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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Los Angeles from the Goodyear Blimp

John W. Adkisson / Los Angeles Times

Photographer John Adkisson of the Los Angeles Times recently took some outstanding photographs of downtown Los Angeles from high top the Goodyear Blimp.

John W. Adkisson / Los Angeles Times

Wow. I have no idea how much a blimp ride is, but I doubt it's something I'll be doing anytime soon. Guess I can settle with these pictures.

Here's a link to the rest of his photographs:,0,6153001.htmlstory

© 2010

Summer of Color - Lifeguard Towers of Los Angeles

According to the website, Summer of Color is "the largest public art project in the U.S., and also one of the largest civic efforts in the world."

Saturday afternoon we were at Ocean Park beach, south Santa Monica, with family and friends, celebrating my nephew's 10th birthday. The lifeguard towers obviously caught my eye (the quoted text is from the Portraits of Hope website).

"For five months beginning in May, the LA County lifeguard towers – on 31 miles of beach -- will be transformed into a collective work of art, a span that includes: Zuma, Point Dume, Malibu, Will Rogers, Santa Monica, Venice, Marina Del Rey, Playa Del Rey, Dockweiler, El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Palos Verdes, and San Pedro."

"More than 40 million beach goers will visit these renowned beaches from May thru October."

"Summer of Color is the culmination of the efforts of nearly 6,000 children in schools, hospitals, and social service programs – and more than 2,500 adult volunteers – who have participated in the initiative’s program activities, which included the painting of the panels now installed on the walls and roof tops of the towers."

"For six months preceding the installation, Portraits of Hope engaged children and adults from 118 school, hospital, youth, and social service programs in civic leadership and creative therapy sessions. The Braille Institute, Special Olympics, Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitative Center, and Program for Torture Victims are among the many organizations that have participated."

"Many children and adults involved in the project have experienced a variety of medical and physical challenges."

"To meet the individual needs of children and adults with disabilities, Portraits of Hope developed specialized painting brushes and techniques including telescope paint brushes for those in wheel chairs or attached to IVs, the shoe brush ™ for individuals unable to manipulate a brush with their hands, and fruit-flavored mouth brushes for kids and adults with limited movement in their limbs."

"For persons visually impaired, Portraits of Hope utilized special textured paints. The program also reconfigured a baseball bat provided by St. Louis Cardinal Skip Schumaker into a bat-paint brush that the kids used to paint many of the flowers, fish, and shapes now on the panels."

"As in other Portraits of Hope projects, Summer of Color is a privately funded and supported initiative."

"Much gratitude is extended to all the companies, individuals, and foundations which have partnered in the program and share the project’s themes and goals."

As I said, Saturday afternoon of Memorial Day weekend we were at the beach and noticed these amazingly colorful panels affixed to the lifeguard stations. Glad I had my camera.

Meanwhile, my kids and their cousins and friends were working on their own creation. The water was still quiet cold (most people in the water were wearing wet suits) but the kids found plenty to keep them busy.

My daughter with some kelp that washed ashore. She and her cousin were playing "animal shelter" or "store" (or both).

Their little hole became a HUGE hole. Amazing what kids and a couple of shovels can do.

Reflecting back on our day at the beach, I'm reminded of the significance of creating something, of work.

Whether the Portraits of Hope's brightly colored artwork or a the kid's massive hole in the sand, there is a God-given (and I mean that in a literal sense) desire to create, to build ... to work.

Scripture affirm that work is a good thing. "Go to the ant . . . consider its ways and be wise" writes King Solomon. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart" encourages the Apostle Paul.

Portraits of Hope is successful because it enables people who otherwise could not work to do so - and to create something of beauty and significance.

If you ever needed another excuse to head down to the beach this summer, Summer of Color is worth seeing.

By the way, if you're looking for a great family-friendly beach, Ocean Park south of the Santa Monica Pier is the place. Not as crowded as just north of the Santa Monica Pier and not as crazy as Venice Beach.

More info on the Summer of Color project can be found at


Los Angeles National Cemetery, Memorial Day Weekend

The Los Angeles National Cemetery is located in Westwood, less than a mile west of UCLA. Over 80,000 Veterans - including 10,000 from the Civil War - are buried here.

Above, the northern edge of the cemetery with the Getty Center in the distance.

Early Saturday morning, several thousand Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Scout leaders and parent volunteers assembled for the annual Memorial Day Weekend placement of flags at every Veteran's grave.
My son (who is currently a Webelos Scout) and I were there to participate and help.

Waiting for things to begin.

Scouts from all over Los Angeles were there to help. There were Scouts from as far away as the high desert community of Lancaster. After introductions, an opening prayer, and a flag salute we went off to different parts of the cemetery.

A Scout Leader giving my son further directions.

Each boy read the name of the Veteran out loud, placed an American flag in the ground, observed a brief moment of silence . . .

. . . . and saluted.

One of the 80,000 Veteran's grave markers, in this case from World War I.

Rows of flags with Scouts and parents in the distance. My son and I feel very privileged to have been part of this, and it gave us something significant to talk about on the way home.

Within a hour, the entire cemetery was decorated with thousands of American flags. In the distance, the office buildings along Wilshire Blvd.

Happy Memorial Day from Los Angeles.

© 2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Inverted Fountain, UCLA

The Inverted Fountain at UCLA was designed by Jere Hazlett and was completed in 1968.

It's located on the Westwood campus in between Knudsen Hall (Physics) and Franz Hall (Psychology).

According to various websites, the inverted fountain circulates 10,000 gallons per minute. (The average residential swimming pool has 20,000 gallons - you do the math).

I was on the 8th floor of Franz Hall this week, waiting to meet with a professor. Glad I had my camera tucked in the bottom of my bag - I was able to catch this photo: the Inverted Fountain below and Knudsen Hall to the left.

I've seen the Inverted Fountain hundreds of time, but never from this angle.

Looking out from the same window: to the left, the Humanities Building. Beyond it, Haines Hall. In the distance, waffle shaped Bunch Hall. The hills behind campus are actually the "Bel Air" section of Los Angeles, featuring some of the most real estate in the world.

Makes for a nice background, but it's definitely not what anyone would call student housing, or a college town.

Another take on Los Angeles.

© 2010


Shalom, Moishe

Moishe Rosen, Founder of Jews for Jesus

"You can take from me everything but my Jewishness and my belief in God," he said.

"You can say I'm a nuisance, a Christian, out of step with the Jewish community, but you can't say I'm not a Jew."

A complete obituary can be found on the Los Angeles Times website:,0,2593956.story

© 2010

Everybody Loves Felix

I was over by USC earlier this month for my brother-in-law's graduation when I noticed the huge "Felix Chevrolet" sign across the street from campus. Apparently Felix the Cat sign, created back in 1957, was recently declared a historic landmark by the City of Los Angeles.

Great for everybody - except for Darryl Holter, the owner of the Felix Chevrolet dealership.

You know, the guy who actually owns this business.

They guy who actually employs people . . .

I found this great article written almost three years ago by Darryl in the L.A. Times website:

It's your history, but it's our sign

Everyone loves Felix the Cat. But what about the rights of the business owner?

July 26, 2007|Darryl Holter, Darryl Holter is dealership operator of Felix Chevrolet.

It is commonplace to say that Los Angeles has no historical memory. But that's not quite true. In fact, many older neighborhoods have tried to protect their historical character by voting for historic preservation overlay zones, or HPOZ. Homeowners in such zones need the approval of a review board before changing their houses' exteriors.

But what happens in commercial areas when preservation activists impose their will on owner-occupied businesses?

That's an excellent question.

Years ago, a friend from Europe reminded me that all the historical buildings in his town's square were actual businesses. His city wasn't a museum or an amusement park. They had to really function.

Interesting perspective.

Trying to find that right balance between business and history.

The rest of the article can be found here:

© 2010


Sunset, Santa Monica Beach

Sunset, March 26, 2010 at Santa Monica Beach - taken from the pier. Beach, ocean, seagulls, mountains and people.

Lots of people.

Not pictured is the huge parking lot right off the Pacific Coast Highway, making this one of the most popular beaches in Southern California. Day or night.

© 2010



Alternate Universe

There are times when living in Los Angeles seems like an alternate universe from the rest of the country.

Take, for example, Bed Bath and Beyond on Olympic Blvd in West L.A.

Olympic Blvd changed their zoning about 25 years ago - allowing for mid-rise commercial and office buildings. It's definitely changed the nature and feel of this part of the westside.

OK, I've never seen a multi-story Bed Bath and Beyond. No parking lot here: there's a multi-story garage.

Of course, much of Los Angeles still has a very suburban, or low density urban, feel, especially in comparison to cities like New York, Chicago or San Francisco.

There are open parking lots everywhere - even downtown. But living here, I never expect "free parking" - I always expect to pay. Free parking is a bonus.

And that, especially compared to the rest of the country, seems like an alternate universe.

© 2010


Lincoln Blvd, Venice: Funky (Part I)

Venice is a unique, urban beach community located here in the city of Los Angeles. Abbot Kinney Blvd, one of it's better known streets, is full of unique stores, restaurants, coffee houses, and architecture. "Bohemian" is the best word to describe it.

But what about the "other" Venice. The Venice were most people shop, eat ... and honestly can afford (I've found "bohemian" isn't necessarily "cheap"). There's a lot written about Abbot Kinney, but what about the other Venice? What about Lincoln Blvd?

Lincoln Blvd (which starts in Santa Monica) is technically part of California Hwy 1. "The 1," as we call it in California, also knows as the Pacific Coast Hwy, locally known as the PCH, travels through Malibu, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, San Francisco ... and north all the way to the Oregon border. It's includes some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Hwy. 1 through Venice is not one of those scenic spots. The part of "The 1" that runs through Venice is a mile inland from the coast. "The 1" moves inland from the beach in Santa Monica and doesn't return to the coast until south of Long Beach.

I started my little walk at the corner of Lincoln and Rose. Really nice mural on the back of what I assumed was the "Pick and Save".

I headed south along Lincoln. Venice Beach is about a mile west. Subject for another blog entry, for sure.

Even along Lincoln, Venice is proud of it's coastal heritage and their were signs of it.

Park Avenue Cleaners is located just south of Rose Avenue (Park Avenue is located elsewhere in Venice).

Cool sign. Catch a wave ...

The name for "Floyd's Barber Shop" no doubt came from the old Andy Griffith series. Floyd's in Venice is not your small town barber. Hipper. More upscale, more urban. And more expensive, too. Housed in a converted auto garage, with chairs right out in the open. Very cool.

Here's another converted building. Maybe not quite as "cool" ... but still keeping the Venice spirit alive. The Fox is an old movie theater now housing small shops (think "indoor swap meet").

Continuing south on Lincoln was a Ralph's supermarket. This is probably the least "funky" - and most suburban - scene along the whole route. A typical grocery store with parking out front (imagine that!). This same thing could be found in hundreds of places in Southern California.

I have no idea WHAT this is, except that it fits under the category of "funky." Looks like a small office building with some solar panels recently attached to it. Different. I like it.

More "Lincoln Blvd, Venice: Funky" in the next entry below.

(originally posted 4/28/09)
© 2010