Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Labor Day Stay-cation

As usual, we decided to stay in L.A. over the Labor Day weekend. Who needs to travel when there’s so much to do here?

On Saturday, we decided to brave the heat and head east to the Huntington Library to see the “This Side of Paradise” photo exhibit, which ends September 15. The exhibit, comprised of hundreds of famous and not-so-famous photos, succeeds at capturing the essence of Los Angeles from its beginnings to current day. Sure, there were the obligatory snapshots of celebrities posing and doing glamorous as well as silly things (e.g., Marilyn Monroe lifting weights); but the best were of everyday people working and living their lives: a man watering his lawn (ca. 1973); another man holding his baby at the beach (1963); a boy selling newspapers (1943); and porn stars taking a break in Woodland Hills (2002). (“Boogie Nights,” anyone?). My favorite was Michael Light’s enormous landscape of downtown L.A., looking west above the 5, 10, 60 and 101 freeways. The city looks like a giant gray squid entangled in a mass of concrete tentacles. Everyone who loves Los Angeles should see this amazing exhibit.

The next morning, we schlepped to Santa Monica beach, where we read the Sunday paper and watched as surfers tried to catch what little waves there were. The water was flat and glassy—so glassy, in fact, that we saw dolphins swimming among the surfers—something neither of us had ever seen in all our years going to the beach. What a thrill!

En route home, we visited Arlington West, a project of the antiwar group Veterans for Peace, who erect over a thousand crosses every Sunday to commemorate the more than 4,000 soldiers who have died in the Iraq war. The weekly memorial is installed on the beach just north of the Santa Monica pier and is extremely powerful. If anyone needs visual evidence of how wasteful and wrong this war has been, certainly this is it.

On Monday, we just putzed around the house and wished we’d taken the entire week off! Despite the heat, our backyard garden has surprisingly flourished this summer, with some plants actually still blooming. I’m looking forward to re-landscaping the front yard this fall, but that’s a story to be continued . . .


Oleg said...

The Michael Light photo is now my desktop wallpaper.


Cindy said...

I'm glad you liked the Light photo. This is actually a shapshot of the picture from the exhibit catalog (oh oh, copyright infringement!). The real photo is enormous and very detailed.