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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Christos Anesti: Easter in Hollywood

Anyone who has driven along the 101 Hollywood Freeway in the last few years has no doubt noticed the spires of the Russian Orthodox Church visible near the intersection of Sunset Blvd. & Western Avenue. A couple years back I was driving by and decided to stop and take a look.

The church building is located in a commercial and very urban part of Hollywood. Don't mind the barbed wire, it's pretty much everywhere in Los Angeles.

I parked and took a walk around the neighborhood. Gas Station & Russian Church = Los Angeles, or more precisely Hollywood.

This needs a caption, but I'm not sure what. Definitely an "experiencing L.A." moment.

I finally found the entrance. The church is located at 5436 Fernwood Avenue, a half a block east of Western Avenue in Hollywood. Apparently, the church building has been around for many years. The cupola project - the massive golden onion domes - were added afterwards. 

In fact, they're still working on them. The crew (who spoke English, not a given in L.A.) was taking a break - and said they've been working on the domes for over nine years. Wow. Above is the scaffolding used on the project. That was two years ago. I'm guessing they're done. 

Aside from the guys working on the domes, no one else was around - and the church was locked. I saw this sign, which would be great - if I spoke Russian.

Walking around I finally found something in English: Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church. I tried to get some information off their website - but it seems to be "stuck." 

According to the City of West Hollywood's website, nearby West Hollywood is "the most concentrated single Russian-speaking region in US outside of New York." Who knew? Like other immigrant church's around the US, I think it's safe to assume that Holy Transfiguration is working to meet the spiritual and cultural needs of the area's Russian speaking community. 

If you're looking for an English speaking church in Hollywood, I recommend either Reality Los Angeles, or Hollywood Presbyterian Church

I don't have any personal experience with the Orthodox faith, although I would assume it has some similarities to Roman Catholicism. Regardless, I can certainly appreciate their church's building - it's very impressive, and certainly stands out. Hey, it got me to stop.

With Easter approaching, I would certainly wish them a greeting shared by believers around the world: Christos Anesti - Christ is Risen.

Directly across the street from Holy Transfiguration Church was the "Deluxe" lab. You know how at the end of every movie it says "Color by Deluxe"? Well, this is the lab where every Hollywood film is sent for final production. 

A half a block away from the church, looking across Western Avenue with the Hollywood sign in the distance. Most visitors from out of town are surprised how urban and industrial parts of Hollywood are. 

Another part of Hollywood. April 2011, my wife and I were at UCLA to hear Oxford professor John LennoxNear the corner of Melrose and La Brea, we saw a billboard for "Easter At the Bowl".

"Easter at the Bowl" is an annual event free and open to the public. This year, Easter Sunday March 31, 2013, the event is being co-sponsored by Bel Air Presbyterian Church and Christian Assembly Church of Eagle Rock. 

My wife and kids and I went with friends a couple years ago; it's a great experience - highly recommended.

Happy Easter. Christos Anesti - Christ is Risen.

Even in Hollywood.

Perhaps especially in Hollywood.

View Hollywood in a larger map

© 2013 - originally posted 4/21/2011


Blue Light Special: Chase Bank, Sepulveda & Artesia

A year ago I was in L.A. staying with friends in Manhattan Beach - before catching a plane out of LAX early the next morning. The Chase Bank, located on the corner of Sepulveda and Artesia caught my eye. Had to stop. 

The architecture looks similar to the "Fabulous Forum" (former home of the Los Angeles Lakers) in nearby Inglewood .... 

.... with a little bit of Disneyland's "1967 Tomorrowland" thrown in. 

 It's the blue lighting that really is able to give the building it's distinctive look at night. Very simple - but the effect is dramatic.

I like the clean lines, reflecting optimism of the mid-century "futuristic" architecture - and the fact that the building is distinct and different from what's around it. 

Not worth making any sort of special trip to see - but if you're in the neighborhood, worth stopping by for five minutes. 

© 2013


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Carsland on Wilshire: Petersen Automotive Museum

Is Los Angeles the "car capital of the world"? L.A. can arm wrestle Detroit for that title, but automobiles have certainly shaped the culture, growth, and design of Los Angeles. So it's no surprise that the city is home to one of the largest automobile museums in the world, the Petersen Automotive Museum. 

The Petersen is located on the western edge of the Miracle Mile District, on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue.

The Petersen is housed in the former Orbach's Department Store. The building was designed by architect Welton Becket and opened as the Seibu Department Store back in 1962. It was an Orbach's Department Store from 1965-1986. Six years later, the Petersen moved in. 

What does Los Angeles do with it's old department stores? Turns them into museums. The entrance to the Petersen is off of Fairfax. Across Wilshire, you can see the gold corner of the former May Company Department Store, now part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). More on that in a bit. 

A closeup of the entrance sign. Let's head on in. 

Parking is o the right - the entrance is to the left. Parking is $12 (about normal for Los Angeles). There is also limited meter parking in the neighborhoods if you're only going to be there for a couple hours. 

One of the many schools groups waiting to get in. The Petersen is a privately owned museum and receives no state or local funding. 

They do a fantastic job opening up their facility to schools: public, private, and homeschool groups. Teachers, including homeschool educators, can get in for free. Nice. 

They even have a their own bus to transport kids from under-served schools to the museum. 

The first floor is dedicated to to the history of the automobile in Los Angeles, with permanent displays and wonderful period "streetscape" representing various periods of the 20th Century. 

Not to be missed is the Bulldog Cafe -  a wonderful replica of "Roadside Vernacular Architecture" - also called "California Crazy Architecture", also called "Programmatic Architecture". Not sure if this is the set piece, or a replica of the set piece, from the 1991 Disney film The Rocketeer

photo credit:
Here's a photo of the original Bulldog Cafe, located at 1153 West Washington Blvd in Los Angeles. This little roadside cafe was built in 1927 and - unfortunately - torn down in 1955.  

More "streetscape" displays.

The displays move into the 1950's and 1960's - and advent of the Freeway - a development which changed Los Angeles forever. There's a lot more to see than I'm covering here. 

Upstairs is the museum's special and changing exhibits. I was here just a few minutes after the museum opened - normally, you'd see guests wandering about. 

The Hollywood "Star Cars" section has vehicles from Batman, Bonnie & Clyde, The Green Hornet, and more. Above: "Grease Lighting" from the 1978 film Grease.

. . . and professor Fate's wacky "Hannibal Eight" from the 1965 comedy The Great Race. Again, there's a lot more to see than I'm posting here. 

There's a couple of display cases with a collection of cars from the Disney/Pixar film "Cars." If you want to see more that a couple of little models, folks in Anaheim are happy to oblige, and have recently opened up a "Carsland" section at the California Adventure Park, next to Disneyland. 

A selection of vintage motorcycles. 

Apparently, the Petersen only displays about half of 300 cars in their collection at any one time. The other half is down in the museum's basement, their "vault." 

"Gypsy Rose" is actually from a previous visit a few years earlier. The car was one of several  on loan as part of the Petersen's La Vida Lowrider exhibit back in 2007-2008. It is such a great car - just had to repost this picture. 

There were also several cool concept cars . . . 

 . . . including this solar panel car. 

All in all, a great place for school field trips, for car buffs, or for anyone who wants to learn a bit more about how the automobile has shaped life in Southern California. 

Back outside, here another view of the Petersen from across the street. Apparently, the museum is suffering from a lack of "brand identity." Despite the fact of being located on the third busiest intersection in Los Angeles, the majority of people driving by have no idea that a world class automotive museum is inside. 

I wonder if a little "Roadside Vernacular Architecture" would help? You know, an updated version of the Bulldog cafe. Perhaps a giant fiberglass classic car on the roof? 

Call it an advertisement, everyone'll hate it. Call it avant guard art, and everyone will wonder how they could have lived without it. 

Or, maybe just putting a second entrance in off of Wilshire Blvd?

Above: a view in front of the museum looking east towards the Miracle Mile District. Los Angeles' Purple Line - the subway down Wilshire Blvd - has a stopped planned for the corner of Wilshire & Fairfax slated sometime in the next ten years. Ironically, it'll be a new subway stop that will give a huge boost to foot traffic, and museum attendance. 

Here's a link to a previous blog post of a four mile walk along this section of Wilshire back in September 2009. 

Across the street from the Petersen, another view of the old May Company Department Store, now part of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art - LACMA. 

Another view looking east up Wilshire towards downtown. The Peterssen is across the street (out of view). The main entrance to LACMA is just to the left, featuring Chris Burden's Urban Light. Across the street, just in front of the large office tower, is the Wende Museum's The Wall on Wilshire, featuring the largest section of the Berlin Wall outside of Germany. Nearby is Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass, the La Brea Tar Pits ... as well as the Original Farmer's Market, and The Grove

LACMA has just added an incredible art display that gives new meaning to the idea of this corner of L.A. being "carsland." 

photo credit:
Above is Metropolis II - one of the most amazing, kinetic pieces of art in the world. 

Designed by Chris Burden (who also gave us the Urban Light display out front), Metropolis II is an active, working model featuring 13 electric trains, 25 buildings and 1100 model cars whizzing along.

Click on this link for a fantastic two minute You Tube video. 

It's operative on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I'd love to see it sometime in the future. 

Back outside, here's a final view of the Petersen, and a link to the museum's website. 

© 2013


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Easter at the Hollywood Bowl

Easter Sunday 2009 my wife and kids and I joined friends at the Hollywood Bowl for a huge city-wide Easter Service. 

After a one year hiatus, Easter at the Hollywood Bowl is back, meeting Sunday morning March 31, 2013. 

This is a free event, open to the public. Here's a link to the event website with more information. 

Parking was - and is - free, but we decided to park on Cahuenga (pronouced Co-wang-a) a few blocks away to avoid the "stacked parking" in the lots around the Bowl.

Walking towards the Bowl, a large white cross nearby was visible. This cross was erected as part of the original "sunrise service" held at the Hollywood Bowl every year since 1921.

Walking up Highland: if you go, give yourself enough time to park, walk in, and get seated. 

The entrance to the Hollywood Bowl with the Easter Cross on the hill above it.

My wife and kids (and I) heading in. 

And if you've never been to a church service, or haven't been in years, this was an outstanding place to connect, or re-connect, with the central truths of Christianity. 

Everyone was given a program with the words to the songs and the order of the service.

When we attended in 2009, the event was sponsored by Bel Air Presbyterian Church, who's mission statement is "Making Los Angeles the greatest city for Christ." 
More than just hosting a large event, the church is also committed to serving the city of Los Angeles - prisoners, the poor, children at risk, homeless individuals and families, single mothers - through a dozen of different ministries.

This year Bel Air Presbyterian is co-hosting the event with Christian Assembly Church of Eagle Rock. 

Francis Chan, formerly of Simi Valley and now ministering among the working poor in urban San Francisco, will be speaking. 

Never heard of Francis Chan? According to a wikipedia article: as a pastor, speaker and author, Chan "gives away about 90 percent of his income, doesn't take a salary from his church, and has donated most of his book royalties, which have totaled about $2,000,000, to various charities. Much of it goes to organizations which rescue sex slaves in foreign countries. Furthermore, in 2008 it was reported that his church [Cornerstone Church] would give away 55% of its income to charitable causes." Wow. 

The cover to the program from 2009. True then. True today.

The Easter Service was very moving, very emotional. The music was outstanding - focusing on the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The church choir, the live orchestra, and the contemporary band ... all volunteers, yet really helping focus our attention on Jesus Christ and the hope of the resurrection.

The message was relevant, thoughtful, and challenging.

The service was a real cross section of Los Angeles: singles and suburban families, kids and seniors, those in coat and tie next to those wearing shorts and sandals, aspiring actors from Hollywood next to executives from Century City. Sitting next to us was group of staff and those "in the program" who had come over from the downtown Union Rescue Mission.

My wife in pink with our kids and friends afterwards, next to an amazing old apartment building on Cahuenga in Hollywood, where we parked.

photo credit: Vintage L.A. Facebook Group

The photo above is from Easter Sunday, 1948. 

Even though we're no longer living in Los Angeles, we're so very glad Bel Air Presbyterian and Christian Assembly have teamed up to bring this event back.  

View Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood in a larger map

Here's a link to the Easter at the Hollywood Bowl website. 

Happy Easter - Christ is Risen.

© 2013 - originally posted 4/12/2009