Category Archives: Uncategorized

Conditioning for Mt. Baldy

From San Antonio Falls to Baldy Notch: monkey flowers, matilija poppies, art and our new friend, Rocky.

Wrights…Frank Lloyd, that is

One of the absolute pleasures of urban adventures is the friendliness of Angelenos.   Time and time again, we have been greeted by residents of historic communities, regaled with stories and memories,  treated with kindness and even generosity.

The l50th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright was no exception.  We set out with an ambitious itinerary of five Wright designed houses:  the Millard House, Barnsdall House, Ennis House, Storer House and Freeman House.  Our plan was to drive by each one (with the exception of Barnsdall House) and stop for a few snapshots.  It almost worked out.

Our first stop was the Barnsdall House, or Hollyhock House.  Leaving our car in the city park below, we climbed three long flights of stairs to the beautifully restored house on the hill.  For a small fee ($3), we were treated to gossipy stories about Frank’s relationship to his son Lloyd, his client Aline Barnsdall and the work involved in the restoration.

We drove by Millard House, or La Miniatura, got out of the car and started snapping.  This was the first of four houses Wright built of textile blocks, concrete blocks cast with geometric designs.  More driving on the crooked and narrow streets of the Hollywood Hills brought us to the Storer and Freeman houses.

It may be that the architect knew little about the ancient script but we still enjoyed the thematic consistency of Wright’s “Mayan Revival.”

Finally, we wound up the streets of East Hollywood again, searching for Ennis House which has been under repair for some time.  To our surprise, there was no activity at the house, so we took the opportunity to photograph the exterior of the house without the distraction of construction activity.  As we gathered for one last group photo in front of the beautiful gate, a cheerful head popped up asking, “Why don’t you take your picture here,” gesturing inside the locked gate!

We were invited in for a tour of the grounds by a kindly friend of the home owner (who happens to be Ron Burkle, the owner of the Stanley Cup winning Pittsburg Penguins.)  He proudly showed off the pristine condition of the renovated house and grounds, noting that a crew from BBC was working to film the interior and exterior of the house, was returning that evening for some evening shots of the house  aglow with lights.  And then he invited us into the house for a very quick look.

“It’s because you were respectful,” he said “and didn’t try to climb over the chain or look over the walls.”  It was an incredible privilege!



Retirement, retirement!

A few pics:

#May Day 2017

Both the LA Times and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported 30,000 marchers at the May Day demonstation in DTLA.  I arrived at 11 a.m. at the launch point on the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Alvarado Street to find a mass of people had filled up MacArthur Park, eager to begin the march up Wilshire Boulevard to City Hall.  It seemed like a massive turnout.

It took that crowd almost thirty minutes, marching and chanting shoulder to shoulder and covering the full width of Wilshire, to leave MacArthur Park.  Two and a half miles and nearly two hours later, they began to arrive at Grand Park, gradually filling in the rising parkland facing the stage at City Hall.  There were waves of red, orange, purple, black, blue.  Signs in Spanish and English, men, women, children.  All ages.  All colors.  All genders and persuasions.

Words of the day:  “No!” “Unidas,” “Si, se puede!”

Nearly one hundred unions and community groups were represented, according to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.  The Teamsters, several chapters of SEIU, Roofers, Steelworkers, Health Care Workers, the FMLN.  Huh?  The FMLN?  The Marxist group that fought a revolutionary war in El Salvador for years and only recently laid down their guns to become a political party?  They marched with an eye-catching banner.

The march passed through all the elements that make up DTLA…high rises, office workers, construction, the freeway.  Denizens and drivers waved, honked, took pictures and the crowd waved back and cheered  as it surged past restaurants, past coffee shops, the Grand Central Market and Angel’s Flight to Grand Park.


It just seemed like more than 30,000 people.

A March for Science in Los Angeles

It seems strange that we demonstrated  for science … isn’t it the foundation of modern life … likening the march to demonstrating in favor of food or water or oxygen?

Nonetheless, thousands of us converged on DTLA, riding buses, the metro, carrying signs, props, even costumes.  Signs of the day:   “No science, no internet,”  “No plague? That’s Science.”  But the very best:  “No science, no BEER.”

I would add, “No science, no photography!”  Armed with my Galaxy Mini S4 to document the event, it was hard to miss the humorous and sometimes witty flavor of the day.  Still, too slow to boot up, my phone camera missed the raunchy cardboard cutout of President Trump.  And because of my lack of height, I missed a gory, dripping sign that read “Even Zombies Love Brains.”         (Everyone else’s heads covered the bottom word, Brains. )

Bloomin’ mustard

Chino Hills State Park is covered with yellow mustard, wild radish and poppies.  Trailheads seem to have disappeared in the mustard…we couldn’t locate Raptor Ridge, for example, nor the Hills for People trail.

Return to Retro…the Astro Loop

It is always a pleasure to return to a section of Los Angeles that sports a busy urban corridor rising to mansions on the hills, all replete with history and (more importantly) good eating.

This Thursday we returned to Silver Lake with hillside homes sometimes owned by  celebrities, crumbling staircases that once provided shady routes to the Red Car electric rail line that connected the city.

We started at the Astro Family Restaurant with its goofy star and retro dining room.  It offered excellent coffee and gigantic servings of eggs, potatoes, and French Toast.  Nothing to do afterwards but walk it off climbing those stairs … first 56 then 156…to a view of the LA basin and a house once owned by Judy Garland.

One of the great pleasures of these Secret Stairs walks comes when meeting residents who love to share stories about their celebrities.  This time, we heard about Tom Mix and the studio he built so he could film in the woodsy trees that are still home to grey herons and red-tail hawks that soar above the neighborhood.

We bypassed the Home Cafe and headed to Los Felix for lunch at Alcove.  No pictures…too eager to dive into my grilled vegetable salad…

On the way back to the car, we passed a beautiful Spanish style church with an appealing red door and a sign inviting passersby to visit.  There we were greeted by Sexton of  St. Mary of the Angels Church, Bruce, who happily shared the turbulent story of the small congregation that now calls it home.  Founded in l908,  St. Mary of the Angels was home to celebrities like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.  The current building was completed in l930 but is an on-going project, as is the desired reunion with the Roman Catholic Church, the issue that caused the 4 1/2 year fissure that divided the original congregation of about 60.