamorous young women are buff and burnished.

The Grove, an up-scale shopping area in the style of a town street, is right behind the Farmers' Market, in what was probably a parking lot. Out of curiosity, I browsed the two-story American Girl store. Each American Girls doll has a specific character; some are historic. There are many combinations of hair style, hair color, skin color and eye color. Each character has a book about her, a wardrobe, and many enchanting (and expensive) accessories. The real-live girl who owns a doll can even buy clothing that matches her American Girl's outfit, usually nightgowns that look like costumes. Then there are mini American Girls, toddler dolls (think twins) and baby dolls. It's all a market-driven enterprise with a doll hair styling salon with miniature beauty parlor chairs, a photo studio for having your portrait taken with your American Girl, a lunch room and more. And once you own an American Girl, she'll need a best friend.

A short bus ride took me to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a complex of buildings presently in a transitional stage. This part of Wilshire Boulevard was known as the Miracle Mile, but it's now in need of a miracle. Some buildings are boarded up and many display For Rent and For Sale signs. Fortunately the LACMA has purchased the old Macy's department store building, which has architectural significance, and will be renovating it. The collections are spotty --- second rate pieces by first-rate artists, and first-rate pieces by second level artists. Most of the work is 20th century American and many of the collections have been acquired by private collectors then donated to the museum. It's worth a visit.

The buildings in the complex are in a variety of architectural styles, not always in harmony with each other. To unify the site visually many of the exterior details --- stairways, walkways, elevator to the underground parking lot --- have been painted bright red, an enlivening touch. I was particularly delighted with an outdoor installation of old street lamp posts, tall and stately, all painted gray and clustered together in ranks and rows --- maybe 300 of them. At night they all light up.

With my bus pass, I rode out Wilshire Boulevard. I'd hoped to disembark at the Santa Monica Pier, but the particular bus I was riding went only as far as Westwood Village. That was OK. I ate supper there, and then rode back into central L.A. The last, short bus ride to the motel was something of a thrill. The vehicle was apparently having mechanical problems --- maybe transmission troubles. Sometimes after a stop, it wouldn't go again. So the driver tried to avoid stopping, racing through stale yellow lights, honking his horn, and clicking his fingers to will the next light to turn green. At least we made it as far as I needed to go.

After yesterday's record breaking heat, it was fresh and pleasant today. In fact by evening, I could have used a sweater, and I'll wear one tomorrow.

Oregon Pedometer - 9602 steps


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