Saturday, May 16, 2009

A pilgrim's prayer in Watts

I usually think of pilgrimages heading East, but this little pilgrim ventured South. On a biking pilgrimage to the ka'aba that is Watts Towers. Once upon a time, South Central was a point of direction for one Paul S. Rockower. After Cooperstown, but before Jerusalem, South Central was a point of focus and interest. With the sun still high in the morning sky, I headed down Central Ave to the gaudy Gaudi-esque Watts Towers. The regal spires stood high in the noon sun when I arrived. I watched a short movie about the creator, Simon Rodia. An immigrant from Italy, Simon Rodia constructed the steel, tile, broken glass monument by hand, seas shells, using simple machine tools. The movie dramatically likened the inspiration for the towers as the Italian spires of Rodia's youth; minarets of all different points of worship; gleaming domes in the hot desert sands.

I received a free private tour of the towers from Crystal De La Torre, a far too apt Crystal of the Towers. The spires stood like a stegosaurus' spine. Or perhaps, a ship's mast catching the winds of dreams on the high seas of fantasy.
From Watts Towers

From Watts Towers
I was whisked back to Gaudi's unfinished sacrament in Barcelona; the Garden of Eden of Kansas
From The Prairies

to Gaiman of Patagiona
From The Dali of Gaiman and the return to BA

to Owlhouse in Neiu Bethesda of the Great Karoo
From SA Misc

and of all monuments to man's crafted creativity.

The one funny thing about the tower was that all the people wandering around the tower were white. It was the only time I saw white people in Watts. Maybe Watts Towers is an obligatory cultural experience that white people like.

I meandered back, stopping in Watking Park at a farmers market. I had some tasty barbecue for lunch, Big Mista- a fellow from Galveston who appreciated my barbecue appreciation. I told him of barbecue odysseys to Luling and Lockhart, he simply smiled. The brisket was sweet, tender and juicy; the barbecue sauce tangy; the pineapple coleslaw crisp and slightly vinegary-slightly acidic. I washed it down with a Big Red, a soda so fine that it needs not define itself by taste but rather by color.

I biked back, taking in the changing face of the neighborhood. I realized that South Central is far more Latino than I expected. Reposados, milagros, and salones de mariscos serenaded by mariachis. I headed north as the downtown hung in opaque haze. My 15 mile jaunt was a welcome change of pace. I am now sitting on my front porch, as moving trucks and vans litter the street and change is in the air. I am snacking on my desert of a bolsa de frutas: watermelon, pineapple, oranges, cucumbers and melons, covered in salt, lime juice and chili. Summertime and the living is easy.

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