Monday, March 31, 2008

Things That Aren't Here Anymore

I spent all of today (Sunday) at home and in my pajamas, alternating between eating, zoning out online, solving sudoku puzzles, trying to finish my final portfolio and watching TV. (A nice half-lazy day) While watching KCET, I caught this special from 1998 called "Things That Aren't Here Anymore." Hosted by the now-deceased L.A. radio and television personality Ralph Story, the documentary basically goes through all the cool places that used to be in L.A., such as the Coconut Grove, the original Brown Derby, Gilmore Field, Pan Pacific Park, and more.

I have mixed feelings about shows like this. On the one hand, I love learning about how people lived in L.A. back in 20s through the 50s. On the other hand, I find it all a little depressing. Thinking about the past in this way does remind me that one day I and all the things that make up my world will be things that aren't here anymore.

When I do my tour, there is one point where I stop to talk about the Richfield Building. When it was built in 1928, it was a gorgeous Art Deco office building clad in black and gold terracotta with a huge metal tower crowning it. Unfortunately, it was demolished in the 70s (a less historically-sensitive time in L.A.) and replaced by the current Arco towers (which I actually don't mind too much.) I show my tourgoers pictures of the old building and most of them agree that it's a pity that it's gone. And then we move on. Such is life, I suppose.

I'm not a die-hard preservationist, mainly because I understand that cities need to grow and change to be relevant. Not every building can be like the Pantheon and last for more than 2,000 years, nor should they. But each city should have a good mix of both the old and new to add depth, character and a sense of place to it. I do think that as L.A. grows older and more mature as a city, its people will become even more defensive of its historical identity and cultural legacy. More beautiful older buildings will be repurposed and those that can't will be replaced with beautiful modern buildings. My dream would be for L.A. to be a intersection of historical preservation and forward-thinking design with no room for mediocrity (particularly in the form of unimaginative stucco mini-malls or McMansions.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Wind

This past weekend, my super-talented K finished producing a song he cowrote with Alanna Vicente, who also provided the very relaxed and soothing vocals. It's called "The Wind" and it's a great track! You can listen to it on K's MySpace page or Alanna's.

K worked very hard on it, and any positive feedback would be wonderful. Also, this is just the first song in what's looking to be a really cool series of four, so I'll keep you posted as to when the rest are released.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day

It's no big secret that I'm an art deco fanatic. This obsession started in junior high when I became addicted to black and white 1930s musicals (Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Busby Berkeley, etc.), gained momentum during architectural history classes in college, and fully matured during my swing dancing/flea market days (and close association with a full-blown art deco fiend.)

Last week, I treated myself and saw Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, knowing full well that it would be the kind of fantasy that I always wished was my life. Calling cards. Catty women with elaborate hats and cigarette holders. Cage elevators. Shopping trips that play out like personal fashion shows with the chicest clothes. Social secretaries. British accents. Singing in a supper club. Falling for your earnest but penniless piano player. (Sigh.)

In addition to all that, the art direction was sublime. I want Delysia Lafosse's flat! For me, watching the movie was like going to the Queen Mary... I was practically salivating over every piece of moderne decor I saw. In fact, I think it probably took away from my involvement in the story... I was that much in awe of the scenery.

In any event, I do recommend the movie even if you don't know your streamline from your zigzag. It has a nice sweetness to it. Amy Adams does well as the effervescent Delysia in a perfectly mannered performance and Frances McDormand shows the right amount of mature weariness as Miss Pettigrew.

Also, I love the well-framed still that was chosen as the focal point of the movie poster:
To me, it says a lot about the movie without actually giving it away.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Bathroom Inspiration + A Blog I Read

My other final project (for my Design Communication I class) is to render a plan, elevations and a perspective drawing for a bathroom. Ideally, we are supposed to use our own bathroom for the dimensions and general layout with perhaps some dream design embellishments. I'm not sure if I'm going to use my bathroom or K's or a combination, but if I use mine, I probably won't change the surface materials too much since I've got a lot of the original Art Deco tile and fixtures. If that weren't the case, I'd probably do floor-to-ceiling tile like the jade bathroom featured today in Apartment Therapy, a blog I read.

I'm a big fan of intricate and mosaic-like tilework on walls, on floors, on benches, on everything. Honeycomb, penny round, subway, mini, bowtie or glass, I love it all.

Another thing I love is reading Apartment Therapy, a multi-city interior design and lifestyle blog. Its mission statement sums up why it's so awesome, in particular:

Simplicity and luxury are not mutually exclusive.
So true! I'm a firm believer that luxury does not necessarily equal excess, which is probably one of the reasons why I enjoy this blog so much.


This weekend, contrary to my usual procastinating ways, I finished the final project in my Elements of Design II class more than 2 weeks EARLY! The project consisted of taking an abstract paper sculpture we had created for another assignment and reimagining it into a building/place model or a functional object. I took this sculpture:

and turned it into this pendant lamp:

I used the side shape of the initial paper sculpture as a repeating element, layering two different kinds of handmade Bhutanese paper (from Hiromi, an awesome fine paper store) over a three-ply bristol board structure. The wire frame and light hardware are from IKEA.

I call it the Porpcupine pendant lamp.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Medialunas & Alfahores

Recently, I got an e-mail from someone who wanted more information about the Spanish and Tango program I completed in Buenos Aires. (I had totally forgotten that I had left a review on my school's Web site with my contact information.) Anyway, corresponding with this person brought back a lot of memories from my trip. And since I've had sweet things on the brain for awhile (didn't ya notice?), I particularly remember all the yummy stuff I ate, specifically the medialunas I ate every morning and the alfahores I snacked on whenever I could.

Medialunas (or half moons) are basically little croissants that are either glazed with butter or with sugar. Before Spanish class every day, I went to this little bakery across the street from the school and bought several medialunas and other pastries and then ate them while sipping some yerba mate or tea in class. This little routine is one of the things I am most nostalgic for. However, if I ate like that all the time, it wouldn't be pretty, especially since I certainly wouldn't be walking all over L.A. I guess that is the beauty of walking city vacations: you're basically in a constant cycle of eating and expending calories in equal amounts. I can't wait to have a pasta and gelato orgy the next time I'm in Italy and as mentioned before, pain au chocolat and la creme the first time I'm in Paris.

Alfahores are soft-baked cookie sandwiches that have dulce de leche in the center and are dipped in chocolate or meringue. Very rich and decadent and definitely not going to win you points with your cardiologist. In my opinion, the best brand of alfahores is Havanna. I tried some others both in L.A. and BsAs, and Havannas are still the yummiest. When I was leaving BsAs, I packed my extra suitcase with several boxes of them to give away and almost bought more at the airport. (It's their equivalent of Hawaii's chocolate-covered macadamias.) Anyway, I had trouble finding them in L.A. until a month ago, when I met a native portena at a cupcake meetup who told me about an Argentinian market in Van Nuys that stocks them. I still haven't gone (I'm waiting for Girl Scout cookie season to subside), but I will definitely find my way there.

Friday, March 07, 2008


Since the advent of my chronic neck, shoulder and arm pain, I've been on the lookout for ways to limit the strain on my right arm. I've switched my mousing hand from right to left, which was a big deal, especially at work, and I try to do as many tasks as possible with my left hand. In addition, I've incorporated a lot of gadgets in my daily life. K got me an electric toothbrush for Christmas, and for school work, I use a high powered electric eraser and sharpener. The next thing on the list is this:

Because washing/exfoliating my face hurts during an arm flare-up, I think the Clarisonic skincare brush would be a good fit for me. Most of the reviews on its exfoliation effectiveness are positive and I'll take any excuse I can to purchase an otherwise superfluous gadget. (Plus, I've worked out a way to get 1000 frequent flyer miles when I eventually purchase it.)

When I was younger (and more "hardcore"), I had very old-fashioned ideas about automation and thought that people who used gadgets like electric can openers were lazy. Little did I know that just a year into my thirties I'd be one of those people. Not lazy, of course, but in need of a little help to ease the pain. It makes me wonder what other things I will embrace when I get more rickety. One of these, perhaps?:

Oh, geez... I'm only 31 and am thinking of such things! I really do know how to work myself up. Anyway, hopefully, I will get my act together soon and start to live the balanced life that I currently fantasize about. Then, the arm pain will go away and I won't have any more thoughts about senior scooters.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Pain au chocolat

I spend a lot of time talking about cupcakes (and eating them!) So, it's pretty obvious how much I love them. However, last Friday, I picked up 18 cupcakes at Joan's on Third for my boss' birthday celebration, but I didn't eat any. You see, I also went to Boule to pick up chocolates and noticed that they had my all-time favorite pastry: the chocolate croissant. Anytime I am eating a perfectly executed one (meaning buttery flakiness paired with Callebaut or Valhrona dark chocolate) while sipping a lovely tea or espresso, I am perfectly happy. When I eventually get to Paris, I will have nothing else for breakfast.

In any event, Boule's version was good, though slightly crispy for my taste, but the tea (Le Palais de Thes' Rooibos with Camomile) was amazing. I'm always on the lookout for good non-caffeinated tea and I'll have to make a special trip to Beverly Hills for this one.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I was pretty wound up since suffering a mini-meltdown on Thursday and so yesterday, I treated myself to a really nice 90-minute Thai massage at my favorite place: Thai Sabai. It's relatively cheap ($45 for an hour), clean and very refreshing. If you've never had a Thai massage, it's very different from Swedish/Western massages in that 1) you're clothed (in provided shorts and top); 2) you get stretched and pulled in all sorts of directions; and 3) the therapists do what it takes to get rid of the knots, including walking and kneeling directly on you. Often called "the lazy man's yoga," it's perfect for getting your blood flowing and stretching out your body. I always feel better afterwards and yesterday was no exception.

A couple of notes: I usually go to the Thai Town branch of Thai Sabai, which does have a drawback: the parking situation. There is a parking lot since it's located in a mini-mall, but it does get busy and you have to pay for parking during those times. So, I would suggest not going during the weekends or popular weekday nights. Also, even though the Web site says that it doesn't accept credit cards, I know that the Thai Town branch does, albeit with a $1 fee.