Monday, June 9, 2014

Go Do This: Ride The Red Cars This Weekend

PERRIS - If there is one thing that lives in the imagine of any true Southern Californian who knows their history, it is Pacific Electric, or otherwise commonly known as the red cars.

Okay, maybe you are new here and not too sure what these red cars are, or you are a young Southern Californian and have trouble believing that we actually had one of the best public transportation systems in the World. Well, this weekend you can see the evidence yourself, and ride it!

This weekend, Saturday June, 14, and Sunday June, 15, The Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris is having its Pacific Electric Weekend.

The museum's large fleet of Pacific Electric rail cars is very impressive, and now you can ride it.

An extra bonus if you happen to go Saturday, because that is also Rods and Rails Days.

According to the museum, 

The 15th Annual Rods and Rails sponsored by the City of Perris features cars from the 1920's through the 1970's. The event also features games and entertainment for the whole family, the 1800's Territorial Marshall reenactments, live music and contests and the annual Potato Festival sponsored by the Perris Valley Historical and Museum Association.

So you have old cars, the Pacific Electric and a Potato Festival, too. A POTATO FESTIVAL!

Oh, not only are the red cars there, but the yellow cars are are also at the museum (you do not know what those were, well, go to the museum this weekend and find out). In fact, according to the museum, they have the "West's largest collection of railway locomotives, passenger and freight cars, streetcars, interurban electric cars, buildings and other artifacts dating from the 1870's."

So, go to this, the Pacific Electric Weekend and The Orange Empire Railway Museum.

The museum is located at:

2201 s. "A" Street
Perris, California

Yes, depending where you are at in Southern California, it is bit of drive, but it is totally worth it.

Now, here are some photographs when Pacific Electric ruled Southern California.

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The Metro Red Line subway now rides underground here now, but here was the day when the big red car rode along Western Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood. No copyright infringement intended.

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The red car slinking about in downtown Los Angeles at Hill Street and Venice Blvd. No copyright infringement intended.

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Amid the Yellow Cabs and Greyhound buses this red car goes though the intersection of Sixth and L.A. Streets in Downtown L.A. No copyright infringement intended.

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The Pacific Electric ran well outside L.A. and into Orange County, and out into the Inland Empire as seen in this photograph from Colton. No copyright infringement intended.

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This photograph almost looks like it is from someplace that is not in L.A., but it is downtown L.A., and this photograph was taken shortly before the red cars would become one of many things that would not be here anymore. No copyright infringement intended.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Colossus at Magic Mountain to be Firewood By The End of Summer

VALENCIA - If you have not heard the news, and the moose out front should have told you, Colossus roller coaster at Six Flags Magic Mountain will be firewood by the end of the summer. 

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Colossus in younger, happier days.

Okay, Colossus literally becoming firewood still needs to be verified, but what we can confirm is that Colossus, probably the most iconic attraction associated with Magic Mountain, will be closing down August 16.

There has been no reason given as to why the famed wooden roller coaster is closing down, nor what will replace it. 

Colossus under construction in this film footage from Cyclone Productions. 

If the Valencia park's crop of new roller coasters and attractions in the past few years is any indication signs would point to a new "extreme" ride replacing the coaster. 

Now there is some speculation on various amusement park sites that Colossus may not being going away completely and may possibly be "reused" as part of a new ride.

Colossus has been the go-to coaster for many advertisements, television shows and movies.

Probably the most memorable use of Colossus in film was its climatic use in National Lampoon's Vacation where Chevy Chase holds John Candy hostage after finding out, after a grueling cross-country drive across the country with the family, Wally World is closed.     

In an era when roller coasters did not have to be all that "extreme" Colossus was once the tallest wooden roller coaster in the world at 13 stories tall when it opened in 1978.

Things of course could always be worse, back in 2006 there was talk of Magic Mountain closing down in the name of condos being built.

So, you have until August 16 until another piece of your childhood is destroyed.

Before you go watch this: When it was a new thing here is the opening of Colossus as seen through 1978 L.A. broadcast media, featuring a lot of familiar faces from your childhood.

When Colossus was a shiny new thing on television.

Now For Something Different: 1980s T-V-O-D Theme Songs

FROM THE TRANSMITTERS OF MOUNT WILSON -  Growing up in Southern California there is one thing that has seemingly bonded us whether we live in Anaheim, Compton, La Puente, East Los Angeles, Covina or Cudahy, and that is what has been broadcast in the airwaves from the transmitters of Mount Wilson to thousands of homes in Southern California. Local Southern California television is highly unique and very memorable for many of us, but this blurb is not about local television (that will, and MUST, have its own posting soon), but rather national network television of the 1980s.

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Like ignoring much of a changing, and sometimes troubling, America in the 1980s network television hardly represented what was happening in diverse places like Southern California.

Television in 1970s America seem to reach a certain level social awareness, most notable with Norman Lear at the helm behind hits like "All in the Family," "Good Times," and "Sanford and Son," among others. The decade had its share of over-the-top, utterly inane programs as television should be an escape from the perhaps nerve-racking way of life, but it seem television in the decade that gave us the resignation of President Richard Nixon and election of Jimmy Carter had something to say. Come the new decade of the 1980s a seemingly cultural shift takes place, Ronald Reagan is elected president ushering in a new era of social conservatism, and this change is strongly reflected on television where programming moves from social awareness and gives way to absurd over-the-top escapism programs like a Texas oilman who is an international spy on the side. Despite their over-the-top appeal more times than not the shows, unlike many of the previous decade, were very decadent and non-offensive. 

All that said, this story is not really meant to be a social-culture study on 1980s television, and, despite that setup above, what follows is really a tongue-and-cheek post about one thing that really mattered in 1980s television, the theme song.

For all their blandness, the 1980s televisions show theme songs left a major impression on American pop culture, and frankly the theme songs were much better than the program itself.

In no particular order here is an assortment are some of the best and worst theme songs from the long gone era known as the 1980s.

Last Season of Happy Days
Okay, we know what you are probably thinking, Happy Days is considered to be more of a 1970s show, despite lasting until the summer of 1984, and surely Happy Days' best days were in the mid-70s, and so it is easy to understand why it is often associated being a "70s show." Come the dawn of the new decade seismic shifts in the Cunningham's world took place when Richie left to join the Army followed by his pal Ralph Mouth. Replacing Richie was some kind of distant family member played unexplainable by a modern 1980s bleached-blond hair Ted McGinley, and the always talked about but never seen Jenny Piccolo finally showed up. From that moment it was tantamount to that moment in your life where something changes and you know things will never be the same again. Indeed things were never the same again, but by their final season when the shark The Fonz jumped over had long died and sank to the bottom of the ocean the show truly reached its nadir by altering its beloved opening theme song.

If there ever was a television show that is the ethos of being a shell of its former self it is Happy Days. Come the final season there was no effort to at least give the show a proper sendoff and maybe try to go back to the program's roots, or at the very least develop a plot explaining why the style and feel of the show changed, and give what few viewers were left some closure.

Diff'rent Strokes
No need to make any improper Gary Coleman jokes, or such jokes concerning to travesties that would befall the cast of Diff'rent Strokes, all there is to say is, how can you not want to sing along with this song.

Like Happy Days the series' last season theme song in 1985-86 changed a bit with added synthesizers along with cast changes, and moved to ABC from NBC, but, unlike Happy Days, the show stayed the course without any major upsets to the series.

Days of our Lives
If you were a kid in this decade of the 1980s home sick, or pretending to be sick, you knew your free rein of watching the morning fare of network game shows and old cartoons on maybe KTLA or KTTV was over when you heard this creepy theme, and suddenly you were not so sick as going outside now seems like a better option. Yes, for you young kids today it is hard to imagine when parents demanded the television your only option until you could get the TV back was playing outside, playing with toys that you have played with several times before, or maybe, listening to records alone in your room.

This opening was used from 1972 until 1993 when McDonald Carey died as Mr. McDonald's family requested the show no longer use his likeness. Did you care to know, the sand falling into the hourglass was just a string.

Hunter and Magnum P.I.
If fast cars, guns drawn, explosions, steamy romances and morally rogue within the law cops sounds like several programs from the 1980s, you would be right. Two of the more successful shows of this genre were Hunter and Magnum P.I., which followed unconventional, but really conventional, cops and their sidekicks around to catch the evil bad guy. (Okay, Magnum P.I. was some kind of private eye and quasi-cop.) Each show followed the trail of the bad guy that always led to explosions, car chases, sometimes preventing a time-bomb from destroying the city, catching "urban" drug dealers, dealing with a steamy romantic interest, who sometimes becomes a hostage, which sometimes caused a dramatic plot twist by revealing she once had a relationship with the bad guy, and all accompanied by humorous jabs towards the partner. Rinse, wash and repeat. The complexity of thwarting some criminal mastermind always took just a hour every week with officers of the law who would never think of colluding with the enemy like Officer Vic Mackey.

The moral goodness of LAPD officer Richard Hunter is a long way from the boys at The Shield.

Oh Tom Selleck, in the 1980s women wanted to be with you and you made men grow mustaches to assert their masculinity.

Silver Spoons
So the premise of Silver Spoons was Ricky Stratton, who's mother threw him into a military boarding school after she remarried thinking her son would interfere with her new life, somehow manages to track down his father he never met, and as luck would have it his dad is not only super wealthy, but basically the CEO of his own toy company. It gets better, the father's home, aside from being an sprawling mansion, is filled with toys. With all that there is one question, or plot hole, many have wondered, where in the hell did that train go to when it left the house?

It could be argued Silver Spoons was a good refection of the Reagan era showing excessive wealth and creating a desire for audiences to dream and just maybe obtain such wealth.

Punky Brewster
In many "remember these theme song" stories Punky Brewster often seems to be left out, much like Punky's mother did to her and her dog Brandon. It is true, in the plot for some reason Punky's mother just utterly abandoned her and Brandon at a supermarket one day and this old unmarried man named Henry who she never met, who also happens to owns a photography shop, picks her up and they live together. Yes, read the plot synopsis again, because it does sound a bit creepy and something that would be in one of those Lifetime channel movie reenactments.

It is a very endearing theme song accompanied by Punky dressed in very bright, totally gnarly clothes. It would seem Henry did not mind so much shopping inside the woman's section at Chess King for his adoptive daughter.

It's Garry Shandling's Show
Finally, there was one show that broke through the absurdity of the era with witty comedy, but more times than not the show itself is often overlooked for the show's very catchy theme song, and it is easy to understand.

Just like the show the theme to It's Garry Shandling's Show was ridiculous, but cleaver. The show truly pointed out the absurdity of television comedies during this era.

While we look back at plenty of television shows from the 1980s with campy eyes one must remember that was pretty much want you had to choose from. Yes, there was bit of a broad brush painted here as there were a handful of interesting shows in this era, and if you were lucky you had HBO or some other cable channel, like the Z Channel, showing unique fare uncommon for its time, but there were a lot of places in Southern California that well into 1990s were still not wired for cable. Whatever thought-provoking, compelling unique television did exist in this time most shows were often, if not quickly, met with a cancellation notice. There were no internet forms or YouTube to find the series and create a new fanbase in hopes of having the show reinstated, or at the very least have a web revival. This was the era of "the big three" and those suits in New York who decided what America was going to watch.

Today, despite the nonstop glut of so-called reality shows there is much better television than in the 1980s. Hard to believe? Well, just compare some of the best scripted shows on television today to that of the 1980s. Of course the trade off is we no longer have many of the catchy themes today as we did back then, and we have to wade through more moronic television to find the good stuff, and that is too bad.

The past is always fun to visit, but trust us when we say you never want to live there.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Go Do This: Get Your Eyes Checked For FREE!

LOS ANGELES - We know for many people times are not all that easy, and if you have been putting off getting you and/or your child's eyes checked out, well, at an upcoming event you can get your eyes checked and (if need be) eye glasses for FREE.

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What a more appropriate place to get your eyes checked out than at the Los Angeles Public Library.

More precise, you can get your eyes checked out and eye glasses fitted at the Baldwin Hills Branch Library, because that is where there will be a Pop-Up Clinic on Wednesday, June 11, and Friday, June 13, to get your eyes checked for free.

To make an appointment dial 323-733-1196. 

If you want to go (and really need to go) it is HIGHLY URGED you dial that number and make an appointment. Do know all appointments are in the afternoon. If you do not dial that number and do not make an appointment, and decide to just walk in, be advised that walk-ins are on a first-come, first-serve basis as space permits. 

Once your eyes are taken care of please check out a fantastic book.

The Baldwin Hills Branch Library is located at:
2906 S. La Brea Avenue (Just a bit below Westhaven Street)
Los Angeles, CA 90016 
Phone: (323) 733-1196

Nixon's Election Day Trip Footnote

WHITTIER - Between waking up, voting and hoping to hear the news that would move him to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Orange County's favorite son took an unexpected and unplanned Southern California road-trip that is an interesting footnote in both politics and Southern California history.

It all began on Election Day 1960 after outgoing Vice President and Republican Presidential hopeful Richard M. Nixon cast his vote at a polling place in Whittier shortly after 8 a.m.

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Though it eerily looks a bit like Mitt Romney this is a 1968 cello pin button of Mr. Nixon's being saluted by his alma mater, Whittier College. Artist of this button is unknown.

On the ballot that year as you may know was John F. Kennedy on the Democrat ticket, and Richard M. Nixon on the Republican Ticket.

After voting in Whittier Mr. Nixon and company went over to the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles (where years before Richard and Pat Nixon used to go on dates in the hotel's famed Coconut Grove nightclub) to watch the elections results, and where he hoped to give a victory speech, but something funny happened. No, it was not the awkward semi-concession speech Nixon would give that night confusing many reporters and some of the public, because what happened that Election Day 1960 happened before any of the polls closed. Between voting in Whittier and going to the Ambassador Hotel Mr. Nixon decided almost on a whim to ditch the press following him and go on a little quiet road-trip.

Even then, much like today, the press was on every breath and step of the top presidential candidates and if the Republican candidate wanted a random quiet road-trip without the World knowing the first thing Mr. Nixon had to do was lose the press. 

So this journey began many blocks from the Whittier polling place when Mr. Nixon and his entourage, which was a military aide and a Secret Service agent, covertly and ever oh-so discreetly away from the press jumped out of the Vice Presidential limo and into a white convertible follow-up car driven by an officer from the Los Angeles Police Department, and off they went, and most importantly, they managed to successfully ditch the press. By the way, Nixon did not just jump into the backseat and say, "let's go," but rather the presidential hopeful told the LAPD officer to scoot over and he, Nixon, drove the car himself.

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Then President Nixon standing at a podium at the Anaheim Convention Center in 1970. Photograph courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library archives.

After leaving Whittier and the hounding press behind Mr. Nixon made a visit to his mother in La Habra, and then got on old U.S. 101 and headed south passing Disneyland, Santa Ana, San Clemente (which would later be home to The Western White House) and before long he was soon out of Orange County. In fact, the truth was, Nixon and company had no real idea where they wanted to go.

As the fuel gauge was low Nixon stopped for gas in Oceanside, which, according to Nixon aides, was the only source of relaxation that stressful Tuesday in November. The story goes that Nixon told a gas station attendant, who was, to say the least, a bit surprised to see the Vice President of the United States (and possible new President) out and about on a very important day. Reportedly Nixon told the gas station attendant that, “I’m just out for a little ride.” It was that small exchange at an Oceanside gas station that brought Nixon the only joy that nerve-racking day, according to former Nixon aides.

After leaving Oceanside Mr. Nixon and company continued south on the 101 into San Diego. Well, now in San Diego and not too sure what to do or where to go Nixon mentioned he had not been to Tijuana in over 20 years. Shortly there after the man who might be elected President of the United States by the end of that day was now out of the country and in Tijuana.   

Mr. Nixon and company, on advice from a Border Patrol Agent, went to have something to eat at the Old Heidelberg restaurant, which the border agent claimed was the best Mexican food in Tijuana. 

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The Old Heidelberg restaurant in Tijuana. Date and author of this photograph unknown.

Word got around Tijuana that a possible future U.S. president was in town and soon joining the presidential candidate was Tijuana Mayor Xicotencati Leyva Aleman. It was later reported that Mr. Nixon and everybody in the group ate enchiladas.

After eating enchiladas Mr. Nixon and company headed back for the states, and at the border crossing checkpoint a border agent was shocked to see who was in the car, but still had to ask, "Are you all residents of the United States?" according to Nixon aides.

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Painted postcard of the U.S.-Mexican Border in San Diego. Date and artist unknown.

Headed back to L.A. up north on the 101 Mr. Nixon stopped at Mission San Juan Capistrano, which Nixon called “one of my favorite Catholic places.” Surely it was not lost on the Republican presidential hopeful that his Democratic rival was the first Catholic candidate for the President. Years later Nixon said of this visit to the Mission, “For a few minutes, we sat in the empty pews for an interlude of complete escape.”

After that stop in south Orange County it was finally on to the Ambassador Hotel. 

As the press and other guests went on over to the Ambassador Hotel and settled in many began to wonder just where is Mr. Nixon? Well, Herb Klein, Nixon’s press secretary, was asked more than a few times about the missing Nixon. Doing what press secretaries do best he smiled at the reporters and told them that Nixon is just taking a private moment with his family as he often does on hectic days. Back in reality Klein had no idea where Nixon was nor that he was out of the country on this very important day.

Mr. Nixon soon showed up at the Ambassador Hotel, and at that moment the press and public were none the wiser that the man who may be elected president in a few hours was earlier in the day a couple hours away in another country.

After a day of randomly driving across Southern California and unexpectedly going to Tijuana, time, as the sun was setting and polls across the country were closing, would soon prove everything.

Mr. Nixon's vote in Whittier that morning was one of many that gave the presidential hopeful California's 32 electoral votes, which however was not enough to win the election as the final electoral college vote was Mr. Kennedy, 303, and out going Vice President Nixon, 219.

Unlike the case and fate of many former vice presidents and presidential candidates Mr. Nixon would not go on to be a historical footnote in history. Rather, time would show that it would not be the last time Mr. Nixon would win California's electoral votes, because in 1968 he won The Golden State's 40 electoral votes, which, at the end of that election night in that highly contentious, turbulent year, he would pickup a total 301 electoral votes to be elected President of the United States.

Of course a few years later in 1974 the Nixon Presidency ended up making another kind of history, which Mr. Nixon probably wished was no more than a footnote in history. Nearly 20 years after resigning from office Nixon died in New York City after suffering a serve stroke. Mr. Nixon is buried, along with his wife Pat, at the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum in his hometown of Yorba Linda.

These days in our modern hyper-media World it would be hard to imagine a presidential candidate quietly escaping anywhere, much less south of the border, or even north of the border to Canada, on Election Day. Should the presidential candidate be caught just outside the country on Election Day it would probably quickly devolve into a "cable news channel scandal," and add in a few members of the U.S. Congress loudly protesting for good measure. 

In the end this little random road-trip Mr. Nixon took on election day 1960 was really less political history and more Southern California history.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Lakers Head Coach D'Antoni Resigns

LOS ANGELES - In what has been a very busy, and at times surreal, week for Los Angeles sports continues as Lakers head coach Mike D'Antoni announced his resignation on Wednesday.

It is unclear who will fill the shoes of Lakers' head coach.

This news follows the Donald Sterling affair, which broke over the weekend and climaxed on Tuesday when National Basketball Association Commissioner Adam Silver banned Clippers' owner Mr. Sterling from the NBA for life, fined him $2.5 million and will attempt to make Mr. Sterling sell the team. This is an unprecedented punishment in the history of American sports.

Since that announcement many high-profile people have voiced their interest in buying The Clippers, including, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, Sean "Ditty" Combs, David Geffen, Oscar De La Hoya and Oprah Winfrey.

Many sport analysts believe Mr. Sterling will not give up the team without a fight.

The Lakers have wrapped up their rather lackluster season, missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons while under Mr. D'Antoni, while The Clippers are currently in the West playoffs leading the series 3-2 against the Golden State Warriors.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Five Things You Will Never Hear Somebody From North Orange County Say

ANAHEIM - In many unique ways Orange County is almost two different places (with the 714 and 949 area codes being the unofficial line-splitter) with north Orange County, which is very much apart of the urban Los Angeles Basin, and south Orange County, which is in a lot of ways, well, where certain perceptions and stereotypes of "The OC" may possibility live along with the so-called "Real Housewives." 

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May 1965 aerial photograph above Disneyland in Anaheim when orange groves were still a common site in Orange County. Photograph courtesy of

Here are five things you will probably never heard somebody from north Orange County say:

1. "That's weird! This is the first time I've ever heard the fireworks from Disneyland at my house. Does this happen often?"

2. "It's too bad we have to drive up to L.A. to go to a real Korean restaurant."

3. "Wow. The design and food at Angelo's and Vinci's Ristorante is a total ripoff of Buca Di Beppo."

4. "Hey, we should go to the Denny's on Harbor across from Disneyland, because their prices are cheaper than the Denny's up here."

5. "Why aren't there any good artwalks around here?"


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Songs of Southern California: Mix Tape #4

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Tape number four in the collection of songs about Southern California. 

Ronnie and The Daytonas - Little G.T.O.

Mama's and The Papa's - California Dreaming

Barney Kessel - 64 Bars on Wilshire

L7 - Andres

Circle Jerks - Beverly Hills

N.W.A. -Boyz In The Hood

Sublime - Garden Grove

Monday, March 31, 2014

Top 11 Interesting Southern California Freeways

STUCK ON THE ORANGE CRUSH INTERCHANGE - We would like to think public transportation is finally coming into its own in Southern California, but let us face it, the freeway is still king. For a lot of us the freeway defines our way life, and that is not going to change anytime soon. So, here are the top 11 (some good, some bad) interesting freeways in Southern California.

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The Cahuenga Pass once upon a time. Date and author unknown. No copyright infringement intended.

#11 - The Marina Freeway - State Route (SR) 90

Otherwise known as the Westside Wang this has to be one of the most useless freeways in Southern California, and does not seem to serve any real purpose unless you need to get from the Westfield Culver City mall (formerly called Fox Hills Mall) to Marina Del Rey in your Chevrolet right away. 

#10 - The Chino Hills Freeway - SR 71

While driving alongside Chino Hills State Park makes for a nice scenic drive The Chino Hills Freeway is not too sure if it wants to be a freeway, highway or wide boulevard. Adding to the 71's identity crisis is the name, because until somewhat recently it was known as the Corona Expressway, and before that it was called the Temescal Freeway.

#9 - "The 91"

The 91 has one of the worst commutes in the country, because for a few miles through Santa Ana Canyon there are no back roads or alternative routes and thus everybody must take this freeway. Like the 71 this freeway too has bit of an identity crisis. Most people know it as The Riverside Freeway, but between the Interstate 5 and the I-710 interchange it is called The Artesia Freeway, and between the I-710 and I-110 it is called The Gardena Freeway.

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The proposed 1947 parkway plan. Photo courtesy of the Southern California Automobile Club. Used under Creative Commons. 

#8 - The Century Freeway - I-105

The last freeway to be competed in the Los Angeles Basin the Century Freeway is a vision of what our freeway system should have been when it was created by adding public transit rail lines along the freeway.

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Aerial view of the I-105/I-710 interchange. Date and author unknown; no copyright infringement intended. Used under Creative Commons.

#7 - The Santa Ana Freeway - I-5

The most direct route between L.A. and Orange County embodies everything wrong with post-War Southern California suburban sprawl. While cities and developers were more than happy to build tract-homes and malls for as far as the eye can see the powers that be never saw to it to expand the 5 to accompany the growth until it was way too late.

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Not the 5, but a 1954 photograph of The Hollywood Freeway, and although the style of cars have changed the traffic jam remains the same. Used under Creative Commons.

#6 - The Pomona Freeway - SR 60

On those off days when there is little traffic and it is clear and bright the 60 through the San Gabriel Valley actually makes for a nice drive with the green hills to the south of the freeway almost looking like the Pacific Northwest. Yet one cannot help but wonder that it would have made more sense to call the 60 The Riverside Freeway since it connects between downtown Riverside and Downtown L.A.

#5 - The San Gabriel River Freeway - I-605

While it is very convenient for people who live and/or work off the 605, but for an interstate freeway this feels like it does not have any real destination, and that it is kind of just "there," but there is something interesting about this freeway. The 605 goes from the foot of the mountains down to the foot of the ocean, and it is really the only freeway in Southern California that kind of does this.

#4 - The Harbor Freeway - I-110

Aside from going through the heart of L.A. the Harbor Freeway offers some of the best views of Downtown L.A.

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The Harbor Freeway through Downtown L.A. in 1964 in a photograph by the great "Dick" Whittington. Used for information purposes; no copyright infringement intended.

#3 - The Glendale Freeway - SR 2

Would not it be ironic if Cal-Trans renamed the 2 The Hipster Freeway given that this freeway goes through some of L.A.'s hip neighborhoods and it is kind of an awkward freeway? That aside The Glendale Freeway southern terminus ends somewhat awkwardly in Echo Park as it is the uncompleted Beverly Hills Freeway. This uncompleted freeway stands as a testament to money and power in L.A. as East L.A. and South L.A. residents were not able to stop massive freeway construction in their neighborhoods, but Hancock Park and Beverly Hills residents waved their magic paper green wands to make this freeway go away. (Interestingly then Governor Ronald Reagan supported completing the 2 to Beverly Hills.)   

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What could have been, a 1964 drawing of the proposed Beverly Hills Freeway. Photograph courtesy Metro Transportation Library and Archive.

#2 - The I-5 From L.A. to Tijuana

Despite the problems with the 5 it is exciting to think this freeway can take you from Downtown L.A. to another country in (traffic pending) around 90 minutes. How... European.

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Postcard dated 1945 showing the old border crossing in Tijuana/San Diego.

#1 - The Arroyo Seco Parkway - SR 110

For some people who first experience this freeway, err parkway, it is kind of like a rare fine wine. It kind of takes you by surprise and it takes a moment to settle in, but once it settles in you realize this is one of the most beautiful freeways, excuse me, parkways. in the country. If you have to live life on the freeway The Arroyo Seco Parkway makes it all worth it.

110 Freeway 1961 photo EXM-N-12904-0021.jpgLate 1950s photograph of the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Author unknown. Used under Creative Commons.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Know Your Faults: Puente Hills Fault

(This is an occasional series exploring the many earthquake fault lines in and around Southern California. This series is not intended to be a scholarly, scientific review of earthquake faults throughout Southern California, but hopefully will be a jumping off point for you to understand and further explore the fault lines that cross Southern California. )   

LA HABRA - It has been a weekend of cleaning up shattered glass, having homes assessed and reassessed to see if they are still livable, and dealing with aftershocks in what is turning out to be perhaps the most damaging earthquake in the Los Angeles Basin since the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

At only magnitude 5.1 it is considered to be a low-end moderate earthquake, but when you get a typical Southern California shallow quake in the magnitude 5 range under an urbanized area that is when you begin to see damage, and that has been painfully proven for residents and businesses in the Fullerton and La Habra area.

The La Habra quake is bringing much needed attention to something rather unpleasant, the Puente Hills Fault, or otherwise called, the Puente Hills Thrust System.  (For the rest of this piece we shall just call it the Puente Hills Fault.)

How Unpleasant?

Just how unpleasant is the thought of this fault to geologists, seismologists and emergency planners? Well, a major quake, "The Big One," on the San Andreas Fault in Southern California is going to be a major life altering event, but a major earthquake on the Puente Hills Fault, with an expected magnitude 7.2-7.5, could take such a disastrous event to a whole new level. In fact, a major event on this fault is expected to be worse than a major event on the Newport-Inglewood Fault.

Officials at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) believe this La Habra earthquake was caused by the Puente Hills Fault. It is worth noting USGS also believes the 1987 Whittier-Narrows Earthquake, which seismologists originally thought was on the then newly discovered Elysian Park Fault, was also caused by this fault.

Why So Dangerous?

Using rough directions,
the Puente Hills Fault runs about 25 miles, going east-to-west, from about the hills above Brea, across the lower San Gabriel Valley, going northwest into Downtown L.A., and further northwest ending just about before Griffith Park. Seeing and understanding where this fault runs you can understand why a major quake on this fault is such a dreadful thought to officials. 

Now unlike, say, the Whittier Fault or Newport-Inglewood Fault, which has noticeable scars in the earth, like hills, the Puente Hills Fault is a blind thrust fault with no surface scars. 

A Different Kind of Shaking

One of the many problems with a major earthquake on this fault is, unlike the Newport-Inglewood Fault or even the San Andreas Fault where those faults are vertical faults resulting in intense shaking near where the fault reaches the surface, the Puente Hills Fault is a horizontal fault with intense shaking felt over a much larger area.

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A shake-map scenario of a M7.1 Puente Hills Fault rupture created by the Southern California Seismic Network at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in partnership with USGS. No copyright infringement intended; Shown for educational purposes only.

Just How Bad?

The Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC) along with the University of Southern California conducted a study in 2003 that showed a major earthquake on the Puente Hills Fault could cause "fatalities ranging between 3,000 and 18,000," along with "displaced households ranging from 142,000 to 735,000, with an average of 274,000."

With a fault running from the lower San Gabriel Valley, into Downtown L.A. up to Griffith Park you would have a major earthquake occurring in Southern California's oldest neighborhoods. Seismologists along with emergency planners believe such a quake could result in severe, catastrophic damage to Downtown L.A.'s older, historic buildings along Broadway, Main Street and Grand Avenue. 

What about the tall, modern skyscrapers that gives L.A. its modern, worldly skyline?

Thomas H. Jordan, director of the SCEC, told the L.A. Downtown News in March 2011 that, “A 7.5 at Puente Hills would pretty much be a worst-case scenario for Downtown,” with shaking lasting more than a minute. Mr. Jordan says, “It’s conceivable that some of the high-rise buildings would collapse [...] A lot of the modern structures in Downtown are very well constructed, so it would take a very extreme event like [a 7.5] to really cause damage to those very well-constructed buildings.”

A major quake could also have a catastrophic affect on the older industrial neighborhoods just southeast of Downtown L.A.

Of course it needs to be noted that this fault crosses over major freeway and freeway interchanges, along with major railway lines and public transit lines. Chances are good that there will be some kind of damage to these lines in the event of a major earthquake.

Some may remember during the Northridge Earthquake railroad tracks actually bent in a few areas.

Of course, there are the fires that will likely break out, and the water-pipes that will burst.

One of the most dreadful worst case scenarios is a major earthquake occurring during the Santa Ana Winds.  

The study predicts total damage cost may come to $250 billion.

While a lot of the focus involving a major earthquake on the Puente Hills Fault has been focused on L.A. it is expected that Orange County will have severe damage with strong ground shaking expected in north Orange County. The M5.1 La Habra earthquake was hardly a dress rehearsal for what is expected in Orange County.

YouTube video created by USGS, SCEC and San Diego Super Computer Center showing the shaking expected from a major Puente Hills Fault earthquake. No copyright infringement intended; shown for educational purposes only. 

Not to be left out the Inland Empire is expected to receive strong shaking and some severe damage, particularly in southwestern San Bernardino County.

So, all around when you get right down to it just how bad will a major Puente Hills Fault earthquake be? Well, there is only really one way to find out, and that is when Mother Nature decides to show us. 

When Will Mother Nature Decide To Let Us Know?

Well, according to USGS researcher Ned Field, the lead author of the SCEC-USC study, a major rupture on the Puente Hills Fault occurs about once every 3,000 years. "In fact," says Mr. Field in the study, "as an individual your odds of dying of a heart attack or an auto accident are much greater than dying from this earthquake." 

If you are like most Southern Californians chances are when you hear that number you probably think there is not anything to worry about, because 3,000 years is a long way away. Well, here is the bad news, geologists and seismologists are not too sure where they are at in the cycle, such as if we are maybe 2,800 years away from the fault rupturing, or one month away from the fault rupturing.

Aside from knowing when the fault ruptures the SCEC-USC study found that the Puente Hills Fault has ruptured at least four times in the last 11,000 years, with earthquakes with magnitudes ranging from 7.2 to 7.5. 

It should be clear by now even if the next major rupture is a couple thousand years away the Puente Hills Fault is going to cause some problems for us in the years to come. 

It is worth noting that in the same March 2011 L.A. Downtown News story Mr. Jordan points out the San Andreas Fault is still a bigger threat to the area, because earthquakes there happen about every 100 to 200 years. 

The last major San Andreas' rupture in our area was the M7.9 1857 Fort Tejon Earthquake, which rupture along 225 miles of the San Andreas Fault beginning near Parkfield and rupturing south to the Cajon Pass.

The last major southern rupture of the San Andreas Fault between the Cajon Pass and the Salton Sea is believed to have occurred around 1690.

Why Does It Seem Like I Am Only Hearing About This Fault Now?

With such a dangerous fault running through Downtown L.A. you think you would of heard all about the Puente Hills Fault growing up or living in Southern California for many years. After all, at one point we have heard all about the San Andreas Fault, Newport-Inglewood Fault, Hollywood Fault, San Jacinto Fault, and Whittier Fault, among many others, but it seems like there has not been a lot said about this extraordinarily dangerous fault. 

You are not alone in thinking and believing you have only recently heard about the Puente Hills Fault, because it was just barely discovered in 1999, and it has taken a few years after that for officials to really understand the danger it poses. 

In the aftermath of the Northridge quake there was urgency among geologists and seismologists to attempt to find blind faults around Southern California.

So Do All These Recent Quakes Mean We're Going To Have a Big Quake?

The recent earthquakes in Orange County and L.A., along with the January 15 M4.4 shaker in Fontana, may simply mean, according to USGS, that Southern California is coming out of its "earthquake drought." 

As Doctor Lucy Jones from USGS has pointed out many times in various media interviews, following the aftermath of the 1994 Northridge Earthquake the L.A. area, aside from the little jolt here and there, has been very seismologically quiet. It seems possible the 1992 Landers/Big Bear earthquakes along with the Northridge quake may have relieved stress for a time in Southern California, but now we may be reentering a seismologically active period in Southern California.

It Could Happen Anytime!

Whether it is preceded by a series of noticeable earthquakes, or no quakes at all, a major earthquake can occur anytime in Southern California. 

We all want a direct answer to the unknowable, and that is WHEN is a major earthquake going to happen? The direct answer to that is this, at this time there is no accurate way to predict earthquakes, and thus there is no way of knowing when a major earthquake is going to occur.

Just Be Prepared!

For a lot of people the above answer is not the one they want to hear, but it is the only answer available. So, all we can do is prepare and have a plan in place when it does happen.

Resources To Help You Prepare

Prepare SoCal from The American Red Cross

Ready L.A. - City of L.A. Emergency Preparedness 

Los Angeles County - Emergency Preparedness

Ready O.C. - Orange County Emergency Preparedness 

San Bernardino County - Emergency Preparedness 

Riverside County Fire Department - Emergency Management

Ready Ventura County - Emergency Management  

San Diego County - Emergency Preparedness

Cal-OES - California Governor's Office of Emergency Services

Tips on Preparing an Emergency Kit from Ready.Gov

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Songs of Southern California: Mix Tape #3

Now is time for songs of Southern California, mix tape #3.

X - Los Angeles

The Beatles - Blue Jay Way

Jan and Dean - The Little Old Lady From Pasadena

The Trade Winds - New York's A Lonely Town - KRLA Version!

The Penguins - Memories of El Monte

Frank Zappa - San Ber'dino

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Seven More Facts About Knott's Berry Farm, and Then Some

BUENA PARK - Since there was such a big response to the five facts about Knott's Berry Farm post here are some more interesting facts about the park in Buena Park that (another) Walt built.

Hopefully this will help bring about some interest in Knott's Berry Farm's history, which, quite frankly, tends to get overlooked and overshadowed by the big mouse in Anaheim. All the blame of course cannot be on the mouse who lives on Harbor Boulevard as Knott's Berry Farm's current owners, Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, have done more than a few things to erase the rich history Walter Knott and his family created.

For a lot of people who grew up in Southern California they have great memories of Knott's Berry Farm when it actually was a farm and free to get in, or exploring the jungle across the street, or perhaps dancing the night away at Studio K. 

While the Knotts' many of us grew up with has gone away we shall always have the memories. To maybe help with those memories here are seven interesting facts about the farm off La Palma Avenue and Beach Blvd. that you may or may not have known about.

1. Busy Beach Blvd. is still California State Route 39, but back in 1920 when the Knott family started their roadside stand the street they were on was known to many then simply as Highway 39. Walter Knott must have known that location is everything, because before Interstate 5 came into existence Highway 39 was the main artery between Los Angeles and Orange County.

2. One of the most beloved rides at Knott's Berry Farm that is no longer there, and has not been there for a very long time, is Knott's Bear-y Tales. Knott's Bear-y Tales was apart of the new Roaring 20s section that opened July 4, 1975, but Knott's Bear-y Tales was almost wiped out. An arsonist set fire to Bear-y Tales as it was under construction. The creators of the ride were able to recreate much of the ride designs in about six weeks, and all was well in Bear-y Tale land. The fire was believed to be the result of a nasty a union dispute. In 1987 Bear-y Tales was no more and became Kingdom of the Dinosaurs, and that ride closed in 2004. The former Bear-y Tales ride now stands empty. It remains unclear, at least publicly, if Cedar Fair will do anything with this empty building.

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Some Bears and kids in front of the Roaring '20s fountain. Circa 1978. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

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Some Bears going on Knott's Bear-y Tales. Circa 1978. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

3. Many people may remember Knott's Berry Farm used to have cable cars surrounding the parking lot. Did you know those were actual San Francisco cable cars that the Knott family bought from the San Francisco Municipal Railway (MUNI). The cable cars ran around Knotts' until 1979, and two of the cable cars were returned to MUNI, and two other cable cars were sent to The Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris.

  photo The_Cable_Cars_Knotts_Berry_Farm_Ghost_Town_Calif_W21.jpg
Cable Cars at Knott's Berry Farm. Circa 1960. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

 photo San_Francisco_Cable_Cars_Knotts_Berry_Farm_amp_Ghost_Town_Buen_Park_Calif_GT_27.jpg
Cable Cars at Knott's Berry Farm. Circa 1959. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

4. Now here is a not-so-fun fact that exemplifies the problems with Knott's Berry Farm's current owners. For decades visitors to Knotts' could see and feel the original berry stand Walter and Cordelia built that started it all. Well, in what is frankly an appalling decision, the stand was destroyed when Cedar Fair built the Silver Bullet roller coaster. (Why it was not moved to somewhere else in the park or even offered to a museum is unclear.) The original berry stand that started it all was not the only thing destroyed to make room for this roller coaster, the Inspiration Church was also a victim. Furthermore, also a victim of this "extreme" ride was the nighttime water light show as the lake has been totally drained.

 photo The_Old_Berry_Stand_Knotts_Berry_Farm_Ghost_Town_California_KBF_50-1.jpg
Cordelia and Walter Knott in front of the stand that started it all. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

5. One of the things that helped make Knott's Berry Farm a success was the boysenberry, be it boysenberry sauce, boysenberry jam or boysenberry punch. The boysenberry was created by Rudolph Boysen, and Mr. Boysen was the Anaheim City Park Superintendent from 1921 until 1950.

6. One of Knott's Berry Farm's most iconic rides that is still standing is the Timber Mountain Log Ride. The very first person to ride the Log Ride when it opened in 1969 was John Wayne. Of course when The Duke rode the ride it was not the Timber Mountain Log Ride, as it is known today, but was called the Calico Log Ride.  

7. Probably one of the most famous attractions at Knott's Berry Farm is Mrs. Knott's Fried Chicken Restaurant. This began in 1934, and Cordelia Knott was not too keen on the idea of making fried chicken and serving it on their family's fine China. However the Great Depression was underway and the Knott's roadside stand was not always doing a brisk business, and so Mrs. Knott began, rather reluctantly, making and serving fried chicken to help make ends meet. It seemed to work out for the Knott family.

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The famous Chicken Dinner Restaurant. Circa 1955. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.  

Here are some things that are no longer apart of Knott's Berry Farm.

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Middletons Train Supply House and Toy Museum at Knott's Berry Farm. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives. 

The Cordelia K. out on the lake. The Cordelia K. is one piece of Knotts' that will never come back, because a few years back whoever Cedar Fair put in charged of moving the boat broke the Cordelia K. in half. 
 photo Steamboat_Ride_Knotts_Berry_Farm_amp_Ghost_Town_W37.jpg
The Cordelia K., taking a ride out in the lake. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

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The Cordelia K. out on the lake along with train ride in the background. Date unknown. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Songs of Southern California: Mix Tape #2

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ANAHEIM - Many musical tunes have been written for and about Southern California, and here are a few of them.

Mel Blanc - Big Bear Lake (Yes, "The man of 1,000 Voices")

Mountain Goats - San Bernardino

Morcheeba - Coming Into Los Angeles

Little Girls - Earthquake Song

D.I. - I Hate Surfing in H.B.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Five Facts About Knott's Berry Farm

BUENA PARK - For many years it was thought of Disneyland's quirky, perhaps eccentric older brother with a museum, insects and science exhibits, but, to the chagrin of many, for well over ten years now Knott's Berry Farm has transformed into someplace resembling Six Flags Magic Mountain.

At least one museum inside the park still stands, as does the replica Independent Hall across the street, but the science exhibit building is gone, as is the place to checkout insects, along with other rides and attractions that made Knott's Berry Farm a unique place. If you have not been to Knott's Berry Farm in well over a decade you may be in for bit of a shock seeing the steel leg of a modern roller coaster in the middle of Ghost Town. It is becoming a shell of its former self as nowadays Knott's Berry Farm is a place more for thrill rides that you can find at many amusement park around the world rather than a place for offbeat, unique attractions.

What happened? Well, in the late 1990s the Knott family decided to put the Farm on the market. Disney was interested in buying the park, but the Knott family feared Disney would, well, dramatically "Disneyfy" the place, and so they refused to sell to Disney. An offer finally came through, and in 1997 Cedar Fair Entertainment Company bought Knott's Berry Farm for $94.5 million, and the Knott family acquired two million ownership shares in Cedar Fair.

Since Cedar Fair bought the park the Knott's Berry Farm many people in Southern California grew up with and remember has been fading away, and replaced with something that resembles a different park.

However quickly fading it may be Knott's Berry Farm is still a historical place with a fascinating history, and here are five things you may never have known about Knott's Berry Farm. 

1. There is something Disneyland and Knott's Berry Farm have a common. Can you think of it? Well, both of their creators were named Walter! Walter Knott and, of course, Walt Disney. Though they were competitors Walter and Walt both greatly respected each other, visited each other's parks, shared some ideas, and sometimes shared employees. 

2. Knott's Berry Farm began as a very small roadside stand in 1920 along State Route 39 selling, but what else, berries, berry preserves and pies. Roadside stands selling such things were common in this era, but what made the Knott's roadside stand stick out was Walter Knott's wife Cordelia wrapping the berries up in nice, sometimes colorful plastic bags. In an era when mandated food safety standards were not quite en vogue having food wrapped up in a package gave it the appearance that it was sanitary, and thus a very big selling point. 

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The Knott family roadside stand along Highway 39 (still state route 39, but better known now as Beach Boulevard) circa 1927. Photograph courtesy of the Orange County Archives.

3. Knott's Berry Farm was an actual farm (you probably knew that) and Walter Knott, with the help of George M. Darrow of the USDA, brought back to life some dying vines that Rudolph Boysen brought with him when he moved to Anaheim from Napa. These vines contained a hybrid of blackberries, raspberries, and loganberries. Knott brought these vines back to life at the little farm in Buena Park, began selling them in 1932, and they became a big hit. The story goes Knott was asked what they were and he said, "Boysenberries." 

4. Walter Knott was a Southern Californian from birth to death. Knott was born in San Bernardino on December 11, 1889, raised in Pomona, and passed on in Buena Park on December 3, 1981 (and no, Walter did not die at Knott's Berry Farm). 

5. On the way to Las Vegas, just a little ways past Barstow, you have probably noticed, and probably visited, the old ghost town of Calico. There was a time in the 1930s and 1940s the old ghost town was falling apart, but of course in that time period there were some other pressing concerns. Well, as the post-war years set in come 1951 Knott bought the town of Calico and restored the old buildings. By 1966 Knott donated Calico to San Bernardino County, and shortly there after it became apart of the San Bernardino Regional Park system. Knott was familiar with Calico, because in 1915 while living in nearby Newberry Springs with his wife Knott helped build a new gold cyanidation plant in Calico. It is probably a safe bet that Calico was a major inspiration for Walter Knott and the park he would create. 

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Knotts' as many of us remember it. A 1985 Knott's Berry Farm map. Author's collection; no copyright infringement intended.