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February 13 - 16, 2009
L.A. – Toured N.Y. Minute Style
by Maribeth Evans
It rained when we arrived & it rained when we departed but sandwiched in between was a 48+ hour whirlwind tour of several prominent L.A. sights. And for anyone who has booked a trip/adventure with Matt in the past, you know how it all went down J
Carolyn & I arrived at LAX just before noon & we schlepped ourselves & our bags from Terminal 3 to Terminal 1 to wait for Matt, Virginia & Nina’s flight. It was there that we met Gary & Lael who had arrived earlier from Salem, Oregon; making seven on the trip. About an hour later, Matt & his party arrived; Matt & I immediately went to rental shuttle pickup & it didn’t come & it didn’t come & it didn’t come. Matt went back to baggage area to use courtesy phone & the shuttle arrived but Matt wasn’t there – luckily, another shuttle was right behind this one. So we all boarded & rode the shuttle to the rental pickup…this saved coming back to airport for pickup of the other walkers.
So in the rain & on LA freeways during rush hour, we made our way to the hotel – no wrong exits taken & no wrong turns made – sweet. We had ten minutes to get to our rooms, unload & get back down to the lobby to take a short walk for a late lunch. Just down the street was Langers which Matt promised had the best pastrami sandwiches in the world & he was right!! We ate; it stopped raining; we walked back to the van & made our way to Bel Air. Even with getting a late start, we were able to walk a good portion of the Bel Air 10k; part of it through the UCLA campus…we cut short the area touring some of the residential area – couldn’t see much in the dark anyway.
Next it was a short drive to a Farmers’ Market somewhere in Hollywood, I think. Most of us had crepes for dinner & luckily, we found seating near a ceiling heater – dining was outdoors & there was definitely a chill in the air. After dinner & after some brief exploring, it was back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.
Saturday, the next day, a dizzying pace was set. Around 8 am it was back to Bel Air to visit the Westwood Village Memorial Park where numerous well-known personalities lay to rest. This was part of the walk from Friday night that we missed & it was something we definitely didn’t want to miss. A small cemetery surrounded by a thriving commercial area of Bel Air but yet a serene, tranquil atmosphere is maintained.
Then it was off to Beverly Hills to walk Hollywood Hills (first, need to find parking). Parked near Beverly Hills Hotel, used the restrooms, this was FREE & gave us a good look at the posh interior. After walking the Hills & seeing many celebrity homes, we left Beverly Hills to eat at Jack ‘n the Box; no complaints, they had the best grilled cheese on sourdough that I ever tasted.
From here it was down to Venice Canals & Venice Beach…such a treat to sights & sounds. Egrets, ducks & flora & unique homes on the canal and drums & dancers & a gathering of some unforgettable characters on the beach & some good ice cream, too.
On the road again for a quick visit to the Getty Museum; enjoyed the museum & the tram ride up & down the hillside – great evening views of the surrounding area. Around 8:30, it was time to leave & drive to hotel where the Footsore Fiends POC was staying to get books stamped. Had to wait a while, since they were at dinner & there are no quick shortcuts in getting around in L.A. So around, 9:45 or so, we headed to Chinatown for dinner (first, need to find parking); luckily, restaurant closed around 4 am J We were seated to eat around 10:30, were served quickly & were out the door around midnight; back at the hotel & in bed by 1 am.
Sunday, the next day, was a bit more leisurely – we left for Beverly Hills at 8:30 am. This time it was the Hollywood Flats – a nice walk; few hills; nice homes. It was a great day for doing a great walk. We happened upon the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market & enjoyed free samples from several of the vendors – got my first look of blood orange & it lives up to its name. On Rodeo Drive, we explored a few of the upscale shops. After leaving Rodeo, we found a quaint Deli/Grill on Brighton Way and enjoyed a reasonably priced lunch which included soup or salad, half sandwich& a side – this with a drink was under $10. Not a bad price & only a block or two from luxurious Rodeo.
It was back to the hotel & we had an hour to get ready for dinner at the Magic Castle.
We did it !! On the road again to Hollywood for a night of slight of hand entertainment.
Valet parking, no need to find parking first. Hostess checked our reservation and after uttering “open sesame” to the owl – the wall opened & we were ushered into an evening of delightful shows beginning with Irma, the piano-playing ghost that could play most requests. We had dinner first before taking in the performers at the Palace of Mystery – very good show. Next stop was the Parlour of Prestidigitation – seating is first come first serve & there were many trying to squeeze in. A few of us on Matt’s trip didn’t get a seat so it was down to the bar for dessert & other niceties.
It was getting late & we had a fairly early flight so it was back to the hotel to finish packing & in bed around midnight & a wake up call before 4 am. No rain before falling asleep but plenty of it when we awoke…just a few short hours later.
Traffic was relatively light heading back to LAX; got on the shuttle with no problem & we’re at the airport. A major storm was hitting the west coast. Our flight was delayed but according to the pilot, there were good tailwinds so we would reach the DC area 30 minutes early. We’re in the air around 8:15 (about a 45 minute delay) & landed at Dulles before 3 pm…no rain.
In L.A. Friday afternoon & back on home turf Monday afternoon…hectic schedule but memories, sights & sounds that won’t be forgotten any time soon…pictures galore. Hoping to do another Bad Pennies Adventure in the near future.
William W. Larsen Sr. was a very successful Criminal Attorney based in Pasadena California. His great love was the art of magic and he, and his partner T. Page Wright, were prolific contributors the Sphinx Magazine in the late twenties. In 1936 he and his wife Gerrie published an independent magazine of magic. Genii, the Conjurer’s Magazine that became one of the world’s most respected journals. His love of magic made him decide to give up the practice of law and take the family, Gerrie and his two sons, Bill Jr. and Milt on the road as "The Larsen Family of Magicians."
During World War Two travel was restricted so Bill Larsen Sr., bought the Thayer Magic Company and operated the Thayer Studio of Magic in the Wilshire area of Los Angeles. In the April 1951 issue of Genii Larsen announced the formation of the Academy of Magic Arts and Sciences. All subscribers to the magazine became instant members and he made it very clear that the Academy would be an organization the advance the art of magic in America and to bring recognition to the magicians of the world. Over the next three years the Academy awarded fellowships and bestowed various awards. Bill Larsen Sr. passed away at the age of 48 in 1955. His wife and older son, Bill Jr. carried on publishing Genii but the Academy, as an organization, slowly became a memory.
In 1961 Bill Larsen’s younger son, Milt, was a writer for Bob Barker’s Truth or Consequences TV show on NBC. Ralph Edwards Productions had the top three floors of the high-rise office building that was then at the corner of Hollywood and Highland. Milt’s office window overlooked the residential property on Franklin Avenue that included a grand old mansion left over from the turn of the century, built in 1908 by banker Rollin B. Lane and later sold to land developer Thomas O. Glover. Milt was fascinated by the building and day dreamed about the idea of turning it into some sort of club for magicians. One day he met the owner and convinced him that his idea had merit. Milt’s grandfather was a master carpenter and Milt inherited his love for woodworking, the rundown old mansion was a huge challenge and he and a partner Don Gotschall started working on the physical plant now known as "The Magic Castle."
Milt was creating a clubhouse for magicians but there was no club. He convinced his brother Bill that this would be the time to resurrect the Academy of Magical Arts. At the time Bill Jr. was a full time producer at CBS Television, working on many of the biggest shows at that network, and also publishing Genii Magazine. He was a top administrator and immediately formed a new not for profit organization, The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc. The first members were Genii subscribers and old friends in magic and our co-workers in the television industry. The late Bill Larsen Jr. became its President For Life.ß
The AMA was incorporated in 1961 and "The Castle" opened its doors on January 2nd, 1963. Since then it has become know as "The Mecca for Magicians" throughout the world. Its membership has grown to roughly 5,000 active magicians and non-magician members.
The Magic Castle® and the Academy of Magical Arts are unique in the world.
Venice Beach, California is a desired destination for travelers from all over the world. It is unlike any place on Earth, well known for its artists, street performers and funky atmosphere. It is a virtual carnival running year round with free admission.
The canals are now a quaint upscale neighborhood in Venice. Fully restored and remodeled homes make it a postcard scene along the canal shores. Venice California originally was to be a copy of Venice, Italy, canals and all.
Venice has many unusual buildings from the past and the present.
Although they pop up in many cities today, Venice has always been a mecca for the Street Performer. The Venice boardwalk features beach side entertainment from the most recognized - Harry Perry, Venice Legend- Guitar playing street musician on roller skates - to the newest professional bum: 'The Worlds Greatest Wino'. They work in the world of 'in your face' guerrilla theater. It takes the bravest or most fanatic type of person to become successful in this venue. Many have staked their very livelihoods on this form of live performance. Unfortunately after a exciting performance of juggling, comedy and music many satisfied customers just walk away leaving these jesters nothing.
A street performer blows fire along the Ocean Front Walk
- Photo by Jeffery Stanton
Traveling along Ocean Front Walk, you'll meet dancers, comedians, musicians, jugglers, weightlifters, skaters, preachers, artists in virtually every medium, and of course the beautiful California bikini clad girls. Venice Beach offers an insight into Los Angeles' beachfront counterculture that has grown with it's own unique identity since the turn of the century. The moment you arrive, you'll be immersed in the theme that is today's Venice.
Marc Goodrich is the Sandman. He can be found on Venice beach making his masterpieces with sand. Marc is a fine artist that spends hours before starting his creations sketching the muscles and details he will be sculpting. His work truly stands out amongst the other artist you will see on the weekend on Venice Beach. It is very sad that his artwork will last only a day or two and then will be lost forever. These are some of the few photographs taken of his masterpieces.
Hollywood Hills Walk
The Hollywood Flats were the happening place to live if you were a star in the early days. But as time went on privacy-loving stars headed into the hills on the other side of Sunset Blvd. This walk explores the Hollywood Hills and Benedict Canyon. You will go by the homes of stars such as Lucille Ball, Rachel Welch, Jimmy Stewart, George Gershwin, Mick Jagger, Burt Reynolds, Sonny & Cher, Rod Stewart, Jay Leno, the Beckhams, Madonna, Marilyn Monroe and Neil Diamond. There are over 50 stars homes. Note that this route has some steep and twisty residential streets. Many of the residential streets do not have a sidewalk, and you’ll be walking on the road. Keep eyes and ears open for cars. Please remember that the homes are private property. Be respectful and view them from a distance. Carry water on the trail. Walk during daylight hours only. It qualifies for Artistic Heritage, Authors and Literary Landmarks and Hooray for Hollywood.
Hollywood Flats Walk
If you love the glamour of Hollywood and its stars, you’ll be in heaven on this walk. It starts opposite the Beverly Hills Hotel (aka the Pink Palace), which numerous stars have called home. It travels up the broad, tree-lined streets of the Hollywood Flats, where mansions have housed such luminaries as Dean Martin, Kirk Douglas, Boris Karloff, Gene Hackman, Mia Farrow, Frank Sinatra and so many more! There are over 40 stars homes on the 11K walk, all identified in the walk directions. The neighborhood is level walking, has wide sidewalks and gorgeous homes & landscaping. The walk also takes in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel (where “Pretty Woman” was shot and where Dashiell Hammett wrote “The Thin Man”) and several historic celebrity churches. You’ll go all the way down Rodeo Drive, one of the most famous shopping streets in the world. The 11K takes in all the sights and is rated 1+ (very easy). Carry water on the trail. Please respect the private property and view the homes from the street. It qualifies for Artistic Heritage, Authors and Literary Landmarks, Historic Churches and Hooray for Hollywood.
Bel Air Walk
For a trendy slice of life, LA style, it’s hard to beat Westwood. Consider the neighborhood– to the north is UCLA, so it’s a student hangout. But it’s also close to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. Two famous landmarks are the Fox and Bruin Theaters, sites of many movie premieres. The Armand Hammer Museum of Art & Culture Center is here. Also adjacent is Holmby Hills, boasting the Playboy Mansion and LA Country Club. And to the south, tucked away like a secret, is the Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery. The 10K (6.2 mile) walk will take you to of all of the above. Westwood Village will tempt you to shop or eat (we take you past a Pinkberry.) And at the Westwood Memorial Park Cemetery you’ll view the final resting places of Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Jack Lemmon, Natalie Wood, Brian Keith, Burt Lancaster, Carroll O’Connor, Roy Orbison, Billy Wilder, George C. Scott and more. There is an optional 1K add-on that will take you through UCLA's botanical garden. Restrooms, food& water on UCLA campus and in Westwood Village. Walk during daylight hours only. It qualifies for these special programs: America's Gardens, Artistic Heritage, Authors and Literary Landmarks, Cemetery Stroll, College Campus, Museums and Hooray for Hollywood.