Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wilshire Grand Farewell

My final post this year is a farewell to the Wilshire Grand Hotel- my employer- in downtown. It opened its doors in 1952 as the Statler, then became part of the Hilton chain until 1995. Omni took over managing it for 4 years; then the hotel became independent and took the name Wilshire Grand. It’s a big hotel for LA- close to 900 rooms, and nearly 50,000 square feet of ballroom and meeting space. The owner of the property, Korean Air, is going to tear down the building, then put up a new hotel and new office building. Total price tag? Over a billion dollars.

The Wilshire Grand’s closing was recently featured in the media, notably the LA Times and the Downtown News. (See, as well as ) The Pope was a guest; so were the jurors in the Rodney King trial. It was my home for close to 17 years. I will miss everyone that I worked with, and all the tenants that I saw every day. When you’re busy toasting on New Year’s Eve, raise a glass to the WG!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Voyager Los Angeles wishes you a belated Merry Christmas- LA style. Only in Los Angeles would you see Christmas celebrated like this!

How does Santa carry all the presents on the bike?

The ninth reindeer?

Or instead of dressing like Santa, maybe you'd rather just surf or play volleyball-

Hope you had a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Non-Native Angeleno

 Okay, so where have I gleaned all of my (limited) knowledge- and curiosity- about LA? I would say the answer lies in the phrase- “the zeal of a convert”. I did not grow up in Los Angeles. When I moved here right after college, I wanted to learn about my new home, and the (relatively) short history that it had.  I got books out of the library about “Old Hollywood”, and drove to unfamiliar areas on the weekends. The contrast in neighborhoods, architectural styles, and lifestyles was very different from the Midwest.

In my home state of Ohio, you can feel its past- the elementary school that I attended (built in the 1960’s) was named Fort Island, because it literally was a site of an island where there had been a fort- in 1673! Our neighbors across the street went looking for Indian arrowheads in the woods behind our house. A girl in my graduating class was a Mennonite, an offshoot of the Amish community.

Obviously, California has been here just as long, but it was populated by non- natives much later than the East and the Midwest. And, as has been attested by many other people, LA loves to get rid of its past by tearing things down. What remains, and what is newly made, is the essence of LA.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Jim Morrison: Paris or Los Angeles?

He’s still hot, he’s still sexy, and he’s still dead, resting in Pere Lachaise cemetery in the 20th arrondisement in Paris. I first visited his grave in 1986 (15 years after he was interred there), then again in 2004. And he still draws crowds.

RIP Jim- read the Doors' lyrics on the neighboring mausoleum.

The Morrison Hotel, featured on the cover of the Doors album Morrison Hotel, is still in downtown LA, although it finally closed its doors (ha ha, no pun intended) in 2007.

Can you believe this is the Morrison Hotel today?

And 1812 Rothdell Trail in Laurel Canyon, where Jim lived with Pamela Courson, is still there, better known to Doors’ fans as … Love Street.

Jim Morrison in Venice Beach- a topic for another post!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

5 Great (and a Few Unexpected) Views of LA

Is Voyager Los Angeles obsessed with views?

1. From a Victorian house in Angelino Heights, looking at Downtown.

2. The former Falcon Lair, located at the top of Bella Drive, above Benedict Canyon, offers fantastic views of Beverly Hills. Sadly, this one-time home of Rudolf Valentino (as well as Doris Duke) was razed in 2006. For more info, go to

3.The Los Angeles Harbor, one of the busiest harbors in the world, as seen from San Pedro-

4. The Getty Museum in Brentwood- on a clear day, you can see all of the LA Basin.

5. 7th Street in Downtown- No, this is not New York.

More great views on another post!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Battle of the Ice Rinks

Well, it's that time of the year again. Los Angeles, the city that has no snow, has three temporary ice rinks- two in downtown, and one in Santa Monica. Let's look at the stats, and see how they compare:

Santa Monica has an 8000 sf ice rink at 1524 5th Street. It costs $12.00 for admission and skate rental. It runs from 11/11/11 through 1/16/12. For more info:
Benefit to location: Can ice skate, then swim in the ocean.

Pershing Square in downtown has the cheapest rink- $6.00 for admission, and $2.00 for skate rental. Square footage of the rink is unknown, but the maximum number of people it holds is 190. It runs from 11/17/11 through 1/16/12. For more info:
Benefit to location: Can ice skate, then hear the LA Philharmonic at Disney Hall.

PershingSquare (Above and Below)

Also in downtown is LA Kings Holiday Ice at LA Live, which runs from 11/26/11 through 1/5/12. Admission is $12.00, which also includes skate rental. The rink is 80'X80', or 6400 sf. Go to for more information.
Benefit to location: Can ice skate, then watch the Kings.

So,after skating, do you want ot swim; hear some music; or watch hockey? You decide!