Archive | May, 2007

Chain Reaction

24 May

There is a large part of me that is sad to be leaving Venice Beach. Even though I’m only going an hour (or 30 minutes with no traffic, two hours during rush hour) inland, I’ll miss the bohemian life of the beach-dweller, being able to roll out of bed, head down to the boardwalk to grab a cup of Italian press coffee and a muffin; to look out at the beach feeling the salty sting in the air, watching the sidewalk vendors setting up their displays…

In fact, I already miss it.

It’s sad but true – the Venice I moved to 7 years ago is not the same enclave of funky coffee shops, greasy pizza joints and strange artsy people. Sure, some of these places still exist, but they are becoming much rarer. In fact, a few months ago, we just got our first real chain store close to the beach (there are a couple two blocks inland, but these new ones are sadly just a few steps from the boardwalk) – a Coffee Bean. Of course, the Coffee Bean is cattycorner from another independent café called Café Collage; along with the Coffee Bean a Campos Tacos (local chain) and Quiznos sub and Flight Centre have magically appeared. I guess that it’s only a matter of time before Starbucks and the big fast food chains move in, replacing the mom-and-pop hot dog and pizza stands that dot the boardwalk.

Just within the past 6 months, Abbott Kinney Blvd, one of the main shopping streets has undergone a massive transformation. The old houses and office buildings from Venice’s early hey-day have been quickly replaced by steel and concrete post-modern structures, casting shadows on what was a fun street to walk along and slowly edging out any non-conformist, non-trendy stores. Skater punks no longer sport dreads or look high on heroin, crack, or meth; instead they wear American Apparel t-shirts, are ripped, and look like GQ models. Last week while grabbing a veggie tamale at the Tortilla Grill, one of the remaining affordable places on the street, part of me thought that at least it was cool there were still no major chain stores along this strip yet. That is, until I looked across the street. In big pink and white letters, standing out eerily among the more demure painted store signs was a Pinkberry Yogurt Shop.

With each coming week, it seems like the edginess that I so cherished and loved is giving way to mainstream culture – a haven for yuppies and those with bank accounts that can afford the unrealistic rents. Older business are slowly being priced out by tripling rents, newer, slicker, more generic places moving in. Even though this is true in most other places, like San Francisco and Santa Cruz, it seems particularly distressing that this change is happening in Venice, since traditionally Venice has signified everything that is revolutionary, bohemian and unconventional about American counter-culture.

The voices of rebellion are quickly being replaced by those of the complacent – people who don’t care about much more than their tax-breaks and home appreciation costs; people who don’t give to the community, but instead move in, take what they can get, drive up prices and then leave within a couple of years.

I hope that Venice doesn’t entirely become the bastion of the rich and famous. It is the most popular tourist attraction in So Cal, after all (even more popular than Disneyland, apparently). Unfortunately, the developers don’t realize that part of the attraction is the funky craziness, and the last thing we need in LA is yet another sterile amusement park-type place with a bunch of big box stores.

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Time to Tag

24 May

This past week’s been crazy what with packing, moving, and the fiance passing yet another kidney stone (the second in 2 months). Now there’s just some (a lot of, actually) unpacking and cleaning left to do in addition to a trip out to Utah to see my niece tomorrow. Whew, can’t wait until I can take a breather!

As promised, though, I would like to tag the following people for the 8 random-things about you meme. (I managed to find 6 people who haven’t posted this meme on their blogs yet, so there may be some double-tagging happening…)

Red Crochet

Sherlock Knits

Knit Play With Fire

The Little House By the Sea

Peppery Knits

Patti Haskins

She Who Measures

Tagged Too

17 May

Ingrid just tagged me the other day. I’ll have to think of people to tag (many of the blogs I read have been tagged already and I don’t want to double tag them…) But here are 8 random things about me:

1. I’ve lived in two countries that no longer exist: the Soviet Union (study abroad in Moscow) and Czechoslovakia (taught in Slovakia).

2. I sometimes still get carded (when I touch up my roots, that is). One time last year I forgot my ID at Trader Joe’s (supermarket) and the guy wouldn’t sell to me.

3. I brought my neurotic cat, Machan, all the way from Japan with me. I got her 3 weeks after I arrived in Japan — had to trek out to the country while it poured rain just to to get to her shelter to pick her up.

4. I used to sell my artwork (woodblock prints and crocheted purses) on Venice Beach during the summers and hang out with the funky tarot card readers and massage people.

5. I randomly meet people I know all the time: I met a guy I went to grad school with in the San Francisco airport 6 years after graduation; someone I went to high school with on top of a mountain at a ski resort; a grammar school friend in a video store in Monterey, CA…. (the list actually goes on…)

6. Although I’m not into sports, I’m a devoted Baltimore Orioles fan.

7. I was born in Montreal, Canada during an ice storm.

8. I’ve been mistaken for many different ethnic groups/nationalities: Israeli, Spanish, Irish, Polish, Czech, Greek, Slovak, Russian, Japanese & Thai (yep, got asked if I had an American dad and Asian mom a lot when I traveled). Had to explain to people in Asia all the time that there are other ethnicities out there where people are short with dark hair and dark eyes!

In Transition

10 May

A large part of my life right now is devoted to being in an in-between place — neither single nor married — something that just really hit me the other day.

For so many years my identity has been that of an independent single woman (who was also somewhat bitter about the dearth of really nice men out there). I went for a long time without dating anyone, not because I didn’t want to, but because the aforementioned men had turned me off of casual dating and, with a full-time job that took all of my emotional energy, I simply didn’t have the time or will to look for someone. During this time in my singledom I relied entirely on myself for so many things and was worried that I would not be able to let go of my need for independence and space.

Now that I’ve met someone, so many things have changed. Long gone are the days when I’d break into tears afraid that I’d live the rest of my years alone. Every weekend night I have something to do and someone to do it with and every day there is someone to support me with loving encouragement. Being in a relationship has been truly wonderful and I realized that it has taken a relationship leading to marriage to change my view of the world considerably — to know that it is okay to rely on someone else, that I can be a partner and still retain my sense of who I am in many ways.

The other day at Stitch & Bitch I realized just how much has changed in my life, down to even the most basic topic of conversation. The first thing people ask about these days is how my wedding plans are going and it seems to dominate the group conversation for a while. A large part of me, I have to say, feels uncomfortable. Not for the joy or the thrill of entering into this new stage of my life and sharing it with others, but rather because I know what some of the other single 30-something women are going through. Because even though they may ask about my plans and be genuinely happy, it doesn’t change the fact that they are alone (in the relationship-sense, that is…) which, while empowering in so many ways, is also hard and frustrating (in every sense). My fear that I would wind up being one of those women who only talks about wedding plans or kids rose like a lump into the very core of my being, causing me to reflect not only on who I will become and the roles I will wind up in but also on the parts of me that I am now leaving behind. I realized that even though I’m not yet married, I’m definitely not single either. I’m straddling the boundary between these two worlds and, for the moment, don’t really belong in either one. While I can have empathy and compassion for singledom, I have lost my place in that world, afraid that my expressions of understanding sometimes seem trite and irrelevant (perhaps only to me, but still…).

As I was leaving S & B two nights ago I felt that I am someone in transition — moving away from a total style of life, a defintion of who I have been and moving toward something different, an unknown path where my concerns and decisions now will have to involve another person. At that moment my joy was just briefly tinged with a slight feeling of grief, for my life, no matter how lonely it has been before, will most definitely change.

As much as I am walking toward a new way of being I am also walking away from an old one too.

Into The Fire…

9 May

One of the perennial jokes about California is that there are four seasons, two of which were earthquakes and fires.

Yesterday as I was driving home from Pasadena, I noticed the smoke. At first I thought it was coming from right over a hill next to the highway, but as I drove further south on Route 2, I saw the plumes of smoke bigger and more fierce than I had previously imagined.

I realized that it was in Griffith Park, one of the coolest places to be in LA.

In some places we might not see the effect of global warming right away, but here in LA, we experienced them all too brutally yesterday — searing hot temperatures leading to a large urban fire — the fifth in Griffith Park since December.

It’s easy to become complacent about our place in the world, but yesterday was certainly a good reminder of the impermanence that is part of our collective human existence.

Photos from Today’s LA Times


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Just When I Thought The Yuppies Had Taken Over…

4 May

So, in a few weeks I’ll be leaving my bohemian enclave of Venice Beach, moving a little futher east where things and people are more settled and ‘normal’. Part of me is sad to leave the beach and it’s strangeness, but then again, Venice is changing all too rapidly — something I was lamenting on my way back from the drugstore with my 2 rolls of packing tape today when….

I saw a guy dressed cabaret-style on stilts.

Ok, having lived here for almost 7 years I’m used to the odd, so at first I didn’t think anything of it when….

I saw another guy dressed cabaret-style on stilts.

I was beginning to think that this wasn’t just a random thing, that there was actually something going on down the street. I knew a crew was filming on the beach today (which is basically an everyday occurrence here) but a cast on stilts….

How Cool!

stilt guy on horse

It turns out the Dresden Dolls were filming their latest video. Being a little out of it in terms of indy music these days, I have never heard of them, but read up on them when I got home and really think they are pretty cool — reminiscent of the punk/indy college music I loved in the 80’s. They were doing the video for the song “Shores of California” (what better place than Venice to tape???)

Here are a few more shots of the shoot and the cast…

getting ready for the shoot

The Shoot

stilt hopping


stilt guys



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Nothing to Post…

3 May

I have a few ideas of things to write, but I am all-written-out this week (am doing 2 weeks worth of writing for my writing gig and can’t really process words and sentences well at the moment…)

So, I thought I’d put up this meme that I found on Kelly’s (She who measures) blog.


1. You had that Fisher Price Doctor’s Kit with a stethoscope that actually worked. No. But I did have the FP people — the village, vacation house and regular house…

2. You owned a bicycle with a banana seat and a plastic basket with flowers on it. Oh, I so wanted one! But my folks were much more practical — nothing but a good old geeky Schwinn for me.

3. You learned to skate with actual skates (not roller blades) that had metal wheels. Yep. In our basement and down the steep hill I lived on…

4. You thought Gopher from Love Boat was cute (admit it!) Yeah. Sorry to say I did.

5. You had nightmares after watching Fantasy Island. Nope. Never.

6. You had either a “bowl cut” or “pixie”, not to mention the “Dorothy Hamill”. Dorothy Hamill (strange I was just thinking about it the other day too…) My brother had a bowl cut — my dad actually put a bowl around his head and cut off his hair because it was getting too long (and it was his very first cut too, poor kid!)

7. You had rubber boots for rainy days and Moon boots for snowy days. Definitely remember the rubber boots…

8. You owned a “Slip-n-Slide”, on which you injured yourself on a sprinkler head more than once. No, my neighbor did. Never got injured but had an allergic reaction to the plastic.

9. You owned “Klick-Klacks” and smacked yourself in the face more than once ! No, but thought they were cool.

10. Your Holly Hobbie sleeping bag was your most prized possession. No. Had a sleeping bag with little green and yellow frogs, though. Still use it as an exta blanket sometimes…

11. You wore a poncho, gauchos, and knickers. Wasn’t into the ponchos but I loved my gauchos!

12. You begged Santa for the electronic game, Simon. I didn’t beg, but I did want it. Got another game called the “Wizard” instead — much more fun. I do remember asking the tooth fairy for 10 bucks, though to buy a handheld football game…

13. You had the Donnie and Marie dolls with those pink and purple satiny shredded outfits, or the sunshine family. Nope.

14. You spent hours in your backyard on your metal swing set with the trapeze.Yep. My swing set didn’t have the trapeze but my neighbors had one and rings too! (Our swingset would lift up off the ground whenever we swung — fun stuff!)

15.You had homemade ribbon barrettes in every imaginable color. Just maroon/white (school colors) and pink/orangy.

16. You had a pair of Doctor Scholl’s sandals (the ones with hard sole & the buckle). You also had a pair of salt-water sandals. Don’t know what salt-water sandals are but wanted the Dr. Scholls. Mom had a pair that I’d put on, they hurt my feet, though.

17. You wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder really bad; you wore that Little House on the Prairie-inspired plaid, ruffle shirt with the high neck in at least one school picture; and you despised Nellie Oleson! No, but I did hate Nellie…

18. You wanted your first kiss to be at a roller rink! I just wanted it — anywhere would be fine! (I realize that that sentence sounds a little pervy, but I meant it in an innocent way.) But I did first hold hands with a boy at the rink…

19. PONG! (”video tennis” ) was the most remarkable futuristic game you’ve ever heard of ! Yeah. There was one other I liked better but I can’t remember…

20.Your hairstyle was described as having “wings” or “feathers” and you kept it “pretty” with the comb you kept in your back pocket. When you walked, the “wings” flapped up and down, looked like you were gonna “take off”. I did keep the comb in my pocket — think it was around ’82. Tried to have wings but it never worked with curly/wavy hair…

21. You know who Strawberry Shortcake is, as well as her friends, Blueberry Muffin and Huckleberry Pie. Yes. In fact I actually had one.

22. You carried a Muppets lunch box to school and it was metal, not plastic.
With the thermos inside some were glass inside and broke the first time you dropped them.Never had the muppets. Think I had Speed Buggy.

23. You and your girlfriends would fight over which of the Dukes of Hazzard was your boyfriend. We wouldn’t fight — we lusted equally after them (although Tom Wopat was my persona fav.)

24. YOU had Star Wars action figures, too! No.

25. It was a big event in your household each year when the “Wizard of Oz” would come on TV. Your mom would break out the popcorn and sleeping bags! I loved watching it and would grab onto my brother when the monkeys came on but it wasn’t a family event.

26. You often asked your Magic-8 ball the question: “Who will I marry.
Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, or David Cassidy?” No. Although my first fantasy about a boy was of David Cassidy when I was five. (My boy-craziness started really early….)

27. You completely wore out your Grease, Saturday Night Fever, and Fame soundtrack record album. No. I wasn’t allowed to have records that weren’t classical music.

28. You tried to do lots of arts and crafts, like yarn and Popsicle-stick God’s eyes, decoupage, or those weird potholders made on a plastic loom. Oh god yeah and making keychains with gimp too!

29. You made Shrinky-Dinks and put iron-on kittens on your t-shirts! I never did shrinky dink stuff (but used it later for quilting templates). Iron-on kittens were never really my thing.

30. You used to tape record songs off the radio by holding your portable tape player up to the speaker. Yeah.

31. You had subscriptions to Dynamite and Tiger Beat. Just Dynamite. Remember taking Shaun Cassidy’s pic out of it and hanging it up…

32. You learned everything you needed to know about girl issues from Judy Blume books. (Are you there God, It’s me, Margaret.) Totally. Although I was a late bloomer so I also learned a lot from my friends.

33. You thought Olivia Newton John’s song “Physical” was about aerobics. Yeah but I also thought it was cheezy even back then.

34. You wore friendship pins on your tennis shoes, or shoelaces with heart or rainbow designs. Had rainbow shoelaces but didn’t think friendship pins were all that cool.

35. You wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer. No.

36. You drowned yourself in Love’s Baby Soft – which was the first “real” perfume you ever owned. Yeah. A friend gave me a whole bunch of Baby Soft stuff one year so everything smelled like it. I also loved Tickle deodorant too.

37. You glopped your lips in Strawberry Roll-on lip-gloss till it almost dripped off. Yeah although I think it was bubble-gum flavor. Also was into Bonnie Bell…

Ah, the 70’s were such a wacky time to grow up!