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The Alley

In recapping where I had gone for the weekend I once told someone “Olvera Street.” Their response was something along the lines of, “That’s for tourists. You need to go to the Alley.” So I did.IMG_0050

We went there not looking for anything in particular and consequentially found everything. We mostly bought nothing and ate something. All of that is what you do at the alley.IMG_0044

This is one of the only places in LA I have been too that really felt like it was in a city. The rest of this town is all parking lots and strip malls that make everywhere seem suburban. Not the alley. It has Rockefeller Center type crowds with Canal Street style merchants.IMG_0053

Plastic shoes, $50 suits, quinceanera dresses for days, and highly questionable electronics were everywhere. I, and I have never presented myself as an expert, have never before, had the urge to discourage the general public from specific sartorial choices, as much as I did in the alley.IMG_0077I also realize I am not a casting director for formulaic B grade movies about the Cartel. I mean, why go to Barcelona when you can WEAR Barcelona right?

But then again, if you like it and want to wear it, I think you should absolutely wear it. Joking aside- I mean that.IMG_0068

I will however, without reservation, make food recommendations. Eat It All!IMG_0067 (2)

Fruits, and otherwise boring vegetables, are given new life when sliced and drowned in chili powder. I don’t suggest eating any of this while wearing white gloves.

I was not wearing white gloves.IMG_0120

Not pictured is a giant pinata shaped like a Petron bottle. I’m told you can also get one made in your own likeness but I’m not sure what one should appropriately put inside either of these party favors if the children are under age. I am admittedly an outsider here but I always thought that pinatas were specifically for, those who are underage.

I have a lot to learn.IMG_0231

I am happy to get my upcoming lessons.IMG_0088

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Rock On: sipping stones

On the rocks normally means with ice. Not everything is normal.IMG_9384

These soapstone cubes are intended for fine spirits like Whiskey that drinkers don’t want diluted by melting ice. Intentions aren’t everything and the principle applies to other beverages.
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Nifty slide out box. Snazzy little bag to store the rocks. Six square rocks to stick in the freezer and then in a glass.IMG_9517

Joking and novelty aside, these things stay cold and don’t melt. So if you aren’t doing shots of Sprite and would rather nurse your burn-your-face-off Blenheim Ginger Ale over the span of a couple hours without ending up with 50/50 water soda, these are your best option.

Just beware of glass houses and all that

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The Party is Over

Holidaying is a much better word than partying, or in my opinion funner to say than “on holiday”. Unfortunately, or maybe it is for the best, funner is not really a word and most all of America is back at work starting off a new year with hopes, aspirations, and most likely a healthy dose of ‘meh’.IMG_8538

It starts with Halloween for the kids, then on to Thanksgiving for families and football, then December with its religious high holidays, then sliding down New Year’s. After that we are tasked with enduring February.IMG_8621Where is the fun now? Why did it die and who killed it?IMG_8541

Maybe fun is overrated and plain navy suits with white shirts and solid color ties are best. Maybe paying the bills, getting things done, and societal and personal progression are superior to immediate gratification and enjoyment.IMG_8624

But then again maybe all of those things aren’t mutually exclusive. Maybe you can personally progress and wear glossy purple suits at the same time.IMG_9435

Maybe… So navy suits aren’t always the best option, glossy purple suits are almost never a good option, but it doesn’t have to be one or the other.struttin

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I Don’t Need to be Professional When I Go, but I Would Like to Take Good Pictures While I’m There: GoPro

Unlike my desire to own an 18th Century Samurai helmet, this one is fairly easy. I want a waterproof GoPro camera.For-Gopro-hero-3-original-Waterproof-Housing-for--fpv-multicoper-free-shippng

I have no intentions, aspirations, or fantasies of pulling off amazing daredevil feats that should be uploaded to Youtube where I will become one of many in a montage of superhuman stunts and tricks that gets passed around via Facebook and whatever other platform is trending. No desire at all.AMCLP-001_main1

But I do want to go places, see and do things worth seeing and doing, and I would like to take pictures or videos in those places that are worth looking at. A number of those things involve water. Often times, moving water. My current camera, which sometimes doubles as a phone, has issues with water.SWNS_WAVE_100010007.jpg

 

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My Summer in Review: seasons

The seasonal passing of time is hard to measure in perpetual summer. The leaves do not change, snow does not fall, and your wardrobe changes consist of a jacket in the evening. Everything is a perpetual now.IMG_4790

Before you know it time has passed and you’re wheels haven’t turned. You remain where you were. Or so you think. Or so it feels.

But time always passes. The kids get bigger, the knees start to ache, and the sun sets.IMG_4198

Quickly a new school year is starting and the grind you never took a break from is beginning its cycle all over again and you stare at that date as it bears down upon you relentlessly, mercilessly, unyielding. Time does not tire despite its continual aging.IMG_3487I have done my best to follow time’s path but have been unsuccessful in both body and mind. The body I get, the mind makes no sense. A friend and I have talked about the need to always have something to look forward to, a goal, a destination, maybe even a carrot of some sort. Destination gives purpose and fuels drive. It makes a difficult now- easier to endure.IMG_4191I have jogged out to this tree on several occasions. I suffer from inertia and have realized that outside forces like gravity and laziness are hard to counteract. I set my sights on this tree, this destination, to get me to go just a little further, to prevent me from deciding I have gone far enough and aborting my much needed exercise just a little too early. It works.

But jogging to that tree really isn’t much fun. It is really quite the opposite.IMG_0941

I am not that guy who enjoys exercise. Of course I feel better if I do it, but the process is worse than drudgery, it is hard work. So are most valuable things.

Valuable things. Like views of lonely trees, mountain paths, and time.

Jogging to that tree I most often kill the value of the journey. No. Not true.

I don’t kill it but rather I trade one value for another. I sacrifice the view from solitude and joyful journey with accomplishment and the potential of one day seeing my own belt buckle.IMG_4493So in talking with my friend about looking forward, I wonder about the missing of now. Sometimes now is pretty cool and now never comes around again.IMG_4364Now must be harnessed and loved. Now must be carpe’d and capitalized upon. There must be a tenuous balance between the enjoyment of the present wrapped around the driving toward tomorrowIMG_4312Whatever balance I achieve, zen-like or teetering, what I do know is that the new school year starts way too early around here and I need to carpe before I run out of diems.IMG_3228

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That Flag

The confederate battle flag is being removed from the South Carolina capitol grounds. I have never thought, nor do I think now, that everyone who flies that banner hates black people. That being said I want nothing to do with that flag any more than I do a bright red Nazi banner. I have been somewhat disappointed though not surprised, that so many are complaining about this recent confederate flag backlash. “Things have gone too far,” some say. “It’s just a flag. People need to be less easily offended,” I have heard. “It is ridiculous that they want to outlaw this flag.” All of this has made me do some thinking and reflecting.rebel flag at capitol

I like Mummers. I am more than amused by mummery. My little family and I visited the Mummer Museum in South Philadelphia some years back and we were all amused as I tried on various bits of feather and sequin outfits as is part of the mummer experience. Seeing me all bedazzled was amusing to all, including myself. Whilst adorned in glittery wonder I stood and read a plaque describing how the roots of the mummer strut was the cake walk and how the wearing of black face, meant to mock uppity black folk,  was a proud part of mummery till forced by the government to cease the practice in the 60’s. This story, this historical truth, sucked the fun out of my feathered cape. I looked over at my wife and daughter, both with deep brown skin, and felt ashamed at my outfit. I took off my rhinestone crown and my wife, still smiling, said, “Let’s go see the glockenspiels.”rebel house 001

I don’t think mummers are racist. Wearing that outfit did not make me a racist. Yet in that moment, wearing those symbols of mummery and learning the racist roots, I had no desire for my black wife to see me and those symbols intertwined.  The confederate battle flag is coming down from the South Carolina State capitol building. This doesn’t exactly make me happy, but that is mostly because I am sad it was ever there in the first place. So much more so than gaudy mummer clothes, that flag is a symbol of racism.greenwood 007

When I first moved to Greenville South Carolina they did not officially recognize Martin Luther King Day. There was at that time a raucous debate going on among local politicians and the public on whether or not this should be changed. I was not involved nor was I vocal. I had other things on my mind and I knew where I stood on things, I didn’t need a holiday to teach me things, I went on about my business. Part of that business was getting a new driver’s license. I found the local DMV and during regular business hours paid them a visit to get myself legal. They were closed. Across the door was stretched a festive banner that read, “Closed in celebration of Confederate Memorial Day”.greenwood 012

A message was sent to me right then and there that in this state, my new home, that the memory of white rebel soldiers was more important than black people in general. Perhaps I was jumping to conclusions and misreading the situation. Perhaps. But the message was sent. Those in power at that time wanted to pay honor to rebel soldiers in an official and governmentally endorsed manner, but were in open opposition to doing the same for a civil rights leader who believed in non-violence. What else was I supposed to think? With that in mind I would drive around town and local communities and the confederate battle flag was everywhere. On cars, on flag poles in front of people’s homes, and even affixed permanently on trees lining the highway. It flew from the top of the state capitol. That flag, the same one waved by segregationists as they screamed and spit on black kids who were trying to go school, the same one that leads Klan parades, was being officially waved by the government of the state I now lived in. Those segregationists chose that flag when they gathered in opposition to black people. I’m married to a black person. Every day I would drive around and see that flag, then go home and see my wife and children. How was I supposed to feel welcome anywhere?

It shouldn’t matter that my wife is black. A person doesn’t need to have ever met a black person to care. Why would I want to wave a banner that tells black people I am against them? Why would I want my government to wave a flag that tells black people they are not welcome? But many people do want that flag there. Those who do in fact hate black people repeatedly choose that flag to wave. Because of that, I want nothing to do with it.

No. I’m not happy about any of this.

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Museum of Man: they refused to put me behind the glass

They call it the Museum of Man. I haven’t yet decided if that is a grandiose title or overly simplistic. Either would be fitting. The building’s exterior is indeed grandiose, and the interior is surprisingly… not.IMG_4623

I appreciate the learning experience a museum potentially provides young visitors, but as I walked around looking at words written on walls next to plaster casts of this and that, or diagrams of things not actually housed in the museum, I wondered what a museum provides in this regard that can’t just as easily, or easier, be found via Google. I walk quickly past these sorts of things.

I’m looking for artifacts.IMG_4688

The sign on the wall talked of how green is a symbolic color meaning something other than illness or frogginess. I am dubious. I can imagine an ancient artisan spinning some tale of how this color glorifies the deceased, when really he just ran low on brown paint or the deceased owed him money.IMG_4687

I have decided that men in all places, times, and sorts, like to play dress-up but are afraid to admit it. Consequentially we call our costumes “armor” or “ceremonial” and so on. What a tragedy that man will wage war with each other as a means to justify costumes devoid of childish or feminine insinuation. I mean you put a Groucho mustache on your armor. Do not get me wrong, I love it, I just don’t think you should have to stab people with spears and swords in order to wear your “scary” outfit.

Speaking of scary…IMG_4616These stacks of money represent wealth held by the varying “races” of humans. Now race may have no biological reality but that difference in stack size matters. Now while I realize that I, a white guy, contribute very little to that giant stack of white man cash, I also realize that at least 2/3’s of that black stack belongs to Oprah. We average folk of all shades hold very little relative wealth, but I do hold the knowledge that skin color still matters in America.

But then, after all the walking and looking at descriptions of men and manliness, I reflect on not only the most basic and descriptive, but also the most informative and lasting knowledge regarding man- bacon on hot dogs is wonderful.IMG_4604

 

 

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