Travel to the US by Virgin Australia-a really good airline. Straight off the on time plane early morning after the 12 hour flight and into a LA rush hour driving on the "other" side of the road on a packed freeway. Not for the faint of heart. First stop Santa Monica. The streets maybe full of high- end cars and the shops are also high- end but I reckon Santa Monica has lost its sparkle. It feels jaded and past its prime. The main attraction is the pier which really is pretty tacky but great for people watching and people photographing.
I took just one camera -the simple Leica X1 which is now fitted with a Leica grip -it's taken me 7 years to get around to buying that grip-and one SD card and one spare battery. It's all about the photos. Not the gear.
One of the saddest things about Santa Monica is the number of homeless people sleeping rough on the streets and in the clifftop parkland. Apparently 30% of the homeless people in the US are in California presumably because of the mild climate. I saw a lot of them on my early morning walks and I spoke to some of them. Many are obviously suffering mental health issues but all I spoke to seemed just glad to have a word with someone. It was particularly sad to see the pretty young things in their Lulu Lemon and Lorna Jane active wear with their big smartphones strapped to their arms and with earbuds in jogging past these sad bundles of humanity without a second glance. Obviously the problems of these homeless people are complex but I just cannot help thinking that curtailing just a couple of space shots or a big military program would free up enough funds to make a real dent in the problem. Or they could raise taxes but to most Americans that is akin to suggesting that they join the communist party.
If you need convincing that capitalism need some urgent,major repair work the USA is the place to go.
That's enough of this compassionate socialist talk.
As always the automotive scene in California was a smorgasboard of delights but what really struck me was the number of electric cars there are on the streets-particularly Tesla S models and Fiat 500s.
There are electric car charging stations in many locations -even in national parks-and using them is free.
I've also never seen so many cyclists as I saw in California. Cycling really has taken off. Are you listening you knuckle dragging dickhead Australian politicians?
Whilst in Santa Monica I visited the superb Getty Museum and I was particularly taken with the Dutch Master's paintings. The museum must have bought Rembrandts in dozen lots. The Dutch paintings resonated with me because of their amazing depiction of light and the fact that I had just read "The Last Painting of Sara De Vos" by Dominic Smith on the flight over. This novel has been getting great reviews and for good reason. It is an excellent read.
Of course I also visited the completely rebuilt Petersen Museum in Los Angeles. I'll put a story and photos of this up on the blog later but it is also great. Not as good as the Porsche or Mercedes-Benz Museums in Stuttgart but in the same league. And the building is as gorgeous as the cars.
Time for some photos. As always I was stingy with my shooting and no holiday snaps so no photos of Rodeo Drive,seal colonies or the Hollywood sign.
|Enjoying the fading light on Santa Monica Beach|
|A study in red-red kiosk,redhead,red glasses,red dress and the red bike.Thanks lady for being a good sport.|
|Americans can do weird really well|
|A sunset proposal on Santa Monica Pier?|
|They've sold me..|
|Working out on Santa Monica Beach at dawn.|
|On Santa Monica Pier.Not sure what her gig is but she makes a good photo.|
|A Mexican with a sense of humour.|
|Irony. This "fashionable" young thing poses for me a few feet from a group of homeless people. I don't know how much she paid for her jeans but I reckon that she was ripped off.|
|Taking a lunch break on the terrace at the Getty Museum.|
|Part of the silver car exhibit at the Petersen Museum.Yes it's a Corvette and it is a colour photo-the silver theming is that good.|
|Plug her in Toni. An electric Fiat 500 on charge by Santa Monica Pier|
|Cruisin by.A very tidy Porsche 914 spotted on the street in Santa Monica.I had to get a Porsche photo in.|
To be continued