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Saturday, February 25, 2017

Tournament of Roses: The Rose Parade 2017

On New Year's Day, my wife, teenage kids, and I drove down to Los Angeles to see the Tournament of Rose (more commonly known as the Rose Parade) in Pasadena. The Parade is normally held on New Year's Day, except when January 1st falls on a Sunday, as it did this year. So, technically, we enjoyed the Parade on Monday January 2nd. 

Above, a detail from one of the many floats, this one "Prosperity in the Wild," sponsored by Western Asset. Every square inch, including the face and bodies of the tigers, is covered in flowers or organic material. 

Here's another view of "Prosperity in the Wild" - which was awarded Directors’ Trophy for outstanding artistic merit in design and floral presentation.

Floats are sponsored by either corporations, service organizations, or local Los Angeles area cities. The City of Downey out did themselves again, this year with "The Gold Rush." This float had an actual working roller coaster style mine cart as the rolled through the streets of Pasadena. Another winner: Here's a link to a 30 second video of the mine cart in operation. Downey was awarded the Governor’s Trophy for best depiction of life in California. 

24 organ, eye and tissue transplant recipients rowing in unison made up the "Teamwork in Life" float sponsored by Donate Life California. This is a great example of a float sponsored by a service organizations.

The City of Burbank's delightful "Home Sweet Home." Burbank is adjacent to the northeast border of Los Angeles, on the eastern edge of the San Fernando Valley, and it home to both Warners Brothers and the Walt Disney Studios. Like other cities that regularly participate, Burbank's float is paid for entirely through donations, and designed, built and decorated entirely by volunteers. 

One of the huge myths about seeing the parade is that you have to camp out the night before, or get there at the crack of dawn, to get a viewing spot. Not so. Sure, some people camp out on Colorado Blvd the night before, or get up at 4am, for a choice curbside seat. Others pay the big $$ for a bleacher seat along Colorado Blvd closer to the start of the parade.

But we got up at 7am, left our hotel at 8am, got to Pasadena by 8:30am, and found a great spot on Sierra Madre Blvd around 9am, with our metal folding chairs. While the Parade starts at 7:30am in downtown Pasadena, it took two hours to where we were sitting, showing up around 9:30am. Very doable!

Above, 24 Hour Fitnesses' Crown City Innovation Trophy for best use of imagination and innovation to advance the art of floral design. 

Here's another commercial float: the "Spirit of Hawaii," sponsored by Dole, winning the Sweepstakes Trophy for most beautiful entry in the parade with outstanding floral presentation and design.

And another service organization float: "Doing Good in the World," sponsored by Rotary's International, and winning the Princess Award for the most beautiful float under 35 feet.

The Fantasy Trophy for most outstanding display of fantasy and imagination was awarded to BDK, A Singpoli Affiliate for their float “The Monkey King: Journey To Success.”

Detail from the Monkey King float. 

The American Armenian Association's "Field of Dreams" float, winner of the Past Presidents Trophy for most creative design and use of both floral and non-floral materials. Metro Los Angeles is home to the largest Armenian community outside of Armenia.

Northwestern Mutual's "Waves of Hope," winner of the Animation Trophy, for - of course - best use of animation. 

We've been to the Parade many times, especially when we lived in Los Angeles. Most years it was sunny and warm - Chamber of Commerce weather. This year, it was in the mid 50's - which would be balmy in New York or Chicago, but pretty chilly by Southern California standards. The scarfs and hoodie were't for show. Of course, those marching along the six mile parade route no doubt appreciated the cooler temperatures.

Behind us, one of the many outstanding marching bands. 

Rose Parade 2017

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Metal folding chairs

Rose Parade 2017

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© 2017

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"The Office" filming location and Cliffton's Cafeteria, Downtown Los Angeles

Despite the fact that it's been six years since my wife, kids and I have lived in Los Angeles, our family still spends a lot time there. A lot of time. 

Sunday afternoon January 1st we drove down to Los Angeles to see the Tournament of Roses (more commonly known as the Rose Parade), a few sights around Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles, and finally visit Universal Studios, Hollywood. Yes, we lived in Los Angeles for five years and never went to Universal Studios. Lots of reasons, but mostly because our kids were too young at the time. More on that later. 

For our little two night trip, we found an affordable hotel in Woodland Hills, on the western edge of the city of Los Angeles. My son and I visited Clifton's Cafeteria a year ago - we thought it'd be fun to take the whole family there for dinner. On the way to downtown Los Angeles, we stopped off near Van Nuys to see the outdoor location of one of their favorite shows. 

The NBC series "The Office" ran from 2005-2013. The outdoor scenes of the offices of Dunder Mifflin were filled at the Chandler Valley Center Studios. 

This is about 2800 miles away from Scranton, Pennsylvania - where the show is suppose to take place. The address in Los Angeles is 13927 Saticoy St Panorama City, CA 91402. The building is on a cul-de-sac, making it relatively easy to close the street during filming. While this office location could (maybe) pass for the Mid-Atlantic region of the US, I always enjoyed seeing palm trees in the distance as Michael Scott and company drove around "Scranton." 

We ended up watching all 8 seasons of The Office together as a family. Was that the best use of time? Probably not. While the show is very funny - there were times when we as parents we cringed at the content.  One redeeming aspect was laughing at (rather than with) the antics of the characters. And I'd certainly rather watch this together with my kids - and talk about it - than have them watching it alone. 

Unless you're a fan of the show, there's not much to see. It's a business building. With a locked gate. 

My kids - of course - posted pictures on Instagram and Snapchap, letting their friends know. 

Here's a of a larger map showing where in Los Angeles 13927 Saticoy Street is

FYI, the names in all capital letters are communities within L.A. City limits. The names with both upper and lower case letters are independent cities - or unincorporated areas. Confused? No need to be. Check out this handy guide - the second most popular post on this blog - on what is and what's not part of the City of Los Angeles. 

Have fun, all you Office fans. 

Afterwards, we drove to downtown Los Angeles for dinner at Clifton's Cafeteria. Here's a link to a much more extensive post with info on founder Clifford Clinton and his 1930's era cafeteria. 

Quick inside photo. Apparently, Clifton's was absolutely packed on New Years Eve - and open until 4am! Yikes. The next day, Sunday evening January 1st, it was much more mellow, with fewer food choices and the upper floor closed off. Our experience there was "just OK" - maybe not quite as magical as when my son and I visited a year ago. 

Traffic. Lots of traffic. Even on a Sunday night, parts of Los Angeles were stop and go traffic.

After having seen La La Land, we wanted to drive up to enjoy the view at the Griffith Observatory. Apparently, we weren't the only ones. It was complete gridlock traffic from the Greek Theater all the way to the Observatory, so that would have to wait for another day. 

I let my 17 year old drive through Hollywood and Beverly Hills along Sunset Blvd - he really wanted to get some experience driving in L.A. traffic - and then we headed back to our hotel. The next day (and next post): The Tournament of Roses - aka The Rose Parade. 

© 2017

Saturday, February 4, 2017

How to Live In and Love Los Angeles: Pacific Crossroads Church

What does it mean to live in and love Los Angeles?

Last June, my wife, teenage kids, and I spent the a few days in LA/Orange County. We drove down early Friday, walked along Swarthmore Avenue in Pacific Palisades (before the big Caruso Project took out the entire block), spent some time in Westwood and at UCLA, saw the La Brea Tar Pits, Urban Light and Levitated Mass, and drove down to Orange County. Saturday, we spent a full day at Disneyland and the Disney California Adventure

We lived in Los Angeles for a five years - when my kids were much younger. Now, our time there is just as visitors, seeing friends or cherry picking a few fun things to see and do. 

But if you're more than "just visiting" - what does it mean to live in and love a city like Los Angeles?

Sunday morning, on our way back home, we decided to visit Pacific Crossroads Church, meeting at Santa Monica High School in Santa Monica.

I visited Pacific Crossroads Church in 2009, back when they were meeting at University High School. Great experience.

Currently, Pacific Crossroads Church meets Sundays in two different locations:

9am and 11am in Santa Monica at Santa Monica High School.

5:00pm St. John's Episcopal Cathedral (near USC, just south of downtown to Los Angeles).

Above: Sunday evening service meeting at St. John's. Pacific Crossroads has also launched two new churches in the San Gabriel Valley and Long Beach

Every local congregation has a beginning. Pacific Crossroads was a church plant of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, New York City. In a similar fashion, Pacific Crossroads Church is committed to historic Christian doctrines - and to embracing what it means to live in a major urban city. 

Driving up from Orange County on Sunday morning: the clown ballerina greeting us at the border of Venice Beach and Santa Monica. This is at the corner of Rose and Ocean in Venice.

Parking for the church is located at the city garage at 4th and Olympic in Santa Monica.

We parked the white family mini van. We just reached 200,000 miles.

We weren't exactly sure where to go ...

... we just followed everyone else.

Lots of signs and friendly greeters helped.

A bit of a walk, but really worth it. 

The church uses the Santa Monica High School's black top, setting up numerous pop up tents, with info on opportunities to serve in the city and connect in small groups during the week. 

Similar to other churches renting space in public schools, a crew of volunteers set up and tear down everything every single week.

The church service is in Barnum Hall - the school auditorium.

A small book table outside the entrance. I like the saw horses.

Underneath a tile mural of the school's mascot, the Viking is a passage from the New Testament:

"From him [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." Ephesians 4:16

The church meets in the school auditorium, with contemporary - but not overwhelming - worship and music. 

Senior Pastor Rankin Wilbourne is gifted speaker, with a rare gift of the brilliant intellect, and challenging biblical teaching. Outstanding sermon. 

I mentioned that Pacific Crossroads is committed to both loving God and loving the City of Los Angeles. 

Several years ago, Rankin went through a unique Sunday morning sermon series called "How to Live In and Love Los Angeles." Obviously, I loved that title - and the series as well. 

Here's a link to one of the messages from that series called "What Does It Mean to Love the City of LA?" Even if you don't consider yourself particularly religious, it's worth listening to. 

The Sunday we visited, Pastor Wilbourne was just about to leave on sabbatical. He and the other pastors took time to commission the lay leadership of the church. While Rankin is back, regardless of who is speaking, the sermons are relevant, engaging, and challenging.

The church, including the lay leadership, really reflects the mult-ethnic nature of Los Angeles.

Heading out, another look at the small book table near the entrance.

Similar to when I visited many years ago, I highly recommend Pacific Crossroads, whether you're a Christian or just curious what it means to follow Jesus Christ. 

The church offers numerous for personal growth and support ---  as well as living out the gospel in the surrounding community through acts of mercy and justice, coming alongside the under served and needy, and living in and loving Los Angeles.

Here's a link to the Pacific Crossroads website. 

© 2017