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 πŸ™‚

3. WEATHER – it’s not hot or even warm but it’s not freezing πŸ™‚ 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*

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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 πŸ™‚

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 😦 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.

body clock


most weekday mornings start off nice and easy, with some reiki, meditation, music or a combination of the three. however, as the time creeps closer to nine a.m., the panicking commences. i have recently been tasked with coming to work a ‘little earlier … just in case there’s an emergency.’ at first i thought to myself, we are not saving lives and it’s kinda crazy that people find the need to make demands that go totally against another person’s body clock. by body clock, i mean some people rise with the sun (without the help of an alarm clock) and others (like me) have a hard time sleeping at night, hence the term night owl. punctuality has always been an issue for me. plus, i have never been a fan of rushing for anything, it’s important that i feel like my life is NOT being consumed by working for other people. yet the fact remains, i am currently working for some one and i must play by their rules. Suck it up Lala — at least you have a job to be late to!


while we’re on the subject of rules, i want to share a story about an occurrence last week with a police officer in a Brooklyn subway station. i wrote everything down after our brief interaction. Here are my notes:


C train – I swiped my Metrocard and immediately noticed a cop standing in the center of the staircase. When I am running late, which is often, I eat my breakfast before walking down onto the platform level — usually it’s a fuji apple or a bagel with some random spread or veggies on it.


When my brother first moved here, we foolishly jumped the turnstile at this very station. Seconds later, a cop approached us from this very same section of the staircase and promptly gave us a summons to appear in court. Of course, we weren’t carrying I.D. — at least that’s what we said. We never made it to court because we never gave our real names.


I knew exactly why that cop was standing there but since I’d just missed the train and had some time to kill, I approached the officer slowly, leaned in, and whispered, “is everything okay?”

He calmly responded, “Yes, everything’s okay.”

I pushed further, “are you sure? why are you standing here like this?”

“I’m here to make sure everything is safe, to protect you.”

“From kidnappers ..??” Playing along, I gave him my most quizzical look. “Is that why you are hiding?”

“Oh, well you know, if I stand here, I can see all angles of the station,” he fibbed.

“I can see everything from here, you should stand here.” I grinned.

“No, it’s better if I stand here,” he challenged.

That crazy whistle or ringing noise was activated to indicate the train’s near arrival. I moved in a little closer and purred, “Can I take your photograph?”

He raised his eyebrows, glanced upwards, and said, “the train is coming” in hopes that I would drop my question. Seeing that I was still standing over him, he responded by saying, “we’re not supposed to do that, I could get in trouble. They don’t like us to take photographs.”

“Whose “they?”

“The big guys, my boss — cause it may end up in the newspaper or on the internet.”

“Oh, I don’t work for any newspaper or internet, I’ll only take one,” then I held up my index finger to make my intention clear.

He hesitated, “If you didn’t already tell me … that would be different but now …”

Fumbling through my bag, I pulled out my camera gingerly. Speaking softly and quickly, “The train’s coming, stay still, I’ll be quick.” I switched my camera’s color mode to B&W then positioned it and made one photo.


Even though he failed to tell me the truth as to why he was hiding on the staircase — to fulfill his summons quota — I blurred his face to honor my word. I could never be a police officer or part of any military because I clearly have a hard time NOT breaking rules and pushing boundaries. I suppose we need both types: the rule breakers and the rule makers to make this thing called, civility, work.


Tonight, I am going to see Sufjan Stevens at the Beacon Theatre!!! YAY!! My second live performance this week … this past Tuesday I had the ultimate pleasure of seeing Brad Mehldau perform his latest album, Highway Rider, in its entirety at the Carnegie Music Hall. I totally love his work and think he’s brilliant.


And pick up a copy of this magnificent book by Ms. Isabel Wilkerson titled, The Warmth of Other Suns.

Giving thanks for the most gorgeous November weekend!

I love his beard!

Peace & smiles

*Lala*

passing through

greetings!

have you ever questioned someone’s presence in your life? over night, you two become tight as skull caps then in a flash, the thrill is gone — analogous to the tornado this past Thursday evening. while in my office, i felt a slight rumble followed by a series of boisterous crashing noises. i had been listening to a streaming episode of This American Life and had mistaken the ruckus outside for a glitch in programming until i noticed the raindrops on the ceiling-to-floor window behind me.

seconds later, a friend called to see if i wanted to grab a tea and a chat before heading home to Brooklyn. after confessing that i had forgotten to carry my umbrella, i reluctantly agreed. she responded with, “i’ll call you back in ten minutes” then hung up abruptly. i walked cautiously towards the window to see what the commotion was all about … the sky was a heavy grey with hints of blue and orange at the fringes but the rain was falling gently. twelve minutes later, my friend called back to say she was standing outside and the rain had stopped; she would walk towards my building and wait for me outside.

i was completely unaware of what had occurred that night until i received a text from my mother Friday morning:

Morning, did you have any problems with the storm last night?

i was rushing out the door when I read those words and had decided to respond once i arrived at work. storm? last night? that’s why my internet wasn’t working. i wasn’t phased then but it all makes sense now. just as i stepped out the door, i could see that two trees had fallen across the street and there were branches and leaves strewn everywhere — sidewalk and road alike.

where was i when this 80 mile per hour storm happened? i barely had time to experience the tornado, i felt jipped (or cheated). i wanted to remember something from this unusual new york city event. although, to my surprise, this was our seventh tornado since 1985. are we in Kansas or New York fuckin’ City?

on july 25th of this year, the Bronx experienced a Ef1 tornado which gave birth to one hundred and ten mile per hour winds, and on august 8, 2007, Staten Island was visited by an EF2 category storm. the EF is an abbreviation for Enhanced Fujita, the scale that rates the strength of tornadoes in the U.S. based on how much damage they cause.

last night, a wonderful friend reminded me of how lucky i am to have experienced many great relationships, and how important it is for me to give those relationships my full attention instead of focusing on those who have come and gone. i equate the short-lived encounters to a whirling tornado; and liken long term friendships to a memorable and cozy snowstorm. both scenarios teach us about ourselves but it’s important not to get caught up in the fury of the tornado. the snowstorm is where it’s at.

i have been working extremely hard on my book project. it won’t be long until my new web site is launched! i hope you are enjoying the last days of summer as i am !

eat lots of greens to build immunity and go to bed earlier – resting is key!

hugs and smiles and love all around!

Fallen trees (courtesy of EF0 Tornado September 16, 2010)

*Lala*

i’m flying! i’m flying!

Hey people! It’s summertime! And like my main man, Stevie Wonder, said back in 1980, it’s Hotter than July! and I am loving it!

Bear Mountain Park, July 2010

At least 3 times a month, I have dreams of flying. It is the ultimate sleeping activity. There were times when I awoke in a foggy haze and thought for sure I could fly if I simply concentrated. This past weekend I was given this opportunity, and needless to say, I jumped on it. To celebrate a friend’s 36th birthday, the six of us (old and new friends) ventured to Middletown, New York for a brief camping trip. However, the main purpose of this adventure was to FLY HIGH. Can anyone say, HANG GLIDING?!

Hangar 3, Middletown, NY

Saturday. We spent most of the afternoon in the car jamming to beats and making jokes until we found the camp site reserved by my friend’s wife (she is my friend too but his wife first :). The night before our hang gliding adventure, we set up our tents, danced to the music blaring from the car speaker, shared wine and cheese, played hide n’ seek in the pitch darkness of night, then had a BBQ over a make-shift grill. By 1:30 am we were exhausted. The night was filled with laughter, spontaneity, and pure funtastic-ness.

Dancing in the dark - July 3, 2010

Middletown, NY - July 3, 2010

On various holidays or rare occasions, I often reflect upon where I was last year at that very moment. Last year on the 4th of July, my eyes were flooded with tears and my heart was overwhelmed with sorrow. I was also in a great deal of pain. A long and private story that will only distract from this one so I will move forward. The point is I survived and I am stronger for it.

our fun-loving hosts and friends, Jas and Cisco

our fun-loving hosts and friends, Jas and Cisco - July 4, 2010

Sunday morning. We arrived at the hangar at 9:59 am. I was eager to experience the feeling of being in mid-air supported only by spirit and wind. If you don’t have a license to fly solo, you must be accompanied by a licensed instructor. Our instructor’s name was Thomas, a twenty-year veteran who prefers hang gliding to sky diving and loves the ladies. Once we reached 2900 feet, Thomas, repeatedly said to me, “don’t worry, you’re going to be okay!” Perhaps he was concerned by my calm exterior and lack of speech. He could not see me grinning from ear to ear. My face sported a vibrant glow and smile the entire ride. See for yourself:

I yelled into his right ear, “I’m not afraid! I’m flying! I’m flying!” What an amazing adventure! It lasted all of fifteen minutes but it was the most surreal fifteen minutes of my life.

It feels amazing to be in an all together different space this year compared to last. Life is wonderful and special. Do you know this? I sincerely hope you do!

Live for today and give thanks for every breath that you take. With gratitude, peace and respect.

Have a beautiful and productive week filled with peace and love. (i couldn’t stop taking photos…see more below πŸ™‚

*Lala*

a work in progress

blogging is fairly new to me, i started a blog in an effort to keep in touch with family and friends during the last winter’s stay in Bahia, Brasil.

currently, nine months later, i am blog-happy and have decided to focus my main postings on international travel. the title of this blog, The Adventures of Lala the Sun Chaser, simply speak to my personal quest to be happy and free while basking in the glow of our most powerful energy source, the sun. if you haven’t noticed by now, i am not a fan of the cold — despite the fact that i grew up in pittsburgh, pa. it hurts my skin and bones 😦

as i travel far and wide, i will continue to share my adventures and if i am not air bound, i will share the stories of my friends – old and new – who choose to see the world in all its splendid glory. it is my personal mission to NOT take for granted the enormous sacrifices made by my ancestors who were forbidden to step foot off the plantation for nearly five centuries — plus i love new experiences. if you do not have a passport, start the process today by clicking here. it is most important…Mom.

in the coming weeks, i will add interviews from friends who recently traveled to Ghana, West Africa and Sudan, East Africa. stay tuned…

since i do not have time to blog daily, i have added pages to your right: eat or be eaten, laugh & love, listen & learn, and watch & see.

i update these pages several times a week with food related info, videos that make me laugh, music i enjoy & news stories that intrigue, and suggestions of movies to watch or rent, respectively.

hence, if you check out my blog and think, ‘nothing new here’, click on the links to the right and have a happy day!

MAY ALL YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE !!!

your local Sun Chaser,

Lala