La La London!

Where to begin. Nearly twelve years ago, there were two cities on the re-location table: New York or London. My ex-dude and I decided we wanted more than what Philly had to offer and longed to try our luck in another part of the world. We booked a one week trip to London to get the feel of it. And, although the weather basically sucked, we had the most splendid of times, met the coolest people, danced in the best underground joints, yet made the decision to stay in the states since my father was ill at the time plus NYC was screaming loud and clear: Come here now!!!

Since then, I have visited the City of London 3 or 4 times. The last time being in the past two weeks. I had an amazing trip from start to finish! I also extended my stay by four days because my brother (Grey Reverend) had 2 shows nearby; I joined him for the one in Brighton.

Here are images from the first few days. I will share these in 3 or 4 blog posts because I’m photo-happy ๐Ÿ™‚

Dalston, London - empty location of farmer's market

the Underground Tube

two guys at Ali Baba Turkish Takeaway - Dalston

stay tuned for artist's name

stay tuned for artist's name too

a view from a double decker bus

more art

Wahaca mexican restaruant in Soho

Wahaca mexican restaurant in Soho too

Afropolitan at the V&A - this model was ON every minute

music on Portobello Road

Dele Sosimi Afrobeat Jazz - incredible!

Dele Sosimi himself (i believe)

Mau Mau Bar - jazz re:freshed is the name of the night

A SUPER MEGA HUGE thank you to my hostesses, Stephanie B. and Elsa M! If they were any sweeter, I would have given them a kidney. And a quick shoutout to my very special, amazingly talented, inspiring, and generous friends, Fola, Alex, Angela, and Sam.

More photos to come, stay tuned!!

Cheers
*Lala*

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nature’s way

the honeymoon continues in the bay area. i keep finding new things to love about this enchanted city.

as i grow older, i am becoming closer to nature, i.e. plants, trees, soil, and even animals. the last few days have involved helping to build a fence from chicken wire, walking in the woods, eating from my friends’ garden, and spending time with a tropical bird. Hi Kiwi! this afternoon was no different. we visited one of the best nurseries in the country, the Berkeley Horticulture Center.

this morning, when my mother told me that snow was expected in the east and my brother announced the freezing temperature just minutes after i phoned him, i simply gave thanks because at that very moment i was warm and feeling super awesome.

the awesome part surprises me since i have gone completely overboard in the eating department. i should know better but it tastes so good! so far, i’ve eaten at:

Prather’s Ranch Meat Co.
Tartine
Osha Thai
Zachary’s Pizza
Bi-rite Ice Creamery
Cafe GoLo
Pica Pica
Gracias Madre
Champa Garden
Brown Sugar Kitchen (beverage only)
Scream Sorbet
Gregoire
The Summit (beverage only)

I AM A LITTLE PIGLET !!!!

even though my belly is dancing with the stars right now, i am thankfully breathing through my nose — both nostrils. in New York, pizza alone ignites a sneezing fit and at least 36 hours of hampered nose breathing. in cali, i have been able to eat pizza and ice cream in the same day with no miserable consequences. now that’s worth me moving here in itself.

can you tell i’m having a fantastic stay in the Bay! that rhymed ๐Ÿ™‚

oh a special HELLO to Hadley in Berkeley representing Home 101 – a terrific boutique that resembles a candy store but for adults with a sweet tooth for antiques and treasures for any cozy abode.

sending sunshine and warmth to you and your family! it’s the season for citrus. Vitamin C is our best friend during cold season so get your orange, grapefruit and lemon on!

this is a budding lemon tree!

and last but not least Happy 9th and 14th Birthday to my nephews – I love you both!

auntie *Lala*

left coast loving

yesterday in the bay, it rained and rained and rained some more but the temperature was a delightful 60 degrees Fahrenheit. i am loving the west coast or the left coast, a political expression that has been re-purposed in the art world on this side of america. it has everything to do with being in a new environment after nearly one year in NYC. what can i say, i am inspired by traveling and new experiences!

you ask, hey Lala! why do you love San Francisco so much?

1. FOOD – healthy, whole and heavenly. today we had lunch at Gracias Madre, an organic vegan Mexican restaurant in the Mission district. i nearly broke down and cried. yum yum! 3 words: Butternut Squash Quesadillas (with pumpkin seed salsa)

2. PEOPLE – easy, breezy, and friendly. many people greet each other on the street and everyone has been super helpful when approached (i’ve gotten lost a few times already ๐Ÿ™‚

3. WEATHER – it’s not hot or even warm but it’s not freezing ๐Ÿ™‚ need i say more?

4. LANDSCAPE – breathtakingly (is that a word?) gorgeous!! the architecture and surrounding mountains lift my spirit and my calves.

5. CLEANLINESS – i looked up in the subway station and was not horrified plus my allergic reaction to cheese pizza is non-existent here.

6. NATURE-ORIENTED – aren’t most Californians?

7. INTELLIGENT – in quoting the NY Times, San Francisco ranked in the top 3 of book sales around the country in 2009. reading is fundamental. i visited 4 or 5 bookstores within blocks of each other today and to my surprise, each were bustling with curious readers.

8. ARTSY – this post pays homage to the amazing 3 day art festival art called, Left Coast Leaning. my hosts, bryant and jidan got tickets for saturday night’s performance. each piece was engaging, meaningful and vibrant. this event was held at the Yerba Bueno Center for the Arts. a lovely evening which began with another fantastic meal at Osha, a thai restaurant owned by two sisters.

9. GREEN – there are recycle bins everywhere and reminders to conserve too.

10. ENTREPRENEURIAL – San Fran is a city full of boutiques, thrift shops, cafes and bars run by young, progressive types.

this is not a “dis” against NYC, my hometown. my love for the Big Apple is deep and undeniable. however, i can see san fran in my near future.

i should really go to bed now. i trust that you are keeping warm, drinking loads of herbal tea and eating hearty and whole food! winter is right around the corner!

love and light and more love

*Lala*

san fran man

i’m in love again.

with san francisco, that is. it’s only been 3 days since we reunited but i remember its touch as if it were yesterday. since i have limited time to write or edit my writing, here are a few images that will give you a glimpse of Day 2 in the foggy city. later this afternoon, i will journey to oakland for the first time ever. i have a feeling my stay will become more colorful moving forward. considering i worked for most of the day yesterday, i am going to the hot springs in japantown for a morning of peace and relaxation. it’s always about balance ๐Ÿ™‚

had a lovely breakfast at Cafe GoLo (corner of Gough and Lombard)

i am weak for french toast - this was delicious

John, owner of Cafe GoLo, very accommodating

time to get to work at the ferry building - got some good interviews

famer's market - one of the best on saturdays, i hear

it's chilly by the wharf, needed to warm up with hot chocolate - Blue Bottle style

you can park your bike in the subway - yay!!

made it to the Mission District but was too full to enjoy tacos ๐Ÿ˜ฆ but next time!

super dope music at Revolution Cafe - thanks to Sam for the recommendation

thrift shopping in the Mission - had to buy gloves

more thrift shopping, but now in the Haight - hi Austin from L.A.

ended the evening with a film, Wasteland about artist, Vik Muniz. great story.

remember to EAT YOUR GREENS!!!

hugs and love from the Bay!

*Lala*

HIPpyHOPpy [explicit]

New Podcast! [explicit lyrics]

my first hip hop album was LL COOL J’s Rock the Bells or was it the single, My Adidas by Run DMC or maybe even La Di Da Di by Slick Rick. It doesn’t matter, the point is that I’ve spent the past two weeks searching for decent hip hop that is void of just one of the following words:

  • Nigger
  • Bitch
  • Motherfucker
  • Ho

Sad to say I was unsuccessful. Hip hop music, simultaneously went mainstream and took a turn for the worst in the early nineties. I remember listening to N.W.A.’s Fuck tha Police and being blown away by the sheer bravado of it all — from the name of group to their outfits, attitude and lyrics. It was the perfect soundtrack for far too many incidents of police brutality happening at the time — with the Rodney King beating occurring just three years after this song was released.

Fast forward to 2010, while waiting for the train this week I noticed the November issue of XXL Magazine. I have never read this magazine but the cover got my attention so I photographed it with my iPhone.

November 2010 Cover of XXL Magazine

As the late great Marvin Gaye said, What’s Going On?

Look closely at this image. Do you see the penitentiary-like homosexual undertones here? Why is a grown-ass Black man wearing a mask standing behind a smaller built Black man who has his underwear on full display? I have never seen two Black men chillin’ like this in my neighborhood. So why? and I’m all about artistic expression but … Damn!

Per the U.S. Census Bureau, African-Americans account for only 14 percent of the U.S. population, yet an estimated 53 percent of all prisoners in the United States are Black. Don’t be misled, this is mostly due to racism and discrimination but those are the facts.

At first glance, most of these details were lost on me but at closer inspection, this image glamorizes prison life or a lifestyle that will eventually lead to death or prison and the sad thing is that both 50 Cent and Soulja Boy appear to be willing participants. Some people will do almost anything for fame and cash.

Dumb Down is the first full length track on my most recent podcast, it does a great job of highlighting the problems we are facing. Non-Black persons are not excluded. If you haven’t noticed, hundreds of thousands of men and women all over the world are emulating the hip hop community.

Tahir Hemphill

This past summer I met an artist named Tahir Hemphill who founded the project, Hip Hop Word Count that uses a series of algorithms to determine the education level needed to understand various rhymes, employing analytics of metaphors, similes, cultural references and other measures of sophistication.. Fascinating stuff, check it out here.

married to myself

A few days ago, while on my way to work, I heard a man’s voice say, “Good Morning! Good Morning!”. Turning my head slightly to catch a glimpse of the caller’s face, I managed a faint smile and returned the greeting. Before, the last syllable departed my lips, the man, who was creeping beside me in his silver Acura, hollers, “You married?” Considering that I was wearing a mini-dress, I was positive that this question sprang primarily from his loins. I picked up the pace, then lied and said, “Yes” and smiled really big to display my happiness with being a kept woman. I’m not married but I fibbed because at that moment, I felt much safer saying there was a man in my life — imaginary and all.

I shared this story with a buddy, he listened then promptly changed the subject by asking “Why do some women seem so desperate to find a man?” Then he said, “It’s a real turn-off.”

Please read my response (and theory) below:

If a girl is born into a decent family, she is never left alone. Any responsible caregiver knows this. For example, my younger brother could romp all over the neighborhood; however, I needed to be in close proximity at all times. “Where are you going?” “Who are you going with?” “How are you getting home?” The questions never ceased. The same little girls grow up to be teenagers and now their boyfriends walk them to the door, pick them up for the dance, insist on a phone call upon arrival home, etc. Then the same young teenager becomes a woman and moves away from home. At this time, she is faced with being alone in a vast world full of men who don’t seem to have her best interests at heart. But then she meets a man who reminds her of her father or uncle or first boyfriend and she thinks, “I gotta hold onto this one because when we walk down the street, men don’t bother me and so on …”

Often, men can be sharks and the one thing that seems to keep sharks away are other bigger sharks.

And let’s not forget about all of the films, soap operas, novels, and fairy tales that encourage or support this behavior.

Please do not misunderstand my theory, I am not a proponent of desperation in any form but it makes sense to me. Fortunately for me, I learned at a young age to enjoy my own company and if that wasn’t enough, I could always say, Hello!.

Currently, I am single. And, although I am content in either situation, I would admit that it’s great having a man around — whether for pure companionship, to zip up my dress, take out the trash, or with whom to converse and build.ย  On the other hand, I am noticing that when I am not in a relationship, I am far more productive hence the past two months’ activities:

September was a heavy “food” month, working on my book project, building a new web site, attending food-related events (Epicurious Entertains New York), and eating at new restaurants.

Plus, I received my Level I Reiki certification. A goal of mine since completing the Hatha Yoga certification course over eight years ago. Reiki is a Japanese energy healing form; this skill is a wonderful addition to my health & wellness toolbox.

October was a huge blur. In addition to working as a full time web producer, I was booked every weekend this month for a photography shoot. Also, a friend shared the news of the Levi’s and Leica Photo Workshop with me. This can be described in two words: super dopeness, and it’s open until December 18th.

And to top it off, last Wednesday I started a branding and marketing course at 3rd Ward.

I can only contribute the abundance of work and love to peace of mind and extreme focus.

Giving thanks for organic food, friendships, and learning. The photos are from yesterday’s excursion to the Big Bambรบ exhibit on the roof of The Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Met. Artists: Doug & Mark Starn along with several rock climbers. Fantastic! with a capital F ๐Ÿ™‚

I feel great and I wish the same for you and your loved ones!

Peace, smiles and happiness,

*Lala*

(have you eaten anything orange today?)

failure is everywhere

New Podcast

The book Mountains Beyond Mountains: The quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A man who would cure the world, tells the story of one doctor, Paul Farmer, M.D. who founded Partners in Health to address the lack of health care in poor communities throughout the world — his first facility was built in Haiti over twenty years ago. I am thoroughly enjoying this book. During a Q&A at a Dartmouth First Year Lecture, he said: I prefer to surround myself with people who are not afraid of failure, people who take risks. Failure is everywhere and is nothing to be afraid of. (i am paraphrasing).

This statement moved me and I wanted to share it with you along with this declaration I came across last week-ish on WordPress. To me, the only failure is not trying at all.

Failure Manifesto

Failure is your fault, no fault, default. Failure is mistakes, double-takes, roller skates. Failure is missing it, missing hits, missing shit. Failure is melting, yelping, coping. Failure is blurry, worry, Murray. Failure is weeded, needed, pleaded. Failure is soon, womb, swoon. Failure is here, near, fear. Failure is choosing, losing, musing. Failure is old, cold, on hold. Failure is halting, salting, waltzing. Failure is ouch, slouch, pouch. Failure is love, shove, sort of. Failure is new, boot, pig snoot. Failure is broken, spoken, woken. Failure is finding, binding, winding. Failure is burn, yearn, kern. Failure is dropped, chopped, topped. Failure is pure, sure, bonjour. Failure is hate, late, dinner plate. Failure is sudden, wooden, couldnโ€™t. Failure is power, cower, shower. Failure is yours, soars, dinosaurs. Failure is human, Newman, rumen. Failure is glorious, tedious, part of us. Failure is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

The images are from the walls at Eyebeam Studios in NYC.
It’s watermelon season:)

*Lala*

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