September 30, 2023

Photo Essay: Boney Island Gets Reanimated at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

Back around the new millennium, Emmy-winning animation producer for The Simpsons Rick Polizzi created a super-sized yard haunt in his San Fernando Valley neighborhood

But it became too popular for its own good—with traffic congesting the residential area and an unwieldy crowd size arriving nightly to check out the array of skeletons and the fountain show. 

So it closed in 2016 and took a year off, reopening in Griffith Park in 2018.

I saw the original version in person in 2014 but missed out on its redux, which closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Fortunately, it reopened once again for the 2023 Halloween season—this time in yet another new location. 

September 26, 2023

The Crest Has Transformed Into UCLA's New Nimoy Theater, With 1980s Art Deco Elements Preserved

I don't remember why I never saw a movie at the Crest Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles before it closed for good in 2016. To be honest, I don't really remember it being open or having heard about it hosting any screenings.

 circa 2022

I only really took notice of it when it was closed, and then upon the announcement that UCLA was converting it into the "Nimoy Theater" (named after Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy) for live shows presented by the Center for the Art of Performance. At which point, I became desperate to get in. 

September 19, 2023

Photo Essay: Pasadena Heritage Throws Open the Doors to the Historic Blinn House

[Last updated 9/22/23 12:21 AM PT—Fixed inaccuracies about Blinn House Foundation and Frank Lloyd Wright]

When the Women's City Club of Pasadena dissolved in May 2020, it meant their clubhouse—the Blinn House—needed to go to a good caretaker.

The ladies gifted it to the preservation-oriented non-profit Pasadena Heritage—and now they've moved in, this historic home is once again bustling with events. 

Fortunately, it was also open for tours during California Preservation Foundation's Doors Open California 2023. 

September 17, 2023

Taking In the View of 'Smoke Spotters' at Keller Peak Fire Lookout Tower, San Bernardino National Forest

Two years ago, I ascended to the Ancient and Honorable Order of Squirrels at the Strawberry Peak Fire Lookout Tower in the San Bernardino Mountains, near Lake Arrowhead.

It was such a fun experience, I wanted to return to shoot one of the videos I've been producing for our local PBS station, KCET, and its digital series "SoCal Wanderer."

But my contact at the Southern California Mountains Foundation, the non-profit organization that oversees the fire lookout tower program in the San Bernardino Mountains, suggested I visit a different lookout tower this time: Keller Peak, near the town of Running Springs.  

September 11, 2023

Photo Essay: The Reunion House, in Silver Lake's Neutra Colony

I'd been booked for a tour of the Neutra-designed Reunion House back in 2018—but things happened, as they do, and I wasn't able to make it. 

That was the year before Dion Neutra, who was living there at the time, passed away.  

September 10, 2023

Photo Essay: The Nirvana Apartments, A Vivid Hollywood Version of the 'East'

I can't tell you how many times I've passed by The Nirvana on Orange Drive in Hollywood, either on my way to the parking structure at Hollywood & Highland (now Ovation) or heading home from The Magic Castle

But I never noticed its pagoda roofline—or any of the strange, eclectic decorative details that adorned the four-story, brick-clad apartment building.

September 05, 2023

Photo Essay: Hanging Out In 'Hangtown,' Or Maybe Getting Sick in Placerville

Now that I've got some distance from it, I've been thinking a bit about what happened in the days before I came down with COVID-19 last year. 

I'm still not sure where I caught it, or how—but since I was traveling and bopping around to a lot of different spots, I may never know.

It was 4th of July weekend, and I was headed up to the Great Western Steam-Up in Carson City, Nevada. But first, I made a pit stop at the tiki bar in Sacramento (a.k.a. The Jungle Bird) and spent the night in the "Gold Rush" town of Placerville, California.

September 03, 2023

A Nightmare Come True

Image by Marcela BolĂ­var from Pixabay  

Over the last couple of years, maybe a few years, I've had this recurring dream. Well, actually, it's two recurring dreams. 

In one, I've got a mouthful of glass shards that I'm trying to spit out. I haven't been chewing on the glass, so I don't know how the broken pieces got in there—but I'm desperate to get them out. I'm opening my mouth to let them fall out; I'm wriggling around my tongue and stretching out my lips to dislodge them; I'm reaching in with my fingers to pull them out. 

But with every bit of glass that's removed, more arrives in its place. 

September 02, 2023

Taken By the River

The last time I kayaked the Elysian Valley section of the Los Angeles River, I celebrated a certain victory—not falling in, despite some rocky patches and rough waters.

But at the time, I noted that the river might change its mind and have other plans for me the next time. 

And that ended up ringing true, when I returned a couple of weeks ago to shoot a video for KCET's SoCal Wanderer YouTube series