This past weekend I got to continue with my discovery journey of Los Angeles. For the past ten months, I have been trying to acclimate to the new city in which I find myself. After all, Los Angeles is the 17th city in which I live. Thus, I have been trying to get to know this new city-the City of Angels–so that I can fall in love with it quickly. Hopefully, I will then stay a few more years in one place. Let’s see what happens.
As someone who loves superstition, folklore, and things that go bump in the night, I have been fascinated with the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). I can’t say I’ve always been fascinated with this day, because as a Puerto Rican child in the South Bronx, we just straight up celebrated Halloween. And the day of the dead is different from Halloween. I cane to be aware of this day of the dead through television shows. I recall a more recent episode on the show called Grimm got me thinking more about this day. And when my mother died it took on a new meaning. I have never had the opportunity to actually observe such a day. Then I moved to Los Angeles where the Dia de los Muertos is a huge observation and celebration.
Ever since I arrived in LA, I have wanted to go to that well known cemetery to the stars. It’s called Hollywood Forever. I, however, first made my way to the numerous beaches in the area, plus awesome restaurants. Now, it all converged in one weekend like a perfect storm. There was a huge Dia de los Muertos festivity at the Hollywood Forever cemetery a week before what would have been my mother’s birthday. I was meant to be there.
In general, I find cemeteries to be beautiful. There was a cemetery on the campus of my boarding school that I would often cut through. I’ve watched too many Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes (well, all of them more than three times each) to not come prepared with pepper spray as I walk through a cemetery.
What was cool about this festivity, is that it re-purposed the space that is about mourning the dead and our acknowledgement of death into a space to aid in the transition. Throughout the cemetery, altar upon altar was set up honoring specific dead individuals with visuals of what their lives were like. It was an interesting transmogrification, of sorts. Solid, unmovable crypts in the mausoleum blended into pieces of art and altars that moved you.
I must say that despite the huge number of tourists, it was still a spiritually moving experience. Of course, this being Los Angeles, the celebrities interred there were to be found. An interesting altar for the Ramones was grand and perhaps not very punk. Again, transforming the 7’0s punk rock image into a Mexican, Californian, date with destiny.
I am not too sure what my mother would have thought of all this, but I did carry her with me in my mind.