Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The We Inside of Me

Thinking about the coming year I find that while I have goals - experiences I want to manifest - what is even more important to me is to manage the stresses in my life and spend more time in my happy place.

Thinking about that put me in mind of this Ted talk by Jill Bolte Taylor.  I read her book a few years ago and her talk at Ted is very powerful in that it reminds me that where I live my life from affects the we inside and outside of me.

What she describes as her experience in LaLaLand during her stroke is very much akin to my experience that time I was reading Terrence McKenna and decided to take a "heroic dose" of psyllocibin, e.g more than 6 grams.  Once the nausea abated it was way better than having a stroke and life changing in the sense that, for those hours, I was living in a place with an acute awareness of my connection to everything and when I came down, there was the knowledge that this is true all the time, whether I choose to be in the awareness of it or not.

Once you've been there you can't unknow it.

And once you've gotten that message you can hang up the phone - you don't need to be high to get there - you just need to be quiet.

This year I will spend more time in that peaceful place that exists when I step to the right of my left brained experience of separation.  I will create the time to go there and be there.

This year I will be a peaceful pebble creating ripples that make the world a better place.

So grateful that TED puts these talks out there for all of us, and to Jill for her passion in telling her story and sharing her Stroke of Insight.

Very yummy indeed.


Monday, October 1, 2012


This weekend I saw the story about Balpreet Kaur, a young Sikh woman who had unknowingly become the butt of nasty internet meanness.

I have been thinking about this story ever since.

Someone with the self loathing moniker, european_douchebag, had taken a photo of Balpreet standing in line, without her knowledge, and posted it to the "funny" thread of the website Reddit.

What he apparently thought was hilarious is that she has a lot of facial hair.  A lot.

And lots of people over at Reddit got on that thread and had a great time tearing Balpreet to shreds, which she knew nothing about until one of her friends let her know on Facebook.

Her response was to write this and post it to the thread:

Hey, guys. This is Balpreet Kaur, the girl from the picture. I actually didn't know about this until one of my friends told on facebook. If the OP wanted a picture, they could have just asked and I could have smiled :) However, I'm not embarrased or even humiliated by the attention [negative and positve] that this picture is getting because, it's who I am. Yes, I'm a baptized Sikh woman with facial hair. Yes, I realize that my gender is often confused and I look different than most women. However, baptized Sikhs believe in the sacredness of this body - it is a gift that has been given to us by the Divine Being [which is genderless, actually] and, must keep it intact as a submission to the divine will. Just as a child doesn't reject the gift of his/her parents, Sikhs do not reject the body that has been given to us. By crying 'mine, mine' and changing this body-tool, we are essentially living in ego and creating a seperateness between ourselves and the divinity within us. By transcending societal views of beauty, I believe that I can focus more on my actions. My attitude and thoughts and actions have more value in them than my body because I recognize that this body is just going to become ash in the end, so why fuss about it? When I die, no one is going to remember what I looked like, heck, my kids will forget my voice, and slowly, all physical memory will fade away. However, my impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn't important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are. :-) So, if anyone sees me at OSU, please come up and say hello. I appreciate all of the comments here, both positive and less positive because I've gotten a better understanding of myself and others from this. Also, the yoga pants are quite comfortable and the Better Together tshirt is actually from Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that focuses on storytelling and engagement between different faiths. :) I hope this explains everything a bit more, and I apologize for causing such confusion and uttering anything that hurt anyone.

Her simple message - we are perfect as we are made - resonated and reverberated around the internet and the european douchebag even wrote an apology.  He seemed a bit more concerned that Reddit might kick him to the curb because of all the negative publicity, but he also did own the fact that his best self might not be driving his vehicle (it seems his best self slipped out of the basement where he keeps it locked up and wrote that apology).

The word Grace descends from the Latin word gratia.  Gratia, at it's inception, had three distinct meanings.
1) a pleasing quality
2) favor or goodwill
3) gratitude or thanks

To my mind, Balpreet personifies all three of these meanings and I just love a woman who walks what she talks.

That is 100% yummy!


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

50 Shades of Gold

I've tried to read 50 Shades of Grey and I really wanted to like it, to be turned on, to be swept away (the Wertmuller version, not the version where Madonna vogued her way across the Med).  Instead I found myself a bit bored with the Ferrari without an engine that is Christian Grey.  There's just not enough happening there in the wit and wisdom department and well, I got distracted.

I'm obviously not the target audience.

When it comes to smart writing with wit, humor and a true sensuality, I find that there is no one better than Jonathan Gold, the Pulitzer prize winning food writer.  The man has lured me into parts of Los Angeles that I did not know existed.  His book, Counter Intelligence, lives in the glove compartment of my car, always ready to take me on an adventure where I will be truly titillated and definitely sated.

Now writing for the LA Times, Mr. Gold is my go to guy when I am looking for a culinary one night stand, an opportunity to indulge my food fetish.  Recently I was meeting a friend for dinner at Tar & Roses, a new restaurant in Santa Monica.  I don't think much of most of the restaurants in Santa Monica - they seem to be much more about showing off your tan than getting your grind on, however a little googling brought up this review  sharing how "the food plays nicely with the alcohol" and my palate could look forward to being lit up like a pinball machine.


I loved everything I ate, so much so, that by the time I remembered to take a picture I'd decimated the plate.  If they sold the popcorn appetizer by the bag I would have taken some home - in addition to the brown sugar and chili, there is bacon! 

For me sex and food go hand in hand - it's one big sensual adventure - and I'll take Mr. Gold over Mr. Grey any day.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jazzed and Motivated at the Ford - for FREE

There is some free fun coming to town.

 It's a chance to unleash your inner child, step on a stage and get Jazzed and Motivated.  Sponsored by a grant from the James Irvine Foundation, JAM (Jazzed and Motivated) Sessions are free events taking place on Monday evenings through out the summer at several locations throughout southern California, centered around movement, music and drumming. 

My friend Lisa, the princess of play, whom I've mentioned before, called me up last summer and told me about String Theory Productions, a unique music and dance company that she was going to see perform at the Ford Ampitheater.  She'd noticed that they were participating in a Monday night JAM and she thought it would be fun to go.

What will we do?

I have no idea, but they look amazing, so it will probably be cool.

I didn't have plans.  I liked the looks of the project, which was so much more than just playing music - these guys take performance to a meta level, creating huge acoustic instruments, utilizing the venue space where they perform, and moving through out the space dancing and playing while the audience sits within the instrument.

Maybe we would get to help build a giant harp or something.

My friend Lorena had a free evening so she came along, also having no idea what to expect.  We pulled into the pretty much empty parking lot at 6:45 and looked at each other.  Lorena said, "I should have brought a bottle of wine."  The place looked deserted, but we made our way into the theater and saw that the front rows were filled with a smattering of people, maybe 30 at the most.  On the stage, which was lit as if for performance, was a small group of musicians and some folding tables with art supplies on them.

It was a beautiful, warm summer evening and as we sat down and looked at all the others who'd come to be jazzed and motivated I appreciated the diversity of my city - because there were all kinds of people - aged 3 to 73.  It reminded me of stuff I used to do with my family when I was a kid.  Back in the 70s my dad had a membership to KPFK, the public radio station, and every weekend we'd head out to some random destination for free fun.

 I saw a teenage boy with the same look of tortured resignation that I used to wear when forced to have mandatory fun with my parents.

At 7:00pm a lithe and graceful young woman began to explain to us how this JAM was going to work.  We would begin by sitting at the tables and listening to the musicians play a piece of music.  As we listened we would draw.  Lorena muttered under her breath that she sucked at art in school and this was starting to give her feelings of anxiety.  At this point she wasn't having fun.  I grabbed three pieces of paper and my favorite colors and closed my eyes like an art school weirdo.  Even when I was a tortured teen I LOVED these kinds of activities.

The music started and it wound around in the night sky and onto my pages in purple and pink and green.  Ancient sounding and byzantine, the ensuing drawings shocked the shit out me because they were all so very different.  I'm sure a psychiatrist would have had a field day.  It really was an interesting exercise - anytime you put a group of strangers together and ask them to interpret something it's natural to see a variety of expression, but it's been a long time since I'd done something like this with a random sampling of humanity and without a bong.

Next we counted off to create 4 groups of people who did not know each other - yes, this was about going out of your comfort zone, not only creatively, but also socially - and then instructed to look at our drawings and create a dance of movements inspired by those drawings. 

My group all just kind of stood there looking at each other.  I cursed myself for suggesting the counting off method because Lisa had danced professionally and I would have really loved for her to take charge and tell me what to do.  But no, she was in another group using her dance expertise with strangers.  Lorena was having her own experience in the group with a pretty little girl who had the worst case of AD/HD I've ever witnessed.  Someone in my group hadn't used deoderant and the humid night air was marinating her BO to a point where I could not breathe through my nose.

The lovely, lithe dancer offered assistance and we eventually got to a place where we each contributed a movement and took turns leading as we moved around the stage.  After practicing for about 20 minutes each group then would perform their dance while the rest of us watched.  This felt very awkward and uncomfortable although everyone was nice and super supportive.  It was just my inner voice that was being all judgerella.  Drawing? - yes.  Dancing around without any choreography or clue or MUSIC in front of a whole bunch of people? - excruciating? As each group silently danced  the musicians would watch and then we would dance again and they would play music that was motivated by our movement.

The music that they played matched our movements perfectly - these guys are good - and each dance became a unique story.

All of the dances became beautiful and the people dancing them became beautiful.

And I wasn't even high.

I think that's why I loved it so much - I went it with very little expectation, I participated even though at times it made me uncomfortable, and at the end of it all everyone had a big smile on their faces.  We had all come together and co-created something that was lovely and that was really FUN.

Lisa was right - it was cool.

The JAM sessions for summer 2012 begin Monday June 4th with Taiko .Drumming and I think that will be a fun evening.  There will be a fun show on June 30th if you like Taiko Drumming - and if you don't know check out TAIKO Project.

Also check out the schedule and see if there's anything else that gets you jazzed and motivated (hip hop, african dance, hula and ukelele?), then get your friends and go have some free fun this summer.

Friday, May 25, 2012


I love LA for so many reasons, but one of my favorites is going to eat at Ludobites whenever and where ever it pops up.  I have been lucky enough to be able to eat at almost every incarnation due to tenacity and a willingness to be an early bird or fly by the seat of my pants for a last minute cancellation.

The first time I went was in August of 2009, six weeks after donating my kidney.  I knew of Ludo Lefebvre because one of my friends used to live next door to Ludo and his wife Krissy, and knowing how very much I love to eat, Philip was constantly raving about Ludo's food and urging me to go try it.  At that particular time (2000) Ludo was cooking at L'Orangerie which was not in my budget, so when I read Jonathan Gold's review of this temporary pop-up restaurant, located practically around the corner, I was determined to go. 

I had been having a really hard time eating post surgery and I was really tired, but my friend Dave wanted to take me to dinner and Ludobites was where I wanted to go.  After weeks of feeling ill and exhausted I was ready for an adventure and he was happy to come and get me and take my mumu clad ass out at 5:30p.m. like I was his early bird special loving grandma.  When we arrived the restaurant was empty and when we said that we didn't have reservations we were welcomed and seated at a communal table.

The only other person I saw was a woman dining alone and taking pictures of her food.  As the restaurant filled up more and more people were also taking pictures of their food.  I've always wanted to do that, but I get so excited when food comes to the table that I dive right in and destroy any possible food photo op. 

After devouring wheat bread with honey lavender butter, which was so good I could have eaten it without the bread, we started with the fried chicken - oh the famous fried chicken.  Dave liked that chicken so much that after we finished everything we'd ordered, he ordered some more chicken. I was partial to the chorizo, canteloupe, cornichon soup and the bowl of oxtail polenta. I think my favorite thing though was the chocolate cupcake with the foie gras chantilly, candied bacon, almond and maple.  I'm more of a cookie girl and don't really get all the cupcake excitement, but this was a revelation of deep chocolate flavor topped with decadence.

As Dave said, "Dayum!"

I ate everything and felt transcendentally happy - blissed out.  It was the first time in almost 2 months that I didn't feel bad after eating.  It was 7:00 p.m. on a Monday night and the place was slammed.

Other amazing meals were had at 4.0 - the famous black croque monsieur and Paris soup, 5.0 - raw wagyu beef, dried miso, somen noodle, peanut vinaigrette, candied watermelon and mint (OMG), 6.0 - poached egg, potato mousseline with chorizo condiment and pork belly confit with mustard ice cream, 7.0 squid noodles, pad thai prawn and poached roasted foie gras, acacia honey, autumn fruits and dried rose flowers - all amazing sense memories that stay with me even today.

The most recent incarnation, Ludobites 8.0, was at Lemon Moon in West L.A. and again I did not get a reservation. However, they were accommodating walk ins at the bar so my friend Adi and I got there at 5:45 and I stood with my nose pressed up against the glass watching the staff eat their family dinner prior to service. When the door opened I asked if we could eat at the bar and Krissy said, "of course" with a welcoming smile.

Getting a reservation is challenging and I have been lucky to snag a few, but in my experience Krissy really makes an effort to have a walk in table, or a communal table, so where there's a will (and a willingness to eat very early or very late) there's a way - do not be deterred by all the drama you hear about reservations.

I think that the best way to eat at Ludobites is to go with 3 other people and order every single thing on the menu. You get a bit more than a bite each and by the end of the meal you will be so happily sated. I have gone in with 5 or 6 people and shared one of everything and we were all full.  This particular night it was just me and Adi and there's no way we could eat everything on the menu so we each picked things that we wanted to try.

And this time, unlike my previous visits, I stayed pretty sober and I remembered to take pictures!

Adi wanted the Gougeres which were lovely, but he'd stopped eating gluten with excellent results and he'd also stopped eating dairy which had alleviated all of his stomach issues. Adi has gone to Ludobites with me almost every time and it is a testament to how good the food is that he continues to go when he clearly doesn't have the digestive system for rich food.  I could eat fried butter and keep going all the way to dessert.

So we started with the lovely Gougeres, light, airy puffs of golden pastry with a hint of cheese.  I saved a bit of mine to wipe up the bottom of my soup bowl - I knew I would have soup.  I always have the soup.  Doesn't matter what kind of soup it is - it's always spectacular (my all time favorite is the Paris soup, a deconstructed grilled ham and cheese sandwich in a bowl of savory broth - YUM).

 Our next choice was the Tandoori Chicken Cracklings, chicken liver mousse on crisped pieces of chicken skin.  I picked this up and ate it with my hands, loving the sensation of dragging my teeth through the creaminess and into the satisfying snap and saltiness of the lovely, delicate crisps.  When I think about it "crackling" is a more accurate term because I LOVE crispy chicken skin, it is food crack!

Next up was the lobster salad, yuzu and honey - cool brightness on my tongue followed by sweetness and tartness - I LOVED this.

I loved everything we ate that night, but my favorite dish was the Uni Creme Brulee.  It was like the perfect day at the beach when the sun feels like a hug and ocean breezes cool you down and carry the distant sound of music and the scent of salt on your skin across the sand.  Yeah, this is what that day tastes like and the soundtrack is Good Day Sunshine.

I did get the soup - celery soup, foie gras, mushrooms and ash - the broth was made with cream, perfumed with mushrooms, and heated very hot at which point delectable pieces of raw foie were added and I was instructed not to touch it for two minutes so that they could poach to the perfect doneness.  Unfortunately, my broth was not heated hot enough and although I waited the foie did not cook to perfection and I had to send it back because as much as I love foie I cannot eat it raw.  As we were sitting at the bar I got to see, up close and personal, the screaming in heavily accented English made famous on the Sundance channel - the man is a perfectionist and it pisses him off royally when someone on the line doesn't execute - happily the second time was the charm, it was a much better experience and I did get to use that bit of Gougere I'd saved.

About this time Adi started to feel not so great.  Could have been the cream in the broth that started his downhill slide, or it could have been the lovely Gougeres, but he was really uncomfortable and requested some raw celery.  It's helped in the past when he runs into digestive emergencies, but I was very nervous because you don't really order off the menu at Ludobites.  You don't ask for substitutions and you don't ask for stuff on the side.  He slid off his seat, and hunching, he went outside to take a walk and seek some relief and I kept my head down  and hoped we would be able to stay for desert.

While he was out a plate of beautifully trimmed celery spears arrived,

as well as my Poached Cod, Eucalyptus, potato, leeks, fresh peaches, yellow wine powder, dry sherry and dijon mustard broth.

Thankfully Adi was able to eat his perfectly cooked veal, black olive tapenade, orange caramelized endive with clementine beurre blanc,

and he was also up for dessert - brown butter almond cake, apples, salted caramel and creamsicle ice cream - the perfect end to another fabulous meal.

There are so many things I love about eating Ludo's food - the haiku like descriptions on the menu , the atmosphere of anticipation when I sit down, like standing in line for a roller coaster, and the fact that it's all so flavorful, delicious and sometimes just beautifully weird, but in a good way like Cirque de Soleil for your tastebuds.  Sharing a Ludobites meal with friends makes magical memories, much like going on an amazing trip.  Or as my friend Lorena noted as we walked out into the Sherman Oaks evening after 6.0, "I feel like I just had a really great one night stand with all of you."  It should be noted that her wine bar Pour Haus was born from an evening when the stars aligned at Ludobites 7.0.

All this remembering is making me crave Ludo's food.  He's been very busy cooking at various events to protest the California ban on foie gras, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that he'll pop up again soon, and if he does we should totally go - I'll meet you there at 5:30.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

At Witzend

I've driven past it for a while now, but until last Saturday night I'd never stopped in - and I only went this time because my friend Lisa, the princess of play, had a Groupon, and one of our favorite friends, Heather, was flying in from Denver, so we made plans.

The Witzend is a completely cool live music venue on Lincoln Blvd in Venice and I am so glad we found it.  The door charge is only $10 and the Groupon got 2 in for free along with two free pizzas which were very tasty.  All of the food on the menu looked terrific and is very reasonably priced.

I had no expectations because I wasn't really sure what we were doing exactly, so I was very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the talent on this particular evening.  First up was The Novelists, a group from Reno NV that featured four part harmonies and some solid musicianship and songwriting. 

Next up was Bo the Girl, an adorable girl child who was playing her first show ever.  She is a songwriter, who definitely leans toward love songs and this night she was up on stage with a guitar and a stand up bass.  Although she was nervous and didn't quite have her stage legs under her, she is a very talented song writer and has a sweet voice.  When she told us that she and Noah, the guitar player, are "together and in love and stuff," my jaded heart melted and I was totally rooting for her. If you click on her name you can watch her sing "Tigerlilies," and support her EP on kickstarter.

It was now coming up on 9:30 and I was starting to yawn and make sounds of leaving. Heather had other ideas, having drawn a bead on the next performer, Tyler Conti .  He was fine, I cannot lie.  So we stayed.

Tyler is really talented and very sexy. I think that he has been dwelling in R&B, but he's also got some funk and jam flavor - imagine if Jack Johnson and Usher blended so you got the funky beat with the smooth groove. So glad we stayed for his set, he put on a great show.

I will be going back to Witzend soon and often.  If you are looking for a great time with great talent at a reasonable price, check it out.  Maybe I'll see you there.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Goin to the Church of Springsteen

A couple weeks ago I was invited to go see Bruce Springsteen play at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.  I'd followed the Grateful Dead around, but I'd never made it to a Springsteen show.  Which is strange when I consider it because one of my favorite friends Nanette, the girl who introduced me to Rod Stewart and the Faces and Led Zepplin, is a HUGE Bruce fan - like the biggest. When she got married she and her husband did their first dance to Dancin' in the Dark. We went to see Rod Stewart and the Faces in 1974 at Anaheim Stadium and Led Zepplin at the Forum in 77, but we never did go to a Bruce show together. 

At this point I would bet that she's been to about 300 Springsteen shows - she is one of his biggest fans.

Up until this point my only exposure to Bruce was at a fabulously boring party up in the Hollywood Hills in the 90s, thrown by Ted Field for U2 after a concert, when I forgot to lock the bathroom door and he walked in as I was pulling my pants up.  That was the highlight of my evening.


This Springsteen concert was also the first show for my friends Mark and Lynn's 8 year old son Travis.  We had great seats, just above the soundboard and if you've ever been to the Sports Arena then you know how important that is because the sound can be brutally bad in that building.  Once we found our seats I texted Nanette and sure enough she was doing not only the California shows, but also heading to New Orleans to see him at Jazz Fest.  She left her spot by the front of the stage to come give me a hug and it was so fun to catch up with her, albeit briefly.  Turns out I had a lot of friends there that night and we were texting and waving and how did I ever go to a concert without a cell phone?

The show started with the lights up so I could see the Springsteen nation on their feet with their hands in
air, singing at the top of their lungs.  My knowledge of the Springsteen songbook is limited to his greatest hits but all around me people sang the words to every song and I listened and really heard the meaning because it resonates.  Those songs are for and about the 99% in this country, many of whom are struggling to survive day to day.  The people who keep hold of their American dream and get up each day with the intention of finding work and taking care of their families.  They are simple stories, but they are all great.

Bruce brings a level of energy and passion to performance that is unparalleled - truly. The lights went down as the show got under way but the crowd stayed on their feet. From where I was sitting, and without my glasses, it didn't appear that he'd aged in the last 30 years. Seriously, the dude slammed a beer and crowd surfed back to the stage and did not look like an old guy trying too hard.  It seemed like the next natural thing amidst all the raucous love that was surging between the man, the band and the fans.

Tom Morello from RATM showed up and played a jaw dropping solo on Ghost of Tom Joad and brought the house down.

It was truly one of the best shows I've ever seen in my life and I have been to a lot of shows.  This experience transcended the usual Los Angeles see and be seen blahs where audiences sit with butts in seats and text each other or plan the next move in their evenings.  Everyone - all the way up to the rafters - was up and dancing the entire time.  They were singing and smiling and being so nice to each other.  It was more like being in the midwest with all the jocularity and earnest appreciation and participating.

The only one missing was Clarence...

In his place stood his nephew Jake, who did a great job and was loved mightily for it - on the jumbotron his face was filled with joy and he blew his horn and put his own stamp on the groove.

By the time we got to 10th Avenue Freeze Out the crowd was in a frenzy and standing out in the middle of the crowd Bruce sang, "this is the important part...When the change was made uptown and the big man joined the band...", and paused and the crowd went crazy, cheering and screaming and clapping for 2 minutes straight while up on the big screens images of Clarence from times past flashed by.

It was bittersweet and overwhelming and you could feel the big man there in the room.

I thought that this was an amazing gift for Mark and Lynn to give Travis (and me)- what a great first concert.

And then I texted Nanette and said, "I totally get it."

Springsteen is in Europe now but he'll be back east this summer.  If he's playing near you - GO - it's like a tent revival with great music and a lot of love and dancing - doesn't get much better than that.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...