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Showing posts from March, 2016

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 23: So this is Knightsbridge?

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I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using  my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings.  Here are the days that came before . Currently following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 23. As long as we’re in the borough of Kensington & Chelsea, let’s breathe in the rarified air. For my money, it sounds a bit like Bev Hills but a tad cooler with Stella McCartney, Eric Clapton, Richard Branson, J.K. Rowling and Elton John calling the area home sweet home. Correction, Chelsea is one of the four places Sir Elton calls home. The Evening Standard reports he’s got pads in Venice, Nice and Berkshire as well. But truth be told, where the tube lets out on the Gloucester (Gloster) Road in the Knightsbridge nabe of Kensington, we could be in any ugly urban center in the U.S. There’s a Burger King, a KFC and a Starbucks all i

Do I mind my own business or do I butt in?

“Is that Lorena?”  My husband is half-in, half-out the front door, screen bumping at his back. “Lorena?”  “You know, the woman in black. With the boots.” I look over his shoulder and he’s right. It is Lorena, standing on the corner across from our apartment building in the dying light.  From a distance, standing still, she’s a fashion plate in her black Michael Kors trench coat. It’s slim cut and cinched at the waist, hitting her legs just above the knees. She has black knee high boots with chunky heels that she wears year round, spring, summer, winter and fall. Up close her black dyed hair is grey at the roots, her raincoat is streaked with grime. When she walks she totters along like those Chinese women with their bound and tortured feet used to do, inch by painful looking inch. Standing on the corner now, she has her purse open on the sidewalk at her feet. Her head spins from side to side, looking up and down the street. I know her to say hello to, she and Jane, the o

You make the earth move under my feet

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Photo by Joanne DeCaro Afornalli My friend Mindy is in L.A. for a week, staying at Le Méridien Delfina in Santa Monica. “I think my hotel is across the street from your old high school” she tells me, and we agree to meet there for a drink.  Checking the address online, I see it’s on Pico, across the street from Santa Monica High’s main entry, but I can’t picture it. All I can see is a 45 year old snapshot in my head of the dingy apartment building that used to be there and where I’d smoked a joint with a guy named Hank. It was one of the precisely two times I’d tried marijuana in high school. Afterward, he’d taken me flying down PCH on the back of his motorcycle. The idea terrifies the old lady in me now, but to be honest, I think I was scared to death even then. Still, Hank walked around school in a military-style jacket that flared in gently at the waist, dark navy, gold braiding at the collar and epaulettes, its brassy buttons flashing in the sun, the way rock stars did when

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 22: The Sage of Chelsea

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Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle  James McNeill Whistler/ 1873 I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using  my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings.  Here are the days that came before . Currently close to the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 22. Thomas Carlyle. Thomas Carlyle . While I couldn’t tell you what  specifically  he’s famous for, I do know he was a man of letters, a historian, social critic, essayist and author. And that the house he shared with his wife Jane, is a nearby National Trust property. With Chelsea at my feet, and the house an easy half hour walk from Earl’s Court station, it’s time I checked out him out. It’s a beautiful morning to wander around—let’s throw away our weather app and pretend it’s a perfect 77.5° no matter the weather—and Chelsea surrounds me wi

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 21: The Magnificent Seven

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 Central Avenue, Bromton Cemetery     IMAGE CREDIT  © The Royal Parks  I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using  my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the days that came before . We're in the vicinity of the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 21. The Magnificent Seven. Not to be confused with the 1960 movie starring Steve McQueen, Yul Brynner, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Robert Vaughn, the Magnificent Seven is a group of London cemeteries built over a decade in the middle of the 1800’s. And one of those cemeteries, Brompton, is just up Cromwell Road from where we left off last week at LAMDA in Hammersmith. In the first half of the19th century, London’s population doubled from 1 million to 2.3 million, and with that growth, came the  overcrowding of the city’s burial ground

Made on Location: Eating for Two

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My son at 15 months and me. On the set of Free Willy II My son’s twenty-third birthday was this past Saturday. My husband’s birthday is this coming Saturday. That’s my excuse for not giving you a new piece on this memoir Monday. I’m republishing “Made on Location” which is really about the both of them. I could have called it “Eating for Two.”  Made on Location On any other Sunday I ’ d be digging shamelessly into a steaming stack of blueberry hotcakes, purple compote oozing out all over the place. The Pig ‘n  Pancake in Astoria, Oregon were famous for them, and I usually couldn ’ t wait to wade in. I didn ’ t need—and didn ’ t want—the calorie breakdown you can ’ t escape from on menus these days to know  they were pound packers, all buttery and crazy delicious, the kind of food I would  normally  eschew in favor of leaner fare like two eggs scrambled, cottage cheese on the side, one piece of rye toast.  But the rules are different when you ’ re on location.   [ Read the r

Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 20: Going for Drama in Hammersmith

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Hammersmith Station, Christian Hook   I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using  my Tube guide and my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk at least 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Currently following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 20. Last week I ended my weekly virtual walk at the Hammersmith Underground Station. After my pub crawl I might have ended up sitting on a bench, like the family in Christian Hook’s portrait above. Unlike the family, busy modern Londoners,  scanning phones and checking briefcases, waiting for their train, I was just taking a break before I hit a couple of must-see Hammersmith sites.   The Ark, Hammersmith: Ralph Erskine/Architect                                                              image credit— architecturethatbleeds.tumblr.com Construction on the Ark on Talgarth Road, designed by noted architect Ralp

The Art of Jeremy Lipking #ThrowbackThursday

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Lost in Thought, Jeremy Lipking It was just shy of ten years ago that I was doing a regular freelance writing gig for 805 Living magazine. A glossy regional, the magazine’s editor, Lynn Andujar kept me busy every month but our April 2006 edition had me whirling. I tracked down seven artsy types, local to our suburban hood, for our Arts Appreciation piece, and while a few of the subjects have stayed with me, none so much as the gifted painter Jeremy Lipking.  Already well-known for his figurative realist paintings, Lipking was fetching thousands for his art, but I was clueless. And enthralled. I’d never seen anything like it. Paintings that were at once both almost photographic in their exactness, yet lush and ethereal. I met him at the Calabasas home he shared with his wife and daughter, frequent muses for his work. The house with its immaculate white walls and rich, dark wooden floors, orderly, nothing out of place, was utterly unlike the artist’s atelier of my imagination; the