Saturday, July 21, 2018

The LA River and the city's hopes ....

The LAist just published a piece about what the Los Angeles River might look like in 20 years, and the story was also on KPCC, if you'd rather listen than read. The author is KPCC's Susanne Whatley. And this beautiful picture (also on LAist) is by Steve Lyon and was on Flickr Creative Commons.



AND, there's a 7-minute video of a drone flyover of the Taylor Yard (used to be Union Pacific property), which is along the east river bank where the river travels between the Silver Lake & Mt. Washington neighborhoods. Huge area, needs clean up, but it could be developed as a riverside park.

Thanks, Flo Selfman, (@floselfman) for tweeting this out to your followers! 


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Palm Trees in Los Angeles

Last week I blogged about jacarandas (again).

And in the past, I've blogged about eucalyptus trees in Los Angeles, and the trees of 1891. So today, I refer you to an excellent article about the history of palm trees in our city, by Dan Nosowitz in Atlas Obscura.

Nosowitz goes into a lot of detail about the palm trees, pointing out that they aren't even trees, really. They don't even have wood.

I've heard before that hundreds of palms were planted in advance of the 1932 Olympics here, and I just verified that on one of the history pages that Nathan Masters does for PBS, called "A Brief History of Palm Trees in Southern California." 25,000 trees planted in 1931! But according to Masters, beautifying the city for Olympics might have been a secondary reason. The program to plant palms back then was part of a larger program to put men to work. A $5 million bond helped pay for 40,000 palms in total.

The PBS story gets the prize for best pictures, though. Go see. The image at right is from the Los Angeles Library, and is not dated. Nor does it note a location.

Garden Collage Magazine also chronicled the arrival of palm trees, back to Mission days, up through the '32 Olympics, and into the present. That's the one to read if you want a quicker overview.

Another palm tree story ran twelve years ago in the LAist and it claimed that 100 years ago, Los Angeles was full of pepper trees. Palm trees replaced them. Are pepper trees native? Because in Palos Verdes, which is still richly populated with pepper trees, folks call them invasive.

Well, I just learned (from another PBS/Nathan Masters piece) that our pepper trees are South American. From Peru, specifically, and they are ornamental. Hmmm ... they smell awfully peppery for ornamental purposes. But that'll be a story for another day.

Finally, a few months ago the Los Angeles Times reported on the mass die-off of our palm trees, with a great graphic that you should really go see: iconic movie scenes with disappearing palm trees.  The article lists the pests that endanger and kill our palms.

And many of these pieces interview one Jared Farmer, who wrote the book Trees in Paradise.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

It's Shakespeare Season!

Yes, it's time for the Bard.

And last night, after the temperature soared to 108 degrees in Los Angeles, the best place to be was at Pt. Fermin Park in San Pedro, overlooking the ocean, watching Shakespeare by the Sea.

Where, by 8:30, I actually had to put on the sweater I brought.

Heaven! To be cold!

And the play wasn't bad either.

Actually, it was wonderful. The Merry Wives of Windsor, done in period costumes.

A few years ago, I saw a Shakespeare in the Park performance of Merry Wives, and it was done in a 1950s theme, with the two wives channeling Lucy and Ethel. Very funny,very effective--but last night's version was easier to understand, just based on the chosen lines.

Here, Falstaff cowers in the lower right as Mistress Quigly rouses the faux fairies to attack.

My trusty camera has died, and I'm relying on my phone camera, which isn't quite up to the job. Maybe I should start a gofundme page for a new camera?

There are always two plays presented, and this year's second is A Winter's Tale. Also carefully edited and completely comprehensible (if you can get over a woman giving up her child to hide in the woods for 16 years ... but that's Shakespeare's fault).

This picture is from the website Tales of Travel and Tech, taken by host Deb who went with me to see Winter's Tale and blogged about it. Stage at left, lots of benches. In fact, Deb went to the trouble of putting up Shakespeare by the Sea's 2018 schedule.

If you travel, want to travel, or like to read about travel, or if you're into travel tech, the best and most lightweight bags, the useful, most dependable gadgets, etc., check out Deb's website.

At right is the fearsome bear from Winter's Tale. Don't be fooled: the beast can roar!

Shakespeare by the Sea is celebrating 21 years, and will tour as far north as Encino and south to Laguna Niguel. Here's their calendar. Chances are they'll come to a venue close to you, and the play is free (but your donations are so appreciated!)

Below is Leah Dalrymple as Mistress Quigley. She also played Hermione in Winter's Tale. She was wonderful in both roles, and lovely to talk to afterward (the players assemble in front of the stage for a bit of a gabfest after the show.)

I miss Shakespeare Festival LA, which used to stage plays around the downtown area. Julius Caesar on the steps of City Hall (1999); As You Like it in the old ticketing area of Union Station,  and the last few plays, from 2005 on, at the Los Angeles Cathedral's courtyard.

A quick search (OK, not so quick since it took me a bit to figure out the proper title to search for: Shakespeare Festival/LA) tells me that the first production (Twelfth Night) was in Pershing Square in 1986. The current website (ShakespeareCenter.org) describes how the homeless of Pershing Square got involved and even collected trashbags full of cans that could be recycled, in lieu of a cash donation.

Ben Donenberg founded the company, which changed its name to Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles in 2011. And there was no play in that year. But Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles thrives; it is the group who brought us Tom Hanks as Falstaff this year. Huzzah!



Tuesday, July 3, 2018

All Hail the Shedding Jacarandas!

 Just don't park your car under them.

I love jacarandas. Nothing matches the color. Few suburban vistas are as lovely as a street lined with these trees in bloom, like giant puffs of periwinkle bordering the skies and homes.

But those pretty flowers fall, and each one has a base of sticky goo that adheres to shoes, cars, and everything it touches.

I blogged about jacarandas once (omg, it was 10 years ago!). A19th century landscaper named Kate Sessions was largely responsible for bringing them in to California. Sessions was based in San Diego and had a nursery in what is now Balboa Park.

Here's another, much more detailed piece about jacarandas from the LAist, from about 2 years ago.


Huell Howser did a show on jacarandas, and you can watch it at Chapman University's site.

If that doesn't cover everything you wanted to know about jacarandas ... which are originally from South America ... then I don't know what will.

As for when they bloom and shed, it's different each year, depending on warm and cold spells in spring. Often there's a fall blooming as well, but those are less frequent, I'm told.

And if you are a gardener or homeowner that has to rake up the purple plague, you have my sympathy.