This Is My City

As Jack Webb almost once said (yunguns, look him up), “This is my city, Los Angeles, California”. Here are a few stories I’ve accumulated over the weeks about my city, and places that I’ve actually been to or near:

  • Earl Carroll Theatre. I was at this theatre many years ago to see Ain’t Misbehavin‘. I didn’t know its historical significance then. It later became the Nickelodeon Studios, and will now be refurbished. Much of the glory is still there, as these photos show.
  • Daniel Freeman Hospital. The place where I entered the world many many (many) years ago. Later bought by Tenet Healthcare, and then closed. It is now being torn down, to become luxury homes.
  • Westside Pavilion.  Back when I was at UCLA in the late 1970s, this was a small surface shopping center with a market (Vons, IIRC), a good sushi place, a Sees Candy, and a large May Company (with a spiral driveway where I scraped a car once). Then it was “mallified”, taking all the character out of it and become an haven for the wannabe rich (the rich had Century City). It expanded, took out a perfectly good bowling alley. Today? Malls are out of favor, Nordstroms ran to Century City, and Macy*s (nee Robinsons May nee May Co) is closing. Anyone want to buy a mall? Rumor is that with retail out of favor, this will either become open-air shopping (like it was originally), or mixed use with housing and shopping near the Expo line.
  • The Panorama. When we went to go see Man Covets Bird, there was this odd little theatre across the street that we later learned was the Velaslavasay Panorama, an old fashioned type of entertainment from the time before movies. They’ve reopened, and there’s one last chance to view their installation of Effulgence of the North before they change it. It is described as  “a panoramic exploration of the limitless horizon which lies beyond a frigid terrain, illuminated by the ethereal Aurora Borealis.” Next to be installed: Shengjing Panorama. You have until Sunday to see it.

Bigger and Better in Los Angeles

I’m doing my best to limit myself to one political musing per day, and I’ve met my quota. So let’s turn to my city and county, Los Angeles, and see how it is on the brink of some big changes:

  • Biggest IKEA in the US. Come February, the current Ikea near the Colony Theatre is closing, and a gigantic (shall we say “yuuuuge”) IKEA is opening down the street. The store will be 456,000 square feet, nearly twice as large as the previous Burbank store, replacing a total of 19 different storage buildings. The store will also include parking for 1,700 vehicles, a childcare facility, and a 600-seat restaurant significantly larger than the dining area at the existing Burbank location. The store will display the whole range of products that Ikea has to offer. Shoppers will be issued Firhot Flare Guns upon entry, together with Gaarmaan GPS maps and whistles to call exclusive IKEA Doog robots if shoppers get lost.
  • The Chargers Return. The San Diego Chargers are coming to Los Angeles, where they will be known as the San Diego Chargers of Los Angeles. Perhaps I should say “returning”, after all, they played their first season here before giving up and heading south in more ways than one. The general reaction of most people in the city is “yawn”. Inglewood is happy, because they will have even more nights with “home” football games. I’m not sure whether they will be successful in the move. I’d wish them the same success as the Rams, but I’m trying my best not to be nasty. Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders are planning to run to Vegas and have a quick nuptual presided over by Elvis (who is getting a street named after him, but that will be a different post)
  • A Magical Duplication. There is an old convoluted, invitation-only, black-tie house in the Hollywood Hills called the Magic Castle, operated by the family of Milt Larsen, where it serves as the home to the Academy of Magical Arts. Evidently, an unknown side-show magician who was once on TV has indicated more slight-of-hand magicians are needed in Washington DC; as a result, the Larsen family has decided to open a second Magic Castle. The new castle will be near Santa Barbara and called the “Magic Castle Cabaret”, and will overlook a lake and nature preserve in Montecito (the property formerly housed the Casa del Sol restaurant and events center). The structure is about a fifth the size of the Hollywood castle and will feature a 50-seat theater and a lounge.
  • Ewoks in the Park. George Lucas has announced that he has finally selected where he will put his musuem of Star Wars Ephemera and randomly collected art works. Exposition Park. As if that park didn’t have enough museums and attractions with the California ScienCenter, the African American Museum, the Rose Garden, the Natural History Museum, the Space Shuttle Pavilion, plus an LAUSD elementary school, the Coliseum,  and the new LA Soccer Stadium. There’s plenty of space and parking. Right?

Los Angeles: Going, Going, Gone

userpic=van-nuysThis collection of news chum has coalesced around the theme of Los Angeles — in particular, some well-known (or somewhat well-known) Los Angeles landmarks that are either gone or seemingly threatened… or coming back in different incarnations.



A Museum Day in the Valley

userpic=san-fernando-valleyYesterday, my daughter (who is home for break from UC Berkeley) ask to spend a father-daughter day. Knowing she’s a history major, I suggested visiting our two newest museums in the San Fernando Valley, which we did today. So as I record an album appropriate to the day (see Music: below), I though I would tell you about them.

The first museum we visited was the Valley Relics museum in Chatsworth, at 21630 Marilla St. (where Marilla and Owensmouth meet). Although some view Valley Relics as a museum, it is really much more of an organized collection. This isn’t a bad thing; rather, it reflects the fact that museums provide more interpretation and context for the items displayed. Valley Relics is much more about the relics, and they have a remarkable collection. They are a wonderful place to wander and go: “I remember that!”. You’ll find memories big and small: from all sorts of Van Nuys High yearbooks and Busch Garden’s memorabilia to loads of Nudie stuff (including two cars) to restaurant menus from valley restaurants to large signs galore (including the signs from Henry’s Tacos, the White Horse Inn, and the Tiffany Theatre). There are bus and train artifacts, including time tables, and loads of stuff from all sorts of valley businesses. There were quite a few items that I personally have copies of, including the 1971 magazine on the Sylmar Earthquake and the San Fernando Valley book. They would be particularly interested in the albums I’m recording right now, as they came out of CSUN in the 1970s. I’ll note that the curator and collector, Tommy Gelinas, was at the museum and was very friendly; he’s been collecting this stuff for 20 years and finally opened the exhibit space in 2014 (after gaining loads of publicity when he rescued the sign from the Tiffany Theatre and from Henry’s Tacos). Valley Relics is open Saturdays from 10am to 3pm. I plan to be back, and might even have some relics to donate.

The second museum we visited is much more of a traditional museum: The Museum of the San Fernando Valley. This is a much smaller facility, located on the second floor of an office complex in Northridge, at 18860 Nordhoff St., Suite 204, 91324 (about a mile or so from our house, at Nordhoff and Wilbur). They, too, have been a wandering museum for a long time, finally finding a home in 2014. They fit the museum title better, having interpretive exhibits that explain the portion of the collection on display and put it in some semblance of context. To me, I wish the context had a bit more valley content; for example, there was a wall of pictures of motion picture stars — I would have liked to have seen more explanation of each star’s connection to the valley. There were a number of exhibits up when we were there, including an exhibit on the Westmoreland family of Hollywood makeup artists, an exhibit on the valley’s contribution to defense efforts, an exhibit about public art in the valley, and a photography exhibit. Between all these exhibits, however, there was much less of the valley’s history shown. There were also knowledgable docents, who were also board members. The museum also had a library: I was able to look at valley plat maps from 1966, which showed conclusively that Rinaldi Place was previously Rinaldi St., and (after a discontinuity over Aliso Creek), continued on through to Reseda and points west (before it was wiped out by the 118 freeway). Again, this is a place I want to visit again. The Museum of the San Fernando Valley is open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 1 to 6 pm (8pm on Tuesdays).

Contrasting the two facilities is interesting. Valley Relics provides many of the cultural touchpieces that those who grew up in the valley will remember; in doing so, it provides much of the valley’s history. The Museum of the SFV provides much more interpretation and context (which is needed), but over a much more limited window into their collection (due to space limitations). It is definitely worth visiting both facilities, and one wishes there was a true facility that covered the complete history of the region, the forces that shaped its development (water, the movie industry, farming, defense, planned communities, and much more). Although the Autry is peripherally in the valley (being at the edge of Los Angeles and Glendale in Griffith Park), and would have the facilities to tie all the pieces together, it doesn’t have that focus in what it shows (or at least, in what I’ve seen).

Music: Let’s Eat Cactus (CSUN ’78 Jazz Band; Joel Leach, director; Gordon Goodwin, tenor sax):  “Four Pictures for Jazz Orchestra”

Music: Studio CityMusic Minus One (Piano) (CSUN ’76 Jazz Band; Joel Leach, director; Gordon Goodwin): “Puesta Del Sol”


Saturday Stew: Clearing out the Groupatwos before Pesach

Observation StewIn the Talmud, there is a learned Rabbi who opines that groupatwos are to be considered Chametz during Passover. Luckily, this week was so busy I accumulated a bunch of groupatwos. So let’s get that feather and that candle and get them out of the links list before Passover starts Monday night:



Saturday News Chum: Poor Wandering Subject

Observation StewAh, the weekend. Time to rest, relax, and recharge… while gorging yourself on this collection of interesting links that didn’t quite fit into a theme:



Saturday News Chum Stew: On The Outs

Observation StewIt’s Saturday, and you know what that means. That’s right — it’s time to go to Games Day 55. So while I’m playing games, you can enjoy some tasty news chum stew:



Addendum: A Trip to Hollywood Boulevard

A brief lunchtime addendum to yesterday’s post about Hollywood Boulevard:

Music: Mi Tierra (Gloria Estefan): Hablas De Mi