Echo Park guy Gustavo Santaolalla thanked "The Academy" for his second Oscar last night. The latest honor came for his score of Babel. The first was for Brokeback Mountain. Perhaps a Valentine Street address turned out to be lucky for the Argentinian composer who also scored "Amor Es Perros" and "21 Grams," two among many other musical achievements.
Above Dodger Stadium and Bishop Canyon, Elysian Fields has deep, wide view of Los Angeles in all directions. It's on the eastern side Elysian Park -- though not, in the Badlands -- it's one of the most used portions of the park, at least on weekends. I have been up there during the week with my daughter, and it was quite lonely.
But this weekend, Saturday, we were back, for the first birthday party of Milo, a friend of ours. A beautiful place and beautiful way to celebrate a birthday. Milo's mom, Fezzia, is French, and his dad, John Paul, British. Their guests spoke at least three languages -- French, English and maybe Arabic -- while a friend played guitar and sang cowboy songs. With the rolling hills and the flats of the county spread out beyond the ridges in front of us, we sang "Don't Fence Me In," "Cool Water" and a number of other songs. Some of the celebrants kicked around a "Lakers" (purple and yellow) soccer ball, while in the greater field around us several small groups of mixed ages kicked around black-and-white soccer balls. The baseball fields were full with league players.
When my daughter and I left, we crossed through a crowded parking lot. At one space, there was a black pickup with its gate down -- a tailgate party. Cases of beer on the gate, a cholo-looking crowd, one young guy in a wheelchair. On the boombox "Brown Eyed Girl" played loudly and softly at the same time -- without the euphoria and opera of Van Morrison. It sounded a bit like Los Lobos -- or a group who sounded like them -- and their "Brown Eyed Girl" was a wistful event, born of a different world. It came off easy. California style.