don’t pass me by (an LA chronicle)

I’m sitting at the Getty along a path to the side of one of the buildings. I’m in the shade and leaning against the structure’s massive stonewall. I’m on a pathway to a terrace though it’s a path that is almost hidden. People have to navigate around me as they walk through. I wish they’d go away and leave this public space private, for me only.

I can see a vast view of LA from where I sit from the hills to the oceans. Ahead and slightly to the right is a small clump of tall buildings that make up downtown. Beverly Hills is just below me. There is a fire billowing on a mountain a few miles away. It’s in Santa Clarita a passerby says. The smoke won’t reach LA because the winds blow toward the east, toward the mountains. It looks both ominous and soft, like a cloud. To the left and over the hills from the Getty is the Valley and Pasadena, though I can’t see them I know they are there with clichéd houses and perfect lawns. There is smog that hangs in the air between the landscape and the sky, a visible reminder of this cities population. To my right, if I careen around I can see the sea and Catalina Island poking its head just above the haze. The 405 are below me and the traffic crawls from north and south. Planes line up in the sky ahead, waiting to land at LAX.

This city is huge, a massive gallimaufry of rich and poor, everyday and famous. The rich build houses on the mountains or even cliffs, ignoring the impending possibility of earthquakes. They look like cracker or thin wafers that could tumble down like rocks sliding. California has it’s own style to everything, but the houses in LA interest me the most. Their style is a mix of Mediterranean, Spanish, and American classic. The rich, modern houses are minimalist with hard lines and lots of glass, but mostly there is stucco, tan and smooth. It is the red brick of southern California.

The Getty is an amazing place. , a free art museum, open to the public. But, people don’t usually come for the art; they come to see the Getty. It is a vast structure of buildings placed on a hillside overlooking all this city has to offer. It is made of an off-white stone creating straight lines and curved walls. The landscaping is immense, green, and perfect. Fountains pop up in many places, an offering of serenity. The buildings are so large that looking back on them from on of the many terraces and seeing people walking around on the balconies and inside through the glass, they look like tiny bugs, like insignificant, unimportant things.

People stand against the railings where I sit. They squint and point trying to comprehend what they see. The wind is strong at times on this hill. They sun beats down an arid hotness, but in the shade of the building, a chill awaits.

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