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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hollywood revisited: Farmer's Market, Chinese Theater, Hollywood & Highland, and the Pantages

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. 

After time at the Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), we walked - yes, people really do walk in Los Angeles - over to Farmer's Market.

Farmer's Market, also known as "Original Farmer's Market," opened in 1934 on the corner of Third and Fairfax - about half a mile from LACMA. When we visited on a Saturday afternoon in late January - it was PACKED.


Part of the reason is its location. Farmer's Market is located immediately next to the jazzy, and VERY popular, The Grove outdoor shopping center. Walked around a bit, here's a link to a previous visit. Above, a display honoring Chinese New Year. 


Back at Farmer's Market, there was a New Orleans style jazz ensemble. Think Disneyland's New Orleans Square, without the $105 ticket price (and, of course, without little stuff like Pirates of the Caribbean). Still, very fun.

We headed over to our hotel in Hollywood, checked in to our hotel - the Days Inn on Sunset Blvd - and relaxed for a bit. 


An hour or so later we walked over to the Hollywood and Highland complex for dinner - stopping off along the way at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre - technically the TCL Chinese Theaters. The theater opened as Grauman's in 1927 and is arguably the most famous movie theatre in the world. Looks good during the day - looks great at night.


Hollywood and Highland is a three story outdoor shopping center located on the corner of (you guessed it) Hollywood Blvd and Highland Avenue. The GIANT elephants are designed to look like the set of silent film maker D. W. Griffith's 1915 epic "Intolerance" - which was Hollywood's first tourist attraction. 


Another view of the Hollywood and Highland complex. We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen there (my son's choice). Most of the stores and restaurants are chains that can be found elsewhere. 

It's too bad Hollywood and Highland doesn't have something uniquely "Hollywood"- something that can't be found anywhere else. Something similar to NBC's "Today" show studio at Rockefeller Center in New York City. I'm always amazed at the crowds that gather every day there. I wonder why something like this couldn't something like this been an anchor. 


 Another view of Hollywood and Highland - looking out towards Hollywood Blvd. 


The 1926 El Capitain theater. It was purchased by the Walt Disney Company back in the late 1980's who gave it a needed $14 million dollar renovation. The theater reopened back in 1991 and serves as the flagship theater for Disney premiers and films. My wife and kids and I enjoyed the Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful here on a brief family vacation here in 2013. 


Walking back to our hotel on Sunset Blvd - the Chinese Theater was still crowded with visitors and tourists. 


My son and a bunch of his friends are all involved in the theater program at his High School  - and he really and wanted to see a Broadway caliber show at the Pantages in Hollywood. 


 My wife and I had been to the Pantages a couple of times when we lived in Los Angeles (2005-2010). 


Inside the massive lobby. 


 The ceiling inside the theater. The Pantages has a strict "no video/no photos" policy - so, sorry, no photos of the actual show. 

What did we see? What did I think about it? If I get some time this upcoming week, I'll come back and write about it ... and maybe even try my hand at a review (never as easy as it seems). 


A packed lobby on the way out. 

More next time. 

© 2016 www.experiencingla.com




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Saturday, August 20, 2016

LACMA revisited (Part II) - Urban Light and Levitated Mass

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. One of those "new places" was LACMA - the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (click here for Part I). 

Above: a model of a new project planned for the corner of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd - overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. 


A highlight for both of us was seeing the display of models of Los Angeles based architect Frank Gehry. Above, a model of the Norton House, a home he designed on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. 


Here's a link to a previous post featuring a couple of photos of the actual home - located at 2509 Ocean Front Walk in Venice.


This is a model of the just approved project at 8150 Sunset Blvd in the Crescent Heights district of West Hollywood. 


There was a large (huge) mirror on one wall of the exhibition - making for an equally impressive photograph. Despite the fact that we were there on a "free day," the LACMA staff did a great job managing the crowds. 


Another view of the Sunset Strip project. 


Yet another view, with models of each of the surrounding buildings for several blocks, and a model of the Hollywood Hills. The exhibition lasted until March 20th (sorry). Here's a link to LACMA's website with some additional photographs. 


Outside LACMA are two large, public pieces of art. First, pictured above, is Chris Burden's Urban Light


My wife and kids are I had been here several times before - fun to come back. 


Urban Light looks great in the day - it looks incredible at night. Here's a link to a previous post with photos from both day and night. 

Urban Light consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930's. 


The design is simple, but elegant. It really works. Definitely worth a visit. 


Just a few hundred yards away was Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass, a 340 ton boulder that "floats" above the people below. Well, sort of. 

Initially, I was NOT a fan. New York has the iconic Statue of Liberty. Chicago has the brilliant Cloud Gate, affectionally known as The Bean. Los Angeles? To paraphrase Charlie Brown on Halloween, "we got a rock." 

It's taken a while, but I've eventually warmed up to Levitated Mass. I like what another blogger wrote: 

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.


One of my favorite family photos was taken "album cover" style at Levitated Mass in 2013 - when my wife, kids and I were back in Los Angeles for a short vacation



So, if you're in the area, I think Levitated Mass is worth seeing - especially in the late afternoon. If the light hits the metal supports just right, it does look a bit like it's levitating. 

LACMA offers free admission the second Tuesday of every month. And if you're a Los Angeles County resident, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays from 3pm-5pm. Here's a link with more information. 

More next time. 

© 2016 www.experiencingla.com

Saturday, August 13, 2016

LACMA revisited (Part I)




















This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. One of those new places was LACMA - the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 




The good news: it was a free day. The bad news: it was a free day. 

The Saturday we visited, LACMA was offering the ever popular free admission day. Meaning we saved $25 ($15 for adults, $10 for students). Of course, we weren't the only ones with this idea. So yes, it was crowded. But LACMA did a great job dealing with the crowds. 

We were both excited about seeing the amazing Metropolis II, pictured above. 




Metropolis II, the work of artist Chris Burden (1946-2015). It is a large, kinetic interactive sculpture representing a large, active city. Hence the name (Metropolis). 



The sculpture opened in 2013 to rave reviews. We, of course, had heard about it - and were excited to see it for ourselves. 





Check LACMA's website for scheduling, but right now Metropolis II is opened for select one hour slots Fridays, Saturday, Sundays - and few select holiday Mondays. 



The display is very popular, especially on the "free day" when we went. There are viewing areas both next to it and above, so it's easy to watch and enjoy. 

The highlight of the sculpture are 10,000 miniature Hot Wheels cars racing (and I mean racing) around the city. 




















We probably spend a half an hour just watching it. Really fun. Certainly worth a visit. Here's a link to a short video. And a link to LACMA's website. 



Obligatory photo of the neon display outside of Metropolis II.  


And a final view from LACMA of the Los Angeles Fairfax District, with the Hollywood Hills in the background. Despite the cost and challenges of living in Los Angeles, it's not hard to see why so many people choose to live here. 

More next time. 

© 2016 www.experiencingla.com




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Saturday, August 6, 2016

Third Street Promenade revisited

Saturday morning Farmer's Market in Santa Monica, at Arizona Avenue and the Third Street Promenade.

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. The Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica was on our list of places to see. 



Third Street at Arizona Avenue hosts a Saturday morning Farmer's Market. We weren't planning on buying any fruits or vegetables - so we moved on this some of the outdoor mall that is Third Street. 

My son had toyed with the idea of getting a pair Doc Martens (shoes). At least he wanted to check them out. 

There are standard black - as well as this impressive hand painted (and pricey) shoes. Maybe sometime later. 

We stopped by Barnes & Noble, located on the corner of Third and Wilshire. The hardest class this past year has been "AP European History" (he took the AP exam later in the Spring and passed!). But last January he wasn't too too excited about the class, or at least the exam. 

We found the office to his old orthodontist - Dr. Scott Newhart (we highly recommend him!)

Another one of those "I remember going here" moments. 

Blast from the past: I dusted off a few photos from a 2010 office visit to Dr. Scott Newhart - my son was five years younger. 


Dr. Newhart. Hard to believe, but we actually continued with him as an orthodontist a few months after moving out of the area. This office visit was literally 400 mile round trip. Think we combined this trip with other things, but - yes - we soon found local orthodontist. 


Dr. Newhart's Santa Monica office has a private deck patio. How great is that?

The deck patio had some nice views - these were from the outdoor deck,  taken in December 2010. This is the Third Street Promenade looking north towards Wilshire Blvd. 


And from the intersection of Third and Arizona looking south towards Santa Monica Blvd. The white three story building on the left is the 1924 Criterion Building. 


Back to the photos from our trip last January:

I was sad to see that the Criterion Theater, located on the corner of Third Street and Arizona Avenue had been converted to retail. 

The Criterion Theater, originally opened in 1924, has gone through many changes, including going from it's original 1200 seat single screen theater to a multiplex back in 1983. 

I grew up in the are: back in the late 1970's the Criterion dropped their ticket price for a double feature to an incredible 49 cents. Adjusted for inflation, that would still be less than $2.00. And at those prices, the theater was packed. Good times. Sadly, the theater complex closed in 2013. 

Meanwhile, the Apple Store moved to a massive new location, in-between Santa Monica Blvd and Colorado Avenue. 

We've got an Apple Store where we live now ... but my son still wanted to walk around and check out the latest stuff. 

All the Apple employees in their red shirts. I had a good friend who worked at the Santa Monica Apple Store at their original location. It wasn't that great of an experience - at least for an adult who had done other things. But he did meet a lot of celebrities.  

Santa Monica prides itself for it's liberal / progressive political views. Someone had set up a table outside one of the stores - these bumper stickers were for sale. 

I liked the look and feel of Chili Beans. I assumed it was a restaurant. Wrong. They sell sunglasses. 

Outside Urban Outfiters. I think my son has the look going (black skinny jeans, denim shirt, white t-shirt.

Here's a link to a few more photos from a previous visit in the evening when my family and I lived in Los Angeles. The whole place becomes considerably more crowded during the afternoon / evening. 

Next stop: Metropolis II at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art. 


© 2016 www.experiencingla.com