November 16th-18th 2012
The last three days in the United States pass in a haze. Chris and I both have ‘travel fever’. After seeing so many different landscapes and meeting such interesting people, we are full, unable to take in another thing. Perhaps due to the rain and this feeling, the last days in LA are somewhat uneventful.
We get boxes from a bike shop in Santa Monica where I break a molar while eating pizza at a place in a small strip mall – Christof at first wants to leave because of the strange smell. He thinks it emanates from a disgusting smelling cleaning fluid, but once he discovers that its source is freshly cut rosemary, is willing to stay. We are served by a spunky blond waitress wearing a brown poncho, her short hair waxed into spikes, and tapping across the floor boards energetically in cowboy boots. She brings us the freshest, most mouth watering delicious pizza we’ve had in ages.
The next morning, a Saturday, I try to find a dentist in, of all places, Hollywood. I call someone on duty for emergencies, whose number is listed on the internet. After mailing back and forth, waiting for each reply until my patience is about to snap, I finally understand that he is checking to see if the job is lucrative enough to warrant his time. Interested in a broken crown, but not in what I as a layman diagnose as being a lost filling, he obviously sees no reason to interrupt his weekend for peanuts. Fair enough, I’ll have to chew on one side of my mouth until I find a dentist willing to do the job.
The traffic in LA is crazy, nothing but freeways and merging rivers of traffic. Coming into the well kept, cultivated home of Cindy Hindes, the priest of the Christian Community, is like entering a sheltered oasis, a welcome escape from the modern madness of LA. We have long cozy conversations over tea at the kitchen table, speaking about the presidential election campaign and our observation that poor people are easily guided into acting against their own interests. Cindy says that people are led by playing on their base emotions, fear and anger. Finer emotions, those tempered by the soul, are rarely cultivated in this culture. She says that Americans are not ‘thinkers’ but ‘doers’. It is easy to steer a mass of people by appealing to their base emotions, leading them from anger or hate directly into action, bypassing reflection altogether. It’s the rare person who stops to question if what they are being fed, in the way of campaign information for example, is even true. Christof, especially, enjoys these talks with her.
On opening night, surprised that tickets are still available, we see the premier of Steven Spielberg’s film Lincoln. Coming away impressed by Daniel Day-Lewis’ uncanny portrayal of Lincoln, where it was like having him directly in front of us, going back in time and looking over his shoulder while he worked. Within a small window of time, and against all odds and adversity, Lincoln got the 13th amendment ratified. A herculean deed! It is impossible not to see parallels to Obama’s present situation. The film shows how very difficult and tedious the process of democracy is. To be able to see problems and challenges from varied stand-points, often compromising private opinions in assemblies, in order to get the work that needs doing for the greater good of all, done.
At Remix, a store specializing in vintage shoes, an absolute must for swing dancers, forgetting entirely what the young fellow in San Francisco said about conscious consumerism, I run around like a star on a Hollywood set, ordering a patient saleslady to bring me all the models that catch my fancy. Before long I’m ready to purchase five pairs of shoes! Christof hits the ceiling and pulls me back to reality by convincing me that two pairs are more than enough for someone who won’t even be dancing for the rest of the year.
– But, I sputter, hating to have my dreams interrupted by the voice of common sense, I may never, ever again be in LA!
Common sense wins the battle and two pairs of shoes are shipped to my parents’ address.
On Sunday I go to church while Christof strolls through the adjoining neighborhood to get an impression of how ordinary people live in LA.
Too tired to absorb any more culture, we drift through the Getty center, an impressive fortress-like building made of Italian travertine stone, surrounded by gardens of great variety, taking photos of the plants and wonderful views of the city sprawling amongst the desert mountains with the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Wandering aimlessly through the light-filled spaces of this unusual building designed by Richard Meier and opened in 1997 after eight years of maneuvering concrete, steel, aluminum and around 1,200,000 square feet of travertine to the top of a mountain completely reshaped to accommodate the new center, we are too jittery to look at the museum’s permanent collection.
Christof gets the bicycles ready for the flight in the parking lot at Venice Beach where we go for an afternoon walk and a coffee, absorbing the colorful Californian lifestyle and atmosphere before heading for the airport and our overnight flight to the Cook Islands.