Saturday, May 31, 2014

L.A. Looks Better From the Getty

LA looks better from the Getty
On a day in December
When the smog is swept clean

LA looks better from the Getty
From the mountains to oceans
Next to white travertine

LA looks pretty from the Getty
You can't see the grafitti
Or the harsh wear of time
LA looks pretty from the Getty
With Vincent's blue Irises
Fresh in your mind

Get out of the gridlock
of the I-405
The shuttle will lift you
to Mulholland Drive
When the Santa Ana's blow
you feel so alive
Up here with the angels
We all can survive

On the opposite coast I walk among palm trees
And miss rainless summers
When I lived in the west
My New Yorker son
 Didn't care for the culture
But dear California
To me's always best
The overcast mornings burn off to hot sun
Then dry desert winds
kick my hair in a swirl
I don't mind the asphalt-y smell of a new rain
That city is home to this Hollywood girl

LA looks better from the Getty
Next to Greek statuary
A mixed media skyline

LA looks better from the Getty
A 360 view
Of a city sublime


Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Rules of Reflexology

I thought the storefront looked a little sketchy at first.

It was your average suburban strip mall shop. That phrase 'strip mall' always conjures up unseemly pictures. I prefer 'shopping center.' Nothing pretty about this boxy street side retail spot.

A blaze of orange color blinded me as the door opened, from the tangerine colored walls. The lobby resembled the sign-in area for a szechuan restaurant.

Further back each long wall was lined with comfortable chairs and towel covered ottomans.

I glanced at my friend who was generously treating me with an, "Is this place legit" look? Then the young Asian man at the counter greeted us and saw us to our chairs.

Immediately 3 large men in their 30's-40's came out and with no introduction or greeting silently proceeded to motion us to dip our feet in a lined bucket of water. The bucket had smooth ridges in the bottom to start the massage process.

His thick spongy fingers began kneading my neck. I couldn't help chattering and joking. When he worked a few knots out of my neck and I really started to relax, I blurted, "That's it. I'm off to La-La land!" The therapist immediately shushed me.


That's when I learned:

Rule #1 - No talking during the massage!


After the 15 minute neck work, we pivoted around and reclined for the 45 minute reflexology foot massage. We arrived around 10 to an empty room. By 11am the place was packed,  customers lined up in easy chairs and rows of burly men in soldier-like formation attended to skyward toes and feet.

Reflexologists believe that each spot on the foot relates to an organ in the body and complete health can be improved by simply working on the feet.

It was very, very quiet there. Almost like being in a room of deaf people. The only sound was a little muzak that seemed stuck in the 70's, playing James Taylor and other 'easy listening' cuts.

Rule #2 - No talking on cellphones.


My attempt to take photos was frowned upon at first. But before long, the once serious therapists were snapping pictures right and left. This guy thought he was real creative in his photos angle, I guess.

I'd never seen a sight such as this in my obviously sheltered life. The Vietnamese brought us nail salons and now the Chinese are bringing us Foot Relaxation rooms.

Rule #3 - Leave a nice tip for Fan.

Fan was my therapist's name.

I'm a fan of Fan.

I floated out of that place with an old Beach Boys song playing in my head:

...Take good care of your feet...

             Better watch out what you eat

                                         Better take care of your life

                                                                  Cause nobody else will...

I owe my friend big time.

Friday, May 16, 2014

All That is Right With the World

Two  precocious little girls danced while we played Moon River. They flipped their hair in tandem and giggled till they were red-faced and breathless. 

Sometimes things are right in the world.

The Asian autistic boy moved to the Blues in B-flat sax improv. When the song finished, he shook his hands, lifted high,  like the deaf people do in applause.

Sometimes things are right in the world.

My husband looked on and felt like he was playing piano with me. We must be one.

Sometimes things are right  in the world.

The shy single woman sat quietly through the whole set, smiling, never budging, just happy and still.


Good food.

Little girls giggling.

Autistic boys dancing.

A husband who loves me.

This is all that is right with the world.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

On Warhol and Becoming Immortal

Jane Doe
Plain Jane
Dick and Jane
Jane Eyer
Jane Fonda
Jane Seymour
Jane Holzer, aka Sweet Baby Jane

My sister-in-law once said, "Any Jane I've ever known has been anything but plain." These women listed above are no exception.

They are all either interesting, charismatic, smart, creative or beautiful. Nothing plain or girl-next-doors-ish about these Janes.

Especially model and actress Jane Holzer of the 60's. And what hair! I thought mine was thick, but hers is positively mane-like, as in the MGM Studios lion, Leo or CS Lewis' Aslan.

When haute couture model meets avant-garde artist, photographer and film maker Andy Warhol you get Immortality.

She was the Queen of Pop Culture and he was the King of Pop Art.

They ruled the world of fashion, art and film from Warhol's East 47th Street studio called the Factory. It was the ultra-cool art loft where Warhol took already famous celebrities and made them even cooler or took under-the-radar luminaries such as Edie Sedgwick (cousin of Krya Sedgwick) and super-starred them.

The simple set consisted of a common chair against a white drape. His subjects would sit absolutely still while he filmed them for 3 minutes. This was his process of Immortalizing.

Edie Sedgwick died at 28 in 1971 from barbiturate overdose. Warhol died at age 58 in 1987 from Aids.

Jane Holzer managed to avoid the drugs and decadence that swirled around the Warhol scene. That lead to the early deaths of many. She lives in Palm Beach, age 73.

Besides being beautiful, she was a smart Jane. 

Andy was pretty clever, too.

What I learned from Warhol is this: The key to artistic success may be in choosing famous subjects. And then running them through his Factory and declaring them Super-Stars.

That was the business that Warhol was in. Immortalizing celebrities in his famous screen tests.

His contribution to photographic art was the advancement of color treatments, filters and overlays. He was a pioneer in photo shop before the digital world of jpegs and tiffs ever existed. He paved the way for  photo applications that are so common to any computer or smart phone owner today.

If you go to the Norton Museum this month you can get one of those screen tests and experience first hand, the eccentric artist's method of immortalizing. You can pick up your 15 Minutes of Fame.

A vintage black movie camera sits on a wooden tripod. You just sit with one expression for 3 minutes. Developed as a sliver gelatin photo and, voila, you are an eternal being. The Warhol Foundation will send you your video via email.

You will be right there with Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Kennedy,  Mao Tse-tung, Jane Fonda, Wayne Gretsky, Michael Jackson, Campbell soup cans and the big bright flowers

and Sweet Baby Jane.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

When You Feel Like You'll Never Do What You Were Meant To Do

I was sitting on a piano bench next to him. A man I respected for his musical accomplishments. A sought after collaborator. We were working on original tunes. And he liked them and we were interacting like musicians are supposed to. Speaking that secret language of minor 7ths, channels, and chord substitutions. 

It was the most delicious feeling.

Then I woke up.  

It was only a dream.


The last dreams before you wake can be the sweetest. A lifetime of unrealized hopes smacked me hard when I awoke.

My reality started with a cup of coffee over Hebrews 2, (appropriately, not the Hall of Faith chapter), fixed breakfast, dressed, put on make-up and drove 30 minutes to make a flurry of meetings.

I sent emails and created phone call lists into neat excel pages with shaded, boldened and italic tools. I especially like picking out the fill colors for cells. Love the paint bucket icon. But that's the only thing I love about Microsoft excel programs. Forget the formulas.

Then I had a meeting about next semester.  50 sessions of the same class. No variety, just focus and a Fall campaign and one topic. Planning money. Another excel draft listed possible classrooms, Monday through Sunday.

They say when you're working out of the realm of your giftedness, it's a real de-energizer. I left the meeting exhausted. It was like someone had pulled out the rubber plug at the bottom of my feet and every drop of drive spilled out under the conference table.

Doing what you're wired for energizes you. Which is why drowsiness sets in at the computer screen at 2:00 in the afternoon, but you can work on something you love till 1:00 am, no problem.

Break-time, I sent a blog link to a meeting presenter who's topic was similar to one of my blog posts,  just on the outside chance he might be interested. It had nothing to do with my job description, but was the most fun in my day. My email was never acknowledged. And he used to be the work place massage therapist and I thought they were like hairdressers who remember everything about you.

Lunch with co-workers consisted of conversations about recruiting volunteers. But my big meeting was about the next semester's classes. Figure out how we can get 4300 people into financial classes on Budgeting and Stewardship, handling money.  Numbers are not my thing. I got C's in Algebra.

Wednesday night church found me escaping into a prayer gathering. And instead of standing and lifting hands with everyone else, I sat with my butt in the chair. I tried to absorb the spirit in the room, but pretty much whined to God.

They sang:

"Water you turned into wine, Opened the eyes of the blind...."

They sang. I complained:

Yes, You can turn water into wine, but can You turn excel sheets into manuscript paper? Can you turn Word docs in to song sheets? Can you change  a semester of scheduled finance classes into a musical production schedule?

And for the young moms out there who never think they're going to be able to save the world or speak at a conference or sing in a band, can You turn their piles of laundry into piles of offers and engagements? Can You turn their children's bickering into poetry and spoken word? The endless messes into the beauty, symmetry and order of a dream come true?

Those are the miracles that we pray for. Yeah, we know You did the water-into-wine and lame-to leaping miracles to prove your deity. We don't need any more proof. We just need to make it through our senseless days.

Artist Credit: Laurie Pace

I don't want to hear 'seasons of life' cliches. I didn't study piano for 25 years for a short 7 year ministry stint. I didn't conduct choirs all my life just to sing alto with the hobbyists. Not to mention pay for a private college education. Nor did I spend hours practicing scales and Prokofieff just to get compliments on how fast I click the keys on my Mac.

Square peg - Round Hole. Misfit. Fish outta water. Waiting, waiting, trusting, waiting.

Trying not to worship the gift more than the Giver. 

The pat answers of  "better plans" and "higher ways"  ring hollow.  We ain't gettin' any younger here.

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