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Showing posts from December, 2011

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Break Free But Be Sure to Have Guard Rails

After a one hour side trip off the interstate, I eagerly anticipated the promised big views on the eight mile scenic loop in Chiricuahua National Monument, AZ.  Somewhat surprised to see only a couple cars in the lot at the visitor’s center, I noticed a man sitting on his bumper and quaffing a beer in the noon day sun.  The unhurried vibe was exposed.  Following my practice of getting a map for reconnaissance when I get to a national park, I inquired about the scenic loop.  “Sorry” the ranger said, “It is shut down to replace the guard rails which were burned out in the big fire in May.”  That thought ricocheted through my experience on this road trip.  You can drive around but without guard rails (structures) you are in danger. 
Living in the Los Angeles megalopolis my whole life, I have always enjoyed the peace and space of the open road.  On this long solo trip I had experienced something very different.  The open road became a confrontation with my insecurities.  The open ended fo…

The Key to Reinvention: Repetition +Expression

Spend Too Much Time in the Tavern and You’ll Have a Hangover!
On a week bookended by a beginning guitar class at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Santa Monica and a painting retreat at the Community Center of Encino, I was buffeted by a key challenge of the reinventing Boomer.  The guitar classes are held in a room that does triple duty as concert hall, classroom, and showroom.  It is filled with all manner of stringed instruments ranging from ukulele to classic Fender electric guitars to handmade mandolins, much as the classes which are packed with instruction on technique and practice drills.  At Master Rassouli’s painting retreat, the opposite approach is taken, no technique--nada, his role is to inspire free expression.   The cavernous, multi-purpose, bare room fits this role perfectly.  On one hand, I was challenged beyond my capacities to absorb the chord changes, fingering, and timing of the guitar and getting more and more frustrated by the minute.  It hit a head when I just shut down and…

Name Your Destiny

Chocolate Iguana, 212, Novel, Little Sprouts, Winning, Laughing Buddha, Jungle, and Dominican Joe’s all have something in common and each announces their mission.  All of the above are local coffee shops and each is highly descriptive of their particular vibe and environment.  Names often say a lot about the place or the person.  In my ongoing exploration of non-corporate coffee shops, I have often been struck how the name evokes a certain experience.  Some are highly descriptive and original and the place is reflective of that.  In others a bland name tends to result in a bland experience at the café.  At the Chocolate Iguana (in Tucson) in addition to the usual coffee drinks and wi fi, they specialize in candies and cater to a high school clientele, the Novel  (Ocean Park) started in a hundred year old room with books the walls, the 212 (Ocean Park) refers to the street addresses and is highly local,  Jungle (San Diego) is set outside in a bamboo décor, and Dominican Joe’s (Austin) …