The first raid came at five o’clock in the morning last May 17. Carlos Montes awoke to a thud. It was the sound, he soon discovered, of his front door splintering open. The sun had not yet risen, and Montes’s bedroom was dark, but in retrospect, he says, he’s glad he didn’t reach for a flashlight—or for a gun. Montes, a retired Xerox salesman, had kept a loaded shotgun behind the headboard and a 9mm pistol beneath a pile of towels on a chair beside the bed since the day he had walked in on an armed burglar a year and a half before. That time a cool head had kept him alive: He persuaded the thief to drive him to a 7-Eleven, where he withdrew as much cash as he could from the ATM and refused to take another step. This time, fortunately, he was half-asleep: He stumbled toward the hallway empty-handed.
Montes, 64, is a tall man, but his shoulders are rounded and slightly stooped, which along with his long, thin legs and the short fuzz of his gray hair, gives him something of the appearance of a bird. Maybe it’s that he always seems to be in motion, as if there’s a motor in him that keeps humming even when he’s sitting still. He often seems to be on the verge of cracking a joke, or as if he’s already laughing at the joke he could be telling. Once I showed up early for an interview and found him on the phone, reserving a space in a yoga class. “Gotta take my yoga, man,” he said, laughing at himself, “or else I’ll blow it!”.
Montes by Willie Heron’s 1972 mural The Wall That Cracked Open in City Terrace. Photograph by Bryce Duffy.
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The Shins are releasing a new album, Port of Morrow, this month. How is it different than the group’s first three albums?
Well, the production is better, for one thing. I think the songwriting is more efficient and focused and I think it’s stronger. I’m biased, but I think I’m better at writing songs now.
Is that the result of having more experience, or did luck and inspiration hit?
It’s hard work and experience adding up. Maybe I’m being optimistic, but I think that writing songs is like most any other thing: if you work hard at it and care enough and think enough about it and you will get good results. When you see people getting older and then their pop songs aren’t cool anymore, it’s because they lose that self-critical side. I think they just get lazy.
So what does your song writing process look like? Do you carve out time to do it or are you waking up in the middle of the night and jotting things down?
Sometimes I do that. I always have a guitar in the house waiting and I just like to sit and play the guitar and write new parts. My favorite thing is those moments when I’m coming up with something new—where you don’t get exactly what it is yet but it sounds cool and you like it and it’s got a hook. I buckle down when it’s time to do a record. It’s somewhere in between the moments of inspiration and the really hard work where the thing that works happens.
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step 1: Part Create a horizontal side part, starting behind one ear and ending halfway across the back of the head. Begin an inverted French braid behind the ear at the top of the part.
step 2: Braid Continue braiding, sticking close to the hairline as you add hair to the three braid sections while working your way to the opposite ear.
step 3: finish Secure crown braid behind the opposite ear. With the remaining hair, make a second inverted French braid, beginning at the base of the part.
step 4: Finesse Keep braiding until all the hair is incorporated. Secure the end with a silicone elastic band, and pin the braid into a messy bun.
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In the morning, Milo and Olive is still calm. You can sit at one of the eight counter seats eating a bowl of stone-ground grits with sautéed chanterelles and an egg, sunny side up, feeling as if you’re part of the working crew. A cook weighs out pizza dough on a digital scale; another checks a broad pot steaming on the stove. A young woman in a pink hairband peers into the wood-burning oven and tends to the embers. Meat is being fed into grinders for sausages. When an order for muesli comes in, a tall Tupperware container appears and a moist scoop is plopped into a cup. Adorned with thin slices of one of the organic pippins on display, it is a great way to begin the day.
Soon the quiet will be shattered. That communal table where a guy happily reads Lopez and Plaschke over a cup of coffee and buttered toast will fill with a crowd here for chef Evan Funke’s rustic cooking and Zoe Nathan’s neotraditionalist baking. By high noon the atmosphere could be called a collision of sorts. A woman with a Saint John’s Health Center ID clipped to the lapel of her pantsuit tucks into a salad of Coleman Family Farms lettuces with squishy cubes of Hachiya persimmons. A teen who has appropriated his grandfather’s hopsack blazer savors the fried lemon wedge atop the calamari. Two guys at the counter look like they gave up on the Kogi line. Over at the other marble-topped communal table, a bunch of women in good haircuts sporting all the shades of Eileen Fisher commemorate their get-together with cell phone pics.
Photograph by Lisa Romerein
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The overnight boom in Baja Cali-fornia’s Valle de Guadalupe was more than 200 years in the making. First came the Spanish, who planted the inaugural vineyards. They were followed at the beginning of the 20th century by the Molokans of Russia, who revived the practice of winemaking. Almost a century after that, visionary winemakers like Hugo D’Acosta established the valley as a place to pair tasty varietals with exquisite local cuisine. Ninety minutes from the San Ysidro border crossing, pleasant little B&Bs have popped up among the grapevines, little old ladies sell olive oil by the road, and travelers sip nebbiolo while banda music blasts. This is a wine region like no other.
coat draped over an elaborately beaded gold and black flapper dress.
Photograph by Stephen Kepple
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Photograph courtesy Banyan Tree Mayakoba
As you arc along Highway 111, the clutter of casino billboards and outlet malls gives way to an unfurling desert that surrounds Palm Springs, a town built for relaxation. Long a refuge for Hollywood types, retirees, and snowbirds, the area became something of a mausoleum for the Sinatra set, an oasis of golf courses and aging resorts strung out along the arid valley floor. But with new hotels reinhabiting famous buildings and replacing those old rose gardens with native succulents, Palm Springs has managed to reinvent itself. There’s still the great midcentury architecture, the dramatic hikes, and of course, the kitsch, but visitors are discovering cosmopolitan offerings beyond lounging in the sun by the pool or playing the back nine.
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Farmers’ markets are positively bursting with superb citrus right now and local chefs are taking full advantage. Scott Quinn’s citrus and fennel salad graces the menu at Bagatelle Bistro, the new West Hollywood outpost of the NYC spot famous for its fabulously boozy brunches. The kitchen is currently open for dinner only but expect weekend brunches to roll out in the coming weeks. The restaurant’s Salade d’Endives aux Agrume is made with fennel, endive, tangerines, and blood oranges and would pair perfectly with a mimosa.
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FIDM’s 20th Annual Art of Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition pays tribute to the sartorial side of the movie biz by showcasing over 100 costumes featured in 20 films released in 2011. The glamorous exhibit includes costumes from all five Academy Award-nominated films and allows visitors to immerse themselves in the intricate details of each uniquely crafted costume that may have been overlooked on the big screen.
The elegant Art Deco inspired designs by Mark Bridges for the “The Artist” earned him a prestigious Academy Award. It’s a delightful surprise to see the vibrant colored costumes worn in the black-and-white film. Featured are a flirty bright coral dress, an olive green raincoat and a floral printed umbrella worn by Peppy Miller. Not to mention the luxurious velvet coat draped over an elaborately beaded gold and black flapper dress.
Photo courtesy of FIDM, Colleen Atwood’s White Queen dress from Alice in Wonderland (worn by Anne Hathaway)
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Part music festival, part gambler’s game, half the fun of South by Southwest is predicting which bands will emerge as breakout stars. We’re ready to place our bets. Here are eight top picks for SXSW Music 2012, which kicks off Tuesday in Austin:
Hacienda Folks flock to Austin in search of the best acts from distant lands, but you needn’t look too far from 6th Street for Hacienda, a quartet from San Antonio, TX. Their fully southern, surf-infused style melds retro-pop sensibilities with a penchant for garage fuzz (honed on their upcoming LP by none other than southern garage master Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys). Don’t let that pairing fool you—Hacienda’s infectious tunes trade rough guitars for catchy, smartly-formed grooves with just enough Texan grit.
Bahamas Canadian singer-songwriter Afie Jurvanen goes by Bahamas, but don’t think that means you’ll find anything steel-drum or island-vacation inspired in his music. Instead, Jurvanen, who formerly played guitar for Feist, transports through simple, sometimes solemn and always beautiful songs that have the frankness of The Tallest Man on Earth and the smoothness of M. Ward.
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Preview of our March 2012 cover
Just 28 years old, chef Jordan Kahn has built the sort of résumé that others take another decade or so to cobble together. After helping launch Thomas Keller’s New York restaurant, Per Se, he did a stint making desserts at cerebral showman Grant Achatz’s restaurant Alinea in Chicago before eventually landing in L.A. to head the pastry department at Michael Mina’s XIV. That Sunset Boulevard venture went on to become a sensible (and good) steak house before closing in August, but when it started, XIV was damn-the-torpedoes ambitious. Owner Sam Nazarian wants things no other way. Kahn tried to deliver the final note to already jarringly dissonant meals with such offerings as jasmine ice cream crowned with cashew shortbread and paired with brandied bananas. Presented on supersize plates, his swooping, curling fantasies seemed to be rubbing up against the boundaries of the pastry discipline. I didn’t predict he would shift from desserts and open a restaurant as a chef, but I wasn’t surprised when I heard he had, either.
Photograph by Misha Gravenor
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