Friday, March 30, 2012

Happy Friday!

Happy Friday! This is a look back on one of the driving parts of my California road trip. This was the scenery from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo, including a brief detour at Surf Beach. Admittedly, it was a total accident that my friend and I ended up at Surf Beach. We were supposed to turn in some town to continue up Rt. 1, but we were too busy looking for a bathroom. We forgot to check our directions and continued going straight on the road we were on, which dead ended at Surf Beach. The beach, with its natural flora, small dunes, and almost-complete seclusion, was an amazing find! Although it was freezing, we got out of the car and explored a bit. I think the most adorable thing about this beach has to be the fact that it has its own tiny Amtrak station. On a warmer day, it would be quite an adventure to take the train up there and make a day of it!

I hope you have fun plans for the weekend! Last weekend, the only "H" I didn't accomplish was homework, so that I was I plan on doing most of this weekend. But even if it is no a fun weekend, hopefully it will be a productive one! See you on Monday!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Trend: Polka Dots

I feel like its been awhile since polka dots were really trendy, but I am ready for them to make a comeback! I have a soft spot in my heart for large polka dots. When I was a senior in high school, I wore a mid-calf length, black-and-white, polka dotted, A-line dress to prom. I loved it. It was totally different than all the other prom dresses people wore that year. It wasn't floor length; it wasn't sparkly; and it didn't have any flowers, beads, lace, or other embellishments. It was a very classic and wise choice for my mere 18 years, and I've worn it several times since. But in the last 5 years, I'd entirely ditched polka dots in favor of stripes and, more recently, gingham. I am still loving my stripes and gingham, but in the past few weeks some stylish bloggers and the J.Crew catalog have convinced me I need to rework polka dots into the rotation! I'm loving the following . . .

J.Crew skirt, Anthropologie blouse (ok technically these are snails and not polka dots), Current Elliot jeans, and ASOS dress.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Happy (Triple H) Friday!

It's Friday! Yay! I've got to go in to the photo lab to develop a few more prints this morning. My documentary project is due on Monday, so I need to finish that up. I will of course share it once its finished. After that, though, I plan to spend the rest of my weekend tackling the 3 H's: hiking, homework, and Hunger Games! It's been raining in LA, so Griffith Park should be at its ultimate greenness right now. After a long hike, I'm planning on stopping at The Trails (pictured above) which is just about the world's most adorable cafe and happens to be located inside the park. I recently discovered they have killer baked goods, and I'm dying to try a slice of pie. I can use my pie-eating time to start reading Hunger Games, which I want to finish before seeing the movie, though I hear that is not so hard. My friend read the book in 1 day! Then Sunday is supposed to be rainy, so I'm determined to finally catch up on some law school work. I've got to make sure I don't fail my last semester! What do you have planned this weekend? Will you being seeing Hunger Games, enjoying the outdoors, or maybe both?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Beach and Seafood

After leaving LA, our first stop on the road trip was Santa Barbara, one my favorite places in California. It was 80 degrees out, and we were still hung over. So our first stop was the beach. Napping in the sun was just the thing to bring me back to life. I also found it very amusing to watch a rather large beach goer leave an entire 12 oz. bag of pretzels open on the beach only to return to find at least 60 very satisfied seagulls and no pretzels. If that man hadn't come back when he did, I think those birds might even have figured out how to open his Pringles! We finished the day out with some seafood at one of the restaurants on the wharfs. It wasn't the best seafood we'd ever had (actually despite the 4 stars review on Yelp, it was rather disappointing--a bar with bar type seafood, not particularly fresh or well cooked). But still, my headache was gone, I had wine, and I had oysters. So it wasn't too bad of a way to end the day.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Reviewing the New Umamicatessen

Hello hello friends! I'm back from my road trip. I wish I had been able to post more from the road, but my friend and I were just so busy doing awesome stuff! I'll start filling you in at the beginning. We spent a day in LA going to Griffith Park, eating at Alcove, touring the costume museum at FIDM, and snacking on Bottega Louie macarons. Then we topped off an awesome day by trying out the new Umamicatessen. It took us only about 5 minutes to get a table on Art Walk Thursday, and the service was pretty good. Our waiter made great drink and food recommendations. (I'm absolutely in love with the potato knishes and the 9th & Broad cocktail.) Plus, the decor is lovely with all the barrels and exposed wood.

What makes Umamicatessen different from regular Umami is the cured meat section of the menu. But at $15-$30 per 1.5 ounce serving of meat with no accompaniments, it seems far too expensive for what is essentially an appetizer. The burgers are normal Umami price thankfully! So we all got a burger and loved our meals. I had the tuna burger, the boyfriend had the pastrami burger (so much meat but so right), and my friend has the truffle burger (she was still talking about it days later). The only downside? The 9th & Broad was so delicious that I got 2 and wound up with a killer hang over the next morning :)

PS: For traditional ketchup lovers, sneak in your own Heinz. Umami makes their own ketchup, and its definitely not for everyone.

UPDATE: I went back to Umamicatessen after spring break and had a fairly miserable experience. I don't want to bore you with the full rant (although if you love a good rant, here is the review on Yelp), but I do want to temper my glowing review. My second experience was plagued by bad service, incorrectly cooked food, and (worst of all!) warm beer.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy St. Pattys!

Although I'm Irish, I celebrated my St. Patrick's  Day with some Italian wine and food coloring. But at least it's green right? Maybe I'll make up for my lack of loyalty to my heritage with baking some Irish soda bread tomorrow.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hello from the Road!

Sorry no "Happy Friday" post yesterday. My friend and I are in the midst of a road trip up the California coast so my internet access is here and there. We're having such a great time taking in the views (and drinking a fair amount of beer and wine)! Tomorrow we're going to see some beaches and maybe do some more wine tasting in Paso Robles. I'll be sure to let you know how if we discover anything great!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Debuting New Favorites at Mas Malo Happy Hour

Oh gosh. This dinner date was back in January. I've had a draft post saved for awhile, but I forgot to finalize it. So a few weeks ago, the bf and I went to Mas Malo (the downtown outpost from the owners of Malo in Silverlake) on a Saturday night. I hadn't been since right after it opened. So a second trip seemed long overdue. I liked Mas Malo the first time, but this second outing was much better. The food was about the same. The service was about the same. (Both just fine.) So what was the difference? We showed up during happy hour! Mas Malo is definitely far more worth your time at the discounted price. Since you have to order your chips and salsa a la carte, when most Mexican restaurants give them to you for free, slicing the price of the salsas in half takes the sting out of it. But the even better deal is the happy hour wines and sangria! I don't think I'd go back to Mas Malo again unless it is during the hours of 4-7.

PS: This is only tangentially related, but I debuted my new green Zara pumps at this dinner! I eyed these beauties all fall, but I held out until the winter sale. I was very proud of my restraint. It saved me $40! I also wore some of my favorite new pieces that I acquired over the holidays: a Splendid turtleneck from Anthropologie (found on sale while Christmas shopping for others), a teardrop shaped necklace that was a birthday gift from my friend Steph, and my new most favorite possession--my watch!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tough Monday

Image from

If I was a kitty, I would definitely look like this today. I was up late finishing my presentation and paper on Irving Penn. (Even though I am not getting a grade in photography, I just can't let myself do a bad job. After years of trying to be a good student, I automatically feel guilty when I don't make at least a decent effort.) Then today I have class from 9 am to 8 pm. And in between my classes, I still needed to finish a draft contract for one of my actual law school classes. Plus, to top it all off, there were free burritos during lunch, and I made the mistake of eating one. So not only am I tired, but I am also being weighed down by a rock of beans and rice in my stomach! I cannot wait to get home where I can shut my laptop and belly flop down on something soft just like this guy. He's got the right idea. I'll see you all tomorrow!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy (Photographic) Friday!

I usually keep Search for J Street pretty lighted hearted. A gushing food review here, a little self deprecating humor there, and a splash of pretty landscapes or shoe pictures just to keep things interesting. But I've been thinking about sharing something a little more personal. As you know, I had to do a project centered around portraits for my photography class. The inspiration from my project ended up coming from my grandmother's funeral, which I attended right before I began working on the project. I've attached the explanation of the photos below, but (if I may) I would encourage you to look at the photos for a few minutes before reading the explanation. (Also, the explanation is not a quick read, so it maybe more fun to just consider the photos if you are short on time!)


     My portrait project began as a response to one of the class readings. There was a very small section in the article "Investigations of a Dog" where the author described photographer Daido Moriyama's perspective on photographyit is just not able capture the world. At the time, I had recently returned from my grandmother's funeral, and this idea of photography not being able to convey what is in the real world struck a chord.
     At the funeral home before the mass and at the reception afterward, a slideshow played. It was filled with photos of various family members with my grandmother at holidays, at graduations, on summer vacations, etc. There were even a few staged portraits of my grandmother as a small child in the 1920s and at her graduation in the 1940s. But the eulogy that my uncle gave at the mass did not mention a single one of these moments captured on film. And my conversations with my mother and other relatives after the mass did not mention any of these moments either. I was struck by the fact that the things everyone remembered about my grandmother were not the things anyone took pictures of. My mother talked about how, contrary to those staged portraits, my grandmother's father was sometimes angry and drunk. My grandmother's mother would sneak into my grandmother's bedroom, lock the door, and sleep beside her daughter to hide. My uncle talked about how my grandmother almost single-handedly cared for her son John when he died of brain cancer while still raising her other children that were still living at home. But I have never seen photographs from when my uncle John was dying. My aunt talked about her worry that my grandmother might have died believing that her children loved their father more because he was the one who would always make the grand gesture (that the family could not afford) and she was the one who would have to impose cutbacks in response. That instantly reminded me of another story: One morning she found several brand new cars in the driveway. My grandfather had bought them the night before while intoxicated. My grandmother woke him up from his hangover, marched him and the car back to the dealership, and shamed the salesman into rescinding the sale. There are, somewhat understandably, no pictures of that moment either.  But I treasure all of these stories about my grandmother. To me, they communicate her strength, and they make her sweet disposition all the more impressive. I don't think I could be the same good listener and loving person she was after living through some of those experiences. And I wish someone had captured even one portrait of my grandmother in one of these defining moments.
     As a result of my experience at my grandmother's funeral, my idea for my portrait project is based on the dichotomy between the pictures we take of and the things we remember about our loved ones. As my grandmother made me realize, those two categories seem to rarely overlap. I then set out to photograph the defining but untold experiences in other's lives. At the start of my project, I asked my friends to think back on their lives and guess at what their loved ones might remember about them. I wanted to try to recreate those experiences with environments, clothing, or objects, but I found that I could not communicate my vision to them. I could not elicit something other than traditional memories that many people have with a loved one, to those memories which were unique to and defining for them.
     In the end, I chose to be my own model. I chose three un-photographed experiences from my life that I thought, when trying to remember me and describe who I was, friends and family might look back upon. I chose a family holiday party from when I was nine. At that party, my cousin whispered to me that our uncle was gay. To anyone even a few years older than me, this would have seemed a silly revelation since my uncle had been bringing my "other uncle" with him to family events my whole life. But at nine, I had only heard the people use the word "gay" without really understanding what it meant. When I could finally associate the word with a real life relationship, it forever defined what I thought gay was. To me, it became just another piece of my mother's large, crazy side of the family, no more or less odd than any of the other relationships in the family. The second memory I chose was from when I was twenty. Matt, a good friend of mine, was killed. None of my group of friends nor I had ever suspected, but his father was seriously mentally ill. And then one day his father broke and shot the whole family before killing himself. My friends and I were all so young, too young to understand how such a bad thing could happen. The experience both bonded us and at the same time made all realize how fleeting those bonds can be. The final experience I chose was my break up with the first boyfriend that I loved, which happened just a few years later. He was a terrible boyfriend, and I was an idiot for dating him. But like lots of people in their early 20s, that did not stop me from sticking around and being hurt and disappointed over and over again. The break up was a very painful moment, but in retrospect is was also a moment I am very proud of. A few friends and my mom had been encouraging me for months to demand better, and at some point, I was finally able realize that they were right. I would be better off alone.
      In sequencing the photographs in each series to tell the story of that experience, I tried to reflect my emotion response to the experience at the time. When I was nine, I remember distinctly feeling confusion, disbelief, and then a sort of silly awkwardness, as if I had invaded someone's private world, when I came to realize my Uncle Teddy was gay and my Uncle Aaron was his partner. So I ordered the photographs in a way that I thought corresponded to the confusion-disbelief-embarrassment development. When I was twenty, I remember feeling completely surrounded by a community of mourners when my friend and his family were killed, but the community faded. Sometimes I wonder if even my closest friends still think about Matt or if have pushed his short life from their minds. Sometimes I fear I have pushed him from my mind too. So I ordered this series with the camera moving away from a sole mourner and then removed the mourner too. And when I was in my early twenty’s, I remember calling that boyfriend completely heartbroken (or so I thought) because I was sure we were made for each other. But then his nonchalant reply to the ending of our relationship (he had clearly moved on long before) was when I felt truly inconsolable. It was so much more painful and disorienting to realize that the decision to break up was not, in fact, mine; he had just been waiting for me to formalize it. So I ordered the photographs with the animated portraits first and then the out of focus portrait last to try and represent that final blow.