Or, Slumberday, which is precisely what the latter part of today was for us, after a day at the Geffen Contemporary for “Art in the Streets” and then Daikokuya for the most perfect bowl of ramen in the US, if not worldwide (sorry, Japan).
Judging by the long line of people waiting to get in, the show has been a great success. We waited outside for about 45 minutes to buy tickets, but having a MOCA membership or buying one at the doors gets you in immediately. Although the boyfriend complained a lot about the trendiness of ‘street art’ (i.e. the lines today or at any Shepherd Fairey show vs. say, the lack of lines to the previous Suprasensorial: Experiments in Light, Color and Space exhibit or even the Murakami one, for that matter), there’s something to be said for MOCA’s ploy to increase visitorship by pandering to trends in the art world in contrast to LACMA’s upcoming Tim Burton show, which privileges film and media production.
Admittedly, I only have a passing interest in street art. However, I LOVED the installation Street, a collaboration by a small cadre of graffiti artists such as Todd James and Barry McGee. Not so much for its commentary on street art culture, but simply for the sheer tackiness and theme park-ness of it all. It’s hilarious, really. There’s animatronic taggers, bike repair shops, flophouses, urinals and even a ‘church’ whose deities of choice are Tecates and a jukebox. Sucker for corny amusement parks? That’s me! I read somewhere (probably on Yelp!) that it was supposed to be a depiction of a Brazilian favela. Whatever, it’s a good time, and I’m sure the artists had plenty of fun dumpster diving for all the used styrofoam plates and beer cans.
The standout piece was this installation by Swoon, although the people and dogs up top are a bit frightening. The intricacy of the paper cutouts are mind blowing, and as usual, I’m a huge sucker for papercraft and lacy shadows.
The verdict? See it, just to see it, but don’t expect all that much. A lot of it is repetitive and a huge disappointment (hello, Banksy!), but that’s unavoidable since much of the power of street art lies in its unexpected and startling presence. Expect a lot of photographs of early graffiti and don’t be too sad if you miss the ones on Gordon Matta-Clark’s wall space (huge letdown).
Less disappointing was our dinner at Daikokuya afterwards. IT NEVER FAILS. There’s been some talk (ahem, Yelp) about Ippudo in New York being better, but only if you like your ramen like you like your Korean girls…shallow, expensive, overly made up and hanging out in clubs. Sure, the noodles may be slightly better at Ippudo, but let’s face it–the broth is the heart of ramen. And although the Yakuza-lite cooks at Daikokuya have been fattening up their menu with different varieties of their famous soup (such as kichi-men, a more sour version of their pork soup), I can’t personally vouch for any of them as it’s always the regular one that I’m drawn to time after time. There is no soy sauce, miso or salt broth here, and unless you’re allergic to pork (spiritually or otherwise), there’s little that you’ll miss. It’s that good.
The decor is a throwback to 1920’s Japan and the service is fast, once you’re actually seated. At peak hours (lunch and dinnertime, although it’s usually busy well into the night if it’s a weekend), the wait for a table can be up to 2 hours. It’s a testimony to the deliciousness of the ramen that people will actually wait that long, but try to get there well before dinnertime and your wait will be significantly reduced. Otherwise, a stroll around the Little Tokyo Village across the street will help kill time until tasty, tasty ramen is yours. I recommend the ramen combination bowl, which includes a small shredded cabbage salad and your choice of small chicken teriyaki, fried rice, oyakudon (chicken-egg bowl), or shredded pork bowl. All are good, but I always get the chicken teriyaki bowl because it’s so much better than anything you can find elsewhere as the chicken is slightly battered. The salad…is nothing short of spectacular. It has the most flavorful, mayonnaise-based dressing, studded with small carrot flecks. Get this, even if you don’t get a combination bowl, for it’s only $1 (last I checked).
Oh, and sloths!