I’m not lost – I’m wandering
Maybe it’s because I moved 11 times before I was a junior in high school.
Maybe it’s because I don’t like the idea that someone somewhere is having a better time than me.
Maybe it’s because I just like to explore.
Whatever the reason, I enjoy being spontaneous. Sure I make plans, but plans go sideways and instead of freaking out, I simply move on to something else.
One time, a friend and I were to meet for an early round of golf in Elk Grove, Calif., south of Sacramento. She called me en route and said she couldn’t make it. I could have played a round by myself but instead I decided to keep driving south.
With no particular direction or destination, I meandered across the valley – turning whichever way the light was green. It was a great drive through little towns I’d never heard of and can’t remember. I wound my way into the foothills and when I crested the summit I could see San Francisco. Somehow, I had come up the backside of the Oakland Hills. I wouldn’t be able to get there now on my own if I tried.
The day was clear, so I headed down into Oakland, crossed the Bay Bridge and wove my way along to Ocean Beach. I arrived about a half hour before sunset. Found a great restaurant with amazing ocean views and ate some of the best seafood I’ve had as the sun vanished into the Pacific. It was a great day.
Now that I live in Los Angeles, I have an entirely new area to explore and get purposely lost in. It’s like Christmas morning for me and my car.
Last week, I had to get up early to have my car inspected. I was expecting to be at the shop most of the morning, but turns out it was nothing major and I was on the road in under 15 minutes. I didn’t want to head back home. I was up and ready to go, so I just needed somewhere to go.
I drove along Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. Pondered stopping at various places for breakfast, but kept moving. I noticed the black-and-white banners on the light poles advertising “Light & Noir” at the Skirball. I had no idea what or where a Skirball was but I enjoy film noir. Following California law, I pulled my car over to the curb and punch Skirball into my GPS.
Since I had no idea where I was going, I couldn’t tell if the GPS was taking me the long way or the short way or the right way. I knew it was keeping me off the freeways and major streets. I was shocked by the size of houses as I wound my way through Sherman Oaks – who knew – and up and over to Mulholland Drive.
Mulholland Drive dropped down to the 405 and I finally had a general knowledge of where I was. The GPS lead me a school, not named Skirball. However, it was a fancy private school with a security guard, who apparently gets asks a lot of directions for the Skirball because he was on it.
A few quick turns and, tada, I arrived at the Skirball Cultural Center. Bad news, it didn’t open until noon, and it was 10:30 a.m. Good news, they had grounds to explore and literature on the “Light & Noir” exhibit to read. Better news, there was a café that opened at 11:30 a.m. Best news, the café had been made over for the exhibit into Café Vienne and paid homage to the coffee house and women writers.
It was joyous to sit at the bistro table and eat my homemade strudel and sip my English breakfast tea surrounded by historical writings and classic music.
The main exhibit “Light & Noir: Exiles and Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933-1950” was put together for the Skirball. It focuses on the experiences German-speaking exiles and émigrés had upon Hollywood’s Golden Age. It featured documents and photos from talent agents in America promising sponsorship and work for actors, directors, writers, etc.
My favorite part of the exhibit was an area dedicated to “Casablanca.” In addition to costumes, scripts, prompts and pictures, there is a film loop of the movie highlights, which you can watch while sitting in a vintage crushed velvet theatre seat. I could have stayed there all day.
I was so deep in geek-movie-lover mode that I sometimes forgot the true back story to what was unfolding before me. The docent noted that, due to their accents, many actors who fled Nazi Germany would end up playing Nazis in movies.
The exhibit ends with McCarthy’s House Un-American Activities Committee. Apparently, a number of individuals were not only in trouble for being Communists but for being against Germany before the U.S. declared war.
It was a lot to take in. I had no idea there was so much back-story to the films I enjoyed. It made me love them even more.
Sometimes it’s the journey, not the destination – sometimes I get lucky and it’s both. Taking a spontaneous ride can lead to great treasure.
– Light & Noir runs through March 1, 2015. It is accompanied by “The Noir Effect.” Admission is $10. For times and event schedules, visit http://www.skirball.org/