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What do with the kidlets in the SGV this summer?

June 17, 2015 in Art, Education, LA, People, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal, Shopping

HINT ITS ART RELATED

Summer Art Lessons flyer...click to embiggen

Summer Art Lessons flyer…click to embiggen

Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery in Monrovia has just the thing to keep kids entertained and busy this summer.  Art classes.  Several to choose from and all expert taught by Lisa Barrios and her loving staff.  Real working pros sharing their talents with kids.  Does it get better than that?

From basic ceramics to Parent and Tot classes its a learning experience and freeing little minds to create.  I really love this stuff.  Most is ages 6 and up, though some are as young as 4, and others you need to be at least 8.  Hard core elementary ages that need some structure and learning activities in the summer…that are fun.

Click the flyer to embiggen and get the full deets on the classes they offer.  Call Lisa Barrios the owner of Paint n Play for the details and to get your kidlet signed up.  You won’t regret it and you’ll be a hero to your kid for doing so.

Deets: Paint n Play Art Studio and Gallery, 418 S Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia 91016  626-256-4648

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Fung Brothers attack the East vs West Coast differences

May 20, 2015 in Entertainment, LA, People, Which Side?

These guys are hysterical.  I actually enjoy watching them and their analysis of what an Asian American is all about. Its entertaining and educational.  This time around they attach the East Coast vs West Coast differences.  Not the usual attack on Angelenos from the NYT or some condescending post on Angelenos making the move to the big NYC.  Its really just a close look at the differences in the two coasts and the Asian communities.

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Concorso de Ferrari 2015 in Pasadena…its a wrap

April 27, 2015 in Driving, Entertainment, Events, San Gabriel Valley, Transportation, Vintage

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 →

Dogs Are A Crime On The Lake Hollywood Loop

February 15, 2015 in Crime, environment, Hollywood, LA, Pets, Rants

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.

10978666_10152558232845044_2128577528160986362_nLittle 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):

Read the rest of this entry →

The Wright Stuff: Hollyhock House Is Back

February 14, 2015 in Art, Events, History, Hollywood, LA, Vintage

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.

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Look What I Found: P. E. Railway Map From The Way Back

February 7, 2015 in History, LA, Mass Transit

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).

Lines_of_the_Pacific_Electric_Railway_in_Southern_California_1912_(uclamss_294_b120_1)

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Preserving Los Angeles history one building at a time

January 9, 2015 in environment, History, LA, Law, News, People, San Gabriel Valley, Social issues, Vintage

Broadway Arcade in DTLA, click to embiggen

Broadway Arcade in DTLA, click to embiggen

The good folks at Esotouric Bus Tour Adventures, Kim Cooper and Richard Schave do a lot more than give really nifty tours of the city.  They are historians with a major heart on for the city.  In the best way of course.

This weeks newsletter outlined the winners and losers in their efforts to help preserve the cities architectural history.  It outlines 25 things this year, good bad and ugly, that happened in terms of historic preservation.

The most exciting bit was the passing of city ordinance 13-1104 requiring public notification when any building more than 45 years is to be demolished.   Why does this matter?  It will give preservation groups around the city the chance to speak up and stop the destruction of those building with a history or architectural significane from being trashed in the name of progress and a new high density mixed use project.  Not all buildings need to be preserved that are that old, but many should as it is part of the texture and character of the city that shouldn’t be trashed for a new parking lot or apartment jungle.

Pic by me of the Broadway Arcade while on an iphone safari.  Click to embiggen

Archival digging: Culver City houses in 1951

January 7, 2015 in History, LA

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.

sunkistparkhouse

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!

Lost Angeles: Tara Spotting

January 4, 2015 in culver city, Entertainment, Filmmaking/Filmmakers, History, LA, Movies

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.

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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 10881489_814964795228276_3288342673478902642_nto 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.

40acres_plot_plan_1940

Then, of course, for a present-day juxtaposition I google-mapped the location (click to enlargify):

current

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”:

Hiking Fish Canyon

January 1, 2015 in environment, LA, San Gabriel Valley

2014dec05-9524The water flowing after the first rains of the season in Fish Canyon.Fish Canyon is open, and the waterfalls are flowing.
I want to write that first line in all BOLD CAPS.
Because that hasn’t been said in 30 years.

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.

The trail up on the hillside of Fish Canyon in June of 2014.Remnants of the first rains of the season in Fish Canyon.In the summer, when everything was hot and dry, this canyon did not feel so special, but now with the falling water, it’s easy to see why it was once a haven.

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 →

See The Rose Parade Floats Up Close And Personal

December 31, 2014 in Entertainment, Holidays, LA, San Gabriel Valley, Seasonal

Orange_Grove_before_Rose_Parade_2009_(3161432082)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!

12 Days Of Giving: spcaLA — The Results Show

December 28, 2014 in Holidays, LA, Seasonal

indexDuring 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).

FullSizeRenderIn 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…

Read the rest of this entry →

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Raymond Chandler did an operetta…make its production a reality

December 27, 2014 in Books, Entertainment, Events, Fictional LA, History, LA, News, People, Theatre/Stage, Vintage

ChandlerBy 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.

Feed The Pets!

December 27, 2014 in LA, Pets

FEED ME

FEED ME

<On the heels of Will’s spcaLA post, I wanted to give a heads-up that these locations are short on pet food this holiday season. Please consider dropping off kibble, or wet food, or dry food, to the following locations:

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.

Overexposed In Chinatown

December 24, 2014 in Downtown, Immigration, LA, Photography, Shopping

ctown5 ctown20It’s not what it sounds like, although what it sounds like sounds fun…

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).

ctown08To 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.

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