March 31, 2022

Photo Essay: The Grub, Grottos, and Gunfire of the Los Angeles Police Academy, Elysian Park

[Last updated 2/25/23 11:21 PM PT—Video embed added to bottom of post]

The Los Angeles Police Academy is one of the most recognizable landmarks of LA's Elysian Park...

...starting with its "Academy Arches," which have appeared in many TV and movie productions, including American Beauty and episodes of Dragnet and T.J. Hooker.

March 27, 2022

March 22, 2022

Photo Essay: The Mid-Century Science Lab Where Modern Oceanography Was Born

I've been attending San Diego Architectural Foundation's Open House San Diego for the last few years—even squeezing in a visit a little over a week before everything shut down in 2020. 

But this year was different—not because of the pandemic, but because my car has been sitting in the shop (essentially undrivable) since January 17. 

I've been getting around on foot and via public transportation (like a good former New Yorker). But that was going to put a cramp in my style somewhat for Open House San Diego. 

I knew I could take the Amtrak down to Santa Fe Depot no problem—and that the trolley could get me around to lots of places. But I wouldn't be able to cram very much into one day. 

So, I agonized over having to limit myself to just one general area—and having to choose among the dozens of sites (when normally I can cram at least four or five into a day). 

Instead of going for quantity, I went for exclusivity—and chose to keep my reservation to the sold-out tour of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) Munk Lab at the UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, co-hosted by AIA San Diego. (Fortunately, I could get pretty close to it by taking the new Blue Line trolley extension to UCSD.)

March 21, 2022

Photo Essay: A Brewery Pit Stop at L.A.'s Union Station for the Homeward Bound

When I took a tour of LA's Union Station back in 2012 with Los Angeles Conservancy, the former Harvey House restaurant space was closed to the public—but we got a peek inside

March 20, 2022

Photo Essay: Roadside Ostriches (And Ostrich Eggs) On the Way to San Jose

The first time I ever fed an ostrich was back in 2011—and although I haven't been back to Ostrichland USA since then, I have had the chance to visit some other ostriches in Southern California. They've always been a good time. 

So, when I spotted the sign for the Gilroy Ostrich Farm in Gilroy, California last year on my way to San Jose (yes, I knew the way), I slammed my brakes and turned my wheel hard to the right, spinning out a little as I swerved into their gravel parking lot. 

March 17, 2022

Photo Essay: West Hollywood's 1922 Schindler House and the Encroachment of Multi-Unit Dwellings

There are three different structures designed by Vienna-born architect Rudolph Schindler in the Los Angeles area that you can explore thanks to The MAK Center for Art and Architecture—including the Mackey Apartments in Mid City and the Fitzpatrick-Leland House in Laurel Canyon. 

But the one at Kings Road in present-day West Hollywood, where Schindler himself lived and worked for 30 years (until his death), is the one that everybody knows as the Schindler House. 

March 16, 2022

R.I.P. The First-Ever Hot Dog On A Stick (A.K.A. The 'Hot Dog Stick' Shack)

[Last updated 1/1/24 9:09 PM PT—Hot Dog Stick was rebuilt and reopened in 2023. You can read my blog post about it here.]

In December 2021, the State of California approved the demolition of the first-ever location of the treasured Western U.S. fast food chain Hot Dog on a Stick—located near the original "Muscle Beach" by the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica—without much fanfare. 

 circa January 2021

March 12, 2022

Photo Essay: How Macy's Lake Avenue Preserves the History of Bullock's Pasadena, 'The Store of Tomorrow'

Most people wouldn't give a Macy's department store a second glance—but I'm not most people. 

Besides, even  though it happened long before I arrived in California, I know how Macy's took over some of the historic Robinson's department stores (like in Woodland Hills and Newport Beach).

I can only assume there are more historic treasures hiding behind a Macy's logo elsewhere in SoCal.

Which brings me to the Macy's on Lake Avenue in Pasadena, California.

Every time I'd drive past it, I'd marvel at what I assumed—but didn't really know—to be a landmark shopping destination. It dominates Lake Avenue, with its wide, low profile—and its Streamline Moderne elements on the north wing catching the eyes of passerby drivers like me.

I'd always wondered what it was like inside, but I'd always be on my way to something else—and wouldn't make time to stop and go in. 

That changed when Pasadena Heritage recently offered a tour of Macy's Lake Avenue—which turns out to be the former Pasadena location of Bullock's department store. 

Photo: "Dick" Whittington Photography Collection, USC Digital Library

March 09, 2022

Photo Essay: The Once-Too-Popular Taft Garden in Ojai Now Keeps A Low Public Profile (But Is As Stunning As Ever)

I'd taken a couple of trips to Ojai, California—and even wrote an entire article about what to do there—but I hadn't heard of Taft Gardens and Nature Preserve in the Santa Ana Canyon foothills above Ojai until just last year. 

It's considered "secret" because it's not listed on Google Maps and its address isn't published. If you want to go, you've got to make a reservation—which I was fortunately able to do so I could visit its 15-acre sprawl last month. 

March 07, 2022

Photo Essay: The Ojai Home & Studio of Beatrice Wood, the Rebel Potter Who Flourished Late in Life

Late ceramicist Beatrice Wood has been called "The Mama of Dada"—a title she scoffed at during her life, even denying that she was an artist herself at all. 

But she was part of an avant garde movement—starting when she became lovers with art collector Henri-Pierre Roché and then his best friend Marcel Duchamp, a love triangle that was said to have inspired Roché's novel Jules et Jim (which Truffaut later made into a film).