Archive | March, 2013

L.A. On Foot

LA Downtown Walking Tour

We’ve had some fun at L.A.’s expense this week and, we admit, it was all a bit too easy. We’re certainly guilty of picking low-hanging fruit by complaining about L.A.’s car culture. It’s not like L.A. traffic is something new, or novel. In fact, we were reminded recently that Steve Martin parodied some of the same issues more than two decades ago in L.A. Story, only he did it better.

To make amends we thought we’d leave our cars behind and show L.A. from a more unusual perspective: through the eyes of a pedestrian. What follows is an easy two mile loop of downtown L.A. that explores some of the city’s most impressive architecture.

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Yup, Smog

LA Smog

Countless hours wasted in gridlock isn’t the only problem with millions of cars on the road. So too is the way they have of making otherwise beautiful coastal areas look like downtown Beijing.

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Dante’s Forgotten Sub-Circle of Hell

The Vexed Man, Franz Messerschmidt,

“The Vexed Man” of L.A.’s Getty Museum was likely just one of the city’s countless freeway drivers.

As Phlegyas labored us over the fell river Styx I spied a tributary that ran still deeper into the abyss. Its ashen waters, gurgling with the voices of sullen spirits imprisoned within its murky depths, licked the high walls and turrets guarding the city of Dis. Never did it enter there nor ever did it end, yet vessels still relentlessly crowded its dusky waves from bank to bank and from bow to stern. Each craft, piloted by a lone figure made grotesque by fits of rage, roiled on that foul water but moved not forward. And I, who stood intent to gaze, saw vile serpents with ruthless fangs and rubber necks spring from the dead channel to torment all who sought passage beyond the gates of steel and stone that marked this dismal stream 405.

I turned me to the Sea of All Wisdom and asked “Were doth that path lead?” Virgil, long he pondered that rough and rutted way, said to me “Souls caught ceaselessly between anger and violence travel that hateful road. It leads everywhere and goes nowhere, except on to others like itself. That way we can not go if ever we hope to leave this place. ”

– Lost stanzas from Canto VIII of The Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri

 

Six hundred years after Dante prophesied the I-405 freeway, Dorothy Parker described Los Angeles as “72 suburbs in search of a city.” Had she lived today Dorothy might demote her assessment of L.A. to something like “four million motorists in search of an exit.”

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Artful L.A.

The Getty Center

The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA

L.A. museums get a bum wrap. While researching things to do there, I noticed message board commenters often recommended that out-of-towners take in the city’s museums before immediately adding a caveat. Almost by way of apology, it seemed, they would note that the museums were worth a visit “but” weren’t as impressive as those in other cities like New York.

While it’s true that many museums fall short in a head-to-head with New York’s legendary Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles has plenty to offer art lovers. Here are three museums well worth a visit…on their own merit. And in addition to impressive artwork, both the Getty Villa and the Getty Center have an added bonus that Manhattan museums do not: Pacific Ocean views.

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Griffith Park

Griffith Park Los Angeles

One of the things we love about the West coast is how much its residents seem to love their open spaces. During our time in L.A.’s Griffith Park, we estimated that locals outnumbered us visitors by at least three to one. We understand the attraction.

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