Monday, October 31, 2011

Murals in Los Angeles

The recent vote by LA City Council to loosen up the (over) 20 year old restrictions on murals is long overdue. Done to prohibit advertising, it had the effect of banning everything. But- there are still murals out there now- some small, some taking up the side of a building.

Why these survived, I don’t know- there have been many cases of legitimately commissioned murals being whitewashed. The most recent example that comes to mind is the mural on the side of a building downtown of the artist Ed Ruscha, done by Kent Twitchell,  (Or maybe Twitchell is just cursed- he had also done the mural of the old woman with her afghan rug that loomed over the Hollywood Freeway- it too was painted over.) Every section of the city has some- East Los Angeles is a gold mine, as is Silver Lake, Downtown, and Venice. Go to the website for a list of where you can find murals close to you.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Not-So-Golden State Freeway

Each freeway in LA has its own personality, and if you don’t believe me, try driving on the 710 (Long Beach Fwy.) towards the Port of Los Angeles versus the 210 (Ronald Reagan Fwy.- a regrettable name) near Hansen Dam. Yes, they’re in different parts of the county, but when a freeway was built, and who uses it the most, has a lot to do with your riding experience.

The 5 (Golden State Fwy.) was the first freeway, opening in 1940. Known then as the
Arroyo Seco Parkway
, it went from Downtown to Pasadena. It is a narrow little roadway- and as it grew and headed south, it remained (by today’s standards) narrow. When it hits Orange County, it gets wider, because O.C. spent the money to widen it for all those cars headed to the Mouse House.

The 710, as noted above, is full of heavy trucks headed south towards the ports- and then north after pick up, full of cargo. The weight takes a toll on the quality of the road itself. Because of this, and the fact that it is full of these trucks, I loathe driving on it. By contrast, the 210 out in the Valley is relatively new, very wide, and free of trucks.

The 10 shifts and changes- no car pool lanes, then car pool lanes, then none again.

The most unusual is the 90, which is the shortest- it goes from Marina del Rey to Culver City. It was called the Richard M. Nixon Freeway from 1971 to 1976. (Hmm, I think his resignation in 1974 had something to do with the name change.) Go to it will give you more information than you’d ever want to know about the roads in California.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Professor Voyager Gives A Quiz

Okay, are you ready for your pop quiz on Los Angeles?

1) What is the longest street in LA?

2) What year did Flower and Figueroa Streets (in Downtown) become one-way?

3 What building in Los Angeles was destroyed by Martian spaceships in 1953’s “War of the Worlds”?

4) How many residents does Vernon (a city so corrupt it makes Bell look good) have?

5) By the numbers:
a)      How many nude beaches are there in LA?
b)      How many beaches can you legally walk your dog off-leash?
c)      How many beaches can you legally drink liquor on?      

Answers are below- no cheating!

                          Please take me for a walk!


1) Sepulveda Blvd
, stretching from South Bay to the Valley, is 42.8 miles long. By comparison, the distance from LA to Catalina Island is about 26 miles.

2)1987. It was done in conjunction with the construction of the Red Line, LA’s first subway. For all you readers who don’t live in LA, yes, we actually have a subway.

3) City Hall. There are probably people today who would like the Martians to blow it up again.

4) According to the 2010 census- 112. I’ve also seen 80, and 89- but you get the idea. It’s all industry, no residents.

5) Very low numbers:
a)                  0
b)                  1- in Long Beach
c)                  0- the key word being LEGALLY, as anyone who has ever hung out on the Marina Peninsula knows.

                               Smoking is not allowed on the beach as well!

The student who gets the most answers right gets to take their dog for a walk along
Sepulveda Blvd.
, trying to avoid any Martians they may see.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Why Does the Rest of the World want to be in LA?

Let’s say you just won one million frequent flier miles, and you can go to wherever you want on the planet. You put together this far-flung itinerary, including the following:

  • Athens
  • Hawaii
  • Venice
  • Naples
  • Manhattan
  • San Marino

But wait, save your miles! You can visit all of these places in LA! Yes, because clearly government officials long ago could not come up with original names for their cities. I mean, Athens? Athens is an area of the city of Los Angeles near Gardena. Needless to say, there is no Parthenon there, nor a Delphic oracle. (And, to add to the confusion, just west of downtown is the “Byzantine Latino” district, with a huge Greek Orthodox church, and the well-known Greek restaurant Papa Cristo’s- go to for more information on this interesting area.)

Hawaii refers to Hawaiian Gardens, which does not look like Maui;
Venice refers of course not to Italy but the well-known Venice south of Santa Monica (but still full of canals);

                                                         It's just like being in Italy!

Naples, also not in Italy, but adjacent to Long Beach;
Manhattan Beach, with no skyscrapers;
and San Marino, the wealthy enclave near Pasadena.

We'll talk about Portuguese Bend and the Hollywood Riviera on another post...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Window Shopping

LA is primarily a car city, but there are pockets where pedestrians rule the roost. Downtown is one example; the Venice Boardwalk is another. In cities where the pedestrian is king (like every major city in the world), store owners actually DO something with their windows. They make them eye catching to entice would-be customers to enter. Take, for example, this window on Rue Jacob in Paris:

Would you stop to look in?

Sadly, LA makes no attempt to do anything like this. Downtown is one huge missed opportunity as far as store windows are concerned. This is the Rite-Aid at the corner of 7th and Hope:

A poster of people on bikes?! It's a drugstore, not a bike shop!

For the amount of rent being paid, you would think owners would take advantage of the windows to drive more business in. Maybe they just don’t want to have to clean the glass!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pronounce This!

Saying the names of streets and cities should be easy, but like a lot of other things in LA, it’s not. Take, for example, two main thoroughfares- La Cienega and Sepulveda. Any time I have out-of-town guests, they invariably mispronounce them (try it with your next visitor).

And what happens when you pronounce something correctly? You’re still wrong. When I first moved here, I worked in Beverly Hills, and would drive down
Cañon Drive
. Note the tilde over the first “n”- in Spanish, ñ is pronounced “ny”, so I would say “canyon”. No one I worked with knew what I was referring to. Finally, someone said “Oh, we say ‘cannon’”. Forgive me for trying to be correct!

A girl I worked with at the time was from San Diego. She always made fun of tourists who came there and asked where La Jolla was, pronouncing it with the “j” and the “l”. Ha ha. I bet if she went back east, she couldn’t say Monongahela, Massapequa or Susquehanna correctly!

(No pertinent picture this time- just a fuzzy palm tree!)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Welcome to the Hotel California

But which one? The one pictured on the cover of “Hotel California” is, of course, the Beverly Hills Hotel, as any Eagles fan can tell you. But there’s a Hotel California in Santa Monica, with more of a surf vibe.

 As well as one in San Francisco.

These are at least IN California. But there’s a Hotel California in- of all places- Paris, France, on Rue des Ecoles in the Latin Quarter.

For all I know, there may be one in Paris, Texas. Does Don Henley get the profits from these places?