Public Parks Make me Happy.

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Victor. San Francisco. February 2017.

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Victor isn’t dressed like a fashion plate, but he and his son are so cute.

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I love water fountains at parks, I know they are probably filled with the most disgusting germs – but it’s something that hasn’t changed – like the library or post office.

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When my boys were little, I lived at the park. The playground was the only place, I could sit my tired booty down and not worry about anything – the kids were free and so was I. I’m thinking I should personally thank the Parks and Recreations Department for allowing me that time to socialize, read magazines and yes, beg other parents to push my kids on the slide….

When you live in cities, parks become the glue that keeps parents of non school age kids together – I made so many interesting friends at the park, especially in Miami.  Neal’s first friend was a child of a Japanese diplomat and his mom, a police officer in Tokyo, was one of my first “mom” friends.

My point: It’s lonely out there, bring your kids to the park. You may learn how to take down a Japanese thief in two easy steps, or just get to have some old fashion small talk with adults. But don’t go without your kids, because that’s weird.

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Running after two kids is serious exercise, you have to be in major shape – I used to play mind games with older kids to get them to play with my little ones at the park.. what?

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Yea, how can you not look at them and smile.

 

Haute Havana in Marin County….

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Nina and Felix. Fairfax, California. Spring 2016.

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Felix grew up in Cuba, I was very excited to connect with him – because he obviously reminded me of Miami. Nina (who also has roots in Cuba) and Felix are actively involved in making Cuba a better place for its citizens. They founded the organization, Bay Area Cuba Community Alliance, www.baccagroup.org

Most of us who grew up in Miami, consider ourselves partially Cuban – we were lucky to be raised with so many people from different cultures, and with a large percentage of Cubans making Miami home – we got to start our mornings with a Cafecito and pastelito and grew up speaking “Spainglish”, the unofficial language of Miami. So when you meet someone who’s Cuban outside of Miami, you feel like you already have a great deal in common.

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Adorable family style…

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Nina grew up in Northern California, but lived in NYC for a long time – she has that natural New York sensibility (her parents are New Yorkers) mixed in with the open minded California spirit. When you have tattoos this large, you’ll never come off as uptight – only creative and cool (even if you are the opposite).

Handsome Dad in Stan Smith’s.

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Marcus. Larkspur, California. February 2016.

Marcus works for Google, I’m never really sure how to follow that answer – it seems so huge and beyond my scope. I do hear they have an amazing cafeteria.

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Marcus and his daughter are pretty cute.

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His style is not anything that’s outlandish or out of the box, but it’s simple & casual. Marcus made an effort on a Sunday.

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Stan Smith Adidas Classics…always make any pair of jeans stand out.

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A little side profile – no need to tuck those shirts in guys! Just make sure your button down is a little fitted.

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In Pregnancy Style….

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Pregnant and Poised. Marin County. February 2015.

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Sometimes black with bright red accessories go a long way..

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Slip on Vans, these “sneaker loafers” are still being worn in major cities. They are comfortable, casual and stylish.

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Toddler cool..silver slip ons to match her mamas..

 

 

Mountain Man Style is HAUTE. Dickies at Drop-Off.

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Michael. Woodacre, California. May 2015.

Michael is the little league coach for his son’s baseball team. I love how tough this dad looks with his mountain man beard, tattoos and manly physique. And Michael is wearing Dickies, a brand that’s been around for a long time.

Michael works in construction and obviously is a very involved father – believe me, little league is no laughing matter.. it’s major time and communication with parents, parents like me..exactly, not easy.

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The town of Woodacre is located in West Marin County – it’s filled with beautiful sprawling landscapes, farms, wild animals and a pretty tight community of truly authentic hippies..You drive around these little towns, and nothing is creepy at all. Because it’s filled with a pretty progressive population of free thinkers- – most likely, no one will shoot you if you accidentally land on their property (unlike some other Southern American towns).

There are no chains, only mom and pop owned stores, where everyone knows everyone. I love the idea of a small town, but one that’s excepting and liberal..and not-judgemental. That’s my image of Woodacre.

Robin Williams spent his teenage years in the town of Woodacre.

 

 

 

Haute Film Star Mother. San Francisco Drop-Off.

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Renee’ Wilson. Noe Valley Farmer’s Market. San Francisco. March 2015.

I GET SHY: You guys know, I get ultra excited when I see a stylish parent. But I also get shy (yes, it’s possible) and walking up to strangers with the risk of being rejected, is scary. Many times, I will start photographing a dad, and their significant other usually laughs at them or tells them to stop…. that’s a little awkward. This is why I love performers like Renee’ – always ready to pose and not afraid of attention.

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RENEE': I spotted Renee’ and pretty much lunged at her with my camera. It was so nice to be greeted with a smile and a “yes” – after getting a couple of rejections that morning. Renee’ has presence  – she says it’s the hair, but that’s not actually the case. She’s tall, graceful and confident.

Little did I know, Renee’ starred in the Film Ray, a long side Jamie Foxx in the early 2000’s.  Renee’ is multi talented, she sings, she acts, she makes films and so much more, read about Renee’ here www.reneewilson.org

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SAN FRANCISCO: Renee’ looking back on a gorgeous day in the kid friendly neighborhood of Noe Valley. I rented an apartment with my kids in Noe Valley one summer, before we officially made our way to this part of the world. It looks similar to a neighborhood in Brooklyn, only it’s California..so less busy and funky–more laid back.

Renee’ is not slowing down, after taking on the role of new mother – she started a blog and continues to perform locally, and nationwide. Check out Renee’s latest venture, www.mamayogachannel.com

 

Haute Humans. Purple on the Pavement.

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Tempe. San Rafael, California. January 2015.

“I need to move back to the city, I don’t drive”, said Tempe.  After taking a photography class last week, I spotted this amazing woman dressed in head to toe purple.  Selfishly, I held up traffic, while ignoring the honking of cars I was blocking.  As usual, they couldn’t understand the photographic emergency taking place.  Eventually, when Tempe told me I could take a few shots, I illegal parked and did my best.

I have a personal connection to the color purple.  Now, I wouldn’t go near it, but as a kid, like Tempe, I wore it from top to bottom.  And would re-wear the same outfit every day, because it had to be purple…not much has changed.

Obviously, I’m a much better conversationalist then a photographer. With gold sneakers, purple tinted hair and a willingness to talk to me – – this woman had me hooked.  And what city does she love the most? NYC — Temple loves the colors, the people and energy.  Not knowing her situation, but having an idea..I am pretty sure she’s in transition and alone.  With tons of bags on her back and shoulders, Tempe is carrying around a lot of weight..but does so with style and class.

Clothing means a lot more than we think.  I appreciate the effort it takes to express yourself – especially when life is not easy.  Tempe turned and looked at me, as I walked away to avoid being ticketed, and said “I really do love purple and I really enjoyed our talk.”

 

Creative. Stylish. Boho Chic. Haute Halloween.

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I took many photos last night at a Halloween party/parade in the town of Fairfax, California.  These were my favorite. The creativity and funkiness of this beautiful mom and her boys, represents this true progressive town in Marin County.  Families strolled the Fairfax streets; while bars, stores, coffee shops and restaurants all gave out candy.

This community of people were genuinely having a great time and finding pure joy in looking at all the costumes. Bands were jamming to classic rock – while kids collected candy (even toys) and socialized with friends.  It’s refreshing to witness a community so welcoming and connected.  And because of the generosity, my children have an insane amount of candy!!!

According to Wikipedia, Fairfax is the only town in America that holds a Green Party majority in the town council.  Growing up in Miami, I yearned for bohemian culture – and volunteered with the Miami Peace Center and attended meetings at the Miami Friends meeting house run by the small Quaker community.  At a young age, I was involved – and liked being around people who cared about their community and world. Fairfax is a community which has continued to embrace 1960’s values -and fashion :)  – this town would of been a dream come true to my younger self -

Chugging California "Cool" Aid. Mara in Huffington Post.

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“…..Differentiate between homeless, hipster, or Berkeley professor. It sounds easy but it isn't. They all have beards, wear Clarks, and share a similar scent. I'm pretty sure I've dropped a dollar into the coffee cup of a Nobel Prize nominee, and asked a homeless man if I could survey his class at Berkeley.

Click on this link to read my full piece in The Huffington Post, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mara-menachem/chugging-the-california-k_b_4061291.html

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