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Saturday, July 26, 2014

The World's Second Most Popular Sport: Experiencing L.A. in Pasadena

What's the world's second most popular sport?
This year's World Cup, held in Brazil, is a reminder that the world's most popular sport is football, which we in the USA call soccer. Easy, right?

OK, but what's the world's second most popular sport?
Based on the popularity of the NBA around the world, I had assumed basketball, right? 


Basketball is the third most popular sport in the world. 

So what's the second? 

After trip to Pasadena a while back - and a fascinating conversation with a professor at Cal State Fullerton - I learned that cricket is the 2nd most popular game in the world. 

Yes, cricket. 

I know. I was really surprised, too. 

Back in 2011, I was Pasadena saying good-bye to my in-laws who were moving to work in Shanghai, China. I snapped up a few photos of some locals enjoying a game (or is a "match"?) of cricket. Locals meaning Indian Americans (not to be confused, of course, with American Indians). 

I watched for a couple of minutes and snapped a  few photos. Aside from being slightly similar to baseball, I have NO idea how this game is played, or what's involved. And, yes, it's the second most popular sport in the world. Who knew, right?

While cricket would normally mean someplace in the United Kingdom, India, Pakistan, or Australia ...  the palm trees, apartment buildings, and mountains in the background all say someplace in metro Los Angeles. In this case, Pasadena. 

With about 120,000 Indian Americans, metro Los Angeles has the fourth largest Indian-American community in the US. 18 million people call greater Los Angeles home - making it the 13th largest metro area in the world. Los Angeles simply has a lot of everything - and everyone

Indian Americans make up about 1% of the US population. They are also one of the eight groups that authors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfed constitute the "triple package" to make them some of the most successful ethnic group in the US (the other groups are Iranian, Lebanese, Nigerian, Cuban, Chinese, Mormons, and Jews). I heard about - but haven't yet read - their recent bookThe Triple Package: How Three Unlikely Traits Explain the Rise and Fall of Cultural Groups in America. Interesting thesis. As a campus minister working with college students, I'm looking forward to picking it up. 

Here's a wikipedia article on cricket. Enjoy the game. 

© 2014


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Experiencing L.A. - Drillbit Taylor Movie Shoot (Temescal Canyon, Pacific Palisades)

Ever see the 2008 film "Drillbit Taylor"? Yeah, I missed it, too. 

For our family, experience L.A. often meant experiencing a movie shoot.

My kids, and and 5 and 8 at the time, and I were in Temescal Canyon Park in nearby Pacific Palisades and  stumbled across a film called "Drillbit Taylor" being filmed.

If my kids look bored - it's because they were. For them, walking around a set - with nothing going on - was about as exciting as watching paint dry.

It was interesting for me as an adult to see this park tranformed into an on-location set. The director was takling with the cameraman for a few minutes - so everyone else was on hold.

There are a lot - I mean a lot - of people on the payroll. How much does something like this cost per hour? How much does a 10 minute break cost so that the director can have a little chat with the cameraman? Of course, that didn't keep me from taking a few photos.

Apparently, before 9/11, the Los Angeles Film Permit Office had daily on-line list of every movie, TV show, or commercial being filmed in L.A. If you were visiting Los Angeles, even for just a few days, could drive over and see a real movie being filmed.

People visit L.A. from all over the world, hoping to see a bit of the real Hollywood. How cool is it to say "I saw a movie being filmed"? Even if it's something you never get around to actually watching?

I guess you could make the arguement that if you happen to "by chance" come across an on-location film crew, it makes it even more special.

If you happen to see a large yellow sign with a strange title, most likely it's pointing to a movie shoot. Here's a few examples I pulled off the internet.

No guarantees, but a good place to start. Have fun.

© 2014


Saturday, July 5, 2014

Experiencing L.A. - Route 66 and the Santa Monica Pier

Historic Route 66 begins in Chicago, Illinois - and terminates in Santa Monica, California where Santa Monica Blvd ends at Ocean Avenue. This marker placed in 1952 in Palisades Park commemorates Route 66, also known as the Will Rogers Highway. 

Route 66 informally continues another 3/4 of a mile - to the end of the Santa Monica Pier. 

These photos were from the five years my wife, kids, and I spent living in Los Angeles, back around February 2010.

I parked on the street at Santa Monica Blvd & Ocean Avenue, and walked a couple blocks to the pier.

This unofficial continuation of Route 66 keeps the road going west - all the way on out over the Pacific Ocean.

The Santa Monica Pier celebrated it's 100 year anniversary while we were living in Los Angeles. It's a nice place to spend a few hours.
If you want to "ride the rides" I'd suggest the massive Ferris wheel, as well as purchasing one of their unlimited rides wristbands online ahead of time. Best value. 

A display at the western terminus of the pier on Route 66, what's been called "America's Main Street."

Pelican at the pier. Growing up decades earlier as a kid in Los Angeles, my Boy Scout Patrol (part of the larger Troop 223) was the Pelican Patrol. And it's just a cool looking bird. 

Walking back to my car parked I passed by one of the angel statues that you'll occasionally see around Los Angeles. Here's a link to what these are all about. 

Some flowers at the Third Street Promenade shopping district. 

© 2014

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Seeing Stars: Miley Cyrus (Panera Bread, Santa Monica)

Miley Cyrus at Panera Bread, 501 Wilshire Blvd, Santa Monica.

Even celebraties have to eat, right? Our last summer living in Los Angeles was back in 2010. My kids - ages 8 and 10 at the time - told me "hey dad, we saw Miley Cyrus at lunch."



Did they take a photo?


Fortunately, a friend was there with my kids at the same time and snapped a photo. Most people in Los Angeles try to give celebrities space; it's considered very bad form to bother them. Hopefully, taking one photo - and then posting it on line - of a celebrity out and about in L.A. isn't too paparatzi.

If you're just visiting Los Angeles for a week or so, the chances of running into a celebrity are pretty rare (although it does happen). But people who live and work in L.A. eventually see them all the time. My mom worked at a bookstore in Westwood and waited on Michael Jackson. My dad was at the Jack-in-the-Box late one evening in Pacific Palisades and had a conversation with Madonna. A friend from our church working a couple blocks from Panera interacted with dozens of celebrities at the Apple Store where he worked. 

image credit:

In the case of Miley Cyrus (at Panera,  pictured above) I honeslty don't watch enough TV to have recognized her (sorry, Disney Channel). Of course, my kids immediately knew who she was (thanks, Disney Channel). 

As a Christian, I often wonder what does it mean to live out your faith in a city like Los Angeles? Here's a few thoughts from a previous post. I'll come back and try and write something more if I get more time. 

I'll close for now with a family photo taken that same summer: Wilshire Blvd, a couple blocks from Panera.

© 2014


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Experiencing L.A. at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles

In February 2011 we were back in L.A. to say goodbye to my in-laws, living in the "Bungalow Heaven" neighborhood of Pasadena at the time. Time to stop off at Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles. Above, my son - age 11 at the time - out front. While a place like Roscoe's is not unique to Los Angeles (you'll find them all over the US, especially in the Southeast), maybe what is unique is wearing shorts and sandals in February. Nice.

Roscoe's in Pasadena is located at 830 North Lake Avenue. 

Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles is a Long Beach, California-based soul food restaurant chain founded by Herb Hudson, a Harlem native, in 1975. They have locations in Long Beach, Hollywood, Pasadena, Inglewood, and two in the City of Los Angeles. Love the bit of graffiti on the sign (barely visible). Just says "L.A."

My son, his sister, and two of their cousins. 

Good times, but sad saying goodbye. 

My brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and their kids relocated to Shanghai, China. This was one of our last times together before the big move. 

My son and his cousin playing cards while waiting for our food.

If you're looking for health food, keep looking. Like the name implies, Roscoe's specializes in Chicken and Waffles. 

My daughter and her cousin playing some sort of game. 

We loved living so close to family the five years we lived in Los Angeles. Lots of great times together, including trips to the beach, the California Science Center, the Autry National Center, and the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, and the Santa Monica Pier. Click on any of the links for more photos and information. 

A final cousin photo. Fortunately, my in-laws have been back a couple times for visits - and we even had a chance to visit them in Shanghai. 

Roscoe's in Pasadena is located at 830 North Lake Avenue.

Here's a link to Roscoe's website. 


Saturday, May 31, 2014

Vintage Santa Monica Pier

I found this beautiful painting of the Santa Monica Pier by Los Angeles based artist Dick Burg a few days ago on another site. Click on the image above for a larger view. 

Growing up in Los Angeles in the 1970's, this is how I most remember the pier. 

The old carrosel building was used extensively in the opening scenes in 1973 film "The Sting." I had the privledge of seeing "The Sting" at a theater just three blocks from the Pier.
The entire audience gave a collective cheer when the Pier - thanks to some excellent matte work - stood in for 1930's Chicago. Totally unexpected. One of those experiencing L.A. moments. 

The Santa Monica Pier celebrated it's 100 year anniversary back in 2009. 

It's a great place to hang out for a few hours - or the day. You'll find parking, and the crowds, much more managable just south of the Pier. The north side can get a little zoo-ey at times. But that might be part of the fun. 




Saturday, May 24, 2014

Skirball Center (Los Angeles Family Vacation, Part 14)

This is our final installment on our little family get-away back to Los Angeles in March 2013. Here's a link to everything we saw and did. 

Today we'll be focusing on the Skirball Center, located at Mulholland Drive & the 405 Freeway, just a couple miles north of the Getty Center. 

The Skirball Center is a Jewish Cultural Center open to the public. During the five years we lived in Los Angeles, we took our kids - much younger then - to see the "Noah's Ark" display many many times. 

The Noah's Ark display is fabulous. In order to prevent overcrowding, especially on Thursday (when admission is free) and weekends, you need to get a timed entry admission ahead of time. It's not very hard, and it's possible during the week to get an entry the day of. 

Our kids loved coming back and seeing the displays that they remembered when they were younger. Much of this was "remember when . . ." which was great. The displays are very hands on. 

Every "animal" in the display is made of recycled materials. 

It's incredibly creative and enjoyable for both kids and adults. 

If you're looking for the historical, that is, the biblical account of Noah's Ark, you may be disappointed. The Skirball Noah's Ark is more along the lines to what you'd find pictured in a child's bedroom - rather than the historical event described in the Scriptures (see Genesis 6-9). We expected an artistic interpretation, it was a great opportunity for our family to talk about the difference between the two. 

In addition to the permanent Noah's Ark display, the Skirball also has various temporary displays throughout the year. While we were there, they featured "Exodus Steps" - an interactive display of the Book of Exodus (second book of the Bible, after Genesis). 

Exodus 1:8 "And there arose a Pharaoh who knew not Joseph."

The display was both inside and outside. 

Following the steps - out of Egypt and to the Promised Land. 

Unlike Noah's Ark, the Exodus Steps display was very simple. Above is the interaction between God (the Hebrew word is יהוה - meaning "YOU ARE") and Moses at the burning bush, as described in Exodus 3. 

Outside, the mist sculpture was creatively used to describe the parting - and crossing - of the Red Sea (see Exodus 14). 

My son walking back through. I'm reminded of passage in the Christian Scriptures: "By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned." (Hebrews 11:29). Hence, the broken chariot wheels along the side. 

Heading back inside the museum. 

The Skirball Center also features a permanent display called "From Antiquity to America" - which does an outstanding job explaining the history of the Jews from Abraham (circa 2000 BC) to the present. As a Christian, I found this display highly educational and informative. Whether you live in L.A. or are just visiting, I highly recommend a visit. 

Featured was a spotlight on President Abraham Lincoln's interaction with the Jewish community in the 1860's. 

As my own grandparents were immigrants from Eastern Europe, I imagine that their experience was similar to the Jews from Poland, Russia, and Germany through Ellis Island 100 years ago. Similar, yet also different. 

I'm reminded of St. Peter, a leader in the first century church, who referred to early Christians as "strangers and aliens." That remains true today. There's a real danger when Christians get too comfy and forget that they are strangers and aliens in the larger society. And yet, in a very real sense, this idea of "strangers and aliens" can be said of the Jewish people. "I am a stranger in a strange land" wrote Moses. As I've shared before, I believe Christians can (and should) learn from Jews in what it means to live in and engage with the larger culture from an extreme minority position. Jews represent less than 2% of USA population - and yet despite incredible challenges - they have been able to maintain their identity and influence the larger culture in areas like medicine, science, law, and the media. I find this fascinating, and something Christians can and should learn from. 

A view very similar to what my grandfather experienced back around 1910. 

Here's a link to the Skirball Center's website. 

Heading home around 3pm equals Traffic: also part of the L.A. experience. Fortunately for us, this was the worst traffic we experienced - and it opened up after a few minutes, and we headed home. 

© 2014