Monday, September 28, 2009

Special Program: Saturday Nights at the Getty

The Getty Center (see May 27, 2009 post) is now charging $15 for parking . . . that's the bad news. The good news (yay!) is that the center stays open until 9pm on Saturday nights and--this is the awesome news--parking is free after 5pm. Free parking, free admission . . . could it get any better?

Yes, my friends. Yes, it can. Saturday Nights at the Getty offer not only stunning views of the lights of Los Angeles (including the ribbons of white and red headlights and tail lights along the 405--a healthy reminder of how much we all love LA traffic), but on Saturday nights, you can also enjoy a live performance . . . anything from music to dance to spoken word events, depending on which night you attend.

Food and wine are still available in the evening. Expect a crowd. We arrived at around 7pm; it took quite a while to park and we had about a ten minute wait to get on the tram. I don't know if it's better or worse earlier in the evening, but I plan to attend again, and when I do, I'll certainly let you know. If you happen to know, by all means, share your knowledge.

What I do know for certain is that these events are completely worth it. Even if you don't care for the evening's performance, you can still enjoy the gallery, the beautifully lit gardens, and a stunningly romantic atmosphere. Perfect for a little Recession Dating.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Venice Canals

Just the Facts, Ma'am

What: Canals where we all thought streets were supposed to go.
Where: Venice, California
Hours: Whenever
Cost: If you plan to live there, you'd better have dollars a-plenty. Otherwise, you can stroll the neighborhood for free.
Why: Pleasant atmosphere, cool houses . . . a lot closer than Venice, Italy . . .
More Information: Westland Web Site

My Experience

So get this: in 1904 a fellow by the name of Abbot Kinney (locals will recognize his name from street signs) embarked on a dream--the dream of creating a Venice, America. So he hired a bunch of laborers and dug 16 miles of canals. Most of the original canals were later destroyed with the invention of the "motor car," as they were impractical for modern transportation. As a result, the remaining canals became a small, unique quarter of Venice. In the sixties and seventies, beatniks and hippies partied hardy in the canal area. These days, the area has been redeveloped with beautiful homes, and it is now home to the well-moneyed.

My brother and I took a break from writing to investigate the canal. It was nice; occasionally couples or small children would drift by on little rowboats, friends would gather for wine on canal-front patios, someone's crazy cockatoo would cry out from the balcony of their top floor, separating the tourists from the locals as those of us who couldn't immediately spot the bird reached for our cell phones to report a murder-in-progress.

Looking at the houses kept us entertained long after the novelty of the canal wore off. The houses range from beautiful to repulsive (but in a rich, well-kept sort of a way), from quaint to glamorous, from ostentatious to understated. And, lest we should forget what city we were in, we did happen upon the quintessential Venice, California artist's house, where chandeliers made out of doll heads and bottle caps wafted menacingly on the cool, crazy breeze.

It was a relaxing, fascinating stroll . . . but it was still a stroll. I wouldn't recommend making a big trip to Venice just for the canals, but if you're in the area, don't miss them.

What I missed

The rest of the canals. There were more bends and avenues than I expected, and we had to get back to writing eventually.

Back on the Path

Please forgive the unexplained absence. I am afraid I unexpectedly strayed away from the Back Roads for a few months, as a few incidences (good and bad) have stolen my attention.

I am glad to say, however, that I have not stopped exploring, and you can expect a new outpouring of adventures and destinations over the next couple of weeks . . . including a few "Sidetracks" highlighting my excursions while visiting family in good old St. Louis. This photograph, in fact, was taken outside the front door of Remember When, an antique appliance store along Antique Row on Cherokee Street in Louie. On the other side of that mysterious sign and those lace curtains, one may find sixty-year-old stoves, fifty-year-old refrigerators, hundred-year-old sewing machines . . . and a cautious one-eyed dog of indeterminable age.

But more on that later. Right now, it's time to get back to business, and back to the glory and wonder of the Great West.