Sunday, October 28, 2018

Shoes and Dumplings

I headed down to Row DTLA to meet my friend Steve today. He hadn't been to these converted warehouses yet. I had. It's where I'd first seen the sofa I bought a few months later. I stumbled over this area while traipsing around DTLA in search of...I can't remember. I think I was going to an art supply store down there, or maybe Moskatel's, the big sorta-Michaels.
Smorgasburg soup dumpling the size of my fist

Getting down there was a bit of a pain in the ass, because I was headed over to catch the commuter rail when I glanced at the commuter rail sign to learn about the—oh, joy—delays. And I'd just missed the bus to the Red Line. I got a Lyft to the Red Line to DTLA, where I caught a bus down 7th Street. I barely notice the tent city there anymore. This is not a good thing.

Steve and I had a good day exploring Row DTLA and Smorgasburg, and he dropped me off at a shoe store in Silverlake. I'm on a quest to find close-toe shoes I don't hate before I have to hike around Haiti in them. But Sole Junction was not the place I'd hoped for—the place I need to go see if Lucha's in South Pasadena, but a girl can dream.

The bus I needed from there to Glendale (for my stop at Nordstrom's to check out some Vionic shoes) wasn't going to be along for a half-hour, so I took a Lyft there too. Then after traipsing around Nordstrom's and DSW, I caught the bus back to Burbank.

Of course, it ran late, and I just missed the bus home from downtown Burbank, so I took my third Lyft of the day.

Which turned out to be a good thing as I had this charming conversation.

Lyft driver: "My parents are Armenian. They have not been able to learn English, since the Valley has such a large Armenian community, and so they haven't had to. Plus, it's hard for them to learn at their age. They're 50, 60, you know?"

I laughed. I couldn't help it. Yeah, 50 is soooo ancient. I guess it was to me when I was his age too. (He was 21 years old.)

Two minutes earlier, he'd asked how long I'd lived in New York.

"About 25 years," I'd said.

"So most of your life you were in the greatest city in the world."

"Um, not exactly." I laughed.

"I guess New York has its problems. It seemed pretty great to me the one time I was there."

I gave him a nice tip. 

Impending Use It or Lose It Vacation Days

You guys, I'm going to Haiti!

I'm not going with an NGO or a church. (Anyway, I'm not religious.) I'm not going as a journalist or a visiting creative. No speeches, no signings, no volunteering, no portfolio reviews.

I'm going as a tourist. Straight-up shameless sightseer. Not even a backpacker. I only have a week, so I'll just have to suck it up and pay what people pay for hotels there instead of seeking out the cheapest place in town.

I read somewhere about art colonies there, confederations of artists creating installations and pieces out of steel drums, paper mache, paintings. That's what I want to see. I know I won't get through much in a week, so I'm going to Cap Haitien, Jacmel, and PAP/Petion-ville.

One of my comics colleagues has in the past been active in teaching filmmaking in Jacmel, but I'm not even hitting her up for contacts, because I'm going to be too busy gawking at stuff and looking for cool art.

I bought the single English-language guidebook out there, plus the Haiti chapter from the Lonely Planet Caribbean book, and these weren't really enough, so I bought the Petit Fute too, and then I had to figure out how to crack the code to be able to copy-paste the French into Google Translate. I've read all kinds of tips on TripAdvisor and the Thorntree, scored my frequent flyer tickets for around Thanksgiving (anyone know what I should do with a five-hour layover in Ft. Lauderdale on Thanksgiving day?), and the one thing I'm puzzled by is how the hell to get any artwork I buy back to Los Angeles. Or at least to Jersey City. (Remember my smashed reverse-glass painting from Tunisia?)

Here are some useful things I've found through all this reading so far:

Guesthouse in Cap-Haitien.
Tours in PAP.
Hotel in Jacmel.

I've been reading up on the pervasive smell of charcoal and moto-taxis. That reminds me of Kampala, but I'm sure it'll be quite different. I'm pretty excited. I know I already went to Tunisia this year, but I need to balance out my day job routine with a bit of excitement once in a while.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Street Art

I went all the way downtown to look at art when I could've just walked up to Oak Street. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Garment District Touring

After the Los Angeles Flower District tour, I headed over to the "Blue Schedule" tour of the Garment District.

The LA Garment District is called the Fashion District, actually. You can take the girl out of New York...

LA Conservancy offers great walking tours throughout the year, mostly in DTLA. But once a year, they cook up something special. Last year was the Koreatown one, and the year before that, I took their Chinatown walking tour. I've been in Los Angeles now for 3.5 years, and I figure I'll stay until I'm out of new things to check out, or until MariesWorldTour 2021 happens.

The Blue Schedule (including three walking tours) started at Santee Court at 10:30 a.m., so I strolled over slowly. I passed a sewing supply shop—hey, I need a zipper foot for my sewing machine! They had hundreds of zipper feet for all kinds of machines, but I don't actually know what my used machine is, in spite of digging around a lot online. There's no brand  marked on it. But I know where the zipper foot store is, and next time I head to that part of the world, I can take a machine foot along for them to match.

Downtown is a mixture of trendy apartments, expensive restaurants, repurposed lofts, Skid Row, wholesale bong shops, and completely different versions of "living on the edge." I could get from the Fashion District to Las Vegas or Tijuana for about twenty bucks on a discount bus. In the spirit of the moment, I went into a bodega and bought a lottery ticket. I didn't know how to do this, so I had to ask the proprieter what I was supposed to do. He had the machine do it for me.

The meeting point at Santee Court consists of old factories renovated into New York-style apartments. Sort of. More like a Disneyland version of New York. There are a few of these high-end lofts floating around in, I dunno, Dumbo, I guess. We were able to go inside one, and also over to some nearby repurposed lofts. I'd love to live downtown in one of these. My favorite would be on 4th and Main where I was when I first hit town, by the Red Line. But getting to work was a hassle. Hollywood, Burbank, and Los Feliz are much easier for getting to my office.

The second tour was of the California Market Center, the New Mart, and the Cooper Design Space, which includes offices for companies like AG and 7 For All Mankind. Of course, none of these were open on weekends, but last Friday of the month, you can go to sample sales in all these buildings. I went to a special sale in California Market Center a few years ago—I got things for five dollars each!

By the time the third tour started, I was really dragging in the 87 degree heat. I ditched early and hopped on the DASH bus back to the Red Line. The day was long but I love these kind of things.

I've uploaded photos here.

Flower Market Tour

I made it to the Los Angeles flower district by 8 in the morning on a Saturday! Even I was surprised I pulled this off. I took a look at renting a car, taking the commuter rail, and finally, I just did the usual bus over the hill to the Red Line.

The occasion was a downtown LA Conservancy tour, which started at the Southern California Flower Market, continued on to the Original Los Angeles Flower Market, and passed by various smaller vendors along the way.

We learned that the former was started by Japanese migrants in the late 1880s, while the latter was formed by Europeans immigrants in the early 1900s. Today, the markets are not so specifically regional, and people from all kinds of backgrounds participate, including many Latinx vendors.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

More Fun with Home Repairs

There were two heavy steel covers hanging around my tiny yard back in Jersey City.

One was in the vestibule of the entrance to the downstairs, covering a drain.

The other was over was was either an oil tank alcove or a coal chute, or possibly both at different time in my house's history.

Both of those are now gone, courtesy the same company that did the stoop (Jetco) and the backyard stucco. They reported that the drain under the stoop doesn't actually go anywhere. I can only assume the drain is designed to put water into the soil beneath the stoop, then. I know when I tried to figure it out, I found a pipe full of soil and children's toys. At least now I have a drain cover instead of a big plate that clanks when I step on it.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Pasadena Sunday

There's a big flea market at the Rose Bowl on the second Sunday of every month. I went once with Tracy and a rental car, but that was almost two years ago, so it was time to go again.
I didn't have a rental car this time, but that's actually a good thing as parking is a bit of a hassle outside such a big arena. The shuttle bus stop is near the entrance. 

Here's how to take public transit to the Rose Bowl Flea Market: You get to the Raymond and Holly aka the Memorial Park Gold Line station first. I did this on the 501 bus, which goes from Burbank directly there. Then you catch the Sunday 51 bus directly to the Rose Bowl. Oh, and it's free. Ridiculously easy. I doubt that bus runs on Sundays when there are not events, but on flea days, it runs once or twice an hour. 
I walked once around the arena, and then dove into the offshoot, the real "flea-like" part. This is exhausting, though, so eventually I spotted a good and restful distraction, and sat down at the tarot card reader's booth. 

For ten bucks, I got some pleasant conversation and hearty entertainment. I've had my palm read, my cards read, gone to psychics, and had my chart done. I've even had a reading over Skype. I enjoy all of these things immensely, especially when the reader seems to be tailoring the reading to me. Today's reading was extra-fun, because the reader pinned me as working for money right now and seeing a choice down the road between doing so and escaping for the creative. I'd say IT'S LIKE SHE KNEW ME, except isn't this everyone's dream?