Friday, June 13, 2014

"Welcome to Watts, where people get shot"

Watts Towers
"Welcome to Watts, where people get shot" is what a 9-10 year old school boy told us as we were eating our take-away soul food in front of the Watts towers. Although this potentially speaks volumes to what kind of an area this is and despite how surprising it is to hear a little boy of that age say something like this, this post is actually not a post about a sad neighborhood. In fact, Watts seemed as quiet and family-oriented as any other residential neighborhood in LA and actually, quite beautiful and artsy. 

Although I have been living in LA for years now, this was a day of firsts for me. Our friend, Taylor, was visiting from Australia, and Shantele and Ujin suggested to take him to see the real LA or as they jokingly call it, Ratchet LA! So first, we went to Chef Marilyn's soul food express at 2638 Crenshaw blvd., where I had soul food for the first time ever! They have the best, most delicious (and extremely buttery and heavy) food and the friendliest and funniest staff. And don't despair if you're a vegeterian like me, they have plenty of vegeterian dishes for us as well :) 

Soul food: Candied yams, mac n' cheese, beans,  buttery mashed potatoes

Azzah and I with our soul food :D

This place is cantine style and there is no seating, so do think of a place beforehand where you would want to eat your food while it's hot. For us, that place was Watts Towers. An admirable work of art and piece of LA history that is neglected by many people when they come to see LA and even those that live in LA. The towers are located near  the 103rd Street / Watts Towers Los Angeles Metro station of the Metro Rail Blue Line if you are taking public transportation to get there, and off the I-105 Century Freeway in case you are driving. 

Asides from looking really cool, the Watts towers are also really cool because of their history and how they were made. Sabato (Simon) Rodia, an Italian immigrant construction worker and tile mason, designed and built these towers (which he called Nuestra Pueblo) by himself and with his own hands over a period of 33 years, from 1921 to 1954. To build this, he used pieces of broken pottery brought to him by the children in the neighborhood, soft drink bottles, scrap and junk pieces that he found in and around the area, sometimes walking nearly 20 miles everyday to Wilmington to gather these pieces. He actually lived in a bungalow inside this ship-like structure, which was accidentally burnt down on a 4th of July some time after he left the area to go live with his sister. Although at one time, the city of Los Angeles wanted to demolish the structure, it is now considered a national historic landmark and a California historical landmark. You are actually able to get a guided tour of the inside with the proceeds of the tour going towards the conservation of the towers. So the next time you are in LA, make it a point to visit this impressive structure which is the result of the hard work and dedication of one man, and in the process you will be helping a community thrive as well. 

Wall detail
The towers
Where Rodia used to live and work every single day for 33 years
Watts towers group selfie - Shantele, Azzah, Me, Taylor, and Ujin :D
Door detail
A colorful house across the street from the towers in the neighborhood of Watts,  Los Angeles

Another wall detail
To give you an idea of the scale


And ending the day with a drive by Disney Hall in downtown LA, the home of the LA Phil Harmonic.

Disney Hall
Well, I hope you enjoyed this alternative view of LA. Please do leave me comments below and subscribe to my blog (BlogLovin' or Followers on the left hand side of each page) if you enjoyed this post :) Cheers! 

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