Adventures in Seattle

I really really liked Seattle. I just got back from a three day trip – one day for work, and two days to explore. And I always suck about blogging about my trips (where is that Hawaii blog? NYC July trip? huh!)

So, I liked Seattle – I liked that it was walkable, I liked the sky/clouds, I liked the neighborhood feel, I liked the food, I liked the fall colors. It got very grey and rainy and I was even hailed on. But, honestly, I didn’t mind. I don’t know what it would be like to live there full time, perhaps it would be tiresome, but for three days it was great. And I hope to go back, so that I can explore a whole lot more.

I also saw some excellent art at the Frye (including the above painting) and the fabulous elles:pompidou exhibit at the Seattle Art Museum. So much to say about that…. but for now a quote from the website:

Elles: Pompidou is a landmark exhibition of more than 130 works of art made by 75 women artists from 1907 to 2007. Organized by the Centre Pompidou in Paris, home to the Musée National d’Art Moderne—one of the largest collections of modern and contemporary art in Europe—this exhibition is an unforgettable visual experience that will challenge visitors’ assumptions about art of the past century. This ambitious survey of daring painting, sculpture, drawing, photography, video, and installation by innovative women artists offers a fresh perspective on a history of modern and contemporary art

There is a lot more to say about this, and the whole trip. Hopefully that will happen soon.

25 Years Ago, Grandma and Me

Grandma and I, September 26, 1987

Yesterday, I talked about the importance of my grandfather on my belief in of voting. And today, my Aunt Ann posted this lovely photo of Grandma Olly and I from her wedding – 25 years ago, today! Crazy!

Grandma affected me in so many ways – mostly with the way she was always there for the entire extended family. But also.. so many other ways. She was a strong woman, and I always admired that.

I love this photo. My aunt said when she posted it that it was “So Olly… So Erin.” It took me a little while to understand why. But I think it is – she is holding me close, telling a story. I’m listening, but ready to talk in as soon as she is done. I still bite my tongue like that when I’m thinking. However, that may be the only major social occasion I have worn white to.

I don’t have many memories from Aunt Ann’s wedding – something about dancing on my dad’s shoes but that might be more from a home video than an actual memory. However, my memory is littered with memories of my Grandma, many of them bittersweet, because of her current health.

I’ve been meaning to blog about Grandma basically this entire year. I have snippets in my notebook that refer to her:

  • sky-blue pink (her favorite color)
  • “Better than canned beer”(a phrase I adore, and had never heard, until I took part of an oral history)
  • Reading “The Summer Without Men” and seeing “4000 Miles” in New York – both of which dealing with an aging parent or grandparent

Right now, I have to run because I’m going to the Amanda Palmer concert. But I’m promising myself, I’m going to do a full post about her, possibly tomorrow. But for now, I’m going to leave you with this awesome, if blurry, photo.

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I gathered with dear friends at one of my favorite places in NYC (the Frying Pan) and said good-bye. It is CRAZY to think that a year has passed, and yet, I also feel like it might have been ten or more.

I’m very happy that I moved, but I miss these people so very much. (I’m lucky that Robert moved back at the same time). Such great memories!

(And yes.. this is the first time I’m posting these photos. I’m the worst.)

Corsets, clothes and Photographs – Jean Paul Gaultier at the De Young

After months of meaning to, I finally made it to From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier.

Kate and I ventured through the wilds of the Sunset on Friday night and headed to the De Young. I lost my Sunset-native card by not bringing a jacket or a sweater with me, and froze a little bit on the walk from the N at 9th & Irving to the museum. But it was wonderful to see Kate, and to actually use the museum membership!

We got in right away, which was great, and the first tableau was quite impressive – a row of a dozen or so mannequins clothed in Gaultier’s impressive work against a vibrant blue background. And the shocker – the mannequin’s faces moved! Through projection, they spoke or sang or merely blinked their eyes. This created a disturbing and beautiful opening look at the collection.  According to the exhibit’s website, “Gaultier partnered with the Montreal-based theater company Ubu Compagnie de Création in the design of 30 animated mannequins who talk and sing in playful and poetic vignettes.”

It was wonderful to go to a special museum exhibition that was not afraid of cameras! I took some shots of my favorite things on my phone, but didn’t know ahead of time, so I didn’t have my DSLR.  I think that if the taking of pictures won’t damage the work, then it is something that should be allowed – it helps me to remember the exhibit better and show to others that they should go.Good job De Young!

There was a ton to see, and it was decently crowded, but not too overwhelming. (of course, I compare this to the sea of bodies at the Savage Beauty/Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met a couple of year’s back). There was a nice juxtaposition between the actual pieces, runway videos, and wonderful photographs of the work.

“Invitation to the the Dance” with Elena Sudakova.
Photo by Solve Sundsbo Gown by Jean Paul Gaultier, Pirates collection (2008)

Although I loved getting to see the detail on the pieces – all super impressive – I often found the photographs of people in Gaultier clothes much more interesting than the pieces themselves. As Kate said, clothes feel dead without a body inside them, and the photos are capturing that life. (I think that is also why the first room with the projected mannequins worked so well – it brought back some of that life).

Gaultier and Madonna’s collaboration was well documented:

Sketch of stage costumes for Madonna’s Blond Ambition World Tour (1990), “Dick Tracy” Segment

In addition to the sketches, they had lots of interesting pieces from their work together.

I liked this commentary on feminism and the corsets that Gaultier uses:

Unlike the eighteenth-century court corsets revived by his contemporary Vivienne Westwood, Gaultier’s corsets were born of the pin-up girls and movie queens of the 1950s. Gaultier’s women, though corseted, did not negate the feminist struggles of the 1960s and 1970s; rather they expressed a new female emancipation.  The liberation of this era and paradoxically established a new tyranny of beauty, one that imposed a new ideal of women – ultra thin, even desexualized. Pushing for a another redefinition of femininity, Gaultier excavated twentieth-century corsets and 1940s and 1950s waist-cinches out of his grandmother’s closet to create “underwear as outerwear” that celebrated a voluptuous feminine body, culminating in his modern classic, the cone bra.

Here is one of my favorite pieces from his more modern work:

Calligraphie gown, Cages collection

It is a great exhibition and runs for another two weeks. I recommend checking it out!

We finished our Friday with a lovely dinner at Nopalito. I highly recommend their Tamal de Queso Estilo Corunda. Super delicious!

Alex the Vineman

As always, I’m way behind on my blogging and need to talk about my lovely New York vacation. It is crazy though – I only came back on Monday, but work has been so crazy it feels like a month has gone by. I’m so glad that I got to spend last night and today at the Russian River with some of my oldest and dearest friends, as it was fun, and oh-so-relaxing.

We were there to watch Alex compete in the Vineman Triathlon, which is a half-Iron Man competition. And, as would be expected, insane! (I learned all about the differences between a sprint vs. an Olympic vs. a half Iron Man, and about transitions and all this other triathlon lingo)

We got up early, and trekked a whole… hundred yards to the dock to watch the swim portion. We cheered for basically everyone who went by (all of whom were super impressive) and chatted, until we saw Alex. He saw us too, and waved:

The River was very narrow on the sides where folks had to compete, so many did a combination of walking and swimming. After he waved, Alex dove in.

Eventually, we saw him swim back on the other side. Then we had five or so hours to kill, so we ate some breakfast, enjoyed the sun (I am sooo sunburned) and went champagne tasting at Korbel Winery.

Yup, Alex did 70.3 miles between the swimming, biking and running. And we drank champagne and ate cheese and enjoyed the lovely Sonoma area.Eventually we ventured to the finish line to try and see him – here, I learned about the importance of the cowbell in cheering and the tricks to spotting the right white hat and white jersey amongst a crowd, and from a far distance.

Kate, Alex’s girlfriend, here in the foreground, is a pro. She knows how to be an excellent cheering section and support team.

Alex did an amazing job, and it was a lovely weekend. What a wonderful way to spend a Sunday!

They Wore Their Best

I take transit every day – usually MUNI in the morning and BART in the evening.  And I love it. I love it more, having moved from New York, because I have the option of driving when I want to – especially to go grocery shopping or on other errands involving schlepping. But mostly, I love it.

I love having time to myself for 20-30 minutes twice a day. Usually that time is used to prepare for the day at work, to read (I just finished Ira Levin’s A Kiss Before Dying which was phenomenal) or listening to audiobooks/podcasts (recently started At Home by Bill Bryson, which is great). And when I do the latter, I play a lot of Scramble with Friends and Draw Something.

But sometimes, I start random conversations that lead to new found obsessions (as I detailed in my post about Maximum Fun and Bullseye here) or end up doing my makeup (I only do this if I have two seats to myself).

But, although I love transit, rarely do I get to learn something new or see something moving or beautiful. And especially, I very rarely think about the world beyond my own day-to-day life.

San Bruno BART has changed that with “They Wore Their Best”  – twelve then-and-now photograph comparisons about the Japanese interment in California during World War II.

The photos from the 40s were taken by famed photographer Dorthea Lange and the modern photos were taken by Paul Kitagaki, Jr., who discovered that his own family’s interment had been documented by Lange. San Bruno’s Tanforan – then a race track – was converted into a detention center where many gathered before being sent to the interment camps.  All the images are moving and strong and, I think, an important reminder of the past.

120,000 individuals  of Japanese descent- two-thirds US Citizens – were sent to interment camps under presidential Executive Order 9066 two months after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Upon discovering Lange’s photos, Kitagaki “wanted to find out the rest of the story: how the internment had changed the lives of people who’d lost their homes, businesses and sometimes their families.”

I’m afraid I don’t do either photographers’ work much justice with my camera phone, but I recommend taking a little transit trip to San Bruno to see this exhibit. You can use the time on the train for yourself, and the time in the station to connect to this important and sad part of our American and Californian history.
“The issei (first generation) are all gone and the nisei (second generation) are in their 80s and 90s,” said exhibition organizer Richard Oba, of the Tanforan Assembly Center Memorial Committee. “I felt like this was the last hurrah. These pictures were frozen in time. But now Paul has unlocked them.”

SFGate article (where the above quotes are from) about the exhibit:
Photos illustrate effects of WWII internment camps by Patricia Yollin (May 12, 2012)

On the Road!

Last weekend, Carolyn and I drove down to Chula Vista (about 10 miles south of San Diego) for her internship at the Olympic Training Center (OTC). She is going to be working with the sports medicine team for the US athletes prepping for the Olympics in BMX Biking, Field Hockey, Track & Field, and … I always forget one… Anyway, it is very exciting, and I’m proud of her.

I played the big sister role – heading down to be a second driver, to help carry heavy things, and deal with any minor crisis that arrive when moving. And, let me say, after having my major moves be across the country and via plane, moving via car is much more civilized.

Here is a little photographic story about our trip:

7:30am: Carolyn and all her stuff, and the lovely little red car that carried us down the coast.

9AM – We hit the road after filling the car with gas, and us with caffeine.

I drove first, and as we listened to the Sklar Brothers great comedy record Hendersons and Daughters, we went past a TON of CHP and one Weiner-mobile – much to Carolyn’s delight:

Erin, you don’t understand. It’s a Weiner and mo-BILE. – Carolyn, (possible inaccurately quoted, =P )

Eventually she fell asleep, and I switched over to the audiobook for Mary Roach’s Stiff. After about three hours of driving (and still being a relatively inexperienced driver, especially at long-distances), I had to get out and walk around. We stopped and the rest stop had the above interesting machinery.

Carolyn took over driving, and I slept until the must-have stop at In-N-Out. Then we drove on through the Grapevine, seeing some lovely vistas like the above. Anthony Bourdain’s excellent memoir Kitchen Confidentiall kept us entertained and slightly disgusted until we hit Anaheim and started listening to the very exciting 49er v. Saints playoff game.

The closer we got to Chula Vista the more intense the game got, and each time Carolyn got frustrated with the proceedings she would turn the radio off, which I found hysterical.

5:15pm – We were just pulling into Chula Vista as the crazy last few minutes of the game went down. So exciting!! Go Niners!

All in all, it was a very pleasant drive and we the whole drive took about 8 hours, which was great.

After we rested and got cleaned up some, we met our cousin Darcy for dinner in San Diego. (As long as there is no traffic, it seems like everything is 14 minutes away between San Diego/Chula Vista/Coronado). We went to the R Gang Eatery, and had a ton of delicious food including Brussels sprouts and the bone marrow & beef cheeks dish above. While eating, Darcy entertained us with hilarious stories of her life as an office temp and nanny as she studies for the MCAT.

Sunday, 11AM – After dinner we went back to the motel and collapsed. In the morning, we checked out and headed to San Diego for brunch. And I, apparently, dressed in every pattern I owned….

Brunch was at the Mission, as recommended by my old friend Deirdre. It was very good, and way, way too much food. I think Carolyn’s french toast could’ve fed three people.

12:30pm – We did our major site-seeing at Coronado, on the beach and at the Hotel del Coronado. A beautiful and awesome place that I would love to spend more time at.

Coronado - Carolyn let me take a million photos of her. This was one of my favorites.

Continue reading