Those About To Die… Photos

17 08 2009

It’s even better than I imagined it. Special thanks to photographer Jason Geller who gave me permission to share some of his photos.Check out his album here.





The Tale of the Urban Nautical Adventure

14 08 2009

Alas, I wasn’t able to witness the bizarre yet fascinating extravaganza that took place last night at the Queens Museum of Art. But the picture in my mind is enough to hold my amusement: grown men and women in togas (representing the Queens Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and El Museo del Barrio) pelting each other with watermelon cannon balls and fighting with baguette sword.

Those About to Die Salute You, brainchild of the controversial (and sea-obsessed) artist Duke Riley, took place in  the World’s Fair-era reflecting pool in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, just outside of the Queens Museum of Art. Prior to the battle, Riley and friends have spent months in what was once the World’s Fair ice skating rink (now a room in the Queens Museum) building the vessels that took sail last night. And a motley crew of ships it was: 30-foot-long Spanish galleons, Egyptian river boats, and Polynesian war canoes, to name a few, most built of salvaged materials.

“Why?” one might ask, but the answer to that question is simply another question: “Why not?” In times of economic downturn, it’s exactly this type of silliness we need, and Riley found his inspiration for the show in the Roman era  naumachia, a type of bloody sea battle meant to amuse the hungry masses. (For more background, check out this interesting article). I find the whole thing hilarious and fascinating, and am sorry I missed it. At least I can looke at the pictures.





Simple Sustainability

7 08 2009

A California Academy of Sciences takeaway: we may not all be able to live or work under a living roof, but little steps count too. Upon leaving the Academy of Sciences, guests are offered miniature pamphlets titled “Sustainability Made Simple,” chock full of pointers that make going green easy in all aspects of daily life. Some of my favorites:

  • When you go shopping, bring your own reusable bags: a pretty common one, but such an easy (and fun) one to carry out. Reusable bags are everywhere, and they are often cheap and attractive. You can even get shopping sets. I’m a fan of Baggu Bags, for their fun colors and their little saks that make them easy to toss in the purse.
  • Choose local restaurants over chains. Not only does this make life (and meals) more interesting, it generally means that the meal is sourced close to home, which means fresher food and less strain on the environment.
  • Take the train or bus instead of flying or driving. This may not always be possible, but when it is, it’s better on the environment, and tends to be more scenic and enjoyable as well. Sometimes travel is in the journey as much as it is in the destination.

For more tips, well, visit the Academy of Sciences. I guarantee you’ll take away a lot more than a pamphlet.





California Academy of Sciences – Finally!

1 08 2009

Last weekend while at home I finally made it to the California Academy of Sciences. I’ve been wanting to visit since it reopened last year, after nearly 10 years and $500 million of renovations.

It was worth the wait. The new building is pretty spectacular, complete with a living roof that not only collects rainwater to prevent polluting runoff, but reduces energy needs, provides a habitat for local flora and fauna and is pretty darn lovely to behold on top of it all.

We visited Madagascar, Borneo and Costa Rica in four stories, compliments of the museum’s tropical rain forest, which is teeming with vibrant butterflies, but, lucky for me, the birds tend to remain well hidden. The penguins never fail to please (don’t believe me? watch them), and the planetarium was pretty fantastic, though I think the highlight may well have been the albino alligator that graces the swamp part of the aquarium.

I visited this place as a child, but I have to say the awe I feel as an adult far exceeds any I could have felt then. As an adult, I fully appreciate the scope of the place, and all the effort that went into making it what it is today. It’s been a key feature of Golden Gate Park, and now its sustainable design ensures that it will continue to be so for a very long time. And that makes this girl very, very happy.





Elda, Spain Shoe Outlets – Take Me There

4 06 2009

It’s come to my attention that Avenida Camila Jose Cela in Elda, Spain (just a few hours outside Madrid) is also known as the Spanish Shoe Outlet Route. Hello. Someone sign me up.

It is here that several designers, including Paco Gil and now Chie Mihara, have outposts, and sell their shoes at a discount. I loved Spain before, but our love affair just got a little deeper. Sure, outlet prices are still probably pretty steep, but it never hurt a girl to look, right?

Also in Elda? Museo del Calzado, also known as the Museum of Footware. It’s sounding like I need to take the stilettos on a little field trip…





Keeps Getting Better

13 01 2009

I continue my obsession with the California Academy of Sciences…

Not only is it sustainable and amazing, it also offers fantastic travel opportunities. Academy members gain free admission, special hours, free admission to lectures, and much more, including access to the travel program, which sends small group tours all over the world with specially trained guides for a close glimpse at some of the greatest nature has to offer. Coming up Feb. 9-18: “Galapagos in the Year of Darwin,” celebrating Darwin’s 200th birthday with a return to where it all began. The cruise will island-hop, and an academy leader plus an additional expert will provide education on the topography and vast wildlife to be seen. Oh, and the option extension is none other than Machu Picchu. If only I had $7,000…

The American Museum of Natural History has a similar travel program, AMNH Expeditions for visits to cultural sites and unmatched educational experiences.





Park-ing

9 01 2009

There is something about having a major, beautiful park that makes a city fantastic. If Central Park is the epitome of this, Golden Gate Park is a close second (though I think perhaps it is on par, and getting better all the time).

Some things to do in Golden Gate Park:

  1. Stop and smell the roses (or other flower of your choice): The stunning glass-domed building, just as amazing as when it first opened in 1979, is just the beginning. Inside the Conservatory of Flowers are nearly 2,000 species of plants, each more amazing and beautiful than the next.
  2. Take Tea: The Japanese Tea Garden is one of the most-visited sights in San Francisco, and for good reason. It is a tranquil oasis within the city, for relaxation, meditation, or just a nice long stroll. All the rest is so amazing, you just have to see for yourself.
  3. Look at Art: After tea in the garden stop in the nearby de Young Fine Arts Museum. In its new modern (and eco-friendly) building since 2005, the museum still houses elements of the original 1921 museum, including the Pool of Enchantment, sphinx sculptures, and the initial palm trees,  ferns, redwood. Plus, of course, a whole lot of beautiful art.
  4. Commune with Nature: Though I’ve not yet been the newly re-opened California Academy of Sciences is a recent obsession. Here a four-story rain forest, an aquarium, a planetarium, and a natural history museum all reside under one living roof. That’s right, the entire building is sustainable, from its radiant sub-floor heating to the tippy-top of its (literally) green roof, created of native vegetation that will capture rainwater and serve as a habitat for wildlife. Incredible just doesn’t seem enough here.
  5. Eat. After all that exploring, head to the historic Beach Chalet, which combines yummy food with lovely views, both inside, where WPA frescoes capture a 1930s San Francisco, and outside, where the Pacific waves crash against Ocean Beach.




Yes, I’m Bi-Coastal

7 01 2009

I interrupt this “I Heart SF” week with a bit of New York love, or, rather, I remark on a fabulous proof that my two favorite American cities are inextricably linked, making each even more lovable. and so…

New York

I must report that this Friday evening Bohemia is back in all its glory with a celebration of, Herbert Huncke, who inspired the word “beat” of the Beat Generation and then inspired Beat greats from Kerouac to Ginsberg to Burroughs. January 9, 2009 would be Huncke’s 94th birthday, and in order to celebrate his friends, fans, and fellow writers will be gathering at Bowery Electric for a tribute to Huncke and his own lyrical and poignant writing. Show starts at 8pm but doors open at 7:30pm. It promises to be a fantastic and enlightening event.

San Francisco

It’s a New York event, yes, but the heart of the beats truly lies in San Francisco. Though Huncke and his friends all met in New York City, it was San Francisco where most of their mayhem took place, and it is still San Francisco that is a tribute to the Beats and their fabulous legacy. And so, in keeping with the week’s theme, some of the best places to keep a San Francisco Beat (pardon the pun).

  1. City Lights Booksellers. 261 Columbus Ave. It doesn’t get much more Beat than this. Not only is the store, which takes up a block of Columbus Avenue, one of the few independent bookstores left (thanks Barnes), it is truly a “Literary Landmark,” both for the alternative culture it sanctions and for its 50-plus year history of commitment to progressive ideas. It was the nation’s first all-paperback bookstore, and its three floors house a vast selection of books, including many “harder-to-find” titles as well as a poetry room. Oh, then there was this little poem called Howl, and the man who caused quite a stir by publishing it.
  2. The Beat Museum. 540 Broadway. It’s just across form City Lights and features everything from Beat letters to Kerouac bobbleheads.
  3. Vesuvio. 255 Columbus Ave. It’s in Kerouac Alley. What more needs to be said?




Eminent Domain

6 08 2008

This weekend, exhausted after a fun night out, I decided to take myself for a walk. I wandered aimlessly for some 30 blocks and happened upon the New York Public Library. This is not unsual. I’ve passed the library many times before. I’ve even pondered entering many times before. But what is unusual is that I, who love libraries (and New York, and history), have never set foot inside. Sure, I’ve visited several branches to check out books. But the real library, the one with the lions and the history, I’ve never entered.

As I passed the steps of that familiar building, the lions beckoned. And so, finally, up I went. Up and into that gorgeous, amazing library. I definitely kicked myself for not having come sooner as I reverently wandered through those halls, into massive, intensely quiet rooms lined with heavy, tedious volumes of women’s history and man’s history and no history at all.

I saw the map room, which is possibly one of the most awesome sights there is. A librarian was showing a visitor old maps of New York, of how Central Park was meant to look, and a giant globe made me long to go exploring. I also visited the original Pooh bear and all his friends, who sit on display for posterity to see. (While it was fun to see them there was something pathetic about these tattered and well-loved stuffed animals being confined to sit under glass.)

The highlight of the trip, however, was a photography exhibit, Eminent Domain, that explores the boundaries between public and private, and the nature of photography itself, through the beautiful and poignant images of five contemporary New York photographers. The exhibit explores gentrification and disappearance, mapping (and re-mapping) the boroughs of New York through exploration of their edges, changes over time, battles of heritage, and the sanctity, beauty, and poignancy of public spaces. All with in the realm of beautiful images.

The exhibit is on display on the first floor of the library through August 29 and I encourage all to pay it a visit.





Art: The Real Story

6 03 2008

I met up with some friends last night and told them about my evening at the Armory. The art part they enjoyed, but the real thrill was the party, which, who are we kidding, is the real story anyhow. No?

After all, the Biennial is as much about the social aspect as it is about the art. So now to tell, in true New York fashion, about the party, an event to see and be seen in its truest form. Celebrity sightings were limited, although Julia Stiles was about. As for the rest of the crowd? You don’t get more “artsy” than this, folks.

I saw men in top hats, men in tie dye, men in dresses. Berets were definitely a popular choice, and I think there were several young Allen Ginsberg types, and possibly one ghost of Edgar Allen Poe. My favorite was the man with the pink sport coat and matching pink head band a la Jane Fonda Sweatin’ to the Eighties.

As for the females, black was definitely the color of choice, and ranged in style from the tasteful black dress to the sparkly black cat hat. Yes, I said sparkly black cat hat (complete with ears). I didn’t see her talking to the woman in the dress made of feathers, but I expect if they didn’t know each other they became lifelong friends that evening.

Oh, and did I mention what the most popular installation was? I’ll give a hint: it was perhaps the most interactive room of all and its contents burn the throat a tad.