December 17, 2014
From my recent visit to San Francisco.
November 23, 2014
Great Los Angeles Walk 2014
This year's Great Los Angeles Walk was all in the San Fernando Valley, proceeding from Warner Center mostly along Ventura Boulevard easterly to Lankershim Boulevard and then north to the North Hollywood Red/Orange Lines station. The organizer measured it at 17.12 miles, but I think his distances are car miles and, therefore, straighter and shorter than pedestrian wandering miles. My GPS said my mileage was 18.8. All of it was in Los Angeles proper, but the neighborhoods included Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Encino, Sherman Oaks, Studio City and North Hollywood.
The route also traversed this neighborhood I've marked in green for which I could find no name. It's bordered by Toluca Lake, West Toluca Lake, Studio City, Universal City and North Hollywood. If anyone can give me a name, I'd appreciate it.
A little rotation and perspective. North is to the right in this image and we walked from top to bottom.
A big plus for some people this year was that the beginning and end of the route were close to the Orange Line Busway, making it easy to put your vehicle at one end or the other and get back to it fairly easily after the walk. I have some advice, however, for tourists who follow after me and come to the North Hollywood station for their fist time to catch the Orange Line. That large structure with a big orange arch over the entrance to the escalators that go underground to the ticket machine area where the highlight color is orange and to the waiting platform which is also highlighted with orange where you will see NO signs at all bearing the word "Red;" yeah, that place is NOT the Orange Line. It's the Red Line and your first clue that you have gone in the wrong entrance will come after you pay your fare and proceed to the waiting platform where you will see that either side of the platform will take you to Union Station and you would get there on a train that runs on rails. So, not the Orange Line. If you're looking for the Orange Line, it's across the street. There is one sign at the Red Line station with one arrow pointing to your right as you exit the Red Line station, but it doesn't indicate that you need to cross the street. Over there is a sort of nondescript bus shelter where you will see no color orange and there are no signs saying "Orange," until you get right into the station and look at the maps. The buses are, however, labeled with the word "Orange" and have some orange trim. This will only help you if a bus is there and you can see it from across the street.
IOW, the Metro's system designer must have worked for Boston's MBTA before coming here.
And while I'm on it, I have a few more observations about the Orange Line. As expected, every sign is in both Spanish and English, except for the warning labels on the poles next to the rear doors that tell you not to hold onto them. Those are only in Spanish. Both poles, left and right, have Spanish warnings. Are we to assume that English speaking people don't ever grab those poles or that they never ride standing up?
The names of stops on the Orange Line are announced once and once only. For some reason, the recorded voice always drops slightly when speaking the actual name, so that I could almost never understand it. Simultaneously, the electronic message display at the front (which is far less sophisticated than the ones they use on ordinary buses) will also display the name of the next stop once and once only at the same time as the recorded announcement. Then the display goes blank. Why it can't be continuously displaying the name of the next stop until it's needed for something else is something I don't know.
When you're waiting in a station and the electronic display shows you the times of the next three Orange Line buses coming, those are not the times of the next three buses coming. That is only a list of the scheduled times. You might as well look at your paper schedule. There seems to be no communication link between the Orange Line buses and the Metro system so that passengers might be able to realistically gauge their travel times. Every other transit system I've encountered that electronically shows train or bus times uses real times based on real feedback, not simply a display of scheduled times.
Despite all of that I somehow managed to traverse the distance from North Hollywood to Warner Center where our walk began. The walk was far less interesting than my three previous walks which all started in central L.A. and headed to Santa Monica, routing us through a range of economic levels and historical architecture. Ventura Boulevard in the San Fernando Valley is fairly much homogenous.
This unusual building heralded a view to the east that let us know our walk was going to be downhill for the next 15 or 16 miles as we descended towards the L.A. River.
The small building on the left is the Blue Velvet Beauty Boutique on Lankershim Boulevard.
I'm not as impressed by the claim of "real falling snow" (you can just rent that from Hollywood) as I am by the idea of a 7-foot Hanukkah puppy. This is a Hanukkah tradition I'd not heard of before.
The Valley's Miracle Mile is not quite as impressive as the one on Wilshire Boulevard, but I'm sure they are trying really hard.
Memorial to Thomas G. Taylor who died fighting a fire at this location which is now a Wells Fargo bank. The full story is here and there you will find the photo of the firefighter's 9-year old son which was the basis for the image on the memorial that wraps around the corner to the right. Here's a recent news story. The fire was started by an arsonist who, as of 2013, was still in prison.
"Vape" - new dictionary word of the year. On a related note, while I was waiting for the Orange Line bus a fairly stereotypical medium-sized old lady, wearing her everyday cloth coat, and carrying some shopping whipped out her vape device, took a big draw, and exhaled a cloud of smoke that was obviously from cannabis. Then she put it away.
Related to that is this sign I saw on Lankershim Boulevard. If it needs explaining, an ounce is 28.3495 grams. Marijuana traditionally has been sold in "eighths," an eighth of an ounce, which is about 4 grams. This dispensary claims their 8ths somehow contain 6 grams, which is all fine and good, but it's what they charge for that eighth that matters, isn't it?
This was the goal at the end of the walk. Not exactly the ocean view from Santa Monica, is it? In fact, I would have passed this by except there were about a dozen walkers hanging out there chatting and taking photos.
October 22, 2014
It's The Great L.A. Walk, Charlie Brown!
Everything (almost) you need to know. Saturday, November 22, meet at Warner Center Park in Woodland Hills (5800 Topanga Canyon Boulevard) for the 9 AM departure. Walk at your own pace, relying on your own wits and resourcefulness to get to the Television Academy courtyard (5200 Lankershim Boulevard), a scant 17 miles away.
I hope that the Television Academy is an incredibly beautiful structure, because when the walk ended in Santa Monica (the last three years), getting a sunset view of the Pacific was some good motivation. The intersection of Magnolia and Lankershim in North Hollywood does not seem to have the same draw. But what do I know? I've never been to that intersection, which probably has vistas to rival any national park.
There is no fee to walk. This is not a charity fundraiser. You walk to enjoy walking in an ever-shifting urban environment. No waiver to sign, because who're you gonna sue?
October 13, 2014
First American Aerial Photo
The first aerial photo shot in the U.S. was by James Wallace Black, and it was of central Boston on October 13, 1860. The photo is now in the possession of the Metropolitan Museum of Art as part of the Gilman Collection.
(Here's a link to a version that I edited to adjust contrast and sharpness a little which might assist in picking out smaller details.)
The significant landmark that's easy to pick out is Old South Meeting House.
After the Boston Massacre in 1770, yearly anniversary meetings were held at the church until 1775 featuring speakers such as John Hancock and Dr. Joseph Warren. In 1773 5,000 people met in the Meeting House to debate British taxation, and after the meeting a group raided a nearby tea ship in what became known as the Boston Tea Party.
Old South Meeting House still stands at the same spot, very little altered since 1860 - since 1773, for that matter.
This is from roughly the same viewpoint as the 1860 photo. You can just barely see the steeple on Old South.
October 6, 2014
East Los Angeles
Yesterday's CicLAvia extended much further into East Los Angeles than it (or I) had ever been, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to start at the east end and walk as far as I could.
My route which was about 9 miles (RT).
The next CicLAvia is December 7, 2014. I believe they are trying to put together a route in San Fernando Valley for sometime next year.
Anthony Quinn Public Library. Anthony Quinn lived in East L.A. as a child.
Belvedere Park, the eastern terminus of yesterday's CicLAvia.
Evergreen Cemetery. Perhaps the most well known celebrity buried here is Eddie Anderson. The cemetery is racially segregated, but never barred any race. It's also where Joseph Winchester Robinson is buried. He came from Waltham, Massachusetts, and founded the "Boston Store" which became Robinson's and then Robinson's May. George Ralphs (founder of the supermarket chain) is buried here as well.
Atlantic Station, the eastern end of Metro's Gold Line.
Boston Gets A Literary Cultural District
The Boston Literary District went live last week. Here's the district's website. These newly authorized cultural districts don't seem to have taxing power, so they seem mostly to be tools for organition, coordination and cooperation among the many cultural institutions in Boston. There is already a Fenway Cultural District that includes the Gardner Museum, the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Berklee College, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Symphony and many more cultural institutions in that neighborhood.
September 15, 2014
Walk Los Angeles
Some organized walks coming up in L.A.:
- Saturday, September 7, Three Is A Magic Number. Twelve mile loop walk starting at Grand Park, downtown, 9 AM. The 12 miles is broken into three parts, and you can bug out when you want to.
- Friday, November 28, Post-Thanksgiving Epic. Starts at Chinatown Gold line station, 9 AM. Fifteen mile loop.
- Saturday, January 17, Ten Bridges Epic. "Walk over every bridge crossing the Los Angeles River between Broadway and Olympic Blvd." About 12 miles, 9 AM at the Chinatown Metro station.
- Saturday, February 7, Stair Trek VIII. 25 miles which include 92 stairways. Meet the in Laurel & Hardy Park, across from the Music Box stairs at Vendome & Del Monte, 8:30 AM. "You will walk every single staircase in the area bounded by the 101 Freeway (south); Riverside Drive (north); Elysian Park (east) and Hillhurst Avenue (west.)"
August 18, 2014
For A Sense Of Scale
August 12, 2014
Sunset Strip History
Atop the very tippy top of Chicago's John Hancock tower with a GoPro. Warning: depiction of tobacco smoking.