Monday, June 07, 2021

Plein-Air Painting with Jacinto Guevara

Larry photographing the artist, Jacinto Guevara, Echo Park

On Sunday, Larry and I drove over to Echo Park Avenue at Montana Street in Echo Park to visit with our long-time friend, Jacinto Guevara while he was painting a scene on the street. Jacinto loves old Los Angeles architecture, the more dilapidated, the better.

We met Jacinto years ago when he was playing conjunto accordion and guitar in different Los Angeles bands. There was quite an American roots music scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. We were all hopping from one club to another to listen to bands. We met at clubs like the King King on La Brea and 6th, Raji's on East Hollywood Boulevard, The Palomino in North Hollywood, the Central on the Sunset Strip, the punk club, Al's Bar, downtown L.A. and tons of other places around the Los Angeles area. It wasn't unusual for us to be out every single night seeing bands. Of course, we'd never go to a club on Saturday night, that was for amateurs, not real music lovers!

Diane Lujan and Jacinto Guevara, Los Angeles

During this time, we were interested in all types of roots music, including the blues, rockabilly, Cajun, Zydeco, Conjunto, Polka and more! Conjunto Music is Mexican-American music that has been influenced by the music of German immigrants to Texas. The accordionist, Flaco Jimenez is a very popular musician in this genre. Once we found out about the Tejano Conjunto Festival in San Antonio, we traveled there with many of our friends to experience this music in its home. We went back the next year and fell in love with San Antonio. Jacinto really fell in love with the city, because he and few of his other bandmates from Los Angeles ended up moving to San Antonio. That was almost 30 years ago!

Jacinto and Larry, Echo Park

Jacinto still performs occasionally, but since his move he has concentrated on his artwork more. His paintings are in the collections of many celebrities, including Cheech Marin and Eric Clapton. You can read more about Jacinto's artwork HERE.  When we found out that he was visiting Los Angeles, we made it a point to stop by his painting location to say hello.

Jacinto lived in Echo Park and East Los Angeles as a youth. He remembers the neighborhood fondly and wanted to memorialize a few of the buildings before they are torn down! Yesterday, he was painting the barbershop.

Barbershop, Echo Park Ave., painting in progress by Jacinto Guevara, 2021

Google screenshot of the Barbershop, Echo Park Ave. at Montana St., Echo Park

I definitely think that Jacinto has made the Barbershop building look better in his painting than it does in real life! He even painted one of those famous Echo Park stairways!

Today he is working on a scene in City Terrace, East L.A. Here's a screenshot of his subject:

City Terrace Drive and Ramboz, ELA

There are lots of run-down buildings in old Los Angeles that make great subjects for paintings!
Glad that we were able to visit with Jacinto during his short visit to Los Angeles!

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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Memorial Day

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

In addition to being Memorial Day, it's the 17th anniversary of my Dad's death (5/25/2004).  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.  
Miss you everyday, Pop!

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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The Los Angeles Music Center

I soooo remember when the Music Center was built, between 1964 and 1967 on Bunker Hill (Welton Becket and Associates, architect).  It was a major deal for Los Angeles.  Thank you, Buffy Chandler.  The Philharmonic Auditorium on Olive St., that had been housing the L.A. Philharmonic Orchestra since 1920, closed.  I do remember attending a performance of the L.A. Civic Light Opera presentation of "Oklahoma" at the Phil when I was a small girl.  It was such a hassle getting downtown, parking, etc.  Once the Music Center was built with ample parking, it was so much easier attending performances.  In the old days, everyone took the street car downtown.  Once the street car lines were taken out and the automobile ruled the L.A. roads, more parking was required.  The Music Center was modern, sleek and glamorous!  We visited often.

The glamorous chandeliers at the Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. 

Photo from Water & Power Associates Website

1965. Water & Power Collection.  7,000 fans wait in line for tickets to see "Hello Dolly."

For a few years, around 2012, 2013, The Music Center sponsored Christmas Ukulele programs and Strummers in the Summer. It was so much fun actually playing ukulele at the Dorothy Chandler Auditorium. I felt like a REAL musician!

I cannot wait for performances to return to The Los Angeles Music Center! Hopefully, after June 15th, when Covid restrictions are lifted we will be able to enjoy all that Los Angeles has to offer!

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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Right Before Your Eyes!

Crapi Apartments, Overland Avenue, Palms

While driving down Overland Avenue in Palms, WLA, you might spy a certain mid-20th century apartment building and do a double-take. The Crapi Apartments name is a play on the word "Capri" Apartments.  So many "dingbat" style buildings of this era have tropical and whimsical names. 

Chee-Zee Apartments, Woodbine Ave., Palms

Around the corner from the Crapi Apartments are the Chee-Zee Apartments!  Both of these buildings are the subtle joke of the owner of NPA, National Promotions and Advertising. NPA specializes in outdoor advertising and have a sign-filled facility, just down the block. We've been lucky to attend a couple of parties at NPA.

NPA Offices, Overland Ave., Palms. Photo from NPA Website

The outside of the NPA is an ordinary looking warehouse space with a Greyhound bus in front. This is how you enter the building, through the bus!  Naturally, the bus driver is a greyhound dog.
This guy drives the NPA Bus!

I also noticed that NPA now sports a giant hot dog on the roof.  At one time, this plaster dog graced the top of a hot dog stand on the corner of Hollywood and Western, in East Hollywood.  Later, a Thai restaurant took over the stand but left the dog on top, until NPA rescued it.
Hot Dog @NPA Headquarters. Photo from NPA Website

Former location of hot dog, Hollywood and Western, East Hollywood

Next time you're driving down a boring street, look a little bit closer, you might find something unusual!

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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

So Many Changes

Culver City-Palms Railroad Station, 1940. LA Public Library Archives

While I was shopping at Sprouts Market on Venice Blvd. last week, I was wondering what this large piece of property was before it was made into a shopping center. The shopping center is  currently called Venice Crossing. The Sprouts was formerly a Haggen Market, previously Albertson's. There's a Starbucks, Noah's Bagels, Ross Dress for Less and more chains. 

The markets keep changing at Venice Crossing
Chain Stores at Venice Crossing
I do remember the A-1 Noodle Company being there, right next to what used to be the railroad tracks that run along Exposition Boulevard. You can still see the painted A-1 sign on what used to be the factory, from the tracks. The Expo Line now occupies these very same tracks.

In my hazy memory, during the late 1960s to the 1980s, I think this was just an industrial zone with the A-1 Noodle company and vacant land around the tracks, probably a few parking lots. Some of the areas were paved over, but the tracks were still visible. This particular line ran all the way west, behind the Westside Pavillion and ended at Fisher Lumber in Santa Monica. I also remember hanging out at a place called Mama Pajama. I even had an art show there in 1989! The shop was a collection of vintage clothing, coffee house with live performances and more. 
Industrial Section of Pacific Electric Tracks, facing east near La Cienega, 2007. Photo by Mike Palmer. This is how I remember the Venice Crossing area looking in the past.

Ahah! Culver Junction! I came upon a wonderful old photo online that described Culver Junction at this very same intersection, near Venice and Robertson. 
Culver Junction, located at Venice/Robertson, 1953. Photo from Historical Photos Expo Line

This was the Culver City-Palms Station, located at 9013 Venice Boulevard, a bit west of Culver Junction, serving both the Pacific Electric Railway Company and the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Palms Depot, 1953

The Palms Depot building is where a self-storage facility is today, near Vinton Avenue and National Blvd. in Palms. This particular building was saved and moved to Heritage Square Museum in Highland Park and now serves as their Visitor's Center. Most of those large palm trees were pulled out to make way for the Santa Monica Freeway in 1963.
My little section of Venice Boulevard has changed a lot over the decades. It would be unrecognizable to old-timers! Remember to take photos of mundane things on the streets where you live. One day, those buildings and streets will be changed forever!

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Ready for Passover?

Tropical Matzoh House

Passover begins at sundown on Saturday March 27th this year. Once again, Larry and I will be celebrating on our own and not with our extended family of 25-30 people. This pandemic has really halted our family celebrations. I'm sad to miss another family gathering.  Zoom Seders just aren't the same.

Following are some photos of our divine dinner from past family Seders.

We have our own, personalized family Haggadah

Matzoh Ball Soup
Gefilte Fish with Horse Radish

Passover is the 8 day observance commemorating the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II. This is a time of family gatherings and lavish meals called Seders. The story of Passover is retold through the reading of the Haggadah (prayer book). With its special foods, songs, and customs, the Seder is the focal point of the Passover celebration.

When I was a child, my grandfather, Sam Katz was the Chairman of the Seder at Temple Beth Am in Los Angeles. We were required as a family to attend the huge second night seder in the basement Mirror Room of the Temple, Rabbi Pressman and Cantor Kelemar, presiding. I do love getting together with my family, but a huge banquet with long services full of squirming children is not always pleasant. I suppose I was one of those squirming children once, but the kids of my era seemed to have had more restraints and rules governing their behavior than the children of today!

My memories are of banquet food (bleah), the reading of the ENTIRE Hagaddah (prayer book for Passover) and singing more songs than was necessary. Maybe the purpose of this gathering was so that we, as a family, would have shared memories of suffering, like the Jewish slaves in the time of the Pharohs. Today, we speak with fondness of those long ago seders. Every few years my grandmother, Freda would declare that she was going to cook our Passover Seder dinner. That was an event! Grandma used to make her own gefilte fish! It was delicious. Grandpa didn't have as much control over our group as Rabbi Pressman did, so we usually cut the service short so we could get to our meal.

Family Passover Seder, 2013, Valencia, CA

In the past 25 years or so, my cousins Marilyn, Carolyn and I have made most of the food for our family Seder. Other cousins have assignments for decorations, wine, etc. The youngsters are in charge of serving the various courses and clearing the table.

Spinach Souffle, Fruit Compote

Chicken Marbella, Matzoh Kugel
Homemade Cherry and Chocolate Chip Macaroons
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Although I'm happy not to handle all of that food prep this year, I do miss our family gatherings. I'm hoping that everyone will be vaccinated by Thanksgiving so we can once again celebrate together. So, whether you're on your own or celebrating with a group, Chag Sameach!

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Thursday, March 04, 2021

Celebrating During the Pandemic

This past year has been a year of togetherness for me and Larry. Luckily, we still get along beautifully! We celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary yesterday, amid the rules of Covid-19. We couldn't do most of the things that we would have done, like travel, visit museums, go to the movies, attend an art show or other gathering. We managed to have a nice day though.

We started out the day with coffee for Larry and a Medicine Ball Beverage for me. The Medicine Ball at Starbucks consists of peach tea, citrus mint tea, steamed lemonade, honey and hot water. It's supposed to combat the flu, sniffles or any other virus! It was delicious. We drove over to the Original Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. The Farmers Market is very L.A. noir during the rain. It's an open-air market with many covered areas. We ducked into an alcove to enjoy our hot beverages and watch the rain. After some produce shopping, we headed back home.

This would have been the time for a visit to the museum. Hopefully, museums, etc. will re-open soon! Instead, we watched our wedding video from 29 years ago! It's a VHS tape, but Larry still has a few VCRs hanging around the house, so he hooked it up and we had a few laughs. Ahhh! To be young, handsome and beautiful!

We were married at the L.A. City Hall, March 3, 1992. Larry's buddies from the Photo Department at his aerospace job took the video and photos of our big day.
The fountain just outside of City Hall
We rode up to the Tower at City Hall. The skyline of Los Angeles certainly has 

changed during the past few decades!

We decided to have tacos for lunch. We didn't want a huge feast, because we'd planned to go out to dinner. We ended up at Bee Taqueria on Adams Blvd., just east of Fairfax. It was recommended to us by our friend, Emiko. 

The MOST delicious carne asada and seafood tacos!

This is the second time we've eaten at Bee, always in the rain! This is an unusual place. The property houses a few other shops and business, mostly in shipping container-like buildings. Bee Taqueria has the MOST delicious gourmet tacos! We shared the seafood/shrimp taco and a carne asada taco on a blue-corn tortilla with guacamole. The rain had let up, so we dined alfresco. It was chilly, but invigorating.

We managed to do things around the house, knit, read, practice ukulele and catch the news on TV before heading over to Sawtelle Blvd./Japantown for dinner. We ate at Midoh on the second level of Sawtelle Place, this mini-mall that houses a market, sushi place, Daiso, mochi place and Karaoke. Our friend, Sherry recommended Midoh. We were the only patrons on the back patio this cold and rainy night. They had heaters, so it was comfortable. The food is home-style Japanese. It was really wonderful. We each had little dinner salads. Larry ordered the Udon Carbonera which is a fusion of Japanese and Italian food, with bacon, cream, egg, parmesan cheese, black pepper, and baby spinach. It was rich, creamy and decadent! I ordered the Nabeyaki Udon Hot Pot which is chicken broth with chicken, udon noodles, shrimp tempura and soft-boiled egg. It was warm, filling and comforting. For dessert we shared this parfait of strawberry fluff with chunks of lemon chocolate brownie on top! They have a marvelous dessert menu. We will definitely return to Midoh. The food and service were great.

Mixed Greens Salad
Udon Carbonara

Nabeyaki Udon Hot Pot

Really, considering the world's circumstances, we managed to have a fine time celebrating our 29th anniversary! Next year, I hope we'll be in Palm Springs or Hawaii!

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