First Friday

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End (Start) of Historic US Route 66

Today we drove from our hotel in Burbank to Santa Monica and to the end, or in our case the start, of Historic US Route 66. Located just a block or so north of the Santa Monica pier, it’s easy to see why people flocked to the end of the Route. Santa Monica is the epitome of Southern California living: Blue Pacific ocean, white sandy beaches, palm trees swaying in the gentle ocean breeze. It’s really pretty intoxicating. Once we officially stood at the location of the Route marker, we walked to the pier and found a vantage point overlooking the beach and ocean. Throngs of people had staked their claims in the white sand and were busy worshiping the sun gods. Children frolicked in the ocean waves; water considered far too frigid by the adults more accustomed to solar heated swimming pools.

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Santa Monica Pier

From there we walked the shopping district of 3rd Street Promenade, stopping to buy new sun glasses (the sun never sets on the cool) and do a bit of window shopping at the Tesla dealership. Only 4 wheeled vehicles? We’ll pass. With new sunglasses and “Cool Factor” definitely upgraded, we drove to Venice Beach to wander about, people watch and wait for the start of the First Friday Food Truck event.

Venice Beach

Venice Beach

Food trucks gather along Abbot Kinney Road at Venice Beach the first Friday of each month. We had gotten the heads up that the area generally becomes uncomfortably packed with hungry diners later in the evening so we decided to do our dining early. Besides, we had an art opening to attend later in the evening. Since we were early, we got to watch the frantic jockeying for a prime parking space by the various truck vendors.

Food Truck Tango

Food Truck Tango

One vendor was endlessly circling the block looking for a home. The whole thing seemed a bit disorganized to the casual observer but I’m sure there is a finely tuned system for those participating in the event. Being early also gave us the opportunity to survey each of the vendors and develop our plan of attack for the evening’s meal. Of the 20 or so trucks, we managed to sample food from five.

Flying Pig: Sticky Ribs

Flying Pig: Sticky Ribs

Flying Pig: Pork Belly Bun

Flying Pig: Pork Belly Bun

Calbi: Beef and Pork Tacos

Calbi: Beef and Pork Tacos

Josh's Rollin Rib BBQ Joint: Paradise Pork (Shredded baby back ribs, pork ribs, pork tenderloin and bacon)

Josh’s Rollin Rib BBQ Joint: Paradise Pork (Shredded baby back ribs, pork ribs, pork tenderloin and bacon)

Sweet Arleen's: Chocolate cupcake with marshmallow filling and chocolate ganache icing

Sweet Arleen’s: Chocolate cupcake with marshmallow filling and chocolate ganache icing

Calientes Churro: Classic Churros

Calientes Churro: Classic Churros

Of all the food we tried, the sticky ribs from the Flying Pig were CLEARLY the best: Fall off the bone tender with a hoisen/ honey glaze and crushed peanuts sprinkled with wild abandon on top. I went back for a second order, having shared most of the first order.

We had just enough time to drive back to the hotel, take a quick shower, change cloths and head off to Hollywood for the art opening. This particular gallery was in the back of, for lack of better term, a novelty shop. Need a Sponge Bob Square Pants key change? I know where you can get one. I, myself, was able to pick-up a red Duncan “Imperial” yo-yo.  It came with 3D stickers and glasses. Score!! The art was well done and interesting, although not exactly my taste. Controversial might be another way to describe it.

From the artist’s commentary: “I hope that this series of paintings both provides commentary and invokes discourse. I painted a ‘melting pot’ of symbolic politics; the loaded imagery creates a dialogical platform of ‘viewer friendly realism’ and reductively simple concepts to evoke complex sensations of nostalgia and, more importantly, trigger conditioned responses to what appears to be racially insensitive depictions. Thus the artwork creates a collectivity of cultural stereotypes involved in a process of exchange and difference. The paintings attempt to recontecturalize learned stereotypes in order to foster a safe non-threatening dialogue between viewer and art object.” I pass no judgment and leave it up to the viewer to form his or her own opinion. I will say this though, the artist on one of the kindness and most insightful individuals I know and not just because he is my nephew-in-law.

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David Dexter, Artist

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