CUTE OVERDOSE* – Ollie The Otter

*Yep, not just an overload… this is an overdose! :)

On Thursday I decided to take some time away from the internet to drive down to Long Beach. The Aquarium of The Pacific was nice enough to invite me to meet their new resident, a 3 month old rescued otter named Ollie and I figured there was no way that could possibly be a bad way to spend a morning. When you say “Wanna meet a cute baby animal?” I tend to say, “Yes, please.”

Ollie weighed only about five pounds when she was rescued off of the coast of Santa Cruz. She was up to ten pounds when first brought to Long Beach, and is now a chubby 18 pounds. The girl clearly has clearly gained an appetite. You’ll note that in the photos she stays very close to the handler’s boots… this is because she thinks the boots are her mother. When she’s too far from them for too long she tends to cry a bit (apparently she has a lot in common with my dog). Separation anxiety didn’t keep Ollie from hurrying over to inspect any camera she saw, though… she was very curious to figure out what they were (see the last photo). Awwwww.

Ollie won’t be on public display until Fall of 2011, but the Aquarium is currently offering Behind The Scenes Tours where you might get a chance to hang out with her for yourself.

Ollie the otter (more…)

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IMAGERY – The Mighty LA River, 1895-1920

©USC Digital Archive

Two men standing near a water ditch at the bank of Los Angeles River, north side of Griffith Park.

I’m happy to say that our sold out Los Angeles River tour is this Sunday and there are actually upwards of 30 people on the waiting list for another one! Wow. There’s been a lot of discussion on our Facebook page about the revitalization of the river and its reputation as a drainage ditch this week, so I decided to make another dip into the ol’ USC Digital Archive to see what kind of imagery I could find. This 51 mile river that explorer Gaspar de Portolá named El Río de Nuestra Señora La Reina de Los Ángeles de Porciúncula in the year 1769 didn’t always look the way you might imagine. Although it changed course many times over history, the river shown below was the reason that the 44 Los Pobladores chose to stop and create a settlement here… The LA River is the reason that Los Angeles exists.


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IMAGERY – The Celery Merchants of Venice

You might not know this… but Venice, California was once a landscape of fields called “The Venice Celery District.”

CLICK ON IMAGES FOR LARGER VIEWS (Note: The captions you will see below were the original captions written for the photos when they were archived.)
©USC Digital Archive

Photograph of the ideal field of summer celery in the Venice Celery District, just before applying blanching paper, April 12, 1927. The rows of thick leaves of the celery plants form a congested square at center with a dark irrigation ditch in the foreground. A darker field lies on the far edge of the celery field on the right while another field lies on the far left. Hills stand in the background on the right while electrical poles spot a clearing of grass in the background on the left. “Note the regularity of the plant foliage.” (more…)

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IMAGERY – The Los Angeles Wheelmen

Angelenos have had a passion for bicycling for longer than you might think. The image below was taken in Boyle Heights in 1893, about ten years after the bicycle chain was invented. Reformed in 1945, the Los Angeles Wheelmen bicycle riding club is still going strong, with multiple rides every week. There are far more than eleven members now. And don’t worry, I doubt they’re still wearing that fancy uniform. :)

The club’s ride schedule is here.

From their site:

“We are a group of bicyclists who enjoy the pleasure of riding with friends. We are not a racing club, and we welcome members of all abilities. We offer easier, moderate and difficult rides. We hold some multi-day trips, and in late June we offer the Grand Tour, a 24-hour ride of 120+, 200, 300 or 400 miles. At our social events, we make up for all the calories burned while riding. Our monthly newsletter, “The Gooseneck,” contains a descriptive ride schedule and much other news. Newcomers are welcome to try a few of our rides before deciding whether to join. Helmets are mandatory on all rides.”

©USC Digital Archive

Photographic portrait of the 11 Los Angeles Wheelmen posing as a group in cadet type uniforms at the East Side (Boyle Heights) track, October 3, 1893. “The Los Angeles wheelmen on the track include, left to right, standing — Jack Winters, John S. Thayer, Faye Stefenson, Phil Kitchen, W.J. Allen, E.S. Pauly, Tracy Hugh Rall, W.A. Tufts, and Walter Tyler; seated — Lord Gattensbury, A.D. Cummings, and Ernest Steuart, Paully.”

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IMAGERY – Buying The Lakers

The Lakers’ franchise was founded in Detroit Michigan in 1946. Upon moving to Minneapolis, the team got its official title from the state’s nickname, “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” After thirteen years, on April 28, 1960, attorney and trucking magnate Bob Short announced that the failing Minneapolis Lakers team would be moving to Los Angeles.

Below is a photograph of a deposit check written by Bloomingdale heir Alfred S. Bloomingdale in an attempt to purchase the team from Short for $700,000. Although this offer was refused, in 1962 Bloomingdale purchased 29% of the Lakers while Short still kept the majority share. The club was later sold to Jack Kent Cooke for $5 million in 1965.

“Letters and check, 3 April 1961. Negatives show a copy of an offer to buy the Los Angeles Lakers basketball club; Also a check for $100,000.00.”


©USC Digital ArchiveThe letter reads:

March 15, 1961

Mr. Alfred Bloomingdale
900 North LaCienega Boulevard
Los Angeles 46, California

Dear Mr. Bloomingdale:

Thank you for your letter of March 7. We are complimented to learn of your interest in the Los Angeles Lakers.

Your offer was carefully considered by those who hold a majority of the outstanding stock of the Corporation. Their position has not changed. The Lakers are not for sale. In the event that we are of a different mind at a later date, you will be contacted.

Your check is herewith returned. Thank you for your interest.

R. Short

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IMAGERY – A Hazy Day in Malibu

Found myself in Malibu the other day and decided to pull out my camera and take a lazy stroll around The Adamson House property… here’s some of the stuff I saw. I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. :)

signplaquelagoonsurfer1yarddoorbellflower (more…)

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IMAGERY – Passover Seder, March 1928

Photo of a Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering
Home for the Aged
in Los Angeles, ca.1928

“Jewry to celebrate festival! — A typical Seder service at the Hebrew Sheltering Home for the Aged in this city. This Jewish festival will be held at the home next Thursday night, with many prominent Hebrew residents of the city in attendance. This symbolic dinner is one of the features of the Passover holiday” — Examiner clipping attached to verso, dated, “Mar 31, 1928″ Image ©USC Digital Archive

According to an April 2003 LA Times article:

“Today, as Jews prepare to observe Passover… Southern California has the nation’s second-largest Jewish population (currently over 650,000). By contrast, the overwhelmingly Catholic pueblo of Los Angeles of 1854 had fewer than 200 Jewish residents and no kosher bakery or butcher shop. A lay rabbi slaughtered animals, carefully observing rabbinic laws, so that Jews might have kosher meat. The aroma of matzo — unleavened bread — wafted from a bakery owned and run by a Catholic. In the hinterlands — the Gold Country of Northern California or the outlying reaches of Southern California — men were often the ones who prepared the Passover seder because there were no women around.

“Despite such accommodations to necessity, historians say a common thread of faith and tradition is woven through the fabric of Jewish history in the West.”

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IMAGERY – Olvera Street Market Salesman, 1938


“In the midst of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Paseo de Los Angeles – later referred to as Olvera Street – was created through the efforts of Christine Sterling and the City Boosters in the oldest section of the city. Olvera Street was an imagined Mexican Landscape not unlike the renowned tourist districts of Mexican border cities (Arreola and Curtis 1993). The theme was “Old Mexico,” pitting a timeless, romantic, homogenous Spanish-Mexican culture against industrialization, immigration, urban decay and modernity itself. The street featured rows of curio shops, house museums, and Mexican eateries staffed by costumed Mexican merchants. As a constructed place, Olvera Street was the product of a social and economic agenda established by civic elites to transform downtown Los Angeles through the removal of undesirable residents. The opening of Olvera Street and the preservation of the old Plaza also popularized an emerging creation mythology for Anglo Los Angeles stemming from the defeat of Mexican forces in 1847, a heroic birth legend in which Sterling emerged as a symbolic mother figure and guardian of the city’s birthplace.”

Excerpted from Los Angeles’ Old Plaza and Olvera Street: Imagined and Contested Space, by William D. Estrada © 1999

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IMAGERY – Poor Mrs. Pauline Paulson


On the glorious evening of March 10th, 1952, after watching her beloved film favorites depart the Hollywood Pantages Theater (where the 1952 Oscar ceremonies were held), 80-year-old grandmother Pauline Paulsen fell in between the rows of bleachers and was rushed to Hollywood Receiving Hospital. Ouch!!! Sure looks like Pauline is the star of the show in this shot! (more…)

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IMAGERY – Barbecuing in Montrose, Feb. 22, 1913


©USC Digital Library

Photograph(s) of an aerial view of a promotional land sale barbeque in Montrose near Glendale, February 22, 1913. A group of automobiles and horse-drawn carriages are parked at the center of a clearing, while pedestrians walk around towards the barbeque tables pictured in the left distance where a small shack can be seen to the side of a dirt road, and in the right foreground, surrounded by temporary fence. A road lined by utility poles curves behind the gathering from the left of the frame towards the mountains in the background, with an even smaller second shack stands near piles of gravel. A sign near the dirt road reads “Montrose Holmes-Walton Realtor Co.”

Images ©USC Digital Library


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FLASHBACK – Racing Thru The Clouds in Venice

©VirtualVenice.infoOnce upon a time, the first roller coaster ever built on the West Coast reached towards the Venice, California sky. The ride was called Race Thru The Clouds and when it opened on July 4, 1911, even with only half of its cars on line over 25,000 people rode it. Yes, in one day. Roller coasters soon became such a popular attraction in Venice that fourteen were built in between 1904 and 1925. In the early 1920′s, visitors to Venice had a choice of six different rides: three on the Venice Pier, one on the inland lagoon and two on the Ocean Park/Lick Piers.

Although the first coaster is long gone, you can still find evidence of Race Thru The Clouds nearby if you look… architect Steve Ehrlich themed a nearby commercial building after its curves. I think my favorite tribute is this, though: a Folsom Prison inmate named William Jennings-Bryan Burke once spent over a decade erecting a replica of the ride made entirely out of toothpicks! AWESOME! (He actually built entire carnivals from toothpicks. I’m not kidding.)


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ESCAPE – (G)Luck for the New Year

NY_pig_hatI’m leaving Vienna early tomorrow morning to head back to Los Angeles. I had so much on my plate and so many photos to sort through I’m going to blog most of it after the fact, but that’s life. And yes… I know HiddenLA isn’t supposed to be about Europe… but it’s my blog and I’ll write about what I want to, so there! I’m ready to be back home and wander the streets of L.A. again, but it’s so incredible to experience familiar holidays through the eyes of a totally different culture. It’s something I want to share.

Case in point… New Year’s in Austria (named Silvester, after St. Sylvester) is a much different animal than we know. The New Year is all about pigs here. Yes, pigs. (more…)

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IMAGERY – Memories of Diana, Pont de l’Alma, Paris

Ever since her death in the tunnel below, people have scrawled messages to Princess Diana on the Pont de l’Alma bridge.

Click to see larger image. diana

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ESCAPE – Paris Christmas Market

Chocolate apples. YUM. I’d originally planned to go to the Christkindlmarkt in Vienna today, but jet lag took me over and I missed it. I’m a bit sad about that because the lights are so wonderful and the photos would’ve been amazing. Fortunately, I did walk through the Paris Christmas Market yesterday and got photos of that. It’s not quite as festive but the two markets are similar… the Vienna version just features more wood and lights. And there’s far more Jagermeister and expensive Christmas trinkets of all shapes and sizes. And *much* less foie gras. But the Paris Market is still quite festive as you’ll see in the album below.

(FYI, here in Austria, Christmas is celebrated on the eve before so I’m going to be offline for a day or so. I hope you all have a great holiday! I’ll post more soon!)

Click on the square image below to see 24 captioned pictures of what can be found at the Paris Christmas Market. To read the captions, just hover over the images. :)

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ESCAPE – I love Paris in the winter, when it drizzles.

Running in the rain. I’m posting this a few days late due to a bad internet connection. I’m in Vienna now, but let’s just pretend I’m not…

I found myself wandering through Paris just *obsessed* with using my new camera… playing with the shutter speeds and apertures and all of the other little tricks. I can’t believe how far I walked in two days. For me, the weather was perfect… I was wearing three or four layers, but I was never uncomfortable. The sky was drizzling in a way that made all of the lights magically glow at night, but it never rained so much that I rushed indoors. There was ice on the ground, but not enough to slip on. All in all, they were perfect winter days and nights. I very literally took hundreds of photos, and I’ll spread some of the best over a couple of posts. Today I’ll post my favorite rainy night photos…

NOTE: Due to some problems with WordPress’ photo album feature, I moved these photos into a different album. Just click on the square image below to see eighteen pretty pictures.

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FLASHBACK – The Sewing Nun, circa 1950

When poor little orphans were unable to pick up the dolls she made for them, Sister Josephine donned her giant habit and gallantly took to the air, flying from house to house like a true holiday superhero. Santa shmanta.


“Hopeful — Sister Josephine of the Los Angeles Orphanage sews doll clothes while Staff Sergeant Leo T. Batt asks Clara Jean, 8 (left), Johnnie, 9, Dede, 9, and Mary, 7, what they want for Christmas through Corps Reserve’s Toys For Tots campaign. Girls want dolls.”

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IMAGERY – Ye Olde Beverly Hills Hotel

Click on images for larger views.

As it’s a gorgeous day outside, my friend Geraldine and I will be observing interesting people and sights during a lazy Sunday wander through the indisputably historic Beverly Hills Hotel. Hell, we’ll probably even enjoy a cocktail/nosh at the Polo Lounge and hang out until we just can’t take the color combinations of pink and green any longer. Because that’s how we roll. We’re rogues.

Anyhoooo, the image below is what Hotel California looked like in 1920. If you look, you’ll see that this view is from Will Rogers’ Park (land which singer George Michaels is now banned from stepping foot on) overlooking Sunset Boulevard.

After the jump is another little treat… something we probably won’t ever see in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel ever again. Take a look at where the streetcar is located on the left side of the landscape photo below… that’s the exact location where the next image was captured some years later.©USC Digital Archive

Photograph of an exterior view of the Beverly Hills Hotel, 1920. A lavish courtyard is pictured in the foreground, with steps leading up to its paved walkway, which is lined to either side by palm trees. Several auxiliary walkways that branch from it demarcate circular areas of grass, beyond which a streetcar is visible parked in the driveway that stands in front of the large, three-story, L-shaped hotel. Three spires extend from the roof at the crook of the “L” from which flags wave. A second, equally large building can be seen in the far distance to the right, along with mountains.


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IMAGERY – Traffic on the Cahuenga Pass, 1897

Welcome to the original 101 Freeway.

Photograph of two cyclists on the Cahuenga Pass, Los Angeles, circa 1897. The man to the right walks his bicycle on the unpaved road, looking at his companion riding to the left, on whose back is strapped a briefcase of some kind. The terrain surrounding them is comprised entirely of grassy hills. Caption on photoprint reads: “Cahuenga Pass — connecting Hollywood and San Fernando Valley — as it was in 1897.”

Click on image for larger view.
©USC Digital Archive

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IMAGERY – LA’s Whistling Birds of the 1920s

Prior to television, people found such fascinating ways to entertain themselves. I have never even *heard* of a Bird Whistling Chorus before, but I imagine it probably sounded something like like this. I so wish I could’ve watched these women perform… although probably not for more than ten minutes or so. (More photos after the jump. Click for larger views.)

bird whistling 1923Apparently someone didn’t get the telegram about wearing all white…

1923 – Photographic group portrait of America’s Bird Whistling Chorus in Los Angeles. Four rows of women in light-colored dresses sit facing the camera, with one woman in a dark-colored dress to the right of center. A woman in the front row holds a conductor’s baton. The group is posed in front of an indistinguishable background, possibly a stage. (more…)

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IMAGERY – Fishing in Azusa, October 1930

I really love these photos. Click on the images for a larger view.

Photograph of Jewell Teegardin fishing on a rock above the falls and Beatrice Williams fishing in the foreground, Rainbow Angling Club, Azusa, October 1930. Both women can be seen wearing knee-high laced-up boots, breeches, and sleeveless collared shirts. They hold fishing poles and have baskets slung over their shoulders.


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IMAGERY – Photos of the Week

The Most Awesome Treehouse Ever

I was walking back to my car after having coffee at Aroma, and suddenly looked up to find… just what the title says. The most awesome Spanky & Our Gang He Man Woman Haters Club-quality treehouse I’ve ever seen. Complete with ladders and all sortsa stuff. I’m not even a kid and I covet this treehouse.



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IMAGERY – Adventures in Stupid Signage #2

Oh my God, I had the weirdest dream last night. I was driving a taco truck through a horrible rainstorm, see? Okay, so I’m driving this truck and it’s really dirty and there are refried beans and condiments falling all over the place as I’m careening out of control through the mud when suddenly a giant-sized Gordon Ramsay comes up out of the ground, trapped up to his waist in a big ol’ sinkhole! Weird right!??? Okay, but it gets even weirder. See, Gordon is trying to wrap me up in some kind of parchment roll of pasta! Feels like he wants to smother me or something!!!! So I speed up to get away from him and just as he calls me a donkey, suddenly I swerve to avoid hitting a HUGE chocolate cupcake (with vanilla buttercream frosting, no less!) and GIANT STRAWBERRIES! I mean, they’re right there in the middle of this muddy road! And damn, that mud-covered chocolate cupcake’s like the size of a HOUSE or something!!! WTF!? Crazy, right? Man, don’t you hate dreams like that?

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NATURE – The Beauty of Franklin Canyon

*Click on the box below to launch photos from our walk around the lake*

So many people in the world believe that without ever having lived in Los Angeles they have a clear understanding of everything it is: traffic, violence, famous people, stress, opulence, plastic surgery, starlets who don’t wear underwear. But you and I both know that’s not reality. This city has a lot more to offer than most people realize… as a matter of fact, in the literal heart of Los Angeles beautiful sights exist that even L.A. residents are often oblivious to.

Franklin Canyon is 605 acres of wooded parkland located just North of Beverly Hills. It’s a great area to go for a leisurely stroll with the dog and kids, for a picnic, for a workout or a low-key nature stroll. If the area looks familiar even though you’ve never been there, there’s a very, very good reason for that. Franklin Lake, in the middle of the canyon, was originally named Myers Lake after the Production Manager on the Andy Griffith Show (Remember the opening of the show where Opie skipped rocks on a lake? Guess where that was filmed). The park also features free special events and guided walks on a regular basis and a nice 3 acre duck pond reservoir.


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IMAGERY – Lawn Bowling on a Friday Afternoon

To see a few more pictures, click on the image at left. If you, too, feel a hankering to do some hardcore lawn bowling, check out the Santa Monica Lawn Bowls Club. Below is a google map showing where the club hangs out in lovely Douglas Park. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen!

View Larger Map

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