Monday, February 18, 2013

La Reina de los angeles

Quite a bit of the local LA news the other night (continuing through a couple of ad breaks in fact) focussed on the imminent retirement of Pope Benedict XVI. It made a change from the stories about the manhunt for Christopher Dorner up at Big Bear, or stories about a football code I haven't yet developed an obsession for.

Yet, it also made me think that there must a lot of Angelenos who would be interested in this. Los Angeles, or at least the Valley, is part-Mexico. I practise by reading the signs on the buses - Personas mayores e incapacitadas tienen prioridad de asiento. And most of the Spanish-speakers, I guess, will be Catholic. This is quite a nice coincidence because I've been familiarising myself with Catholicism as part of my research into the opera, Philippa. One of the paintings that particularly attracted me at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was a rendering of the Virgin of Guadelupe.

I realise that this image is a template and that there are other versions (this is not the County Museum's). No doubt there is someone somewhere who is an expert on images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and can distinguish between the quality of the various artistic renderings. But I like the piety which leads to mugs in 99c Stores on Sherman Way displaying the image. It makes me think about Los Angeles in a different way.

Last year, heading down to San Diego, I saw this by the side of the freeway -

- a big red cross through the Hollywood sign - Hollywood as Sodom and Gomorrah to the Religious Right.

Yes, Los Angeles is freeways and smog and if you focus on the street maybe it's cluttered and congested.

Van Nuys Boulevard, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles
But see the surrounding mountains turning bright pink at sunset, and you'll realise that we could call these mountains Sangre de Cristo, just as easily as the range in Colorado. And you may even recall, while watching a shootout up at Big Bear on the CBS Nightly News or waiting nearly an hour for the 239, that the city on what Southerners disdain as "America's Left Coast" was named for the queen of angels. It's an intriguing other aspect to Los Angeles.

To read more on the opera Philippa:

1. - 16 Sep 2012 - an account of my initial thoughts on Philippa, when I was attempting to convey a more comprehensive trajectory of her life
2. - 18 Sep 2012 - containing Act I of a revised scenario, beginning the action in Vietnam
3. - 25 Sep 2012 - containing my revised scenario
4. - 7 Oct 2012 - one-page synopsis, to make sure such a story can fit into "two hours' traffic on the stage"
5. - Becoming a Harlemite, Vietnamese and Catholic 10 Oct, 2012 - detailing some of the research I'll be doing
6. - A Harlem Tradition? 20 Oct 2012 - detailing Harlem interest in white culture
7. - Sacrifice? 21 Oct 2012 - considering the nature of Philippa's death and whether it was self-sacrifice
8. - Classical aspirations 30 Oct 2012 - looking at Harlem's attitude to classical music in the age of Philippa
9. - Montagnards and Lowlanders 1 Nov 2012 - looking at some of Philippa's writing from Vietnam
10. - A sobering thought, 13 Nov 2012 - recognising the prevalence of lynching in the US until well into the 20th century
11 -  Words, words, words, 11 Dec 2012 - considering whether Latin should be one of Philippa's languages given that catholic services, even late into the 1960s, would not yet have been in the vernacular.
12 - End of the rebirth, 20 Dec 2012 - some thoughts on the end of the Harlem Renaissance around the time of Philippa's birth.
13 - What Puccini would have looked for, 26 Dec 2012 - examining the theatricality of the Philippa synopsis

Other blogs of mine on Los Angeles are:

A daily reminder, 1 April 2011
When you take a closer look, 21 April 2011
The frame (thoughts on the Getty Center), 24 April 2011
A light on the hill (the Reagan Library), 30 April 2011
A couple of snapshots (Malibu and the Valley), 1 May 2011
More to love about LA, 6 Jan 2012
Walking with stars, 10 Apr 2012
En plein air and a little elan, 16 Nov 2012
LA Substantial, 18 Jan 2013
City of Angels, 20 Jan 2013
City of Nets? City of Dreams, 31 Jan 2013
Rounding off - LA vignettes, 2 Feb 2013
Loving the architectural reminders of old Los Angeles, 4 Feb 2013
Cultural conjunctions, 4 Feb 2013
Cultural conjunctions II, 6 Feb 2013

Non-linear lessons, 7 Feb 2013
More than whimsy - Contemporary Art, 8 Feb 2013
Life and movies?, 10 Feb 2013
But, whimsy indeed, 12 Feb 2013
Pockets of charm, 13 Feb 2013

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