Monday, August 31, 2015

Westlake Park

Check this hashtag on Instagram for more photos

On my way back from having my car serviced downtown on Saturday morning, I stopped at MacArthur Park to view an art installation called "The Spheres at MacArthur Park, Portraits of Hope."  Portraits of Hope sponsors many programs (from their website) aimed at enriching the lives of children and adults - many who may be coping with adversity or serious illness - through their participation in creative, educational, high-profile, one-of-a-kind projects. School children and their parents throughout Los Angeles donated their time to painting the spheres, conceived by brothers Bernie and Ed Massey.

Volunteers inflating and launching the spheres into the lake

It was a super hot day in Los Angeles and I didn't stay at the Park long, but I did manage to snap a few shots of these colorful spheres bobbing in the Lake.

Taxi Cab from "Garden In Transit - Portraits of Hope" Project

Westlake Park, built in the 1890s in Los Angeles, was renamed MacArthur Park in 1942 (from a KCET article to honor General Douglas MacArthur, reportedly part of William Randolph Hearst's scheme to elevate the general to the presidency.  Do read the highlighted KCET article for more interesting facts about this legendary Los Angeles park!
General Douglas MacArthur Memorial at MacArthur Park, L.A.

As I was leaving the park, I noticed the big sign over the Westlake Theatre (now a swap meet). This area was called Westlake because it was the western boundary of what was considered the CITY at the time. There used to be a boathouse here where you could rent boats to sail on the lake. There was a refreshment stand and weekly concerts in the band shell. This was a very fashionable part of the city. Gaylord Wilshire's Wilshire Boulevard subsequently split the park in half. Years later, it fell into disrepair and a criminal element limited the public's use of the park.  I'm glad to see people coming here again to see the Spheres Installation.
The Westlake Theatre Sign is still there

Wilshire Boulevard, near the Park, 1938. DWP Photo Archives

I also noticed a mural facing the Park entrance, on Wilshire and Alvarado, called "Los Angeles Teachers" by Hector Ponce (1997) depicting Edward James Olmos (in character) with educator Jaime Escalante, from the movie "Stand and Deliver."  
"Los Angeles Teachers" by Hector Ponce, 1997

Facing the other direction from the Park entrance at 7th St. and Alvarado, there was a line in front of the best delicatessen in Los Angeles, Langer's. I would have joined that line if it wasn't so hot at 11:45 a.m.!
I'll definitely come back here when the weather is cooler and walk around to view more of this historic neighborhood.

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Just a Dishcloth

Argh! It's sooooo hot and humid in Los Angeles. The last thing I want to do is have a heavy wool sweater, afghan or other work in progress sitting on my lap in this weather!  I've been working on cotton dishcloths for the past week. They are quick, satisfying and cool.

Today just happens to be the deadline for the 2015 Annual Dishcloth Swap on Ravelry.  My friend, Eve runs the swap. This year, Lisa and I are going to help Eve sort the entries. Ooooo.  I just love seeing all of the beautiful dishcloths made by others from across the country and beyond! 
Ellen's 2015 Dishcloths

There are lots of participants this year. I have tons of envelopes at my house, waiting for sorting day.  Eve just picked up this box from the Post Office!

Photo by Eve - 2015 Swap Dishcloths

I was MOST inspired a few weeks ago by Debbie's dishcloths at our El Segundo Slipt Stitchers Guild Meeting.  The colors of these cloths are just beautiful. I love the simple designs!
Debbie's Inspiration Cloths

That's what I'll be doing this weekend.  Knitting dishcloths for future presents and trying to keep cool!  Have a great weekend, my friends.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

#tbt - The Mauritania Apartments

Mauritania Apartments, 1936. USC Digital Library Archive

Larry and I were invited to an afternoon party on Sunday at the Mauritania Apartments on Rossmore Avenue in Hancock Park. I was pleasantly startled when I saw this perfect Art Deco, Streamline Moderne jewel of building! Our friend, John has lived here for a few years. Wow!  What a fantastic building! Actor, Jack Haley commissioned the building in 1934. It was designed by architect Milton J. Black, who was known for a few more beautiful buildings in Los Angeles. Click on this link to see more about Black's work.

Jack Haley and his wife lived in the penthouse for 20 years. I do believe that this is the very same apartment where John's party was held.  In 1960, Jack Kennedy used this apartment as his home base during the Democratic convention
I could not stop snapping photos of this beautiful building!  My photos do not do it justice. Really, you must drive up Rossmore and see it for yourself.  It's just north of Rosewood, south of Melrose on the east side of the street.

Lobby Interior

Original Light Fixture, 1934

The party was in full swing when we arrived. I recognized a few familiar faces. John and I used to work together at another production company YEARS ago. There was a luscious luncheon spread in addition to beverages. Our friends Claire and Tom arrived. We chatted with them quite a bit.

Ellen and Claire

Larry and Tom

All in all, it was a lovely party in a magnificent, historic Los Angeles building.  Thanks, John!

John hasn't changed much over the years. He's still on the phone!

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Wow! My Uncle Mort (my Dad's older brother) turned 98 over the weekend. Mort has outlived all of his siblings and cousins. Mort's daughters, Amie, Barbara and Carol invited us over for a celebration last Sunday.

The house was decorated beautifully. Many of Mort's friends and relatives were there. The girls offered a delicious lunch buffet, cake and champagne. 

Everyone toasted Uncle Mort!

Mort, surrounded by his daughters, relatives and friends

Mort's house is situated on a lower bluff in Playa del Rey, overlooking the ocean. There was a refreshing breeze blowing over the balcony and through the living room. It was a lovely party!

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Knittin' in the Park...

Whenever I'm knittin' the park, I always think of that Billy Stewart song from 1965, "Sittin' in the Park...waiting for you -ooo-ooo." It's a good ol' lowrider song that I've always liked...a classic song from my youth.
On Saturday, late afternoon I met up with my Santa Monica knitters and crocheters at Clover Park.  We used to meet at Fairview Library, but it is closed for renovation. Our regular meetings were the second, fourth and fifth Saturdays of the month. During the summer we're meeting every Saturday at Clover Park, 3:30-5:30. I try to squeeze this gathering into my schedule, because there's nothing better than sitting in the cool Santa Monica breeze in a beautiful park with my yarny friends. 
Bebe, Jamie brought her mini-loom, a portion of Lisa

This past Saturday Eve brought her twins, Jason and Georgina, with her. Eve didn't get much crocheting in, but I could tell that the twins were thrilled to be in the open park. They're walking now, with Mom's help. So cute!
Jason, Georgina, Eve
Walking with Mom while Bebe watches

Kickin' back for a drink!

See you this Saturday at Clover Park, 2600 Ocean Park Boulevard, SM. We meet on a patch of ground, under the tree closest to the parking lot at the north/east corner of the park, 3:30 -5:30. Join us, even if you don't have any yarn. Bring a blankie or chair. It's a peaceful way to spend a few hours. You'll learn a lot about yarn, whether you want to or not!
My latest park project - mini-tote bag

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Crenshaw Square

Last week, my friend, Paddy Calistro re-posted a video on Facebook called "Breakfast at Tak's." I loved this short video about the community of people who gather at this multi-cultural coffee shop in Crenshaw Square, on Crenshaw Boulevard near 39th Street. 

Entrance off rear parking area, Crenshaw Square

I was familiar with the story of the coffee shop at the Holiday Bowl, a similar melting pot for the Asian-American, African-American, Mexican-American groups in the area. After the Holiday Bowl Coffee Shop was closed, people from Holiday opened Tak's Coffee Shop  in nearby Crenshaw Square. 

Scott, Paddy, grits, eggs and toast

Tak's is open for breakfast and lunch. Their menu reflects a cross-cultural mix. You can order biscuits with gravy, grits, Louisiana hot links or fried chicken wings. You can also order slices of char-su pork, saimin noodles and sunomono, a pickled Japanese cabbage salad. I'd heard about the Loco Moco, so that's what I ordered. This is known as a Hawaiian dish, consisting of rice topped with a hamburger, fried egg and brown gravy.  
Loco Moco

The most delicious heart-attack on a plate!

It was great meeting up with Paddy and her husband, Scott. We used to see each other more often around town at different events before our horrendous traffic inhibited our meet-ups. The menu from Tak's is featured in the Angel City Press publication, "To Live and Dine in L.A." Paddy brought a copy of the book for Mary, the owner of Tak's Coffee Shop. 

The interior of the Square's courtyard yields two floors of offices and shops

The area is tidy and well-maintained

After breakfast we walked around the Crenshaw Square, built in 1959. This development recently sold for $5.9 million dollars and is slated for re-development. There's quite a bit of proposed construction happening near here too, via the Curbed L.A. blog. The new Crenshaw Metro Line will be going right down the center of the Boulevard, in front of the Square shops. I was told by some locals outside Crenshaw Square that the liquor store owners have been asked to vacate. Earlz Grille was supposed to open here, but the sign has been up for a year and Earlz has not opened.  Sigh. I wish I could get hold of that Asian-style Crenshaw Square sign!
The top and bottom bars of this sign were painted bright red in the past

Further evidence that this neighborhood was and is home to many Asian-Americans are the houses located just east of Crenshaw Square. On a few blocks near that fateful corner of Norton Avenue and 39th Street, you'll see some beautiful Japanese-style gardens in front of mid-20th century homes.

Here's a link to an explanation of the Japanese presence in the Crenshaw area, alongside their white and African-American neighbors.

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