Sunday, January 30, 2011

Silver Lake telephone poles—up close

Today's wandering brought me to West Sunset Boulevard and the Silver Lake section of LA where there is a concentration of vegan restaurants, funky shops, signs of an earlier hippie culture still alive and well, and lots of telephone poles plastered with fliers announcing local events.

As part of my "aesthetics of decay" imagery I like to take close ups of objects to see them in a new way. Zeroing in on these telephone poles without seeing the borders of where the pole ends or begins, we get to focus on the composition of found images as they melt and merge under the elements of sun and rain and random ripping removal to make space for more of the same.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bountiful Beauty on Abbot Kinney Boulevard

Originally from Bountiful, Utah, interior designer Sue Balmforth came decades ago to Venice, California where she moved into a large artist's loft on Abbot Kinney Boulevard. Having begun her acquisition of the "beautiful" from the age of 13, she now had the space to grow. And grow she did until her studio-turned-shop began to burst with an astounding, no BOUNTIFUL collection of antiques—some flawless, but most filled with the charm of what I call "the aesthetics of decay."

Tables and chairs with patinas of chipped paint—very much in the spirit of "shabby chic." Crystal chandeliers decked out in white Christmas ornaments or bouquets of flowers. And glass cake platters with bell jar tops—thousands of them in a wide variety of colors and shapes, stacked one on top of the other— crowd her shop, aptly named "Bountiful."

She has decorated the homes of the rich and famous. I'm including a couple of shots I downloaded directly from her website:

Pamela Anderson's home

and Whoopi Goldberg's home.

The rest of the shots in this article are my own as I tried in two dimensions to capture the sensation of weaving my way around cake plates, bowls of seashells sold by the shovel full, and ducked underneath chairs and lights hanging from the ceilings.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

OMG! I want to live in both Venices! California and Italy

Just like this stunned gargoyle that sits atop a gate post to keep out too curious folk, you will be stunned stupid when gazing on this canal community. Once home of major hippies, Jim Morrison of the Doors, and a wide variety of artists and musicians, this neighborhood has become so upscale that many of the less renown ones have had to move out.

I never questioned how the name of Venice, California came into being, but as it happens a very rich and influential Abbot Kinney wanted to make a city of canals much like Venice, Italy.
This was the turn of the century—1904—and by July 4, 1905, the city of Venice was officially open.
As horse and buggy were soon replaced by horseless carriages, the canals got filled in and when the town ran out of money for that and stopped, there remained a small network of canals and road alleyways that make up the Venice Canals of Venice, California. I've been to LA numerous times, but never knew about these hidden treasures until my son and I were out exploring and he wanted to find the "canals" that he had seen in a recent movie, Valentine's Day. Here are some scenes from our walk along the canals and over the bridges. These pictures do no justice to the charm, the lush colors, the architectural variety, and the cozy, friendly vibe of this long-cultivated community of artists. I recommend that you put your cursor over the images and click to enlarge them so you can begin to see some of the details of this unique neighborhood.

This needs to be appreciated in person. It's a water wall. Water spills down the undulating glass tile surfaces which gleam in the bright California sunshine.
Every window in this house is an original leaded glass design. Some clear, some with elaborate designs and colors.

Friday, January 14, 2011

We've got white peaks, too . . .

Not the kind my friends in Boston are experiencing, the white peaks I saw late this afternoon in South Pasadena were the peaks of tents under which I found a wide variety of fruits, vegetables and a huge assortment of tastes from many different cultures.

I had intended to take a disciplined walk around the Rose Bowl (3.3 miles) but when I arrived there some letters that were supposed to be mailed yesterday fell out of my car's visor and since it was 4:15 p.m. I figured I'd just find a mail box with a 5 p.m. pick up and go back to the Rose Bowl for my walk, but that's obviously not what happened. Here in LA mail boxes are sparse. I drove at least five miles before I found one and by then I was in South Pasadena on Mission St. Finding a parking space was another matter but I persisted. After finding the mailbox and making my way back to the car I noticed signs announcing a Farmer's Market 4-8 p.m. I followed the crowds heading there and found myself on a closed off street where at least fifty tents were pitched with lots of vendors.

Bolani vendor with lots of free samples

I got some exotic greens, sampled lots of great, mostly organic foods, Afghan bolani breads and sauces, and even some amazing ice cream. I couldn't resist the taste of Carmela's Mint Cacao Nib flavor so I bought myself a tiny helping of that which left a pleasant aftertaste on the tongue of fresh cream. Hmm. Where'd my fitness routine go today? I'll pick it up tomorrow.

James invited me to taste multiple ice cream flavors

The Metro stops right at the edge of this farmer's market that takes place all year around on Thursday afternoons. You can tell by the huge numbers of families and little kids that it's a favorite outing and many booths cater to the kids.

A great statue appears to be running for the Metro

A medley of three kinds of potatoes and (below) in another tent a huge medley of mushrooms

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Saturday in Santa Monica . . .

You won't see scenes of the ocean on this blog entry though that's the first thing one thinks of when hearing the name Santa Monica.

Today, I'm starting out with ice skating! and then moving on to some scenes around the lively Third Street Promenade that ends in an airy out door mall that just opened a few months ago.

Kittens ready for adoption

The food court is on the highest level. Looking out over its glass railing you can see the Ferris wheel on Santa Monica Pier and, yes, the ocean! From another spot on the top tier of the mall you can look down the entire length of the Promenade and see the mountains which didn't quite make it into my shot. Maybe if you click on it to make it larger, you might just see a faint mountain range. Winter in LA finds people in flip flops and heavy duty quilted down coats. The cool temperatures invite as many layers as you'd like. One of the motivators to bring me to Santa Monica today was a craving for blintzes and I knew of one huge deli at the end of the Promenade but when I got there, it was closed! That's when I kept walking and discovered Santa Monica Place.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Fearless or Foolish?

In our risk averse lifestyles we look at each other silently assessing. Some risk in business. Some risk in relationships. Some risk by staying locked in to "secure" jobs to avoid the risks that others see as opportunities. It's all very subjective and each of us has his/her own risk threshold. When I was out walking at Eaton Canyon right after our deluge, I saw this dad—two babes in arms—balancing his way across the rapids. I was astounded at what to me was a terrible risk. I could see the toddler heads already smashed pumpkins against the rocks when his foot could so easily slip, or so I thought as I held my breath until he made it to the other side. In my opinion, it was irresponsible foolishness to try such a feat. To him it was whatever it was, not scary. And so we take our steps day after day, never quite knowing if we are being fearless or foolish. And those are words spoken in silence by those who watch. The challenge: is to name the risk, define it—and only each one of us can do that. No one can do it for us. And then, just take the next step!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Simple lines, so sublime . . .

The sun is finally back in the phrase "sunny California."

Out walking today around the Rose Bowl I saw the simple, sensual lines of this tree that stopped me in my tracks. Like the crease of flesh at the elbow, behind the knee, between the legs, this form had all the sculptural and sensual completeness of a human form with roots.

Other lines of these simple, painted planks of wood that closed off all the streets around the parade grounds in Pasadena are lying inert waiting to be retrieved and stored for the next parade.

Last night at John Lithgow's opening performance of "Stories by Heart" at the Mark Taper Forum I was reminded of how we never outgrow our hunger for stories. This is what the stage looked like before he entered to take us on a trip into the magic of the stories that played a major part in his life. Stories he knows by heart. Being in LA, the center of a storytelling culture, reminded me, too, of how we are all storytellers even if we don't realize it.

Some scenes outside the Taber.