Thursday, January 31, 2008

January wrap

Too many things on my mind. I'm in the middle of moving my website to an new host. I've been with Ehostpros from the beginning but never liked them. Inertia kept me tied in but January is renewal time and I finally switched to a new company, StartLogic. Before figuring out the new software I'll need. You know my motto. Leap before you look. If I don't figure it out in the next few days, my main email account will start bouncing. Lovely. Thanks, me. I already let the Driftwork site go for now. No loss there but I don't want to lose my email. Seems I have at least two main personalities, the devil may care side and then the one who has to fix the mess she leaves in her wake. That would be me.

And, in case you are on pins and needles waiting for those photos from My Trip To LA, I am working on it. Another mess she left me with because she didn't want to bother packing the camera cord and decided I could sort through everything all at once, after we got home. And I did not plan to change blog templates today. Just went down the rabbit hole again.

And finally, sometime during our week in Los Angeles, Little Etude became silent ... pause pause pause... He made it over two weeks though. Tough little fellow, that Etude. Sang his heart out. Roy, you can take down your Christmas tree now.



Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend upwrap up


In other weekend news. Etude was silent when we got home. He was still singing when we left for our trip so I know he lasted at least two weeks and certainly longer. Goodbye, Little Etude, wherever you are.



Meat-guzzler


(I received these excerpts from DawnWatch, an animal advocacy media site.)
Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler

by Mark Bittman for the NYT

"A sea change in the consumption of a resource that Americans take for granted may be in store — something cheap, plentiful, widely enjoyed and a part of daily life. And it isn’t oil.

It’s meat.

"The two commodities share a great deal: Like oil, meat is subsidized by the federal government. Like oil, meat is subject to accelerating demand as nations become wealthier, and this, in turn, sends prices higher. Finally — like oil — meat is something people are encouraged to consume less of, as the toll exacted by industrial production increases, and becomes increasingly visible.

"Global demand for meat has multiplied in recent years, encouraged by growing affluence and nourished by the proliferation of huge, confined animal feeding operations. These assembly-line meat factories consume enormous amounts of energy, pollute water supplies, generate significant greenhouse gases and require ever-increasing amounts of corn, soy and other grains, a dependency that has led to the destruction of vast swaths of the world’s tropical rain forests."

Bittman also explains how factory farms contributes to global warming:

"Growing meat (it’s hard to use the word 'raising' when applied to animals in factory farms) uses so many resources that it’s a challenge to enumerate them all. But consider: an estimated 30 percent of the earth’s ice-free land is directly or indirectly involved in livestock production, according to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization, which also estimates that livestock production generates nearly a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gases — more than transportation.

"To put the energy-using demand of meat production into easy-to-understand terms, Gidon Eshel, a geophysicist at the Bard Center, and Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor of geophysics at the University of Chicago, calculated that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20 percent it would be as if we all switched from a standard sedan — a Camry, say — to the ultra-efficient Prius. Similarly, a study last year by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan estimated that 2.2 pounds of beef is responsible for the equivalent amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the average European car every 155 miles, and burns enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for nearly 20 days."

The article covers the impact of our meat eating on world hunger:

"Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States."

He also tells us that in meat production the use "of antibiotics is routine, so much so that it can result in antibiotic-resistant bacteria that threaten the usefulness of medicines that treat people." And he notes the many other health problems caused by high meat consumption, such as "heart disease, some types of cancer, diabetes." All this while, "It’s likely that most of us would do just fine on around 30 grams of protein a day, virtually all of it from plant sources."

He discusses environmentalism and animal welfare:
"Once, these animals were raised locally (even many New Yorkers remember the pigs of Secaucus), reducing transportation costs and allowing their manure to be spread on nearby fields. Now hog production facilities that resemble prisons more than farms are hundreds of miles from major population centers, and their manure 'lagoons' pollute streams and groundwater. (In Iowa alone, hog factories and farms produce more than 50 million tons of excrement annually.)"

And he writes:
"Animal welfare may not yet be a major concern, but as the horrors of raising meat in confinement become known, more animal lovers may start to react. And would the world not be a better place were some of the grain we use to grow meat directed instead to feed our fellow human beings?"

The whole article is superb. I urge you to read it at
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html

Those unfamiliar with "the horrors of raising meat in confinement"
check out the photo galleries at www.FactoryFarming.com




Wednesday, January 23, 2008

#29


magpie and i
we are alone on opposite
sides of the glass today
then she flies away



Monday, January 21, 2008

Bring on the clowns


Moon under Los Angeles

Okay. About that clown the other day. Perhaps, as Roy suggested, after spreading joy to the little people, he does go home to his wife, pour a cold one, kick off his supersize clown shoes, put his feet up, relax and fall asleep with a smile on his face while she or he massages his feet. And perhaps he makes the rent one smiley dollar a pop, like the nice shoeshine man Don mentioned, who supplements his income by posing for photographs. But whatever this clown does or is, it is not my concern. I need to think about what part I might have played in his rage. Two to tango and all that.


Bad, scary clown

So. I waved my camera in his direction in a hit or miss fashion without turning or slowing down and took a couple of shots. Why not? A stocky, bare-legged clown standing at the edge of the sidewalk wearing a jazzy mini-skirt and blouse, huge white mittens and a thick thick thick layer of white grease paint on his face and a fantastic wig made of beads. He doesn't want to be noticed? He yelled at me even though I was well out in the flow of people.


LA freeway clown mobile


I was going to joke about it but changed my mind. I first saw this guy when the three of us were walking up the sidewalk. Right away I knew something was up. Maybe it was the black lipstick. Maybe it was because, unlike most clowns I've seen, he was muscular and restless. He kind of freaked me out but I wanted a photo of him. He was interesting but I didn't take a picture then. Lately I've been practicing unframed, random shots and my timing was off but I was ready for him on the way back and got a couple of clicks before he yelled.


Santa Monica fish house in the rain


I was startled but turned and reached into my pocket for the dollar I'd put there to give to somebody if the occasion arose. When he saw that he really got angry and yelled something like, "I don't want your damn money. Keep it. You got what you want ... blah blah" and added some crap about my parents and what a terrible person I am or something. I don't remember. He was over the top. So I yelled back, "Fine. And you got what you want. A chance to be angry". That shut him up. And I enjoyed it but why, why, why do I engage? Still. Damn.


Armagosa Opera House, Death Valley Junction


I saw a station wagon on the freeway today with the word CLOWN written on the side in big, bold capital letters and repeated in smaller letters on the back. M. Lee said there was also a rainbow colored clown wig on the dash. I didn't catch that but it's probably good we're leaving tomorrow.


Aramagosa and Nevada state line

We did go back to Artesia for Dim Sum and another foot massage today and then explored the Chinese mall in Artesia. Kathy loved it. Said we could have been in China and not know the difference. We were the only non-Asians in sight.


Goldfield, Nevada


And finally, today we made it to the ocean. To a fish shack for dinner. Venice hardly counts as a beach. The place had good food (lots of yelps) but I didn't really like being there. They had two tanks filled with live lobsters. I cannot fathom selecting a living creature to be dropped in water and boiled to death. But I ate the fish. No difference, I guess. But boiled to death? Not a good way to die. We sat under the covered pavilion as rain beat on the plastic window coverings. It was intimate the way rain makes things. The weather was supposed to turn a lot earlier in the week so we had a sunny reprieve during our visit here but rain in LA means snow in the Sierra so tomorrow we will be taking a different route home.


The desert in winter - Nevada


M. Lee told me our alternate route will begin with David Lynch's road to the Inland Empire, aka Riverside/San Bernadino metropolitan area (approx. 40 m. east of LA) and from there we'll turn onto the Lost Highway (Hwy.127) through Death Valley. Works for me.


Sign near Yucca Mountain



Sunday, January 20, 2008

California fusion




Being in Los Angeles this week has been like going on a world tour without once having to take off my shoes at a damn airport or wonder if the water is drinkable although, for the most part, we're not drinking the water at the condo because it is discolored when we first turn the tap on in the morning. Anyway, fusion. It's what America (was supposed to) be all about.



M. Lee had another great day all mapped out this morning and off we went. We started at the Sunday outdoor Farmer's Market on Melrose. Needed vegetables. Not to knock RFD, but we overdid it there on the grains this week. We couldn't resist their veggie TV dinners and seitan steaks, true comfort food, but three nights in five was overkill. As usual, we only realize enough is enough when it's become too much.



So today, top of the list, we went in search of fresh veggies and fruit for tonight's dinner. The people watching at the market was okay but definitely not equal to Venice Beach although Brother Root was pretty interesting. He was an ENORMOUS black fellow dressed in a brown caftan over white pajama pants. He had long black dreadlocks and a pure white beard and it was instantly obvious to me that he is an ambassador sent by the root world to minster to the human world. He was selling oils, lotions, sage and well, I suppose, roots. Brother Root. He himself looked like a gigantic root in human form sprung from a mysterious healing tree whose trunk and branches grow downward into the loamy darkness of the underworld.


Brother Root


After the market we went to Ikea in Burbank. We need chairs for the game table we got at Christmas. Didn't find any. One way or other we're determined to rope some of our friends into regular game nights. Board games that is. So we need comfortable chairs. Being in Burbank got M. Lee and his mom talking about Roy Rogers, as it is the home of The Croonin' Cowboy Corral. Naturally the conversation drifted to Trigger, Roy's horse, and the fact that Roy had him stuffed and mounted after he died and that he's in a museum somewhere. The thought of seeing Trigger's corpse started me wondering once again about just which side of the river are we actually on. People, horses, bugs, everything and everyone in this world dies... leaves, goes poof or whatever you call it. Disappears.



But the corpse remains in our world. I don't know. I'm not trying to figure it out. Don't want to know and, more importantly, don't want to THINK I know. But it's one of my favorite themes. I like the sense, the suspension of ordinary reality, such musings evoke.

Lunch was at a vegetarian buffet in "Little India" (Artesia) at a place called Woodlands. Yelpers give it 4.5 stars. The house specialty is the tasty dosa. For all my years in the Krishna movement, I never had one before, never even heard of them, which M. Lee was only too happy to point out. I don't mind. I can be humble.


On our way to Artesia, he explained to us that the town not yet been awarded a "Little India" sign by whatever branch of government is in charge of doing such things and people are disgruntled. I was inclined to sympathize. After all, LA is crammed with "Little" this and "Little" that so why not give a "Little India" a sign to "Little India"? That was on the way to Artesia. The Woodlands was wonderful and obviously the town has an Indian community but "Little India"? At least from what we saw, seems it needs to get a bit bigger first. We saw more Chinese shops. Just sayin'.



After lunch we tried going to the observatory in Griffith Park but it was jammed so we went on to Y-Que where we picked up some cool tshirts, including one for M. Lee's dad (a musician) which says, "I control humans with music". Then we stopped at Out of the Closet in West Hollywood (five Yelp stars) where Kathy and I found a couple more treasures.





It was there I found my Big Find of the Day, a Franz Kafka tee. Oh yeah. Then on to the Melrose Trading Post (four Yelps). We had to pay a buck each to get in which irked the hell out of M. Lee but it turned out to be worth all the pain. Kathy found a lovely Year of the Rat pendant (two rats curling around one another) for his dad who is, as you might guess, a Rat.

And dinner? Mmmmm...wonderful veggie tamales from the Farmer's Market, an incredible salad and one giant flax seed cook each.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

L.A. top to bottom



Rodeo Drive


Lana Turner's old place

Another day exploring the extremes of Los Angeles beginning with a drive through Beverly Hills. M. Lee got a rough "star map" at Travelocity's destination guides and I read directions off the laptop while he drove. His mom got a kick out of seeing homes of some of the early Hollywood stars. The guide is not very well written but got us to some famous residences such as two of Marilyn Monroe's homes, Gene Kelly's, Jack Benny's, Lana Turner's house (the one where her teenage daughter stabbed Johnny Stompanato to death), Priscilla Presley's mansion, and Jay Leno's garage where he stores his collection of sports cars.

Ferrari mansion


And there were plenty of obscenely opulent places in between like the gated mansion with some 10 or 15 Ferraris parked in front in a row, in alternating colors of bright red and dazzling yellow with one sedate, black Rolls Royce parked at the end. Then a picnic lunch at a park on Mulholland Drive. Then a quick drive down Rodeo Drive. She knew the designers. I took weird angle pictures.



Then off to Venice for a stroll along a few of its canals before walking through the carnival like atmosphere along the beach. I took lots of photos there. Candid shots are getting easier as I get more comfortable being sneaky. Most people didn't even seem to notice and only one seemed mind.


Bad, scary clown


However, an elaborately costumed clown wearing thick white paint became kind of menacing when I took his photo but I ask you, why wear a damn clown suit and stand around at Venice Beach on Saturday afternoon if you don't want to be noticed? I won't actually know how the photos turned out until I get home but at a glance most appear to be in focus.


Good, friendly clown


After the beach, we managed to do 3 second hand stores on the way to RFD for dinner, then a quick stop for supplies at Gelson's Market in West Hollywood. It's only a couple of blocks from where we're staying.





Doin' the board walk












A sad, footless pigeon foraging for food.









Nevada caucus

Damn! Today is the Nevada caucus and I'm in LA. Sorry, Barack! I'd vote for you if I were there. This would have been my first caucus. I've got opinions galore but until Bush fucked everything up so totally and completely, I have stayed out of the process. The last two elections, I have pitched in and called voter lists a couple of times. That's how desperate the situation has become.


Friday, January 18, 2008

From the feet up



M. Lee and I had our first foot massages today (Kathy's treat) and are we hooked! Being our resident expert researcher, M. Lee picked the place but, as he likes to keep his sources to himself, you didn't hear that he read about it at Yelp.com from me.




That little tidbit is definitely off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush. But Yelp is a user driven site so what the hey? Give it a whirl.



Los Angeles proper has a new Chinatown located where Little Italy used to be. That's where we had lunch yesterday, but the real new Chinatown is a few miles east of LA in San Gabriel, which has become a massive Asian ethno-burb. Incidentally, East West Magazine calls it the foot-massage capital of the country. That's where we ended up going. We started with Dim Sum at 261 Mission, then went to CCM Health Inc. I have nothing to compare them to but when Kathy's in China she gets a foot massage every day. She rated them as one of the best.



In spite of having a horribly dry corporate sounding name, CCM turned out to be a tiny, homey hole in the wall with the ambient charm of a psyche's parlor but instead of crystal balls and tarot cards it is stuffed with big easy chairs and has a couple of corners curtained off for full body massage. Foot massages used to run about $70 an hour but are now so popular that competition is up and prices down. Ours were $15 an hour plus tip. We're planning to return again on Monday, which is our last day in LA and the Do Over - Pick Up Day. We all agree that a foot massage needs to be on the top of the list.



So. Now I'm a reviewer of foot massage parlors. Lovely. I never know where the words are going to take me. I am definitely not in charge here. For a while I was enjoying fitting the words to the page, like a crossword puzzle, not paying attention to what's filling the spaces as much as making sure they fit.



I'm kind of disgusted. No offense to reviewers. They get paid for writing the damn things. I'm just doing it because tapping away at a keyboard calms me. But at this point I'm like a poor rat in a cage tapping the pellet bar long after the pellets are gone. Sad.



But Los Angeles continues to be a fun city to visit.



We might as well be in a foreign country.



For most people in the world it is in a foreign country.



Hollywood,



City of Dreams.



Tomorrow we're going to Venice beach and I don't know where else. Our favorite place to eat so far is RFD, a little place on La Cienega that serves delicious organic vegan cuisine.




Every day is packed with fun. I can't stand it anymore.




I feel completely out of sorts without a little angst to ground me.





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