culture

To Be Happy in New York

Joan Didion was famous for saying, Goodbye to All That.

Until she moved back there.

Happiness in New York is like the latest latte. The Cascara latte, just under the shell. Just under the surface, just around the corner. Happiness in New York is waiting for you at the dime store. At Coney Island, in Central Park. It’s waiting on the subway, and waiting at the ice cream truck. Happiness is a slice of pizza, it’s a bagel on a Saturday morning. It’s knowing you can pay your rent on the 1st, and can walk the streets one more day.

Unless you’re an Angeleno.

In which case you think, Well, aren’t there bagels in LA? And, aren’t the tacos much better? And isn’t everything cheaper – like by about, half?

The happiest people I met on the East Coast were from suburban Midwest, the rustbelt, or from the South. For them, New York is the chosen land! Opportunities, diversity. Beauty. Opulence!

But for an Angeleno, you always have that nagging feeling like true happiness is waiting not just around the corner, but on another coast. In another global city that is…your own. And doesn’t have blizzards. Or summer thunderstorms. You can enjoy beauty and opulence on your own time, in the sunshine.

Happiness, like time, is a relative thing. And to each his or her own. But for me, I’ll choose to have my cascara latte with a full-frontal view of the San Gabriel Mountains.

 

Blessed Are the Brief

This past week, Pope St. Francis conducted a not-so-brief interview with La Civilta Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit journal. Ranging over 11,000 words in length, the Pope divulged his preference in music and film as well as his real thoughts on where to take the Catholic church. He stated, “We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.”  He went on to say, "We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible … We have to talk about them in a context." For progressive young religious people like me, hearing the Pope say that religion should be about compassion, and mercy, and creative connection is falls on welcome ears. But judging from the (very brief) sermon I heard this morning at mass, I'm not sure the rest of the U.S. clergy thinks so. It's as if they gave the "Blessed are the meek" idea a taciturn spin: blessed are the brief.

The sermon was not more than five minutes long, and consisted of the rhetorically stunning offering that - get ready -  the Pope's comments were in line with the Church's long-held positions on sexual politics.

That was the beginning. And the end.

I was stunned. These are some of the most interesting statements, any major religious leader has made in decades, yet many priests kept it inaudible. According to the Boston Globe, the US bishops and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, Boston’s archbishop declined to comment about the statements the Pope made in his interview.

If the Catholic church is going to at least try to give the semblance that it is a hierarchical, matrixed, top-down institution, it has to act like one. When a CEO of a major corporation releases a statement, his or her PR people fall in line. That didn't happen today in the Catholic church, and it looked horrible. The sort of silent mutiny said droves in itself, and it was disappointing.

In today's hypervocal world, the brief are blessed on Twitter. Or Tumblr.

Not the pulpit.

This is Temple City

My hometown is Temple City, CA, a sunny place about 15 miles east of Downtown LA. Temple City is a small, sweet town in which the residents don't always know what to say to each other. Sometimes it's because they truly don't know what to say, and sometimes it's because not everyone speaks the other's languages. Temple City is 60% Asian, and many older Chinese residents only speak Mandarin.

This scene from New Girl basically is Temple City to me. It's the town acting itself out, if it could. With the silence and the laughter and the absurdity and the serendipity. It just is Temple City.

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Punk Rock the Met

Anarchy in the U.K. in the USA

I loved this year´s Met Ball. While all art and fashion are, to a degree, punk rock – what else is the explosive urge to make something out of nothing? – this year´s “From Chaos to Couture” theme gave the event a raison d´etre that worked.

While some folks are sort of preternaturally more punk than others – Madonna has no problem donning a black bob and corset tights – it was fun to see other, more femme stars don their own version of alternative looks.

Sofia Vergara wouldn´t normally wear something this angular, and it´s interesting on her:



Sarah Jessica Parker killed it:  




Jennifer Lopez also killed it: 


Camila Belle did a fun Great Gatsby meets goth look:


And how fun are these ?




The theme gave the  Rashida Jones' dress choice a slightly punk air of “Oh, do these straps look  folksy or floppy? I must not care.” 



And ironically enough, R & B Beyonce´s body language of “I´m here” is somehow punk as it can get. Imagine her re-make of The Ramones song, ‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’ (now). 


Generation Coca-Cola

Want to a new rock tip? Listen to the music of Legião Urbana.

The new film Somos Tão Jovens (We Are So Young) tells the story of Renato Russo, famed singer  of Brazilian punk/rock band Legião Urbana. Russo's music chronicled the angst of bourgeois Brasilia right before the Brazilian dictatorship fell in the mid 80's. Russo sang about the upper middle class working for the feds, and wrote about conformity, consumerism, and silence.  He wrote songs like Tedio - Com Um T Bem Grande Pra Voce (Tedium - with a Big T for You).

The high-waisted jeans and the wide-framed boho glasses look like something out an American Apparel ad:

Here's the trailer:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xa3izIueaE4]
Somos Tao Jovens is generally surprising. For starters, it's been the best-selling movie in Brazil this year, and its subject is a bisexual emo-hero who died, tragically, of AIDS. To top that, the Brazilian government is the film's top financier. Russo is a rock hero, the identity politics curiously notwithstanding. And that's because his music is so incredible. Russo's music has the lush, larger-than-life belts of Queen, Depeche Mode, Los Hombres G, or maybe even Jaguares. That late 80's love letter yell, with a very natively Brazilian, home-spun punk feel.

Check out the lyrics from one of his most famous songs, Generation Coca-Cola:

"Somos os filhos da revolução
We are the sons of the revolution
Somos burgueses sem religião
We are bourgeois without religion
Somos o futuro da nação
We are the future of the nation
Geração Coca-Cola
Generation Coca-Cola"

Great art transcends borders, and Renato's coca-cola generation is also ours. Certo? 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uv9lOIHUG4Y]

On Inevitability

After turning 30, the universe revealed certain truths to me. One of which is: you ain't gettin any younger, homegirl.

The other day I could no longer fake that I didn't need eye cream (after a brief moment of wait, are those, and wait, aagh?!?) and also could no longer fake that I didn't have an overwhelming urge for...comfortable shoes.

This was an aberration for me, as after a lifetime of ballet, running, hiking, rollerblading and general prediliction for high heels, the thought of not having blood blisters, clinched toes, water blisters, and seemingly permanent discomfort seemed impossible. But then I realized that...it was possible. Because it was my choice. Knowing that if I didn't start taking care of my feet (and by extension, my knees, hamstrings, and lower lumbar) physical discomfort would inevitably become a series of physical problems.

As I biked around today in comfortable sandals, it was nice to know that in taking care of my feet, I'm taking care of  my journey. And that's a good step forward.