Monkey Suit: because its summer

My niece is getting married this summer. I’ve never met the guy. She’s a smart girl so I’m sure he’s great but I’m not so sure about all of this. I am however sure that he has nothing to do with the point of this post so right at the beginning, I’ve already digressed. Typical.

The point is that the reception is outside. Summer wedding outside; what to wear?montgomerymeninsuits

My family is not a formal bunch by anyone’s measure. We may be a little better put together than those with whom we associated coming up, but that bar can’t get any lower. So really, the only one who will care at all what I wear- is me. But I do care. I think we have gone over this before. I may be digressing again.

It must be a suit. I know it’s summer and outside, but it’s a wedding for heaven’s sake. And yes, wear the jacket. The fact that I even felt I had to justify that statement shows just how low that bar is set.

My closet is always just a tad deficient, and I may not be in a position to fix that right now, but in the spirit of weddings and love, allow me to dream just a little.SUIT_Cotton_Linen_Whipcord_Grey_003

I said a “little” so I’m not going to go all bespoke here, but there is still room for reaching without reaching all the way to the stars. I’d be happy to reach for the laptop and order a suit from Bonobos.

Yup, the pants guys make suits.

I don’t just want a suit. I want a cotton/linen blend, lightweight, light colored, summer suit.SUIT_CottonLinen_Almond_Slim_Group_050_(2) (2)

I also want a light colored, slightly playful, but not too much, pocket square to add a little flair. Bonobos makes those too.PKTSQ_HudsonDot_Linen_Carnation_382

I actually made some myself out of a pair of Bonobos pants I owned that met an untimely demise due to rambunctious behavior and a can of paint.destroinside

I suggest you order them as pocket squares rather than pants. Cheaper that way. Less work too.

The rational side of me knows that as a Californian, such a suit could be worn year round. That adds value right?

Just remember, especially when wearing light colored suits; your tie should always be darker than your shirt, and it’s probably best to stick to light colored shirts the pocket square should not exactly match your tie. It can match your shirt, but not your tie.PKTSQ_AnchorWave_Linen_NavyBlazer_377

Come to think of it… 50 bucks says half of the guys won’t be wearing suits but will wear ties. So I think I’ll wear a suit but not a tie. Unless I wear it in my pocket as a pocket square.

New rule: your pocket square can match your tie if it is in fact, your tie.IMG_3463

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Pow Wow in Redlands

You don’t get events like this one back east. At least not very often.IMG_3642

 

We arrived at a point in the program when nothing was going on. Lunch slash break I suppose. Folks with long braids, bells on their legs, and t- shirts lounged around on lawn chairs. We wandered through booths selling beads, feathers, and kitsch.

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I’m not sure if anyone at the pow wow was Navajo or not, but my little one had never experienced a Navajo taco. She has now. I’m pretty sure my middle school had no Navajos but we had Navajo tacos on the cafeteria menu at least once a week. I’m paying it forward.

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I like being in a place like this. Well, maybe not a place exactly- an event. An event where the sounds and sights aren’t the same as every other day or place.

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If you spend enough time going places and doing things you don’t normally go and do, then normal sort of shifts. If normality is displaced life gets interesting. I like interesting.

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When the dancing started, when the grand entrance began, it was other worldly. The sounds, the movements, and the colors surrounded everything. There was a pounding constant beat driving below with a high pitched chanting up above and in the middle was colorful swirling motion.

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This isn’t history but it is tradition. It was very much a now and not a then event. There is so much of native life that is dead, that is then, that it was nice to be in the middle of something that was now. It was alive. It is good to see things stay alive.

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Lake Arrowhead

 

It struck me as the sort of place where on would say “out-of-doors”. The weather didn’t really let us spend much time outside but it did feel out of doors. Maybe “outdoorsy”, but anyone who reads Outside Magazine, or climbs mountains, or kayaks great distances, or wears Gore-Tex, would probably not call it outdoors.

There was little to no dirt involved. In this instance I was happy about that.

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Lake Arrowhead is tucked up in the mountains near Big Bear and also near about a bazillion people down in L.A. It is also at the top of some incredibly winding roads that are propped up against cliffs by stilts which encourages most of those bazillion people to stay home.

Their loss.

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We only stayed a couple nights. It was cold outside. It rained. It was wonderful.

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The wood paneled boats of yesteryear’s luxury movie shoots were all tucked somewhere else waiting for the summer. The tourists were doing the same. But the chef, the filet, and the stuffed portabello mushrooms with balsamic glaze were there. Until I got there and now those things are happily gone.

Happy for me at least.

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The surrounding shops smack of 1950′s kitsch, complete with cartoon bears wearing suspenders. I’m not sure why, but here, I didn’t mind. It worked. I hate that stuff, but, it worked. Weird.

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Its called the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. It is also called gorgeous.

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Remembering How Easily We Forget.

 

I rode a bike every day for two years. I did it in the miserable Georgia heat. I did it while gallons upon gallons of water poured out of the sky and onto my head. I did it wearing a suit and tie. It was the sort of physical and practical challenge that seeps into every bit of your daily life no matter how menial. Like getting groceries; how do you plan to get them home? The Laundromat? How about an important presentation five miles away and dark storm clouds are gathering overhead? What about the winter when it gets dark at 5 o’clock? I lived with those questions, and the challenge of answering them, every day for two whole years. That was nearly twenty years ago. I will never forget it.missionbikewreck1

With all that in mind I recently started riding a bike every morning. I teach a class of high schoolers early in the morning and the idea of saving some gas money and spending some calories made sense. I didn’t make this decision flippantly; I put some real thought into it. I remembered what it was like to ride a bike to get somewhere, as opposed to riding for pure recreation. I knew what I was getting into.

But not really.

I remembered all sorts of little details, I could recount stories, I knew stuff. But it wasn’t till I began pedaling a fixed gear tank with all 250 lbs of me on top, up a giant hill, into a headwind, did I really remember riding a bike.

As my thighs swelled and tightened, and blood rushed to my face, true memory flooded my mind and soul. I remembered riding a bike. It hurt. A lot. Stashing my bike in the closet of the classroom with a sweaty shirt sticking to my arms, worrying that I was such a disgusting display of humanity that no one would ever listen to a thing I had to teach; I remembered riding a bike.IMG_3219

It gave me something to think about as I pedaled back home. How easily we forget.

I haven’t seen a homeless person in months.

Back where I used to live, there was this guy in a wheelchair that used to wheel down the middle of our small street collecting discarded scraps of metal. He was dirty. The kind of dirty you can’t fake with a one day roll in the dust, you have to compile this kind of dirt the hard way. It was a regular part of my day to sit in the car waiting for him to wheel his way across the street, or to the end of the block, so I could get my car to where I needed to go.

I used to spend hours on the phone with the local electric company, while a little old lady would sit on the couch next to me sobbing, a past due notice in her shaky hands. I do not have enough fingers to count the number of people I visited regularly that heated their homes by turning the oven on high and leaving the oven door open. It is the poor person’s version of a fireplace. Every day, at least for a moment, I would have to not only see poverty, but interact with it just a little. Sometimes a lot. It was as much a part of my life as that bike used to be.grimysteps

Pedaling past palm trees on my way to the swimming pool, I wonder how much I have already forgotten.

I read a scripture today in which the resurrected Jesus took bread and wine, passed it to those who were with him, and instructed them to eat it in order to remember him. Remember him? Not only was he right there with them, but these people had just watched this resurrected man descend from the sky in a cloud of light. They had just gone up and touched the holes in his hands, feet, and side. This was God’s son in all his glory. How could they ever forget?

But he knew they would. We can’t help it. Even when we can recall what happened, feelings fade. There is something in the remembering that fades. Jesus, on the first day of this remarkable visit, told them he would be back tomorrow, then, before saying goodnight, set up the taking of bread and wine as a process by which we should remember him. He told them to repeat this ceremony often.

Because we forget.

How can I expect myself or anyone to remember what true poverty is like if we aren’t in it? How can anyone who hasn’t been in it ever really comprehend how hard it is? It is like riding that bike up the hill, remembering how hard it is, is nothing compared to feeling the tight burning in my legs. Many who have lived in it before, been raised in it, struggled to escape it, are going to at some level forget it. The memory will fade into stories, events, recollections, but not the same feelings.

Unless we do something. Not just remember, but do.IMG_2769

Unless we somehow eat the bread and drink the wine. Unless we sit on the couch and call the electric company. Unless we help wheelchair man pick up the pile of tin cans he just spilled all over the street. Not only will we forget, but the poor will be completely forgotten.

And no one really escapes poverty on their own.

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Walking in L.A.: nobody walks in L.A.

My oldest requested a day of shopping in L.A. for her birthday. Last year she asked for the same thing in New York.photo (3)

She stated matter-of-factly at dinner that her and Mom were going to visit all the major metropolitan centers. I asked, “What about you and me?”

She replied, “Come on Dad, we went to Wyoming.

And so, I present, the people of L.A. :

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Well, really… it was Santa Monica.IMG_3148

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The Mission Inn

Often times there are little bits of remarkable or fantastical things all around us and we pay them no mind. Sometimes it is because we aren’t paying attention. Other times we are simply unaware. We can look at things, walk right past them, and have no idea what they are. It isn’t always that we don’t stop to smell roses but more there is no one standing on the sidewalk saying, “excuse me, but were you aware that these plants right here are roses?”archesandstairs

That happened to me back in December.

I had a meeting to attend, a rather low key function, and I was emailed an address. Giving it no mind I punched it into the iphone/gps and hit the road. This is where it took me:

redumbrellasThis was not the office park I was expecting and I spent enough time wandering around in awe that despite arriving 30 minutes early, I was ten minutes late to the meeting.

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The Mission Inn was built, or rather begun, back in 1902. That was back in the day when people growing oranges starting making money in the venture and wanted nice stuff, or nice places, nearby. This place qualifies as nice.

fountainandonetreeThe place is a decadent maze of arches and corridors. It changes styles and directions without warning but never fails to be interesting. It contains a cathedral, a collection of bells from across the world, and has a small museum of artifacts and items collected through the years. It has also collected quite the guest list; Booker T. Washington, Cary Grant, Einstein, Houdini, Barbra Streisand, W.C. Fields, Helen Keller, Joseph Pulitzer, Carnegie, Susan B. Anthony, Bancroft, and me of course.floweredarches

Richard and Pat Nixon were married at the Mission Inn. Ronald Reagan honeymooned there. Presidents Taft, Roosevelt, Harrison, McKinley, Kennedy, Hoover, Ford and W. Bush have all visited. So did the Governator.

presidentialsealI had no idea the place existed. Not a clue. Well, mostly not a clue. I had heard about it, people had told me to go there before. I didn’t realize people had told me about it because no one told me to go see the hotel.

They all told me to go see the Christmas lights. “Hey did you go to that place in Riverside with all the lights?”IMG_1275

I went back later to look at the lights. They were impressive, maybe a little gaudy.

But if all you go for is to look at the lights, I would argue you only sniffed the stem.

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UCLA: its the UC located in LA

California’s system of public higher education can be a bit tough for an outsider to understand. UC vs. CU, vs. IDK. It doesn’t help that there are 23 different CU schools and 10 different UC schools.  Most outside the system don’t even know it’s a system.

But they all know about UCLA.UCLAarches

The University if California at Los Angeles. I had a couple Bruins in my cohort in grad school and they were almost insufferable in their love for their alma mater. I’m a generally jaded guy so this sort of vigor intrigues me. It bears investigation. (did you see what I did there?)

In said investigation a couple things have drawn my attention, the newly formed Lowell Milken Institute and the not so newly formed, but unique nonetheless, Critical Race Studies program, also in the school of law. No, I am not a lawyer… but I have friends who are. I am also obviously not a comedian… nor am I a friends with any.570_UCLA_School_of_Law

The Lowell Milken Institute studies entrepreneurism and law. I have no real desire to work for myself but I love the idea of chasing one’s own dreams. I’m a fan of that. I’m a fan of the idea of lawyers chasing dreams rather than ambulances. I get the impression the folks over at UCLA agree with me on that.

Critical Race Studies (CRT) was birthed in the practice of law but most schools do not have dedicated programs. UCLA claims it has the only one. I like the idea of the program not because this is all I care about, though many may make that argument, but I like that such things are studied in a practical way. Law is at its core practical. You go argue a theoretical idea, that then becomes, or strikes down, a law, and then people’s lives become structured by it.

Things that touch our lives, especially things like race, should absolutely be studied not just pontificated or legislated independent of ideas and research. Which I guess is why the law school isn’t just one blanket program. But I’m only guessing.

But all this being said, most everyone knows as much about the CRT or Lowell Milken centers as they do the California CU/UC system.

That’s okay, just remember, UCLA. (say that part out loud).

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