Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mimi Wears the American Flag

This whole exercise began in Summerland, California, a little coastal town south of Santa Barbara.  Its main street is lined with antique shops and American flags.  They adorn almost every storefront, restaurant and gas station in town.  A small park is dedicated to the soldiers who died in World War I,  and a large flag is always flown at half-mast in their honor.

Perhaps the sky was a little more blue that day, a little more clear, but my eyes focused on how beautiful the red and white stripes of the flag were against the blue sky.  I snapped pictures up and down the street and didn't go into a single shop.  I wanted to go home immediately, find my American flag, and make a skirt out of it.  After all, stripes were everywhere this summer from Prada to J. Crew.

I draped the flag on Mimi, but before I actually cut a seam in the back, she screamed at me.  "Stop.  Don't you know this is illegal?"

"But you see flags on clothes all the time."

"Duh, not real ones!"

Well, Mimi's no dummy.  I did my research and found out the U.S. Flag Code clearly states:  "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery."  This is federal law; however, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled against any punitive enforcement for those who break this law because of First Amendment freedom of speech rights.   They leave punishment up to individual states.  In California, I discovered it is a misdemeanor to cast "contempt" on the American flag.  Is making a beautiful skirt "contempt?"

The truth is, you do see American flag prints all the time, so I didn't really have to use the real thing.  So like the good citizen I am, I folded it up (properly!) and put it back in the linen closet.  I found this cute tank at Urban Outfitters instead.  Mimi is relieved!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hidden Treasures

Hidden Treasures is one of my all-time favorite vintage stores in California.  It is located in Topanga, just minutes away from Malibu and the Pacific Ocean.  Its decor is Disneyesque; the clothes, Betty Boop.  The shopping experience is truly a hunt for treasure as you wander through the maze of little rooms.  Over the years, I have found a leopard print scarf, a beaded cardigan, red and camel felt hat and the reversible raincoat that Mimi wore on the inaugural posting of this blog.

Last week I found this miner's union jacket from the 1960's.   The outerwear at Hidden Treasures is stellar.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Japanese Garden

In the middle of the vast and crazy metropolitan area of Los Angeles is a tiny acre of serenity.  It is the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden located on the campus of California State University, Long Beach.  It is inspired by the Imperial Gardens in Tokyo.  Every tree, flower, statue and stone is significant.  It is truly a study in perfection.  The afternoon I strolled its manicured walkway, a group of children were feeding the koi in the garden's central pond.

It is an oasis of order within chaos.  Silence within cacophony.  A slice of nature nestled within a web of concrete freeways.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mimi Wears Mixed Prints

I love the idea of mixing prints.  Done well, it is very pleasing to the eye; however, there is a fine line between artistic taste and buffoonery.  Mimi's outfits work because the colors mesh and the prints are subtle.  Professional stylists may be able to pull together a bolder, more eclectic look, but for those of us who live in the real world, Fashion 101 is a prerequisite for the more advanced degree.

"Tuition is steep these days," Mimi reminds me.  "But imagination is cheap and thrift stores are plentiful.    We passed the first course with flying colors.  I think we're ready to advance."

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Bullfight in Madrid

On every traveler's "bucket list" of events to see, a bullfight is pretty high up there, and so I found myself sitting with thousands of people on a hot Sunday afternoon at the Plaza de Toros in Madrid.

However, as soon as I saw the thick red blood spewing from the bull's shoulders with the first cut of the lance, I was ready to bolt.

"Wait.  Just wait," my traveling companion urged.  "If you were a bull, wouldn't you want to go out in a blaze of glory rather than mass slaughter at an abattoir?"

I heard a thunder of "ole's."  This particular bull was a tough son-of-a-bitch, and he was going to give this appreciative crowd a good fight.  I sat back down.  After the initial goading was over, I started to enjoy the choreography danced by bull and matador--a beauty and the beast tango.  I did not understand the finesse needed to electrify the crowd.  Evidently, a skilled matador does not allow the cape to leave the ground.  When a bull charges, he remains poised and fearless.  He guides the bull; not the other way around.  The final thrust of the killing sword is the deal breaker.  In a perfect world, the matador will drive the sword over the horns, through the shoulder blades and into the bull's aorta, killing him instantly.  Unfortunately, it didn't happen this day, and his assistants had to come out and help.  The matador received an ear.  The highest prize is two ears and the tail.

To really understand the sport, I would have to go several more times, but I think once is enough.  Flamenco dancing, on the other hand, I could stomach again and again and again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Mimi Wears Custo Barcelona

Every so often I will scour e-bay for a Custo Barcelona skirt, and so far, I have purchased three of them.  They are so fun and quirky, I think it's very likely I will become a bona fide collector.  Right now, Zappos has some cute summer dresses on sale.  Very tempting.

I haven't been to Barcelona, but as Susan Sontag once said, "I haven't been everywhere, but it is on my list."  I have been to Madrid, though, and it's a gorgeous gorgeous city.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Redondo Beach Pier

Did you know surfing was introduced to America at Redondo Beach, California, in 1907?  I didn't either until I read the plaque underneath this bronze bust of a man named George Freeth.  He was born in Honolulu in 1883 and revived the lost Polynesian art of surfing.  He came to California to promote this new found sport and it has been part of our culture ever since.

This is why I love to travel.  Little by little the history of our world is revealed in the most unexpected places.  There is a tidbit of knowledge around every corner.  On the evening we strolled the pier, the Air National Guard Band of the Southwest was playing Gershwin to an enthusiastic crowd.   The night was warm.  Carmageddon fizzled.  Life was good.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Motel Swimming Pools

I sit on the pool's edge,
a weary traveler,
and dangle my feet into
the cool turquoise.
When I fold myself into the water,
I hold my breath and count to ten.
Can I still float on my back?
Let the sunlight blind me.
Tomorrow's itinerary is hours and hours away.