“Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city
Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty
How can you lose?
The lights are much brighter there
You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares”
–Downtown, Petula Clark
Sunday has become our day to explore our new biome (fun diction credit: my 8-year-old son’s vocabulary word last week). Our urban biome, that is, and yesterday specifically it was to explore downtown Los Angeles.
The five of us spent the first part of the day lazily around the house, and left for downtown around 4pm. At that time of day, the freeways were jam packed – not at a standstill, but crawling thickly like metallic slugs. I wondered where everyone was headed on a Sunday afternoon; there was no Lakers game or convention. Out for a Sunday drive I suppose.
We took the Olympic exit and wound around to Chick Hearn Street (once Siri directed him, my husband clucked “the Chicken!”) We parked and crossed the street to the unassuming Grammy Museum on Flowers Street.
The museum is open late by museum standards (6:30pm on a Sunday) and it was well attended yet not crowded. Super interactive; cool exhibits with headphones and touch pads that relay mini music lessons related to the history and events of the time period. There’s a room with instruments to play, exhibits on Tupak Shakur, Ravi Shenkar and the Supremes…and of course the Taylor Swift Experience. There’s almost an entire floor dedicated to Swift, the young musical phenom and now cultural icon. Our three-year-old daughter had fun dancing on the light up cubes to the video “Shake it Off!” and I foresaw my future life with a teenage girl.
After the museum we walked two blocks to treat ourselves to a fancy family dinner at The Palm. My husband and I had skipped lunch to afford the calories we planned to consume.
The maître de was so kind, taking our littlest by the hand and letting her pick out our booth. He comped us a plate of homemade chips, which satiated our museum-ed-out and starving boys. For the kids, they ordered a plate of butter pasta and chicken strips (not so creative) and for us we started with sharing their “Gigi” salad, and I had the swordfish and my husband had the New York Strip. Naively, I ordered a side of Three Cheese Potatoes Au Gratin, which was large enough (and designated for, apparently) the entire family. We finished off the hugely satisfying meal with key lime pie, donuts and chocolate cake! Wha? Then we rolled home to bed. And promptly got up this morning for a 5-mile run (um, yeah right).
On the 2-block walk back to the car in the crepuscular light, a breeze blew between the tall buildings with their flashing video screens. We walked by LA Live and I was surprised to see so many out on the sidewalks, or eating al fresco at the restaurants.
Cranes and construction sites were on every corner, building high-rise condos for the influx of Angelenos moving to the increasingly hip downtown. I don’t want to move there, but I’m glad to live so close. I miss the city of San Francisco, the feeling of condensed buildings and pedestrians and good music, food and drinks offered from long-standing venues. Downtown LA will be my newly adopted downtown, fulfilling my need to feel the heart beat of a thriving metropolis.
Our first day venturing out in downtown together was more that of a tourist’s sip than a unique taste test. But it was a baby step and I look forward to a deeper exploration of all that it has to offer.