Text by Racquel Ward, Copyright 2017
Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2017
LOS ANGELES UNKNOWN
Angelinos live amongst the stars, palm trees, vegan diets, terrible dating and gorgeous people. But if you live in the city the right way, it means to explore the rich history of Hollywood, visit it’s beautiful beaches, eat a myriad of authentic ethnic foods and talk to the characters of the city.
Catalina Island is a good place to start. Yes, there are great restaurants and south of France like beaches, but perhaps one of the most underrated sights to see is the 20th century art deco inspired Catalina Casino. Built and owned by the Wrigley Family, this architectural marvel puts you right back in time to the early days of Hollywood. The island itself is known as the “playground of the stars,” but the casino is where they gathered. Casino means, “gathering place” in Italian, and that’s just what Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and many others did at this decadent Hollywood hot spot.
There is nothing “unknown” about the famous pink wall which houses Paul Smith’s flagship clothing store – mostly because it is one of the most popular places to take a selfie in the United States. If you’re into pop culture and all things Instagram, this is a must-see when you’re shopping on Melrose. It’s a great place to people watch since just about every second of every day you can see people taking snaps at the wall. However, perhaps the most unusual fact about it is that visitors rarely go into the actual store. Go figure.
Let’s not skip over the locals in Venice Beach. The neighborhood is a gentrified mess, but that still has not kept the locals from honoring their stake in the cultural fabric of the area. Keeping the character of Venice alive, 30+ year Angelino residents like Ben Bennett, have made their homes in Venice and do not intend to leave. It is not always appreciated but these guys and gals make the neighborhood what it is despite the presence of Facebook and Snapchat. Next time you see a Venice local, and believe me you’ll know one when you see one, stop and say hi. Ask about their lives, their histories and what makes Venice special to them. This exchange will deepen your understanding and appreciation of one of America’s greatest neighborhoods.
Next time you’re in Los Angeles, explore the city through a different lens. You may be surprised at what you find. But shhhh, don’t tell everybody, for like the oceans and the rain forests, these gems too need protection. Visitors and locals are all stewards of the cultural preciousness of the city. Happy hunting!
About The Author: Racquel Ward is a writer and educational therapist living in Los Angeles. She holds a BA in Culture and Media studies and a BFA in Contemporary Music from the New School University – Manhattan, New York. Racquel also holds a Master’s of Science in Teaching. She has been published on ThoughtCatalog and most recently finished her first children’s book entitled: The Boy Who Couldn’t Read. Available at Amazon.com
To access additional articles by Racquel Ward, click here: https://tonywardstudio.com/blog/racquel-ward-60s-back/