January 3, 2017
Live Like Howard Hughes
This, yes this, was a residence of Howard Hughes. It’s on the market now for only $1.2 million. The real estate company has much nicer photos.
December 17, 2016
Forest Lawn - Glendale
Last weekend I went on an actual paid tour of some of Forest Lawn Glendale. I got to see the show in the Hall of the Crucifixion/Resurrection. That's pretty impressive. There is a diorama of the scene of Christ's crucifixion with an interesting history. The diorama of the Resurrection is smaller and much newer and depicts heaven (it's up in the clouds, so it's got to be heaven, right?) as populated with a lot of Christian crusaders. It also includes St. Peter's in Rome, St. Paul's in London and Christ Church in the City of Boston, i.e., Old North Church. I didn't see anything like a Mormon temple there.
I also went into the Great Mausoleum for the first time. This mausoleum has the greatest concentration of celebrities and also the big stained glass Last Supper (so they really enforce the no photos inside rule here). Michael Jackson is interred here, as well as Elizabeth Taylor. I saw Taylor's grave, but didn't notice it was hers because I was distracted by the huge angel atop it.
They've removed the curtain from the Last Supper, so they can't do the big unveil anymore, but they still play the pre-recorded story of its history.
"The Republic." This is a scaled down replica of the original which was erected at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The original is gone, but there is a replica in Jackson Park in Chicago.
The complete set of photos can be found here.
December 16, 2016
November 21, 2016
The L.A. Cultural Heritage Commission visited Hotel Cecil on Main Street. The lobby is quite nice. They also took us up to the 14th floor to see a couple of typical rooms. Most rooms do not have baths, so there are shared toilets and showers on each floor. All of the rooms are small; about 11' by 17'. We saw one room that had no bath and it was pretty small, but included a small flat screen TV and a clock radio that included a mount for an iPod (the old Apple connection, not Lightning). Then they showed us a room with a bath. It was still 11' x 17', so they just used almost all the open floor space to put a bathroom (shower, toilet, sink) in there. There was about 18 inches of clearance on either side of the bed, and if there was any furniture besides the bed, I can't recall it. The hotel is now doing business as "Stay On Main." The rooms are very plain,
Catalina Swimwear Building
On a tour with the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission. Here's the Wikipedia article for Catalina Swimwear.
The building is live/work lofts. That's one of the Commissioners front and lower center.
A bit of newer stuff was pulled off to reveal some of the original facade, which will be restore.
Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission
On Thursday morning last week I attended a 9 AM meeting of the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in LA City Hall. They had two things on their agenda that morning: first was to consider designating the Bob and Dolores Hope Estate in Toluca Lake as a monument; second was to go visit and tour Hotel Cecil and the Catalina Swimwear Building. It was the second thing that I came for, but the Bob Hope house issue was very interesting.
Above is the Google Earth view of the estate.
Below is what the public could see from the street.
The place is owned by the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. First the staff made its presentation with a slide show and talk all about how ultra famous Bob Hope was. Under Los Angeles law there are two different bases that can justify declaring something a monument. One basis is the usual: great cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. The second is that it was the home of a celebrity. The Bob Hope house was proposed (by a city council member) due solely to the celebrity status. Staff admits it has no cultural, historical, architectural (etc.) significance. In discussion the Commissioners said that in L.A. they obviously are not going to declare every residence of every celebrity a monument or they would consume a significant portion of the housing market. But they agreed that Bob Hope was just about the most famous person in the world.
After the staff report the Foundation got up to make their comments. They were daughter Linda Hope and a couple of other people, one of whom may have been an attorney. They told us quite a different story than staff told. Right off the bat, Linda Hope said they had the wrong address. The correct address is 10346 Moorpark Street. Staff had supplied the address as 10350 Moorpark Street. No points for staff there. Then she went on to explain that while staff had described the house as French Chateau style, only the original house was French Chateau and that Dolores Hope had almost continually added wings and additions so that now the house was some sort hodge-podge of no significance. She also disputed their description of the grounds which staff said included a "one-hole par 3 golf 'course'." Linda Hope said it was only a small decorative thing that could not really be used for golf.
Worse, she said, was that there was no way the Los Angeles public could access the house. In the '90s the Hopes had considered making it into a museum, but quickly learned that since it was in a quiet upscale residential area with narrow streets, there was no way it could be a museum open to the public. So the Hopes' final instructions were to use the estate to help fund the Bob & Dolores Hope Foundation. The intention of the trustees was to sell it. The place had been sitting on the market for ages but not long ago the first decent offer was submitted. That was when the city council member asked that the Cultural Heritage Commission consider the property. The decent offer was immediately withdrawn.
Linda Hope listed all of the memorials to Bob Hope that are scattered over the Los Angeles area. She said each and every one of those was more significant to the legacy of Bob and Dolores Hope than the estate. Later, Commissioners said they were surprised by the list, not realizing there were already so many memorials; so obviously staff didn't do that research either.
A couple of residents got up to also speak against the designation, but the essence of their arguments was that Toluca Lake is a beautiful, quiet community and any kind of monument there would bring traffic, noise and lower property values. The President of the Commission interrupted both of those commenters (!) to tell them that was of absolutely no concern to this Commission.
One Commissioner suggested giving monument status to only the hedge and gate in front of the house, because those were the only things the public would ever see. I was pretty sure that was a joke, but the President went ahead and explained how impractical that would be.
Finally, a Commissioner made the motion to deny monument status and that was approved 5-0. The decision now goes to city council, since it had originated there and city council could overrule this decision.
The meeting was adjourned and we headed out on our field trip.
June 10, 2016
Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge
A sign in the parking lot for visitors to the bridge is excessively modest. Not only are there four trangender-friendly restrooms, but the parking lot is paved, there's a paved walkway that takes you to the bridge (imagine if they just let visitors clamber over bare rock), and plenty of informative plaques and signs. there is, however, NO DRINKING WATER here. No gift shop either. And certainly no taco trucks.
The parking lot for bridge visitors. If you want to use your GPS to find it, the name is "Mike O'Callaghan - Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge," but I found that as long as you're in the general area, a simple "Tillman" will suffice to find it. "General area" includes at least Las Vegas, where my trip started this day. There are stairs not very visible at the right edge of this photo, so if you can walk stairs, the hike is not so long as if you took the ramp. Hey, I only now noticed the little exposed concrete bench in the curve at the left side of the photo. Yet another amenity!
"Hoover Dam Bypass" may also be a good search term to find it.
Talk about amenities, when did you ever see a Gantt chart rendered in a bronze plaque before? This is clearly a government project. The bridge must have about a dozen of these concrete forms on which plaques could be mounted. The order must have gone forth to come up with a plaque for every one of them (use up that budget!), so they go into a lot more detail than I've ever seen on plaques.
The Arizona end of the bridge. This spot screams out for a brass plaque! No pedestrian access to Arizona. I can see the necessity for this. Unless you've got a nice visitor center with A/C, water and restrooms on the Arizona end, allowing people to simply proceed into the wilderness would, undoubtedly, result in dozens of rescues and the occasional death, as tourists, thinking this is Disneyland, get lost in the rugged terrain. And then there are also the falls to consider. Nope, a relatively cheap concrete wall reduces all those risks substantially. And any young man who thinks he will never die, can easily jump this barrier without having to vandalize any public property.
Looking toward Nevada, you can see the road switchbacking down to the dam itself. I thought when this bridge opened, all unofficial vehicles were banned from atop the dam, but the road seems to be open. Everyone does go through a fairly quick and cursory vehicle inspection before they can proceed to the bridge and dam. I was directed aside there because they saw the storage box in the back of my truck where I keep emergency supplies, like water, a blanket, etc. The officer (is this Bureau of Reclamation jurisdiction?) simply asked me what it was and I told him what I just told you, and he sent me on my way.
There were some brass inserts on the walkway on the bridge, too. Who got the brass plaque contract for this job?
A few photographers were standing alongside me as we all waited for Miss Oblivious to step out of our shot. Look, she isn't even using the shade to make it easier to her phone's screen. I just took this shot and moved on. I wonder if she would object?
The complete set of photos can be seen here, including photos of every single brass plaque on the bridge!
May 2, 2016
Apple Campus Update
Another drone video of the construction of the new Apple Campus. This one has a few captions, so we know what we're looking at.
April 17, 2016
Apple Patents Glass Doors
Actually, they've gotten a design patent on large glass doors without handles for their "Next-Gen" stores. The lack of handles will allow crowds of shoppers to flow more smoothly when a new product is released. [sarcasm]
Here you see them in use at the new Apple store in the Chestnut Hill mall. Boston readers are invited to go inspect these and report back on their magical properties. They can't just be doors, can they?