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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Reality Los Angeles

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. 

Sunday morning, one of those "new places" was Reality Los Angeles - a large, growing non-denominational church meeting in Hollywood. 

Dark and rainy when we woke up early Sunday morning. This is Sunset Blvd, looking east, from where we stayed ...

 .... the Days Inn, Hollywood. Nice place, reasonable rates (for Hollywood). This is the view from our room Sunday morning just before checking out.

As we drove down Sunday Blvd, we saw a sign for Saddleback Church, Los Angeles. I just checked their website. Apparently, Saddleback L.A. is meeting a few miles away in Studio City.

 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, Sunday morning in the rain.

Reality Los Angeles - or just Reality LA - meets Sundays at Helen Bernstein High School 1309 N Wilton Place, about a block from where Sunset Blvd crosses over the Hollywood Freeway.   

This being Los Angeles, nearby Paramount Studios has used Helen Bernstein High School as a filming location the TV show Glee

Los Angeles, like most other cities, rents out school facilities during "off hours" to groups and organizations - including churches and other religious organizations. 

Reality LA meets 9am, 12noon, and 5pm. 

People hangout out in the courtyard - staying out the rain. 

Every Sunday, dozens of volunteers work to set up (and, of course, tear down) everything involved in church services for a thousand or more adults, teens, and kids. Booths were up for opportunities for involvement during the week - including a dozen different service opportunities in the local community.

Just before we went into the auditorium, I notice off in the distance, the distinct onion domes of Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church - located half a mile away. Here's a link with a few photos from a previous blog post.

The sentiment that Angelenos don't go out when it's raining certainly wasn't true Sunday morning at Reality. The church service was packed. The service starts out with music and singing. The contemporary worship band was great. 

“I wish I’d partied a little less. People always say ‘be true to yourself.’ But that’s misleading, because there are two selves. There’s your short term self, and there’s your long term self. And if you’re only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays.” 
quote from Humans of New York

Great opening to an outstanding, engaging and - yes - challenging message. We loved the fact that lead pastor Tim Chaddick embraces the church's role and responsibility in a city like Los Angeles. 

The passage that morning was from some of the most challenging words of Jesus - found in Luke 9:23-25: 

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?

If you're looking for some sort of "me centered" religious experience - I wouldn't necessarily recommend Reality LA. But if you're looking for an authentic community of men and women committed to loving God, each other, and the wider community - this is the place to be. 

Final quote from Oxford University professor and author C.S. Lewis: 

“Your real, new self ... will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”

Great, challenging sermon. Even if you're not necessarily religious, or even a Christian, this church is still a great place to visit. 

People hanging out afterwards. Lots and lots of USC, UCLA, and other are university students. If my kids, now ages 16 and 14, end up at a university in Los Angeles - I'd hope they be involved in a church like this. 

Here's a link to the church's website. 

I'm taking a break from posting for a couple of weeks - more towards the end of next month. 

© 2016


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hollywood revisited: Farmer's Market, Chinese Theater, Hollywood & Highland, and the Pantages

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. 

After time at the Santa Monica Pier, Third Street Promenade, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), we walked - yes, people really do walk in Los Angeles - over to Farmer's Market.

Farmer's Market, also known as "Original Farmer's Market," opened in 1934 on the corner of Third and Fairfax - about half a mile from LACMA. When we visited on a Saturday afternoon in late January - it was PACKED.

Part of the reason is its location. Farmer's Market is located immediately next to the jazzy, and VERY popular, The Grove outdoor shopping center. Walked around a bit, here's a link to a previous visit. Above, a display honoring Chinese New Year. 

Back at Farmer's Market, there was a New Orleans style jazz ensemble. Think Disneyland's New Orleans Square, without the $105 ticket price (and, of course, without little stuff like Pirates of the Caribbean). Still, very fun.

We headed over to our hotel in Hollywood, checked in to our hotel - the Days Inn on Sunset Blvd - and relaxed for a bit. 

An hour or so later we walked over to the Hollywood and Highland complex for dinner - stopping off along the way at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre - technically the TCL Chinese Theaters. The theater opened as Grauman's in 1927 and is arguably the most famous movie theatre in the world. Looks good during the day - looks great at night.

Hollywood and Highland is a three story outdoor shopping center located on the corner of (you guessed it) Hollywood Blvd and Highland Avenue. The GIANT elephants are designed to look like the set of silent film maker D. W. Griffith's 1915 epic "Intolerance" - which was Hollywood's first tourist attraction. 

Another view of the Hollywood and Highland complex. We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen there (my son's choice). Most of the stores and restaurants are chains that can be found elsewhere. 

It's too bad Hollywood and Highland doesn't have something uniquely "Hollywood"- something that can't be found anywhere else. Something similar to NBC's "Today" show studio at Rockefeller Center in New York City. I'm always amazed at the crowds that gather every day there. I wonder why something like this couldn't something like this been an anchor. 

 Another view of Hollywood and Highland - looking out towards Hollywood Blvd. 

The 1926 El Capitain theater. It was purchased by the Walt Disney Company back in the late 1980's who gave it a needed $14 million dollar renovation. The theater reopened back in 1991 and serves as the flagship theater for Disney premiers and films. My wife and kids and I enjoyed the Disney film Oz the Great and Powerful here on a brief family vacation here in 2013. 

Walking back to our hotel on Sunset Blvd - the Chinese Theater was still crowded with visitors and tourists. 

My son and a bunch of his friends are all involved in the theater program at his High School  - and he really and wanted to see a Broadway caliber show at the Pantages in Hollywood. 

 My wife and I had been to the Pantages a couple of times when we lived in Los Angeles (2005-2010). 

Inside the massive lobby. 

 The ceiling inside the theater. The Pantages has a strict "no video/no photos" policy - so, sorry, no photos of the actual show. 

What did we see? What did I think about it? If I get some time this upcoming week, I'll come back and write about it ... and maybe even try my hand at a review (never as easy as it seems). 

A packed lobby on the way out. 

More next time. 

© 2016


Saturday, August 20, 2016

LACMA revisited (Part II) - Urban Light and Levitated Mass

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. One of those "new places" was LACMA - the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (click here for Part I). 

Above: a model of a new project planned for the corner of Ocean Avenue and Santa Monica Blvd - overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Santa Monica. 

A highlight for both of us was seeing the display of models of Los Angeles based architect Frank Gehry. Above, a model of the Norton House, a home he designed on the Venice Beach Boardwalk. 

Here's a link to a previous post featuring a couple of photos of the actual home - located at 2509 Ocean Front Walk in Venice.

This is a model of the just approved project at 8150 Sunset Blvd in the Crescent Heights district of West Hollywood. 

There was a large (huge) mirror on one wall of the exhibition - making for an equally impressive photograph. Despite the fact that we were there on a "free day," the LACMA staff did a great job managing the crowds. 

Another view of the Sunset Strip project. 

Yet another view, with models of each of the surrounding buildings for several blocks, and a model of the Hollywood Hills. The exhibition lasted until March 20th (sorry). Here's a link to LACMA's website with some additional photographs. 

Outside LACMA are two large, public pieces of art. First, pictured above, is Chris Burden's Urban Light

My wife and kids are I had been here several times before - fun to come back. 

Urban Light looks great in the day - it looks incredible at night. Here's a link to a previous post with photos from both day and night. 

Urban Light consists of 202 restored street lamps from the 1920s and 1930's. 

The design is simple, but elegant. It really works. Definitely worth a visit. 

Just a few hundred yards away was Michael Heizer's Levitated Mass, a 340 ton boulder that "floats" above the people below. Well, sort of. 

Initially, I was NOT a fan. New York has the iconic Statue of Liberty. Chicago has the brilliant Cloud Gate, affectionally known as The Bean. Los Angeles? To paraphrase Charlie Brown on Halloween, "we got a rock." 

It's taken a while, but I've eventually warmed up to Levitated Mass. I like what another blogger wrote: 

Some rich folks pay millions of dollars for a rock the size of a marble. I say, why not get the most bang for your buck? LACMA got the most show for the dough by securing the Levitated Mass.

One of my favorite family photos was taken "album cover" style at Levitated Mass in 2013 - when my wife, kids and I were back in Los Angeles for a short vacation

So, if you're in the area, I think Levitated Mass is worth seeing - especially in the late afternoon. If the light hits the metal supports just right, it does look a bit like it's levitating. 

LACMA offers free admission the second Tuesday of every month. And if you're a Los Angeles County resident, every Monday, Tuesday, Thursdays from 3pm-5pm. Here's a link with more information. 

More next time. 

© 2016

Saturday, August 13, 2016

LACMA revisited (Part I)

This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well. One of those new places was LACMA - the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. 

The good news: it was a free day. The bad news: it was a free day. 

The Saturday we visited, LACMA was offering the ever popular free admission day. Meaning we saved $25 ($15 for adults, $10 for students). Of course, we weren't the only ones with this idea. So yes, it was crowded. But LACMA did a great job dealing with the crowds. 

We were both excited about seeing the amazing Metropolis II, pictured above. 

Metropolis II, the work of artist Chris Burden (1946-2015). It is a large, kinetic interactive sculpture representing a large, active city. Hence the name (Metropolis). 

The sculpture opened in 2013 to rave reviews. We, of course, had heard about it - and were excited to see it for ourselves. 

Check LACMA's website for scheduling, but right now Metropolis II is opened for select one hour slots Fridays, Saturday, Sundays - and few select holiday Mondays. 

The display is very popular, especially on the "free day" when we went. There are viewing areas both next to it and above, so it's easy to watch and enjoy. 

The highlight of the sculpture are 10,000 miniature Hot Wheels cars racing (and I mean racing) around the city. 

We probably spend a half an hour just watching it. Really fun. Certainly worth a visit. Here's a link to a short video. And a link to LACMA's website. 

Obligatory photo of the neon display outside of Metropolis II.  

And a final view from LACMA of the Los Angeles Fairfax District, with the Hollywood Hills in the background. Despite the cost and challenges of living in Los Angeles, it's not hard to see why so many people choose to live here. 

More next time

© 2016