Day of the Dead altar honoring Coco Chanel in Pasadena

Coco Chanel altar in PasadenaDay of the Dead has passed but I just came across photos of the altar in the front window of a store on Holly Street in Pasadena.  It was in memory of Coco Chanel and included authentic Chanel jewelry.

Coco Chanel jewelry on Day of the Dead altar in Pasadena



Food for the dead on the altars in Grand Park Los Angeles 2018

Food for Grandmothers Dia de los Muertos 2018
I love the photos of the two grandmothers, the two abuelas, surrounded by peanuts, a bowl of mangos and flowers.  Both the roses and the fruits appear artificial or waxed.

In the ancient Mayan/Mexican tradition, favorite foods and flowers are left for the dead on their graves in the cemetery.  In Los Angeles today, foods are left on the altars memorializing the dead.

To see other photos of the Dia de los Muertos event in Grand Park go here.

Here is some of what I saw on altars in Grand Park for Dia de los Muertos.

Foods on the Yemeni altar Grand Park 2018
On the Yemeni altar were foods from the Middle East, including flat pita bread, baklava, hummus and yogurt.
chilis on Dia de los Muertos altar Los Angeles
Chilis for the dead.  I think those white objects are tea candles.
Bread and tamale wrappers for the dead 2018
Bread and tamale wrappers in front of this altar. Tamales are more closely associated with Christmas Eve in Los Angeles.
Peanuts, salt and corn husks on Dia de los Muertos altar Grand Park
Corn husks and peanuts were on many more altars than I can remember from previous years. The salt on this altar is considered to be a purifying agent.
black beans from South Central Farm Day of the DEad altar
From a community garden in South Central Los Angeles comes this altar with a “carpet” of black beans in front of it. The two figures made of white beans represent the snake deity Quetzalcoatl who bridges between the dead and the living. The pumpkins are definitely Halloween!
Day of the Dead food on an altar
Bottled water, corn, the ubiquitous peanuts and sugar skulls appear on this altar. Persimmons and pears, too.



Dia de los Muertos altars as political protests, including Yemen!

Children imprisoned at the border altar Grand Park 2018
As I write this children who have been ripped from their parents are still being held at our border with Mexico. This altar is to remind us of them and the little children who died in the desert crossing at the border. 

The dead cannot march on the capital in D.C. or on City Hall in Los Angeles, but their voices, calling for justice, can be heard in these altars in Grand Park for the Day of the Dead.

For other photos of the Dia de los Muertos altars go here.

Coffin altar, homeless altar Day of the Dead 2018
Side by side were two altars: one for the 831 homeless people who have died  on the street in Los Angeles in the past year and another, a coffin, for teenagers who died too early.
Yemeni altar Day of the Dead Los Angeles 2018
The Day of the Dead goes beyond borders with this Yemeni altar. This is the first I have seen for people of Muslim faith. Los Angeles is the most multi-cultural city in the U. S. and in keeping with the Mexican/Mayan tradition, there are flowers and favorite foods–marigolds, hummus, and baklava–on this altar.
Day of the Dead Yemeni altar Grand Park LA
Favorite clothing, favorite foods of the Yemenis who have died in a horrible war.  You can see photos of the foods in my next post.
Cesar Rodriguez altar Grand Park 2018
The statement beneath this altar explains who Cesar Rodriguez was and how he died.


Dia de los Muertos altars in Grand Park Los Angeles 2018

Children playing in water in Grand Park Day of the Dead 2018
Lives beginning and lives ended. Children play in the water fountain while a few feet away are floating altars in memory of the dead. The children are oblivious! Fun in the sun on a hot Sunday  in October is all they care about. The yellow floating altar that reads “Natalie” actually includes a photo of Natalie Wood.
Real marigolds and paper ones decorated the altars.

There seemed to be fewer Day of the Dead altars this year in Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles. While they varied from massive works of art by professional artists to intimate memorial altars created by a family member, they all had one thing in common: masses of orange and yellow marigolds.  Marigolds became part of this tradition because their vibrant colors were considered to be a signal–a signpost–to the dead of where to return to visit family members at the cemetery on November 1st, All Saints Day. This ancient festival in Mayan culture pre-dates the arrival of Europeans in Mexico. The timing of November 1st was a compromise between the old ways and the “new”.

I am breaking up the photos I took into three parts.  This is part one.  Tomorrow I will do the Political Day of the Dead altars including one very very surprising altar.  And in the Third Part I’ll show you close-ups of what is actually included on the altars.

Meanwhile you can see photos of Dia de los Muertos at historic Olvera Street on this site.

The altars will remain in Grand Park until November 4th.  Go see them!  There are many more than I am showing here.

Dia de los Muertos altar for abuelita
This altar in memory of a grandmother, an abuelita, is very traditional family altar.
What Abuelita loved
These are some of the things that abuelita loved: knitting, black beans in a brown pot, her family, maybe the Mexican lottery?  There is a horse pinata on the left as well as a banana and orange and even a mango on the right side of this altar.  The yellow paper heart reads Rest in Peace in Spanish. Overall this is a very personal altar.
Dia de los Muertos altar by Self Help Graphics
This grand altar was created by artists who are affiliated with Self-Help Gallery. Self-Help is a gallery and serigraph studio founded decades ago by the late Sister Karen to offer a venue for the works of local Latino/Mexican-American/Chicano artists who were excluded from the art world in Los Angeles.
Dia de los Muertos snake Grand Park 2018
The two headed serpent is a powerful deity in Mayan culture and a creature that bridges death and life. This representation by Heriberto Luna is part of the Self-Help Gallery altar.
Painted skull by Eric Scuds
Eric Scuds, an artist affiliated with Self-Help Gallery, painted this skull as part of the massive art installation in the plaza at the top of Grand Park. Surrounding the skull are  the corn husks used in tamales.
Day of the Dead altar for motorcyclists
In the past there have been altars in memory of people killed in auto accidents, but this year the only one I noticed was one for motorcyclists.
Miniature motorcyclists on Dia de los Muertos altar
Miniature motorcycles were added to this altar memorializing the death of 2 cyclists. Notice that the RIP stands for Ride in Peace.  (There will be more details from the altars in Part 3 of this series.)


Saintly bride Dia de los Muertos Grand Park 2018
Obviously the work of a professional artist, this “altar” struck me at first as a bride. Then I noticed the “halo” around her head. So maybe a saint? Now I am not sure what or who this represents.  The Los Angeles City Hall is behind this figure.
Altar for baby Grand Park 2018
An altar for a baby.  Those yellow pieces of paper are notes written by visitors in memory of  their own dead children.
Face-painted girl family altar Los Angeles 2018
During October it is not at all unusual to see people, especially young girls, walking around the city with their faces half painted with skulls and with flowers in their hair. Sadly, this young girl is now a memory, but a beautiful one.  I will show a close-up of the ceramic figure at the top in Part 3 of this series.

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.

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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