L.A. Dreaming

I’m heading south to the land of my birth, like those diseased looking pinkish-green salmon in the last reel of a nature doc. I’m probably operating out of Pasadena, because I know a clean motel that’s under $80 (the Best Western Pasadena Inn: a coveted 90 percent rating on Hotels.com!). Longtime Los Angeleans will attest that this area has the best smog viewing as well as noble old houses and the Norton Simon Museum. Nearby is Highland Park (where I spent ages 5-14) and there I can lower myself into a disgusting self-polluted syrupy pit of nostalgia and soak. I’m happy to hear that this district is now a sort of arts mecca as well as the stomping grounds of the ancient and dreaded street gang Los Avenues.
I’m going to be checking out the new L.A. County Art Museum building that just opened a couple of weeks ago, and I’m also hoping to get over to the Huntington Library in the town of San Marino, where my mom went to girl’s school. (She claimed the first thing they taught her was elocution: she learned how to say “Isn’t that interesting?” instead of “Bull–t”.)
According to the Huntington Library’s website, one of the displays is of the papers and books of a much-admired figure Jack Smith, the Los Angeles Times’ answer to Herb Caen. Since there was no night-life to speak of, Smith wrote about his area, a Bohemian hilltop called Mount Washington; very close to downtown and yet still alive with wildlife. Smith coined “The Big Orange” as an L.A. answer name to the “Big Apple.” Smith was “a blogger” before there was such a thing, according to the Huntington (trying desperately to make Smith relevant in 2008). I’m wondering how well his book God and Mr. Gomez holds up?

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