Last night I went to the tenth Day of the Dead Cemetery. When I first went eight years ago there was no admission charge, very small crowds, no line to get in, alters in honor of the dead created by Mexican and Anglo artists; and purple lights lighting up the palm trees down the center road bathing the alters and graves in this awesome purple white light. Last night there was thousands upon thousands, a $10 admission charge, and lines which went halfway down the block to get in. In other words, a mob scene. Still, Day of the Dead is wonderful at Hollywood Forever Cemetery--the largest Day of the Dead celebration in Los Angeles. Each year the two main cultures of Los Angeles--the imagination of Hollywood and visually rich astounding Mexican culture--are meeting and blending. We walked in to see thousands also walking in wearing white skull face makeup, evening dresses, skull costumes, bridal gowns.
My friend Marlene and I, waiting in the line snaking around to buy a ticket, saw a man dressed up as Mexican caballero, a horseman, in chaps with white skull mask, black horseman hat, and holding a huge digital camera--a traditional caballero with a digital camera! We saw a couple, both dressed in black Victorian dress and white skull face makeup: the woman's dress was to her feet and she wore a goregous huge black hat while the man had a Victorian tuxedo. The skull-faced people posed seated next to the skull-faced man in the arche of this marble masoleum.
We saw a huge alter in honor of the women murdered in Juarex, Mexico, with crosses up for "unidentified." We saw an alter constructed by college women at Mt. St. Mary's with over 200 water bottles. One women explained that over 200 people have died this year trying to cross the desert to get into the United States. Most die in the desert from lack of water. The water bottles also honor those guardian angels in put water in the desert to help keep people alive. We saw a huge alter constructed around the town of Johnny Ramones on the Ramones band. We saw an alter for Ted Kennedy. We walked with hindreds of others through the masoleum where Rudolf Valentino was buried, and for years the mysterious woman would haunt his grave site.
We saw a group of Aztec dancers with soaring feather plume head dresses dance in a cricles to the beat of two drums. We heard the great voice of singer Lila Downs soaring through the evening night. My friends ate pupusas, the El Salvordean traditional dish of corn tortillas with cheese and meat inside, and we drank lemonade. In the late 1940s Mexican poet Octavio Paz said that the two cultures--Anglo and Mexican--hover in two sperate spheres in Los Angeles--never mixing, but sixty years later at Hollywood Forever Cemetery for a decade the two cultures were mixed it up, as Anglos painted the white skull make up on their faces and constructed alters for their loved ones, following a 800 year old Aztec cemetary. As Chicanos sported video, film, and digital photo cameras making films. Hollywood met Oxaca that night. A new Los Angeles is being born.
Causes Julia Stein Supports
Doctors Without Borders