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Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hello, Goodbye:

After five years, and a quarter of million hits, I'm passing the batton of to a friend from our time in Los Angeles - James - who will be writting a few guest posts. 

I'll be taking a hiatus from regular postings for a while. I hope to pick this up again sometime in the future - I still have I still have plenty of photos to post - but for now I'll be taking a break. 

Fall 2005 at USC, our first month in Los Angeles

My wife, kids, and I lived in Los Angeles for five years, from 2005-2010. 

Although my own family moved to Los Angeles when I was in 2nd grade, and I lived in city all the way through graduating from UCLA, the city has changed tremendously, and I saw thing through very different lenses as an adult with kids of my own.

Spring 2007 at UCLA, across the street from the Geffen

In addition to posting photographs, we also wanted to communicate how our faith influenced our perspective on living in a city like Los Angeles. Hopefully, that makes this blog unique. There are plenty of blogs about Los Angeles. There are numerous blogs about Christianity. But this is the only blog I know of that tries to integrate life in L.A. from a Christian world-view. Some posts are better than others, but my hope is to share what might be a different perspective of life in one of the most influential cities in the world.

Summer 2010 , our last month in Los Angeles

Feel free to leave comments. We'll do our best to post them in a timely fashion.

I like what one viewer wrote:

"Los Angele est vraiment unique - je ne suis pas sûr s'il y a autre ville dans le monde comme cela." 

That is, Los Angeles is really unique - I'm not sure if there's another city in the world like it. I have to agree. 

© 2013


The City of Los Angeles: Who's In, Who's Not

One of most confusing aspects of Los Angeles is simply "what is Los Angeles?" As stated in a previous post, is it the metro area of 16 million people? The 10 million people in Los Angeles County? The 4 million people living in the City of Los Angeles? Or parts of the City that have a Los Angeles "mailing address"? 

Most people from out of the area (and a surprisingly large number of residents) assume that Hollywood is an independent city. In reality, it's a community within the City of Los Angeles. Meanwhile, West Hollywood, located immediately adjacent, is a separate, independent city. 

photo credit:

Confused? You're not alone. Below is a list of communities that are part of the City of Los Angeles, next to adjacent or similarly named areas that are independent separate cities (or, in a case of the last four, unincorporated areas of the County): 

Hollywood: within Los Angeles - West Hollywood: an independent city

Bel Air: within Los Angeles - Beverly Hills: an independent city

Westwood: within Los Angeles - Inglewood: an independent city

Watts: within Los Angeles - Compton: an independent city

Encino: within Los Angeles - Pasadena: an independent city

Sherman Oaks: within Los Angeles - Thousand Oaks: an independent city

Venice Beach: within Los Angeles - Redondo Beach: an independent city

Century City: within Los Angeles - Culver City: an independent city

Pacific Palisades: within Los Angeles - Palos Verdes: an independent city

San Pedro: within Los Angeles - Long Beach: an independent city

Toluca Lake: within Los Angeles - Burbank: an independent city

Brentwood: within Los Angeles - Santa Monica: an independent city

Highland Park: within Los Angeles - Monterey Park: an independent city

Panorama City: within Los Angeles - Temple City: an independent city

Woodland Hills: within Los Angeles - Baldwin Hills: not

Studio City: within Los Angeles - Universal City: not

Playa Del Rey: within Los Angeles - Marina Del Rey: not

West Los Angeles: with Los Angeles - East Los Angeles: not

Finally, most of the San Fernando Valley is part of the City of Los Angeles - one exception is the City of San Fernando.


.originally published 10/22/2011

© 2013


How Many Major U.S. Cities Can Fit Inside Los Angeles City Limits?

image credit:

The City of Los Angeles is MASSIVE, encompassing 469 square miles This is not to be confused with Los Angeles County - which covers a mind boggling 4,083 square miles. Here's a previous post explaining the difference.

I recently came across this incredible image, illustrating the number of cities that could fit inside the city limits of Los Angeles. Listed is St. Louis, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Minneapolis, Boston, San Franciso, Pittsburg ... and Manhattan. Here's a link to the original article.

© 2013


Andy Griffith Lake, aka "Myers Lake" (Upper Franklin Canyon Reservoir, the geographic center of Los Angeles)

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.

November 2004, a year before we actually moved to Los Angeles, we were in town visiting family. Early Thanksgiving morning, 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

© 2013

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Ten Favorite Posts from

Here's a collection of some favorite posts from - ten to be precise. Feel free to click on the link for more information, and (in most cases) more photographs. Above, is a view from the Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica, looking north up the coast. 

A sea anemonea, in the tidepools at  the edge of the L.A. city limits, just north of the Pacific Coast Highway and Surfview Drive. Best time to go is at low tide. 

Randy's Dounuts, at Manchester and La Cienega (just off the 405) in Inglewood. One of the best examples of mid-century "programmatic architecture" - as well as yummy donuts. 

The Crossroads of the World center, located on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, three blocks south of Hollywood Blvd. Opened in 1936, it is described as America's first outdoor shopping mall. 

My wife and I with our kids and their three cousins. This was taken a couple of years back at the Los Angeles Live Steamers in Griffith Park.  

A walk around Bungalow Heaven, a beautiful historic neighborhood in Pasadena. This is one of dozens of "urban hikes" I took around Los Angeles -- although it's a real stretch to classify this neighborhood as "urban."

Topanga State Park, a 17 square mile park - located entirely within the Los Angeles City Limits. It's considered the world's largest wildland within the boundaries of a major city.

Olvera Street, located downtown and considered the "oldest street in Los Angeles" Great memories coming here as a kid; great memories coming here with my kids. 

The contrast of costal fog and ridges of the Santa Monica Mountains on an early morning hike. This is from the Paseo Miramar Trail located in the Pacific Palisades district of Los Angeles, looking east at sunrise. 

An evening at the Getty Center just off the 405 Freeway, our last month living in Los Angeles. 

Really, these are just a sample of some of our favorite posts. Have fun exploring others on this site.

In the next day or two, will have had a quarter of a million visits. Seems like a good milestone to step away from this site for a couple of months - at least in terms of new posts. I'll put a "final something" up next week. 

© 2013


Saturday, May 4, 2013

Experiencing Pico Blvd (Again) - from the Beach to Fairfax, Part II

In May 2010, I took an early morning walk along Pico Blvd, from the beach in Santa Monica, inland to Fairfax Blvd. Here's a link to Part I of this walk. 

The Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance, located at the corner of Pico and Roxbury Drive. 

The Muesum of Tolerance is designed to examine prejudice and racism, with a particular emphasis on the Holocaust. I'm embarrassed to say I've never been inside. I thought about going when we lived in Los Angeles, but themes were simply too intense for our young kids. Of course, I could have gone by myself . . . I just never did. Something for the future. 

Felt like the Skirball Jewish Cultural Center - which our kids loved going to - was much more age appropriate. 

One of several religious based schools in the community. 

OK, super creative: crayons and a menorah (why can't evangelical churches come up stuff like this?).

Ralphs Supermarket and CVS Pharmacy on the corner of Pico and Beverwill Drive. I liked how the sunlight is coming through the sycamore street tree. Amazing how much you appreciate trees in a city. 

Parking is in an underground lot below. 

Residence Inn, corner of Pico and South Beverly Drive. OK, I've never seen an interior courtyard this narrow. 

"Hey neighbor!" 

Some co-workers stayed here a few years back. Beverly Hills adjacent, I guess. By no means a luxurious place, but it did the trick. 

Just down the street: The Mitzvah (as in "Bar Mitzvah") Store. Mitzvah is Hebrew for "commandment" (as in the Ten Commandments). 

No lack of different styles of menorahs . . . 

. . . and books. Gifts and "Stories that Warm the Heart" - in some ways, reminds me of the Jewish equivalent of a Christian book store. 

Next door is Elat Burger and Kabob (Kosher) and Sushi KO (Kosher). 

Wow, Kosher Sushi - learn something new every day. 

Smart car - with gas approaching $5 a gallon in California, I don't think many people are laughing anymore. 

Looking north up one of the residential streets (Cardiff, I believe). The city limits of Beverly Hills start just a block away.  

In the distance, the Sierra Towers on the western most edge of the city of West Hollywood. Originally built as an apartment building in 1965, at 32 stories it remains Los Angeles tallest residential tower. There's a 2300 square foot condo on one of the top floors currently listing for $3.9 - million. Yikes. Recession, what recession?

Above, the Beverlywood Bakery, located at Pico and Oakhurst in the Pico-Robertson districtt. Love the awning - the little tables and chairs out front.

If there is a heart of Jewish Los Angeles, it must be the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. This is one of a dozen Kosher butchers in the immediate area. 

In working on this post, I stumbled across Levin Ben Avraham's"an Orthodox Jew looks at the Pico-Robertson neighborhood from a Torah perspective." Different religion and different beliefs than my own -  but I can appreciate the desire to bring faith into every area of life, rather than the "secular/sacred" split so common in American society. 

If The Mitzvah Store (that I commented on in Part II) doesn't have what you need, try D. Solomon. Amazing how in one short mile, the feel on the street goes from glitzy Beverly Hills to urban Los Angeles. 

Banner for the Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival. As I commented in a previous post, I'm continually impressed by the impact that Jews, representing only 2% of the total US population, have made on American culture. 

Chabad is a movement within Orthodox Judaism, emphasizing "wisdom, understanding, and knowledge." The largest Jewish organization in the world, Chabad has 3000 centers in over 1000 cities around the world. 

Following the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, tens of thousands of Persian Jews immigrated to Los Angeles. Amazing, but there now more Persian (Iranian) Jews living in the city of Los Angeles than the entire country of Iran. So, here in Pico-Robertson you'll find a Chabad Persian Youth Center.

More outdoor dining at Bibi's Warmstone Bakery near Pico and Liviona.

Got Kosher? Haute Glatt. The word glatt is Yiddish for "smooth" - the term refers in the broader sense to food eaten by observant Jews.  The term "kosher" refers to food, but in a general sense, can simply mean anything that's OK.

Milk 'N Honey Restaurant, located on the corner of Pico and South Clark. I like the biblical reference in their name. Serving only Kosher food (of course) and closed Friday night and Saturdays (until an hour after the end of Sabbath). Here's a link to their website.

"I am a stranger in a strange land." said Moses. The huge billboard for the Paramount film "Sex and the City 2" was looming above the biblical-sounding Milk 'N Honey. There was certainly an irony to it all . . . yet, perhaps, something that I and other evangelical Christians can learn from. What does it mean to be "in the world but not of the world"? What does it mean to live out religious convictions in Los Angeles, or New York, or any other major city in the world? What does it mean to practice a faith when it's not part of the dominant culture? More questions than answers, at least for right now. 

Eliass Kosher Market, located across the street, with obligatory Persian script. 

Crossing Robertson, and looking north towards Beverly Hills and the Santa Monica mountains beyond. This is the heart, as it were, of the Pico-Robertson neighborhood. You'll also notice yet another "Sex and the City" billboard to the right of the photo - just above the obligatory Starbucks. 

Crossover Robertson  - Elat Market, corner of Pico and Wooster. Elat is a full service Kosher supermarket. The writing on the side is in Persian. 

Just off this very busy commercial strip are beautiful tree-lined residential streets, generally with a mixture of two story apartment buildings, which are very common throughout most of Los Angeles, and single family homes. I love the massive sycamore trees.

Back on Pico - looking back west with the office towers of Century City in the distance. 

Another residential street, this one mostly with apartments. The palm trees and Hollywood Hills in the distance certainly give the street an "only in L.A." look, but I really prefer big leafy sycamore trees found a couple of blocks away. By the way, palm trees - like pretty much every thing else in L.A. - are imports, brought in from elsewhere. 

Looking north up La Cienega towards Beverly Hills, with the Hollywood Hills (part of the Santa Monica Mountains) in the distance. The tower on the left in the distance that looks like a mosque is actually the home to the Academy of Motion Pictures Sciences - you know, the good people who host those Awards every year - with those cool little gold statues called "Oscars." 

The Rapid 7 - the bus line I'd be taking back. Limited stops, and the ability to control traffic lights - this bus really moves. I had a few more minutes, so I could catch the next one. 

The South Carthay district, complete with map and historical photos. The neighborhood, built out in the 1920's and '30's was home to the very impressive Fox Carthay Circle Theater.

After Grauman's Chinese Theater, the Fox Carthay was Los Angeles' most famous movie theater. Location of dozens of world premiers, it was unfortunately torn down in 1969. 

Here's a link to a previous post on the similar looking Fox Village Theater, located a few miles away in Westwood. And our friends down in Anaheim are building a replica of the Fox Carthay as part of a much needed "extreme makeover" of the Disney California Adventure park.

Looking south: Baldwin Hills. Here's yet another link to when my wife and kids hiked to the top of the Baldwin Hills overlook a couple of years ago. 

A break in the traffic at HiPoint Studioslocated at Pico and Hi Point Street (hence their name). One of dozens of small, independent studios found throughout Los Angeles. Their selling point is "best green screen in town." 

Vons Supermarket at the corner of Pico and Fairfax. Somewhat anti-climactic in terms of a final destination but needed to leave enough time to catch a bus in rush hour traffic to my car back in Santa Monica by 9am. This is about two blocks from the Little Ethiopia neighborhood, which I blogged about here

40 minutes later, thanks to the Rapid 7, I was back in Santa Monica: Pico and the beach. 

Picked up my car and headed off to work. 

I honestly can't believe how far I was able to walk - and take pictures - in such a short period of time. Started at 5:45am at Pico at the beach. Walked all the way to Fairfax Avenue and then caught a bus back by 9am. 

This was really the most enjoyable "urban hike" I took while living in Los Angeles. Now that we're out of the area, I don't know when I'll be able to do something like this again. I highly recommend it: a great way to experience L.A.

.© 2013 - originally posted 5/7/11