Off the Shelf: Mass-Market Multiples at Gregory Lind Late: A Cowboy Song at Custom Made Saul's In a World Clove and Hoof Choosing Here at The Flight Deck Best of 2014 show on KALX Indian Ink at A.C.T. The Vaselines at The Independent Blithe Spirit at the Golden Gate a healthy pancreas for Richter
I haven't spent Thanksgiving in the States since 2005, but this year I decided to take my "big trip" that week in L.A., hitting many sites that were familiar to me (I grew up nearby, in Orange, and visit from the Bay Area often enough) and some that I'd never visited. Thanksgiving proper was a very wonderful and swanky affair down in La Jolla, where my brother lives, and he arranged dinner for my family at George's at the Cove, with a view over the ocean as the sun was setting. They had many delicious, inventive vegetarian options for me, and we all had a blast. More highlights, recommendations, and random recollections from the rest of my trip below, with a full set of pictures here.
Los Angeles was experiencing some seriously amazing weather the week I was there, so it was with great pleasure I made my first full day in town a beach day. I started with breakfast in Manhattan Beach and then toodled up the coast to Venice, pausing to take in the canals, the Mark di Suvero by the water, the skate park, the giant binoculars by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen sidled up to a Frank Gehry building, the shopping on Abbot Kinney. And a couple days later I found myself back there for an iced chai at Intellegentsia and a gorgeous al fresco dinner with friends at Superba Food + Bread. Venice, you are just charming.
Santa Monica was the next stop on my beach day, and I walked out on the Pier to fully take in the summer in November. A vegan tuna melt for lunch at Real Food Daily was followed by an ogle of the giant metal dinosaur topiaries in the middle of the Third Street Promenade, with a berry tart for dessert at Huckleberry before I jetted off to the Getty Villa (more on that below). I came back for dinner at Rustic Canyon later that night, and for a drink at Basement Tavern.
I soaked up a very fine sunset indeed at El Matador State Beach in Malibu that evening, arriving in time to catch the tail end of an American Apparel swimwear shoot while the sea lions bobbed unimpressed in the surf. So L.A.
I was introduced to the Getty Villa when my high school Latin class took a field trip there, and it was love at first sight. Back then the shmancy Getty Center (pictured above) hadn't been built yet, so I first discovered favorite pieces by Van Gogh and Munch there too. And of course it was during many high school and college trips to the Villa that my love of classical art and the classics in general was cemented. This visit I checked in on my muse Polyhymnia like I always do, and I also had a good sit by the fountain in the back herb garden, a place where many of my old hopes and dreams still linger. A couple days later I made a point of taking the tram up to the Center too, high on its hill overlooking the city, and relived some more memories there amongst the familiar artworks. Those Getty museums turn me into a sentimental fool.
The contemporary art scene is very much alive and well in Los Angeles too, and I hopped all over the city to see many an inspiring show. My favorites: Sayre Gomez at Francois Ghebaly Gallery (pictured above), Rob Wynne at Gavlak, Yuri Ancarani + Jim Hodges + Robert Heinecken (all separate exhibitions) at the Hammer, the Ellsworth Kelly on the outside of Matthew Marks.
Raise your hand if you were traumatized as a child by the tragic mammoth tableau at the La Brea Tar Pits. And the damn thing is still there, papa mammoth forever mired in tar while baby and mama mammoth cry on the shore. But I love the Tar Pits and their direct connection to the flora and fauna of ancient California, and they were even extra burbly and stinky for me the morning I visited. The adjacent Page Museum is rad too, filled with fossils and reconstructions of extinct beasties, and well worth visiting just to see volunteers sorting finds from the newer excavations.
LACMA is so huge now it's almost impossible to take in everything in just one day, much less the couple of hours I spent there with friends. However, we managed to take in plenty of excellent art: the Pierre Huyghe retrospective (pictured above), the samurai armor exhibition, Larry Sultan's photographs, netsuke in the Asian pavilion. That day we lunched at the food trucks that always park across the street (veggie banh mi for the win!), but I came back before I left town just so I could squeeze in a meal at Ray's too.
I was excited to see a snippet of new-to-me neighborhood Highland Park when I met some friends there one evening for drinks at The Hermosillo followed by treats at Donut Friend. Meanwhile the teenage me would be shocked to find out the adult me would seriously consider moving to Echo Park, but it is now home to spots like iam8bit gallery, awesome gigs at The Echo, and Record Club DJ night at El Prado (pictured above). Thankfully there are still plenty of Mexican sweet shops in the neighborhood too.
I never spend too long on Hollywood Boulevard, but I always find a star or two that makes me smile on the Walk of Fame. This time: Ray Bradbury, Edward R. Murrow. But really I'm there to go record shopping at Amoeba and to get a margarita at Loteria Grill.
My home base for this trip was the Palihotel in West Hollywood, within view of the Hollywood Sign and within easy striking distance of Prime Pizza, Petty Cash Taqueria, Joan's on Third, Canter's, Hugo's, Coffee Commissary, Cinefamily. Also home to The Hart and the Hunter (omg the biscuits). My last full day in town I had a luxurious afternoon Thai massage at the hotel, then spontaneously headed up to Griffith Observatory to catch the sunset. As it was the day after Thanksgiving about three-quarters of L.A. also had the same idea, so I gave up on the Observatory proper and just hiked to a nearby rock instead. I was not disappointed with the results.
Last but absolutely and definitely not least. The most important stop on any Heidi tour of Los Angeles is the Museum of Jurassic Technology, and the less said about it is always the better. Just know that they recognize me there by my Margaret Kilgallen tattoos and that there is a certain room on the first floor that always makes me weep. While you're there make sure to stop by the Center for Land Use Interpretation too, just two doors down from the MJT. Both organizations ensure that you will never look at the world in the same way again.
As I was whistled at on the street for the umpteenth time earlier this week, I found myself fervently wishing every man could spend a single day in the body of a woman, just to see what it's like. Which is probably why I was inspired to finally watch Sydney Pollack's Tootsie for the first time. I was far, far too young to see it when it came out back in 1982 (and probably would have been pretty bored by it anyway), but watching it now I was impressed with how relevant its messages about gender roles still are and how wittily they are transmitted. Because the film had me guffawing out loud on more than one occasion. Dustin Hoffman is of course amazing as both the misanthropic actor Michael Dorsey and his drag alter ego Dorothy Michaels, whose feminism and sass inspire the women around her and ultimately Michael himself. Jessica Lange won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role here as the woman Michael is madly in love with, but in my version of the story he ends up with Teri Garr's Sandy instead because she's just hilarious and awesome. Early-'80s New York is featured prominently too (omg the bus ads!), and I loved the glimpse into Michael's struggling-actor life (and loft). Now I'm seriously considering buying the Criterion DVD mostly so I can watch the deleted scenes and trailers. If only they had a version with the soundtrack edited out...
Through January 16 - Lauren Marsden: 5 Types in 3 Parts at Et al. In this fascinating show Marsden explores the idea of what constitutes a performance and how we might employ said performances to construct identity. She utilized a process in which she asked 10 male actors to improvise 5 characters of her invention, assigning 2 men to each "type": The Seasonal Bachelor, The Frisky Entrepreneur, The Sociopathic Gentleman, The Affectionate Drug Dealer, The Son of a Dead Rock Star. Marsden's video The Audition Tapes cycles amongst the actors as each one improvises the inner workings of his character for her, and her camera never reveals their faces but instead focuses on their hands or on the backs of their heads. That technique heightens the fact that Marsden's created stereotypes are very hard to identify merely from what the men are saying, as the characters speak to common human experiences such as the desire to connect with others, and any specific details become indistinguishable. The fusing of personalities happens in a more literal sense in the 5 portraits that are also part of the exhibition, where SFPD composite artist Elizabeth Prillinger blended together the faces of the actors playing the types based on Marsden's descriptions of them. To my eye the representation of The Affectionate Drug Dealer looked especially shady, but how much of that was influenced by personal prejudice or the format of the drawing itself? For the final "part" of the exhibition Marsden worked with designer and typographer Jaz Halloran to come up with a font that encapsulated a statement about each of the characters, and the results are visible on placards directly across from the police portraits. For example, The Seasonal Bachelor gets Helvetica for "He is more likely to harm himself than to harm others." And again all 5 statements could describe a single individual, which led me to think about the techniques a good actor uses to make a part his or her own while simultaneously infusing it with something of the universal. Marsden gives us these 3 sets of hints about her 5 men but deliberately confuses us too, pointing to how unreliable any narration can be. Even our own.