Thursday, January 3, 2013

Griffith Observatory and James Dean

I was born the year James Dean died.  Learning this fact recently, stunned me.  Today, if James Dean hadn't crashed his Porsche that fateful day in 1955, he would be 82 years old.   Impossible.   The bronze memorial in front of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles commemorates his eternal youth, his talent and his iconic role in Rebel Without a Cause.  That movie put Griffith Observatory on the map.  I have always wanted to see this landmark, but somehow never made it.

"Just do it," Mimi said.  "What's preventing you?"

So off we went a few weeks before the holiday madness.  The observatory sits on top of Mt. Hollywood.  It's a beautiful sight from the distance, but up close, it's an architectural marvel.  I had no idea!

Griffith J. Griffith (Yes, his real name!) donated 3,000 acres of land to the City of Los Angeles in 1896.  He had made his fortune in silver mining and real estate.  He was a well- traveled and educated man (with a temper, but I won't get into that here!) who wanted his name to live on in perpetuity.  Today, Griffith Park remains one of the largest urban parks in the country.  Miles of hiking trails wind through the still-pristine wilderness.   Parents bring their children here to ride the ponies, the miniature trains and visit the zoo.  All I can say is, thank goodness for rich men and their egos. 
Mr. Griffith J. Griffith had a vision:  Build a free observatory for the public.  He believed that studying the skies enlightens people, and I for one, agree with him one hundred percent.  I was happy to see how many people were enjoying the museum the day I was there.  I must have heard a dozen different languages.  After sitting through   the stunningly beautiful planetarium show,  I left with a feeling of pride and appreciation, so ecstatic for being a part of this crazy, but miraculous planet, if even for a twinkling in the vast expanse of time.

  Astronomers have discovered many Earth-like orbs circling distant stars.  Future travelers will be adding planets, rather than countries, to their bucket lists.  It gives me the chills just thinking about it.
I thanked Mimi for pushing me that day.  Because of my visit, I made two resolutions for 2013:  Add Giant, East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause to my Netflix list.  My sons have never seen these movies.    But most importantly, heed Mimi's advice:  Just do it.

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