Sunday, June 21, 2015

Random Photo: A little Sunday evening entertainment

"A Sunday well spent, brings a week of content."
~ancient proverb

Afternoon turned into evening and this just happened outside my window. I'm not sure what they were celebrating, but it sure made my day. I love my neighborhood!


Thursday, June 11, 2015

A lunchtime walk to Japantown in the heart of Salt Lake City

"It is impossible to remain indifferent to Japanese culture. It is a different civilisation where all you have learnt must be forgotten. It is a great intellectual challenge and a gorgeous sensual experience."
~Alain Ducasse

Now don't get too excited. Japantown in Salt Lake is a whole lot different than it is in San Francisco. In fact it's quite a ghost of what it once was about fifty, seventy-five, even a hundred years ago. You'd likely miss it if you didn't know it was there. The area consists now of one block of 100 South between 200 and 300 West and I walked there for today's lunchtime walk.

The only buildings left to remind us of a bygone era are the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple and the Japanese Church of Christ, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The rest of the block feels pretty desolate and is comprised of parking lots, the Salt Palace storage and loading docks, a bookstore/gift shop associated with the Buddhist Temple called Lumbini's Garden, and a small Japanese-style garden which was incorporated into the block when the Salt Palace made extensive expansions into what used to be a bustling neighborhood.

The Japanese Church of Christ, built in 1924, is on the north west side of the block, closest to 300 West.

The Japanese-style garden, though oddly wedged between the Church of Christ and a underground parking lot entrance, is quite cute and very zen. Walking in the garden is not permitted, but I enjoyed seeing several trees (Japanese maples and bonzai types) with ropes tethered to stakes in the ground, training them to grow sideways instead of up.

Just east of the parking lot which borders the garden, are tall walls with attempting to hide the Salt Palace loading and storage docks. The gates that have been put up all along the rest of the north side of the block to 200 West are called the Kimono Gates.

Again, a nice touch by the Salt Palace -- despite taking over much of the land after the city's residents overwhelmingly voted to approve a 17 million dollar bond to build the Salt Palace complex in 1964 -- to help the Japanese culture endure in the area and to honor those who lived and worked in generations past where these structures now stand.

On the southeast corner of the block sits the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple.

I was glad to see at least some preservation of what used to be a vibrant neighborhood. But, of course, I was sad to know of what used to be there: a Japanese language school, a produce market, a fish market, two thriving newspapers, a tailor's shop, the Colonial Hotel, and countless families of Japanese descent.

In a city where the Mormon pioneers and their stories dominate historical discussions, seldom is anything heard about the strong, compassionate Japanese community, numbering in the thousands, which endured generations right in the heart of the state's capital city.

I hope since the naming of the street, Japantown Street, which happened in 2007, that eventually sometime soon, at least the empty above-ground parking lot on the southwest half of the block will be turned into land for businesses, restaurants. One can hope!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Drive to Spring City

"It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest form of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source
of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much
in life that makes life worth living."
~David Attenborough

Each year in May, on Memorial Day weekend, Spring City holds a Heritage Day celebration. My guess is that the town's population at least triples for the day. Mom and I have gone several times in years past. I think I've only blogged about it once, but I've been to Spring City more times than I can count on both hands.

This year it was just Mom and me. I needed that. I took the train down to her neck of the woods and then we drove on from there. The drive was stunningly beautiful since it had rained in the days before and the clouds were out in all their majesty.

My favorite things to see in Spring City are the old school house which is still undergoing major renovation, the fields and backyards full of poppies, the old spring, and my great-grandparents' old house. We didn't go up to the cemetery this time, but I feel that I should go back so we can clean up the graves of our family members buried there. One year, I even recall have a picnic right there in the cemetery with them.

And the drive. Beautiful, beautiful drive. With plenty of time to have my mom all to myself.

Until next time.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Lunchtime Walk to Union Pacific Depot

"The camera makes everyone a tourist in other people's reality, and eventually in one's own."
~Susan Sontag

Working in downtown Salt Lake City has its benefits, one of them being the many historic buildings within walking distance or a quick TRAX ride. We've had an incredibly mild winter, one for the books, and so I've done my fair share of seeing and exploring.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Salt Lake City Union Pacific Depot, sits on the west side of downtown Salt Lake. Building of The Union Pacific Depot was completed in 1909 and was renovated and restored in the 1970s.

The Grand Hall is an impressive space with five stained glass windows and two ceiling murals at either end depicting scenes from Utah state history. I can imagine myself walking through the station in the 1920s or 30s or 40s. It was used all the way through 1986 before Amtrak moved services to the Rio Grande station and then later to the Salt Lake City Intermodal Hub.

One mural, by San Francisco artist John MacQuarrie, illustrates the Mormon pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and the other, by San Francisco artist Harry Hopps, shows the driving in of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point, just north of Salt Lake City, signifying the completion of the first transcontinental railroad.

Mural depicting the Mormon pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847
by John MacQuarrie
Mural depicting the driving in of the Golden Spike at Promontory Point in 1869
by Harry Hopps

Although the Grand Hall is intended to serve as a grand entrance to the Gateway, an outdoor shopping mall with dining and entertainment, I think it is under-utilized since most people park in underground parking lots and never have need to walk through the Grand Hall. What a shame! Many are missing out on experiencing this piece of history.

Can't you just picture yourself buying a ticket here?

The details in the molding and tiling entrance me. Combine that with the high majestic ceilings, the murals, and stained glass, I could just sit there gazing.

That's it. Every time I walk over to the Gateway now, I'm going to make a conscious effort to remember to walk through the Grand Hall. It's worth the step back into history, if but for a moment.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Met Gala 2015 Favorites

"People will stare. Make it worth their while."
~Harry Winston

I promise this is not turning into a fashion blog. It's simply that I want to spend more time blogging on the other things and then, I just continue to procrastinate the good blog posts. So... I will try to rectify that. Slowly but surely. In the meantime, here is more fashion fluff.

The Met Gala (do you even know what that is?) lured out of hiding many funky fashion choices just waiting for their opportunity to shock and surprise. Many of the truly fashion-headline-worthy shockers will not be posted here because let's face it... there were quite a few that were meant to dazzle that just really weren't my thing. See-through gowns seemed to be a trend this year (Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Kim Kardashian, Donatella Versace, to name a few, none of which will be posted because... well, I didn't like them).

Apparently, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute benefit (The Met Gala) is the event the whole fashion industry looks forward to the most. Imagine your senior prom, New Year’s, Halloween, and your wedding celebration all rolled into one, and I think we can imagine the anticipation most feel about what they'll be wearing and what other people will wear to this event.

This year's theme, "China: Through the Looking Glass," elicited red, red, and more red with a touch of gold.

Some of my favorite gowns in no particular order... (by the way, all these pictures came from Yahoo.)

Let's start with Helen Mirren because you can't go wrong with starting with Helen Mirren. She continues to prove she can do no wrong on the red carpet. The 69-year old actress is stunning in the one see-through dress I liked from this year's Gala. The red bra was a must. Very subtle and made the see-through cut-outs very classy.

Helen Mirren at the 2015 Met Gala in Dolce & Gabbana

And then we have Madonna. Her skin caught my eye long before her dress. That skin is awfully radiant and wrinkle-free for her 56 years. Don't you think? She looks 26 maybe and has a bit of Drew Barrymore in her in this shot. And let's be honest, the dress doesn't do anything for me; I included her because of that skin. Or that nose. Or those cheekbones. Is this even really Madonna?

Madonna at the 2015 Met Gala in Moschino by Jeremy Scott

This red number worn on Hailee Steinfeld is a classic look.

Hailee Steinfeld at the 2015 Met Gala in Michael Kors

Then we have Allison Williams. I don't even know who she is, but that's okay. I don't know Hailee Steinfeld or a couple of the following women either. This dress intrigued me with the black sequined accents. The tulle is interesting, but it adds some nice flair.

Allison Williams at the 2015 Met Gala in Giambattista Valli

Behati Prinsloo, another one I don't know, looks radiant in this see-through piece. I thought it was tasteful and elegant. The fabric looks black to me, but the edges make it seem like navy blue maybe. Possibly a blue-black velvet? I like it.

Behati Prinsloo at the 2015 Met Gala in Tommy Hilfiger

And you know that I couldn't NOT include Amal Alamuddin and George Clooney. Although Amal is not my fashion icon, I do think most everything she wears is quite elegant. This dress is elegant but fun with the layers and ruffles and sequins. Good choice.

Amal Alamuddin (with husband, George Clooney) at the 2015 Met Gala
in John Galliano for Maison Margiela

And let's show you a couple of the out there numbers I can appreciate. Sarah Jessica Parker and her headpiece, which is meant to be based on traditional Chinese bridal design. That's an eye-catcher, all right.

Sarah Jessica Parker at the 2015 Met Gala in H&M gown and Philip Treacy headpiece

And here's another interesting piece. Zendaya. I feel like I should know who that is. Anyone whose is only known by one name and it starts with a Z? Yeah, feel like I should know her. Oh, but I don't.

Zendaya at the 2015 Met Gala in Fausto Puglisi

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! President and CEO, wore an understated but lovely red gown. I thought she looked great.

Marissa Mayer at the 2015 Met Gala in Oscar de la Renta

Anne Hathaway knocked my socks off with her stance, the look on her face, and that hood! She's got presence.

Anne Hathaway at the 2015 Met Gala in Ralph Lauren

And lastly, Bee Shaffer (who's she?) in a lovely gown covered in beautiful cherry blossoms. Lovely.

Bee Shaffer at the 2015 Met Gala in Alexander McQueen

There you have it. Just what you always wanted: my red carpet opinions. Until next time...

And next time, I promise I'll come up with something a little more substantial.