Giving Gifts

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Giving Gifts

“Books make great gifts because they have the whole world inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!” Neil Gaiman

We all grow up with healthy and unhealthy stories about love. When I was growing up, I learned some beautiful things about love. I learned that loving people means treating them with kindness. Loving a person means believing in their potential, cheering them on and celebrating their successes. It means not wasting your time trying to change them. Just try to help them see their own brilliance. 

But I also learned the unhealthy things which weren’t so helpful to me. I learned that loving someone means putting them above yourself and always being available to them. It turns out not to be true. Being a martyr helps no one. Living like this breeds resentment. Another was to  always listen to whatever they have to say – even in an angry voice. That turns out not to be true as well. 

There are many ways of expressing love. There is speech, touch, quality time and special kindnesses. Some people show love through food.  Cooking is a way to bring people together, to love  and to listen. I didn’t grow up in a family that cooked like that so I did not understand  until I was older, that cooking for someone was more about love than sustenance. 

I have always been a shopper. The idea of buying a gift is to show someone you were thinking of them, you recognize what they do for you and you’ve paid attention to their likes and chosen something for them. It is a way that I can show love when words are uncomfortable. A gift says I love you or I notice what you do for me without  any physical touch except the appropriate hug.

When I travel, I don’t have a lot of time to shop. My favorite thing is to find the perfect piece of street art or photograph for my kids. They have pieces from all over the world. I buy beaded bracelets in countries that do that and give them to my family and friends.  When I find something I like that is inexpensive and specific to a country, I buy a few as gifts. I like people to know that I think about them when I travel.

Gift giving should be simple but for me it is complicated. It is hard to figure out what another person might want or need.  It isn’t about a price tag but a way of communicating. I don’t think about what I want to buy. I think about what I want to say to this person. If I do not know the person well enough or I am out of ideas,  I try to think of gifts that most people would like such as scarves, wine, donations in their name or gift certificates    

The gold standard for the perfect gift is a genuine smile on a kid or anyone’s face when they open it.

Happy Holidays and Fly Safe,

JAZ

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Vote

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Vote

“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” Thomas Jefferson

All around the world people have had to fight for the right to vote. If you are not a white male land owner, chances are good that someone fought for your right to vote. I’m ashamed to admit that as a teenager my driving and drinking age were much more important to me than my voting age. 

I strongly recommend watching this film “An African Election’, about a 2008 election in Ghana, a country new to the process of “democracy”. It is available to rent or buy on Amazon. The film will remind you to vote because it is your right and your privilege that you were either lucky enough to be born with or lucky enough to earn.  

Fly safe and vote on Tuesday,

JAZ

My Favorite LA Breakfasts

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My Favorite LA Breakfasts

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland

The good news is we have finally gotten the message that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The bad news is many of us eat it on the go. Millennials are fully engaged with breakfast. Me too. It is my favorite meal of the day to eat out. More and more restaurants are serving all-day breakfast. I think we are living in a breakfast boom. I don’t know why but I like spending money on food that I actually know how to cook at home. Here are some of my usual places in no particular order.

The food at Gjusta is delicious but it is also a complete Venice scene. If you live in the neighborhood (as I now do), you know to show up right before lunch or after two and to avoid weekends.

You take a number and wait on line behind some hipster or famous actor. Seeing the fresh smoked fish in the case always gets to me. It is pretentious but worth it. https://gjusta.com

I like sitting outside on the back patio of the Rose Cafe in Venice for breakfast. It is both inviting and trendy. I went with the Neroni style eggs this time and was not disappointed. They don’t take reservations for brunch on the weekend and lines are long so plan your day accordingly. The later you go, the more scooters you will trip over at the entrance. https://rosecafevenice.com

Republique lives up to the hype. The old Campanile restaurant space is still beautiful. It is the place most likely to spot that actor that was in that thing – what’s his name again?

I come for the shakshouka which is of North African origin. Shakshouka is popular in the Middle East and is becoming a national dish in Israel. I’ve had it there often. It is showing up in hip restaurants all over the United States. Shakshouka is a one-pan dish of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. https://republiquela.com

Nate N Als has a long history in Beverly Hills and is supposedly sold. It has been around since 1943 and is a local landmark. The unglamorous delicatessen is filled with locals, tourists and celebrities. It was at Nate N Als where one of the waitresses who had been there forever tied a bagel around my baby’s neck. She told me to put them in the freezer for teething. It was a big help. The food is surprisingly good and I am a fan of the potato pancakes, chicken soup, hot dogs and lox. https://natenal.com

I love all things Melrose and West Third Street.  My kids went to school here for many years. I enjoy breakfast at Toast any time of day. They have all my favorite breakfast foods and cook their eggs in butter – no matter what you ask for. I add turkey bacon, avocado and fruit which is my usual breakfast. It is always crowded and fun and I like sitting both inside and outside with my dog. http://www.toastbakerycafe.net

It is believed that Eggslut has the perfect breakfast sandwich – brioche, cheese, salty meat and an egg. It is simple and beautifully prepared. This sandwich has been the most instagrammed sandwich for a few years.

My favorite thing is a cage-free coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar served with slices of baguette. It is the best comfort food. http://www.eggslut.com

Farmshop is a very Brentwood restaurant which is better for breakfast than dinner. It is located in the Brentwood Country Market and is part take-out food and pastries. They are known for especially delicious french toast and shirred eggs.

You are probably sitting next to a celebrity with school-age children if you are there on Sunday. http://farmshopca.com

New York Bagel in Brentwood is a neighborhood place. It is dog-friendly and when I got my first dog Basquiat, we came here often. The bagels are crunchy and chewy and don’t need to be toasted. Their pumpernickel raisin bagel is my favorite and tastes of New York.

The servers are friendly and your dog’s water bowl is never empty.

When my daughter was two we used to take my son to school and then go out for breakfast. She was an à la carte orderer. The breakfast specials did not work for her. Her favorite breakfast was one pancake with a side of bacon and fresh fruit.  Walter’s in Beverly Hills, would do that for her in a reasonably cost-effective way and so we mostly ate there. They moved several years ago and I did not start going again until recently.

Some of the same people still work there. It’s totally old school with some healthy options. They refill your coffee cup. The ketchup comes on the table with the eggs. You don’t have to feel embarrassed to ask for it.  Eating breakfast there, I become oblivious to the passing of time.http://www.walters2go.com

Special thanks to my breakfast buddies – Nancy, Chris, Cindra, Elaine, Mary Jane, Neile, Banksy and Ellen.

Fly safe,

JAZ

 

9/11 Memorial

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9/11 Memorial

“What separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.” David Levithan

Maybe it was from a sense of obligation, to pay tribute to the lives lost; or a need to see the site of the World Trade Center tragedy to try to comprehend something that 17 years later is still hard to grasp. Maybe it was because I had just come from seeing Auschwitz in Poland. Maybe it was because I worked in Lower Manhattan when the World Trade Center was being built. But while planning a visit to New York, there was never a moment I considered not going to the 9/11 memorial and museum.

Inside this immense expanse of the museum, you’ll find various artifacts on display such as pieces from the planes that struck the Twin Towers, one of many fire trucks which assisted in rescue efforts, a three-story metal beam covered with missing posters, photographs, and messages of resilience named the ‘Last Column’, as well as a retaining wall that survived the destruction of the original World Trade Center.

There are the smaller but just as significant artifacts like damaged fireman’s helmets, World Trade Center ID’s, faded subway cards, police uniforms, and dust-covered shoes.

The museum is thoughtfully divided into several exhibits, with the main two being the Historical Exhibition in the North Tower and the Memorial Exhibition in the South Tower.

The Historical Exhibition is filled with artifacts, photographs, first-person accounts, and archival audio and video recordings. This exhibit is made up of three sequential parts: the Events of the Day, Before 9/11, and After 9/11.

The Memorial Exhibition is situated within the original footprint of the South Tower, and contains portrait photographs of the almost 3000 people who lost their lives in result of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the bombing of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993.

The Memorial is located where the Twin Towers once stood. There are now two large grey chasms in the ground from which water cascades down all four sides before gathering in a pool and finally plunging into a dark void in the middle.

On the brass rims around these twin pools you’ll find stencil-cut names of every person who died in the terrorist attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001.

you are encouraged to touch them.

I did not know anyone personally who died that day. My son had just been dropped off for his freshman year in college in Boston. His father had taken that flight back to LA on American Airlines the week before. My mother who lived nearby had gone to a concert at the World Trade Center that Sunday. On September 11 at six am Los Angeles time, I was in the airport at American Airlines (three hours earlier than New York) waiting to get on a seven AM flight from LA to Boston because I had gotten a call a few hours before that my son was in the hospital about to have his appendix out.

“There but for fortune go you or I” Phil Oaks.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Beyond The Streets

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 Beyond The Streets 

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” Banksy 

The “Beyond The Streets” art exhibition in DTLA is my idea of what heaven will look like.  https://www.beyondthestreets.com.  It is 40,000 square feet of industrial space filled with street art. Roger Gastman has followed  his 2011 show at the MOCA in Los Angeles, Art in the Streets, which was the U.S.’ first-ever graffiti and street art retrospective with this one. It was extended till August 26. Artists include Banksy, Invader, DABSMYLA, Dennis DTLAHopper, FUTURA 2000, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Banksy,  Keith Haring, FAILE, Kenny Scharf, VHILS,  Guerilla Girls, Shepard Fairey, Takashi Murakami, and many more.  Yes, I’m going again.

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summer 18 (479 of 484)

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ranch Advice

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Ranch Advice

“These people have learned not from books, but in the fields, in the wood, on the river bank. Their teachers have been the birds themselves, when they sang to them, the sun when it left a glow of crimson behind it at setting, the very trees, and wild herbs.”Anton Chekhov

I visited my friend’s ranch and winery in Creston, California for a few days. Here are some of the lessons  that I have learned.

When you take an egg from a hen, pet her and leave one egg for her to sit on.

Have empathy for those around you even if they are chickens.

Feed the animals early in the morning. It even says that in the Bible. Feed the animals before yourself. Once you are responsible for something, you must take care of it.

Every time we went hiking or rode in the four by four vehicle. Bandit ran along side of us. The dog ran all day long, stopping to jump in the lake or horse trough to cool off. Bandit is not afraid to get down and dirty rolling in the dirt to dry off. What are we so afraid of? We don’t always have to be clean and perfect all the time. Physical exercise and activity is scientifically proven to release endorphins, making us happier. That’s why  Bandit  looks happiest when he is running.

 The white dogs, Blanche and Stanley (named after Donna’s parents) protect the house all night long and sleep during the day. They have a purpose and they are faithful. There are no ulterior motives, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges.

The fourth dog Lizzie  knows the importance of family and quiet time which is something we all need. She sits in the four by four with Barry when he goes out. 

Looking at the sheep, cows, horses  and their babies, connects us back to how simple life is supposed to be.

Just assume that every gun is loaded. It’s the first rule of gun safety. Guns on a ranch are tools. It is the crazy person that was able to buy the gun legally that is the problem.There are  certain things that you should always be careful around.

You were so close. Try again. I think this one is self-explanatory.

 Pass the bush and turn right at the tree. It’s taken me a long time to learn the importance of good directions. Know when it’s time to make positive changes. Proactively make the change for yourself or they may be made for you.

An alluvial fan is a fan-shaped deposit of sediment crossed and built up over thousands of years by streams.

In dry areas they help with irrigation. Beauty and art take time. 

Hiking up a hill for me is harder than going down but going down is tricky. The secret is to be unaffected either way. 

Being in nature, deepens our human connection to the world. It just makes you feel better to pay attention to the sights and sounds of the ranch.

It helps to have a Fernando. Everyone should have someone in their life who is kind, helpful, responsible, intelligent, creative and there for you. It is good to have people around who support what you do with or without a plan. 

If a gate is closed, leave it closed. If a gate is open, leave it open.

There will always be closed gates or doors but others will be open. Have faith and keep moving forward.

Thanks to Donna and Barry whose hearts are even bigger than the ranch.

And Maureen (camper of the days) and Mike for making it such a fun trip.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Ten Things That I Want To Do In NYC

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Ten Things at That I Want To Do In NYC

“New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness if you have no inner stabilizer.’ Henry Miller

From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million people entered the United States through the Ellis Island Immigration Center. This place was the first point of entry for most immigrants, My Grandparents came through there. Its’ a good time to see and contemplate an era when the United States answered the pleas of refugees for a better a life.

Big museum plans. The Whitney Museum has moved downtown to a cool  space in the Meatpacking District. The Metropolitan Museum Of Art  is leasing the space for its Modern Art call the Met Breuer. Giacometti is  at the Guggenheim and a there is a great  photography exhibit at MOMA. Henri Cartier Bresson is at the International Center For Photography.

NY is a city of foodies and chefs. There are so many  restaurants to try. I will let you know how I do.

Take a walk through Central Park. It was always our bit of nature in the city.

There is the best shopping in NY. I want to visit my favorite department stores, Bergdorf Goodmans, Barneys and Henri Bendels. I also loved shopping in Nolita, Chelsea and the Lower East Side.

There are so many Street Art  Walking Tours  to choose from. Painted murals, graffiti, mosaic installations, sculpture, art embedded in the pavement, stencils and stickers are found all over the city. 

I grew up seeing  Broadway and Off Broadway Theatre in NY several nights a week. We have our tickets and I can’t wait.

How cool is this? Apparently they built Highline Park on an  unused elevated subway line on the  West Side. 

I’m glad to have the opportunity  and privilege to finally visit the 9/11 Memorial. 9/11 is not a past event; terrorism and acts of violence continue to be a current part of our everyday life.  So, the museum is a visit to a horrible act of the past, but one that continues to persist and be a part of the modern world. 

Visiting Lincoln Center and my mom. My mom asked that her ashes be strewn over Lincoln Center so she didn’t miss anything-especially the opera. She said that she wanted us to stop by and visit her and see a show in NY. 

Fly safe,
JAZ