Yup, this Sunday as promised was the Concorso de Ferrari in Old Town Pasadena. It was a most excellent show. A Ferrari for every budget from 40K fixers for sale to a one of a kind 15M model. And everything in between. Making a token appearance to offset the legion of La Ferrari was a Saleen S7. Even Maserati, the bastard stepchild of Ferrari, was there with new cars under a tent from a local dealer. Not to be out done, totally non-Italian Aston Martin was present with its own tent as well. Supercar stars were alligned in Old Town this weekend. Read the rest of this entry →
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It was with not a little fanfare less than two years ago that the road around the reservoir known as Lake Hollywood was reopened to walkers, runners and cyclists, a scenic route that had been closed since landslides during those crazy rains of 2005.
Little did I know that when my wife Susan and I drove over there this morning and set out with our faithful — and needless to say well-behaved and leashed-up — border collie mix Ranger to explore that roughly 3.3-mile loop for the first time, we would be greeted by this sign at the north gate and again at the east gate:
Being that I’m law-abiding to a fault I dutifully turned us around and we made our way to the far more enlightened Parc du Griffith where dogs are not a crime. Soon we found our way along a loop that included a rigorously vertical set of dirt steps carved into the hillside and leading to the oasis that is Amir’s Garden.
While one part of me is all “Thank you!” to the dog-banning powers that be at Lake Hollywood for allowing us to discover a previously unknown aspect of Griffith Park, the other part is all “You dog-banning powers that be at Lake Hollywood totally suck!” And it was that latter half that got all googly once I got home in searching out the specific statute — LAMC 64.06 — authorizing the prohibition. Turns out it’s an ordinance designed to prevent water contamination that reads a little somethin’ like this (on the other side of the jump):
I’m an unapologetic fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. So even though I’ve toured his Mayan-revival masterpiece several times over my life, when I heard the city was going to celebrate the re-opening of his Hollyhock House following a two-year, $4-million dollar restoration, by throwing open wide the 94-year-old landmark’s concrete doors for a 24-hour reacquainting period — at no charge and shut up: pictures allowed inside! — I told my wife Susan that we were going to celebrate Valentine’s Day morning by getting up early and getting ourselves over to Barnsdall Park to get all up in some of L.A.’s mostly freshly polished historic starchitecture.
And like thousands of other SoCalians, we did. And it was glorious. Sure we had to park down on the street and then wait in line beginning at 7:30 a.m. for about 90 minutes, and yeah, there were those foodies behind us in said line who just seriously could not shut up about how transcendental the foie-gras was at Union in Pasadena, but once inside…? Ah yes. Now that was transcendental, and Wrightly so.
My Flickr photoset of the thumbnails below is here. Going forward, Hollyhock House will be open for self-guided tours ($7 per person; no cameras allowed inside) Thursday-Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
When I read current stories with headlines along the lines of “Subway To The Sea Could Reach Century City By 2026,” it makes maps like the one below of Los Angeles’ mass transit system from 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, ONE HUNDRED and 1, 2, and THREE years ago seem all the more simultaneously sigh-inducing glorious and heartbreaking.
Feast yer eyes upon the elaborate system we had way back in the year Nineteen Hundred and Twelve (cleek to enlargify) and as you do consider not only:
- the comparative low amount it would have cost to keep and upgrade through the years versus what it cost to dismantle entirely in favor of the huge sums required to build our long over-burdened freeway system;
- and the massive amounts it will be costing us to be able to get to Century City in 15 years (probably more like 18).
As has been reported, well, just about everywhere, housing prices in Los Angeles are at an all-time dismal high. As a chronically underemployed academic type, I’m pretty resigned to the fact that my cats and I will be renters as long as we deign to call this fair city home. I was curious, though, about what house prices would have been like in my neighborhood, when it was first established.
I live on the very western edge of Culver City, in a neighborhood practically underneath the 405, near the Ballona Creek. (The city recently put up some banners along Sepulveda proclaiming that the neighborhood’s name is “Culver Village,” but will always and forever refer to it fondly as “Tito’s Tacos-adjacent.”) Most of the homes here are bungalows, built in the 1940s and 1950s.
After a bit of digging in a historical newspaper database, I turned a little gem – a 1951 LA times article about then-new residential developments in Sunkist Park, which I just south of the Ballona Creek. Not quite my neighborhood, but pretty close by. According to the article, developers built about 315 homes in the area, about half of which were sold before construction began. You could pick a house in one of fifteen different styles (including the super cute storybook ranch-style house pictured below), and they came pre-decorated: “early buyers have a selection of tile, wallpaper, linoleum, and paint colors,” the Times reported.
Prices ranged from $10,777 to $11,100. Adjusted for inflation, and that would be $97,884 to $100,818 in today’s dollars – which makes current house prices seem all the more depressing!
Sunkist Park, it turns out, used to be the location of the Culver City airport, which, according to Julie Lugo Cerra, Culver City’s city historian, began operations in 1927. It closed in 1951, and the Sunkist Park housing development was built on part of the airport’s former site. I’m curious to know more about the provenance of the neighborhood’s name – was it once the site of a Sunkist citrus orchard? Did the developers (Richard Diller and Irving Kalsman, according to the Times) have a connection to Sunkist? I’m going to do a bit more digging to see what I can find, but in the meantime, if anyone knows anything else about the origins of the neighborhood, comment away!
Oh no: not that Tara. I’m talking about the famed fictional plantation manse from a little film back in the day whose name coincidentally rhymes with the last name of the film’s central character — O’Hara, as in Scarlett. As in “Gone With The Wind,” or GWTW, if you will.
Yeah, that Tara.
Let me back up. I ravenously follow the Photos of Los Angeles group on Facebook, gobbling up its never-ending parade of pictures of L.A.’s distant and not-so-distant past. A few days ago this photo (at right, click to enlargify), was posted of a still from an episode of the 1950s TV series “Superman,” showing its star, George Reeves (who coincidentally had a part in GWTW) in full Clark Kent mode, on a hill back-dropped by a broad swath of our smog-inundated city. The poster, Sally Deupree, asked, “Culver City. Recognize the building in the lower left with four columns?”
I immediately recognized it as Tara — more specifically the exterior facade built for the movie, which meant Reeves was standing hat in hand on what is now a section of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook State Park — which meant beyond him was Jefferson Boulevard, then the Ballona Creek channel and then the old Pathe Studio backlot, where so many of the exterior scenes of GWTW were realized.
In an attempt to get a past/present frame of reference (I last did that with the location of Wrigley Field’s homeplate in South Los Angeles), I went on a googlehunt for a layout of the old studio, and hit gold at the 40 Acres website with this 1940 map (click to enlargify) pinpointing the various GWTW sets on the Pathe Studio backlot, with Tara’s position indicated there on the left.
Then, of course, for a present-day juxtaposition I google-mapped the location (click to enlargify):
Which means basically that at the deadend of Hayden Place south of Higuera Street, somewhere around the current location of Woo Agency and Omelet you can stand on the paved-over land upon which Tara once stood, not to forget Vivien Leigh, Clark Gable, and, yes, George Reeves. Cue the sweeping overture that is “Tara’s Theme”:
Fish Canyon, in the San Gabriel Mountains above Azusa and Duarte, used to be humming with people. Cabins were scattered along the trail and hikers posed next to the stunning triple waterfalls.
But the cabins were destroyed in one of the many fires that flash along the mountains, and then the mining company who owns the canyon, closed the entrance to the public.
But in a deal with the city of Duarte, in June of 2014 the Vulcan Materials Company opened access to the valley for the first time since it was closed in the mid-1980’s. I went on this hike in June when it first opened, and it was hot and dry, the only water standing lonely in sad dirty little pools. At the peak of the hike, where the waterfall should be, was just a towering cliff face standing bleak and empty of water in the summer sun.
But now the rains have come and the valley has come alive with the sounds and sights of tumbling, churning, splashing and falling water.
It is a wonderful little river valley, with standing oaks, sticky cactus, a gurgling stream and the occasional birdcall.
But the real treat is the waterfall. It falls in three sections…. Read the rest of this entry →
Do you watch the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day? (That’s tomorrow, FYI.) Have you wondered what those floats look like up close but have no desire to spend the night in freezing temperatures? (It’s going to get into the mid-30s tonight, that is close enough to freezing for me.) You can! It’s become a custom to view the parked floats for a few days after the parade. This year you can view them tomorrow (Jan. 1), Friday and Saturday (Jan. 2-3). It will cost you $10 per person and the money goes to the Tournament of Roses Foundation. For that entry fee, you can walk all along the floats (but no touching, please) and even talk with white jacketed volunteers who will tell you more about them.
The floats are viewable:
January 1: 1:00 – 5:00PM
January 2: 9:00 – 5:00PM
January 3: 9:00 – 5:00PM
Senior citizens and disabled persons are welcome from 7:00 – 9:00am both days for less crowded viewing.
You can buy tickets online here or you can buy tickets on-site until 3pm each day.
UPDATE: You can only buy tickets online if you plan to pick them up by 5pm TODAY at the ticketing office (See link). Otherwise, you must buy them on site.
Also, there is a Park and Ride Shuttle ($3 for those 6 years old and above) to ease in the parking situation as street parking nearby is limited.
I plan on getting there early on Saturday in warm cozy clothes.
Happy New Year!
During the “12 Days of Giving” series here highlighting various awesome and local organizations that deserve your considerations and donations, I wrote about a 137-year-old institution near and dear to my heart (and my bank balance seeing as I work there): the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles (spcaLA).
In that post, I talked about the ginormous difference between spcaLA and the ASPCA (whose heart-wrenching ads are all over the end-of-year airwaves), and at the end I threw in a twist by promising to donate to spcaLA the spare change my wife and I have collected in that half-gallon jug pictured at left (click to biggify) over the last five or so years, and also to donate it in honor of whoever came closest to the amount all that coinage added up to.
I was actually surprised I didn’t get a few more stabs at the amount, but I’m nevertheless thankful to have received the following guesses in the comments to that post:
- Frazgo: $72.96
- JozJozJoz: $89.27
- LucindaMichele: $82.50
- Jodi Kurland: $65.37
- Alexandra Apollini: $89.23
- BikingInLA: $97.13
- DavidDavidDavidDavidDavid: $87.84
After the jump, find out what it took to get the coins counted, who the honoree is and how totally far off from the actual amount they all were…
By now most of you should know that I’m a complete and utter fool when it comes to Raymond Chandlers works. I’ve read so many of the books and loved how they incorporated Los Angeles history and places into their fictional story.
I caught wind of the operetta a few months ago at a LAVA meeting. Its titled “The Princess and the Pedlar” and is co-authored with pianist Julian Pascal. Sounds pretty cool and should be easy to bring to the stage, right? Not so fast, the estate of Raymond Chandler say its insignificant and won’t grant release of the work. It will have to wait until 2029 at the earliest when its released to the public domain. Sad.
But all is not lost, Kim Cooper of Esotouric and author of the “The Kept Girl” isn’t taking that hard no as a final answer. She has a petition on change.org asking the Estate to reconsider its position. Please sign. I have, its an important bit of the Los Angeles story by one of our own authors that deserves to be seen.
12910 Yukon Avenue, Hawthorne: (310) 676-1149
7700 East Spring Street, Long Beach: (562) 570-7722
5026 West Jefferson Boulevard, Los Angeles: (323) 730-5300
Because we all know that hungry pets will devour you alive in your home, if you’re elderly. That adorbs Shiba Inu you adopted for gramma? Watch. Out.
I’m just sayin’, if we feed them now, while they’re in the SPCA facilities, they’re that much less likely to eat you or someone you love.
Nope, I was downtown the other day with a camera set to too high an exposure, on a mission to acquire a parasol.
Almost every store in Chinatown around the rectangle created by Broadway and Hill / Cottage Home and Cesar Chavez sells parasols. But there’s only one I’ve ever encountered with a wide selection of diverse and lovely paper–not polyester, same-painting-on-every-pink-and-blue-version, parasols. After three years away, I wasn’t sure the parasol store would still be in the square at the intersection on Gin Ling and Mei Lin Way (yep, all those little pedestrian streets have names…check out the map here…helps when you’re looking for a specific gallery).
To my relief, Andy’s Gift Shop was still there, across from the lucky coin-toss fountain (a miniature landscape with different mountain-hermit homes sculpted into the waterfall rock, a different pagoda or edifice you can toss a coin into for prosperity and good luck in any area of life). After meandering past the weirdly cordoned-off statue of Bruce Lee and the skatepunk dudes trying to nail the (presently turned-off) waterfall’s house of Good Luck in Love with pennies, I made it into the gift shop and accessioned what was needed. Thanks Chinatown! It’s nice to know a few things haven’t changed.
I have a really crappy phone with an even crappier camera in it. The settings on the phone randomly re-set them depending on the phone’s own perverse mood swings. That day, it had set the exposure to what us photography-illiterate folks call “way too damn bright.” Oddly, the photos came out pretty, with a washed-out sort of lighting that perfectly showcased the lurid colors of the neighborhood.
I have to tell you, the Pompeii exhibit at the CA Science Center through January 11 is quite the show to take in. Amazing artifacts, jewelry and such. But what really got me was the casts of the bodies found in the city as they excavated it.
In short August 24, 79 The city of Pompeii was struck by an eruption of Mt Vesuvius. The folks ran and hid, then were buried with ash. Flash forward some 1600 years and archeologist figured out the ash covered corpses were hollow and proceeded to fill them with plasters capturing this folks in the final moments of their life. Moving. Morbid. Incredible. Much more telling than all the artifcats and murals.
An added bonus, and I don’t know how we got it, but since we bought our tickets for Pompeii online a nice California Science Center employee gave the lovely Mrs and I passes to see the space shuttle Endeavour. Read the rest of this entry →
This is the one of several posts by us outlining charities and non-profit causes near to our heart.
Do you remember your first tricycle or bicycle? I remember several from my childhood and have fond memories of receiving one of them for Christmas one year. I was in my early teens and there was an elaborate scavenger hunt of clues that ultimately led to the new wheels in the garage. While I rarely ride now, as a child I loved having a bike. It was a means of some freedom and independence long before being able to drive a car.
I know I’m not alone in my nostalgia, which is why I wanted to bring some awareness to an awesome organization called Red Star Riders. Red Star Riders is a non-profit group started by Los Angeles area pediatric physical therapists. Their mission is to raise funds for families of children with special needs to purchase AmTryke® therapeutic tricycles. Not only do these dedicated professionals hold fundraising events, but they also donate their time to assist the children in being properly fit for each customized bike*.
Through some targeted fundraising, Red Star Riders has been able to assist several families in getting bikes for their kids this holiday season. However, letters like the one below keep coming in. Jocelyn is a 6-year-old girl with Rett Syndrome. She cannot walk, cannot talk and has little function of her hands. Jocelyn’s mother sent the flollowing:
My typical daughter, Rylee, is 4 years old and Santa is bringing her a big girl bike for Christmas. I know I have to give her a typical childhood, but my heart is breaking with sympathetic envy for my 6-year-old daughter, Jocelyn, who has Rett Syndrome and cannot ride a typical bike. I have been searching for a modified bike for her to have under the tree Christmas morning right next to her sister’s. What a Christmas morning that would be for her! However, special bikes are over $1000 and, embarrassingly and regrettably, that is not something we can afford for Jocelyn. Christmas is always bitter sweet for us. She is a happy girl, regardless of her daily struggles and limitations. She loves being outside and a family bike ride seems like a fantasy, but I have hope that one day, we will be able to have one.
Jocelyn’s bike will cost $815. Jocelyn’s story is similar to many of the families waiting for bikes for their kids. Your donation can help joy, self confidence, independence, improved quality of life, physical activity, and so much to the children on the waiting list. Please click HERE to make your tax deductible donation.
*Yes, the term “bike” is used loosely here. Kids “ride bikes.” So what if they have three wheels, a seat belt, trunk supports, or other adaptations. It’s a bike.
All photos and the contents of the letter used with permission by Red Star Riders.