Monday, February 10, 2014

The Teahouse of Ted Green

Yesterday I visited the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden at California State University Long Beach.  Smaller than the Japanese Garden in Van Nuys, the garden in Long Beach is a delight. 

Feeding the Koi (fish food dispensers are located on site) clearly is a major attraction for families with young children.  The central pond is circled by an easy walkway with a Ceremonial Teahouse near the back along with a sand garden.  Some of the trees near the sand garden were losing their flower pedals giving the illusion of a light snow.

Afterwards I had lunch at Hof's Hut, a former beachfront hamburger stand that has grown into a small chain of local Long Beach restaurants.

At the end of the day I drove to Torrance to see "Nebraska."  It's a touching movie that perfectly captured the dynamics of older families.  I find it fascinating when movies depict how personality traits are passed down through the generations.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tuning Out Tokyo

Surprisingly large, The Japanese Garden next to the Tillman Water Treatment Plant in Van Nuys is a a delightful respite from the hurly-burly of city life.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Built Forever?

The story of the Southwest Museum is a sad one.

Opened in 1913, it's the oldest museum in Los Angeles.

Built on a hillside, it has commanding views over Highland Park from Downtown Los Angeles to Pasadena.

It owns one of the finest collections of Native American artifacts in the world.

Yet today the museum is only open one day a week (Saturday) and most of its priceless collection is hidden from view.

One hundred years old, the building is completely outmoded.  It was built BEFORE cars were in the mainstream and is oriented towards a commuter line running up the Arroyo Secco.  A century ago, after arriving by rail, visitors were expected to hike up a rugged path clinging to a steep hillside.  After the museum's director died of a heart attack climbing up to the front door a tunnel connecting to an elevator was installed to ease access.

The museum is laid out on several terraced levels making it completely inaccessible to those with mobility issues.

Out of money, the Southwest Museum was taken over by the Autry Museum which pledged to curate and maintain the collection -- a considerable financial commitment.

But the hillside gem of a museum remains nearly vacant, a White Elephant from another era.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Under the Sea

I really enjoyed myself at the Long Beach Aquarium.  It's a very impressive facility with excellent displays.

But the most interesting exhibit had nothing to do with oceans -- it was the bird aviary filled with the most colorful parrots.  You can buy little cups of sugar water and the birds will land on your hand and drink from it.  This means the birds swoop real low over the head of everyone who enters to see if they're offering snacks.  Great people watching as newcomers get bird-bombed as they first come in.

Afterwards I took a terrific short cruise around the Long Beach Harbor and got to see everything from Sea Lions to Cargo Terminals.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tell Me a Story

The Fowler Museum on the UCLA campus has a terrific collection of art from around the world focusing on how art is used to tell stories, record history and express power and wealth.

Their collection of silver, including object smithed by Paul Revere is quite impressive.

The free admission is a nice bonus too!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Perfect Recipe

Chili John's in Burbank seems like a well-preserved roadhouse from the 20s.  The menu is simple but terrific.

Had a nice chat with one of the owners about his family's efforts to keep up with changing tastes in food while respecting the traditions of the restaurants origins.

They've found the right balance and I hope they keep going for a long time.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Coast to Coast

Love him or hate him, a visit to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda is a worthwhile look back at history.

There is so much more to the man than just his resignation from the Presidency.  And it all started right here in Southern California.  What an amazing journey.