*UPDATE* Wende Museum

Inconspicuously located in Culver City at the 1949 National Guard Armory building, is the Wende (pronounced “venda”) Museum.

Garden Egg Chair, 1968, Peter Ghyczy

For those not acquainted with the The Wende:

 Examining the history of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union can be fraught with political and personal bias, and the complex, often contradictory stories that underlie the Museum’s artifacts may provoke uncomfortable questions. The Museum’s location in Culver City, California, provides independence and critical distance from current political debates in Europe, and also facilitates the questioning of preconceived ideas about our past and present. Moreover, the Museum’s physical remoteness from Central and Eastern Europe has enabled it to attract significant artifacts and collections that might otherwise have been destroyed as a result of emotional and political reactions. – Wende Museum

Growing up in the United States, we are blindly sheltered from any true political strife: war, brainwashing, and public executions are things we have been fortunate to have avoided.

Immersing yourself in such powerful relics is to observe a life you’ll (hopefully) never experience.

                      Stasi’s stalking tools

As you walk in, you are greeted by a gift shop on the left, and the product of the Monday Demonstrations on Lenin to the right.

This is what protesting looks like

As you enter the general space, the walls are succinctly curated with the current revolving exhibitions. The two latest installations that adorned the space were: “Promote, Tolerate, Ban: Art and Culture in Cold War Hungary”, which is a collaborative initiative with the Getty Research Institute, and “Socialist Flower Power: Soviet Hippie Culture”.

Clothing from “Socialist Flower Power”

 

A piece from “Promote, Tolerate, Ban”

In the two alley ways that run parallel, there are enough books, furniture, clothing, toys, and other household items to keep you intrigued and satiated for hours.

           Google translate can’t keep up.

 

    This probably doesn’t have the ‘Gram on it.

 

                  Definitely not fast fashion

 

              Checkpoint Charlie curiosity fix

 

I wonder if they made one of him in pajamas.

 

The Wende is one of Culver City’s best kept secrets, but with your help, it won’t be for much longer.

 

The Wende Museum 

10808 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230

Hours of Enjoyment:

Friday:  10 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Happy Endings Every Time

Living in Los Angeles, no one is a stranger to the ubiquitous Chinese Foot Massage centers: you get an hour of fingers digging into all of your reflexive foot zones for a mere $20 bones.

Such a steal, why isn’t everyone there?

To be honest, most think of these as the “Happy Ending” massage places. The tawdry, flashing neon, the curtains, the sparse English. I blab on to many friends and acquaintances about how I’ll only go to these since they are the cheapest – the weight of the stares after I mention this makes me consider hiring a porter.

“Well, you have to be careful with those…you never know what you’ll get…”

A cheap, full hour massage with a Mandarin lesson included?

Yes.

Let me explain to those feeling apprehensive:

For one hour, usually around 20-35 dollars, depending on what you want and the area of LA, you’ll lie flat on a somewhat cozy, well-laundered towel coated easy chair. They soak your feet in scalding water, while they massage your head and arms and upper back with an oil you would never buy in fear of a rash – it works fine, sans rash. Then, they make your feet feel like they owe you an apology for existing – this can be a mixed bag. Afterwards, you roll over for the back portion. Men usually take their shirts off, and if you are a woman with no fucks to give, you can take off yours as well – it’s done discreetly.

Yes, it’s not the most private – you are in a room of other people getting a rub down. But they put a towel over your eyes, so you can sort of chill out. And yeah, they do whisper to one another, in Chinese. If you are super sensitive, this might not be your cup of Oolong.

I went to several while exploring the vastness  of the Peoples Republic of China on a recent trip, and I can attest: these are true, honest to God, Chinese massages. Even the pricing is similar. With people that probably just came from there a few weeks ago.

An additional perk that you won’t get at your Healing Hands place?  A punch card with $20 off if you are a lonely person/regular.

I’ve included some of my favorites below if you need some cajoling:

Hollywood/East Hollywood

Good Hands Massage

Sunny Foot Massage

Monterey Park – if you have time for a hop to the SGV

Serenity Spa 

Before Abbot Kinney was littered with decadent shops and gourmet cafes, it once belonged to the bohemians, green space, and the eccentrics. The boulevard’s galleries showcased the neighborhood talent, and praised itself for being an artist’s refuge from materialistic L.A.

Lucky for us, the hyper-gentrification didn’t sell all the soul from Abbot-Kinney. In some unexpected nooks and crannies, there is some art lurking in the open. I almost missed The Chaplin Zoetrope, if my lovely friend had not pointed out to me as I was walking into traffic.

 

While I was searching for the name of the person responsible for saving my inattentive heinie, my eyes landed on the stack of informative cards perched under the exhibit. The card’s map specified all the public art in the area, along with a web address of other projects that all art-appreciating Angelenos should be aware of.

 

A map to several pots of gold

 

On the reverse, the numbers explain each installation, with their whereabouts included. Thanks to Robin Murez, who commenced the Venice public art project in 2005,  she hoped to inspire a sense of community amongst all the various citizens dwelling in the Venice area. Along with unifying the residents, Robin wanted bring about a sense of wonderment and delight with each piece.

A list...of visual treasures.

 

They are always open to suggestions, and needing assistance with: locating sites, creating, inviting, organizing, installing, landscaping, CAD drawings, permits, funding, photographing, and media.

While I’m crafting my thank you card, I recommend investigating these visual treasure troves before they’re bulldozed for a new Prada store.

Website: www.venicepublicart.com