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Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Getty Revisited (Part II)

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. Our last stop was the Getty Center in Brentwood. Click here for a complete list of what we did - and "Part I" at the Getty Center.

We joined the hundreds of people enjoying the various galleries. The Getty Museum actually consists of two museums: the original Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, and the much large Getty Center in Brentwood. Click on either of these two links for info from previous blog posts. 

 Lots of incredible artwork to enjoy, including Irises by Vincent Van Gogh (1889).

Claude Monet's Wheatstacks, Snow Effect, Morning (1891).

Dutch painter Lawrence Alma-Tadema's Spring (1894)

A view from the Getty Center of UCLA, Westwood, and Century City. 

 Another view of the city. 

My son was taking a very challenging 10th grade AP European History class last January - so he and his friends had actually studied much of what we were able to enjoy in person. 

Another view outside - this time looking north as the massive 405 Freeway - the San Diego Freeway. The Santa Monica Mountains actually run through the middle of the city of Los Angeles - with the San Fernando Valley to the north and the rest of the city to the south. The 405 runs through the Sepulveda Pass, which connects the San Fernando Valley to the Westside of Los Angeles. 

The San Diego Freeway was just widened through the Sepulveda Pass. Apparently, if you build it, they will come - because now traffic is actually worse. I wonder if the money would have been better spent expanding Los Angeles small but growing subway/light rail system with a connection from the Orange Line to the new Expo line

Here's a link to Los Angeles' long term subway/light rail plans, which do include a link from the Valley to the rest of L.A. -- but decades away. 

Why is "the" used to describe freeways in Los Angeles? One reason is because all these freeways all have names. Beautiful names, what someone even referred to as "romantic" names. Names like Santa Monica. Or San Diego. Or San Pedro. Or San Bernardino. Or Pasadena. Or Ventura. Or the Golden State. No one would say "I got on San Diego Freeway ..." You'd say, "I got on the San Diego Freeway and took it to the Ventura Freeway ..." I suppose that the 405 is easier to say that the San Diego Freeway, so as people started to refer to them just by their number, keeping "the" stuck. Personally, I still like to use the names - except that some people have no idea what I'm talking about. 

Back at the Getty, my son updating his Snapchat account. 

With an incredible collection of Western European artwork, Biblical reference abound at the Getty. Above is Dutch painter's Aert de Gelder Ahimelech Giving the Sword of Goliath to David (1680's). The biblical reference is 1st Samuel 21:9. 

Italian painter Bernardino Mei's Christ Cleansing the Temple (about 1655) founded in each of the four gospels, including Matthew 21:12-17. 

And my personal favorite, French painter Valentin de Boulogne's Christ and the Adulteress (about 1620's). 

From the Getty website: "Light illuminates the neck and shoulders of a woman looking down at the figure of Christ kneeling on the ground. The Pharisees had brought to Christ a woman caught in the act of committing adultery. When they asked whether she should be stoned, he stooped down and began to write with his finger on the ground. When they continued to ask, Christ said, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her." The male accusers watch with varying expressions; some absorb Christ's words, while others recollect their own transgressions. For this biblical narrative, Boulogne used contemporary, working-class people as models, a practice initiated by Caravaggio at the turn of the century."

As I commented in a previous post: who am I in this painting? One of the Pharisees, locked in my own self-righteousness? Or the woman, deserving condemnation - yet receiving grace and forgiveness?

There's a place to appreciate the skill and artistic merit of these incredible paintings. And yet also to reflect on the actual content. While not limited to paintings with biblical themes, surely including them. 

Admission to both the Getty Center in Brentwood and Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades is free. Parking is $15, and $10 after 3pm. If you're visiting both the Center and Villa in the same day, you pay once and can park at both locations. 

Here's a link to their website with more information. 

Took the tram back to our car in the parking garage - and headed home. 

Two years from now, God willing, my son will be off at college somewhere. Times like this are really special. I appreciate the chance to make these memories! 

© 2016



Saturday, October 8, 2016

The Getty Revisited (Part I)

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. 

Our list included the Santa Monica PierThird Street PromenadeLACMAHollywood, a show at the Pantages ... Sunday morning at Reality Los Angeles, and lunch at Clifton's Cafeteria downtown. Our final stop before heading home Sunday afternoon was the Getty Center in Brentwood. Above, waiting at the tram station to for a trip to the top of the hill - and the museum. 

Admission to the Getty is free - parking is $15. You take a 5 minute train from the parking structure to the actual museum. The views of Los Angeles are part of the experience. 

So are the gardens. It was January, and a morning rain storm was just clearing out. Which made for some stellar views of the city and ocean beyond ... but it was very windy and no one was strolling around the garden. Here's a link to a previous trip with a bit of that the outdoor gardens look like.

One of the galleries inside featured French tapestries from the era of Louis XIV  - "the Sun King"  - who reigned from 1643 to 1715. These tapestries were part of visiting display from December 2015 until this past May. My son took a very challenging "AP European History" class last year, so he actually thought this was interesting to see in person what he and his friends had been studying. 

According to the Getty website: "extraordinary resources of time, money, and talent were allocated to the creation of these works, which were meticulously woven by hand with wool, silk, and precious metal-wrapped thread, after designs by the most esteemed artists."

This is called The Miraculous Draft of Fishes, 1636-37, design by Raphael. 

The explanation below references the Gospel of Luke, the biblical text that the tapestry is based upon (the Gospel of Luke is one of the four first century eye-witnesses accounts of the life of Christ found in the New Testament). 

Here's the actual passage: 

"On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he [Jesus] was standing by the lake of Gennesaret,  and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 

And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. 

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”  For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. 

And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 
Luke 5:1-10

While most people were enjoying the artwork - I was stuck by the subject matter. That is, Jesus Christ's call on individuals' lives. Or, more specifically, his call on my life. 

IF Jesus really is the Son of God, that changes everything. Am I willing to drop what I'm doing to follow him? In the big things of life, but also in the day to day? Do I take his commands - to love God, to love my neighbor - seriously?

I'm challenged by the words of British journalist G.K. Chesterton "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.”

Finishing up: in addition to world class artwork inside, the Getty also has some outstanding views of Los Angeles. This is looking towards UCLA, Westwood, Century City, and - in the distance - downtown Los Angeles.  

More next time. 

© 2016


Saturday, September 3, 2016

Clifton's Cafeteria revisited

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. 

Sunday morning, after attending church at Reality L.A. (in Hollywood) we drove over to Broadway in downtown Los Angeles for lunch at Clifton's Cafeteria. I'd been inside Clifton's once (here's a link to a previous post) since they underwent their major remodeling - but neither of us had eaten there. The parking garage across the street made for some nice photos (except for the "Budget" moving van). 

The garage actually had a fire escape and open window that we walked out on to - with some pretty cool views up and down Broadway. This is looking south. 

 Can't believe we could just walk out on the fire escape. 

Broadway looking north. The streets were still wet from the rain earlier that morning - which made for a nice photos.

Same view.  It does rain occasionally rain in Los Angeles - but we're still in the midst of a historic drought. 

The fire escape. So cool ---  except if you're afraid of heights. Definitely old school. Can't believe you can do this. 

A couple more final photo. Here's a link to the garage, "St Vincent Jewelry Center Parking" located at 639 S Broadway. While parking for the day is $15 during the week, it's just $6 for the day on Sunday - which for downtown Los Angeles is actually reasonable. 

Clifton's Cafeteia is ... a cafeteria. What makes it unique is that it's been at this same spot on Broadway since 1935 AND is considered the largest cafeteria in the world. Seriously. 

Lunch. My son the soup and salad, I opted for the salad. Good conversation during lunch about the sermon (earlier that morning at Reality). 

Here's a view from the second floor of Clifton's of St Vincent Jewelry Center Parking, where we parked. 

Clifton's is AMAZING. The inside is designed to look like the redwoods outside of Santa Cruz, California where founder Clifford Clinton spent time as a youth. 

 And this - this MASSIVE three story faux Redwood in the middle of the restaurant. 

Jazz band keeping diners entertained. Food is good - atmosphere is great. Definitely recommend a visit. 

The history behind Clifton's the restaurant, and it's founder Clifford Clinton, are equally as amazing. According to The Native Angeleno, Clinton "was born in Berkley in 1900, the third of ten children. His parents, Edmond and Gertrude, were missionaries, captains in the Salvation Army. Edmond owned a chain of restaurants in San Francisco, which gave the Clintons the resources to travel around the world and spread the word of Christ. They all lived in China for two years, from 1910 to 1912, volunteering at a Christian orphanage for the blind." 

Clifton's opened a chain of cafeteria's throughout Los Angeles. The Broadway cafeteria, which opened in 1932 and has been at it's current location since 1935, is the last surviving restaurant of the chain. 

During the height of the Great Depression 10,000 people ate free over a 90 day period. Many wealthy people give the charity, but Clinton's generosity nearby bankrupted him. To stay solvent, Clinton then opened an emergency "Penny Cafeteria" - feeding an incredible 2 million people for free over the next two years. Here's a link to a previous post with a lot more information about this incredible individual and his legacy. 

Gentrification is going on all over downtown Los Angeles. The 1924 Broadway-Spring Arcade Building, just down the street, catered almost entirely to Latino immigrants up until a few years ago. Here's a link to a previous post with some photos from late 2013. 

Two and a half years later, it's beginning to look similar to Spring Street and Main Street, it's high end boutiques and eateries. Apparently, Apple just signed a lease down the street from Clifton's on Broadway. This entire area will look radically different in a few years. 

A final view of Clifton's from the parking garage. I had hoped that the moving van would have, well, moved ... but that was not to be. 

Good excuse for my son and I to come back - next time bringing the entire family.  

© 2016


Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reality Los Angeles

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. 

Sunday morning, one of those "new places" was Reality Los Angeles - a large, growing non-denominational church meeting in Hollywood. 

Dark and rainy when we woke up early Sunday morning. This is Sunset Blvd, looking east, from where we stayed ...

 .... the Days Inn, Hollywood. Nice place, reasonable rates (for Hollywood). This is the view from our room Sunday morning just before checking out.

As we drove down Sunday Blvd, we saw a sign for Saddleback Church, Los Angeles. I just checked their website. Apparently, Saddleback L.A. is meeting a few miles away in Studio City.

 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, Sunday morning in the rain.

Reality Los Angeles - or just Reality LA - meets Sundays at Helen Bernstein High School 1309 N Wilton Place, about a block from where Sunset Blvd crosses over the Hollywood Freeway.   

This being Los Angeles, nearby Paramount Studios has used Helen Bernstein High School as a filming location the TV show Glee

Los Angeles, like most other cities, rents out school facilities during "off hours" to groups and organizations - including churches and other religious organizations. 

Reality LA meets 9am, 12noon, and 5pm. 

People hangout out in the courtyard - staying out the rain. 

Every Sunday, dozens of volunteers work to set up (and, of course, tear down) everything involved in church services for a thousand or more adults, teens, and kids. Booths were up for opportunities for involvement during the week - including a dozen different service opportunities in the local community.

Just before we went into the auditorium, I notice off in the distance, the distinct onion domes of Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church - located half a mile away. Here's a link with a few photos from a previous blog post.

The sentiment that Angelenos don't go out when it's raining certainly wasn't true Sunday morning at Reality. The church service was packed. The service starts out with music and singing. The contemporary worship band was great. 

“I wish I’d partied a little less. People always say ‘be true to yourself.’ But that’s misleading, because there are two selves. There’s your short term self, and there’s your long term self. And if you’re only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays.” 
quote from Humans of New York

Great opening to an outstanding, engaging and - yes - challenging message. We loved the fact that lead pastor Tim Chaddick embraces the church's role and responsibility in a city like Los Angeles. 

The passage that morning was from some of the most challenging words of Jesus - found in Luke 9:23-25: 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

If you're looking for some sort of "me centered" religious experience - I wouldn't necessarily recommend Reality LA. But if you're looking for an authentic community of men and women committed to loving God, each other, and the wider community - this is the place to be. 

Final quote from Oxford University professor and author C.S. Lewis: 

“Your real, new self ... will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

Great, challenging sermon. Even if you're not necessarily religious, or even a Christian, this church is still a great place to visit. 

People hanging out afterwards. Lots and lots of USC, UCLA, and other are university students. If my kids, now ages 16 and 14, end up at a university in Los Angeles - I'd hope they be involved in a church like this. 

Here's a link to the church's website. 

I'm taking a break from posting for a couple of weeks - more towards the end of next month. 

© 2016