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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Levitated Mass @ LACMA (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 9)

March 2013 my wife, kids, and I spent three days back in Los Angeles on a little vacation. We stayed in Hollywood and saw the Los Angeles Zoo, the Hollywood Sign, the sights along Hollywood Blvd, downtown Los Angeles, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, the Griffith Observatory. Here's a link to the complete list. 

Our third, after checking out of our hotel, we drove over to see Michael Heizer's outdoor sculpture Levitated Mass at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). 

Levitated Mass is a 340 ton boulder that is "levitated" (sort of, not really) in space. 

When I first heard about it, I wasn't a big fan. Compared to, say, Cloud Gate in Chicago's Millennium Park (which is incredible) - Levitated Mass is just a big rock. Here's a link to a post from Fall 2012, including what I thought about it then. 

Seeing it with my kids = totally different experience. I took off the "art critic" hat and put on the "dad" hat. 

My kids loved just running around, through the long trench, and under the massive boulder. 

I love how the good people at 365 Los Angeles (great blog listing 365 diferent things to see and do in Los Angeles) described it: "Some rich folks pay millions of dollars for a rock the size of a marble. I say, why not get the most bang for your buck? LACMA got the most show for the dough by securing the Levitated Mass, a 10 million dollar, 340 ton granite boulder, which sits upon a 456-foot-long slot."

Love that: "most show for the dough." 

Obligatory "posting under the rock" pic.  

Obligatory "holding up the rock" pic. 

We first moved to L.A. when my kids were only 3 1/2 and 6, and spent the next five years living there. Nice to be back to see a few of our old haunts, and see things we never got around to when we lived there. 

When my kids were little, I thought they'd be around forever. Time goes by quickly. To any other parents out there, be sure and spend time with your kids! 

Apparently, Levitated Mass is designed to last 3500 years. Which seems like an eternity. But in light of eternity (and, yes, there is an eternity) it's the blink of an eye. 

By the way, if you're in L.A. and your looking for small, "sparkley" rocks - try either Rodeo Drive - or the impressive gem display at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum

One of the few selfies I took on our trip. 

For something I previously thought was pretty dumb (in terms of art) I sure eneded up taking a ton of photos. Maybe because it early in the day, and my kids were still "fresh." 

I called this our "album cover" photo. A security guard walked by and was kind enough to take several family photos. 

"Levitated Mass" is located on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art grounds at Wilshire and Fairfax. It's open from 7am to sunset - and there is no admission charge (nice). 

Is it worth a special trip? Probably not. But there's a slew of other things to see and do within a five minute walk, including Chris Burden's Urban Light, the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany, and the world famous La Brea Tar Pits. 

More on all of this next week. 

© 2014 www.experiencingla.com

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pink's Hotdogs & Griffith Observatory (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 8)

In March of 2013 my wife, kids, and I were back in Los Angeles for a little three day get-away. Here's a list (with additional links) of what we saw and did. 


Day 2, after an afternoon visiting the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, we decided to have dinner at Pink's Hotdogs. Pink's is neither high end or healthy. But no trip to Los Angeles is complete without a visit to this famous L.A. Landmark. 

Pink's is one of those hotdog stands that over time become legendary. As you can see from the sign, last year they celebrated their 73th year. 

What makes Pink's so famous? 

First, they've been around since 1939. In L.A., that's an eternity. 

Second, their menu. Sure, you can get a standard hotdog pretty much anywhere. But where else can you get a Mulholland Drive Dog, a Hollywood Walk of Fame Dog, a Huell Howser Dog, or a L.A. Philharmoic Conductor Gustavo Dudamel "Dude" Dog? 

Third, Hollywood. Thanks to it's location and the fact that it's open until 2am (3am on weekends), Pink's is a favorite among the Hollywood crowd. You'll see dozens of stars photos with endorsements lining the walls. Kinda fun. 


Finally, Pink's is not McDonald's. It's a small, local establishment with a funky vibe and character that says "you're in Los Angeles."  

Obligatory family photo. Good times. Pink's is located on the corner of La Brea and Melrose. There is a small parking lot with free parking. If you're driving (which we did) you enter the parking lot off La Brea (heading south). If you park on the street, be careful - there is no parking after 3pm. You'll get ticketed, and possibly towed (which almost happend to me once when we lived in L.A.). 

After dinner, we headed back to our hotel. This is driving up La Brea, with the Hollywood Hills in the background. 

We were in Los Angeles around Passover. Above, an Orthodox family walking home from a local synagogue.

Los Angeles is home to America's second largest Jewish community (New York City, of course, is first). 

"I am a stranger in a strange land" wrote Moses. As a follower of Christ, I think there are numerous things I and other Christians can learn from the Jewish community (whether Conservative, Orthodox, or Reformed). Here's some thoughts from a previous post from a walk through the Pico Robertson district of Los Angeles a few years back. 

Not all of Hollywood is "glamourous" - in fact, to the suprise of most visitors, most of it not. (f you're looking for glamour, keep going west along Sunset Blvd until you get to West Hollywood or Beverly Hills.)

A block from our hotel, located at the corner of Sunset Blvd and La Brea Avenue was a mini-mall (one of about a billion in Los Angeles). We walked over after dinner to check out Mashti Malone's Ice Cream. 

Brothers Mashti and Mehdi Shirvani, originally from Iran, have carved out a nitch of selling uniquely flavored ice cream for the past 25 years. Ever have Rosewater or Saffon ice cream? Either had we. Don't worry, in addion to exotic flavors, they also have traditional favorites. Good ice cream - and was nice to be able to just walk over. Here's their website

After dinner, my daughter and I drove up to the Griffith Observatory. Like almost everything on our three day excursion, the Griffith Observatory (located in Griffith Park) is free, including parking - never a given in la-la land. 

photo credit: www.tripadvisor.com
Despite the 45 minute wait, my daughter really wanted to look through the big telescope. 

Waaay too dark inside for my little camera, this photo is from Trip Advisor. 

Since opening in 1935, more than seven million people have put an eye to Griffith Observatory's original 12-inch Zeiss refracting telescope. Incredible fact, but more people have looked though it than any other telescope in the world. 

We walked around inside, looking at the displays, including the pendulum in the lobby. 

My daughter taking photos of the murals on the ceiling. The Observatory opened in 1935 and has some cool art deco murals. Here's a link with more photos and info from a previous visit back in 2009. 

"A Great City Needs a Great Park" - some information about the history of Griffith Park. 

As the Observatory is perched on a steep hill, there are also some outstanding views of the city. 

My daughter snapping a photo of a small John Deere utility vechicle so show a couple "John Deere" neighbor kids.  

Driving back to our hotel on Sunset Blvd, we passed by the Crossroads of the World, which opened in 1936 and is described as America's first outdoor shopping mall. Unfortunately, it's closed at night. My daugher was tired - so maybe that was a good thing. Here's a link with more photos and information from a visit during the day with my wife back in 2011. 

More in the next post, including taking our kids to Wilshire Blvd's "Miracle Mile" district to see "Levitated Mass", Urban Light, the La Brea Tar Pits - and the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. 

© 2014 www.experiencingla.com


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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jimmy Kimmel Interview (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 7)

















March 2013, my wife and kids and I were in Los Angeles for a few days for a little family get away. We stayed in Hollywood, taking a few days to see the sights.

Coming back from viewing the Space Shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, we were walking along Hollywood Blvd when my son was asked if he wanted to be interviewed for the Jimmy Kimmel show.

Sure, why not??

















After filling out the obligatory legal releases, my son was asked "What's Your Greatest Accomplishment?" He mentioned the usual academic accomplishments, student government, knowing how to play the piano, involvement at our church, etc.

































It was a fun, "experiencing L.A." moment. Of course, we wanted to know, was he really going to be on TV?

A day or two later, we watched the segment on Youtube:


No, he didn't make the cut. Guess he really had accomplished something. Or, his answers just weren't funny enough. I guess he could have made something up.

Afterwards, we talked about how many interviews they probably have to make just to get enough funny material for a 2 minute slot. And how so much of what we see on TV is edited. Stuff for a laugh kept in; real stuff, serious stuff edited out.

And the fact that not just the media, but all of us, have a bias when we communicate. Everything we say or do is edited by our worldview - that is, how we view reality, what we view as important. When anyone says they're "unbiased," that's really impossible.

The question is "with what bias are you approaching life"? And "how do you treat those with different world views." Any thoughts or feedback on this is appreciated.

































Good experience. I guess my son can tell his friends that he was at least interviewed for the Jimmy Kimmel show. Chalk it up to experiencing L.A. moment.

If you want to get interviewed, try you luck walking along Hollywood Blvd mid day.

And if you want your interview to get aired, try answering with really stupid answers.

Here's a link with information on getting tickets for the Jimmy Kimmel Show.

More on our little L.A. family vacation next week in Part 8: Pink's Hotdog Stand.



© 2014 www.experiencingla.com


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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Space Shuttle Endeavour (L.A. Family Vacation, Part 6)

In March 2013 my wife, kids, and I were back in Los Angeles for a little vacation. 

Day One we saw the Brady Bunch House, the Los Angeles Zoo, the Hollywood Sign, and spent the afternoon at the Grauman's Chinese and the El Capitan Theaters

Day Two we took the Red Line Subay from Hollywood, where we were staying, to Downtown Los Angeles

We went to the top of L.A. City Hall's 27th Floor Observation Deck, followed by a little tour of Grand Park and the Music Center, then had French Dip Sandwiches at Original Phillipe. After lunch we walked across the street to Union Station where we look the Red Line Subway to the 7th Street Station, transfering to the Expo Line. 

This post focuses on our next stop: the California Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour!

The California Science Center is located in Exposition Park, across the street from USC. It's open everyday except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. ADMISSION IS FREE - although there is a suggested donation of $5 a person (which is still a steal). If you're driving, parking is available on the street (metered, and generally very limited) or in the parking lot for $10.

My kids in front of a photo of the Space Shuttle making the 15 mile trek from LAX to the Science Center back in 2012. Here's a link to a previous post with a collection of some pretty impressive photos (I didn't take them) and video. 

Admission to see the Space Shuttle is also free but you have to have a timed admission ticket.

This is the view when you walk in. It's very moving. 

Obligatory family photo. 

Los Angeles is one of four cities that now have decommissioned Shuttles, the others being Washinton D.C., New York City, and the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

The Shuttle is in a temporary building. The plans are to have it standing upright in a massive 10 story building. Here's a link to the Science Center's plans. 

Lots of people there, lots of photos. It was an awesome experience - we totally recommend going! 

Again, admission is free - but you need to have a timed ticket. Here's the link

During the five years my wife, kids and I lived in Los Angeles we took many trips over to the Science Center. Lot's to see and do. 

My kids enjoyed seeing the displays they remembered when they were younger. 

It was Spring Break - and fairly crowded, especially as a lot of people were there to see the Shuttle as well. 


Outside is Science Center is a seven acre rose garden - one of the city's best kept secrets. 

The Exposition Park Rose Garden has over 20,000 different bushes - making it one of the largest rose gardens in the world. Here's a link to a previous post and it's fastincating history. 

We caught the Expo Line Light Rail to downtown Los Angeles. 

The tower in the background is one of the buildings at the University of Southern California, located across the street. 

The skyline of Downtown Los Angeles. The California Science Center is located 3 1/2 miles south of Downtown. We transfered at the 7th Street Station, terminus of the Expo Line, and took the Red Line Subway back up to Hollywood & Highland. 

On the way back to our hotel, my son was stopped and interviewed for the Jimmy Kimmel Show

One of those "only in L.A." moments. More on that next week. 

After the interview, we saw Darth Vader waiting at the traffic light to cross Hollywood Blvd. 

Actually, it's just a guy in a costume hoping to make some tips possing for photos with tourists in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater. I love the fact that he's basically being ignored - just another guy off to work. 

photo credit: NASA: Jim Ross
Speaking of Hollywood, here's a final photo Space Shuttle Endeavour and the Hollywood Sign on it's final trip to Los Angeles in 2012. Although I wasn't able to get back to L.A. to see it crawling through the city on it's way from LAX to the Science Center, here's a link to a post with a collection of some amazing photos and video clip of that event. 

© 2014 www.experiencingla.com




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