Total Pageviews

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Beach Houses, Santa Monica

photo credit:

Beach houses, Santa Monica. This photo was taken from the bluffs; found it on I've always loved the colors, although - unfortunately - I think at least one of them has been repainted black (what in the world?). Short blog post today: we've got friends coming up from Los Angeles today, meeting them at Pismo Beach here on the Central Coast. For those of you in Los Angeles, enjoy one of the last weekends of the summer. 


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Wilshire Blvd, Part III

A couple of years ago I took a morning walk up Wilshire from Beverly Hills to the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles. Here's links to Part I and Part II. Above is the corner of Wilshire Blvd and San Vincente Blvd, where Wilshire once again enters the city of Los Angeles. As I shared last week, I had a summer job on the 10th floor of this office building back when I was a student at UCLA. Lousy pay, but a fun job. 

This little section of Wilshire between San Vincente and Fairfax is (according to the L.A. Times "mapping L.A. Project") is considered "Carthy" to the south, and "Beverly Grove" to the north. Along Wilshire it's a real mix, from office buildings  . . .

. . . to 1980's era strip malls. To me, it's almost weird to see such a suburban looking strip mall along Wilshire - what's technically the busiest and most significant street in Los Angeles. Plans are underway to finally continue to Purple Line subway along Wilshire from Koreantown (Western) to UCLA (Westwood Blvd). When they happens, I'm imagining this strip mall (and other lowrise developments) it will give way to a larger projects. 

More mismatch of zoning. Above is a wide cement side walk - with no street trees.

A block away, a huge grass parkway (still no trees). The folks here need to take a look how Pico Blvd (a similar neighborhood in L.A.) looks with street trees (here's a link).

Things pick up again (at least, architecturally) at Wilshire and Fairfax. The "Miracle Mile" district begins at Fairfax and continues for two miles until Western Avenue.

The old May Company department store, with it's distinctive gold corner, built in 1938. The department store closed in 1998 - it's currently houses offices and the Children's Museum of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

A few steps further: LACMA: the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Chris Burden's "Urban Light" art display.

"Urban Light" consists of 200 Vintage Lamp Post from around Los Angeles. Here's a link to a previous blog post on this.

Looks good during the day - looks fantastic at night.

Entrance to LACMA. $15 admission, but free the 2nd Tuesday of every month. Here's their website.

Perhaps one of the most spectacular sites along Wilshire has also been their the longest: the La Brea Tar Pits, which has the distinction of being the largest deposit of Ice Age fossils in the entire world. That would be impressive anywhere - but how about along the busiest street of L.A.?

The large fiberglass mammoths (including one pictured above literally floating on the top of the largest tar pit) gives an idea of the kind of animals that existed in this area in pre-history Los Angeles - as well as the rest of North America. If you've never been, it's worth a visit. 

Normally, I hate graffiti (sadly found everywhere throughout Los Angeles) but there was something cool about people using tar to write their names on a cement wall near the tar pits.

CBS news headquarters across the street. If you've ever listened to KNX 1070 for a traffic update now you know what they mean when they give the weather from "the Miracle Mile" in Los Angeles.

Classic office building in between Burnside and Dunsmuir Avenues along Wilshire.

Along view, looking back towards the west. I like the palm tree in the center medium. Scenes like this are a reminder how even the most "urban" sections of Los Angeles are also very suburban nature.

Yet another large Korean Church on the corner of Wilshre and La Brea. I would have liked to have continued two more miles to Western Avenue (and the current terminus of the Wilshire Blvd subway) but I had to get over to campus (UCLA) so this was the end of my walk. 

Hopped on the 720 Wilshire Express (which really does move)  . . . 

. . . four miles to where I originally parked my car (near Wilshire and Santa Monica Blvds). 

View Larger Map

Here's a map of the walk. Nice walk - just under four miles. 

© 2011

Korean + Mexican + Westwood = L.A. Taco Truck Experience

A couple years back I was in Westwood Village (next to UCLA) when I spotted one of the "speciality" Taco Trucks that have popped up over Los Angeles in the last few years. I'd heard about these things, and wanted to experience one for myself.

Bool BBQ is more than your standard Taco Truck. They specialize in Korean BBQ Tacos. 

I like Korean food - I like Tacos. So, this being Los Angeles, why not try a Korean Taco?

I actually settled for the Burrito al Carbon with Korean BBQ Beef (2nd item on the menu). It was one of the best - maybe the
 best - burrito I've ever had. Mmm.

In addition to standard can sodas, they also have "Pure Cane Sugar Mexican Coke." There's actually a market for Coca-Cola made in Mexico and sold here. I decided to do my teeth (and my pocketbook) a favor and stick with I bottled water I had with me. 

Apparently, these speciality Taco Trucks have loyal followers. But how do you find them? Two choices: Twitter, or this new website I 

From their site: What up Bro? How you doing girl? You hungry for that food truck grub? Of course you are. Well, is the easiest way to figure out where your favorite trucks are. As you probably already know, LA has experienced an explosion in gourmet food trucks serving every type of food, including mexican, korean, bbq, contemporary american, desserts, ice cream, and various fusion cuisines. Who has the time to go to a bunch of different twitters and websites to figure out where they are? Luckily, you have us. We track all the trucks twitters right here, so it is quick and easy to figure out which ones are close to you. 

Not everyone is in love with these gourmet food trucks. A local restaurant owner confronted me while I was deciding what to order at Bool BBQ, loudly stating: "They don't have a restroom! Where can you wash your hands? Where can you sit? Why don't you thrown your trash on the sidewalk when you're done? Everybody else does. They don't pay taxes! They don't pay rent!" 

While no body likes confrontation - I think he has a point. The Los Angeles City Council recently voted in favor of the Taco Trucks. Great for the owners (and workers) on the trucks, as well as Angelenos looking for a cheap bite to eat. 

Not so great for the restaurant and fast food owners, who do pay rent, who do pay taxes. Although, I would guess that the Taco Trucks do pay taxes - but to what city? They're mobile: so how is this tracked? 

A better solution (in my non professional opinion) would be for landlords to think about lowering their rents. Places like Westwood are already awash in vacancies. Empty storefronts don't help anyone.

How about the city making it easier for restaurants and small businesses to thrive alongside these mobile food trucks? Shouldn't the city be encouraging - rather than discouraging - entrepreneurship?

I'm probably not going to "track" these mobile food trucks - either on Twitter or on the web. On the other hand, if I see Bool BBQ around lunchtime in Westwood, I'll definitely skip a sandwich at Subway and be back. 

(originally posted 9/26/2009) © 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Wilshire Blvd, Part II

A couple of years back I took a morning walk along Wilshire Blvd through Beverly Hills and the Miracle Mile district of Los Angeles. Here's a link to Part I from last week (Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevards to Wilshire and Doheny Drive). 

Looking off of Wilshire are beautiful tree lined residential streets. This is looking north up Almont Drive, with small apartment buildings for several blocks. 

The courtyard of a three story office building: Wilshire and La Peer Drive. 

Looking back down Wilshire - west towards the "downtown" business district which I walked through in Part I

A few blocks up, looking the other way at Wilshire and Amaz Drive: east towards the city limits of Beverly Hills, less than a mile way - with the office buildings of the Miracle Mile district in the distance. 

Wilshire Blvd and Hamel Drive, looking north towards the city of West Hollywood. The Hollywood Hills are in the distance. 

Walking a couple more blocks east along Wilshire Blvd, I decided to take a quick detour into one of the small residental neighborhoods south of Wilshire. 

This is Carson Road, just a block south of Wilshire. The palm trees look . . well . . . fabulous. 

Unlike the massive homes north of Wilshire (or the massive estates north of Sunset Blvd) the homes here are relatively modest. 

 Another home. My apologies: it was the neighborhood "trash day" - not intentional. 

Our good friends at Zillow have homes on Carson Road listed between $800K-$1.2million dollars. A random check of a 1700 square foot 2 bedroom, 2 bath home on this street has it appraised at $1million dollars. While these may not be the mansions you imagine when you think of Beverly Hills - this is still Beverly Hills. 

Here's a ariel view (from 

What I think is most interesting about Beverly Hills is the massive Persian and Jewish communities. This was a few weeks before an election, with Nooshin Meshkaty (Persian-American) running for the Beverly Hills School Board. Unlike what most Americans imagine from such mythical shows as "90210" - 25% of the population of Beverly Hills is Persian-American, including their two term mayor Jimmy Delshad. Here's a link to my previous blog post on the Persian community in Los Angeles. 

And Jewish. Beverly Hills is very Jewish. I wasn't able to land on any statistics, except that that by the 1960's 90% of Beverly Hills High School was Jewish. Apparently that's changed with the huge influx of Persian students. At any rate, gotta love the "My child was Mensch of the Month" bumper sticker. Here's a link to my previous blog post of what a "mensch" is (I had to look it up) and the Pico-Robertson neighborhood, located about a mile south of here. 

Back Wilshire, looking up Carson Road north of Wilshire - another view of the Hollywood Hills. To me, this one image says "Los Angeles." 

The corner of Wilshire and La Cienega. Turn left here to get to the Beverly Center (and - thanks to some pictures from a previous trip there -  a topic for a future blog post). 

The Dolly Saken School of the Arts - on the corner of Wilshire and Hamilton Drive, run by a Jewish foundation for the Arts. Our kids were in a homeschool drama class when we lived in Los Angeles. Really good experience. Here's a link to a previous blog post on our time there. 

Looks like the name changed to "Temple of the Arts" since our involvement a few years back. And a contact number for the upcoming High Holy Days. 

Office building on the corner of Wilshire and San Vincente - at the eastern most edge of Beverly Hills. What's confusing - very confusing - is that there are two totally unrelated "San Vincente" Blvds in Los Angeles. One that starts at the Pacific Ocean, going through Santa Monica and Brentwood. And the second one here starts at Venice Blvd and travels northwest to Sunset Blvd through the cities of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood. The only thing these two major streets - both in the same city - have in common is the name. And, yes, it's totally confusing. 

What's special about this building on the corner of Wilshire and San Vincente is that I had a summer job here back in 1983, the summer before my last year at UCLA. I was living in my fraternity, and drove my motorcycle along Wilshire Blvd to work every day. Good times. It was just a low paying "summer office help" kind of job - I think I was making $4 a hour (which was close to minimum wage at the time). 

Crossing San Vicente, I was leaving Beverly Hills (see the sign in the lower right corner?) 

View Untitled in a larger map

On to the third and final installment in Part III of "Wilshire Blvd" next week. 

© 2011

Andy Griffith Lake (Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir)

Anyone remember the old Andy Griffith ShowFranklin Canyon Reservoir, located here in Los Angeles, stood in for that North Carolina lake . . . 

. . . where Andy Griffith and a much younger Ron Howard walked to go fishing during the opening credits.

Franklin Canyon Reservoir is a small (three acre) lake located just north of Beverly Hills in the Santa Monica Mountains. The Santa Monica Mountains cut through the heart of the city of L.A., dividing the San Fernando Valley from the rest of Los Angeles. 

According to the National Park Service website, this lake is technically the geographic center of the city of Los Angeles. I know, it's unbelievable. The lake, the hills, the trees (and the fact that I tried to avoid photographing homes that you can see from the lake) really gives the illusion of being hundreds of miles from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.

Early Thanksgiving Day 2004, I took my kids and members of my extended family to see the lake, and walk around. There is a very simple, easy trail - great for little kids. It's took about 30 minutes to walk around the lake (we took our time). It's really a special little gem in Los Angeles and, of course, is still used as a location for films and television shows.

When I think about walking, specifically walking with my kids, I'm reminded of what Moses told the people of Israel some 3,500 years ago:

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down, and when you get up ..." Deuteronomy 6:7,8.

וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם, בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ, וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶך
‏וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת, עַליָדֶךָ וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת, בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ

I love this challenge to believers to integrate their faith into their every day life with their children, rather than compartmentalizing it to a once a week activity. Plenty of places to do that in Los Angeles - including Franklin Canyon Reservoir.

Oh yeah, and ducks. I'm not sure if there are ducks there year round, but they were definitely around when we were there in November.

More info on the old Andy Griffith show and Franklin Canyon Reservoir (which went by the name "Myers Lake" in the show). can be found here

View Untitled in a larger map

The address is "2600 Franklin Canyon, Los Angeles, CA" if you're trying to find it on google maps.

.originally published 1/13/2009

© 2011