Monday, July 30, 2012

Death Speaker is available!

I'm going to let Mosaic Monday take a bye this week in favor of a huge announcement:

My new historical novel, Death Speaker, is published and for sale!
It has nothing to do with Los Angeles history.

Nope. It's set in Ancient Gaul, which today is France, Belgium and Switzerland. The action takes place over 2,000 years ago, when Julius Caesar began his Conquest of Gaul--a phrase that is also the English title of Caesar's writings. In fact, first-year Latin students throughout history have been forced to read that book.

My story is told from the point of view of the people Caesar conquered. The Gauls were Celts. Here's a teaser:

Emyn, a Celtic peasant, hears the dead and lets them plunge her into visions. Using her voice, ghosts advise druids and kings, warning them of danger from Caesar and his Roman troops. But can the spirits be trusted any more than the living? Emyn suffers loss, kidnapping and betrayal. Ultimately, she must rely on her own stubborn courage to face her destiny.

You can read the first five chapters at the book's website.

And, of course you can buy the book.

For ebooks--iPad, Nook, Kindle, pdf, etc.--just follow this link to, where you can download Death Speaker.  Here's a 10% off coupon to thank you for your support: WA75V.

If you'd like a printed book, you can purchase it at CreateSpace  (the link takes you right to it) for $16.00.

If you'd like me to send you a signed book, I'd love that! Just email me, either by leaving a comment on this blog, or by going through the book's website ( I'll ask $3.00 more to cover shipping, so the price will be $19.00.

So enjoy! Even if you don't read historical fiction--with elements of magical realism and romance--chances are you know someone who does, so please tell them about Death Speaker!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Back to the Metro

Comic book art is the theme of the mosaics at the USC Station of our Expo Metro line.

Samuel Rodriquez designed 20 panels, each 8 feet wide, of mosaics in bright colors, all with white silhouettes of bicycle parts over them. Here is his artistic statement about the work, titled Urban Dualities:

“One thing many of us do when using public transportation is travel. Both physically and in our mind’s eye. When we look at something, we may be seeing a face, a light pole, perhaps somebody’s shoe, but simultaneously what happens is a mental picture. To capture the nature of public transportation is to crop different and small moments that form together to tell a story.”

Rodriquez actually lives in Northern California, where he was raised. His studio in San Jose is called Shortyfatz. The name comes from a comic strip he was doing about ten years ago. The picture above and the one below is from that website.

I love this shot of work on the mosaics--it's from The Source Blog, a Metro site, but I suspect it originally came from Mosaika studios in Montreal, where all the Expo line mosaics were assembled:

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Long Beach Cemetery

The Palm Cemetery of Long Beach was for the poor people who couldn't afford fancy funerals, or even graves. The land was donated by Jotharn Bixby, and no one is sure how far back it goes.

Where is it now?

According to this article in the Press Telegram, it lies beneath the Forest Lawn Sunnyside Cemetery and Mausoleum, on Cherry Avenue.

The newspaper interviewed librarian Claudine Burnett, who has done extensive research into the final resting places of Long Beach notables. Apparently, only an old groundskeeper at Forest Lawn knew about Palm Cemetery, even though it's mentioned in obituaries dating back to 1918.

Palm Cemetery is probably under the courtyard of the Sunnyside Mausoleum, which was built in 1923. That's it, above. Although it doesn't really look like that at the moment--the courtyard is being redesigned, and will soon include a marker about Palm Cemetery.

Leslie K, thank you for sending me this article!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Peck Park Mosaic Dedication

Last week, the Sea Creatures Mosaic at Peck Park in San Pedro was dedicated. I took this picture from across the pool before the rain really started to come down in earnest and we all got drenched.

If you remember last week Thursday, getting drenched with rain was a lot better than being sweaty and clammy with humidity all day.

Not that the lovely mermaid at right has any problems with being drenched. That blank space near her hip is where the dedication plaque will go.

With the exception of the mermaid--all of the creatures in the mosaic are native to the area. whom is this mosaic dedicated? Well, since the Girl Scouts of America is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and since several Girl Scout troops helped make tiles for the mosaic (some of them even look like cookies--see this previous post and look at the yellow background), and since artist Julie Bender is a leader in Girl Scouts: the mosaic is dedicated to the Girl Scouts of America.

To the left is artist Julie Bender with Girl Scouts Los Angeles' CEO, Lise L Luttgens. From their smiles you would never know they were getting soaked, would you?

Many local Girl Scout groups, as well as students from Mary Star of the Sea and  other local schools, the Moms from Art to Grow On, as well as a few families, contributed to the mosaic by taking clay from Julie and making the tiles themselves, and coming by on weekends to help with the assembly.

A member of Councilman Buscaino's staff announced that the pool--which was scheduled to close this summer due to budget cuts--will stay open at least through Labor Day.

As I understand it, practically no city money was used for the mosaic. Sadly, Los Angeles--and all California cities--have cut way back on budgeting, even for necessities. Julie said that, with some supplies being donated, the mosaic cost no more than $2500 to install. Her time was  volunteered, not that you could put a price tag on it.

One of the reasons for the dedication ceremony, in fact, was to raise money to pay off that $2500. There was a Silent Auction (unfortunately, all the goods had to go under the table when the rain started), and games, patches, and even several water ballet performances by the Peck Park Pool Synchronized Swim Team.

Tee shirts were for sale too. All in all, a lovely wet evening. And I won't even mention the food...which was kept dry under tents and was delicious.

If you'd like to contribute, I suggest contacting Julie Bender through her website.

Here's one last picture, taken through the rain. By the way, all of these photos are pretty dense and if you want to see more detail, you can just click on each for a larger image.

What does not show up well is how sunlight catches on chips of mirror and glazes--iow, the mosaic sparkles!

Hopefully the pool will stay open and people will be enjoying this for years to come.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Randy's Donuts & Hollywood Bowl

When I drove by this morning, the sky was not as blue (this picture is from October 2010) and there were birds sitting atop the donut like so many candles. Randy's Donuts, in case you missed the news last night, turned 60 yesterday (July 11, 2012).

And--how cool is this?--July 11, 2012 is the day Marty McFly arrived in the future, at 11:21 AM.

As for the Hollywood Bowl, it opened July 11, 1922, so it's NINETY. Can that be possible? Vintage Los Angeles (on FB) says it's so.

That was the date of the first Symphony Under the Stars, although the Los Angeles Library (where I found this photo) has shots of 50,000 people attending an Easter Sunrise Service earlier in the year. However, none of those pictures show a stage--only the audience.

The place used to be called Bolton Canyon, according to the Bowl's own history pages. Civic-minded folks got together as the Theater Arts Alliance and raised funds to buy 59 acres. They persuaded the LA Philharmonic to play for Easter Sunday services in 1921, and there were also choral performances and Shakespeare plays performed before the Bowl officially opened in 1922.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Los Angeles' Lost Tiffany Mosaics

This is one of three exquisite favrile glass mosaics that graced Los Angeles for sixty years, but which now reside in Oakland. Oakland! Boy, were we asleep at the wheel.

Well, not asleep. But it just shows what can be lost if a community doesn't make a real effort to save its art and history.

These mosaics, designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany, came through the port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) in the 1920s, to be installed in a new church at 813 Hope Street. Each of the three panels was 17 ft. high and 8 ft. wide. Collectively they are titled "Te Deum Laudamus."

Their home? The First United Methodist Church of Los Angeles. This was called the "Million-Dollar Church" when it opened on July 8, 1923--89 years ago yesterday. Generous donations had helped pay down the debt so that nothing was owed on the building. The three mosaics had been gifted as well, and were each valued at $5000.

At left is a close up of the image above, so you can see some of the colors in greater detail.

The church building was sold and razed in the mid-1980s, and the church offered the panels, through an art conservator, to the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in Oakland, which was constructing a new church. So L.A. lost these gorgeous Tiffany mosaic panels.

A more complete history and many pictures are at the Lake Merritt church website.

But what happened? Why was the building gutted and demolished?

The church fell on hard times, going from a membership of 6,000 to only 400 in the last decade of its existence, according to a Los Angeles Times article in 1983.

A tweet posted by La Angelena @LAHistory alerted me to this story, and that tweet led to a post by BlogDowntown about the Church's July 8 opening. That post has more details about the actual history of the church & congregation.

Here is a picture of the Los Angeles church just before it was demolished. The sign-carrying protesters wanted to save it, but their efforts were unsuccessful. According to a story in the LAT, what was needed was $100,000 to repair and maintain the church...annually.

And it had never been declared an historical monument, which might have bought it some time.

So, the land was sold and the contents were auctioned off, then the church was demolished. The Times article mentions Tiffany leaded glass windows going for up to $575 (that was the top price). Also sold were big chandeliers, oaken doors, and potted palms.

The photo was taken by James Ruebsamen and is part of the LAPL's Herald Examiner collection.

What's at 813 S. Hope now? Parking lot, I think. Next to Y.A.S. Fitness. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Title Insurance and Chamber of Commerce Photos

Here's a free event for vintage photo buffs: On Saturday, July 21, at 2 pm in the Doheny Library of USC, the California Historical Society and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce present . . .

. . . a special viewing of some of the unique old pictures like the one at right--which was taken in front of a bicycle shop in Monrovia in 1887. Are the ladies not daring and stylish? And the men--could you not write volumes about them?

The pictures are from the 20,000 separate photos in the collections of both the Chamber of Commerce and  Title Insurance and Trust Company.

Although the event (a reception, as well as viewing) is free, they ask folks to make reservations. Go to the event link above.

Quilts in Long Beach

The International Quilt Festival, long a Texas event, now has a summer show in Long Beach!

On July 27-29 you can see these wonderful quilts at the Long Beach Convention Center. The fee is $10 for a day.

Last year, Long Beach drew over 15,000 people and had 300 booths. For 2012, there will be special exhibits of "West Coast Wonders"--quilts designed to interpret the beauty of the Pacific Coast area. And collections of prize winners, international entries, and several more. You can look at this multipage pdf to see the list and some examples of the quilts.

The quilt at left will be in the Textured Treasures exhibit. The artist is Brenda Gael Smith, and the quilt is titled Pohutukawa Taonga. Read about how the quilt developed and what it means here.

Modern quilts are an eloquent artistic expression, comparable to mosaics, imho. This year, a special exhibit will feature realistic and abstract black-and-white quilts.

Antique quilts--historic quilts--are important and iconic pieces of Americana in the same way that authentic Civil War uniforms or armaments are. Again, my opinion.

This 1890 quilt at left--from the Festival's website--is signed by Amanda M. No idea who she was, but it doesn't matter. Amanda, and possibly her friends, poured hundreds of hours into creating a quilt that would not only keep someone warm over the winter, but add beauty to a home.

One special exhibit at the show will be a collection of Log Cabin quilts.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Los Angeles City Officials from 1850

This is one of the earliest dated photo I could find of Los Angeles at the public library site. It's circa 1869, and shows the Plaza from a hill.

Julian Chavez--for whom Chavez Ravine is named--was elected to Los Angeles' City Council on July 3, 1850, and resigned only 8 weeks later. I don't know why. Fifteen years later, he was elected to the City Council and served for a year on several committees. He continued in public service into the 1870s.

He's one of over 40,000 individuals who have been elected or appointed to work for our city over the past 162 years.

That's the kind of information you can find out on the City Officials Historical Database, now online. Dates of elections, what kinds of committees we had back then--boring to some, invaluable to others.

If you like this kind of research, check out the Database's Reference page, which has links to all sorts of sites. This Introduction Section and a User Page explains how to use the database. Compiling lists of all the city's office holders started in the 1930s, under the New Deal.

Weird to imagine that such records didn't formally exist before then. Did we simply rely on memory? Private grants allowed this project to go online.

 Guess where I was for the last week? Two hints: Touring the nation's capital on a Segway is tremendous fun. Being caught in a storm while on a sightseeing boat in the Potomac at night is not.