Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

L.A. historical transit system

Via Curbed LA, the attached link shows a map of the transit system L.A. abandoned in favor of freeways.  That turned out well....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blade Runner location video

This is pretty cool - a 10 minute video juxtaposing scenes from Blade Runner with views of the actual locations.

Philippe the Original

JJ had the great idea of going down to the California Science Center today, and we had a great time.  I didn't get too many pictures (a couple are in the slideshow of one of the outer structures).  But afterwards, we decided to go to Philippe's for lunch.  I hadn't been there in a long time, my dad & my grandpa used to like to go there.  For those of you who don't know, the restaurant has been around since 1908 and Philippe supposedly invented the French Dip sandwich.  Whether he did or not it's the same as it ever was and Philippe's is the best.  We also ordered lemonade, potato salad, and boysenberry pie.  I wasn't thinking about pie, but literally almost every person in front of me ordered a piece of pie, which made me think "Well, looks like I need to order some pie".  I've never been there when the place wasn't jammed.  Mini slideshow after the jump.  And yes, that is indeed the famed SR-71 Blackbird sitting outside the Science Center.  What an impressive piece of machinery - my dad and I saw it flying at an air show a long time ago, and it is one of the coolest memories I have from childhood.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Valley Dude in the Second City

I was in Chicago on business, and on my last day there I was scheduled to be on a late flight (like 8:15 p.m.) to L.A.  Well turned out I didn't need to leave that late and could have left hours earlier, except American Airlines now has a NO STANDBY policy for non-elite flyers (meaning any change costs at least $150, even if you want to try to stand by - and that's before the fare change).  BOOOO.  So I had some time to spend after my last meeting, and took a walk through Millennium Park and visited the Art Institute of Chicago.  I was blown away by the stunningly beautiful architecture surrounding the Park and the pre-eminence of the Art Institute.  I had also experienced sheer awe at being on a rooftop next to Wrigley Field earlier in the week.  I guess I can't be all that mad at American Airlines now :-) The pictures of the buildings and art don't do either justice, in fact some of the pix of the art downright suck (except maybe the ones of Seurat's Sunday Afternoon).  Still, I can't help but share as they'll give you some teensy little idea of where I was.  Slideshow after the jump.

 Cloud Gate (a/k/a "The Bean")

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Mulholland Drive Bridge

On the weekend of July 16-17, half of the Mulholland Drive Bridge (the bridge that spans the I-405 at the Sepulveda Pass) will be demolished and then rebuilt to accommodate plans for a wider freeway.  The other half will be demolished and rebuilt next year.  I thought I would snap a few pictures before the bridge, as I've known it my whole life, goes away.  Unfortunately I couldn't get close to the bridge for a long shot as the embankments above the 405 were fenced off for construction equipment.  A nice little history, along with some pretty cool photos of the bridge when it was brand new are at the Metro's website here.   More photos below the jump.

View of the I-405 looking north towards the Valley, taken from the bridge

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Walk along the L.A. River

Some of you may not know this -- Los Angeles actually has a river.  Many years ago, the Army Corps of Engineers covered most of it in concrete for flood control purposes, but it is still a river.  There are some sections where the river still has an earth bottom, and I walked along one on a bright Sunday afternoon that transported me from the city into a wholly unexpected nature walk, feeling like I had escaped from the city.  This particular stretch of river is in between Balboa and Woodley.  Slideshow below the jump.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Japanese Garden and The Donald C. Tillman Reclamation Plant

One of my favorite places in the Valley by far is the Japanese Garden and Tillman Reclamation Plant area, located in the Sepulveda Basin (the Reclamation Plant treats waste water).  It is an amazingly tranquil and zen place, and my wife and two boys went there today.  I might hazard a guess that it's one of the most incredible dual use places anywhere in the world.  I took so many photos, I just think everything is beautiful.   The whole place speaks for itself in the pictures.  LOTS of pictures in the slideshow after the jump.  And - in the next post, I'm going to post pictures of my stroll along the L.A. River today.  Yes, we have an honest-to-goodness river in Los Angeles, even with its own itsy-bitsy rapids.

Slideshow below the jump

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Big Sky Morning

I was greeted by a beautiful sky during my morning walk today.   I used to wonder why the two sections of L.A. are so different - the SFV and the "city" side of L.A. - but I don't really wonder that anymore after living on both sides of the hill for many years.  A short slideshow is after the jump.


Friday, May 27, 2011

The Bear Pit

Oh boy, I was looking forward all week to going to The Bear Pit.  I hadn't been there in at least 20 -- more likely 25 -- years.  As a kid, I would go there with my mom, dad & sister and I think it was probably my favorite place to go to dinner.  (The BBQ beans, man -- I mean I remembered exactly how they tasted).  I was so excited - were the beans the same?  Were the bears still there painted on the wall?  Was the sawdust on the floor?  So today comes and we're all excited - my two boys, my wife and me - and I got off work early, and it is a gorgeous afternoon.   We get there, walk in and bam!  It's like I was back in time 30 years ago.  I got the baby back ribs, with slaw and fried potatoes (not french fries, literally whole little fried potatoes).  And of course the beans.  I'm not normally one for ribs, but here you gotta go all in.   Yum freekin' yum.  K was disappointed in her BBQ turkey sandwich -- the turkey wasn't marinated in the sauce, it just came on the side.  The kids, however, loved their chicken nuggets.  And most importantly - we all had an absolutely great time continuing a great family tradition.  More pictures below the jump.  [Note - if you're wondering why there's no pictures of the actual food it's because the moment my dinner was put in front of me I started wolfing it down....]

The Great Divide

You know, I just found this sign located on the Sepulveda Pass absolutely fascinating.  According to the sign, to the south is the 405 Freeway, and to the north is the San Fernando Valley, and to me they seem to be equivalized in a weird way.  One way leads to a large, diverse and geographically distinct area, and the other way is a freeway (never mind that freeway also runs through the entire valley and also leads you to another large, diverse and geographically distinct area -- Los Angeles).  Now it's at an intersection whereby going left indeed takes you to an entrance point to the SFV and going right puts you onto the 405.  So it's not equalizing in a practical sense.  Still though -- kind of seems a bit of a dig to the south half of Los Angeles.  That way is the freeway.  This way is the SFV.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Some historic L.A. Eateries

I started thinking about historic L.A. Eateries, and thought I'd post a few items about them.  Of the three, two of them are in the Valley but I couldn't help but add Musso & Frank in Hollywood, we'd drive from our home in Studio City over Cahuenga to get there, it really wasn't that long of a trip.  It just feels like part of my experience growing up in the Valley.  Actually, it's only now as an adult that I've come to appreciate what a good location Studio City is in.

Musso & Frank Grill has been around since 1919.  I saw an entry on Blogging LA about it and am now feeling the urge to go.  I remember going there as a little kid, with my family, often with my maternal Grandmother.  She used to get sweetbreads to which of course I thought "YUCK"!  (I still think that).  I would always get the ground beef steak, and nothing else.  It's a grand old place that I need to take the family to.

Miceli's has been around since 1949.  There's two - one in Hollywood and one in Studio City - of course  I would go to the Studio City one all the time as a kid.  The thing about Miceli's is the bread rolls, I don't think I've ever had better.  The pizza is the floppy, thin, fold Brooklyn-style kind that I can scarf all night.  And they have live singing throughout the restaurant, which is decorated like well, an old Italian village.  The whole thing is pretty schmaltzy, but as I'm thinking about old school restaurants this one is one of my faves.

The Bear Pit in Mission Hills was probably my absolute favorite place to go -- it's been around since the '40s and is still there, and I really want to go back.  I haven't been there in probably 25 years and it's funny, I don't remember much about the food, but I do remember the sawdust floors and the delicious BBQ baked beans.  Hope it's still the same.

Then there's the places that I just absolutely loved, but are no longer here -- Amber's Chicken Kitchen (Encino), Victoria Station (up at Universal Studios), Hampton's Hamburgers (in Burbank).   Shame they're gone...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tapia Bros - farm right down the street

Tapia Bros is a family farm right on Hayvenhurst and Burbank - it's really close to our house.  I used to come here as a kid when it was known as Maria's Corn Stand, and it's a treat that I can bring my kids here so easily.  Tapia Bros opens from around April to November, and it's a joy to walk down the street and buy fresh, locally grown strawberries, green beans, tomatoes, peanuts, peaches, white cherries, etc. etc. etc.  We went over there today and picked up a few things.  But that's nothing compared to the corn - which should be coming next week.  Tapia Bros is especially known for its corn, both the white and yellow kind.  It's so richly sweet you really understand why so many sweeteners are made from it.  I can't wait.  In the meantime, below is a photo of this Valley gem, and a little slideshow is after the jump.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Springtime in Encino

JD (my 3 year old) and I took a walk through our neighborhood this morning, and the flowers were exquisite.  I love springtime!!  Slideshow below the jump.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Nike Missile Site - Encino, CA

This morning we spent some time at a Cold War era Nike missile site located at the top of the Santa Monica Mountains in the Encino area.  This was one of many air defense system sites located throughout the United States under the name "Project Nike"; these sites were designed to deal with the growing threat posed by a new generation of long range bomber aircraft being developed by the Soviets, especially after the USSR developed its own atomic bomb.  This site in particular was in use between 1957 and 1974 (according to wikipedia).   As the Soviets shifted tactics from long range bombers to ICBMs, the perceived need for the Nike system decreased; all Nike sites were eventually inactivated by 1974.  A concise history of the program is at this website.

The platform on top of the tower commands panoramic views of the entire region.  This installation feels like an old wartime relic - well it is - but it's a bit weird for someone like me who remembers the Cold War.  I was four at the time the station was decommissioned, but my memories of the threat posed by the USSR stretch back to a very early time, down to the elementary school nuclear attack drills....

Here's a few pictures, and of course the now requisite slideshow beyond the jump.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WWII Camouflage - Lockheed Burbank Aircraft Plant

The Lockheed Burbank Aircraft Plant -- at Burbank Airport -- was camouflaged against the possibility of a Japanese air attack.  Check out the before and after pix:  (Via LA Observed who came across it from others; this will take you to more pics):

San Fernando Mission

JD and I visited the San Fernando Mission this morning.  One of the reasons for this blog is the Valley often gets a bad rap - and yet it has all this wonderful stuff.  The Mission is no exception.   Despite my four decades of living in Los Angeles (with the exception of a couple years at UCSB) I've never been there before now - amazing since I love visiting places like this.  Three photos above the jump, and a slideshow below the jump.  Again, if you like this kind of thing check it out.


Inside the chapel

Bell of the El Camino Real.  (These bells are situated up and down the California coast and mark the location of the El Camino Real, the trail that linked the Spanish Missions together)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sepulveda Wildlife Reserve

I'm off work this week, had the morning to myself and decided to go to the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve.  It's a stunning expanse of flora and fauna right smack in the middle of the Valley.  I've posted two photos above the jump (it was really hard to pick just two), but I absolutely recommend visiting the slideshow after the jump.   What really strikes me is the beauty and serenity of the place - and it's right next to the 405 freeway...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Panoramic view of The Valley

On the way home today I took some photos of the Valley; I was at a small turnoff on Mulholland Drive.  I've always known that the Valley is a big place, but it's easy to forget as driving around the Valley is pretty easy.  Well this just reminded me of it.  I've put more photos behind the jump if you're interested.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

More Union Station journey footage

More footage of the Orange and Red Lines.  The first one struck me as interesting because while a great deal of effort is expended to make the Orange Line feel like a "light rail" experience (and fairly successfully so I should say) it still has to make stops at the stoplight.  So there it kind of feels like the bus.  The second one interested me as I didn't expect the bus to get to the speeds it did at certain segments of the line.  There, it definitely felt light rail-ish.   The third one is footage from the Red Line, leaving Pershing Station (on the way to Union Station) and just felt so classically "subway". 

Orange Line coming to a stoplight.

Video 2

This one shows the Orange Line moving along briskly, 
and it really picks up speed near the end of the video
(you'll have to get past me making up the "Orange Line" song for JD)

Video 3

Departing Pershing Square station on Red Line towards Union Station

Trip to Union Station

The boys and I decided to take a mini road-trip today, starting from the Balboa/Victory Orange Line stop, eastbound to the Red Line, all the way to Union Station and back (note I had some pictures of the kids up but then realized I probably shouldn't do that on a blog).  My initial observations are that the Orange Line is a pretty good piece of public transit - bright, timely, speedy & comfortable.  For those of you who don't know, the Orange Line is nothing more than a dedicated busline that cuts east/west through the Valley.  It looks and feels like a light rail line, except that it's a big bus.  It's a great idea that should be expanded elsewhere.  As for the Red Line, I've taken it before and it is efficient and quick - between both lines I'd say it took an hour max to get from start to Union Station.  The Red Line is a bit more depressing, maybe that's the nature of a subway.   Some excerpts from the trip are after the jump (the first two items are videos, the rest are photos):

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter to all who celebrate it!  As an aside, my theory on how the bunny and the egg became part of the Easter tradition is someone at a Saturday evening passover seder a long time ago decided to, instead of (as tradition calls for) taking a piece of matzah and hiding it so that children could find it and receive a prize, color an egg for the seder plate and hide that instead of the Afikoman (the aforementioned piece of matzah).  The egg was artfully hidden by the front porch of the house, but as it turns out no one at said seder could find said egg, and the host of the seder had forgotten where he put it.

The very next morning, Easter Sunday, a little boy walking on his way to church saw a bunny on the sidewalk and chased it back to its warren - and to his shock and delight, he found a brightly painted egg, bursting with colors.  It was on that day the tradition of the Easter Bunny and the Easter Egg hunt was born.

Gold Line adventure

I thought this a fascinating montage of a Metro trip on the Eastside of L.A.  (You have to get past the trip-out music if you're not a fan of such things, although I do think it helps lend a lot of poignancy to the video).  The thing that strikes me is the gleaming newness of the metro stations & trains - which, from the POV of the person who made the video, appear almost empty.  So much investment into such a massive infrastructure.  And yet above ground there are few examples of any recent, major capital investment.  Maybe that's the author's point.  But that's how it looks to me.

Welcome to Valley Dude

I've been inspired by Valley Relics to start documenting my hometown, the San Fernando Valley.  I took the kids today to see a few of the places I spent time as a kid at.  We all had a great time.  Darn those Henry's Tacos are as good as I remember!!!

 The above image is from the corner of Balboa and Burbank - by the golf course and bike path
From the jogging path along Burbank Blvd., in between Balboa and Hayvenhurst
I thought this was weird - a bus stop with no sidewalks or paths leading to it.  It is right by the Golf building, but you have to tramp through some small bushes to get to it.
This picturesque scene is actually of the eastbound 101 on-ramp at Magnolia and Hayvenhurst.  Next image gives a better sense of perspective.
Mmmm - Henry's...
The above building is the Studio City Rec Center admin building, I spent a lot of time at this park
Most of the play areas were redone, but this turtle is the same one I played on decades ago.  There used to be a three level giant robot jungle gym, with the arms functioning as tunnel slides.  They removed it many years ago, the legend is some kid climbed up the side and either got killed or seriously injured.
Walter Reed Jr. High School - my alma mater
 Go Go Go, Go You Mighty Huskies!!  (Kind of a creepy sign, but they are memorializing someone who just passed away).
The Star Lite - pretty sure I never stepped foot in there.
Corner of Lankershim & Ventura - Universal Liquors, still there for well over 40 years
101 overpass at Hayvenhurst & Magnolia.  The SFV is big sky country (at least for L.A.)