Sunday, September 28, 2008

If it was worth it, it would be worth it...

Had a curious past week (there was the unexpected but much needed quiet time for ruminant reverie in neighboring hiking hills). Then a dear friend from London quietly reaffirmed all the things I believe in a time when all my dearest friends are splitting up (and I do not believe Mercury retrograde is to blame for all of this heartbreak...)

"As the great Daniel Johnston said, 'true love will find you in the end'... and if we are ever to settle for less, more the fool are we. Let's keep searching..."

Oh why don't you have a listen to one of the greatest songs ever written...

"How can it recognize you, unless you step out into the light, the light?"

Carry an empty bag.
Go to the top of the hill.
Pour all the light you can in it.
Go home when it is dark.
Hang the bag in the middle of your
room in place of a light bulb.

Yoko Ono, 1963 autumn

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Don't know what compelled me to flip through my old Purple Mags last night but saw these CdG ads.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall Fitness Club

I've been really into hiking lately; I went on two today, one was a new one in Silverlake Hills which I've never done before...

So in the last month of so, Kathy and I have been going to Griffith Park for our weekly Sunday afternoon hike. An hour or two, it's great to get some fresh air and get fit for the season. So far, the club is invitational only and consists of just single gals but I'm open to extending it to some special friends...

I'm thinking of silkscreening some sweatshirts for our members and am deciding on the logo, colors and mascot right now. Any suggestions?

This trail is a good one and quickly leads to the Observatory.

Heading back towards Ferndale. Felt like I was in Japan again...

This trail is the hardest, longest but well worth it every time. We saw a pack of coyotes (like 10 of them) crossing our path a few weeks ago which was scary yet serene at the same time. They are elegant creatures.

On a pretty "clear" LA day.

It's All About The Bird

I can't believe I'm finally transferring my infatuation of my daily obligatory listening of "Jens Lekman" to old Richard Ashcroft... the Ex gave me the new Verve last weekend (I'm really trying to let it grow on me...) but it pales in comparison to good old solo Richard... my guilty pleasure... something old, something warm, something familiar, something sweet (with a touch of bitter), something basic and true. It's all here for you...

A Song for Lovers
You On My Mind In My Sleep
(Could Be) A Country Thing, City Thing, Blues Thing

And the soundtrack goes well with Hilary (with Marcel, her beloved parrot) who's been in town for the last couple weeks from NY. We get along well... breakfast, lunch, dinner, nightcap, hike, bbm... it's fun having her back for a bit.

And all the old stuff I've been into these days... well it was a must to experience Spz and Nick Cave at the Bowl this past week. First time seeing Mr. Cave and he is a lot of man. Pure, raw, virile, it was almost too much for someone like me. I was in tears when he played "Into My Arms." And then....

Legions of voluptuous ladies were surrounding him but Florian stepped up and made it happen. Mr. Cave even said, "I'll take a photo with this lady." As in moi! I was absolutely mortified. He's a lot of man. Intense.

And now I've had my Spz fix for the year now. Saw them again on Friday at the Echo. I was tripping the entire time about how insanely good it was and the ridiculous fact that they were playing at such a small venue. Intense.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Engine Common

Last month I had asked my dearest oldest loveliest confidante, Jeremy, to guest blog on Owley Patrol. Well here it is... I'm a bit touched really. Jerms, I'm having writer's block this week but yours will be finished by end of month. Je promets.

p.s. That "bouncing" dance I did was to Saint Etienne's "Been So Long." xo

* * * *

A couple weeks back, Anh wrote a beautiful blog entry about rearranging her record collection. I could imagine being there. I could imagine "the vibe." It is something I know very well, Anh's relationship with her records.

As for me, I left my records at my parents' house in California, and for now they're just sitting there. Here in London, all of our music is kept on digital files. The other day Julia asked if she could come over to get some music off me. I had a sad feeling because I realized the experience would be the two of us sat at a computer, as if we were working on an essay. When I had my record collection — and a stereo system comprised of nice 70s pieces by Harman Kardon, Advent and so on — there was a whole physicality involved. In our last place in San Francisco, Jamie built a shelving unit custom fit for the stereo. I would move from swivel chair (to put the needle on the record) to floor (to go through the vinyl stacks) to stepstool (to reach up to the CDs). Friends would come over. Jamie would cook pasta. I would play records by John Cale, "Beyond These Chilling Winds" by Larry Coryell, the slower songs of Big Star and Modern Lovers...

It is something that I learned from Anh, these private DJ sessions. She never had such an aerobic routine. She is more elegant. She plays records with a femininity. But man, does she play records. How many rugs have there been, with the smoke of something in the air, and Anh would sit me down and play for me a new import, a b-side, a lost classic. Always songs that sound great: Have a melody, have something soothing or soaring. Underneath, a bit of a jangle. Beautiful songs. (Last summer, I was trying to explain to some friends why I don't like listening to Bjork. Anh was sitting next to me and she said, "It's not relaxing," and that's exactly right.)

Relaxing, but still intense.

Maybe Anh helped me discern the beautiful from the sentimental, digging past the gimmicky and dismissing the aggressive (without being afraid of noise). That's her taste. She told me about The Clientele. Man, she told me about Belle And Sebastian. She was the first person to play me "Sunday Morning Comedown." She did a bouncing dance with snapping fingers to a girl pop song.

When I first met Anh (She approached me at UCLA orientation and asked what music I liked. I said "The Smiths" and she said, "Ok, let's have coffee"), she already had quite a good collection of seven inch singles. I hadn't seen stuff like this before: The Sea Urchins, BMX Bandits, Trembling Blue Stars, Eggs, Small Factory, Action Painting!, Unrest and Heavenly. She introduced me to an aesthetic that was influenced by The Smiths but more esoteric.

A lot of these bands were from Sarah Records, of course, and they made mention of English locations like Gunnersbury Park and Engine Common, names that sounded — if not exactly exotic — somehow foreign, enticingly British.

L.A. - London connection.

We were in California. Our friends were in bands like Postal, and they wanted to sound like those British bands. In turn, those British bands got their jangle from West Coast stuff like The Byrds. We gleaned rock music history and knew that LA and London are friends. In later years, Anh began to uncover the secret treasures of The Canyon. CSNY and Gram Parsons, of course. She plays me John Phillips. "Pretty Anne and her peacock feather fan... And her jingle jagged faggot friend..." I can just picture Anh's suppressed grin at that line. We're in one of her bedrooms. Haven't we both had so many different bedrooms? Each of hers has been a place of comfort: A palette of plant leaf green and almost deep purples.

Now that I live here in London, Anh and I have a friendship that surfs on that California-England connection. Anh, here is an image of a gasometer along The Thames. We used to pass something like this on the freeway between LA and Orange County, when we drove down to your parents' house. We'd go down to do our laundry and live a clean suburban life for two days, go to dim sum and thrift shops. We went to the Huntington Beach Library to see bands like Postal play. We'd pass that gasometer and it would be lit up and we'd feel that special feeling of driving into the suburbs. Remember when we traveled across the valley to see Calvin Johnson do Dub Narcotic stuff in a strip mall café?

Now I live here and Anh is entrenched in the music in LA. She sends me a video link: "California," Joni Mitchell. I wonder what she thinks about the new Oasis single. And I still haven't been to Gunnersbury Park. Next time you visit, Anh.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I went to San Francisco and kissed a girl!

The sis told me to come visit her. So I did. Got a last minute flight and spent 36 hours in SF this past weekend. It was good to get away from that perfect town called LA; away from that perfect sun and perfect life. I wanted to feel that chilly fog roll in...

Did my usual thing that I generally do when I visit SF: see old friends, shop at the Painted Bird, eat yummy food, relax... oh and btw, I've been a Pescatarian for 8 days now! A first in my life. Since LA is so easy, I have to challenge myself in creative ways so this is a month-long self-imposed diet for me. Been eating way too much meat anyways. But I still love pork, let's not forget about that.

The view from my sister's in Twin Peaks. Never gets old...

We met up with Lily Saturday morning at the Ferry Blding. I can see why it's considered the best farmer's market in the nation. Everything looked ridiculous. But I think Borough Market in London is slightly more comprehensive.

Will met Jim & I at Dolores Park (my old hood!) with his brand new customized "sexy" bike. I don't know if it's sexy but it's a good color, nice lines. Been thinking of getting the old cruiser I found in front of my old house last year fixed and riding it around the lake and the local Asian market this fall. Isn't there a bike movement in this country?

Cuties Jason & Jim

Flew back and made it just in time for the opening of Viet Noodle Bar's expansion. Bun was there which was a treat for me. She's pretty inspirational. And well there's Viet... there is not enough words to describe how amazing he is... Just go to his restaurant please.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Acid Tongue

Last night snapped me out of my post-holiday blues and waning appreciation for a town I affectionately call home. This past summer had been rough, I'd go as far as to say it was prolly my worst (okay maybe top 5). And the weather didn't help at all; it was likely the cause of it. Everyday was perfect; just perfect sunshine. Life is so awesome in LA.

Someone recently tried to stereotype me as this typical California Girl. I think I know what he's referring to but seriously, I think I'm more than just that! Don't pigeonhole me with the likes of Paris Hilton and her bffs! No way! But I do agree that we are of a special breed; that is a given.

So Jenny Lewis premiered songs from her new record last night at Spaceland. Being there felt right; Lewis and band sounded amazing (Farmer Dave looked especially fit!) and saw loads of old friends I haven't seen altogether in a long long time. I like music. I like my friends. And lately, there's an alarming fancy for gin & tonic.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

keep calm and carry on

Nothing entirely interesting or new to say about London this time around. It was good... as always.

My mind is still stuck on two things from my last weekend there though... The first is this article I read in the Weekend Guardian about "How to... Exit" by Guy Browning. The timing is rather spooky; family, job, romance, it's all there in that article for me right now. Life is funny that way, exits lead to entrances; as one door closes, another one opens... I don't mind if my exit wounds scars, let's just hope they heal in time for the next entrance.

And the other thing that is utterly and completely poignant, bittersweet and heartbreaking is Juliette Binoche's answer from the same issue's Q&A -
Q: What has been your biggest disappointment?
A: That I wasn't able to share my life with someone.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I've been to Hollywood, I've been to Redwood, I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold...

Things I learned while in Berlin:

1. There are quite a lot of Vietnamese people in this city. And proportionately, there are a lot of Vietnamese restaurants. Monsieur Vuong was my favorite; the nouveau fusion cuisine didn't bother me at all, as it was super fresh and tasty, a lovely yummy treat. I'm going to copy his delicious nut and soy smoothie. J'adore.

2. I have no proficiency for the language. Absolutely none. It was quite embarrassing rather.

3. I've never seen so much dyed hair concentrated in one city before: vibrant shades of hot pink, animated purple with bleached stripes (with a purple ensemble, 'natch), throbbing blood orange messiness with goth/punk attitude. The fashion sense is fantastically bad. Wow, so horrific, it's actually quite brilliant!

4. I know I'm generalizing here but German girls look like lesbians; they almost can't help it. They're prolly not I'm quite sure but they definitely exude that je ne sais quoi sensibility... Jens knows all about this... "A Postcard to Nina"

5. The beer is quite good. So is the wurst.

Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park. The pièce de résistance is the monument by Soviet sculptor Yevgeny Vuchetich: a massive monument of a Soviet soldier with a sword holding a child, standing over a smashed swastika. You see, this memorial was not to honor the East German population but rather for the many Soviet soldiers who suffered at the hands of Germany. The Soviets liberated the Germans from the Nazis, hells yeah!

There are a lot of styles going on here which says a lot of what kind of propaganda they were trying to transmit: working class ceremonial, Neoclassicism & Art Deco, and socialist-realist Postconstructivism. Remarkable and outrageous.

One of the 16 sarcophagi. Pretty cool craved stone relief I have to admit.

I love the layout; even the trees leading up to the memorial seemed to be weeping. This dude is so my Heart of Gold. Just look at him: so focused, full of purpose, well suited (nice flannel), well protected, and in my age group!

Big headed Ernst Thälmann and his strong fist.

Dear Dean in Kreuzberg

Humana, the 4-story thrift shop in Friedrichshain. Just massive. The craziest fabric blends I've ever encountered. There was a sale; most things were only 1.5 Euro!!! Sadly, my mental hives which I usually get at these sort of "vintage" establishments started its attack and I walked away empty-handed...

Henne, best fried chicken in all of Europe. Almost missed the flight back to London but well worth the wait...