Saturday News Chum Stew: A Quilt of Churches, Stores, Rail, History, and E-Tickets

userpic=lougrantIt’s Saturday, meaning it is time to share and comment upon some interesting links that crossed my path. So, while you enjoy your morning tea (coffee? — it only belongs in ice cream or covered in dark chocolate), here are somethings to think about:

  • That’s a Crazy Quilt. Many many years ago, a football player by the name of Rosie Greer (I wonder if anyone remembers him anymore) made the news because he did needlepoint. Male fabric artists tend to be fewer, but bring an interested aesthetic to the craft. Here’s an interesting article about male quilters (of which I know a few). What do I mean by different? One fellow made a “quilt” consisting of interlinking blocks of concrete, stone and ceramics that are meant to be walked and danced on rather than slept under. One is 19 by 22 feet and made from six tons of concrete and 500 dinner plates cut into 4,000 pieces. There’s even a “crazy quilt” made from the scraps of his concrete projects. The exhibition that this article is discussing might be of interest to my wife (who is also a quilter).
  • The Megachurch. Two articles about megachurches. The first concerns the First Baptist Church of Van Nuys, now better known as Shepherd of the Hills. Shepherd has a megachurch in Porter Ranch, across from the center with Walmart, Ralphs, and other Big Boxes. They have just broken ground on a $35 million, 58,600-square foot building, featuring a 3,500 seat auditorium that will be used for worship services and community events, will feature a café with a stage for live music, a bookstore and a large outdoor veranda with seating, fire pits, a waterfall, a fountain and environmental art. It will also boast a tower that will give visitors a panoramic view of the San Fernando Valley. This is a church that is growing. Meanwhile, to the east, is my congregation: Temple Ahavat Shalom. We’re smaller, and facing the challenge of membership (as are many Jewish congregations). An interesting piece in the Forward opines that it is time for the Jewish Megachurch. The notion is that congregations need to take a page from what the evangelicals do. This is not saying a change of belief, but how we express that belief, how we relate to other people, and how we turn Judaism from rote ritual to something enthused with joy and authentic energy.
  • Commuter Rail in Los Angeles. Those are likely two words you never thought went together (“Commuter Rail” and “Los Angeles”). But they do. The 351-mile rail corridor that runs along the coast between San Diego, Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo is the second-busiest intercity route in the nation.Its annual passenger load of 7.4 million is surpassed only by that of the northeast corridor between Boston and Washington, D.C., which handles more than 11.4 million a year. The LA Times recently wrote about the little known agency that keeps that corridor running smoothly: the LOSSAN RCA. Trains that run on this corridor include Metrolink, the Pacific Surfliner, the Coaster, and Amtrack cross country trains (Coast Starlight) and loads of freight. The article notes that LOSSAN will be taking over management of the Surfliner from Amtrak.
  • Preserving for Posterity. Two articles related to preserving information for posterity. The first relates to Google’s abdication of its original mission: to make information uniformly accessible. Google has been slowly let letting its archival projects die: Google Groups (originally the DejaNews archive — remember that?), Google Books, and much more. Luckily, the Internet Archive Project has been picking them up. For anyone with an interest in history, we can be thankful that the Archive is there, and can shake our fist at Google for giving up on saving history. The second relates to the fact that history takes space, and the off-campus library facility at UC Berkeley needs room. This facility provides the off-site archive not only for the libraries at Berkeley, but for all the Northern California UC campuses as well as other organizations.
  • A Cascade in Woodland Hills. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the closure of the two Macy’s at the Westfield Topanga Promenade (leaving that mall with no anchor stores). It noted that Westfield of Borg wasn’t worried (even though they are building a new shopping connector between the Promenade and its sibling, Topanga Plaza, to the north). They’re experts on repurposing lost anchors. Well Westfield now has its hands full, as Sears has announced they are closing their Topanga Plaza store. While I don’t think this complex will become a dead mall,  there are only so many theatres that can go in, and all the other big boxes have existing stores in the area. This should put Westfield to the test.
  • Restaurants in Los Angeles. A number of interesting stories about restaurants in LA, as this is Restaurant Week in LA. The first looks at 26 Classic Restaurants in Los Angeles.  I’ve been to some of these, can’t afford others. I’m thinking Musso and Franks would be good for the Conference Committee dinner.  Mark Evanier has also chimed in with his thoughts on those restaurants. The week has also brought out an article about the original locations of many of LA’s iconic fast food restaurants, as well as an article mentioning the origins of our nearby deli (one of the best in LA).
  • Air Force One. “Get off my damn plane”. Ah, what a fun movie. But I digress. The USAF has announced the aircraft that will replace the existing Air Force One: The Boeing 747-8 — the newest craft in the 747 line and a frame that Boeing has been having difficulty selling. It’s a four engine craft and has great range; perhaps the 787 frame was too new. The actual replacement is a few years out, as they still need to bid on the outfitting. Next up: What to do about the aging Air Force Two, which is 757-based and has no real equivalent US-built replacement these days.
  • An e-Ticket. The last is a quick quip that made me feel old. In an article about a collection of Disneyland original memorabilia being sold was this: “And that glass E-ticket sign is one of only two made. It’s estimated to go for $15,000 to $20,000. (The E  here doesn’t refer to electronic tickets; it signified a coupon for the most popular, top-tier rides at Disneyland.)”. Sigh. To think we’re in a generation where an eTicket is something very distinct from the E Ticket of old. Who among you reading this has no idea what an E Ticket means in relation to Disneyland, and think of an E ticket as something you store on your mobile device?



2 Replies to “Saturday News Chum Stew: A Quilt of Churches, Stores, Rail, History, and E-Tickets”

  1. Interesting article in the Forward. But I have two observations (along the road?):

    1. Wasn’t Hassidism intended to “turn Judaism from rote ritual to something enthused with joy and authentic energy”? It’s perhaps worth noting that Chabad seems to have found a successful formula for attracting members. But based on my own experience with them, it’s not because of Hassidism, which in their hands seems to have transcended what the Baal Shem Tov intended, and turned into something more rigidly Orthodox than Orthodox. That seems to have a lot of appeal for Jews seeking meaning, purpose, and direction an a seemingly vacuous world. It’s the same appeal fundamentalist Christianity has for Christians– and fundamentalist Islam has for young jihadists.

    2. One thing the Forward author forgot was the need for synagogues to attract the Jewish population beyond the “traditional” families with school-age children. It’s great that synagogues focus on families and children, as that’s probably the most important aspect of Judaism. But many Jews today are single, divorced, widowed, or couples with no children or grown children. Synagogues often too often fail to offer programming for those populations, or for adults in general. Why would anyone want to go through the form-filling exercise and pay large dues to belong to a synagogue that doesn’t offer them anything other than sterile prayer services? I don’t know that the megachurch “entertainment” model is the answer, but the current approach of “build a synagogue and families with children will fill the schools” is no longer working.

    1. 1. I agree with you completely (and so would my wife): That’s precisely why Chabad has been successful: they are authentic and welcoming. But there’s no reason that Reform Judaism couldn’t be that way, except, perhaps for Reform Jews 🙂

      2. I also agree, which is why with our Mens Organization I’ve been trying to promote it as a place to build relationships with other men. The school is fine for those with school age kids. Other groups can also build relationships and need to be seen as equally vital parts of building relationships within the organization, be the brotherhood, sisterhood, adult ed, social action, couples club, chavurah, etc.

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