One of the things that fascinates me is history. I love historical things—especially recent historical things—and find efforts that preserve those items an interesting read. I also have an interest in transportation: this leads, of course, to an interest in adaptive reuse of airframes (as well as an interest in how old airports are reused, but I digress). Today’s news brought an interesting article related to reuse of airframes; that led me to look up two other stories on the subject.
The trigger article was one in the LA Times about the first 747 being recycled into a restaurant in S. Korea that subsequently failed. That first 747 now sits rusting, unsed, above a noodle shop. Sad, and in many ways sadder than the airplanes mothballed in the various boneyards, for those might stil be used. These frames want to see life and use.
This reminded me of an article about a house in Malibu that was constructed from the frame of a 747. Wings and the tail formed the roof; other parts of the frame made other portions of the structure. Of course, the house is visible from the air, and the home is registered with the FAA so that it isn’t mistaken for a downed aircraft. There’s an article on the transformation here.
Lastly, here’s an article about adaptive reuse of transportion in general: converting trains, planes and subways cars into living and working spaces. Some of the pictures here are quite interesting… and remind me of dinner last night. To explain: my friend, gyesika, has done adaptive reuse: she has adapted an old Air Force GMC truck into a moving art project with chalkboard sides. The last picture in the linked article, about the couple that converted their van into a studio apartment, triggered the memory of her truck. Perhaps, if she reads this, she’ll share the story of the truck.
Today’s lunchtime news chum is a tasty collection of tidbits. Departments include “Changing a Light”, “Dixon Ticonderoga #2”, “The Recovery is Upon Us”, “Grease is the Word”, and “An Ordinary Family, Fuller-Style”:
“I’m an American. I don’t have to see something to know that it’s stupid”. Those immortal words, uttered by Dick Smothers during a comedy routine about a song from the musical “Paint Your Wagon”, really summarize the theme of this article. Most of us don’t know as much as we think we know, and far too many people are willing to spout out opinions that demonstrate this. The following few articles, culled over the last few days of lunchtime reading, demonstrate this:
- From the “Don’t Know Much about Religion” Department: A new survey by the folks at Pew have uncovered that most Americans don’t know jack about religion, especially other religions. This seems to be especially true for Christians; the survey shows that the folks who know religion best are athiests/agnostics, Jews, and Mormans. Is it any surprise, then, to see the responses to the second Disney incident about headscarves: this time, where they were able to accomodate an Islamic employee. Instead of praising Disney for figuring out a solution that allows all Americans to work, you see responses such as “These people should be told in no uncertain terms to either accept the cultural norms of the United States, or live in another country.” or “This all because BO’s statement that America is no longer a Christian country while in fact, Christians are still a majority in this country.” or “America, ONCE a great land, but now caving in to the VERY religion that would LOVE to see America fall!”. I read comments such as this, and I’m worried. The lack of understanding of religion is what led to all the blood libels and fears about Jews in the past, and I fear that going after Muslims would just be a start.
- From the “Don’t Know Much about Politics” Department: There’s a very nice opinion piece over on Politico about the Tea Party, which dovetails quite nicely with what I wrote over the weekend about moderation. For the point of view of this post, I’m focusing on the line “ They believe that politics is essentially corrupt — that deal making and compromise are an abandonment of principle.” This is a clear misunderstanding of how politics works in this country. The goal of opposition parties is not to totally block legislation, but to work to find a middle ground between the parties that works to help the people. Although elected by a majority in their district or state, this does not mean they are not representing the minority voices. The job of politicians is to serve all the people they represent, and to find the compromise positions that serve the interest of the nation. Here’s another quote: “The new Republican caucus will be elected with a mandate to stop Obama’s policies and reverse them wherever possible.” Note that there is nothing here about examining the content of the policies to see if there is anything good: a priori the decision has been made that whatever he says is bad. That’s misunderstanding how government works.
- From the “Don’t Know Much about History” Department: The Market Urbanism blog has a nice piece on the Great American Streetcar Myth. We all know it: That a GM-Standard Oil-Firestone conspiracy bought up all the streetcars so they could sell more busses. It’s at the heart of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. Of course, it isn’t true either: what killed streetcar systems was a variety of factors, from changing public transportation needs to limitations on fares that prohibited infrastructure improvements, and so on. But people never look at the actual history: they are more comfortable believing the myth.
- From the “Don’t Know Much about Anything” Department: The Ventura County Star has a nice AP piece about how kids today don’t know anything. They can edit digital photographs, but don’t know how to use a can opener. They can navigate the net with ease, but are confused about how to actually hang clothes on a hanger. They have no idea how to cook a soft-boiled egg, or to get ice cubes out of an ice cube tray. They don’t know how to address an envelope.
So what does this lack of knowledge say about the future of society (especially as budgets force us to spend even less on education)? Should we give up hope now?
I have a strong belief that there is a thematic connection between these three news items. Can you tease it out?
- The last remaining Clifton’s Cafeteria has been sold. Yes, Clifton’s Brookdale, which I wrote about in this post and which has been open since 1935, has been purchased by the owner of “The Edison” (“The Edison” is a lounge that is housed in an Industrial Cathedral (their word) crafted from LA’s first private power plant, and is an attempt to create living history). The owner is, according to LA Observed, expected to add a speakeasy and tiki bar on the upper levels and add to the menu, reportedly while keeping the low-cost items that draw people into the cafeteria. The current Clifton’s Brookdale is decorated like an old Yosemite lodge, with an old dining room upstairs with the history of the original Clifton’s.
- Many people have heard of the Magic Castle, the private club that is the home for magicians in Los Angeles. The Castle was founded by Milt Larsen, who also operated the Variety Arts (link) in downtown. Well, Milt’s brother and sister-in-law, Bill and Irene, have another home for traditional magic, the Brookledge Follies, in Hancock Park. This is billed as the last stand for traditional close-up magic, against the spectacle that seems to characterize magic today. Brookledge is now the home of a regular magic show, free to invitees but strictly invitation only: you must be invited by a performer or by a guest who has been invited by someone on the inside.
- The San Diego area is well known for its animal preserves, what with Seaworld, the San Diego Zoo, and the
Wild Animal Safari Park. Well, it seems that the San Diego Zoo has a new marine mammal: specifically, a new dead whale. Long dead, in fact, for while excavating for a storm-water runoff tank, construction workers found a 3-million year old whale skeleton (more detail from the San Diego paper). It is rare because it is an intact skeleton; it is a baleen whale, and it’s probably hadn’t reached full adulthood when it died. Evidently, whales have been in the Balboa Park area for a long long time. So far, there is no indication if that whale answered to the name “Shamu”.
Today’s installment of News Chum takes a look back, nostalgically, at things that were:
- The Transbay Terminal. Now, I’m not a Bay Area person; I’m native SoCal. But this article on the history and the closing of the Transbay Terminal fascinated me. Reading about the blocked off diner, the waiting areas, the dark and dingy facilities made me think of two historical places in Los Angeles: Los Angeles Union Station, which has had a ghost restaurant for years (although I think it is used occasionally), and which still echoes with the ghosts of the major passenger trains it once had, and the Pacific Electric Subway Terminal, which is no longer in use and hides its ghosts.
- The Blue Cube. Going a little further south, we have the CSTC, better known as the Blue Cube. The Blue Cube—in fact, all of Onizuka AFS—is shutting down, and the Mercury News has a nice article on it. For the last 25 years I have been involved with companies involved with the Blue Cube and the satellite business. My current employer is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary, and we have been involved with the cube since it is earliest days. I do remember driving by it regularly when I was up there; its interesting to see it go.
- Politics For The People. Another thing that we’ve lost—and perhaps the most tragic—is politics for the people, as opposed to politics for the special interests or politics for the party. A number of things bring this to mind—perhaps the most galling are the comments you can read on almost any political news post that seem to blame ever single problem in the world today on President Obama. Even the LA Times has an article on how Obama is the Velcro president: problems just seem to stick to him, and his significant legislative accomplishments seem to be lost. We forget the successes; we don’t see how things might have been worse. We seem to have lost the ability to think critically. How many people today remember that it wasn’t the Democrats that have passed the most sweeping legislation to impact industry and raise costs for both industry and government—it was the Republicans (the legislation that created the EPA and the need for Environmental Protection Reports was passed by the Nixon administration)? Even when the Government tries to solve problems (as with the legislation to address the loopholes that led to the Gulf Oil spill), it gets bogged down by party line voting. As long as we define ourselves by what we are against, instead of having a positive statement of what we are for, the ability of our politicians to actually solve problems is just a thing of the past.
Today’s Google logo is an actual playable PACMAN game. Don’t believe me? Just leave up the screen.
Item The First. As you have probably figured out by now, I have fond memories of Sheriff John, a childrens television host here in Los Angeles. So, you can imagine how pleased I was to see an update regarding the Sheriff (who’s real name is John Rovick) in Gary Lycan’s Radio column:
Yes, the name “Sheriff John” carries many of us back to our childhood, or if you are younger, maybe your parents who grew up here spoke of the popular local TV personality in the ’50s and ’60s who entertained us daily with his Lunch Brigade show on channel 11.
John Rovick got his start in Toledo radio, so he qualifies for a shout-out here, and I’ve heard from many of you over the years you love knowing whatever happened to your favorites of yesteryear.
So, thanks to David Grudt, who was in Idaho recently and got to visit with “Sheriff John” in Boise. He sent this note to LARadio.com:
“He turned 90 last October and is in an assisted living facility. John’s mind is still sharp. My friend and I were there for 90 minutes chatting about his years in the business….John still has that great smile” Grudt had two Imperial Records for “Sheriff John” to sign. One was a blue label 45, “Laugh and Be Happy.”
Item The Second. You may also know that another area of interest of mine is grocery stores, specifically the history thereof. Therefore, I was quite interested when I read in Curbed LA that the historic “Marina” style ex-Safeway (now a Vons) at Santa Monica and Barrington is being torn down to be replaced with a Pavilions. Even more interesting was paragraph:
With this new one, the Pavilions just up the street at Wilshire and Stoner will likely close in the next few years, according to officials. The Pavilions project on Santa Monica Boulevard comes on the heels of two recent mixed-use projects in this area, so it looks like gentrification is rearing its head even during the Great Recession.
Now, I remember when that Pavilions went in. It was during the reconstruction at Wilshire and Stoner that replaced a Ralphs with the new store; that Ralphs was previously a Market Basket (I know all this because my parent’s office was at Wilshire and Barrington, right above Diamond Jims). At the time they built that store, it was to serve the senior community at the Barrington Plaza. I guess those seniors have up and died, because no senior is going to be able to walk the hill past Uni Hi to Santa Monica.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m interested in history. Here are three stories I found in the news that I found of interest: