Sunday, January 21, 2018

Women's March, 2018

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City Hall, January 20, 2018
 
Last year’s Women’s March in downtown L.A. was one of the most validating events I've ever experienced. A half-million protesters joined together to alert the newly inaugurated White House occupant that we would be watching and weighing everything he did. The march was spontaneous, joyous, and exhilaratingly hopeful. We took our despondency over Hilary Clinton’s loss and turned it into positive collective action. I insisted that we march again yesterday, one year later.

Yesterday's protesters met at Pershing Square with the goal of marching to City Hall, several blocks away. Even though the actual march wasn’t scheduled to start till 10AM, participants were advised to arrive early to attend the pre-march rally and get fired up.

 
On the train to downtown L.A.: me in my 
"MAKE AMERICA SANE AGAIN" baseball cap

Tim and I boarded the eastbound lightrail at 7:45AM. Most seats were already taken by (mostly) women, wearing pink “pussy hats” and warm clothes. Except for a handful of coeds, who got on at the USC stop, the great majority of riders were from the westside. We amused ourselves listening to them describe their recent trips to Europe and complain about managing their rental properties in Venice, CA. One woman’s mother skyped her as we approached downtown. “Hi, Mom,” she chirped. “I’m on the train to Los Angeles to march. Look, here’s my protest poster!”

We arrived at Pershing Square by 8:30AM and staked out a spot to stand. Occasionally, the crowd would cheer, but we didn’t know why because we couldn’t see the speakers or hear what they were saying. It was a colder-than-usual morning, so we tried to stay warm, while more and more people arrived, carrying signs and wearing pink hats. 

 
Lots of vendors this year—better prepared than last year
 
Several themes dominated this year’s march. Although there were many signs in support of the Dream Act and the “Me, Too” movement, most protested the current occupant of the White House and his recent rant against immigrants from “shithole” countries. The general consensus was that he should be impeached and that Congressional Republicans should be voted out of office next November. We wholeheartedly agreed.

 
"How to spot a dictator . . ."

 
Human march and "Spank Him Mueller!"

 
Who's a shithole now?

 
Some pro-abortion signs, too

 
Several of these . . . 
 
As the clock ticked past 10AM, the crowd started to grow restless waiting for the march to begin. Finally, we spotted a group of mutineers, pushing their way back towards us from the front of the crowd.

“Everyone is gridlocked,” they reported and so were trying to find another route to City Hall. A few minutes later, I looked over my shoulder and saw people behind us starting to march toward Broadway. We quickly joined them and were on our way.

Marching down Broadway
 
Suddenly I forgot about being cold and was soon chanting along with the marchers. “What does democracy look like?” someone yelled. “THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!!” I screamed back and almost started crying with joy. It was truly wonderful.

We marched and fist-pumped our way down Broadway to City Hall. Even though this was not the planned route, Tim was happy to see several entrepreneurial street vendors selling bacon-wrapped hot dogs and so stopped to grab breakfast. Protesting, after all, can be hard work!

 
Grabbing breakfast from street vendor

 
Bacon-wrapped hot dog (gag!)
 
Thousands of people were already in front of City Hall by the time we arrived. We basked in the fellowship, took photos and then turned around to walk back down Broadway in search of restrooms. We missed the celebrity speakers—Olivia Munn, Natalie Portman, Viola Davis, et al.—but felt we had done our civic duty and so were now heading home. The lightrail was blissfully uncrowded.

 
Protesters at City Hall: "HISTORY IS HERSTORY"

 
Spotted on the way back home: Channel 7 news van with a
hand-scrawled note on pink paper, saying, "THIS IS WHAT 
DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE!" No fake news here. 

   

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Throwback Nite at Disneyland

 
Sleeping Beauty Castle in pink and blue, just like the old days
 
When we were kids, it seemed like families visited Disneyland during the day, while evenings were just for adults and couples. In fact, the only time I remember going there after dark was "Grad Night," when I graduated from high school in 1971.

Taking advantage of the recent nostalgia craze for all things mid-20th-century, the resort has started a new series of evening events called "Disneyland After Dark"—named (I assume) after the 1962 World of Color episode where Walt showed us how much fun the park was at night. On TV, Annette Funicello sang on the Tomorrowland stage and Louie Armstrong played trumpet on the Mark Twain riverboat. All very exciting and magical.

This year's first "After Dark" event happened last Thursday and we, of course, were there. Marketed as "Throwback Nite," the evening promised to recreate, as much as possible, the early days of Disneyland, including original attraction posters and characters (the Blue Fairy!) and favorite 1950s/60s menu items, like mac & cheese, chicken pot pie, and dreamsicle beignets (gag!). They even staged "Fantasy in the Sky," the original 1958 fireworks show. Park visitors dressed in their dapper best—all petticoats and hats—and because it was a special ticket event, attendance was limited. Absolute heaven.

Plenty of photo ops in front of original attraction posters
 
But the best part for us: just like the "Disneyland After Dark" TV show, music was everywhere! The Dapper Dans barbershop quartet sang a cappella on Main Street, a small club combo entertained riders on the Mark Twain, a pair of female DJs played 50s/60s rock-n-roll records throughout the park, and a swing band blasted out hot dance tunes in front of it's a small world. So we pretty much danced the entire night away. Every time we started to leave, we'd get pulled back in by a toe-tapping song. At 11PM, we finally made it to the Main Street train station, only to stop and dance to Jerry Lee Lewis's "Great Balls of Fire!" broadcast over the park speakers. As you can see below, a Disney photographer loved our impromptu jitterbug and went crazy taking pictures of us dancing. Oh, what a night!






Excellent video of the night's festivities. You can (briefly) see us
dancing 4.38 mins into the video.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Griffith Park Zoo

 
Griffith Park Zoo, circa 1940s
 
I am not a fan of zoos, but I am a big fan of Los Angeles history. So we jumped at the chance to tour the Griffith Park Zoo, which predates the current L.A. Zoo, just two miles from its former location. Amazingly, neither of us had ever been to the old L.A. Zoo.

Opened in 1912, the original zoo was built alongside one of Griffith Park's many hillsides, within walking distance of the area's historic merry-go-round. Many of the animals were donated by the movie studios and local moguls, who either died or grew tired of their private zoos. As was typical in those days, the animals were kept in cages. More realistic "pit" habitats were eventually created in the 1930s as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. 

Despite the apparent popularity of the Griffith Park Zoo, the animals were not well treated and so a modern, more humane zoo was opened in 1966. The old zoo now serves as a free picnic and hiking spot and is mostly covered in colorful graffiti.

The first thing one sees: 1930s habitats, built by WPA workers

 
Larger animals would have been housed here

 
Picnic tables now occupy one of the "pits"

 
Another pit

 
Stairs the zookeepers would descend to feed the animals

 
Cages for smaller animals

 
Horrible . . .

 
Inside a graffiti-covered cage

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Modernica Props

 
With Charles Phoenix and his latest book,
Addicted to Americana
 
It's no secret that we love pop historian Charles Phoenix and so were thrilled to go to his most recent book launch at Modernica Props, a veritable museum of mid-century furnishings. I loved seeing Charles, but loved seeing all these wonderful artifacts even more!

Plastic tables—flower power, baby!

 
Walls of old tube TVs 

 
And colorful radios

 
Guitars

 
Matchy-matchy

 
What every office needs

 
Ottomans

 
My kind of kitchen

 
70s glasses

 
Formica tabletop design—can I please have a dress
in this pattern?

 
So many wonderful kitchen clocks, so little room

 
Just one of many showrooms

 
Wicker furniture

 
Spinning vinyl

 
Glorious lamps galore

Monday, December 18, 2017

El Pueblo de Los Angeles

As native Angelenos, we've been to Olvera Street and the surrounding El Pueblo many times. But we had never taken a formal tour and so were thrilled when the L.A. Historical Society offered a free member tour on a Thursday morning, two weeks ago. Oh, the joys of retirement!

Although officially developed by European settlers in 1781, the city of Los Angeles didn't truly take root until the the first decades of the 19th century. The oldest building in El Pueblo—and the oldest church in the city—is the Plaza Church. Constructed in 1818, it remains one of the most active Catholic parish churches in the western U.S.

 
Plaza Church

Other important buildings in El Pueblo include: the 1869 Pico House, the first modern hotel built in Southern California; the Old Plaza Firehouse, now a museum; the 1883 Plaza House; and the five-story Brunswig Building, which was the tallest retail/residential space in L.A. when it was built in 1888.

 
Pico House

 
Old Plaza Firehouse

 
Brunswig Building (left) and Plaza House (right)

Perhaps the most notable—and certainly most well-used—part of El Pueblo is the Plaza itself, which served for many years as the center of Los Angeles. Quite lively, especially on weekends, residents as well as tourists gather there for events year-round.

 
Plaza bandstand

 
One of four Morton fig trees that ring the Plaza

The Plaza is located a few blocks north of City Hall and directly south of Olvera Street, a block-long Mexican marketplace that was created in the 1920s as a tourist attraction. Olvera Street is also home to L.A.'s oldest residence, the Avila Adobe, built in 1818 for one of the area's first mayors. 

 
City Hall looming a few blocks away

  
A beautiful mural by children's book illustrator Leo Politi,
who lived close to El Pueblo

 
 Colorful wares on Olvera Street

 
Avila Adobe: dining room

 
Avila Adobe: the study

We had taken the train from Culver City and so ended our day back at the glorious Union Station, one of our favorite buildings in downtown L.A. Built in 1939, it is still the hub of all local transportation and a true architectural icon of Los Angeles.

 
Union Station, dressed up for the holidays

 
The grand waiting room