Things I Learn From People Watching

Things I Learn From People Watching

“I like to prowl ordinary places and taste the people from a distance.” Charles Bukowski

People watching involves observing people to get a feel for the beauty and rhythm of the community around us. It’s about creativity and using the moments of watching to try to guess at another person’s story just from observation. People watching is a thing now. “Lets have a coffee and people watch’. It’s an activity like golf.

Observational learning occurs as a result of witnessing another person, but is performed later and cannot be explained as having been taught in any other way. People watching is very insightful and informative. It allows us to see humanity in all its diversity and similarity. Watching  other cultures interact in an airport teaches you very quickly that we are more the same than different.

Some places are better for people watching than others. New York, Paris, Tokyo, Miami, Rio de Janeiro and London present ideal venues for people watching because people know they’re on display, and being seen. Any city where people dress up to show the world their fashion flair or sense of style is likely to be an ideal people watching place.

The first thing I notice about people is clothes. What is the identity they want to portray to the world on this day? Are they wearing designer logos, team clothing or travel souvenirs? Are they being vintage or homeless? Sometimes that is hard for me to decipher. People who are too perfect looking fascinate me  – every hair in place perfectly made up and manicured. I wonder how much time they spent on that.

Tattoos are very interesting to me. What is so important that they want to see  everyday in the shower? If they are covered in tattoos (which I find beautiful), I wonder what it is they are hiding.

People are art – the way they sit , fold their hands, walk, run, laugh, frown, chew, admonish their kids, fight with their boyfriends or adjust their clothes. I love observing how people form groups and how their body language reveals what they think or feel.  It’s like deciphering a code. The way people carry themselves communicate their self-esteem and their emotional state.

The newest people watching activity is from homeland security. If you see something, say something. I’m not going into this because I do not know if I have any paranoid ignorant readers or not.

The most important thing is not to get caught. You don’t want to come across as a voyeur or psycho. Be conscious of other people’s need for privacy, space and respect people. Realize that you too are likely the subject of observation now and then, perhaps even as you’re people watching today.

Fly safe,

JAZ

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25 Things That I Want To Do In 2016

25 Things That I Want To Do In 2016.

“Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.”— Jay Leno

Drink less coffee.
Get more real instagram followers. (travelwellflysafe)
Go to Amsterdam.
Go to Anne Frank’s House.
Go to the Van Gogh Museum.
See the tulips.
Meditate everyday.
Train my new puppy.
Be the Pack Leader this time.
Spend more time with my friends.
Be grateful everyday.
Do more art things in LA.
Stretch.
Do more yoga.
Go To Paris.
Visit my god-daughter.
Go to South Africa.
Go on a game drive.
See the big five.
Be brave.
Hike up Table Mountain.
Visit the townships.
Go to Capetown.
Go to Johannesburg.
See my daughter get married.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Pray For Paris, Pray For The World

Pray For Paris, Pray For The World

“It was very sad, he thought. The things men carried inside. The things men did or felt they had to do.” Tim O Brian

The justification for terrorist killings is that there are no civilians. The people in a country pay taxes and fund anti terrorism. According to the terrorists, we are all at war. Terrorism is an abstract noun. It is hard to be at war with an abstract noun.

Terrorism happens when one group faces a much more powerful group where they have no chance of winning. Instead they attack other targets in the hopes that will put pressure on the governments. They attack the powerless. They create fear and chaos. They go after people on planes returning from a holiday, people in restaurants, watching a concert, at work or at a soccer match  –  all different ages, races, nationalities and in all different cities. The terrorists convince themselves that their targets are less than human. They use religion, history, past offenses, current offenses and always the bottom line is the pursuit of a more important goal than human life. Is it easier to kill when you don’t call it murder?

The truth is that killing innocent people is always wrong. There is no argument and no excuse that can ever make it right. Terrorism is not part of faith.

We need to stop supporting the countries who fund terrorism. We need to stop our own  secret torturing, killing and cover ups. They don’t seem to be doing any good and give reason to the creation of more terrorists. We do need to defend ourselves.

Turning away refugees, xenophobia and fear of immigration is not an answer either. Didn’t we once return the persecuted back to Germany and Europe? Did we learn anything from closing our borders or putting the Japanese in camps  during World War II? We need to find a way to deal with the threats while honoring our ethical and moral obligations.

There was a surreal feeling in watching the footage of the events in Paris. It wasn’t a movie. People were dying who were just going about the business of life. The blood was not fake. The pregnant woman hanging on the wall saying she couldn’t hold on anymore was not acting. The guy hopping down the street was really shot in the leg.

I have always been fearful. I have the kind of brain that could put together hundreds of worst case scenarios on the way to anywhere. I mourn with the people of France. But fears in hand, I’m still going to Paris in the Spring. I realize that it is important to be aware, but to give in to the fears that random acts of violence create, is to let the terrorists win. #Dontbeterrorized.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Bend It Like Niemeyer

Bend It Like Niemeyer

“Here, then, is what I wanted to tell you of my architecture. I created it with courage and idealism, but also with an awareness of the fact that what is important is life, friends and attempting to make this unjust world a better place in which to live.” Oscar Niemeyer

I wish I could say I thought of that but I took the title from the Guardian. Maybe some of you not Brits had missed it.

One of Brazil’s greatest architects was Oscar Niemeyer who was known for his curved spaces and ramps. Beauty, spatial drama and lightness was more important to him than functionality. His use of concrete and steel was done in ways that had not been seen before. He died in 2012 at 104, a world-renowned architect, with hundreds of works in Europe, the Americas and Africa.

Niemeyer became a member of the Communist party in 1945. In 1964, when a military coup overthrew the government, Niemeyer was threatened and resettled in France and did not return to Brazil until the end of the military dictatorship in 1985. He designed the communist headquarters in Paris.

Oscar Niemeyer worked alongside Le Corbusier on the UN buildings in New York and his designs for Brasília earned the city a Unesco World Heritage status. Niemeyer received the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988, the highest award in the profession, for his Cathedral of Brasília. ( not my photo)

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I am a wannabe architect and a fan of beautiful buildings and could not wait to see his structures in Brazil.
Some of Niemeyer’s most famous and recent work can be found in the city of Niterói across the bay from Rio. Niteroi has more buildings designed by him than any other city outside of Brasília where he redesigned the capital city.

The Museu de Arte Contemporanea (MAC) overlooks Guanabara Bay.

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The museum is a direct response to the natural topography of the bay.  The curve of the structure matches the curve of Sugarloaf.

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The building is the anti gallery white cube space. You can see the relationship of art, architecture and the surrounding landscape.

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The Theatre of Niteroi is another great example of Niemeyer style.

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The drawing on the front by Niemeyer is done on each individual tile.

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The green and yellow color scheme represents Brazil’s flag.

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Oscar Niemeyer designed several of the buildings in Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo. Roberto Burle Marx and Otávio Agusto de Teixeira Mendes provided the park’s landscape architecture. The park opened in 1954.

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The Bienal was built to host a biannual art exhibition which started in 1951.

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São Paulo was the second city in the world after Venice to do this. A major art exhibition is held here every two years.

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I had seen photos of the interior before and didn’t recognize it because of the sharp contrast of the completely rectangular patterns on the outside to the flowing circular forms inside. (not my photo)

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The Marquise was also designed by Niemeyer. It’s a large, covered space that curves through the park behind the Niemeyer buildings and connects the Modern Art Museum to the playground and an outdoor restaurant. It’s used now as a place for people to relax, skate, and rollerblade.

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Oscar Niemeyer designed the Oca auditorium in 1951. The white domed structure is now used for traveling art exhibits. The full name is Pavilhão Lucas Nogueira Garcez, and it was built to commemorate the city’s 400th anniversary in 1951.

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It is called the “oca” because it resembles the traditional Native American dwelling.

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The interior has 4 levels, each connected by a ramp that spirals around.

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In 2004 Niemeyer co-designed the Park’s Auditorium with the “giant red tongue”.

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This futuristic building was in the original design of the park but was not built until much later.

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The Copan was one of Niemeyers early masterpieces. It is an imposing S-shaped building in the Centro district of São Paulo. Having studied some architecture, the Copan for me has always been a symbol of São Paulo. This is the largest residential building in Brazil, and, reportedly, the most populated single residential building in the world with room for seventy businesses on the first floor. It has its own zip code. The downtown area is a bit seedy but i’m sure with gentrification the apartments are being restored.

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Niemeyer went to the office everyday to work on his designs and oversee his projects till his death at 104. He believed in using architecture as a way to create a better world through better design.

Special thanks to my guides Arthur Simoes in São Paulo and Gabriel Morand in Rio for their knowledge, patience and stories about an architect that I have admired for a long time.

Tenha Uma Boa Viagem,

JAZ

Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Nigerian?

Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Nigerian?.

“Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.’ Noel Coward

I’m a quote person. That is the quote that went through my head as I watched the violence in Paris. My nightmares usually take place in empty subway stations in the evening, dark New York alleys and garages at night – not public places in broad daylight.

I am shocked at the terrorist attack on the satiric newspaper office “Charlie Hebdo” when gunmen ruthlessly shot journalists and two policemen. This was followed by another horrific attack in a Kosher market killing four people. There were fifteen hostages and thirty people who hid in a cold freezer for hours.

I am at a loss to describe the odd feeling of grief I have for the deaths of people I do not know.

I love reading and writing. I think it is important to share a story and for people to read these stories. I don’t know enough about Charlie Hebdo to say if I agree with everything they do. I do know that humor can help you learn about the world in a more appealing way than watching the news every night.

I buy my food in a neighborhood market and go several times a week.

There is a lot of criticism that we care more about what happened in Paris, then the massacre in Nigeria and other third world countries. It isn’t that we care more, it is that we can relate to it more. France is a first world democracy like us. Africa is a place where a lot of bad things happen. Unfortunately when bad things happen all the time, it gets reported in the news less.

Last week  Boko Haram killed more than 2,000 people in the town of Baga and neighboring villages, burning entire communities to the ground. I am horrified about what happened in Nigeria –also by Muslim extremists; but a French cartoonist or shopper in a market in Paris, is probably more like me than an African villager. The African villager cares more about his daily problems than mine – as do the French.

It doesn’t make it right or even make sense but that is how we as humans think. It is why the world is in the mess that it is in –several billion of us thinking about ourselves and our tribes. Maybe it should be “Je suis human.”

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