Friday, May 27, 2011
Life Outside NY Part 3: Hollywoodland of Lost Angeles
After spending a couple of quiet, nostalgic weeks in Arizona I took a night train to the ocean my heart belongs to; the Pacific. I arrived in LA at dawn, after passing through the surreal windmills of Palm Spring, cookie-cutter Inland Empire suburbanite condos, beautiful broken graffiti painted canals, palm tree urban ruins, creaky morning factories and industrial warehouse spaces. When I arrived in Union Station I felt a calm sense of peace and familiarity that I had missed, being in New York over the years.
My friend Kerstin picked me up from the train station and we went straight to a beach near Santa Monica. We walked along the seaside barefoot, dancing in the waves, the warm wind whipping sand through our hair. As the sky fell down on the water it shimmered a perfect reflection. In seeing the Pacific Ocean I felt overwhelmed by a sense of calm, and remembered that my heart belongs to this sea; a sense of amenity.
Then something amazing happened. Something that has only happened to me at one other time in my life-which was when I was 18 years old, also standing beside the Pacific Ocean (only it was on the Oregon coast the first time it happened). As a stared intently into the fluid, midnight colored sea I saw a smooth, fleshy, rounded back and fin arch up above the surface. It bobbed below and then came back up again about 10 feet away from the first spot, shimmering a brilliant pewter shade in the afternoon sunlight. It was a dolphin. We watched it move across the surface of the sea, lunging up and down, until we couldn't see it anymore. An incredible thing to see, and an omen.
In many Native American tribes the dolphin is a sign of universal harmony, healing, creativity, joy and balance. In Irish history Celts recognized the dolphin as a sign of intelligence, friendship and good luck. In Greek mythology the dolphin is a compatriot of Aphrodite (the goddess of love) and Apollo (the god of sun and light). Universally the dolphin has been celebrated as a sign of good faith. Upon encountering the beauty of that creature swimming through the Pacific in the sun that morning I knew that this was a place I needed to be. I felt at home and that the world was right.
Sure enough the rest of my trip in LA blossomed magically. I had been to LA many times before, in my adolescents, but it never felt like this time. I spent the first couple of days driving around Hollywood with my awesome pal Kerstin, oogling the beautiful old mansions in the hills. Carlo Mancia and Jennifer Clark took me out goth dancing on Sunset. My beautiful sister/muse/darling Mika Jones took me to coffee in Hollywood, and afterwards we strolled down Hollywood Blvd. and walked over the stars. Another dear girlfriend and her pals took me to Venice Beach, which I fell in love with.
A couple of days after my arrival I got to meet my favored author and one of my teenage icons/inspirations, Francesca Lia Block. I have been reading FLB's books since I was 15, and still today they are my favorites. I have a very strong and special connection to her books. I think that the stories she writes have taught me how to express my darkness and heal myself through creating. Many of her stories have saved me, in a sense. In particular "The Hanged Man," was a very special book for me, and I have considered it a favorite since I first read it 11 years ago. I have reread it more times then I can count, and will continue to read it for the rest of my life.
Meeting Francesca was unreal, and I felt an instant kinship to her. I went to her beautiful cottage in Culver City. We sat in the sunlight and spoke of upcoming projects and collaborations. I told her how much her books meant to me, and how inspired I felt. In that afternoon meeting a beautiful thing happened. I was given the opportunity to design a couture collection inspired by my favorite book; The Hanged Man, which will be costuming a fine art film project I will be doing with FLB. I was also given the opportunity to rent a work/live space in her garden, where I will be living starting in September! It is a beautiful space, with high ceilings, tons of space and great light. I am very excited to fill it with my art and couture!
I didn't necessarily expect to fall in love with LA and want to move there, although I guess I'm also really not surprised it happened. One thing I am sure of is that being there reminded me enormously of why I love the West coast. I belong here. You can take the girl outta the West coast, but you can't take the West coast outta the girl. Sometimes she has to come back. Especially for opportunities that are also dreams, becoming real and tangible right in front of me. If you can dream it, you can do it.
I am sad to leave New York, but happy to know I will always be able to return to that brilliant, maddening, incredible Gotham city. More on that later though. I'll be back to New York to say goodbye for real before I land permanently in LA. In the meantime stay posted for my adventures in San Francisco, including a collaborative collection with Katie Burley, and then look for notes about my upcoming summer in Seattle, including a metalware collaborative collection with Nicholas Goodwin.
Photos below by Thomas Chesnot.