A tourist in America’s second largest city.
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However, this city also boasts highbrow appeal, having amassed an impressive array of world-class museums and arts venues.
We lunched at the lovely, outrageously expensive Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel and Bungalows. This pricey, albeit delightful meal pretty much scratched plans to visit Spanish TV chef José Andrés’s new restaurant, the Bazaar where, according to the Wall Street Journal, “All meals are made up of tapas, and signature items include drinks and canapés dipped in vats of liquid nitrogen…A palm-reader roams the floor, offering predictions.” Oh well, maybe the next trip.
After feeding the body, it was time to feed the soul.
Does art follow the money, or does the money follow art? The latter seems to be the case in Los Angeles where the world’s richest man (at the time), the late J. Paul Getty, a world-class collector, endowed and established two of the most spectacular art institutions to be found anywhere in the world. The National Gallery in Washington and the Louvre in Paris have more art masterpieces per square foot, but both the Getty Center in town and the Getty Villa in Malibu, a short drive through gorgeous Santa Monica, are unparalleled in terms of their topography, architecture and presentation of myriad treasures of Western civilization all in combination.
The Getty Center, which must be reached by tram, is located on 750 acres in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains with public and private buildings housing a museum, research and conservation institutes and the Getty Foundation. The Central Garden is marvelous as are the structures which constitute an artistic experience unto themselves. The views here and at the Villa are magnificent.
The Getty Villa houses over 1,200 works of art from Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquity. You do not need a classical education to appreciate the beauty of the antiquities assembled by Mr. Getty. Again, as with the Getty Museum, the Villa-the structure itself-is an object to be contemplated and enjoyed. It is a precise, archeologically correct, replica of the Villa dei Papiri, a Roman country house in Herculaneum. That would be the Herculaneum buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The structure also draws from other Roman homes in Pompeii and Stabiae.
There is an atrium, formal and herb gardens, a floor plan of alternating triangles of Numidian yellow and africano or dark gray Lucullan marble, fountains, Corinthian columns and streets paved with irregular stones.
Moreover, it has burgeoning neighborhoods that bear little resemblance to those featured in The Hills or Entourage.
As much fun as was the wretched excess of Beverly Hills and environs, on Sunday we did manage to make it to the impressive though hyper-modernist Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in downtown L.A., a structure “with virtually no right angles.” The architect thought this conveyed a sense of mystery and other worldliness, I believe.
We were privileged to have the new Archbishop, the Most Reverend José Gomez, a native of Mexico and a fine homilist, celebrate Mass and offer his thoughts on giving unto Caesar the things that are his and to God the things that are His. It sounded like one of my book reviews for TAS. Great minds think alike, right?
Besides being the seat of the Archbishop, the Cathedral is a vibrant parish, largely Hispanic, blue collar and devout. The service was in English but there is a Spanish mass at another time on Sunday. When the lector welcomed first-time visitors to the Cathedral and asked them to stand, they were almost all Anglo conventioneers and tourists. We received a hearty round of applause from our Hispanic co-religionists. The Cathedral, by the way, was packed.
After mass, we strolled around the plaza outside where there are several interesting shrines and features celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas.
When in Los Angeles, do as the Angelenos. We left the Cathedral for a historic Mexican neighborhood, festival and market area — El Pueblo de Los Angeles — to have lunch at an excellent Mexican restaurant and down a few margaritas with my wife’s nephew, an aspiring teacher in town. No question, California Dreamin’ is hard to deny.
America’s second largest city has more depth than paparazzi shutters can ever capture. So set aside your preconceived notions and take a look at L.A. Today.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?