Los Angeles

No! Not the Last, Please!

I write to remember. I remember because I write and revisit memories with my writing. Words and images. In uniting they offer me moments and emotions that would have sadly perished from my mind. So the name of one of my favorite bookstores in Los Angeles brings me a nostalgic feeling: The Last Bookstore. Joy that there is one and sadness that bookstores are probably on the endangered list.

After a quick snap of my shutter, I skip up to the second floor (I am childishly giddy right now). Each step proposing more sections to explore.

I get a grand view of the cavernous, old space, filled with books which I have just combed through.

How exciting… I am entering a labyrinth! Here I will find Science, Fiction & Fantasy. Then Mystery, Thrillers, Tru Crime, and Horror.

I have recently formed part of the jury at a film festival: the Festival Montevideo Fantástico, so Horror is a genre I am partial to.

Many of the genres in the back room are also of my liking: History, Cultural Studies, New Age, Religion, Foreign Language, Business, Travel, and Sports.

You know the Travel section is the one I spent considerable time in.

I love how the books are so artfully displayed, becoming more sculptural than reading material.

I’m not really wondering how they made this tunnel of books but which one I can pluck out without making it all come crumbling down.

Is the spotlight on me right now?

I have no idea of what these are but they seem at home in the horror section.

Art merges with the printed word here. It holds an art collective as well. Am on my way to it now.

As in The Broad, you may not touch the art.

Though you can sit on it.

Photography is an art and I’m happy to see the cameras themselves become one.

Music is an art as well and here, sculpture and music unite.

Art is often political.

Art makes a statement. It was January when I visited but this Christmas tree made out of prescription bottles was not brought down yet. I don’t think this was due to sentimentality; it had a message to relay.

Art makes me contemplative. I’m not into cuss words being used but it seems to be the go-to thing now, to provoke an emotion.

As is the use of animals to elicit emotions.

As I leave the focus goes back to words. The editor in me can’t help but question the “Nuestra Señora la Reina de la Librería Última de Los Angeles” translation from English to Spanish, under this sculpture on the wall.

I say goodbye to this bookstore. I thank it for entertaining me and I’m off to my next adventure.

Down the stairs that run alongside the Angels Flight railway (the shortest railway in the world). Technically it’s a funicular.

And into The Grand Central Market to fill my belly up with German currywurst at Berlin Currywurst remembering having had some in a lounge chair from a vendor on the side of a park in Berlin that had the area covered in sand resembling a beach. Happy memory. It tasted the same!

What next? Follow me!

Categories: Los Angeles | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The “Broad” is not a Female

Definition by online Your Dictionary (yes, there is such a thing): slanga woman: sometimes considered offensive. So this Broad is not female and it is The Broad: a contemporary art museum in Los Angles, California.

I confess: though I thoroughly enjoy contemporary art, I am not quite well-versed in it. This homage to it comes to us free of charge (all you have to do is get a ticket online –gratis) thanks to Mr. and Mrs. philanthropists and collectors, the Broads, – pronounced in a completely different way than the female kind. I did not take pictures of the Broad’s exterior (criticized and exalted – striking nonetheless) so I take some of the entrance and windows from the inside. The windows in the building designed to let light in, yet not damage the art.

Visiting the most famous works first.  You certainly can’t avoid Jeff Koons’ -the world’s most expensive living artist- Tulips. I believe this is the same one I once saw in Steve Wynn’s Bellagio in Vegas, who bought the sculpture in 2013 for a cool $33.7 million.

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I photograph away as usual but this time I bring you me doing so, acquiescing to requests from readers that I include myself in photos.

Just as impressive as his Tulips is his Balloon Dog.  Koons is a master craftsman for sure.  An orange balloon dog sold for a record $58.4 Million in 2013. It was the first of a litter of five. I wonder how much this blue puppy fetched.

P1480343  In case you are thinking that he only has dogs in his menagerie, he also has bunnies.

Another of Koons’ favorite, most well-known works (part of his Banality series) is his life-sized Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture.

Before we leave Jeff (we’re on a first-name basis) I bring you Koons’ Jim Beam, J.B. Turner train (part of his Luxury and Degradation series) which has a super interesting story (it’s a decanter, so it involves liquor) of how it came to be. Click here. Worth the watch. It reminds me of a friend that not only loves trains but makes miniature ones. His, however, I am sure don’t cost near the $33.8 this one sold for in 2014.

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Oh no! Honey, did I shrink the tourists? What I like about contemporary art is the humor classical art lacks. The way it makes us look at common things in a new way. Robert Therrien presents us with everyday objects offering a different perspective.

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To prove that there is humor (even though I’m sure there is other intent in the work) here is something from a conceptual, performance, German artist. (His is the name on the plaque.)

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The above is probably the only lifting that I don’t need! I sometimes feel like this monumental painting by English painter Jenny Saville, Strategy.

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I am in downtown Los Angeles but whenever you mention my city Hollywood is the first thing that comes to people’s mind. Did you know that Hollywood is a verb? The artist Ruscha says so.

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A bit narcissistically, I like what I can connect with in some way.  A few months ago, I came back from five months in Spain, a country that I hold a passport to, so this collage from the above-mentioned artist, had my eye.

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Though I don’t quite understand what one has to do with the other, I like that this one (same artist) includes a flashback to my childhood with Cracker Jack. P1480378

To continue let me get rid of the paparazzi…P1480388

So kind of Barbara Kruger to tell me I’m a very special person (photographic silkscreen on vinyl). She’s an American artist that works with pictures, which automatically makes me like her.

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The next piece seems just right for this town.  From the Broad’s website: Untitled (If you’re so successful, why do you feel like a fake?), 1987, is a direct interrogation of the motivations of contemporary society—career building, money, and the appearance of success and good living. Kruger’s assertive display demands an answer from viewers. Unlike in advertising, which may ask a question to compel a purchase, Kruger’s work uses the same techniques to compel ethical change and reflection.  Getting to understand this type of art better thanks to it. Will not delve why I like the”Hug Me” piece further than that that hugging is one of my favorite things. 🙂

I’m a Taurus so I connected with this collage Beef Ribs Longhorn by Jean-Michel Basquiat.P1480404

Before I even read the caption, this mixed media collage reminded me of Manhattan, a city I called home for over 11 years. Good work by Mark Bradford. Per the sign on its side: “Across 110th Street gets its title from the eponymous 1072 Blaxploitation film as well as from the social and physical dividing line between Harlem and the rest of Manhattan.”

America (the U.S.A. in this case) is represented in a grand way.  Firstly by Jasper John, known for this oversized, gigantic flag. P1480393

And in duplicate by Glenn Ligon.P1480336

Also represented, curiously, with a tribute by Jeff Koons to actor/film director Buster Keaton.P1480344

A good segue to an Andy Warhol silkscreen P1480397 (this a self-portrait) and of his Two Marilyn Monroes that impressed me, even more, when I read that this one was number #27 in the silkscreening process. “The silkscreened image deteriorates with each printing, acting as a physical metaphor for the waning of fame and the fading of memory. Warhol’s diptych of Monroe is of an icon losing her essence, becoming distorted by time and saturated retelling.” Per the Broad as well: “Marilyn Monroe died in the early hours of August 5, 1962. A few weeks later, Andy Warhol began silkscreening Monroe’s face onto canvases. Using a portrait of the celebrated star taken from a publicity still, Warhol cropped tight around the edges of Monroe’s face and hair with a grease pencil. Warhol had only learned how to silkscreen a few months earlier, but already he was able to achieve his desired effect with the medium.”

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I reached a painting so big, in five panels, that I could not photograph it complete so I do it in pieces. Initially, I thought that it was by a female painter for some reason; the painter, Lari Pittman, has said he is gay and a feminist so I guess I wasn’t too far off.

I have a wish, a P1480371 (Desire, painting by Edward Ruscha), that I have not bored you. That you have learned something and that you will want to return to the museum by my hand or without me.

If you have not enjoyed visiting with me,  P1480365 (I’m Sorry by Roy Lichtenstein).

We are going to get literary on our next trip.

Categories: Los Angeles, The Broad, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Road to Hollywood Forever is a Lifetime

I walk, drawn to side streets by colors of street art. I have stopped often but as Bill Murray’s character would say “It just doesn’t matter!” I am in Hollywood.  p1480001

Continuing on the color theme (not for long, I promise) there’s a building that just can’t help but catch my attention. It’s pink and garish and pretentious to call itself Hollywood Dream Suites. I suspect that they are not. I later find out that it’s a hotel and from the reviews I read, I may have been right.

I pass Raleigh Studios where I once filmed an episode of Castle.

Across the street is Paramount Studios.

I wasn’t specifically meaning to go to where it all ends for some, but the end of the year was approaching and there was some poetry into visiting a cemetery.  I had visited before but it was at night and my attention was held by a projection of an old movie on one of its mausoleums. A bit heretical perhaps but in Hollywood there is little that seems inappropriate.

I am greeted by a creature that is very much alive and quite interested in the chips I’m chomping down on.

 

p1480004 Near the entrance here is a little section that seems straight out of Southeast Asia. Possibly Thailand. I reminisce and long to be back.

p1480005  The niches of some are still decorated for Christmas. Very much a Latino/Mexican culture tradition.

I walk into some mausoleums. It is peaceful but cold inside. They draw you to whisper rather than hear your voice bounce back to you in an loud echo.

It is in one of them, a smaller one, where Judy Garland rests.

I go outside and enjoy the day and the greenery and flowers which abound.

This cemetery, dare I say, amuses me. There are people with sense of humor recorded forever in the engravings they commission on their tombs.

A graphic artist has his tomb shaped as a rocket. I believed that it was his way to ensure a direct flight to heaven. But engraved is “The atlas, pioneer in space, symbolizes the lifetime activities of Carl Morgan Bigsby, a recognized leader in many phases of the graphic arts, he too was a pioneer.”  The atlas, an exact scale of the original missile The Pioneer Atlas.  His tomb reads Carl Morgan Bigsby 1898 – 1959… RETIRED BY GOD.  Sad that he would not be able to see the smiles generated from that line.

And of course, it’s Hollywood so a film camera portrayed in granite adorns the tomb of a foreign director. p1480016

And what is film without music? Johnny Ramone still plays on his grave next to the film director.

Hatie McDaniels has a surprisingly humble tombstone. She was the “mammy” figure in the film Gone with the Wind.  In 1940 she got an Academy Award for best supporting actress. She was the first African American to receive an Oscar. p1480020

The grave of Irene Guadagno “Mama Irene” caught my attention because she had my middle name -which I never liked so please forget I mentioned it- and because it was pretty cool to me the posture with raised arms with which she was immortalized. Since then I learned that was an Italian entrepreneur mother of Pasquale Rotella (who was married to Holly Madison of Playboy fame). p1480022

Anton Yelchin, an actor, who was killed at 27, in a freak accident when his car crushed him against a security fence is looking on to the cemetery lake. His grave is marked 3-11-89 – Forever. p1480025

And then there’s Toto, who is not buried here but has a granite statue of him in remembrance.

Mickey Rooney is here.

Entering another mausoleum before they close all at 5:00 pm. It almost feels like going into a European museum hall.

More smiles as I exit and encounter another tombstone of an English actor that only has the date of death and not of birth. So like an actor to never reveal his/her age.p1480039

Marzie Harris was a Loving Mother, Sister, Daughter… and occasional wife. I wonder if that engraving was her idea. p1480052

There’s a lake that has a small island with a huge mausoleum. It belongs to William Andrews Clark Jr. a philanthropist and a lawyer who founded the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

The lake is tranquil and full of life.

On the peripheral of the cemetery there is more life. There’s a group of cats, all white and black, that consider this their home as well as some peacocks that make any visiting car wait for long minutes until they cross the path.

On the way out an angel makes me sad. p1480059

I leave and roam the streets some more, searching for color. I don’t walk long before encountering it.

Can’t resist the urge to end the day with a sweet treat. A YumYum Donut with fresh icing on it. Life continues. p1480072

 

 

Categories: Hollywood Forever, Los Angeles, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

On my way to Forever

There are runners and there are walkers. I am a walker. Always thought that runners may be burning more calories but miss out on so much that observant walkers do not. So I walk. A lot.

I’m in Silver Lake and though the neighborhood lures you into just enjoying the camaraderie inherent in a barrio-like environment (not in the bad connotation the word barrio may have for some) p1470955 I put on my walking shoes and out I go. There is so much to see and enjoy along the way.  What seems a community garden populated by a giant spider that once must have been covered in flowers and a Love sign with ball and chain attached (quite appropriate I thought).

An old door sports my 2nd favorite color. 20181230_162153  I truly like these oldies, even the decrepit ones.  Then a church in white and blue bathed in light.

The opening act to an alley that seems to have come alive out of a postcard from the island of Mykonos. p1470959

After a quick glance at a mural, p1470953 a climb up graffiti lined stairs as I huff and puff up. Don’t know to where it leads. Don’t much care. A bit the way I’ve been leading my life lately.

The climb was worth it ’cause it offers a fine view of downtown Los Angeles.

And now for a mural fix. One advertising one of my favorite guilty fixes: donuts.

One from a culture I am connected to. 20181230_163938

Another on the wall of a Floyd’s Barbershop (a chain that has been popping up in all the hipster gentrified areas) painted by Jonas Never a baseball player turned muralist that has gained much notoriety. I liked the snippet of daily life being held in front of it as the one with the older woman in a bright color next to one of the few public telephones left.

At the back of a gas station a very detailed mural which I would think was done by a woman but have not found any information on.

Everywhere you look, be it on the ground or on the side, there is a mural waiting to amuse you, impress you or prompt you to reflect. Seems like in Los Angeles eyes are everywhere, Rolls Royce’s have wings, koi fishes don’t need water or food, alien characters like balloons, we love Annie, clowns are sad, and kitties are happy…

This one impressed me.  p1470972

This one with a quote of: “I am a reflection of my community” in the form of a butterfly, touched me.p1470969  Lest we not believe so, LA welcomes you.

I love buddhas. I am drawn in by the buddhist way of life. I left a huge part of my heart in the region of Southeast Asia where it is practiced so this wall of a meditation studio, Insight LA, attracts me. Its mission a laudable one and I here quote it:

“Here is our commitment: In this world, with its great beauty and many difficulties, we will train our hearts in peace and kindness and courageously take a stand against all forms of greed, hatred, delusion, and cruelty.  

We acknowledge the implicit and overt violence that has been done to individuals based on race, gender sexual orientation, immigration status, gender identity, religion, body size, ability, age and class. We recognize the violence that has been done to our planet and to the first nations peoples who have stewardess this land before us.

We pledge to undo the forces of ill-will and isolation in ourselves and in our world. We will offer to all who come practices of mindfulness, compassion and wisdom. And inwardly and in our actions, we pledge to hold all beings in a circle of mutual respect, love and unity. May our resolve and our practice together benefit all.”

You might think that my walk was only about murals but I’m actually headed somewhere but even though I did get there on this day, I will have to take you in the next blog.  Come along, won’t you?

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