March is a quixotic month, offering a false sense of spring only to take it back and slap you with winter again. It gets even more confusing if you decide to take a trip to Southern California in the middle. When we left, all systems were go for a plus or minus March 15 peak of the famous Washington, DC Cherry Blossoms, but alas they were nipped, literally, in the bud. We returned to snow, ice, and biting winds, huddling and shivering at the pick-up lane of Dulles airport and, once finally transported to our parked car, forced to chip ice off the windshield without an ice scraper.
Oh, cruel March. So, transporting one’s self back to sunny 80s SoCal, if only in one’s mind, is perhaps the way to go. One highlight of the trip was the splendid Getty Villa. Thank goodness for eccentric ultra-rich people like J. Paul Getty who get crazy notions like reconstructing an ancient Pompeii estate in which to display his (dubiously attained?) ancient art collection. On top of a Malibu hillside no less.
Equally philanthropic, Griffith J. Griffiths (does it get more Welsh than that?) bequeathed L.A. and the world a temple of another sort across town. Griffith Observatory is a temple to science, more particularly to astronomy. With a theater named after Leonard Nimoy. The observatory has lately been featured in the film La La Land, where Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dance suspended in gravity and reality in the planetarium dome. Personally, we had fun playing with the Periodic Chart exhibit, and the night sky view is stunning.
Emma and Ryan also visited the Watts Towers, and so did we on this trip. Simon Rodia, the Italian immigrant builder of this folk art installation made of salvaged materials, was not rich and famous like Getty and Griffiths. His legacy doesn’t sprawl for acres or add to scientific and artistic discovery. But, it is nonetheless impressive, and an important part of the L.A. story.
It’s thawing now in D.C., and the cherry blossoms might not be a total loss. We’ll have to get out and visit sites in our own city. Meanwhile, the L.A. memories will keep us warm.