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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The last Delta rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB

I watched the last U. S. government Delta rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB on the central California coast this morning. It is carrying a satellite that will survey the ice in Antarctica.

The last Delta rocket launch over Pacific
Delta rocket launch Sept 15 2018

From now on SpaceX and other private companies will be used to send satellites into space. I took this photo from my balcony and the distance  to that red dot which is the rocket is over 100 miles. It quickly disappeared behind the palm tree on the left.

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Tom Cruise’s home-away-from-home at Scientology Celebrity Center

Scientology’s most famous member, Tom Cruise, no longer owns a home in Los Angeles, but when he is in town he can always stay at the Scientology Celebrity Center and its Manor Hotel on Franklin St. in Hollywood..

Built by the widow of an early Hollywood movie mogul, the Celebrity Center was originally called the Chateau Elysee and was a combination of apartments and a hotel for the international elite.

The sign may read “Manor Hotel” but not just anyone can make a reservation to stay in this Scientology Celebrity Center.

In an early photo of the building it stands grand and glorious at the edge of the Hollywood Hills.  Today it is surrounded by tall fences, except at the entrance to the hotel where a guy in a casual clothes reading a newspaper turned out to be a guard.

There is another gate with a sign that reads “Welcome” and offers free classes, but you have to ring the bell for admission to what looks like a very lovely garden terrace. And I have no doubt that if you ring the bell you will be greeted almost instantly by someone who is actually a Scientology recruiter.

Several years ago I wrote about another Scientology building in Hollywood and my encounter with the guard at that location.

Here is what I saw on a walk around the Celebrity Center.

bars around Scientology Celebrity Center LA City Pix
Peeking through the fence I spied what looked somewhat like either an enclosed swimming pool or an elegant greenhouse.
garden terrace at Scientology Celebrity Center LA City Pix
A terrace outside the Celebrity Center. Ring a bell at a nearby gate and you might be admitted. Maybe.
Fortress Scientology LA City Pix
From the street behind the Celebrity Center the complex looks like a fortress. I wanted to visit the garden on the top of this structure, but the guard dissuaded me.


Free classes at Scientology Center Los Angeles LA City Pix
Free classes about breaking into the movie industry are a major way to lure young people into Scientology. For whatever it is worth, Scientology is banned in both the U.K. and France.    I would love to welcome you as a subscriber to LA City Pix. Please use the form in the upper right side of this page to receive updates when new posts appear.


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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Aliens at the Pasadena Chalk Art Festival

Herbie Chalk art Pasadena
A car as a movie hero–what better image at a chalk art festival in Southern California.

It is a Double-header this weekend in Pasadena: the Alien Con is at the Convention Center and across the street dozens and dozens of chalk artists are creating works on the Plaza at Paseo Colorado.  And it was very crowded on Saturday!

halk Art Festival at Paseo Colorado Pasadena
This year the sky was overcast. Usually the festival happens in blazing hot sunlight. Perhaps the cooler weather is why the crowd was much larger.

I went at noon on Saturday and most of the artists were just beginning. First they drew an outline of the picture they planned to create, then painstakingly started to fill in with removable paint and chalk.  It all gets power-washed off the plaza on Tuesday.  Here is some of what I saw in 2018.

Punk at Alien Con
This guy was racing through the Chalk Fest on his way to Alien Con. He asked for beer money after I took the photo.
Guy Fawkes Masked chalk artist
One chalk artist came in his Guy Fawkes mask. Did he go to the Alien Convention afterwards?
Chalk art painting Pasadena 2018
Equal opportunity art at the Pasadena Chalk Festival. There seemed to be as many women artists participating as men artists..


JPL chalk art pasadena
Who says scientists can’t be creative? This art was being created by 3 people from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The design looked a bit hap-hazard to me but it was still in process.
Pasadena Chalk Art Festival 2018
For some people creating the art was a group effort made up of family and friends. Is the design an abstract landscape?  Or something else?
Starting design Chalk Festival Pasadena 2018
What appeared to be a father and son duo beginning their work.
Chalk Art by Jacqui Somo
The artist, Jacqui Somo, seemed to be further along than most other artists at the event.


Two womens heads Chalk Festival
By noon this artist had completed these 2 heads of women in the Art Nouveau style. There was a lot more to go.
The festival overflowed Paseo Colorado and these 20 artists were working in the forecourt of the Pasadena Convention Center where Alien Con was happening.