Leo’s Rabbit wishes all the Iranians around the world a very Happy New Year! Yes... that's right, Persian New Year (Nowruz) is actually celebrated today, right at the beginning of Spring. This tradition originates from Zoroastrianism, the oldest of the great world religions, founded in 6th century BC by Zoroaster, the first prophet in the world who promulgated monotheism, with one, universal, transcendent, supreme God, the source of generosity, kindness and benefice. If by any chance you are one of the two people following our Rabbit :-), you may remember his previous post about this ancient Persian religion and the key ethical principles of Zoroastrianism - ‘Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds’. Rabbit decided to pursue these values in his little life, in hope to become a better Rabbit. How is he doing? Well... it's not for me to answer, I guess (Crazy Rabbit Lady wouldn't be impartial), so I'll leave the judgement to you :-)
We (read 'I' ;-) ) drifted a bit away from the subject, so let's come back to Leo's Rabbit and his activities today. Following Nowruz tradition, he prepared his haft-seen, a display of seven items that symbolise different hopes for the new year. His colourful basket contained the following items (and hopes):
Rabbit has a lot of hopes for the New Year and he will do his utmost to follow his dreams, better himself and inspire those around him. Without hope he would probably find it impossible to get out of bed in the morning. It is hope that gives him the inspiration to never give up, and in his small way, make the world a better place.
Small Rabbit with the basket full of hopes begins a New Year :-)
Hopping happily in downtown LA, Leo's Rabbit came across one spectacular building of unusual architecture and somehow 'musical' shape. He quickly learned that it is indeed a 'musical' building; it houses Los Angeles Philharmonic and it's otherwise known as Walt Disney Concert Hall.
The building was designed by Frank Gehry, a word-class award-winning architect (even our small-town Rabbit is familiar with some of his works, including the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Spain and the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris). With its flowing lines and a post-structuralist contemporary aesthetic, Walt Disney Concert Hall challenges accepted design paradigms of architecture and resembles undulating free-form sculpture. In his little head, Rabbit could almost hear the music..
He wandered around the building and its beautiful roof-top garden that is open to the public. He enjoyed the fusion of the beautifully curved stainless steel with the purity of nature. In the heart of the garden, he encountered an unusual flower-shaped fountain constructed from broken pieces of Delft China. He learned that it is called 'A Rose for Lilly', and it is a tribute to Lillian Disney, who provided the initial donation of $50 million towards the construction of the Philharmonic. 'Very expensive, yet incredibly charming and unique fountain', thought Rabbit.
Taking advantage of the warm weather, Leo's Rabbit decided to spent a day out in Santa Monica. (If you've been following this blog, you may remember one handsome Beach Bunny who shared his experience from his visit to Santa Monica last year.) After he arrived early morning, he straight away rented a bike and headed down to the iconic Santa Monica Pier. He had a delightful stroll around the pier and enjoyed its energising and vibratious atmosphere, combined with the stunning ocean views. He listened to the live music performed by few keen buskers and watched colourful crowd of various interesting human 'species' (unfortunately he hasn't seen any other rabbits there). Finally, invigorated and happy, he proceeded to Marvin Braude Beach Trail (known to locals as 'The Strand'), the paved bike path that runs along the ocean.
He was impressed by a good number of cyclists and roller-bladers using the path. He felt sheer joy riding his blue bike and sharing the trail with so many happy humans. Beautiful scenery, gorgeous sunshine, sound of the waves crash against the shore, interesting and jolly people... all brought a big smile to little Rabbit's face.
He noticed that people in California wear a very different cycling gear than his British friends, and he found it much more appealing. Hmm... maybe he will start a new trend after his return to the UK :-)
Rabbit pedalled all the way to Pacific Palisades Loop, and then back to Santa Monica, Venice and Marina del Rey. He enjoyed spectacular views along the way and loved the vibrant, intense, vivacious atmosphere. He felt like riding through the field full of carrots - pure joy for a rabbit :-)
Leo's Rabbit stopped at the Muscle Beach, located on the south side of the Santa Monica Pier, to watch acrobats and fitness enthusiasts practice their acts. The open-air collection of rings and bars, and other properly retro apparatus seemed very popular, with impressive number of talented people using the equipment. Rabbit learned that the Original Muscle Beach was established in the early 1930s and quickly morphed from a few tumbling mats and gymnastic bars to the epicenter of the 20th century’s growing fitness movement. Rabbit felt his muscles grow, just from watching the athletes (well... that's what he felt anyway ;-) ).
Another stop made by Rabbit was at the Venice Skatepark, the only skatepark in the world located on a beach. With its big smooth bowls, a snake run, street art and the ocean as the back drop, it couldn't be cooler or more California like. Rabbit was pleasantly surprised by the large crowd gathered around to watch, and he felt the excitement and electricity in the air. Although he is not a skater himself, he admires and appreciates the art of skateboarding and he was very impress by what he saw. He watched few incredible skaters 'fly' through the air and effortlessly perform tricks. He was lucky to see some really amazing stunts that made him wonder, if gravity really exists...?
Leo's Rabbit had an amazing day (or as they would say in the USA 'awesome' day) filled with new experiences and excitement. He enjoyed his scenic bike ride, and although after 5 hours of cycling his little paws were a bit tired, he felt very happy with himself. He would highly recommend Santa Monica beach cycling experience to any human (or a rabbit) :-)
Leo's Rabbit likes looking at the beautiful pictures, sculptures, posters and art in general, so today he decided to visit The Broad, a contemporary art museum in the heart of Los Angeles. He was pleasantly surprised to find out that the entry is free (he didn't have to spend his carrots :-)), however advance booking was required, so he secured his entry couple of days in advance.
On his arrival, Rabbit was very impressed by the architecture of The Broad. He read that the museum was designed by world-renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R) in collaboration with Gensler. Although they are not a firm of famous rabbits and their names didn't sound familiar to our small-town Rabbit, he thought that they did an excellent job. The building design is based on a concept entitled 'the veil and the vault'. 'The veil' is a porous envelope that wraps the whole building, filtering and transmitting daylight to the indoor space. 'The vault' is a concrete body which forms the core of the building, dedicated to artworks storage, laboratories, curatorial spaces and offices. The 'veil' is made of 2,500 fiberglass-reiforced concrete panels and 650 tons of steel. 36 million pounds of concrete make up the 'vault'. The vault walls are made of Venetian plaster. Leo's Rabbit would not hesitate to call this impressive building an architectural masterpiece. If you don't trust Rabbit's judgement (well... I wouldn't be surprised), have a look yourself :-)
Leo's Rabbit entered the building with excitement and anticipation, eager to see one of the most prominent collections of postwar and contemporary art worldwide with over 2,000 works of art homed at The Broad. The first artwork he encountered was a massive eighty-foot-long painting by Takashi Murakami from Japan titled ‘In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow'; a bit scary title, but a colourful and busy theme. For a very small Rabbit, just the size of the artwork was impressive, but he also liked the details and an interesting pop art style of the painting. He didn't understand the artistic concept however and only by reading the description, he learned that this artwork reflects on the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.
Rabbit hopped around the museum (he enjoyed beautifully polished and shiny floors - sheer joy for his paws :-) ) - he admired some of the beautiful examples of the artwork on display and was pleased to look at them, but he also found many others too complex (or too simple) for his taste. He couldn't comprehend why, for instance, a very basic painting containing two coloured rectangles found its way to the famous gallery? He enquired about Ellsworth Kelly, the author of the 'Blue Red' painting that puzzled Leo's Rabbit, and he was told that 'bold and contrasting colours free of gestural brushstrokes or recognisable imagery, encourage a kind of silent encounter, or bodily participation by the viewer with the artwork'. Hmm... that explanation left our little Rabbit even more confused.
He couldn't neither understand why so many people are fascinated by Andy Warhol's paintings and are willing to pay millions of dollars for his artworks. Yes, Rabbit appreciates Mr Warhol's creativity bringing the imagery and techniques of mass commercialism into fine arts and his contribution to the birth of a new visual art movement, pop art, but are the paintings pleasant to look at? Leo's Rabbit stood in front of the famous 'Campbell's Soup Cans' painting and wondered if he would enjoy having this painting in his house. Well, his sincere answer would be 'not really'. If he was American, he would have rather preferred a painting titled Flag by Jasper Johns. But as for a British Rabbit, that wouldn't be right neither.
Rabbit was intrigued by an enormous painting by a British artist, Jenny Saville showing, in an unflinching manner, a body of an obese lady who seems to be self-consciously sizing herself. He felt a bit sorry for her (a long carrot diet ahead of her...), a bit taken aback, scared and intimidated by her size. He compared her with the ideal humans presented in the images of mass media and she just did not fit in. Or did she? He left a bit confused wondering for himself about all the conventions and norms imposed on us by the society and mass media; how deeply they are embedded in our minds...
Leo's Rabbit spent couple of hours wandering around the museum and came across many other interesting paintings. He liked 'Red Room' by Keith Haring showing a woman at leisure, leaning back and relaxing. The scene is not presented however in a calm or relaxing manner, but instead linear dark shapes and contrasting bright red colour made our little Rabbit feel energetic and somehow unsettled. 'Very curious', thought Rabbit.
An expressive poster by Barbara Kruger entitled 'Your Body is a Battleground' caught Rabbit's eye. He learned that this artwork was created for the Women’s March on Washington in support of reproductive freedom. The woman’s face, disembodied, split in positive and negative exposures, and obscured by text, marks a stark divide. He liked this image - an art and a protest in the same time.
The 'Untitled' painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat showing the skull scared little Rabbit. He was told that this is an autobiographical self-portrait of the artist. Well, he certainly wouldn't like to come across the author, so he fearfully looked over his shoulder and quickly proceeded to the next exhibit.
The highlight of Rabbit's day at The Broad came at the end when he visited an amazing installation created by Yayoi Kusama called Infinity Mirrored Room - The Souls of Millions of Light Years. It was literally a mirror-lined chamber housing a dazzling and seemingly endless LED light display. It was different from anything he ever seen before and even better than the whole field of cabbage. Our small-town Rabbit was very impressed and the view almost took his breath away. He stood still on the little island on the water with his ears up and his eyes wide open, and wherever he looked, he could see himself from different angles in endless mirrors in the sea of tiny dazzling lights.
He learned that since the 1960s, Yayoi Kusama has been creating Infinity Mirrored Rooms that provoke a sense of boundlessness and transcendence through extreme repetition. Kusama’s work is an expression of her life, providing insight into the many social and political contexts of her long career. Through her artwork, Kusama, a self-proclaimed ‘obsessional artist’, offers an unusual glimpse into the workings of a mind that is seldom quiet. The strength and appeal of her work goes beyond stylistic design; Kusama confronts the immensity of reality by searching at once for infinitude and oblivion. She is a very versatile artist. Her multidisciplinary art includes painting, performance, installation, writing, film, fashion, design, and architectural interventions. Moving between modes of working, Kusama has escaped associations to specific art movements, and instead she has developed her own unique path. Rabbit certainly enjoyed exploring that path :-)
All in all, Leo's Rabbit was pleased with his visit to The Broad and he found many paintings and artwork interesting and pleasing to his eyes. In numerous cases however, he did not understand the artistic concept and even did not like some highly regarded artwork. Hmm... he would not put it on display in his house or even tool shed. He thought that all this contemporary art often is about coming up with a very clever interpretation for not so pretty artwork and making a viewer believe that there is a deeper meaning to it. And then there is a bunch of snobs (rabbits and people) who don't really see any deeper meaning, but because they want to be cool, contemporary, arty and all of that, they pretend that they understand the artistic concept presented. Well... that's just a view of one well grounded Rabbit.
After enjoying a lot of delicious street food, Leo’s Rabbit was ready for Iranian fine dinning and he chose to experience it at the beautiful 4-star Dad Hotel located in the centre of an ancient city of Yazd. This stately Moorish building with a brick façade dates back to 1928 when it was founded by Haj Abdolkhaalegh Dad and for over 80 years served as inn and transportation establishment. It was fully renovated and re-opened as a hotel in 2007. Now it is regarded as the best hotel in the city.
The 54 of its spacious rooms are set around a grand central courtyard with a lovely garden in the middle. Rabbit enjoyed the spectacular view from the top of the stairs overlooking the courtyard.
The restaurant was pristine and the food, served by very polite and friendly staff, excellent. As you already know (that is, if you are one of the two regular readers of Rabbit’s blog ;-) ), our small Rabbit has a big appetite so he had three-course meal for two and left very content and satisfied. He didn’t spend all his carrot money as his massive meal was only about £20!
The exploration of the Grand Bazaar was a big task for a small Rabbit. This old historical bazaar in Tehran is a maze of several corridors, over 10 kilometres in length, each specialising in different types of goods. Leo’s Rabbit got lost (at times also literally) in the bazaar’s alleys bursting with goods, noisy shopkeepers and a massive crowd of shoppers.
Most lanes specialise in a particular commodity: copper, paper, gold, spices, nuts, clothes, porcelain, carpets, and almost anything you can possibly imagine. Rabbit loved a variety of colourful goods, exotic spices, nuts, beautiful fabrics, unique jewellery and handicraft. He had a little laugh when he noticed a lane of stores selling fake designer labels (literally labels, not clothes!) and a fake Apple watch that doesn’t perform any functions, but is supposed to look like a real deal :-)
There are also few reputable restaurants and street food shops within the bazaar, as well as guesthouses, banks and the impressive Imam Khomeini Mosque. Leo’s Rabbit enjoyed a lovely kebab sandwich bursting with organic vegetables, and freshly made pistachio milkshake (well… actually three of them!). Rabbit loved it; it was most delicious and invigorating beverage he ever tried (he thought that on his next trip to America, he should speak to Mr Kevin Johnson to introduce pistachio Frappuccino at Starbucks) ;-)
At some point the crowd in the bazaar was really dense, with motorbikes and trolleys promptly manoeuvring between people, and our little Rabbit was a bit frightened from being run over by a piece of fast-moving haulage equipment. Thankfully he found safety in PapaMus’s pocket. Overloaded trolleys pulled by manpower are the main means of transportation of goods within the bazaar. Being a ‘trolley driver’ is a proper job, and every trolley is officially registered and has its own number plate. Rabbit thought that being a ‘trolley driver’ in the bazaar is a very hard physical work and he felt much respect for people of this profession.
Leo’s Rabbit likes people of Iran and they did not disappoint him during his visit in the bazaar. He was once again blown away by their hospitality and kindness. Everyone he approached received him with friendliness, helpfulness and real joy. He was given a cup of tea, offered a ride with one of the trolleys and people were taking photos with him. He felt like a one Very Important Rabbit (VIR) indeed!
After hours of wandering the labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys, Leo’s Rabbit left the bazaar very content, with full belly carrying bags of fresh herbs, nuts, spices and a newly acquired carrot sharpener (Yes! He found one!).
‘The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.’
Leo’s Rabbit just finished reading Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. He read it for the first time few years ago, but this is one of those books that inspire and energise him, so he likes coming back to it again, and again. He regards it an astounding masterpiece with an incisive, honest and beautifully told story, and the best book he has ever read so far (although he is just a little Rabbit, he is a big reader and he went through a lot of books in his lifetime).
Isaacson’s book is a biography of Steve Jobs, a co-founder of Apple, a complicated, obsessive, charming, peculiar personality, and a passionate visionary whose dream was to ‘put a dent in the universe’. And he did.
The book is written with a great attention to detail and offers an unbiased portrait of a flawed genius. Jobs could be charming and lovable, but also crude, unforgiving, hurtful and maddening. His out-sized personality was captured by the author with a brutal honesty. It’s certainly not one of these ‘sugar-coated’ tales about a successful entrepreneur. It’s an intelligent and captivating story of a complicated man who wasn’t perfect; a man driven by his desire and passion to create ‘insanely great products’ that make life more magical. And the magic happened for Rabbit, so it did for billions of Apple, Mac, iPod, iPad, iPhone, iTunes, App Store and iCloud users.
Leo’s Rabbit bought his first MacBook Pro just over 10 years ago and he never looked back. He loves the feel, quality and simplicity of beautifully crafted Apple products and he is willing to pay a premium price to be part of Apple culture that embraces creativity, diversity and thinking ‘outside the box’.
Apple’s clear core values present in company’s every action and communication, integrity and emotional appeal made it undeniably one of the strongest and most admired brands in the world. In his book Isaacson offers a compelling study of Apple’s success and an inspiring business account of the events leading to it.
Even if you are not an Apple fan and you have no interest in Steve Jobs’ life, the book is still worth reading as it’s also a fascinating and richly entertaining history of the most exciting time in the information age and the birth of our modern digital world.
All in all, this is an outstanding book and Rabbit cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s an epic biography and superbly told history of digital age. ‘Essential reading, better than a million carrots’, says Rabbit :-)
Tehran with its metropolitan area is home to 23 million people, and a large number of feral cats. There are no official statistics available but just during a half-an hour city walk, you a likely to encounter 20 or more street cats; the number doubles in the parks and green areas. In the city infested with rats, cats are welcomed animals as they keep the population of rodents in check.
Most Iranians don’t keep pets at home, but many shopkeepers and cat enthusiasts tame stray cats and feed them regularly. Leo’s Rabbit loves and admires his fluffy, furry friends (don’t forget that his family pet is a cat called Whiskey), so he grabbed couple of chicken breasts from the fridge (don’t tell MamaMus!) and embarked on a journey to a nearby Laleh Park, where he could feed the cats. He encountered a variety of beautiful, good and poorly looking, animals, all sort of breeds and fur colours, and he was happy to watch them eat. He captured some of them in his photographs.
In the beginning of this year Leo's Rabbit set up few goals for himself. He has been working towards them, but in some areas, he found the journey not really rewarding. He therefore decided to re-evaluate the path he took and he made some changes. He also decided to post his inspirations less frequently, as he realised that seeing his face (well... he believes he is beautiful :-) ) every day may be a bit overwhelming for some (all his two readers) :-)
Rabbit knows that a change doesn't happen on its own, and if we only dream about our goals without taking an action, we won't achieve anything.
This year he is putting his excuses aside (I am just a small Rabbit; My ears get on the way when I exercise; I don't have enough carrots to pay for the gym; I can only type with one paw; I am scarred of what other rabbits are going to say about me; I am not pretty enough; I am not smart enough; I experienced a tragic loss and I am depressed and can't do anything; I am tired; I am busy.... and so on...), abandoning victim mentality and building his character through work, one little hop at a time. The truth is, that in spite of all his flaws, he has every advantage to succeed. So does the rest of us. All we have to do is to take action.
Leo's Rabbit loves the above quote and strongly believes, that even a little Rabbit, like himself, can make a difference and leave his pawprints behind.
Welcome to the 'Rabbit Inspires', a new venture of Leo's Rabbit :-) Every day he will share with you one quote that resonates with him, conveys his beliefs or inspires him. Hopefully, some of you who follow the Rabbit (hmm... if there are couple of people reading this blog, besides Rabbit's family ;-) ), will also find some inspiration here. Well, that's the idea anyway :-)
If you already know our story, you would've learned that Rabbit Travels came to life after devastating loss of our son Leo. We want to keep his memory alive, but also create something positive out of our experience. Leo's Rabbit travels, shares his experiences, inspires (well... he would like to think so...) and embraces life on behalf of Leo. Today's quote is a testimony to his little existence.
Today Leo's Rabbit, like many of us, is reflecting on the passing year and preparing for the next. He somehow feels, that he did not live up to his full potential. He's been places and learned a lot, but he also had many dark days overtaken by grief. He did not accomplish all his goals and there are things, he would have done differently. But that's ok. He learned his lessons.
Rabbit just finished setting up new goals for the coming year. They are big goals (especially for such a little Rabbit), but as you already know (that is if you've been following our Rabbit :-) ), he is a dreamer and he believes that almost anything is possible, if we only put our mind to it, stay motivated, work hard, persevere, and get up after each fall and work even harder.
Rabbit wants a better future, and he knows that he is the only one who can make it happen. He is determined to make most out of the coming year. Are you? :-)
So, let's crack this bottle open and start an amazing year filled with new exciting challenges, colourful experiences, meaningful people and fulfilled dreams. Happy 2018 Everyone!
'People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives' - J. Michael Straczynski
Leo's Rabbit 'lives' in my handbag and he travels with us everywhere we go. He has pictures taken at various locations, tourist attractions and places we visit. As a part of this blog we will describe Leo's Rabbit Travels to share our personal experiences from these visits. Hopefully couple of people (apart from us :-) ) will find it interesting and may even feel encouraged to visit one of Rabbit's destinations.