Danny Ginsburg and Real Soda

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Danny Ginsburg started collecting bottle caps when he was 4 years old. It  had started as a game when he was much younger… with baby food lids.He would save, organize, memorize the product codes and collect, until life moved on and baby food was no longer the cuisine du jour!

Did I mention that Danny is one of the smartest people I know?

At four years old, on a family hike, he was tired, bored and complaining. His mother suggested finding something to do for fun and pointed at a Pepsi bottle cap on the ground. She said how they were a ” different kind of lid” and that there would always be bottle caps to find, no matter how old you were.

Smart mum!

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So began a search for caps, research into bottling plants and factories, stops at the rest areas on highways to see what truck drivers may have thrown out and letter writing to anyone who might have interesting bottle caps. His dream was to get a driver’s license and car, and go drive to where bottle caps where!

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The collection grew, and with it the need to find more and more bottled beverages. By the time he was a teenager, he was heading out to find sodas in other cities, unusual local brands from old time manufacturers, often just as they were thinking of closing up shop.He hoarded the diminishing brands, and ever the entrepreneur, brought back some extras to share or sell to friends.

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In an industry dominated by a few, really big players, there were possibilities and opportunities, and over the next few years Real Soda in Real Bottles managed to not only track down unique and obscure brands, but to create the beginnings of a distribution network. From a small start in the 1980’s, to obtaining a business license in 1991, Real Soda in Real Bottles is now the major distributor of independent, artisan sodas and a manufacturer of it’s own distinctive brands.

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At the same time there was a growing awareness and  desire to drink soda from a glass bottle, which can easily be re used and recycled. Every bottled soda is one less can or plastic nightmare.

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There is immense charm and silliness, and an abundance of joy which pervades the world of Real Soda in Real Bottles. The products range from kid favorites to grownup  & sophisticated, historical to hysterical. 100% juices and coconut waters to caffeinated energy concoctions.Neon to crystal clear, healthy to downright decadent. Lots of old time regional brands from across the USA and imports from across the globe.

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No wonder Danny describes them as the ”world’s best beverages”!

The names and labels are priceless. Boom Chugga Lugga Ginger Ale anyone?

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From a HUGE warehouse in Gardena, bottles are shipped across California and to Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Nevada and Colorado.And now across the world.

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It’s hard to be wildly enthusiastic about aisles of cheap canned sodas at the supermarket, even when those big companies spend millions trying to convince us to partake.

So much more fun to find a bottle of bubbly yumminess at a favorite coffeehouse, corner store or speciality deli.

mmmmmmmmm:)

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http://www.realsoda.com

Gateway Arch….really big public art.

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As soon as I knew I was going to a conference in Milwaukee, I pulled out the road maps and started dreaming.

Too many things on my “to do list of life” list located in the Mid West, so it was hard to decide what I could fit in and where I could go.

Images of the Arch, and the Mississippi,  and an old Nelly interview floated thru my mind…

I decided to fly in to Chicago, get a rental car and do a driving pilgrimage to St Louis .

 

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I didn’t know what I would find and as I drove down the interstate towards St Louis, in grey skies and drizzly rain I wondered, would I see it as I drove in?

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Yes!

There it was.Gleaming and soaring above a subdued downtown, emerging from a parkland forest of trees and on the west bank of the Mississippi River, the site of the founding of St Louis.

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A sculpture and symbol of all that I love about America. The dynamism and optimism that propelled settlers across the continent. 630′ of soaring, stainless steel symbolizing Westward expansion.

Remarkable in so many ways, not the least the fantastic decision to create a huge, dramatic piece of public art.

Where else? Mt Rushmore?

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Designed by Eero Sarrinen, Finnish-American architect and industrial designer, and Hannskarl Bandarl, a German-American engineer.

Saarinen, now famous for his futuristic structural curves and precise simplicity in buildings,  monuments and furniture, won the design prize after competing with his father.His first win!

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Work commenced in 1963 and it opened to the public in 1967. It cost $13 million dollars ….around $175 million today, 50 years later.

More than 4 million people a year visit the site , many taking the claustrophobic tram inside to the top.Not me …just a visit to the museum and a lazy hour wandering the parkland and gazing up.

No surprise that St Louis is home to other smaller sculpture and public art spaces ( the Serra Scupture park and Citygarden).

The timeless innovative design and simple beauty of Gateway Arch , “reflective in sunshine,soft and pewterish in mist,crisp as a line drawing one minute, chimerical the next” exceeded any and all my expectations and creates marvel and awe in everyone who visits.

 

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Georgia territory

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Abiquiu in Northern New Mexico is the place where Georgia O’Keeffe lived and painted.

“When I got to New Mexico, that was mine.As soon as I saw it , that was my country”

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The stunning, stark beauty of the high desert landscape had been her inspiration since her first visit in 1929.For 20 years she travelled from New York to Abiquiu each summer, often staying for six months in solitude, to paint the skies and desert, colored rock formations, distant mountains and Chama  river valley.

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Smaller found objects like bleached bones and rocks, exotic cactus flowers and the wood and adobe structures also found their way onto her canvases. Three years after her husband’s death she moved permanently to New Mexico and eventually owned two homes .

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The first in Ghost Ranch, was high and secluded. Nestled beneath 700-foot cliffs it looked over to the flat-topped Pedernal. “Pedernal is my private mountain” she said frequently.”God told me if I painted it enough I could have it.”

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The second, initially used as her winter residence, was in the small town of Abiquiu at an elevation  of 6400′ and overlooked the Chama River with its  green trees and fields.

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Both locations surrounded her with a wealth of imagery for her paintings.

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Visiting Abiquiu over Christmas I was struck at each turn of the road  how recognizable the landscape is because of our familiarity with O’Keeffe’s work.

Driving north towards Ghost Ranch we knew we were getting close when Chimney Rocks came into sight.

Photographs taken quickly (with the phone!) out the window of the car amazed us with their color and clarity. Georgia O’Keeffe was quoted as saying that most of her art was done in New Mexico before she put her brushes to the canvas.

There is almost no tourist infrastructure in Abiquiu. An Inn with a small but good restaurant. A road house /gas station famous for breakfast burritos. Georgia’s home in town is only open for tours in the warmer months and her home at Ghost Ranch can only be toured via enquiries at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe. Ghost Ranch, now owned by the Presbyterian Church is a retreat, conference center,geology museum and place of learning.Each year there are hundreds of classes to take, many residential.

What is there and intensely accessible, are breathtaking vistas that shock. Skies that amaze with crystalline blue beauty, the whitest clouds and nearly every night billions of sparkly stars.Every road takes you somewhere you want to explore:cliff dwellings, pueblos, monasteries and churches, rocks and petroglyphs and tiny adobe hamlets.

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We rented a little stone house and pinched ourselves every morning when we looked out the windows, across Georgia’s valley.

State of Enchantment , as marked on the car number plates…not really a cliche!

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http://www.okeeffemuseum.org

http://www.GhostRanch.org

http://www.abiquiuinn.com

Rock Anthem Power Ballad

journey-unauthorized Hard to believe I had missed a whole school of music, and one amazing song in particular… Lots of Oz Rock (and that’s an Encyclopedia of Greatness), West Coast sound, Dance and Trance, hearing the Sex Pistols and knowing, in that moment, everything had changed .

So I moved to London.Hung out in clubs and pubs, danced and devoured everything the UK music scene could offer.

Saw The Clash, The Specials, UB40, Siouxsie and the Banshees, XTC, Black Uhuru, The Pretenders,Elvis C, Graham P, U2 ( when Bono was plump) and pilgrimaged wherever The Jam went. Epic nights of music .

A decade later, a marriage and move to LA, it took freeways, interstates and local radio to beat me into submission….

YOU WILL LOVE BIG AMERICAN STADIUM ROCK

YOU WILL SING POWER BALLADS AT THE TOP OF YOUR LUNGS ..

YOU WILL THINK DON’T STOP BELEIVIN’ IS THE GREATEST SONG EVER WRITTEN.

In spite of a preference for West Coast road trips it’s hard to argue with the big and loud and wide and deep of commercial radio in the midwest. An the incredible power ballad gorge-a-thon when you drive from Milwaukee to St Louis, to Detroit and Cleveland and Chicago.

The genre kills: inescapable, emotional, ubiquitous .Journey with skinny Steve Perry screaming “Don’t Stop Believin” is the rallying, pump-up song for the White Sox, the Dodgers and nearly every second high school football team.

It’s the best selling song in digital download history ( until Imagine Dragons”Radioactive”…yuk)

Released in 1981, I missed it first time around.Apparently it reached only 100 on the Aussie charts, just a little better in the UK.

Described somewhat sourly by music critics as a “Kareoke Pop Ballad” .You’ve got to be kidding!?! Who can sing it like Steve Perry? I like the Jezebels Triple J version , but it’s a little knowingly hipsterish and twee, love the Glee cast rendition ( you tube people) and can’t believe I found a thumpy amped up dance version downloaded in my library ( tequila?)

I forget how much I love it when I”m just living my regular,day to day SoCal life .

Steve, Journey and The Song fade into a mushy background like books I read long ago or old boyfriends.

However, I’m reminded of Al Gore’s wry comment describing “winners, losers and that lesser known, third category”.

Song as Olympic Games opener anyone?

Season 2 finale of Lillehammer and Trond Fausa Avrag’s heartbreakingly vulnerable Torgei tries out for the local production of Glee…

“Just a small town girl

Livin’ in a lonely world

She took the midnight train

Goin’ any where

Just a city boy

Born and raised in South Detroit

He took the midnight train

Goin’ any where

A singer in a smokey room

The smell of wine and cheap perfume

For a smile they can share the night

It goes on and on and on and on

Don’t stop believin”