Saturday, August 11, 2012

los angeles in a clear light

I have never been very fond of Los Angeles.  As a result of this trip, I may need to give it another look.

But I am getting ahead of my story.  Los Angeles comes at the end, not the start, of this tale.

After a great dinner of swordfish last night, I headed to bed -- leaving Moro Bay fogged in.  And I thought that is what I would find in the morning.  After all, the temperature differential between the beach and the valley remained the same.

But I was really wrong.  Roy and I headed to breakfast at Dorn's -- and this is what greeted us.

If you look at the last photograph in yesterday's post, you can almost see the outline of this rock.  With the exception of a wisp of fog, the day was clear.

And that was the weather on our drive down highways 101 and 1 to Los Angeles.  Around Maibu, it seemed as if the entire city had decamped to the beach.  Malibu's sands were packed.  Even when we could not see the beach, we knew how many people were over the edge by the lines of parked cars along the highway.

Californians love their beaches.  And they were feeling the love on this pleasant 75 degree day.

By the time we reached I-405, it was evident that I had miscalculated the number of people who had left the city.  The freeway was almost at a standstill.  And that is one reason I dislike Los Angeles.  It is hard to get though the city.

But we made it to our motel with little problem -- other than the loss of a portion of our allotted time in life. 

Rather than waste the evening in our otherwise functional airport motel room, we decided to go out for dinner.  Roy had heard that Versailles -- our favorite Cuban restaurant in Miami -- had opened a restaurant in Los Angeles.

It is true that there are four Versailles restaurants here, but they are not associated with the Miami anti-Castro landmark.  We decided to take the culinary risk.  And it paid off in spades.

My lengua guisada was cooked perfectly.  Tender with just enough tomatoes to complement the tongue.

This Versailles was also a lot of fun.  We were surrounded by a lot of families -- mainly latinos.  And all being entertained by a very talented Cuban band -- led by a woman singer whose moves rivaled Sonia Braga's.

When we left Versailles, the sun was just setting in the clearest sky I have ever seen in Los Angeles.  There was no indication of smog -- even on the horizon.

This branch of Versailles is located in Manhattan Beach.  The "beach" portion enticed us.  So, off we drove the mile or two to Mahattan Beach's pier.

If I had not known better, I would have guessed that the mix of hills, tidy homes fronting the sidewalk, and quaint shops was located in west San Francisco instead of Los Angeles.

The beach was just as inviting.  Cool temperatures.  Cosmopolitan visitors.  Local fishers.  Running children.

Looking back at the shore with its cozy homes fronting the beach, I realized just how charming this portion of Los Angeles is.  "Charming" is a word I have never even considered as an adjective for this teeming mass of humanity.

I know visitors see cities through rose-colored glasses.  I long lived with the false impression that New Orleans was always like the city I have visited in April and May.  And I saw Manhattan Beach under similar circumstances: without smog, crowds, and traffic congestion.

But what I saw is one of Los Angeles's faces.  I doubt I would ever make this city my permanent base of operations.  But this trip has caused me to look at California through new eyes.

Of course, all those nice words will disappear like salt water taffy as soon as I saw my prospective California tax bill.


Mommy with Commuter Husband said...

Your photos are wonderful. The light and composition are lovely.

min said...

You guessed it,I would  not never pay over 10 % state tax.Not just that,how about sales tax.
Least I did"t have to pay tax on food when I was living there.
But look at C A now ,they are so broke who knows whats going to happen.

Our Son was looking at College ranking  in U S A yesterday,
My husband went Berkley,Our Son went U V A.
Even the  famous Berkley went NO 5. What a   shame!

Your L A tale, make me  want to go back take another look!
But I know, I will never go back.

My Husband has different idea though.
He still has family in C A.

Have safe trip.

Steve Cotton said...

Thank you very much.  On this trip, California proved to be a very good photographic model.

Steve Cotton said...

Plus the income and property taxes. But I have to admit the state was on its best behavior for this trip.

Joe S. said...

We'll be staying at Manhattan Beach 2 wks from now after a couple of days at Disneyland. Taking our youngest daughter back to Loyola Marymount University for sophomore year. Maybe we'll try out Versailles

Andean said...

When I first read above that you were on your way to a Cuban restaurant, my initial comment was going to be, next time try the lengua guisada--my all time favorite. I would not have guessed you would have ordered that!

Steve Cotton said...

Take the family. Try the tongue. It will be a fun meal. Especially on Friday nights with the live music.

Steve Cotton said...

I love tongue.  My grandmother and mother served it up in sandwiches.  It was probably my favorite grade school sack lunch.

I am a surprising type of guy.

Andean said...

My mother also made tongue often--one thing I never learned to make. I regret that now and noone in my family has her recipe. But some Cuban restaurants do make it very well.

Steve Cotton said...

Last year I was on one of Dan Patman's tours in Mexico City.  Several of us went to dinner at
Café Tacuba, and I ordered my favorite dish.  When it arrived,the Canadian woman sitting next to me asked: "My I have a piece of your tongue?"  As  several reply options flashed through my head, Dan said: "Ste-e-e-ve."  Such is wit stillborn. 

Andean said...

Yep, Stee--ve. Someone had to stop you...LOL

Colonel_Angus said...

My wife absolutely loves tongue!

Cineguy said...

It has been and will continue to be my dream home.  Glad you got a taste of why that is--what with our..."teeming mass of humanity", indeed! 

Steve Cotton said...

But like most everything in southern California, it was an illusion.

Cineguy said...

Illusion?  Some people are living a great magic trick then.