project: Warner Brother's Studio Tour

Maybe you’ve felt seduced by Humphrey Bogart taking a drag from his cigarette, or by Bette Davis’ doe-eyes and sharp wit, or maybe the swashbuckling romantic, Errol Flynn, with his pencil mustache, reeled you in. Well, back in the “studio days” of old Hollywood, they were all contract actors with Warner Bros. Studios.

This Monday we take a tour of the back lot at Warner Bros. Studios with our friend, former Warner Bros. tour guide, movie facts king and all-around funnyman, Aaron LaPlante.

One of the great things about the Warner Bros. lot is that its remained similar to what it was back in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and so on. While the interior of buildings have been updated and sets have been added, the exterior of the main stages have stayed the same. Take away the modern cars, and you’re looking at essentially the same thing Bogie and Bette saw.

 Areial view of Warner Brother's Studios in 1936

Areial view of Warner Brother's Studios in 1936

The Warner brothers (lowercase “b”) were Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack. Polish immigrants from Pittsburgh, they began their foray into the movie business in 1903, moving throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania with a portable projector, until they eventually opened a movie theater. They moved from film distribution to film production, and their company grew.


The brothers moved to Los Angeles in 1918 and opened their first movie studio, now known as Sunset Bronson Studios, on Sunset Boulevard. They decided, at Sam’s behest, to invest in movies with synchronized sound. It was the early 1900's, remember. They still lived in a world of silent film. In 1927, the Warner brothers release The Jazz Singer, the world’s first feature length “talkie.” It was a hit. They used the money from the success of the film to purchase a plot of land for a much larger studio in Burbank, California, where Warner Bros. Studios exists today.

BACK LOT TOUR:

We parked the car outside Stage 28 (where Fuller House is filmed) just in time to catch Kunal Nayyar, of Big Bang Theory fame, grab an afternoon coffee.

Our tour begins at the periphery of the studio in an overgrown, woody area aptly named, "the jungle." The area contains a group of sets that have been used in near innumerable movies and TV shows. It’s the go-to location for things that take place in the woods.

The first building we walk through is the set for Merlotte’s Bar and Grill in the HBO series, True Blood. Jurassic park was also filmed on the jungle set. Remember when Jeff Goldblum escapes the dinosaurs in his jeep? He drove that jeep back and forth on a small dirt road just behind Merlotte’s to get the shot.

Also filmed in that group of sets was the diner scene from Million Dollar Baby and the episode of ER, when George Clooney saves a little boy from drowning.

From there, we move onto the streets of Boston and get to see where Pee Wee’s red bike got stolen. Coincidentally, riding his own, non-red, bike was Chuck Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory, Two and a Half Men and Mom. Next, we head off to Chicago where the former ER set is now used for the television show, Shameless.

Then, to a neighborhood with a lovely town center and charming little houses. With the recent Gilmore Girls reboot, the town center is unmistakable as Stars Hallow.

Right around the corner from the Stars Hollow set is the building used at the beginning of Rebel Without a Cause, when James Dean stumbles out of the police department.

STAGE 48:

We finish the first half of the back lot tour and head for the more tourist-geared, Stage 48. The Stage 48 gift shop is home to all the Harry Potter, Ellen and Friends paraphernalia you couldn’t possibly need.

Just beyond the gift shop is an interactive soundstage that explores the phases of the film and television industry.

The photo-op highlight is obviously sitting on the couch at Central Perk with a big cup ‘o joe.(Friends was filmed at Warner Bros. on Stage 24). There’s an area with old sketches from Looney Tunes and Scooby Doo. We get to stand in front of a screen and moved around as the CGI character, Dobbie, from Harry Potter. We discover the art of forced perspective, which is how they made the hobbits in Lord of the Rings look so small.

In the final room, there’s a collection of awards on view. You can even hold a real-life Oscar statue.

After Stage 48, we hop in a golf cart and get chauffeured to the building where all the cool cars, like the Batmobile, are kept.  

Then, to one of the major highlights. The props department. Holy, glorious, well-organized clutter. Rooms and hallways filled with light fixtures, telephones in every color, board games, religious statues, carpets, old set pieces from things like The West Wing and The Matrix.

We end our day in another tourist-geared building that displays props and costumes from the movies, Harry Potter, Suicide Squad and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.  

One final fun fact: The 36 sound stages at Warner Bros. are all the same size, except stage 16, which is one of the tallest in the world. It was raised to its current height in 1935 to accommodate the colossal musical film, Cain and Mabel. Inside is a 2,000,000 gallon water tank, which was used for The Perfect Storm, Poseidon, the pirate ship scene from The Goonies. It also housed the drag racing scenes from Rebel Without a Cause and The Bank Hotel and Casino from Ocean’s 13.

 

project: MOCA

In the Little Tokyo Historic District there is a 40,000-square-foot warehouse with a coffee truck parked out front. Back in the 1940’s, the warehouse was used to store squad cars. Today, its concrete walls and exposed piping house contemporary art.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) was founded in Los Angeles in 1979 as the city’s first museum dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary art. It now exists in three distinct venues. The main location, MOCA Grand Avenue — directly across the street from the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the newest addition to the contemporary art world, The Broad — showcases a rotation of artwork from the museum’s permanent collection.

The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA — the warehouse in Little Tokyo — tends to showcase works of a more esoteric breed. On view now through January, 15th is Doug Aitken’s “Electric Earth.” It’s an immersive and awe-inducing collection of video installations, sculptures, photographs and experimental music. Each room you enter is new, and wonderful, and unexpected and goes to show that art can still catch you off-guard.

Perhaps the crowning achievement from Electric Earth is a piece called, “Song 1.” There is a song from the 1930s, called "I Only Have Eyes for You.” It’s been covered numerous times; you might recognize the version by The Flamingos. Aitken took the song and recorded it over 50 times with different musicians from varying music styles: ragtime, gospel, doo-wop, indie. The song is accompanied by video on a 360-degree, double-sided screen that seems to hover above the floor. You can walk around it, look at it from above or do like most people do and sit-down inside it. The video is roughly five-minutes and plays in a loop. Sitting there cross-legged on the floor, you can lose track of time.

Song 1 at MOCA

If you can’t get to The Geffen before Electric Earth closes, your next chance to go to the museum will be in February for the fifth annual L.A. Art Book Fair.  

The third MOCA location is the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, which features rotating exhibitions of architecture and design.

Take Note:

  • If you buy tickets to either of the Downtown Los Angeles locations, you get entrance to both for the entire day.

  • There is an express bus that will get you from the Grand Avenue location to the Little Tokyo location and vise-versa.

  • If you take the Metro, you get two-for-one entrance to the Downtown locations.

Away from LA: project Siem Reap

Our journey from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia began early in the morning. We arrived at the bus terminal in Bangkok fresh off an overnight train from Chiang Mai. After seven hours on a bumpy bus, we headed through the Cambodian border bazaar (our passports were stamped with a satisfyingly ornate and official looking government seal), the bus flipped to drive on the other side of the road (they drive the British way in Thailand), and we were off. A few more hours we stepped off our transport into Siem Reap.

Siem Reap is a city in northern Cambodia that’s home to the ruins of Ancient Angkor, the crown jewel of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th - 15th centuries. Angkor is the Khmer representation of heaven on earth. There are thousands of temples in Angkor and its surrounding areas. Each one is unique in it’s design and setting.

You’ll have to hire a tuk tuk driver to take you around the temples, because they can be quite far from one another. We suggest doing a three day temple pass ($40), one day isn't enough! The one day pass is $20, so even if you end up only going two days it’s nice to have.

It’s best to get there early, especially for your first day. The typical tourist plan is to watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat and continue on from there. While it can be a stunning view (if the weather’s right), there’s a massive amount of people at that one point and it’s not the most pleasant experience being smushed up with hoards of other strangers (see pic).

We moved on from the photo op to explore Angkor Wat, the most famous of the Angkor temples. It was built in the 12th century and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. Read more about Angkor Wat here (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat )

On our first day temple exploring we stayed within the main circle of temples. Our favorites were Bayon, Angkor Thom and Neak Pean (see pics!)

 Perfect visual description of the weather during monsoon season.

Perfect visual description of the weather during monsoon season.

Our second day was by far the most arduous. It was also one of the most exciting. It took us over an hour in a tuk tuk to get to Prasat Beng Mealea, but well worth the trip. Because it was on the outskirts, there were fewer people and it was unreal to be able to walk around and explore this amazing place. This was probably our favorite temple! Make the trip!

We took another 45 minute ride to Phnom Kulen National Park, where we hiked to a beautiful waterfall with ancient reliefs visible under the water.

Right close by was a nature conservation park, where we were able to view all sorts of monkeys, birds, and other animals native to the region.

Overall our experience in Siem Reap was lovely. The people we so kind and welcoming, and the temples are truly a world treasure. Visit before they rope everything off!

 

Away from LA: Elephant Nature Park, Chiang Mai

We are standing waist deep in a muddy river between two elephants. It’s September in Thailand, monsoon season, and the rain is just starting to let up. A mahout (the word used for an elephant keeper) hands us each a bucket and a scrub brush. It’s bath time. We begin scraping the dirt off our new elephant friends, scrubbing their backs, and foreheads and behind their ears.

I rub my hand across the cheek of one of the elephants. Her skin is wrinkled and firm, and filled with little bristles of hair. These creatures are huge, literally elephantine in size, but so gentle you feel like you can lean against their leg and take nap.

Suddenly, a torrent of water hits my back. I turn around. The mahout is standing behind me grinning, a bucket poised over his head. The mahout doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Thai, but, when a water fight’s initiated, language barriers don’t really come into play.

Pretty soon, we are all throwing buckets of water at each other — us, the mahout and the two Brits who are part of our tour group — right there in a muddy river, somewhere in the mountains of northern Thailand, standing between two elephants.

 

When we began planning our trip to South East Asia, we knew we wanted elephants to be involved. We quickly learned from reading, though, that riding elephants should be placed on a strict “no, no” list. We looked for alternatives and discovered the Elephant Nature Park, a conservation and rescue center for elephants, located in the Mae Taeng valley, just outside the city of Chiang Mai, in northern Thailand.

The park was co-founded in 1996 by a petite woman, named Sangduen “Lek” Chailert. At 52, she is at the forefront of rescuing elephants from the logging and tourism industry.

Our park guide’s name is Hit. He’s a handsome and soft spoken man who several times gets teary eyed talking about his past as an elephant rider. He tells us you can often determine what industry an elephant comes from, based on their injuries. “See those divots in his back,” Hit asks pointing to an elephant, “he got those from the chair that’s used for riding.”

The use of elephants for logging is already illegal (though it still happens), but removing elephants from the world of tourism is complicated. There are still many people and communities who depend on elephants for their livelihood. But Lek seems to have developed a workable alternative. Her park generates revenue and employment by pampering elephants, instead of using them in ways that are ultimately harmful.

Our day at the Elephant Nature Park was the most expensive activity we did on our trip ($172USD/person) and one-thousand times worth it. There are numerous packages to choose from. Some are day-long, some overnight, some week-long. You can even volunteer at the park for several months. We went with the package, called “Pamper a Pachyderm.” It was a day-long trip. Here’s how we spend it:

A van comes to pick us up from the guesthouse where we are staying in Chaing Mai at 8am. We luck out with a small tour group. The only other people on the bus with us are two Brits. One of them, a guy in his 20s, is a parole officer back home. This is his fourth time volunteering at the park, and he was just hired by Lek to help open the newest preserve in Myanmar. He waves goodbye to England and Western amenities in two months.

The drive to the mountains takes about an hour. For the first leg of the journey,  we watch a sobering video about the elephant trade.

When we arrive at the park, we are taken to a small hut by the river and given coffee and tea. We are handed bags laden with slices of watermelon and butternut squash and taken to the summit of a trail where two elephants are awaiting our arrival… but mostly our bags of food. We trek through the mountains with these two trundling beasts for an hour and a half. We feed them squash and quickly become adept at fending off rogue elephant trunks from sneaking their way into our bags of food.  

When we arrive at a steep and muddy descent, the mahout hands us each a walking stick (he collected four along the way), and we bid a temporary farewell to the elephants. When we make it safely to the bottom, we wash our hands at a little spigot. There is another riverside hut, and we sit down at a picnic table for lunch. That’s when the rain starts. Big, huge torrential droplets.

Across the river, a man uses a long bamboo stick and pushes himself our way on a skinny bamboo raft. The gondola of the jungle. He ducks into our hut and shelters himself till the rain lets up. When it does, we head over to a little corral to feed the elephants some more food -- elephants Elephants can eat upward of 300 lbs of food per day. We’re handed machetes, and we start chopping watermelon into fourths. After the elephants have had their fill, we follow them into the river for their bath and our impromptu water fight.

It’s time now to go back to the main park. And how else to do that but in style. We’re handed helmets, and we white water raft our way back. At the helm of our inflatable boat is a man, who calls himself Captain Jack Sparrow and yells out directions to us -- up, down, left!, each time we hit a rapid.

Back on dry land, our guide, Hit, gives us a tour of the park grounds. Elephants are everywhere, approximately 200 have been rescued since 1996. For each elephant there is a mahout whose soul job it is to tend to that elephant.

In addition to the elephants, the park is home to cats, dogs, birds and waterbuffalo. Many of them were rescued after the 2005 tsunami.

And with that, we wave goodbye to the Elephant Nature Park and head back to our guesthouse in the city for a nap.

Link to the Elephant Nature Park's Website!

Away from LA: project Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the largest city in northern Thailand, formerly the capital of the kingdom of Lan Na, it was originally founded in 1296.

Bangkok > Chiang Mai

We took the night train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. You have the option to take a day train, but figured we’d save the half-day ride. Plus, we’d read rave reviews about the nighttrain.

Note: You can’t actually buy train tickets directly from the thai transport office, but this company allows you to order tickets through them online.

We arrived in Chiang Mai around 9am, rain pouring down. We checked into our fancy private room at The Gord ChiangMai, a guest house that was 31USD/night. Rain cleared, we went to explore the city! Wats all around!! A Wat is a Buddhist temple. There are over 200 Wats to explore in Chiang Mai. Wat are you waiting for! Get out there. (ha)

Tips:

You are allowed to enter the temples but you must remove your shoes.
Don't forget to cover your shoulders and legs! 

Chiang Mai Wat highlights:

Wat Jetlin (aka Chedlin)

This 16th century Wat was nearly empty when we went, which lends to a really intimate experience, rare when visiting temples here.

Another special part of this wat was the beautifully adorned walkway that lead to the area where “monk chat” takes place. (Unfortunately the monks weren't there the day we visited) See pics!

 

Wat Chedi Luang

This 14th century wat was originally made up of three temples that were later combined into a larger temple complex. At the time the first temple building was completed, it was the tallest building in the city at 270 feet high. This Wat is one of the more heavily visited in the city, but it was well worth the visit. There’s a small monk school in the complex, so you will likely see young child monks (aka male novices).

Wat Suon Dok

Wat Suon Dok is a 14th century wat located outside the old city center.

An interesting feature of this Wat is the grouping of white-washed mausoleums that house the remains of the the pre-20th century Chiang Mai royal family.

One of our favorite things about this Wat was the amazing restaurant located within it call Pun Pun. Go! Link to more info here.

Grand Canyon, Chiang Mai - This man made water park is a fun touristy hot spot. You can cliff jump into the man-made watering hole or just swim around on an inner tube. Super fun half-day adventure. Link to more info.

 Sunrise on the night train back to Bangkok

Sunrise on the night train back to Bangkok

Look out for our next post coming out this Wednesday focusing on Chiang Mai's Elephant Nature Park!

Away from LA: project Bangkok

 Wat Pho Temple

Wat Pho Temple

LAX > BKK  

This is quite the journey, folks. Things to consider—bring an airplane pillow, bring a bunch of lil bottles of liquor (if ya feel like drinking on the cheap). PACK LIGHT, lighter than you’ve ever dreamed of packing—this is to encourage ease of travel, nobody wants to lug a bunch of luggage around. (Fun fact: the word ‘luggage’ comes from the combination of the words ‘lug’ and ‘baggage’.)

Bout to board at LAX

 

Day 1

Fresh off the longest travel day/night of our lives, we arrive in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. Yay!!!!!! We made it.

We were staying in a shared room hostel, called Suneta hostel. It was OK and served its purpose - the complimentary breakfast every morning was a nice addition. But, after Bangkok, we upgraded to private rooms. (Still so cheap!)

Our first day, we headed out to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Modes of transit: walking and bus! Whenever we took the bus in Bangkok, there was a chance we were either going in the direction that was mapped or we were headed into the unknown. Somehow it all seemed to work out.

Open noon-6 on Saturday and 9-6 on Sunday, the market was certainly a sensory delight, with all sorts of prepared foods and fun, quirky gifts. We picked up some yummy dried mango (highly recommend) and wandered around until we tired ourselves out a bit.

The weekend market is directly adjacent to Chatuchak Park, where we explored the lush, surreal landscape and took in this oasis within the city.

Our hostel was located nearby the Khao San Road. Khao San Road is chock full to the brim of caucasian tourists... we’re talking tourist level: obnoxious. But it’s worth seeing just for novelty and it’s a major POI.

We ate our first official true thai meal closeby Khao San Road at a place actually called “I <3 Thai food”  flat out english no bones about it. It was so yummy though. Green curry was a huge hit.

After curry, we returned to the hostel for a shower and light siesta. Then, we went back out to do some more leisurely exploring. We stumbled upon the Rama VIII bridge, built 1999-2002 to provide another access point to cross the Chao Phraya River that cuts through the city and to alleviate traffic on nearby cross river bridges.

Day 2

On our second day we were feeling refreshed and revived. Jet lag has nothing on us, just helped us get up earlier to beat the crowds. First on our list—Wat Pho—Bangkok’s most grand Buddhist temple complex. Wat Pho is also known as the “Temple of the Reclining Buddha” and it’s official name is Wat Phra Cetuphon Vimolmangklaram Rajwaramaviham. (Pretty much all Thai name’s are the length of a run on sentence.)

This temple houses the famous 150 ft + long giant reclining buddha. The stance represents Buddha during his last illness about to enter the parinarvana (nirvana after death). The “reclining buddha” stance is a popular position for buddha sculpture and you will likely see more examples of this position as you travel around.

 

Wat Pho was completed in the 16th century and has since achieved “royal temple” status. Read more about the history of Wat Pho here

 

 

 

After we left Wat Pho we ended up wandering around some of the nearby streets and it was really a highlight of the trip. There’s something about getting off the beaten path and seeing the non-touristy side of local life. We stumbled upon an awesome dried fish/shrimp/seafood spot that blew our minds. So many vendors, so many people, so much dried seafood. Flies having a field day. Check out some of the pics in the gallery below to get a feel.

We eventually made our way to the Grand Palace. Don’t make the same mistake one of us made (ok, it was Hill) by wearing anything mildly inappropriate. The offense was yoga pants.... too revealing. By the time we made it into the Grand Palace, it was about midday and the swarms of tourists had descended onto the land. You couldn't wave a fan without hitting a selfie stick. Ab and I wondered, what was it like to travel in a time before cameras? We will never know.

Construction on the Grand Palace started in 1768, and continued for years after. It’s been the official residence of the king since 1782. Read more about the history of the Grand Palace here.

 

After the Grand Palace we set  out to visit a most unusual museum. The Siriraj Medical Museum is unlike any sort of museum we’ve seen in the US. Preserved bodies with a variety of medical oddities abound. It really was one of the most interesting museums we’ve ever seen. See pics!

We left the medical museum and taxi’d home for an evening break. Our mission that night was to visit the “world’s highest rooftop bar” the Sky Bar.

We dressed up to the best our measly “pack light” wardrobe allowed and we headed to take the bus a ways across town to get to the Sky Bar.

Must say we don’t recommend this place. The couches were facing away from the view!! The fuck kinda design is that? It was a nice view, but not worth the extreme cost of drinks and poorly designed patio. Bangkok is known for its rooftop bars, however, and you should definitely check another one out.

On our way home we decided to hit up Bangkok’s Chinatown, cause we <3 Chinatowns. It was awesome. So many cool lights and visuals. Not veggie friendly, but if you enjoy meat, there’s tons of yummy food for you here.

Day 3

On our last day, we decided to take the much talked about boat ride on the river. It was AMAZING. The “floating market” we visited was a total joke but it was still so cool to see the city from that vantage point. Bonus, we got the whole boat to ourselves! So that was fun. We were, though, caught by a little "hidden charge." When we docked at the end of the boat ride, we were told we had to pay the man who owned the dock a fee for the right to de-board. 

Time for the night train to Chiang Mai!! Check back next week to read up on our Chiang Mai adventure!

project MUSEUM OF BROKEN RELATIONSHIPS

When you’re in a relationship, certain objects take on special significance. But what happens when you break up, or you move away, or someone passes away? What do you do with the object? Do you keep it? Toss it? Sell it? Stab it with a kitchen knife?

 The Monday Project's friend, Sean, reading one of the stories.&nbsp;

The Monday Project's friend, Sean, reading one of the stories. 

The idea for the Museum of Broken Relationships began when an artist ex-couple, themselves going through a breakup, wondered that very thing.

The first permanent museum opened in Croatia in 2010, followed by its Los Angeles sister in 2016. The museum is filled with objects -- donated from people across the globe -- that held some sort of significance in a now broken relationship.

Accompanying each object is its story and, at the top of the story, the number of years the relationship lasted.

You can see things like a pair of silicon breasts, donated to the museum by a woman whose boyfriend convinced her to get the implants, and who wore and hated them for nine years.

Some of the stories of relationships ended are sad, some are heartbreaking, others are funny and hopeful. Some are hopelessly romantic, like the two astronomers who fell in love: on her 26th birthday, he gave her the spectrum of a star in the Orion constellation. The star, pi3, is 26 light years away from Earth, meaning light left that star the day she was born, took a 26-year journey, and arrived on Earth just in time for her birthday.

It’s not the be-all, end-all of L.A. museums. But, if you’re a tourist trying to choose between this and Ripley’s, go Museum of Broken Relationships all the way. And, if you live in Los Angeles, it is definitely something to add to your list. If nothing else, it’s a beautifully  charming idea for a museum.

Have fun and invite an ex you’re still on good terms with to be your date.

Or, if your fresh out of a relationship, you can go to http://brokenships.la/about/ and donate an item of your own.
 

Take Note:

  • It’s a good place for photo ops.

  • You can get parking validation for the Hollywood and Highland Parking lot for $2.

  • There a great little gift shop section with Museum swag and a selection of great photography books.  

HOURS

Monday         11am - 5pm

Tuesday        11am - 7pm

Wednesday     11am - 7pm

Thursday     10am - 8pm

Friday         10am - 9pm

Saturday     10am - 9pm

Sunday         11am - 8pm

LOCATION:

6751 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90028

 

General Admission            $18

 

Students/Military w/ ID    $15

 

project Evergreen Cemetery

Contrary to it’s name, Evergreen Cemetery is no longer green. The 69-acres in the Eastside neighborhood of Boyle Heights is rundown. Where there is grass, it’s mostly parched brown. The rest is dirt.

Though it has not received the star treatment enjoyed by some of the other cemeteries in the city, Evergreen has a rich history rooted in the early days of Los Angeles.

Established in 1877, it is the city’s oldest existing nondenominational cemetery. Unlike many of its counterparts, it did not bar people based on race. Though it did segregate by ethnicity, with separate sections for African Americans, Mexicans, Japanese, Armenians and white settlers.

Today, Evergreen is the final resting place for the city’s homeless and unidentified. Each year some 1,500 people are cremated and buried in a single grave within its gates in what’s called a ‘Potter’s Field’.

There are also dozens of prominent LA figures buried on the Evergreen grounds, including Charlotta Bass (African-American civil rights activists and journalist), Biddy Mason (nurse, real estate entrepreneur and founder of the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles), and members of the Hollenbeck, Lankershim, Bixby and Van Nuys families (white people who did some stuff and have their names on things).

 

If you are interested in Los Angeles history, add Evergreen Cemetery to your list!

If there is a particular person you’d like to find within its gates, go into the main building (on the left as you walk in) and ask for their grave number and a map.

Location: 204 N Evergreen Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90033

Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:30am – 4:30pm

project Mariachi Plaza

Mariachi Plaza de Los Ángeles, just over a mile east of Downtown Los Angeles in Boyle Heights, is named for the mariachi musicians who have gathered there since the 1930s. In 2009, Mariachi Plaza became home to a metro rail stop along the Gold Line.

This little plaza has managed to hold on to the charm of yesteryear. Faded storefronts are the backdrop to older men smoking and socializing on the outdoor patio chairs. Mariachi stand on the corner. There are a potpourri of delicious hole-in-the wall mexican restaurants across the street and nearby the plaza.

Take the metro there, have an afternoon of soaking up the culture and enjoying the surroundings. Mariachi Plaza is special gem in LA and should be cherished.

project Descanso Gardens

The aptly named Descanso Gardens (Descanso is Spanish for rest and relaxation) are 150 acres of heavenly flora and fauna located in La Cañada Flintridge. The gardens were nurtured and once owned by real estate magnate Elias Manchester Boddy. Boddy bought the undeveloped land in the late 1930s for his plans to build a new ranch house and home for him and his family.

 

Over the years Boddy took special care to foster the growth of his Camillia gardens which today hold the place of largest Camilla garden in North America. Boddy hired several known horticulturists to work at Descanso and would sell his Camellias to support the local cut flower industry. The best time to experience the Camellias is in the Winter season, but they’re in bloom all the way from early autumn through Spring.

 

Another highlight of the gardens in the Extensive Oak forest that blankets the region and provides shade for the Camellias. The Oaks have occupied this area for thousands of years and their acorns were main source of food for the Tongva Indians.

 

 

The original Boddy house is open to the public during the garden’s hours. It’s an interesting walk-through but not spectacular by any means.. Definitely worth checking out however, is the Sturt Haaga Gallery located adjacent to the Boddy house. With 3 rotating exhibits year-round the gallery provides quality are on the Descanso grounds.

 

 

Another fun activity at the gardens is the Enchanted Railroad. It sounds a bit cheesy, and definitely geared towards children, but the ride is well worth the extra $3 and we were very charmed by the experience. It loops around the gardens on a magical railroad ride, traveling over a bridge and nearby a stream. Do it!!

 

 

Take Note:

 

Open daily 9-5

Admission is $9, but only $6 with a student ID

Tickets for the Enchanted Railroad are $3

The Gardens are FREE the third Tuesday of every month!

 

project Greystone Mansion

Remember that Paul Thomas Anderson movie from 2007, There Will Be Blood? Daniel Day-Lewis played a mustachioed oil tycoon and won an academy award. Well, that movie is loosely based on the Upton Sinclair novel, Oil! And, the Upton Sinclair novel, Oil!, is loosely based on a man, named Edward L. Doheny.

Doheny was a midwest boy from a small town in Wisconsin, who grew up to be one of the wealthiest men in American. It’s no wonder his life story was a source of inspiration for Sinclair; it’s wildly compelling.

Doheny and his partner were the first people to strike oil in Los Angeles. By 1920, Doheny’s Pan American Petroleum & Transport Company was one of the largest oil companies in the world. He had two children and two wives. His oldest child, a daughter, named Eileen, died when she was seven-years-old. A year after his daughter’s death, his first wife gave birth to a son, named Edward L. Doheny Jr., known affectionately as “Ned.” The couple eventually divorced and, a year later, his ex-wife died from drinking battery fluid.

Ned was set to inherit his father’s vast financial empire, which, during the early 1920s, was embroiled in an infamous political scandal that implicated both father and son. It was known as the Teapot Dome Scandal and, until Watergate, was considered the greatest and most sensational scandal in the history of American politics.  

During the years of litigation that followed the scandal, the younger Doheny is reported to have kept a low profile. He chose to focus his attention on the construction of his $3 million (roughly equivalent to $37 million today. Oh, the other half!) mansion in Beverly Hills. The home, known today as Greystone Mansion for, well, its gray stones, was completed in 1928. Doheny moved in with his wife and their five children, but his tenure as lord of the mansion was brief. On February 16th, 1929, he was found shot to death in an apparent murder-suicide perpetrated by a longtime friend, Hugh Plunket.  

The home and grounds were eventually purchased by the City of Beverly Hills and dedicated as a public park and the site of a 19-million gallon subsurface water reservoir. Yep, if you have a cup of water in Beverly Hills, there’s a good chance it comes from the reservoir at Greystone.

You can’t go inside the mansion, itself. That’s reserved for special events. But you can putter about the grounds between 10am and 5pm most days. Parking is free! If you go when school is out, you might bump into some summer campers. Apologize and say excuse me.

Location:

 

905 Loma Vista Dr.

Beverly Hills, CA 90210

 

Park Hours:  

 

10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Pacific Standard Time

10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Daylight Savings Time

Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day,

and occasionally for filming or special events

 

project LA Flower Market

Nestled amongst Downtown Los Angeles’ potpourri of districts -- the Fashion District, the Arts District, and the unofficially-zoned Piñata District -- lies the colorful Flower District, and, at its stem, the historic Los Angeles Flower Market.

The L.A. Flower Market finds its roots in the success of Japanese-American growers who established the city’s first major flower market, the Southern California Flower Market, in 1912. The current L.A. flower market was established in 1919 by a group of 30 European-American growers seeking a better way to distribute their fresh flowers.

The market today is a blooming spectacle of every sort of flower, plant, pot and flower arrangement-related decoration a person might imagine. It is the perfect place to pick up beautiful and reasonably priced plants. It’s also a truly lovely sight to behold.

Fun fact: In 2011, the market transformed its main facility into a solar powered showcase for its floral offerings! 

Be forewarned that street parking is expensive, about $6/ hour. There is also a large structure that is a little cheaper. It’s the kind of place you can see within an hour so keep that in mind.

The market advertises itself as being open until 2pm some days, but many of the stalls close up shop before then. The earlier you arrive, the better.

LOCATION

LA Flower Market
754 Wall St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

(Closed Sundays)

project Expo Line

Buckle your seatbelt and brace your tender hearts for this statistic: the average L.A. commuter spends roughly two entire days a year sitting in their car in traffic.

 

It’s hardly surprising that the fair angel city holds the inglorious title of the most traffic congested city in the country. Traffic here is notorious. Getting out of Hollywood during rush hour is like passing a kidney stone — it’s a long and painful journey out the all-too-narrow urethra of the city. And studies say traffic is only getting worse.

 View from the La Cienega station off the Expo Line.&nbsp;

View from the La Cienega station off the Expo Line. 

 

But there is a bit of a misconception when it comes to L.A. and her public transit. People assume she hasn’t got much of any.

IMG_3661.jpg

 

Not only does Los Angeles have public transit, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) runs the second-most extensive public transit system in the country, behind only that of New York City. A recent study ranked her the third best city in the country for connecting people to jobs via public transportation.

 

The Monday Project is a huge proponent of using public transit. We use the Metro— which includes buses, the subway and light rail — whenever possible.

 

The last few months have seen some exciting new developments. The Expo Line extension is finally here, which means you can now take a train from downtown L.A. to the beach. It’s a 50 minute journey that drops you at the feet of the Santa Monica Pier. The Gold Line was also recently extended and now goes all the way from downtown L.A. to downtown Azusa.

 

There was a disheartening article in the L.A. Times claiming that, while billions have been spent to expand public transit in Southern California, fewer people are using it.

 

We shan’t stand among the non-users. In honor of our city’s public transit, we’ll spend the next few weeks taking you along with us on Metro trips. We’ll give you some tips for riding and tips on some of the great neighborhoods and sites you can access for a $1.75 fare.  

 

project Grammy Museum

It’s a pretty standard question - what type of music do you like to listen to? Is it SKA, Skiffle, Screamo, IDM, EDM, Ambient, Emo, Doo-Wop, Hip Hop, Hard Rock, Glam Rock, Rockabilly, Rock & Roll…

Whatever your answer, they’ve got it at the Grammy Museum. The museum opened as part of the L.A. LIVE district in 2008 in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Grammy Awards.

We went with tempered expectations, anticipating it to be a tacky tourist seducer, like The Wax Museum or Ripley’s. Happily, it was not.

Aside from the eye-roll inducing three-walled television projection of acceptance speeches from past Grammy Awards, the museum isn’t tacky at all.

It has four floors of interactive exhibits that celebrate not only the history of the Grammy Awards, but the legacies of all forms of music, from the creative process to the art and technology of the recording process

One of the first exhibits is a giant touch pad that allows you to peruse the history of your favorite music styles and ones you’ve probably never heard of, like Krautrock - “a distinctively German combination of psychedelic rock & roll, avant-garde instrumentation and early electronic dabbling…” Whatever that means. Throw on the headphones and listen to a sampling from the various genres.

The museum is great for kids and adults alike. There is a large tribute to Otis Redding and to Motown. The current rotating exhibit features Bob Marley and was preceded by an exhibit on Tupac.  

 

There are booths scattered around the museum, where you can test your prowess as a music producer. There is a rock band area, where you can play the keyboard, guitar, drums, etc. There are headphones attached to each instrument, so only you get to hear what you’re playing. Watching people banging away at the instruments is a bit like watching a silent disco.

One of the highlights is a soundproof room that allows you to hear how music sounds different, depending on what device you use to listen. Watch MIA, T.I, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne and Kanye perform Swagga Like Us at the 2009 Grammy Awards. You’ll hear what it would have sounded like on a gramophone, record player, walkman, iPod and finally - in a booming crescendo - on surround sound.

Getting there:

Take the Metro! The museum’s just a few blocks from the 7th and Metro stop in downtown.
If you must drive, there is a lot servicing the LA Live area.

project Velaslavasay Panorama

Imagine a time before Youtube. A time before Netflix. Imagine, if you dare, a time before movies. There was a  different form of entertainment widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries, one that’s been almost forgotten by time…. well, not if Sara Velas has anything to do with it.

 

In 2001, Sara opened a non-profit dedicated to the nearly forgotten form of pre-cinema entertainment, The Panorama. The word “panorama” comes from the Greek words meaning “all” and “sight.” Think panoramic photo, the wide angle view of physical space. In its early form (long before the photographic version), the Panorama was an actual experience. The viewer would be completely encompassed by a 360 degree painting and/or sculpture relief that was meant to transport the observer to entirely new surroundings.

 

At the Velaslavasay Panorama, you can experience the magical, transformative medium in its many forms. If you’re curious about the name Velaslavasay, it’s actually a combination of family names and doesn’t mean anything, only sounds fancy.

 

The Velaslavasay Panorama is housed in the Union Theater, built in 1915 as a cinema theater, and located in the West Adams area nearby USC. The museum features a 360 degree painting / relief (panorama) area entitled, “Effulgence of the North.” It transports you to a full moon-lit night in North Pole, complete with atmospheric music and a bench for relaxing to really take in your surroundings.

The museum also has a charming outdoor garden area, a theater that hosts live music events and a few other forms of panoramic art thrown in. Admission is free, with a suggested donation of $6. It’s open Friday - Sunday (not open Mondays :/ but that’s ok!).




 

project Central Library

 Zodiac/Globe Chandelier by Lee Lawrie

Zodiac/Globe Chandelier by Lee Lawrie

project CENTRAL LIBRARY

It is fabled that the Library of Alexandria—history’s first great library, built by Ptolemy in the Third Century BCE—contained every book ever written, translated into every spoken language. While the truth of that is unlikely, the library did house an astounding collection, and it was a nexus for some of the ancient world’s finest poets, philosophers, scientists and mathematicians.

Libraries don’t garner the same deference they used to. Kings no longer wage war on kings to pilfer manuscripts for their personal collections. But there remains a certain majesty to libraries, particularly public ones.

For most of our civilization’s history, libraries have existed in the private sphere. It was Andrew Carnegie, in the late 19th and early 20th century, who ignited the construction of public libraries across the United States. Libraries accepting Carnegie’s money would no longer be allowed to purposefully exclude factory workers, by closing before they got off work.

Today, the public library is one of the most ubiquitous institutions in this country. They exist in every city and every small town in America. They are our filing cabinets of human imagination. They are community centers and sanctuaries for anyone who needs a warm, dry place to sit without being bothered. They stand as beacons of egalitarianism, asserting that nothing—class, race, gender, religion—should bar your access to knowledge.  

 

The first thing you should do when you move to a new city is march yourself to the nearest library branch and get yourself a library card.

 

Libraries are the place you can get a book without the pressure of buying it. They are one of the last places you can still rent a DVD. They have free wifi, and librarians able to help with research projects. Many libraries, particularly the larger ones, have regular reading events for kids, ESL programs, homework assistance, lectures, concert series.

 

The County of Los Angeles Public Library has 85 branches throughout the region and serves over three million people each year. In her honor, we take you, this Monday, to the Central Library in downtown.

 

Getting There:
If you take the Metro, get off at the 7th Street/Metro Center station and use the Hope St. Exit. Once you’re out on the street, hang a left and follow Hope St. north to the back entrance of the library. If you use Google Maps, it will try to take you to the front entrance, which adds an unnecessary loop around the block.

 

Downtown’s Central Library  is not a library with rickety wooden tables and the musty smell of old books. She is a stunning piece of architecture—both her interior and her exterior— and she is cupped by a serene landscape garden, perfect for an afternoon with the Bronte sisters, or Whitman or the Weasley’s….whatever your reading preferences.    

 

The original library building was designed in the mid 1920s by New York architect, Bertram Goodhue, and is an early example of Art Deco. If you’re not sure you’ve found the library, just look up. At the top of the building is a brilliantly colored pyramid that catches sunlight and glints like the homing beacon of an Arabian palace.  

 

Perhaps the most awe-inducing bit of the library is on her insides. The high-domed rotunda on the second floor of the Goodhue building has a chandelier that hangs dramatically from the center of the ceiling. It is an illuminated globe with the signs of the Zodiac, and it’is surrounded by floor to ceiling murals, depicting California history.  

 

All of this is in the older portion of the library—the Goodhue Building—which also houses Children’s Literature, Teen ‘Scape and a gallery, displaying a rotating collection of material from the library’s special collection on Los Angeles History. You can see a Chinese food takeout menu from the 20s, for example, advertising a “refined atmosphere” and “popular prices.”  

 

In 1986 an arsonist set fire to the Central Library and forced a seven year closure. The restored library opened in 1993 with the addition of the Tom Bradley Wing.

 

The center of the Bradley Wing looks almost like a modern art museum. Escalators transport you up and down its eight floors, which are housed inside a glass-roofed atrium. Each level leads to a different department: Art Music & Recreation, Business & Economics, History & Genealogy, International Languages, Literature & Fiction, Popular Library, Rare Books, Science & Technology, Social Science Philosophy & Religion.

 

Suspended from the ceiling are three enormous and whimsical chandeliers with birds, and flowers and musical notes sprouting out of it.

 

You’ll see all manner of people at the library: college students, the homeless, grandpa-aged men taking the architecture tour (offered daily). Sometimes you might see someone watching porn on a computer. It’s begrudged, but allowed. Something to do with the first amendment.

 

Each department has it’s own front desk with librarians that can help you. You can sit in chairs at a desk or at one of the large tables. Each desk and table has a lamp and an outlet.

 

Take Note:

  • Your library card is FREE, and it applies to all LAPL libraries. It also give you access to the library’s online resources. You can obtain a card from any branch.

  • The Central Library is not a great spot if you want to do group work. The only section where you’ll hear a lot of talking is in the lobby. If you keep your voices low, though, it’s fine to talk in the various Departments.

  • Bunker Hill is a short uphill walk from the library, if you want to round out your day with a trip to The Walt Disney Concert Hall or The Broad Museum.

project Joshua Tree

 

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, an escape to the desert.

Less than three hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park is the collision spot of two desert worlds—the higher, slightly wetter Mojave Desert and the hotter low desert, the Colorado.

If you are looking for a respite from the hubbub of the city and a chance to canoodle with nature, the park is perfect for a camp trip.  

And it’s not just about the destination, getting to Joshua Tree takes you past a potpourri of kooky roadside attractions.

There are plenty of things in and around the park that beg for a multi-day stay. But, if what you want is a quick getaway, a one night stay in Joshua Tree is bliss. That’s how we did it. All you need are some blankets, a flashlight, a tent and/or the trunk of a car.

Getting to Joshua Tree…

Head out by 10AM to give yourself time for pit stops along the way and still get to Joshua Tree before it’s too late in the day.

If you are leaving from Los Angeles, you’ll be taking the 1-10, and you will hit traffic. No getting around that. Make yourself a playlist, roll down the widows, marinate.

STOP ONE:

CABAZON DINOSAURS

50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230

The “World’s Biggest Dinosaur” is named Dinny, and his abdomen houses a creationist museum.

Just off the I-10 is an outdoor dinosaur museum that features a 150-foot-long recreation of an apatosaurus, named Dinny (think Little Foot all grown up), and a 65-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus, named Mr. Rex.  

The dinosaurs were created in the 1960s by Claude Bell, a theme park artist and sand sculptor, who erected them to attract roadside customers to his business, The Wheel Inn Cafe, and to create a piece of lasting art.  

Following Bell’s death in 1988, the land was sold to a developer who, with the help of fundamentalist Christian groups, turned the site into a creationist museum.

…..Somehow, the whole creationist aspect managed to escape our attention. There are several Bible passages posted on the walls of the gift shop that we thought were peculiar and then thought nothing else about it. It wasn’t until researching the roadside attraction later that we discovered the truth.

Religious associations aside, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are a premium piece of wacky roadside Americana. They’ve been featured in commercials, music videos, and the 1985 film Pee- Wee’s Big Adventure.

Note: Play the theme song to Jurassic Park, as you walk through the pathways. The insides of Mr. Rex have a special surprise.

Location:

50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230

Hours:

Monday - Friday: 10AM-6PM
Saturday/Sunday: 9AM-7PM

 

Admission:

Adults            $10
Children            $9
Military w/ ID        $7
Senior Citizens        $7
2 and under        FREE

 

STOP TWO:

DESERT CHRIST PARK

56200 Sunnyslope Drive, Yucca Valley, CA 92284

Desert Christ Park began on Easter Sunday in 1951. On a barren hillside in the Yucca Valley, the park’s inaugural sculpture was a 10-foot, 5-ton plaster and steel reinforced statue of Jesus Christ.

The statue was built by Frank Anton Martin, a sculptor and poet from Inglewood, California. He built the sculpture with the hope that it would be displayed on the rim of the Grand Canyon, as a symbol of peace during the Cold War, but his petitions were rejected. After reviewing several alternative homes for his “unwanted Christ,” he decided on the Yucca Valley site.

The property that houses Desert Christ Park was owned at the time by Reverend Eddie Garver, known to locals as the Desert Parson. He and Martin formed a bond, and Martin eventually relocated to the Yucca Valley, where he created over 40 more snow-white concrete sculptures.

Since 1971, the park has fallen into disrepair. It suffered from an earthquake in the 1990’s that left many of the biblical figures face and limb-less. That, in conjunction with underfunding, gives the park a hollow, eerie feel. But one that is also peaceful— up there in the quiet, secluded desert, you are surrounded by over-sized Christs whose constitutions have been humbled by the elements and time.

Note: Don’t miss the Rock Chapel, for which we found no historical information, but which is beautiful all the same.  

Location:
56200 Sunnyslope Drive, Yucca Valley, CA 92284  

 

Hours:

7 days per week, while it’s light out.

Admission:
FREE

STOP THREE: your overnight spot.

 

 

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

 

The Joshua Tree, so legend goes, got its name in the mid-19th century from a group of Mormon settlers who thought the limbs of the tree resembled the biblical figure Joshua, raising his arms to the heavens and guiding travelers westward.

 

Today, most people say the tree looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book. It's got catawampus branches and spiky, playful pompom foliage. If you see one in the evening, when the sky is dark and the moon is bright, it looks like the tree crept out of a Dr. Seuss book and into Van Gough’s Starry Night.

 

There are all manner of camping options in Joshua Tree. The National Park websites gives a thorough overview https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm.

 

We opted to stay at White Tank, a campsite surrounded by rock formations that are perfect for climbing and gallivanting. There are 15 campsites at White Tank, and it is first-come, first-serve, so there’s no guarantee you will find an open spot. We snagged the last one the day we went.

 

Once you find your spot, you will have to officially reserve it. You do this by recording your car information on a sheet of paper provided by the park and depositing it, along with the campsite fee, into a box. You’ll then tac the number of nights you will be staying to the numbered post of your campsite.

 

All campsites have a place to park your car, a fire pit, picnic table and charcoal grill. The toilets at White Tank are pit toilets. If you are looking for a site with running water and flush toilets, there are a few options. Refer to the National Park website for more information.

 

Note: Even in the summer, it can get very cold in Joshua Tree at night. Bring layers. Most campsite do not have water, remember to bring water.

 

If you are a novice fire-builder, but still want to pay homage to your caveman ancestors, here’s a fire building tip, from Marine Corps Mike, who popped over with his dog to help get our fire going: Pick up some lighter cubes from Home Depot. Light wood helps get your fire going. Dense wood helps keep it going. Stack the wood up like a tipi and leave room for air to get in.

 

Admission:

Entry into the park costs $20/ vehicle.

A year pass to the park costs $30.

Campsite fees vary by location. Most are between $10 and $20.

 

STOP FOUR:

 

 

On your next morning in Joshua Tree, before heading home, you must see

 

NOAH PURIFOY’S OUTDOOR DESERT ART MUSEUM of ASSEMBLAGE SCULPTURE

Blair Ln, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

 

How to describe this place….

 

Noah Purifoy is recognized as what may be the least well-known pivotal American artist of the last 50 years. An assemblage sculptor, he spent the end years of his life in Joshua Tree, California. From 1989 until his death in 2004, he filled ten acres of high desert—his studio—with all manner of installations.

 

Works of his are in the permanent collection of several museums—Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC—but it’s hard to imagine any of those can touch the magnificence of what you experience, surrounded by his work, out in the desert.

 

Location:

Blair Ln, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

 

Hours:

Whenever you find yourself there.

 

Admission:

FREE, but put a few dollars and a lot of dollars in the donation box.

 

 

STOP FIVE:

 

 

CITADEL OUTLETS

100 Citadel Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90040

 

Shake off the dust of the desert and feed your materialistic side with some discounted brandname clothes. You’ll be back in LA traffic, before you know it.

Abby stargazing at White Tank Campground in Joshua Tree

project Rancho Los Alamitos

Tucked inside a gated residential community in Long Beach is a historic cattle ranch, called Rancho Los Alamitos (Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods)

The ranch underwent sweeping renovations in 2012 and its 7.5-acres—which include a learning center, a barnyard (complete with horses, sheep, rabbits, chicks and ducks), gardens and a beautifully restored ranch house— are open to the public as a serene homage to local history.

A Brief History

The original inhabitants of the area were the native Gabrielino-Tongva people of the Los Angeles basin, whose descendants still consider the surviving ranch a sacred place.

The modern history of the ranch begins in 1790, when Spanish soldier Jose Manuel Nieto was gifted a 300,000-acre tract of land, known as Los Coyotes, for his services to the Spanish Crown. Oh to be alive during the glory days of exploration, when “thank yous” came in the form of newly claimed territory.

Over the years, the rancho transferred hands numerous times, until it landed, finally, in the affluent palms of the Bixbys. Frederick and Florence Bixby are largely responsible for the beautiful landscape and architecture that exists today. In 1968, their children donated the family ranch to the City of Long Beach, transforming what had been a working ranch to a public oasis.

Your Visit

When you arrive at the gated community, tell the security guard that you are going to the Rancho, and you will get a parking pass and a wave to come on in. (*call ahead to be sure the Rancho is open the day you choose to go, else you won’t be let past the gate).

Admission, parking, house and barn tours are all free. Make your way to the Rancho Center and check in with one of the lovely docents, who, the day we went, were two good-humored old dames in red shirts. We were pointed in the direction of a small theater where we watched a 15 minutes video on the history of the Rancho and surrounding area.

(side note: the bathrooms in the Center are surprisingly high-tech).

After the video, we were joined by three other Rancho visitors, and docent Louise took us on a tour of the barnyard and Ranch House.

Louise was great—she knew her stuff, made things funny, had us pretend to drink from a flower goblet.

Don’t pass up a tour of the house. It last about 45 minutes, and the home has been beautifully restored. There are no pictures allowed in the house, so, if you want a peek inside, you’ll have to go for yourself.

In the living room you will get to see two replicas of famous paintings, “Mother About to Wash her Sleepy Child,” by Mary Cassatt and a painting of water lilies by Claude Monet. The originals, which were donated by Florence Bixby, are currently on display at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Perhaps the most fascinating portion of the house is the kitchen, where the Bixby’s cook, who was deaf, made six meals a day: three for the family, three for the ranch hands.

When your done with your tour, take a stroll among the flowers.
 

Hours:

Wednesday - Sunday: 1PM - 5PM

Admission:

FREE (donations appreciated)

Location:

6400 E Bixby Hill Rd,
Long Beach, CA 90815

 #AbbyonBenches

#AbbyonBenches

project La Brea Tar Pits

LA BREA TAR PITS, a mammoth's nightmare…

Go back 11,000 years and you’d find a Los Angeles in the throws of the Last Ice Age. It would be teaming with wildlife: mastodons, mammoths, saber-toothed cats, dire wolves… go to the La Brea Tar Pits Museum today, and you’ll find a collection of fossils from those exotic beasts of yore.

The fossils on display at the museum— over 1 million in all— were excavated from the tar pits at the very site on which the museum sits.  

How’d they get there? For thousands of years, prehistoric animals, insects and plant life became trapped in the heavy, viscous asphalt of the pits. Lucky for science, the pits do a beautiful job of perfectly preserving fossils.

Excavation of the pits first began in the early 1900’s and, in 1977, the George C. Page Museum (renamed the La Brea Tar Pits Museum) was opened to house and exhibit the fossil discoveries.  

Today, the museum is not merely a museum, but an active paleontological site. You can watch scientists at work in the Fossil Lab, gently sifting through materials for bone fragments.

In 2006, LACMA built an underground parking garage and encountered 16 new asphaltic fossil deposits. These were recovered in 23 large wooden “tree” boxes (dubbed Project 23) and are currently being excavated by museum paleontologists. If you see a collection of over-sized wooden crates that look like set pieces from Jurassic Park, that’s them. Inside are fossils of “Zed,” the near complete Columbian Mammoth, found in Project 23.

In terms of LA museums, this one is small, much smaller than its closest counter-part, the Natural History Museum. For an adult, it’s $12 to get in, which, frankly, feels a little steep. Street parking in the area can be difficult to find, so, if you’re driving, expect to add an extra $12 for parking.

You can take several docent led tours that are included in the price of the ticket. Get the inside story of how the famous Lake Pit came to be, step inside the Observation Pit to see what a tar pit dig looks like, and discover what’s being dug up that day at Project 23.

If you’ve got kids in tow and want to add to the day, get a ticket to the 3D movie, Titans of the Ice Age. You can also do what we so often do and pack a picnic and a soccer ball.

 

Location:

5801 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Hours:

Monday-Sunday 9:30am - 5:00pm

Tickets:

Adults        $12
Students    $9
Senior        $9
Youth        $5

 

 

project Petersen Auto Museum

 PETERSEN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, cars, cars, cars…

PETERSEN AUTOMOTIVE MUSEUM, cars, cars, cars…

Cars. Those sleek, sexy beasts. They’re a mode of transport, sure, but they are also symbols of taste, status and human ingenuity. Their dreamy names come imbued with all the promise of the open road: La Salle, Dodge Viper, Bugatti, Hudson Wasp, Mongrel T, Cadillac Coup de Ville, Tesla.  
The very first automobile is credited to the French, who, at the end of the 18th century, drove a three-wheeled, steam powered military tractor a whopping 2.5 miles per hour. It was virtually impossible to control and, during a demonstration, crashed smack into a wall.

 

The auto has made rip-roaring strides since then, and the Petersen Automotive Museum documents that progress with their collection of beautifully maintained automobiles.

The collection is really a love song to the art that goes into making an automobile, from the mechanics to the aesthetics.

The gentleman at the front desk advised us to begin our tour on the third floor, where there is a collection of mostly older model cars. Some of the cars will look familiar, some look like they’re a sic-fi writer’s vision of what the future might have been. There’s a car the color of spearmint that looks like a spaceship. Another one screams steampunk and has what appears to be a giant monocle on the front.   

There are two famous Volkswagens on the third floor. The Volkswagen Transporter, driven by Greg Kinnear in Little Miss Sunshine and the Volkswagen Beetle (#53), driven by Lindsay Lohan in Herbie: Fully Loaded. The tiny Beetle is equipped with a 200 horsepower engine that can propel it a remarkable 138 miles per hour.

Fun Fact: The term horsepower was coined as a marketing tool in the 1780s by Scottish inventor, James Watt. At the time, breweries used horses, harnessed to a mill, for grinding the mash that made beer. Watt wanted to convince brewery owners that they should buy his steam engine and ditch their horses. To do this, he devised a mathematical equation that compared how many horses would be needed to complete the same amount of work as his invention.    

Down the stairs to the second floor, the car collection gets a bit more modern. There’s a kid’s playroom, a collection of motorcycles and a room where you can see clay models of cars that have yet to hit the market.

 

 

 

Rounding the corner on the second floor is the silver room. This room bows its head to the impact the color silver has had on the design of cars throughout history. Every car inside the room is a shiny, bodacious silver.

The first floor is where you get the cars that are all about aesthetics and style. The cars made, often as one-offs, for the people with discerning taste and deep pockets. For whatever reason, there is a projection on the first floor of soothing wave-like squiggles (reminiscent of the exterior of the museum building) and maudlin music that plays over the speakers.  

Neither of us can brag to be car people, but the museum is still cool. Don’t expect to spend an entire day here. If you really take your time, it’s probably a 1.5 hour endeavor.

The museum seems to be kid friendly. The Monday we went, there were a lot of families. You can’t touch any of the cars, though you can take as many photos as you’d like. There were even a few people, sitting cross legged on the floor, doing sketches of the cars. On the third floor, there is a car you can sit in for a photo op.

HOURS

Monday- Sunday: 10AM - 6PM

TICKETS

Adults        $15

Seniors        $12

Students        $12

Children        $7

Under 3         Free

Active Duty    Free

 

LOCATION

6060 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90036