December 30, 2021

Photo Essay: Ascending the Bradbury Building, One Floor At A Time (Or, Cocktailing the Bradbury, At Night)

The historic Bradbury Building, built in 1893, is one of the oldest commercial buildings still standing in center city Los Angeles. It's a private office building—so generally, only the ground floor businesses and lobby area are open to the public. 

 circa 2020

A few years ago, there was an architectural tour of the Bradbury Building that would take ticketholders all the way up to the roof—but I couldn't get a press pass to it and I couldn't afford the ticket. Getting to the roof—or anywhere upstairs, really—has been on my bucket list ever since.

December 23, 2021

Another Year Of Wandering SoCal for KCET (2021 Edition)

In addition to my work here at Avoiding Regret, I've also been contributing to KCET's website for almost seven years—primarily as the columnist behind its "SoCal Wanderer" blog, but also sometimes writing stories for other sections (like "Lost LA"), too.

This became enormously challenging during pandemic lockdowns. How do you write about travel when you're not allowed to—or are too scared to—go anywhere?

I've had to get really creative since March 2020. 

But I haven't been keeping myself "locked up" too much and have still managed to stay safe. So, I've been passionate about sharing what I've learned with my readers. 

I don't often repost my KCET articles here, often because much of the content that gets published here first eventually makes its way into my KCET guides.

But with the year ending, I thought it worthwhile to round up all my 2021 articles in case you'd like to check them out. 

Here they are in chronological order, starting with February. (The COVID-19 surge was just too bad in January, so we took the month off.)


December 22, 2021

Photo Essay: Top Posts of 2021

I know I post a lot.

And even posting half as much as I used to, it can get overwhelming. 

So at the end of each year, I do this little roundup of the most popular posts of the prior 12 months. They're not necessarily the ones people liked the most. They're just the ones that got the most views. 

Which is I guess a measure of popularity (if not quality). 

I have my own favorites that didn't make this Top 10 list—but if you're looking for a good place to start, or maybe catch up on what you've missed, the following should be a good primer. 

So, in more or less descending order from the most popular post, here's a recap of 2021:

December 21, 2021

Year-In-Review: 2021 Updates to Past Posts

It feels like there were more changes to report on this year than in years past. Maybe that's just because I've gone to more places now.

But things have been changing pretty rapidly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic—and sadly, there have been a lot of closures. 

It's not all bad news, though. Some places have come back to life. And some places have managed to hold on this whole time. 

So you've got them all in one place, here are some updates to my past posts to try to keep them as current as accurate as possible. 

December 20, 2021

Photo Essay: Jingling On the Waves at Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade

One holiday tradition that Southern California has that I don't recall ever happening in New York City is the Christmas boat parade. 

I'd watched one from Ports O' Call in San Pedro back in 2013—but I couldn't see much. Though I was relatively unimpressed, I was undeterred in my quest to find a better experience. 

I knew there were other Christmas boat parades in Dana Point, Huntington Beach, Ventura Harbor, and Newport Beach. I just didn't want to go alone. Or do all the planning myself. 

Fortunately, this was the year that my partner-in-crime decided she wanted to take up the gauntlet and figure out the best way to see the Newport Beach one—which, for us, turned out to be a spectator cruise offered by Davey's Locker on the Balboa Peninsula. 

December 19, 2021

Photo Essay: The Twice-Relocated Shipbuilder's House of San Pedro Bay

In 1901, German immigrant shipbuilder Wilhelm (William) Muller bought a Colonial Revival-style house at 129 Front Street in the Nob Hill section of San Pedro at the Los Angeles Harbor and moved in with his wife Elsie and their children. 

At the time, he was working as a master shipwright at the Banning Company's Mormon Island Shipyard in nearby Wilmington, designing steamships that took tourists to Catalina Island—like the Hermosa II and the Cabrillo—and even some of the glass-bottom boats at Catalina. That's when William Banning of Wilmington still owned Catalina Island—before he sold to William Wrigley in 1919. 
The house had been built in 1899 by San Pedro pioneer Edward J. Mahar for his parents at First and Front Street—but they never moved in, making the Mullers the only family to have ever resided there.

December 13, 2021

Photo Essay: 101 Coffee Shop Space in Hollywood Hills Gets Reincarnated As Clark Street Diner

There are certain places I visited before I ever moved to California that really introduced me to the version of LA that I love. 

The Dresden Room, Mozza, Pann's, Norm's La Cienega, Mel's, Yamashiro, and The Magic Castle are a few of them. 

The 101 Coffee Shop, near the Vine Street on- and off-ramps for the 101 Freeway on Franklin Avenue in Hollywood, is another one of those places. 


December 07, 2021

Photo Essay: The Ranch Where 'Golden Age' Western Movie Star Joel McCrea Became a Real-Life Cowboy

South Pasadena-born Joel McCrea might be best known for his portrayal of Buffalo Bill in the 1944 film of the same name, and perhaps he's gone down in history as one of the most handsome and under-appreciated Western stars out there. 

He'd been a leading man since 1930 (in The Silver Horde)—but his first Western film wasn't until 1937, when he starred in Wells Fargo with his wife, Frances Dee. 
They'd gotten married in 1933—and that same year, at age 28 McCrea became a real-life cowboy with the purchase of Belgian immigrant August Dumortier's former ranch, which had first been settled in the mid- to late-19th century in the far southeast corner of the former Rancho Simi

December 05, 2021

Photo Essay: Hark! The Blow-Mold Choir Sings at Lilley Hall (Or, "The White Christmas House")

In 1954, Joseph J. Lilley saw the release of the classic holiday film, White Christmas, for which he served as musical director and vocal arranger. 

That same year, he bought a two-story Tudor Revival home built in 1927 in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Toluca Lake, just on the other side of the Hollywood Hills in the San Fernando Valley.

December 02, 2021

Photo Essay: The First California Mission Named After a Female Saint (And the Only One on a University Campus)

At some point, I'll get to visit all of the California missions. But for now, I'm slowly ticking them off my list as the opportunities present themselves. 

My August trip to San Jose brought me to Mission Santa Clara de Asis—the eighth out of the 21 total, but the first mission to honor a woman.