Stan’s Obligatory Blog


My five minutes of fame!

Filed under: — stan @ 9:10 pm

A couple weeks ago, I went downtown to meet with Evan from KCRW so we could climb the stairs at the Aon building and talk about the sport of competitive stair climbing. The final piece that he made was broadcast yesterday. And here’s the link to the blog posting at KCRW about it, including a Soundcloud link so you can listen to it:


Cameron Woods

Filed under: — stan @ 6:23 pm

This week’s bike club ride was yet another sightseeing expedition. This time, our destination was Cameron Woods. This is a single block of Orion Avenue in Van Nuys, which holds the distinction of being one of the most-filmed streets in Los Angeles. It’s an odd place, with big lots and houses and landscaping that make it able to pass for just about anywhere in the eastern U.S., right smack in the middle of the San Fernando Valley. I’d read about this some time ago when there was an article about it in the Los Angeles Times, and so we finally got to go see it today.

It was a nice day for riding. It’s the last Sunday of the month, so it’s time for our monthly ’slightly longer’ ride. We headed out, west across Eagle Rock and Glendale and into the Valley. Somewhere in Studio City we saw Ringside Liquors, advertising “Fine Booze”. Somehow, it seems that if you’re calling it ‘booze’, the adjective ‘fine’ just doesn’t fit any more.

We rode through part of Van Nuys, which looked just like we expected. Lots of auto-body shops and kind of run-down apartments. And then we turned the corner onto Orion Ave. And everything changed. We were suddenly transported to suburban Connecticut or something like that. It was very strange. We rode down to the end of the block at Victory Blvd, where Los Angeles reappeared. It was a very odd feeling.

Coming back, we rode back down Orion Ave and got on the Metro Orange Line bike path. We took that all the way back to North Hollywood, and our snack stop at Panera. Then we continued on the bike path into Burbank before turning off. The route back was pretty much the reverse of the way out. It was quite warm and sunny by then, so all told, it was pretty much a perfect day for riding.

53 miles.


More letter-to-the-editor snark

Filed under: — stan @ 2:02 pm

Last week, the L.A. Times had an article about one man’s experience with bicycle commuting in Los Angeles. The overall message was that it’s really not bad. This matches my experience with riding here. Of all the cities I’ve spent time riding in, L.A. is one of the best for the overall experience.

My favorite tidbit from the column:

I have the pleasure of seeing the city through a different lens. Riding at a pace between 15 and 20 mph, the city is a slide show instead of a blur.

This mirrors what I’ve said for years. The bike is in many ways the perfect sightseeing vehicle. It can cover a lot of ground, but not at a speed where you will miss anything along the way.

Still, I felt that something was missing. So I sent in yet another letter to the editor, and they published it in today’s paper:

Re “A new spokesman for the thrill sport of biking in L.A.,” Column, Feb. 19

As a longtime cyclist, both for commuting and recreation, I enjoyed reading Ben Poston’s article about his experiences cycling in L.A. But he left out the best part: Cycling in Los Angeles is exciting; it’s like doing the running of the bulls everyday.

Stan Schwarz



Who says we don’t have seasons in Los Angeles…

Filed under: — stan @ 11:03 am

People in other parts of the country are fond of saying that there are no seasons in southern California. But we know that’s not true. Right here, we can see the changing seasons.

One morning, I was riding my bike to work, and I saw a film crew setting up some fake autumn trees in the front yard of a house near Caltech. Some time later that day, when they packed up the trees, some of the leaves fell off. So on my way home that afternoon, I picked up some fake fall leaves. And that evening, it changed from fall to winter. There was an ice truck parked in front of the house, and the next morning when I went by, there was snow on the roof of the house. We had two complete seasons in less than 24 hours.

It’s much more efficient that way.


Tour de Terminator

Filed under: — stan @ 5:09 pm

Today’s bike club ride was a sightseeing trip around Los Angeles to see four locations where scenes from the 1984 film, “The Terminator” were shot. I got the idea for this tour the other day when I found out that the restaurant where Sarah Connor worked in the movie was played by the Carrow’s in South Pasadena, and we’ve been by there a hundred times. So I looked up a few more locations, made a route, and here we are. I made a point of watching the movie again last night, just to be familiar with the locations and how they were shot. And now, almost 30 years later, the film really holds up quite well.

We started out from the park at 8:00. It was kind of chilly, and it didn’t help that the first 15 miles or so of the ride are downhill. We rode down into South Pasadena and stopped at Carrow’s. I leaned my bike up against the tree that Sarah Connor locked her scooter to in the film. It’s grown a bit over the last nearly-thirty-years.

Next, we rode down into downtown Los Angeles. Our first stop was on Hill St. We found the storefront that was turned into the Tech Noir nightclub in the film. The shutters were down, so it didn’t look like much. But even when they’re up, it’s just a jewelry store.

We found the alley off 7th St where Reese materialized after traveling through the time portal. It’s got a gate across it, which I guess is why the alley is so clean now.

Leaving downtown, we rode out to Larchmont to get bagels at Noah’s. By then, it had turned into a very nice day, and we had to wait a bit for a table outside. But we had our snacks and got ready for the ride home.

The route back dipped a bit south so we could get below Wilshire Blvd. This was so we could turn north on La Fayette Park Place. That was the location of the building that played Sarah and Ginger’s apartment. That particular location was only in the movie for a few seconds as an establishing shot showing the Terminator walking into the building.

All the sightseeing done, we cut over one block to Benton Way and headed for home. We rode back across Silver Lake and Eagle Rock, up the Colorado Hill, and home. It was a nice ride.

41 miles.


This is pretty remarkable for Los Angeles

Filed under: — stan @ 8:24 am

This is the coldest I’ve ever seen it get in 30 years here. Yesterday, the pan of water just had an ice crust on top of it. Today it’s actually frozen. I know it’s not all that cold compared to other places, but for here, it’s pretty cold. Especially since my house has only minimal insulation. That’s how they built all the old houses around here. Since, after all, it never gets all that cold here.



Filed under: — stan @ 11:09 pm

It’s New Year’s Eve, and time for a nice dinner out at Takami in downtown Los Angeles. This is the Japanese sushi and robata restaurant on the 21st floor of a building in the middle of downtown. So there’s good food and a nice view, including my two favorite buildings, Aon Center and the U.S. Bank Tower.

We rode the train there this time, since it’s easy, fast, and avoids driving on New Year’s Eve, which I think is a worthy goal. And the restaurant is right around the corner from the Metro station, so it’s convenient, too.

We had some orange-ginger martinis to start. They were quite good. And the Takami Edamame. It’s just like regular edamame, but sauteed with butter and soy sauce. Then we ordered a selection of different things and had a little bit of everything.

Since part of the dining room is out on the terrace, I got a few pictures of downtown from up there. I also made a point of taking a picture from Union Station on the way home. We could see the U.S. Bank Tower with the crown lit up red and green for Christmas, and also the Lindbergh Beacon on the top of Los Angeles City Hall.

It was a fun evening out, and we were home by 10:00, so that makes for a perfect New Year’s Eve.


Editorial-page snark

Filed under: — stan @ 7:50 am

The other day, the L.A. Times had an article about the toll roads in Orange County are having trouble making enough in tolls to cover their expenses. It reminded me of a similar article they ran back in the ’90s about a toll road in Mexico that was not used as much as expected. So the owners kept raising the tolls until they were astronomical, and nobody used the road.

Seriously, in the case of toll roads, maybe lowering the tolls might help, since people do have a choice in matters of which road to take. And raising the tolls will just tend to drive more people away. But in any event, the article on Monday just inspired a little bit of snark, so wrote a quick letter, and they published it today:

So the toll roads are not collecting enough in tolls to cover their expenses. They raise the tolls, and revenue still fails to meet projections. Why don’t they try lowering the tolls to increase revenue? That worked well for taxes — oh, wait.,0,2878867.story

First time since 2006.


This was a nice treat

Filed under: — stan @ 10:47 pm

A few weeks ago, I got some email from Trepany House about upcoming shows at the Steve Allen Theater. We’ve been there before to see talks on science and skepticism, and they also have some small theater productions there. So I was kind of surprised to see that Eddie Izzard was going to be performing there for two weeks in December. Kathleen is a big fan of his, and she’s seen him here in L.A., as well as in Las Vegas. He’s a pretty big name, and those shows were all in big theaters. So it sounded like fun to see him in a theater that’s only a little bit bigger than my living room.

The mailer said he was in the process of developing a new show, so we were one of many test audiences. But the show didn’t sound like a rough draft. He did about an hour and a half, which is a long time by stand-up comedy standards. He was very funny, and hugely entertaining from start to finish.

This show was a winner.


Another celebrity grave tour to Westwood

Filed under: — stan @ 7:30 pm

It’s the last Sunday of the month, and it’s time for the monthly ‘longer’ ride. I’d heard recently that Don Knotts got a new headstone to replace the rather plain one he had before. I also found out that Ray Bradbury was buried at the same cemetery in Westwood. So we had a destination.

Riding to Westwood from Pasadena sounds impossible, but it’s really not bad. We rode across Hollywood, and the traffic isn’t bad at 9:00 on a Sunday morning. The only problem was when we got to the part of Hollywood Blvd that was closed to get ready for the Hollywood Christmas Parade this evening.

We took side streets across West Hollywood, except for a short stretch on Fountain Ave. But that’s all right. After all, “Take Fountain” was the advice Bette Davis has for aspiring actors.

We took some more side streets through the last part of West Hollywood, passing Dicks St, which seemed appropriate. Then we crossed over into Beverly Hills, which is always a nice place to ride.

We had to do a short stretch on Santa Monica Blvd by Century City, but that’s not bad since they rebuilt it and added a bike lane. Then we turned off onto the side streets and made our way to the cemetery.

Don Knotts’ new headstone is quite nice, featuring pictures of many of the characters he played over the years. We went to se the notes and flowers left at Marilyn Monroe’s grave, and we also wandered around for a bit to see who else was there. But we never did find Ray Bradbury.

Leaving the cemetery, we rode up Benedict Canyon. John and I stopped for a photo at the second-most-imposing driveway gate I’ve ever seen. It reminded us a bit of “Young Frankenstein“. While we were there, a guard came out to see what we were doing. That seemed a bit odd, and we were wondering who lives there that they need a full-time guard at the driveway gate. Turns out it’s a woman whose late husband was a developer who apparently made a lot of money building Wal-Marts and other commercial buildings. And they built that very nice house in Benedict Canyon with it.

Going down the other side of the hill into the San Fernando Valley, we rode to Studio City to our favorite gelato place. We had some snacks there before riding home. By then it had turned into a very nice day.

When we got back to Pasadena, we saw the first bleachers going up for the Rose Parade. That means the holidays are getting close.

All told, it was a pleasant ride.

62 miles.

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