Every summer Jeremy and I end up at the famous Hollywood Bowl for one show or another from the 4th of July extravaganza with Hall & Oates to Ray Lamontagne, it has been an annual tradition. Until this year. None of the shows appealed to both of us so we decided to pass on going.
But the Hollywood Bowl gods had other ideas. In typical Diana fashion I won tickets to a show! The very generous people at Los Angeles Magazine gifted us with a pair of tickets to opening night of a three-show run celebrating The Simpson’s in their 25th year.
Believe it or not, my dad was the one who first encouraged me to watch The Simpsons, back 25 years ago for Episode One. Always a man with a keen sense of humor and looking to know what’s happening culturally he thought we should all check out the show. While it wasn’t a long-term bonding experience for our family I can say I was there when Matt Groening started his Simpson’s take over of animation and set a new tone in television.
I don’t claim to be a big fan of the show, but it’s presence in our culture is undeniable. I recall being in Prague shortly after Communism had ended and while you still couldn’t get more than one type of toilet paper, you could get a Bart Simpson “Eat My Shorts” t-shirt. Even though I wasn’t nearly as well versed in the history of the show as others at the performance, it was still incredibly enjoyable.
Hank Azaria who voices many of the supporting characters keep the, under-rehearsed show light and fun. While Conan O’Brien performing a Music Man-esque moment from a 20+ year old episode he wrote was a highlight for many, for me it was seeing composer Hans Zimmer on stage a couple of times throwing himself into the fun of it all, performing the music he brought to the show - and it’s fantastic Oscar winning short film.
The whole show had a genuine off-the-cuff feeling where everyone involved was happy to be there and hardly cared it wasn’t as polished it will be by Sunday night. The tribute show included a special new animation playing on the experience of going to a Bowl show that was spot-on and hilarious. Fireworks added to the experience, as did the gift of a lovely bottle of red wine - again, thanks to the LA Magazine folks - that we took home to enjoy another night, reminding us of this great one.
P.S. Did I mention “Weird Al” performed, complete with accordion and high-kicks? Well, he did. Every time Weird Al does a high kick, an angel gets its wings.
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” - Carl Sandburg
This week marks my 13th Anniversary living in Los Angeles. I recall spending Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas with my road trip buddy, then life jumps immediately to 9/11 which happened days after I arrived in the City of Angels. Never intending to stay here more than the length of my final semester of college I somehow never left. Many times I considered it but the people I met and the opportunities to do interesting, challenging things with my life kept me on the Left Coast. At the rate things are progressing I’ll soon be an Angeleno as much, and then more, than I am a Chicagoan. Not yet, but it is around the corner and by then I expect I’ll be okay with it.
I check in with myself at the beginning of every September to see if I’m comfortable where I am, with how I’ve spent my coin, confirming I’m honoring my self, the hopes and dreams of a 21-year old who moved across the country. That girl has learned a lot - much the hard way. I never stopped giving this city (which I was so skeptical of) many chances to let me fall in love with it again and again. Earning the years I’ve given it, the city is consistently offering up new adventures within its realm. So a Thank You to Los Angeles for exceeding my low expectations and letting me push beyond my own for myself.
Now we will begin our teenage years together. Here’s hoping they aren’t as complicated as my real ones were, but they probably will be considering what is on the horizon for the next five years. One thing is for sure - I plan to spend my coin well on the people I love and the best of this fine city.
Carolyn is a big fan of Dale Chihuly’s art having seeing pieces displayed around the globe. Our visit to his newly opened (2012) Museum and Gardens in Seattle was an opportunity for her to share this interest of hers with me while seeing many pieces together in the same place for the first time. And of course there were a few things she hadn’t seen before - just because Dale can only see out of one eye and can’t blow his own glass anymore hasn’t stopped him from creating a wide array of pieces.
Interestingly the indoor displays were mostly within completely black rooms with strategically placed spot lighting. The feel was very different from a more traditional stark, white-walled museum set-up. Photos were equally difficult to take while also displaying the colored glass better than I could have imagined.
I particularly loved the pieces of glass overflowing in a couple of row boats. Apparently Chihuly was attempting to make temporary art, putting pieces of glass into a river, letting them float down and become art wherever they were, wherever they landed. Kids on the water gathered the pieces up and loaded them into their boats. Chihuly found new inspiration in this and created bountiful boats of his own.
And then there was the special glass conservatory created for this space, apparently a dream of Chihuly’s which he was excited to bring to life after admiring many beautiful glass conservatories worldwide. We visited mid-day and again in the evening to see the space as the light changed the experience. And of course got our photo taken in the space whenever possible - to prove we were actually there together. Viva Chihuly!
Carolyn and I met in Seattle during the first weekend in August 2014. It had been a loooong time since we had an excursion like this and we made the most of our time together. We knew Seattle would be a great city to explore but the fact that it turned out the be Fleet Week, combined with wonderful, sunny weather made it all that more special.
Despite having made numerous trips to Pike Place Market with Jeremy and some of the Dillers over the years we made the stop to this iconic Seattle spot uniquely our own including a focus on the humor of the touristy spot and visiting the sweet smelling Gum Wall hidden right below the well known signage. Thank goodness that fluffy white dog didn’t get too close to the walls!
No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to Archie McPhee - well, in my mind at least. Jeremy indulged me and we made a stop there on my first visit with Seattle with him, and I had to make sure Carolyn had the opportunity to go. We caught an express bus that dropped us right out front - how smart of them to have set up a bus line with door-to-door service to a store selling Emergency Googly Eyes, Vintage Cigar Box stickers and candy cigarettes.
Amazingly despite many visits to the Seattle area and a fair amount of time in Seattle proper I had never been up IN the Space Needle built for the 1962 World’s Fair. This was the trip! Life is about new experiences - and great views and good food, right? We indulged in a three course brunch with some of the best views ever for Seattle, tasty food (like spicy sausage gravy with soft flaky biscuits), and excellent company. As the restaurant rotated little Post-It notes would come around on the glass, written by some other younger diners entertaining themselves, asking questions like “Did You Like Frozen? - Yes or No?” and “Are You a Gemini?”
Months earlier I learned about the *new* Chihuly museum and garden in Seattle and told my mom she should plan a visit. A passing “We should meet there and go together!” comment turned into this actual trip and it was certainly the star of the show, worthy of it’s own post, but for now, here is a taste of how the two worlds met - Space Needle and Chihuly - 1962 and 2014. Such a wonderful city!
As seen on an evening walk in my neighborhood. I smiled … it worked.
When I first arrived in Los Angeles the plan was to stay for 3 months, the duration of the Emerson program I was enrolled in to complete my college degree. I was not a fan of Boston and had enough credits to graduate early, but needed to finish up a few remaining credits. Not knowing where I’d want to move after school ended and put my film production degree to use I figured I should cross Los Angeles off my list. Having visited a few times and not being a driver I knew I would not be interested in permanently taking up residence in Southern California. But a few months by a pool, reading scripts and experiencing the city so I could be sure it was not for me seemed just fine.
Well, in a few short weeks I’ll be marking my 13th anniversary as an Angeleno. Before I know it this will surpass my years in Chicago and I will be more an LA woman than a Chicago girl. How strange….
When I first moved to LA I did what all good college kids on a budget do - I shopped for everything at IKEA. I even purchased my first house plant there, for $2. It was a simple little plant with two leaves which I assumed would die quickly but that’s not at all what happened. It flourished. Even though I’ve only changed its soil a couple times and often fail to water it consistently it has grown longer and longer and longer now a garland with dozens of leaves.
The other morning I noticed up at the tippy top of the plant, really the base, the root of the single branch, was new bud sprouted. It made me so happy. This little plant has been so resilient, so surprisingly strong. Interesting how nearly 13 years into its life this plant is finding a way to start over, begin anew while still keeping it’s core growing, green as ever. There’s a lesson in this I’m sure, a message about new beginnings building on strong roots. I look forward to seeing this grow, and growing myself along side with it, as we have all these years so far.
Thank you IKEA! Those might be the best $2 I ever spent.
Euro-Trip! - The Grand Finale
Goodbye Barcelona! Goodbye Europe! Thank you for an amazing, memorable, exhausting, enlightening two weeks!
On our final night in Barcelona we decided that due to an early start the next day for our 24 hour journey back to Los Angeles that we should lay low and take it easy. The moment we stepped outside our apartment we were reminded how lively the city is and that you never know what you’ll see around the corner.
Right away we heard the pop-popping sound of, well, maybe gun shoots. We smelled some kind of smokey residue in the air but then also heard the pounding of drums and saw people, with children, rushing towards the action so we knew whatever was happening was not trouble but instead celebration. And this is what we saw:
Two “teams” dressed in decorated full-body outfits were performing a drum line-like routine followed by an all-out giant sparkler/fireworks display. One person on the team rolled a basket behind the others, reloading them with more pyrotechnic tools for each new performance, about a block apart. We rooted for the red team, dressed like devils, who danced excitedly at each intersection where locals stopped to enjoy the show.
Though the whole thing had the feeling of spontaneity, it turned out it was well a organized, government sanctioned Fiesta Major, complete with police cars and an ambulance following along as the parade of excitement moved block by block through the neighborhood, ensuring the show was an exciting, but peaceful, experience for all.
It was an unexpected, exciting way to cap off our time in Spain. How they knew it was our last night and that we were hoping for a big send-off we’ll never know, but we enjoyed it thoroughly, and even have video to share so you can hear the sounds of the performance to enjoy it as much as we did in that wonderful moment.