Monthly Archives: February 2009

Near Perfect Day

Though I know it is still early yet! And this will be the most boring blog post ever but this one’s for me, not you. I like to remember the gorgeously happy feeling of days like these. I’ll start at the beginning, the early hours of the morning to be exact…

Laura’s house beside the metro line, drinking and cumbias and drinking and talking to folks and drinking…we left after 2 am.

Rolled out of bed this morning feeling impressively good and off to yoga at the Y. I discovered muscles I didn’t know I had, that’s always nice. And there was no mention of kegel exercises to make me fall over like last time (though I did appreciate the mention once I’d extricated myself from the floor).

Sauna and steam. The last of the stress melted away.

Brunch at Masa with Bev and Jose, married couple extraordinaire (there are so few). French toast and fried potatoes and hot coffee. Mm.

Bought some new music, Cafe Quijano, and they are fucking great, there is nothing better than finding new music that makes you dance. And dance I did, to and I spent some quality time on youtube today too. Love it.

Walked down to Echo Park lake and sat on the grass with the crossword and even got to a bit of writing, the weather today was absolutely perfect. The sun reflected off the water. The ducks swam. And Cafe Quijano was still rocking my world.

Lentils currently on the stove, a delicious meal in the makings.

A night of movies on the laptop in the splendid downy comfort of my own bed with a bottle of wine and dark chocolate coming up. I have to be up early tomorrow! And I really didn’t get much sleep at all last night…

A big day planned, and then a week of road tripping and quality time with one of my greatest friends to look forward to…

Only one thing missing.


The OTHER Hollywood, all around the Oscars

It is the Hollywood I love…The Oscars? All fake glam and glitter, and while I have a severe weakness for beautiful dresses, I hate the posing and I really hate false smiles. But the scene surrounding the Oscars was truly phenomenal, partly in its everyday madness and cheap sexual thrills, and partly in the crowds that thronged the sidewalks, the cops, the snipers.

Absolutely. Snipers.

I’m fairly certain…There was also the rather frightening suv with the protected hole in the window that I originally assumed was for drive-bys, can’t take the ghetto out of the girl I guess, but it is much more likely to be a paparazzi vehicle.

It really is an extraordinary scene really, from on the ground, and from the outside.

Hollywood…I still remember the first time I went there years ago, and how shockingly cheap and tawdry it was. I love it of course, the way I love dive bars and eccentrics, but it has nothing to do with the image projected out into the wide world, though the city has been trying to push all the poor, the junkies, the sexy out into the far-flung regions, preferably LA County. But here you can still fulfill all of your stripper and fantasy needs, and for pure entertainment value very little can beat it

There was also the official celebration of twenty five years of all-American pornography

And of course, strippers don’t just come here to shop… though it appears The Cave with its Girls Girls Girls is soon going out of business, and everything is on sale

Yeah, the above just makes it all quite sad really, and clearly crosses the line for me between capitalist exploitation of sex and women, and an enjoyable eroticism. But Hollywood crosses all kinds of lines.

Here’s Sponge Bob crossing another line

Pretty priceless shot if I do say so myself! This sort of thing inspires a whole cadre of folks who believe the world desperately needs saving, they are as entertaining as anything else really

And my favourite…and least judgment oriented

I’m a bit gutted that this turned out so blurry…But was very happy to see the son of god present and accounted for. And tolerant. Because it’s the people really, that make Hollywood shine

V, fighting a righteous cause. The Scientologists were out in force, as this is their heartland.

While the above was taken on the fly and therefore free, the below did cost me a dollar. Well, turned out I didn’t have any change so it cost Jose a dollar…he’s a good sport

But the best shots are free

Twin goth girls, a pimp with sky blue shoes, Cat Woman AND Barney, though you can’t really see him. Who could ask for more than this? Live music? We had that too:

with crazy style too…there is almost more style here then you can handle

and you go from absurdity to absurdity, I really could not ask for more from a day then this.

King George? Who? The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd are all dead, so I’m in a bit of a puzzle to know exactly what he’s talking about…and who exactly will be entering the face-off with Snoop Dog, Tori Spelling, Adam Sandler, and David Hasslehoff. But the mental images that evokes are quite delightful really, I think we should have them face-off each other. And then have Sarah Ferguson take on the winner.

It was an amazing Sunday. Not least because we mingled, wandered into the Cat and the Fiddle, mingled, spent some time in the Frolic Room (where I lost all respect for Hugh Jackman as he pranced around singing silly songs, that was a bit tragic), headed back to the reminders of LA’s even darker side and what lies behind all the wealth and glitz of the Oscars

And then back home in downtown

The most phenomenal basket collection I have ever seen in my entire life. And its owner in purple velour robe and slippers. And from here to the whiskey bar at 7th and Grand, though we didn’t drink whiskey. We did play pool. I am phenomenally bad. But I won the last game after two perfect shots, and the high from that was pretty astounding. And then we walked to Tacos Mexico, found the Broadway Bar closed, so then we went home. And I laughed too loudly and the man with the crazy bugged-out eyes who had been weaving around the bus and swatting at people as they passed him stood up, walked over to us, and asked Jose (being a gentleman I spose) “what the fuck are you laughing at mother fucker, you laughing at me?” But luckily that was our stop, the bus driver was calming the guy down, Jose didn’t back down nor did he provoke, and so he didn’t get whipped around the head with the guys heavy “gold” chain that was missing a link and he’d been trying to…er…fix, the whole ride. Ah, the excitement of the 4 after 11 pm. Or any time.

Much as I hate L.A., I love it. I love the pulsing vibrant non-cosmetic beauty and life and heartbreak of it.  I always wonder why you would chose the other.

Ammonites and trilobites, oh my!

So what are my current loves? I’ll start with the stone. Labradorite. Every year I’ve said I shall get some, and this year I found The One.

You can see most of the colors, but not the true beauty of it. It is dull gray from some angles, and as you move it, the colors ripple in refractions across its surface. Constantly changing, constantly surprising, they always feel as if they are hiding themselves, elusive beneath the surface, submerged within the stone. You catch one in the light, and then it is gone as another  emerges from the shallow depths. Some stones are deep blue, some green to yellow, a few orange, and a very few show all of these at once. Like mine. It’s very rare I feel such an intense pleasure in possession. I try not to encourage it, but I think after all, it is good to have a handful of things that make you happy just to look at them.

Like ammonites! Not only are the fossils incredibly beautiful, especially the opalized ones from Canada that I cannot afford, but they are also extraordinary creatures. After a series of catastrophic losses, they died out for good in the Cretaceous Period, along with many another very cool yet frightening creature that I am not really sorry about no longer sharing the planet with. Their closest living descendants (or related species sort of thing) are the nautilus, which looks like this

Pure dead brilliant. They are related to octopi, squid, and cuttlefish. They moved by jet propulsion, and were supreme predators, probably stalking their prey silently and then attacking with their tentacles, dragging their meals into the jaws located between their eyes. They had a lot of tentacles, and look at the eyes! (you can tell I am running from the scientific). Unlike nautili, they lived in shallow, warm water, and it is believed that color and light played a large role in their short lives…which means their shells were possibly incredibly beautiful. But in fossils it is what happened to them after death, what new minerals and chemical combinations filled the chambers left by their bodies to form stone. This one is from Madagascar, and looks better in better light I must admit

You can see a bit of the opalization I love…there’s something about iridescence and changing color that parts me from my money. The color is really a deeper red then you can see, it is high in iron, and the patterns are called sutures, formed where the walls of the inner chambers met the shell and folded in on themselves to provide extra strength. The shells themselves are chambered, reflecting the years of life, and in this one from Russia they have been pyritized

I am not usually such a big fan of shiny, but these are incredibly beautiful. This one has been sliced in half of course, but when left in the matrix they are equally beautiful

Once again, more beautiful then the picture, a more refractive red on the outside. There’s no sun today!

So on to trilobites. I got another beauty…wikipedia says 17,000 species have been identified so you’ll forgive the lack of specificity, but this one is also from Morroco

You can even see the little bumbs on his head. They lived, and died, in extraordinary numbers. I was having trouble deciding between this one and another, and my mum bought me the other because she loves me

You can see the…tongue? I don’t believe they had tongues…I couldn’t find out what this thing is but one day I will. There were some amazing specimens from Russia which still had the eyestalks. Maybe next year, they were lovely, and I was spent out.

Apart from fossils, I also love bowls of polished stone. I think perhaps it is the beauty of them combined with functionality. I have one of malachite and another of onyx that have traveled with me for years, and now own several more…Two tiny ones of amethyst and translucent veined jasper, and two slightly larger ones from morocco of stone filled with ammonites and other fossils, one is in the spiraled shape of an ammonite itself, and the other in the shape of a leaf. I keep telling myself that all of this is portable.

Because if all goes well I shall be moving back to the UK…which meant no fragile and glorious mineral specimens for me. In fact, it was my last move to the UK that parted me from the collected minerals and fossils of years. My dad, on the other hand, has a house AND a glass cabinet, so he bought these two extraordinary pieces of selenite. This one is from Winnepeg, Canada, and the crystals are twinned, which is really rare.

And this one from Lubin, Poland

They formed in narrow fissures in the rock, and they were selling many of them in sheafs of interlocking crystals between two very thin slices of stone. Fragile and beautiful…

What an incredible world we live in.

Tucson Gem & Mineral Show Days 2 and 3

Before I start on the ramble through the highlights, a dignified and slightly scornful nod to Valentines day!

Thought this was pretty sweet, only $15 too, I almost bought it as a valentine to myself. It has hearts and everything. The Chinese bring in an incredible amount of stuff…the most impressive flourite and stibnite specimens you will ever see…none of the really good stuff was out in the sunlight and good pics were hard, but here’s one of stibnite and calcite

This is the beautiful. They also bring the sublime, but even buddha ceases to be quite so sublime when heads are piled up and scattered on the gravel…photogenic though.

And from the sublime you just go to the ridiculous, piled up and scattered on tables, not quite as photogenic, but absurd enough to be worth a photo, even if it’s slightly blurry.

Happy valentines once again! All the love, money and luck you’ll ever need. And they have the future covered as well…if you haven’t gone blind after purchasing one of the above

I see a couple of dark strangers in your future. One of them looks uncommonly like my father. If you don’t catch him on one of his cranky days, that’s generally a pretty good thing. Just don’t feel obliged to answer any overly personal questions…

The Tibetans are here too, via Nepal and India since the Chinese invaded their country and stayed there.

The weather has been lovely here, if a trifle cold. But sunshine and blue skies make a nice change from the pouring rain of the past couple of years,

So back to one of my favourite things, ammonites! From Morroco, they are incredible. I’d buy one of these after my ammolite, these are also several feet across.

And from the Democratic Republic of Congo

I have loved malachite ever since I was little, it is such an incredible stone, circled and swirled and bubbled and every shade of my favourite green. And I love it most smooth and polished I think, I wouldn’t say that of most stones and I have seen a natural specimen or two that made me catch my breath, but when they combine both…I’m smitten. I remember the first time I saw malachite, I was very small. And loved it most, right away. This is one of the many forms it can take

I took this last year. Maybe one day I’ll just write an ode to malachite…though there a couple of other stones that deserve such a thing. And they would probably be profoundly uninteresting.

From…Montana? Texas?

Buffalo skulls…I don’t know why I love things in rows and stacks, but so I do. I also like skulls. But not as much as fossils. When faced with so much that is amazing, unique, and extraordinary, it really makes you analyze what you like best. But I think I’ll write about that tomorrow.

From India, near Mumbai

Cavansite, it forms these extraordinary little balls of intense blue green, I like this stuff too. The light isn’t the best though. And something we’ve never seen before (rare!)

Okenite. These incredible puffs of tiny crystals, formed in bubbles in basalt (basically magma). They’re building all of these roads near Mumbai, in a thing called the Deccan trap…basically a crap ton of red…hot…magma just poured out of the earth, and kept pouring and kept pouring, stretching miles upon miles across and up to a mile thick in places. And now they’re building roads through it and finding this stuff (though probably blasting most of it into oblivion). My dad bought a smaller piece, and promised that I’ll get it when he’s dead. He’s very cheery.

And the crowds were up a bit more, the news from vendors was better. And another year is finished. Tomorrow…the splendours of the things so magical I bought them.

Tucson Gem & Mineral Show Day 1

The Tucson Gem and Mineral Show is one of my favourite things in the world…I have gone almost every year for…well. Since I was very small. People come from all over the world to sell unique and beautiful things, rocks and minerals and fossils that are much more impressive than those you could see in any museum. There are geodes of amatheyst twice as tall as I am, crystals that I cannot wrap my arms around they are so big, dinosaur skeletons, glimpses of the creatures that crawled the seas millions of years ago in extraordinary detail, trays of jewels and faceted gemstones ordered by size and weight and color, carvings and artwork in jewelry and gems and stone that make your eyes widen…I cannot even begin to describe it. And I took a couple of pictures to get a sense of the grandeur of it but I am highly unsatisfied with them artistically speaking. Maybe tomorrow. Still, the economy is hitting it with a sledgehammer. Usually it’s so packed you can barely move, but today was pretty empty, and the vendors said that sales were down…over 50% from last year for most. Sadness.

So I shall live for the day, and appreciate everything to the fullest. First, the opalized ammonites from Canada. If I had several thousand dollars of disposable cash, this is undoubtedly what I would buy, hands down. I love the shape of them, the color of them, the age of them, the rarity of them, the impossible beauty of them.

These are fossils, and the ammolite in the top picture is over 3 feet across. As they roamed wild in the oceans they were preyed upon by these huge dinosaurs that were truly the creatures of nightmare (among many other things, the sea is a wondrous but truly nasty place).

It’s only in death that these two could ever meet, as one ravaged the oceans and the other ravaged the land. I am quite thankful, however, to live in an era when things with teeth this size no longer exist. One of the ammolites had rows of holes in its shell almost an inch wide, it didn’t survive the attack. The reason so much of the shell survived is that these things were actually bigger than what you can see, there was a whole additional chamber that held the creature itself. And the attackers? Scientists now think they were warm blooded, which I find extraordinary. Neither reptiles nor fish, but mammals! And closest in structure to birds.

So for today, the only other good shot I took were of these rather random jellyfish…glass ones I believe. But since they’re from China, well, you never know. They were very cool.

They had laser lights however. Which made them cool but also somewhat…er…cheap? I think that might be the word. I don’t buy anything with laser lights. I do, however, have a thing for trilobites. And I bought this beauty from Morroco (Devonian period)

Gorgeous isn’t he?? And I am always torn by the fact that this show is full of incredible things I can afford (barely), though in a just world I should never be able to were anyone along the food chain getting a just wage. Like my trilobite here. But at least he shall be treasured.

So there’s a whole new age contingent present, which affords infinite…and I mean infinite amusement. So I’m going to share one ridiculous description a day I think, they come from the Metaphysical Guide to the Tucson  Jewelry, Mineral, Gem & Fossil Show. This is possibly my favourite annual publication. And actually, the descriptions below are very short versions of the catalog from the Heaven and Earth store, since I can’t be arsed to type the articles in spite of the fact that they are infinitely more amusing.

Merlinite (ahh the gullibility of the American public)

Merlinite is the name given to gemstones, which exhibit the combination of white quartz & black psilomelane. The best specimens, found in New Mexico, sometimes show druzy crystallization.

Mystic Lore: Intuitive sources say that Merlinite is a stone of magic, conjuring the memories of wizards and alchemists. It is said to blend heavenly and earthly vibrations, allowing one access to multiple realms. It can be used to access the akashic records, to draw upon the powers of the elements, to enhance shamanic practices, and to bring magic into one’s life.

Du Bois, the Black Panthers, and the lumpen

Came over to Norwalk today to hang out with Meo…the parents of small children really do fall asleep early! To get here of course, it takes two trains, I almost miss taking the train. The blue line was actually full of camaraderie today, and the blind guy who always comes on the train to ask for change actually took out one of his fake eyes. He did quite well. And I got some reading in.

I was reading Cornell West and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. – The Future of the Race. I picked it up in the library on a whim. It is Gates and West essentially reacting to W.E.B. Du Bois’ essay “The Talented Tenth.” And I believe I read this in college, when I was just angry and not politicized. It shocked me reading it again, Du Bois says:

“Can the masses of the Negro people be in any possible way more quickly raised than by the effort and example of this aristocracy of talant and character? Was there ever a nation on God’s fair earth civilized from the bottom upward? Never; it is, ever was and always will be from the top downward that culture filters. The Talented Tenth rises and pulls all that are worth the saving up to their vantage ground.”

Which is, of course, pretty much the absolute antithesis of everything I believe. They idea of anyone deciding who is worth saving actually makes me want to throw something. I do not believe that “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its great men.” Or even women for that matter. Of course, I suppose Du Bois makes sense if you conserve the framework of capitalism.

Funny that for Du Bois, change comes from the top tenth. For Marx, the middle-lower bit, the industrial workers…was it ever as high as 60%? In a world with ever more lumpens the workers are shrinking I believe. And for the Black Panthers it was the bottom…how many are at the bottom now? 20%, 40%, 50%? It all depends on your definition I suppose. I wonder about Mao’s peasants, and who comprises the anarchist’s masses. I’m reading Elaine Brown’s autobiography now as well…it’s big and hardcover and not at all portable. And it is astonishing.

I don’t really have anything thought out today, these are just things I was thinking on the train.

Ridiculous bar conversation

The scene? My favourite dive bar in Echo Park. The people? A tall hipster (HIP) wearing something exceedingly tweedy that went down to his mid thigh, and a beard. I don’t understand the fashion for beards, but since I don’t kiss hipsters, I really don’t mind. The girl he was with (G) was cute, and I believe he was aiming pretty high, though you never know with girls. Sometimes I’m sad when I think that if all girls boycotted hipsters, we wouldn’t have any more of them…

HIP: I’m going to go get a beer.

G: Oh. Hey! Here’s money for a shot.

HIP: Oh no no no, thanks, but REALLY I shouldn’t…

(G stares at HIP)

HIP: Oh, you mean for YOU! Sure.