Thanksgiving In New York City

Yesterday I spent Thanksgiving In New York City. This posed some special challenges because everything was closed for the holiday but I still managed to explore the city. I went on this trip courtesy of my older brother who bought me a bus ticket as a belated birthday present. After traveling alone so often it was nice to have some relatives come along. But I mostly went my own way while they watched the Macy’s Parade. The whole purpose of the one day tour was the Macy’s Parade so the bus left Williamsport at the ungodly hour of 3:00 a.m. It left New York City at 3:00 p.m. which is also much earlier than usual. We rode on a brand new Susquehanna Trailways bus which was much nicer than their other buses.

The bus left us off in front of the Lincoln Center. This pleased me because I appreciate the performing arts and Lincoln Center is like a Greek temple to the performing arts. I had plenty of opportunity to take more photos of the Lincoln Center buildings using my superior digital camera. So the first thing I did was wander around the Lincoln Center campus to take photos. I had even more time to do this while waiting for the bus to pick us up so I managed to do a far more thorough job of exploring the Lincoln Center than I have in the past.

Lincoln Center Plaza

Lincoln Center Plaza

But then I proceeded to my primary mission which was to track down the underground arts scene in Brooklyn. My focus on this trip was Bushwick, the neighborhood currently being colonized by hipsters after they were priced out of Williamsburg. There are many murals and other forms of street art in Bushwick, mostly by the Bushwick Collective art group. This was the perfect thing to do during a holiday since Bushwick was practically deserted. There wasn’t anyone around to get in the way of my photographing. And of course street art isn’t going to be closed for a holiday.

The Bushwick Collective

The Bushwick Collective

Bushwick is still a very gritty urban area. There were a lot of run down industrial buildings and heavily gratified garages. It would have been a very dismal and depressing area without the street art. But there are also lots of venues for really wild performances and edgy parties. I located House of Yes, Lot 45, Bat Haus, and Bizarre. You can’t find any decent photos of these establishments online because these places are on the bleeding edge. Lot 45 was particularly shabby and you would not suspect that anything interesting goes on there. Bizarre required a long walk along Troutman Street but I particularly wanted to see it because it is featured in the film Brooklyn Bizarre. Bizarre is a bar and a performance space which really lives up to its name since a lot of burlesque and drag shows take place there.

Bizarre Bar and Restaurant

Bizarre Bar and Restaurant

I did not spend much time in Bushwick because there was really nothing to do there. I could have checked out some hipster restaurants, bars, or coffee shops but everything was closed. So I took the subway back into Manhattan.

I didn’t really have any plans for the rest of the day and many streets in Manhattan were blocked off for the parade. Almost everything was closed for the holiday so there really weren’t a lot of options. I went to Times Square since that is always spectacular but I wasn’t interesting in checking out all the Broadway theaters again. I walked all the way to 11th Avenue to find the Gotham West Market but it was closed. I was hoping to use their public restrooms. I must have walked up West 44th Street because I passed the Actor’s Studio and New Dramatists. I took plenty of photos of the New Dramatists, housed in a former church, because this organization is of great interest to aspiring playwrights.

New Dramatists

New Dramatists

Duane Reade pharmacy and convenience stores were open for Thanksgiving so I stopped in at one to buy a bottle of Honest Peach Tea. I was dying of thirst. Surprisingly it only cost a dollar and that was the only thing I bought on the entire trip making this the cheapest New York City trip ever. But only because everything was closed. I drank my tea at the One Worldwide Plaza. I’m so familiar with the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood now that I knew exactly where to go.

After that I walked up Broadway until I came across Ken and Karen near the Ed Sullivan Theater, aka the Late Show. It was quite unexpected to run into them. I was just wandering around and they did not know what to do next so I led them to Central Park. Along the way I showed them Carnegie Hall, the famous concert venue where every classical musician dreams of playing, but they were unfamiliar with it. It began to rain as we approached Central Park but fortunately it was just some light sprinkles and we did not get seriously wet. In Central Park I led them to Strawberry Fields, the memorial to John Lennon. I pointed out the Dakota Apartments where John Lennon lived and we saw the iconic black and white Imagine mosaic which had a crowd of people around it as usual. Fortunately everyone stayed off the mosaic out of respect so I still managed to get some good photos of it. That was a long walk so Ken and Karen decided to head back to the Lincoln Center. But we still had plenty of time before the bus would leave so I set myself the goal of seeing Cleopatra’s Needle, an ancient Egyptian obelisk. Along the way I came across the Bethesda Terrace and the Bethesda Fountain. I also saw the Alice in Wonderland sculpture which is difficult to photograph since somebody is always posing in front of it. But I did manage to get one decent photo. When I finally found Cleopatra’s Needle I took lots of photos of it and even walked up to the terrace and saw the plaques with a translation of the hieroglyphs.

Imagine Mosaic

Imagine Mosaic

Cleopatra's Needle

Cleopatra’s Needle

I began to get anxious about catching the bus so I hurried through Central Park to get back to its southern edge. Along the way I did stop to photograph some the famous apartment buildings that overlook the park; The San Remo, The Century, and The Eldorado all on Central Park West. I also took photos of every statue or monument that I came across. When I finally got back to the Lincoln Center I still had over an hour before the bus left so I had plenty of time to explore the immense plaza. I saw the Guggenheim Bandshell which is something I overlooked on previous trips. I saw our Susquehanna Trailways bus parked behind the Lincoln Center in front of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts so they really didn’t go far to park the bus for the day. The library was closed for Thanksgiving so I suppose it was OK to park there.

Susquehanna Trailways

Susquehanna Trailways

It took the bus over an hour and a half to get to the Lincoln Tunnel because we got stuck in a gigantic traffic jam. I don’t know what the problem was but maybe everyone was leaving the city at the conclusion of the Macy’s Parade. We stopped off at the Tick Tock Diner in New Jersey for dinner. I was famished because I had not eaten anything since breakfast at McDonald’s. By the way, we did not stop at the Lake Harmony McDonald’s as usual. Instead the bus took us to a McDonald’s in New Jersey just before we got into New York City. I ordered the Thanksgiving special meal which was roast ham. The diner served large portions but the roast ham was thin slices, not thick slices, so even though it looked like a lot, I was able to finish it.

All during the bus ride home I was jazzed with inspiration. It is always very inspiring to visit New York City. Unfortunately, I’ve never done much with all my inspiration but I’m trying to be more focused on a serious goal. I really expect to eventually make a substantial breakthrough in my play writing. In the meantime I am finally discovering where underground art has hidden itself in New York City. Maybe next year I will make on overnight trip to check out the cutting edge performances which only occur in the evenings.

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Sony Pictures Studio Tour

I spent my final day in Los Angeles doing the Sony Pictures Studio Tour. Sony Studios is in Culver City, another city incorporated into Los Angeles. I left my hotel earlier than usual, around 7:30 a.m.,  and took the Metro Red Line to the 7th Street Metro Center. Then I went to the upper platform to take the Expo Line. I took the Expo Line to the Culver City Station which placed me close to where I needed to be. I walked down Washington Boulevard and found The Actors’ Gang theater which was founded by Tim Robbins, no relation to me. Then I quickly located the Museum of Jurassic Technology on Venice Boulevard. Next I walked pass the Kirk Douglas Theatre and took some photos of that. Finally I came to the Sony Pictures Plaza and walked far down Washington Boulevard up to Motor Avenue before heading back up Venice Boulevard to kill some time. Eventually I tried to get a cup of coffee at the Conservatory for Coffee, Tea & Cocoa but they were taking too long to serve their customers so I walked out.

The Actors' Gang Theater

The Actors’ Gang Theater

I really wasn’t clear on where you go to show up for the tour. But you actually have to go into the Sony Pictures Plaza and then all the way to the back of the vast lobby. I was able to use their restroom before the tour started. I managed to hang back and avoid getting my picture taken in front of a green screen.

Sony Pictures Plaza

Sony Pictures Plaza

This was a walking tour so first the whole group was lead across the street and to the left of the Sony Pictures gate. First we saw the Irving Thalberg Building. Then we got a photo opportunity with Ghostbuster cars and the camper van from Breaking Bad. Then we went into ADR 1 (automated dialogue replacement) a sound studio where we were not allowed to take photos. We also went onto the sound stage for the show The Goldbergs which was set up as a high school gym. I could tell the show was situated somewhere in Pennsylvania by the use of the words “William Penn” and “Quakers”. The Goldbergs is set in the 1980s in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania. The show is loosely based on the showrunner’s own childhood, during which he videotaped events, many of which are re-enacted throughout the program.

Sony Pictures Studio Tour

Sony Pictures Studio Tour

We also sat in the audience seating for the Wheel of Fortune show which had a small museum at the entrance. The tour ended at the Studio Store which was the only studio gift shop I saw which actually sold DVDs of their movies and television shows. I bought the Blu-Ray edition of Ghostbusters: Answer The Call for $28.47. I did not get a bag so I had to shove it into my shoulder bag. According to the sales receipt, I made that purchase at 12:02 p.m.

The Museum of Jurassic Technology

The Museum of Jurassic Technology

Next I went to The Museum of Jurassic Technology at 12:35 p.m. This museum was kept very dark and I couldn’t see very well after coming out of the bright sunshine. The museum was a fascinating fun house of archaic technology with 3D animation superimposed over antiques. I saw lots of weird and quirky exhibits. It was like a vast cabinet of wonders. It took a lot longer to go through the museum than I expected because it was laid out like a rat’s maze.

I had a cheeseburger and a shake at a nearby In-N-Out because I was starving and beginning to feel a little sick from hunger. I then returned to the Culver City Station and took the Expo Line back to the 7th Street Metro Center where I transferred to the Red Line. I got off at the Hollywood and Highland Station. I saw three television news vans parked in front of the Hollywood and Highland Center. I went into the Hollywood and Highland Center to take more photos of the Hollywood Sign. I then walked west on Hollywood Boulevard to La Brea Avenue and then south to Sunset Boulevard. I walked pass the Hollywood High School and then north on Highland Avenue. I had no real objective for this wandering. I just wanted to take as many photos as possible on my last day in Los Angeles.

ABC Eyewitness News

ABC Eyewitness News

Once back at the hotel I went across the street to Dennys and ordered a pink lemonade, a peanut butter and chocolate shake, and the Brooklyn Spaghetti and Meatballs. The total came to $18.72.

That was the end of my vacation. Everything went surprisingly well considering I had a complicated itinerary which required extensive use of public transportation. I saw everything I set out to see and encountered plenty of new culture which will hopefully influence me in some positive way.  I now have a much clearer impression of what Los Angeles and Hollywood is really like. I also came away with a long list of movies to see. For example, I bought the DVD of the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Last Action Hero because the scenes in the police station were shot in the Sony Pictures Plaza. Last Action Hero is an under-rated parody of action films. I noticed the villain was played by Tom Noonan, a fine actor in the New York City theater community.

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Warner Brothers Studio Tour

On Thursday I moved on to my next studio tour at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank. Burbank is to the east of North Hollywood. I took the Metro Bus Line 501 to Burbank California. This is a new bus service to link North Hollywood with Pasadena. I saw it heavily advertised. I got off at the bus stop on West Olive Avenue just pass North Hollywood Way. This was close the Warner Brothers Gate 4.

But I had arrived way too early so I had to wander around Burbank, mostly along West Riverside Drive. I saw the Novo Cafe, Don Cuco, Cafe Maggazino, and The Tangerine. I had a latte and a Citrus Crepe at  Cafe Maggazino to kill some time but didn’t stay long. I overheard some film production employees talking about office security. I took photos of the Falcon Theatre before turning back and eventually found a bus stop bench where I pretended to be waiting for a bus.

I had to go through security for the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. There was an union protest going on and the tour guide said it was a voice actors picket line. I think the union was SAG-AFTRA. I’d seen a few people wearing SAG-AFTRA t-shirts around the studio entrances directing traffic.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

I got on a golf cart to begin the tour. I think I sat with some Dutch tourists who thought it was cool to over-use the word “Bro”. I sat on the edge of the cart in order to be able to take lots of photos. But I made the mistake of getting my official guidebook right at the start of the tour and had to carry it around everywhere.

DC Comics

DC Comics

We saw the stage set for the television show “2 Broke Girls” and sat in the audience seats to watch a short video by the shows stars. They did a brief comedy routine which fell kind of flat since there was no laugh track. We saw the DC Comics exhibit with costumes and props from the movie “Suicide Squad”. I really liked the Enchantress character from that film because Cara Delevingne managed to appear both menacing and mesmerizing. But the film didn’t really explore the potential of a true enchantress character, a woman with the supernatural power to enchant men. The Enchantress never lived up to her name. I saw the Picture Car Vault – a garage with cars used in film and television, mostly from the Batman movies. And we walked through the Prop House, a four-floor warehouse of props and set dressings used by productions. This was just like a antique mall. The tour ended with Stage 48: Script to Screen and the obligatory exit through the gift shop. Of particular interest to me was the screenwriters exhibit which consisted of a mountain of film scripts, a story board covered in post-it notes, and a laptop. At least they didn’t use a typewriter. Most contemporary writers do their writing on a laptop, not a typewriter, yet graphic designers continue to use typewriters in every writing contest poster.

Screenwriters Room

Screenwriters Room

I took the Metro Bus Line 501 back to North Hollywood. It left me off at the bus bays to the east of the Red Line Metro station. After freshening up in my hotel room I went out again and took the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood / Vine Station. I walked down Vice Street to Sunset Boulevard and took photos of the Los Angeles Film School and the ArcLight Hollywood (Pacific Theatre’s Cinerama Dome). Then I made yet another trip to Amoeba Music and bought three CDs; EBM (Electronic Body Matrix), Till Lindemann’s Skills In Pills, and Die Antwoord’s Mount Ninja And Da Nice Time Kid. After I got back from my vacation I finally found the time to listen to the Skills In Pills album and discovered it was one of the most obscene albums I’ve ever heard. But I liked it! Also this album was in English. Till Lindemann usually sings in German.

ArcLight Hollywood

ArcLight Hollywood

After walking back to Hollywood Boulevard I decided to take better photos of the Egyptian Theatre and Pig N Whistle. Eventually I walked all the way back to the Hollywood and Highland Station and took the subway back to North Hollywood. Instead of going immediately to my hotel, I went to Laemmle’s NoHo 7 and bought a ticket to the 7:10 showing of Doctor Strange. Then I walked to the Philadelphia Sandwiches restaurant and ordered a cheese steak and a coke. There were two LAPD cops having their dinner in the back of the restaurant. The cheese steak was actually really good.

Philadelphia Sandwiches

Philadelphia Sandwiches

Later that evening I saw the mystical fantasy Doctor Strange which I’d seen advertised all week. I got a free medium bag of popcorn using a coupon I got in the L. A. Lit Crawl goody bag and a bottle of Starbucks Frappacino which they put in a paper cup because you can’t take a bottle into the theater.

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Paramount Studios Tour

My final three days in Los Angeles were devoted to studio tours. On Wednesday I had a tour reservation for the Paramount Studios Tour. Paramount Studios is the only film studio still located in Hollywood. So I took the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood / Vine Station. According to my directions, the south west corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Argyle Avenue would be the benches alongside the W Hollywood Hotel. The bus sign there read discharge only so I decided to walk to Melrose Avenue. I proceeded to walk down Argyle Avenue. When I reached Sunset Boulevard I walked pass the Hollywood Palladium Theater so I took photos of that and then noticed El Centro Avenue. Since the Circle Theater is on El Centro Avenue I decided to walk down that to find it. El Centro Theatre still appears to be under renovation and I think I attracted somebody’s attention by taking photos of the place.

I arrived way too early at Melrose Avenue, around 9:00 a.m., so I walked along Melrose Avenue to Raleigh Studios. I then walked to the Coffee + Food coffee shop and ordered an iced latte and a muffin with egg, bacon, and avcado. I spent a lot of time chewing the ice from the iced latte (it was mostly ice) while starring at an Olivetti typewriter. After that I walked even further west on Melrose Avenue pass Vine Street and then headed south on North Arden Boulevard pass the Christ the King Roman Catholic Church and saw the Ravenwood Aparments building and the El Royale Apartments building which caught my eye.

I noticed a Stephanie Feury Studio Theatre above the Coffee + Food coffee shop while walking back to Paramount Studios. I waited on a bus stop bench until exactly 10:30 a.m. and then went to the Paramount Studios Tour entrance. I had to go though a metal detector and have my shoulder bag inspected right at the door upon entering. I forgot to take my camera out of my pants pocket. I saw a group of well dressed people in the tour waiting area but some of them appeared to be Asians. There was a restroom in the waiting area which I had to use. The waiting area had some costumes on display and a wall of photographs. Eventually my tour guide, Cody Dobie, introduced himself and it turned out that I was the only person to show up for the 11:00 a.m. tour. A family was supposed to be part of the tour but they did not show up. Later the tour guide found his walkie talkie was turned to the wrong station which may be why they did not hook up with us. But as it turned out I got a personal tour which made me feel quite special. He gave me an audio device so I could hear him clearly over any background noise. Cody mentioned that he was also the program coordinator at the W Hollywood Hotel.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures

Since I cut my cable TV years ago I was way behind on contemporary television shows which really left me clueless about many of the shows and productions being filmed on the Paramount Studios lots. We went into a storage area with some neat props including lots of science fiction movie props. We entered the sound stage where they film the TV show Grace and Frankie starring Lily Tomlin. That was a fascinating glimpse into the production work space with computer stations, green screens, and the framework of a house like a hardware store mock up of drywalls and wall frames. There was no ceiling because that is where the lights are placed and the film cameras are lowered. There was a fake beach in the back yard. I had to leave my camera on the floor of an office because it was not allowed on the set. When we got back my camera was missing! Fortunately somebody had found it and was going to leave a note. My camera was returned to me.

Paramount Studio Props

Paramount Studio Props

I got so see the stage set for Dr. Phil and was told where his wife sits and what is special about her chair and her extra requirements.

I saw one celebrity in a pink robe, but I was not familiar with her. Best guess it was Emma Roberts, related to Julia Roberts, currently starring in the TV show “Scream Queens”. This was near the parking lot they can flood for filming water scenes.

Other things I saw; the Hollywood sign from the studio lot, Lucille Ball’s office and her park, the New York City facades and the trees they rent for $500 ,the Forest Gump bench and the Paramount Theatre. Cody used an iPad to play scenes from movies filmed on the lot. We got around on a golf cart. He mentioned that the biopic Hitchcock was filmed at  Paramount Studios so I bought the DVD of that film when I got home. The tour lasted two hours.

Although I can be a bit of a snob, I like movies as much as the next person so touring a Hollywood studio was a big thrill and made the business seem more real to me. Movies are the collective dreams of our culture. I’ve often given thought to the enormous significance they hold for millions of people.

After the tour was over I walked up Vine Street back to the Metro Red Line station. Along the way I photographed the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study and Ricardo Montalban Theatre again. I took the Metro Red Line to the Vermont / Sunset Station because earlier in my trip I had noticed that this subway station puts you close to the Dresden restaurant, Skylight Books, and the Soap Plant / Wacko store and gallery. I wanted to take photos of all these establishments.

Skylight Books

Skylight Books

At Skylight Books I bought three plays; Enron by Lucy Prebble, Radio Gulf by August Wilson, and The Lyons by Nicky Silver. At Soap Plant / Wacko I bought Mexican Graphics by Antoni Cadafalch. This was an expensive book, $44.95, $49.00 total. I was very pleased with this purchase since it appears to feature the artwork of contemporary Latino graphic artists which I found inspiring after a brief exposure to it at Olvera Street. I was hoping to find a good book on that style of art and I did! I also found a Rozz Williams Christian Death postcard advertising a book. I have a lot of Rozz Williams CDs which I’ve owned for a long time. He was part of the California Deathrock subculture which I used to be into, but had forgotten. I probably should have explored that angle for my trip.

Soap Plant

Soap Plant

After returning to the hotel, I had dinner at Denny’s across the street. I ordered a Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake and Grilled Cheese with Chicken Noodle Soup. Service was a bit slow but the food was good.

After returning to the hotel, I walked down Lankershim Boulevard to Odyssey Video where I bought some videos. Then I went to Blastoff Comics where I bought an old science fiction novel, The Asylum World by John Jakes. I like this sort of random encounter with culture that often occurs during my travels. It is very inspiring and gives me hope that my trip will lead to some significant new influence.

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Exploring Venice

On Tuesday I finally got around to exploring Venice California. My original itinerary called for a trip to Venice on Friday but I was also going to see Weed Shop The Musical on Friday evening and I didn’t want to feel rushed to get back to North Hollywood. Venice is far to the west on the Pacific Ocean coast so it took me two hours just to get there. In Pennsylvania, driving for two hours would put me several towns away from home but in Los Angeles you won’t even have left the city.

I took the Metro Red Line to the Civic Center Station. From there I walked to the Spring Street bus stop directly across from City Hall. I took the Metro Rapid Line 733 to Santa Monica. This was a very long bus ride since the bus made as many stops as local bus might. Of course, I wasn’t going to Santa Monica. Venice is south of Santa Monica.

I got off the bus at a traffic circle and walked down Windward Avenue to reach the Ocean Front Walk. I saw the Touch of Venice mural and the letters that spell V-E-N-I-C-E across the street. After taking a few photos of the beach I quickly went into Small World Books and bought three books; Open 24 Hours by Suzanne Lummis (a Los Angeles poet), Stage Kiss by Sarah Ruhl (the playwright), and Wild Child by T.C. Boyle (a Southern California novelist).

Small World Books

Small World Books

After that I walked along Ocean Front Walk as far as the On the Waterfront Cafe. I walked back along Ocean Front Walk to Its Sugar and then walked up North Venice Boulevard. I walked pass the Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library. Eventually I reached my goal and photographed the Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), and the Pacific Resident Theatre where I picked up postcards for Two Henrys: A New Play by Kenneth Jones and A Touch Of The Poet by Eugene O’Neill. I would have liked to have seen A Touch Of The Poet by Eugene O’Neill but it didn’t open until November 5th. I had to fly home that day.

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center

One of the reasons I wanted to visit Venice was its literary association with the Beat writers. I’ve read the book Venice West by John Arthur Maynard which explains how much of the beatnik mythos developed in Venice California. Unfortunately all trace of the Beat poets has been erased except for the Venice Beach Poets Monument which is a few quotes by historic Venice Beat Poets on a public restroom wall.

I then walked back to Abbot Kinney Boulevard and quickly found Mystic Journey Bookstore where I bought The Shaman & Ayahuasca by Don Jose Campos. This was a significant purchase given my interest in visionary art and shamanism.

Mystic Journey Bookstore

Mystic Journey Bookstore

I went to Lemonade for lunch because I could see that they had restrooms for customers and I desperately needed one after that long bus ride. The greeter had to explain how to place an order since it was a complicated process. Basically I took a tray and pointed to dishes that I wanted. Each portion cost $2.75 and consisted of an exotic fusion of vegetables and maybe meat. I had something with yellow cauliflowers and grapes, string beans and pineapple chicken, and something that looked like Kiwi slices covered in pepper with beef cubes. I also had watermelon rosemary lemonade. This meal only cost me $12.26 which was quite reasonable. After placing my tray on a table I immediately headed for the restroom.

After lunch I walked the length of Abbot Kinney Boulevard and took as many photos as possible even though I had not fully researched the establishments along this street. Venice is incorporated into Los Angeles but it is a city in its own right and I did not have time to research multiple cities for my trip.

I then walked east and eventually found the canals by following Dell Avenue. I crossed all four bridges and took plenty of photos of the canals. I saw a few other tourists and many cars went by on the one way street forcing me to the side of the road.

Venice Canal

Venice Canal

After that I took another stroll along the Ocean Front Walk. Many more stores were now open and the boardwalk was a bit more crowded but I did not see a single girl in a bikini. I did see a lot of homeless people and many of them were street vendors. There were also many young black men trying to give people their CDs which is a well known scam.

Eventually I got tired of walking in the hot sun so I took the Metro Rapid Line 733 to Downtown LA but instead of going all the way to Union Station I got off at 7th Street and walked west to the 7th Street Metro Center. I took the Metro Red Line to the North Hollywood Station.

Los Borritos

Los Borritos

Back in North Hollywood I continued my efforts to have dinner at local restaurants. I stopped in at Los Burritos and ordered the carne asada plate. In Latin America, carne asada is specifically beef, usually skirt steak, flank steak or flap steak, grilled and served as slices. It is usually cooked with a certain amount of searing to impart a charred flavor. Carne asada can be served as a main dish or as an ingredient in other dishes. I ordered it to go. This plate also came with three corn meal tortillas, mushed bean mole, a small salad, flavored rice with a small amount of carrots, and two small containers of sauce or salsa. Los Burritos was right next to my hotel so it was convenient but I don’t care for Mexican food so I only tried them once.

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Los Angeles County Museum of Art and La Brea Tar Pits

I began my final week in Los Angeles on a mission to visit the Miracle Mile where several more museums are located. I took the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood / Vine Station. I think I saw the mayor of Los Angeles standing in front of the North Hollywood Metro Station, in-between the escalators, giving a news conference on Measure M. On the train, there was a sheriff checking TAP cards and he caught a few miscreants with invalid cards.

At the Hollywood / Vine Station I wanted the Metro Local Line 217 but I wasn’t sure where the bus stop was located. It was located where there are benches near the Deja Vu Showgirls strip club. I took the Metro Local Line 217 bus to Wilshire Boulevard. This was several blocks south of Hollywood Boulevard and too far to walk. I arrived at Wilshire Boulevard near the Petersen Automotive Museum. There was a lot of street construction in the area. They were working to extend the Purple Line.

I walked pass the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to the La Brea Tar Pits and arrived shortly after it opened at 9:30 a.m. so I was in time for the 10:00 a.m. showing of the Titans of the Ice Age short film at the 3D Theater. When the movie was over I used the restroom. I then examined all the exhibits and took lots of photos of Ice Age animal skeletons. I even walked through the Atrium. I then walked around outside and saw several of the tar pits. The tar pits really do smell like asphalt.

La Brea Tar Pits

La Brea Tar Pits

I entered the Los Angeles County Museum of Art shortly after they opened and found my way through the Ahmanson Building to the BP Grand Entrance where the ticket booths were located. I paid $25.00 for General Admission and Special Exhibits which only got me a ticket for the Guillermo del Toro special exhibit for Halloween.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

I took hundreds of photos of the artwork. Nobody said anything to me about it not being permitted. Eventually I stopped at the Coffee & Milk cafe and had an almond croissant and a honey latte. I had to ask directions for the Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters exhibit. This exhibit was a geek’s delight and even featured wax figures of Lovecraft and Poe. There were lots of movie props, weird artwork, old comic books, and video compilations of clips from Guillermo del Toro’s movies. Although I wasn’t terribly familiar with the the name, I have seen many Guillermo del Toro films including Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy, Mimic and Pacific Rim. But he has done many other films which I have not seen.   I saw an amusing film clip of a Mexican wrestler fighting vampires. This was The Silver Angel from the series The Strain, a television series based on a Guillermo del Toro novel. At the gift shop I bought a Guillermo del Toro Trilogy boxed set of DVDs which cost an astounding $108.95. It includes the films; Cronos, The Devil’s Backbone, and Pan’s Labyrinth.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters

In the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, not to be confused with The Broad Museum downtown, I saw the huge sculpture, Chris Burden’s Metropolis II. This was a huge model of a city made from what looked like erector sets. You could walk up some stairs to a balcony to look at it from above.

I went to the Pavilion for Japanese Art which has a spiral ramp and saw Japanese Painting: From the Zen Mind and Awazu Kiyoshi, Graphic Design: Summoning the Outdated. I also saw their collection of netsuke, which are small carvings used to secure the cord at the top of the kimono sash.

I saw some black people filming a black fashion model in the sculpture garden as I was leaving. I rarely encounter fashion model shoots in New York City but I think I saw two in Los Angeles.

After leaving the museums I walked up Wilshire Boulevard and photographed the SAG-AFTRA building and the El Rey Theatre. I also happened to photograph the CBS Radio skyscraper and the Craft and Folk Art Museum, which was closed, and the Petersen Automotive Museum.

SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA

I was going to take the Metro Local Line 217 bus back to Hollywood Boulevard but I had seen some establishments on the way down that I wanted to check out. So I walked up Fairfax Avenue as far as the Writers Guild of America building. This put me near the Farmer’s Market and The Grove but I neglected to explore either. The Writers Guild of America is a labor union representing film, television, radio, and new media writers. If I am ever successful as a playwright there is some slim chance that I may have some business with the Writers Guild of America. You know, in case I ever decide to sell out!

Writers Guild of America

Writers Guild of America

I got back to Hollywood Boulevard by taking the Metro Local Line 217 bus. I walked west to see the WeWork buidling and the Hollywood Gateway Sculpture. Then I walked all along the length of Hollywood Boulevard taking better photos with the sun striking one side of the street at an angle, illuminating buildings. I found a KNBC 4 News van outside the Cahuenga Video Adult Books Store which prevented me from going in there!

There seemed to be heavy security outside the Hollywood / Vine Station. When I got back to North Hollywood Station I went to Vicious Dogs and ordered a Chili Cheese Dog and Onion Rings to go. When I got back to the hotel I discovered I got French Fries instead of the Onion Rings but I did not mind. That was my second visit to a neighborhood restaurant for dinner. I didn’t want to end my trip without having checked out the restaurants in North Hollywood where I had expected I would eat.

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The Getty Center

On Sunday my goal was to visit the Getty Center, one of the major art museums in Los Angeles. Getting to the Getty Center was a challenge since it is located far to the west in Brentwood, Los Angeles along the 405 Interstate highway. So I took the Metro Red Line to the 7th Street Metro Center. There I transferred  to the upper platform to take the Expo Line. Both the Blue Line and the Expo Line seem to use the same platform so you have to be careful which train you get on. I rode the Expo Line all the way to Expo/Sepulveda Station. Unfortunately, the Metro Rapid Line 734 does not run on weekends so I had to take the Metro Local Line 234. I had to wait in the drizzle for almost an half hour before the bus would leave, but the driver left a few of us passengers on early. It was a very light drizzle so I didn’t really get wet. At the Sepulveda bus stop outside the Getty Center I just followed the other tourists. We took the Getty Tram up the hill.

The Getty Center had many pavilions; the North Pavilion, the East Pavilion, the South Pavilion and the West Pavilion. These were actually buildings and not true pavilions. Each building had several floors so it was difficult to make sure I saw everything but I probably did. My favorite painting was Mischief and Repose – John William Godward 1895. I thought this might be a Pre-Raphaelite painting but according to the Wikipedia article on John William Godward, he was a Neo-Classicist. I bought the book The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook Of The Collection which features photos of many of the artworks I saw that day. It is always my intention to learn more about the art I see at museums but I must confess that this rarely occurs. I’m pretty familiar with modern art but I have not done much to expand my knowledge.

The Getty Center

The Getty Center

I had lunch at the “Coffee Cart”; a ham sandwich, a parfait, and bottled ice tea for $19.02 at 12:45 p.m. It was raining a bit but the museum provided umbrellas. I found an outdoor table and chair that had been dried off so I could eat my lunch without remaining standing up.

Some of the special exhibits at the Getty Center were; London Calling: Bacon, Freud, Kossoff, Andrews, Auerbach, and Kitaj, Richard Learoyd: In The Studio, Photography in France, 1847-1860, and Greek and Roman Sculpture From The Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

Greek and Roman Sculpture From The Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Greek and Roman Sculpture From The Santa Barbara Museum of Art

I spent most of the day at the museum and stayed until 3:00 p.m. I didn’t get back to my hotel until 5:00 p.m.

That evening I began my efforts to have dinner at the local restaurants. That evening I ate at Pitfire Pizza on Lankershim Boulevard. I ordered a Pepperoni Pizza and a lemonade. Their personal pizzas were small enough for me to eat an entire pie.

Pitfire Pizza

Pitfire Pizza

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Griffith Observatory

For Saturday my goal was to visit the Griffith Observatory. This had to occur on a weekend because the LADOT Observatory Shuttle only runs on the weekends. I took the Metro Red Line to the Vermont / Sunset Station. There I waited for the LADOT Observatory Shuttle. I sent a text message to 41411 to get the arrival time. I’m glad I got data working on my smartphone because it came in handy. When the bus arrived its sign read “Out of Service”. Two other tourists asked me if that was the bus to Griffith Observatory. Eventually the bus changed its sign and we all got on.  I used my TAP card and activated a 7 Day Pass for LADOT, not to be confused with the Metro, but this was the only time I used a DASH bus.

Griffith Observatory

Griffith Observatory

When we got to the Griffith Observatory I walked around the terraces taking photos of the Hollywood sign and downtown Los Angeles which was way off in the distance. Inside I looked at some of the exhibits but made no real attempt to see everything. But I did see the Foucault Pendulum. Downstairs I saw the Gunther Depths of Space Exhibits and used the restroom which was less crowded. After that I went to the Roof Terrace where I saw the 12-inch Zeiss telescope which was not open to the public yet. I spent about an hour at the Griffith Observatory. The LADOT Observatory Shuttle took me back to the Vermont / Sunset Station and didn’t really make any other stops. I saw two British women on the shuttle. I took the Red Line to the Hollywood and Highland Station. I saw a woman with a protest sign featuring religious exhortations. There seemed to be quite a lot of street preachers in Los Angeles, especially around the Red Line North Hollywood Station.

I went to the Hollywood Museum and saw lots of Max Factor makeup, movie star photos, some costumes, and the Dungeon of Doom Exhibit which was like a haunted house. I did see costumes for one movie I have not seen, the Van Helsing film starring Hugh Jackman. I plan to watch several movies based on what I encountered on this trip. I exited the museum through Mel’s Diner which is attached to the Hollywood Museum.

Hollywood Museum

Hollywood Museum

I then walked along Hollywood Boulevard until I reached Pig ‘n Whistle where I decided to have lunch. I had the Pig ‘n Whistle Cobb Salad which was pretty good and glass of coke. I didn’t do a lot of research on restaurants but Pig ‘n Whistle was on my list.

While waiting for my food I reviewed my custom travel guide and noticed that the Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum was only two blocks south. So after lunch I walked there. Along the way I saw the Crossroads of the World and two churches; First Baptist Church which had a lot of homeless people camped out on its porch, and the Blessed Sacrament Church. The Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum had a guard hovering around the entrance, probably because they get a lot of Scientology protests. When I signed the guestbook I put down “shaman” as my profession as a joke. First I had to watch a short film. There was a greeter and I thought I was going to be indoctrinated but after the film I was free to wander the exhibits on my own. There were many short films to watch but I skipped most of them because they ran on too long. I noticed that they took a dim view of Carl Jung and William James. William James wrote The Varieties of Religious Experience, a classic on comparative religion and mysticism so I’m not sure why they wanted to vilify him.  They had added Robin Williams to their exhibit on celebrities who died due to psychiatric medications, a controversial proposition. This museum is run by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), an anti-psychiatry organization. I agree with most of their message but they do give the anti-psychiatry movement a bad name. You can’t challenge psychiatry online without being accused of being a Scientologist.

Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum

Psychiatry: An Industry of Death Museum

While walking back towards Hollywood Boulevard I came across a theater that was not on my list; The Arena Stage at Theater of Arts. www.toa.edu. This appears to be another acting school. After returning to Hollywood Boulevard I walked to Hollywood and Vine where I took the Metro Local Bus 210 to go south to Santa Monica Boulevard so I could take photos of the Hollywood Theater Row theaters which serve as venues for the Hollywood Fringe Festival. Hollywood Theater Row and the NoHo Arts District are the two centers of fringe theater in Los Angeles, what would be considered Off-Off-Broadway in New York City. The theaters on Hollywood Theater Row are not very well known and I could find few photos of the exteriors online, so I was on a mission to take photos of these theaters even though I was not going to see any shows at the theaters. That might seem a little lame, but the thing about theater is that you have to physically go to the theater so you have to know where it is located and what the place looks like. It bugs me that web sites for small theaters don’t put any decent photos of the exterior online. Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in Greenwich Village is a notoriously hard to find theater with just a red door to indicate its location. When you do find it, you still are not sure you are at the right place.

Hollywood Theater Row

Hollywood Theater Row

I walked all the way back to the Hollywood Boulevard from Santa Monica Boulevard because I saw some establishments on the bus ride I wanted to photograph; the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study and the Ricardo Montalban Theatre which were not in my notes.

When I got back to North Hollywood I walked around the neighborhood a bit and went as far north as Oxnard Street but I didn’t see very many establishments of any interest.

That evening I saw The Play About the Baby by Edward Albee at The Road Theatre Company at 8:00 p.m. This was one of the more professional theaters I saw in North Hollywood. This play had a lot of nudity. I frequently saw a breast and the younger actors raced nude across the stage twice. But the play itself was really stupid and made little sense. Even the play title was stupid. Maybe it would have resonated with me more if I had ever had children. This was the third play I saw that week, which is a lot for one trip. I did not see any plays on the second week of my trip.

The Road Theatre Company

The Road Theatre Company

Before going back to hotel I stopped in at the Ralphs grocery store and bought TimTam cookies, a Ralph shopping bag, and a copy of Los Angeles magazine.

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Exploring Little Tokyo

On Friday my goal was to explore the Little Tokyo historic district in Downtown Los Angeles. I took the Metro Red Line to the Union Station. From there I took the Metro Gold Line to Little Tokyo / Arts District Station. It was raining when I got off the train but I had my umbrella with me. This was the only day when I really needed it.

First I photographed the Japanese American National Museum and then the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. Neither museum was open yet so I had plenty of time to walk around Little Tokyo. I walked through a parking lot behind the Go For Broke memorial and found the East West Players theater. Next I found Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street with Weller Court, Challenger Memorial and Los Angeles City Hall in background.

I had a lot time before everything opened at 11:00 a.m. so I walked south on Main Street to locate the Los Angeles Theatre Center which I forgot on my last trip downtown.

After walking back to Little Tokyo I went through the Onizuka Street again and saw the Friendship knot. Then I went to the Japanese Village Plaza. I located the Aratani Theatre and found a Japanese Garden which was not open to the public. I noticed a Jodo Shinshu and one other temple which was entirely gated and behind a fence. That was probably the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple. I also saw the Centenary United Methodist Church. On the way back to the museums I saw the Honda Plaza across South Central Avenue.

I went back to the Japanese American National Museum and sat on the steps until it opened. Some school groups had shown up by then. Admission was $10.00, not the $9.00 in my notes. I saw three exhibits; Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II, Common Ground: The Heart of Community, and Tatau: Marks of Polynesia. I used the restroom at this museum.

Japanese American National Museum

Japanese American National Museum

Next I went to the nearby Geffen Contemporary at MOCA. I paid $12.00 admission and got a ticket which was good for MOCA on Bunker Hill on the same day. Geffen Contemporary was a darkened museum featuring art installations, mostly large-scale video installations. I sat and watched a film which appeared to follow an urban explorer venturing into abandoned places. I saw a sculpture of the numbers 1968 in broken mirrored type.  This was by the artist Doug Aitken who also did most of the video installations I saw.  For example, there was a black mirror room playing a video of a woman checking in / checking out. This was “Black Mirror” (2011) a disorienting, octagonal mirrored room. Its video imagery of a rootless drifter (actress and clothing designer Chloë Sevigny) terminally disconnected in spite (or perhaps because) of our communication-stuffed environment is reflected into a kaleidoscopic, Cubist-style infinity. I also saw a translucent public pay phone, also by Doug Aitken. I didn’t take any photos in this museum because it was too dark and I didn’t see anyone else trying to take any pictures.

Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

After leaving the museum the sun was finally shining bright so I walked back to the East West Players theater to get a better picture. On the way back to Weller Court I made a side trip to City Hall to get better photos. I saw a KTLA film crew setting up their camera, yet another instance of a television news crew encounter during my trip.  One of the Star Line Buses roped in the woman reporter for their celebrity sighting. She must have been flattered to go along with that.

East West Players

East West Players

I went to the Kinokuniya Bookstore at Weller Court and bought The Rough Guide To Tokyo and the anime film Paprika on DVD. I’m not sure if I will ever visit Tokyo because I can’t even decipher the written language. Little Tokyo will have to suffice for now. I had lunch at the Kagura restaurant in the Japanese Village Plaza. The spicy pork balls were so hot that they burned the roof of my mouth. I was afraid I would be in intense pain for the rest of the trip, but fortunately it was not that bad. I had to eat with chopsticks which I still don’t know how to use. My trick is to simply not pull them apart so I can use the chopsticks like pliers.

My next goal was to visit the other MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) museum on Bunker Hill because my ticket from the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA was good for that museum too on the same day. I walked from Little Tokyo to Bunker Hill and along the way I climbed the steps next to the Angels Flight funicular railway which was shut down after several accidents.

At the Museum of Contemporary Art I saw a small Jackson Pollock painting, a Picasso, Andy Warhol’s Telephone, and several Alberto Giacometti statues. I used the restroom at this museum after a short wait since only one person could be in there at a time. At the MOCA store I bought Station To Station DVD, a film by Doug Aitken. I also bought the November 2016 edition of POETRY magazine since for some reason they had that.

I walked to the Pershing Square Station.  I accidentally took an escalator down to a parking garage because I thought it was a shortcut to the subway. I took the Red Line back to the North Hollywood Station. My room was not cleaned when I got back so I took a stroll down Burbank Boulevard. I photographed my hotel, the California Institute of Abnormal Arts, the Circus Liquor sign, the Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, and Tom’s #7 Diner. I had dinner at Tom’s #7 Diner. I ordered a strawberry milkshake and a cheeseburger. After eating I walked down Cahuenga Boulevard and photographed; a car on a roof, the Acting Bootcamp, a mannequin Palm Reader, and the Iliad Bookshop where I could not resist going in to buy; Churchill Plays: One, Euripides Bacchae Cambridge Translations from Greek Drama, and Euripides The Bacchae translated by Michael Cacoyannis. I’ve been buying various editions and translations of Euripides Bacchae because this is probably the oldest shamanic play and expresses the triumph of the irrational over the rational mindset.

The Acting Corps

The Acting Corps

I walked to Walgreens on Magnolia Boulevard and bought Ibuprofen Tablets for $4.99 at 5:28 p.m. Then I went to the Ralphs grocery store where I bought Gatorade G2 for $6.49 at 5:41 p.m. I walked back to the hotel by 6:00 p.m.

That evening I saw the musical Weed Shop The Musical at the Eclectic Theatre Company at 8:00 p.m. I took the Orange Line to Laurel Canyon Boulevard just as I practiced. I arrived too early so I went to a 7-11 and bought a small package of Twizzlers and a bottle of Starbucks Frappuccino. I ate that while sitting on a bus stop bench. I waited outside the theater after that. The Playbill program served as the ticket.

The musical was very funny and quite professional. It looked ready for Broadway. The cast was multi-racial. To reach the restrooms you actually had to go onstage, behind the Hollyweed Hills. Somebody’s phone began playing music during the show and one of the actresses responded by working it into the show, “Do you hear that music?”. I think this may have been the first performance of this musical since some of the audience were carrying congratulatory bouquets of flowers.

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Exploring Pasadena

On the sixth day of my trip to Los Angeles I explored Pasadena. Although Pasadena is now part of Los Angeles, it used to be a city in its own right. Pasadena is of interest to tourists because it has several art museums and a few theaters.

Pasadena was the furthest I went to the east from my base of operations in North Hollywood. To get there, I took the Metro Red Line to the Union Station. From Union Station I took the Metro Gold Line to Memorial Park Station. The Gold Line entrance is in the underground passageway between Union Station East where the Red Line leaves you off and Union Station West. You must tap your TAP card there and not on the platform. It took approximately 45 minutes to get to Union Station and then approximately 25 minutes to get to Pasadena.

Once I had arrived at Memorial Park Station, I walked east to photograph the Pasadena City Hall. Then I walked east on East Colorado Boulevard until I found the Pacific Asia Museum. The Pacific Asia Museum was closed so I could only take photos of it. Next I quickly found the nearby Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA). Then I found Laemeller Playhouse Pasadena 7 and Vroman’s Bookstore. From there I proceeded to the Pasadena Playhouse and photographed a jester statue across the street. The final photography mission was to photograph the Boston Court Theater.

Pasadena Playhouse

Pasadena Playhouse

After that I went to Vroman’s Bookstore and spent quite some time searching for The Coiled Serpent and the Drama section. The selection was not great so I had to settle for Razzle Dazzle: The Battle For Broadway by Michael Riedel. This book appears to be a history of the Shubert Organization so it should be pretty interesting.

Vroman's Bookstore

Vroman’s Bookstore

I had breakfast at Yahaira’s Cafe where I ordered the Croissant de la Casa sandwich. I didn’t really need breakfast since my hotel provided a complimentary all you can eat breakfast, but they were not serving lunch yet. Then I went to Distant Lands book store where I bought Insight Guides Mexico and Wallpaper City Guide Philadelphia. I don’t have any plans to visit Mexico but I would like to know more about that country. I wasn’t sure if I didn’t already own a copy of Wallpaper City Guide Philadelphia but if I do I can’t find it. I’m familiar with this series of city guides which tend to only show you the interior design of trendy boutiques. Distant Lands is a book store devoted to travel guides and travel accessories so I definitely wanted to visit the store.

By that time the Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA) was just opening, it opens at Noon, and I was probably their first visitor of the day. The galleries were empty of visitors. I only saw some bored guards. One painting that caught my eye was Nu Pike, 1955 by Neil Jacobe. I don’t think photography was allowed and there was nobody else there for me to follow their example.

Pasadena Museum of California Art

Pasadena Museum of California Art

The next museum I wanted to visit was the Norton Simon Museum but that was far to the west of the Pasadena Museum of California Art and a long walk. So I did the smart thing and took the Metro Local Bus 180 to get to the Norton Simon Museum. The Norton Simon Museum has many works of modern art by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Henri Matisse, and Diego Rivera. I noticed they had a lot of paintings and sculptures by Edgar Degas. I saw a whole series of Picasso lithographs that was part of a special exhibit. I saw many Asian sculptures downstairs. Half of the outdoor sculpture garden was roped off.  There were many Rodin statues on the museum grounds.  The museum store had many books but eventually I decided upon What Are You Looking At? by Will Gompertz. I’m not sure that was a good choice. I had a baguette and a peach Snapple at the cafe because I didn’t know of anyplace to have lunch. I didn’t have time to do as much research on Pasadena as I would have liked since I can’t compile notes on multiple cities at once.

Norton Simon Museum

Norton Simon Museum

After leaving the museum I used the Metro app to find out how long the next Metro Local Bus 180 would be and returned to Raymond Avenue. Upon return to Union Station using the Gold Line, I saw some Metro employees checking everyone’s TAP card to see if they paid the fare. Good thing I remembered to use my TAP card at the Memorial Park Station. I almost forgot to do so since the card reader was easy to overlook.

The Federal Bar

The Federal Bar

That evening  I saw the Lalas Burlesque Show at The Federal Bar at 8:00 p.m. I tried to go in through the front but events were held upstairs so you needed to go around the corner. A blacklight made my white shirt glow purple in the dark. I ordered a glass of sparkling wine and the meat and cheese board which wasn’t very satisfying. They took my credit card to run a tab so I had to wait around after the show to have it returned to me. The  burlesque show had a Halloween theme which was just an excuse for frequent costume changes. I thought the show was pretty tame, a bit raunchy but with no real nudity. There was some audience participation and I was glad I was not embarrassed by being selected for that. The classic stripper songs brought back memories. Songs like Girls, Girls, Girls by Mötley Crüe and Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard. I like burlesque shows because it has become a very decadent form of performance art but this show seemed more like an upscale stripper party. Still it was something daring and fun to do on vacation. Part of being on vacation is to be a little more daring.

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Universal Studios Hollywood

On my fifth day in Los Angeles I spent the entire day at Universal Studios Hollywood. This theme park was a lot of fun and I can understand how somebody might come to Los Angeles just for this. It was also the most expensive activity of the trip because my One Day Anytime Admission was $115.00. I could have saved $10 because I did visit on a specific day as intended but I wanted to give myself some leeway to change plans.

Universal Studios Hollywood

Universal Studios Hollywood

I took the Metro Red Line to the Universal City Station which is just one stop from the North Hollywood Station. In fact, my hotel is where some people stay when they just want to visit Universal Studios Hollywood. There was crosswalk over the freeway to the free shuttle tram which takes you up a hill to the theme park entrance. I think you could just walk but that would have been tiring. They scanned your right forefinger for entry so I guess a non-human would be out of luck.

The first ride I went on was the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. After walking through the dark castle with animated paintings you go on the virtual roller coaster ride which was an amazing 3D experience. I’m not sure how much of the ride was real but it did feel like I was being hurled around. The 3D scenes looked very real and required wearing 3D glasses. I used the restrooms in this section of the park and even the restrooms had a Harry Potter theme with appropriate sound effects.

Next I did the Studio Tour which included King Kong 360 3D and the Fast & Furious Supercharged 3D. The tour was more like a theme park ride than a real tour but it did go through some studio lots and there was some television filming going on. I saw the War of the Worlds plane crash set which was very impressive, the flash flood, and the Jaws and Earthquake staged events.

After that I saw the Waterworld show with live stunts and explosions. I’ve never seen that movie which flopped but the live show was very exciting and featured some real actors who have appeared in various television shows. I took a lot of photos during the show trying to capture the explosions and the other action. Some of the people in the soak zone got splashed with water. This is probably the only live action movie you would ever see and just like a musical with live dancing and singing, it is quite magical to see all this stuff go on in real life right in front of you.

Waterworld

Waterworld

When the show was over I took the many escalators to the lower lot and rode the rides; Revenge of the Mummy, Transformers 3D, and Jurassic Park which got me a little wet. Most of the restaurants in the park were closed so I had to eat at Panda Express where I ordered Plate #5; Orange Chicken and Korean Beef plus a large coke.

After eating lunch I returned to the Upper Lot and saw the Special Effects Show which had a large audience. Then I rode the Simpsons Ride which was another virtual 3D ride. It was really hard to tell how much of the ride was real. But all of the rides were a lot of fun and genuinely exhilarating and thrilling. I think the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter was the most extreme ride. That one really had me scared because it was kind of hard to figure out what was really going on and it jerked you around pretty hard.

Krustyland

Krustyland

There were some costumed characters wandering around and I swear the Frankenstein monster came right at me after I took his photo.

After leaving the theme park I went shopping at the Universal Citywalk which is outside of the actual theme park but nearby. I bought a Sitting Horus statuette at Upstart Crow. This statuette was pretty nice but not real expensive. It satisfied my craving for something Egyptian and mystical. Hollywood has always had a fascination with Egypt and mummies. I also bought the Doctor Strange: The Way of the Weird graphic novel at Things From Another World, a cool comic book store on the Universal Citywalk. I’m not into comic books but there was a Doctor Strange movie coming out and I like mysticism and anything weird.

Things From Another World

Things From Another World

That evening I attended the opening ceremony of the Lit Crawl L.A. There was a poetry reading outside the North Hollywood Station. This was a very fortunate literary event because I planned my trip to take place over Halloween and not to coincide with anything else that was going on. I was not familiar with any of the poets there so  I will attempt to identify them now. First up, there was Jessica M. Wilson, founder and director of the Los Angeles Poet Society. And I saw Juan Cardenas, vice president of the Los Angeles Poet Society. This organization had a table set up to distribute information and sell books. Alejandro Molina did a little dance with his poem. He is also an actor and a playwright which must explain his urge to perform. Jeffrey Alan Rochlin was associated with the Cobalt Cafe. Jeffrey Martin was the black poet. He has some photos from the Lit Crawl L.A. on his Facebook page so I’m sure he was there. I can also identify Radomir Vojtech Luza and Doren M. Damico with the streak of white in her hair.

Lit Crawl L.A.

Lit Crawl L.A.

I did buy the poetry anthology Coiled Serpent which I saw Jessica M. Wilson holding up. It features many Los Angeles poets. I had to order the Coiled Serpent book on Amazon because I did not find it in any Los Angeles book store. Probably the only Los Angeles poet I’m familiar with is Charles Bukowski and I almost forgot that he lived most of his life in Los Angeles. Later on I came across a mural featuring Charles Bukowski and I made sure to get a photo of it. I also like the poetry of Gerald Locklin who writes very witty and self-deprecating poems but he is more closely associated with Long Beach.

Coiled Serpent

Coiled Serpent

There was a local representative attending the event to show her support for the arts. And there was a drum circle to accompany the poetry reading. I got a Los Angles County Public Library book bag filled with a few goodies including a copy of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal for Spring 2016. Unfortunately I could not attend any of the other Lit Crawl L.A. events because I had a play to see that evening.

I was pleased to make this literary event part of my trip because I like to explore the culture of the cities I visit. There is always the idea at the back of my mind that I will discover something useful for my own creative endeavors. This is probably true of my extensive research into the New York City theater community but I don’t tend to get anything out of other trips to fully justify the expense. My interest in poetry has waned but I’ve never completely lost interest. Frankly I think being a playwright is a lot more glamorous than being a poet.

Which is why I really looked forward to the play I saw that evening. I saw The Horla by Andy McQuade at the Sherry Theater on West Magnolia Boulevard. This small storefront theater was in North Hollywood so I was able to walk to it. Technically this show was part of the NoHo Fringe Festival but this festival seemed poorly organized and was comprised of only a few shows by participating theaters which just included the shows they were doing anyway. At least that was my impression. Only nine people showed up to see The Horla in a theater that probably could only have seated fifty. It was a very small black box theater. For awhile I thought I would be the only person in the audience which would have been awkward. I think I actually meet Andy McQuade because a man with a British accent greeted me and gave me the only program they had. Apparently they forgot to bring the other programs.

The Sherry Theater

The Sherry Theater

The Horla began with a short art film which was actually a bit haunting and some stage smoke which was a nice effect. The play itself was basically a one person show starring an attractive young actress who gradually went mad. Frankly that was a bit tedious. At one point I saw a cockroach scurry across the stage and the roach held my attention for the entire time it was visible. It is really mean of me to mention that but I cannot resist being witty. The actress was upstaged by that cockroach. But seriously, she gave a great performance. I did feel a little existential dread watching her lose her mind in that shabby room.

That was the first of three plays I saw during my trip. I probably should have tried to see even more but I didn’t want to go out too much late at night.

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Exploring Downtown Los Angeles

On Tuesday I spent the day exploring downtown Los Angeles. I took the Metro Red Line to the Civic Center Station. This took 42 minutes according to my photo timestamps. I quickly located the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and Walt Disney Concert Hall on Grand Avenue. Then I went to the Mark Taper Forum and took lots of photos of that after crossing Grand Avenue to reach the plaza. I then walked to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Temple Street and entered its courtyard to take some more photos. But I didn’t try to go inside.

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

Dorothy Chandler Pavilion

I walked south on Broadway and found the Bradbury Building. Then I walked through the Grand Central Market. I noticed a film crew inside Grand Central Market. I saw lots of film crews during my trip to Los Angeles but I assumed most of them where working for various television news stations. I found Angel’s Flight behind the Grand Central Market but it was closed. I walked further south on Broadway and saw the International House of Music. I then crossed Broadway and entered the Bradbury Building where I took some photos of the interior. Many films have been shot there including the science fiction masterpiece Blade Runner.

Bradbury Building Interior

Bradbury Building Interior

After that I continued to walk south on Broadway looking for various historic theaters. Most of these old theaters have been abandoned and you’ll only see their marquees but a few have been restored and put to use. I saw the iconic Los Angeles Theater and several others; State Theater, Tower Theater, Orpheum Theater, Globe Theater, Rialto, Palace Theater, and Roxie Theater. This part of downtown was pretty shabby and reminded me of how gritty cities used to look.

I saw a Two Boots Pizza place but they did not have any interior seating. Two Boots Pizza has become my favorite place for a cheap bite to eat in New York City. I saw Eastern Columbia Building which had a model being photographed in front of it. I never added this landmark building to my notes because I was rushed to complete my trip planning. I only walked as far down Broadway as the New Mikado sushi house on Olympic Boulevard.

On the return trip up Broadway I came across a labor union protest by the Garment Worker Center. They were protesting Ross Dress for Less. One of the protestors handed me a flyer which I accepted in order to document the incident. I had noticed an Univision 34 Los Angeles Noticias news van parked in front of Ross earlier. They must have been there in anticipation of the union picketing.

Garment Worker Center

Garment Worker Center

I walked back to Civic Center Station and took the Red Line to Union Station. I took many photos at Union Station to document the transit hub layout for my notes. I found the  entrance to the Patsaouras Transit Plaza where you can catch various buses. I saw the entrance to Red and Purple Rail Lines (subway) and the Gold Line (in the underground passageway). I used the restroom which only had three stalls.  The restrooms appeared to be used by the homeless. I walked through the underground passageway to Union Station West and went outside to find  Olvera Street and El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park which is on Alameda Street.

I explored Olvera Street and El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park. Olvera Street is filled with many stalls selling Mexican trinkets. Most of the merchandise was cheap stuff so I wasn’t tempted to buy anything. I did see lots of Day of the Dead sugar skulls (Dia de los Muertos). I’m fascinated by excessive make-up and face painting. Some of the Dia de los Muertos artwork I saw was pretty cool since it was exotic and a little morbid. I was inspired to check out Mexican art and later on I did find a book on Mexican graphic design. There was a small art gallery which I visited just before going down the street of shops. I walked through the Avila Adobe which was a small museum for the oldest existing home in the city. I also visited the museum for the Tropical America: Oppressed and Destroyed by Imperialism) mural by David Siqueiros. I saw a NBCLA.com channel 4 news van at the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park. Just another instance of the many news vans I encountered. I’ve never been to Mexico so this was my first encounter with Mexican culture although I understand this was not very authentic.

Olvera Street

Olvera Street

I returned to Union Station and took the Red Line back to the Civic Center Station to visit The Broad. Based on my photo timestamps it must have taken me an hour and a half  to get inside. The museum is free but a long line forms to get in and they take their sweet time allowing people to enter. I took a lot of photos of the artwork so I could identify it later. I’m always inspired by an art museum visit and I always intend to follow up on the experience but I never do. I get a lot of inspiration but I never create anything. The wait for the Infinity Mirrored Room would have been two hours so I skipped that! There was no Cindy Sherman special exhibition even though one was indicated in the museum guide. I did see some Pop Art and several Andy Warhol silk screens. But there really wasn’t a lot to see to make the long wait worthwhile. I was too annoyed to buy anything in the gift shop.

The Broad

The Broad

While standing in line I noticed the entrance to the REDCAT, a theater and performance space in the Walt Disney Concert Hall complex, so I made sure to get some photos of that after leaving The Broad. The nearby Museum of Contemporary Art was closed but I did take some photos of Nancy Rubins’ monumental stainless-steel sculpture Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts (2001), purchased by MOCA in honor of founding member Beatrice Gersh in 2002, installed at the museum’s plaza.

Mark Thompson's Airplane Parts

Mark Thompson’s Airplane Parts

Next, I walked to the Los Angeles Central Library but I did not go inside. From there I walked to the Pershing Square Park where I saw some LAPD cops wearing cowboy hats and riding horses. I did not know that Los Angeles had wild west sheriffs but lots of cops act like gunslingers nowadays.

LAPD Cowboys

LAPD Cowboys

By that time I was getting pretty hungry so I went to the Grand Central Market where I had a Pollo Guisado (chicken stew) at Sarita’s Pupuseria. It came with two tortillas which I stuffed with stew and mole. I also had a small can of coke. This was Salvadorean cuisine. The pickled cabbage slaw was interesting.

I bought two books at the Last Bookstore; The Performance of Heartbreak and Other Plays by Scott Caan, and The Plays of Anton Chekhov translated by Paul Schmidt. Scott Caan is an Hawaii Five-0 actor and a local Los Angeles playwright. I had to show my receipt on the way out and get a circle drawn on it.

Finally I went to the Pershing Square Station and took the Red Line to North Hollywood Station where I discovered there were Orange Line bus bays to the east of the North Hollywood Station exit.

This was a busy day for me. I walked all over downtown Los Angeles and according to my pedometer I walked 4.5 miles or 24,755 steps. Downtown Los Angeles is just one of the many urban areas you could explore in this immense city. That is why I decided to devote two weeks to this city instead of the usual one week.

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Los Angeles Book Stores

On my first weekday in Los Angeles I mostly did a little shopping. I also got a little more familiar with the public transportation system. First I took the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood Highland Station. I located the Hollywood Museum, Mel’s Diner, and the Hollywood High School which I had overlooked the previous day. I walked all the way to the Hollywood Pacific Theater and then up North Cahuenga to a CVS Pharmacy where I bought an umbrella because it did rain a little that morning. Later on I bought a detailed street map of Los Angeles because the WiFi was briefly unavailable in my hotel room last evening and I had no way to find things on a map.

I walked down Orange Street to Sunset Boulevard and took the 2 Local Bus to the Samuel French Film & Theatre Bookshop. This was an important goal for me because this book store is devoted to scripts (film scripts and printed plays) just like the Drama Book Shop in New York City. The Samuel French Film & Theatre Bookshop is famous among playwrights and screenwriters and serves as a hub for the Los Angeles writing community. I bought four books because they had everything I was looking for and plays tend to make for thin books. I bought The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity by Kristoffer Diaz, Rest by Samuel D. Hunter, King Hedley II by August Wilson, and Gem Of The Ocean by August Wilson. Samuel D. Hunter is one of my favorite contemporary playwrights because he writes sensitive plays about everyday people struggling in the mundane world. August Wilson is famous for his cycle of ten plays, The Pittsburgh Cycle, which serves as the most significant body of work for African Americans. But for me August Wilson is just the most successful playwright from Pennsylvania.

Samuel French Film & Theatre Bookshop

Samuel French Film & Theatre Bookshop

Since I arrived at the Samuel French Film & Theatre Bookshop just before it opened, I walked a little further up Sunset Boulevard before buying those books. I came across some interesting establishments like the International Cinematographers Guild and the Motion Picture Editors Guild. After taking the 2 Local Bus back to Orange Street, I stopped in at an In-N-Out Burger where I ordered a cheeseburger with fries and a medium coke. This was my first chance to try an In-N-Out Burger since the one in San Francisco last year had been way too crowded. After leaving the restaurant I discovered a hole in my pants pocket as some of my change fell out. This was the only real problem I had during the entire trip.

When I got back to Hollywood Boulevard I walked all the way to Larry Edmunds Cinema Bookshop which was open on Mondays and bought two books; The Kept Girl by Kim Cooper and Devising Theatre by Alison Oddey. These were used books with some grime on them and they were quite expensive, probably the original full price. But I thought the Devising Theatre was the best book in the store on the practice of theater and I shall strive to actually get something out of it.

Larry Edmunds Cinema Bookshop

Larry Edmunds Cinema Bookshop

After that I bought two dress shirts at Hollywood Suits. I probably should have bought a new pair of pants since my pocket now had a hole in it. But I bought two dress shirts because I only brought two dress shirts for the entire two week trip and I did not think that would be enough. These shirts were reasonably priced at $14.99, actually cheaper than the shirts I buy at Walmart. But they do require cufflinks which I’ll have to buy later.

I took the Metro Red Line back to the North Hollywood Station since I now had several packages to carry around. My hotel room had not been cleaned so I quickly went back out. In anticipation of a need to follow my directions to a theater to see a play later that week, I took the Metro Orange Line to Laurel Canyon Boulevard and photographed the Eclectic Company Theatre. The Eclectic Company Theatre is the only connection I have with North Hollywood since that is were the First Stage Playwrights’ Express was held last year. This writer’s group will do a staged reading of anything you care to submit for $70 and send you a DVD. I sent them a 15 minute comedy sketch I wrote but they did a terrible reading and misspelled my name. Still, I think there should be more opportunities for a playwright to get something done if he or she is willing to pay for it. I mean no questions asked opportunities where nobody is serving as a cultural gate keeper. This was a short bus trip so it was worth it even if it was only to take some photos. The bus bays did not match the diagram I had in my notes and I later discovered that there was another set of bus bays to the east of the Metro Red Line North Hollywood Station. I thought the Orange Line bus bays to the west were the only ones. Bays 2 to 4 were for disembarking only. You did not use your TAP card on the bus, but at a sort of fare post at the station. That was a little confusing. You should definitely plan a few unimportant trips using public transportation just to get the hang of things before going on a lengthy ride to someplace where you need to be on time.

The Eclectic Company Theatre

The Eclectic Company Theatre

After getting back to the North Hollywood Red Line Station on the Orange Line Bus I walked to Walgreens on Magnolia Boulevard and bought a pair of nail clippers and a 115 piece sewing kit to repair my pants pocket. I made sure to ask for a bag since in California they change 10 cents for a plastic bag and they will not give you one if you don’t ask for one.

To kill some more time before returning to my hotel, where the room had not been cleaned, I went to Laemmle’s NoHo 7 on Lankershim Boulevard and watched the film Kevin Hart: What now? at its 1:50 p.m. showing. I thought this was going to be some kind of black action movie I’d never heard of but it proved to be a comedy show in a big stadium in Philadelphia. Kevin Hart is funny but his comedy routine is basically just him telling amusing stories that seemed pretty tame. Nothing about his act seemed the least bit adventurous. For instance, his act featured a bit about a scary racoon. I paid $8.00 for the ticket and bought a small coke which proved to be pretty big.

This was the first day on which I kept my pedometer in my pocket to see how much walking I was doing. I walked 3.2 miles or 17,957 steps. During my trip I did develop a large blister on one of my small toes but that was the only injury and I came prepared with bandages for blisters.

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Exploring North Hollywood

On the second day of my vacation I explored the North Hollywood neighborhood where I was staying and then went to Hollywood Boulevard which is crowded with tourists like Times Square. I walked down Lankershim Boulevard to Magnolia Boulevard where I went west to find the Secret Rose Theater. Then I walked east on Magnolia Boulevard as far as Actor’s Forum Theatre before turning back. Next I walked further down Lankershim Boulevard to locate the ACME Actors Studio and Theatre, Blast Off Comics, the Lankershim Arts Center, Avery Schreiber Playhouse,  and the Zombie Joe’s Underground Theatre. Eventually I came across the NoHo Arts District sign which stretches above Lankershim Boulevard but I went no further than Odyssey Video.

NoHo Arts District

NoHo Arts District

When I got back to the corner of Lankershim Boulevard and Magnolia Boulevard I stopped in at a Starbucks and bought an iced coffee because I was very thirsty. I had worn my light sweater because it was bit chilly in the morning but it quickly got hot and I did not use my sweater for the rest of the trip.

I took the Metro Red Line to the Hollywood Highland Station. That was my first trip on the subway. I used the TAP card which I got through the mail before my trip. On Hollywood Boulevard I saw the El Capitan Theatre, the Dolby Theatre where the Academy Awards is held, the Roosevelt Hotel, the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and Madame Tussauds.

Dolby Theatre

Dolby Theatre

Walking east on Hollywood Boulevard I located the Stella Adler Academy of Acting, a small acting school and theater that most tourists probably don’t notice, the Museum of Broken Relationships, the Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre, the Musso and Frank Grill restaurant, and the Hollywood Pacific Theatre (which looked abandoned). I even came across the Dolores Del Rio Mural which I wasn’t looking to find.

Dolores Del Rio Mural

Dolores Del Rio Mural

Eventually I walked back to the Hollywood and Highland Center  and took the escalator up to the courtyard where I found some more steps to climb to take photos of the Hollywood sign. This was my first good look at the famous Hollywood sign. I found a secluded area of the observation floor where I could take great photos of the Hollywood First National Bank, a distinctive Art Deco tower which isn’t currently being used for much, but it is a famous landmark. It was a bit cloudy and overcast that day so my photos were not not great but I had plenty of opportunity to take better photos later on during my trip.

I then entered the Hollywood Highland Station and took the Red Line for one more stop to the Hollywood / Vine Station. Later on I figured out that it was preferable to just walk along Hollywood Boulevard to Vine Street since there are plenty of things to see along the way. At the Hollywood / Vine Station I saw the movie projectors that are used to decorate the station. Naturally I saw the Pantages Theatre across the street after exiting the metro station and I saw the Capital Records Tower and the Redbury Hotel where I had considered staying. Walking further east on Hollywood Boulevard I located the Fonda Theatre, one of the few music clubs I saw since I did make it out to the Sunset Strip.

From there I walked south to Sunset Boulevard where I saw the Hollywood Palladium, the Cinerama Dome, and Amoeba Music. I wasn’t planning on visiting Amoeba Music but since I happened to have found it I decided to do some shopping. I was carrying a small shoulder bag but they waved me through since it was too small to use for stealing. I bought three CDs at Amoeba Music; Covenant’s Europa, Bjork’s The Music from Drawing Restraint 9, and Die Form’s In Human.

Amoeba Music

Amoeba Music

After buying the CDs I returned to the Hollywood / Vine Station and took the Red Line back to the North Hollywood Station. I walked to Magnolia Boulevard where I had lunch at El Pollo Loco, a Mexican chicken fast food chain. The ordering process was very complicated and annoying since they could barely understand me. I had to select two sides so I picked mashed potatoes with gravy and macaroni and cheese. I ordered the three piece combo so then I had to specify two breasts and one wing which proved to be very tiny. Then they asked me what kind of tortilla I wanted because any Mexican meal must include a tortilla even if there is no need for one. After eating I went to the Ralphs grocery store nearby and bought a 8 pack of Gatorade which I had to carry without a bag. I found lots of murals on the Chandler Bikeway after walking north on Cahuenga Boulevard to get back to my hotel.

After returning to the hotel I went out again and eventually went to the The Iliad Bookshop where I bought three books; Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz, Lithium For Medea by Kate Braverman, and The Designated Mourner by Wallace Shawn. All of these books were on my Amazon wish list. I’m mostly reading plays now and a lot of the book stores in Los Angeles are well stocked with plays because there are so many actors in the city.

Finally I had fish and chips at Tom’s Restaurant. It was three pieces of very hot, deep fried fish and a lot of fries with just a little cup of ketchup. At least they refilled my coke.

This was a long day that gave me my first look at Hollywood Boulevard. I also explored the North Hollywood neighborhood and made use of the local resources. And I did some shopping for CDs and books I was searching for. All in all it was a very productive day.

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Los Angeles Vacation – Day One – North Hollywood

I began this year’s major vacation in Los Angeles on October 22, 2016. This was the day after my birthday and I almost had to cancel my trip because there was some flash flooding in Lycoming County on my birthday. Fortunately the travel gods smiled upon me. Not only did I avoid any flooding but my entire trip went perfectly.

The first day of my vacation was spent flying to Los Angeles. It took approximately an hour and a half to fly to Charlotte NC from Harrisburg PA and then four hours to fly from Charlotte NC to Los Angeles. I arrived at LAX around 4:25 p.m. Pacific Time and then it took an hour for the taxi to take me to my hotel in North Hollywood. I should have tried to book a flight to the Burbank Bob Hope Airport because that is much closer to North Hollywood. I would have saved a lot of money on the taxi. The taxi from LAX to North Hollywood cost me $97.58. Fortunately, I saved money by not using taxis or Uber during my trip except for the trips between the hotel and the airport since I had luggage.

I did not have time to do much during my first evening in Los Angeles because it quickly began to get dark. But I did manage to stroll down Lankershim Boulevard to see many North Hollywood establishments like the Federal Bar, El Portal Theatre, Vicious Dogs, the Raven Playhouse, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, and Pitfire Pizza.

I also walked east on West Magnolia Boulevard and located the NoHo Arts Center, the Sherry Theater, Walgreens, Ralphs (grocery store), the Road Theatre Company, and the Actors Forum Theatre. One of the reasons I chose to stay in North Hollywood is because there are many small theaters located in the NoHo Arts District. The area appears to have gentrified after the Metro Red Line North Hollywood Station was built. There are many office buildings and condominiums in North Hollywood but the surrounding neighborhoods still retain some Latino presence.

NoHo Arts Center

NoHo Arts Center

From West Magnolia Boulevard I walked north on Cahuenga Boulevard and found the Iliad Bookshop but it was close to its closing time so I did not go in. I had dinner at Tom’s Family Restaurant on the corner of Burbank Boulevard and Cahuenga Boulevard. This became my favorite place to eat but I did not walk that far very often. I ordered a cheeseburger and a milk shake. The cheeseburger was very large and really good. The milk shake was a little too thick. Tom’s Family Restaurant was a good, old-fashioned diner with leather booths.

Circus Liquor Neon

Circus Liquor Neon

After eating I walked west along Burbank Boulevard back to my hotel, Holiday Inn Express North Hollywood. Along the way I passed the Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre and the Circus Liquor neon sign which is a local landmark. The neighborhood around my hotel was not very glamorous. There wasn’t much along Burbank Boulevard except for garages, auto part stores, and various other establishments devoted to auto maintenance.

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Williamsport To Williamsburg Brooklyn

Yesterday I made my second trip to Brooklyn. For this trip I concentrated on Williamsburg, a neighborhood in North Brooklyn which has become the new bohemia. This neighborhood is undergoing rapid gentrification so I saw a lot of construction and new high rise condominiums replacing factories and older housing. I took lots of photos since Google Street View and various tourist photos don’t reflect the recent changes in Williamsburg.

The Susquehanna Trailways bus dropped us off in front of the Times Square Church even though they are no longer supposed to use that spot. This was a bit of a problem when it came time to be picked up since the street was narrowed for construction and our bus really blocked the street to pick us up. Fortunately everyone was there on time and we got on the bus in record time. But I’m getting ahead of myself.  I walked to the 49th Street Subway Station outside Olive Garden on the north end of Times Square across from the TKTS Ticket Booth. I took the N train down to Union Square and transferred to the L train. I’ve heard that the L train is usually very crowded but it wasn’t crowded at all around 10:30 a.m. I got off at the Bedford Avenue subway station which is the famous portal to Williamsburg in Brooklyn.

I walked west on Driggs Avenue to Metropolitan Avenue which is one of the streets I extensively researched. I went north up Metropolitan Avenue to Wythe Avenue which I followed east to find National Sawdust. I’m not going to continue to describe which streets I walked along since I wandered quite a bit. National Sawdust is a music venue. The exterior features a very colorful mural. The interior has a very futuristic studio design but I did not go inside. This is one of the establishments which is poorly documented on the Internet so I took plenty of photos. Further along Wythe Avenue I saw the Wythe Hotel, the Brooklyn Brewery, the Brooklyn Bowl music venue, and the Output nightclub. It was particularly difficult for me to find any decent photos of the Output nightclub online while researching my trip so I took plenty of photos of its exterior.

Output Nightclub

Output Nightclub

After that I did some more walking around Williamsburg including Bedford Avenue, the main commercial drag which is filled with retail stores, trendy boutiques, and fine restaurants. I saw the Apple retail store and the WeWork office space, signs of how gentrified the neighborhood has become. Eventually I followed Metropolitan Avenue far east to find the Knitting Factory and the City Reliquary Museum. After walking under the Brooklyn Queens Expressway I found other establishments on my list; Fool’s Gold Records, Desert Island Comics, and Norman’s Sound and Vision Records.

Metropolitan Avenue

Metropolitan Avenue

I’m not sure I understand the process of gentrification. Young artists flock to an urban neighborhood with cheap rent and make it a hip and trendy neighborhood. Then the retailers follow and open up quirky boutiques and interesting restaurants. Finally the developers catch on and begin to put up condominiums. At that point, the neighborhood has been fully gentrified and rents go way up so the young artists are pushed out to the next neighborhood, which will be Bushwick. I can sort of understand this process if a neighborhood had become famous through its association with many creative people, but in New York City this appears to happen far too quickly. Brooklyn is rapidly becoming the new Manhattan. There are so many skyscrapers in downtown Brooklyn that you can’t even tell if it isn’t Manhattan in the random photo. So Williamsburg is a bit past its prime as the new bohemia but it was still cool to visit someplace where contemporary bohemians are making cultural history.

The first actual activity I engaged in besides snapping photos was to have a meal. I went to Caracas Arepa Bar, a Venezuelan rum bar and arepa restaurant. I’m glad I choose one of the great ethnic restaurants that Brooklyn is known for and not a more conventional tourist trap restaurant in the theater district. I ordered Yoyos, sweet plantains with white cheese, fried in a cinnamon plantain batter. A plantain is like a banana, although not as sweet. However, the Yoyos tasted just like bananas, but it was a little exotic and very delicious. I ate them all up! I also had a Manhattan Rum which made me a little drunk and an arepa, which is a maize flour patty stuffed with meat, sort of like a hot pocket but a lot more exotic. This was a very interesting sample of Venezuelan cuisine. There was also a Tunisian restaurant I was tempted to try but unfortunately I can only eat one meal within a few hours.

Caracas Arepa Bar

Caracas Arepa Bar

After lunch I was ready for some shopping. I didn’t immediately start shopping because carrying bags around makes it harder to take photos. But by then I had been taking photos for two hours straight. First I went to a huge record store, Rough Trade, on North 9th Street. I made a list of CDs to buy but unfortunately the store’s selection was not extensive enough to include the obscure albums I’m looking for. I was only able to find an album by St. Vincent, a fairly well known singer. However, while doing my research on Williamsburg I came across a great new band, Mother Feather. I bought their self-titled debut album and I love every song on it. I’ve played a few of my favorite songs dozens of times on heavy rotation. I also like the band’s look which is very glam, sort of cabaret with a hint of the Egyptian. Mother Feather has played at various music venues in Williamsburg like the Knitting Factory, the Music Hall, and the Brooklyn Bowl. Damn, I just realized that I forgot to take a photo of the Music Hall!

My next goal was to visit a few bookstores. First I went to Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers on Bedford Avenue where I searched for a long time to find just the right book to buy. Eventually I found the theater section and a paperback copy of The Hot l Baltimore, a play by Lanford Wilson. After that I went to Book Thug Nation on North 3rd Street, across from Mast Brothers Chocolate. I could not find any plays there so I had to settle for Kafka Was the Rage: A Greenwich Village Memoir by Anatole Broyard. This is a memoir of New York City’s previous bohemia so it was an appropriate selection.

Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers

Spoonbill and Sugartown Booksellers

I didn’t do any more shopping after buying the books. I did stop in at the Artists and Fleas, an indoor flea market where various vendors sell homemade craft items, but I did not find anything to tempt me. I spent the next few hours wandering all around Williamsburg taking photos of establishments on my list; the Hall at MP, the Brooklyn Art Library, and the Brick Theater. I also visited the tiny museum, the City Reliquary Museum, which has an eclectic collection of New York City relics. It only cost $5.00 admission since the museum only fills two rooms.

I must have visited Artists and Fleas after the City Reliquary Museum because I also found the Smorgasburg, a Brooklyn flea food market, at the nearby East River State Park. I didn’t buy any food since I wasn’t hungry but I did pay $5.00 for a bubble tea because I was thirsty. I took some photos of the Manhattan skyline from the shore of the East River State Park. There were also many high rise condominiums in the area. I wasn’t really planning on going to the Smorgasburg but I’m glad I fit that in.

Smorgasburg

Smorgasburg

At that point I was getting pretty tired of walking in the hot sun so I found my way back to Bedford Avenue and walked west all the way to Broadway where I took some photos of the Williamsburg Bridge, Peter Luger Steak House, and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. I also took some photos of the M and J trains as they went by on the elevated tracks to and from the Marcy Avenue Station.

Marcy Avenue Station Train

Marcy Avenue Station Train

Instead of walking all the way back to Bedford Avenue to take the L train back to Manhattan, I went to the Marcy Avenue Station and wound up taking a J train back to Manhattan. The Marcy Avenue Station was featured in the Disney film, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Unfortunately I don’t have the J train in my notes and I didn’t even have my M train notes on my smartphone because I forgot to copy the latest version of my New York City notes to it. I have created a separate travel guide for Brooklyn which I’m currently working on. So when the J train crossed the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan I didn’t really know where to get off. Its final stop was Chambers Street which I knew would be far downtown. So I got off at the Bowery Station which was a good decision. This put me in the vicinity of the New Museum of Contemporary Art on the Bowery, so I took some photos of that. I knew McNally Jackson Books was in the area on Prince Street so I went there. This is one instance where my travel guide came in handy as I needed to consult my notes to find the book store.  At McNally Jackson Books, I bought two plays; The Happiest Song Plays Last and Elliot A Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr. I’d seen a worn out, used copy of this book at Book Thug Nation but I preferred a new copy.

I wasn’t quite sure where to find a subway station to take me uptown and thought I would have to walk clear across Manhattan to find one, but I quickly came across the Prince Street Station entrance for the N train which I took up to 42nd Street. I walked through Times Square which still has a lot of street construction going on and eventually made my way to 9th Avenue where I had pizza at Two Boots Pizza, between West 44th Street and West 45th Street. Two Boots Pizza has replaced Obao in Hell’s Kitchen as my favorite place for a quick bite that won’t be too expensive. I had a slice of the Night Tripper, which was really hot with some sort of green chili sauce on it. I had to buy a can of Pepsi in addition to  a Peach Honest Tea since it burned my mouth. I won’t order that particular pizza again. Two Boots Pizza is a small place without a lot of seating but it never seems to get crowded, unlike Obao.

My exploration of Williamsburg Brooklyn was a great success and provided some fascinating insight into a real New York City neighborhood where creative people are making things happen. Unfortunately, the L train is going to be shut down for repairs for well over a year and this is expected to have a big impact on Williamsburg. It may even affect Bushwick which is the neighborhood to the east that is currently being colonized by artists. I plan to explore Bushwick next but probably not until next year. For the rest of the year I only have two trips planned, Gettysburg next month and then my major two weeks vacation in Los Angeles. I really can’t afford to make any more trips besides those two.

When the bus stopped at the Delaware Water Gap’s Pennsylvania Welcome Center, I heard about the explosion in Chelsea. Some of the passengers must have been able to get the news. Fortunately, that happened around 8:30 p.m. which was shortly after we left the city. I was not in the Chelsea area at all during the day. It is disconcerting that bombs are being placed in the quieter New York City neighborhoods.

 

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Jim Thorpe And The Lehigh Gorge Rail-Trail

For the first day of the Labor Day weekend I drove to Jim Thorpe PA. This was my forth trip to Jim Thorpe PA. It is my favorite small town in Pennsylvania. I suppose I could come to like New Hope PA more but that town is too far away to visit often. My agenda on this trip was to try to see something new. I’ve already explored Jim Thorpe pretty extensively but I did manage to check out some more places.

Steam Engine Train Rides

Steam Engine Train Rides

I arrived in Jim Thorpe PA at around 9:45 a.m. I didn’t want to reach my destination early in the morning because most of the stores would not be open. I wasn’t going to take a lot of photos on this trip but I had a new camera so I took plenty of high quality photos anyway.  The first thing I did was walk all the way up Broadway and further west on West Broadway than I’ve ever ventured before. I came across what might be an art gallery but the sign was very general “Food Art Drink”. I also saw a house painted purple and a very weathered three story building with a bay window. I’m always attracted to ruins more than anything else on my travels. I wondered if this place was for sale. I imagined converting it into some sort of groovy bohemian honky-tonk. It was probably too far from the downtown area to get much commercial traffic.

I turned back and walked back downtown. By then it was past 10:00 a.m. so I could go to Sellers Books, which had moved next door to China Garden. There I bought a collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov. Although I’m mostly interested in his plays,  Anton Chekhov is also famous for his short stories. Then I went to Soundcheck Records and bought a CD, Go – the Very Best Of Moby. I’m not very familiar with Moby but I do like his cover version of New Dawn Fades, the most despairing song ever written. I used the restroom at the visitor’s center in the train depot before returning to my car to drop off my purchases.

My next goal was to get something to eat. Just about the only thing left for me to do in Jim Thorpe PA is to try a different restaurant, so this time I went to Broadway Grille in The Inn at Jim Thorpe. They were still serving breakfast so I ordered a cup of coffee and Eggs Benedict. I don’t think I’ve ever had Eggs Benedict before. It is two halves of an English muffin each of which is topped with Canadian bacon, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. This wasn’t a very fulfilling meal but it was reasonably priced.

Mauch Chunk Opera House

Mauch Chunk Opera House

After lunch I walked back up Broadway and finally entered the Mauch Chunk Opera House which had its doors open. I saw the stage and the seats but the theater was darkened. I guess the place was only open so you could look at a few pieces of artwork but there weren’t enough to qualify as a gallery. Some day I will have to make an overnight trip to Jim Thorpe to see a show at the Mauch Chunk Opera House. I then walked back downtown and went south on Susquehanna Street to take photos of Woods Ice Cream, an establishment I don’t have in my notes. Then  I walked up Race Street where I saw a classic car, a 1956 Studebaker Commander. On a previous trip I had seen a different classic car parked at the same place. I stopped in at Serendipity which is an antiques store that mostly sells old books. I found a copy of The Barretts Of Wimpole Street by Rudolf Besier, a play based on the romance between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. This book was on my wish list so I was pleased to have found it.

1956 Studebaker Commander

1956 Studebaker Commander

By then it was Noon and I could have gone home but I still wanted to see if Jim Thorpe had anything left to offer so I went to Pocono Biking and rented a bike to ride on the Lehigh Gorge Rail-Trail. This wasn’t planned so I didn’t know what to expect. You have to fill out a waiver form to rent a bike and give them your identification to keep until you return the bike. It cost $21.49 for the bike shuttle and $21.50 for the bike rental so the total was $42.99 which seemed pretty expensive. They gave me a green card for the bike and a red card for the shuttle bus plus a wristband which served some mysterious purpose since I was not required to wear it. I remember my bike was #55. Although the bike rental was unexpectedly expensive, I guess it was worth it since the bike ride lasted for several hours and it was incredibly fun.

The shuttle bus drove us all the way north to the Rockport Access Point near Weatherly PA. This is about five miles from Jim Thorpe PA. This made me a little anxious because I knew I would have to ride the bike all the way back to Jim Thorpe.  Fortunately the bike trail was all downhill from Rockport to Jim Thorpe. According to the Pocono Biking brochure this is 15 miles of trail so it is pretty remarkable that it is all downhill for that entire length. But indeed that was the case and I did not have to exert myself much. Before heading south, I rode north a little ways to see the Buttermilk Falls at Mile 120. Then I began the long trek south back to Jim Thorpe. The entire trip took me three hours, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:50 p.m. Fortunately I had one bottle of Sparkling Ice with me but I did get a little dehydrated. I also should have brought my bike helmet. The bike ride was long but very pleasant since the scenery was incredible. There were a lot of people on the bike trail so I constantly had someone coming up behind me. Along the way I saw many rafts on the Lehigh River doing whitewater rafting. I also saw a few other waterfalls, railroad tracks, bridges, and a few railroad cars. I was even able to stop and see the abandoned railroad tunnel which is like going into a cave. As I got closer to Jim Thorpe I was able to ride under the new 903 bridge. They have not torn down the old bridge yet. This bike ride was definitely one the greatest experiences I have had in my travels through Pennsylvania. I would definitely do it again but I would be a little better prepared.

Lehigh Gorge Rail-Trail

Lehigh Gorge Rail-Trail

Although I expected to be exhausted by the time I got back to town, the 15 mile bike ride was so easy that I wasn’t ready to go home just yet. First I climbed Packer Hill to take some photos of the Packer Mansion. Climbing up there was actually more exhausting than the bike ride! I did come across something I had not noticed before, Kemmerer Park, which is a small park across from the Harry Packer Mansion. This park wasn’t very big but it was pleasant enough and sort of hidden away. It seemed to be designed for children with swings and play areas. After that I walked to Woods Ice Cream to treat myself to some strawberry ice cream.

Packer Mansion

Packer Mansion

The final thing I did before heading home was to drive up Flagstaff Mountain to find the lookout where you can take some incredible views of Jim Thorpe from a high vantage point. Unfortunately Flagstaff Mountain Resort seems to have the best view blocked off but there was an overlook where I could take photos of the valley. Further up Flagstaff Road there was a property developer offering a free overlook view but this was a view to the east.

This trip was the best trip to Jim Thorpe PA I’ve had to date. Unfortunately I think I have really exhausted the possibilities by now. Still, Jim Thorpe is a very picturesque town and worth a casual visit.

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On The Nature Of Reality

I’m going to post some thoughts here because I can’t think of anywhere else to write this. I’m not really interested in getting a response. My blog is perfect for writing things that won’t get any response!

I’ve been reading a lot of books on psychology and spirituality lately, mostly Jungian psychology of course, and the tendency for magical thinking is beginning to annoy me. Many thinkers get really confused by the difference between reality and the perception of reality. There are three kinds of reality that we have to deal with; physical reality, social reality, and experienced reality.

A mystical experience is said to lift the veil of illusion and reveals a higher reality or a transcendent reality. However, this should be understood as lifting the veil of illusion in the form of a narrow consciousness. What is revealed is the fuller experience of the world that includes the apprehension of the unconscious mind. This does not imply a reality beyond physical reality. You are merely experiencing reality more completely, with fewer filters.

Magical thinking is a common trap you fall into when your definition of reality is too narrow and you reduce the concept to a single word. The classic error of magical thinking is to confuse the perception of reality with reality itself or physical reality. A lot of people are even suggesting that quantum mechanics shows the materialistic common sense notion of reality is an illusion, i.e., that the objective existence of the world is an illusion. I don’t fully grasp the theory of quantum mechanics, but it seems to suggest that subatomic particles do not exist in a state that can be determined since the act of detecting their state determines that state. Many thinkers take this to mean that at its most fundamental level, reality depends on how you look at it! I would argue that this is merely your problem. A subatomic particle probably does exist in a fixed location according to determinism, which depicts the physical matter of the universe as operating according to a set of fixed, knowable laws. The fact that you are unable to determine the state or location of a subatomic particle is a problem of your measurements, experimental methods, or whatever. Just because you cannot determine something does not mean that it is indeterminate in reality. It just means it is indeterminate for you, indeterminate from your perspective. The uncertainty only applies to to the accuracy of human knowledge about causes and effects.

Now, experienced reality is definitely malleable. Your perception of reality can be distorted but this does not translate into a distortion of reality itself. Bringing the apprehension of the unconscious mind into consciousness can have the effect of seemingly enhancing your perception of reality but it will not change physical realities. Any idea that you can alter reality by altering your perception, say through an altered state of consciousness, is magical thinking.

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Brooklyn Urban Exploring

Yesterday I made my first extensive trip to Brooklyn. I have thoroughly explored Manhattan and my recent trips to New York City have gotten very repetitive. Fortunately  Brooklyn is like a whole other side of New York City for me to explore. Brooklyn is in the process of becoming another Manhattan. I saw plenty of evidence of that on this trip because some parts of the city are like a massive construction project with numerous skyscrapers going up. This wasn’t my first venture into Brooklyn since I’ve walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and wandered around DUMBO before. I’ve also made a trip to the Brooklyn Museum. But yesterday I spent most of the day in Brooklyn and saw more than one neighborhood.

There was a street fair on 8th Avenue which caused a traffic jam and forced our bus to find an alternative drop off location. Eventually the bus made its way to 49th Street and left us off at the Worldwide Plaza. I walked to the 49th Street Subway Station located outside of Olive Garden on the north end of Times Square, across from the TKTS Ticket Booth, and took a N train heading downtown. My big concern was to determine how much travel time to allow for getting back to Manhattan from Brooklyn. I think 25 minutes is about right. The subway goes across Manhattan Bridge so I got a good view of the Brooklyn Bridge before the subway went back underground to reach the Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center station where I got off.

When I exited the subway I was on the far side of Atlantic Avenue and could see Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower directly in front of me. The Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower is one of the tallest buildings in Brooklyn and serves as a good landmark for orienting yourself. My first goal was to locate all the theater in the Brooklyn Cultural District. Most of these theaters are associated with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). Unfortunately there was quite a lot of construction going on in the area which made getting good photos difficult. In addition to the BAM facilities, I saw the Mark Morris Dance Center, the Polonsky Shakespeare Center, and the BRIC Arts Media House. I walked a little further that I intended to and found Junior’s Restaurant and Long Island University.

Barclays Center Station

Barclays Center Station

But eventually I walked back towards Atlantic Avenue and found South Oxford Street because I wanted to see the South Oxford Space, a performance space run by the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York. Several theater companies are using that as their address. Unfortunately this building was having its facade restored. The entire building was covered in a black drape so I couldn’t even see what the place looks like. As it turned out, this wasn’t far from the Fulton Street entrances of the Lafayette Avenue Station where there were several things I wanted to see. I found the mural of Comandante Biggie (aka The Notorious B.I.G.) and the bookstore, Greenlight Bookstore, which was one of many book stores I wanted to check out. I searched practically the entire store for the drama/theater section where I found the perfect book, Bacchae: A New Translation by Robin Robertson. This is like the fourth translation of this ancient Greek play by Euripides which I have bought. Ordinarily, I would not read multiple translations of the same play, but Bacchae is a very significant play since it is the earliest example of shamanism in drama. I have been reading multiple translations of Anton Chekhov’s plays but that is only to become very familiar with them after forgetting most of their plots.

After buying that book I had a little shopping bag to carry around for the rest of the day but at least it had handles. I walked back to Atlantic Avenue and took lots of photos of the Barclays Center, Atlantic Terminal and Atlantic Center, and the Barclays Center subway entrance. It is surprisingly difficult to find good photos of Brooklyn landmarks online even though I saw plenty of tourists taking photos. There was a statue of Captain America in front of the Barclays Center and everyone was taking photos of that, but it was unexpected for me because I haven’t seen it in photos online.

Captain America Barclays Center

Captain America Barclays Center

I was going to walk all the way down Atlantic Avenue to the Grand Army Plaza and Prospect Park but after coming across the intersection with Fifth Avenue I decided to go down that street instead. Fifth Avenue was the street I did a Google Street View walk through of just before my trip so it was fresh in my mind. I took a lot of photos of establishments on the street corners for my notes. Fifth Avenue cuts across many side streets so you need to look for distinctive establishments to determine your progress along the street. Eventually I reached 1st Street where there was a Mexican restaurant I added to my notes as a probable place to have lunch, Calexico. I did indeed stop in at Calexico for a bite to eat. But all I ordered was a drink and a single taco, which didn’t prove to be much of a meal. At least I got to use their restroom although I think I blew a fuse using the hand dryer. I almost left my book at this restaurant but fortunately it occurred to me that I was a little light handed before I got too far down the street. I located the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company and the Record and Tape Center store before leaving Fifth Avenue.

Calexico

Calexico

I want to say a little more about this street since it was a typical urban experience which I find particularly fascinating. These kinds of main drags are like retro city retail streets before the shopping mall and Walmart killed downtown. Fifth Avenue was lined with diverse retail stores, restaurants, boutiques, and other sorts of establishments. Some of the stores where old and decrepit and some were brand new and cutting edge. It seemed like a magical street offering all sorts of unusual dining options and stores with hidden treasures. This alone makes Brooklyn worth exploring even though I did not spend much time going into various establishments.

After returning to 1st Street I walked up the street to look at the brownstones and eventually reached Prospect Park. But before I went to Prospect Park I did make a side trip on 7th Avenue to find the Community Bookstore, a famous Park Slope bookstore. There I bought a copy of Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow. This novel was on my wish list because it is a a roman à clef about Bellow’s friendship with the poet Delmore Schwartz. To be honest, I don’t know when I will find the time to read this book. I’ve probably bought books six years ago in New York City which I still have not read. I have a huge backlog of books to read.

Prospect Park

Prospect Park

I didn’t spend a lot of time researching Prospect Park so I only walked across the Long Meadow until I reached the hiking trails of the Midwood, Brooklyn’s oldest remaining forest. I felt like I was back in Pennsylvania! Eventually I managed to find the entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden which I sort of remembered as something to check out. But I didn’t really have any details on it in my notes so I was surprised by the $12.00 admission fee. I thought it was worth it because the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is an extensive series of gardens including a rock garden, a rose garden, a cherry tree esplanade, and a Japanese pond. I also saw the Celebrity Path and took photos of many of the stepping stones. This was a pleasant break from the urban environment but it was a very hot day, too hot to be outside.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Japanese Pond

Brooklyn Botanic Garden Japanese Pond

When I left the Brooklyn Botanic Garden I managed to find the portion of Flatbush Avenue that cuts through Prospect Park and followed that to the Grand Army Plaza. I did walk pass the Prospect Park Zoo which was tempting but it was getting late and I wanted to leave enough time to complete my planned itinerary. I definitely didn’t want to miss the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch or the Brooklyn Public Library which I photographed in addition to many other sights in the area.

Grand Army Plaza

Grand Army Plaza

I circled around the Grand Army Plaza to find Vanderbilt Avenue, another major thoroughfare which I explored on Google Street View. I walked up Vanderbilt Avenue until I located yet another bookstore, Unnameable Books. Unnameable Books was a very cramped book store but after finding their drama / theater section I found a book to buy, Aunt Dan & Lemon by Wallace Shawn. Wallace Shawn is best known as an actor. He had a role in The Princess Bride. But he is also a playwright and well respected in the New York City theater community. Now I had three books to carry around. I stopped in at the coffee shop and bakery next store to drink an iced latte since I was dying of thirst.

When I reached the corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and Atlantic Avenue I walked west back to the Barclays Center and entered the Atlantic Avenue / Barclays Center Station to take the subway back into Manhattan. This subway ride was not uneventful. First a group of young black men insisted on doing some subway dancing for tips on the journey back to Manhattan. Then a black woman suffered a seizure on the subway car I was in, forcing the train to halt at the 34th Street Station. Everyone had to get off that train and take the next train to arrive on the other side of the platform.

Once I was back in Manhattan I immediately went to the Drama Book Store where I bought a copy of The Weir and Other Plays by Connor McPherson. Then I walked to Bryant Park and took photographs of a few literary statues there. Since I hadn’t eaten much all day I went to Obao on 9th Avenue where I ordered a drink at the bar because the restaurant was too busy to get a table. It didn’t look like anybody was going to take my order at the bar so I left and walked down the street to Two Boots Pizza where I had a slice of a pizza called The Bird and an unsweetened tea. While eating my pizza I overheard a playwright talking to a woman. It may have been an interview with a journalist. For the rest of the evening I didn’t do anything in particular except wander around taking odd photos of anything that caught my eye. Nevertheless I did take some interesting photos this way; policemen on horses in Times Square, The Little Theatre near Sardis (don’t know the story behind this place), the trash left by the 8th Avenue street fair, a sneak shot of a homeless person, and Engine 54, Ladder 4, Battalion 9 fire station.

Homeless Man

Homeless Man

This trip to New York City was inspiring because it opens up an whole new borough to explore. It will be like finding a virtual duplicate of New York City with entirely new neighborhoods to wander around and new experiences to be had. Brooklyn might not have as many attractions as Manhattan, but I am eager to explore its culture and check out the creative scene as far as possible. I think I will visit Williamsburg during my trip to New York City next month.

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Number One Is The Only Natural Number

I’ve just finished reading Man and His Symbols by Carl Jung and the final chapter concerns how mathematics does not represent reality. After thinking about it, I realized that numbers are purely conceptual. The number two is purely conceptual as a count of two is never absolutely valid.

Let me explain. Say you have two apples. The count of apples is two. But what you really have is one apple plus another apple or a different apple. Lets say I present you with two objects, an apple and an orange. Now tell me if there is one or two. While there are two pieces of fruit, there is only one apple and one orange. The count of two is only valid if you apply a concept or category. In other words, two is always in some way conceptual. In fact, all numbers in a count are in some way conceptual.

In computer science, this can be illustrated using object oriented programming. When I create two objects of a class and get their count, I expect the count to be two. But under certain circumstances the count will not be two. Lets say the objects have the same number of properties. If you only look at these properties, the count will be two. However, if you look at the value of the properties they may be different. So when you do a little reality testing and test for deep equality, you do not get equality and a count of your object may be one. A count of two always depends on applying a concept of objects being the same in their properties but they will be the same only on some superficial level, in terms of a limited set of properties.

 

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