I love Christmas

Last week someone pooh-poohed people saying Merry Christmas to one another, rather than simply saying Happy Holidays. I informed her that as a Jew in America, I love having people wish me Merry Christmas. Unlike Europe, where Jews really had to hide during the Christmas season. Unfortunately – Christmas season in Europe isn’t the problem for Jews anymore, it’s all year round.

So in my love of Christmas I am sharing the many Christmas Trees and decorations I’m seeing. I do have to say, that most of the muzak Christmas music gets old within a day, but some stores are sharing lovely versions – which I also enjoy.Pershing Square has put up both a tree and a very large ornament.Central Library not only has a tree, that had an event full of robots! I was giving my tour, so couldn’t just stop and admire all of them. Plenty of kids and families were! I had to hide off in a corner to give my schpiel it was so crowded.A Christmas tree at the top of Bunker Hill Steps.And of course, the Bradbury building has many lovely decorations, this is just one of them, on the elevator cage.

I spend Tuesdays at sew days at Quilt n Things in Alta Dena. I got there a little early so I could walk around through the neighborhood.I love old fashioned peanuts decorations. Notice the bunny hiding among the lavender. I think he is permanent. Christmas in So Cal! Bright and sunny. A fabric bow on the fence, instead of an inflatable snowman, we have these metal ones that light up. Notice, the red geranium is blooming away, adding to the colors of the season.This would be so much better viewed at night!Simple decorations, I need to walk around and just take pictures of the homes. So many styles.Like this Victorian that hasn’t gotten around to decorating for Christmas, but still has a skeleton leftover from Halloween. Or maybe he just sits there year round?



I love Thanksgiving, not sure if it’s my favorite holiday, because to be honest, all holidays should be special. But I really love it. All Jewish holidays center around food and a lot of other stuff. So it’s nice to just have the food and guests of course. This year it was just the family – since we are growing (13 of us) I’m fine with that.No pictures of food this year, let’s just say we gobbled like turkeys. So after the meal, it was time to get pictures. Here I am with two sons, one son in law and oldest and youngest grandchildren.Shira, as the only granddaughter ruled the roost. Here she is reading to her cousins, then she declared it was cousins day and all adults were kicked out of the living room.You can clearly see the genetics here! Some of the adults complied, they were happy not to be surrounded by their kids.Mickey is always a winner in this house.

By 7:30 everyone had left, some for home some for shopping. They left behind their kids – it’s part of the tradition, parents go shopping and have a chance to wake up late. Grandsons stay here and have a blast.Another tradition on Friday, walking to the fire station. Why do the grandparents look so happy while the boys don’t?If Cam looks a little uncomfortable it’s cuz he is, he wasn’t so sure about being way up there, all alone, sure his brother was on the other side, but with all that equipment he couldn’t see him.West was much happier, look he even wore the right shirt for the occasion. I love our Fire Station, no. 78, whenever possible they love welcoming the neighbors in.The gorgeous weather in the mid 70s meant we took a hike. This time up in the Verdugo Mountains just off La Tuna Canyon. See, even in So Cal we get some fall colors.Along the path there were areas with large oak trees and shade.Someone is making honey. We had already started out climb at this point.Looking down on all those boxes. This wasn’t even the high point.This is as high as we got. That is the 210 freeway, with La Cresenta in the foreground and La Canada off in the distance.Something has to be done about fire abatement in this state. Fire is natural, but seeing the devastation up north in Paradise, it’s not natural. We as humans are stewards of the earth, and that means clearing brush, thinning forests and controlled burns. Don’t tell me that people should live in those areas – where should we live? On Mars?

Last year there was the Creek Fire, it started near Sylmar and burned through Tujunga and La Tuna Canyon. 30 homes were lost, horses were killed but no people were killed. A year later and we see the results of that fire. Nature is resilient, this tree was burnt, but the core wasn’t destroyed and after some rain in the winter, which ever trees can, are coming back to life.Not all can, many of the hills are bare, and there are areas like this that are just dead. But literally a few feet away, and the chaparral is growing just fine. Fire follows it’s own rules, it can cut quite a path of destruction, and on either side of the fire path – it looks like nothing happened. What I can’t show in pictures is the smell, not as bad as a new fire. But there was a real smell of burnt wood as we walked through these areas.

I’m happy to say that many people were out hiking, or biking. Southern CA has a real outdoor active vibe to it and I’m thrilled we had plenty of company.


Grillwork at Greystone mansion

I was taking pictures of the details. I missed taking a picture of the floor, which is very distinctive. I was concentration on metal grills and tile.This one really caught my attention, I have no idea who made these cast iron grill covers. But this one, with what looks like ears of corn, reminds me of the cast iron fences at the Banning House in Wilmington CA, as well as the Cornstalk hotel in New Orleans. A closer look shows that it probably isn’t corn, but that’s what I see.No two grills were alike, this is a much more stylized version- more Art Deco?Another one with that bold graphic feel.
Very ornate. Much more in the Beaux Art or Art Nouveau feel. Yes, I was getting down on my knees as the crowd milled around, taking these pictures. I told you, I really like the details.The bathrooms are where the tile is. Back in those days, the shower stall was it’s own little room. In order to ventilate, there was a lovely metal grill over the glass door. Here is an example. Once again, they were different in each bathroom. All of these are above the bathtubs. Plenty of space to create these panels. You can tell that the green and red shower and bath are in the same room.The grey Greek themed bathroom. At this point I don’t remember who’s it was. Boy? Girl? Who knows, but the tile artists sure had a lot of fun in this house.This was from one of the boys bathrooms. Sea theme. I guess I should have gotten a better image of the mural. But I didn’t, I went for the tile. I also have no idea how old the mural is. All the tiles look original – that was how bathrooms were tiled in the 20s and 30s. Even more modest homes had lovely tile. The mural looks much more modern.OK, this isn’t from Greystone, it isn’t tile. But I had to include it somewhere. This is a painted plaster foyer in a building downtown. I love when the old buildings maintain their public artwork.Here is the exterior of the building.  Most of the building is rather plain, and yet, they did decorate the entry way.



Greystone Mansion

For years I had heard about Greystone Mansion, the home built in 1928 for the son of Edward Doheny, the Oil Magnate. I knew that the gardens are open to the public, the 18 acres are owned by the city of Beverly Hills. I just never got there. There are opportunities, concerts, other events that take place in the house, once again. I never got there.So when Friends of Greystone offered a tour, I jumped on the opportunity! I think it was a great success, so they will probably do this again. This is the largest historic private home south of Hearst Castle. Hearst Castle dwarfs this, but still this is very impressive.These signs are all over. It doesn’t refer to the average visitor, like The Bradbury building, they want the professionals and the movie people to pay for the privilage of filming here.Even though we saw a lot more of the house than most people do, we didn’t get into this circular room.Up the staircase in the central entry hall. I should have gotten pictures of the floor, it is iconic marble tile. In every room there was an explanation about the room as well as what movies were filmed there.

Ned Doheny, Edwards’ son was in a murder suicide in the downstairs bedroom, with his male secretary friend. Sure he had 5 kids, he still could have been having a gay relationship that went wrong.

The wife and children stayed there. Through the years property was sold off. The final 18 acres were sold to a developer – who simply rented the house out for movie shoot. So plenty of movies were shot here. In the early 1970s the city bought the property because they wanted to put in a large reservoir, it is now under the upper parking lot. The woodwork is amazing! Most of the house isn’t furnished, still very very impressive. From inside looking out, Love the play of textures, light and shadow.There is a movie theater, too dark to take a picture, as is appropriate. A Bowling alley as well as a game room with a Billiards table made by Brunswick. If you saw my post from a few weeks ago, I shared the building that housed their LA portion of the company, exactly at the same time this house was built.A few pictures from the gardens, I’ll be back to give them the appropriate attention.There were plenty of wonderful details. I will be sharing some from inside the house shortly.


Mostly the Bendix building

Yes, a few years ago I did a post on the Bendix building, from time to time I share images of the tower. On this downtown tour I had the pleasure of going up on the roof.This is the kind of image I usually get of the sign, at a distance, not seeing the whole thing.Here I am, up on the roof, right under this massive neon sign. Yay for special tours. Another angle, with some sky writing in the background. I think it had to do with a club. The skywriters must go up in the air with a number of commissions. Later I saw ‘Vote Yes On Prop 6’. Amen to that! repeal the gas tax! The only proposition I’m voting in favor.From the Bendix roof looking over at the Applied Arts building.  It is fun seeing these details close up.

A view towards the financial district downtown. I never get bored of this skyline, no matter what angle I’m looking at it. It is changing so rapidly, I should probably try and put together images I’ve taken in the last five years. If I can find the photos…From this angle Santee Alley doesn’t look very busy, I can assure you, a Saturday in this area is a zoo. The alley is packed with people, the streets, like Maple and Santee are not only full of people but also wall to wall carts. Some selling fruits and many selling those hotdogs you see there. Hotdogs wrapped in bacon. Me, I had chicken tacos from one of the carts. Yummy street food. Back on street level, these figures on the Bendix building, progress, innovation. There are others as well.

Inside the Applied Arts building, this is what the top of a mail chute looks like. This building is once again used for applied arts. The top floor, where I was standing is today a woodworking shop. The kind of place where as many tools as possible are available, and people can come in, rent time and make things. I’m used to sewing studios that offer, sewing machines, but carpentry tools take a lot more space and specialization.

How did I get up here you ask? By elevator, but not any old elevator, or maybe yes, a very old elevator. One that has to have a human operator. And here he is. Btw, that round lever is very very important. He has to gauge when and where to slow down the car. It is never perfectly accurate when stepping on or off, it’s either step up or down. I know there are still a number of buildings downtown that haven’t upgraded the elevators. This is the first time I had the pleasure to be in one.


A visit to the Fashion District

Usually, I go here on my own, with the purpose of buying fabric or trim.This time it was a tour given by the LA Conservancy. Sure they wanted me as a docent, I give enough tours. The joy of being a volunteer, I paid my money and went on the tour. Sure there were plenty of buildings that I am very familiar with, but I always learn something new.Initially I had my camera on the wrong setting, by the time I figured it out, we were halfway through the first part of the tour. So you are getting the artistic image of the Gerry building. Some people use filters to get this, I just shoot on the wrong setting. A few years ago I posted images of this building. Not much more information, except this has always housed garment manufacture and designers. A few years ago there was talk of turning this into lofts, glad that didn’t happen. And yes, that font is amazing.Great Streamline moderne element, the curved concrete and windows! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!Repeating the font on the side as well as that lovely deep orange brick paint color.I have often wondered about this building. It was nice to get some information. Built in the early teens it was originally the Brunswick, Balke, Collender Company, or simply the Brunswick building. They made Billiard Tables. Although based outside Chicago, they quickly expanded throughout the country. The business also expanded beyond Billards, to bowling balls, other sporting good, boating, yachts and  Military equipment. They sold this building long ago.

In the early 1980s it was bought by a newly arrived Iranian. At the time real estate downtown wasn’t worth much. Iranians snapped up properties like crazy. Because this Gentleman was so grateful to be here in America, he decided to commission Barbara Beall to design this 50 foot image out of tile. It was installed in 1987, one year after the centennial of the original statue. She is looking west over the Pacific Rim, which is why we see the west coasts of America, Asia and Austrailia. Today the building houses fashion showrooms and studios.The back is much more prosaic, we were trying to figure out why there was this door on the second floor? Any suggestions are welcome.Always love ghost advertising.Alleys downtown are like the rest of the city, people are commisioning murals. Mighty Mouse? An original Mickey? These are just a few of the murals in this alley. There are tours dedicated to murals all over the city.

There was more to the tour, I’ll be having another post for that.


Stained Glass in a mausoleum

Have you figured out that I enjoy visiting cemeteries? I think it started 40 years ago, we were newly married and on our way from Israel to the US. We stopped in Germany to visit a college friend of Joel who had recently married a German woman. In a small town near the Rhine, she took us to the local cemetery. She wanted to show us the little Holocaust memorial there. What struck me, was that the cemetery was full of Jewish names, but the town had no Jews. Since then I find myself walking through cemeteries – to learn about the history of a place.

So when an opportunity came up to visit Mountain View Cemetery in Altadena, I signed up. This was another Atlas Obscura event.I am going to have to look into the concept of Mausoleum, it appears to be a big deal. Some people not wanting to be buried in the ground. These structures are beautiful. Here is the exterior, as you can see, there is a lot of stained glass.From the inside, looking out through the windows.There was also beautiful tile work, this building was constructed in the 20s’ decorative tiles were the rage in the LA area.   No use asking our guide, he was more interested in the Hollywood connections. I didn’t even ask who made the stained glass. The historical society says the glass is from LA Art Glass companyI find it very interesting, people run to Europe to see this kind of beauty. It can be found here in Southern CA, in churches and also in mausoleums. This one was designed in 1925 by Cecil E. Bryan. His specialty was designing mausoleums, and this is his crown jewel, he is buried here. This was the most expensive structure built in the LA area at the time. It shows, they used a lot of expensive materials. Some more examples of the glass.  I know that spiritualism and communing with the dead was all the rage at the end of the 19th century. Is that why mausoleums became popular? Instead of returning the body to the earth, were they hoping to preserve the body in a beautiful temple in hopes that they could reunite the body and the spirit? I have no idea, just speculations on my part. A new wing was added in the 80s, guess who made the glass, yup, my buddies over at Judson Studios. One of the reason I love stained glass so much is that light is so much a part of the artwork. This artwork is in the Chapel of the Pasadena Mausoluem. Btw, these were separate from the cemetery. At some point Mountain View acquired both. The famous person buried in here is George Reeves,  Superman from the 1950s TV show.

Our guide, Denny is also an actor and funeral director.  His interest is in Hollywood, so he informed us of all kinds of filming that happens here. The mortuary built two large coroner examination rooms, sets for the movies. It costs a lot of money to maintain a cemetery, being close to LA, this is a perfect revenue source. They also have a fake grave out on the grounds that is often used for filming. No pictures, sorry.The cemetery is also beautiful. Sure, a lot of the grass isn’t as green as poeple might like. It is a combination of tombstones above ground and flush with the ground. It’s not cohesive like Forest Lawn, but not as haphazard as Evergreen.Of course, famous people are buried here, probably one of the most famous is physicist Richard Feynman. We can probably thank The Big Bang Theory for that. This is where Joel found out about him. So yes, the episode of the gang visiting his grave, probably was filmed right here at his grave. You’ll notice, plain and simple.Another famous person,  Octavia was a local girl who grew up here in Altadena. Although when she died she was living in Seattle, someone wanted her to rest back home.

Octavia became a science fiction writer in the 1970s, Harlan Ellison was her mentor. Parable of the Sower is probably one of the best distopian novels out there. It upsets me that in order to keep feminism alive – feminists feel they must erase the successful people of the past. Today they scream about few women in Science fiction, or in the gaming industry. In order to do so, they have to erase the likes of Octavia, because it disproves their point.  Needless to say, I have no time or energy for grievence groups of any kind. Me, I prefer to celebrate the likes of Ocatavia.

For those who can’t make it in person, here is a 7 minute video filmed entirely in the Mausoluem, enjoy.



A walk in the neighborhood

Sometimes I can have wonderful experiences without photo documentation.   I decided to walk in the hills, but in an area I hadn’t walked before. I parked near the hills and headed up. It’s the old part of Studio City, the hills with interesting old homes.I did a double take, a barn quilt up on the garage. Not something I see often. Right after I took this picture, I saw a woman picking her roses in the front yard. I went over and asked her about the barn quilt block. We spent a good half hour talking. She was so thrilled that I recognized it for what it is. Her name is Denise, she is originally from North Carolina, where she saw these barn quilts. She now owns her grandmother’s house up in the Blue Ridge Mountains where a larger version hangs on a barn.

We talked quilts, she showed me some that she had made. She showed me how she is raising monarch butterflies. She is growing milkweed all over her back yard to attract the butterflies. She took  a large netted cube, put in a lot of milkweed leaves and a few eggs and already has 3 chrysalis. When they emerge, she gives them a few hours to dry off and lets them leave, they usually stay with her for about an hour.

Then she showed me the baby squirrel that is enjoying all the droppings from the many bird feeders.  We went a few doors down to her neighbor, who wasn’t home, but who is quite a quilter. We probably belong to the same guild, I’m going to look for her at the meeting.

I didn’t take any pictures, we just chatted. It was so nice! I find, that give someone the chance and they will be very open and friendly. No, there was no request to stay in touch, it was just a nice exchange between two people.I went on my way, looking and admiring the old houses. I love this iron partition. It’s an old house, the details in the woodwork are things that haven’t been put on houses since the 1950s. I wonder if the TV antennae still works. With so many people cutting the cable cord, an antennae is a useful thing to have.No more barn quilts. Denise said she was hoping neighbors would follow her example, but no one has. People find other ways to decorate, Stained glass is big.This is a beautiful example, peacock and roses.A little English cottage!I couldn’t find a trashcan anywhere to disposes of this litter. I agree, Philippe’s French Dip sandwich is amazing. Worth the trip downtown, but why throw the box on the ground???

A nice walk on a hot Saturday morning, I need to explore these hills a little more.



Judson studios, the new studio

The new studio is just half a mile away from the old one, like a good Angeleno, I drove.Here is a fascinating project on one of the tables. I just adore these colors.Right now it looks like grapes, but who knows?OK, a bird is taking shape, look at the eye! This looks a combination of fused and traditional painting.There was a fellow, Sean, who was painting the background for these panels, here the face is being painted. This is the Wyoming commission. The old Studio is where the old style painting usually gets done, but these panels are so large, a lot of the work is done is the bigger brighter modern studio.These are the three completed panels, well images of them. Very traditional German style Stained Glass.Getting an explanation about fused glass panels. Behind her are the enormous kilns, they were lowering the cover while we were there. Probably to fuse more of these panels.This was mid-air, once the top covers everything, they turn on the heat and let the fusing begin, once it all melts together, they let it cool for probably 24 hours, to anneal the glass, so it won’t shatter.I should have asked what they do with a panel that didn’t come out right…. Maybe the new panels were in the kiln.I’m wondering how they use these shapes, so many questions!Three images of projects on the wall. On the right is that wonderful Church in Leawood KS, the amazing structure and an image of the glass window.

Right next to it is a project they are working on right now for San Francisco International airport.

The lower project is a private commission.Here is a view of the SF Airport project from the back, from outside.And here it is from Inside. I know that stained Glass started in Europe, but what can I say, the bright intense Southern California light illuminates this like no other. In order to achieve these colors, different metals are infused into the glass, for more info about that, step next door into Bullseye Glass, where they actually manufacture the glass and the frit. Well the manufacturing doesn’t happen next door, but this is a great place for glass and classes.This is what I’m talking about with the light in Los Angeles, how intense the colors reflected on the concrete floor are. It will be interesting to see what this looks like in the more diffused light of San Francisco.

Every second Thursday of the month, Judson Studios offers these tours.  I highly recommend if you are able to go do so! There is nothing like seeing true craftsmen creating beauty in this world.


Back to Judson studios

I haven’t been able to go on the once monthly studio tour this year. My Thursdays were tied up. So now that it’s summer, I went. About 3 years ago I had visited their studios, then just last summer, I had the opportunity to visit the new location in South Pasadena. Honestly, I could probably take their tour every few years, since they are always working on something new. Over the entrence to the original building is this terra cotta tile, We Can. This was the motto of the USC art school when it inhabited this building.  It is a great motto for the family owned company. They take all kinds of jobs, from very small to very very large. They do traditional stained glass as well as a newer method of fused glass. These glass chips have been in the windows for close to 100 years.  You can see the effect of gravity on lead, the formation is bowing out. That is what happens, which is why a lot of the work is restoration. The glass is fine, it’s the supporting lead that desintigrates. Very traditional stained glass. start with a design, today this is done on a computer. Then map out how it will be constructed and cut out the glass.The paper has been cut, and traced onto the glass. It takes a lot of patience and experience to acurately cut the glass to match the paper templates.

This will be a large installation in a private home. Since in this case it’s all straight lines, they use zinc instead of lead. Here these shapes are being created and soldered.Final product, these chunks of glass will seperate larger octogans of different colors. Just creating those glass chunks took a lot of work. Just like at the glass workshop at Forest Lawn, Horse nails are used to hold the glass in place. Here a restoration is taking place, that’s the old glass on a table. He is taking rubbings of the old lead and then removing it. The glass on the table just needs to be cleaned and releaded. I’m thinking OSHA would have a cow,  looks at this room. It’s a half basement, there is no air conditioning, just fans, and very basic tools.  The photo in the background is from a recent job,  The Resurrection Window for a church in Leawood KS. It is because of this project that the new studio was acquired and a whole new world is opening up. This is a commission for a church in Arizona, very traditional work. Another large project has been ongoing for over a year, with more to come. There are monks in Wyoming who are building a monastery, by hand. They have commisioned these panels for themselves. Three are complete, at least 3 more are in process. Once they are installed, the only ones who will see them will be the monks themselves.The Judson trademark is on every piece of work.Many great saying are painted on the walls, next post, the new studio.