A California condor downtown and a bird sanctuary in Silverlake

Rowena reservoir bird sanctuary
The Rowena Reservoir in Silverlake has been designated as a bird sanctuary, so taking walks around the edge of the “lake” is not allowed.  There are, however, sidewalks outside the high fence around the property.

My route to the March for Science on Saturday took me first to the Silverlake/Los Feliz neighborhood and then on to downtown and a walk down Hill Street passing by Angels Flight.

In Silverlake the Rowena Reservoir is gradually being converted into a wild bird sanctuary.  No longer are open, uncovered water reservoirs allowed in Los Angeles and to comply, the water department has, for several reservoirs around the city, added a cover below the usual water level, then added more water on top.  The result: the reservoir looks the same as before and the water supply is protected.

Later on my travels to downtown Los Angeles, I noticed a new statue beside the stairs leading up Bunker Hill beside Angels Flight.  It is a statue of a California condor perched on a battered retaining wall and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there a couple of months ago when I walked up the stairs to the top.  Here is a photo of it.

Condor statue at Angels Flight
A California condor statue on a retaining wall at the foot of Bunker Hill beside the Angels Flight entrance on Hill Street.
Angels flight car
A car for the Angels Flight “railway”, the shortest train line in the world. It has been closed for a couple of years, but is rescheduled to open again in September according to Mayor Garcetti.

Amazing and insane gifts at Wacko in East Hollywood

La Luz de Jesus art gallery
La Luz de Jesus gallery, located in East Hollywood, is tucked away in the back of a wild store called Wacko.

I went to Wacko to see the Boombox Creators show at the art gallery in the rear of the store.

When I stepped inside the front door I was so astonished and mesmerized by the merchandise in Wacko that it took some time before I made it back to the art gallery.

Near the front is a kinkily curated bookstore. Next aisle back come bobbleheads. Want a SuperWoman bobblehead or a Star Wars Ranger bobblehead or even a Queen Elizabeth II waving at you? They’ve got it. Going further back into the store, I came across their sock display. I have a weakness for colorful and funny socks. They have them and more, including some far-out hand-puppets.

Shakespeare punching puppet
Nothing like a Shakespeare boxing hand-puppet for the author on your gift list!

In the far back was the occult section where skulls and bones plus rubber masks could be found alongside stuffed animals.

But there is even more. The shops next to Wacko are equally interesting. Tell me–would you go to a barber shop called ‘Sweeney Todd’? I looked inside and there were men getting haircuts. Brave dudes! And next door to that a store proudly announced that their ‘ugly’ sweaters were in stock.

So even if you don’t need immaginative gift ideas, it’s worth a trek to East Hollywood (near to Barnsdall Park and Los Feliz) to visit this area.  There’s a coffee house across the street, too.

books and reindeer atWacko
Ever wonder where to get reindeer heads in chartreuse or orange? Wacko is the answer. I like the red hair on the shopper–very seasonal!
Bobblehead mania
Hundreds of bobbleheads!
Nightmare on Elm lunchbox
Lunchboxes that are sure to become collectors’ items!
Rubber animal masks
Why are there rubber animal masks in the occult section of the store? Not sure and decided not to ask!
Sweeney Todd's barber shop
Whoo–hoo. Sweeney Todd’s barber shop. Weird sense of humor.
ugly sweater manikin
What would Christmas be without those ugly sweaters? If you need one, here is where you can find it, near Wacko.
South Pasadena marching band
On my way home I stopped in South Pasadena where the High School marching band played Christmas Carols.


Coyotes yipping and a Winter Solstice sunset in Los Angeles

Winter solstice in Los Feliz, Los Angeles
Winter Solstice sunet beyond the entrance to the Rowena reservoir in Los Feliz, Los Angeles.

Shortly after darkness settled into Los Angeles last night, an ambulance made its way, siren screaming, up the street beyond the Rowena reservoir in Los Feliz, a very hip, densely populated neighborhood. As the siren began to fade into the distance, the friends who live in the home where I took the Winter Solstice photo, opened their front door and we all could hear the coyotes yipping from their home across the street.  There is now a family of coyotes living on the grounds surrounding the Rowena Reservoir as well as a pack of them in the greenbelt along the freeway nearby.  The fence you can see in this photo of the entrance to the reservoir does not keep them out. According to my friends, the coyotes yip and cry (or is it singing?) every time a siren comes by and every time they make a kill.  From time to time the Department of Water and Power sends someone to trap the coyotes and take them away to release elsewhere.  But they come right back. Nature is persistent.


Flashback to the ’60s in dance

Griffith Park Observatory
Griffith Park Observatory

It wasn’t unusual — well, at least in California, it wasn’t unusual in the late 1960s to see a young girl with her face and arms raised toward the sun dancing gracefully by herself. She followed the rhythm of a band or a beat she heard internally.  But that era has come and gone, except on Sunday as I was going up to the Observatory in Griffith Park.  There, just standing on a turn-out, drinking a Starbucks latte, was a woman in a long skirt.  I thought she was just enjoying the view toward downtown L.A. and the Observatory.  I took a few photos of the Observatory and as I was getting back into my car, this woman set down her latte and began a dance.  Maybe she wasn’t a 1960s holdover. Maybe she was just a dancer–and there are thousands in L.A.   Without a doubt young women have been celebrating the sunlight with dance for thousands of years and perhaps she was simply continuing the tradition.

The Observatory at Griffith Park is open to the public and because of the light pollution in Los Angeles it is more a space/planet/science discovery center than a serious, deep space observatory.  The views from there are terrific and you can learn some things, too.

To go to the Observatory, follow the signs into Griffith Park from Los Feliz Blvd.

Kristie Alley rescued again?

Kristie Alley in shop window

My camera and I were walking along Vermont Ave.  I was out to enjoy a morning latte, the camera was going to take a break from photographing Spanish Revival architecture in charming Los Feliz.  Suddenly I noticed a big big poster of a big Kristie Alley in a big cherry red dress in a shop window.  Sharing the window was a big big poster of Ms. Alley slimmer and sexy again in a low-cut black number.

Inside, I learned that Kristie Alley has yet made another come-back–this time by introducing her own line of certified organic diet products in her own store, called Organic Liaison.  You’ll love this: the name of the featured diet elixer is “Rescue Me”.  I’m not so sure she needs to be rescued.  She’s doing a pretty good job of rescuing herself and her career, long after many of her peers have vanished into the “Where Are They Now?” column.

In her current incarnation she has peeled off 100 pounds, just in time to be a Dancing Queen on Dancing With The Stars.  We will have to tune into DWTS to see if she really is as slim as she looks in that black dress.  Or if the shop involved in her Before/After photos is actually photoshop.

Cool romance at Ferndell

Bridge in Ferndell Griffith Park   To escape from the heat on Labor Day I decided to walk in Ferndell in Griffith Park. Late summer is not the best time for Ferndell: many of the ferns and other annual plants have died back; the little stream that in Spring is bubbling to overflowing is now sluggish pools of glistening water surrounded by mud. But the temperature was at least 15 degrees cooler than on Vermont Ave. and equally cooler than the hiking trails that snake up the hillsides in the park.

Engaged couple in Ferndell   And what did I come across but a photographer taking photos of a young couple kissing on a bridge.  It turns out the photographer was taking photos for her portfolio.  She wants to be a wedding photographer.  So I took a photo, too.   But the young man in the photo seems to be wearing a Boy Scout shirt–which is more than a little bit weird for an engagement photo–even a fictious engagement photo.  Maybe, however, I am just out of touch with 20-somethings.

Ferndell is located on the southernly edge at the very west side of Griffith Park.  A sign will point you in the right direction.  Park anywhere.  If you go past the Trail Snack Shop you have gone too far.

Oh Scientology–you made my day!

This is true:

I parked on Sunset near the Scientology Headquarters with the intention of taking some photos of the building to post on this blog.   But first–oh, the sign out front is so huge.  So I take a couple of photos of it.  From the sign I learn that Everyone is Welcome.  That they are open to the public from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.  And that I can get a free personality test inside.  How friendly is all that!

Then I walked into their parking lot to get a photo or five of the front of their striking blue building–which, curiously enough, has a cross above the doorway.  Took the photos, walked back–on a public sidewalk–toward my car when a cute young man on a bicyle rode up beside me.  He was wearing a light brown uniform with small, discreet badges that identified him as security.

HIM (with nice smile):  Did you get some good pictures?

ME: I sure did.  (Pause, while I quickly scrutinize the badges)  Are you a Scientologist?

HIM: (still smiling):  Yes.

ME (still walking toward my car):  Well, you don’t have to worry.  I’m starting a new blog for tourists and other people about neighborhoods around L.A. and I thought that all those tourists up in Hollywood might want to stop by and see the famous Scientology Headquarters.  I don’t care one way or the other about Scientology, so your people don’t have to track down my blog and trash it.

I got to my car, then unlocked it.

HIM: (still smiling):  Have a nice day.

ME:  You, too.

So I got in my car and drove away.  He stayed on the sidewalk.

Someone ought to tell them that sending security to check out a little old lady with a camera is silly and does not really support all that friendliness on their huge sign. But I have to give Mr. Security credit for smiling the whole time.  And if they want to have a lower profile they should paint their buildings something other than blue.  (Although the blue these days seems to be lighter than the garish blue of old.)

Nonetheless, thank you Scientology for giving me a little story to go with your blue building!

The Scientology Headquarter is located on Sunset Blvd. at L. Ron Hubbard Street.  If you visit hoping to see Mr. Cruise or Miss Ally you will be disappointed.  They go to the Celebrity Center on Franklin street where security is really tough.