Friday, June 19, 2009

Oooooh! Lookie What I Got!!

I'm so excited!! While in Chicago this weekend I stopped by a mall and picked up some flowering tea!!

The water is boiling!

I add the flowering strawberry tea

And I watch the magic...

Then enjoy!

Thank you Alice in Paris loves Art and Tea because I saw it on your blog first! I was coveting the idea of all the serenity and beauty and I had to have some!

Hindu Temple In Aurora, Illinois

Six months ago I was cruising down Interstate 88 through Aurora, Illinois in search of the outlet mall. Out of the corner of my eye I spy this amazing temple structure that looked as if it were carved from butter. I nearly slammed on my breaks to get a better view. Immediately, I sought an exit. Between the insane construction, the intense 80 mph traffic and my being unfamiliar with the area, it became impossible. I continued traveling on down the road, vowing to return and investigate this place that seemed so out of place in the suburbs of Chicago.

I was so drawn to this building I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Yesterday, while driving my son back to Chicago, we had the opportunity to actually visit the temple, learn about its history and view the interior.

Known as The Sri Venkateswara Swami Temple, or “Balaji Temple,” building began in 1986 after nine Hindu families donated the 20 acres of land where the temple now sits. Walking up to the shrine from the parking lot, you become very much aware of a sense of beauty and sanctity. Elaborate architectural motifs adorn the entire building inside and out. The traditional Indian design consists of a central space flanked by colorful deity shrines on either side where offerings of fruit and flowers are displayed. Events are celebrated and marked with upbeat music, vibrant decorations and flamboyant feasts consisting of traditional Indian foods of all kinds. Many of these treats are sold inside the temple when you first enter.

It also becomes obvious that tradition is important and respected here. We were immediately asked to remove our shoes upon entering the temple. Inside, women were dressed in gorgeous silk saris, as were some of the men who sat in meditation and prayer. I am not familiar enough with the religion to tell you anything more about the deities or what goes on inside, other than the fact that we were welcomed with open arms. We were also not asked for donations, though I made one freely. I was allowed to carry my camera inside, but asked not to take pictures. The fun part for me was that my son has traveled throughout Indonesia, including Thailand and Angkor Wat, so he was able to give me a bit of information regarding some of the religious practices.

I have to tell you that I am in the middle of reading “Eat, Pray, Love” for the 4th time and I felt very Liz Gilbert!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

If I Buy These Jeans Will This Happen To Me?

Once again, a new sexually titillating ad campaign from Calvin Klein strikes a nerve. In New York City’s Soho neighborhood the ad, featuring a topless young woman engaged in kissing a young man while lying on top of another while yet another young man lies on the floor with his pants unbuttoned, adorns the side of an entire 5 story tall building. Some people find the ad so disgusting they are promising to boycott the jeans. The ad is so blatant one man told ABCNews, “If it were going on in the back of a parked car with steamed windows I would be arrested, yet they broadcast this to the whole city.”
Calvin Klein has a history of generating provocative ads that have caused havoc. There was the 1981 Brooke Shields ad in which she stated that nothing comes between her and her Calvins and last year, another banned ad featuring Eva Mendes exposing part of her nipple. The same photographer for controversial Abercrombie & Fitch shot the actor mark Wahlberg and Brook Shields ads. Other ads were dropped because television stations refused to air them and the FBI investigated the company for potential child pornography charges.
Younger generations have always had more tolerant views of sexuality often declaring, “the more the merrier.” One young adult even declared, "All I can see are beautiful people having a good time…It's not the advertising that makes little children confused, it's the uptight handling with sex-related issues in general of their parents."
Yet, others say it pushes the envelope and is disgusting, vile, obscene, an orgy and pornography that you cannot turn off because it is on the side of a building and not on television. This is an ad that you cannot hide from. You are walking down the street with your four year old or your ten year old and it is staring you in the face. In my opinion, it’s inappropriate and depicts a girl willing to compromise her integrity for a pair of jeans.
Is this my age speaking? Am I really that out of touch with what is going on sexually with young adults? I lived in Europe where nude television and magazine ads are common. I remember being shocked at first, but became very comfortable with it after a short time. Yet, I would not want my daughter to appear in the ad nor would I want her to experience sex without love. And, I ask, why one woman and three men? Why not one man and three women or two men and two women? Maybe it is the thought of gang rape that scares me, but she seems to be participating willingly. I am a person who loves sex, cherishes it even. I feel it is a gift we give to one another. I am also a person who has a collection of banned books because I do not believe in book banning. Now, I am second-guessing myself and asking how far am I willing to go for censorship?

Take a look for yourself and tell me what you think…