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Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Mural Capital of the World

According the the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles, "L.A. is often singled out as the Mural Capital of the World because of the number, variety and quality of murals here. Not to mention the Southern California weather, which lets muralists create pretty much year round."

This mural is fairly typical of murals in Los Angeles. It's located at the corner of Robertson Blvd & Kincardine Ave. in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles, just south of Beverly Hills.

While the "urban" or "hip hop" style of this mural is not unique to Los Angeles, what is unique is the sheer quantity of murals throughout the city - conservatively numbered at over 2,000.

This mural is located behind the Chevron Gas Station, just a block from Hamilton High School in L.A. Not sure if there is any connection with the High School. While maybe not my personal style, I appreciate the bright colors and design. Certainly a huge improvement over a cinder block wall.

Whoever painted this wall knew what they were doing. They actually included the diagonal casings to the electric wires as well. Nice touch. I like to think that those responsible for this mural got permission from the owners of the wall (maybe I'm living in fantasy land).

More, much more, information in murals throughout Los Angeles, including an alphabetical listing of every mural in the city, can be found at


Faded Glory: "Isle of California" (The Mural Capital of the World, Part II)

One of the most famous of all Los Angeles' murals is "Isle of California" (1972), the work of Victor Henderson, Terry Schoonhoven, Jim Frazin of the L.A. Fine Arts Squad.

While some of L.A.'s most visible murals, especially those along freeways, have been destroyed by vandals and taggers (subject for another post) "Isle of California" is suffering a different fate.

38 years of exposure to the sun and the elements have taken their toll - this amazing mural is slowly fading away.

"Isle of California" is a mythical vision from the California/Arizona border when California becomes an island after "The Big One" (the term used to described a future major earthquake).

The mural is located at The Village Recording Studio at 1616 Butler Avenue, literally just a few feet away from Santa Monica Blvd in West Los Angeles.

If you want to see what "Isle of California" originally looked like, head on down to the Venice Beach. There's a much smaller version of the mural featured in some tile work along the Boardwalk.

And I found a color photograph on another website: This is what "Isle of California" looked like 30+ year ago. Amazing - and sad. 

© 2011


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another Take on ... the Hollywood Sign

Backside of the Hollywood sign (1984).

Twenty five years ago it was possible, at least theoretically, to hike the face of Mt Lee to the top of the Hollywood sign. Today, that's no longer the case. The City of Los Angeles has installed fences, cameras, motion detectors, and even a speaker system to keep people from attempting it. And according to everything I've read on-line (and the personal experience of some adventure-seeking UCLA students) LAPD will respond.

However, there is a trail around the backside to the top of Mt Lee, providing a very similar view.

Looks like the backside of the Hollywood sign has less graffiti than it did twenty five years ago (one of the few places in Los Angeles that can make this claim).

Info on the hike to the top of Mt Lee can be found here:

Speaking of Mt. Lee, unbeknownst to almost everyone, the ridge next to the Hollywood Sign is privately owned by a group of Chicago-based developers who were planning on selling the land for development. The prospect of homes being built next to the most recognizable landmark in the city has spawned a group working to save the ridge from development.

Last week I noticed one of the electronic billboards on Santa Monica Blvd over in West L.A. displaying an ad for - the organization soliciting funds to help preserve the ridge. has raised $11 million dollars of the $12.5 million needed to purchase the 138 acres adjacent to the Hollywood sign. By the way, I did the math: 138 acres for $12.5 million works out to $2 a square foot. They have until April 30th to do so - looks like they're getting close.

It might be a Hollywood ending after all.


This Is West L.A.

Corner of Bundy & Olympic in West Los Angeles (taken from my car while waiting for a light). The power lines remind me a lot of Lincoln Blvd in Venice.

Banner reads: "This Is West LA"

iro·ny: ˈī-rə-nē (noun)
"the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning; an usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form."

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Orthodontist to the Stars?

Earlier in the year I had to take my kids to an orthodontist in the Larchmont district of Los Angeles, located north of Hancock Park, and south of Hollywood.

What impressed me - to the point of going back to my car to get my camera - was the view out the windows. Wow! These photos were all taken from the orthodontist's 5th floor office at 321 Larchmont Blvd, just north of Beverly Blvd.

Looking to the right (east) is Paramount Studios located on Melrose Avenue, about a mile away.

Paramount is the only major studio actually located in Hollywood. Universal, Disney, and Warner Brothers are located "over the hill" in the San Fernando Valley. 20th Century Fox is located in Century City (just west of Beverly Hills) and Sony in Culver City. They comprise what is known as "the big six" major film studios:

And their influence is global.

Further to the right (east), the Griffith Observatory, what's been affectionately referred to as the "hood ornament" of Los Angeles.

To the left (west) are the Hollywood Hills and - rising out of a sea of one story bungalows - the 80 year old "El Royale" apartment building, located at 450 N. Rossmore Ave.

I've driven by this building before at street level, but never before seen it from this angle. Definitely "old school" Hollywood, with a waiting list to get in, and pretty hefty rent, even by L.A. standards. According to the Larchmont Chronicle:

Long a celebrity magnet, the El Royale has been home to Loretta Young and Clark Gable and, more recently, Nicolas Cage, Uma Thurman and Ben Stiller. Units in the building range from 950-square-foot one-bedrooms that start at $2,000 per month, to the 3,000-square-foot, two story penthouses that rent for $4,000 a month. There are also two- and three-bedroom apartments and one-story penthouses. 

Looking left (west) towards the heart of Hollywood. By way of perspective, the tower in the distance just left of center is Blessed Sacrament Catholic church located a mile and a half away on Sunset Blvd. Four blocks further is the intersection of Hollywood Blvd. and Highland Avenue. 

Pulling back a bit from the windows you can see that, yes, this
really is an orthodontist's office. Nice view of the Hollywood sign while getting your teeth worked on.

For some reason, we were the only people there at the time. I assume it gets busier later in the day?

My kids got x-rays and my son had his retainer adjusted. Ah, the joys of being a kid. But I guess adults get braces too ... forgot to ask if anyone "famous" ever comes in. You know, "orthodontist to the stars"? Hmm, maybe ... but maybe not.

Afterwards, we drove up Larchmont Blvd. for lunch. Hollywood sign in the distance.

We passed by Paramount Studios and stopped for a quick photo. You'll notice the Hollywood sign, visible just above the guard house.

I thought about taking my kids to "Pink's" hotdog stand in Hollywood, but driving by decided it wasn't very kid friendly. We ended up at a McDonald's about a block from this Target (this is what a Target looks like in Hollywood).

Thinking about the impressive views of Hollywood, I'm reminded of a friend from church - a very committed Christian - who moved to Los Angeles with his wife and kids several years ago to work in the entertainment industry. I wish I could say everything's been awesome career-wise in terms of breaking into "the industry." It's actually been a pretty tough road. He's very talented, but aside from some small things, nothing's really opened up for him. His advice for anyone thinking trying to work in the entertainment industry without a plan? "Don't come."

That doesn't mean "don't come" - it means "don't come without a plan." Actually, I think of all people, Christians should have a plan of how best to use their gifts, abilities, passions, and talents to glorify God. Whether behind a camera, a desk, a surgical mask, a counter, or broom.

Meanwhile, it's my hope that more Christians choose to live in Los Angeles. Why? Because it's arguably the most influential city in the world.

With a plan. Gotta have a plan. And even then, at least in terms of jobs, there are no guarantees.

By the way, these pictures were taken mid-February. So I guess one guarantee in L.A. is the weather. No complaints.

More information on the Larchmont district of Los Angeles can be found here:,_Los_Angeles,_California

© 2010


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Christos Anesti

Christianity Today, April 2009

Christos Anesti!

In the 2002 film "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," lead character Toula Portokalos explains to Ian, her non-Greek fiancee, that "Christos Anesti" (a traditional greeting within the Orthodox Church) is Greek for "Happy Easter."

Not exactly. Christos Anesti doesn't really translate Happy Easter. Christos Anesti literally means Christ is risen.

Almost two thousand years ago, Christians in the early church greeted each other with the triumphant Christos Anesti! Christ is risen - He is risen indeed!

In the polyglot that is Los Angeles, tomorrow believers from around the world will greeting each other with:

Christ is risen
그리스도 께서 살아나셨입니다
Cristo ha resucitado
Christ est ressuscité
Kristo ay nabuhay
مسیح می باشد افزایش یافته است
Hristos a înviat
המשיח קם
Chúa Kitô đã sống lại
المسيح قام حقا قام
Христос воскрес
Քրիստոս յարեաւ ի մեռելոց՜

Happy Easter
Christos Anesti