Lost Angeles: Tara Spotting

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”:

http://youtu.be/F86gx2sww88

12 Days of Giving: The Peace Project

2014 has been a great year for my family.  It wasn’t always like this.  We’ve had some pretty lean years in the past but hard work, faith, and determination put us on a blessed path.  There are plenty of places in the world where, no matter how hard citizens try, those qualities still don’t offer up a dream life.  This year, I felt it was important to give back to the universe that has created joy and plenty in my life but still finds so many people suffering around the world.  My husband and I both come from from traditions of charitable giving and volunteership.  No matter how impoverished we’ve been, we could always put food on the table and our parents taught us that meant we were still fortunate and it was our duty to offer assistance to those without.

So our regular checks to charitable organizations weren’t good enough this year.  A stellar year means we’d have to reach a little deeper.  But I’m lazy and volunteering with an infant while my husband is working overseas is more difficult than I can manage.  Instead, I found a great way to give while doing my regular weekly shopping at the Culver City Farmers Market.  The Whole 9 Gallery had a booth I could not avoid.  So many cute and cool things to buy!  And what’s this??  The money spent helps to support their charity The Peace Project??  Perfect!  Holiday shopping AND charitable giving, combined!  I bought more gifts than I had people to give to just so I could throw more money at a worthy cause.  And all of it was reasonably priced and very well made and unique.

The Peace Project is an effort by The Whole 9 online creative community to transform lives globally.  Started in 2010 by the community’s founder, the project has distributed crutches to amputees and victims of civil war in Sierra Leone, sponsored educational grants for African school-age children, built houses for Typhoon Haiyan victims in the Philippines, and been the benefactor for several artists on six continents.  Through their works, they’ve used art to bridge the gap between necessary resources and the community members who desperately require them.  The Whole 9 Gallery in Culver City sells the wares for several artists whose proceeds fund these works abroad.

To learn more about The Peace Project or to donate directly, visit http://thepeaceproject.com/donate.php.  Just want some last minute gifts that will fund the future happiness of others in our world?  Check out The Whole 9 Gallery at 3830 Main Street, Culver City, CA 90232.

Patchwork Craft Show No Go

I had every intention of going to the Patchwork Show in Santa Ana today but a series of events kept me from it.  First church (hi hippie Unitarians!) which got canceled due to the kid oversleeping her morning nap, then I spent too much time researching ways to use my remaining root vegetables from the Culver City Farmers Market to make leftover turkey chili, Skyped with the in laws, and then I happened to look at a map and discovered Santa Ana is hella far down in the OC. By that time, this wet stuff had started falling from the sky.  Too bad…  lots of great vendors were at the Long Beach show and I was looking forward to shoving some cash at them.  Next up…  Unique LA!

In case you missed it, the Culver City “Grass Station” art installation!

It happened at night when no one was looking.  A gas station was turned into a “grass station”, an urban oasis of sorts.  It was part of CODA Automotive’s campaign to bring about awareness of their all electric car that is on sale now.  So far CODA has set up an “Experience Center” in the Century City Mall, as well as an indy dealer, Martin Coda of Los Angeles on West Olympic in L.A.  I have to give these guys credit for bringing something fun to a L.A. neighborhood and getting me to notice.

Culver City Classic Car Show this Saturday

Classic Car
One of our area's vintage cars, spotted in Santa Monica

One of my pleasures of living in the relatively dry SoCal climate is our thriving classic car culture. Part of that culture will be on display this Saturday, as downtown Culver City hosts its Crusing Back to the 50s car show right out on Culver and Washington Blvds. from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. I was there four years ago, and it was loads of fun.

In addition to a selection of over 400 classic cars, expect to see some of the world’s most famous tv show custom cars and their creator, George Barris (Batmobile, Munster Koach, etc.). There will be food, music, and car-related merchandise on hand as well. Oh, and did I mention that admission to the show is free?

Moby’s Photos to “destroy” Culver City starting September 10

When shaved-headed synthesized symphonist Moby released a book of photographs to accompany his album destroyed last May, a number of the photos were sent on a worldwide yet very limited tour of art galleries. Moby’s photo tour hits Culver City’s Kopeikin Gallery this Saturday, September 10, through October 22.

Sayeth Moby’s website:

Destroyed introduces us to a side of touring that is often unexposed; secluded time spent in artificial spaces like hotel rooms and backstage waiting areas. The combined album and photo book provides an intimate look at Moby’s world and his creative process as an artist, both the music and photos were created in the same period and draw inspiration from the strange and sublime world of touring.

So … Linda McCartney meets Lost In Translation? Could be very interesting.

Fiesta La Ballona in Culver City August 26-28

Culver City
View of Culver City & environs from the infamous steps of the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

If, like me, you desire a small-town feel from our giant metro area every now and then, Culver City‘s Fiesta La Ballona, which takes place August 26-28, may be just the ticket. The Fiesta, which occupies Veteran’s Park at the intersection of Culver Blvd. and Overland Ave., is part cultural heritage festival and part small-town carnival.
Continue reading “Fiesta La Ballona in Culver City August 26-28”

Sometimes it Starts With a Facebook Page

Valley-Westside Rail
You Should Like This

Before The Event That Never Was, I wrote about the need for a rail line along the 405 corridor. I exchanged a few emails with Bart Reed of the Transit Coalition, who shared some insight as to how to get such an important piece of the transit puzzle off the ground (or rather, under.) He said they have been in talks with Los Angeles Council Districts 6 and 11, and that they would begin promoting through social media sites.

The Valley-Westside Rail project is now up on Facebook. You should like it.

I asked Bart how people could get more involved. He said that we need to start by garnering support from neighborhood councils. So, that’s where I began, with a few emails of my own:

This past weekend, the closure of the 405 and the media attention it received resulted in a ripple effect on the entire freeway system. Drivers got lucky. Businesses did not. This further illustrates the need for viable transportation alternatives. Specifically, a more comprehensive regional rail network.

As a contributing author for Blogging.LA, I wanted to get your input on a newly envisioned Metro rail line from the Valley to the Westside, by way of the 405 corridor.

Continue reading “Sometimes it Starts With a Facebook Page”

Air Force One Drops In To L.A.

Air Force One returns to LAX Thursday afternoon.

As I’ve previously mentioned, it’s pretty exciting when Air Force One is at LAX. It is, after all, probably the most recognizable 747 in the country, if not the world. In addition to being exciting to see, it can also be a tremendous pain in the ass. If Air Force One is here, that means the President is, too. And that likely means especially bad traffic on L.A.’s streets.

If you’re a fan of plane spotting, I’m here to give you the hot tip. Pick your spot on the lawn next to In-N-Out on Sepulveda on Thursday afternoon. If all goes according to schedule, Air Force One will cross directly in front of you as it comes in to land at 2:45pm. I always recommend getting there at least 30-60 minutes early, as this flight sometimes runs ahead of schedule.

If you’re not a fan of plane spotting (or heavy traffic,) I’m here to give you the hot tip. Stay the hell away from West L.A. on Thursday afternoon! President Obama arrives in mid-afternoon and will be heading to Sony Studios in Culver City to appear at a fundraiser for his reelection campaign. The Secret Service has worked closely with LAPD and LADOT to mitigate the traffic caused by the presidential motorcade, but seriously, how much can they do? Traffic in that area is typically bad anyway. Add the President to the mix, and things could get ugly.

President Obama will spend the night in southern California, then depart on Friday morning. Scheduled departure is 8:55am, if you plane spotters would like to see AFO in flight again. Remember to set up at the opposite end of the airport, as departing flights head out over the ocean.

Where am I gonna live?

Hey Y’all!

I’m looking to move, likely somewhere that’s a 20-minute drive from Santa Monica, but I’ve lived in “Los Angeles” since 1982 and know that just a block or two in any direction can mean the difference between Just Fine and Oh No You Di-Int.

So, Peeps, anyone care to give a little info? Mar Vista? Culver City? Museum Row?

Elsewhere?

Looking for the Try Heres as well as the Stay The Hell Away Froms.

Need 2 bedrooms and secure parking.

Eager to hear ~

Favorite L.A. Area Spots: Culver City Park & Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook

I was driving West on Jefferson Blvd. in Culver City recently, when a steep hill and sign touting the Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook caught my eye.  I quickly turned in, followed the winding road uphill, passed several hikers huffing and puffing in the roadway, then turned around before reaching the top when I saw the sign: “Parking $6”.

Continue reading “Favorite L.A. Area Spots: Culver City Park & Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook”

A-Frame: Uncivilizing Civilized Dining

Tomorrow is opening night for A-Frame, a collaborative effort between Roy Choi (the chef who brought you Kogi and Chego) and David Reiss (the restaurateur who brought you The Brig and worked with Chef Choi to bring Kogi to his Alibi Room).  A-Frame is a hop, skip, and jump down from Waterloo & City in Culver City, if that helps.  If your “frame” of reference (ha ha) is more along the lines of Bob Villa, Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, and/or Martha Stewart, it might be more helpful if I say that the name defines its structure: a giant A-frame.  If This Old House wasn’t your idea of Saturday morning public channel fun, but going to 24 hour diners in the middle night was, you not only had a better high school experience than I did, but also would immediately recognize the restaurant as a converted IHOP.  Once inside, though, images of all-you-can-eat pancakes dissipate, and you’ll instead spot This Old House‘s blueprints all over it.  As the Los Angeles Times wrote last week, the walls are sanded, bare, naked.  We’re going back to the basics, people, starting with the foundation.

While Roy Choi isn’t A-Frame’s official chef (Jonas Curameng, sous chef at Kogi and Chego, is), he had a heavy hand in creating and curating the menu.  The current trend in dining continues to be science non-fiction in the kitchen: liquid nitrogen once used to freeze and safely store alien-human hybrid embryos in The X-Files is now used to fashion cocktails.  Chef Choi eschews all that; instead of HAL 2000 boxed in a sanitized hospital-white spaceship, he went a few hours/ice ages back to the apes, nature, and fire.  He’s aiming to bring you back to that primordial place, when we ate with our hands and tore with our teeth.  Almost everything on his menu is designed to be eaten this way, messily, with lots of napkins and, when you’ve run out of napkins, your shirt.  This is what food under fire used to taste like, remember?

None of the dishes I tasted were finalized when I tried them, so I’m a little hesitant about giving too many details.  That said, even in their semifinal stages, they were delicious.  Unlike the the predominantly Korean flavors of Kogi and Chego, the dishes here explicitly pull flavors from all over Asia: in addition to Korea, you’ll taste Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, China, the Philippines.  And, because this is all brought to you by the team who thought to put kimchi in a burrito, Mexico represents.  Take those flavors, im-/emigrate them into a building with architecture popularized by an American, and you have A-Frame’s version of Los Angeles, California, USA.  Eat your heart out, Tea Party.

Tomorrow, when you go, start with the fresh kettle popcorn sprinkled liberally with furikake, a Japanese condiment comprised of dry fish and seawood.  Seriously, you can eat this all day.  If you don’t believe me, believe one of the kings of molecular gastronomy, Michael Voltaggio:

Besides the kettle popcorn, get the fried chicken.  Mashing the Peking duck process with the beer can one, the chicken is brined, rotisserie’d, then fried.  Overall, it’s a 24+ hour process that results in juicy meat and a crackling, uber-crispy skin.  Alongside the chicken is their version of the 1,000 year old egg, so you have the poultry version of Dave Bowman in 2001 in that you’re literally going from beginning to end.  The chicken is served with two sauces, one red, one green.  My favorite is the green, a smooth salsa verde.  As it happens, the salsa verde is the Jane Lynch of the menu: it makes frequent appearances in the background, all of them memorable.  Try the salsa with the cocktail shrimp (seasoned and tossed haphazardly in a bowl instead of dancing daintily around a martini glass).  Others: lamb shanks that are beautifully charred and are meaty without being gamey; sweet crab cakes that are to be tucked inside lettuce leaves; and a tofu salad deemed amazing, even amongst the most ardent of meat eaters.

Even the desserts can be eaten with your hands.  I know you will be stuffed to the gills, but try at least one of pastry chef’s Beth Kellerhals’s creations.  If only one, the churros dipped in chocolate are the best thing sitting on the scale between Salina’s Churro Truck and Lucques‘s Churros y Chocolate.  Apparently, there also will be an apple pie with cheddar ice cream.  I’ll tweet all about it when I try it tomorrow.

Everything is served family-style, so get whomever you consider family together so you can try as many things as possible.  Oh, eating together at a communal table.  And sharing food and stories.  Remember when we used to that?

A-Frame is at 12565 Washington Blvd in Culver City. Starting tomorrow, the kitchen’s regular hours will be 5pm – midnight.  The fully stocked bar will be open until 2am, every day of the week.

What Books Press at the Rumor Mill

one of Gronk's many amazing images for What Books Press

Wednesday night I had the good fortune to hear several What Books Press/Glass Table Collective writers read at the Wanted: Writers! series at the Rumor Mill. I’ve been meaning to send a shout out about the Rumor Mill for a while after meeting Joe Staats, the master of ceremonies in line to get books signed at the Central Library. This was the third time I’ve been to a Wanted: Writers! reading at the Rumor Mill and each time I leave entertained and feeling part of a community of writers and readers.

Last Wednesday’s reading was particularly special since Katherine Haake, Chuck Rosenthal, and Karen Kervorkian are all part of a collective of “poets and fiction writers, essayists, political activists, a painter, a film-maker [who] . . .  have come together to create, promote, and celebrate new books of literary writing and astounding art.”  The work read Wednesday ranged from tales of space aliens, poems constructed from the landscapes of New Mexico and Texas, and a romp of  a story featuring no less a protagonist than Robert Altman Sr.’s chicken (I would say cock, but that might give the wrong idea–it wasn’t *that* kind of reading). Gronk does all of the cover art for the press and has his own book, A Giant Claw.

For $70 you can subscribe for a year to What Books Press and receive new releases signed by the authors. You can expect to hear more from me about WBP and Wanted: Writers! in the future.

Pocket Parks: Culver West-Alexander in Culver City

If you look at a map of Culver City, you’ll see there is an arm that reaches to the Pacific Ocean. This is “Culver West” and it’s nestled between Mar Vista and Marina Del Rey.

There is a sweet gem in that arm called Culver West-Alexander Park and if you are in the neighborhood and looking for a great spot to spend an afternoon, you will love this one.

I remember this park from the very early 90’s as I used to work in the Marina. The big field seen here used to have a baseball diamond and one year I spent many an early morning practicing softball with our company team. (Go Hurlers!) Even without a baseball diamond, you can NOT get bored at this park. I dare you!

There are basketball and tennis courts, BBQ pits and picnic tables, tons of jungle gyms and swings and even a community center. If you are a Westsider, check this spot out, bring the kids and grandparents and a big picnic. You never know what you’ll see here.

How to get there (click on the image to go to the Google Map):

You want sports? We got sports!  One tennis and two paddle tennis courts (this is where my honey and I play a lot.)

Here’s a close up of the mural at the end of the tennis court. It’s like being inside Wii Tennis!

In case you were wondering:

And also:

This happy mural greets  you when you park on Moore street. Handball courts (three) are here on the backside of the tennis court.

Wider shot of Basketball and handball courts with informal running path in front.

Close on the Mural at the Basketball court:

Plenty of stuff for the kids to clamber over and around:

And when it’s time to eat, there are plenty of shady spots to spread out and grill up some yummy picnic food.

There is plenty of parking on Moore Street and also in a small lot near the jungle gym/tennis court side of the park.

Alas, Fido will need to stay on the designated path. But it’s a sweet path!

And if you need to just chill in a grassy, shady spot, there is plenty of that too.

Read more about Richard Alexander, after whom the park was named. (Click picture for bigger version.)

Stop by some time! It’s a gorgeous little park and it’s all yours.