Thinking L.A. »

The Special Olympics Were A-W-E-S-O-M-E

By | August 3, 2015

After work last Tuesday, I went to the University of Southern California to photograph swimming events at the Special Olympics World Games. I was fiddling with my camera when I heard some cheering at the tail end of a freestyle relay event.
All but one of the teams had finished the race. A lone swimmer from Slovenia was in the middle of the pool, treading …

Thinking L.A. »

I’d Rather Do Almost Anything Than Go Trolling for Bras

By | July 27, 2015

When my daughter was 12, she asked if I would take her and two friends shopping at the mall for “friendship bras.”
Was this a brand I hadn’t heard of?
“It’s when you go with your friends and you all buy a bra!” Kate explained.
“Sure, sounds fun,” I said, feeling exhausted already.
This was nearly a decade ago, but it’s a moment I continue …

Connecting California, Thinking L.A. »

Why Californians Are Such Suckers for Superheroes

By | July 23, 2015

California faces a peculiar overpopulation problem: We have too many superheroes.
Missed this news in The Daily Planet? Fear not—your ignorance is understandable. California is not as closely associated with superheroes as New York City (and its fictional doppelgangers), where Superman, Spiderman, and Batman all base operations.
So it’s easy to miss the menace that hangs over the Golden State: California has become dangerously dependent on superheroes.
This …

Thinking L.A. »

L.A., You Suck at Parking

By | July 22, 2015

I moved from Connecticut to Los Angeles on a whim six years ago to pursue a career as a makeup artist. I had two suitcases, a couple thousand dollars in my pocket, and a few friends begging me to join them. I had heard horror stories about Los Angeles traffic—but I never imagined how awful the parking would be.
One night eight months ago, I …

Thinking L.A. »

Tattoos Are Proof We Exist

By | July 21, 2015

Pressed up against the Pacific Ocean and the county line, my hometown of Long Beach is the last city in Los Angeles.
Since its founding in 1897, Long Beach has long been a sanctuary city for dreamers and cast-offs: young Iowans seeking warmth; oilmen drilling for wealth; navy sailors heading out for adventures; blacks escaping Southern racism; gays and lesbians building a safe haven; and …

Thinking L.A. »

How an Abandoned Bus Station Became a City’s Creative Hub

By | July 20, 2015

Standing under the multi-colored glass ceiling in the former Mexicoach bus terminal, Tijuana native Miguel Buenrostro asked a small group of visitors, “What does it feel like to destroy something beautiful?” A chilling question. One that will be answered for him July 31.
I was visiting Tijuana on a tour organized by the architecture firm Gensler. As the owner of an agency, I was interested …

Thinking L.A. »

Transitioning Genders Isn’t About Glamour

By | July 16, 2015

Four years ago, when I first started presenting to the world as a woman, I met my friend Jamie for lunch in West L.A. As soon as we sat down, some children sitting at the table next to ours said they spotted two men who were “dressed weird.”
I knew they didn’t mean any harm, but my heart sank, since I was a newly out transgender …

Thinking L.A. »

Why Pluto Still Deserves Our Love

By | July 14, 2015

One of my first memories as a child in the 1950s was a discussion I had with my brother in our tiny bedroom in the family house in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. We had heard in school about a planet called Pluto.
Pluto was the farthest, coldest, and darkest thing a child could imagine. We guessed how long it would take to die if we stood on …

The Takeaway, Thinking L.A. »

There’s a Difference Between Riots and Rebellion

By | July 13, 2015

From the Boston Tea Party to the recent protests in Baltimore and Ferguson, Americans have a long history of using violence to combat oppression and push for social change. But what are the sparks that set off urban riots? Who are the people who get involved, and do they ever actually make a difference?
In a packed room in the auditorium at MOCA Grand Avenue, Washington …

Thinking L.A. »

When Is Rioting the Answer?

By | July 8, 2015

America was founded on riots. From as far back as the days of tar-and-feathering British tax collectors, citizens have resisted power by fighting back, using fists when their voices weren’t heard.
This violent tradition lives on in the country, boiling up at times in our cities. In places like Los Angeles in 1992, and Ferguson and Baltimore in the past year, urban tensions—often the result …