Sunday, November 17, 2013

Visiting My Best Friend Landon Lewis in Los Angeles

Yesterday I took the train to visit my best friend Landon Lewis in Los Angeles.  He picked me up at Union Station and we headed to The Southwest Museum of the American Indian, because I'm interested in local Native American history.  The museum is located in the Mt. Washington area of LA.  It's an okay museum, containing mostly Pueblo pottery from Arizona and New Mexico.  I was a little disappointed that there was virtually nothing in the museum about the local tribe, the Kizh (often erroneously called Tongva).  Nevertheless, it's a lovely building and grounds.







There was a statue of a Cherokee man named Sequoyah who lived during the late 1700s and early 1800s.  He is best known for his work with the Cherokee writing system.  As the last living scribe in the Cherokee Nation, Sequoyah took it upon himself to teach the Cherokee writing system to other members of his tribe.  By doing so, he hoped to slow the U.S. government's attempts to "acculturate" the Cherokee people.  While teaching the concept of writing, he was accused of witchcraft.  As a result, his fingers were cut off up to the second joint.  Sculptor Erwin Binder chose to represent only the essential elements of Sequoya's story--his head, his hands, and an open book depicting the original 92 symbols of the Cherokee syllabry.




This is a sculpture of a Kizh ti-at, or plank canoe.  The Kizh were one of the few tribes of California who were sea-faring.


Unfortunately, the plaque erroneously refers to the tribe as Tongva.  The living members of the tribe today prefer to be called Kizh.


The Southwest Museum offers some really nice views of Los Angeles, as it is situated atop a big hill.



After the museum, we cruised over to Via-Mar in Highland Park, for some tasty fish tacos.


Then we skeedattled over to the recently refurbished Echo Park Lake, and took a walk around it, stopping occasionally to admire the beautiful scenery, or to read plaques like this one...









From the lake, we sauntered over to historic Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, which is traditionally a Latino community, with markets like this one…


We visited one of my favorite stores in LA, which is the Time Travel Mart.  It's also the headquarters of 826LA, a free writing program for local youth.  They self publish books, and also carry books and magazines published by McSweeney's, the coolest publisher in the world.  The theme of the book store/writing center is "Time Travel"…






Next we vamoosed over to Landon's place in Echo Park for some brews, pizza and laughs.  Here's Landon with his dog Bindi.


At night, we popped over to our mutual friend Steve Elkins' house (who also lives in Echo Park) for a house concert by the band Eric & Erica.  They were a very sweet indie duo.


After the show, we meandered back to Landon's and crashed.  In the morning, Landon dropped me back at Union Station.  I had about 45 minutes to kill before my train, so I decided to walk around the historic El Pueblo district, also known as Olvera Street, the oldest part of Los Angeles, and a reminder that, up until 1848, California (and Los Angeles) was part of Mexico.


This is a statue of King Carlos III of Spain, which was the original country to colonize California. 


This is a statue of Felipe de Neve who, on orders from King Carlos of Spain in 1781, founded the El Pueblo de la Reina de Los Angeles, which would eventually become simply Los Angeles.



Across the street from the plaza where these statues are, is a catholic church called Nuestsra Señora Reina de Los Angeles (Our Queen Lady of the Angels).


This area is a popular tourist destination.  There are lots of vendors selling things like this…




There is an impressive statue of Antonio Aguilar, famous Mexican singer-actor.  He was sort of like the Gene Autry of Mexico.


I wandered back over to Union Station, and boarded my train…





All aboard!


And then I was back in good ol' Fullerton…


It was a nice little weekend adventure.  I learned new things, saw new sights, heard new music, found some new books, and got to spend some quality time with my best friend Landon Lewis.

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