California

July 22, 2010

I was in California for the last week, mostly in Los Angeles visiting Marshall and then in San Francisco for the weekend visiting Lindsay. LA is always fun–laid back with good food, a lot of time outdoors hiking and running in Griffith Park. I got to see Marshall and Heather’s house for the first time. It was formerly owned by one of the members of the band 311 and they definitely had some whacky decor choices. I wish I had taken more pictures–for example–of the Little Mermaid Bathroom. A few steps down, every surface is covered in blue and turquoise glass tiles. Marshall and Heather have done an amazing job making it theirs, with a screening room, a bright kitchen, and a peaceful pool in the back.

We started off with a hike, and then later than night went to the Barnsdall Art Center for their weekly wine tasting. Marshall is now the co-president of Barnsdall, and he and his friend Avidan started and run the wine tastings. It was packed with families, all of whom brought elaborate picnics. The setting is beautiful and as we launch into wedding planning, I wish that there was someplace like that right in the middle of Manhattan.

If Cookie still existed and I still worked there, I would definitely include Barnsdall. It’s also such a nice community event. So much LA schmoozing. They also attract food carts–a great Vietnamese one and also Lets Be Frank, Alice Waters’ fearless hotdog truck.

Saturday morning I jetted to San Francisco to help Lindsay move. It’s been five years since I was there, and it was nice to be back and jog my memory again. I really feel like I should live there at some point in my life. Saturday night we hung out on the patio of Lindsay’s old apartment and then Sunday we got up and went for a run along the marina, to the farmer’s market for some breakfast, and then drove to Napa. We visited a few vineyards, and aside from being incredibly convenient and easy to get to, it was stunning. Breathtakingly gorgeous.

I already can’t wait to go back, ideally with a bicycle. The wine was great, too. Monday I went back to LA where Marshall picked me up and we went to a heavily Hispanic area where the tacos were UNBEATABLE. The salsas, red and green both, were perfectly fresh and spicy, the tortilla chips were just fried, the cojita cheese was salty. Everything about it was heavenly. It’s one thing we definitely don’t have here in New York.

To continue with the eating (there was running and insanely hard pilates in the middle) we had dinner on Tuesday night at a new restaurant owned by Ilan Hall (of Top Chef fame) called The Gorbals. The menu featured bacon-wrapped matzoh balls (as Marshall said and Scott added on “Bubbe’s Bacon Nightmare: A Hipster’s Revenge”). The food was mostly really good and the restaurant itself was in this whacky hotel/ballroom/apartment building/movie set hybrid space that was a little bit grand and a little bit rundown. On the way to the men’s room, Marshall discovered this television set. Creepy, no?

We rounded out our last day with a drive to Venice, a walk along Abbott Kinney, a stroll along the canals and a final stop at Watts Towers. Our detour almost made me miss my flight, but it was worth it.

Now, after a layover in Vegas and a pretty uneventful, if rather sleepless redeye back to New York, I’m home.

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Dora and the Pig

May 29, 2010

My brother and his wife took their dog, Dora, for a walk in Griffith Park.  It had a confrontation with a pig, because, you know, it’s LA and people walk their pigs.

Sao Paulo

August 9, 2009

We came to Sao Paulo yesterday.  I was very curious about it.  When we were thinking about where to move, we were pretty evenly split between Rio and Sao Paulo, and there was a divide in the advice we were given.  The big city was described as uninhabitable by some.  Others claimed it was the only real city in Brazil, that Rio is merely a provincial town.  Scott described it as 20 million people’s worth of midtown.

My disclaimer so far is that we’ve only seen a very small part of it, but it’s not uninhabitable in the way that I expected–gritty, super crowded, like 46th and Sixth at rush hour-it’s mostly empty.  It’s definitely more of a real city than Rio, glossier, glassier, with substantial buildings, not hole-in-the-wall juice bars and pe-sujos.  Right after checking into our hotel we bee-lined to Vila Madalena for lunch.  I kept saying that it looked like LA, and Scott wasn’t seeing it, but then I realized that the LA I know best is Silver Lake and Los Feliz, and it does look exactly like that, with whitewashed boutiques, sloping streets, and bars, restaurants and cafes everywhere.  There were tons of 20-somethings hanging out and drinking in the sunshine and then the gathering dusk, and it felt like a real city–LA, or the East Village.  It was nice to be back.

I’ve never really had the experience of coming from a small, less sophisticated city to a big city.  This is the first time, and it’s really strange to feel like a country bumpkin from Rio here.  Our accents are different, people here in Sao Paulo wear shoes, not flip flops.  In Rio, as Scott pointed out, every restaurant looks from the outside what it will look like on the inside.  In Sao Paulo there’s another layer of depth.  We went to dinner at a sushi place in Jardins, and while it was white and mod from the street, with a conveyer belt up front, the downstairs where we ate was all dark wood and smooth black stones and orchids.  The food was of a different caliber.

I don’t regret moving to Rio at all, I pointed out that it has sort of a dumb, boundless happiness, a relaxed quality that suits me, and I think I wouldn’t have appreciated the quality of Sao Paulo as a city coming straight from New York, which I so desperately needed a break from, but it feels good to be here.  Now we’ll go see the rest of it, and I’ll see if I feel like the emptiness is calming, the clusters of neighborhoods sufficient.