Wednesday, September 24, 2008

(09.24.08) Recommends:

Thoughts Ahead of President Bush's Address to the Nation Regarding Our Current Financial Crisis.

Okay, so we just heard that the President is going to address the country tonight. Obviously he's not known as the most articulate and/or thoughtful president that our nation has ever produced. So who knows what he'll say. But for some reason we now have a particular section from the Andrew Bird song Tables and Chairs stuck in our heads. Can't you just picture an episode of the Simpsons where an animated President Bush addresses a weary nation with the following:

I know we're going to meet some day
In the crumbled financial institutions of this land
There will be tables and chairs
There'll be pony rides and dancing bears
There'll even be a band
Cause listen, after the fall there will be no more countries
No currencies at all, we're gonna live on our wits
We're gonna throw away survival kits,
Trade butterfly-knives for Adderall
And that's not all
Oh, there will be snacks there will
there will be snacks, there will be snacks.

Maybe tonight, when the president begins to speak, we should turn down the volume on him and listen to this song instead.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

(09.23.08) Recommends:

Remembering David Foster Wallace.

I didn't know Dave Wallace. I never attended a reading of his. I still haven't even gotten through Infinite Jest. But hearing about his death 11 days ago was like a punch in the gut. I've never before really experienced the sadness that I felt when I heard about his death, from somebody that I did not know. But for a few days the world seemed very heavy. I think Peter Sagal, the NPR personality, touched on why I felt such sadness, when he wrote:

one of the things DFW wrote about, pretty constantly, especially in his more informal commentary, was the experience of us all being alone in our heads, and desperately trying to break out of it. I remember reading one comment he made (wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for it) that the whole point of fiction, maybe writing in general, was to send a message from one isolated head to another, with the meaning: you are not as alone as it seems.

I spent those first few nights after hearing the news going through my bookshelves, reading short stories he had written, and interviews he had given, and lamenting that I once loaned away for life a book that included an introduction by a well-respected writer that was essentially just a comment on an interview he had once given (such was DFW's ability that other well-regarded writers were eager to get to write simply about his interviews).

Like I said, it's been 11 days now. And a sense of normalcy has returned, at least for me. But I won't soon stop reading, and responding to, his writing. So I thought today would be a good time to put up some of his work in this space, for my resource, and hopefully for yours, too.

The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys And The Shrub. (abridged version that he read on This American Life here)

Consider The Lobster.

Federer As Religious Experience.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

(09.11.08) Recommends:

Overcast Days.

We don't know what this says about us, but we've always found grey days and rain calming. You don't get much of that here in Southern California. But we've got one of those days today, at least downtown. We feel soothed. It's gonna be a productive day.

Overcast days also recall to our mind the opening credits of the Wilco documentary I Am Trying to Break Your Heart which is, without question, one of the finest opening scenes of any movie, ever.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

(09.09.08) Recommends:

Man vs. Nature: Before vs. After.

In the red corner we have the Mobil horse, an ExxonMobil brand.

In the blue corner we have a Skullphone mural adorning the Small Bills art space.

"Art is science made clear." Jean Cocteau.

Monday, September 08, 2008

(09.08.08) Recommends:

Signs of the Time.

It was another weekend of beautiful weather, so we woke up early and went for a walk. We noticed that, from certain vantage points, it appears that Hollywood High School is sponsored by TV Guide.

This, we figured, probably helps explains a lot. Such as, why there are very few bookstores in the area. We know of three: Book Soup and Borders, neither of which offers a very reasonable parking situation, and Counterpoint Record and Books which doesn't offer a very reasonable, you know, selection of books. As such, we usually just walk down to our neighborhood newsstand [as can be seen, the newstand is international and, thus, cosmopolitian, and therefore all watchers of television may infer that Rudy Giuliani does not approve.]

High-school-brought-to-you-by-television probably also helps to explain trends such as, people who live in an area known for lots of traffic and not lots of parking buying vehicles such as this:

People who buy Hummers are unquestionably amoung our easiest -- and most deserving -- citizens to mock, but even so, isn't there something terribly sad about that "For Sale" sign in the back of the window?

There are multiple ways out of our Hummer days, and Hollywood is embracing at least two of them. While we firmly adhere to the notion that art made with mission statements is not art, we nonetheless enjoyed coming upon this:

But street messages are a routine part of life here. We were a little bit more taken aback when we saw this:

Maybe as a result of the renewed energy debate that our country seems to be undertaking, we'll no longer have to rely on David Browne Berds to remind us what the real things look like.

A Note For Those Who Yearn To See More Wildlife in the City: for the next two weeks, you have a chance to see the City of Los Angeles put 100 goats to work downtown. We're completely serious about this. Read more here.

Of course, without TV sponsoring high school, how many of us would not know about Arby's? That would be an unequivocal disaster, for we all know that Arby's roast beef sandwhiches are, in fact, delicious.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

(09.06.08) Recommends:

The Coolest Street Sign in Los Angeles.

So we had a meeting this afternoon in Studio City. We pretty much don't know anything about Studio City, but we do know that from where we live we can get there by taking Laurel Canyon Blvd. And when we were headed South, headed home on that street, we came across the above street sign. It is so awesome, right? We're thinking that has to be a piece of street art. But who knows. Maybe it was a warning from the city: if you insist on taking these curves, while talking on your cell phone, as we know is your wont, eventually you will die.

If anybody has any info on this sign, please leave a comment or send us an email.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

(09.04.08) Recommends:


Favrd might be the greatest website ever. Seriously, go there now.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

(09.02.08) Recommends:

Scenes From a Long Weekend.

With the holiday on Monday, we had a chance to get out and do some exploring.

Traffic. Downtown.

Market. Echo Park.

Utility box. Echo Park.

Paint store. Echo Park.

The following picture nicely captures two truths about Los Angeles. One, LA has a reputation that its citizens are health- and image-obsessed. Whether there is truth in the sterotype, the fact is, there must be more donut stores in LA, by any measure you wish to use, than any place in the US. Probably you can't go more than 100 yards without seeing a donut store. Two, LA does have a staggering amount of diversity; it's really a wonderful thing. Off the top of our heads, we can think of Thai Town, Korea Town, Little Armenia, Historic Philipinotown, Little Tokyo, Chinatown. And those are just the ethnically named neighborhoods. But that doesn't mean the city is always harmonious and coming from Kansas, there's a kind of cognitive disonance when you witness racism here. In LA, which is less than 50% white, discreet ethnic groups throw blame at other discreet ethnic groups. There seems to be tension between Korean people and Black people, for instance. Other groups seem to have a problem with the increased influence of the Hispanic population. Etc, etc. On the other hand, racism in Kansas is more likely to manifest itself in some kind of abstract form: the place is 90% white, so somebody might carry around a notion about "colored people" or "immigrants" in general destroying the country, but in this world view Koreans, Blacks, and Hispanics are all the same and they're all the enemy. I guess it just proves a universal rule: with enough time on their hands, humans have the capacity to complain about anything and lay blame on anybody.

Cafe Was -- still can't figure out if the sign is clever or cheesy. Hollywood.

Qat, it's a Scrabble word you really need to know. Hollywood.

Stormwater ordianance sign. Hollywood.

Of course you would expect palm trees to line the boulavards in a neighborhood that calls itself Country Club Park.

Ice Fade is a pretty awesome name for a barber shop. Slauson Ave.

City bench.

Stencils. Hollywood.

There's something about the way "human" appears on this sign that mezmerizes us. Washington Blvd.

Utility pole art. Hollywood.

The Los Angeles City Council recently enacted a one year moratorium on opening fast food restaurants in South Los Angeles. The story got national coverage, including this NY Times piece in which Jonathan Gold notes that South Los Angeles is the home to the best barbeque in the city and wonders how the ban will effect on that culinary tradition. We thought of the article as we waited nearly 90 minutes for our order from Phillips on Crenshaw Blvd.

Doorway entrance art. Hollywood.

We should just mention now: we ate lots of barbque over the weekend.

You can't make it down Melrose without being inundated by MBW artwork. Some of it we like, some of it we think is overload. We like this one.

Car wash. Inglewood.

MBW stencil. Hollywood.

We love this sign/advertisement/artwork. Not sure if it should be interpreted to mean that the car lot caters to a religious clientelle, or the car lot is suggesting that you'll need to rely on some kind of religious miracle in order to prevent your purchase from being a lemon.

Building. Hollywood.

No, seriously: holidays are made for eating.

Less talk, more rock. LaBrea Ave.

It turns out that it's not just neighborhoods called Country Club Park that are lined with Palm trees. Miraculously, almost every major street has them. Mid City.

The truth about Hollywood (we report, you decide).

Evidence #1:

The original street artist?

Industrial building. Compton Ave.

School days. Slauson Ave.

Motel. LaBrea and Slauson.

Valentine to Los Angeles.

When in Rome.

Old economy.

Fruit cart. Echo Park.

Market. Beverly Blvd.

Political pundits keep saying that Labor Day is when the electorate begins paying attention to the general election season in earnest. If elections were won on window signs, this thing would be a blow out.

Water. Wilton Pl.

Palm trees, blue skies, donuts. We came. We saw. We conquered. Los Feliz.

The clouds rolled in as the hills ate the sun, and as quickly as it came, the long weekend faded away.