Category Archives: Cultural

El Sabor de México

For some, it’s the mountainous villages of the Himalayas.  For others, it’s the expansive vineyards of France, or the five star spas that dot the American Southwest.

For me, it’s the colorful spirit of Mexico that keeps me returning time and again — despite my world map being riddled with “to go” pins.

From the turquoise waters of the Yucatan’s Caribbean coast to the desert paradise of Baja California Sur, and from ancient Mayan ceremonies to the bustling urban mercados, Mexico’s people (love you, Claudia!), culture and food occupy a very special place in mi corazón.

There was a spectacular stretch of time when I ate more ceviche than tuna fish, and “hola” rolled off my tongue more naturally than “hello.”

But now, it’s been more than two years since I’ve set foot on Mexican soil.  Despite a potent call to head south, my recent travel time and budget has been dominated by family and friend gatherings in New York, Michigan and other, well, far less Latin destinations.

I’ve been due for a taste of Mexico for quite some time.

But with no imminent plans to cross the border, I looked towards a more proximate alternative to tide me over — a twenty-minute trip downtown to Olvera Street on El Día de los Muertos.

On any given day, Olvera Street — which lies at the heart of the city’s birthplace, El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument — ­sparkles with brightly hued textiles, ceramic and leather goods, and the sweet scent of sugary churros and horchata.

Colorful Carts Line Olvera Street

 

Hanging Huaraches

Lucha Libre Masks

But on El Día de los Muertos, the street literally teems with life — and death.

Calaveras de Azúcar

It is far from morbid, however.

Celebrated primarily in Mexico, El Día de los Muertos has its roots in a pre-Hispanic festival dedicated to Mictecacihuatl, Aztec “Lady of the Dead.”  Now associated with the Catholic All Souls’ Day, the holiday — arguably Mexico’s grandest — celebrates and honors the lives of those who have passed beyond this world.

And it offers up a colossal feast for the senses.

Everywhere you look, strings of orange, green, yellow, pink, purple, red and blue papel picado, or paper cut out designs of flowers and birds abound.  The pan flute and mariachi music provide the day’s soundtrack, while Mexican flags and bougainvillea blow in the breeze.

Papel Picado Surrounds an Altar

 

Pre-Columbian Music

The people are no exception.

Men, women and children dress up in “dandy” outfits, and paint on skeleton faces to embody and celebrate the duality of life and death.

La Familia Solano: Ike, Maribel y Juan

La Vida y La Muerte

Altars to those who have died are strewn with photographs, flowers, fruit, blankets, sombreros, bread, and calaveras de azúcar, or sugar skulls.

Life After Death

The Music Lives On

Mexican Marigolds, Pan de Muerto and More

Some are poignant, honoring a young man, for example, whose life was extinguished several decades too early.

Remembering ...

Others are more whimsical, giving a gleeful nod to the deceased’s penchant for popping open a cold one.

This Bud's For You

But no matter which way you turn, one thing’s for certain: El Día de los Muertos on Olvera Street offers up an intense flavor of Mexico — both figuratively and literally.

Chomping on a Churro and Sipping Horchata

Now I think I’ll be able to hold out a little longer — at least until Cinco de Mayo.

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Filed under Cultural, Food, Holidays, Landmarks, Los Angeles

Painting The Town Pink

Most incarnations of pink make me cringe.  The mere sight of certain shades seems to spontaneously force-feed me sickeningly saccharine candy and cause Hello Kitty hallucinations.

My aversion to the color is traceable to at least 1983.  That was the year my parents bestowed a great gift upon us kids — an apartment big enough for my younger brother Justin and I each to have our own bedroom.

Now, those in the know have informed me that, well in advance of my second birthday, I had grown rather adept at articulating my opinion.  It’s understandable then, that by the age of eight, I had stated in no uncertain terms my preference for lavender — NOT pink — as the theme color for my new room.

So imagine my mortification on move-in day when I, eager to affix my Simon Le Bon and John Taylor posters inches above my pillow, rushed in to find pink carpet AND a pink canopy bed.  Gross!

(It turned out that the painter had convinced my parents — who apparently out of short-term self-preservation thought it best not to convey that information to me — that the limited natural light on that particular side of the apartment would make lavender appear a dull and unattractive gray.)

More than 25 years later, pink is still a personal pariah.  I cannot recall a time when my lips or nails have been painted any color on the spectrum between cream and tomato red.  I’ll pick peppermint over bubblegum any day.  And the only pink articles of clothing or accessories for which I have exchanged cash or credit were soon thereafter gifted to Britney, my cousin Nicole’s six-year-old daughter.  Simply put, I don’t do pink.

Except when it comes to kitschy Los Angeles landmarks.

For such bastions of Americana, I’ll even suspend my ordinarily meat-free diet and embrace a plate full of it, enclosed in a bun and overflowing with too brightly hued condiments.

Enter Pink’s — a Hollywood mainstay since 1939.

World Famous Pink's Hot Dogs on La Brea and Melrose

71 Years and Counting...

More than seventy years ago, Paul Pink first parked his pushcart full of chili dogs at the intersection of Melrose and La Brea.  His hot dogs became so popular that, seven years later, Mr. Pink upgraded to a permanent establishment on the very same corner — out of which the Pink family still dishes up meaty treats to throngs of customers, locals and tourists alike.

Unable to remember the last time I had filled my belly with such forms of sustenance, I figured that my plans to see Judd, a fellow native New Yorker/high school friend now living in West Hollywood, provided the perfect opportunity to pop my Pink’s cherry.

Kitchen Antics

Meeting there at 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night enabled us to avoid the labyrinthine queue that customarily assembles outside Pink’s on any given weekend night.  We had only a few moments to scan the extensive menu, which has clearly been supplemented since Pink’s inaugural days.  For instance, I was particularly drawn to the Patt Morrison Baja Veggie Dog, a vegan “hot dog” topped with guacamole, onions and tomatoes.

Only in Hollyweird...

But I hadn’t come to Pink’s to play it safe.

After all, if you’re gonna go, go big.  Right?

And so I did: a hot dog, drowned in chili and sauerkraut, and then smothered in ketchup and mustard.  Oh, and a heaping portion of colossal, well-bronzed onion rings.

Yep, That's Right

Taking the Plunge

Childhood fans of Gray’s Papaya (a younger, but equally well-loved New York City hot dog mini-chain) and the ubiquitous food carts gracing countless city corners, Judd and I were a tough audience.  My ultimate conclusion was that I preferred Gray’s Papaya’s toasted buns, but that Pink’s onion rings were a crispy force with which to be reckoned.

Requisite Celebrity Wall

After eating all that we could stomach, Judd and I caught up on life, as our arteries processed the veritable shock into which we had sent them.

Inside Pink's Palace

As we tossed our chili-stained plates into the trash and headed south to the Little Bar for a post-feast beer, I was delighted, after all these years, to have finally crossed Pink’s off my to-do list.

And when I awoke the following morning, I was even more elated — I hadn’t needed a dose of a certain over-the-counter medication of the same color.

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Filed under Cultural, Food, Landmarks

Gypsy Spirit and Sounds

If my last post on the presence and power of synchronicity didn’t convince you, try this one…

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

On Friday, I headed downtown for The Local Gypsy weekly outing to bask in the aural pleasures of a Gypsy music ensemble.

On Saturday, I met a cat named Gypsy.

And on Sunday, over an afternoon glass of wine with my friend, Ross, I learned that he had devoted his undergraduate thesis to Gypsy culture.

Oh, and for much of the weekend, I wore a necklace I bought at The Velvet Gypsy, a tiny cornucopia of global goodies on the Venice Beach boardwalk.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Maybe this means I should max out my credit cards and book that coveted trip to Southern Spain to revel in Gypsy-rooted Spanish guitar and flamenco?  Or perhaps I should sell my furniture, donate my clothes and embark on a day-by-day odyssey, trading jewelry I fashion for food?  (Don’t worry, Mom.  I love sushi too much to leave myself in that magnitude of a lurch.)

Whatever the reason, I know that the Gypsy spirit dwells deep inside me — and that the forces fueling me to engage in this year-long experiment are well nourished by these undeniable synchronicities.

Now on to the fun part!

Just when I was starting to hone in on what the week’s activity might be, my answer came in the form of an email from my dear friend, David Ackerly — and daytime downtown denizen, as the Directing Attorney for the Inner City Law Center‘s Homeless Veterans Project.

(On a side note, the Inner City Law Center is an extraordinary legal services organization serving Los Angeles’ most impoverished citizens in housing and benefits-related matters.  If you’d like to assist ICLC in obtaining a $50,000 grant from Pepsi by merely clicking your mouse, you can do so right here.)

An avid music lover and intrepid cultural explorer, David informed me that Parno Graszt, or “White Horse” in Romani — a well-known collection of Roma (or Gypsy) musicians and performers from Paszab, Hungary — would be regaling downtown Los Angeles with a free Friday afternoon concert as part of the inimitable Grand Performances series.

That was an easy decision.

After fetching David at his office, we maneuvered through downtown’s one-way streets and managed to score a parking space on South Olive, just behind the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and California Plaza, in which the concerts are held.  (If you ever pull into one of these $3/hour spaces, place a nickel in the meter and laugh.  I think it may actually subtract time.)

Shuddering briefly as I glanced up at the Wells Fargo Tower office building in which I used to toil endlessly as a litigation associate, I took a seat next to David on the sunny amphitheater steps and turned my attention to the delectable wrap I had just purchased from Mendocino Farms — and the exuberant music of Parno Graszt.

The Full Ensemble

For more than twenty years, this crew has been belting out flavorful, traditional Gypsy sounds on an array of instruments, including the accordion, double bass, guitars, milk churns, water cans and more.  The ecstatic music seems to take on a life of its own; it bounces and flows and gleefully possesses all who are near.

Simon Broughton, a well known music journalist, has described Parno Graszt’s musical art as “The source of Gypsy music itself.”

But given how far into Asia and Europe the Roma people have spread since leaving behind their roots in northern India, Gypsy music may vary widely.  Stylistic differences between Roma musical groups, I learned, tend to reflect the instrumental traditions of the countries in which they live.  And Parno Graszt is said to embody the essence of Hungarian Gypsy music.

However their sonic and visual delights are characterized, one thing’s for certain: they sure make you want to dance.

No wonder I enjoyed them so much.

Me, Blissfully Dancing (photo by Eric Balaire at Lightning in a Bottle Festival)

To the Gypsy spirit in all of us…

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Filed under Art, Cultural, Life, Music, Performance

Shrine of Synchronicity

Go ahead, roll your eyes or call it what you (or my very East Coast parents) will — new age-y, mumbo jumbo, California beach brain — but I firmly subscribe to the notion that there are no coincidences, only universally intended synchronicities.  Sure, their underlying significance may be elusive, but when they happen, I can’t help but take notice.

So, cut to a sunny afternoon in Santa Monica at my beloved Café Bolivar, where the nourishing food is as delicious as the rich coffee, the staff as warm as the sunlight drenching the bright orange chairs, and the music as global as the Manu Chao station on Pandora.com.

After savoring the last bite of a steaming hot arepa (Venezuelan corn bread with a dose of magic) stuffed with mango and avocado, I flipped open my MacBook Pro and began typing.  In between paragraphs, I smiled hello to a man settling in to the table next to me, with a folder in hand.  We had never met, but recognized each other as Bolivar regulars.

After affably introducing himself, Marty — who reminded me of my father, only five inches taller and considerably more mellow — asked what I was writing.  Tickled to talk to anyone who might be interested in hearing about my blog, I enthusiastically explained the concept behind The Local Gypsy, and began rattling off the adventures upon which I had already embarked.

As I navigated to http://www.thelocalgypsy.com and pointed the screen his way to give him a glimpse, Marty asked what my next activity would be.  Before the words “Lake Shrine” fully escaped my lips, he slapped the wooden table in exclamation.

Lake Shrine's "Wall-less" Temple

Umm, was it something I said?

My confusion was extinguished a moment later, however, when he extracted from his folder a black and white photo of Paramahansa Yogananda.

Wow.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Paramahansa Yogananda — Indian guru, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, and founder of the worldwide spiritual organization, Self-Realization Fellowship — established Lake Shrine Temple in 1950.  A ten-acre gem located just east of the Pacific Ocean on Sunset Boulevard in the Pacific Palisades, Lake Shrine is home to astounding natural beauty: a spring-fed lake and waterfalls, countless species of trees, dazzling flowers and abundant animals, including swans, koi, turtles and dragonflies.  The lush grounds also feature the Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial (where some of the famed leader’s ashes are consecrated in a 1,000-year-old Chinese sarcophagus), a “wall-less” temple, a Dutch windmill, Court of Religions, a houseboat — and, since 1996, a hilltop temple in which large group meditations and services are regularly held.  (See here for the event calendar.)

Paradise on Sunset Boulevard

Lake Shrine also happens to be nestled directly across Sunset Boulevard from Paseo Miramar, a winding road that leads to a Topanga State Park hiking trail that I frequent.  I must have laid eyes on Lake Shrine’s welcome sign close to fifty times, yet I had never turned into its parking lot.

And now, a fellow Café Bolivar lover, whom I too had seen on many occasions but had only just met, turned out to be a Lake Shrine volunteer and Yogananda devotee, offering to take me on a personal tour.

Yes, please.

And so we arranged to visit Lake Shrine together on a Thursday, in order to catch the weekly 12:00-12:30 p.m. monk-guided meditation.  As Monday turned into Tuesday, and Tuesday into Wednesday, I began to sense that, although it had taken me five years to get there, the time was ripe.

Indeed it was.

The preceding week had been extraordinarily frenetic.  My birthday, a houseguest, friends’ parties, and the final days of the World Cup kept my social calendar buzzing and liver working overtime; the penetrating and unrelenting June Gloom prevented the sun from offering calming respite and recharge.  And bubbling excitement over a new project was energetically challenged by physical exhaustion and the scratchy-throat threat of a cold.  Let’s just say that I needed to chill — badly.

And that’s exactly what happened when I stepped past the “Welcome to these Meditation Gardens” sign and into the tranquil vortex that is Lake Shrine.

It was as if I had walked through an invisible doorway that sifted out all my stress and tension, and then, weightlessly, I entered another dimension full of light and color — sort of like Dorothy must have felt when she and Toto were deposited in the Land of Oz.

Turtle and Dragonfly Haven

Perhaps the most striking realization I had while gazing out on the landscape before me was that this place is actually real, and not a psychedelically inspired scene from a film.  The sights, sounds and scents were truly intoxicating.

The Court of Religions Honors the World's Principal Five: Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam

And I could not have been more grateful for Marty.  As we meandered down the path surrounding the lake, he enlightened me on historical points of interest; the site, for example, had been a movie set in the early days of Hollywood.  We discussed the lotus flower motif in the wall-less temples’ pinnacles and the dedication of Gandhi’s memorial.  Marty also described how he, ten years earlier, had found the Self-Realization Fellowship, and touched on Yogananda’s teachings and the ancient practice of Kriya Yoga.

Dutch Windmill Meditation Chapel

Upon reaching the Dutch windmill that had been converted into an airy chapel, we took seats and adjusted our postures in preparation for meditation.  Save for my occasional dry cough that at times frustrated my concentration and which, for a moment and the sake of others, led me to consider walking outside, the thirty minutes seemed to fly by — a bold statement, mind you, for someone as antsy as I.

Mahatma Gandhi World Peace Memorial

Following the meditation exercises, Marty graciously introduced me to the gentle monk who had guided them, and then led me up a set of stairs to the stunning hilltop temple.  Unlike many of the synagogues and churches I’ve visited, this edifice was flooded with light, and seemed to glow from within.  I made a mental note to check my schedule and return soon for a Friday night group meditation.

Magical Place

After delighting in the colorful koi congregating near the houseboat, talk of the Krishna sculpture reminded me that, through two separate groups of friends, I knew a man in LA named Krishna, who had grown up in and met his girlfriend through the Self-Realization Fellowship tradition.

Krishna

When I mentioned this to Marty, his expression shifted.   I went further, stating Krishna’s last name; Marty’s eyes widened, and, before he finished saying, “He lives with my daughter,” I blurted, “Your daughter’s Samantha?!”

WOW.

This simply can’t be reduced to mere coincidence.

But why these synchronicities?

I can’t say for sure.  Perhaps someday it will be abundantly clear.

In the meantime, I’m going to crack open my brand new copy of Autobiography of a Yogi.

With Marty in The Court of Religions

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Filed under Cultural, Landmarks, Peaceful

Water IS Life

If you rode in a car in Los Angeles sometime over the past several months and happened to look up, chances are you caught sight of a striking image — a man, illuminated by a celestial ray of light, floating ethereally in a turquoise pool, surrounded by cavern walls dripping with stalactites.

This stunning photograph, shot in one of the Yucatan Peninsula’s famous cenotes — the Mayan-derived word for the fresh water sinkholes that dot the region’s jungle terrain (and in which I have had the immense pleasure of swimming and scuba diving) — graced the streetlight banners advertising National Geographic’s recent exhibit at The Annenberg Space for Photography, entitled “Water: Our Thirsty World”.

Curated in connection with the venerated magazine’s April cover story on water, the show promised hundreds of images, displayed both in print and embodied in a film presentation narrated by award-winning photographers.  Its goal was to document the deleterious effects our planet’s rapidly diminishing water sources are imposing on humans, animals and ecosystems from California to Kenya.

Addicted to all things National Geographic and never having been to The Annenberg Space for Photography, I was sold the second I’d read about the program’s opening back in March.  Now it was June, the exhibit was about to close, and I was determined not to let procrastination cheat me out of the experience.

Generally speaking, I prefer going to museums on my own; doing so enables me to focus more on the exhibition and less on conversation with my companion. (Yes, I have self-diagnosed ADD.) But it seemed fitting that I attend this particular exhibit with Olivier Chatard.

Olivier :: L'Artiste

A talented designer with a passion for conservation, Olivier conceived, produced and directed — among other related projects — “Awareness,” a short film utilizing sensually stunning imagery and music to elucidate excessive water consumption in the western world. It was recently featured at the prestigious Cannes International Film Festival and Los Angeles’ New Media Film Festival. (You can read about and watch the film here.)

Our plan was to meet on Friday at 2:00 p.m. in front of the museum.

After spending a hideously frustrating 1.5 hours in traffic — I’m pretty laid back for a New Yorker but severely abhor being late — I finally pulled into the museum’s underground parking structure at 2:15 p.m. (Notably, parking is $3.50 with validation, and something obscene without … $34? $44?)

Descending towards P1 and accompanied by the sound of tires squawking on the glistening surface, the parking lot seemed strangely familiar.   It wasn’t until I emerged outside, dwarfed by twin office buildings that seemed to kiss the clouds, that I realized the museum was built at the base of the Century Plaza Towers — in which Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, the law firm at which I used to work, had an office.

Century Plaza Towers

How poignant, I thought as I looked down at my platform sandals and up at the museum’s glass doors; four years earlier, I would have been cloaked in business casual and cooped up in an conference room, reviewing documents on behalf of a corporate client.

I began to ponder how far I had come with respect to my shift in lifestyle, and where I still wanted to go in terms of utilizing my law degree, when the 2:22 p.m. display on my iPhone snapped me out of my reverie.

The Annenberg Space for Photography

I dashed up the stairs towards Olivier.  We hugged hello and breezed through the free entryway, taking seats just as the film presentation was to begin. (As my friend Monick likes to say, “My timing is perfect and elegant.”)

Over the next hour, we traveled to the Tibetan plateau, the Ganges, Haiti, the Dead Sea — and were deposited right back at home in California.

I witnessed Kenyan women making 5-hour odysseys, on foot under the blazing sun, to retrieve fresh water to haul back to their villages — every day. I was introduced to Asian farmers whose futures are in peril, due to the region’s rapid desertification. And I learned about how Southern California’s Owens Lake — which in 1924 was 108 square miles and, on average, 25-50 feet deep — was reduced, in roughly a decade, to a dry lakebed after its sources were diverted to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Kenyan Women As Beasts of Burden. Photograph by Lynn Johnson. © National Geographic

I had known that our planet’s water issues were critical. But this barrage of visually arresting images and fascinating historical perspective was astonishing. And seeing it in the wake of the Gulf oil spill made it all the more stirring.

The Virtually Dry Los Angeles River. Photograph © Edward Burtynsky, National Geographic.

I could feel the wheels in my head and heart churning, as I triumphantly located my validated parking ticket and bid Olivier goodbye. And as I drove home, looking up every now and then at one of those streetlight banners, an idea took root.

And now, as I dust off my resume, it is germinating…

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M & Ms :: Part 2

So, where was I?  (A week of post-NYC fatigue, a profoundly late night celebrating a friend’s birthday, a cold, and preoccupation with prepping for Lightning in a Bottle triggered my severe procrastination affliction and set my writing back a few days.)

Oh, yes.  Mother’s Day.

3:49 a.m.  After visiting with friends and bouncing around Brooklyn for several hours, I gingerly turned the key to my parents’ apartment, cautious not to wake them up.

I needn’t have worried.

My dad was slouched on the couch, with his head cocked back, glasses crooked, mouth wide open, and snoring like a freight train.

I kicked off my boots and sunk my toes into the plush carpet, luxuriating in the notion that it would be mere minutes before I could crawl under a fluffy comforter.  Walking towards the bathroom to brush my teeth, however, I noticed that the lights were on in my parents’ bedroom.

Now, for those of you unfamiliar with my mother, Donna, she’s what you’d call a worrier.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking — ALL mothers worry.  But to a degree.

My mom’s capacity to fret might actually warrant a Guinness Record.  I recall an occasion, for example, when I had accidentally fallen asleep at a friend’s place.  She wandered Central Park at sunrise, searching for my dead body.

On this particular night, it turned out that not only had my iPhone battery died, but I had also managed to lose it somewhere between Bar Reis in Park Slope and East 90th Street.  So when I failed to respond to her text message asking when I would be home, she couldn’t sleep.

What do most people do when plagued with insomnia?  Brew herbal tea.  Read a magazine.  Count sheep.

Not Donna.

She had spent the previous hour trying on and reorganizing the more than fifty t-shirts and sweaters now stacked so neatly in her armoire that she might consider a gig at The Gap.

Anyways, this was all a really long-winded explanation for the rather late start to our Mother’s Day odyssey — replete with a 2-hour brunch and some irksome directional shortcomings attributable to my ordinarily map-minded father — to visit the stunning Dia:Beacon.

Approaching Dia:Beacon

The moment we walked into the museum’s expansive and light-drenched galleries, any residual irritability was absorbed immediately by the bright hardwood floors, which seemed to store a piece of history within every grain.

Formerly a box printing factory, Dia:Beacon rests on the banks of the Hudson River, sixty miles north of New York City.  (Though we made the trip by car, the Metro-North train runs from Grand Central Terminal and stops a mere five-minute walk from the museum.)  Since 2003, it has been home to massive works and installations by significant contemporary artists, including Andy Warhol, Agnes Martin and Richard Serra.

Much like Los Angeles’ Getty Museum, the space itself is a main attraction.  Even the penetrating cold the gray skies imposed could not undermine the setting’s spectacular nature; the calm that overcame me as I stepped inside was intoxicating.  And the vastness of its galleries permit art to be displayed on a scale unlike anything even remotely conceivable — in terms of both space and cost — in New York City.  I was giddily dwarfed.

The art adorning the museum’s walls and floors proved just as breathtaking.  Though it’s impossible to choose favorites, I was particularly dazzled by:

(Note that the museum doesn’t allow photographs.  Clicking on the links above will bring up images of these works.)

And just as we had begun traipsing through Richard Serra’s steel installation so colossal it might house a small village, nearby museum staff gently informed us that it was 6:00 p.m., and time to go.

Mom & Dad

As we made our way to Cafe Amarcord on Beacon’s main drag for dinner, I knew that we had all enjoyed a special Mother’s Day…which was followed by a night of very sound sleep.

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M & Ms :: Part 1

Museums make me happy.

Ever since I was a little girl growing up within one square mile of at least ten of them — including such supreme abodes of art as the Metropolitan, Guggenheim and Whitney — I reveled in wandering through galleries exploding with Jackson Pollock’s canvases and calmed by Constantin Brancusi’s bronzes.

Initially instilled by my parents, my appreciation for art increased exponentially under the tutelage of Mr. Yates, my beloved high school art history teacher, whose engaging wit made class more enjoyable than the vodka tonics my girlfriends and I would sip at The Coffee Shop after absconding from school on the number 1 train. (Ah, the pre-Giuliani days!)

My interest flourished over the ensuing years.  I interned at a SoHo gallery, penned a college paper on the parallels between Keith Haring and Navajo sandpaintings, and flew across the Atlantic to visit the Prado and the Louvre.

Ever since I moved to Southern California, however, my track record has wavered a bit.  And no, it’s not because living out here breeds vapidity.  It’s just that the weather seems to call out “hike in the mountains” more than it does “an afternoon inside windowless walls of art.”

In an effort to switch course, I decided that week #3’s activity should re-charge my artistic affinities.

So which one would it be?  The Hammer?  The Craft and Folk Art Museum?  Or maybe the Pacific Asia Museum?  Hmmm…

But then I looked at the calendar — Mother’s Day.  And it comes only once a year.

Knowing that my New York City-dwelling mom was steeped in self-pity over the fact that her two kids live thousands of miles away in Los Angeles and Denver, I called up my scheme-loving dad to concoct an early mother’s day surprise.

It worked.

So, too, did my week #3 plan to visit a museum — albeit across the continent from Los Angeles.

Stay tuned for Part 2, our Mother’s Day outing up the Hudson River to DIA: Beacon

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