Sunday, July 27, 2014

LA's Murals & Street Art

Lita Albuquerque Monument, artist: Kent Twitchell
One of the things that I have loved about coming back to LA is finally being able to see all of the murals that pepper the city's freeways. Many of the murals were put up for the 1984 Olympics including this one which was painted in 1983 as part of Kent Twitchell's 7th Street Altar Piece. The mural is of environmental artist Lita Alburqurque who is pretty bad ass in her own right. Public art is something LA has always done well and much like any city that has a booming pop culture, there is almost always resistance from the counter-culture.
Lita Alburqurque Monument with graffiti via
Artists: Haunted Euth & TFail (pic via
Underground art is also something LA has done well, unfortunately the two art scenes often clash when it comes to public space. Many of the Olympic murals were tagged and graffiti bombed in the 80s and 90s, almost completely destroying some of the Olympic murals like the Lita Alburqurque one above. Fortunately, the Mural Conservancy of LA has created a Board of Directors and an Advisory Board including strong figures from both worlds like graffiti artist, Street Phantom, and the artist of this mural here, Kent Twitchell. The non-profit has been restoring murals in the city of LA since 2012. This combined with LA's adopted no-tolerance graffiti laws (much like the one in New York City) have helped restore and maintain the beauty of these works which get plenty of viewing time (much more than they would in a museum) due to the very nature of LA traffic culture.

However, as I learned while researching this blog post and going further down the rabbit hole, the struggle between the two worlds still continues. (Although, I don't characterize "tagging" as art.)

A couple days after restoration of the Jim Morpheus Monument in 2011...

Jim Morpheus Monument, newly restored, newly graffiti bombed in 2011

Jim Morpheus Monument mural that looks opposite to Lita Alburqurque Monument on the 101 freeway
artist: Kent Twitchell

Monday, July 21, 2014

Global Eats Around the Valley & Beyond

Me, eating up the good life at Alimento in Silver Lake
I didn't intend for such a delightful weekend of global cuisine, but I'll take it!  One of the gifts that living in New York gave me and travel expanded upon was my appreciation for my very diverse palate. Going out to east is pretty much my favorite thing in the world, so why not share the love here and give you a few gems from LA.

Mo & Scott at Gyu-Kaku in the Valley
On Friday, I went to dinner in the valley at Gyu-Kaku with some of my oldest friends and their little four year old firecracker of a daughter where we enjoyed some Japanese BBQ. The trick to this little valley hot spot is someone has to be the designated cook (the table is the grill) and that someone has to pay attention to the clock. Thankfully, the gentleman of our crew assumed that role, and we all enjoyed some perfectly cooked Harami Miso and Spicy Pork topped off with some S'mores deliciousness.

Saturday was an awesome day of Silver Lake exploration. Tara and I met up for what we thought would be a beach day, but with the overcast clouds, we opted for the other side of Los Angeles and cruised along Silver Lake. We started with almond milk lattes at LA Mill where I proceeded to get all emotional in talking about this transition out here. Emotions which carried on to happy hour at El Condor where the waitress there was super awesome and suggested we try one of the best tequila reposados I have ever had.  Unfortunately, I can't remember the name. But, no matter. This is definitely a happy hour spot I will be returning, too. After some real talk and tough love, I shook the blues and we took our time getting to our dinner reservation at new Italian joint, Alimento. We were kind of full from the appetizer and drinks at El Condor, so we split three small dishes and opted for the chicken liver crostini, the lamb belly with chickpea pancake and the chopped salad. The chicken liver blew my mind. I will be back there, just for that. (I mean, not ONLY that, but truly, that liver was amazing.)

EL Condor Happy Hour
Sunday, I was headed to the zoo in the morning and I definitely needed my daily caffeine fix so I skipped the long lines at the very deservedly popular Aroma Coffee & Tea on Tujunga and went with the Gelato Bar & Espresso Caffe a couple doors down where they brew a delicious roast and make a mean cappuccino. After checking out some lions, flamingos and chimpanzees I ate a light lunch of fruit to save my appetite for drinks and dinner with friends passing through town on their cross-country trip. We tried some home-brewed lagers at BJ's Brewhouse and then headed to the Himalayan Cafe for Tibet-Nepalese food which brought back so many wonderful memories. Yak Momos, Thukpa, Lamb Vindaloo, paratha, Thalis! It's amazing how quickly traveling feels like it slips through your fingers, but having all of this Tibetan and Nepalese and Indian food brought a smile to my face and a deep sense of appreciation. If I can relive the trip through my tastebuds I am one very lucky girl.  

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How To Take A Hint

When the blog post you were on the fence about ends up accidentally permanently deleting itself just before publishing it, that's the universe telling you, "Not this one." I'll give you the gist of it which was that I found myself surprised by an answer to one of those stupid quizzes that we all take - you know the ones that tell you what 1940's movie actress you are or what your 90's theme song is. A couple weeks after getting home from our 'round the world trip, having finished in New Zealand, one of those quizzes told me New Zealand is the country I should be living. The lesson here is take them all with a grain of salt. But, when I filled in the answers to the quiz, "What city should you be living in?" I felt like I was circling answers that reminded me of New York, like, "yes, I thrive in chaos."

To my surprise, the answer came back "Los Angeles." Then I went on to talk about how actually, yes, the chaos has always been in Los Angeles and how New York City was a reinvention and since coming home, everything is confrontation - old friends, old memories, old ghosts. I think I have probably written about it too much at this point. My husband did give me a "red card" for missing New York and I know it is not becoming to mope about on the internet about the place I miss when life here is pretty easy and pretty wonderful. The weather is better, the living spaces are bigger and in one day I can choose to snowboard in the morning and have happy hour on the beach (and yes, I have done this before!)My family is here and I am playing catch up and hanging out with my godsons and getting to know two of my oldest friends' amazing little girl. I am getting to know my mother and getting to help my brother bounce ideas as he plans for his wedding. I know that I am a very lucky girl. I have no reason to be unhappy, especially after doing what we have done. But in the words of Obama, change is messy, and right now, I'm just in the thick of it. So, I hope you will forgive me for talking about this transitional stuff so much! The post I wrote that got deleted also talked about a conversation I heard about the direct correlation between having no boundaries and having no fun. And I had a lot to say about it, but right now, I'm just tired. My eyes are practically closing, so I think I will take the hint and go to bed. Maybe tomorrow I'll write a more flowery post called "Finding Home" and talk about all that stuff, but for now, I am very grateful to be headed to a cozy bed. Goodnight.