Women celebrating Day of the Dead at Olvera Street

The Olvera Street Merchants were the first group to launch Dia de los Muertos celebrations this year on October 6th. And the women of Los Angeles definitely got into the spirit of this ancient and now very popular holiday.

It is almost a month until Dia de los Muertos or All Saints Day, as it is also known, on November 1st, the day after Halloween. These two holidays have run together here in Los Angeles into one huge party.

So here is what I saw:

Painted ladies Day of Dead LA City Pix
Women of all ages were caught up in the festivities.  These two painted designs on their faces without the usual white mask, seen below.
ArtGirlCathy Day of Dead LA City Pix
Cathy Mejia, AKA ArtGirlCathy, told me that there were 20 other Dia de los Muertos events in October.  She and her friend are going to be very busy. 
 women red and purple hair Day of Dead LA City Pix
Flowers in their hair.  I like the color co-ordination of the woman on the left with a skirt that matches the touch of yellow in the floral headband and the shirt that matches her hair.
Butterflies Olvera St. LA City Pix
I really love the headbands with flowers. I knew one woman in Pasadena who wore hers regularly year ’round and she was not a Latina. She just liked wearing it.  
Day of Dead face painting LA City Pix
Two face-painters were busy at their booth. Half-faces seemed to be the rule of the day this year.  Perhaps because of the price?
Folklorico dancer Day of Dead LA City Pix
This woman seemed to be the leader of the young Folklorico dancers but she also danced on the bandstand by herself.  She posed for me and other photographers while the young father watched it all.
Red hair Day of Dead LA City Pix
As usual, there were young Folklorico dancers and Mexican music DJs on the bandstand entertaining the crowd, including this woman with red flowers in her red hair.
Lady in White Day of Dead LA City Pix
This woman in white and gold was clearly celebrating Day of the Dead.
Woman in spider dress Olvera St. LA City Pix
Seeing her spider webs dress I was not sure if it was Halloween or Dia de los Muertos she was honoring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to one vendor there are 20 other Day of the Dead events in Los Angeles this year. The two big ones I intend to go to are at Grand Park in downtown L.A. where the large colorful altars will be unveiled on October 27th and 28th. Then on November 2nd – 4th, there will be altars in stores and Halloween events in Old Town Pasadena.

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The Batmobile and fake cities at the Warner Bros Studio in Burbank

If you take the studio tour at the Warner Bros. lot you will find yourself riding on a open-sided shuttle and passing through sun-filled streets of Chicago, New York, and Big-City-and-Small-Town Anywhere, U.S.A. All fictional, of course.

Sound Stages on Warner Bros. Studio Lot
The Warner Bros. Studio is an actual working movie and TV production facility. Tours are secondary to the primary purpose of creating entertainment.

Thanks to binge-watching on the internet, the demand for TV series and movies is seemingly endless and on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour you will also see street after street of huge sound stages–all busier than they have been in years. The production of entertainment is a thriving big business in Los Angeles these days.

Here is some of what you see on the Studio Tour:

Batmobile on Warner Bros. Studio backlot
One version of the Batmobile is parked on the Warner Bros. lot.
Arkham asylum Warner Studio LA City Pix
The gates to the Arkham Asylum stand next to the Batmobile on display at the Warner Bros. Studio lot.
Fake cemetary on Warner Bros. Studio lot
If you are a fan of “Shameless” here is the exterior of Patsy’s Pies, ostensibly in Chicago but actually at the Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank.
Chicago L on Warner Bros. Lot LA City Pix
Making a movie set in Chicago? Here is the  permanent Warner Bros. set that incorporates an artificial version of the famed Chicago “L” train tracks.  The buildings behind can be repainted to represent other locations for other movies.
Fake cemetary on Warner Bros. Studio lot
Need a cemetery in your TV show? Well, here is a totally fake one on the Warner Bros. lot just in time for Halloween.
Warner Bros. Water Tower
The famous Warner Bros. water tower, often used as a logo on cartoon productions.  The other buildings, left and right, are part of the facades used for exterior shots in movies. 
Setting up stage for holiday
Workmen were setting up a stage for what I think was a Halloween event..  The Little Shop of Horrors in across the street was also being outfitted for the holiday.

 


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Warner Studios: Part One, the Movie Museum

I was over at Warner Studios having lunch with two friends when the one who works there suggested we go to the Warner movie museum.  We did and it was fun.

6 actresses Warner Studio museumBut, you can’t just wander onto the Warner lot in Burbank to visit the museum.  You have to take the Studio Tour (unless you are a guest of a Studio  employee which we were.)  Entrance to the museum is the next to the last stop on the Warner Studio Tour that costs $65.

So to save you money here are some highlights of the movie museum. In my next post I will show you the Warner Studio lot with outdoor scenes/sets  you will recognize from your favorite TV shows and movies.

Okay.  Here are highlights from the Museum:

Tim Burton's The Corpse Bridge mock up
A mock-up from Tim Burton’s film the “Corpse Bride”.
Sweeney Todd set and costume WArner Studios museum
The gruesome set and costume for Sweeney Todd.

 

James Dean costume Rebel Without a Cause
Teenage memories. How I loved James Dean.
Costumes worn by movie stars Warner Studio
From the left, costumes worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Lauren Bacall and Olivia de Haviland.

 

Costumes Warner Studio museum
Costumes I think were from ‘My Fair Lady’.
Green screen at Warner Studios
These people were acting in front of a Green Screen. I would guess there was an extra fee to do this. There were a couple of other places as you walk through the museum where you could have your photo taken on sets from famous TV shows. I  think one set was for Friends, but since I don’t watch sitcoms so I didn’t recognize it.
Warner Studios store LA City Pix
You have to go through the store to exit the museum and return to the tour shuttle. There were some large items but most of the things for sale in the store were either refrigerator magnets or key chains.

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Throwback to ’70s and ’80s arcade games at Retrocade in Union Station

Imagine this challenge:  convert a train ticketing hall with 40 foot high ceilings into one of those dark digital game arcades from way back when.  Or convert the same space into a dark glittery discos from that same era.

Disco ball Union Station
A disco ball was hanging up high to remind people that this was supposed to be a disco. Sorta.

Well, it wasn’t quite as dark or as glittery as in the ’70s and ’80s, but the Retrocade Experience at Union Station was fun and free during this last weekend.  The music from that era was loud and the players focused on the games including some that were warming up for a Pac Man contest.

I’m not going to explain any more; just show you some photos.

Retrocade arcade games Union Station LACity Pix
The very first to enter got their pick of the 40 or so retro arcade games lined up around the Ticketing Hall at Union Station Los Angeles.  Within 5 minutes after this photo was taken every arcade game had a player.
Pac Man arcade game LA City Pix 2018
It cost $5 to enter the Pac Man contest which was conducted in the evening. During the day anyone could play and I bet that some ambitious gamers warmed up during the day for free.
Anti Social Social Club Retrocade LA City Pix
The shirt says it all!
Michael Jackson arcade game Union Station
Michael Jackson was really the archetype for the ’80s. His arcade game was tucked way back in a distant corner.  But notice the strip lighting!
Cruisn arcade game LA City Pix
An arcade game built for 2. Both Moms and Dads brought their children to this event.
Flirty muscle art arcade game LA City Pix
This tough guy stomping on a TV looked pretty flirty to me. Fun art!
Simpsons arcade game Retrocade Union Station
Among the first to enter, these 3 guys made a beeline for the old Simpson’s game.
Too short for arcade game LA City Pix
This boy had to look through the steering wheel of this arcade game.
I like the TV game better LA City Pix
One boy decided he wanted to play the early video games on a TV.

 

 

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A million dollar home with a blue bottle garden for lawn replacement

Blue Bottle garden Pasadena LA City Pix
This Spanish Revival home’s front yard is now filled  mostly with succulents and cactus plus lawn ornaments everywhere!

The woman who owns this home told me that she decided to take up lawn replacement design on her own.  She said she had no art training of any kind, so I have begun to think of her as a self-taught primitive landscape designer, a kind of “Grandma Moses of lawn replacement”.

Flower Bed Blue Bottle garden LA City Pix
The basic design unit she uses is a circle within a circle within a circle. Each with its own colors. The basic background is dark red wood mulch, which has begun to fade in some areas.

The design of this front garden breaks almost every rule of conventional garden design.

Blue bottles around plumeria LA City Pix
I think the blue bottles are from a water brand–maybe?  Or maybe wine? She told me she loves butterflies so there are parts of the garden with colorful butterfly ornaments. The tree looks like a Southern California favorite from the tropics: a  heavenly fragrant plumeria. To it she has added blue light bulbs as decorations.  And there are lots of wind spinners throughout.

The result is astonishing. Unlike anything else in the staid, quiet Madison Heights neighborhood of Pasadena.  And I love the whimsy of it all!

(For more about lawn replacement go to my Hot Gardens website.)

 

 

Blue Bottles, wind spinners and butterflies in Pasadena LA City Pix
The blue bottles are a striking visual element during the day and light up at night along with many other parts of the gardens. Stacked around the edges of the garden are bags of mulch and empty pots, so I think she is not done with her design. Happily, all the plants look alive and thriving    

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The historic La Placita church has fresh paint on its 204th birthday

The cornerstone for the church commonly called “La Placita” church in the historic district of the Pueblo of Los Angeles was laid by Franciscan Luis Gil y Taboada in 1814 on the ruins of an older church founded in 1784.  It is the oldest church in Los Angeles.

Our Lady Queen of the Angels church Los Angeles LA City Pix

Our Lady Queen of the Angels Olvera Street
This photo of the  La Placita church was taken about 10 years ago.

And, much to my surprise, La Placita has recently been painted all white…well, except for one wall on the side by the cemetery so perhaps the painting is not complete. Quite frankly, I preferred the beige and red colors of the previous exterior paint.  Because it is a parish church and Sunday services were being held I did not see if the interior has been repainted too.

This church faces onto the historic plaza at the end of Olvera Street near downtown Los Angeles.

 

The Annunciation on La Placita church LA City Pix
A closer view of the painting above the front entry. In fact, parishioners enter the church from a doorway inside the courtyard at the side of the church. While this artwork remains, the name of the church over the archway entrance to the side patio has been painted over.  I assume the name will be restored,

 

 

Cemetery by La Placita church LA City Pix
The dark green fence surrounds the old cemetery. The remains of more than 680 people are in this graveyard where native plants have been allowed to grow. The beige wall on the left side seems to be the only one that has not been repainted white..

 

 

 

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Happy 200th Birthday, Avila Adobe on Olvera Street – Part 2

The Avila Adobe is the oldest remaining home in Los Angeles. (The nearby La Iglesia de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles, more commonly known as  La Placita church, is 4 years older and I’ll be writing about it in the next post.)

This home was built by Californio cattleman Francisco Avila in 1818 as an in-town residence for his family. He also had a home on his ranch near what is now the Mid-Wilshire area by the La Brea Tar Pits.

Green pomegranates Avila Adobe LA City Pix
Covering the kitchen, shown below, is a grape arbor and growing nearby is a pomegranate bush with these 2 green pomegranates on it.

Members of the Avila family lived in this adobe until 1868 then turned it into a rental.  By 1926 the building had fallen into disrepair before being restored as part of a revitalization of Olvera Street.

The building is now managed by the National Park Service and entry is free. It offers a good idea of how well-to-do people lived in Southern California back in 1818.

 

Avila Adobe oldest LA house
The home faces onto Olvera Street which was the Main Street of the little town of Los Angeles back then. 

 

Parlor Avila Adobe LA City Pix
The parlour was considered spacious for the era. I doubt that there was really a piano in this home when the Avilas first moved into the home.  Guitars were a more common musical instrument during the Californio period.
Office Avila Adobe LA City Pix
The rooms in the Adobe are furnished with items typical of the early 1800s.
Center courtyard Avila Adobe LA City Pix
The adobe courtyard, surrounded on 4 sides by the building walls which were 2.5 to 3 feet thick, was a center of household activities and festivities.

 

This cart, below, was built by Darryl Robertshaw in 2004 as a replica of the carts used originally to bring produce to Olvera Street, the main street of Los Angeles.  There is a similar cart used for bringing in grapes on display at the San Gabriel Mission.

Carreta at Avila Adobe

 

Kitchens back then were always separate from the main house– not only in California, but in homes around the world.  Here in California, the Avila kitchen was outdoors on one side of the courtyard.

Avila adobe kitchen outdoors
This kitchen looks very spiffy painted white.  No doubt it was discolored by smoke back when the Avilas lived in the home.

 

 

 

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