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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Route 66 Reunion: cars

Because this is California and this is what they do here.09-Sept20-Ontario- 063

Living on Route 66 mostly means retro traffic signs, but it also means sunshine and retro cars.

Beautiful cars.
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I suppose cars mean more to a person and a culture that spend so much time stuck in traffic. I am not of that culture but I think I could learn to appreciate it.
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Like any good art, I don’t really have to know what I’m looking at to know if I like it.
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How Can You Look at Stars When the Building is So Cool? Griffith Observatory

Just a note, don’t go when it is even close to convenient, you are in a hurry, don’t want to walk a million miles, or don’t want to be with other people, because this place is popular. It is also worth it.IMG_6869

The observatory is built on Mt. Hollywood, the same one that has the big Hollywood sign, in 1935. From its inception it was open to the public for free. It was meant to make astronomy approachable and accessible to the masses and the masses show up en masse.IMG_6873

The copper domes really do house legit telescopes that aid real-life science (see what I did there?). Smart people doing smart things that I don’t understand, work there. I didn’t work there, I just looked there.IMG_6878The city, the sky, and the building. The art deco scalloped smooth lined solid colored building, the pastel fading multicolored shapeless sky, and the staccato jumbled lit up city.

You can only go there when you have some time.IMG_6870

Only go there when all those crowds and lack of parking and walking don’t matter. Because despite all that, you have to go.IMG_6875

That Place Looks Crazy: Walt Disney Concert Hall

Imagine a soda can with no label, no colors, just metallic silver. Now imagine you took this chromey can and smashed it, bent and twisted it all up. Then… imagine that metal mess was about five stories tall. If you cannot imagine such a think don’t worry, I know where you can see one; and it is awesome.IMG_7255

The place opened in 2003, was designed by a famous guy (Frank Gehry), and is the home of the LA Philharmonic. all of those things are true, and perhaps relevant, but what is important, is that it is a wonder to look at.IMG_7248

I want to write about it, tell you stuff, but its all blah, blah, blah, when what is important, is what you see.IMG_7252

 

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Sam Maloof Does Not Own a Basketball Team

I am not a woodworker but I know a grizzly bear who is.

sunburstHad I been a woodworker I might have known that I have recently relocated to the town where once lived one of the greatest woodworkers of all time. Now that last descriptor is all mine, neither the woodworker nor the grizzly made that claim, but I am sticking with it. The man won a MacArthur Fellowship for heaven’s sake. Most of us call the MacArthur Fellowship the “Genius Awards”. I saw hanging on a wall in his house, a legit certificate certifying that this woodworker was in fact a genius.

This woodworker, the famous one not the grizzly, was Sam Maloof.

Sam_Maloof_rocker_1994“No, this guy didn’t own the Kings. He made a rocking chair. Yes a rocking chair. So do you wanna go with me to his house or what? No, its a cool rocking chair. Shut up. Do you wanna go or not?”

I think that’s pretty much how the conversation went. While generally an idiot I am occasionally smart enough to listen to Kaleo Kala and we drove down the street to visit the house Sam Maloof. Good heavens am I glad I did because this guy, this carpenter from Chino, if judged by his house, was the coolest man to ever live.

Okay that may be an overstatement, but his house is almost exactly what I wish for when I drift off to my happy place.porch

Its not just the house, its everything about the house. Its everything in the house. It is a house that became a museum the day the inhabitant passed away. This means that this guy created a space and place to live, and did it so well, that everyone else wanted to come and see it. And so we did.

When I say created I mean he built the house. He designed it bit by bit, adding on to it with time and when funds became available. It isn’t a box to live in, because it grew with time, grew out of his mind, it became this organic living thing. It became… interesting. I crave interesting.

Interesting was everywhere in that place.bell tower

The furniture was all custom, the art on the walls was all original, and every item had a story behind it. It looked good. It was comfortable. It was interesting and t was real.

Real. Real like the Navajo rugs were obtained from a Navajo down on the reservation. The bell up on that bell tower was salvaged from an old church down in New Mexico. The kachina dolls were from a Hopi not a factory. Well, except one kachina that he made himself. But the idea that he made one adds to the interest of the item. There was pottery from Egypt, that he got in Egypt, African masks that he got in Africa, and the most beautiful wood canoe I have ever seen hanging from a vaulted ceiling. It was a real canoe, hand made by some guy but I don’t think it ever made it into a body of water. It was a useful item made so beautifully that it became art.

There were books everywhere. Family photos. Dishes and silverware that had never seen the inside of a big box store. There was stained glass, old things, new things. Straight lines and curved lines. Al of this stuff that spoke and told stories despite the man having passed.

Mr. Maloof and I never met. I know little of how he treated people, but I think I want to be him. Or at least I want to be the kind of guy who can create the sort of things he created, either directly or by assembly. Man did he do it right.

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Have you ever been to a candy store, when you don’t really like candy, but there was a kid there and it was fun to watch? I haven’t, but I’m guessing it would be much the same as seeing Kaleo at Sam Maloof’s house. Its like I, and most all of us, are ducks, then we go to Mr. Maloof’s house and I look over next to me and doggone it if Kaleo isn’t really a swan. Its fun to watch a swan in its element.

He was the only one in our tour group that was more excited to see the wood shed than the actual house.touch the wood

Mancation: Center for Furniture Craftsmanship

Kaleo took control of the GPS and started barking out directions. The man now had purpose. We had a destination.

The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport Maine.school

We parked in a dirt lot and walked a gravel path and into a manicured collection of cabin like buildings.

The place appeared well cared for but deserted. The door was open but the lights were off. We went into a gallery filled with wooden works of art and started nosing around. It did not take long before a well dressed woman to welcome us and inquire as to our intentions.school display

Kaleo dropped two names and she pretty much handed us the keys to place.

Again, well done were-bear.

We wandered in and out of workshops and class rooms. Chairs half made and projects half done were littered about. Students and craftsmen nodded hello as we made our inspection. school chairsWe stopped and chatted with some.

Kaleo studied furniture design at a similar school in Tasmania. These folks here in Maine knew his folks over in Australia. Small furniture world I guess. school talkingSo small that our unplanned arrival caused us to just miss one of Kaleo’s old instructors. He had just dropped off a new piece for an upcoming show. A piece that had not yet been revealed to the public.

When we finished our rounds the well dressed woman fetched a set of keys and led us to the back of the main building. She opened the cellar and led us underground for a sneak peek. school going underUnder a blanket in a basement that looks very much like my own (messy), she pulled a blanket off a wood crafted octopus/spider that doubles as a desk.school spider desk

Kaleo touched the tentacles, pulled out the drawers, inspected the joints. Preston and I just watched Kaleo as he looked.

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Sufficiently impressed we remounted our ride and readied for the next locale. “How long doe sit take to get to Eric’s over in Vermont?”

“Six hours.”

“We better get going.”