April 29, 2008

little cabin in the woods

Two or three years ago, my sister bought a little cabin in the woods by a creek about an hour outside of Baltimore (it may actually be in Pennsylvania?). It has become a labor of love for her as she has worked on fixing it up, doing almost all of the work by herself. I'm pretty amazed at what a handyman she has become (way beyond what I could ever imagine being capable of), from filling mortar to laying tile to building stairs! Today i finally got to see it for the first time, and we spent some time out there walking around and having lunch. After becoming used to the prices of real estate in LA, its a little humbling to find out what you can buy in the middle of nowhere (meaning that as a good term!)

April 28, 2008

taste of bawlmer

Its colder and rainier in Baltimore (correctly pronounced 'Bawlmer') than I expected, even though I did check the weather forecast. Did I mention I'm bad with numbers? I'm staying with my sister Mel, who lives here. Though there isn't much food I dislike, easily one of my favorites is shellfish, especially crabs. One of the biggest disappointments for me in living in California was discovering that you can rarely if ever find shellfish prepared the way I grew up with it in the Southeast: simply steamed and spiced with Old Bay seasoning. Mel and I and my nephew Sumner went out to get crabs tonight; though Sumner just looked on bemusedly - he was having nothing of picking through the guts of crabs to get to the meat. Considering how long of a meal it can make for, he was a good sport. Food on a table covered in brown paper is always a sign of a good time to me.

April 27, 2008

ice cool

In 1967, avant garde performance artist (is that redundant?) Allan Kaprow, who coined the term "happenings" to describe art experiences focused on the present, created a happening called "Fluids". He constructed large roomlike structures made of ice blocks and allowed them to melt. On the second anniversary of his death, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Getty Center, the MOCA, and others recreated this happening at ten locations all over the LA area from Pasadena to South Central to San Pedro. These are the remnants of the block as 'fluids" was happening on Saturday afternoon. I had actually forgotten this was going on this weekend, so I lucked out in happening to pass by this one in Westchester while I was out running errands. Kinda cool.


Blogging from the airport... I'm on my way to Baltimore where I'm a visiting artist on Thursday. I feel famous. I hope they don't find out that I'm not! Now I just gotta figure out what to say... and show... and do... ack.

April 24, 2008

home improvement

Today, the Dodgers announced plans for the new Dodger Stadium. Relax, they aren't tearing the old one down, they're just expanding on the existing one. When I first moved here, I saw Dodger Stadium as just another one of those cookie cutter stadium-era stadiums, but I quickly discovered that people here have a real affection for the place, and over time I've developed the same. Next year, Dodger Stadium will be the third oldest major league ballpark in the country, so while it doesn't have the level of history that a Wrigley or Fenway does, it now ranks up there. After Fox nearly destroyed the entire Dodgers franchise, people were skeptical when Frank McCourt from Boston bought the team a few years ago. He pledged to invest money and rebuild the team, but he enraged fans when he floated talk of a new downtown ballpark. LA fans wanted none of it. At the World Series in Boston, I sat next to a guy who said he worked with McCourt on plans for the new Fenway. He told me LA would have a new ballpark within five years, mark his words. Well, he wasn't exactly right. McCourt learned fast that you don't piss off LA fans. And instead, he started investing in improvements to Dodger Stadium, the most noticeable of which are the new Field Level concessions, bathrooms and widened halls I wrote about earlier this month. Today he announced a major set of changes to the Stadium, to be completed in 2012. Several of the parking areas will be turned into green spaces, parking garages above and below ground will be added, along with shopping and eating areas, a museum, and more communal and pedestrian areas to make the Stadium a destination before and after games, as well as on non-game days. I've always thought that was exactly what Dodger Stadium needed. Hopefully they can find a way to add a metro stop there too. Now, if they add a bunch of California greenery in the batter's "blank zone" in the outfield, plus a kleig-light style home run celebration, I won't have any ideas left to offer! I'm sure McCourt will take some heat for the new changes - because they're changes. I, for one, think they're good ideas for updating and rejuvenating Dodger Stadium without changing the original. Maybe not a home run, but definitely a triple. More photos and details are here:
  • Dodger Stadium: The Next 50 Years
  • April 23, 2008

    spring nights

    This is really one of those things you can't capture in photos, but I'll post em anyway. Occasionally the position and brightness of the moon at night is just plain stunning over the ocean. Though it doesn't look it here, it is so bright that it lights up the whole neighborhood and casts a broad reflection on the waves. The sets of light in the middle photo are the oil tankers that anchor off the coast. And as long as we're on LA night shots, here also are a couple of the skyline from Dodger Stadium. That's a little easier to capture, though still nowhere near as impressive as in person.

    April 22, 2008


    Some local color from the neighborhood. My landlord is raising my rent $700 (yeah, I know, ouch), so I've been doin a lot of neighborhood walks to see what else is out there as I try to figure out whether to stay or go...

    April 21, 2008


    I've mentioned this before, but its worth repeating. If you don't watch the PBS series 'American Experience,' you're missing out on some jewels of television. If you're like me, you don't think to check PBS very often because the schedules aren't consistent, so it doesn't lead to appointment television the way traditional tv programming does. At some point, I added American Experience to my tivo list, and because of it, I manage to catch some really great shows that I otherwise would have missed. They are consistently the kind of shows that are worth stopping what you're doing to watch. And I often wonder why I didn't know more about whatever that week's show was about. The episode my tivo caught tonight was no exception. Sure I knew who Roberto Clemente was, but I didn't realize how little I knew. He was one of the first Latino players in baseball, though to America at that time, he was black - because you were either black or white then. His rocky relationship with the public and the press had come around by the time he led the Pirates to win the World Series. Clemente died on New Years Eve of 1972, when in typical fashion, he had organized a relief supply plane from his home in Puerto Rico to help earthquake victims in nearby Nicaragua. The plane crashed in the ocean shortly after takeoff. He was 37. One of the best lines from a friend in the program: "My mother gave the only explanation that made sense. If he had died as a player, only sports fans would remember him. But by dying while helping others, he would be remembered as a humanitarian. And she was right." You can watch the show here:
  • American Experience: Roberto Clemente
  • April 20, 2008

    praise cheese us!

    Sorry for the lack of posts lately; perfect storm of getting overly busy (panicked?!) and not having much to say I guess. But at least I'm glad to have a new post that was worth the wait. Well, at least it was for me. Saturday was the return of the National Grilled Cheese Invitational Championship! A glorious golden day of melted cheesy goodness! This years even was held at Griffith Park, though they still had a limited number of people allowed in, so my friends Heith and Pat and I went early. Once the grilling commenced, it was cheesedemonium. They had a long curved row of tables that the crowd gathered behind. As competitors finished a batch, they brought them out to the screaming crowds. When you were lucky enough to get one, you stepped back to enjoy the cheesy creation and then scored it using the attached ballot. There were four categories - Missionary: white bread, orange cheese, and butter or margarine only; Spoons: any kind of bread, any kind of cheeses, and any kind of butter, but no additional ingredients; The Kama Sutra: any bread, any cheese, any butter, plus any other ingredients; and the Honey Pot: same as Kama Sutra, but one that is sweet in flavor and would be best served as a dessert. One bad side to the outdoor location (aside from no alcohol allowed), was that by dusk it was getting dark and cold, and we decided we had enough cheese, so I have to admit that we didn't stick around to see the champions. I have to admit that my favorite was one of the simpler ones - pictured above: "Lord Cheesypants": parmesan cheese, butter, tomato basil bread, mozzarella cheese, and provolone cheese - perfected by a layer of slightly crusted cheese on the outside. Yummmmmmmmm. That's cheese we can believe in!

    April 16, 2008


    Kinda busy, sorry... here, have a gallery.

    April 15, 2008


    A few more pics of the revamp of Dodger Stadium. I mentioned this in more detail a couple weeks ago but didn't have pictures that were as good as I would have liked, so I made sure to get more at the game last night. The halls have been widened almost twice their old width and all the vendor stands are larger with uniform design and signage. Its a remarkable change compared to the cramped and chaotic mishmash that had existed before. When looking at the upper levels, we did notice that they have not been redone, I would assume that they will be between seasons. Its always a joy to see well-done typography used consistently in a large scale setting.
  • jbd blog April 2, 2008: extreme home makeover
  • April 14, 2008

    home field

    So the Pirates came to town. And they didn't even bring me any pierogies. But we did get to share in Tommy Lasorda's 58th anniversary. (The girl in front of me got the look of death from her boyfriend when she asked "Who's Tommy Lasorda?") Tommy met his wife at the ballpark in South Carolina - he asked her out 11 times before she said yes - to lunch! The things you learn from a jumbotron. Happy Anniversary Tommy.
  • Tommy Lasorda's blog: My Lovely Bride