When the Center for Land Use Interpretation announces a bus trip I jump, and this time I took my dad (the engineer of whom I am the daughter) along with me too. CLUI's current exhibit is called Down to Earth: Experimental Aircraft Crash Sites of the Mojave, and the trip took us out to select sites around Edwards Air Force Base with two expert aerospace archaeologists, Peter W. Merlin and Tony Moore, as our guides. Along the way they and CLUI director Matthew Coolidge commented on numerous points of interest and told the stories of the pilots, almost none of whom were able to eject from their doomed aircraft in time. At the first site we visited when I looked down and saw the shrapnel still scattered across the dirt decades after the crash it was sobering to say the least. As always with CLUI the whole journey left my head brimming with new information, in this instance about a little-known part of history. I have great respect for those pilots and for the work Merlin and Moore continue to do too. Plus it was just wonderful to spend a day in my favorite desert with my dad, right back where my family had seen Space Shuttle Columbia land at Edwards in 1983.
Wednesday -mental soundtrack ---> St. Vincent -stepping off the plane at Burbank into the hot dry weather I remember so well and breathing a happy sigh -the jaw-droppingly gorgeous 270-degree view from suite 306 at the Hollywood Hills Hotel -a quick jaunt to Famima for snacks for the room: kiwi gummies, iced green tea, mochi ice cream, unfiltered sake -happy hour at Malo with C.C.: bean and cheese slider + potato and cheddar taco + chips and salsa and guac + some crazy tequila/pineapple/serrano/lime/agave cocktail -yet more delicious food (and beer) for St. Patrick's Day at Craig and Kenny's place
Thursday -mental soundtrack ---> Ramleh -early walk to breakfast at the Griddle Cafe: peanut butter French toast + fresh OJ -first ride ever on the LA Metro. I'm a fan! -the sun streaming in through alabaster panels at the breathtaking Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels -a little bit of everything at the MOCA 30th anniversary show, including Rothko, Frank, Twombly, Friedlander, Nauman, Arbus, Richter, Baldessari, Ruscha, McCarthy, Conner, Smithson, LeWitt, DeFeo, Goldin, and one absolutely luminous Diebenkorn -grilled vegetables Brazilian-style and an Arnold Palmer at WoodSpoon -a "Mouse Trap" (grilled cheese with tomatoes), a Sapporo, and a huge pile of fries with Lori at the Culver, all with Cougartown being filmed outside and Courteney Cox walking past our table eyeballing our fries, like, a lot -good dancers, good music in Rosanna Gamson's Tov at REDCAT...too bad about the disjointed overlong pretentious production itself -tUnE-yArDs brought me back up again at the Echo thank goodness, Merrill Garbus being the mad genius that she is. Xiu Xiu were good too, noisy and intensely cathartic, though I miss Caralee
Friday -mental soundtrack ---> Strapping Fieldhands -morning wander along Olvera Street in El Pueblo de Los Angeles, feeling happy to see they still sell those confetti eggs my classmates and I would bash each other with on grade school field trips -the wonderful wee Chinese American Museum, including an excellent exhibit on how Hollywood has portrayed China and Chinese people throughout the history of film -sipping horchata in the sunshine on the El Pueblo plaza -lunch with Lori at The Golden State: veggie burger with sweet potato wedges + ginger beer + Jim Beam vanilla gelato -lazy afternoon at LACMA soaking up Joseph Beuys's many many multiples, weeping inside of Richard Serra's monumental sculptures (rusted metal gets me all emotional), meditating in front of Jay DeFeo's The Jewel, oh and riding the Barbara Kruger elevator of course -dinner at Wurstküche: veggie apple-sage sausage with sauerkraut and strong mustard + Belgian frites with sun-dried tomato mayo for dipping + a glass of La Chouffe -a panel of stimulating conversation amongst Archigram co-founder Peter Cook and the other brilliant architects he chose for the London Eight exhibit at SCI-Arc
Saturday -mental soundtrack ---> The Puritan -a drive down to La Jolla to finally see Brent's digs down there and get lunch with him at whisknladle: a honey/cucumber/cava mimosa + a shiitake mushroom/ricotta/summer squash omelet + a coffee mascarpone/tres leches cake/Cara Cara orange/caramelized cocoa nib dessert -sea lions and their pups lolling on the sunny sand down at the beach -the small but perfectly curated La Jolla branch of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego -peanut butter cupcake with a milk chaser from Cups -a quick tour of where Brent works at Scripps, with random bits of awesome science lying around everywhere -back to the city in time for dinner at Forage: grenadine lemonade + glazed carrots and asparagus with fennel and chard + creamy scalloped potatoes + farro with peas + a quince "hug" for dessert -a screening of Jean Renoir's heartwarmingly cornball movie The Southerner at LACMA with Renoir reminiscences post-film by actor Norman Lloyd in person
Sunday -mental soundtrack ---> The Box Tops -mostly avoiding the LA Marathon, but getting a thrill seeing it go practically right in front of my hotel -if you're blocking the entrance to the "expert" security line trying to decide whether you are or not, you're not -home to a hungry kitty, friends, and an epic vegetarian feast cooked by Allison
I took a quick trip down to southern California on Friday to join the Center for Land Use Interpretation on one of their epic bus tours, this time to check out the urban oilscape of Los Angeles in conjunction with their current Urban Crude exhibit. We saw oil being pumped right behind Beverly Hills High (yes, 90210), in the middle of busy city blocks, on the campus of Mount St. Mary's College, in parking lots, all over Signal Hill, on manmade islands in Long Beach. For someone who grew up in Orange seeing those "rocking horse" pumps seemingly on every corner it was a fascinating look at the history and current state of oil extraction in LA. I of course took a few pictures, and you can see the set here.
Even though his birthday was a few weeks ago now and the parties are pretty much over, it's still inspiring to look at this gallery of images from Nelson Mandela's amazing life. I remember being a freshman in high school when he was released from prison, at a time when the world really did seem like it was changing for the better (cue "Right Here, Right Now"), and how thrilling it was when he became the first black president of South Africa. Leave it to Mandela to use his birthday message to talk about the huge issues of poverty and inequal distribution of wealth still facing his country:
"There are many people in South Africa who are rich and who can share
those riches with those not so fortunate who have not been able to
conquer poverty," he said. "Poverty has gripped our people. If you are
poor, you are not likely to live long."
And what a great smile that man has always had.
In other news, NPR's Matthew Brunwasser filed an excellent story today about the CLUI's Trip to the Dump, featuring some interview clips with me. You can take a listen here
Three days after my trip to the Puente Hills Landfill and I'm still looking with fresh curiosity at every dump truck that crosses my path. I've just posted some pictures from the excursion, which you can see on my Flickr photostream here. Bonus extras: a cute girl (Lori) and a cute cat (Mochi). Please enjoy!
Dump isn't the right term, since it implies a lack of planning and engineering; landfill is. Also, it isn't trash or garbage, it's a "resource."
Puente Hills Landfill is the largest working landfill in the country (Fresh Kills is larger, but closed), and it's literally right off the freeway near Whittier.
No one wants a dump in their backyard, so when Puente Hills fills up in 2013 LA's trash will be shipped by train 200 miles to the southeastern-most corner of the state. That new landfill should last another 100 years.
If you leave the cap on your glass bottle when you toss it in the recycling bin that's fine, but if you put a sheet of newspaper in your green bin with your yard trimmings it ruins everything.
Salvaging is a problem that warrants multiple "No Salvaging" signs.
Bulldozers are the Michelangelos of garbage.
The landfill workers have impressively extensive knowledge of seagull psychology.
Other landfill wildlife includes deer, coyotes, and bunnies, who live on the re-vegetated portions.
The materials recovered at the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) are sold to China to be turned into items that might end up right back at the landfill.
I might not like my job very much, but at least I'm not literally sorting through garbage.
The Sanitation District cafeteria makes a mean tuna melt.
The Rose Hills Cemetery is just on the other side of the hill from Puente Hills and is also very much in the business of moving earth.
The processing plant scene from Soylent Green sure takes on new resonance after a day of seeing exactly what happens after our trash is magically whisked away from our curbs.
It was such an awesome experience, learning about the waste stream in this way. I'll let you know when I post my pictures too.
By the way, I totally lied about last week being my last DJ shift in the Sunday afternoon time slot:
And if you're curious about the songs I'm currently obsessed with, many of which I've played on my show recently, Timothy Buckwalter posted my small list yesterday as part of the excellent "Art & Music" series he ran on his blog this week. Check 'em out!
In the spirit of the exhibition at RayKo Khris and I hope to make it to next week, I direct your attention to this gallery of photos, all taken before 1910, that are currently on display (for a few more days anyway) at Galerie Livet in Normandy. The gallery is owned by Brigitte and Marc Pagneaux, who moved to the countryside from Paris:
Only half the 75 photographs on show are for sale, in keeping with the Pagneuxs’ twin activity of combining a personal collection with the business side of Livet Ltd. Pagneux called the show Trois ou quatre choses que je sais d’elle, la photographie (three or four things I know about photography). "It’s a reference to my irritation at a current trend that wants to make photography a purely documentary exercise, with everything worth the same and masterpieces belittled as mere inventions of money-grubbing traders," he says.
I love sepia-toned images of buildings like the one above, popular subjects in the early days of photography because at least they didn't move and blur the exposure. The picture of Victor Hugo in exile, taken in 1853, is pretty amazing too.
In other news, the second part of my interview with Timothy Buckwalter went up yesterday, full of all sorts of salacious details about how I DJ. And tonight I'm jetting down to LA, to spend a couple days in the sunshine and to take a trip to the dump. I'll report back from the other side!