Archive | September 2011

Yellowstone: First Five Faves

Paul and I had an incredible stay in Yellowstone. Although the temperatures reached below zero our first night camping there (brr) we slept indoors the next few nights and enjoyed beautiful weather for the rest of our time there. Here are a few of our favorite images so far. More to come!

Enjoy, Mari

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I (still) Heart New York

Despite my recent love affair with Portland, I still love New York City and I was especially moved when I heard Colson Whitehead’s tribute to her on Selected Shorts. One of my favorite podcasts, Selected Shorts featured Colson Whitehead’s “Lost and Found” read by Alec Baldwin in their episode memorializing the anniversary of September 11th. Paul and I listened to it last night and we were blown away. Now, I miss New York more than ever! Below is the recording from Selected Shorts as well as the original article from the New York Times Magazine.

Enjoy, Mari

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The New York Times Magazine

The Way We Live Now: 11-11-01

Lost and Found

By Colson Whitehead

I’m here because I was born here and thus ruined for anywhere else, but I don’t know about you. Maybe you’re from here, too, and sooner or later it will come out that we used to live a block away from each other and didn’t even know it. Or maybe you moved here a couple years ago for a job; maybe you came here for school. Maybe you saw the brochure. The city has spent a considerable amount of time and money putting the brochure together, what with all the movies, TV shows and songs — the whole ”if you can make it there” business. The city also puts a lot of effort into making your hometown look really drab and tiny, just in case you were wondering why it’s such a drag to go back sometimes.

No matter how long you have been here, you are a New Yorker the first time you say, ”That used to be Munsey’s” or ”That used to be the Tic Toc Lounge.” That before the Internet cafe plugged itself in, you got your shoes resoled in the mom-and-pop operation that used to be there. You are a New Yorker when what was there before is more real and solid than what is here now.

You start building your private New York the first time you lay eyes on it. Maybe you were in a cab leaving the airport when the skyline first roused itself into view. All your worldly possessions were in the trunk, and in your hand you held an address on a piece of paper. Look: there’s the Empire State Building, over there are the twin towers. Somewhere in that fantastic, glorious mess was the address on the piece of paper, your first home here. Maybe your parents dragged you here for a vacation when you were a kid and towed you up and down the gigantic avenues to shop for Christmas gifts. The only skyscrapers visible from your carriage were the legs of adults, but you got to know the ground pretty well and started to wonder why some sidewalks sparkle at certain angles. Maybe you came to visit your old buddy, the one who moved here last summer, and there was some mix-up as to where you were supposed to meet. You stepped out of Penn Station into the dizzying hustle of Eighth Avenue and fainted. Freeze it there: that instant is the first brick in your city.

I started building my New York on the uptown No. 1 train. My first city memory is of looking out a subway window as the train erupted from the tunnel on the way to 125th Street and palsied up onto the elevated tracks. It’s the early 70’s, so everything is filthy. Which means everything is still filthy, because that is my city and I’m sticking to it. I still call it the Pan Am Building, not out of affectation, but because that’s what it is. For that new transplant from Des Moines, who is starting her first week of work at a Park Avenue South insurance firm, that colossus squatting over Grand Central is the Met Life Building, and for her it always will be. She is wrong, of course — when I look up there, I clearly see the gigantic letters spelling out Pan Am, don’t I? And of course I am wrong, in the eyes of the old-timers who maintain the myth that there was a time before Pan Am.

History books and public television documentaries are always trying to tell you all sorts of ”facts” about New York. That Canal Street used to be a canal. That Bryant Park used to be a reservoir. It’s all hokum. I’ve been to Canal Street, and the only time I ever saw a river flow through it was during the last water-main explosion. Never listen to what people tell you about old New York, because if you didn’t witness it, it is not a part of your New York and might as well be Jersey. Although that bit about the Dutch buying Manhattan for 24 bucks might have something to it — there are and always will be braggarts who ”got in at the right time.”

There are eight million naked cities in this naked city — they dispute and disagree. The New York City you live in is not my New York City; how could it be? This place multiplies when you’re not looking. We move over here, we move over there. Over a lifetime, that adds up to a lot of neighborhoods, the motley construction material of your jerry-built metropolis. Your favorite newsstands, restaurants, movie theaters, subway stations and barbershops are replaced by your next neighborhood’s favorites. It gets to be quite a sum. Before you know it, you have your own personal skyline.

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Portland Pics

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Portland, Oregon is now my favorite city (sorry NYC!). Besides seeing the most VW campers in one place since Burning Man, we used our time in Portlandia wisely.

We had fun exploring the many parks, the Rose Test Garden, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (the video game exhibit and the iMAX were great fun), Museum of Contemporary Craft (see our post about Nikki McClure),  Portland Art Museum (a wonderful contemporary art collection, the Allure of the Automobile exhibit, and a participatory art project about objects were the highlights), Powell’s Books (better than the Strand, no really!), the Saturday Market, the McMenamins movie theatres and music halls (see our post about the Difubulators), and the various and varied food carts!

Enjoy the slideshow above with a few images from our adventures. I have to admit: we were having so much fun I didn’t take that many pictures. That’s gotta say something.

Enjoy, Mari

Redwoods

Before we headed up to Oregon, we spent a couple of magical days in California’s Redwood National & State Park. We drove up the coast and enjoyed spectacular views of the Pacific, continuing a drive we started a few years back when we visited Big Sur. The area is home to a plethora of animals including Roosevelt Elk that we had the good fortune to see while we were hiking. Below, enjoy the images we took around Prairie Creek.

Mari & Paul

The DEFiBULATORS

Last night at The Kennedy School (an incredible hotel, bar, music venue, movie theatre, and McMenamins property) we saw the The DEFiBULATORS. This blue grass-inspired group from Brooklyn (isn’t it ironic?) knocked our socks off along with a packed crowd of diverse Portlanders including several boisterous young children and adults dancing in the front.

Enjoy the video of one of my favorite songs above or check out their MySpace page.

If you ever make it to Portland, OR we definitely recommend checking out the various McMenamins properties. This was the second one we’ve hit after seeing a $3 first-run movie at the Mission Theatre Pub over burgers and beer.

Enjoy, Mari & Paul

I Heart Nikki McClure

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Visiting the Museum for Contemporary Craft here in Portland, OR we happened upon a retrospective of the paper artist Nikki McClure. I fell in love with her work instantly though I realized that I had actually been a fan for some time when I recognized some of her pieces.

She makes these stunning graphic images with just an X-acto knife and black paper. You may recognize her work from calendars, posters (Paul has a series of her work, which is what I recognized), CD covers, and books.

Her subjects are often quintessential moments of quotidian life – lying in a hammock, diving into a pool – but they are rendered with such detail and care as to make them exceptional and extraordinary.

If you ever get a chance to view her pieces in person you must! It’s an entirely different experience to view the works three-dimensionally since you can see each of her cuts and that’s when you truly begin to appreciate the beauty of her craft.

{Visit her website here.}

{Buy her stuff here.}

Enjoy, Mari

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Mari’s Doppelgänger

One of our favorite things to do at Burning Man was simply to ride around on our bikes and explore Black Rock City. Any number of adventures could await you when you ventured out of camp…an offer of a cup of tea, an invitation to climb a rock wall, the chance to view incredible works of art, the opportunity to participate in a game or event.

One of our last days we were cruising around when we stumbled upon the VW Camp. We’d been meaning to find them but kept forgetting to look them up. In fact, we only found them because we were lost! It was nearing the end of Black Rock City’s existence and many of its residents had already started packing while some had even left to return to the Default World. The Man had already burned so we didn’t even have him to orient ourselves. So, without our trusty landmarks we got turned around and happened upon a welcome sight.

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We had enjoyed seeing Walter the Art Car, around Black Rock City but we had never climbed aboard. {To give you an idea of scale, this vehicle is actually larger than a double-decker sightseeing bus.} We stopped when we noticed the sign and when we turned around we noticed dozens of VW buses, vans, and campers. While we had been seeing a few (mostly 80s Westfalias) around town, this was the largest concentration we had seen and included older models from the 60s and 70s. Naturally, we had to stop and say hello.

We walked up to a green camper van that looked like it could have been one of Charlie’s cousins. I said hello to a group of people who were sitting near there and they said, “Is that you, Nicole?” I replied, “No, my name is Mari. We have a green 1978 Westy just like yours!” The woman looked shocked and then said, “You look and sound so much like Nicole, a girl that camps here that I thought you were her.”

The woman enlisted me to play a prank on Nicole’s father by calling out to him towards the back of the camp. I walked over and pretended to be Nicole. This confused several of the people camping there and we got a big laugh when I finally introduced myself.

While I don’t really see the exact resemblance you have to admit that the way we hold ourselves is eerily similar.

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No one instructed us to stand this way but we just did it naturally and if you heard our voices you might agree that we sound similar. So, we were having a lot of fun meeting each other when Nicole’s dad hands me a gift, a t-shirt that says on one side, “SAME SAME” and on the other, “BUT DIFFERENT.” He had gotten the shirts on a trip to Asia and happened to have an extra for me.

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We changed into the shirts and took some more pictures – I even posed with Nicole’s partner to see if anyone back home would be able to tell I was an impostor. Changing into her sunglasses added to the effect.

I learned that Nicole’s family is from Guatemala and that she and her partner live in Colorado. She is a teacher who used to do marketing (the similarities continue!) and he is a firefighter (Paul was a volunteer firefighter in NJ).

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Another funny coincidence is that we had just been discussing doppelgängers back at our own camp the day before. I had said that I had never really met my doppelgänger except for someone sending my sister a photo from a catalogue when we were little. The model looked just like me.

Little did I know that the very next day after that conversation I would be standing side by side with my twin. One thing is for sure, we are SAME SAME BUT DIFFERENT.

Camp Vega Reunion Photos

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Enjoy these images from the Camp Vega Reunion celebrating the camp’s 75th anniversary. Click on the slideshow to go to Flickr to save the originals (choose Actions and View All Sizes to download the pics).

Mari

Never Forget

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