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Saturday, November 17, 2007

Los Angeles Field Trip


This afternoon, I went to Hollywood in search of literary history and snacks, and found both.

First, I drove up to 1817 Ivar St., a little Tudor-style apartment building best known for being the hole where Nathanael West shacked up to write The Day of the Locust. Back then, it was called the Parva-Sed-Apta (translates to "Small but Sufficient"), and was inhabited by failed actors, prostitutes, eccentrics, and vaguely criminal types.

Apparently, it's been cleaned up some since 1935, because it looked rather lovely from the street.

West isn't listed in the Los Angeles city directories, but I found the address in Lionel Rolfe's Literary L.A., a highly entertaining read. On West, Rolfe includes the delightful little nugget that West frequently loaned his car to the prostitutes who lived in his building because it tickled him to hear their stories when they brought back the keys.

Unfortunately, I arrived at Parva-Sed-Apta to find that Potts had drained the batteries on the camera and not recharged them (lame!), so I left without photos. However, it turns out that Anita Loos (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes) lived in the neighborhood a couple decades prior, so I'll be headed back for photos later.

After that, I drove a few blocks to the Monastery of the Angels at 1977 Carmen Ave. The cloistered nuns here operate a gift shop that sells all kinds of stuff -- everything from hand-knit baby blankets to Christmas ornaments -- but they're particularly known for their pumpkin bread and their Christmas candy.

I wanted to stock up for Thanksgiving, so I turned into the monastery parking lot, making sure to pull my skirt down to knee length and turn off the Afghan Whigs cd playing in the car (I don't know that they've come out and said it, but I'm pretty sure that Greg Dulli is considered an enemy of the Catholic Church). Then, I went up to the gift shop and rang the doorbell to be let in.

After selecting my purchases (2 loaves of pumpkin bread and a box of caramel almond chocolates), the woman who helped me said, "I'll get the Sister to ring up your items."

Now, one of my best friends lived in a convent for a year after college (long story), so I know that nuns these days don't usually wear their habits and come from all sorts of backgrounds and are generally awesome. Still, none of this had prepared me for the Sister.

She was not much older than me, had purple hair, and I totally wanted to swap outfits with her. Which maybe I could have -- she LOVED my skirt.

So, an afternoon of Hollywood food, culture, and shopping, Mary-style. Highly recommended if you're in the neighborhood.

4 comments:

s.j.simon said...

lol. did you know that chocolate was banned in switzerland for many years. read this

Comrade Dave said...

Sister Tonks?

mary_m said...

Exactly!

Comrade Dave said...

Wow, that's a pretty far cry from the ruler swingin' penguins of my youth!