She’s BACK!!

Goodness me where did 2 years go to? I’ve moved back to London, turned a significant age (don’t ask!) finally made it to India, met a fab chap called Francis and here I am typing when I should be prepping for my radio show at ! More later – just wanted to do this as a test…x

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Its all gone Pete Tong in the Bedroom Dept!

First day in a steamy London and I head  out to my lunch meeting catching two busses from Kennington  to Chelsea.  My route took me past the Royal Chelsea Hospital .  Its famed for being the home of the Chelsea Pensioners aka ‘The Men in Scarlet’  which was founded by  King Charles II in 1682.

This is where the Royal Horticultural Society hold the annual Chelsea Flower Show  which has some incredible displays of gardens created and built specifically for the event as well as lots of amazing flowers .

Alas it came to an end yesterday and was sold out ages ago so I’ll have to go another year.  It looked fab on the telly last night although I find Alan Titmarsh  really rather annoying as a presenter and cannot fathom how he has become such a media phenom!

The Queen visited the event as she has done for over 40 years and guess what she was wearing the same colour coat as my Solar Queen who so kindly graced A Spot of Tea back in LA- amazeballs! No idea why I can’t get my iphone pics to rotate in wordpress !!

Having changed busses near Sloane Square , I was driven down Kings Road and enjoyed seeing so many people out and about in the sunshine – hardly an inch of grass was unoccupied in the garden’s of St Luke’s Church (note to self there is a John Ireland festival there at the end of June).

Finally came to my destination on the Fulham Road and had a great lunch and catch up with my dear friend Severine having missed one another in Cannes.  We both agreed Amour – winner of the Palme D’Or was a very good film although I ofcourse crapped on about Rust in Bone!

After lunch I headed to Peter Jones in Sloane Square to check out mattresses and beds as I’ll be needing one when I move back into my old flat in Queens Park. It was here that I found myself mattress shopping alongside none other than Pete Tong! Hence the title of this post. Nice to see you can still be a super star DJ and find for the domestics of life too.

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Rust and Bone, 7 Days in Havana, Amour, Hemingway and Gellhorn

My last day in Cannes was great – I drove down from Mandelieu/ La Napoule to catch a noon screening at the Palais . Carax’s Holy Rollers was full so I dashed across to the Olympia and made it to Rust and Bone.

( watch the trailer but avoid idiotic comments below it)

I’m so glad I saw this film. Marion Cotillard’s performance is excellent and the film contains one of the most visually stunning and emotive scenes I have ever witnessed on celluloid.  The story focuses on two people , as brilliantly played by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.  On the surface they seem very different but then life throws them a tragic curve ball and their relationship develops.  The film as a whole is about how people deal with life’s struggles – from the mundane to the intense. How we choose to deal with the hand that we are dealt, the impact that our decisions have on our lives and the lives of other’s is at the heart of this film. Hours after seeing the film, I started to cry into my Kir Royale in the bar at the Majestic’s Hotel recounting the scene I just referred to earlier. I’m not going to spoil it for you – you will have to see the film for yourself!   In my view this is what really movie making is supposed to be – whether its tapping your feet to a song in The Sapphires or crying into your pashmina in Rust and Bone , the ability to emote an audience is a testament  to the power of filmmaking. p.s the soundtrack was excellent too!

Fortunately my next movie , 7 Days in Havana was more upbeat  although not without some tears – but hey what would life be without joy and pain,  sunshine and rain? ( to quote Frankie Beverley and Maze J ) . Given that seven different directors worked on the film it worked out well overall with only some of the tales interweaving. I wanted to watch it as I’ve been thinking of going to Cuba and now I DEFINITELY  want to go!

I came out of the cinema to find the blue skies and hot sun overruled by stormy clouds and yet more rain – mais ca suffit!!! After a quick bite beside the boules park – kind of relaxing watching a group of men throw their balls around in the rain – I headed back to the Olympia and stood for half an hour in the wet to see Amour. This is one of the most buzzed about films of the festival and while I was apprehensive about seeing a film that deals with aging parents and senile dementia having had first hand experience of that myself, I didn’t find it as emotionally hard going as Rust in Bone. Maybe my own experience had immured me to the tragic course of events as they unfold in the film. Its very well acted so I can see why it has been a popular choice but I don’t think its amazing and would suggest Rust and Bone or The Angels’ Share before Amour.

So that I thought that would be that in terms of film watching for Cannes 2012 but much to my delight my friend Maxine gave me a ticket to the 10.30pm screening of Hemingway and Gellhorn  at the Palais which meant I would be going up the famous red steps! I have done the steps before but its always fun given all the paparazzi and the stars on this film include Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen . I tried to take a short cut from the Majestic to the Palais as I didn’t want to be late and darted through the barriers on the Croissette. Alas I got spotted by about a dozen policeman who had nothing better to do than yell at me and take me by the arm and tell me  in no uncertain terms to go back from whence I came and walk the long way around.

Mon dieu!  Having dealt with glorious French bureaucracy I walked up the red steps then waited for Nicole and co to arrive – she looked dazzling as always and took ages to make it past all the photographers.

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And what about the film? As the title would suggest its about Ernest Hemingway and his tumultuous relationship / marriage with the writer / war correspondent Martha Gellhorn . I must say that when I first heard Clive Owen was cast as ‘Hem’ I was shocked as I felt it should have gone to an American actor. But I realize that is a narrow minded view and Clive did a good job as did Nicole as Ms Gellhorn . The film opens with her as an older woman and the make up is amazing! She looks more ‘normal / natural’ than when I last her in Australia and all I could look at was her lips! The film itself is not great. Philip Kaufman uses old and reconstructed footage to give the film authenticity much as he did with The Unbearable Lightness of Being and like that film which had some fine rumpy pumpy performed by Daniel Day Lewis , this one has Nic and Clive going at it hammer and tongs regardless of the roof literally falling in over their heads. Kaufman’s technique of manipulating the colours from black and white , to isolating one colour such as the blood of a recently harpooned fish was distracting rather than effective. I couldn’t help thinking that I would have preferred to have seen a documentary about Ms Gellhorn rather than an over wrought and over thought film.

Today I didn’t see one film but enjoyed a lovely hike in the hills above the sea followed by a dip on the beach by the Chateau de La Napoule and am now really look forward to the Eurovision Song Contest! Home tomorrow which was a bit badly planned as I am a hop skip and a jump from Monaco where the Grand Prix will take place mais c’est la vie!

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Kanye in Cannes, The Gossip, Pete Doherty Kylie Minogue , Nick Cave, Tom Jobim

Greetings from the 65th Cannes Film Festival – one of the wettest and coldest on record – the weather seems to have put a damper  on the buzz on the films too – very few  have been raved about although the critics have been unanimously positive about  Michael Haneke’s heart rending Amour / Love.

There are quite a few music luminaries at the festival as directors and actors this year as well as some great music related films and  documentaries so here is Gemma’s CineMusica rundown for Cannes 2012…

Kanye West is in town for Cruel Summer  …Inspired by the new G.O.O.D. Music album of the same name, CRUEL SUMMER is a fusion of short film and art installation; an immersive “7 Screen Experience” for the eyes and ears unlike anything West has attempted before….

Plus Pete Doherty is not only still alive despite the odds,  but acting too!

Nick Cave has collaborated with director John ‘The Road’ Hillcoat for his film Lawless which has been termed a ‘wangster’ movie (western gangster) and is in competition for the coveted Palme D’Or

Nick Cave wrote the screenplay  and he and Warren Ellis composed the score

Continuing the Aussie connection The Sapphires is an Aussie music film as opposed to a musical –  taking place in the late 60’s its a true story about an Aboriginal music group who rose to stardom and went to Vietnam to entertain US Troops –  its just been snapped up by Mr Weinstein who knows a thing or two about movies & music.

And the Aussies keep on coming this time in the form of Kylie Minogue who stars in a film (alongside Eva Mendes) that debuted in competition today – called Holy Motors directed by French Bad Boy (aren’t they all bad boys??) director  Leos Carax – who came to fame with his stunning Les Amants Du Pont Neuf w/ Juliette Binoche in 1991  – Holy Motors is being hailed as his big return to the Croissette as its 13 years since his last film Pola X YouTube Preview Image

And now for something completely different –  the definitely not cute and not Australian Marilyn Manson plays a techno music fan in Quentin Mr Oizo Dupieux ‘s film Wrong Cop which is showing in the Quinzaine Des Realisateurs – a festival separate to the Cannes Film Festival but that runs here concurrently with the aim to bring attention to unknown directors/artists. This clip was shot round the corner from my house in Silver Lake in Bellevue ball park – amazeballs!

‘7 Days in Havana’  – has 7 Directors including Benicio Del Toro and is told in 7 chapters –

this is a trailer about the music in the film by Cuban musicians Kelvis  Ochoa and Descemer Bueno

the film tells a story of a young American boy who is trying to break into the acting biz and goes to Cuba during a film festival…

The French cultural magazine Les Inrockuptibles spawned a music fest in the early 1990s Les InRocks and they’ve taken over a snazzy villa (natch) for Cannes Film Fest hosting nightly parties  6 – 11pm The Gossip kicked off the fest last week

And lastly but most definitely not least the Brazilian’s were out in force to support a music doc about the legendary bossa nova proponent  Tom Jobim

Cinema Do Brasil had their big party the other night so no doubt there were lots of caipirinha induced hangovers today…

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Marfa Marfa Marfa!

I’ve finally made it to Marfa TX! I first heard about it 5 or 6 years ago when I read an article about this dusty town in the south of Texas,  which talked about the mysterious Marfa lights (Texan version of the northern lights) that it was the location for the classic movie Giant starring James Dean and Liz Taylor and how the sculptor Donald Judd had discovered it and built a  large museum and foundation here

About a year or so after reading that article , I met hotelier Liz Lambert in Austin TX for SXSW where she owns the San Jose Hotel (and more recently the  Santa Ceclia) . KCRW had a party at the San Jose with David Byrne & Forro in the Dark (which was pretty damn awesome!) . So I got to chat a bit with Liz and she told me about this alternative ‘hotel’ / trailer park that she was creating in Marfa called ‘El Cosmico’ and  gave me an El Cosmico tshirt  so I got the tshirt BEFORE actually visiting the place!

Since that chat to Liz , Marfa has kept popping up in magazines and articles and interest in this funky town has grown exponentially – most recently Heath Ceramics in Los Angeles hosted a Marfa Brands event.

I’m embarrassed to say I had never been to this wonderful store and only found out about it thanks to going to dinner with Lucinda Williams! That had come about thanks to my dear old friend Ian James of Mushroom Music in Australia. We normally get to hang out during SXSW but as I hadn’t gone this year he called when was in LA & en route back to Australia – and invited me to dine with Lucinda and her hubbie Tom. Ian and I had enjoyed seeing Lucinda perform at last year’s SXSW so this invitation seemed more than perfect!

During diner Lucinda mentioned the fab Liz Lambert and how she was going to be in LA for a Marfa event at Heath Ceramics. So I wasted no time in reaching out to say hi to Liz and to hope to have a chat with her when she came. Am so glad Lucinda tipped me off about this – Liz’s brother ,  chef and cookbook author Louis Lambert prepared a delicious BBQ  in the back garden area of Heath’s and Amy Cook performed and Tecate beers or margaritas were being served – a really wonderful evening.  As well as having a chat with Liz she introduced me to Marfa Brand’s Ginger – who makes what I consider to be some of the best soaps ever . So that was it – I had to make an effort to visit the place – so here I am typing to you from El Cosmico while listening to a performance by Field Report. Am drinking a michelada and couldn’t be happier right here right now J

p.s am rushing to get something to eat on one of the few Marfa eateries so will upload photos more efficiently another time!

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Citizenship, Baja, Vendimia , The Bowery , Brooklyn (Greenpoint) London, Mike Figgis, Ignite Festival, The Royal Opera House, Punch Drunk ‘s ‘Sleep No More’ , DKNY, Dublin, Dalston, The Ravages of Time, Whitechapel Gallery, London’s Thames Festival & The Whistling Shop… And the London Riots…

Hello friends – Time for some catch up re August/ September…

August – I went to Baja for the fantastic Vendimia festival, back in LA I took my Citizenship test; went to NYC en route to London – to work with director Mike Figgis as part of the Ignite Festival at The Royal Opera House ; attended Punch Drunk’s incredible ‘Sleep No More’; stayed in Camberwell &  hipper than hip Dalston; cheered at the Thames Festival; attended Thomas Struth awesome show at the Whitechapel Gallery (and peeked at a resident Rothko) , last week I got sworn in as an official Citizen of the USA and last night had my first experience of a lap dancing bar (don’t think the two are connected?!) And I wonder why time flies? !phew!

So lets start with Baja and Citizenship for this chapter.

August welcomes the annual wine festival  that showcases the best wines from the local vineyards of Valle de Guadalupe in Baja near Ensenada, along with delicious food from local and visiting chefs.

Most of you know that I have been driving down to this area since @ 2003 when my dear friends Eileen and Phil Gregory discovered the area and bought land on which they have built the spectacular Villa Del Valle

– a country retreat that now boasts a stunning new restaurant (architect Claudia Turrent)called Corazon de Tierra – I still haven’t got the hang of how to insert photos in this effing thing so here are a collection of some before and after of the restaurant as well as an early one of the Phil’s winery (architect Alejandro D’Acosta) taken in Spring….

Chef Diego Hernandez is amazing  check out this link to see the lovely Villa Del Valle and Diego at work in the kitchen there…

and the link below is for the 1st annual Baja Culinary Fest that is going on now featuring Diego amongst some other terrific chefs

This year I attended the Vendimia event at Paralelo winery – here is an LA Times article to give you some background about the amazing building by Alejandro and Claudia mentioned above – and its written by Barbara Thornburg who loves the valley so much she and her husband Andrew bought a property there.,0,5706297.photogallery

I attended the event with Phil, Eileen and Stacy and upon arriving we were given a Paralelo glass with some tasty white wine, a napkin and a clothes peg so you can drink, eat and wipe with ease!

My dear friends , Mark Kilian and Paul Hepker excellent composers  musicians, provided the musical entertainment for this years event

Paul played piano perched atop the entrance to the cellars as the crowds ate delicious gourmet tacos and a pozole to die for (Mexican type of  stew with hominy which are big chewy pieces of sweetcorn served with lots of things you can add depending on your preferences –delish!)

If you have never tried it here is a recipe

Mark and his band performed on the other side Paralelo to where the food was being served – guests were beckoned by Alejandro to walk down and underneath the winery , viewing the vast fermentation tanks as we did so.

We emerged into a grassy amphitheatre, with some people walking up to the edge to take a seat while others such as yours truly sat on the lumpy rather precipitous sides – causing me to slide  to the bottom a few times (or maybe that was the wine ?!)

After a bit of dancing we headed home as I we were leaving for the US the next day  so it was a short stay on this occasion but as always its worth every minute.

Monday 15th I was revising for my Citizenship interview and getting ready to leave for NYC the next day, when I got a phone call out of the blue by Husband #2! He was in LA (he now lives in Abu Dhabi) We hadn’t spoken in years and we had a nice chat – and interesting  timing b/c it was almost 10 years ago that we were together in NYC hanging out at the Mercer  Hotel , celebrating our engagement at The Plant Bar (where Moby popped in to see/ spin with Norman Cook …) the day after which me & my fiance  made a trip to Staten Island to view a ‘Peace Pot’ that had been sent from Tibet to the Buddist Museum there – one of hundreds of such pots sent all over the world , containing sand from the same blessed mandala in Tibet,  hoping to connect and bring peace to the world. Unfortunately they didn’t do the trick as two days after our trip 9/11 happened ….

My Citizenship test was a breeze –  out of the 100 questions they could have asked about government etc I was asked what was the national anthem and what happened on 9/11/2001! The nice lady said I had passed and she would be recommending me to become a Citizen!

As I walked out onto the sun baked Los Angeles Street I was made aware of the good and the bad of this  fine nation. At one end there are large government buildings proudly bearing the stars and stripes, a few blocks down the same block I could see a man urinating on the sidewalk, another passed out under the shade of the tree …. I know this kind of thing is usual for a megalopolis such as LA but it was kind of shocking nevertheless.  I also knew this is burgeoning DTLA (DownTownLA) and thanks to my trusty iphone I was able to yelp somewhere away from these unfortunates and found a great Japanese restaurant were I celebrated my success with some cooked eel and soup.

Back in Silver Lake I begun to pack for NY and London as well as clean the house and sort out paperwork that had been sitting on my desk for weeks but for some masochistic reason I wait til 11 pm the night before  bit trip to sort it out. Then I discover that I’m on an earlier flight and try to reschedule my Shuttle Bus pick up only to find I booked through Shuttle Fare – a third party company that doesn’t work 24/7 so have to take a $65 cab to LAX.  Note to self, READ YOUR TRAVEL ITINERARY 48 HOURS BEFORE DEPARTURE NEXT TIME!!

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This is what a Los Angeles Freeway looks after it has rained heavily all day – taken at 5.10pm on 10 FWY heading east – usually gridlocked!

So my question is this – where is everyone? if all it takes is some heavy rain to keep lots of people at home, this would indicate that they have no jobs – or at least no jobs/ routine  that requires them to get into the office on a daily basis. So how about those lucky people stay at home more often and give a break to the commuters who have to drive to work each day!

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‘Chocolate?’ ‘No! Maltesers!’ ‘ Cav-Poo?’ ‘No! Malti-Poo!’

Taking Max for a walk just now, we met a lovely little dog and its equally lovely gamine owner and as Max and pup bounced around on Sunset Blvd I asked whether her pup was a CavPoo (cavalier poodle cross) and she said no ‘Its a Multi- Poo’ . ‘Oh’ I said, thinking that this ball of friendly fur is a combination of many, many poodles. Then I realized I was wrong! Doh! She meant he was a cross between the beloved British sweetie, Maltesers,  known by its famed advert tag line ‘Chocolate?’ ‘No! Maltesers1’ – because they have the honeycomb middle that weighs so little 🙂

So as you can see from the photos above, what she actually said was that her dog was a  ‘Malti -Poo’ – a cross between a chocolate confection and a poodle,  and that is what made the little chap so sweet 🙂

If I have got the Brits amongst you  nostalgic for Maltesers here is where you can buy them online


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Guatemala ‘Living Lost’ Film shoot & travels Nov 2010

November 2010  – I was asked by my friends – actor, director Jon Bessire and producer Daphne Bach – to join them in the working of their film ‘Living Lost’ . My role was to assist with sound recording and help whenever necessary –  as with only 7 people on the core crew, it was going to be a case of all hands on deck! Then in post production I would put my ‘Music Supervisor’ hat on to help with the soundtrack. Also , I had been learning Spanish for some time so I welcomed the opportunity of putting it to some practice on the trip.

The film tells  the story of a man (played by Jon Bessire) who has sacrificed his relationship with family for his job until one day his doctor tells him he has a very serious illness. Feeling very alone he takes off to Guatemala where he begins an unexpected journey of discovery and self realization.

I arrived in Guatemala City two weeks into the shoot and we were staying just outside Antigua.  My first impressions were that it was greener and more hilly than I had expected and the public buses were so colourful you almost forgave them for  the thick black fumes that they belched out into the Guatemalan sky! I soon realized that what I thought were hills and mountains were volcanoes many of which were still active – this was going to be an interesting trip!

I  took this photo on my last day in Antigua – the clouds had finally lifted from the volcano – can’t recall if this is Volcan Fuego, Agua or Acatenango – do you know?

The style of driving in Guatemala is pretty hairy – most of the cars and trucks were one hub cap away from the scrap heap, many could barely make it up the steep hills and then,  having made it to the top,  they nearly ran off the road when their weak brakes strain on the descent down!  Due to the heavy rainfall of the last season many roads had been washed away and all that remained of them was a few white painted rocks marking a semi circle where the original road had collapsed down the hillside below.

Our vehicles would take us all over Guatemala over the next two weeks (and had done many miles prior to my arrival) and neither of them were in great shape so we said our prayers more than once while on the road , and when those needed a bit of help we took them to the local mechanics or llantas for tire repair.

Jon Bessire  – as  writer, director and lead actor in ‘Living Lost’ –  usually drove one of the two vehicles too so he was extremely busy .

He was one of the producers too along with Daphne Bach.  Daphne and Jon’s company is called 3 Sides Entertainment and includes their friends and co filmmakers Keith Beinart (on sound and camera) John Price Church – actor and camera and sound assistant and Reina Salas who worked on the script as well as sound and camera.!vstc0=projects

I was part of the additional crew with Audriana (on second camera)  Cherise on continuity – plus we all wore a few hats given the size of our team and the epic nature of the shoot. I joked one day to Jon that it reminded me of Werner Herzog’s ‘Fitzcarraldo’ and he laughed and said that was precisely the film he had wanted everyone to watch before we left the US! I’m glad to say Jon did not channel Mr Herzog and nobody  was as bonkers as Klaus Kinski!

The shoot took us far and wide  taking us through different terrains and architecture ranging from simple dirt floor huts in the countryside to stunning colonial architecture in Antigua ,  the hot springs up near Garifuna country, the colorful houses of Flore and its placid lake in the morning , the hillside villages around Coban,  the rock pools of Semuc Champey, Lake of Atitlan with its misty water surrounded by huge volcanoes,  and the incredible ancient pyramid structures of Tikal. I would never have got to have seen so much of Guatemala had I not been part of the ‘Living Lost’ team !

As far as shooting went, it went well but was tough given the time restraint and scope of  ‘Living Lost’  – we were filming an epic story!  The sound should have been easier when we were in remote areas but we were dogged by the sounds of trucks , tractors and farming vehicles plus the omnipresent cockrels and dogs!

We were very lucky to have been able to stay with Daphne’s family on several occasions during the shoot, as her father is from Guatemala and was one of the main actors in the film, as was her  wonderfully indomitable Grandmother who lived about 3 hours from Antigua on a beautiful piece of property surrounded by hills,  a river and numerous buildings providing shelter and care to both family and ailing locals alike. As well as being our hosts , actors and location providers, we also got to eat local food and meet members of the local community . Daphne’s family also owned a spa in Jocotenango so we were able to have some wonderful massages and steam baths whenever time allowed.

It was a challenging , adventurous and memorable trip and I can’t wait to see how the movie is coming along!

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MOCA’s Art in The Streets

I almost missed going to see this show –

in the end I made it on the last free Monday in August (Cheers  Banksy for underwriting each Monday) and stood in the heat for over an hour wearing a terrible hat which made me, skinny white woman,  stick out even more from the hairy hipsters, shaven headed tattoed males and young Latinos –  but was glad of the shade it gave to me .  Prior to this excursion I wouldn’t have called myself  a big fan of street art –  but not only did I like the show more than I expected, I was really impressed at the wide demographic standing in the queue along with me. All ages , races and socio economic groups were represented, waiting patiently in the heat – not a sight you see very often in LA. This exhibition became the most highly attended show of the museum’s history – hats off (especially this one!) to Museum Director Jeffrey Deitch and associated curators Roger Gastman & Aaron Rose. Bizarrely enough Jeffrey had got a lot of flak at the end of last year for having a mural he commissioned  by Blu whitewashed over

By the time we got in, I only had an hour to whizz around the exhibition , but it was enough to take in and be impressed by the scope and design of the exhibit,  and to find out that I was more of a fan of street art than I had thought I was. Here are some of my faves from the show (and hoping I don’t get sued for posting these!)- you will notice a few random ones (shot of clouds above LA from outside MOCA, me in Guatemala which I am now using as my featured image) as well as some repeated images  inc me in that hideous hat!  –  oh well I’m still getting the hang of this!

Subway Trains in detail and en masse – quite stunning when displayed thus…

I I love Keith Haring and this pic of an elderly couple infront of one of his works (where he used blank/ blacked poster spots on the subway walls as his blank canvas ) is cool

Banksy to the left is one of his earliest – seemed prescient given the riots that happened a few days after I saw this show…

This church window was beautiful , being worshiped by a hoodie – a mode of dress that has become equated with bad or illegal behaviour,  and and the proud depiction of a Native American Indian seems an appropriate place to end this chapter…

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