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Showing posts from June, 2011

From Tirol to Hawaii: The Omnipresence of Faith and Religion

I have lived in L.A. more than ten years and still things amaze me which others who were raised in the U.S. take for granted. The way religion, politics, public life, and pop culture meld is one such area. I was recently reminded of this when I came upon pictures of Jeremy Scott's Enjoy God fashion line in the LA Times Magazine and again as I was browsing some photos I had taken in Hawaii in April. "Amen". License plates in a burger restaurant...   ...and van with banners (both in Lahaina, Hawaii)  Where I come from, in Austria, faith and religion are omnipresent too - but in a different way. In my home state, Tirol, Catholic shrines and crucifixes line country lanes; chapels stand at crossroads out in the fields; and many a church is tucked away in a hamlet up on a mountain. These structures are part of the alpine landscape and they have been for hundreds of years - though their meaning is lost to many. (The days when children were taught to make the sign o

Headed for an Exam? Go Find a Jacaranda Tree!

Purple canopy: Jacarandas on Del Mar Blvd. in Pasadena Trees. Again.  May in L.A. was cooler than usual and June is no different. Anything that flowers is doing so long and abundantly this year, including the Jacaranda trees with their purple canopies. Jacarandas have become popular in the California Southland but they originally came from Central and South America and from the West Indies. The Wikipedia entry on Jacarandas mentions (but does not cite) a legend from Pretoria, South Africa, which is known as Jacaranda City: the time of year the tree blooms coincides with the year-end exams at the University of Pretoria. Should a flower from the Jacaranda tree drop on your head, you will pass all your exams. Nice. If your headed for a test: go find a Jacaranda!

A Gelateria in Los Feliz and Why It Sells Almdudler

"Local nuts and fruit." Gelato Bar in Los Feliz Every few weeks life - or rather the pain in my neck and the chiropractor who is trying to fix it - takes me to Los Feliz, a charming neighborhood on the southern flank of Griffith Park. Los Feliz has become trendy over the last couple of years. Different from so many other more corporate places in L.A. it has that small-town, artsy feel that comes with independently owned coffee shops, restaurants, and stores. One of my favorite hang-outs is the  Gelato Bar  on Hillhurst Avenue which not only offers delicious gelato  but also sells Almdudler,  an herb flavored soda and my favorite drink from Austria. (Long time readers of Across the Pond might remember that Almdudler is one of the things I carry in my suit case when I come back to L.A. from Europe.) The story of how the gelato came to the bar is posted online. Gail Silverton, the gelateria's co-owner, discovered the Italian version of ice cream when she tried her f

The Many Tongues of Catholics in L.A.: Mass in 42 Languages

In L.A. there is a place of worship on every corner: Baptists, Jewish communities, Mormons, Muslims, Catholics, Episcopalians, Pentecostals, Jehovah's Witnesses compete for members, attention, and, of course, money. Not a week goes by in which we don't get mail from some more or less known congregation: the Hrock church's flyer assures me that I "don't need to be afraid"; the First Baptist Church Pasadena invites us to a community breakfast; the La Canada Presbyterian Church talks about learning what joy means. According to the Wikipedia entry on Los Angeles the city is home to the second largest population of Jews in the U.S. (with 621.000 Jews in the metropolitan area and 490.000 in L.A. proper), and the large number of immigrants from Asia make it the city with the greatest variety of Buddhists worldwide. My own cultural background is monoreligious and I find this diversity refreshing. Hardly surprising for an Austrian of my age, I was baptized Roman C