Friday, May 29, 2015

Detecting Missiles!

Nike Missile Site, Wayne New Jersey

Last Sunday was a v-v-v-v-Valley day.  After visiting nearby murals in Van Nuys, Larry took me to Encino. We climbed up Mulholland Drive to San Vicente Mountain. All the way up there were interesting signs and strange-looking metal contraptions.  
View from The Tower, San Vicente Mountain

Here's a description  of the area from   The park provides a glimpse into United States military history. Numerous self-guided interpretive displays explain how from 1956-1968, San Vicente Mountain was one of sixteen Los Angeles area Nike-Ajax supersonic anti-aircraft missile launch sites. During the Cold War, Nike sites were located in defensive rings surrounding key urban and industrial areas throughout the United States. This site contained ground-based radar and computer systems designed to detect and track hostile aircraft, and to guide the anti-aircraft missiles that would be launched from nearby Sepulveda Basin to their targets.

Wow! I didn't realize that our Santa Monica Mountains held so many secrets. It was a beautiful day. There were hikers and mountain bikers on the trails. Some people dragged up their camp chairs just to sit, relax and look out over the Encino Reservoir and the vastness that is the San Fernando Valley. 
Hikers, San Vicente Mountain

The sky was hazy on Sunday and the light was rather strange.  My photos have not been retouched. They have a yellow-ish glow, making them look like faded photos from the 1960s. Perfect! During better weather conditions, like after a windy, rainy day, I'm sure you would be able to see for miles from San Vicente Mountain. Pray for rain.

Looks like Larry is wearing his radar fascinator!

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Throw-Back Thursday with the Queen #tbt

Ellen, Queen Ida, Ms. Patti @ Verbum Dei High School, Watts, 1991

I ran into my co-worker, Chuck Taggart, in the hallway at work the other day.  Chuck said that he'd been cleaning his office and came upon a few items that I'd lent him. Chuck pulled out my "Cookin' With Queen Ida" cookbook and a CD called "Hanukkah Swings!" with Kenny Ellis.  I'm thinkin' that I loaned Chuck the Hanukkah CD when he was searching for songs for his former radio show.  I'm not exactly sure why I would have loaned him my Queen Ida cookbook.  Chuck is a master of Creole and New Orleans-style cooking. He could write his own cookbook!

Bonus: There were two photographs in my cookbook. One from 1991, soon after I acquired the book, of me, Queen Ida and Ms. Patti at a Zydeco dance at Verbum Dei High School in Watts (above).  I see that I'm holding the cookbook in the photo. Queen Ida autographed it for me.
The second photo was 7 years and many pounds later on the Santa Monica Pier. Queen Ida was performing for the Santa Monica Pier Twilight Dance Series. Ida and her band always sound great and never fail to get folks dancing. She's a treasure.
Ellen, Queen Ida, Santa Monica Pier, August 1998

I just love a cookbook with a spiral spine. It's so much easier to read the recipes while cooking. I was happy to get my cookbook back. I looked for it a few weeks ago and figured it must be buried in a box in the far reaches of our garage. I can tell by the clipped and dog-eared page that the most-used recipe in Queen Ida's book is her Bread Pudding. It's one of the BEST dessert recipes I've ever found. This dish is sure to please at parties. I pair it with a nice, warm whiskey sauce.

I'm going to look through "Cookin' With Queen Ida" this weekend and fix us a few Bon Temps Creole recipes for Sunday dinner.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015


The Red Car!  Click on pictures to embiggen.

After viewing Ken Twitchell's "Freeway Lady" mural at L.A. Valley College on Sunday, we knew that right around the corner on the east side of campus was "The Great Wall of Los Angeles." This mural is almost a mile long and is painted on one of the concrete walls of the Tujunga Wash, a flood control channel. I've passed this 6-block mural by car many times, but have never parked to walk the length of it and look at it in detail.

Wow! I love the richness of the murals. The subject matter is the history of ethnic peoples in Southern California.  Artist, Judith Baca, designed the murals. With the help of students and volunteers, painting began in 1975 and was finished in 1984. There have been restorations and subsequent paintings added in recent years under the auspices of SPARC, Social and Public Art Resource Center. 

Western Movie Star, William S. Hart looks like Bob Dylan here!

There is a parkway that runs along the fenced-in wash, planted with shade trees and a nice path. This is a field trip worth taking!

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Granny Moved to the Valley

"The Freeway Lady" Mural at L.A. Valley College by Kent Twitchell

Kent Twitchell is a well-known muralist. He has painted many murals in our fair City of Los Angeles.  Some have been painted over and/or destroyed.  Many have been saved and restored.  One such mural that was painted over was "The Freeway Lady." The mural was on the side of a building on Temple Street, overlooking the 101 Freeway.  The model for the "Lady" in the mural was Lillian Bronson, a character actress who resembled two of the artist's great-grandmothers.  

Original "Freeway Lady" Mural, 1974-1986. Photo from Kent Twitchell Website

In 1981 a new structure built next door to the building obscured the mural's bottom half.  In 1986 the mural was painted over, without informing the artist, in order to sell the space for advertising.  Citing California Art Preservation Act (passed in 1980), Twitchell sued the building's owner.  In March, 1992, a settlement was reached, providing $125,000 for restoration of the mural.

Kent Twitchell, painting "The Freeway Lady" Mural, LAVC. Photo from FB

"The Freeway Lady" is back. She has moved to the Valley, on the side of the Student Services Building at L.A. Valley College (Fulton Ave., near Hatteras St., Van Nuys), to be exact. I was most interested in this mural because The Lady has a beautiful granny square afghan surrounding her and flying off into the wind. It seems that Twitchell's great grandmother used to crochet afghans very much like this one.  

Ellen says, "Granny Squares are the Building Blocks to Art!"

I remember when the call went out in our crochet community that Twitchell needed a replica of this granny square afghan to study in order to complete his new mural. The President of our Knit Guild, Peggy Baxter answered the call and crocheted a 5 x 20-foot afghan for Twitchell to use as a mdoel for the piece that is flying off into space, behind "Grandma."

Peggy's Afghan Piece for "The Freeway Lady" Mural, photo courtesy of Peggy Baxter

Peggy's Work in Progress.  Photo courtesy of Peggy Baxter.

There was a show in 2009 at the Look Gallery, Downtown L.A., exploring Twitchell's drawings and major works, including "The Freeway Lady" mural.  If you watch this video by Mat Gleason, you will see Crochet Artist, Peggy Baxter, in the crowd, sporting her granny square poncho!
Kent Twitchell with Peggy Baxter, Look Gallery, DTLA. Photo Courtesy of Peggy Baxter.

Peggy and her Afghan Art. Look Gallery, DTLA. Photo Courtesy of Peggy Baxter.

On Sunday, Larry and I drove out to LA Valley College to view the almost-completed "Freeway Lady" mural. It is glorious. She seems so much happier on a college campus, in a grassy area, rather than on the hectic Hollywood Freeway.  Welcome to the Valley, Granny!
The Crochet Car Pays Homage to "The Freeway Lady"

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day 2015

George E. Bloom, Troop Truck, Fort Bliss, Texas, 1941

In addition to being Memorial Day, it's the 11th anniversary of my Dad's death.  I found some photos of my Dad's first years in the U.S. Army, 1941, Fort Bliss, Texas.  Eventually, he achieved the rank of Major.  Dad spent 4-1/2 years in the service. Thank you, Dad for serving. 

The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy.  They have dedicated their lives to their country and deserve to be recognized for their commitment.  

Major George E. Bloom, 1943

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Seen in L.A.

I like to SNAP! I like to SNAP everything! Here are a few snaps around my town, Los Angeles.

...and the cow jumped over the the parking lot at Chabelita's on Western Ave.

...Mr. Contractor, Take Down This Wall! Faircrest Hts.

San Andreas or those damn ficus trees! Miracle Mile

I see the sign. Where are the records?  Fairfax Ave.

Fairfax Ave.

Grape-Head Man, WLA

Take some SNAPS this weekend and show them off.  Pixels are free.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Dinosaur Connection

The mileage on my new-ish car. Yes, I sit in traffic long enough to snap photos of my control panel. Ugh.

1969 and 1970 - Pivotal Years in My Life

I'm not surprised any longer when I meet people that know other people I know, even when they're from different aspects of my life. I have school friends, music biz friends, yarny friends, relatives, historic preservation friends, art and painting friends, etc. These groups often intersect. I guess I just have INTERESTING friends! After awhile, I just assume that all of my friends know each other and that we all have experienced the same things growing up.
So much of television and movies have recently been involved with remembering the 1960s. The Sixties are Fifty! There are documentaries, mockumentaries, novelizations of real events and stories set during those times in the U.S. Larry and I are addicted to television and pop culture of that era. My name is Ellen and I'm a TV-a-holic. As we watch these shows based on the 60s, we are reminded of our own high school and college years in Los Angeles. We are dinosaurs...irrelevant in today's culture. NOW, I understand why my parents only listened to THEIR music and could not comprehend my rock ' roll.
Everything I do and see comes back to those pivotal mid-1960s and early 1970s years. I am at the point in my life now where I often look back and don't dare look too much into the future. Everything I see reminds me of those times. The fact that the AMC series, "Mad Men" and David Letterman's 33-year long run on late night television have both come to an end within days of each other magnifies my dinosaur disposition. Yes, it is the end of an era. We'd better write down our memories and catalog those photos or everything will be lost to later generations. Oh, so what! They have their own memories to make and remember.
My New Crocheted Head-Rest Covers for My Atomic Gold Car that resemble antimacassars. #dinosaur

I like eating at classic L.A. restaurants that I've been frequenting for 50 years. #dinosaur

Let's hang out together, my dinosaur friends. If we do not have children to care for us during our fossil years, we must cultivate younger friends that understand our pre-historic ways and can learn about our shared memories.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Prom Phenom

Prom Couples at "Urban Light"

During our visit to the L.A. County Museum of Art on Saturday evening to see late artist, Chris Burden's final performance sculpture, we walked by Burden's iconic "Urban Light." This sculpture, consisting of 202 vintage street light standards from 1920's and 1930's Los Angeles, has become a magnet for tourists and residents alike. Everyone wants to have their picture taken in front of this beacon, including kids going to their high school proms.

There must have been at least a dozen different groups of dressed-up youths posing in front of the sculpture for some pre-prom snapshots. 

I questioned some of the promsters as to where they were celebrating.  None of them were local. I heard The Castaways in Burbank, Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia and other spots beyond the San Gabriel Valley!  Wow! That's a long drive wearing your fancy-schmancy clothes just to have your picture snapped! 
If I lived on the east-side, I'd want to have my pre-prom pic snapped at the Donut Hole in La Puente or The Aztec Hotel in Monrovia or, more conventionally, The Huntington Gardens in San Marino! 
There were limousines and classic cars waiting to whisk the kids back to the east side for their big night!

1948 Chevy

Their Prom Finery Matches their Ride

We joined in the photo fun and snapped a few shots of these gussied-up teens. I guess the Miracle Mile has become miraculous once again.

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