LA Eyes / by Kenneth Dixon

May 17th, '17 6:54am

I'm stroking my mustache and fingering through the rigid hairs of my beard staring out of a plane window headed to LA. I'd rather be sleeping but I've already tried sleeping and we're 30mins into the ride. So I guess I'll be intentional. I'll only be in California for 2 nights, and 3 days. Day one in LA, day two in Santa Barbara, and day three...well I'm not quite sure but I'm grateful to have a late flight out so I’ll have time to be out and about on my last day. First times are usually a good thing so I'm elated to see what Santa Barbara has to offer since I’ve already been to LA once before.

May 20th, '17 7:47pm

Once again I'm ironically writing to you from a plane. This time I'm headed to Chicago. There's so much to tell and I'm not quite sure where to start. I suppose to not completely jump off ship, I'll briefly touch on Santa Barbara and LA. 

Much of what I did feels like a blur in hindsight, but amid my going and coming while out there, I tried to remain present in each moment. The city is small, compact and intimate. By intimate i mean everyone seems to know everyone or is connected in some sort of way. It kind of reminds me of my high school. Your business never really seemed to be your own because if one person knew something, it was likely that information was known by others. But it didn't seem to offer me too much in a day. I figured I'd need more time to get acquainted with the city. What I will compliment and speak highly on is my time wine tasting at Deep Sea Winery on the boardwalk and eating fresh ice cream at Mission Street. Since my first wine tasting last year, in Florence Italy, I had been adamant about trying different wines and finding something other than sweet red dessert wines as a favorite. People for whatever reason now assume I'm a big wino and I'm versed in different grapes but I'm really not. I'm not hip to all of the names and how the grapes are fermented or anything, I just really enjoy wine as a social activity, and sometimes alone in the comfort of my home. If you are big into logistics of wine making and how bitter or sweet they are, I'll name drop but this is only for you. Deep Sea's wine tasting set off in the back corner of the boardwalk and offered a bunch of their own hand-crafted wines. I tried three white wines and two reds: Chardonnay, the Nautilus, Pinot Noir, Rolo's Red Central Cuvée, and the Octopus Merlot, all of which were somewhat bitter and carried a slight hint of fruit or vanilla taste to it. I'd literally recommend trying them all. What topped sipping wine overlooking the beaches and ocean was the salted caramel banana ice cream I devoured at Mission Street Ice Cream. I had only ordered one scoop and now I'm regretting my modest serving. It would have been nice to also share a visual of that like I did for the wine but it was gone before I'd even think of taking a photo it. 

The day before, I had experienced the Huntington Library, art collection and Botanical Gardens for the first time. (Yes they were all inclusive). The Huntington is a pretty popular place in LA and has been the set location of many shows and movies including some of the scenes in Memoirs of a Geisha. After perusing through multiple gardens that were created to depict natural habitats across the world, I realized plants are cool and unique in their own way but I guess looking at various gardens and floral displays outside of their indigenous location sort of diluted the entire ordeal. What did catch my attention more than the beautiful Japanese Garden, Bonsai trees and Koi fish swimming in a pond, was a small exhibition on Octavia Butler. She was an award-winning African American author who is known especially for her science fiction novels. Throughout her display were notes she had hand written herself, catch phrases, and writing techniques spread across the room. “No Entertainment On Earth Can Match A Good Story Compellingly Told.” “Tell stories Filled with Facts. Make People Touch and Taste and KNOW. Make People FEEL! FEEL! FEEL!” Her words were so inspiring. I felt ashamed that I was in a room dedicated to her and I hadn’t even heard of her. I’d later do some research on Butler and buy one of her books, one of which I’m currently reading called "Blood Child.”

After skimming through several of them in hopes of finding one that would catch my eye, I recalled seeing these words in one of the sentences, “negroes weren’t supposed to write.” That had hit home, and I felt something trigger in my soul. She was a fiction writer and realist shedding light on controversial topics like race, gender, and class. That alone was genius in my mind. Nonetheless, she was right. To some people, we weren’t supposed to write, or read, or even live. I was blessed to even have a platform and a gift where I could express myself and share stories to entertain and inspire my peers, and you if you’re reading this. 

I’m a few days behind on posting so I’m trying to catch up now that I’m finally home. Some days I rather just be present than document everything. There just needs to be a sense of balance, an equilibrium between living and creating.