November 2007


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Since I joined the Taco team of Los Angeles reporters, I’ve gotten used to people staring at me in the streets of Los Angeles. “Why are you taking a picture of a pole? Everybody’s looking at us.” That’s my very embarrassed niece complaining on a night out in Boyle Heights. “I’m not taking the picture of a pole, I’m taking the picture of a rabbit. I think he’s a friend of ours.”

A bus driver stopped for me once then told me he wasn’t supposed to because this was a speed line. Why did he stop for me then? Because I was taking a picture of a newspaper vending machine. “No I wasn’t. I was taking the picture of a man with a party hat and one with a gun.”

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Neither my niece nor the bus driver were impressed. I wasn’t surprised when I noticed tourists staring at me while I took picture after picture at a scenic vista point off of Highway 395. I knew what they were thinking. “Why are you taking a picture of this…

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instead of THIS…

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The Mono Craters in middleground. Do you see the resemblance?

I recently spent one week in the Owens Valley, home to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I was driving North on Highway 14, nearing Highway 395, when the world became free of malls, brands, billboards, concrete. Unprepared for the sudden and radical change of scenery, I lost my mind over its maddening beauty.

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I took this picture a year ago at the corner of Melrose and Highland in Los Angeles. My spontaneous reaction to the idea that war in Iraq was over was a loud cheer and joy radiating from my very core. For a moment I connected to all the people in the world who ever experienced the end of a war, with a special fondness for the liberation that took place in the city where I grew up.

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Germans troops entered Paris on June 14, 1940. Picture source.

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Liberation of Paris: August 25, 1944. Picture source.

I watched the documentary “The US vs. John Lennon” this week and learned that the “War is Over if you Want It” posters were first conceived in 1969 by John Lennon & Yoko Ono. The famous couple used their own money to have the messages plastered in major cities all over the world with the added note: “Merry Christmas from John & Yoko.”

I’ve never paid much attention to Lennon in my life. I listened to the Beatles as a kid but didn’t follow his solo career nor his marriage to Yoko Ono. For the first time I understood the power of (these) two. Here was an artist, Lennon, at the peak of his career who meets an artist, Yoko, with whom he blends heart and soul and turns his beliefs into conceptual art. On their honeymoon, anticipating that they would be hounded by the press and photographers, they decided to stage “bed-ins” to protest one of the moral challenges of these revolutionary days: the Vietnam war.

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Photo source.

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American Russian Theatre Ensemble Laboratory’s Gogol-Mogol Tea Room at Art/Works Performance Space in Hollywood. These Grotowski-inspired clowns never cease to amaze me. Don’t miss their show coming up at Highways on December 7 & 8.

Theater is alive but I don’t know how well it’s doing in LA. It’s been my pleasure to meet and review a group of terrific companies this year (click on the shows’ titles for access to reviews.) The talent is amazing, the mission statements passionate and for most of these groups like, they come with a commitment to promote and connect with LA’s diverse communities. All these magnificent people need is an audience.

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East LA Rep’s “Black Butterflies, Jaguar Girl, Pinata Woman & Other Super Heroes Like Me”, or the joys and pain of growing up in East LA.

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Karen Anzategoui in “Documenting the Undocumented” at CASA 0101, Boyle Heights.

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Anthony Salas in “Butterflies of Uganda, Memories of a Child Soldier” at the Greenway Court Theater, West Hollywood.

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Clothing of the American Mind ~ 1284 Sunset Blvd. Echo Park, CA ~ (213) 481-2004

I don’t know about other women, but there comes a day when, hearing another girlfriend moan about commitment-phobes, and finding yourself once again justifying my…I mean, their behavior, you realize it’s time to ditch your tomboy days, become a real woman, and commit to someone, or at least something, greater than yourself.

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“Why not take refuge in Buddhist precepts?” was my first thought. I had been living by them for years now anyway. I didn’t have to agree with everything, my critical mind would have to endure, I could still think for myself. I joined a silent retreat to meditate upon this most serious decision. I promised, in writing, to observe the facility’s three rules: no lying, no killing of insects, and no engaging in sexual activity. I moved into an adorable cabin, absolutely thrilled by this chance to show my undying commitment. Maybe I was a little too excited. I quickly fell from my Buddhist Nirvana, deep in the woods on day three, when a beautiful male deer lunched near my humble shack, sunbeams striking me, warming me, through the trees like Cyclops’ laser, dissolving what little clothing I could stand to wear in the first place. Something about the deer’s big, brown eyes, and the way this proud buck stood so perfectly erect, rekindled vivid memories of my latest fling.

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Click here for the full interview on www.lataco.com.

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“If America’s so bad, why does everyone want to be here?” His answer: “When you’re here, you’re less likely to be a victim of American foreign policy.” Diane Lefer (pictured above) from “The Prosperity of Cities and Desert Places”

“Good Morning and Happy 4th of July!… I feel the most patriotic action that I can take today is to be here in support of impeachment and especially impeachment of the poster boy for what is wrong with this administration.” Maxine Waters, opening of the Los Angeles Impeachment Center, July 4th, 2007. The most patriotic action I could take on that same day was to sit down with Diane Lefer, independent and provocative thinker, author of the collections of short stories “Very Much Like Desire,” “The Circles I Move In,” her latest one “California Transit” and the novel “Radiant Hunger.”

TACO: Why did you start wearing an orange jumpsuit in public?

Diane Lefer: I was inspired by an anonymous man in Washington DC who on his lunch hour dresses in an orange jumpsuit, puts a black hood over his head and kneels in front of the White House so that anyone passing the White House has to be confronted with what we’re doing. So I got a jumpsuit and I got a hood, I went around LA, rode buses, walked around. Lately when I do readings for “California Transit”, I show up with the jumpsuit at independent bookstores. I tried to do it at Barnes&Noble at The Grove but security wouldn’t let me in. I said I had to buy a copy of the Constitution and he called for backup. (laughs) What we’re doing is inhumane, illegal, horrible, I hate it but during the holidays I’m sitting on a bus in my jumpsuit and Santa Claus gets on the bus and sits across the aisle from me and it’s funny. You can’t censor out the humor even in the most grim situations.

Click here for full interview on www.lataco.com.