Beast Coast to Best Coast: Its art art everywhere…

dc2

When I worked in DC, I used to walk out the front door of my office building and across the street to the National Portrait Gallery, to think.  I’d stroll and think. It was the perfect place to do so; with free admission you can simply pop in for 15 minutes and roam the halls, rubbing elbows with America’s earliest painters or modern photography exhibits, just long enough to get your mind working in a different direction again.

dc1

Now when I walk out the front door of my office building, I quickly find myself at Michael Jackson’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  It’s a block east of CNN’s LA bureau on Sunset and Cahuenga. A news ticker streams the headlines across the street to Amoeba Music, one of those old dinosaurs–a real live record store.  If you were wondering where to find the best pizza in all of Hollywood, let me just tell you, this place is like walking into and out of Brooklyn just crossing the threshold.  If you tweet Joe’s Pizza @joespizzait they will give you 15% off your order.  They’re on Hollywood Blvd. and Wilcox.dc3

Note to self: Don’t get derailed by the costume shops and bewildered tourists muddling over the pink and black, flecked terrazzo streets. Hollywood Blvd. can seem like a strange place, but the buttoned up hipster kids are really just programmers and the cats with the full sleeve tattoos are the graphic designers. Trailer Park, the entertainment marketing agency that puts out the slickest movie trailers for blockbuster films and designs campaigns for the latest video games, is just up the boulevard.

BeFunky_photo (36)

Walk down Wilcox to Selma and you’ll see one of the most precious gems of all. The empty building directly on the corner gets buffed over almost every day because almost every night street artists put up new wheat pastes.  If you catch it at the right time, you can find some pretty epic work.

nomatterwhatness

Art that is born from a determined, rebellious spirit and put into action, long after the rest have resigned to the morning. Art that knows no boundaries, for better or worse, in the search for a voice.  The same way that a good and gritty ground game in a campaign can achieve an eloquent brilliance. Or epic disaster. But somehow still give everyone a good laugh.

elroy

During the election, it was awesome.

photo (24)

I started snapping them with my iphone whenever I was quickly passing by, then posting the photos to Instagram.  Different artists have found the posts and its connected me to new friends and collaborators. The pieces I’ve spotted have been so unique and special to me, for their content but also for their ephemeral timeliness, like pop culture hitting you on the head with a hammer. Then disappearing the next night. A real live street art twitter.

photo (21)

obama wheatpaste

That’s the fortunate thing about doing what I do, in the place I do it.  We consistently embark on new creative endeavors.  Surrounded by corporate news headquarters and small powerhouse production shops, 15 minutes to the local government of Downtown LA, and never too far from a coffee shop for those long and caffeine-fueled brainstorming sessions. We strike a chord between fine art and street art.  Guerrilla film-making and presidential advance.  Nestled in the craziest little neighborhood, but ready to travel anywhere, in the name of inspiration.

Why you should be coming to DC’s SW Waterfront, like, now.

this post is dedicated to Ashley and Flora <3As a young professional transplanting to DC, I was overwhelmed with all the little nooks and crannies that took on their own characteristic neighborhood vibe.  Columbia Heights tasted like a $2 can of Pabst and pupusas. Georgetown smelled like brunch and breeze, with expensive perfume wafting in the air. And the Hill was strong coffee and late whiskey nights, for sure.

But as a California girl with a particular fondness for seeing the ocean every day, I needed a place with access to water and an undone attitude that belied the career driven ambition of the District.  Enter: the SW Waterfront. DC’s smallest quadrant. Now don’t get me wrong, the Waterfront is notorious for being somewhat… vacant.  But it makes up for what it lacks in general diversity, with its anonymity.  In a city where you can and will run into everyone from exes to employers on a jumbling and boisterous Friday night metro ride, its a fantastic thing to feel incognito. Under the radar, as you stroll along the Riverwalk, past the hauntingly serene Titanic Memorial.Or come down to Nationals stadium (technically SE but by a stones throw) and watch the hometown heroes of no one’s home town–The Nationals–play some good old fashioned baseball. I always try to go to the games they play against the Dodgers so I can see my boys in blue and annoy the Washington fans.After the game you can always swing by the new restaurant Station 4 if you’re feeling like something a bit more upscale after sitting in the bleachers all day.  I must admit, despite their close proximity to the SW Waterfront metro stop, I have never actually eaten here.  But they do have Peroni in this beautiful, curvaceous Italian-sex-kitten tap.Last summer we saw Thievery Corporation perform at the pop-up tennis court Kastles Stadium at The Wharf. It was an amazing show and its always nice to hear live music by water.

The late, great Chuck Brown came out and joined them for a song. I’m so happy I got to see this DC legend in-person before he passed. Mad love to you, man.But the real star of SW is, of course, the rowdy and rockin’ Cantina Marina.  For us So Cal types, it feels a bit like the grungy beachy vibe of VeniceThe palm trees may be plastic and the view may be of the Anacostia River, but my goodness!  With a drink in your hand and Bob Marley or the Chili Peppers blaring over the flirtatious chatter of the patrons, you might as well be anywhere you want to be.  So maybe the water is always  bluer just over the horizon. But for now DC’s sunny evenings and impending summer days have me heading to the SW Waterfront.

See you there cats and kittens!

-Aimee

Blind love for SONG 1: Mixed media outdoor exhibition at the Hirshhorn museum

hirshhorn3For nearly two months the Hirshhorn museum, with its circular shape and unique design, has served as the canvas for an experiential artistic exhibition.  California born and based artist Doug Aitken has transformed the iconic building into a living, 360-degree film reel, projecting his original short film SONG 1 on the entirety of the building every night until May 20th.  The short is set to the tune of the hypnotic “I Only Have Eyes for You” which bellows on repeat from speakers surrounding the museum out onto the National Mall and through the busy streets.

For maximum reading experience click here and continue:

Beginning at sunset and concluding at midnight, the artist’s vision of “liquid architecture” blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.  He fashions a multimedia outdoor experience that makes the audience feel like they are both watching and a part of the exhibition.

hirshhorn2The song which provides the soundtrack for the exhibition, originally written in 1934 but best remembered for the 1959 recording by The Flamingos, opens with a proclamation of blind love. The kind of jaw-dropping, heart-wrenching tunnel vision that leaves you dangerously enamored and unaware of everything else. The kind of love blindness that would get you run over by a car if you weren’t careful.
2012-04-05_21-22-16_286The characters in the film, who each seem alone in the midst of the same intensely personal journey, traverse the rounded exterior walls of the Hirshhorn in varying ways so that the film cannot be viewed entirely from one vantage point. The singers helplessly pose questions into the night, unsure about their own surroundings, unable to make the simplest conclusions about reality.  In the fog of passion.  Sitting in the sculpture garden, staring up into the projection–or walking around the building for a new perspective, the singers beg us to answer, “Are the stars out tonight?”  We can’t help but look up into the real darkened sky hovering above our heads. They are. And Venus is low. We go off into a tangent conversation about her as we gaze upward, still humming the song to ourselves.

2012-04-05_21-24-56_20In that song I’ve heard a million times but will never hear the same way again, a dizzily delirious lover laments that he’s unsure if he’s in a garden or a crowded avenue.  And as the characters in the film swirl in and out of different urban scenes, the audience too feels the confusion.  At times they are standing in parking lots upon which the actual trees around the Hirshhorn cast perfect shadows, seamlessly bending reality into art. At other times, blaring sirens screech down Independence Avenue disrupting the focus and yet, somehow mimicking the disorienting effects of this blind love by breaking down and building up the substance and content of the piece, itself.

hirshhorn1Like real blind love, the exhibition swirls around its viewer in vibrant colors and perfect harmonies, familiar images cloaked in compellingly provocative newness.  Even loneliness. Its unsteady and surreal.  Sounds from the city seamlessly harmonize with the sobering but sweet vocals.  Crowds may go by, but the art carries on. The images are evolving, twisting, turning, pulling at your heart in a landscape, cinematic spell.

The installation is entering its final week so be sure to swing by the Hisrhhorn so you don’t miss this amazing experience. With its music, imagery and incredibly powerful moments, its never the same thing twice.  A visual and emotional spectacle as delirious, exciting and confusing as love. A kind of blind love.

But who doesn’t appreciate a well-timed “shoo-bop-shoo-bop.”

That’s all for now cats and kittens.

–Aimee

I saw the sign and it opened up a can of worms: NIMBY in Hollyweird

Today residents of Hollyweird will get to stand up and debate how best to deal with the thousands of tourists who flock to the neighborhood surrounding the infamous Hollywood sign, in search of the best vantage point.  A community hearing will be held at 4pm PDT in a municipal community room at 6501 Fountain Ave.Anyone who has ever done this before knows exactly where to find the best spot to take pictures in front of the Hollywood sign: the dog park at 3000 Canyon Lake Drive.  The dog park is a really cool spot to snap a few pictures and see some super cute dogs.  In fact, its the closest you can get by car.But, residents of the 87-year-old neighborhood surrounding the sign have been increasingly complaining about tourists, as the roads through the hills are narrow, winding and easily jammed.  And, with the advent of Google Maps and GPS, more and more people are finding their way into these small neighborhoods to take awesome yoga pictures in front of the sign (among other types of photos.)Some residents have even gone rogue and started posting their own signs which read, “Tourist Free Zone” or directing sight-seers out of the narrow neighborhoods with arrows.  There has been a dispute over designating this park as an official viewpoint for the sign, with city council member Tom Labonge leading the charge.  According to the LA Times, local residents are fearful that this project “will act as a huge magnet for even more tourists.”But what Hollywood tale would be complete without a little drama?  The home-owners associations are going at it.  While some condemn the use of the park as an official sight-seeing spot, others love the idea!  The Hollywoodland Home Owners Assn. cautions against the increased risk of wild fires and accidents due to increased tourism.  The Beachwood Canyon Neighborhood Assn. released the following statement:

“Thanks to the office of Councilmember Tom LaBonge… the area is getting nicer and more open, which means that those who have found their own way into Hollywoodland and want to take a photo of the Hollywood sign don’t have to stand in the street.”

What do YOU think about the predicament?  Have you ever trekked up into the hills to see the sign?  Can residents really complain about tourism when they’re living underneath one of the most iconic images in America?  Let me know your thoughts and stay tuned!  The meeting is set to begin in approximately 2 hours.

That’s all for now cats and kittens,

–Aimee

“George W. Bush The 9/11 Interview” Advance Premiere Screening on the day of the DC earthquake

What can a DC earthquake and National Geographic teach us about social consciousness?

Yesterday the DC area was rocked by an earthquake that lead to the temporary evacuation of most buildings downtown.  As my office building overflowed with people descending onto the sidewalk, hurrying outside mumbling, chattering and bursting with the adrenalin that accompanies any natural event, I was struck by a thought.  My, how quickly our trusted, modern society can deteriorate.  Phone lines down.  Texts not going through.  Emails bouncing back.  People flooding the sidewalk.  Everyone passing around misinformation on the epicenter and magnitude of the quake.  A bit of confusion descends upon us simple humans and our norms begin to crack in an emergency situation.Being a Southern California native, I have lived through several earthquakes, most notably the Northridge earthquake of 1994 which awoke us all in a fright, knocked down parts of our highways and destroyed our homes.  Having this experience I was unafraid and unaffected by yesterday’s events.

Until…I was invited to the National Geographic Channel for the advance screening of the new documentary “George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview” scheduled for a US premiere this Sunday, on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  In this personal, candid interview with the former president, he tells the story of 9/11 in his own words. This is his first and only interview on this subject.  It explores the decisions made by the former president on the day of September 11th, 2001, as he focuses on describing what he calls “the fog of war” that swept over the highest branch of our government.

There were times when I got teary eyed, watching our nation struggle with the harsh reality of death and the surprise of the attack we faced that fateful day.  Other times I laughed out loud at our former president’s explanation of the unfolding events, or else cringed at some of his responses.

photo courtesy of National Geographic Channel, Photo credit: Whitney Johnson

As the sad but familiar tale unfolded, recounting the day hour by hour, I couldn’t help but acknowledge the immense way in which our country came together during this time of despair and mourning.   Specifically, I was reminded by the importance of having a strong emergency preparedness plan.  A strategy for those times when mobile phones don’t function, the internet is useless, and everyone is trying to get in contact with someone.

But even beyond that, I became suddenly aware of the fact that it doesn’t need to take an earthquake, a terrorist attack or a natural disaster to have and express concern for those around you.  The national tragedy that crashed into our lives on 9/11 surprised us all.  None of us wanted to be thrust into this position.  And yet, just like an earthquake, tragedy can rattle us in the most unexpected moments.  It is the way in which we work together that increases our chances of survival and success.

This is just a personal reflection.  A solemn remembrance of those we lost and that which we’ve learned.  And at the same time, positive encouragement for us all to be patient with our neighbors and considerate of the frail and imperfect foundation upon which we have built society.  Humans can be such simple and scared little beasts.

Tune in to National Geographic Channel this Sunday to see this groundbreaking documentary.  And if you’d like to actively participate in remembering 9/11, MyGoodDeed and HandsOn Network have partnered to organize the largest day of charitable service in the United States history.  Go to 911.org for more information and get involved!

Peace and Love people.

–Aimee

Another way to say Yee-Haw to Hump Day! A lil Cowgirl Creamery from California.

Be the star of the party and roll in with some high class wine and stinky cheese!

Photo by Chris Hardy courtesy of LA Times

Have YOU been to Cowgirl Creamery in Penn Quarter yet?  Its a organic California artisan cheese shop with two locations on the Golden Coast and one right here in DC.  Even the most culinary clueless can roll in 15 minutes before the party, pick up one of their small bags of featured cheeses, a bottle of wine, some olives and prosciutto, smoked salmon or marinated mushrooms and you are sure to be a hit!My favorite is the MT TAM, a creamy, buttery and quite delectable bite.  The kind of soft, rich cheese that makes you remember why cheese making is an ancient art form that predates recorded human history.  And still has a bright future.As if the cheese isn’t enough of a draw, the history of Cowgirl Creamery is just as delicious.  Two women, Sue Conley and Peggy Smith started making organic cheeses in 1997 in a small barn near San Francisco, CA.  They’re committed to making cheese in an environmentally responsible way, while being sustainable land stewards.Also, you can check out their library of cheese online and increase your dairy vocabulary!Stop by Cowgirl Creamery and try a sandwich for lunch or grab some cheese and wine for your next soiree.  Just don’t forget the crackers!

That’s all for now. But not to worry my vegan friends, keep an eye out for the ultimate veggie edition coming soon.

–Aimee

Rawesome Raid: Federal Agents take down raw milk renegades

This Wednesday armed federal agents busted into Rawesome Foods, a small and locally owned market in Venice, CA to arrest the owner and seize all the organic, raw foods on the premises.  The owner, James Stewart, is being held on $123,000 bail.  What was his offense?

Selling raw, unpasteurized milk without a permit!

Needless to say, the good healthy people of Venice were pissed.  A protest was held Thursday morning at the LA City courthouse. I’m shocked that armed federal agents would need to break into a well-known establishment and treat it like a hostile war zone.  I haven’t even seen this kind of decisive, hostile action taken against the sex trafficking industry which, indeed, is alive and well.

Nick Ut/Associated Press, courtesy of LA Times

According to the LA Times, the arrests come after a year-long undercover investigation where agents purchased raw dairy products from the market and stands across Southern California.  The irony (or further irony–beyond California tax dollars going to a macho-gun-toting-take-down of a health food Co-Op) is that the raid happened the same week that the Agriculture Department has recalled 36 million pounds of ground turkey linked to more than 70 salmonella illnesses in 26 states, including a death in California.  Turkey sold by major national chain food retailers. Say WHAT?

I’m sure a lot of people will have strong opinions on this, either way.  Its a question of public health standards and operational consistency, but also seems like excessive use of force and destruction of property.  Following the rules and complying with regulations is one thing.  But couldn’t this have been handled differently? Please let me know what YOU think about this!

In the meantime, cats and kittens, I’m stickin’ to my soy milk!

That’s all for now!

-Aimee