Thursday, September 18, 2014

It's All About the Ukes

Top Row: Miriam, Chuck, Ellen.  Bottom Row:  Tina, Maria, Christina, Chad

Since I've been taking the ukulele class at my office, I have a renewed interest in learning new songs and playing my ukulele.  Today was our last session of "Beatles Ukulele" with our teacher, Jon Lee.  We've decided to continue with another session in a couple of weeks.  I'm so glad.
Our teacher, Jon Lee (center)

We may expand our song repertoire to include some songs associated with our workplace, HBO.  The theme to "Game of Thrones" has gone viral with street musicians everywhere!  Check out this video.  One of my uke classmates, Tina, found a ukulele video of a hairy guy in his underwear playing the "Game of Thrones" theme too!  This music sounds so sweet and not at all threatening on the ukulele!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

From Sin to Virtue

The former Thriftown Market and Liquor Store

The traffic has been so awful in the morning, that I've altered my route to the Santa Monica Freeway for my drive to work.  Although we live close to the Fairfax Avenue on-ramp, I've found that it's easier to get on the freeway at La Cienega in the morning.  I like driving south on La Cienega.  The stores change all the time.
One building I've noticed in particular is the former Thriftown Market and Liquor Store at 2043 South La Cienega Blvd., almost across the street from Kaiser-Permanente Hospital.  When I was a child, my Dad's lumber yard and office was close by on Venice Boulevard.  Sometimes, when I was with my Dad at lunchtime, we would walk to the Thriftown Market.  Buddy's Delicatessan was housed just inside this little market.  Of course, I remember that the corned beef sandwiches were wonderful.  Kid-vision.  EVERYTHING was wonderful when I was young!
In later years this same location became the Thriftown Market and Liquor Store.  There was a questionable taco stand inside, where Buddy's used to be.
You can see that this building was originally built in the 1930s, Stream-line Moderne style.  This type of building was very popular in my neighborhood.  There was a building boom on the Westside in the late 1920s through the early 1940s. There are many little corner grocery stores that still have many of the same architectural characteristics.  Remember Balian's on Adams Boulevard or the Sun-Fax on Sunset and Fairfax?  Both locations are still markets.
The former Balian's Market, Adams Blvd., Los Angeles

The former Sun-Fax Market, Sunset & Fairfax (now Bristol Farms), Hollywood

As I was driving toward the freeway the other morning, I noticed that a gray front had been built over the existing Thriftown building.  This building, formerly a market, restaurant and liquor store is now becoming the Core Church!
Thriftown Market during transformation

Former Thriftown Market, So. La Cienega Blvd., L.A.

I do admire that the arrow sign, once pointing the way to alcohol, now points to Jesus, proving that a person or even a building can be transformed in Los Angeles.  From Sin to Virtue!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Downtown Ukes

U-Space Ukulele Shop is on the ground floor of the JACC

Saturday was the end of the Music Center's "Summer of Strummers" Uke-Along Lessons.  I just couldn't sign up for the 3 sessions this summer....too many schedule conflicts.  I'm very sorry I missed the sessions, because I always learn a lot and get to meet so many ukulele players from around the L.A. area.  

I was free in the afternoon this past Saturday and I knew there would be a few strummers still downtown, maybe at the newish U-Space ukulele shop at the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center (JACC).  I hadn't seen this specialty shop yet, so even though the temperatures topped the 90's on Saturday, I rode down to Little Tokyo, found street parking and visited U-Space.

U-Space is a sweet little ukulele shop with a coffee and tea cart just inside the lobby area of the Center.  It's very well air-conditioned!  Jason Arimoto, one of the teachers at the Music Center event as well as one of the shop owners was there.  We talked a bit about the completed Strummers in the Summer program and the upcoming Christmas Uke-Along.  

I got myself an iced plum tea and settled down at one of the tables to look through some ukulele instruction books.  There are lots of ukuleles for sale as well as all of the accessories that go along with playing and learning.  Uke classes are also offered throughout the year.  Taking a class and being a frequent visitor to U-Space is a good way to stay on top of what's going on in the ukulele community. 
A few participants from the Music Center classes came by.  They said that the morning's session was the best ever.  Dang!  I really must sign up for this next summer!   Two ladies on a scavenger hunt came in.  They were supposed to have their photos taken with a U-space t-shirt and a ukulele and post it on Instagram or Facebook as one of their scavenger hunt stops!
There was an overall calming and nice vibe about this shop.  I hope to take lessons here in the near future.  Will you join me?

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Monday, September 15, 2014

Saturday Night Art

Art Car on La Cienega

Everything always happens on the same night in Los Angeles.  There were numerous gallery openings, concerts, plays, music gigs and more, all this past Saturday.  Larry and I had to pick and choose.
We started out at the George Billis Gallery on La Cienega.  East Culver City has amassed a number of great art galleries all within a few blocks of each other.  It seemed that most of them had openings this past Saturday.  Our friend, Joan Tucker had a show at George Billis.  I'm an early collector of Joan's paintings.  Her work is better than ever.  We saw Joan and her husband, Paul and toured the rest of the work at the gallery.  
Artist, Joan Tucker

We particularly liked the work of Patricia Chidlaw.  She has a realistic, but painterly style of Los Angeles scenes.  I really like this scene of a deco bar, with a car crash on the bar television set.  
Painting by Patricia Chidlaw

Patricia also painting a scene that I drive by on a weekly basis.  Here's Patricia's elegant and interesting painting, along with my photograph of the same scene.  It's taken from the bridge on La Cienega where it crosses over Ballona Creek, looking east.
Painting by Patricia Chidlaw, Ballona Creek

Photo by Ellen Bloom, Ballona Creek

After a quick chicken shwarma pita wrap at Gaby's Express, down the street, we hopped into the car and zoomed up to Highland Park.  Next art stop was Future Studio to see "Mystery Wreck 2" by Dan Van Clapp (Could this be the answer to the mysterious disappearance of Amelia Earhart?).  The artist, Dan Van Clapp constructed what could have been Amelia Earhart's airplane, aged and wrecked, "found" in the desert, along with other aerospace "artifacts."  The artist was there to explain his work.  Van Clapp is highly entertaining.  His work is wonderful!
"Mystery Wreck 2" by Dan Van Clapp

Future Studio Gallery Owner, Amy Inouye tries to explain the Mystery

Amy is still explaining.  Stuart is not so sure.
Artist, Van Clapp and photographer, Larry Underhill

Aviatrix, Amelia Earheart

The Chicken Boy Store has been upgraded too!  I managed to find a few items to purchase for the upcoming holiday season.
The Chicken Boy Store

Amy and Stuart served snacks!

Last stop on our Saturday Art Adventure was a new gallery called EklectoMania, also in Highland Park.  Gallery curator, Ted Meyer displayed a show called "Sex Stories" consisting of his work and also George Joaquim's paintings.  It was a cohesive and fun show in this new gallery that fronts two 1910-era homes.  

Artist, Ted Meyer

Many of Ted's new series, "Women Napping with Animals"

George Joaquim's work

We were able to check out one of the 1910 homes, under restoration, behind the gallery.  Wow!  Lots of cool architectural details and LOTS of work to restore.
1910 Highland Park home under restoration

Help me, NELA (North East L.A.) Second Saturday Art Organizaton people!  There wasn't a map or gallery guide to be found ANYWHERE for this second Saturday event....not online, not in any of the galleries.  Come on!  Update your website before the Art Walk each month!  I don't live in Highland Park, so I'm not in-the-know as to which galleries will be open for this event each month!
Chicken Boy, the Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles, Route 66, Highland Park, Little L.A.

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Stay Cool - Vintage Photo Friday

Temperatures will be topping 100 degrees in Los Angeles this weekend.  In some places, it will be even hotter!  Ugh!  I thought summer was over.  How can I possibly even think about  knitting and/or crocheting a cozy sweater in this kind of weather? Double Ugh!
The Los Angeles area is blessed with a lot of swimming pools.  This is an excellent way to stay cool and even swim a bit for exercise.  Here are some fancy-shmancy pools in the L.A. area.  I wish we had a pool like one of these!
1950. Movie idol, Clark Gable, and his bride, the former Sylvia Stanley, are shown beside the pool at their home in Encino. Herald Examiner Photo Collection

1954. Pianist Liberace stands on the keys of his piano-shaped swimming pool at his Sherman Oaks home. Valley Times Collection

1939.  Swimming pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Ralph Morris Collection

We never had a pool when I was growing up.  When it got too hot, we'd head down to Santa Monica Beach or Malibu and hit the waves.  Luckily, I had plenty of friends and relatives with swimming pools.
1962.  Ellen at Aunt Frances' and Uncle Mort's Pool, Brentwood.

Hydrate and stay cool, my friends.

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