He’s gone to smell the loquats…
Funny how even without context it’s still pretty clear what that means. That turn of phrase grew common in China where they once referred to brothels as “the gates of loquats” because the loquat blossoms smell so delicious. The trees grow rampant across this city, but people don’t seem as excited about them here as they might be in China. Maybe we just don’t know what they are or maybe we just don’t own a tall enough ladder to reach the fruit. Either way, if you put in the effort you’ll find a sweet stone fruit, not a citrus as its name’s likeness to the kumquat might imply. “Quat” means orange in Cantonese. Kumquat: golden orange. Loquat: reed orange, meaning the tree likes to grow where it’s swampy like a reed.
You know those places outside of national parks where they claim there’s a special magnetic force field and they create optical illusions to prove the existence of said force field? Okay, the Korean Friendship Bell is a force field even though they do not advertise it as such. Additionally, I don’t know that the magic seeps from the Friendship Bell itself, I think they chose a magical location for the bell.
This Angel’s Gate Park plateau overlooks the ocean, the harbor and a splice of Palos Verdes. There’s a strangeness to it all, and there’s a celebration of freedom and of gratitude. One might even want to call it a west version of the Statue of Liberty, after all it was given to the United States to celebrate our bicentennial. But while the Statue of Liberty weighs 225 tons, this metal emblem of freedom only weights 17.
In this particular case, size does not matter and a day at the park with a kite and a picnic is well spent at this San Pedro pagoda. For more info, check here: http://www.sanpedro.com/sp_point/korenbel.htm
Even though “Hollywood” montages of Los Angeles show palm trees galore, the official tree of Los Angeles is the Coral Tree. I always assumed we called it “coral” because of the color of its flowers, even though that never really made sense because the flowers are red, not coral. My second guess, still related to the flowers, was that because they are clustered in inflorescence, it kind of looks like sea coral. Wrong again! The name comes from the fact that their branches look like sea coral. But, when a tree has such vocal flowers, who’s paying attention to the branches?
Perhaps the most impressive stand of Corals in the area is along San Vicente between the VA and the beach. There are about 120 trees planted along 5 miles of the ex-Red Car median. They were planted sometime after WWII. In 1976, they became a historic-cultural monument. In 2013, Brentwood residents are fighting to raise funds for the trees’ maintenance. Learn more about their campaign here: http://www.brentwoodcommunitycouncil.org/resources-links/our-coral-trees
St. Patrick’s Day dominates the American mid-March holiday scene. The holiday, imported from Ireland, places the color green at the focal point of its festivities. Holi Festival of Colors, however, is imported from India and celebrates every color. Well, technically the festival celebrates that the hero of Holi’s story, Prahlada, was set to fire in a pyre on the lap of his aunt, Holika. Holika burned to death and Prahlada survived. I don’t know enough to tell whether we’re celebrating the death of Holika, the survival of Prahlada, or if spring is just a really good time to throw colored chalk on a bunch of strangers. But, what a great idea for a holiday!
For more information on Los Angeles’s celebration, check here: http://www.festivalofcolorsla.com/
Murphy Ranch, more commonly known as the “Nazi Bunker,” sits in the hills of the Pacific Palisades. It’s creepy because had Germany won WWII, this is supposedly the place where Hitler planned to rule the world. With a 375,000 gallon water tank, a diesel power plant, and many other amenities, this estate could’ve harbored a world fascism headquarters for an uninterrupted year. To the misfortune of worldwide fascist domination, construction on the ranch was interrupted by the federal government the day after Pearl Harbor.
In 2013, it’s perhaps a comical ruin of what never was. Hidden in LA’s 6th richest census tract and watched over by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, it has become home to local hooligans… beer cans scatter the grounds and graffiti covers every inch of poured concrete. This current narrative fits in more with the area’s history. After all, just down the creek from Murphy Ranch is the former Uplifters’ Clubhouse where bohemians hid out during Prohibition to keep the party going.
Despite its hidden nature, access is pretty simple. If you go up Capri from Sunset, you turn right on Casale Road and just park wherever you can, so thank you benevolent Palisades homeowners for letting us use your street parking. Anyway, if you turn back west an head down the road it will turn into Sullivan Fire Road. After a short while, the gates to the estate will appear. When there’s a fork in the road, turn left to find an unruly amount of stairs. Good for simplicity’s sake, and good for sculpting your butt.
Today, they predicted thundershowers. I received text messages from friends saying, “Have you noticed it’s a rather blustery day?” And my roommate ran around our unheated apartment yelling, “Why is it so cold?” The other day I got on the bus and, though I try not to spread negativity, it felt necessary to exclaim to the stranger next to me, “It’s freezing out there.” He, in all his Frenchness, responded, “Well, it’s February.” Though I may complain, if February keeps bringing skies like this, I say, “Keep ‘em coming!”
I’m well aware of what a hardy winter means, after all, I did go to college in Maine. But, I feel almost reasonable when I say that I was grumpy for those 3 recent weeks of “cold” because one of my favorite Southern Californian amenities is its warmth.
Everyone says, “Angelinos forget how to drive when it rains.” Partly, yes, but we can’t ignore the facts that no one here has all-weather tires, our streets weren’t built to drain adequately, and oily deposits always surface because the rainfall is so infrequent. Likewise, we’re equally susceptible to the cold because our buildings aren’t properly insulated, we don’t have closets stuffed with long underwear, and most importantly, the cold hurts the heart as though the skies have broken their promise.
All of this is to say, I love spring. What more could you ask of a tree than for it to bring the promise of spring in the early month of February with its tiny white flowers? For this reason, I feel quite fond of the Ornamental Pear Tree and I am willing to overlook the fact that it is highly invasive across the United States.
After Northrup Grumann moved its headquarters from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in 2010, it became increasingly reasonable to forget LA’s former leading role in the aerospace industry. In 1987, just before the end of the Cold War, Los Angeles County was home to 10% of the national aerospace jobs. Al Struckus was one such aerospace worker employed by the Canoga Park company, Rocketdyne, now defunct.
So, I suppose it’s no wonder Oklahoma architect, Bruce Goff, designed this bachelor pad to look like something in between a multi-eyed alien and a rocket ship. Though it has 1,730 square feet of living space, it’s a 1 bed/1 bath. Perhaps this house is not the most practical design, but it’s Goff’s only residential building on the West coast and the last building he ever designed.
For more information, check out this Dwell Magazine article: http://books.google.com/books?id=hMYDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA78&lpg=PA78&dq=al+struckus+death&source=bl&ots=iSfI3MMzJK&sig=Rv_tj_aI-_i8JrITrqVHjJnRl3A&hl=en&sa=X&ei=61iwUImwO8miigLKz4HwBQ&ved=0CFAQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q=al%20struckus%20death&f=false
In 2nd grade, I played the lion in my elementary school’s version of The Wizard of Ozzzzzzzzzzz wherein we relayed information about insects via the timeless tale of Dorothy’s exceptional search for Kansas in a land of bees and termites. We were in good company of word play based on the 1900 novel/1939 film. The Garden of Oz is among said company in nomenclature, but it’s distinctly Los Angeles in experience.
Like Simon Rodia of Watts Towers, Hollywood Hills resident, Gail Cottman, has mosaicked her garden with glass and other found objects. Like the mélange of heritage in Los Angeles, the Garden of Oz has multiple thrones paying homage to various figures from Duke Ellington to Hiroshima survivors. And, like the Angelino sensibility of public life, the garden is closed off behind locked wrought-iron gates and is unassuming to the driver-by.
From the outside, one has access to “The Wall of Toys,” designed by Arthur Sellers (one of 75 contributing artists), “A Throne of Your Own,” and a mail box where one can deposit letters to Oz.
This Brentwood canyon community started with cooperative aspirations. An original vision wherein residents would share a bus to work was never realized. This was not the only glitch in the cooperative design. Only 160 of the 500 homes in the original plan were built. 60 homes were destroyed by wildfire in 1991. Several homes have been lost to alterations.
Personally, if I lived in an A. Quincy Jones house, I would want to make sure it stayed the way he intended. It turns out I’m not alone in my sentiment. Residents banded together and got 17 of the 33 remaining homes to be designated as historic-cultural monuments. Even if you’re not into modern architecture, the views from Crestwood Hills is still worth the trip.
For more info on the Mutual Housing Association, check here: http://crestwoodla.com/