Thursday, February 9, 2012

Damien Hirst Spot Challenge: New York to LA (4 down, 7 to go!)


Fabulous Santa Monica seaside architecture
I've been "flat out like a lizard drinking" since winging my way from NY to LA to London on the Damien Hirst Spot Challenge. I'm about to head to Paris on the Eurostar first thing tomorrow (and Brits roll their eyes when you call it the "Chunnel" - apparently that's the term for the car ferry). So let's do a quick catch up:

8 countries with one  Traffic Cone Bag

First, I'm traveling impossibly light on this 8 country, 2 week global jaunt with just my signature Traffic Cone Bag,  I'll bore you with the full equipment list at end of this post (but it might have to wait til I'm paused in Rome). 

That's the small one at the right, and I've got it inside the slightly bigger one, so in a pinch I have two ultralight, under-armpittable baggies.

Already in the short hop from NY to LA I've managed to lose my inflatable pillow and Smartwool headband (easy to do when everything's black) but in general, the less you carry, the less you lose.

My outfit is precisely as you see in the picture - my Custo Spot top, my Nike thermal pants, Icebreaker underwear and instead of the bike helmet, my special spot hat, made by an Ecuadorian lady in NYC.

An enterprising gal with her custom LED bike sign. $100 and it's yours. 
Beverley Hills - Santa Monica

I was incredibly lucky to have two kind hosts in you're-goin'-nowhere-without-a-car LA. A former customer Richard Vallens came all the way from Orange County to pick me up from the airport in his prize Saatchi & Saatchi Lovemarks Toyota Prius. 8 years after the fact, he insists I was instrumental in him winning it.  Nope, I just told him to go rant about his favorite bicycle. More about Richard winning the Saatchi & Saatchi Lovemarks Prius.

What a welcome!
My second host was Radio DJ/Announcer Kim Kester/Rose, who I met years back in Eugene. Old friends never die, they just spot you when you need them most!

My pal from Eugene days, Kim Rose, a radio DJ in LA.
Bike Friday owner Richard Vallens took me to the Milky Way, a "kosher dairy restaurant" owned by the spry Leah Adler, aka mother of Steven Spielberg. Reasonable prices and killer blintzes!
Santa Monica/Venice Beach. For snowbirds everywhere!

Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills


4 down, 7 to go!
Richard took me straight from the airport to the gallery where I ran into fellow spot challenger Viet from Germany, who was shooting a composition consisting of a friend's sculptures juxtaposed against Hirst's dotty backgrounds. Viet founded a couchsurfing-like site called hospitalityclub.org, which is probably being plundered by a bunch of fellow Spot Challengers as we race to complete before the last gallery shuts.

"Mr Gagosian? Have I got a sculpture for you!"
Remember Twister? I'm surprised that game isn't in the gallery shoppe!
Speaking of gallery shoppe, here's the tea towel (or dish cloth in 'merica) for $25.  
Hirst is unabashedly commercial - after all, he WAS discovered by Charles Saatchi.
A few of the galleries contain a pop-up shop selling dotty tchotchkes, as you can see in the above shopping list.

Afterwards, Richard took me to the Milky Way "a kosher dairy restaurant" owned by Steven Spielberg's mother, Leah Adler. She's a tiny 90-something (age and body weight) livewire, gliding from booth to booth making delightful small talk as you tuck into her killer blintzes. The food is inexpensive "we haven't raised our prices in 30 years - we lose money," and fairly straightforward; it's probably the only restaurant in the USA that doesn't actually need to make money.

Here's a shot of probably the best thing on the menu, Madam Adler/Spielberg's outstanding, plump, cottage cheese blintzes:
Go knock yourself out at the Milky Way


Owner of the Milky Way, Leah Adler shows us her fave movie - by her fave son. 
A Galfromdownunder meets a Galfromupover. 

The Milky Way is a shrine to cheese blintzes and son Steven Spielberg's movies.
You pass through his "hall of honor" on the way to the restroom.


Ok, off to the UK!

Next stop: Gagosian Gallery London
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