Sunday, February 07, 2016
We love neon. It’s colorful, technologically fascinating and, of course, magnificently retro. In recent years, L.A. has undergone something of a neon renaissance, with local businesses reactivating many of the area’s most iconic—and spectacular—signs, including Culver City’s fabulous Helms Bakery neon.
One of the first things we did, when we moved back to L.A. in the mid-90s, was join the Museum of Neon Art (MONA), which in those days was located downtown. It housed well-known, but discarded, signs of yore and was a wonderful slice of yesterday.
New museum greeter
Neon clocks for sale in the gift shop
Old (new?) clock
Last night, MONA reopened on trendy Brand Blvd. in Glendale. The museum had been closed for several years, fundraising and renovating its new site, so we were anxious to go. We were greeted by a 10-foot neon frog—wearing a tux and top hat, no less!—in the gift shop window. Past the gift shop was a room filled with refreshments. Down the hall from there was the main exhibit room, where a string band—with neon instruments!—was setting up to play.
Wall art and neon musical instruments
One of the more fun new pieces
Another interesting new piece: neon overlaid on
depiction of indigenous people
The room was filled with new art that was interesting and, in some cases, even fun. But only a handful of the museum’s older holdings were on display—where was the Brown Derby hat and Manny, Moe and Jack? To say I was disappointed would be a huge understatement. Still, if you’re into neon, you’ve got to go. The gift shop itself is worth a quick trip.
Iconic image: Van de Kamp's
Chevrolet OK used cars
"Cameras" and "Win with Winning Wire"
Outside the museum: Clayton Plumbers
Sunday, January 31, 2016
With Bob at Club 33 in 2012
We first met Bob Gurr at a D23 getaway at Smoke Tree Ranch in 2012. While Tim went off to get a beer, Bob came over, stuck out his hand and said, “Hi! I’m Bob Gurr, Disney legend.” We’ve chatted with him a few times since then. Most notably at an exclusive Christmas event at Disneyland’s Club 33 and then at the first Van Eaton Disney auction, where Bob marveled that he couldn’t even afford to buy his own drawings. He then handed me his business card.
We’ve also heard him speak several times as part of Disney conventions, etc. Bob is a wonderful raconteur, telling funny and fascinating stories about creating Autopia, the Monorail, the Matterhorn bobsleds, and other rides for Disneyland. (His motto: “If it moves at Disneyland, Bob Gurr probably designed it.”) I would go just about anywhere to hear him speak.
Last night was even more special than usual. Bob was the guest of honor at a fan event in Santa Ana and so had the entire evening to himself. He relayed how he was hired in 1954 to design the Autopia cars less than a year before Disneyland opened. The cars were stylish, but by the end of the park’s first week, all but two were inoperable, prompting Bob to ask Walt to hire a repair crew! Like much in life, early Disneyland just sort of came together along the way.
During the Q & A, Bob debunked the notion that Disney was the first person to ride the Matterhorn. After watching a successful run of the bobsleds filled with sandbags, Walt turned to Bob and said, “Gurr, you designed it, now you ride it.” Luckily, the bobsleds worked!
He also allayed one audience member’s fears of the Monorail ever jumping its tracks. Trains, he explained, run by touching their tracks less than an inch. There’s no way the Monorail could ever jump a track that’s 2.5 feet tall.
When asked what Walt would think of all the changes made to Disneyland over the years, Bob criticized those who try to second-guess what went on inside Disney’s head. “I worked with the man for 12 years,” Gurr said, “and never knew what he was thinking!”
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
The ship entrance
So it was a pleasant surprise when Tim was asked if he'd like to help Peter do a remote broadcast from the Queen Mary yesterday. It wasn't Lima, Peru, but at least we could drive to the show site. Plus the Queen offered to comp us a room for the night. We were there!
For those who don't know, the Queen Mary was once the most fabulous ocean liner on the open seas. Retired in 1967, she was bought by the city of Long Beach, where she has served as a hotel and tourist attraction for almost 40 years. Although in desperate need of a face-lift, she nonetheless provides an historic look at a time when travel really was glamorous. The Queen's interior is covered in glorious wood and her ballrooms are works of art. While Tim managed the radio equipment for Peter's broadcast, I ran around the ship, snapping pictures (click on images to enlarge).
Tim checking the radio equipment
Hallway to the staterooms—our room was
on the left
Art deco clock
Shops on the main promenade
Enclosed deck on the promenade level
Smoke stacks (topside)
Looking toward the front of the ship
Looking back from the front
Long Beach (from topside)
Stateroom bathtub faucets: hot and cold
salt and fresh water!
Long Beach through our stateroom porthole
Sunrise (topside) the next morning
Friday, January 22, 2016
Den remodel—note the old heater vent being disassembled
next to the closet on the right
Not mold, but 70 years of various paint coats on the ceiling,
including dark green
Removing the old paint coats, now on the floor (yikes!)
No more wall-heater
IKEA furniture in boxes
Tim building the new loveseat, while our cat Jack
Taking a break
Covering the loveseat cushions—no wonder IKEA
furniture is so inexpensive—and, yes, that's Jack
supervising once again
Our wonderful new library!
Friday, January 08, 2016
I also wanted to ride the Disneyland Railroad one last time before it stops running, this Sunday, for two years while the new Star Wars land is being built. The train looms large in my family's history, as the Main Street station is the site of one of my favorite childhood photos:
Uncle Louie, me (age 4), my sister Vicki (age 3),
and Mom (June 1958)
Perhaps even more importantly, the railroad is the first ride that Walt envisioned, telling his imagineers to design an amusement park that "will be surrounded by a train." Indeed, the rail runs along Disneyland's famous 20-foot "berm" that surrounds the park and shields visitors from the outside world. In addition to stopping in New Orleans Square, Toontown/Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland, the last leg of the train ride features a still-spectacular Grand Canyon diorama, plus the animatronic dinosaurs Disney designed for the 1964 World's Fair. You truly travel back in time when you ride the Disneyland Railroad around the entire perimeter of the park.
Tim on the train
We were so early (9AM), the train was empty—not so later
in the day
Grand Canyon diorama
Long before Jurassic Park there was Disney's
On our way out of the resort, we stopped at the Disneyland Hotel to use the restroom and ran into these two characters!
Me with Chip (Dale?) and Goofy