Shopping, desserts and entertainment. These are my earthly holy trinity. These are in some unexplainable reason the silly domains that nurse my worldly psychic ills. These are my lowly carnal religions.
This is why when I was given the opportunity by the heavens to see and walk through the streets of Beverly Hills, I was at an elevated sense of veneration. Though my underprivileged wallet could not afford the saintly looking fashion merchandise along Rodeo Drive and Wilshire Boulevard, it felt like I was in the peak of my materialistic pilgrimage to the western shopping mecca.
Those glitzy, ritzy and lavish stores looked like blessedly sanctified chapels. While the names Versace, Canali, Prada, Bottega Veneta and Ermenegildo Zegna seem to sound like holy Italian saints.
No, I did not do the sign of the cross but when we left the area, something in me was screaming. That one glorious day, I will be back and spend a good amount of riches in that dreamy fashionable shopping district.
I guess a first time tourist in Los Angeles would only consider his visit complete if he has the most sought-after photo of the world famous Hollywood Sign as his background. When in L.A., I believe there is no more desired photo than that!
I and my super friends stayed in Los Angeles for more than a week. We actually stayed in an apartment along Bronson Avenue (booked via AirBnB) in which there is a good sight of the Sign. Every day when we would get out of the apartment to proceed to our agreed sightseeing expedition, super friend Denton, our appointed driver (because he’s the only one who got the license among us), would point out especially to me – being the L.A. first timer – that the Sign is incredibly visible. He always suggests that I might as well take the opportunity to take the coveted photo while it’s near and massive.
His loving wife Karen however raised that a good site where I can be taken of a good souvenir photo with the Sign as my background would be at the Griffith Observatory located atop a mountain. She expressed that it’s known to be one of the best sites for the-Sign-photo-opp and that we would have one afternoon to do the Griffith Observatory.
The day we decided to go to the Griffith Observatory was also our “cultural day”, the day of our visit to the J. Paul Getty Museum. The Getty was actually quite a far ride from our place of stay and touring even a portion of the vast museum campus took us some time. That is why when we were driving up the mountain leading to the Griffith Observatory the sun is already starting to bid goodbye for the day.
What is so wicked that day is that there were a lot of (most probably) tourists driving up to the Griffith Observatory. That is when we realized that I might not be able to get my photo taken with the Sign because it’s super traffic and it’s starting to get dark. What added to the devious circumstance is that security officers on the road are diverting motorists so as not to enter and proceed to the parkland of the observatory since parking slots atop are already full. That was the time Denton without delay told us that we might as well alight the car and should rather walk up fast the road going to the observatory so that I can be taken with the photo while the sun is still up.
Though it was rather cold, that was the moment that I, Karen and Joesel rushed ourselves up on our feet to the Observatory. Going up the road felt like we were in a race chasing for an available beaming sunlight on top of Mount Hollywood.
When we reached the courtyard of the Griffith Observatory, pumped up and still trying to catch our breath Karen instantly determined the spot where I could be taken a photo. I immediately handed Joesel my phone-camera and flashed my natural sweet smile. With instantaneous focusing, Joesel straightaway clicked on the phone-camera. Here is what I got…
The following morning, my super friends along with me walking on the street after some hearty breakfast metamorphosed into some fairy god and goddesses. They simply granted my wish or the wish of any other first-time L.A. tourist. Noticing a clearer view of the Sign as seen from afar, they stopped. They told me that I might as well be taken a photo with the Hollywood sign as my background right at that very moment. Here is what I got…
Every time I am in a country for the first time, I always try my best to visit a museum. When me and Karen (one of my super travel buddies) are together on an out-of-the-country-adventure we would call it “the cultural day”. Since it’s the day to appreciate high culture – some pieces of art of outstanding quality or historical importance – which in some ways feed our soul, we would somehow dress up a notch higher than the usual.
Of course my first-time visit to Los Angeles, California was no different from my other first-time visits to other countries. It is because I and my super travel friends had a cultural day. We went to the one of the most visited museums in USA, the renowned and reputed J. Paul Getty Museum.
As I feed my soul from the captivating pieces of art, the one piece that moved me more than any other is the 1758 black stone sculpture entitled “Bust of a Man” made by an English dude named Francis Harwood.
Apart from the innate beauty of the bust, it struck me how unusual it was to see a sculpted figure of a gorgeous black man at that point of Western art history. It would definitely be rare to see a man of African descent depicted as a person during the time it was sculpted because black Africans then (as I understand) were considered objects of slavery.
I stood next to this man for quite a long time and instinctively absorb what it transmits and evokes.
What moved me is that the depicted features of the face conveys adversities, past terrors and destitutions. But the neck and the massive muscle features of the chest sends messages of poise, strength and self-reliance. While the strong jaw and up-turned head conveys conviction, audacity and nobility with an almost squire and patrician bearing. A valiant vision perhaps of numerous centuries that it would take before equality would turn from wish to reality.
Quite a bunch of people know that oftentimes dessert is actually my main course. I don’t always have desserts but when I know that it is to be served and available, it becomes the primary course, the gastronomic apex and the highlight of my meal.
When me and my friends where visiting places of interest along Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles, we decided to delay our lunch and instead entered the fancy store of the famous Georgetown Cupcake.
Georgetown Cupcake being founded by the best-selling authors of Cupcake Diaries and having been featured in a lot of American TV shows, it would be stupid of me if I start complaining on why we are having enchanting sweets instead of a hearty lunch.
The four of us shared a half dozen of cupcakes of various flavours. I glugged it down with a tall-sized Illy brewed coffee. The two most bewitching flavours were the chocolate salted caramel and lava fudge. The moist yet fluffy texture and perfect harmony of flavours were so enchanting it feels like being in a great opera. I can simply describe it as one great decadent self-indulging climax.
The Philippine Madrigal Singers has long been a musical ambassador of my country. They have brought countless honors to Philippines. They are my country’s representatives who imparts to the world through their majestic musicality that there is more to the Philippines than mega-disasters, mega-traffic and mega-corruption.
Through the Philippine Madrigal Singers, let me place a piece of polished culture in this blog. Just watch and listen! Their incredibly refined musical harmony can simply be compared to a gourmet food fit for an aching spirit.
I’m pretty sure after listening to this short musical showcase, you can say that… all is well and good with the world.
The whole world must have conspired for this to happen again. It was a re-occurrence of an omen which conveys that a lot of superb and great things will soon and again come my way.
How was the omen delivered?
After exploring the views, ballyhoos and offerings of the Santa Monica Pier in California, I, my friends Karen, Joesel and Denton decided to laze and enjoy the cool breeze of Santa Monica beach. Since it was too cool to hit the water, we decided to sit on the clean soft sand, do a little people watching, simply relaxed and munch on some chips and chocolates.
While appreciating the soothing views of the ocean with some flocks of bird hovering around and having some tranquil moment on the beach, some sticky and gooey mess suddenly came flying in the air and hit me. I then realized that smarmy, sycophantic and hair-raising bird poop struck me!!!
Then did I recall that the same thing happened to me when I and my sister Joy were walking the streets of Kuala Lumpur (read that HERE), I was also smacked with some avian poop. And since it was my second time, I reacted not in the same way that it happened to me during the first. I was calmer, more serene and composed.
While wiping off the slimy mess, did I realized that such a re-occurrence (and both being abroad) could be so odd. Making some sense out of the senseless, I simply appreciated that this again must be some lucky omen. I embraced the moment and instinctively assumed that superb and fabulous things will soon and again come my way.
I am not a big basketball fanatic but when I was growing up, I can clearly remember that my whole family – especially my father – has as our favourite NBA team. And since I was no basketball fan, it was actually the only NBA team I knew back then. And up until now if I would be asked to name an NBA team, it is so automatic as if embedded in my genes, LA Lakers would simply first pop out of my brain.
Actually, the first and only NBA player I grew up knowing was the lanky yet legendary Kareem Abdul Jabbar. And as I reached high school the only other player I knew then was Magic Johnson. Obviously from the same LA Lakers team.
That is why, when I had the dreamy opportunity to visit the USA, I was just so glad that I had the chance to see the home of the LA Lakers, the Staples Center located at Downtown Los Angeles. It was so surreal that I was actually on the plaza grounds where the striking statues to revere the legends Jabbar and Johnson were located.
What added to my already delighted feeling of being in the area is that on the day me and my terrific friends and travel buddies were there, the area was packed with lots of bustling goings on ala mini-funfair. It is because a game was about to be held between LA Lakers versus Boston Celtics. There was a booth that showcase the last NBA championship trophy won by LA Lakers, a booth where you can take photos and signature of the LA Lakers cheerleading squad, an ESPN booth that interviews an NBA player whom I don’t know, a booth where fans can line up to acquire souvenir autograph by an LA Lakers player and of course numerous booths by major sponsors that gives away souvenir pieces and thingies.
Having a long glimpse on those statues, seeing the iconic LA Lakers colours and insignia and most especially being at the lively Staples Center made me miss my late father. How I wish I could proudly tell him that I was once at the home base of his most favourite NBA team.