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California Love – A Visual Mixtape : Book Review by Andy Romanoff


Michael Rababy makes wonderful books. His first one, American Bachelor was a loving look at the messy, complicated, hedonistic, thoughtless/thoughtful lives of young singles at the turn of the 21st century. His latest book, California Love – A Visual Mixtape features him as curator rather than photographer and it’s filled with the work of 110 photographers all looking at the phenomenon that is modern day California. Filled with fresh images and salient quotes from across the literary landscape this is a book to savor slowly.

In his introduction Rababy writes “growing up in lebanon, my father would dream of america. Once he got here, the dream became california. I was born in Ohio and remember hearing about weird and crazy californians. They were mysterious, plastic people far away at the end of the country who ate avacados”. His choices for the book embrace that vision, but a larger one too. The California of emigrant culture, of a hundred subcultures, of California as an exemplar of an aging ideal, a great melting pot, a stew of cultures and people, landscapes and streetscapes, the America of possibility.

The book is subtitled A Visual Mixtape. It is a collection of his personal favorites, the work of friends and colleagues, the images selected with emotion leading concept and they work well together. The quotes interwoven between the pictures illuminate the images by juxtaposition rather than by original intention and that is by design. Rababy has a fine sense for this, pictures reflecting into words and vice versa bringing a bigger picture into focus. Let me leave you with a selection from a poem by Shonda Buchanan that does it nicely:

every beyond baroque board meeting

every beverly hills wilshire attitude or

south central “I got you cuz” embrace.

every leimert park sunday jazz-laced traffic crunch

Every morning clamor of south pasadena

parrots left behind

every dtla gentrification

layered on top of my gritty haunted streets.

every secret bridge, killer workout stairs.

venice beach botox muscle monster

every parking lot chump who takes my space.

every exhaust-filled freeway I wish away.

every 405, 10,110 accident I pray on as I inch past.

every strip mall, every child star, every digital nomad.

every unsheltered human.

every millionare in trader joe’s.

every red carpet neck-craning “I love you denzel” moment.

I will take it.


Andy Romanoff

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California Love – A Visual Mixtape

Curated by Michael Rababy

Published by Cali Editions california-love-a-visual-mixtape

Hardcover 10”X10” – 320 pages

608 images by 110 photographers

All proceeds benefit LAACP

for international orders, please visit hennessey and ingalls:

and arcana books on the arts:


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