Monthly Archives: December 2010

90s retro night at whole foods arroyo

Someone my age at the Whole Foods must have set the in-store music to “The Nineties!” tonight. While there, I heard:

Crystal Watters – 100% Pure Love (which I don’t think I’ve heard since high school dances…and which Ben was kind of dancing to himself)
Jewel – Who Will Save Your Soul?
Green Day – Longview
Madonna – Frozen
Natalie Imbruglia – Torn
Dishwalla – Counting Blue Cars

…and a few other songs I can’t remember that I recognized as all being from that timeframe, 1994 through 1998.

Ben and I were having dinner at Discounted Food Bar Night tonight: me with a plate full of prepared salads, Ben with hummus and pita and vegetables. And I heard all these songs going by, and realized (again) that my generation is now old enough, and well-off enough, that marketing 90s nostalgia to us is actually a money making proposition. I go to a bar in Culver City and hear the same songs that played in the clubs when I was nineteen and just turned legal in BC. I go to Whole Foods and hear the Top Tracks of 1994. We are now in our thirties, reasonably well-off, and willing to start to pay to remember our youth…so why not throw some nostalgia at the tail end of GenX?

Unfortunately, because I have been seeing nostalgia marketed to the Baby Boomers my entire life, I now associate hearing songs from the 90s with being reminded that I am old enough for the music I grew up with to be “retro”. If that makes sense. When I was a teenager, music from the past meant music from the 60s or 70s that was being played to cater to people who were old. Now, I hear music from the 90s and think, does that mean I’m old? Because it probably does.

being old and out of it means avoiding crappy pop songs!

Upon reading the Village Voice’s Worst Song of 2010 article, I realized that what I vaguely recognized as “one of those iPhone commercial songs” was actually the top rock song of the year: Train’s “Hey Soul Sister”.

And upon reading the Wikipedia entry, I realize that not recognizing the song saved me a year of annoyance. Because then, I would have to think about how it’s an insult to the entire Burning Man community, since it is apparently the lead singer’s fantasy of what he thinks Burning Man is like (“beautiful naked women dancing around a fire”). The whole thing is entirely too reminiscent of the Terrible Pop Rock Trend From Ten Years Ago. Which, now that I think about it, was the last time Train was popular.

What the hell is it about the end of a decade that generates such craptacular “alterna-lite” music? Ten years ago there was that stupid Vertical Horizon band, which I always assumed was actually a corporate shill for Verizon. There were all sorts of bands with numbers in them: Eve 6, Stroke 9, Blink 182, all of whom annoyed me. And the bands that kicked off this dreadful trend, like Live and Counting Crows, who were actually good artists, had imploded in the wake of popularity and been watered down into the same pablum as the other bands. Enter Train, with “Meet Virginia”. Now, we’re in 2010, and I’m surprised Smash Mouth didn’t make a comeback along with these guys. But we did get that “Airborne Toxic Event” band and, look, I’m really sorry, but Vampire Weekend officially because a Crap Rock Lite band the second the ink dried on their contract to sell “Holiday” to Tommy Hilfiger.

Fortunately, I have managed to turn myself into someone who is old, married, and out of it. I only recognize pop dance tracks when they’re the other half of a mashup, and I have managed to block out most pop rock tracks by not listening to the radio. I hear that there may have been a lot of decent music that did happen in 2010, and I probably should have paid attention and listened to it. Especially since, now that I think about it I honestly have no idea what I have been listening to. I know I heard some new albums by much beloved bands (the Birthday Massacre put out a new album this fall that I listened to multiple times in a row). And I did hear some new music through co-workers, especially if it was Deadmau5. But I listen to music in the car, and if Ben was in it, I was probably playing Pixar movie soundtrack songs. I can’t tell if this is because I’m a working mom, or if it’s because I just ran out of energy to care. Which is actually the same thing. But whatever the reason, it saved me having to hear more than a few seconds at a time of “Hey, Soul Sister”.

Oh, and for the record? I would have actually stacked anything by Katy Perry as one of the worst songs of the year. I cringe at how bad those songs are, and firmly believe they are straight out of a soundtrack to Idiocracy.

sex and the city and airplanes to NYC

I always end up watching Sex & The City episodes on airplanes. I caught the first one yesterday on the plane to NYC. Which is where I am now. I’ve been eating Tasti-D-Lite and watching some of the classic episodes from Season 2 to remind me that the show used to have redeeming features. Also, the show makes SO MUCH MORE sense to me now that I have spent time in NYC. Actually, it makes more sense now that I’m in my thirties, period.

I’m in NYC today for work. It’s COLD here. I have a nice warm coat, and insulated gloves, and suede boots with wool socks, so it isn’t too bad for me. There were snowflakes today though. Yet I still loved walking through Midtown today, from my office at 52nd and 5th, all the way down to my hotel at 39th and 8th. I absolutely love walking in New York. I love seeing all the people and feeling how electric it is here. I couldn’t understand NYC before I started coming here for work, and I couldn’t understand why so many people would choose to live in such a small area. Now, I get it. L.A. loses something by being so spread out…and even before freeways, L.A. was a colony of New York. Being in Manhattan, I understand why people choose to live here, despite the financial cost, despite the cold.

I wish I had had the chance to live here when I was younger…but I don’t think I could have managed to do so. I needed the last six years of learning Los Angeles to handle NYC, and even so, the first time I came here, I still felt like I was fresh off the ferryboat from the Island. Now, I’m old, and married, and have a baby, and I don’t think I could manage to fit learning and exploring a whole city with quite the enthusiasm I would have five years ago. But I still love walking here and looking at everything. I love the exploring I do have the chance to do. I love experiencing the city as a non-tourist: because I’m here for work, I don’t feel like I’m in the same category as the visitors at Rockefeller Center.

I also realize I’ve gone from LDN to LA to NYC inside of two weeks. When I was a little girl on the Island, dreaming of the big world out beyond the water, I wanted nothing more than to experience the sophistication I imagined was in those cities. I wanted to acquire that layer of sophistication, to have a high-gloss city finish. I never wanted to necessarily be glamourous or beautiful, but I wanted to soak in the knowledge available in those cities beyond the Island. Now, I get to do that – albeit on limited time here and there – and I love it. I love being in these big cities, in these centers of knowledge and power and art and music and excitement, and I feel so lucky that I did grow up to have these kind of opportunities.

And I feel even luckier that, at the end of a day in NYC, I will get on a plane back to my husband and son in L.A. Could life really be any more awesome than this? I am able to go out into the world, and be a career woman in a big city for a few days, and then come back to my extra-ordinary life in L.A., with Paul and Ben and my friends and my family coming to visit soon…and it’s actually a really good thing to be me.

multiculturalism in food with ben

One of the things I’m proud of both us and Ben for, is that we do take Ben out to eat foods from different parts of the world. Part of that is because we don’t have the bland chain restaurants that might be a default for us if we did live in a different city. Most of it, however, is that Paul and I both like a lot of food from other cultures. We don’t want to be limited to eating the same things over and over, and especially not when we live in a city like L.A. where we can be taking advantage of all the different food available to us. And we’ve found that if we just go out and take Ben to a restaurant, he’ll try the food, and probably find something familiar enough to him that he’ll eat it.

Ben is, therefore, used to eating a lot of different foods. This makes going out to eat more fun for all of us. I remember despairing when I was pregnant, thinking I wouldn’t be able to go out to “normal” restaurants with a small child every again, and that I would be stuck with burgers, pizza and hot dogs. Well, we still can’t go out to super-nice restaurants, but we can definitely go out to anything where entress are in the $15-or-less range. And if we go earlier in the evening, it’s even better, because restaurant staff are much more tolerant of a two year old when the place is half empty.

Some of the cultures we’ve fed Ben foods from include:

Japanese
This is actually a standby for us. Ben is just fine with Japanese food. He loves edamame, to start with, and also likes to slurp down a bowl of miso soup with tofu. He also happily shares in Paul’s chicken teriyaki or udon noodles. But Ben also likes avocado, so we translated that into avocado and California rolls. We can usually get him to eat most of a sushi roll now. I’m not giving him raw fish, because he is too small to fight off a parasite or any dangerous bacteria if it’s not 100% safe. That’s fine for me to risk, but not my baby, and he’s just fine with that anyways. Ben is also working on learning to use chopsticks, and is DETERMINED to be able to eat with them.

Vietnamese
Ben is just fine eating spring rolls as a standby. We have also managed to feed him small amounts of pho…but it means cutting up the noodles and teaching him to slurp out of a big spoon. The noodle cutting and Ben’s lack of dexterity with chopsticks is the big hurdle here, not the food itself. We look forward to his hands getting big enough for him to eat long noodles by himself.

Middle Eastern
One of Ben’s favorite foods is hummus and pita. This has not yet extended to falafel, but he’ll make a meal out of hummus and possibly some rice, meat, and green peppers if they’re available. He will also eat kibbeh.

Mexican
Mention “burrito” to Ben and he will demand he get to eat one. We have also been able to get him to eat street tacos, but sometimes, he’s just not in the mood for it.

South Asian
This is actually a bit trickier. Ben will eat tandoori chicken and rice, but that’s about it for Indian. Thai, we haven’t even really tried yet. Too spicy, even for our spice-loving little boy.

Ethiopian
We tried this for the first time yesterday, and Ben liked the injera bread. He also seemed to really like some of the spices used in the green beans and lentil stew. We will have to try this one again in the future to see how much he will eat once he’s more familiar with the food.

We do still take Ben out to American restaurants. But he’s just as likely to eat whatever it is in front of him at a Sushi Go 55 as he is at a Bob Evans. (And at Sushi Go 55, we had the added bonus of elderly Japanese ladies thinking that our little boy is adorable for trying to get his sushi in his mouth using his chopsticks). And since I am a big sushi fan, I’m very happy with that. Next stops on the food tour of L.A. for Ben will probably include some Korean BBQ, or some pad thai, or possibly dim sum. As long as we live in L.A., and we’re lucky enough to have so many cultures to choose a dining experience from, we’ll try to make sure our tiny boy gets to go to as many as possible. I look forward to him being a total food snob about it when he gets to his twenties, too.

snow, L.A. style

Today, Paul and I took Ben to see snow fall at the Grove shopping center. By “snow”, of course, I mean the tiny bits of foam that are used by shopping centers and Disneyland when they want to create holiday seasonality. But at the Grove, it’s a Production, complete with music and a synchronized fountain (water leaping to “Let it Snow”). And between the faux-flurry and the giant Christmas tree, Ben loved being there tonight.

We actually had a great day with Ben. We went to Pan Pacific Park before it got dark. Paul and I ran around, keeping an eye on Ben and making sure we spotted him accordingly when he decided to climb something not designed for a two year old. (Ben climbs like a monkey, and we often let him go and just try to be ready in case he slips). Ben also loves going to the park – any park. He just loves being able to run around, preferably on playground equipment that has a slide or tunnels attached. I love watching him in action, and seeing how confident he is in his own physical ability on a playground.

After the park, we decided to try something new for dinner. I had a Groupon for Rahel Ethiopian Cuisine nearby on Fairfax, so we rolled on down to Little Ethiopia to try it. It’s a vegan restaurant, so we knew there would be lots of lentil and chickpea dishes that Ben would probably eat. I also thought that eating with our hands would be a good option for our little boy. And neither Paul nor I had had Ethiopian cuisine before. Our entire knowledge on the subject came from watching Top Chef Masters last year, which, actually, made me curious to get around to trying it. And we did actually get Ben to eat a small portion of injera bread and lentil stew, not to mention green beans and carrots (!), so we considered it a success.

Then, after the requisite Ten Minute Traffic Jam on Fairfax, we finally made it back to the Grove. The parking structure was at maximum capacity, leading us up to the roof to park. And when I saw the Christmas tree top at the same height, I knew it was a huge freaking tree. When we finally got down to ground level, I was actually impressed by the size of the tree…and how much stuff had been put on it. The Grove tree, which is actually taller than the one at Rockefeller Center in NYC, has thousands of glass balls and lights decorating it, and, from the ground, looks the size of a building. The only thing slightly spoiling the effect was the 3D promotion for Yogi Bear at the bottom of the tree: a mock Ranger station for Jellystone Park, complete with bear photos and bear crime scene notes. Sigh.

So the three of us wandered around the Grove for a bit, looking at store windows, enjoying the scheduled 7pm snow flurry, and checking out the new book options for Ben at Barnes & Noble. Ben then fell asleep in the car on the way home…and I fell asleep right after he did

Actually, I’m supposed to be out right now, at Bootie. I’m not. I took a nap, woke up, and have been sorting through the bills and random items in my Inbox for the past couple hours, because I’m off to NYC tomorrow, and wanted to be sure I didn’t have any outstanding items before I left. I have a few library books, but that’s it. Go, me. Time for some well-earned sleep.