The Getty Villa

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The Getty Villa is one of America’s great modern buildings. Originally built in 1974 by J. Paul Getty to house his personal art and antiquities collection, the museum was renovated and expanded by Machado Silvetti Architects from 1993 to 2006. Since it has been re-opened, it has been extensively written about and praised, with a new spanish monograph coming out this past year.

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Los Angeles in Film

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I was in LA a few weeks ago, visiting my friend Nirav. He has been working his ass off at Oculus, so I felt obliged to go out and bother him for a few days. I went with my friend Chris, and while we were out there we were lucky enough to have some friends join us for the weekend. It was a great trip, with time spent at the Getty Villa, hiking Griffith Park, watching sunsets on the beach, and most importantly, eating tacos.

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Londonderry in Film

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One weekend, close friends, a tiny cabin, and some epic skiing made for a pretty rad start to 2014. 

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Summer 2010 Road Trip Map

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I was digging around in some boxes last weekend and stumbled across a Rand McNally Road Atlas that I had marked up along a road trip I took in 2010 with my good friends Amrita, Oliver, and Spencer. The route took us from Santa Barbara to Summer Camp Music Festival and back, with a long stay in Boulder with Oliver’s family. I couldn’t help but map it out.

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Mount Katahdin in Film

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Chris and I found ourselves up in Moosehead Lake, Maine recently and could not pass up an opportunity to cross something off our bucket list: hike Mount Katahdin. Since new rolls of film were nowhere to be found up north, Meg was thoughtful enough to buy me a little Fujifilm disposable camera for the hike. It was a perfect companion and made for some enjoyable curation. 

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Solo Minimalist Backpacking List

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This is a minimalist backpacking list for anyone going to the warmer parts of the developing world. This is my personal list, created and refined over six months of backpacking around India in 2011. It is amazing how little you need when you wash your clothes in the sink and try not to sleep outside.

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Travel Notes, Part III: On Appearance

Now here in Part III, we are getting into more personal opinions. The goal when traveling is to be happy. For me, that happiness comes when I get into where I am. Some travelers (from all over the world) don’t really bother – they wear their REI zip-off pants and safari hats and snap their D3000′s at anything that moves. And that’s awesome – they get the people who come up to them to chat with “the foreigner” and maybe even sell them something, and that makes them happy. Others enjoy stepping off the plane, pulling out their canvas knapsack and kurta, and trouncing around the country on a dollar a day. And that’s awesome too – they too get the people who come up to them to chat with “the foreigner,” and that makes them happy.

But I like taking a third approach, one that falls somewhere in between (although closer to the latter rather than the former). I try to dress totally neutral. I dress like the locals with pants and either collared shirts or t-shirts. I don’t carry a backpack around all day, and my camera stays in my pocket until I want to use it. I don’t wear any jewelry or branded clothes that scream out what class I am. I make it my job to learn as much of the local language as I can and to really get the pronunciation right. And I spend as much time outside getting into where I am as possible.

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Travel Notes, Part II: On Bartering

While all of this judging and staring is going on, you are also beginning to learn the ancient art of bartering; an art lost to most of America, except for car salesmen and those few who dabble in antiquing. It takes a while to get the hang of, but once you fail enough times, you start to win a few and you begin to realize that it all comes down to leverage. The more leverage you have, the better a price you can get. That is all it is.

For example, if you get off a bus in a bus station 4km outside of town with no choice but to approach one of the smiling taxi drivers for a ride, you have no leverage. You will be ripped off. But if you can walk 20 feet and hail a passing cab on the road, you have a bit of leverage and can often haggle a bit. Or if you see something you really like in a shop and keep telling the shopkeeper how much you love it and must have it, you have no leverage. You will be ripped off. But if you see something you like, but ignore it, or comment audibly on its defects, or even start to walk out of the shop, you can often get it for under a third of the asking price (at which point the shopkeeper will always remind you that you are getting it for the “Indian price.”)

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Travel Notes, Part I: On Traveling

As a traveler you are, by your very nature, not a local. You dress different, you walk different, you act different, you speak different, and you look different. Here in the States, we are used to cultural differences so we are not quite as quick to notice them. In India, I found that people were incredibly aware of each other in different ways than I was used to, and were always judging and being judged based on their dress, their language, their class, the cut of their beard, and of course, their caste. Everyone there does it without thinking about it – it is part of their culture. It is mostly out of curiosity and rarely hostile, but it’s always present.

Of course it is not much different here. We all size each other up and put each other into boxes. We just do it differently. We operate on a slightly more subtle level – both in judging and being judged. In India, you can tell where someone is from and what caste they are in just based on the clothes on their backs. It’s a bit harder to do here because there is not really a regional dress or style and most people belong to the “middle class” anyways. Those who don’t often dress down or dress up to try to blend in to that “middle class.” Religions too are easier in India. In the States, unless you are wearing a cross around your neck or a kippah on your head, it’s pretty hard to tell what religion someone is.

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India: Where and How Long?

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A graphic on where I went in India, what means of transportation I used, and how long I was in each place (area of circle based on number of days spent).

© 2011 Rumblings.org