April 29, 2023

Photo Essay: Earth Day at Los Angeles Eco-Village

Some people live wherever they can find a place they can afford—even if they have nothing in common with their neighbors.

I have been that person my entire adult life, surrounding myself with strangers and mostly hiding from them inside my apartments and avoiding them in the hallways. We have not been bound to each other by a shared ethnicity, religion, or set of values. 

Just a similar budget and vague geographic preference. 

But other people live in intentional communities—where everybody's working towards the same goal and more or less living there for the same reason.
Is this a euphemism for "commune" or a modern-day version of a utopian community? I haven't quite figured that out yet. But it's the basis for the Los Angeles Eco-Village on LA's Bimini Place—a kind of co-op that reuses old buildings to provide affordable housing and eco-centric services and support to its residents. 

April 19, 2023

Photo Essay: The Mysteries of Bear Divide, LA's Newest Bird Migration Hotspot

They say that migrating birds have a natural urge to be on the move—one that's triggered by hormones that respond to fluctuations in light. (Think of how darkness triggers the natural release of the hormone melatonin in humans, which is what makes us sleepy at night.)

It's called "Zugunruhe"—and although it can be induced in a lab, we still don't know exactly why it happens. 

There are explanations of rising or dipping temperatures that could cause birds to fly north for the summer or south for the winter. Some theories suggest the migration is dictated by dwindling natural resources, like food and habitat (including nesting areas).

But beyond the question of why, there's an even bigger conundrum: How do they know when and how and where to migrate?

Those are some of the multitude of questions that researchers are trying to figure out the answers to at Bear Divide in California's Angeles National Forest. 

April 17, 2023

Photo Essay: A Condor Takes Flight at Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge

They say that if you ever think you may have spotted a condor in the wild, it was probably a turkey vulture. Those are far more common than condors.

There are only 90-some-odd California condors in the SoCal "flock," which is composed of two main sites: Hopper Mountain and Bitter Creek. 

I got the chance to see some condors at Hopper Mountain in 2018. But I've been waiting almost five years to get to Bitter Creek. 

And this past weekend, I finally got my chance.

April 16, 2023

Photo Essay: Wildflower Boom Time in the Golden State's Carrizo Plain

"Have you been to Carrizo Plain?" he asked me. I answered, "Yup, a couple of times." (Actually it was three.)

"Of course you have," he said, because he knows me well enough. 

The last time I drove up to California's Carrizo Plain National Monument—the address says it's in Santa Margarita in San Luis Obispo County, but feels much more Central Valley/Kern County—was during the "superbloom" year of 2017. 

And although SoCal isn't technically experiencing a superbloom per se (although that term is entirely subjective), we've had a wet enough winter to warrant a return visit to see what kind of wildflowers had erupted this spring.

April 12, 2023

Photo Essay: How Disney Turned a 1920s Hollywood Playhouse Into a Spectacular Movie Palace

I remember early in my days of living in NYC, I'd hear complaints about the "Disneyfication" of Times Square—and, specifically, 42nd Street, where Disney had purchased and rehabbed the New Amsterdam Theatre to become the home of its Broadway stage version of The Lion King

From a business perspective, Disney brought a lot to that area of New York. 

circa 2019

And in LA, we've had a little "Disneyfication" of our own—right on Hollywood Boulevard.

April 09, 2023

Photo Essay: A Delightful Discovery at the End of a Failed Day

With no other plans Easter weekend, I set off on a vehicular adventure to try to find some wildflowers. It's not really a "superbloom" year—certainly not compared to previous years—but scattered reports have indicated some really nice areas to spot some blooms.

I, however, mostly failed. Unless you count hillsides full of the small yellow blossoms of black mustard plant, a dastardly invader of California native plant habitat, and a big contributor to nasty wildfire seasons.

But I'd driven relatively far, crossing into three other counties (besides the one I live in), so I wanted to make one last stop before I headed home in defeat.

And that's when I found a delightful surprise, hidden in the Anaheim Hills of California's Orange County.