Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Another Land

Arriving in Los Angeles, it feels like I’ve stepped into another era. The architecture, the boulevards, the landscaping and form—low-slung walls expanding away from you toward the horizon. It’s an age of trains and motorcars, but with an overlay of modern convenience, as if we brought digital technologies back into the 1950s.

Outside Union Station, a golden boy in tank top, shorts, and sunglasses leans back against the handrail. Classic SoCal. A girl waits for the stoplight in an open-backed blue dress. It's cut like a bathing suit and covered in white polka dots. Everyone looks sun-kissed. She smiles easily, her wavy, brown hair playing in the breeze. 

I drift down the street in the afternoon heat. The air is filled with Hollywood, as if we were standing on a constructed set. The building facades simultaneously cry artifice and craftsmanship.

I reach the cafe where cool respite awaits. Standing ahead of me in line: an Asian male mixing earrings and dyed hair with a v-neck sweater and boat shoes. What planet is this?! 

Urth Caffe: brick and tile, the room daylit up to the rafters, bordered by a turquoise and ruby art deco fireplace. No one here is on their laptop. Siri, I don't think we're in NorCal anymore! 

Though I’m wearing a respectable shirt with a collar above skinny jeans and canvas shoes—a veritable half-step up in Silicon Valley, the land of the hoodie—I feel positively frumpy amid the smooth lines, fitted curves, and flowing fashion.

The cafe pipes in operatic music, interspersed with an occasional salsa groove. It is unabashedly dramatic!

When I inquire about wi-fi, the server says they have it but it might broken. He seems unconcerned.

The smiles are sunlight: radiant and bold.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Taiwan's Invention: Instant Noodles

I didn’t realize someone Taiwanese invented instant noodles. WHAT?!?? This is the most mind-blowing factoid I've come across this week, as this creation has changed culinary history. Instant ramen noodles (泡麵) have filled the bellies of countless students and constitute a steady source of calories for hungry workers on a budget.

As the Wall Street Journal notes, "Since they were invented in 1958 by Momofuku Ando, a Taiwanese immigrant to Japan, instant noodles have become a beloved food item, both in and outside of Taiwan."

Image via the Los Angeles Times

I was alerted to this fact by an article talking about the latest ramen craze in Taiwan: combining pudding with instant noodles. As someone who mixes/matches flavors, this seems perfectly tasty to me!

Choosing Sides

When she's taking a break from her gig in Los Angeles, one of the presidential teenagers has been touring West Coast schools. According to media reports, "Malia Obama was spotted taking in a tour of the UC Berkeley campus and may have also visited Stanford."

There's an interesting opportunity here: if she went to Berkeley, she could learn more about social justice and a culture of activism. She’d experience what it’s like to have to navigate, struggle, and succeed at a public institution of higher education. Maybe she could then help create conditions in this country where the culture of the UC is representative of our national ethos.

Mom might want her to go to Princeton: resist!

Indeed, one source claims she made it clear Berkeley compared very favorably with Stanford. If so, good for her! Stanford needs to get a good kick in its complacent, self-satisfied memorial arch once in a while.