Friday, February 26, 2016

Catalina Island

Guest contributor Tim on Catalina Island
Earlier this week, Tim was asked to help-out with a remote broadcast at another nearby locale that included spending the night in a fabulous hotel. (Remember our tripto the Queen Mary last month?) I had another commitment and so didn’t get to go. But Tim did bring home a camera filled with glorious photos of the island. I’ll let him tell the rest:

Once again traveling to local getaways with “travel detective” Peter Greenberg—this time to Santa Catalina Island, located less than 30 miles from the mainland. Peter was broadcasting from the beautiful Inn on Mt. Ada above the small town of Avalon. The hillside mansion, where I also spent the night, was completed in 1921 and overlooks the town and its harbor. Chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr., who bought Catalina Island in 1919, named the home after his wife, Ada.

I left from Long Beach at 10AM and sailed past
the Queen to open waters

 The Casino from the Catalina Express

View from the patio of the Inn 

 Entrance to the former Wrigley Mansion

 Dining terrace

Main sitting room
Dining room
Broadcast location
The cruise ship Carnival Inspiration
View from the sitting room
Sunrise on the harbor

Friday, February 19, 2016

Rain Room

 Tim entering Rain Room 
Another thing we did, as soon as we decided to retire, was get tickets to Rain Room, the L.A. County Museum of Art's interactive installation where participants walk into a rainy room and not get wet. Well, as we discovered today, you get slightly wet. Unless, of course, you ignore the museum's long list of rulesincluding no running or walking fast through the exhibit, no dark clothes, no large handbags, and no high heels—then you might get completely wet, though we didn't dare test these restrictions.

 Waiting on line to get in
Tickets are timed and Rain Room participants are taken into the exhibit in small groups, nine people at a time. You have two minutes to wander around the room—dark except for a single bright light in one corner—and marvel at not getting drenched, even as rain is pouring all around you. After two minutes, you then step to the room's dry perimeter, while the next nine people enjoy wandering around. Then it's your turn again, etc. The entire event takes 15 minutes—which may seem like not enough time, but really just how long can you walk inside a rainy room without an umbrella?

Tim enjoying the rain

Karen and me wandering around, snapping photos

Nonetheless, it truly was an amazing experience. Tim, of course, immediately tried to figure-out the mechanics of it all, while Karen and I just walked around enjoying the entire thing. Watching other people as they strolled cautiously through the room was all part of the experience. The reaction of two little girls in our group totally added to the fun.

 Me staying amazingly dry

The exhibit is on until April 24 and may already be sold-out. If not, we highly recommend getting tickets. But don't wear high heels!

Metropolis II

Bird's-eye view of Metropolis II from 2d floor
Located in the same building as Rain Room is Metropolis II, a "kinetic sculpture" that sends Matchbox-sized cars careening through a labyrinth of twisty highways, while visitors look on. There's no way to adequately describe it without actually watching the piece in action (see below). 



Metropolis II is open limited hours on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only and during some holidays. Art for kids of all ages.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Modernism Week 2016

Eichler home: poolside detail
We bought tickets for this year’s Modernism Week as soon as we decided to retire. We don’t go every year; but when we do, we always have a great time. Fascinating architectural tours, fabulous fashion, and sunny Palm Springs weather—what’s not to love?

A ten-day-long celebration of everything mid-20th-century, Modernism Week has become quite the popular annual event, with enthusiasts flying in from all over the country. Most tickets have to be purchased well in advance and hotels booked months ago. We made our reservations in October.

Although we’ve attended many different tours and lectures over the years, no two years are ever alike. This time we went on four architectural tours, Saturday and Sunday, and danced the night away on Friday. No wonder we’re so tired today! (Click on images below to enlarge.)

Our first event of the weekend: a tiki cocktail party
fundraiser, hosted by our favorite artist Shag. Tim
drinking something tropical.

A live band, the Martini Kings, provided hip retro
dance music. (Album cover designed by Shag.)

Breakfast the next morning at Sherman's deli, one of
the most famous restaurants in Palm Springs

The 8 o'clock rule: if you want to be seated right away
for breakfast, you've got to get there by 8AM. Totally
worth it!

And the desserts are outrageous, too

The first tour of the weekend: Sunmor Estates, so-called
because in the winter the neighborhood, located east of 
downtown P.S., gets an hour more sunshine. The 1600-
square-foot homes were built in the 1950s/60s on a former
WWII airbase. Today, many of them are vacation rentals.
(Interior: living room.)

Fabulous vintage mirror

Wall art: retro design

Poolside—turquoise, chartreuse and orange were all the rage
this year.

Backyard kitsch—I want one!

Second tour: new homes built from old Eichler
blueprints. Highly controversial, but, boy, would 
we love to own one! Does anyone have a spare
million dollars to loan us?

Vintage cars added to the fun. Cherry 1960 Ford Falcon 
wagon (like my very first car) in front of an Eichler reboot.

Cool Mad Men exhibit at Modernism Week HQ 

Props and costumes from the TV show

The highlight of the weekend: Merito Manor tour. A
small complex (10 units) of downtown apartments,
recently renovated as condos—absolutely fabulous!

Many of the units are vacation rentals

Exterior: distinctive folded roof-line

Original space-age (1961) front doorknob—love it!

Yet another turquoise interior

Although most are now gone, each Merito unit was built
with its own stone-covered wet bar. This one remains in 
tact. Glorious!

No trip to P.S. is complete without stopping

Nat Reed now has a gallery, too. After 
years of dithering, I finally bought this
amazing rendition of Disneyland's 
Monsanto House of the Future.

A long-forgotten hotel, designed by mid-century
architect John Lautner, was recently rediscovered and
lovingly renovated in Dessert Hot Springs, Palm
Springs' far less affluent neighbor community. Each
one-room unit includes a kitchenette and stylish

Exterior design

As soon as we pulled into town, we stopped at Lulu, one
of our favorite P.S. eateries, and made dinner
reservations for Sunday night, Valentine's. And lucky, too,
because the joint was packed last night!

Happy Valentine's Day!!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Museum of Neon Art (MONA)


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