Obey Shepard Fairey: Stellar Propogandist

Studio Number One
3780 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 210
Los Angeles, CA 90010

Studio Number One (SNO) was founded on the belief that art does not just belong in museums and galleries, it should also be an integral part of the visual landscape. SNO creates bold, graphic media that stands out amid the urban clutter, beautifying the environment while stimulating the public with innovative design solutions.



Guess who this is? Shepard Fairey! In my quest to wrap my head around what he is about--with the prompt from the Obey line of clothing (how is that managed? how does he justify (or does he need to? the porting of his art images to teeshirts and hoodies? Is it another licensing deal like Ed Hardy?).. His work in the stores reflect his print work with new shapes (probably not Fairey) but using his posters to promote his image and personal brand (framed in the store). In the hopping around, I found this critique of Fairey's work by Mark Vallen (sounds a bit like jealousy) which is interesting in his messaging...so if that is the case--now the plagarist is being plagarized by Obey the Purebreed etc.

There is nothing new about using old images as reference. Perhaps Shepard Fairey is a little close in with regard to how he uses those images, but somehow I think this helps in keeping his work as concentrated and good as it is. He could afford to tweak it a little further than he does (particularly in the nuclear image) in the layout--but overall, Fairey is taking the old image to a new place of his own propaganda.

I don't care what Vallen says. I think Fairey is a genius--repurposing images into other markets and using the funds and fame he garners into new arenas and ventures. This is a guy that is really carving out a broad swathe --from guerrilla art to art shows, to a design firm, a clothing line to promoting (and is funding/engaging) Swindle magazine to establishing a new gallery/exhibition space called Subliminal Projects, in the same space as Studio Number One. Subliminal Projects' Mission is stated:

"Subliminal Projects was created by artists Shepard Fairey and Blaze Blouin in 1995 as an artist collective, using skateboards as a fine art medium. By expanding beyond skateboards and apparel to include fine art prints, the group began drawing the attention of Aaron Rose, curator of Alleged Gallery in Ney York. As a result, Subliminal is one of the key groups responsible for cementing the relationship between the skateboard culture with the fine art world, working with the then-unknown artists such as Phil Frost, Thomas Campbell, Mike Mills, Dave Aaron, Shelter Serra and Mark Gonzales. By reintroducing Subliminal Projects to the current art scene, Shepard and Amanda Fairey continue to promote collaborations in the form of publications, art shows and events between artists of varying disciplines."

Look for his skateboards. They are great. I love the portraits and the vector-y swatches and flourishes. They are regal and very offical looking--with images of these guys with their baseball caps put on backwards. I initially thought they were dead gang members until I read who they were. There is that aura around them.

Juxtapoz has a great article on Fairey in their November 2007 issue.
Also, there are his books:
Obey: Supply & Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey
E Pluribus Venom (pre-order)

The Tburg of the Strand

A called it. The Tburg of our trip. Hermosa Beach. Everything within walking distance. Cool people. Cool stuff to do. Fabulous ocean and surfing. A place to settle in. We decided to spend our last two nights at the aforementioned Beach House. Well worth it. We are all scratching our heads about the crummy rating it has online. First off...It is fabulous. Why? 1. Its on the strand. 2.Rooms are great with a king sized bed, a queen fold away sofa, a for real fireplace, a mini kitchen, a bathroom with a jacuzzi and the works (including Aveda stuff), a balcony, a beautiful continental breakfast with fresh oranges and the best coffee yet with a view of the ocean and the passigiata, and a block from Hermosa Beach proper. It was great...worth the bit extra (they even had hot cider and cookies in the lobby all day!), near a rental place for umbrellas, surfboards, bikes, skateboards and lessons for all the above. R and A spent time at the Pier Surf Shop mixing it up with a very knowledgeable guy --self proclaimed surfer who explained the various long boards, skateboards, hamboards etc. complete with a very unselfconscious sales technique showing the foot over foot approach to how to deal with the boards and make them work for you. A. was all ears. R. was humorized. There was a huge stage etc. set up for New Years eve which promised to be amazing. We throughly enjoyed our stay oogling all the interesting people eating breakfast with us from Australians to Californians --older and younger. How did they find out about this oasis?

The Beach House, Hermosa Beach>>

Candy Treats from Olvera St.

No end of treats from the Mexican yum yum tree. There were quite a few booths selling sleeves of nuts, little wrapped hard candies in a variety of formats and then the lovelies we could not identify. And these, we share with you.

Olvera Street

Olvera Street is a Mexican Street. I thought it would be absolutely the most touristi of tourist places. However, it was really for the Mexican and Mexican American Communities. I went there in search of color and skulls. I found them (and will do a sep. entry on them)--but, we had a great time looking at all the top line stuff for the quick shopper--like luchado masks, colorful mini guitars and accordians, fabric/embroidered stuff, and sweets. Day of the Dead stuff, skulls and the fabulous Virgin stuff was way back in the shops--forcing me to spend time to unearth them and the wonderful cut paper banners and paper decorations that we just dont have "back east". The other treasures were the decorated playing cards and lotterio sets. I know if I had done this with my friend Tina, we would have found the best...but hey. Research is research. We had great tacos and taquitos at a stand that were sublime.

©Murakami at the Geffen at MOCA

October 29,2007- February 11.2008
The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Takashi Murakami's show at MOCA is more than a show. It's a candy colored trip into the changing mind of a manga/anime inspired artist who is evolving his brand and art from a sexual anime form to that to me, that is more interesting--a fusion of pop art, the branding culture, eastern philosophy and imagery with that of japanese cuteness and palette. Sometimes its over the top cute, sometimes its headspinning "out there" which the context of the entire body of work grounds and to some degree begins to explain and provide the sources for the changes in the art. I mean, there are these painting that look like sticks of gum with random eyeballs and teeth that are arranged very much in the austere and precise world of Josef Muller Brockman, the swiss poster designer and proponent of the Swiss graphic design education of the seventies and eighties. Brockman would be on a rotisserie over this stuff.

Murakami created the DOB character to express himself and act as a personal brand. DOB was his first image and brand--a brand that is used exclusively, and manipulated by size color and placement. DOB was best expressed in Murakama's blow up (huge) DOB heads and these almost Mickey Mouse type paintings that had a roughness-- a painted tie dyed quality that took it off his normal "Superflat" painting technique that defies the hand and could be screen printed or even better, cut vinyl. DOB evolved to Kaikai + Kiki (adorable little Mutt and Jeff characters who are rendered either front on or just their heads--in shades of hot pink and white). I first saw Kaikai and Kiki at Art Basel Miami at a Gallery--they were full sized fiberglass, painted figures--that were striking and funny. However, it was not knowing the context of the pieces that just made them a cute oddity like the trike D'zine did. They are, however, part of a much bigger idea. DOB was best expressed in Murakama's blow up (huge) DOB heads and these almost Mickey Mouse type paintings that had a roughness-- a painted tie dyed quality that took it off his normal "Superflat" painting technique that defies the hand and could be screen printed or even better, cut vinyl. His evolution to room sized, enormous, complex forms expressing both the anime, lessons from DOB and a new component, eastern religion and religious iconography. His Oval Buddha, 2007 has a duality of personality of his main character sitting atop a turtle complete with lotus details and leaves as part of the design. There are tiny figures plunging into and out of the head with a janus like quality--one face at rest, the other with it's mouth wide open with thousands of big conical teeth, layer upon layer of them much like a shark. As I toured around this figure (well over 5 meters tall according to Murakami in his Moca video)--more and more of the detail sunk in...This is an object and yes, an entire show well worth seeing for the first time to just settle into the aesthetic. Beyond that, I would visit at least two more times just to dig into the detail. If I were a starting artist, this show would change my palette and perspective on my art. It is noteworthy.

Beyond that, Murakami is also clever. His work is sold through his own venue--books, teeshirts, buttons, and plastic characters. Inexpensive stuff he marks up to the max. His work originally sold a trinkets sold with gum. Clever man--learning the non magic of how that happens. Beyond that, he has taken it way beyond the world of Kid Robot and into the collections of sincere art collectors. He took the Louis Vuitton pattern and monkeyed with the color and started tweaking it with his eye shapes, with happy cherries and a variety of his little visual icons. Marc Jacobs saw the work and now Louis Vuilton and Murakami are collaborating on some very expensive but very cute (say Asian cute!) bags and accessories. My favorite is a steamer trunk built with shelves and on those shelves are dozens of the same bag with the accent color changing...so essentially , it is a different (but the same) bag for every day of the month. Can you say KaChing?

I am inspired by this man, his work and will be curious to see how it evolves in the next decade as the money has been made, there are new works in film (the KaiKai + Kiki was at MOCA along with the new video done with Kayne West) and his visuals are expanding to take it to a more cerebral while pop inspired place.

Take a look at Murakami's films on the MOCA site to better understand the work and artist>>

New Year, New Opportunities and much more fun

We travelled yesterday--so no blog entry as we got into our snuggly beds around 3 a.m. leaving LA at 12:30 on a non-eventful, television filled ride to arrive with the time change in NYC around 8:30 pm. The time change and tail winds were all in our favor so arriving in Syracuse (with R monitoring the weather hourly)--to dry roads, no snow showers (as projected) and no one on the road was delightful.

What a nice trip!

What a nice eight days away--with such a variety of experiences and thought janglers complete with family and good low brow everything (especially the fish tacos!). We are all appropriately inspired with K and A sporting new surf fashion (unlike anything anyone else has here), A has the longboard and the grown ups have new ideas in formation. It has been a great last year with the illustration work coming on, the kids moving on with growing up and changing into the interesting people they are and will be, and projects for R. evolving and coming to fruition. There have been some travel (outside of the educational travel) that has opened up my mind to new ideas, new approaches, new artists and new ways of looking at things. There has been new friends and clients to challenge what I do and how I do it...and also who can use the new illustration dimension to better speak to their customers and friends. There are new sports and projects for the kids, and old projects changing and evolving for R. The neighbors, my inlaws, are stable and living independent lives in relative health and significant happiness. So, all in all, 2007 has been a boon to all of us. We hope it continues in 2008 with positive change that moves us all further in our quest to live interesting, productive and engaged lives.

May it be so with you too.

I am off to buy pounds of lunch meat for the tribe. After that, I have at least 3 maybe four entries for you-- Olvera Street, Murakami, Hermosa Beach, and my scatterbrained hypothesis on california surf graphics and illustration and why it has to come from California.

So, more drivel today from yours truly.

More later>>

They were ice skating on the beach!

They were ice skating on the beach at the Coronado today...! It seems its an annual tradition--but a bit mind blowing none the less. The Coronado, in general is a bit mind blowing as well--in the Southern California tradition of doing things dramatically, big and bold. The Hotel Del Coronado is in the same spirit as the Greenbriar and other big eastern resort hotels (the Otesaga in Cooperstown, the Mohunk Mountain House in New Paltz, The Fountainbleu and the Biltmore in Miami or even the Eden Roc). The thing the Hotel Del Coronado has over all these other places is that it is smack on breathtaking beach with all sorts of things that blend the hotel with the beach from it's own strand with bikes, a big pool with striped canvas cabanas (a la the Biltmore)) a gigantic hot tub bigger than most pools, with little restaurants and bars with signature cherry red roofs tumbling out from the various activity places. Even the outdoor restaurants had places for blazing fires for chilly al fresco dining. The main lobby had the same terrific shock as the Biltmore when one came in from the brilliant Southern California sun to deep dark wood paneled, multi storied spaces with victorian turnings and panelling. It was dark and cool, a gracious cool hand to a hot brow which even on a winter day was welcome. I loved the marine tree they had in one of the coffee shops that opened out onto the beach. There are ideas in this marine tree that may evolve into something for Steuben. There are ideas here...and people totally love seashells, seahorses, coral, nautiliuses all year long--why not at Christmas. Somehow seems more appropriate than Santie Claus or Saint Frosty.

The area around the Coronado was very Miami like--in the massing of the neighborhoods, the types of stores and shopping and the way the water and the land seem to wrap one into the other.

Lunch at a surfer type place--the combo sandwich/liquor store concept. We amused ourselves with looking at the Mexican sodas and beers and all the crazy tequila labels and graphics as our sandwiches were made. Totally humorous.

Then, back in the car and back to Hermosa Beach where we will be staying 2 nights at the Beaches hotel (glam) --right on the strand with hot cider in the lobby and fireplaces in the rooms. A is working with his new longboard, R. is discovering and the girls are internetting...and drinking tea. It's nice to have a break from vacation!

More later>>

One night at the Hilton Gaslamp

We decided to try to get another night at the Solamar and rolled the four star dice at Hotwire and ended up in the Gaslamp Hilton about two blocks from the Solamar. The Hilton is really nice--very new and woody. It is within eyeshot of the beautiful convention center--right by the railroad tracks (and the cute trolley system too) so it can be a tad noisy if that sort of thing bothers you. For the magnificent Hotwire price, we all had snuggy beds and a nice time. Plus, we got to try out two hotels in San Diego!


Whoa. Expensive and oddly disconnected. i felt as if there was not much bang for the buck--and we were amongst many who decided that this was going to be their after Christmas fun. Crowds, crowds and crowds with no one really thinking about how crowds move and need to be directed. From the moment we checked in until we left, it was cheek to jowl with about a million other people. To start it was odd. We all waited in line with our upc printed tickets--squeezing down many lanes to use one of the two stations that one placed the card within a laser projected shape the other, a place we had to impress our right forefinger before the turnstyle let us in. Is this truly needed to get into a mediocre theme park? Why is it they need our fingerprint? If they need a fingerprint to get into SeaWorld why don't they need it before you get on an airplane? or a cruise boat? or before you enter a professional baseball arena? It is all "messed up" and feels terribly wrong. Wrong way to make the wrong impression.

It was Christmas full bore with Edwardian carolers singing and playing handbells all day in full period costumes in the brilliant California sun. Little niches throughout the park hyping the holiday spirit. Even Santa in a lawn chair bedecked in a hawaiian shirt with boogie boards. There were the Christmas "icon animals" (as touted)--a camel and a reindeer. There were clydesdales to have your picture taken with right next to the beer pavillion where one could have two "samples" in the compound. There was so much going on combined with the crowds, it was overwhelming.

There was of course, the Shamu show--We had the misfortune to not have the time to see the other Shamu show (the holiday one--that stretches the imagination about what they do--Santa rides Shamu? Shamu jumps through a candy cane wreath? Three wise men bring riches to shamu? it goes on and on). At our Shamu show, we were instructed to believe...and to believe that something black and white could save the world. Again, lots of splashing and hilarity around that. Lots of leaping dolphins and whales. Frankly, I felt sorry for the animals. I would rather have seen them in a big tank doing their own thing versus the trained monkey thing. We saw the leaping dolphins too. It was nice to learn from the peppy trainer that to become a trainer and work with the dolphins or Shamu all you needed was 1. an ability to swim, 2. be a great team worker and 3. Love animals! Imagine! It doesn't take much! Does it?

I can be a trainer! I would get to wear the shamu striped suit and have blonde hair.

We really liked the "feed the seals" set up where you could buy fish and feed the seals. They are loud and very convincing in their pleas to be given the fish...It was sad to think they were trained to beg to be entertainment. K and I loved a heron we saw (with the seagulls) waiting for lunch scraps.

It was sad that Sea World (a part of the Busch empire), an entity that has been engaged in conservation and animal protection, treats their animals in such a silly way. They do not address global warming, preservation of the rain forest, how we must change at a very basic level to begin the process of truly living in more harmony with nature. It could all fit with their entertainment...but somehow the brain part of the equation was left out. More game shows for the masses. Considering this conservation and consciousness aspect of what they represent, the amount of plastic consumed daily in the park is phenomenal and stupidly clueless. Why aren't they using the cellulose based plastics or shifting to unbleached paper? Why aren't they separating trash and encouraging the crowd to do so as part of their green/blue program. Why are they pushing these enormous cups with these molded plastic tops of a cresting Shamu that one pokes a straw in their head (for about 9 bucks)? More crap for the landfill. Profit is one thing--short term profit--and image which is built impression upon impression is another. Anheuser Busch is a smart and savvy company--they can do better with their messaging and purpose. It is tragic. They should decide to be a theme park or a player in the world of conservation and change--and match their messaging to it. Right now, it is very selective and frankly, not very intelligent.

Prior to the shows starting, one of the chipper performers would do the lead in...the first recognizing the fire fighters and emergency people during the recent fires which was verbal and very heartfelt. Then there was an enormous send off (complete with essentially a commercial on the Jumbotron) for our heros (those past and present in the military) that was fine..but felt somehow insincere when you realize that many vets couldn't afford to pay the admission price to get into the park. We saw quite a few on the street with their dogs in the Gaslamp district last night and the incongruity hit me. This war needs to stop. We need to have the funds to take care of our own. We need to rethink or better, think about what is going on and then proceed.

Who would have thought that a trip to SeaWorld would have gotten me on my soapbox? Back to California, please!

Hotwire Jackpot

We took a four star crapshoot with Hotwire and ended up with a gorgeous hotel in the Gaslamp district (near the convention center and in the middle of all sorts of high end eating, drinking and shopping in San Diego. We are staying at the Hotel Solamar (part of the Kimpton Chain--with one of their most recognized hotels being the Drake in San Francisco). It is fun and quirky with the rooms (as seen above) bold and well appointed (the bathrobes in the rooms are either zebra stripe or leopard skin terry cloth), to inventive spaces with great, dramatic lighting and furnishings. We got in around 4 and walked to the pool--to see the various cabanas around the outside pool along with a firepit and tiki inspired bar. We strolled over to the convention center (a really beautiful and accessible building) inspired by the public trolleys and ease of doing everything. We got a glimpse of the Bay and immediately all felt hungry, imagine! As it is our 27th wedding anniversary, we decided to go to Mr. Tiki's Mai Tai Lounge, which we learned about on the web and read raves about. The food was good, drinks tasty but the ramped up kitch we were hoping for (San Diego is home to one of the celebrated US tiki fests annually)--wasn't there. They did have cute glass puffer fish as light fixtures that were a good idea for the January 2300 degrees at the Corning Museum of Glass (Tiki Fire and Ice). And the surf and skate videos were a draw for the younger set. There were Mother/Daughter groups gulping down flaming volcanos (enormous drinks) and sliding to the floor in laughter. Made me feel right old (27 yrs of marriage isnt just anything!). A. wanted to join the volcano consumers... It was inspiration to pursue the tiki thing more.

Its late. Need to put my head down. Tomorrow, Sea World!


After a little putzing around Huntington Beach, we stopped in Costa Mesa/ Newport Beach at Wahoo, the center for the fashionistas and sports guys/gals. Wahoo features, as Aunty Baby says, "surf food" which comprises of a little bit of this and a little of that from ahi rice and beans, to tacos and burritos, to hot soups and "bowls". Stickers were everywhere...in the bathroom, on the windows, on the grills, on the register, around the window you ordered from--everywhere. The food was great (I had fish tacos but found out later as I began to break out in red blotches, that maybe there was MSG in the blackening agent --hurray for benedril)), and everyone ate and ate and ate. A. ate two whole gigantic burritos and they declared finally that he had had enough! Its enough to scare you--the sheer volume of food A. ate. But how often is it that one is 14 and still piling on the vertical inches?

It was fun and we loved it...but my money is still on Taco Mesa. #1 for now.

Hermosa Beach in the a.m.

Had coffee at Cafe Bonaparte with A. downing a single expresso like an italiano vero. We were enthralled by the local skateboarders, the board shops, and the general junk available for sale at Hermosa Beach. Identified a great hotel right on the "Strand" which is the walkway between the shops and houses and the beach.

Beach House , Hotel at Hermosa>>

Watched some men throw cookies and bagels into this thrall of seagulls with them hovering, snapping and biting each other for the booty. Seeing a seagull fly away with a complete bagel was a big undoing. We visited a great store beyond the surf joints--Powerhouse 6 with great graphics, the board stuff along with illustration stuff (tees by Jeremy Fish, wallets and accessories along with clothes from Obey, funny Kid-Robot-y toys, all wood (almost furniture like skateboards) boards from Bottega Montana--far beyond the world of laminates and plexi. Cool shoes. Cool wooden cut out (could have been laser cut) jewels and charm-y stuff. Inspired selection that was more about fashion and illustration versus the Surfside lineup (which isnt bad...its more predictable when you see it repeated).

While we were coffee drinking, a man brought two cute herding dogs who immediately leapt up on the pilons defining the main plaza from the eating areas. The dogs were on leashes and were clipped to the screen on the front of the lamps and were the California version of temple guardians. Wonderful. (thus the dog shot).

After about an hour and a half of this fun, it was time to meet up with Aunty Baby for our trek south to San Diego.

shopping at Del Amo

We shopped at Del Amo:

> Metropark: a hipster place for the suburban hip. DJ in residence (not today) but the gear was there. Tons of skate and surf lifestyle stuff more oriented towards lifestyle and not really being the hip real time surfer that Huntington Beach promised. More Obey stuff (will do an entry on Obey as it is fascinating), jewels and pocketbooks, magazine selection and limited mens. Was part of a mall thing, so felt edgy in context.

> Forever XXI:  H&M concept overlaid on an interior that smacks of pre-rennovated small department stores of the late 80s (ie Bergdorfs) with every item being under $24. Wonderful and fun. We stocked up on jewelly bangle bracelets for valentines day for all our gal pals at $6.80 a grouping. Really cute empire waisted short coats in a greyed out chartreuse, beige, white or black. Lots of sweaters, basic tees, and the New Years collection of spangled goodies. It was all tremendous fun...accessable and very now. Worth spending lots of time there digging through the baskets and racks.

> Loved Free People just for their illustrative facade. Another venue for illustrators. Take note>>

> Had lunch at the showstopper, In and Out Burger (menu above). Simple and to the point. About 5 things they offer. The biggest choice you will need to make is what to drink. Everything stacked into small , but tall, red plastic " buckets" to share the deliciousness out of. A must try. Everyone and their brother were eating post Christmas burgers and fries. We had to, too.

> Went to Aunty Baby's barn to check on the perfect "Just in Time" (Justin or Jay). Took a few pix of him to generate some horse images of him. I have never,ever seen an animal able to "strike a pose" quite the way this equine can do it. Impressive. And, images promise to come out of the shoot. There is one where he is bending this neck perpendicular to his body--and the way the light describes the plains is almost sublime.

It was a cool, SCal day. Perfect. Perfect sun, lots of breeze but nowhere near the blusteriness of our beloved plateau. Off to San Diego tomorrow.

Christmas without the traditions

Christmas was a day unlike all others. Meaning, it was not about the traditions. First off, we had a nice breakfast and then watched A. ride his new longboard skateboard--a cruiser--which he fought us as he "didn't want it"--to find out he did. This is our little No means Yes boy. He is thrilled and to be honest, he looks good on it...and he will be very good at this. Plus, the benefit of being the first on the plateau to have such a wonderful thing. We got up and going early to see hoards of surfers running into the surf and seeing if they could may a go of it. It was very zen to see them all waiting for the opportunity to ride the wave in the brilliant light and cold Pacific water. Others congregated on the beach to try out their other Christmas presents, like boogie boards and the like. A three wheeled electric car named Sparky pulled up next to our car while we watched at lifeguard station #22 which was like a special eco present. We all thought it was pretty great. Then off to Boisa Chica, a wildlife preserve to watch a pair of men with impressive cameras take pictures of the birds we were amused to watch. We saw all sorts of coots and ducks, pelicans and egrets along with observing the egret nesting area protected by a fence. It was beautiful and perfect in it's simplicity and attention to what was important--the birds.

We drove down PCH listening to a Christmas concert performed by the Blind Boys of Alabama from the Disney Center, looking left and right at all that was there--chatting about the different beach communitites and which one we liked the best. I snapped pictures of the nutty signage as well. You know, the mexican tradition of wall painting/murals/signage that all seems to blur into itself is very much alive in LA. If you have a stucco wall and a can of paint, you have signage. And interestingly enough, the layout of the "page" or the wall is almost formatted to the stuff we saw in Cozumel. What goes to the left of the door, what goes to the right, the picture of the process of what the person sells or does, the icon of what the name of the establishment is etc...you can find American mirrors of the same. i snapped the top image as we sped by this nondescript building on PCH. You will see more of this as I am fascinated.

Then up to Redondo Beach/ Hermosa Beach to have an alfresco lunch at Captain Kidds along with many other families. The Captain was selling seafood--piles of crabs, spiny crabs and lobsters like no one's business. K and I were focused on the selling and buying of lobsters around here. A customer was very specific about the type of lobster he wanted and then asked for the fishman to flip the beast over and then he (the customer) went about this ritual of pulling the forelegs, feeling the antennae, and feeliing its abdomen. Some of the lobsters did not take well to this inspection --snapping and whacking its tail to show it's displeasure. Another customer wanted a big lobster and ordered it up in advance. His beast came all ready to go in the clear plastic bag--and truly it was BIG. The girth of the tail was a good 12 inches at its thickest, and the base of the 20" antennae was a good 1.5" in circumfrence. Top to tail stretched out was easily 36"...and too big for the requestor. So, we had the horror of watching the poor fishman try to extract this crustacean from the tight confines of the plastic bag. It was truly gladiator vs gladiator and we were betting on the lobster being the victor in that exchange.

We heard honking/barking while we ate outside--and found that there were seals nearby--so we went in pursuit of them and after a little stroll--found them happily basking in the Christmas sunshine on some sort of manmade mountain tethered to a rusty big boat. K was delighted.

We had a nice dinner with R's side of the family with the promised tamales and pork. The conversation was lively from family things to the celebrity and friend, Digby, weighing in on Digby's view on things political and philosophical. There were desserts to beat the band and elegant drinks like Poinsettias and Mojitos to round out the evening. We had to leave early as these east coasters were wiped out. We are staying at the Best Western Sunrise and are pleasantly surprised at how nice, clean and big it is--versus the poor Palos Verdes Inn, which has all the bones and none of the investment to make it worth the money staying there. This new place is much better and one can see water and marinas everywhere.

We go to Metropark with Aunty Baby to see what the new and hip in California are doing. Tomorrow off to San Diego for more sightseeing.


Huntington Beach Shoporama

We visited three of the big surf/skate emporiums in Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa:

Jacks and Jack Girls
Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA
Racks of discounted clothes on the street. Every shape and size from tees to snow gear. They had a stack of snowboards discounted for Christmas with boxes of boots and bindings. We found K an Obey tee for significantly lower money than we had seen. Cool bin of belts, socks, hats. The aesthetic is jumble. So, dive in.

Huntington Beach Surf and Sport
300 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach CA
Hurley also has the racks on the street from board shorts to little dresses for the girls. More brands, more of a mix. There were shoes and sweatshirts and even shirts with collars. Inside were boutiques chock a block with a range of lifestyle things through serious stuff like wet suits, surf boards, skateboards, longboards,

233 East 17th Street
Costa Mesa CA 92627
Not presenting the discount look on the street. Not within eyeshot of the beach. However, the most comprehensive and orderly way to see surf and skate gear and clothing in a universal way. Very much the Neiman Marcus of the the three.


--There is a role for illustration in this cool market. Lots of illustration and lots of types too. You don't have to be goth or vectorized, but a graphic style, a linear illustration style, wood-cuts. The skateboards are the place to see the breadth and depth there.

--Fascinating to see a broad sweep of the brands in each sport. Rare to see a skate company creep into snow and vice versa.

--Color in the skate world is minimal. Black, white, grey, taupe. Patterns. Pattern upon patterns. Mainly knits, tees, hoodies, belts and hats for the boys. Girls have the wider reach with cloth jackets, skirts, pants and accessories. Girls as drab as the boys in the skate brands. The boards are the color in this equation.

--Logo and custom buttons and logo badges, zipper pulls are where the difference is to be had.

--Color and humor pokes out a bit more with the snow clothing. Lots of green, tone on tone (black and brown), white--with patterns that are illustration based, collage based, twists on photography (my favorite being a reversed image of dice). However, the boards are decorative and interesting (skulls showing up there too) but more laid back re color. My absolute take home favorite were these "old school" snowboards which were wood with inlay looking like a combination of early surfboards or wooden motorboats of the fifites. Really cool and elegant. We need to take note of this shift. This is original stuff. There were lots of guys using the "old school" phrase when describing what it was that they were looking for. Interesting. I love the idea of real materials beginning to poke into such an invented, brand-y world that the absence of brand is the ultimate chic. To that, embroidery and heavy embroidery is throughout the girls lines...equally as real as the wood.

More later>>

Christmas Candy

Somehow mexican food with multicolored stickers and spiderman doesn't seem to converge very often, but it does, it does it with great style, wonderful taste and presents you with an "in your face" Southern California moment. Eclectic, eccentric, brilliant and shocking in the experience. Particularly in Costa Mesa, the home of where surf, sun, and art collide and terrific thing happen.

Taco Mesa (Costa Mesa) is the place we start. One first sees this brilliant blue building covered in illustration with an outdoor area enclosed by a fence. Even before you get in the building the visual excitement is high with very vertical surface covered in promotional stickers for local skate, surf shops and ancillary lifestyle stuff like bands, radio stations, screenprinters, sticker makers and all round general "make your mark" types of graphics. When you go inside, the fun just begins. There are a zillion things on the menu--all good with fresh salsas and escabeche offered free with the food. There are generally 3 acqua frescas (flavored cold drinks) on ice ready to be doled out. And when the wonderful food and choices seem to overwhelm you in happiness, then the visual barrage (such as the holiday decorations Iwith these insane stars with Marvel or Disney characters --pinata technology, and the liberal application of stickers everywhere. My favorite application being the soda machine. We had the opportunity to meet Ivan Calderon, one of the founders, a friend of Aunty Baby--a lovely man that has his hands full with a multitude of restaurants and the high expectations the world has for the Taco Mesa restaurants.
OC WEEKLY - 1998 Best of OC
October 1998
Winner - Best Mexican Restaurant
& Best Way to Enjoy Taco Mesa “Know the rules”:

Other regions can have their cheese steaks and crab cakes because when it comes to Mexican food, OC is king. And with such selection, we are a county of taqueria nomads, constantly searching for the most flavorful asada and the tenderest tamale . This truth begs a question: Is it possible for one restaurant to meet our complex individual comida cravings? Ivan and Marco Calderon have done it with Taco Mesa, according to your vote, and I second that, carnales .
Orange Coast Magazine - A Taste of Mexico
March 2003

"Tell us how you like it and we'll prepare it your way," is the promise on the menu, reflecting Taco Mesa's philosophy of wanting to please the customers. Dishes represent traditional Mexican recipes coupled with European cooking techniques. Specials such as lobster enchilada with a roasted serrano tomatillo cream sauce or sweet corn tamalito with mango butter and papaya relish supplement the core menu of enchiladas, quesadillas, burritos, and tortas.

And to our delight in Aunty Baby's cleverness, we are to have tamales for Christmas made my none other than the Costa Mesa, Taco Mesa. To Baby's mind, the tamale is the turkey...you know, the Christmas turkey and there is absolutely no choice in having anything but tamales for this festive holiday.

We say, bring it on!

Back to the stickers. I mentioned I would get the true source for stickers in O.C. And, thanks to the Costa Mesa, Taco Mesa, we have it. It is the House of Stickers . Here's the deal. House of Stickers instead of pricing quantities, tells you what you can get for a price, their starting price being $375. Assuming we are working one color, you can get 29,259 stickers if it's a .75" circle. Or more reasonably, 3" circle--3,000 stickers or 4" circle 1500 stickers up to a 18" circle 62 pieces. Their tee shirts are a good price--dirt cheap to my estimation. I will not try to explain their financial table.. Maybe you can do that for me?

Another great resource is a cool, very fashionable teeshirt one can screenprint called Alternative Apparel They are a bit thinner with some stretch--perfect for girls. Prices are a bit higher, but I think one could get more for them as they are so nice. And the cuts, designs and color are far more hip. They even have some cool bags and hats that the dopes in our area wouldn't have the sense to have. So, I think there might be some cool stuff made for Memento Mori in the near future.

More later on the candy colored world of surf and skate>>