Sunday, June 12, 2016

I left my heart in LA

I've written before about my melancholy when I leave LA to return to Boulder. The last trip was extended because of a family crisis. In between care-taking and medical appointments, Bad Dad and I managed to sneak in cultural breaks. 

For us, LA is all about the food, the culture and the beach. (I don't mean to discount rocket science even though that's what brought us to LA initially, but we're talking about the things that we love outside of work.)

It's nice to read that even the NY Times agrees with us:
No city in the country is more exciting than Los Angeles right now. Despite pop culture portrayals of Los Angeles as either comically superficial or darkly dystopian, the nation’s second largest metropolis is a vivid, soulful, eclectic city. It’s home to year-round blooms and captivating street murals, musical innovation and outsider art, deeply rooted communities and world-class food cooked by chefs from around the globe. The greatest challenge for visitors is not what to do, but which version of this vast city to embrace.

We went to LACMA to see Reigning Men and the Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective.
Look at that metallic embroidery.

Those short britches may require a bit of calf enhancement.
Cultural institutions of LA collaborate. For instance, LACMA and the Getty share a huge body of photography. The Getty Center is also showing Robert Mapplethorpe photographs as well as the work of some of his contemporaries and the collection of his first major collector/patron.

Getty Center hallway.
Meanwhile, the Japanese American National Museum is showing Making Waves: Japanese American Photographs 1920-1940. That show is incredible and not to be missed. Although most of the photographs made by these artists were lost or destroyed, what remains shows that, had they not been incarcerated (and racism), they would have been as famous as Ansel Adams and Edward Weston.

LACMA extends the argument further, with their own exhibition of Japanese Prints and Photographs: Paths Through Modernity.

I cannot stress this enough.  When you visit LA, skip the Tourist Traps and theme parks and head to the cultural institutions and the ethnic enclaves.  You will be met with friendly courtesy, fantastic food and insight into how diverse people and cultures live peacefully and cooperatively side by side.
Fried chicken, waffles and collard greens in Inglewood.
Downtown LA (DTLA) is hopping these days.  Stores are open (and busy!) on weekends.
The detailing on the old buildings is amazing.

Clifton's Cafeteria is open after their extensive remodel.  Prices and food quality are up.
The LA food scene uses traditional techniques with new ingredients and ideas.  For instance, dim sum places offer more and more vegetarian options.  Ocean Seafood will serve you seafood that looks back at you.  (Baby octopuses, anyone?)  But, even vegetarians can be challenged with tofu (stuffed with tofu instead of the traditional pork) that dares you to eat it.
Even the tofu dim sum at Ocean Seafood is served with faces intact.
When you come visit, pack for our mild and foggy summers.  You don't need a down jacket (that's San Francisco), but bring a light jacket for cool mornings and evenings.
June gloom extended all the way to the San Gabriel Mountains the day I left.


  1. HI - thanks for reading my blog and the nice comment. Your post here sounds quite bittersweet - I hope you get back to LA as often as you would like and things are all OK with your family. And while I am a N. Californian I agree - our golden state has something for everyone and I really love living here. As for the meyer lemon blossoms, the big bloom was in late April, and all through May. But there are alway a few more blooms at the tips of the branches up to June. i have two trees and they do look a bit weak after the drought years. Crossing my fingers that they survive and thrive. (by the way I'm in the east bay).

  2. I'm sorry to hear that you've been dealing with some unpleasantness, Grace! Very sorry. I hope things are more stable now. That must make leaving LA harder. And, you are right, I've been feeling the call of LA but I just can't figure out a time to visit - my plate is groaning with other commitments and travel plans right now. But maybe in 2017.


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