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The invitation was cryptic. A small piece of wood with a laser-burned message that read, “June 30, 2015. Please join us for tea and wishes overlooking the city. Sunrise, Griffith Park.”
The only other instructions directed recipients to meet at the Griffith Observatory parking lot at dawn and “follow the lights.”
So at 5 a.m. on Tuesday morning, a time when the freeways are largely empty and the sky is still the color of ink, I find myself at the Observatory parking lot with nearly three dozen other people, all responding to the same invitation.
On the north end of the parking lot, we find an arrangement of ceramic teacups each bearing an LED candle. Each guest is given a cup, along with a small map on vellum emblazoned with the profile of a griffin. A red line marks a path that zigs then zags up the flanks of Mt. Hollywood, past Dante’s view, before coming to rest on Mt. Bell, to the northeast.
Our destination is the Griffith Park Teahouse, a diminutive wood structure, loosely inspired by Japanese architecture, which did not exist until Monday night when it was surreptitiously installed by a loose collective of artists.
Tuesday morning’s mission was to inaugurate the pavilion — which offers breathtaking views of the Verdugos and the San Gabriels, not to mention the 5 Freeway — with an informal tea ceremony and a performance by an opera singer. Invited to the event were friends and acquaintances of the artists (who rarely get permission from official channels to do their work and prefer to remain anonymous). […]