Monday, December 20, 2010


Today was a sucky Monday. Aren't they all? Why do we allow them to persist, week after week? When I started my car this morning, the "malfunction indicator lamp" came on. Why now, when it's pouring rain, and I'm about to leave town, and I have no extra money because I just finished Christmas shopping? At work, there were buckets all down the hallway catching the rainwater from the leaky ceiling. Yes, there were also leaks in some of the galleries, and my apartment windows. And a museum in Switzerland wrote a nasty letter threatening to withdraw their works from our exhibition because our security isn't up to snuff. Turns out they're right. And then I stopped by Staples on the way home, and suddenly got all Dad-sad because the last time I was in a Staples was with Amy shopping for paper to print Dad's memorial service program on. So then I'm walking down the street crying in the rain, and I come home to a huge mess of cat barf, after almost a month of improved health; is it because I didn't give her the B12 injection this weekend, or is she slipping down the slippery slope right before I leave on vacation? Should I try to sequester her in the kitchen for that entire week? Sometimes it's just too much. :*(

But on the positive side . . . at least the cat barf was in the kitchen and not the rug. And at least I have nice rain boots to splash through the puddles. And at least I got to park on the non-street-cleaning side of the street so I don't have to rush to move my car in the morning, whether it's functioning or not. And at least I get to go away on vacation in a few days and forget all of this, if only for a little while.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


Here's one thing I do know about Indian art: I love Ustad Mansur. He was a 17th century Mughal painter and court artist who specialized in depicting plants and animals. He was the first artist to paint the Dodo! Aren't these fabulous? I'm surprised I can't find more quality images of his work on-line . . .

the boy upstairs

I have to say, it's very comforting to have a good neighbor upstairs. I'm sitting in my cozy apartment, the rain is falling like crazy outside, the cats are curled up together on the blue chair, a candle is burning on the coffee table, my little Christmas tree is glowing on the hearth, and I know my good friend P is equally cozy just upstairs. If we need each other, we're here, but mostly I think we're content simply knowing the other one is nearby. Sure, we visit in the hallway or on the back stairs fairly frequently, or he invites me up for a glass of wine, or I invite him in to catch up on matters of work and romance. But the rest of the time it's just kinda nice knowing he's there; hearing him walking around, or turning on the shower, or chatting with friends. Like he said when I first moved in, he'll be Rhoda to my Mary Tyler Moore, only with a penis. But seriously, we may not have as many capers as a sitcom duo, but we've certainly had an intense year, and I'm grateful to have such a generous, thoughtful, compassionate, and entertaining friend and neighbor.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


The Elephants of Asia exhibit opened at the LA Zoo this past week. I volunteered for one of the morning VIP previews (delicious mango lassi yogurt parfaits and cardamom french toast, plus free coloring books!), and then had a chance to fully explore the exhibit this weekend, albeit in the pouring rain, and it's fantastic. Many years in the making, it's wonderful to finally have this huge section of the zoo open and accessible, and to see our three elephants happily exploring their new home.

Billy (the bull) loves the waterfall, and seems to be constantly on the move around the enclosure, checking everything out. It's amazing to see him trekking along in the distance from across the enclosure, and absolutely awe inspiring to see him suddenly come around a corner, his massive form and impressive trunk and tusks filling up your field of vision. I've never been to Asia, but I think this exhibit must capture a little bit of what it would be like to encounter an elephant in the wild. It allows him the dignity and stimulation to thrive, and us the honor of being able to study him and enjoy his presence.

Tina and Jewel, the two females, also seem very happy, and I think it's awesome that they were rescued from a circus, and now have the chance to live in an expansive home where many people are devoted to taking excellent care of them. They've been together for 30 years, and are very close friends. It's so endearing to see them leaning against each other, caressing each other with their trunks (even entwining their trunks together), and making little squeaks of pleasure as they rub their thick hides against the elephant barn.

Like anyone who cares about animals at all, I have mixed feelings about zoos. Bad zoos are an abomination and should be shut down. It goes without saying that circuses are cruel. But a quality zoo can be an amazing thing. They provide happy and healthy homes for their animals, many of whom have never known life in the wild, and many others who have been rescued from circuses, or private owners who were arrogant enough to think they could keep a chimpanzee or tiger as a pet. They offer visitors a chance to see and learn about animals that they may never have the chance to see in the flesh otherwise. Sure, natural history museums are one alternative, and there are plenty of fabulous nature programs on TV, but there's nothing to replace the experience of witnessing a living creature -- at least one that's happy and thriving in semi-natural state. Plus, and this is the biggest thing of all, any self-respecting zoo these days is heavily involved in conservation. This means breeding and preserving a healthy captive population, but it also means educating the public and fund-raising to support a plethora of conservation programs in the wild. And that's the primary message of the new elephant exhibit. There are more Asian elephants in captivity in North America than there are left in the wild. The zoo's exhibit tells the stories of elephants in India, China, Cambodia, and Thailand, and how their past and future is integrally tied to the humans who share their habitat.

In the other sphere of my life, "India's Fabled City: The Art of Courtly Lucknow" opened at LACMA last week. There are amazing works of art, including opulent miniatures, glittering jewels, detailed panoramas, gorgeous metalwork, pistols and scabards, and of course, lots of elephants! I confess, I don't know that much about Indian art, but I'll soon learn! My two worlds are colliding, in a good way. 2011 will be the Year of the Elephant!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Why are people so afraid of confronting incompetence? Why are so many bad seeds tolerated, and indulged even? Why do institutions and societies allow psychopathy to persist? Why shouldn't everyone be expected to perform to a certain high standard, in any workplace, or indeed, in any situation period? I'm only talking about the simplest things, like trust, communication, personal responsibility, and basic good will.

I like to believe there's room for everyone in this world, but maybe you're in the wrong room. Hey, it's not personal. Your personality simply isn't a good fit. Period. Maybe you should consider becoming a hermit. Do you think I was born yesterday? Were YOU born yesterday? How have you managed this long with this attitude? Or have you been so beaten down by the system, that you don't even realize how out of line you are? Should I slap you around a bit until you come to your senses?

Why am I constantly surprised to learn that people who are older than me, make more money than me, have more education than me, or outrank me, aren't necessarily any smarter than me? I can't seem to shake this crazy idea that with age and experience comes a certain degree of wisdom. Gosh, I always thought that's how it worked. I thought that was something that we should all be striving for: greater wisdom and understanding. Why are some people happier moving backwards?

It's okay if you're not the sharpest tool in the shed. Or maybe you're severely overworked, or in way over your head. Maybe you feel like you've been swimming upstream all these years to no avail, and it's made you bitter. I understand, but it doesn't give you the right to be a bastard and try to bring the rest of us down to your level. We're stronger than that, and goodness always prevails.