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Saturday, October 27, 2012

"I Got A Rock" - Levitated Mass at LACMA

Levitated Mass - I'd heard of it, seen pictures, and read an on-line article. 

Earlier this month I was back in Los Angeles and was able to find some time in to see it myself. 

My initial impression was the memorable line from the old Charlie Brown Halloween Special: "I got a rock." 

In 1886 New York City got the Statue of Liberty.

In 2006 Chicago got Cloud Gate.

And in 2012 Los Angeles got . . . a rock. 

OK, that was my initial impression. 

Levitated Mass is the dream of artist and sculpturer Michael Heizer, consisting of a 340 ton boulder above a concrete trench. 

The trench is designed to allow visitors to walk underneath, which I took the liberty to do. 

Levitated Mass is located on the grounds of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). I was there early before the museum opened and was able to walk around and take pictures. Unlike the rest LACMA, Levitated Mass does not require museum admission. 

This project cost $10 million dollars, which all came from private donations. Much of the cost went to herculean task of hauling the 340 ton boulder from a quarry in Riverside County over surface streets. Pretty impressive feat of engineering. 

Last year, a friend gave me a copy of Andy Crouch's book Culture Making: Rediscovering Our Creative Calling. Crouch is an author, and former campus minister at Harvard University. Addressing other Christians, he writes: "It is not enough to condemn culture. Nor is it sufficient merely to critique culture or to copy culture. Most of the time, we just consume culture. But the only way to change culture is to create culture."

My initial impression was to simply critique Michael Heizer's work. After all, it's just a big rock, right? Crouch's book challenged my thinking. 

Actually, it's a boulder. A huge boulder. According to another site, "it's the 11th-largest moved monolith in history." Unlike the first ten, you can actually walk underneath this. 

Ten million dollars seems like a lot of money. Apparently in the world of art, it's not. It all came from private donations, which Heizer (really, those representing him) raised. 

The boulder traveled through 22 different cities and 4 counties to get from the quarry in Riverside to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art on Wilshire Blvd.  I can't imagine what went into negotiating the bureaucratic maze of city, state and county red tape to obtain the necessary permits. 

And it's publicly on display, free for anyone to view. 

Levitated Mass is no Statue of Liberty or Cloud Gate. It's not even in the same league. Still, it's still a unique and novel piece of art. It got my attention, and some space on this blog. 

Mulling over author Andy Crouch's words a bit more, what I appreciate the most is Michael Heizer's ability to create something. Even if I'm not in love with it, I have to admire that he actually saw this project to completion. And rather than condemning, critiquing, copying, or just consuming - he created culture. 

Something certainly easier said than done. 

Even if it's "just" a rock. 

View Levitated Mass, LACMA, Los Angeles in a larger map

Here's some additional information from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's website.  

© 2012 


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Welcoming Space Shuttle Endeavour to Los Angeles

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Last weekend the Space Shuttle Endeavour made it's final journey from LAX along the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center. 

Allen J Schaben - Los Angeles Times

So cool: as we no longer live in Los Angeles, I appreciate 
these photographs I was able to find on the internet. 

Don Barletti/Los Angeles

Hundreds of thousands of Angelenos flocked to see the amazing 
site of the shuttle crawling at 2 miles an hour along the 12 mile route. 

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Past famous and quirky landmarks, like Randy's Donuts. 

AP Photo/Patrick T. Fallon

Past massive and enthusatic crowds. Wish I could have 
been there. 

Perhaps the last time Angelenos turned out en mass 
like this was for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. 

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

One of the most surreal sites was seeing the shuttle 
cruise past apartment buildings through a residential 

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

With the moment not being lost to a local resident. 
Imagine looking out your bedroom and seeing this!

Monica Almeida/The New York Times

This is one of my very favorite pictures, which I also 
posted on my Facebook profile. Here's a link to additional 
photographs from The Atlantic

Not to be missed is Matthew Givot's INCREDIBLE 
time-lapse video of the 12 mile journey from LAX to 
the Science Center. Outstanding work. 

Wally Skalij - Los Angeles Times
A final salute: hats off to photographer Wally Skalij and 
his colleagues. Here's a link to additional photos on the 
Los Angeles Times web site. 

photo credit: Reuters

And a final picture of Endeavour's earlier fly-by of 
the Hollywood sign. 

blog text © 2012 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Experiencing L.A. in Century City & Beverly Hills (Part III)

This is Part III on a three part series on a walk my wife and I took through Century City and Beverly Hills earlier last year (click here for links to Part I and Part II). 

Pictured above: the Beverly Wilshire Hotel. One of the areas top hotels. Four stars - with prices to match. Off-season rates start at $550 a night (meaning my family and I won't be staying there anytime soon). It's the location of numerous films, including Pretty Woman and Beverly Hills Cop

Crossing Wilshire Blvd. and looking east. Beverly Hills is an independent city, separate from the City of Los Angeles, located midway between Downtown Los Angeles and the beach at Santa Monica. Here's a link to a previous post on walking along Wilshire along this section of Beverly Hills. 

Lobby inside the Beverly Wilshire. 

Checked out the menu at the on-site restaurant. Prices match the room rates. 

"Bagel Bites" = $22. Must be really good bites. 

The backside of the Beverly Wilshire, with a smaller commercial building in the foreground. Another block south, Rodeo Drive becomes residential district. 
This small complex on the corner of Rodeo Drive and Charleville Drive seems so very typical of apartment buildings in Beverly Hills. Growing up in Los Angeles, I had cousins who lived in something very similar. 

As an aside, I remember my cousin saying how she "had to get out of L.A." 

I've heard similar statements, but for my cousin, it wasn't because life in L.A. was too fast - it was too slow

Where did she end up moving to? 


Rodeo Drive south of Wilshire Blvd is in a quiet, residential neighborhood. This is in between Charleville Drive and Olympic Blvd. 

Attractive, yet in many ways modest, homes - at least by "Beverly Hills" standards. This looks like what you'd find in a suburban neighborhood on the East Coast, or in Midwest. 

If you're looking for the big fat-daddy mansions that Beverly Hills is famous for, they start north of Santa Monica Blvd, with even larger estates north of Sunset Blvd. 

My wife and I jokingly refer to those massive homes as "bigger barns" - a reference to Jesus' words in Luke 12:18. (As an aside, we've wondered if our current 1700 tract house is actually a "bigger barn.")

 I've purposely tried to steer clear of posting pics of those huge things on this blog. I'll leave that to someone else. Maybe I'm alone in this, but I feel like some of them are so over the top that putting up pictures of them would be like posting real estate porn.

Another home on the same street. The beautiful palm trees and ferns certainly say "Southern California." 

Olympic Blvd (named during the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics) is near the southern edge of Beverly Hills. Along the street are numerous two story apartment buildings. 
Looking west along Olympic Blvd with the towers of Century City a mile away. Kind of looks like a google maps image, non?

Not everything in Beverly Hills is gold platted. The buildings along Olympic look like they were built in the 1920's or 1930's. While most were in good shape, a few were in need of some love (or at least some paint). I have friends who are graduate students at UCLA, living in Beverly Hills in a building similar to this.

Up ahead, Century City to the left, and Beverly Hills High School to the right. 
That funky tower is actually an oil derrick. It's actually drilling under the school. Who knew? How come this never shows up in 90210?

Another view. There is actually a small oil field around the southern edge of Beverly Hills, and the Pico/Robertson neighborhood (within the city of Los Angeles). 

Below is a map of the "Beverly Hills Oil Field," which roughly parallels Olympic and Pico Blvds. Think Jed Clampette (anyone remember him?) would have been proud. Click on the image for a larger view. 
image credit:

Coming up on the Century Plaza Towers. Small by, say, New York or Chicago standards, but looming large over the westside of Los Angeles. 

As stated previously, Century City is a neighborhood within the City of Los Angeles. Here's a link to a previous post on what is - and what's not - within the Los Angeles city limits. 

Final view of of "The Century" condo tower. As noted in Part I, the top unit going for $35 million dollars. Wow: pretty big (and pretty expensive) barn. 

View Century City-Beverly Hills in a larger map

A final map of the loop of our little walk. 

© 2012 


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Experiencing L.A. in Century City & Beverly HIlls (Part II)

This is Part II or a three part series on Century City and Beverly Hills. Click here for last week's post. 

My wife and I were back in Los Angeles earlier last year. After breakfast at Nosh Deli, we continued walking along South Santa Monica Blvd. This is a fairly typical street scene between Bedford and Camden Drive. 

Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.

Elsewhere in metro Los Angeles, in addition to English you'll find church services in Spanish, Korean, Chinese. Thanks to the large Iranian community in Beverly Hills, you'll find services in English and Persian (Farsi). 

Here's a link to a previous post on "Terhangeles" - the nickname given to the Persian-American community in metro Los Angeles.

In the distance through the sea of traffic is the Beverly Hills City Hall. Beautiful building. Just a few blocks is the famous William Pereira "Googie" style gas station (with a link to a previous blog post).

Ah, Rodeo Drive. For better or for worse, the three blocks of Rodeo Drive between Santa Monica Blvd and Wilshire Blvd is one of the most famous streets in Los Angeles, perhaps the world. By the way, it's pronounced "roh-DAY-oh".

It was still early and most (if not all) the shops were still closed. Zero foot traffic. 

During the day, you'll see rich people shopping - and tourists gawking. 

According to the official website, Rodeo Drive is "the epicenter of luxury fashion" featuring "more than 100 world-reowned boutiques and hotels."

Most everything here was neither my style, taste, or within my price range. 

Llardo features porcelain figures. The kind of thing my grandmother liked. Prices range from $500 (what you see here) to $25,000 for their really high end stuff. 

Looking southwest down Brighton Way. Rodeo Drive runs parrell to about a dozen other streets that make up the Beverly Hills commercial district.

Roberto Cavalli. No, I had never heard of it before. According to a couple of yelp reviewers, dresses start at $2000; a pair of briefs will set you back $180. 


Gucci. Yes, heard of this before. I suppose there's nothing wrong with paying extra for something made well (i.e. quality) but "designer" seesm like just adding another zero the price. Maybe that's the point ...

Rodeo Drive's version of a mini-mall. Only here you're not going to find a 7/11 or dounut shop.

At the end of the street, the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, featured in numerous films including Pretty Woman. Rooms (off season) start at $550 a night. Nice looking place, but not even close to what I'm used to paying for a hotel room.

The corner of Wilshire Blvd & Rodeo Drive is a small, but very high-end, outdoor shopping center known as "2 Rodeo". 

I like what one Yelp reviewer said: "I can't write about Rodeo Drive without mentioning Bijon, known as one of the most expensive stores in the world. By appointment only (and the appointments cost a lot of money). Inside, suits for men start at $50,000. Several wealthy and powerful men own Bijan suits including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Michael Jordan."

2 Rodeo really looked like a movie set. A very expensive movie set. 

Their version of the "Spanish Steps," with the Beverly Wilshire across the street. 

I took my wife here on a date here twenty years earlier when she first moved to Los Angeles (and I was living in Orange County). Nice spot to grab a picture - and then move along. 

After three blocks of Rodeo Drive, we cross the street and walked through the lobby of the Beverly Wilshire. More on that in Part III next week. 

View Beverly Hills II (Rodeo Drive) in a larger map

© 2012