Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015

"Reigning Men" exhibit at LACMA
Karen and I attended a fascinating members-only lecture about men's fashion at the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA), Monday night. We learned about the Macaronis—as in, Yankee Doodle "stuck a feather in his cap and called it 'Macaroni'"—who were young British dandies, who toured Italy in the 1800s and loved eating pasta so much that they called themselves "Macaroni"! Their signature fashion statement included colorful garb and mile-high hair. Who knew?

We also heard about LACMA's 5-year search for an authentic zoot suit, which they were finally able to purchase for a record-breaking $78,000 (yikes!) through a New York auction. You can read more about it here.

Following the lecture, we were given after-hours access to the "Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715-2015" exhibition, which ends August 21. At first, LACMA curators thought they would have to include some women's fashion to add color and spice. But no need. As you can see below, the exhibit is fabulous as is. (Click on images to enlarge.) Highly recommended.

A Macaroni, sporting colorful waistcoat,
boutonniere, and tall hair 

Modern version of a colorful jacket
and vest

Dandies from the 1960s, 1800s, and today

Remember the '60s?

Broad-legged pants

The famous zoot suit: more
broad-legged pants

Incredible robes


Hugh Hefner, anyone?

Amazing Hawaiian shirts from the 1950s

Wool suits--dig the crazy horn hat! 

Tapestry suit

Who says men's clothing is boring?!

Coat of many colors!

Amazing jacket

Men about town

Hip cats


Covered in mother-of-pearl buttons

Camouflage and what our lecturer 
called "anti-camouflage"

Did you know that men used to cinch 
their waists also?

An array of swimwear (or not!)

And, of course, no wardrobe is complete without 
some fancy kicks

Friday, June 03, 2016

Hillary in Culver City

Hillary Clinton, fighting for us
Tim woke me at 6AM.

“Hillary Clinton is speaking in Culver City today,” he casually mentioned.

“WHAT?!?!?” I yelled, leaping out of bed to check the computer.

Sure enough, she was appearing at West L.A. College, just a mile from where we live. Doors were opening at 8:30AM. The computer asked me to RSVP. I clicked YES, hoping it wasn’t too late. (How did I not know about this sooner?) Tim, who never attends political rallies, also RSVP’d after I told him the rally was free.

Our next decision: How to get there? We decided to walk and so left the house at 7:30AM. We followed the line of cars onto campus and knew we were in the right place when we saw media vans huddled around the gymnasium. A short line (mostly women) waited to get in. We stood at the end. “I hope more people show up,” Tim whispered.

 Media vans on West L.A. campus

For the next hour, we watched as campaigners and media outlets worked the line. California’s primary election is in four days, so people were needed to staff Hillary phonebanks this weekend. The woman behind us signed up. Several reporters had microphones ready to interview anyone who looked intelligent enough to talk about the election. We were interviewed by both John Baird, from all-news radio station KNX (my favorite!), and a French cameraperson, who freelances for CNN.

At 9AM, we started heading toward the gym doors. We entered the building only after going through a metal detector. A large hand-scrawled sign indicating RESTROOMS pointed to the left. We stepped right into the gym. The space was small.

“I’ve never been this close to Hillary before!” the phonebank woman exclaimed. 

 Happy to be inside the gym

Everyone was ecstatic. Tim found a place to sit, while I staked out a spot to stand on the floor. We ended up back by the media cameras, a half-court away from the dais. We then waited another hour as more people piled in. Loud music, controlled by a female DJ, blasted overhead. Today’s theme was all about woman power!

 Tim in front of media cameras

At 10:20AM, the first of several (10? 15?) women told us why she was voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton. The speakers were appropriately diverse: white, Hispanic, African-American, transgender, politicians, two different union leaders, and several celebrities, including Mary Steenburgen, Debra Messing, Elizabeth Banks, and Sally Field. Each spoke for about 5 minutes. Their message was not new, but their delivery was invigorating (lots of talk about love, interestingly enough). The main objective was to energize the base. We were obviously already on board—it was now our task to convince others.

 Elizabeth Banks speaking, Debra Messing at far right

Hillary finally emerged at 11:30AM. As usual, she was lovely, energetic and committed, speaking in support of families, healthcare, gun control, and education. The crowd went wild. She spoke for about 10 minutes before joining the audience to shake hands. By then, about 1000 people had jammed into the gym—no way would we get close enough to shake her hand—and so we headed home. 

 Hillary on the dais

Me with Hillary in the background
Now on to the White House!

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Frozen at DCA

Crowds outside the Hyperion theater, waiting to see Frozen
I have a confession to make: I'm not that big a fan of the Disney movie Frozen. Sure, we saw it when it was first released in theaters, but only once. And, as much as I like the main song, "Let It Go," I've never memorized the lyrics and so can't sing along, like everyone else I know.

Still, when I read the review of the new Frozen musical at Disney California Adventure (DCA), I immediately told Tim we had to go before school lets out for the summer. So I emailed my BFF Karen, who loves theater, and the three of us agreed to go today.

We left the house at 9AM, to avoid the bulk of early rush-hour traffic. By 10:30AM, we were standing in front of DCA's Hyperion Theater, trying to figure out where to line-up for the first show of the day, two hours later. We were told to either pick-up a Fastpass ticket, for which we were already too late, or come back at 11AM to get on the stand-by line. I noticed that people were already seriously loitering around the theater in hopes of getting on line; so I sent Tim and Karen off to ride "Soarin Over California" one last time,* while I waited for the official Frozen queue to begin.

Ten minutes later, I was told to wait across the street, which I dutifully did, as more and more people started to crowd in front of the Hyperion. At 11AM a cast member announced that the official line would start forming at 11:30AM. I stood under a tree with two young women, never taking my eyes off the closed entrance to the official waiting area. Fifteen minutes later, the doors opened as I yelled to the gals, "The doors are opening! We've got to go right now!"

Too late. About 50 people, who had been milling around the doors, shoved their way in as we squeezed into the flow. I called Tim and warned that they needed to get back to the theater ASAP. I then advanced to the point-of-no-return where, we were admonished, all members of one's party had to be present or they could not get in. I proceeded and hoped for the best for Tim and Karen. Turns out they were too late to join me. Instead, they decided to wait at the very end of the stand-by line, though their chances of actually seeing the show were slim at best.

 Fastpass-holders inside the official waiting area

Stand-by for Frozen is exactly that: seats are guaranteed only for Fastpass-holders. If there are empty seats once everyone else has filed in, then the stand-bys get to go in, one party at a time. We became more and more discouraged as more and more Fastpassers lined-up within the queuing area.

Finally, at 12:20PM—10 minutes before the show was supposed to begin!—the theater doors opened as the ticket-holders rushed in. The rest of us held our collective breath, awaiting our fate. Then, with a loudpeaker announcing overhead that show time was only two minutes away (!!), a Disney employee came over and started letting us in, counting each person so not to overrun the seating. I waved to Tim and Karen as I trudged up three enormous flights of exterior stairs. Once inside the theater, it was everyone for her/his self as we scrounged for open seats. I found one on the end of an aisle—perfect! I then texted Tim. He and Karen had given up and were heading to lunch.

The stage: first view of Arendelle
The show was highly entertaining, with lots of dancing, singing, and a special brand of Disney effects. Olaf, the snowman, and the reindeer Sven were life-sized puppets and particularly fun, adding humor to a story that can be a bit sad. But the highlight was Elsa's big number—"Let It Go"—which the audience was obviously awaiting in anxious anticipation. As soon as the first notes of the song began, there was an audible buzz in the theater. Frozen fans were not disappointed. 

 Final scene

The Hyperion's last show, Aladdin, played there for 13 years, so you've probably got lots of time to see Frozen. However, if you're chomping at the bit, I advise getting to the park early enough to grab Fastpass tickets, so you won't have to suffer the trauma of standing by. I got in, but am guessing the other 300 people in line behind me did not.


*On June 17, one of Tim's favorite rides, "Soarin Over California," will be replaced with an international version called  "Soaring Over the World." A sad day, no doubt, in our household . . .