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Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Wall Along Wilshire: 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

image credit: huffingtonpost.com
TODAY, November 9, 2014, marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

To commerate, I decided to repost photos of the largest section of the Berlin Wall found outside of Germany - found along Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. 

These side-by-side portraits of Presidents John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were painted by Los Angeles based muralist Kent Twitchell. The ten panel section of the Berlin Wall is located in the Miracle Mile District - at 5900 Wilshire Blvd. 

The Wall Along Wilshire was assembled five years ago as a component of The Wall Project, the Museum’s public art initiative commemorating the (at the time) 20th anniversary of the fall of the Wall. 

The Wall Along Wilshire is located across the street from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I literally stumbled across it last month after taking a few minutes to see Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass a few hundred yards away.

Levitated Mass at the LACMA is a unusual piece of modern art; the Wall Along Wilshire is a piece of modern history. Levitated Mass got national media coverage. The Wall Along Wilshire: not so much. Initally, I was not a fan of Levitate Mass (although I warmed up a bit when I visited a second time with my kids). Like other pieces of history, there is a sense of soberness to the Wall Along Wilshire

And in a sense, ten million dollar modern art projects like Levitated Mass exist because the Berlin Wall does not. 

"We Are All Berliners" ("Ich Bin Ein Berliner") - President Kennedy's immortal words in June 1963. Here's a link to a video of the speech. 

"Tear Down This Wall" - Ronald Reagan's moving challenge to Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in June 1987. And here's a link to a video of President Reagan's speech. 

By the Fall of 1989, just 2 1/2 years after Reagan's speech, the Wall was opened - siginaling the end of the Cold War, and - ultimately - the Berlin Wall. 

love muralist Kent Twitchell's portraits of Cold War Presidents Kennedy and Reagan. Democrat and Republican: two generations, two eras, two Cold Warriors who both challenged the Soviet Union regarding the Wall - one when it was first completed, the other before it finally came down. 

Here's what the text says: 

"The Wall Along Wilshire features ten sections of the original Berlin Wall. Measuring nearly forty feet wide, it is the world longest stretch of the Wall outside of Germany. The Wall Along Wilshire was assembled in 2009 as a component of The Wall Project, the Museum’s public art initiative commemorating the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The Wend Museum invited L.A. based artists Kent Twitchell, Farrah Karapetian and Marie Astrid Gonzalez to participate in the project and paired them with French-born, Berlin based muralist Thierry Noir who was one of the first artists to paint the Berlin Wall in 1984. Through their participation, the installation recalls the outdoor “Eastside Gallery” in Berlin, made famous by the international artists whose collective intervention transformed the Berlin Wall into a canvas reflecting real and imagined divisions. The last four segments contain original graffiti from Cold War era Berlin, including an iconic image of Bimer’s green bear. The Wall Along Wilshire is part of The Wende Museum’s permanent collection."

Here's what the text says on the other side of the wall: 

"Behind the Wall"

"As part of The Wende Museum’s SURVEILLANCE PROJECT, Behind the Wall brings together street artist from Los Angeles, London, and Berlin to interpret the roll of surveillance in our lives from the Cold War until today. From left to right, the murals by Herakut, Retna, and D*Face, cover nine segments belonging to the ‘east side’ of the original Berlin Wall- the side that face the East German death strip and was never painted."


"In order to preserve the segments and prevent moisture from rusting the Wall’s inner skeleton, a special water-resistant primer has been applied and the artist’s paints provide and additional layer of protective coating."

"With continued care, The Wende Museum’s Berlin Wall segments will remain a historical and vibrant outdoor canvas that connects contemporary issues with significant historical events that impacted the globe – the East German peaceful revolution, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the end of the Cold War."

Many many thanks to the Wende Museum for this OUTSTANDING display. 

It is incredible that Los Angeles is home to the largest section of the Berlin War outside of Germany. It is a piece of history. 

Here's another link to when I took my kids to see it back in March of 2013. Yes, it's worth visiting.

And I'm definitely looking forward to visiting The Wende Museum (located six miles south in Culver City) sometime in the near future. 



© 2014 www.experiencingla.com - originally posted 11/3/12


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Experiencing L.A. on Halloween: "Light Up The Night"

Just a month after moving to Los Angeles, we took our kids trick-or-treating.

I'm not sure if it was living in a big city, or trick-or-treating in neighborhoods with too much money, or just the Hollywood influence ... but it was unlike anything we had experienced.

Friends of ours recommended a "popular" neighborhood here on the westside. That was an understatement: there were so many kids and parents at times it was hard to walk on the sidewalks - it was that crowded.

Was it just being a dad of young kids (my kids were 3 and 5 at the time) or are costumes creepier than in the past?

Some houses looked like professionally designed sets from horror films; neighbors seemed to compete with each other on who has most terrifying and realistic house. I thought trick or treating was for kids - does anyone else have a problem with young children being shown images of death, torture and the occult? What's really scary is when we as adults start to get used to this - and it no longer shocks.

I mentioned this to a friend, who shared how busy his street was as well. I asked him if he'd like to work together to create an "alternative" Halloween celebration. Thus was born "Light Up the Night." I'm sure the name isn't original with us - but we liked it. 



A brightly lit home, upbeat music, a large puppet theater in the driveway, helium balloons, and lots of candy are all part of the mix. We were OK with the candy - it was the celebration of everything "dark" that we tried to avoid. 


No, this is not Disneyland - just the driveway of our friends' home. At the busiest time there were sixty kids and parents hanging out.


Helium balloons that said "Light Up the Night" were a huge hit - we ran out.

We could have not have done this without friends from our church in Los Angeles. One year, a couple of guys involved in the entertainment industry set up live video feed this year - so kids could "be on TV." Fun. It's also something our kids and others could be involved with: handing out balloons, candy, or running the puppet theater. I heard some teenagers running by who refer to it as the "Jesus house." Sure, why not.


We created a little card for kids and parents that said "Light Up the Night" in multiple languages and explaning why we were doing what we were doing. 


One parent told me "people all over the westside are talking about this house ... I'm here because a friend at work said 'you gotta see this one house.'" 
We can't verify if that's true, but the four years we did it, we got great feedback from appreciative parents who were looking for an alternative from everything else up and down the street.


We lived in Arizona for four years before moving to Los Angeles. Our church there had a HUGE annual Halloween event at the church, attracting thousands of people every year. The year we moved the church canceled the event. Why? Because it was attracting thousands of Christians. The church challenged small groups to work to impact individual communities and neighborhoods. Something, I like to think, like "Light Up the Night."

It was a blast turning my least favorite holiday into one of my most favorite events. 

All part of our family experiencing Los Angeles.

© 2014 www.experiencingla.com - originally posted 11/1/2008




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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Other Side of the Bay: Experiencing Los Angeles in Palos Verdes


If you've followed this blog, you know that most of the posts are about life on the "westside" of Los Angeles: Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Westwood, Venice - the last two posts have featured early morning hikes on the Paseo Miramar trail in Pacific Palisades. I've tried to include places like Hollywood, Silverlake, downtown Los Angeles. But the majority focused on the "westside." It's where we lived for those five years in L.A., so that makes sense, right?


But what about the other side of the Bay (that is, the Santa Monica Bay)? What about the Palos Verdes Peninsula?

photo credit: wikipedia
The Palos Verdes Peninsula is located 15 miles south of LAX, at the southern edge of the Santa Monica Bay, in between Redondo Beach and San Pedro. It's made up of a series of beautiful (and yes, expensive) coastal communites.

These photos were taken a few years back when I was at a one day conference in Palos Verdes. 

In the distance, Catalina Island. Catalina is located 20 or so miles off the coast. These photos were taken in late February, after a rain storm. The views were quite spectacular.

Growing up in Pacific Palisades, I can not tell you the number of times Southern Californians have confused the Palisades with Palos Verdes. Come on, people! While they're both coastal communities up against hills, the similarity ends there. Palos Verdes is relatively isolated - on a pensisula. Pacific Palisades is a community within the city of Los Angeles. They're 25 miles apart. I've just started saying I grew up "near Santa Monica" or "in Pacific Palisades - in between Santa Monica and Malibu."

While it may seem hard to believe, at one time both Palos Verdes and Pacific Palisades had what could be consider "middle class" housing stock. I remember my grandmother, herself an immigrant from Poland, looking at a home in Pacific Palisades in 1972 for $26,000 (adjusted for inflation, that would be around $148,000 today). Today, that same home would sell for around $1.4 million.

My guess is the same would be true of Palos Verdes.

Reminds me of what a friend working as a campus minister at UCLA once said, "L.A. is great - if you've got money." True, that. According to this recent Los Angeles Times article, Los Angeles/Orange County metro area has the distinction of having the least affordable housing the the U.S.

Obviously, places like Palos Verdes are no longer an option for the average Joe (or, this being Los Angeles, the average José). I'm not sure that there is a "solution" to this. Meanwhile, the casual visitor or out-of-town guest can still enjoy some amazing vistas. Unlike, say, Venice Beach or Santa Monica, Palos Verdes is not a major tourist destination. But there are a few things to see and do - here's a link to some suggestions.

A drive through Palos Verdes: all part of experiencing Los Angeles.

© 2014 www.experiencingla.com



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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Experiencing L.A. - Costal Fog & Paseo Miramar Trail at Sunrise, Pacific Palisades (Part 2)

Looking for a workout? A chance to experience L.A. in perhaps a totally different way? Then perhaps the Paseo Miramar trail over in Pacific Palisades is for you!

Hard to believe, but the Paseo Miramar trail is all within Los Angeles city limits. Located in the Pacific Palisades district of L.A. this hike offers views of the mountains, hillside homes, the city, and the ocean. And in the spring and early summer, while the rest of the city is blanketed under June Gloom, coastal fog. 

Time in right and you'll catch the sunrise. 

There's no "bad" time of the year to go,  but experiencing the fog up against the Santa Monica mountains can be pretty spectacular. 

The same view, more of a wide angle shot. Los Angeles experiences a weather phenominon referred to as "June Gloom" in the spring and early summer. As a result, at the beach it can be sunnier - and even warmer - in January than June. In the distance, barely visible, is the outline of the San Garbriel Mountains. 

Same view, wider view. 

Fog, hillsides, palm tree, sunrise. 

On a clear day, this would be looking towards the Santa Monica Bay and Pacific Ocean. Instead, simply an amazing sea of fog. 

The Paseo Miramar trailhead is located at the top of Paseo Miramar, off of Sunset Blvd, 1/2 mile north of Sunset Blvd and the PCH. Thanks to being listed in numerous websites, including the Los Angeles Times "10 Essential Hikes" - this is a very popular hike. Parking is on the street. As stated last week, please keep the noise down and respect the quiet of the neighborhood (no one wants to be woken up by a group of friends meeeting at the trailhead early Saturday morning). 

© 2014 www.experiencingla.com





Saturday, September 13, 2014

Experiencing L.A. - Costal Fog & Paseo Miramar Trail at Sunrise, Pacific Palisades

What does Los Angeles look like just before sunrise? What does it look like when shrouded in coastal fog? 

A couple weeks ago I posted a single image of the bluffs along the PCH in the Pacific Palisades district of Los Angeles. When we lived in Los Angeles, I made dozens of early morning hikes in that same area, most notably on the upper Temescal Ridge trail and the Paseo Miramar trail. Here's a link to a previous post on what I consider the best hike in L.A. This week, I'll focus a bit on the Paseo Miramar trail.

There photos are from 2010, our last Spring living in L.A. This is looking east from the Paseo Miramar trail (technically a fire road) towards the office towers of Westwood, Century City, and Downtown Los Angeles..The San Gabriel Mountains are visible in the distance to the left.

The hike is very steep - a great workout. The coastal communities of Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica were completely shrouded in low coastal fog. Because this is so common in the Spring and early summer, this is often referred to as "June Gloom" or "May Gray."

Looking out over the Pacific Ocean - and the vast sea of coastal fog. This is only at about 1200 foot elevation. 

The fog hugging the coast. Most days, it burns off by noon, and then rolls back in the evening.

Another view of the fireroad - and the fog. 

Coming back down, we spotted another hiker along the the trail.

Another view of the same guy. 

This is a reminder of the unique topography and climate of Los Angeles. How, in many ways, it's unlike any other city in the world. 

A final view looking east with the hillside homes of Pacific Palisades and the coastal fog in the distance. 


The Paseo Miramar trailhead is located at the top of Paseo Miramar, off of Sunset Blvd, 1/2 mile north of Sunset Blvd and the PCH. Thanks to being listed in numerous websites, including the Los Angeles Times "10 Essential Hikes" - this is a very popular hike. Parking is on the street. Please keep the noise down and respect the quiet of the neighborhood (no one wants to be woken up by a group of friends meeeting at the trailhead early Saturday morning). 

© 2014 www.experiencingla.com





Saturday, August 30, 2014

View from the Jetty: Pacific Palisades

image credit: oneillsfineart.com Katie O'Neill

















I recently came across this outstanding image: "View from the Jetty" by Los Angeles based artist Katie O'Neill. I love how she captured the bluffs and coast at sunset. This is looking north in the Pacific Palisades district of Los Angeles, located in between Santa Monica and Malibu. Seemed most appropriate for this last weekend of summer.

Here's a link to her website, with additional images and more information.

Happy Labor Day.





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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Aerial photography of Los Angeles

photo © Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography
This past week via the Facebook group "Photos of Los Angeles" I discovered the amazing work of Los Angeles based photographer Andy Cisneros. Featured this week are some of his aerial photography.

This is Wilshire Blvd and Ocean Avenue in Santa Monica, looking east towards Los Angeles. As noted previously on this blog, I've walked up Wishire (as well as Santa Monica Blvd and Pico Blvd) but never seen it from this perspective.


photo © Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography









The Hollywood sign at sunset.
photo © Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography
The US Bank Building in downtown Los Angeles. This is the tallest building in the Western United States. Great perspective.





photo © Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography













Capital Records building in Hollywood. Hollywood is approximately seven miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and is technically a community within the city of Los Angeles.


photo © Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography















Back in downtown Los Angeles. The building in the lower right is City Hall, featured in countless movies and TV shows.


photo © Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography

















Closeup of the US Bank Building.


photo © Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography



















A final view back in Santa Monica, at the Santa Monica Pier.

"When people ask what equipment I use, I tell them my eyes." Andy Cisneros

Great quote. Although it helps to have a professional camera (rather than my iPhone 4s) and to be able to hitch a ride on a helicopter.







All photographs ©Andy Cisneros, Andy.C Photography. Check out his facebook page if you'd like to see more.