Adventure: Beauty in Faith

I went on a mini adventure to the to visit my aunt at work at none other than the Cathedral of Our Lady of Los Angeles. Personally, I am not a religious person as many people, but I do have faith in something out there.  I don’t feel real attached to one particular faith because I feel that all of them are quite beautiful in their own way.

I am proud to say that my father had a hand at building this gorgeous place; he was working with the construction company that built it (go dad!). Now understand why he was so happy working at this particular site.

It was my first time visiting the cathedral of which I knew nothing about other than it was a cathedral and it had much of the same religious items found in a Catholic Church. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the cathedral housed a number of  art and exhibits in the corridors surrounding the main worship area. My aunt mentioned that cathedral had a small group of residential artists whom contributed much of the artwork. I think my personal favorite exhibit featured items from Pope John Pope II 1987 visit to Los Angeles.

My visit coincidentally laded around the “Dia De Los Muertos” holiday. I was able to enjoy a touch of it in a small exhibit with sugar skulls and an altar inside the mausoleum. I appreciated this small gesture because it beautifully honored and respected the Latino culture that founded the City of Angeles.

Things that instantly caught my attention…

As a Latina growing up in a predominantly Catholic house hold I was a little taken back that there where no statues of saints anywhere within the main worship area. Instead they had tapestries with all the saints along the walls making the room feel modern, open, and inviting that instantly made me feel like I didn’t have the weight of the church on my shoulders.  It was a huge sigh of relief because I wasn’t spending my time trying to remember prayers and catching myself from cussing like a sailor (which I NEVER do!) Or to carry myself as respectable lady.  I felt like I could be myself and be accepted with my imperfections.  

To be honest, this place is worth checking out for anyone looking to experience a different view of the City of Los Angeles.

Hooray for Hollywood!

 

I have always been a sucker for Hollywood’s Golden age, I guess it has to do with the mystery, glitz, and glamour around the stars of yesteryear.  So, its no surprise that there are a few things i’ve been meaning to do as lover of old Hollywood and right of passage as an Angelino.  So what better place to go but none other than the Hollywood Forever Cemetery to pay an homage to those pioneers of filmmaking and of course some notable rockstars!

I’m not going to lie, but I geeked out when I saw Johnny  & Dee Dee Ramone’s final resting place! For myself being exposed to music at an early age shaped much of my life.  Their lyrics where no more than a few sentences repeated under a thrashing guitar, drums, and bass, but it spoke to a generation that ached to rebel.  I just had to go and pay my respects these guys who really knew how to rock!

After visiting these guys I walked around and ran into some other notable celebs such as Alan Crosland who was the director of The Jazz Singer, which was the first “talking film”.  Then there was Carl “Alfalfa” Switzer, better known as Alfalfa from “Our Gang” comedies (or for you youngings “The Little Rascals”).  There was also Hattie McDaniel who played the maid in Gone With The Wind who was the first African American Actress to win for Best Supporting Role.  These are only a few notable celebrities who call the cemetery home.  Because they where setting up for “Dia de Los Muertos” we where not able to get into the mausoleum where Rudolf Valentino lies, but that’s for another day.  Maybe more people will be interested in joining me in this adventure.

Now away from the cemetery and up above lives the oldest star in Hollywood, none other than the Hollywood Sign.  Many people do not know that the reason why its up there was to draw people to buy real estate there.  Originally the sign said “Hollywood Land”, however after years of disrepair it was fixed and dropped “Land” and a new icon was born.  Funny thing about the sign is that the HUGE small fact about the sign is that Hugh Hefner was twice a key player in saving the sign, first in the 1970s and most recently in 2010.  Thanks to him, Hollywood junkies like me can admire this true icon that inspires us all.

After the sign I took a small walk down Hollywood Blvd. better known as The Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Seriously, I can spend hours on end walking up and down the street reading the names on each star.  Fun fact about the WOF, pretty much anyone can petition for their favorite celebrity to get a star as long as they fit a category and meet the criteria listed on the official Hollywood Walk of Fame website.  Yes, there are many amazing celebs with stars out there, but I gotta say Vince Scully’s was one that I really wanted to find, and yes I geeked out again!

Now, I couldn’t just walk up and down the Boulevard without stopping at Grauman’s Chinese Theater and checking out a few hand prints.  This place still is the site of many premieres and first run films.  I love that place!  By the way check out Frank Sinatra, Natalie Wood’s and Betty Grable (she imprinted her leg, lol!), among the many celebrities immortalized in front of the theater.

Last stop, like a true CM, had to get ice cream at the Soda Shop next to El Capitan, why? Because I needed a sugar jolt to make the drive back to the I.E. seriously I had a ton of fun and can’t wait for my next impromptu adventure!

 

 

New Orleans: You sure know how to make a girl feel welcomed!

I did promise that I would recap my spontaneous adventure into the REAL New Orleans, that began as a trip to get away from the heartache and sorrow I was living into an awakening into a new outlook into a brighter future.  Honestly, before this trip I was stuck in  limbo where I was not to sure who I was and what I wanted to be.  I was in a relationship that was poisoning my future and feeling that I had to settle for less because that person did.  So, after saving for two months, encouragement from friends and family and guts I packed up for a trip into the big easy!

I couldn’t explain how nervous I was getting on a plane for the first time by myself and going somewhere I had never in my wildest dreams travel to.  I mean seriously, who does that?!  I honestly didn’t know what to expect, it was also of course my first time to a journalism convention. First day I made my way down Ducater up to canal to the sheraton where the convention was being held. I had already done my homework into the sessions that I thought would be the most beneficial to me, but was really was open to anything.

My first session was with the AMAZING Victoria Lim, a Multiplatform Journalist better known as the “Queen of Coverage”.  Lim is by far an amazing type of journalist essentially because she is a jack of all trades when it comes to reporting.  She does TV, web, and print reporting in which she can take a story and deliver it in many different mediums.  Honestly, before I met Victoria I had no idea this even existed.  I always thought you had to be one or the other, but after hearing about her career it made me hands down decide this IS the type of journo I want to be.

After my first day at convention I joined my fellow Journos in a street up which was in place to meet, network, and explore Burbon Street.  It was fun, I enjoyed being able to sit in to listen to the joys of jazz that New Orleans has to offer.

In the days that followed I did get an opportunity to learn about how to manage my finances as a freelancer, how to build page views and other tools to gain an audience.  However, by far the best the session I thought was going to cover how to cover immigration lead me front row and center in front of Jose Antonio Vargas ! Now for those of you that have no idea who he is, well he is an amazing journalist whom spent his time covering campaign trails, Facebook founder Mark Zucherberg, HIV/AIDS in DC and so forth while living a secret life as an undocumented individual in this country.  Sitting in that room listening to his struggles before and after the truth came out, made me fight to hold the tears back.  I know of so many people out there that are in the same position that are striving for the American dream, and those who have turned their back to it.  It was such a powerful session that it has made me think about what type of beat I would like to specialize in.  So far it looks like immigration can be it, and I have Mr. Vargas to thank for helping me realize that.

That night I had an opportunity to take a fairly inexpensive ride around the French Quarter in a carriage!!  Yes! A carriage, it was so fun to see the city in a different light. My carriage driver was a bonafide local that beamed with pride about his fair city.  Plus, he was so gracious that he took me back to my hotel!!

Lastly on my last day, I spent some time touring the streets of the New Orleans by stopping by at Cafe du Monde for some Beignets (yes, I just HAVE to!). I moved on to taking some pictures of the city during the day and did some shopping.  However, the highlight of the day had to be the New Orleans Cemetery tour by Haunted History where I toured St. Louis #1 the eternal resting place of the Voodoo Queen.  Honestly, this was the most interesting, informative, and fun tour I have ever been on.  Our tour guide Ernest was the best guide ever!! He just made the history come a live and also added some personal touches.  Loved it!!  Next time your in New Orleans, seriously request him!

Now as I ended my day and got my luggage together to fly back to reality there are a few things that I did take away with me.  New Orleans taught me not to stress on the little things, live life, push forward and above all be strong.  These are the lessons that are keeping me afloat while I face another challenge in my path, the overall separation from that person I was to the person I want to be.

 

 

 

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Exit this way…

As a native Angelino, I’m used  to seeing the graffiti that ruins our city each day.  On the side of buildings, freeway overpass, underpass, etc its everywhere. For a long time I naturally assumed it was gang related trash, that was until I came across a documentary that open my eyes to a world I took for granted. I guess you can start with the Academy Award Nominee “Exit through the Gift Shop” that first challenged my views and evoked a feeling of curiosity.

That’s where my mission in understanding what graffiti was and how it fits into our culture.  Mostly, I really wanted to see if I could find any works of art by the artists featured in the documentary.

Let’s dive in and first find out, what is “graffiti?”

Graffiti (singular: graffito; the plural is used as a mass noun) is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property. Graffiti is any type of public markings that may appear in the forms of simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

-Wikipedia

Types of Graffiti

In any given city, these are the most commonly types of graffiti seen each day.  Some are indeed gang related while others are actual artists trying to make a name for themselves. Here’s a few examples that I came across in my city:

  •  Tag: is the artist’s name and are the most commonly seen around the streets.  Each artist has a particular style they use when they go “tagging.”
  • Throw-ups or Bombing Quickly drawn, consists of about three colors or less that focuses on speed rather than quality.
  • Piece:  A time consuming and colorful piece usually centered around the artist’s name.
  • Blockbuster or Roller: A piece that takes up an entire wall  in hopes of blocking other artists from using the same wall.  These usually involve big block letters and contrasting colors.
  • Wild style: This involves interlocking letters and connecting points. If you are not well verse in the culture, chances are you won’t understand any of it.

Street Art

Street Art:   These type of artists use stencils, posters, etc. to produce art to relay their message directly to the public.  In recent years, these artists have transitioned into the mainstream becoming the most sought after artists of their time.  This includes: Shepard Fairey, Haze, and Keith Haring.  While other’s like Banksy (examples below) prefer to remain anonymous.

Crayola Shooter (Banksy, 2011): Briefly took residence on wall of the Urban Outfitters on Kinross Avenue in Westwood near UCLA. During its short life, the mural attracted a large number of crowds in which the store turned a profit by selling out of all Banksy related merchandise.  Despite protests and adding ridiculous value to the property, the mural was painted over.
 “Girl in a Swing” (Banksy, 2010): Located in the Los Angeles Fashion District (S Broadway Parking Lot at W 9th St, Los Angeles, CA 90015) on the side of a building belonging to a jeweler called “Tarina Tarantino.” In this mural Banksy whites out the “ing” from “parking” making it say “Park” while adding a girl in a swing. Unlike, the Urban Outfitter’s building owner, this person actually embraced the mural and believes that it has added up to $650,000 of value to his property. Recently, a street artist from  Modesto, Ca with a strong case of jealousy managed to vandalize the mural.  As usual, haters have to hate.

Personally, I enjoy this type of graffiti because of the careful planning associated in producing this type of work.    

Graffiti put into context can be both a positive and negative message in the eyes of the beholder.  Like anything in this word, never jump to conclusions until you can make an informed decision.