Feb 11 2013

bel air hotel – tasting menu

a sampling of our dinner at the new bel air hotel – very close to our house. We used to come here with very little money and have 2 martinis and split a burger at lunchtime. It’s one of those LA institutions that brings you to another world when you enter the grounds just over the footbridge. The hotel went through a major renovation last year and is a bit hipper and it lost a little bit of the charm – but there is enough of the original in the architecture and grounds that has remained unchanged for generations…

Hotel Bel Air
01 Stone Canyon Rd
Los Angeles, CA 90077
(310) 472-1211


Jun 10 2012

E3 Expo

I attended the E3 Expo for the first time last week and it was one of the best large-scale events of this type I have ever been to. Since the video game industry is now operating on a larger scale than film or tv – there was no expense saved on the variety of displays, installations and interactive & displayed content. Activision had a 150 foot long LED and others had wrapping LED displays vs. projection system for higher resolution output. The people watching is magnificent – it was one of my rare experiences where whenever someone sees you holding a camera – they pose to have their picture taken…


Apr 26 2012

masonic temple – los angeles

I had the unique opportunity to step inside a former scottish rite masonic temple, with murals by Millard Sheets, in los angeles this afternoon. it was a perfect rainy overcast day to enter this looming travertine behemoth – that I have been waiting to go inside for all the many years I have live in los angeles. it did not disappoint – some of the spaces were like stage sets from a david lynch film – in others you could sense the 1970’s masons gathering on the upholstered furniture and smoking cigars while speaking about running the city. I have probably watched every freemason documentary – probably since I am a builder too – and this was a special experience…

Feb 18 2012

disneyland 1957

lovely video recently posted on youtube of a 1957 visit to disneyland shortly after it opened. the film itself is well edited and paced and it’s nice to see a glimpse of what once was…and know what it’s like today

from the website: “So what are the cultural differences between Disneyland in the 1950s and the park as it exists today?  Based on the video, “Disneyland Canon 1957,” I’d first point out the open spaces, also the absence of overcrowding.  Environment is at least as important as the rides: throughout the video, park guests are captivated by the scenery.  I might also point out the lack of vending carts.  But, based on the comments on YouTube and other sites, viewers were most impressed with the clothes people once wore to the park.”

some images from the same period:


Sep 25 2011

los angeles county fair

another fine fair in los angeles. it was perfect weather in pomona for endless rides, fried food, extra long corn dogs, beer, margaritas, fudge and caramel apples. I think we can only do this once a year but there is something truly and authentically ‘american’ about the state fair…

Jun 16 2011

van nuys marble

I came across this marble shop while my car was being fixed nearby. when I walked in the place was empty as the workers were far in the back cutting stone. the office was surreal and it felt like I was in a small italian hilltown. I went back today to get some stone cut and met the italian family who owns the place and the father, leonardo cordola. great people and nice to see a fifty-year-old business like this in the heart of the valley…

Van Nuys Marble & Granite Inc
6160 Sepulveda Boulevard
Van Nuys, California 91411
(818) 781-2923

Mar 27 2011

the local peasant

this is a newly opened pub in our neighborhood on ventura in sherman oaks. it’s great to find a place that has a european vibe, great selection of draft beers and innovative cocktails and fantastic food. the ambience is comfortable and welcoming with a repurposed wood palette and the feeling of a tiled basement speakeasy. they have minimal signage on the exterior – so for now it’s more of a place for discovery…

the local peasant
14058 ventura boulevard
sherman oaks, california 01423
(818) 741-0234

Mar 5 2011

noah’s ark

this is the permanent noah’s ark exhibit at the skirball center in los angeles – close to the getty museum. it’s an extremely well built and creatively designed series of spaces – well-scaled for children to explore, climb on, and touch…

from their website:
“Inside a floor-to-ceiling wooden ark, filled to the rafters with whimsical animals, you and your family will play, build, climb, explore, make music, make friends, and more. Conduct a storm, help construct the ark, and bask in the glow of a beautiful rainbow. Mingle with hundreds of fancifully handcrafted animals—from cuddly companions to life-sized puppets—all crafted from recycled materials and everyday objects, including bottle caps, bicycle parts, baseball mitts, croquet balls, mop heads, and rear-view mirrors…”

Jan 16 2011

namm music show

my childhood friend was in for the namm show in anaheim this past weekend. It’s a huge show of musical equipment manufacturer’s and representatives and dealers. the collection and juxtaposition of spinal tap-looking aged rock stars, horned instrument manufacturers, a floor of asian piano dealers, performers playing in real time throughout the convention center – make it a wild event to explore. some highlights included a reed company that makes flavored reeds, 100 or so people in line to get autographs by a bunch of heavy metal musicians I didn’t know – but who looked amazing and fitting the part. It was a surreal experience and the scale of attending an event which feels as large as disneyland becomes a musical blur after some time – but it was definitely memorable…

The NAMM Show
Annually held at Anaheim Convention Center
800 West Katella Avenue
Anaheim, CA 92802

Jan 14 2011

los angeles cathedral – josé rafael moneo

one of the first things I visited shortly after moving to LA – was the new cathedral of los angeles, which had taken the place of the former st. vibiana’s. I was working over a few years in the office of  josé rafael moneo – so I was fortunate to see the project evolve over the years in our small office in madrid. I remember the first visit of the cardinal mahony – who greeted each of us at our drafting boards – to the many, many models and sketches that followed. any project you work on is surreal to finally walk through and experience in a physical reality – this was no different. as I have lived here a decade or more later – I think it’s more of spain and rafael then of los angeles but I still feel assured when I drive the 101 and see it  high above overlooking parts of the city…

from the cathedral’s website:

The challenge in designing and building a new Cathedral Church was to make certain that it reflected the diversity of all people. Rather than duplicate traditional designs of the Middle Ages in Europe, the Cathedral is a new and vibrant expression of the 21st century Catholic peoples of Los Angeles. Just as many European Cathedrals are built near rivers, Moneo considered the Hollywood Freeway as Los Angeles’ river of transportation, the connection of people to each other. The site is located between the Civic Center and the Cultural Center of the city. “I wanted both a public space,” said Moneo, “and something else, what it is that people seek when they go to church.” To the architect, the logic of these two competing interests suggested, first of all, a series of “buffering, intermediating spaces” -plazas, staircases, colonnades, and an unorthodox entry. Worshippers enter on the south side, rather than the center, of the Cathedral through a monumental set of bronze doors cast by sculptor Robert Graham. The doors are crowned by a completely contemporary statue of Our Lady of the Angels.

A 50 foot concrete cross “lantern” adorns the front of the Cathedral. At night its glass- protected alabaster windows are illuminated and can be seen at a far distance. The 151 million pound Cathedral rests on 198 base isolators so that it will float up to 27 inches during a magnitude 8 point earthquake. The design is so geometrically complex that none of the concrete forms could vary by more than 1/16th of an inch. The Cathedral is built with architectural concrete in a color reminiscent of the sun-baked adobe walls of the California Missions and is designed to last 500 years.

Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels
555 West Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012-2707