Monday, November 30, 2015

Thankfulness Weekend

Well, we're all back at it after a long, beautiful, relaxing and fun Thanksgiving weekend, and that's always hard. This Monday was a little harder than most because I started it off by dropping my phone in water. With all the gorgeous Thanksgiving weekend photos on it - that weren't backed up. Ugh. So, I'm starting fresh to kick off the holiday season ... again.

We had one of the hands-down best Thanksgiving meals together with friends at Hatchet Hall. The restaurant was closed for the holiday, so we had free reign of the place.

Every counter surface was taken up by the pot luck dishes all our friends brought, and as you looked around, all you could think was ABUNDANCE. And THANK YOU.

From Lacey's Mom's unreal corn dish and perfect mashed potatoes to David's foie gras gravy (yes, FOIE GRAS GRAVY!) to Brian's perfect turkey, and Vavine's roasted apples ...

 ... one morsel was more delicious than the next. It was truly an embarrassment of riches.

I threw down on the pies, as usual, and even managed to get myself a slice this year! Not a whole lot of meals can beat Thanksgiving if you're an American, but even with all of the ridiculous piles of mouth watering food, the story of the day was still all about gratitude, and being thankful for all that we have. Like, we talked about it. And meant it.

That gratefulness carried over all weekend, as most of the people I know chose to opt out of the Black Friday disgusting mayhem, and opt OUTSIDE. R.E.I. kind of kicked off that sentiment by being closed that day for their employees to have a day to get outside, and we fully took that to heart.

Last year we got out of dodge on Black Friday, and headed for Yosemite, which was glorious. We didn't have the same luxury of time this year, so settled for Saddle Peak in Malibu, which isn't really settling. Our hike to the summit was rewarded by majestic 360 views, but even better was the surprise deer couple that bounded right by us (and of course that awesome photo is now gone forever). A stunning O.P. looking sunset was the icing on top, and the perfect location and visual for mindful gratitude.

The rest of the weekend was almost all outside, except movies, and for watching our Vikings take over first place in our division yesterday (!), capping off a wonderful, idyllic weekend of family, friendship, and fun.

I hope yours was all of that good stuff too - sans the phone casualties. And now, here we go! Off to the races toward the end of the year, all set with a new phone and tons of room for new photos, videos, stories and excellent messages ... let's get going!

HAPPY Holiday Season to us all!

*Photos kindly donated by Paul Gronner and Steve Taschler.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Thanksgiving Prayer

This has been a hard year for a lot of people, in a lot of ways. It has also been an incredibly beautiful year for a lot of people, in a whole lot of ways. Every moment has the potential to be hard or beautiful, and much of that is how you view and act on it. I love so much that all Americans take at least the one day of Thanksgiving to do exactly that ... give enormous thanks, with all the gratitude we have in our hearts, even if that's just a little.

e.e. cummings wrote a Thanksgiving prayer long ago, and I'll share it with you now in its entirety. For this very best American holiday, that's the very best we can do - SHARE.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any-lifted from the no
of all nothing-human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
“next to of course god america i
love you land of the pilgrims’ and so forth oh
say can you see by the dawn’s early my
country ’tis of centuries come and go
and are no more what of it we should worry
in every language even deafanddumb
thy sons acclaim your glorious name by gorry
by jingo by gee by gosh by gum
why talk of beauty what could be more beaut-
iful than these heroic happy dead
who rushed like lions to the roaring slaughter
they did not stop to think they died instead
then shall the voice of liberty be mute?”
He spoke. And drank rapidly a glass of water
when god lets my body be
From each brave eye shall sprout a tree fruit that dangles therefrom
the purpled world will dance upon
Between my lips which did sing
a rose shall beget the spring
that maidens whom passion wastes
will lay between their little breasts
My strong fingers beneath the snow
Into strenuous birds shall go
my love walking in the grass
their wings will touch with her face
and all the while shall my heart be
With the bulge and nuzzle of the sea
when god decided to invent
everything he took one
breath bigger than a circustent
and everything began
when man determined to destroy
himself he picked the was
of shall and finding only why
smashed it into because
love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
love is the every only god
who spoke this earth so glad and big
even a thing all small and sad
man,may his mighty briefness dig
for love beginning means return
seas who could sing so deep and strong
one queerying wave will whitely yearn
from each last shore and home come young
so truly perfectly the skies
by merciful love whispered were,
completes its brightness with your eyes
any illimitable star

Happy Thanksgiving! God bless us EVERYONE.

*Photo (with no filter) was taken during one of my most grateful moments of the year. Just happy to be witnessing that splendor ... Ahhh.

Monday, November 23, 2015

November Summer

Emily Dickinson wrote, "November always seemed to me the Norway of the year." I love that, but it's not at all accurate if you live in Southern California. This past weekend saw temperatures in the mid-80's at the beach. In November.

The weekend was a lot of fun, with friend birthday parties, a Sturgill Simpson show, a Vikings game with friends ... but the very best part was having the gorgeous beach almost all to myself.

Yet another thing to be so grateful for as we head into Thanksgiving week. Wow.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Rose - By Any Other Name ... Does It Smell As Sweet?

We've been eagerly awaiting the re-opening of The Rose Café (established in 1979) in Venice (now called "The Rose"), and got in there last night to check it out. I'll have to reserve judgement until they're totally up and fully running, but so far ... we miss the old Rose.

My friend, Nori, is currently using a cane post foot surgery. We pulled in to The Rose parking lot, and were told by the valet that the first hour is free, and after that it's $9.00 per hour. Even for hobbled people with canes. Gone is the kindly old valet that charged like $2.00 for all day or something. Yeah, no thanks. We parked on the street, and Nori limped along for two blocks.

The space inside is lovely. There is no gift shop now, and in its place is a big, full bar. That's great, though I did love that little shop and its unique cards and gifts.

I guess it's the same owners, but they clearly want to capitalize on being Google-adjacent, and the homey old feel of the former Rose Café is no longer. It's pretty slick, and obvious that they want to compete with Gjusta down the street, with the same various stations for pastries, to go food, and all that.

The servers (very nice, almost ass kissy - which I get, they're new) referred to new Chef Jason Neroni as "Chef", which I always find slightly off-putting. "Chef likes to serve ... " I get that hierarchy stuff in the kitchen, but let's cool it on the aggrandizing, because, frankly, we didn't really like the food so far. At all. They won't be serving the full dinner menu for a couple of weeks, but what we had from the bar menu was really not even ok. We wanted the pizzas we'd seen posted on Instagram, but were told those weren't available, and we could just get cheese pizza by the slice. Out came a super oily piece of what might have been a Stouffer's French Bread pizza. Thick. Overcooked.

The sashimi Nori ordered was really good, but a little, tiny plate of it. The sheep's cheese we ordered came in a soupy Chef Boyardee-style sauce, with a tiny hunk of hard bread on top all sticky from the gross sauce. We tried to get at the cheese without getting sauce on it, and there was not enough bread even for that. We asked for some more bread - as it wasn't nearly enough for two - and were later dismayed to find that that "side of tiny bread" was $5.00 on our bill, which was not relayed to us when asking. The parking costs two tiny loaves of bread! Ridiculous.

We had fried chicken with a lot of gristle and a sauce drizzled over it that when I scanned my taste memory, the closest thing I could come to in describing it to Nori (not a meat eater) was vomit.

The wine pours were tiny, and honestly, the only thing we liked was the coffee shop type lemon bar we had for dessert, because that was the only thing that sounded good or not like breakfast. Oh, we also liked the decor and the patio, but where we sat was right across the street from Google, who seemed to be hosting a YouTube kids show, and all we heard throughout dinner were little girls screaming like they once did for The Beatles. Times have certainly changed at The Rose.

We relayed all of our concerns to the servers, who were lovely and gracious, but the one probably set herself up when she asked us, "Is everything amazing?!" The long pause was almost answer enough, but Nori cracked me up when she replied, "Amazing might be a little strong." Speaking truth to power.

I hope The Rose settles in and works it all out, because it's always been a great meeting place for the People of Venice, and it's a gorgeous space. I just hope they don't forget that people loved their old Rose Café, and we're still here, Google be damned.

As we hobbled back along the two blocks to Nori's car, we just kind of had to laugh. And hope for the best.

The Rose
220 Rose Avenue

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Joyously Militant Celebration Of Joe Hill with Tom Morello And Friends

Today is the 100th anniversary of the execution of Joe Hill, labor radical and forefather of all American protest music. Hill was honored and celebrated on Tuesday night with a truly incredible, beyond sold out show put on by Tom Morello and his friends to carry on the rabble rousing started by Hill long ago.

The Troubadour stage held a large tapestry of Joe Hill, where he watched over the proceedings and reminded everyone why they were there. Morello introduced the night by reading the foreword he'd written for the centenary edition of The Letters Of Joe Hill (a copy of which each audience member receieved after the show). You should just get the book, but the point is that Hill was killed because the powers that be were afraid of him ("and they should be") and his songs that demanded the working class to organize for social justice. A quick paraphrase ...

Joe Hill is my favorite musician, though there are no known recordings of him ... but Joe didn't just sing songs confronting injustice. He was on the front lines risking life and limb to try to create a better, more just world ... That's why they killed him ... But as the song says, Joe Hill ain't dead. Wherever, whenever you raise your fist, your voice, or your guitar in the name of justice and freedom, Joe Hill is right there by your side. Solid. - Tom Morello

So that's exactly what we did all night (three plus hours), raised our voices and our fists in the name of freedom and justice ... like this:

Morello opened the evening solo, shouting, "This is a freedom song! This is a fighting song! This is a UNION song!" and launched into his "Union Song" to the delight of the many members of the Nurses Union in the house in their red shirts, who LOVE Tom, and the feeling is mutual. Joe Hill is name dropped in the song that celebrates Union members standing UP and standing STRONG, and when it ended, Morello said that Joe Hill always liked to stir up a heap of trouble, and that's what else we were going to do on this night. Solid.

Tom introduced "the first living legend of the night", Van Dyke Parks, who played Joe Hill's song "The Preacher and the Slave" that coined the term, "pie in the sky" back in the day. Parks played piano beautifully and sang, accompanied by a friend on an accordion, and shared that he'd last played The Troubadour 52 years ago! He also played a song by Blind Alfred Reed, of whom Parks said, "He couldn't see, but he could." Van Dykes Park is great, and that's just that.

From the most senior performer of the evening to the most junior with The Poet Puff Girls (Zariya Allen, Belissa Escobedo, and Rhiannon McGavin), a trio of slam poets who delivered a heavy, pointed spoken word poem about the state of schools today, ending it with, "The greatest lessons are the ones you don't remember learning." Our future is safe with these girls. Wow.

They were followed by another extra powerful female (in fact, this was by far the most women I've ever had the pleasure of being entertained by at one of Morello's Justice shows - the ladies are fierce!), with Delila Paz from The Last Internationale absolutely killing it with their "I'm Gonna Live The Life I Sing About In My Song." Paz is one of my very favorite female voices of our day, and you simply must first, check them out, and second, strongly consider living the life she sings about in her song. It's a good one.

"A modern day Joe Hill ... always on the front lines, if there's tear gas, he smells of it," was how Morello introduced the great David Rovics, who amused everyone by saying he'd been planning for this occasion for a year. "It's not every day a leftie activist gets these kind of events." He played Joe Hill's "Where The Fraser River Flows", and then sang his own song "Joe Hill" about the Wobblies, and "the Bard with the Union Card" who had to be killed "Lest he organize the working class in song." Rovics is the real deal.

"A lot of who plays these shows is who says yes, and our next performer always says yes," said Morello to introduce the wonderful Jill Sobule (another fierce woman!). She said, "This is a song about the history of immigration in America," and played her hilarious and spot on "When They Say They Want Our America Back" ("Well, what the fuck do they mean?"). The crowd loved it, singing along with gusto (though she reports it doesn't go over as well in the South. Go figure.)

To remind everyone of what we were up to, Morello read the preamble to the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) Constitution (aka what Joe Hill was about) and its call to do away with capitalism. "So enjoy the nice singalong songs, but this is the real shit that's going down tonight." We were all down.

Morello's co-founder of Firebrand Records, Ryan Harvey and his musical partner, Kareem Samara (on the beautiful oud), played one of their new songs about the Kurdish people, and we all sang the chorus, "I will stand with the People of Rojava". Harvey is one of the most erudite and truth-seeking sharers of wisdom about social injustice struggles that I know. When I don't understand an ISIS thing, for example, I look to Harvey for help. He's another artist like Rovics who is out there on the front lines at any and all protests, and was particularly helpful in understanding all the trouble in Baltimore (where he's frorm) for Freddie Gray earlier this year. When you listen to Harvey's songs, really LISTEN, because you will really learn.

Rich Robinson of The Black Crowes came out next and gave us his acoustic version of Dylan's "The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" and I think I got a new crush. I wasn't alone either, as a girl passed out in the audience right then off to the side. It was handled very subtly, and I hope she's ok today. Robinson making the ladies swoon!

"Please welcome my longtime comrade in arms, Boots Riley!"said Morello, to shouts of "BOOOTS" (not boos), and my complete surprise and happiness. Riley (of the supercool The Coup) is one of my very favorites, and like Harvey, very well versed in all that is going on in the world, and how we got there. Though his lyrics are always witty and cool, they contain a biting truth that never leaves you. He threw down his spoken word, "Underdogs", which is real hard to follow.

But not if you're Tim Armstrong. The Rancid frontman came out in his big bushy beard and shades, and blasted out Joe Hill's classic, "There's A Power In The Union", which I think Hill would have dug. We sure did.

Next up was a teaming of guys from Mumford and Sons, Dawes, and Alaina Moore from Tennis, who played Hill's "Rebel Girl", saying, "It's not the original, but I think Joe Hill would be cool with that." They also gave us a cover of New Order's "Love Vigilantes", which I think Hill would have been cool with too.

{Just then as I was scribbling notes down in my book, Van Dyke Parks walked by and squeezed my arm. I looked up, and he smiled and gave me a thumbs up. Magic! I think he liked seeing a pen put to paper in this techno world, but he might have just been flirting too, which I'm fine with.}

Another Firebrand Records artist was next, with Lia Rose from Built For The Sea coming out next to lead everyone in singing the old Union song, "Which Side Are You On?" joined by Morello and his Freedom Fighter Ochestra (the always awesome David Gibbs, Carl Restivo, and Eric Gardner) to belt it out. It was awesome, and when Jill Sobule read one of Joe Hill's letters about how important women were to organizing, that was an exclamation point to the song. Fierce.

THEN .... JOAN BAEZ! This was a really big deal to me as I've loved her voice and her politics ever since I was little, and now here she was singing - in her sublime as ever voice - the Phil Ochs song, "There But For Fortune", accompanying herself on her acoustic guitar, also beautifully. I had chills. We marched along as the percussion to her song about the Carnation Revolution in Portugal, and then crushed us even more with her song for Chile, "Gracias A La Vida". The place was silent (except for the tools hoping for Springsteen standing next to me), and I felt thoroughly transported. LOVE Joan Baez.

"That concludes the acoustic part of the night!" shouted Tom before bringing up the fantastic Ziggy Marley! "This is a cry for justice!" shouted Marley before launching into his song, "Justice". The night's women were his backup singers, and it was so good, with about a dozen people playing on stage. They followed it with Ziggy's Dad's "Get Up, Stand Up", which everyone did, and absolutely vowed to not give up the fight. Ziggy Marley, People!

:Rebel music comes in a lot of flavors, and one of those is punk rock. This one is from the greatest punk band of all time, The Clash!" before leading the dudes in an incendiary cover of "Career Opportunities". It was so punk rock, you guys.

Well, now it was time to "Kick Out The Jams"! The MC5's Wayne Kramer led all the guitar players in the world (it seemed) in kicking out his trademark song. This one featured the old Morello guitar solo with his teeth that always slays the crowd, and added Edgey Pires from The Last Internationale to the mix. Those jams were done kicked OUT, let me tell you.

The teeth solo was really no match for what followed, when Morello blew the roof off with his now-classic take on Springsteen's "The Ghost Of Tom Joad". It's a real show stopper with a solo for the ages that still gives me chills, but my favorite part is when he sings, "Look in their eyes, Ma, you'll see me!" and you see Mary Morello looking down at her son singing that. No one could be more proud, and she taught him everything he knows - except maybe that guitar solo.

After people completely lost their shit, Morello and Company helped them find it with the Street Sweeper Social Club slammer, "Ghetto Blaster". It ruled, as one would expect, and it was so extra fantastic to see Riley perform again in L.A. When he tells you to fight the power, you listen.

"The next two songs are candidates for the Revolutionary National Anthem!", shouted Morello, and then turned his mic stand to the crowd, saying, "Kids, I'll let you sing this one." We heard the opening chords of Rage Against The Machine's "Killing In The Name" and the entire crowd took over Zack de la Rocha's vocals - and it should be noted that they knew every word. "Some of those who work forces, are the same that burn crosses!" It was super cool, and super heavy, and super evident that we all need that Rage now more than ever. Really quite a moment in a night of huge moments.

"Thanks Joe, for the inspiration for all these songs, and thank you all for coming! Is it possible you'd like one more song?" (It was) "Convince my ass!" (We did). After Morello thanked all the sponsors and the Nurses Union, he shouted, "I'd like to welcome to the stage, Everybody! All the rebel rockers!" Every single one of the night's performers then crammed up on the stage to belt out "This Land Is Your Land", the one that really should be our National Anthem.

Verses (ALL of them) were traded off between performers (many now wearing paper targets pinned over their hearts in the same manner as Joe Hill was executed by firing squad), as the audience followed Morello's instructions to listen, sing, and JUMP for joy. "If you can stand, do stand. You don't want to be seen shirking in Mary Morello's presence! We're all going to do this joyously, and yet militantly at the same time!"

With verses taken by the likes of Kramer, Parks, Riley (in a cool rap style), the one that soared and blew us all away was taken by the E Street Band's Cindy Mizelle. There are almost no words for this woman's voice straight from Heaven. It was simply stunning, as was the visual of every body in The Troubadour jumping and singing their hearts out in the name of freedom and justice.  When Morello yelled "Take it easy, but take it!" at song's end, it was with a hoarse and cracking voice, evidence of all that had already gone down.

But we weren't done quite yet. We all joined in a hearty, rousing singalong of "Solidarity Forever", the Union anthem sung to the tune of "The Battle Hymn Of The Republic", and you absolutely felt the power in unity that so frightened the authorities back in Joe Hill's day, and still does today. When the People unite, anything is possible.

My favorite moment among many favorites was then, when Joan Baez took to the front of the stage with her acoustic guitar and began singing "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night", the very song that she mesmerized the entire Woodstock with. All the other performers surrounded Baez with their fists raised, and the audience all followed suit. Without even noticing it, I had tears running down my cheeks. The beauty and power of the moment was so touching and inspiring, but more than anything, it filled me with hope.

These are real crazy, scary, violent, unjust times in many ways, but when you get people to stand together in a show of unity and support for freedom and justice in such a pure and unafraid collective rebel yell, it's clear that goodness always prevails. As Baez sang "'I never died,' says he" ... you could feel Joe Hill's presence in the room, confirming exactly that.

"See you in 100 years!" shouted Morello to conclude the epic three hour+ show, again showing the optimism and promise that was the vibe of the entire evening.

Joe Hill would be - no, IS - proud.

*Most photos courtesy of Chuck Walker
** Morello teeth solo and Baez/Paz/Morello photo by Randall Wallace

Monday, November 16, 2015

A Day At The Broad

When I reserved my tickets last Summer for a visit to The Broad, downtown L.A.'s new art destination, I had no idea my appointment would land on a rainy and grey afternoon,  perfect for poking around an art museum all day. I'd been super jealous for months of all the posts and stories coming out about The Broad, and was so excited for it to finally be my turn.

There is always a long line formed outside of the museum for people to try and get in without reservations, as reserved tickets are booked deep into 2016. That line seemed to be moving pretty fast though, and I think I'd suggest that you go that route and just have fun in line, because my reserved tickets got me inside too late to sign up for the Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirrored Room. Major bummer, because that looks like the coolest thing in the world. I tried bribing someone in line, but they held firm, so I'll go again and stand in line with you for that.

The Broad collection is so vast and impressive, but super fun and you really can see everything on display in an afternoon, so it's not all daunting, just easy breezy. There are so many wonderful works, that I'll show you a whole bunch of my highlights, and there will still be a whole bunch of surprises for you to see when you go. Because you must.

The Broads focus on postwar and contemporary pieces, the art of their time, so most of the work on display is done by current working artists, which gives it all a very fresh and now feeling.

Once we gave up on the Infinity Room, we relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed absolutely everything we saw ... even the creepy Michael Jackson and Bubbles by Jeff Koons.

The collection is so modern that the first big piece I saw was a large scale photograph by Robert Longo Untitled (Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014) of the turmoil in Ferguson, MO last year. Very timely.

I like how The Broad is set up, with at times whole rooms dedicated to a single artist. It's nice to see all one person in a room, as I think it helps you to better understand their deal. When artists share a room, they're contemporaries of each other, and the works fit together well.

As usual, one of the most fun rooms was the one all done up for Takashi Murakami.

His sculptures and large scale painting (In The Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, 2014) dominated an entire space, and was a favorite for art fans of all ages.

A couple stopped to take in the chilly mountains of Japan in a great oil that I forgot to write down the artist of, but I loved it.

 Everything is displayed in an interesting and accessible way, allowing the viewer to immerse themselves in the art, observing it from all angles in many cases, like Bateau de Guerre, 2001 by Chris Burden.

Though we didn't make it inside the Infinity Room (can you tell I'm obsessed?), there were still plenty of things that invited interaction between the visitor and the work. There is a cool installation of nine screens by Icelandic artist, Ragnar Kjartansson, called The Visitors, 2012. You enter a dark room and watch a song being sung by a different musician on each screen, playing the same song. It's cool because you're all in there together, but what you feel or how you view it is entirely your own. You come and go as you please, as the video runs for over an hour, ending with an explosion. One kid in the dark just said, "That was weird," making everyone laugh with his succinct criticism. Another immersive piece was Under The Table, 1994 by Robert Therrien. You walk around under the giant table and chairs, transported back to when you were little, hiding out under the table. People loved it.

There were a lot of pieces by John Baldessari, representing Venice downtown.

I love everything he does, so was delighted to get to see a good many pieces by him.

I loved a piece by Goshka Macuga, Death Of Marxism, Women Of All Lands Unite, 2013. The large tapestry depicts women visiting the grave of Karl Marx, extending on to the floor with grass and clothes strewn before it. Macuga is a Polish artist, and her tapestry was one of my top highlights of the entire collection.

My top TOP highlight was the room belonging to Kara Walker. Walker is one of my all time favorites. Her Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching, 2006 is really something to behold, with its examination of slavery in America, poignant and beautiful all at once.

Jeff Koons is well represented, with his Balloon Dog (Blue) and Tulips joining MJ and Bubbles.

Barbara Kruger is here with Untitled (your body is a battleground), 1989, which can also be yours in T-shirt form down at The Broad's gift shop.

Another real highlight was the room dedicated to Jean Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Everyone loves both of them, and so much merchandising has been done over the years, especially with Haring, that it's great to see the originals in their true and mind blowing form.

Basquiat, Haring, and Warhol are also very well represented in the gift shop, as you would expect, and both my brother and I left there with our own Basquiat skateboard decks for our walls. Had to. Here is his great Obnoxious Liberals, 1982.

This is the original of my brother's deck, Gold Griot, 1984, and it is awesome.

Chilling in the middle of the Basquiat/Haring room is a sculpture by John Ahearn called Raymond and Toby, 1989. A guy and his dog sit in the middle of the room, seeming to be checking out the art along with you, very realistically.

Another realistic - aside from the fact that she's 8 feet tall - sculpture is Fall '91 by Charles Ray. A woman in her pink early '90s power suit towers above you, making her both comical and kind of intimidating.

At the end of one hallway, you'll see a wall dominated by a Chuck Close oil painting. When you see the sheer detail involved up close with your own eyes, it's still hard to believe it's not a photograph.

 When you compare that level of talent and intricacy to the various blank canvases with like one slash of color on it, or paintings of soup cans or fish tanks holding basketballs (not naming any names), it's hard not to compare and question that age-old question, What Is Art?

When you take the stairs from level to level, you get a glimpse of The Broad's vast collection as it sits in storage through little windows carved into the stairway. It's pretty cool.

Art world darling Damien Hirst is here with his Something Solid Beneath The Surface Of All Creatures Great and Small, 2001. The animal skeletons and metal are cool and I get it, but I'd have rather seen his butterfly mosaics again, but that's just me. 

I really liked Double America 2, 2014 by Glenn Ligon all lit up, because .... America.

There is one of Julian Schnabel's plate paintings taking up a big wall, The Walk Home, 1985, combining painting and sculpture all in one across six big panels. It's real impressive.

Richard Prince has a good one in there entitled, Eat, Sleep and Drink, 1989. Oh, politics. Never drink them.

Another interesting piece that can be viewed from all angles is the silkscreen on aluminum cut out of Charles Manson by Cady Noland, Mr. Sir, 1993. Creepy.

One big wall is taken up by Cy Twombly's The Rose (V), 2008. It is beautiful.

Roy Lichtenstein has a strong presence in The Broad, all whimsical and poppy. The late afternoon sun began to angle in to the gallery room with his stuff, and it all looked so great.

The last big piece we saw before heading back downstairs to get our decks was Corner of Desire and Piety, 2008, a large mixed media collage with text and images provoked by the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. It's big and powerful and necessary and what I love about art. The thought provoking, the inspiration, and the emotions that capture our shared human experience.

After all this art, we needed a repast and headed over to Kendall's for a martini and some cloud watching over Disney Hall.

The Broad is so great, and a most welcome addition to the already ultra-vibrant Los Angeles art scene. I can't think of a better way to spend a day that isn't a beach day.

The Broad
221 South Grand Avenue
Downtown L.A.