Things I Lost In The Fire

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Things I Lost In the Fire

“So that’s how we live our lives. No matter how deep and fatal the loss, no matter how important the thing that’s stolen from us–that’s snatched right out of our hands–even if we are left completely changed, with only the outer layer of skin from before, we continue to play out our lives this way, in silence” Haruki Murukami. 

When I was a teenager my house burned down in an electrical fire. It was a controlled fire by most standards and we didn’t lose everything.  We moved to the top floor of an apartment building and a few years later during a bad storm, it was hit by lightning. Another fire. 

I never thought about how it affected me. No one was home during the first one and I was away at grad school for the second. I hadn’t lost my room in the first fire. Most of my things were on the roof and covered in soot and ash. It took a long time to get that smell out. 

 I happened to sit next to a woman in a restaurant who had just lost her house in the Malibu fire and was still in shock.  She was telling me about her lost photos. I remembered that I kept my albums and photos in fireproof boxes in a downstairs closet close to a door. They could be dumped in a nearby garbage can and rolled away quickly. I’m not normally that organized. I realized as I spoke to her that I have always lived my adult life with the knowledge that things can be lost instantaneously. 

We all process events differently. What I remember most about the first fire is the dream. The night before I had a very vivid dream that I was walking in debris in my new shoes. I kept wondering why I had worn the shoes. There was a hole in the right shoe from the debris. The next morning I got up and put the new shoes on with trepidation, wondering if I should wear them. Hours later I was walking in what was left of the downstairs and looked down at the wet burned wood  and there was the hole in the right shoe. I never really processed anything but the fact that I had a premonition about it.    

 I thought at the time  that it was just stuff. Kids don’t think a lot about memories.  I  listened to the woman tell me about her lost mementos.  I understand now why I saved every toy and all my children’s schoolwork from birth through high school. I didn’t have anything like that from my own childhood after two fires.  

 She started talking about her books.  Every once in a while throughout my life, I remember a book that I am sure I have. I don’t have it because that library was gone. I think this is what happens after a fire. You don’t remember everything you lost all at once.

Our homes should be places of safety.  Because so many strong memories are formed in our homes, they are very special places to us. House fires can never take those memories away but we lose the feeling of safety which is more of a loss than the stuff. I never dwelt on why this happened to my family twice. We just stayed in the moment and did things one step at a time. Life is busy after a fire and not always in a good way. The best thing is not to stay in the past. It was strange to look back and reflect on that time in my life. I know that this woman, her family and the people who were affected by the California wildfires will get through it also.

Fly safe,

JAZ 

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Beaches

Beaches

‘So that the monotonous fall of the waves on the beach, which for the most part beat a measured and soothing tattoo to her thoughts seemed consolingly to repeat over and over again… “Virginia Woolf

I know the beach. I grew up on one. I knew the color of the sand, the coldness of the water, how the waves break and the distance between the jutting rocks. I found this photo on the internet. I lived right behind the left side of that  photo. I also learned to ride my bike at the beginning of the boardwalk. The houses weren’t there yet. It was all beach. but that red brick wall was. When we mastered the two wheeler, we would come careening down that incline with the dangerous thrill of wondering if we would turn the wheel before smashing into the wall. I ended up riding right on the beach a lot.  (Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York)

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I liked how the sand felt on my toes and how the sun warmed my back. (Okinawa,Japan)

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I knew where to find clam shells, crabs and snails. In the winter I built snowmen on the beach. In the spring, I chased birds. When I got older, I dated a lot of the lifeguards in the summer. I was happiest in a bikini on the beach getting a tan. (Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia)

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I remember sad moments, scary moments and wonderful moments in an ocean. (Santa Barbara,California)

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I’ve seen the power of hurricanes, felt the waves knocking me down or the undertow pulling me further out and almost drowned. There was always at least one drowning per summer. (Cartagena,Colombia)

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We rented beach houses in Malibu when our kids were young. (Malibu, California)

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One summer, I decided to make a table out of sea glass. I needed thirty pounds of sea glass and I was determined to get it. I enlisted the help of family and friends. When a big pile of rocks came up, I was out there for hours, with my feet cut up. It was a job. Everyone on the beach wanted sea glass. I have the table. (Shell from Eluthera, Bahams)

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I still always look for sea glass on a beach.

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I bring bags of shells or stones home from any beach in the world. I can not walk on a beach without looking for treasures. (Panama)

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I turn to water for a sense of calm and clarity. (Hvar, Croatia)

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The ocean gives my brain a rest and heals what is broken. (Marajo, Brazil)

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It connects me to something beyond myself. (Great Barrier Reef, Australia)

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My life and my problems always seem very small compared to the vastness of the ocean. (Varadero, Cuba)

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When I walk onto a beach in any country, it invokes the memories of my childhood and I am at home. (Paraty, Brazil)

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Fly safe,

JAZ

 

 

Ten Not Tourist Things To Do In LA On A Sunday

Ten Not Tourist Things To Do In LA On A Sunday

The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” Russell Baker

I love reading these lists about countries I am visiting and hope you will find this one helpful.

Venice Beach and Abbot Kinney

Venice of America” was created as a beach resort in 1905. The first grounds came complete with an aquarium, bath houses, and an amusement park. Developers dug several canals to drain the marshes. As the infrastructure and buildings crumbled in the 1950’s, the odd characters and artists found their way in. That mentality continued to the present, making Venice a melting pot of cultures, art and attitudes. The path and boardwalk along the beach with is vendors, restaurants, street performers, weightlifters, artists, tattoo artists, skaters, bikers and graffiti art make it great for people watching.

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Abbot Kinney is one of the trendiest streets in LA right now. The downside is the overabundance of hipsters and horrible parking. It’s great to hang out, eat and shop. My favorite Abbot Kinney restaurants are Gjelina (http://www.gjelina.com) and The Tasting Kitchen (http://www.thetastingkitchen.com)

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LACMA and La Brea.

Since they redid LACMA, (LA County Museum of Art http://www.lacma.org) several years ago, it is a cool, interesting space to spend a Sunday. Catch the latest exhibit, collection, film, or do a family activity with the kids. Sit in the courtyard and have a drink or coffee and plan your visit. I like to have brunch at one of the La Brea restaurants, Republique (http://republiquela.com) or The Sycamore Kitchen (http://thesycamorekitchen.com). If you are a mall person The Grove (http://www.thegrovela.com) is nearby as well.

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Rose Bowl Flea Market In Pasadena

The super gigantic Rose Bowl Flea Market takes place rain or shine on the second Sunday of each month at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. There is a plethora of vintage items and vendors. It is great for people watching – the hip, the beautiful, the cool and the very strange are all shopping for that perfect find. I think the days of finding something really valuable are probably over but it is definitely the place where LA hipsters go to furnish their living spaces. It’s funny to see people grabbing things you grew up with and wondering if you shouldn’t have given them away back then. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

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Ride Your Bike From Santa Monica To Manhattan Beach .

The bike path runs along the Pacific Ocean from Pacific Palisades to Torrance. It is 22 miles (35 kilometers) long. It’s good to pick it up in Santa Monica and ride through Venice, Marina Del Rey and Playa Del Rey. Manhattan Beach is the quintessential LA beach town.  It is what you expect a California beach community to look like when you move from the East Coast. The Beach Boys hung out here when they were young and it is credited to be the birthplace of beach volleyball ( now an Olympic sport). They have some really good restaurants. I like to go to MB Post (http://eatmbpost.com) and Fishing With Dynamite (http://www.eatfwd.com).

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LA Dodger Game.

Baseball has always been a metaphor for America. The LA Dodgers (http://losangeles.dodgers.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=la) have been a symbol of Los Angeles since they moved from Brooklyn. Dodger Stadium opened in 1962. It was built on the controversial Chavez Ravine, overlooking the city making it one of the most beautiful settings for a baseball stadium. It is a really fun Sunday thing to do – watching a game and eating Dodger dogs.   The “Dodger dog” is a 10” frankfurter sold at Dodger Stadium during the games. It is probably not the best hot dog you will ever eat but it feels like it is when you are there.

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The Annenberg Space For Photography

Photography is my newest obsession and I just love this place. They have interesting exhibits and great lectures. It is located in Century City and admission is free. I often drop by for an hour and usually see the exhibits more than once. (http://annenbergphotospace.org)

It located near Century City Mall and you can run in and do some shopping and get some food. My new favorite Chinese restaurant is located here. It is called Meizhou Dongpo and is the first American outpost of a very successful chain restaurant in China which started in Beijing. They became famous because they catered the food in the Olympic village in 2008. Everything I have had there is delicious. I always look forward to eating there.

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Malibu

Malibu is very relaxed on a Sunday. Walk on the beach. Watch the surfers and birds at the lagoon. Have brunch at the Malibu Beach Inn (http://www.malibubeachinn.com), Malibu Farm (http://www.malibu-farm.com) or Nobu (http://www.noburestaurants.com/malibu/experience/). (Nobu)

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Walk around the shopping centers with their new stores. Maybe you will run into Caitlyn Jenner. I love the Malibu Farmer’s Market on Sunday as well. They have some great locally grown items. Sometimes I get fresh bread and cheese and make that a meal with all the samples they give you. Other times, I have one of the meals that they are cooking. As with all farmers markets, the best produce is in the morning and the best deals are at the end of the day.

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Music Center

Growing up in NY, I love theatre and ballet. I’m a regular at the Music Center downtown (http://www.musiccenter.org) . Traffic in LA has gotten so awful that I usually go on a Sunday. I have brunch at a new downtown restaurant or go back to one of my favorites. Anything from chef Joseph Centeno – Baco Mercat, Orsa and Winston, Bar Ama or Ledlow always works for me (http://bacomercat.com). (Disney Hall)

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The Music Center is one of the largest performing arts complexes in the US. It includes the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, the Ahmanson Theatre, the Mark Taper Forum and the newest building Walt Disney Hall designed by Frank Gehry. The center is home to ongoing community events, arts festivals, outdoor concerts, participatory arts activities and workshops, and educational programs. When I don’t stop for lunch I grab Tina’s Tacos and sit outside and watch people run in and out of the fountain. (Dorothy Chandler)

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MOCA and The Geffen Contemporary

The Museum of Contemporary Art (http://moca.org) is right down the street from the Music Center. It’s fun to come down and see an exhibit after having dim sum in Chinatown. The best things in Chinatown are the art galleries where young LA artists show their stuff. You can still buy cheap made in China gifts and check out the herb stores with their dried mushrooms, tea leaves and goji berries. Every displaced New Yorker gets a favorite Chinatown restaurant when they move out here like they had in New York. You will hear a lot of New York accents on Sunday nights. Mine closed.

The Geffen Contemporary, which is MOCA”s very large exhibition space, always has interesting exhibits and is in Little Tokyo. I like to have sushi there and walk around the malls. It feels like Japan. I like Sushi Gen but I don’t like the lines. They open at 1115 if you get there early you can avoid the queue. (http://sushigen.org) Café Dulce in Japanese Village Plaza is the place for donuts afterward.

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Early movie and dinner

No matter where I have lived, my favorite thing to do on Sunday is always an early movie and dinner at a local restaurant. My usual movie theatres are in Westwood which means Lebanese food at Sunnin (http://sunnin.com), Italian food at Palmeri in Brentwood (http://www.palmeriristorantespa.com)  or the new Ingo Diner in Santa Monica (http://www.ingostastydiner.com).

Fly safe,

JAZ

How to Avoid The Paparazzi Or How To See Celebrities In Los Angeles

How To Avoid the Paparazzi   or How To See Celebrities In Los Angeles

“Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else.”  ~Will Rogers

Since many  of you who read this blog don’t live in Los Angeles, you may be planning a trip.   Most people in LA do not use their feet as a method of transportation. We  jog or walk our dogs.  Streets are never crowded. Paparazzi in LA are very noticeable. They don’t blend in like they do on the crowded streets of New York or Rome.

It is one thing for paparazzi  to stand outside a trendy restaurant  or club. We anticipate that. We expect to see them on Robertson Blvd looking for Kim or Paris ( Do we still care about Paris?). On a Saturday afternoon, we know that they will be outside Barneys, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel and Rodeo Drive.    But it is another thing to encounter them all day long.  So I thought I would tell you how to avoid the paparazzi  or places to see celebrities in LA,  which ever you prefer.

1. I was  eating my lunch ( tuna salad and green juice – it is LA after all) in a beauty salon.   The door was open. I looked out and saw three paparazzi aiming their cameras at the open front door.  I was about to be the background shot for whoever walked out that door. I was going to be unknown woman with a mouthful of tuna. Luckily it was my turn. (Anastasia, BH)

2.Lately,  they hang  out  at the parks.  You can see them hiding behind trees like pedophiles with cameras.  They need to get that photo of a child on a swing who happens to  have a famous parent. My dog peed on their camera  cases.  To distract them, I said “Doesn’t that look like  JLo and the kids?.” They ran.  (Santa Monica Park)

3.There is always the market.    Am I the only person who doesn’t care that Jennifer Garner’s daughter can push the shopping cart? Is there something I am missing?  Is she a grocery cart pushing prodigy?  Is it really necessary for me to be woman who ran into the market to get ice cream because she was depressed, in the background of this shot?  (Vicente Foods, Brentwood)

4. The traffic is stalled on Ventura Blvd.  I am in the right lane.  I edge up and notice that  at least eight cars in front of me have no one in them. As I slowly maneuver into the left lane, I see all the paparazzi at the newsstand –  It must be for the Stars Are Like Us section – yes, some stars still buy  their own magazines. It probably isn’t  someone as famous as Beyonce or anyone who thinks they are like Bravo’s Real Housewives. It might be someone who grew up in the valley and knows this newsstand – like the Kardashians or the Jacksons. Unlike us, they don’t have to explain why they are late for work because the paparazzi stalled traffic. (Newsstand on Van Nuys and Ventura, Sherman Oaks)

5. Paparazzi Heaven is Malibu – so many celebrities in such a small area. .  Malibu shopping center  used to be charming. It felt like a small town.  It has been redone with  many expensive stores and trendy restaurants.  I was having breakfast with a friend  at an outside table when she said ,”Turn around”. I did and faced the camera lenses of twenty paparazzi, aimed for the door  right behind our table.  “How can you eat like this?,” I asked.   She replied, “No problem, I used to be a model.“  (Malibu Kitchen, Malibu)

6. There were two homeless people sleeping on Carbon Beach. .  This is a  stretch of beach with multimillion dollar beach houses.  I had never seen that before. When I got closer, I could see the cameras under the layers of clothing. Really guys? Did you think they wouldn’t notice? You are the only  people sleeping on an empty beach in winter clothes.   (Carbon Beach, Malibu)

7. I had a  bad cold and ran out to the pharmacy wearing pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt.  The paparazzi is standing at the front door. “Don’t shoot,“ I yell as I run through  the door. I do not want to be mystery woman in pajamas behind reality TV star in sweats running to the pharmacy. (Longs Drugs, now a CVS – and you can tell the difference, Brentwood.)

8. The woman who walks my dog when I can’t  get home during the day,  told me that my dog has a girlfriend.  It is the dyed pink poodle of a famous celebrity and she cannot tell me who it is. She said that my dog  ended up in paparazzi shots the other day. If you want to see a celebrity that owns a dyed pink poodle, follow them home from Barrington Dog Park in Brentwood. They go on Wednesdays.

9. The famous ex-governor/ movie star/ cheater and father of housekeeper’s child lives in a gated community on my street. I live in a canyon. It is a small road that you can’t park a car on.  During all the commotion , you would drive down the quiet  road to a circus of paparazzi and tv vans everywhere. I’m glad no one cares about him anymore.

10. One day, I walked out of a frozen yogurt store and there were thirty paparazzi  across the street. Their cameras were aimed at the entrance to the spray tanning store next door. It’s true. Your favorite celebrity has a fake tan. A bus load of Japanese tourists pulled up. They all jumped  out and stood next to the paparazzi with their cameras poised ready to have their LA paparazzi moment . Now that was funny. (Portofino, BH)

Im sure  the LA people have  more stories.

Say cheese and fly safe,

JAZ