Sunday, October 2, 2011

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More awesome sights...worldwide!

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I am now writing for this amazing and eclectic travel site. Check it out for daily tips, ideas and new places to explore around the globe.
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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Paramount Ranch

From 1927 to 1997 Paramount Ranch was home to many a bejeweled prostitute, strong silent cowboy, slick, dirty gambler and sigh, the one and only Gary Cooper. Thousands and thousands of hours of film and television were filmed there, most recently that old person perennial favorite," Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman ". The ranch is now a national park nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains. The original Main Street set is still intact and there are great hiking trails and plenty of open space for running and picnics. It is the perfect place to spend an afternoon with the kiddos. I cannot think of a cooler, cheaper place to take young children who are visiting Hollywood---it combines our particular industry with nature and quiet and makes the imagination (even in adults) run absolutely wild. I kept waiting for someone at the train depot... but you may have a more active, less melancholy disposition.

Overall: A-

Directions: Take the 101-N for around 27 miles and take Kanan Road exit, left on Cornell and veer to the right. South 2.5 miles, entrance is on the right.

PS: Speaking of melancholy disposition, my fave game as a child was playing "civil war widow-refugee." I would put on some petticoats we found in my uncle's attic, hide under the dining room table and try and get my porcelain baby doll to go to sleep...

Saturday, May 14, 2011


OK, I am so enthusiastic about LAB ART, the new street art gallery at 217 South La Brea, that I had to walk around Hollywood Forever cemetery for a couple hours to cool off before I wrote down my thoughts. Founder, Iskander Lemseffer, has done a great service to the art world in Los Angeles by displaying the most vibrant, immediate and relevant works of our generation in a space that is alive with the romance of fun and danger- two of my favorite things.

Street Art by its nature must be in your face to get your attention as you drive around this city of never ending walls and sky. A bird hanging from a street post or a tagging rat tagged on a 7-11 can brighten your day and take your mind off the tedium of city life. But the effect of these politically charged, often hilarious and edgy, angry works by 33 different local artists in one gallery is overwhelming and totally thrilling.

Some of the works borrow and appropriate the canon of art history, the tropes of advertising, politics and literature to make powerful and gut busting comments on modern culture. Some are awesomely original. Much of it is highly skilled by artists clearly expert and well trained. Once around the gallery is not enough because on every tightly packed wall, on every inch of the floor there are pieces and if one look does not find you seeing something that makes you laugh or gasp then I don't think you are alive. Even the bar is a work of art and the folks who work there are extremely passionate and knowledgeable.

For some reason as I walked along I kept thinking of the Berlin Wall and how people used graffiti to lay claim or protest or make sense of such a dangerous and oppressive and mysterious symbol. Street art is also about people trying to give voice to their beliefs and dreams on buildings and walls and sign posts they don't technically own, that in many ways represent the capitalistic society that has left them behind. And now through LAB ART they have become part of that society, getting paid for their art...but hell, just because the works are on canvas instead of sidewalks, the brilliance and urgency are still there.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Echo Mountain, Carrol Avenue, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

Two tromping grounds for ghosts and one for our better angels...

Echo Mountain:

Beware! This destination near Altadena is a real hike, not a lackadaisical stroll. You hike three miles up--it is a beautiful but tough climb with lush foliage and vibrant wildflowers. On top of the mountain are the ruins of a trolley system that scaled the mountain and the foundations of resorts that gilded age developers kept building in the Victorian and Edwardian era. They would build a hotel- with tennis courts, dance floors and craft lodges ala Dirty Dancing, and like clockwork it would be destroyed within ten years either by fire or landslide! Oh silly humans. Wonderful views, thought provoking ruins, perfect picnic spots.
Overall: A-
Directions: From Hollywood take the 101-S to the 110-N, continue onto US-66 E. Turn left on Lake Ave. and turn right at East Loma Alta Drive--you will see a giant stone gate guarding the entrance of the park. Perhaps some of the ghostly guests lived on the street below...

Carrol Avenue: A lovely surprise in the middle of downtrodden Angelino Heights. One of the first LA suburbs in late 1800's Los Angeles, Carrol Street was once the home of the very rich who lived in gingerbread, latticed, multicolored manors done up in high Victorian style. The homes are now mostly spectacularly renovated (there are a few duds here and there), the lawns green and sprawling, the trees ancient and drooping and the street lights historically accurate. Neighbors sit on wrap-around porches and chat with one another, even the DWP man and I conversed about the loveliness of the homes. One of the grandest specimens was used in the series Charmed, and quite fittingly, Michael Jackson's Thriller was filmed here.
Overall: B+
Directions: From Hollywood take the 101-S. Exit at Glendale Blvd./Union Ave. Merge onto Belmont Ave., turn left on W. Temple, turn left onto Edgeware then take a left onto Carrol Ave. I suggest a horse-drawn carriage, or a smart and sassy Model T.

Cathedral of our Lady of Angels:
The home of Archbishop Gomez, the sprawling cathedral complex is the headquarters of the greater Los Angeles Archdiocese. Smack in the middle of municipal hell (you can park there to go to jury duty!) the Cathedral is a soaring, golden and moving modern architectural wonder, very sparse and elegant and filled with interesting regional art-- all with an aesthetic sensibility that I would call grand California sleek. Very quiet and peaceful, with an almost empty new crypt (final resting place of Gregory Peck) and little chapels dotted here and there where lonely people kneel to pray.
Overall: A
Directions: From Hollywood take the 101-S and exit at Temple Street. Turn left on Temple Street. Arrive at 555 West Temple.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Studio City Lake Revisited

Back in July I went in search of the mythical Studio City Lake. I ended up at the Tree People preserve and dusty Coldwater Canyon Park and no lake did I find. This did not please me and I gave my friend Lance some lip for leading me astray. He recently informed me that I had simply taken the wrong road. Instead of turning left at the intersection of Mulholland and Coldwater when coming from Hollywood, I should have turned right. It was that simple.

So I decided to right this wrong and I am quite glad I did. Down a lovely, winding road you drive into a beautiful little park which surrounds a calm and shimmering lake. Unlike most lakes in LA, paths actually go right to the water line and there are many marshy areas where ducks and other wildlife paddle right by your feet. You can hop from rock to rock over little streams and picnic tables and benches are placed in scenically romantic spots.

It is the greenest place I have seen in LA (besides the artificial lawns of Beverly Hills). Tall golden stalks sway in the breeze like a Midwest wheat field and purple flowers cover sloping hills. A lone jogger here, a dog walker there, a little cottage where the park ranger lives, another boarded up house with a sunken yard and an old swing's a silent, quaint place.

Except for the F-ING film production. Since this is LA, something was being shot at the lake the day I was there so the roads were clogged with honey wagons and noisy generators and tattooed teamsters. Sometimes it's like there is no escape, you know?

But overall, a must go for anyone who wants a respite from the every-LA-day. There you go Lance! I stand corrected.

Directions: Take Mulholland to the intersection of Mulholland and Coldwater and take a right onto Franklin Canyon Road. Drive till ya get there. You'll know.