Guest Blog Post: Angels Flight, Best Fun for $1 in L.A. by R. Barden

Given how I plan to soon publish novels of my own, (“Flamenco & the Sitting Cat will be my debut one) the definition of heaven for me is anything to do with books! Blogger/writer Rosalind Barden’s guest blog post about Angels Flight — well, that’s heaven + books!…

Photo of Angels Flight – Photo credit: http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/23044083 and https://angelsflight.org

“Angels Flight: Best Fun for a Buck in Los Angeles!” by Rosalind Barden

A character in my humorous noir mystery, “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case,” set in Depression-era Downtown Los Angeles, isn’t a person at all, but a funky funicular railway, Angels Flight.

Over a hundred years old, the funicular’s two cars chug from the top of Bunker Hill to the Downtown flatlands. It still exists thanks to the funicular’s fans who campaigned to save it from the wrecking ball in the 1960s when historic Bunker Hill was leveled. It was disassembled and packed away for decades, then pieced together in the 1990s on the reconfigured Bunker Hill, a half block from its original location. Sadly, a fatal accident shuttered the funicular again. The fans never left, and owing to their love, time and money, Angels Flight reopened in 2017.

Billed as the world’s shortest railway, it actually isn’t, though it is plenty short. The delight begins when boarding at the arch at the bottom of Bunker Hill, across from historic Grand Central Market at Fourth and Hill Streets, or at the matching station and wheelhouse at the top of Bunker Hill. The two orange and black cars are a delight of Beaux Arts design from an earlier, more exuberant time. The gleaming wooden interiors are each shaped like a staircase to conform to the slant of the hill. Riders sit in benches along either side.

The bell dings, and the car creaks to life. Then it merrily clanks along the track. Half the fun is listening to the reactions of fellow passengers as they oh and ah, or watching those silently smiling, lost in thought. The pace is slow, allowing time to detach from Downtown’s bustle and relax. For only a dollar, it’s a ride guaranteed to lift the mood.

Photo of Rosalind Barden by Diane Edmonds.

About Rosalind Barden: In addition to blogging, she writes mystery, sci-fi and horror with a sense of humor. “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case” is her new, wacky noir young adult mystery set in Depression-era Los Angeles.  Find out more about her and her books here.

What’s your favorite historical site where you live?

How’s your public library? by da-AL

How often do you use the public library nearest to you? Books are heaven to me (I’m in the middle of writing two novels!) — but here in Los Angeles, they’re not the only reason to I love them.

Photo of spaniel dog with his nose in a book, reading.
Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash
  1. Any California resident can get a Los Angeles County Public Library card.
  2. All services are entirely free!
  3. Visitors can browse, and cardholders can borrow in-person or order online — materials from hard copies, audiobooks, magazines, music, movies, and more — to downloadable ones.
  4. Los Angeles County has nearly 100 libraries, including bookmobiles. Free of charge, they’ll deliver books from one site to another.
  5. Physically challenged people can have items delivered.
  6. Vocational and fun classes are available online and at their facilities — many online ones engage real teachers.
  7. There’s live online homework tutoring.
  8. Job seekers and business owners have lots of resources.
  9. Enjoy fun events — music, crafts, reading, and workshops.
  10. Over the summer, kids get free lunches.
  11. Lonely or just want to be cozy and quiet? Come on in!
  12. Meeting spaces can be used by groups and tutors.
  13. Get help obtaining a high school diploma.
  14. Wifi, computers, and printers are complimentary. Photocopying fees are nominal.
Photo of spaniel dog with his nose in a book, reading.
Photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash

Share about your public library and share this post…

Guest Blog Post: Tips for Sleuthing the Past by Margaret Lossi

Who'll your search turn up? Photo thanks to Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com
Who will your search turn up? Photo thanks to Ryan McGuire of Gratisography.com

Writers and readers alike, for times we’d like to look into our histories, author Margaret Lossi offers tips for how to get started. My two novels are works-in-progresses! Lossi says that when it comes to looking up one’s family background, be prepared for surprises…

M.A. Lossl

The Family Tree

Warning: family history can lead to emotional discoveries.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but you begin at the end! That is, you begin with you.

Check your birth certificate, verify your parents. It may seem like a given, but just sometimes people find they are adopted, or their mum is really their grandma. It pays to check.

Check your parents birth certificates, to verify your grandparents. Then work your way back through the generations, verifying birth certificates.

These first steps build the strong foundation of your family tree, so worth doing well.

It is not a case of how far back you can go, but the quality of your data

You may wish to answer a family question. I knew my parents were second cousins, so wanted to find out about this link. Set yourself a goal to work towards. Whatever your motivation, make sure you verify each…

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Huntington Library, Art, and Gardens by da-AL

da-AL at The Huntington, sitting on a bench in rose garden

What better way is there to celebrate a special occasion than with an all-day excursion of gorgeous weather, strolling an array of gardens that span rainforest to desert and Japanese to Australian to more, seeing the worlds’s stinkiest (and amusingly phallic) plant, eating international fare, admiring fine art museums, and ending it all with a high tea?

My honey and I spent our special day at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens (a collections-based educational and research institution) located in San Marino, California. Tap photos for captions…

da-AL and her honey having high tea at The Huntington

What’s your favorite way to celebrate a special day?

A Day at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum by da-AL

Van Gogh self portrait
Van Gogh self portrait

Great museums and art galleries abound in Los Angeles. to such an extent that we’ve become and art city to be internationally reckoned with.

New sites open all the time. By the end of this year, the Marciano brothers who founded Guess Jean will open a venue displaying their ample collection of modern art.

One of many Rodin sculptures at Pasadena's Norton Simon Museum
One of many Rodin sculptures at Pasadena’s Norton Simon Museum

Among the giants like the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and the Getty, Pasadena’s Norton Simon holds its own. Freeway close with plenty of free parking, and a minimal entry fee, you’re not even at the front door before impressive Rodin statues greet you.

Van Gogh's portrait of his mom
Van Gogh’s portrait of his mom

Inside, Van Gogh paintings fit neatly among an endless array of classics such as Picasso and Degas.

Picasso's Woman with a Book
Picasso’s Woman with a Book
Henri Rousseau's Exotic Landscape
Rousseau’s Exotic Landscape

An entire underground wing houses Asian loveliness.

Aristide Maillol's Mountain
Maillol’s Mountain

The rear of the museum features patio dining with reasonably priced upscale fare. Refresh yourself near ducks swimming in a pond. Thoughtful water-wise landscaping of native plants highlights more masterpiece sculptures.

What’s your favorite museum?

Norton Simon Museum

Norton Simon on Wikipedia

Even the Best Writers, Including Octavia E. Butler, Work Hard on Self-Motivating by da-AL

Ever think you, especially if you’re a writer, are alone in your self-doubt?

Fear not alone. Even the best work hard to keep their self-esteem high and dry. Pioneer sci-fi writer Octavia E. Butler wrote pep talks to herself.

Handwritten writing notes on inside cover of one of Science Ficiton novel writer Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.
Handwritten notes on inside cover of one of Octavia E. Butler’s commonplace books, 1988. Octavia E. Butler papers. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Copyright Estate of Octavia E. Butler.

Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was a multiple Hugo Award and Nebula Award winner. She was the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship’s “Genius Grant.” All that, plus she was the first African-American woman to be officially recognized as a fabulous sci-fi writer.

Despite her achievements, she worked to bolster herself. Tangible evidence exists as part of “Octavia E. Butler: Telling My Stories,” a new exhibition dedicated to her life and work, at The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens (also called The Huntington) in Los Angeles. She left her collection to The Huntington, including extensive drafts, notes, and research materials for more than a dozen novels, numerous short stories, and essays, as well as correspondence, ephemera, and assorted books.

Photo of Science Fiction novel writer Octavia E. Butler near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.
Octavia E. Butler near Mt. Shuksan, in Washington state, 2001. Photographer unknown.

Born in Pasadena, California, Butler started writing as a kid. It took her a long time and suffering through many non-writing jobs to develop her style and eventually sell many, many stories, including her Patternist series, her Xenogenesis series, and her Parable series (aka Earthseed series).

L.A. Iconic Artist Frank Romero and Frida Kahlo at Museum of Latin American Art by da-AL

Iconic Los Angeles artist Frank Romero has helped define Los Angeles.

Los Angeles beauty and grit are common themes in Romero's paintings.
Los Angeles beauty and injustice are common themes in Romero’s paintings.

It’s about time that he has a solo show at the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA, located in Long Beach).

Now well into his 70s, Romero continues to paints every day.
Now well into his 70s, Romero still paints daily.

A long time activist, he’s a self-described visual historian and storyteller.

“Death of Rubén Salazar,” 1986, depicts the night the Los Angeles Times' first Chicano journalist was killed.
“Death of Rubén Salazar,” 1986, depicts the night the Los Angeles Times’ first Chicano journalist was killed.

I say he’s also a journalist and a feminist.

A woman shaman by Frank Romero.
A woman shaman by Frank Romero.

The fabulous museum opened in the mid-90s. Up until a few years ago, it only displayed art by Central American and South American artists. No North American art.

Los Angeles' car culture is another of Romero's frequent subjects.
Los Angeles’ car culture is another of Romero’s frequent subjects.

After decades of community pressure, a few years ago it let Latin North American art in.

Romero's reworking of artist Edward Kienholz's installation, "Back Seat Dodge '38."
Romero’s reworking of artist Edward Kienholz’s installation, “Back Seat Dodge ’38.”
Romero's depictions of old and present Los Angeles have helped define it.
Romero’s depictions of old and present Los Angeles have helped define it.

Only now has it gotten around to featuring a Chicano in a solo show. Romero is a great choice.

A more recent depiction of Los Angeles shows how Romero's style is changing. These days, he even paints in France.
A more recent depiction of Los Angeles shows how Romero’s style is changing. These days, he even paints in France.

Great things are alway going on at MOLAA. Sundays are free admission.

Just one of the many Frida Kahlo photos in MOLAA's latest ode to her.
Just one of the many Frida Kahlo photos in MOLAA’s latest ode to her.

Right now, in addition to Romero’s art, hurry over to enjoy a wonderful Frida Kahlo collection of photos and correspondence.

Museum of Latin American Art

Frank Romero in Wiki

Frank Romero in Los Angeles Times

Frida Kahlo in Wiki

A second Frida link and third Frida link.