Thursday, December 17, 2009

Finally! Someone shutting Lieberman up.



I love Al Franken. He's the first person to tell Lieberman to shut the F*&* Up by denying him the courtesy to go into overtime on the Senate Floor! Lieberman has got to go.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Vatican Entrance Court


Vatican 4, originally uploaded by leica_camera.
Whether you agree or not to the politics of the Vatican, this entrance court designed and built by Bernini is pretty beautiful. And this photograph taken with a Leica M9 by Jean-Jacques Karatchian brings out the gorgeous details.

Friday, October 23, 2009

LA Morning Fog



Morning sunrise overlooking foggy Los Angeles/Century City :-)

The mighty Century high-rise towers in the distance look like low-rise office park buildings.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Orson Welles on Acting



Great advice from the master!

Detroit - A Vanishing City









(If you've seen this on my Facebook Page, please excuse the repetition. I clicked the wrong button thinking I had put this in my blog. And of course, I didn't.)

If you ever wondered how civilizations disappeared, then take a look at this photo essay: Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline, documenting Detroit in the process of vanishing.

It's all about whether a city's purpose, values, achievements and aspirations are relevant to its citizens. Sadly, it looks like 'Motor-City' Detroit over estimated its importance and forgot about the future.

URL for Detroit's Beautiful, Horrible Decline
Source: www.time.com
Photos by: Yves Marchand, Romain Meffre

Visual Effects: 100 Years of Inspiration




Amazing to see how far we've come.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Steam Punk Art



Here is a cool trailer for a steampunk book that's out this month titled Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld.  I haven't read the book but the artwork is beautiful. I love this Monty Python/Terry Gilliam-esque trailer.

The book premise is also interesting. Written for young adults, it is a alternate universe of the retelling of World War 1.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Boycott Jay Leno Show and Chris Rock



I just saw an outrageously shameful clip from The Jay Leno Show with Chris Rock, Oct 1st segment.

You can see it here: http://www.thejaylenoshow.com/video/episodes/#vid=1162774

Here are the specific quotes if you don't care to watch:

Jay Leno: "It's amazing to me that you mistreat a dog and you lose your career and go to jail for two years."  

Chris Rock: "What the hell did Michael Vick do, man? A dog, a pit bull ain't even a real dog. A pit bull, that's the white stuff. Dogs are white mans best friend - dogs have never been good to black people."  

I cannot believe that a public personality like Jay Leno, who knows he is a role model for all people, would make a flippant comment about justice being done on behalf of those who don't have a voice. Those dogs that he cluelessly talked about were cruelly mistreated, beaten, abused, and injured in staged dog fights for the sake of betting by heartless humans. As for Chris Rock, he sells himself as a bitter has been grasping at the lowest of low on the show. So the words were not surprising coming from him.   

Shame on Jay and shame on Chris for condoning criminal acts of Mike Vick. And even Mike has come out and said he was wrong and paid for it. I hope Mike calls them out for that, because it belittle's nature's life, justice and the price that he paid. It's not just jail time but humiliation and having to struggle back with his career.   

At issue here is that Jay has no respect for life - for animals. He also has no respect for when a fragile justice system like ours in America, finally works in favor of the victims. In this case, dogs who cannot defend themselves. And more shame to Chris for his comment that dogs have never been good to black people. This is just simply pandering to an audience at the very lowest level as well as building more on the racial divide.   

We don't need people to build more prejudicial walls. We need people who break them down. It's people like both Jay and Chris who do nothing to help society move forward but instead pull society back into the dark ages.  

It's a wonder that Jay's relevance is slowly revealing itself in lower ratings. He's marginalizing himself. As for Chris, after his comment, he's no longer relevant as far as I 'm concerned.  

On a cheerier note- check out the dogs who were saved from Mike VIck's dog fighting facility and their second chance at life. 

Click here: http://vickdogsblog.blogspot.com  

Photo taken of Iggy from http://vickdogsblog.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Drinking Fountain



On my neighbors' property, right next to the street curb, is a water fountain shaded by Sycamore trees. I always wondered if that was a public park fountain from an era past when perhaps the street I live on was a wilderness trail.

Well I found out that my neighbors had installed it, along with a stone seating area decades ago. J and A wanted to provide a resting place and cold water for anyone who was weary after walking up the hill on a hot Los Angeles day. How cool a thought is that?

Good deeds are sometimes not rewarded. Over time, trash started to pile up. J and A  had to remove the stone benches when vandals continually sprayed graffiti all over them. You can see remnants of some of the graffiti on the bottom of the stone pedestal.

I'm glad they didn't dismantle the fountain. It would have meant they gave up. It's still working today, surviving the harshness of careless thought. It's a good metaphor for our lives. No matter how much you have to fight for what you believe in, don't ever give up. Even with a few bruises, you will always prevail. Just like J & A.

I relish the idea that there is still public philanthropy. It just happens it comes from my neighbors. How double cool is that?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Downtown L.A. Fog




O and I love to walk around downtown Los Angeles. It offers a perspective of a city most people don't experience or take for granted if they live in dense high-rise areas.  The fog was rolling in this time. When we looked up, it felt like we were walking in the dystopian city in Bladerunner.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pillsbury Doughboy


For those of you who grew up with this classic American product mascot, the Pillsbury Doughboy...Or you just have wicked sense of humor - You've got to love this.

I found it on Gizmodo.com

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Camille Rose Garcia - The Hydra of Babylon


Well, our favorite gallery, Merry Karnowsky Gallery, just had a vernissage opening this evening for Camille Rose Garcia's latest body of work entitled: The Hydra of Babylon.

I was always more intrigued by Camille's art than O. But this time, Camille's sensibilities had really evolved for the better. Both of us like it a lot. It's richer and more complex from both subject matter as well as technique and color.

Camille's work comments on the contrast between what is man made and destructive and what is from nature that is wonderful and healing.

The gallery was packed by 9:00pm. Camille was constantly surrounded by fans wanting her autograph. One fan showed her a tattoo of a trademark character on her back. She asked if Camille would autograph it so she could have it tattooed. BTW- If anyone so wishes, Camille encourages them to take something she drew or painted for tattoos.

There were others who dressed up as their own inspired versions of Camille's characters, making the evening feel like a fun Japanese anime character parade. Painters like Todd Schorr and Edward Walton Wilcox were also there.

Anyhow, the work is worth seeing. Camille is definitely one of L.A.'s very own best original illustrative pop painters.

170 South La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90038
(323) 933 4408
September 12 - October 10

Photo by Merrry Karnowsky Gallery

Friday, September 11, 2009

Sept 11 - Sonic Booms over Los Angeles




O and I were playing ball in the pool when suddenly two very loud booms rattled the sky and space all around us. We weren't too sure if it was thunder from a cloudy sky or sonic booms from some military launches nearby. So we quickly got out of the water in case it was thunder.

The two distinctive very loud booms were so close it felt like the entire sky and air around us was struck by it. The vibration was tactile.

When we found out it was the landing of the Space Shuttle Discovery both of us suddenly felt chills up our spines. How cool is it when two seconds of your daily life is affected by seven people returning home from SPACE?

We take for granted the achievements of our society when astronauts are floating nearly 400 miles above us, working on advancing our collective future. So we ignore the news or at best, glance through it. But when the booms shook me to the core, I realized how amazing it is that my normal life can be inspired and touched by grand visions.

I've been recounting the sound of the booms and thinking about the seven astronauts flying home from a mission in space as a matter of course. It makes me think that perhaps before I die, I might be able to fly into space as a tourist. The feeling is amazing and uplifting. Very special and unique indeed.

What a fitting memorial to the tragedy of September 11, 2001.

Check out the following:

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hot Dog anyone?


I found this irresistible image titled Weiner Dog/Pass the Ketchup while surfing on the net.

Health Reform = Core of our Character


I think everyone agrees, the whole health care debate is pretty frustrating and exhausting. This is because no one really knows what the bill entitles. So everyone on both sides speculate every day, to their political and mostly ignorant advantage. And the average person believes in the nonsense and blatant lies the GOP/corporate lobbyists espouse. President Obama and his team are really starting to burn their good will.

America once had the world reputation of the "helping hand" or the "big brother who would come to the aid of the weak". Everyone looked upon the United States as the place and the people to emulate.

Somehow in the last 8 to 10 years, the U.S. turned into a very selfish people and country. From taking over countries where we have no reason to enter (except of course for greed); to the need to have more than the other person as demonstrated by stores like Costco and Walmart where one can buy bulk; to not wanting to help the poor and needy as demonstrated by the people who say they don't want to pay for other people's troubles and weaknesses.

And to add salt to the wound, people don't seem to mind when we spend billions: on the war that does not benefit the average person; that puts our whole society in unprecedented financial crisis and unemployment. But they balk and cry fraud when a single cent is spent on something that benefits us and society as a whole. For a supposedly Christian country, it's disgusting to see most people behaving mostly unchristian-like.

What if these parsimonious and egocentric people were doing well- Then suddenly, due to a financial crisis like we are experiencing now, they lost their job, their insurance and their house and all those things that made them better than that poor schlub who couldn't get his or her act together? Then all the social systems that our country put in place despite their greediness and intolerance would step into place and help them tie things over when they have nothing. If they continue to think selfishly, then one can imagine, it would be natural that they would end up homeless, sick and suffer. Maybe even die prematurely.

When you point out their predicament, you know these egoists would say they paid into the system when they were working, despite them fighting against it. And now, they deserve to be served by our country. From the very thing they didn't want to pay for! I am astounded by the number of hypocrites who live in this country.

I for one love America for it's old values of caring for the weak and the poor. It was the core of the American character. I cannot imagine a society that is all about each person for themselves and screw the rest. It would mean the desecration and disintegration of what is human and humane. Somehow these selfish people have taken away all of America's sense of moral decency.

I hope come this Wednesday, when President Obama addresses Congress, he will clearly and graphically show what the health bill is all about. And I hope he does not renege on his promise of universal health care/ public option. It's his last chance to redeem himself. It's what we have to achieve in order to be a human and humane society. And its success will demonstrate our country's character and moral decency.

BTW, the cartoon here could well be a snap shot of reality today where Americans fly to places like Mumbai, India and spend 1/4 or less for elective surgery there than it costs here in the U.S.. Talk about outsourcing on an individual level. That's irony at it's peak.

Cartoon by Seppo Leinonen

Thursday, September 3, 2009

John Compton is my neighbor!


Everyone who knows me know I am not easily star struck. Okay, I lied. I was star struck by two icons! Lambchop and Gregory Peck. But that's it. No one has ever been able to wither and buckle my knees since my meeting with those two on separate occasions.

However, I can easily be impressed by humility and humbleness in people. My neighbor is one such person. A tall unassuming man, John is always happy to see you. Always happy to greet you. Always cheery and matter of fact about any subject he talks about. He makes no judgement about anyone or anything.

John came to Hollywood to become an actor from humble beginnings in Tennessee. Movies transported him when he was a child and he thought it would do the same if he worked in them. He worked hard to stay in Hollywood including cleaning out garbage cans that others wouldn't touch. This allowed him to take acting lessons which soon paid off. He took all the money he was happy to make as an actor and bought up property in the Hollywood hills. He even stayed in a cheap room rental back in the 1950's just so he could save the money while buying property.

When acting jobs became far and few between, he took his savings and built or remodeled houses, giving him independence. O and I live in one of the many he amassed over the decades.

John told us he was an actor in the early days but he never boasted or anything remotely like that. His wife is equally as wonderful. It took me a while to dig out the films and TV shows he worked on because I didn't know that he used a stage name of Compton. He took it from an English woman he met while visiting New York when he was very young. He is grateful for his time in the TV and film business and knows he's been lucky ever since.

We're lucky to have the star of Jack Webb's The D.A.'s Man as our neighbor and friend.

BTW, in the video clip, John is the man on the right without the hat. Pretty cool dude.

Chef Felipe



O and I were photographing downtown L.A. again, when I bumped into a very gentle man who was taking a break from work. He introduced himself as Felipe and is a chef in one of the big hotels there.

He was warm and friendly, so I asked if I could take his picture. He said as long as I wasn't going to use the photo to harm him, it would be okay with him. I promised him that my intentions were honorable and that I only wanted to put his picture in my blog as a nice man I met on my photographic journey. He agreed with a smile.

I thought about what he said. I can't imagine a stranger would have to ask me if I would harm him. For me it's unthinkable. I guess innocence is lost when you're an adult.

We are all one!



Our friend, Joe, sent us this clip. It's pretty telling how little our society cares about the future when people have to produce videos to explain the consequences of our actions if we don't.

Please pass this on.

You can read more and get the video from: http://www.weareallone-support.org/

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Apollo 11 - What dreams can do




"Ideologies separate us. Dreams and anguish bring us together." Eugene Ionesco

On July 20th NASA and our world celebrated the 40th anniversary of the lunar landing mission of Apollo 11. The picture above has become an iconic image of humanity's dreams, hopes and achievement. For me, it was a symbol of a future I could live with now.

When I look at the images of what the Apollo Program aimed to achieve and finally achieved, I'm humbled by my own small thoughts. The image here of Buzz Aldrin standing on the moon shows what anyone can do if they only had dreams, hopes, courage and the fortitude to pursue. And most of all, it was the result of a collective idea inspired by John F. Kennedy.

Okay, part of the fuel that fed the fire of desire was to out beat the other guy (Russia). But it was a race to show ability and superiority without killing. Isn't that a better way of fighting the other side?

I understand it is human nature to prove you're better than the other. And that is what ideology, religion and all beliefs have in common. The reality is, we have to fuel that need.

I hate the thought but that's why corporations want more money, so the executives and stockholders can live better and have more than others. That is why leaders who can't solve domestic and economic problems call for wars on others so they can divert their inability to inspire their people to dream and achieve. It's their way of feeling they are better leaders than others by harnessing the human need to be better than others. That is why religious leaders who themselves lack the vision to lead, call their flock to hate others who don't share the same beliefs. That is why people who lack integrity put other people down or men put women down, or adults who abuse children do what they do- because humans have the innate desire to want to be better or have more than others.

What happened to channeling those destructive and wasteful energies toward useful and beneficial competition? NASA's research has led to countless inventions of new processes, equipment, materials etc., that have helped society and improved quality of life. It has employed countless millions at all levels of ability and education.

All the greatest and most effective leaders in our past have always inspired us to dream the impossible, and achieve it simultaneously. But in the last couple generations, we have seen the loss of that inspiration. Instead, it has been replaced by greed and dogma. Both of which come from lack of vision and have no long term benefit for humanity. Instead, it provides that instant satisfaction of having more than the other for very few.

I miss those calls for us to dream and compete on a higher plane. Those were the times when people rallied along side each other, sharing the work, hopes and pride of achievement. Those values seem to have disappeared. I find that even I have strayed from that path.

I hope that looking at the images and the video below will reinvigorate your dreams and hopes as well as your fervor to achieve them as they have for me.

"Dream no small dreams for they have no power to move the hearts of men." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe



Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finally! Calling it for what it really is.


I wish all Democrats would learn from Congressman Barney Frank calling out the lies being spread by the crazies in our country. Why don't they confront the 'twisted' for twisting heresay, which seems to dominate the discussion about healthcare reform?

The squeaky wheel always gets the attention and the grease. The GOP and the crazies have proven that point for the last 8 years and they seem to be doing just as well now.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Me and my IPHONE - Downtown L.A.



O and I decided to photograph downtown L.A., so we could play with our wide angle lenses. We were the only patrons at this parking lot on 4th and Grand.

The days must have been long before the advent of cell phones and PDAs for a lone parking attendant. His shift would not end for another 5 hours. Lucky this guy had his IPhone.

BTW: This photgraph was taken with the 35mm Summilux 1:1.4.

Hollywood Bowl - Music under the Stars




I always love going to the Hollywood Bowl during the summer. O and I had our opportunity when my cousin came to town for a visit. So together with a friend, we went to listen to Mozart under the stars.

Mozart was truly a genius. He knew how to push all those emotional buttons with his collection of musical notes. He did it again this time with the help of the conductor Nicolas McGegan, the L.A. Philharmonic and Canadian piano soloist Louis Lortie.

McGegan said that Mozart would think up of a symphony over a few days while eating breakfast wit his wife and then write it all out in 1-1/2 days. Talk about superhuman feat. Not to mention he wrote 600 pieces of musical compositions, 40 symphonies (there is a dispute as to whether it was 40 or 41), 25 concertos and 20 operas. All of this before he died at the age of 35.

What is great about the Hollywood Bowl (the place) is the fact that it's an open air amphitheater. People bring or buy dinner and sit on their benches or in their boxes and eat. So when you're there with everyone drinking and noshing, you feel like you're part of a larger community. This feeling is rare in a town like Los Angeles, where every place and everyone feels isolated from each other. That doesn't mean we chatted with everyone around us. And we didn't. But it is a nice feeling to be able to share for a few hours.

We heard:
Overture to the Marriage of Figaro
Piano Concerto N.23, K.488
Symphony No. 40

Technical Difficulties

I'm sorry I haven't updated my blog this last weekend but my laptop won't let me save any photos because of too many files in my RAM. After deleting many files, I am still facing the same problem. I hope to solve it by this coming weekend. Sorry again for the invconvenience!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

DRESDEN vs UNESCO - FORM? FUNCTION?


















I was surprised and not surprised, when I read on June 25th, UNESCO's World Hertiage Committee announcement that Dresden, Germany, a World Heritage site since 2004, was delisted. This was because of a badly needed 4 lane bridge called the Wald to relieve traffic congestion scheduled for construction near the city center.

Dresden is often referred to as the 'Florence' of germany because of its Baroque and rich historical heritage. I'll be honest, I have not been to Dresden as of date. But that has not stopped me from admiring its Architecture from far away.

I was particularly excited when after being obliterated in World War II, the City painstakingly rebuilt every important piece of architecture and in 2005, it culminated in the completion of reconstruction of the Dresden Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady). It symbolized not only the strength of overcoming the ravages of war but the honoring of the spirit of human achievement. The reconstruction also confirmed the appointment of Dresden as a worthy World Heritage Site.

For those of you not familiar with what the criteria of qualifying for being a World Heritage Site, then please click here at the UNESCO's World Heritage website for the Criteria. It's an important organization that seeks to support and maintain what are the essential foundations of humanity and culture.

I show here a photo of Dresden and one of the simplest Baroque bridges, built in 1728. This is followed by the drawing comparing the design profiles and size of the various existing bridges in Dresden and the new proposed Waldschloesschen bridge. and finally renderings of some of the proposed designs of the new bridge.

I was shocked to see the designs of the proposed bridge Waldschloesschen Bridge. The desire to make an individualistic design statement seem to be at the forefront of the engineer/designer's mind. This is obviously supported if not encouraged by the city planners and officers. It is no wonder Dresden was delisted from the list of World Heritage sites.

Since the last decade, design has emphasized the "me" concept. "Look at me", I'm an object to be admired. Every architect or engineer who has made a name for themselves have all resorted to ignoring the context of existing buildings and landscape that surround the area. While others who have attempted to "blend" in garnered little to no recognition. This seems to go hand in hand with our whole society's problem of everything is for "me". Which, if you extrapolate it, is the result of our collective economic and social problems we are dealing with throughout the globe today.

The chosen design by Eisenloffel, Sattler & Partner follows the idea of ignoring context. If you look at all the existing bridges, with the exception of the Blue Wonder, all the bridges have simple profiles that do not compete with the surrounding baroque buildings. In fact, the old bridges do not celebrate itself but rather connects you to the buildings that should be celebrated.

On the other hand, the World Heritage committee was also rather unrealistic. Without considering cost, they insisted on the City of Dresden building a tunnel instead. The bridge costs approximately $226 M, while a tunnel would make it cost prohibitive. It is a arrogant and ridiculous idea.

In order to select a designer, the City issued a competition. I do not understand why the City did not request for a bridge design that addressed the issue of context. While I have not seen all the entry designs submitted, from the four proposed designs shown in this article which includes the winning entry, it does not appear that it was a real criteria.

If the design statement is the celebration of a historical city, then all other design statements need to support it. So why didn't the city or the design firm(s) come up with a proposal that was perhaps similar to the existing low profile bridges? Why not take cues from those designs instead of the current uninspired design? In fact, it is one of those - "look at me" designs. But this time, the "me" does not know it's ugly.

What a shame that a city would throw away all their efforts of rebuilding what is historical with a new bridge that counters every aspect of what they have achieved so far. And worse, the designers who should have considered this, did not give a rats ass except for their insatiable avarice for recognition.

Photo by: Dr. Torsten Henning view of Frauenkirche and the Augustus Bridge
Bridge comparison drawing by: Gmd
1 Bridge Rendering by: Unknown
4 Bridge Renderings by: DDP, from Der Spiegel
Birdseye rendering of bridge by: Unknown

Friday, August 7, 2009

Madeleine Bistro - Vegan Restaurant






Since O was in earnest to lose weight, our friends wanted to take us out to a vegetarian restaurant. It was an experiment, considering O has a reputation of being a 'meat and potatoes' man.

Madeleine Bistro restaurant is located in Encino on Ventura Blvd. If you blink, you could miss it on account of the dark brown glass storefront. The entrance is nothing to write home about. The interior is plain Jane.

Once we walked in, we were greeted by two very nice waiters. We were excited to try some new and different food and perused the menu for quite a long time. Our friends had a list of the best dishes recommended by their friends who kindly set up the reservation for us. The list was practically the menu. We wanted to try everything so it was hard to decide.

Chef Dave Anderson treats every dish like a gourmet dish. He's also an award winning chef. Yet the prices are extremely reasonable. An average dish costs around $10-13. The service was wonderful.

Appetizers started with Kaisespaezle (German mac'n cheese) (photo); The Bigger Macque (two no beef patties, special sauces, lettuce, cheese...) (photo shows 1/4 missing as our friend dug in before I could take the picture) and Red Beet Tartare.

Main course consisted of Philet no Phish (Filet of Fish in a bun); Chicken-fried Seitan with Mashed Potatoes (photo), Lemon-rosemary Seitan with a delicious grilled Asparagus Crepe (photo), Chopped Raw Summer Vegetables Primavera with Cucumber Capellini (photo).

Dessert closed the meal with Strawberry Shortcake with Peach-lemongrass Sorbet and a Chocolate Souffle and Vanilla Sorbet, compliments of our friends' friends.

Everything was delicious with one exception, the red beet tartar being bland. The food was surprisingly filling and some sauces creamy.

However, all of us did come to the same conclusion: We felt that a menu made up signature of dishes trying to emulate meat dishes seemed rather unoriginal. We were hoping to sample tasty dishes that were unique to the flavors of vegetable oriented ingredients. The closest one was the Raw Summer Vegetables Primavera. Although we did not try the Green Papaya Salad, it looked very original from across the table.

All in all, I would recommend the restaurant for first timers, experimenters and vegetarians. As for us, it was a fun and delicious try and I would go back with other vegetarians. But it didn't sway my taste buds to return frequently to this restaurant. And definitely not O's or our friends.

18621 Ventura Boulevard
Tarzana, CA 91356
Tel: (818) 758 6971

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

We elected Democrats and not Republicans



Dear Elected Democrats in Government (with special attention towards Blue Dog Democrats) and Mr. President:

After watching and reading parts of the health care debates and issues, which you have been grappling with, I just want to scream from shear frustration.

With few exceptions, you all seem to have no commitment to our collective future. Your true motive of prolonging your own political career and power struggle is showing all too clear from your thin skinned 'concerned' faces.

As a result, the one chance you've been given to be able to ACT on the convictions you once touted to get you elected, is about to be thrown away. It's a once in your life time opportunity. And you would have only you to blame.

For the first time, the Republicans have no credibility. The Democratic Party has the floor and the spotlight to itself. You have the chance to actually effect change for the better of this country. You have the chance to banish selfishness and greed from the business of governing and protecting citizens of our country.

The Republicans should be a side show compared to the Democrats. You shouldn't be fighting but already implementing conscious and benevolent policies. Yet all you do is squabble about cost. This seems so disingenuous considering you were quick to add more money to pay for the 'cash for clunkers' program which benefits industry in the end. Or you're quick to say yes to paying for weapons, war, drilling of oil in sanctuaries, and everything that allows business to profit.

What happened to the constituents whose back you built your entire campaign and career on? The people need a system that considers them first before profit. The health and lives of the people, who built and continue to build this country and voted for you because you would help them, should be your first priority. That's part of your duties holding an office in government.

You have already compromised the health reform bill by not eliminating the private health insurance system. Their goal has been always to make money at the expense of people- of lives. Now you're arguing on behalf of them, the health insurers and pharma-companies, by fighting against the proposed competitive government health insurance system. 'Because it will drive the health insurances' and health corporations' prices down and not allow them to make a profit.'

Isn't that what the Republican's have come to stand for? You're helping them not only win on their issues on your turf, but you're helping them build a stronger united front based on yours, the Democratic Party's weaknesses. It's utterly incredulous. The Republicans are laughing at us on their way back to the office we all collectively fought so hard to kick them out of.

It's unconscionable to think that profit has priority over human life!

Your hypocracy is outrageous. But that's probably why the world is in such dire straits right now. It's the example you set to your constituents and the world. For you, it's okay to pretend you care when in reality you don't. You say we need health care reform and then you turn to the corporate lobby for your campaign donations. Your lies offends the trust which the people of this country gave to you.

When you reach office, the smell of power and what power gets you helps boost your ego- your greed. Assistants are at your beck and call. Immoral and even criminal actions can be swept under the carpet because everyone around you enables that to happen. Living the high life sure beats the low and humble life. No holds barred. And all you have to do is pretend- tell the people what they want to hear. They're too stupid or busy trying to live their lives, let alone watch your every move.

It's our fault too. We want you to deal with that horrible business of politicking. We're too happy to give that part of the job to you.

Over the years, a life of public service (you serving the public) has been redefined by people like you. It's now about the public serving you instead. But that's what you want us to believe, so we won't hold you accountable. We'll don't be too comfortable on your ideas. As my father-in-law once said, if you live in the public eye, you will die by the hand of the public eye. Keep this in mind.

But most of all, think about if you had not run for office. You were like the ordinary person- the person whom you pounded the pavement on cold rainy days or hot sweltering nights to cull their vote. Put yourself in their shoes. You voted for someone you thought you could trust. And he or she turned out to be a lying politician like you. What would go through your mind right now? What would you do?

Should I be cynical and think that you would do exactly what you're doing now- that is to lie and step on the people who voted for you. Just so you can live out your dreams of power? Or could I hope for the thoughtfulness and caring that helped get you elected?

I hope it is the latter.

Sincerely,
Ewanglee

(For those who want to understand the issues of healthcare reform, please click on below.)


from NYT Global Edition Opinion Page July 25 2009

from NYT Opinion Page July 26, 2009

Logo credit: U.S. Democratic Party

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Michael Jackson- Remembered


Friends of ours came to visit us from Munich. They had never been to Los Angeles before so we decided to take them for a tour of Hollywood Boulevard and Grauman's Chinese Theater. All around you were a cacophony of different languages. The place was packed with tourists from all over the world.

After looking at foot and hand prints of movie stars dating back to when the the theater was opened in 1927, you felt the flow of humanity and its history (albeit a short one).

O and I pushed through the crowd, when suddenly, traffic stopped to a halt and no one was able to move. Luckily I was able to slip through a gap and found everyone staring down and taking photgraphs of the ground. Flowers, photos, cards, long letters encircled the sidewalk star of singer, Michael Jackson. Nearby, a young singer hoping for a break, sings Michael Jackson's greatest hits. I was struck by the desire for a person remembered. Combine it with sheer curiosity.

Michael was a tragic figure- a result of our collective desire for a 'star'. He gave it to us in exchange for our disguised consumer 'love' for him. I think Michael wanted more than what the public could give him while he was alive.This symbiotic relationship was always tentative- based on the mood of either side. It was fragile at best.

Now that Michael's gone, I find myself listening more often to his music. Reminiscing my youth. Perhaps it's why there's so much publicity over him. He was the symbol of our childhood- past, present and future.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Van Nuys German Deli - The Real Deal




I think I'm more German than my husband is. And I'm not German. At least not ethnically. No matter where I am, outside of Germany, I'm always on the search for everything German. So I'm always on the hunt for German food suppliers, restaurants, butchers, delis, bookstores, you name it.

After years of going to Alpine Village Market in Torrance for great Bavarian Weiss Wurst or Nuernbergers and Continental Gourmet Sausage Co. in Glendale for Bockwurst, I finally found another option. This time we hit the jackpot.

Van Nuys German Deli is an unassuming deli tucked in a strip shopping mall across the street from the Budweiser Plant, between car speaker installers and a liquor store.

Tobias Konrad, the owner is very proud of his sausages. He believes he makes them better than his competitors. So when we took a bite into his wieners followed by the Swiss Weiss Wurst, the Thueringer, the Nuernberger and Jaeger Wurst, we knew we found a gem.

For us, Alpine Village Market use to hold the gold standard for sausages. But Tobias was right. His is better. It's comparable to the best hand made sausages in Germany. He also sells liverwurst, hams and a variety of other meats. You can order sandwiches to go.

The best part- Tobias and his family of helpers are personable and jovial. They add to the sweet flavor of the sausages. You also can get Bretzeln (traditional German pretzel) two times a week. Although, it's definitely not as good as the ones from Alpine Village. This small deli provides the essential foods, sweets, cheeses, breads and liquor from the 'heimat' (homeland). It has become our choice destination to supply our German fests.

Van Nuys German Deli
16155 Roscoe Blvd
North Hills, CA 91343
Tel: (818) 892 2212
Fax: (818) 892 1482
T-Fr 10-6
Sat 10-5

Thursday, July 30, 2009

L.A. Fog



I'm always excited when the fog rolls into L.A.. It makes you feel like you're living in an intimate place when in reality it is a large, often anonymous metropolis.

I caught this coyote looking at me while I was mesmerized by the enveloping fog. We stared at each other as strangers passing in the night. There was a kind of connection between us. Both of us sharing an intimate moment in the fog. Then he started walking away but stopped to look at me once again. Perhaps he wanted my figure etched in his memory, just as I was etching his silhouette into my memory card. With that, he slipped away.


Pho So #1 - Vietnamese Restaurant




I had to drop off my car for a quick service in North Hills (San Fernando Valley). So while O and I waited, we decided to have lunch at Pho So #1 in Van Nuys. It's located in, guess what? Another strip shopping mall at the north east corner of Victory and Sepulveda. Next door is the Chinese supermarket 99 Ranch Market, making the location convenient.

O and I had the same Egg Noodle Soup with Seafood and Pork. O did add meat balls to his soup. The waiter first brought the standard vegetables which you could add to the soup yourself. The vegetables included soy bean sprouts, mustard greens, chili and Thai basil. We didn't have to wait long for the noodles.

The soup was light, clear and tasty. In general, it was good eats for a good price (approx. $7.00 each). O did wish that he had the rice noodles instead of the egg. I on the other hand, was happy with the egg. I highly recommend it but don't count on it being the best you've ever had. It's just great local and authentic fare.

The place is much like a typical Asian restaurant in Asia. Basic decor makes it feel down 'Asian' home-like. During the whole time we were there, the tables were filled and there were always a few people waiting to be seated. The service was no nonsense. This is a place I'd go back to when I want a quick comfort meal.

Pho So #1
6450 Sepulveda Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91411
Tel: (818) 989 6377

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Annenberg Space for Photography





I was very excited to learn about the new Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City. But I missed the opening exhibition of LA Photographers which included Julius Schulman, the master architectural photographer who died just this month.

O and I went to see their second installation- PICTURES OF THE YEAR: VISIONS OF EXCELLENCE- THE WORLD IN HIGH RESOLUTION. If you're an avid news junkie, you'll have seen many of the photos published in Time, Newsweek, Reuters or countless other domestic and international news outlets this last year. But it's amazing to see the pictures in print and digital, right in your face, with stories behind them. They evoke far more emotion than if I read it on page 20 in the LA Times.

When these images are presented in a news format, there is a distance set between you and the subject. While you feel some empathy, it somehow doesn't have quite the punch when you can see into the subject's eyes.

There was one image of a throng of people in Haiti surrounding a man holding the naked, lifeless body of a young girl. Her name is Tamesha. She was swept from her bed after a hurricane flood. I can imagine the photo being published in some newspaper, in print or on-line.

The situation is tragic. But set against so many tragic stories, one is numbed by the report of yet another plight. So to be honest, and I hope I don't come off sounding disrespectful or even flippant ('cause it isn't meant to be), it probably wouldn't punch me in the gut like it did looking at it up close.

The print was large enough for me to see the child's partially closed eyes that was filled with gunk. Her little feet dangling, not from carefreeness but from lack of life force. The pain of the people surrounding this unfortunate event is all too visible within their eyes and facial expressions. You could sense their feeling of helplessness and surrender to the powers of nature after four consecutive storms.

I was choking up inside as I read the caption and looked at Tamesha's eyes. The picture is called "Angel" by Patrick Farrell of the Miami Herald (see photo).

Similarily, I was horrified when I saw a picture of a 7 year old boy named Lawiland, screaming in terror as a policeman approaches him with a baton in Nairobi. The police were searching protesters and supporters of Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga.

Not only do you see the fear in the child's eyes, but you can project yourself into his future. If he ever survives to have one. You can feel how this child could grow up with hate and embody it. He could become the policeman with the baton in the picture, who is represents a government. His job is supposed to look after the welfare of its people. 'To protect and serve' so to speak. But instead, his job is to censure and silence all opposition with brutal force.

Chills went up my spine as I imagined myself in the boy's shoes. The reality of oppression and depression hit me on the head. The picture is called "Monday Screams" by Walter Astrada - Agence France-Presse (see photo)

On the other hand, the photo of the whale who was curious about the man on the sea floor, brought a smile and a chuckle to my heart. It is a lesson on respect for each other, even when they don't know each other. If only humans would take a cue from this photo. Why can't we just be curious and learn? The photo is titled, "First Encounter" by Brian Skerry of National Geographic (see photo).

As for the much touted space designed by AECOM Design, it is actually disappointing. It was supposed to be inspired by the mechanics of a camera. Frankly, it felt like a watered down idea. You really don't get a sense that you are walking through the inside mechanics of a camera.

They have curtains of metal beads hanging to represent the metal aperture curtain. This is the biggest B.S. I have ever heard. The symbolic connection is non-existent. The only time that there is some reference to camera is when you are in the main video room. And there's a huge missed opportunity as they were vaguely trying to put you inside a lens aperture.

The whole exhibit space feels like you're walking through the left over interstitial space (i.e. from the main video room), rather than a deliberately designed space for viewing images. This is especially true when you find yourself in the hallway where the toilets are and prints and video screens are on display there. It was just awkward to view images next to the toilet. I felt bad for the photographers whose works were relegated to this area.

The lighting had no drama, nor was it the best for viewing images. You'd think a place designed for image viewing, would spend much of its efforts on lighting.

All in all, the space just felt like a corporate fulfillment of a planning requirement of the city. The city looked at the huge office development and decided that in order for the buildings to be developed, the developer had to give back something to the community. So the Annenberg Foundation jumped at the chance to put into the community building, a photo space. Here we are today with a 'free to the public' space.

BTW- I like the fact that they don't call it a museum. It doesn't make precious the objects we view.

I do love that it is in the middle of where people work. It's great to inspire every day life with a little art. Actually, I'm really hoping that the images they show will bring a little humanity to the often cut throat lawyers, agents and bankers who work in the area. It would be interesting to survey the museum patrons and see what percentage of patrons work in the area.

The visit was definitely worth it. Try to give yourself some time to study the photos. The photos are presented in print as well as via large video screens. They have a couple of the Microsoft interactive screens where you can go through photos with the touch screen technology similar to the IPOD technology or CNN's interactive display screen.

July 11 - Nov 1
Century Park
2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Tel: (213) 403 3000
Wed-Sun 11am-6pm

University of Missouri
Missouri School of Journalism
Administrative Offices, Suite 300
Columbia, MO 65211
Tel: (573) 822 2922
www.poyi.org

Monday, July 20, 2009

Todd Schorr- American Surreal Art



For those of you in the San Francisco bay area or better, San Jose, California....One of O's and my favorite pop illustrative artist, Todd Schorr, has a solo retrospective exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art. Todd has managed to get many of the owners of his paintings to lend to the show. So, it is pretty comprehensive. Arrested Motion, an art blog, shows photos of the opening reception.

110 S Market Street
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel: (408) 271 6840

Photo of painting by Todd Schorr
Photo of American Surreal Exhibit by Scott Beale at Laughing Squid

Sunday, July 19, 2009

BBQ Unlimited- Chinese Restaurant in North Hollywood






Here is one of my favorite 'stammtisch' restaurants. For those of you who don't know what 'stammtisch' means, please click on the word and it will take you to Wikipedia.

It's hard to find a 'real' Chinese restaurant in non-asian communities. We all know that there are many 'chop suey' type restaurants that cater to the non-authentic demanding palettes. But we did find one within decent driving distance. Actually, friends of ours, introduced us to it.

Nestled in the corner of a strip shopping mall on Sherman Way, a street lined with strip and corner shopping malls, BBQ Unlimited is an unassuming dining paradise. Its neighbor is the Bangluck Supermarket and a very popopular Thai restaurant which we'll have to try out next time we crave Thai food.

This family-style Cantonese restaurant specializes in Chinese BBQ chicken, duck and pork. You can order a whole suckling pig for large parties and catering.

The food is excellent and best of all, authentic. Their shrimp with scrambled eggs (see picture) is delicious. So are the white fish with scrambled egg white topped with an egg yolk dish, their glaze shrimp with walnuts, tofu with stuffed shrimp, sauteed Chinese greens or broccoli, hot and sour soup (picture), salty chicken with special ginger sauce (picture), all their noodle dishes and the list keeps going.

We love the basic decor. It reminds us of typical Hong Kong neighborhod eateries. Except this one is in North Hollywood.

12980 Sherman Way
North Hollywood, CA 91605
Tel: (818) 765 7725

BTW, we love Ms. Chang, one of the waitresses, who always gives us a hug. All of the restaurant employees are very attentive and offer all manner of advice when you want it.