09 January 2010

Malibu ... Getty Villa

It's hard to beat sunset in Malibu, right? Meetings, or friends, or visits to the parents take me to Malibu once or twice a week. It's a nice respite to drive along PCH at sunset, grab some dinner and drinks, and just get out of the city. Malibu is slowly recovering from the fire that wiped out a church, one faux castle, and several dozen homes last year. There are blackened trees and chaparral all along Malibu Canyon as one would expect, but some greenery is sprouting nicely, along with an ersatz circus-like Presbyterian tent church that has been raised. There aren't a whole lot of churches in Malibu, but there are many empty lots with cement slab foundations exposing where once beautiful and expensive homes sat staring at the Pacific surf. The church, though, has the best view of all. Well, maybe Pepperdine has a better view ... if we're being honest.

Growing up where we did, we expected a serious brushfire every few years to sweep through our backyard and head down to the ocean, usually
pushed along by those Santa Ana winds in October. Behind our house was part of the Santa Monica mountains where we would hike and chase the cattle that used to graze on Bob Hope's land. The "cowboys" that showed up every few months or so riding their horses, would tell us that they'd give us a candy bar if we chased their "herd" for them back to their holding pen. We never got any candy bars out of our cow-poking days, but we loved it nonetheless. Can you imagine three or four 8 yr-old and 10 yr-old boys grabbing sticks and whacking those fat behinds of those beasts of burden, kicking cow-pies all the way back home, trying to litearlly (and liberally) cover the next guy in cow dung. Almost seems like two lifetimes ago, you know? Two very smelly, stinky lifetimes ago.

My folks still live in a housing development (39 years and counting) just off the canyon that leads to Malibu. When I was younger, my friends and I would regularly make a right instead of the left that would have/should have taken us on Mulholland highway to our senior year of high school. Instead, 8 minutes of driving that winding, serpentine road later, we were lying in the sun, listening to AC/DC's Back in Black with no one else in sight.

So, yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Getty Villa in Malibu, and there spied all sorts of couplings. The young lesbian couple (I think one woman was a local WNBA player) with one chica
very much into the date, and the other not so much. The enthusiastic half of this date whispered to her friend, "Look there," as she pointed to an older gay couple, "they're holding hands." Her entreaties were falling on deaf or perhaps inhibited ears. When they left, the enthralled 6'3" half of the date flattened their potato chip bags and laid them one on top of the other; her friend just smiled an awkward smile. I thought that was a bit aggressive, if you know what I mean, but sweet. The museum is a great place for a first or ninety-first date. One very well-known individual (50-ish male) was canoodling with a woman at the top of the amphitheater overlooking the entrance. They both were dressed as if they were going to present a paper at a conference. Maybe they were.

There were also dozens of foreign visitors with their families in tow. I always wonder what these well-traveled folks think about our L.A. museums. We're getting better, in my opinion, and Getty Villa is a great little collection of Greek and Roman antiquity. The must-see portion of the Villa, without a doubt, is J. Paul's favorite piece, for which he basically built the museum to house it, viz., the statue of Herakles. The Getty built a "temple" commensurate with the piece's value. Really, very impressive, I must say. Herakles was the Michael Jordan of his day, as any son of Zeus should be. He was depicted on many household items and items of commerce, which, of course, are today's antiquities. Some day -- maybe a million days from now -- Michael Jordan will be featured in the buff on some terracotta urn with his junk poking out for all the visitors to the Chilean Nacional Museo de Fine Arts to ogle (in a millenia or so, Chile will be immensely wealthy because the length of one's border will determine GDP, and then they'll be able to afford such prized pieces as the MJ "nude with junk out").

Before heading up the canyon to see my friends, I stopped -- as is my wont in my dotage -- at The Coffee Bean for a vanilla latte with an extra shot. I backed my MKX into the parking spot, and over the beep-beep-beeping of my rear bumper sensors, I couldn't help but notice Ryan O'Neal talking rather obviously with a much younger woman. If you're a (minor) celeb (these days), and you don't want to be noticed, don't have a disagreement with a person of the opposite sex, then take a call mid-sentence/finger-point and talk rather loudly on your cell, and then lavish public displays of affection. They eventually walked off to Pacific Blue for some make-up shopping, and I pretended I didn't see anything, as we Angelinos affect that we're-too-inured-with-Hollywood to notice such triflings as celebrities. Ryan, btw, just signed for a several episode story arc on the retread of 90210.

After walking contentedly with my extra-hot latte back to my ride, I encountered a group of young toughs standing in front of my Lincoln. "Yo, don't scratch the MKX!" I wanted to shout at the handful of attractive co-eds about to hop into their Prius. (Hey, this is Malibu, and young toughs come in all shapes and sizes.) I eyed the lot of the 19-20 year old females warily as I approached. I opened my door with all the swagger I could muster without spilling my latte and noticed Jennifer Tilly leaving Nobu with her gal pal and several shopping bags. I've seen Jennifer in Vegas, at the airport, and in
Malibu, and each time she is the epitome of the anti-celeb. Young Hollywood could take a note. Girl could care less about anything, except for maybe poker these days (btw, she was great in Bullets Over Broadway). The five young girls resembled a circus clown act and piled giggling into the diminutive Prius with reckless abandon, but then a thunderous roar next to them startled us all. "Hey, Felicity, why don't you ride with me?!" From two cars over a Ferrari California passenger door was thrown open, and young leggy Felicity jumped into the black Ferrari (my dream car, if we're still being honest), with young Adonis at the wheel. Needless to say, Dear Reader, going to college in Malibu has some very distinct advantages.

Anyway, yeah, Malibu is great. There was a "swell" working the California coast, so the surf was great and the beaches were loaded with wetsuit-wearing Barney's and Betty's. The Malibu market was packed with young families playing on the climbing frames and swings, and very expensive sports cars were driven off by young Greek demigods.


Caleb S. Garcia said...

"by young Greek demigods," Johnny G you have a way with words my friend, a true gift. This was a very enjoyable read and one I have the pleasure of relating to. Your work reads like fiction and flows like a warm summer's day, it's like I was almost there...wait I was there.

Always a fan.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Fabulous Read
Feel like I've spent a day in Mailibu. I've only been there once, quite briefly a million years ago but didn't make it to the Getty Villa ... seeing I'm on the other side of the PCH [way over west] I won't be there anytime soon, so thanks for the tour.

I meant to follow last time I was here, have corrected that now!! Julie

Dumbwit Tellher said...

As pathetic as it sounds, I sadly never been to magnificent Malibu. I would have given anything to walked a mile in your converse hi-tops (or was it vans?) or rode on your skateboard through California as a young child. Just the sighting of a celeb would of sent me to the moon & back. I love your California nostalgic stories. Bye the way, could you ship one of those Greek demigods north to my eldest daughter in Portland? Great writing as always JGregg ~

christian soldier said...

Used to visit the Malibu Getty at least once a year...Now I go to the 405 Getty--Must go back to the Malibu Getty as it still has the collection of ancient sculpture ---I hope....

FatScribe said...

Caleb -- thank you sir!

Julie -- next time, the Villa is worth it! thx for the follow, also!

Deb -- your and your crew will get here eventually (everyone should at least once). but, it's certainly NOT a destination town. merely a cool place to hang for a bit, and of course, live.

Carol -- getty center (405) was a regular Friday night for a few friends and myself when i worked in westwood. LACMA is amazing also ... great jazz during the summer.

Emm said...

I smile everytime you say "Dear Reader" as there is a South African band of that name and they are quite good.

I wouldn't last a minute in Hollywood. I'd be completely overwhelmed and uncool with the celebrity sightings.

Anonymous said...

I especially enjoyed your bovine reminiscences. We share many common experiences. My joy of recognition is mixed a with a soupcon of nostalgia.

Great post.

FatScribe said...

Emm and Nickie G. -- thank you for even reading one word of the ole porkster. too cool. -- Fats

One Ticked Chick said...

The image of you and your young friends "herding" cattle is priceless. How idyllic that sounds in comparison to minor celebs and giggling schoolgirls wasting the day away.

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Great afternoon in SoCal story. I enjoyed every word!! Have a wonderful weekend. ;) Barbara