Saturday, December 30, 2006

The code for responsible tourism is something I'll attempt to practice at home as well.

Remember those key words: "Please, Excuse me, Thank you, You're welcome, May I help you," etc.

Behave respectfully

Respect the dignity and privacy of others

Give with care

Consume local products when possible

Dispose of refuse properly

Minimize water and power use

Think about my impact

Ask what I will leave behind

...and don't beat myself up for my mistakes. I can always try again

Feliz Ano Novo!

With all the discouraging news in the year-end wrap up this morning on NPR, I came to the conclusion that the only 'non' resolution is to be the change you wish to see in the world.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Good bye, and good riddance

Two churches in Fairfax and Falls Church, Virginia have voted to secede from the Episcopal Church and join the Anglican Church of Nigeria Archbishop Peter Akinola over gay issues.

They'll be in good company, as the government of Nigeria is set to pass legislation that will outlaw belonging to a gay group, reading a gay book, watching a gay movie, visiting a gay internet site, and socializing by two or more gay people. Oh yes, and gay marriage, too.

Perhaps someday Akinola's statue will join Arthur Ashe as the only monuments honoring men of African descent along Richmond's Monument Avenue, lined with memorials to the Confederacy's attempt at a violent overthrow of the United States.

Maybe they could even put up one of those toppled statues of Saddam Hussein while they're at it. I'm sure Putin has some old statues of Stalin stored away somewhere that he could give 'em for good measure.

I'd just as soon have them relocate to the island of Lohachara. It would be more fitting.

Friday, December 22, 2006

A strange wind's a' blowin' ...must be a backdraft from all those holiday shoppers

I was surprised this morning by a light shower outside my door -barely more than a mist, really- that by breakfast gave way to a clear crisp powder blue sky. The wind, though, was something! What kite weather! I can only imagine how strong it must be down at Point Fermin or atop Twin Peaks.

We've been promised that this will turn into a mild Santa Ana that will last through Christmas. For now, the wind seems to blow west on one side of the boulevard, and to the east on the other.

I didn't find the pirate chantey CD I was hoping to play in order to combat the relentless onslaught of Christmas carols. My November Global Rhythm CD was more in line with the windy weather, which almost snatched the cap off my head.

Hopefully, if you're reading this, you had enough sense to stay out of the mall for your Christmas gifts. Vicki, Scotch, and Phideaux all have wonderful music you won't hear everywhere; and for books, Eduardo Santiago's Tomorrow They Will Kiss or Noel Alumit's Letters to Montgomery Clift.

You'll definitely be giving someone a cool gift they would appreciate!

Have a safe holiday, and be sure to hold on to your hats...

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Winter Solstice!

The Roberts home in Solstice Canyon, "Tropical Terrace," was designed by architect Paul Williams in 1952. By the way, he warned them of the possible consequences posed by fire danger, and balked at introducing a non-native site into a pristine environment. Thirty years later, the house did burn in a forest fire, and the Roberts family sold the property to the National Park Service to become part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Ironically, amid the ruins of the Roberts home, the tropical vegetation survived the fire and still lives on today (the rest of the hike is relatively pristine with native flora to shade your hike to the waterfall).

It is one of the few year-round waterfalls that is a short distance from LA, just off Pacific Coast Highway, easily reachable by a pleasant hike. Millions of tourists to Malibu pass by it every years without even knowing it exists.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Photo by Eric Richardson

The newest bookstore in Los Angeles, Metropolis Books, has opened at 440 South Main Street, between Winston and Fifth Streets, to the West of Little Tokyo and the Toy District. A link to their website may be found to the left.

I've also added a link to blogdowntown, which is a great source of stuff about Downtown LA (yes, there is a downtown) who heralded their grand opening.

I've shoveled my last walk, I hope... THIS is my idea of how to spend the holidays...

I made "Aquarela do Brasil" my unofficial holiday carol for the 2006 season. This is what happens when you hang around with South Americans. Sunday, December 17, there will be a street fair of sorts at the Brasilian Market in West Los Angeles, and I'm due for my acai fix...

Thanks to Daniella Thompson for having the image of "Aquarela do Brasil" along with the lyrics on her site...

Happy Hannukah!

I had fun making this paper menorah with my niece as well as a small version of as a Christmas tree ornament (how's that for multiculturalism?).

Whatever you choose to celebrate, enjoy. Just do yourself a favor and stay out of the mall. Today is the last scheduled day of business for Equal Writes bookstore in Long Beach, one of my favorite 'brick and mortar' stores. Independent bookstores are a very special place, and I'd like to think that we won't lose any more of them if we don't have to.

Downtown Los Angeles, as it happens, just had a grand opening yesterday for a brand new indie bookstore, Metro Books. I didn't hear about it until after it had happened, or I would have tried to get there; I understand that award-winning author Naomi Hirahara gave one of their first readings.

Friday, December 15, 2006

For the nincompoops who run Sea-Tac

These are religious symbols. A "Christmas Tree" is not.

Although Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky has apologized for starting the whole furor in Seattle (and elsewhere) over his request for a menorah at Sea-Tac Airport which temporarily resulted in the airport removing all their Christmas trees, I've noted in a number of discussions over the past few days that most people are unaware of the origins of what we commonly refer to here in America as "Christmas trees."

Observances of the change of seasons from Babylon to Scandinavia for thousands of years have included putting up trees in homes, sometimes decorated, sometimes not. The pagans converted who converted to Christianity who had evergreen trees didn't happen until rather late in the middle ages. Early clerics were very much against the practice, as a matter of fact, as it detracted from the religious observance they were trying to cram down people's throats.

...NOT a religous symbol. Okay?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Because jewelry is no good after an earthquake or hurricane

I've had to limit how much of the coverage surrounding the James Kim tragedy I watch. Yet, at the back of my mind is the fact that for all those years in scouting, and my Dad's stint in Search and Rescue during his Air Force service, more times than I care to admit, I've gone out hiking without telling anyone where I'd be, or without having any emergency supplies in my car.

Last summer, a park ranger and I exchanged incredulous glances at each other as a seriously dehydrated biker in 100-plus degree temperatures had come up to us in search of water.

A few holidays ago, Dad gave each of us one of these Red Cross backpacks (we thought was kind of funny at the time). Now I know it's a very sincere gift to tell someone that you really care about them.

Friday, December 08, 2006

This Sunday up just past the chicken corner....

Peter Shire and Robert Berryman will host a holiday open house this sunday, December 10, from noon to 5 p.m., at Echo Park Pottery, 1850 Echo Park Avenue. At 4:30 p.m., there will be a live acoustic set featuring (drum roll please)

Vicki Randle and Robert Berryman

Vicki will be performing music from her new CD, "Sleep City."

Just when I was about to blare my Halloween special effects CD to blot out all those Christmas Carols from popstars I'd never heard of... some music I want to listen to! You will, too.

Refreshments will be offered up, alongside the works of some 20-odd local artists for sale. It's the perfect antidote for anyone who in the last few weeks had to stumble out of the mall to get away from the fake snow while gasping for a breath of fresh air...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Even if you missed "Buy a Friend a Book Week" it's not too late to get a signed a copy as a holiday gift

Eduardo Santiago will read from his novel, Tomorrow They Will Kiss, on December 10th at 6 p.m. at 8853 Santa Monica Blvd.

If you have the good fortune to be in Miami for Art Basel/Miami, click on Critical Miami to the left for a great overview guide and links to the goings on all over da Beach.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Yes, good things DO happen

We celebrated Mara's birthday a day early feasting on delicious homemade lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. I gave her a package of maple vanilla tea and a picture book of Nantucket.

It seems to be so rare that we have the opportunity to celebrate our mentors. I have a hard time thinking of Mara as being about the same age as my Mom. I can't even imagine what it must be like to retire from one career, move across a continent, and pursue your dream at long last.

Good things have happened to a number of people around me. If nothing else, what a great feeling it is to see dreams come true for good people who worked for them.