Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My neighborhood in the NY Times: Little house on the freeway

It's not everyday that the New York Times posts a  photo of my neighborhood. Above is the Glendale Blvd. bridge over the lovely 5 freeway, literally down the block from my house--though it must have been some months back as there hasn't been that much green grass in some time.  The photo accompanies a story on the very small house movement.  Yes the trend is downsizing your living space to as small as 80 feet; I can understand the appeal after dealing with a 2000 square foot house and yard on my own.  I'd have to really edit out a lot of stuff to even slim back down to an apartment sized space much less a cozy little mini-cottage. However, I would put my little house somewhere a tad more scenic.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Entourage: An "Entourage" fan salute

I'm a big fan of HBO's "Entourage"--it's more than a guilty pleasure, it's become a favorite and this season is definitely funnier (only two episodes but still...). Without a doubt my favorite character is Johnny "Drama" Chase (Kevin Dillon); he's always been the Everyman character and I'm sincerely hoping he wins an Emmy this Sunday. I interviewed the show's producer last year because, as you might notice, the show is a fun travelogue of a certain "aspirational" part of Los Angeles. New clubs, venues and this week the historic Orpheum theater are shown off and seamlessly integrated into the story lines. Locations with views are a signature feature. 

Vinnie Chase's (Adrian Grenier) former pad had jetliner views of the basin:  in real life it's the wow home of L.A.'s nightlife kingpin and soon-to-be hotelier Sam Nazarian.  During the summer, I sat on Sam's fab built-in deck and took in the city lights while sampling star chef Jose Andres' elegant paella and smooth cocktails.  No Turtle or E in sight, but I could just imagine that they would have dug it too! 

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fallen Fruit takes from the street.

In the garden with the art collective Fallen Fruit was a very pleasant afternoon during the interview for my New Angeles Monthly story. Matias Viegener, Austin Young and David Burns are really into fruit--salvaging and studying it and making an art of it. I went to their public fruit jam in August and came home a sticky mess but ended up with three tasty jars. Two were trades; mine was made from figs and kumquats in my yard and random fruit brought by others. Try it, you'll like it.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Los Angeles: The way of tea from Mrs. Sosei Matsumoto

Thanks to LA Observed for linking to a recent AP story in the SF Chronicle on one of L.A.'s living cultural treasures: Mrs.Sosei Matsumoto a teacher in the way of tea. Here's some excerpts from the story I wrote on the delightful octogenarian (she's now 88!) for the sadly defunct East West Magazine:

Entering Mrs. Sosei Matsumoto's traditional Japanese-style tearoom is a journey to another time and place: one that is serene and ordered, where people are impeccably polite and respectful of each other. Here the 86-year old sensei (teacher) continues to meticulously instruct students in the 450-year old, Urasenke tradition of Chado or way of tea.

Preparing and serving a perfect bowl of tea sounds simple enough but the Japanese way of tea is a truly complex discipline, one that incorporates the most exquisite Japanese arts and crafts and exemplifies ideal Japanese etiquette and taste. At the heart of the ceremony is the Zen Buddhist principle that enlightenment can be achieved even in the most mundane task.

The diminutive but spirited octogenarian doesn't see herself retiring, "until life retires." Many tea masters are 99 or 100 years old, she declares. If anything, she wants to be reborn, so she can do it all over again until the entire world has Urasenke tea. However, the appeal of the way of tea remains a mystery, an almost magical wonder. To Mrs. Matsumoto, her vocation is 'a beautiful feeling, no enemy, everybody beautiful people."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hollyhock House Lecture Series: Thomas Hines on modern architects and their Hollywood clients

Oh, to be a Hollywood player c. 1925-1950, when you had the pick of modernist masters like Richard Neutra, Lloyd Wright and Irving Gill to design and build your LA manse or signature office building. On Sept. 3, author and UCLA professor Thomas Hines spoke on the connection between mid-century Hollywood creatives and execs and LA's famed modernists in an inaugural lecture sponsored by Hollyhock House. Among the highlights: a discussion of Richard Neutra's aluminum-clad house for film director Josef von Sternberg that was demolished in 1971 (Dion Neutra advised a film of the demolition is available on the Neutra website); a look at Neutra's also long gone, classic international-style office building for Carl Laemmle in Hollywood; and a tidbit I didn't know: Lloyd Wright designed those eternally sinking mastodons caught in the La Brea Tar Pits. A second lecture from writer/filmmaker Thom Anderson is scheduled for Oct 1, also in the Barnsdall Gallery. In this month's Los Feliz Ledger special Arts section I highlighted the lecture as well as profiled famed street artist Shepard Fairey, Machine Project and a locally made film called "The Scenesters."