Islands Without Cars

Our first episode of SEASON 2 of Islands Without Cars (the PBS travel series that I host) is halfway through its edit!!!!! Got to watch a rough cut this morning and it's a beautiful and delightful romp through the carless Swedish islands that I loved so dearly: Vrango, Marstrand, and Styrso. 

A couple screengrabs of my personal favorite hosting moment: THE FISH 'N' CHIPS STAND on Marstrand.

 NoBODY and noTHING comes between me, fries, fish, and remoulade

NoBODY and noTHING comes between me, fries, fish, and remoulade


Pouty Music Video

A couple months ago, in a raucous heat wave, I was the lucky sweaty duck to do cinematography and editing for Pouty's first music video, for the single Sad.

Pouty is Rachel Gagliardi of Slutever and Upset. It's really great garage grrl rock and perfect for playing loud and feeling like a badass woman who also happens to disobey her parents a lot. 

Cultist Zine and Stereogum premiered the music video today, which was so exciting! It was my first time being DP on a project (I shot it on my Digital Bolex, which is a newbie's dream) and my first time editing, too! 

 Photo by Emily Alben

Photo by Emily Alben

I hope you like it. It's a swansong to LA and all the sad girls that roam inside it. Director Emily Alben said this: 

“Not happy, but at least all sad together” was how I offhandedly ended the treatment I wrote for Rachel when pitching her my idea for ‘Sad’...With this video, I wanted to flush out those tangential cinematic narratives as characters who became the LA sad girl archetypes. The idea of place, and the space each of these characters would inhabit was equally important, and I drew from my own map of Los Angeles memories like Echo Park lake and a pink floored Vintage Store, to more iconic spots like Barnsdall Art Park, with its view of the Griffith Observatory and Hollywood Sign, and Moonlight Rollerway’s alluring neon rainbow entryway. 

I think as women in LA we’re all seeking an illusive something, but its impossible not to get caught up in the day to day. Rachel’s cult girl character and her awakening that the other girls see manifested in the crying eyes bring them together, and in a way making this video did the very same thing."

 The Sad Girls all lined up for me once we wrapped at the Ice Cream Truck Depot. Shot on 35mm. 

The Sad Girls all lined up for me once we wrapped at the Ice Cream Truck Depot. Shot on 35mm. 

 Ice cream trucks all lined up, waiting to delight children up and down the Los Angeles hills. Shot on 35mm. 

Ice cream trucks all lined up, waiting to delight children up and down the Los Angeles hills. Shot on 35mm. 

Check out more Pouty music from Rachel at www.brattyrecords.com

YE OLDE GIFTE GUIDE

HULLO!

It's December 3rd and I've read approximately 143 Holiday Gift Guides already but maybe you aren't on the same kind of internet that I'm on (I'm always FASCINATED when my husband tells me of major news/happenings/events/love-ins/elections/etc. that didn't even cross my internet radar ONCE that day, and vice-versa. Livin' on different e-planes, yo!), or maybe you haven't found the RIGHT gift guide yet.

I'm here for you.

 wee me, waving to gifts off-screen

wee me, waving to gifts off-screen

Here's some majorly cool shiiiii I've come across on the internet recently, stuff to get your best friend, boyfriend, mother, or me, for example (my birthday is on Christmas. KIRAMAS IS TRULY UPON US!!!!!!!!!!!!) ! 

1. A ROSEMARY BUSH OF ONE'S OWN


2. GORGEOUS FANCY LIPSTICK IN AN OUTRAGEOUSLY BEAUTIFUL COLO(U)R

3. BOOB PILLOWS OF DREAMS LITERALLY

4. GODDAMN BEAUTIFUL KITCHEN ITEM

5. THE HAT I'M GETTING MY DAD AND I'M NOT WORRIED ABOUT HIM SEEING THIS BECAUSE HE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND HOW TO OPEN ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET OTHER THAN HIS EMAIL AND EVEN THAT "DOESN'T WORK" SOME DAYS

6. LITERALLY THE MOST COMFORTABLE AND BEAUTIFUL UNDERWEAR I'VE EVER WORN AND I'M MAD I ONLY HAVE TWO PAIRS AND THEY'RE HANDMADE IN LATVIA TOO

7. RAD AS HELL HANGING FACE PLANT POT

8. MUSHROOM PEOPLE BACKPACK

9. A DONATION TO PLANNED PARENTHOOD IN SOMEONE ELSE'S NAME BECAUSE THEY NEED AND WE NEED IT AND AMERICA NEEDS IT AND THE FACT THAT ITS FUTURE IS ENDANGERED IS UTTERLY INANE

10. A JON HUCK WATERCOLOR PAINTING

11. MY FRIENDS SOFIYA & COURTNEY MADE AN ETSY STORE COMPRISED OF GOODS FAKE QUOTING DEAD AUTHORS

12. SUBSCRIPTION TO LIFE & THYME MAGAZINE, A TRULY STELLAR JOURNAL OF CULINARY STORYTELLING

13. SERIOUSLY GORGEOUS SOCKS IN UNBELIEVABLY BEAUTIFUL PAINTERLY PRINTS I HAD A PAIR ONCE AND LOST ONE OF THEM AND I'M STILL DEVASTATED ABOUT IT ITS THE ONLY SOCK I'VE EVER HAD REAL FEELINGS FOR

14. CODE UNKNOWN BY MICHAEL HANEKE, ONE OF THE MOST COMPELLING FILMS I'VE WATCHED IN YEARS AND I BELIEVE ESSENTIAL VIEWING FOR EVERY HUMAN

And that's it!

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS PLUS TWO, 12 PLUS TWO BULLET POINTS OF GIFTS. MERRILY MERRILY MERRILY MERRILY, LIFE IS BUT A SENSELESSLY NUMBERED LIST! 

Phew, thanks to this list I can finally X out of SOME of these 29 open tabs.

Have Trumpet, Will Excite!

On happy accidents: today I learned that at a raucous party at Snookie's in New York in 1956, someone stepped on Dizzy's trumpet and bent it. He so liked the way it sounded that he had trumpets commissioned with an upturned horn from then on, lending the DIZ his trademark trumpet look and style. 

H A P P Y A C C I D E N T S : pay attention to 'em, keep 'em when they work, and even sometimes if they don't. 

FOREST LAWN

I had to drop something off in Glendale early this morning, and my drive took me right past Forest Lawn Cemetery, a place I've been meaning to visit for years. It houses the largest religious painting in the world, which was of course closed during the exact hour I visited today, so I'll have to report back on that (my guess is that it will not succeed in converting me to Christianity but beyond that, I can't anticipate its effect). 

I drove up, and up, and up, and up. Forest Lawn is positively MASSIVE - long lone stretches of asphalt guide you up into the heavens (these are perhaps housing the laziest dead in Los Angeles, like asking for a lift to the end of the block). Beautiful fountains and white marble sculptures adorn every new mesa. I parked on the side of one road and climbed and climbed and climbed, reading all the placards to all the Loved Ones

Six Feet Under was shot in Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, but I liked to imagine Nate jogging through here, anyway. 

Heading back down from the crushing disappointment of non-access to a massive religious painting, I was playing some weirdo instrumental ambient music when I saw a tiny Asian octogenarian sitting on the side of the road, flanked by tombstones. She waved at me and as I got closer, she got up, walking into the middle of the road. 

"Hello! Lady! I can have a ride?"

My gut-instinct, beside her age, diminutive stature, killer patterned top, visor, and general kind demeanor, was an undercurrent of fear. The most relevant lesson I could bring to the surface is not to get into the car with strangers driving. I had no rubric on the safety of being a geriatric's requested ride. 

"Lady! Hello! You can give me a ride to the gate?"

"Oh! Of course!" I chirped. "I looked over at my car-seat with worry. I haven't washed my car in several months (THERE'S A DROUGHT!). "I have a lot of dog hair, though! Is that okay?"

"DOGS??" she cried, worried. She looked in the backseat, not seeing any dogs. 

"Dog hair."

"DOGS?!!!!!!!" she yelled again. 

I pulled at my hair, pointing at it. "Dog HAIR!"

"Okay!" she said, and waddled around to get in the passenger side. I quickly flipped to the classical station. Resting her feet upon the mound of passenger-area detritus, she smiled at me. "Thank you! I took taxi! I got in a car accident yesterday so I have no car! I can't walk to the gate it's too far!"

Right, right, of course there's a reason! Ha ha. This lady isn't a murderer. She's not a crazed murderer here to visit her dead husband and then kill someone in grief right afterward, just an old lady without a vehicle. Still, I eyed her purse, nervously. She reached into it, and my nerves tensed. Instead of removing a gun, she held out two lemons, triumphantly. 

"FOR YOU! My husband study agricultural economics. He plant all the fruit trees in our garden. I love it! You have these lemons. Thank you." She placed them on my dashboard, where they continued to roll around and she would place them back, and they'd roll again, yellow orbs signaling my lack of skilled driving. 

"I don't drive that still. You can put them here!" I showed her. We were approaching the gate, now. I asked her name, then I repeated it back to her. She smiled in a way that said how wrong I had pronounced it, but she did not correct me, for she does not have enough time left, lifespan wise, to go around correcting pronunciations. She did not ask me for my name. Also, I presume, because of a lack of time. 

"You drive me to Glendale Galleria? I have to do some shopping." 

"Oh...uh." I looked at the clock. I knew it wasn't far but I had to meet someone in 10 minutes. I don't know the area that well - "Is it close?" I asked. 

"Yes! I show you." 

"Sure!" I thought, and said. Yes. How often does an old Korean woman ask me for a ride? I kept asking her questions, but she kept saying "English not good. Sorry!" So we rode along in silence for awhile, Vivaldi stringing our moments together. Every time she needed me to turn, she'd cry it out almost frantically, while rapping me on my wrist gently. I squeezed my eyes shut and imagined myself as her tiny Korean granddaughter, and boy, was I ever good at piano. 

We arrived at Target, and I pulled up to let her out. She reached into her purse again, and again, no weapon. This time, a persimmon! 

"You pretty. And you a nice lady! Eat this! It's sooooo goooood. It's a persimmon. Just eat it. It's GOOD."

"Okay!" I complied, bewildered and cheerful at my good fruit fortune. 

We said goodbye, but not without me miming that I needed to take a picture of her. Here is my new friend:



TALIESIN WEST

 See that door? Signature FLW color: Cherokee red. He painted everything that color - his cars, all his doors, his walls. 

See that door? Signature FLW color: Cherokee red. He painted everything that color - his cars, all his doors, his walls. 

While in Phoenix for a wedding last weekend, we spent our last morning on a tour of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, his architectural residency compound on the outskirts of Scottsdale. What began as an experiment in live-work educational internships led to being an accredited architectural school for a small number of elite design students from around the world. 

Before the Great Depression, Wright was having extreme success as a young architect in Chicago, but his extramarital affair with his first wife went public and it all but (temporarily) ruined his reputation in that town. He and his new wife escaped to Phoenix, where they built an entire campus out of nothing, with hardly any money whatsoever, just using the fatta' the land and bartering local cement dealers for materials. 

 The movie theater Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built

The movie theater Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built

One of my favorite tidbits from the tour is that it was Frank Lloyd Wright's staunch belief to never build atop a mountain or a crest of a hill - there is no humility in conquering a piece of nature, but rather one should build into the side of it. That is why he named this campus "Taliesin," which means "Shining Brow" in Welsh. He built upon the brow, just under the crown of the head, and in this way he exemplified his entire design ethos: to seamlessly flow into what was there before, and to use elements and materials that honor the environs rather than counteract them. 

I highly recommend a visit to this wonderful corner of our world. Frank Lloyd Wright is of course a famous architect but so much more - it was at Taliesin West that he invented recessed lighting (used in every movie theater around the world today), inclined seating for movie theaters so that everyone would be able to see the screen, and so on, and so on. He slept 3 hours a night and would often be up playing the piano in his own bedroom at 4 in the morning while he brainstormed for the day (he and his wife stayed in separate bedrooms because he barely slept and she needed, you know, a piano to not be playing at 4 in the morning). 

 Somebody's dad taking a photo on the edge of the Taliesin property

Somebody's dad taking a photo on the edge of the Taliesin property

Phoenix in a Jiffy

Tyler & I jumped over to Phoenix for a weekend to see my dear friend Ashley wed her wuvs.

We stayed at the Saguaro, which was a colorful, clean, bright delightful! We were put up there 2 years ago when SMOCA (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art) flew me out to tell a story at the Lit Lounge storytelling series but it was the briefest of stays. This time, we got to use the pool! 

 swell room view

swell room view

I got there a day before Tyler, so I had some nice time to ruminate on and drive amongst my ghosts. I went to college in Phoenix, and I was eager to go back and feel things alone in the city for a bit.

My first stop was breakfast at the place I used to work at in college, and it was utterly surreal to see the perky "Line Breakers" advising what to order and directing people in the crowded chaos of the store/restaurant/pizzeria/wine shop/cafe. I used to be one of those girls, up since 5:30am, perky by nature yet also by force of the culture of this place, overly enthusiastic about the oatmeal or the omelette, calling out names for orders, trying not to show my insane muscle fatigue from moving and lifting and carrying and shoving and running and cleaning for 6 hours straight.

For lunch, I went for tacos at Taco Guild, which serves up rather stellar tacos in an old church. Blue-cheese and cherry-marinated steak with fried coconut? YESSIREEBOB.

Then I took myself to the Desert Botanical Garden, where I spent several (sober) hours amongst the hundreds of species of cacti. I learned some neato stuff about nature (stuff I usually ignore), but best of all met a middle-aged woman who was positively shaky with excitement while she set up her tripod to photograph an owl she had spotted that morning at 10am, hoo (haha) she had been hopefully stalking all day and finally found again (she had been in the garden for 6 hours at this point). Her husband stood next to her, pretending to be beleaguered by the endeavor, but I could tell he loved it (he was wearing a fisherman's cap, she was flaunting shoulder-length cactus earrings and more cargo pockets than letters in the Cyrillic alphabet). 

 Look at that face!!!!

Look at that face!!!!

Later, I read what I wrote for Ashley and Nathan during the wedding ceremony, crying and shaking throughout because I am overly-emotional dope, and then we danced in merriment on a sugar-high from some seriously stellar stellar lavender cake. Tyler looked so cute underneath a pink-purple twilight:

After the wedding, we had plenty of steam left so we headed to the Bikini Lounge to drink a stiff cocktail for $3 each (insane) and dance along to some late 50s vinyls along with the fellow Tiki-Phoenicians, whose rockabillly-vintage style has not much changed since I lived there. Then I took Tyler to the Welcome Diner a perfect 1940s, 9-stool Valentine Diner (packaged diners made in the 40s to render the American Dream of being a business-owners to anyone with the desire!), boasting a twinkly-lit patio. We ordered shredded pork and jicama coleslaw atop french fries and it was JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED (I go to a super different kind of doctor than u guys)!!

 hullo from the Bikini Lounge

hullo from the Bikini Lounge

Last but not least, we got some Tammie Coe cookies before I left, which is forever my bar of the best baked goods I've ever eaten/devoured/missed/dreamed about.

What She Knew

“People did not know what she knew, that she was not really a woman but a man, often a fat man, but more often, probably, an old man. The fact that she was an old man made it hard for her to be a young woman. It was hard for her to talk to a young man, for instance, though the young man was clearly interested in her. She had to ask herself, Why is this young man flirting with this old man?”

I read this Lydia Davis piece a few years ago and it resonated with me like a drumstick to the massive timpani of my innards and then the Paris Review posted it on their Instagram today (which I highly sugest following, as every day is a beautiful short jaunt down a new author's brain) and it needed to be up here, immediately, as one of my first posts. Lydia Davis's writing is up there with Miranda July, Jenny Offill, Margaret Atwood, and Lorrie Moore, as those that write like home, there's no other way to put it. Wherever afield I go, author-wise, these women write the way I believe the world to look and feel, and so what better way to begin this blog with words that feel like home, to me.

I suppose because I was raised an only child and spent MUCH of my formative years with my elderly paternal grandparents (I would forego sleepover invitations to spend the weekend with them, my best pals a little girl could ever have), I identified so much with them and their elderly Jewish friends. I had the same tastes, same sense of humor (as one only can when raised on weekends of Seinfeld, Columbo, Cosby, and Jeopardy), I only wore my grandmother's 1940s/50s clothing when I spent the weekends there, I ate what old people ate, I was taught what old people thought about the world. So now, when I look out, I do, genuinely see it from an old man's eyes. Not the curmudgeonly old man that most my age think of when "old man" is referenced, but an inordinate collection of old-tymey thoughts and feelings and ways of moving through the world (delightfully, kiddishly, without a care for being "sexy" or "hip" but merely, rather foolishly one's own. Old men don't have to impress, anymore. It's an attitude of foregone conclusions, of just simply being in the moment, and adorably so. 

Like this guy, by one of my favorite photographers, Piero Percoco of Italy. 

PLEASE LOOK AT HIS WORK: http://www.pieropercoco.com