Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Lassie House in Pomona

This historic, rebuilt and restored home will be dedicated in the afternoon of July 1, 2018, so you still have time to rework your schedule. The address is 1195 Washington Blvd in Pomona.

It IS a lovely house -- all that river rock and the craftsman touches. 7000 square feet, 8 bathrooms and 8 bedrooms (huge, huh?) and built in 1900.
It's owned by Ray Adamyk, who heads Spectra Company and owns the YMCA of Pomona, which he's also restoring. 
Why is this called the Lassie House? 
It's because of Timmy. If you remember the Lassie TV series, Timmy was played by Jon Provost from 1957 1950s to 1964. As the Facebook page spells out, this was Jon Provost's home once.
At the right is the house in 2008; clearly, lots of work has been done. In fact, older online MLS listings say it had five bathrooms and six bedrooms, and much less square footage. 
When Timmy joined the Lassie cast in 1957, the Provosts had to go to a neighbor's to watch it -- they didn't own a TV yet. (Although Lassie had debuted in 1954, different actors played Lassie's family. In 1954, the cast changed and Lassie became Timmy's dog.

According to Provost's own website, the checked shirt and bluejeans he always wore in the TV show (one set of them, anyway) is in the Smithsonian, next to Archie Bunker's chair.
Back in the 1950s,Provost's father was an aerospace engineer at the Convair Division of General Dynamics. The family moved into this home when Jon was four, and moved out to Beverly Hills when he was nine -- after only two years on the TV show. . (People Magazine says Jon and his Mom moved; Dad and siblings stayed in Pomona.)
By then Jon Provost was Timmy Martin to everyone in American ... Let's face it, he's still Timmy Martin to all of us. His role ended in 1964, but the Lassie show continued, with different stars and scenarios, until 1973, nearly 20 years. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Dude in Pixelated Mosaic Glory

The artist is called Invader, and you can read his Wiki bio here. Where is this? Near as I can tell, 356 South Vermont. 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Pelicans in Trouble in the South Bay

These pictures were taken at the Redondo Beach Pier last Sunday. You can see the old library, now a Veterans Park Center, in the background.
Last week, a flurry of news stories appeared about sick brown pelicans. Here's the article in The Daily Breeze, pointing out that the International Bird Rescue of San Pedro had 32 pelicans in their care.
Local radio stations also talked about the pelicans; speculating that the fish population ain't where it should be, and the birds are starving. Older, more experienced birds are suffering.  They are cold and emaciated when rescuers get to them. The birds should be eating up to six pounds of fish a day.
Disoriented birds have stumbled in to back yards as well. Here's the phone number of the International Bird Rescue:
There's even a story in the NY Post about our pelicans. Apparently, a couple of the birds dive-bombed a graduation ceremony at Pepperdine University last month, and that got a lot of attention and tweets.

What does one call a bevy of pelicans? I just looked it up. They can be called a brief, a pod, a pouch, a scoop, or a squadron.
I think squadron has the most gravitas.
A similar pelican sick-in happened a few years ago, with even worse numbers. Ill, listless pelicans settled along the eaves of the restaurant at the end of the pier, dozens of them. Rescuers were taking only the weakest, because they were so overwhelmed and did not have room to care for all of the pelicans.
They hang around the pier looking for handouts from fishermen. While I wouldn't recommend that anyone try to get too close, you can tell by these photos that the birds were not shy or worried about people.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Dare I say ... Mosaic Monday?

It's almost Monday, and I came across two mosaics this weekend, both on the same block in Redondo Beach. The street is The Esplanade, so directly across from these mosaics is the beach itself.

No information on the mosaics, how old they are or who created them. They are on private property, but outside, not at all hidden.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Falconry in Los Angeles

There are around 650 licensed falconers in California, mostly members of the California Hawking Club. They take their birds of prey out to hunt, and have to purchase hunting licenses for anything that they birds might possibly catch. If the falcon grabs a kangaroo rat or other endangered species, the falconer must step in and distract his or her bird with a chunk of meat and get it away from the prey--even if it's already dead.
The term falconry covers the care of owls - like this great horned owls - and hawks, as well as merlins and falcons..
Having seen great horned owls in the eucalyptus trees at twilight --and did you know they bob forward when they hoot? -- I was truly surprised that this guy looked half the size of the ones in the trees. I was told that the females are much larger, so it's probably females that I've seen.
Another thing about hawking in general: the birds' habitats are subject to inspection and have to meet many regulations. If a falconer wants to go on vacation ... well, he or she had better have some really good friends willing to weigh, feed, and care for the birds every day.
I had no idea that falconry was such a demanding hobby - a life-style, really.
I learned all this from Frank Hoffman, an officer of the California Hawking Club, who brought a Harris Falcon to Deane Dana Friendship Park in San Pedro He comes out there every few months and probably goes to other parks as well.
These raptors are stunning up close. We see red-tailed hawks circling over canyons and occasionally striking a pose at the tops of trees. Once in a while I'll see a falcon perched on a street lamp or freeway sign, or a Coopers Hawk diving at another bird. But unless a pair of high-powered binoculars is at hand, most of us rarely get a chance to study their beaks and eyes and very intimidating talons.
They weigh around two pounds or less, as big as they are.
So that's all I've got. If you see a flyer at your local library about a talk on Falconry, you really should take the opportunity to see these birds and talk to their handlers. It's a look into another world.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

2018 Festival of Books from the Los Angeles Times

Real quick--so that I can reach one or two people who might attend tomorrow:
The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is going on now on the USC Campus.
The weather is beautiful over downtown Los Angeles, which means that by 2 pm the Festival walkways are thick with attendees. Go early! It's so worth it.
Today I caught a 10:30 am program: The Environment on the Precipice, moderated by UCLA History professor Teofilo Ruiz.
Dr. Lucy Jones was on the panel. You know her if you've ever watched the news after an earthquake in Los Angeles. She was the one who calmed us all down while telling us that, yes, the big one is coming. Dr. Jones has a new book out: The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (And What We Can Do About Them).
Dan Egan was another panelist, and just last night his book The Death and Life of the Great Lakes was awarded an LA Times Book Prize in History.
Lastly, Edward Struzik, author of Firestorm: How Wildfire Will Shape Our Future, rounded out a panel that, as Dr. Teo pointed out, hit fire, water, earth, and air (since Lucy Jones's book deals with tornadoes and all manner of disasters).
Dr. Jones stated that we are all terrified of the random, so we force patterns on natural events and convince ourselves that they can be predicted and avoided. We've been doing that for millennia. But we're deceiving ourselves. This was echoed by other panelists, especially Struzik, who reported that fires of a certain size can't be stopped, and they will become more frequent.
A change in attitude is needed. We cannot keep rebuilding in the same place after every disaster. One audience member lost her home in the Thomas fire and is trying to wade through the complexity of the new building codes she now must conform to.
But should we be rebuilding, especially on fault lines, in flood zones? That's a shift in thinking that we have to get through. Hazards, Lucy Jones said, are inevitable. Disasters are not.
In the afternoon, Steve Lopez hosted a panel on homelessness, discussing the reasons for in (evictions, most recently, but also dumping from prisons, hospitals, rising prices, job loss, and much more), and what can be done.
Two fascinating panels among many, and there's a whole 'nother day of it tomorrow.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Two Churches in Pasadena

I've always been curious about the Throop church building in Pasadena because it reminded me of the Wicked Witch’s hereditary title in Wicked: The Life and Times of the WIckedWitch of the West: The Eminent Thropp.
But of course the Throop Church, double o, has nothing to do with the Wicked Witch’s family title, double p.
I did not realize that the Universalist Church in America went back to the 18th century, but it does.
The Throop Memorial Church has always been a Universalist church. Like most Universalist churches, in the early 1960s it became a Unitarian-Universalist Church.
The Throop Memorial Church we see today at 300 S. Los Robles actually started out a few blocks away, as the First Universalist Church. It was built at Raymond and Chestnut in 1890 so it could serve the small community of Universalists that had been meeting for four years in various locations. 
Even though that first church was lovely (as you can see below left), the congregation decided to build a new church. In 1923 the Throop Memorial Church--the one we see today--was built on the corner of Los Robles and Del Mar.
Why call it Throop?
One of the community, Amos G. Throop, was a businessman from Chicago and he apparently led the efforts to build a church, contributing money for the land and building. Throop also founded Polytechnic University a year later, which became CalTech (in fact, before 1920 the school was called Throop Polytechnic or Throop University). The year after that he became Mayor of Pasadena. He died shortly after that, in 1894.
Below right is the Throop Memorial Church today--the building that opened in 1923.
The original Universalist church at Raymond and Chestnut? Gone. 
But there is a church on one of the corners there: St. Andrews Catholic Church, with its tall, campanile bell tower. The original St. Andrew's was built in 1886, so it was already there when the First Universalist Church went up in 1890 ... but that original church is also gone.
St. Andrews was rebuilt in its original location, though, even though the name isn’t so cute. (Don’t you think Throop is a cute name?) The Catholic church was completely rebuilt in 1927-1928 at a cost of ONE MILLION DOLLARS. In 1927-pre-Depression money.

The interior design of the new St. Andrew's was inspired by a Byzantine Church, Santa Sabina’s Basilica in Rome--and that church goes back to the 5th century. The pillars in Pasadena are of scagliola, which I believe is an imitation, colored stone/stucco, and they imitate the real marble columns of Santa Sabina in placement and number. 
If you look up Santa Sabina, you’ll see that the columns there are fluted. Before the 5th century church was built, those columns were part of a temple to Juno, and they were reused for the Basilica.
The Pasadena columns are much more colorful. Imitation, shimitation. You can see them well above. Scagliola is used in Buckingham Palace, so it’s not like it’s a low-cost knockoff or anything.
The exterior of the new church copied another Roman church, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, built in 1123. There are minor differences--the original bell tower has six levels of arches holding bells, for instance--but you'd recognize that tower.
I’m still a nut about mosaics, and  this church has a mosaic floor design repeated on the aisles (left). On the walls are other works of art: murals. Carlo Wostry was the artist, an Italian who seemed to move everywhere in Europe in then to America, creating sacred-themed art.
The murals inside St. Andrew's took eight years to complete. In spite of the Depression, parishioners were willing to keep paying and expanding the artist's commission from just painting murals above the altar to adding saints' portraits and Stations of the Cross to decorate the church. Some of the Stations were completed in the artist's home of Trieste and exhibited there, before being boxed up and shipped to Pasadena and installed in St. Andrew's.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Rooms with 18.5 Million Dollar Views

This doesn't have much to do with history, but I'll put it in anyway. Maybe in a bit this place will become iconic. Maybe it is already, because from the outside, this home is as stunning as the Case Study home of 60+ years ago.
The home on the Sunset Strip (home doesn't seem the right word. Luxury living space?) is for sale at $18.5 million.
Usually I roll my eyes at such properties and move on. Bungalows built in the 1920s or classic homes designed by Paul Williams are more interesting and accessible, and have such personalities and tales attached, often with movie star tie-ins.
But the photo of this place on Blue Jay Way is arresting and stopped me in my internet-strolling tracks. You can see more pictures here.
The interiors? Mostly white in flat or shiny textures, ornamented with large sheets of glass.
Not my cup o' tea and I've spent a few pleasant moments imagining the place with stacks of books and unread mail, a broom in the corner, hand prints all over the glass surfaces, and shopping bags of things not put away yet. Yeah, This is the reason I don't live in a pristine palace. In fact, in all those pictures, the only article of furniture I could relate to was the popcorn maker in the movie room, which probably never gets used because that would result in, you know, mess.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Night herons in San Pedro

Walked all around the Ports O Call Village, which is in the process of going away. That's a Good or a Bad Thing, depending on who you talk to. I hope for the best, because quite honestly it had become a shabby remnant of itself in the last couple of ... decades. The Ports O Call Restaurant is still open and fighting to remain so.
The latest news story about last week's meeting at the Grand Theatre, revealing new drawings, is here.
Packed house. The new drawings don't thrill me, but since developments never turn out looking much like their original renderings, should I worry? Maybe. Those girders are going to look weathered very quickly, I fear.

However, this post is about the night herons that perch near the fishing boats, just south of Ports O Call Village. And here they are: Night herons in the mist, if you will.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Forget eathquakes; we're overdue for a flood

There were terrible floods in 1861 and 1862 in Los Angeles.
Dr. Lucy Jones is quoted in the Los Angeles Times: "Just trying to describe the extent of the damage is overwhelming. Yet 150 years later most Californians are unaware that it ever happened."
That's true. I'm a Californian and I was unaware of it.
I did know about the terrible flooding up in Sacramento in those years. The Gold Rush Era, the theater with its wooden benches awash in water. The new governor (Leland Stanford) being rowed to his inauguration. But I did not know that it hit Los Angeles or Southern California.
"In Los Angeles, the water was described as extending from mountain to mountain, with no dry land between the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the San Gabriel Mountains." That's from Dr. Jones. The article, "California's Flooding 'Nightmare'," appeared Sunday, March 25, 2018.
This picture of Aliso Street east of Los Angeles Street is dated c. 1860. I have not found any pictures of the flooding in Los Angeles in 1861-1862, only the graphic below right.
We've had other floods: 1938 was a terrible year, and 1964 also saw bad flooding. NBC has put up pictures of those floods, and they are fascinating. But not apocalyptic. 1861-1862 was apocalyptic. 66 inches of rain in 45 days.
Los Angeles Magazine reports such monster floods can hit every 100 to 200 years. The phrase "not a questions of if, but when" applies.
If you google with city names, you find tidbits about the flood.
For Long Beach, for example: The floods of 1862 raged through a dense area of willow trees bringing many of them down to the area that would become Long Beach. A new growth of willow trees prompted locals to call the area “Willowville.”
I also found this paragraph in an attachment to a 2013 draft report: "the mouth of the Los Angeles River shifted from Venice to Wilmington. The plains of Los Angeles County were extensively flooded and formed a large lake system where the stronger currents cut new channels to the sea. The Los Angeles, San Gabriel, and Santa Ana rivers converged, forming a solid expanse of water from Signal Hill to Huntington Beach. Runoff transformed much of what is now Orange County into an inland sea that was 4 feet deep in places 4 miles from the Santa Ana River."
How do we anticipate these disasters and what can we do about them? The USGS has a report called ARkStorm. (The first three letters stand for Atmospheric River 1,000.)  Among the possible mega-flood scenarios is this: what could happen if the San Gabriel and Los Angeles rivers filled and spread out, putting areas from West Covina down to Long Beach under water? Or if Orange County got swamped by coastal flooding?
ARkStorm outlines potential scenarios and loss, and is not light reading. I have only glanced at it but do not see much to help me sleep better at night. We are not prepared for such a disaster because, frankly, there probably is no way to be prepared for such a disaster. But as Harvey et al, and before that, Katrina demonstrated, such things do happen.
As for what causes the weather that causes such floods, here's a new vocabulary phrase (to me, anyway): atmospheric rivers. They are what you must be picturing: "narrow bands of water vapor about a mile above the ocean that extend for thousands of kilometers."
Five years ago, Scientific American published an in-depth article describing how atmospheric rivers could produce mega floods, and pointing out that our state is just as susceptible to these as the Midwest. Here's a good summary of it.
The definition of atmospheric rivers is from that summary, by B. Lynn Ingram. It describes the damage done from December 1861 through spring of 1862, not jut in California but throughout the west. Utah, Nevada, Arizona, up to Washington state.
As for Dr. Jones, whose quotes opened this post, she has a new book coming out April 17: The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (And What We Can Do About Them)