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Showing posts from July, 2011

Old View, New Perspective: In Defense of Pershing Square

"You never saw a dog here." Looking into 6th Street. Pershing Square is one of my favorite places in L.A. downtown. No. That's not quite accurate: it is not the square that I like but the view that it offers. Palm trees and high rises against the blue sky. So L.A.! The square itself? That one block in the heart of downtown? I'm not so sure: concrete blocks, spheres, a tower, all in the brightest colors, yellow, purple, and more concrete for the ground. The yellow clashes with the brown of the Biltmore Hotel behind it; the trees are few and small. Bottom line, I have never felt the urge to linger in Pershing Square. It was a place I noticed in passing, on my way to somewhere else. Like a train station. "No graffiti, no gangs." Concrete blocks, spheres on Pershing Square. The other day I decided to look more closely, to maybe find a different perspective. It was a weekday, around noon, the space almost empty. I saw a security guard in front of the

Created in Our Own Image: Reflections on Beauty

Chins and cheeks from catalogs: exhibition brochure Flawed chin? Albrecht Dürer, Venetian* Receding hair line? Albrecht Dürer, Male* Were Albrecht Dürer's models happy with their looks? Did the guy in green fret about his receding hair line? Did he find his nose too large? Did the Venetian woman long for a more prominent chin? If the two lived today: would they opt for plastic surgery? Simultaneous exhibitions on two continents inspired me to think about faces, honesty, beauty, and ideals; about how we deal with what is different - in us and in others. The one show, Dürer, Cranbach, Holbein - The German Portrait Around 1500, is on view at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna  and will later travel to Munich; the other, Beautyculture, opened at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles  in May. I saw the portrait exhibition a few weeks ago, during a visit to Vienna, and was especially taken with Dürer's art, with the honesty in his paintings

The Shift Is Ours: An Emigrant's Theory of Relativity

The rest stays the same.  Café  Prückel, Vienna It's been almost a year since we returned to L.A. from our two-year stint in Vienna, Austria. It was time to go back - albeit only for a visit: to see friends and family; to hang out at favorite cafés; to eat the food that tastes of home (Wienerschnitzel! Apfelstrudel!); to browse book stores, flea markets, and museums and to walk the streets of Vienna, hike in the mountains around Innsbruck. It was time and we went. We had a great two and a half weeks but guess what? Vienna hasn't changed since we left there last August. Neither has Innsbruck. In one year? Duh?! How would a city change as fast as that? You're right. I know. And yet. Here's what it feels like, here's the theory of relativity, as learned by emigrants and expats: when we leave one country for another everything is all of a sudden different. Language, culture, landscape, humor, daily routines, the job, the friends, the food. Everything around us c

"Thank You Los Angeles": The Carmageddon That Wasn't

So L.A.'s much announced Carmageddon didn't happen; the closure of a ten mile stretch of the 405 freeway from Friday night until mid Sunday did not bring gridlock and mayhem to this city of ten million car addicts. Instead, those who were out and about found streets and highways more empty than usual. L.A. officially thanked its residents for being cooperative and keeping the car parked. As of lunch time on Sunday the electronic signs along the freeways which had been warning drivers to expect big delays during the weekend showed a new message: "405 open. Thank you Los Angeles". Very nice. You're welcome. The Carmageddon that wasn't reminded me of Y2K, another catastrophe averted. Both not-events show that preparation is key. The blow we can see coming will not throw us for a loop as easily as the one which takes us by surprise. In Los Angeles, proof of this is one major earth quake away. As far as the addiction goes - does the fact that we can leave ou