Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Chrissy Problem

There she in line in front of you at Urth Caffé ordering a soy latte. Later, you spot her in pigeon pose at a hellfire hot yoga class in Larchmont Village. And in the evening, she's your waitress at Providence, biding her time until her next audition.

She's a Chrissy. And the problem? You are not a Chrissy.

Suzanne Somers may have left the cast of Three's Company thirty years ago, but modern incarnations of Chrissy, the beachy blonde would-be starlet, are everywhere you look in L.A. It's Chrissy's town, and brunettes just live here. In the past, our options have been limited. We could a) get ourselves over to Sheri Román's hair salon, STAT, or b) accept our role as Janet, the level-headed friend.

But recently, a third option has emerged. I give you Mrs. Roper and her signature hostess gown.

Don't you want her necklace?
A few years ago, the hostess gown staged a comeback. In theory, it seems like the perfect garment. Midsection a little poofy? Legs a little pale? Upper arms a little saggy? Slip on a billowy hostess gown and look like you've stepped out of the pages of a Slim Aarons coffee table book. But while the hostess gown promises to hide all your problem areas, it also announces to the world that...you have problem areas.

Never afraid to dress exactly like a Palm Beach octogenarian, I donned a hostess gown while getting my hair and makeup done on the morning of my wedding.

Me and My Muumuu
Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell
Despite its inherent challenges, designers are still pushing the hostess gown this spring. Emerson Fry and Issa both have versions for you.

Emerson Fry
Or you can turn to Society Social, the hostess gown's proudest advocate. And while you're at it, pick up a faux bamboo bar cart and a giant cocktail ring.

I'll see you at the Regal Beagle.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Road Trip: Solvang

The list of downsides to living in Southern California is short, but even the most devoted local must admit that termites rank up there among the earthquakes, wildfires, and floods. Every October, the little terrors swarm about, establishing hungry colonies that quickly eat their way through rafters and support beans. So once a decade, Southern Californians must double-bag all the items in their pantries and medicine cabinets, round-up their pets, and vacate their homes for 48 hours while a fumigation company pumps critter-killing and potentially cancer-causing gases into their homes. 

For a 400-unit condo complex like the Windemere, fumigation is an especially complicated ordeal. Last week, the Merry Family decamped to Redondo Beach while we awaited word that it was safe to return. On Thursday afternoon, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to hear that there would be a 24 hour delay in removing the giant circus style tents from our building. 

California is a car culture. Faced with a day of endless possibilities, many of us choose to begin by filling up the gas tank. So it was that the Merry Family drove two hours up the 101 and found ourselves in Solvang, a town founded by Danes in the Santa Inez Valley of Santa Barbara. 

"Solvang" is Danish for "sunny fields."
I have never been to Denmark, so I cannot attest to Solvang's authenticity. To my eyes, the place looks quintessentially Southern Californian. It's squeaky-clean imitations instantly bring to mind Disney's version of New Orleans in Anaheim or Getty's version of a Roman Villa in Malibu. 

Replica of the Little Mermaid Fountain in Copenhagen

Since the success of the movie Sideways, the region has become well-known for its wines. The streets are dotted with wine-tasting bars where you can ask for a Pinot Noir and snobbishly reject the Merlot. Solvang is also extremely dog-friendly - almost every restaurant has a comfortable outdoor patio where your pooch can join you and perhaps help you finish the giant apple pancake that suddenly seemed like such a great idea after all that wine.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Praying for a Miracle: Mission San Juan Capistrano in March

On All Saint's Day in 1776, Spanish priests of the Franciscan Order founded the mission at San Juan Capistrano, one of the most beautiful and impressive missions along the California coast. In 1812, an earthquake struck the region, toppling the bell tower during morning mass and killing 40 people. The mission fell into disrepair for a century until Hollywood "discovered" it. D.W. Griffith shot parts of his western film The Two Brothers there, and soon after, Mary Pickford renewed her vows to Owen Moore in the ruins of the Great Stone Church.

1925 painting by Charles Percy Austin
Here's how the mission looks today.

Old vs. New California:
A beach cruiser is parked outside the mission's front gate.

A statue of Father Junipero Serra, founder of the
California missions, keeps vigil over the the ruins.

Inside the Great Stone Church.

Footprint of the fallen bell tower.

Serra Chapel, the oldest continuously used
church building in California.

Restoration of the mission grounds began in the 1910s.
In the 1800s, locals gathered on the tile rooftops
to watch rodeos in the courtyard below.

The Moorish Fountain.

The most popular time to visit the mission is St. Joseph's Day on March 19th, when tourists hope to witness the Miracle of the Swallows. Every spring, American Cliff Swallows return to California after spending the winter in Argentina.

Mud nests created by swallows several years ago.
In recent years, the birds have avoided the hustle and bustle of the mission. They appear to have gone upscale, preferring the wide open spaces of golf course at the Vellano Country Club in Chino Hills. Earlier this month, ornithologists set up speakers to play bird calls, hoping to lure the swallows back to their old home. So far, the birds are having none of it, but Southern Californians continue to hope for another miracle.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...