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Slightly ominous, no?

Rather than discussing all about what I got up to in NYC and recount everything I stuffed into my belly (I’ve done that before), I thought I’d write about a very cool excursion I made into Bushwick (Brooklyn). It ain’t Manhattan, that’s for sure. But what it is, is a street art hotspot. I booked a tour, and I was super excited to see what artists I would find there. It was so worth the trek! I also learned quite a bit in the process. And yeah, there was a little somethin’ for da belly too … you know how I roll.

Here’s an interesting fact I learned: did you know that street art all started because a guy was trying to get a girl’s attention? He went by Cornbread (though his real name was Darryl McCray). Sometime in the 60’s he started “tagging” the words “Cornbread loves Cynthia” all over Philadelphia. This started a trend that would spread far and wide. Others followed his example, and by the 70s, graffiti became a big deal in New York. By the 80s, it was a global phenomenon (not to mention a public nuisance). And yeah, Cornbread did win the heart of his beloved Cynthia. Graffiti was born.
In my eyes, street art is just as high an art as anything you would find at the Louvre. To prove it, I give you Exhibit A.
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It’s so fantastic, I almost die looking at it.
I went a couple hours early to scope the place out. I’m so glad I did, because otherwise I would not have seen what is undoubtedly the most beautiful piece of street art that I have ever personally encountered. It is a mash up of Rafael’s Madonna dell Granduca and Kieth Haring’s Radiant Baby. While Rafael did his work on a canvas with oils and paint brushes, Owen Dippie created a work on a much grander scale using spray cans. In my opinion, “stunning” doesn’t even come close to describing the results. So I ask you, who has the greater skill? The renaissance master painter, or the street artist? Food for thought my lovelies.
Nothing I saw wowed me in this same way, but I did get so see plenty of other cool pieces, including a couple by my beloved Invader…
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Isn’t this the coolest? I love this Joey Ramone invader!
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… but there was plenty of other stuff too. Eye candy galore! Mostly the tour concentrated on what is called the “Bushwick Collective.” This is basically sanctioned street art, where the neighborhood business owners allow the artists to beautify the space, simply for art’s sake. There is no money exchanging hands. In return, Bushwick gets to look freaking awesome. I love that. Some really famous street artists from far and wide have come to help decorate the space.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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D*Face, from the UK

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The notorious Vandal Gummy Bear by Whisbie.

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A mural of my best girl, my beloved Frida.
I took loads of pictures, but I think you are ready to eat. Non, mon amours? I think if there is one special place to eat in Bushwick, it’s the legendary Roberta’s. In fact, Bushwick and Roberta’s are quite synonymous. This uber hipster hangout is not just a place for guys with pretty beards and well manicured mustachios! Oh no! This place makes some fine and  fatty pizzas. Moi had the “white guy pizza” (though I have to say, I think I am partial to Cubans *wink*).

No my dears, I’m not going to waste my time convincing you. A picture will tell you all you need to know.

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Yeah, that hunting in the Bush(wick) is no easy task, but someone’s got to do it *burp.*

Although I spent most of my time in Scottsdale, I did venture out a little. There were a few things I had pinned on Pinterest that I definitely wanted to check out in Phoenix. Foodwise I had my heart set on eating the famed Pizza Rosa at Pizzeria Bianco. Not only is the chef a James Beard Award winner, but many claim that he has created the best pizza in America. My favorite pizza will always be the NY style white pizza at at Lombardi’s in New York—not only is it ridiculously decadent, but I also associate that pizza with some wonderful memories, and memories are an ingredient that no master pizzaiolo has in his spice rack. Nevertheless, the pizza bases at Pizzeria Bianco are truly phenomenal and technically excellent; I can totally see what all the fuss is about. The Pizza Rosa is a white pizza topped with Parmiagiano-Reggiano, red onion, rosemary, and Arizona pistachios. I wouldn’t describe this pizza as decadent, but it is definitely flavorful. I really loved how you could discern every single flavor that was present. Nothing was overpowered, every ingredient got it’s chance to shine. And like I said, the crust is truly awesome. The pizza was pretty damned faultless – but what can I say, Lombardi’s will always have my heart.  Plus Lombardi’s do Italian sodas… so…

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With pizza in my belly, it was now time to see the sites. Did I mention that Arizona is hot as fuck?!?! “Dry heat,” my ass!  I felt like I was going to get heat stroke on my way to Phoenix’s art district, Roosevelt Row. It was 105 degrees, but honestly it felt I was walking on the surface of the sun (I only exaggerate a teeny).

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El Mac (aka Miles MacGregor ) is one of my favorite street artists. It was such a pleasure to see this beautiful lady all the way in burning hot Phoenix. It made my trek worth it. Roosevelt Row has lots of great street art, along with plenty of art galleries and little specialty shops. Here are a few other pictures I took:

After a bit of walking, this ice cream at Melt was definitely a necessity. I had the lavender-honey, totally fab. I think most places would shy away from the boldness of the herby/floral nature of the lavender, but I think its great that they didn’t dumb it down by making it overly sweet. Totally worth a pit stop.

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By now, I had had enough of the heat. It got too intense for me, so I made my way to the Phoenix Museum of Art. It surpassed my expectations. There were a few things there that kind of blew me away. There was this piece by  Yayoi Kusama called You Who are Getting Obliterated in the Dancing Swarm of Fireflies. I’m not sure how to describe it. It was a room with a lot of mirrors. It made sort of an “infinity room.” The room was dark except for some LED lights that hung from different lengths, mimicking multi-colored fireflies. Watch this video, because photos don’t exactly capture it. The feelings evoked from me were feelings of romance, whimsy, wonder, and beauty. I couldn’t help but wish I was standing there in that room holding hands with someone I loved as the fireflies “danced” around me.  It was nothing short of magical. I could feel something stir deep in my heart.

I also loved this surrealist botanical painting by Joseph Stella called “Flowers” with it’s psychedelic colors and incredible symmetry. Total eye-catcher.

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But best of all, and most unexpected, was that I encountered a Frida Kahlo. In case I haven’t mentioned it, Frida is my soul sister. This particular work is considered to be one of her most shocking and controversial paintings. The Suicide of Dorothy Hale, tells the story of a Ziegfeld showgirl as she jumped from her luxury apartment in her favorite black dress. I felt honored to look at it, behind its glass, just as I remember looking at it as a little girl, as a photograph in a book.

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The museum was about to close, and I decided to treat myself to my one semi-fancy restaurant of my trip at Little Cleo’s Seafood Legend. Most of my life is spent on a perpetual diet. When I am on vacation, however,  there are no rules. It’s like Fight Club but with burgers. Despite being on my own, I’ve learned not to be coy about ordering a four course dinner all for moi-self (I have superpowers that you know nothing about). And that, my dears, is exactly what I did.  I had an appetizer, “bacon” and eggs on toast, a yummy bouillabaisse, and sticky toffee pudding. It was all great, but I think the star of the show was that toast.  The “bacon” was actually cured sturgeon.

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Positively joyous!
The next day I went to see the Grand Canyon. I went as part of a Pink Jeep Tour. It was a four hour drive each way with an itsy bitsy stop in Sedona where I saw the famous Bell Rock. And the canyon? What can I tell you of the canyon that hasn’t been said? It is crazy and surreal. I remember looking out at its vastness, and even though it was right in front of me, it did not look real. It felt like I was on some science fiction movie set. Here’s the thing, I know how to talk about food and art, but I don’t really have the words to describe what this was like. If you’ve not been there yourself, you won’t understand exactly how majestic this place is. All I can say is that I am so glad that I went. I almost didn’t. It’s one of those things that are on people’s bucket lists as something they want to see before they die. I understand why that is now. But, you know, ice cream is good too. Just sayin’

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Ever since I knew about it, I wanted to go to Wynwood (in Miami) to see the street art, but without a car, that proved near impossible. I figured how how to make the journey using public transportation, and it would have taken me about 3 hours (each way!), so I had to file that one away… until I bribed someone into it. Please, don’t ask LOL! I do not regret it though.

Wynwood is freaking awesome! You would not believe the intense concentration of eye candy. I was in Heaven snapping pictures and enjoying all the colors and imagery. It is an absolute feast for the eyes. And of course there was food for the belly too… this is Caroline we are talking about after all—and in my book, fun without food thrown into the mix is kind of unheard of. A stop at the famed Joey’s was most definitely in order. Well, if it’s good enough for Beyonce and Jay-Z, I suppose I can slum it too, eh? Please, who am I kidding, these days I am no stranger to Walmart. Do you know the cool thing about street art though? It’s completely free, so splurging on a gourmet pizza wasn’t too much of an expense. What a great day out! I can’t wait to go back. Wynwood is my new favorite hangout.

I took so many cool pictures, but my camera ran out of battery way before I was done. I wonder what kind of bribe I’ll have to offer for my next visit *shudder*.

Below is just some of the awesomeness available:

Let's start with a rendering of my soul sister, Frida Kahlo.
Let’s start with a rendering of my soul sister, Frida Kahlo.

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An artist at work
An artist at work

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My favorite piece, by  305 Kid. And you know what is way cool? I Instagramed this, and he actually "liked" my photo!
I will end with my favorite piece. The artist is called  305 Kid. And you know what is way cool? I Instagramed this, and he actually “liked” my photo! If you haven’t added me on Instagram, please do, I am remarkably friendless LOL.
Gorgonzola Tartufata pizza at Joey's (my picture came out crap, so I am
Gorgonzola Tartufata pizza at Joey’s (my picture came out crap, so I am “borrowing” this one from miaminewtimes.com

I had the Gorgonzola Tartufata pizza. It had a nice amount of strong but delicious gorgonzola cheese, walnuts (which were a surprising but lovely addition), truffle oil,  topped off with arugala. The ingredients were top notch, and they were not stingy with the toppings. The base was ultra thin and very crispy around the edges. The flavors were excellent, but being the notorious complainer that I am, if I had to mark it down, the base could be a bit more substantial to deal with the heft of the toppings which are apt to make a pizza soggy in a most swift and unfortunate manner ;). I’d surely have it again, but I wouldn’t make a special trip for it. I would, however, love to try some of the other goodies that Joey’s has to offer. Well, okay, so I actually I had desert too. It was a homemade pear upside down tart. There was a very strong honey flavor to it, which I adored, but aside from that, it did not have the wow factor for me.

More photos are available on my Instagram page if you want to check them out.

So, this morning I was reading a post on a blog that I like to read, and it said that when things aren’t great, don’t be afraid to dream. The thing is, I think I’ve lost my ability to do that. Let me put it this way… if I was writing the story of my life, and I wanted to write in a happy ending, I have no idea how I would want it to go. When I ask God for help, I don’t even know what to ask for. I find myself on my knees, mute, my eyes full of tears, silently begging for an ending that I can’t even find the words to articulate. My mind is not capable of envisioning it. Obviously I want to be happy, but what happiness looks like, I can no longer imagine. This was how I felt when I left my home over a year ago, and this is also how I feel now.

When is the Happiness Fairy going to wave it’s magic wand in my direction? I know part of the way to entice her into my vicinity is to be grateful for the things I do have. Some good things did happen this week, so let me list them:

1) I got my driver’s licence. That was kind of a big deal for me. Okay, there’s no car, but it’s still pretty awesome!

2) After four job interviews, I finally went on one that I actually found decent AND it really went well. The interviewer and I seemed to have connected on both a personal and professional level. I really hope I get it!

3) I went to the eye doctor to have some new glasses made up, and it turns out that my vision got better! That never happens!

4) On Thursday my mom and my sister and I had lunch at my favorite pizza place in the area, Scarfone’s. They do an eggplant pizza that is simply to die for. The eggplant pieces are sliced very thinly, coated in breadcrumbs, fried, and scattered along a gorgeous coal fired pie like (ugly but delicious) jewels. There’s the slightly sweet sauce, the creamy mozzarella and ricotta cheeses (*sigh* ricotta), fresh basil, savory crispy eggplant, and the perfectly charred crust. There is such a wonderful combination of flavor and texture that work together so perfectly without competing. If you are ever in the area, I urge you to try it!

Mmmm :)... are you feeling this or what?
I’m drooling at the memory of it’s deliciousness.

This was followed up by ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery. Yes, I am a piggy.

Hmmm... maybe I can be happy without a man (but I'd be diabetic LOL).
Hmmm… maybe I can be happy without a man (but I’d be diabetic LOL).

Gosh you know what? Just writing that stuff down actually made me feel a little better. Seriously!

I know the trick to this all is to leave it to God. I know things will happen in their own time, the way they are supposed to happen. It’s not really for me to second guess His plan. I have always believed that everything happens for a reason, and my belief has not changed. I know that the most beautiful things grow out of the ugliest of situations. Furthermore, it’s not like there aren’t people in worse off situations than me. It’s just that when you can no longer see the light at the end of the tunnel, it is normal to question wether or not it actually exists. You just have to trust that it is there. But I have some good news my friends: ice cream and pizza still tastes awesome in the dark!