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Saturday, May 18, 2019

Experiencing LA: Third Street Promenade


The Third Street Promenade is a three block pedestrian mall located in the Los Angeles adjacent city of Santa Monica. I was in the area last February, decided to stop by  and walk around a bit. 


Free parking is never a given anywhere in the Los Angeles area. There are several large parking garages, with first 90 minutes being free - which was great. 


This is walking along Wilshire Blvd, between 4th and 3rd Streets, from the parking structure to the Promenade. If you wonder why in the world people put up with traffic, crazy high rent, and the other inconveniences of living in Los Angeles - this is it. This is what a February afternoon in Los Angeles is like. The Pacific Ocean is in the distance. 


The former JC Penny's, on the corner of Wilshire and 3rd, that I remember as a kid is a Banana Republic. 


Across the Banana Republic is a former Barnes & Noble bookstore. The bookstore opened in the late 1990's ... but - sadly - was unable to compete with Amazon. 


People hanging outside chairs - and checking their phones. 


Footlocker on the corner of 3rd and Arizona. 


Across Arizona Avenue, the 1923 Criterion Building. The building housed various movie theaters (both single screens, and then multiplexes) until 2013, when the ground floor retail became a Victoria Secrets. The 2nd and 3rd floor apartments start at $2145 - for a 326 square foot studio apartment. 


Third Street was originally a regular thoroughfare. The city of Santa Monica closed three blocks to vehicular traffic, and created the "Santa Monica Mall" in 1965. By the late 1970's, the mall was in desperate need of an update, which finally occurred in 1989 with the opening of the now iconic Third Street Promenade. 


The updates in the 1980's included creating curbs, to make it feel like a real city, as well as whimsical fountains and sculptures. Located in the distance is the 1930 Clock Tower Building. 


Plenty of people were out and about the Sunday afternoon I was there. While enclosed malls around the country are struggling (and closing) Third Street Promenade attracts 11 million visitors a year. 


This is the corner of Third and Santa Monica Blvd. Unlike enclosed malls, Third Street Promenade has a mix of architectural styles, with buildings dating back to the 1920's. This four story building currently houses The Gap. 


If there's a criticism of Third Street, it's that it feels like a clone of other successful shopping districts around the country. While it has it's own unique vibe and flair, much of it - like this massive Apple Store - can be found elsewhere. 


But there are unique restaurants as well. 


Chili Beans is found in just two other locations in Southern California. And I like the the look of the exterior of the building. 


Violinist Karoline Protsenko. 


Violinist Karoline Protsenko. 


The Third Street Promenade


The Santa Monica Place. 

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com

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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Crime and Punishment: Prison Nation at Los Angeles Pierce College


Earlier this year, I was on a work related trip at Pierce College in San Fernando Valley. This was early February. 


Pierce College is two year community college, located in the Woodland Hills neighborhood, on the western edge of Los Angele's San Fernando Valley. This is a photo from the campus looking north towards the Santa Susanna Mountains. And a reminder how suburban much of Los Angeles really is. 


Art work around campus was promoting a political commentary display the campus "Prison Nation."


The full name is "Prison Nation: Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex."


Above, various political commentary displays on what organizers refer to as the "Prison Industrial Complex." Below are a couple of examples:


"Capital Punishment means them without the capital get the punishment." 


"One in Every Three Black Men Between the Ages of 20 and 29 will Spend Time in Jail." 


Much of the wall space was dedicated to a graphic novel approach to the material on the criminal justice system in the US. 


Organizers took stabs at both political parties. Above, the Crime Bill under Democratic President Bill Clinton. 


... as well as criminal justice policies under Republican President George W. Bush. Did I give the display the time it deserved? Honestly, no. I had about ten minutes to look around. 


Most of the photos and commentary on this blog tend to focus on the "best of" Los Angeles, often ignoring the he harder issues a major city faces. Sure, I've commented on traffic, the cost of housing, and homelessness - as well as my Christian faith. It's easy to comment on from the sidelines - solutions are much much harder. I'm certainly no expert in public policy. 

But regarding what organizers call the prison industrial complex, wouldn't it make more sense - for example - for non violent criminals to make restitution for what they did? If someone embezzles from a company, wouldn't it make more sense to pay back the company (plus, of course fines) rather than a system of retribution? 


I appreciate Prison Fellowship, a Christian ministry focused on prison reform, for challenging my thinking in this area years ago. It is the world's largest Christian nonprofit organization for prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, and a leading advocate for justice reform.


Prison Fellowship has worked with members of Congress to pass the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (1993), the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (2000), the Prison Rape Elimination Act (2003), the Second Chance Act (2008), the Fair Sentencing Act (2010), and the 21st Century Cures Act (2016) as well as a variety of state-level criminal justice reforms (source: wikipedia article). 


Perhaps changes to the criminal justice system is something that people on from different political parties, as well as different faith backgrounds, can find at least some common ground in. 




Here's a link to Pierce College's website.  

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com

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Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Cross Over Hollywood

The large white cross over Hollywood seems like an appropriate image on this Saturday before Easter. 

The cross, which is lit at night and clearly seen from the Hollywood Freeway, was originally designed to be part of the Hollywood Bowl's Easter sunrise service. 

Another view, in the neighborhood adjacent to the Hollywood Bowl. The cross was originally on public property. The small plot of land was sold to private non-profit organization, which is responsable for it's upkeep, maintenance, and electrical bill. 

It's a link to a previous post with a bit more information. And how a cross wasn't part of, then was part of, then wasn't part of, and is again part of the Los Angeles County Seal. 

While we've hosted our fair share of neighborhood Easter egg hunts over the the years, I still love this cartoon:

Christianity Today, April 2009


Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. 

Wishing you a happy and meaningful Easter from Experiencing Los Angeles. 

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com




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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Emerson College, Los Angeles campus


When we lived in Los Angeles, my son was in Kindergarten through 4th grade. This year, he's a Freshman at San Diego State University. Tims flies. Time really flies. 

He applied to a lot of different colleges and universities. He was accepted to Emerson College in Boston. Great campus, amazing location, but just wasn't going to work for us financially. That's OK. 

Emerson has a Los Angeles campus, located on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood, pictured above. Pretty cool. 


We were in Los Angeles this past week, spending time together as a family. In some ways, a repeat of a similar family three day get-away back in 2013.

Except now, it's not a given that my kids will have similar Spring Break. This year we did, so we seized the day. 


I'll post some photos of this most recent trip when I get a chance. 

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com

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Saturday, March 23, 2019

States with a smaller population than Los Angeles County






A few months back I stumbled across this map in the Geography Department at University of California, Santa Barbara titled "States with a smaller population than Los Angeles County."

It certainly caught my attention. I'd love to know who first came up with. 

The City of Los Angeles (people 4 million) is within the much MUCH larger Los Angeles County (population 10 million).

Here's a link to a previous post "where or what is Los Angeles" explaining the difference between LA City and LA County

For better or worse, Los Angeles is huge - in terms of people, size, and - yes - influence around the world. 

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com

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Saturday, March 9, 2019

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley


Metro Los Angeles is home to two Presidential Libraries: the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley. 

I was in Simi Valley early last year and got a free sign-in to the Reagan Presidential Library. Sure, why not? 


First stop just outside of the entrance is a section of the Berlin Wall. The Pacific Ocean is off in the distance. 


I believe it was Ronald Reagan who once remarked, "most walls are used to keep people out. The Berlin Wall was designed to keep people in." It's hard to imagine the Reagan Library without a section of the Berlin Wall. 


A piece of the 96 mile wall seems like a fitting start to the Library. An even larger section of the Wall can be found in Los Angeles along Wilshire Blvd (here's a link to a previous post).

Let's head back inside. 


The Library was PACKED. Chalk it up to lots of out of town visitors during the Christmas Break, or the special displays they had from the Titanic (which was a special ticket and I opted not to pay to see) - the Library was crazy crowded. Certainly an older crowd, that would have remembered - and probably voted for - Reagan. 


The Library starts with photos from Reagan's childhood and growing up years in Dixon, Illinois. Reagan moved to California to pursue a career in acting in 1937. He eventually, served as the President of the Screen Actor's Guild, host of General Electric Theater, and Governor of California from 1966-1974. A life long Democrat, he switched political parties in 1962. 


Hands on, interactive displays. 


Air Force One. Regardless of your political affiliation, this was impressive. 


I opted to wait in line, go inside. Pretty cool. 


A display outside on the Secret Service, the agency entrusted with protecting the President (as well as former Presidents, and their families). 


Ending the Cold War (or hastening the end of the Cold War) was Reagan's greatest legacy. While Reagan was not solely responsable for ending the Cold War with the USSR, even his detractors generally credit his foreign policies resulting in it ended sooner. How much a difference he individually made is the subject of endless discussion. 


Even growing up in this era, I didn't fully understand that West Berlin was located 100 miles from the rest of West Germany, located on four sides by Communist dominated East Germany. Meaning that the 96 mile Berlin Wall was designed to keep the East Germans from "escaping" to the city of West Berlin, what was considered an island of freedom. 

The Berlin Wall was erected in 1961, and finally torn down in 1989 at the collapse of the Soviet Union, two years after Reagan's "tear down this wall" speech. 


Photos of Eastern Europeans resisting the Soviet domination of their respective countries. 


The two men ultimately responsable for the end of the Cold War: US President Ronald Regan and Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev.


Polish Solidarity leader Lech Valenza and President Reagan posting in front of the section of the Berlin Wall at this Reagan Presidential Library. 


There's a lot more to see. I felt like I got a great "highlights" version, time to exit through the obligatory gift shop. 

Having lived through this era, it's easy to only have nostalgic view of the 1980's. That everything then was better than today. I think that's just human nature. Were there things that were better 35 years ago? Of course, yes. Were there things that weren't? Again, yes. 

King Solomon wrote: "Do not say, "Why were the old days better than these?" For it is not wise to ask such questions." (Ecclesiastes 7:10). 

Elsewhere, the Hebrew Scriptures refer to the tribe of Issachar as a group of individuals "who understood the times and knew what Israel should do." (I Chronicles 12:32). 

Understanding the times comes from knowing the past, engaging with the present, and looking to the future. How in the world did men and women in the past deal with the challenges and opportunities they faced in their era? What can we learn that will help us as we work through the challenges and opportunities in our era? While looking back, it's equally important to engage with the current era, with the current generation. To think what will the next 35 years - and beyond - look like? And what kind of legacy are we leaving? 


A final view leaving in the early afternoon. The museum was insanely crowded when I showed up in the morning. By the afternoon, it wasn't bad. 


I could not believe how popular the museum was. I guess Reagan was a popular president. 

The museum's parking lot was no doubt filled even before the museum even opened. I parked by car at the bottom of the hill, and then got a ride to the top by my sister-in-law, who was a museum member and kindly signed me in. 


The 1980's meet the 1980's -- there was a DeLorean parked about a half a mile from the entrance. DeLorean's were manufactured from 1981-1983, during Reagan's first term in office, and gain noterietay through the "Back to the Future" film series. Fitting car for the era. Even more fun if it was parked out front of the museum. 





The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is located approximately 50 miles north west of downtown Los Angeles in Simi Valley. Here's a link to the Library's website. 

© 2019 www.experiencingla.com