Los Angeles


When I went to Los Angeles this past November my dear friend J and I took the big city by surprise. We decided to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and the Ghetty Museum—all in one weekend.

First off—MOCA (Grand Avenue)

I am not a big fan of contemporary art. I will admit that. So this probably is not a fair review of this museum. The museum is just a few blocks away from the Walt Disney Concert Hall. As we walked in, we veered to the right and began our experience.

Given that J is also a cynic about modern art, we made a lot of jokes. The first exhibit we saw was by Cosima Von Bonin. Quoting MOCA, they describe Von Bonin as:

“One of the most influential and compelling artists working in Germany today, Cologne-based artist Cosima von Bonin (b. 1962, Mombasa, Kenya) has, over the last 15 years, worked in a wide range of media—including sculpture, photography, textile “paintings,” installation, performance, film, video, and music—often combined together in large-scale installations. Drawing freely from a broad range of sources—such as the work of other artists, popular and vernacular culture, television, fashion, and Hip-Hop and Techno music—her art explores these different forms of cultural expression in an open, fluid approach that embraces both relationships and contradictions.”

We also saw the works of Gordon Matta-Clark. MOCA describes him as “Gordon Matta-Clark: You Are the Measure is a full-scale retrospective of one of the key figures to emerge in the generation of artists that followed minimalism. During the brief but highly productive ten years that he worked as an artist, and even more so since his death at the age of 35, Gordon Matta-Clark (1943–78) has exerted a powerful fascination on artists and architects who know his work.”

Honestly, the one piece J and I liked the most were these photos taken of the electric plug at the museum. Let me describe it to you—there was this hallway with nothing on the walls. The floor was made of this plastic resembling a Lego. And in one of the walls there was an electric plug. So they took a picture of that, and then they took another picture of the same thing and they made an effect like you were looking into one of those mirrors were the image was shown repeatedly over and over, but here they only did it twice. Anyways, it was interesting to look at.

Like I said, I am not a big fan of modern art, but the one thing that I realized at MOCA is that beauty is everywhere. Even in the things that we don’t think are beautiful, there is a mysterious beauty in that. So it is up to us to really discover that beauty in our surroundings.

MOCA Museum
250 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012
http://www.moca.org

Second stop: The Getty…

Now, the Getty Museum is located up on a hill next to the 405 highway that overlooks pretty much the whole city. On a clear day, the views are spectacular. On foggy day, like the day that we went, well, I was lucky to see J next to me. The fog was so thick…but I loved it regardless. The outside of the museum is just stunning to look at. Parking is at the bottom of the hill and you take a train that takes you to the entrance. Surrounding all the different buildings of the museum are a gorgeous array of gardens. This place is truly romantic. Perfect date place…

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A view of the gardens and the Pacific Ocean covered by the thick Marine Layer fog

We saw two travelling exhibits at the Getty. The first one was “Medieval Treasures from the Cleveland Museum of Art”. The first thing that surprised me was that the Cleveland Museum of Art had such an extensive medieval collection, the second thing that surprised me was how comprehensive the collection actually was. This collection is actually renowned for its early Christian, Byzantine and medieval European art. It includes rare examples of decorative works of gold and silver, armor carved ivories, enamels, sculpture, paintings, and illuminated manuscripts from the third through the sixteenth centuries. The collection is organized by time periods and it is well explained. So even if you don’t purchase the audio tour headphones, you can still follow it. J and I were truly surprised and taken aback by this collection. It was impressive!!!

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The second exhibit was a photography exhibit. I have this love for photography that it is all bottled up inside of me, and I’m sure one day it will come out. For now, I like to go see photo exhibits. Two photographers were showing their work. Edward Weston and Luc Delahaye.

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Pretty pond at the Getty

Edward Weston was born in outside of Chicago in 1886. He lived a significant portion of his life Glendale (outside of LA). He embarked on an independent career in photography and became a very influential photographer to some of the greats like Ansel Adams. Many of his pictures were exhibited and he had a unique approach to angles.

The other photographer (and the one J and I really wanted to see) was Luc Delahaye. He is a photojournalist working for magazines such as Newsweek. Delahaye has photographed some of the most important events in recent history. I must say his exhibit was too small, but still delightful. All the prints were large and just told the story without even having to know the situation. My favorite piece was the “Registration of Internally Displaced People in Eastern Chad”. The image was taken in 2007 and it is 281.9 x 137 cm. The contrast between the dresses of the ladies and their skins and the facial expressions of pain in their faces it is just mind bottling. You can see their story without them talking to you. Truly inspirational. Loved it completely!!!

For a look at the exhibit please follow this link.

The Getty
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, California 90049
http://www.getty.edu

And so, in a city of Angels that so many like to judge as superficial in nature, there are many non superficial things to do. That is the thing about LA, in all its grandeur and monstrosity, there is something for everyone. And I mean everyone.

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Tonight I have a date with Soda Stereo at the Home Depot Center here in LA…sooo, a comprehensive report on this major event in my life will come soon…

Tomorrow at 6am…I fly to Miami…gosh…no sleep, no sleep…

Update: It was the best three hours of my life…beyond amazing…full report coming next week…wow…I literally jumped for three hours non stop…Soda…GRACIAS TOTALES….

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Hall leading to the massage rooms of Pho-Siam Thai Spa

On Sunday after a wonderful breakfast, my two friends and I were supposed to go on a hike. But it was overcast (Marine Layer was definitely thick that day) and it was a bit cold. Mers had mentioned we should go get Thai Massages, so I mentioned it to the boys and well they both agreed. So we took a nice little drive to Echo Park.

I don’t know what I thought about Thai Massages before I got to this place, but I was seriously surprised. As we walked in, we were greeted in a very nice lobby by some lovely Thai ladies. The mood of this place was definitely relaxing. You felt as if you were transported to some magical Thai palace. The light was dimmer. Everyone was soft spoken. The walls were lined with intricate wood art work.

After we checked in, we were escorted to the waiting area. It was nice and comforting. We waited for about 2 minutes when we were called in for our massage. As you walked in to the “massage area” you saw a long hall with dark wooden floors. Shoes were a no-no here. The “rooms” were separated by very ornate curtains. Each room had some shelves to the side when you walked in, then a thin mattress and two pillows. The curtains separated and made each room completely private. And from the ceiling there were two wooden beams with two ropes hanging from the wooden beams. You are instructed to take your clothes off (I left only my panties) and you had to wear this weird robe that really does not cover much of anything, except maybe your upper thighs and buttocks.

Once you are ready, you lay down on the mattress, and your massage lady comes in. She asked me if I wanted the massage “soft, medium or hard?” I said medium. A sheet was placed over my body and she started rubbing it with the sheet on, as if she was trying to warm up the muscles. After 5 to 10 minutes of that, she proceeded to lather me in eucalyptus scented oil. She massaged my entire body. I felt as if I was in heaven. Now the difference between the Thai massage and a regular massage is that as she massages certain parts of the body, she also incorporated her whole body. Not only did she use her hands, but she used her arms, feet and knees. She balanced her weight on my body using the ropes that hung from the wooden beams. Additionally, there were times she used what you would describe as yoga positions to bend some of my muscles. I can honestly say, my muscles released all the pressure they were carrying around. I felt like cupid bouncing off the clouds after. I had just an eternal smile.

Once we were done, I dressed, and went back to the lobby. My massage lady greeted me again and gave me some much needed water (water bottle included in the massage).

The best part—massage is only $40 for a full hour. Yep!!!

Here is the info:

Pho-Siam Thai Spa
1525 Pizarro Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026
213-484-8484
http://www.PhoSiam.com

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I am in Los Angeles this week until Thursday, when I will fly to Miami so I can spend turkey day with the mother. I must confess I am happy to be here. I missed LA. I didn’t even realize how much I missed it until now. So I decided to compile a list of the top ten things that I missed about LA…here it goes…

1. I missed the radio stations—LA has some of the best radio stations in the country probably…KCRW, KROQ, 107.1…among others…even the Ryan Seacrest show is entertaining from time to time…

2. Breakfast places…hmmm….Miami, Providence, New York, Boston, all those cities have good breakfast places. But for some reason, LA has great breakfast places…there are tons of good places in Santa Monica, Manhattan Beach and Venice Beach to name a few

3. Santa Monica…need I say more…I just love Santa Monica…its gorgeous, the beach, the mountains…ahhhhhhh….

4. The Marine Layer…I never thought I would say this, but I like it…the nice cool moist breeze it brings in…I just missed it…

5. The fog…today I was driving amidst the thick fog and I just loved it…never seen such thick fog like here

6. The traffic!!! Can you believe that I am saying this??? Yes, well, in Providence I am in the car for maybe 5 to 10 minutes…it’s frustrating!!! I like being in my car for long periods of time…and that stop and go…lets me think about whatever…I missed it…

7. Downtown LA—the skyline…ahhh…I don’t know why but I have this fascination with LA’s skyline…I just love it…

8. TACOS!!!—love the tacos…King Taco is amazing…even Del Taco is pretty good…you can’t get that anywhere else…

9. The shopping!!! I know…so superficial…but I think every store in the world is here…it’s great…so many options…

10. There is always something to do…just as an example…you can go to breakfast, go on a hike, then go get a Thai massage, go to a museum and go to an amazing dinner all in one day…it’s great…there is always something going on…

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This post is not intended to offend any specific social class or race. It is intended to explain why the misconceptions of the different social classes or races cause problems.

I watched the movie Crash today for the first time. I am glad I watched it today. After living in Los Angeles, I understand it a lot better. I remember when I was living in LA and getting into numerous arguments with the ex-boyfriend about this. He simply did not get it. He lives in Santa Monica and pretty much didn’t get out of the Santa Monica-West wood-West LA area. If you stick to the nice areas, Los Angeles is heaven. But if you go to Inglewood, East LA, Korea Town or Compton it might be a different story.

The funny thing about LA is that you truly can find everything and anything there. It is a melting pot of races, social classes, climates—just everything. The richest of the rich and poorest of the poor live there. It is a crazy place.

When I got to Los Angeles, I felt a little bit out of place. I couldn’t quite find myself there. I felt a little lost. I didn’t know where I belonged. People were not as aggressive as in the East Coast about their work, but people were way more intense about their origin. It sort of went beyond me. Miami is a lot of things but pretty much is well mixed. LA has a lot of everything, but it is very segregated. The Mexicans with the Mexicans, the blacks with the blacks, the whites on the hills with the whites, the Persians with the Persians. Even the prostitutes have a place…usually along Hollywood Boulevard. I honestly have to say I chose to live in Hermosa Beach because it was predominantly white. I was scared. I was scared of getting caught in the cross fire of a city I didn’t know. Plus, I was alone. So I chose to live in the whitest neighborhood that I could find that was still sort of close to my work.

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My view from my house in Hermosa Beach, CA

Now, about my work. It was in the great city of Carson. Hmmm…it’s not totally ghetto, but let’s just say it is not the richest area either. In my work, I had to deal with a lot of different personalities. Mexicans, Salvadorians, Blacks, Whites, Persians and everything in between that. It was eye opening. The thing that caught my attention was how everyone was so caught up in defending their origin or their social status. When I was watching Crash, it reminded me of all that. How intertwined everyone really lived, yet everyone was segregated into their own areas. The only people that dared to cross the border were the bums in Santa Monica.

But in all of this identifying “la raza”, don’t people forget to be people? I mean does it really matter where you come from that much that you need to go ahead and fight with your fellow man about a difference in skin color? In the grand scheme of life does it really matter?

I will be the first to admit. I find it extremely offensive to be called a “Mexican” (I am Colombian). Not because I hate Mexicans, not at all. I actually really like them and I have some great friends from Mexico. It is because of the negative connation the word has. In my mind, it sort of equates to toilet cleaner. And not because I placed Mexicans in that category, it is because that is what I have heard other races say about Mexicans. Did you know that the third richest man in the world is Mexican? Carlos Slim Helu is self made and is a communications genius. His net worth is estimated to be $49 billion. Only Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are ahead of him. So what about them Mexicans???

I will never forget, once I was in a flight to Salt Lake City and the man sitting next to me thought I was a toilet cleaner. When I told him I was a Chemical Engineering major from Georgia Tech he almost had a coronary. He couldn’t believe it. He was shocked beyond belief!!!

The point is that categorizing a whole entire race on the basis of a perceived conception is wrong. Not all Colombians are drug dealers. Not all Arabs are terrorists (and by the way a Parsi is not an Arab). Like not all white people are judgmental Anglo Saxons that think of everyone else as less of them. So, why hate? Why spend time hating a person you do not know because they are different? Don’t people have something better to do with their time?

In a way I feel the great city of angels is full of little devils trying to make it more like hell than heaven. But I have faith in the great city. I have faith that tomorrow will be a better day. And that at least one person will hate less. Be a little more compassionate. Because all differences and hate aside, it is truly a heavenly place.

(Note: Don Cheadle asked his “latina (Puerto Rican/Salvadorian not Mexican) girlfriend why all “Latin=Mexicans” park their cars in the front lawn? Well, a simple explanation is that we all like to hang out together (family matters in Latin America) and in our houses in Latin America we have huge garages where we could fit many cars. Since houses here in the US don’t have this amenity, we try to be POLITE and not block the entire street so we park on our front lawns)

(Another aside: The movie ended with a song by Stereophonics (they are from Wales) called “Maybe Tomorrow”…I love this song…below are the lyrics..)

“Maybe Tomorrow”

I’ve been down and
I’m wondering why
These little black clouds
Keep walking around
With me
With me

It wastes time
And I’d rather be high
Think I’ll walk me outside
And buy a rainbow smile
But be free
They’re all free

So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home
So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home

I look around at a beautiful life
Been the upperside of down
Been the inside of out
But we breathe
We breathe

I wanna breeze and an open mind
I wanna swim in the ocean
Wanna take my time for me
All me

So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home
So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home

So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home
So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home

So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home
So maybe tomorrow
I’ll find my way home