Malibu Trekker @ thecityedition.com ----- Post #7 - June 9, 2010
Escape to the Getty Center Museum
Most tourists visiting Southern California drop hundreds of dollars on entrance fees to theme parks, where they wait in long lines and in the hot sun only to enter the premises and stand in more lines. Of course, you don't need to submit yourself to that kind of abuse. Just do what the locals do when they're not sunning themselves on the beach or attending the latest Hollywood premier. They go visit the Getty Museum in West L.A. for free.
Parking entrance on Sepulveda Blvd. The bus stops at this corner, then you walk underneath the 405 Freeway and onto the property. There's an elevator and stairs to take you up to the tram, which is free to ride.
Sure, you have to pay eight bucks to park your car, but you can avoid even that expense by taking the 762 Rapid Bus. It picks up at Wilshire and Westwood near UCLA, a central spot on the westside that's served by several Santa Monica buses, as well as downtown L.A. routes like the #304 Limited. The 762 is not the most comfortable ride, mind you. It banks along a ton of curves, accelerates up Sepulveda like a bat out of hell, and rattles every bone in your body, including your teeth, until you feel positively dismembered. You could try standing in the aisle and pretend like you're surfing. This works for awhile, but then you get tired and have to sit down. Fortunately, misery loves company, and there's almost always lots of company with whom to share your chiropractic history. The rapid bus takes about 20 minutes to reach the Getty from UCLA and stops right at the entrance pictured above left.
Once you're on property, go upstairs and board the tram (photo above right). The ride lasts four minutes as you climb a steep grade to the sprawling estate perched on a hillside. On a clear day, the vistas along these rails are pretty breathtaking, so be sure to have your camera at the ready.
Now, before I start getting real gushy about the wonders of the Getty, I should counter-balance this commentary with a few salient points about the Getty family itself. The late J. Paul Getty was an oil tycoon whose company was bought by Texaco in 1986 for $10 billion. These days, it's the son Gordon Getty who plays influential power broker with all that loot, but not in Los Angeles. He lives in our own S.F. Bay area. Naturally, one would think the dominant Democratic Party and all those pesky Gay liberals would be something of an obstacle for him there. Even his trust administrator, William Newsom, is a conservative Republican. But hey, that's Mayor Gavin Newsom's father, and look at how things turned out for him!
(For more political intrigue, check out my article "The Picture of Gavin Newsom" elsewhere on TheCityEdition.com.)
But let's leave those dark plumes emanating from the real world behind us for now. The Getty Center is a sterling testament to the power of philanthropy in both preserving and promoting the advancement of culture. Or, to put it in more practical terms, if you're like me and can't afford more than one trip to the Louvre in a lifetime, it's nice to know we have our own treasure vaults to give us our European fix from time to time.
All the photos you see, incidentally, were taken last Autumn. I can't imagine a more pleasant place to spend a leisure day in the off-season. At the Getty, even in the summer the sun doesn't beat down on your head; it just warms and invigorates you. Sure, the heat may occasionally get a little intense, but there's plenty of shade between the buildings and under the trees in the courtyard. Check out the wysteria vines growing on the columns in the photo above right. The caretakers here have thought of everything. In fact, the esthetic makes me think back to the mythical Golden Age -- you know, Atlantis, Athens in the classical age, Alexandria... "A" places like that.
Essentially, the Getty Center is the Yosemite of metropolitan California. Well, that may be a stretch, but everywhere you turn you find a stunning backdrop and the scent of flowers. There's sleek, towering stonework, narrow paths winding along waterways, colors in profusion, and tourists from all over the world absorbing it all with irrepressible wonder.
Well, now that you've seen the outside of the place, let's step inside to check out the collections.
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