Some days really remind you that we’ve got a great job. This was one. It didn’t hurt that we managed to skate down the Hollywood Freeway with minimal traffic mayhem, and cruise out to East LA more than half an hour ahead of schedule. That included a stop to see the Latino Muffler Man at Tony’s Transmissions. The guys at the shop wondered if we were location scouting for a movie, and were somewhat disappointed to hear otherwise, but no one chased us away.
Then we were off to Montebello, home to more restaurants advertising pastrami and tacos than any town we’ve ever seen. Actually, donuts, pastrami and tacos at one!
However, we passed up food in favor of getting to Elias Telles’ neat and tidy home on Spruce Street. Elias served in the Marine Corps (the hat above is the one he got in boot camp), and has worked ever since as a mason. Five years ago he began painting on scraps of wood and whatever he had around--mostly old baseball players from the Negro Leagues, and little known figures from the Civil War. He took them to a swap meet in Fairfax where movie biz types attend, and they started selling. “Being a mason, you get a pretty thick skin,” he says, explaining why he wasn’t worried about rejection. The joy of the work comes through in piece after piece, some of which he treats with his own special “coffee wash” to richen the colors.
And speaking of coffee, he and his brother Pasqual, along with his agent/dealer Tracey kept us in food and drink almost beyond our wildest dreams. What a deal...Humble, generous, talented--these all apply to our favorite member of the Corps since Sgt. Carter!
From Montebello, we hooked into a section of the great Mother Road itself, Route 66, that’s changed quite a bit in the last 50 years. But there in Rialto, the Wigwam Motel #7 still stands in all its teepee-riffic glory. New owner Manoj has done a remarkable job greening up the grounds and making the units all spic n’ span. With a few lessons from the Mike Murphy TV Weasel Acting School we had him pleading his case for Americans to pass up those motel chains, and sleep in a wigwam once again! He thought we might know Oprah, but had to let him down easy on that one...
Music in the van--”Hits” Joni Mitchell, “Legend” Bob Marley