CicLAvia: Celebrate LA! #LAPhil100xCicLAvia (2018)

My latest CicLAvia experience was unlike any of the other ones I’ve participated in. CicLAvia events have always been fun rides along streets closed to traffic, but this particular one took it up a few notches. CicLAvia: Celebrate LA! was a celebration for the LA Philharmonic’s centennial season. The route went between Walt Disney Concert Hall in Downtown LA and the Hollywood Bowl with musicians, artists, and dancers performing at the six hubs and along the route. It even included a free concert at the Hollywood Bowl in the evening (for those who were able to get free tickets). It was one large ongoing street party.

An added bonus for me was that I had the pleasure of riding with a friend the whole time. My family was unable to join due to soccer commitments, but friends on Facebook had seen my interest in going and reached out to me. One was a first-timer to CicLAvia, and the other had participated before. I was thrilled they both got in touch with me because I hadn’t fully committed to going yet since I did have a kid’s soccer game in the afternoon, but their interest in joining me convinced me to do it.

To make it work I had to be at the route when the roads opened up to riders at 9 o’clock. As I’ve done before, I took the Metro Expo Line to Downtown LA. I was not alone on the light rail train. The area for bikes was full after just a few stops. There wasn’t even room for pedestrians to enter. Most of us were single riders, and conversations about plans for the day and previous CicLAvia experiences flowed freely.

I surfaced from the Metro station at 7th Street and met Whitney, the first-timer, as planned. We began to ride towards Hollywood. It was oddly quiet and calm at 9 o’clock. I was afraid she’d get the wrong impression about CicLAvia. But at the same time, it was nice because we could chat and ride and look around without worrying about other riders around us. We rode along Wilshire Boulevard through MacArthur Park and Koreatown and then on towards Melrose and Hollywood.

Melrose Hub

As time went on, the streets filled with more riders. I wasn’t actually aware that most of the entertainment wasn’t scheduled to start until 10 o’clock. By the time we arrived at the Hollywood Hub, it was more like the CicLAvias I knew from before, crowded and lively.

Hollywood Hub Stage

Due to time constraints, we didn’t take the shuttle from the Hollywood Hub to the Hollywood Bowl to see the performances there, but we enjoyed the entertainment on the stage at the Hollywood Hub. Too bad we didn’t stay just a little longer; we could have heard Rivers Cuomo with members of the LA Philharmonic who were up next.

Audience enjoying Koreatown Hub’s Main Stage from the much appreciated shade!

When we were back at the Koreatown Hub, we parted ways. Whitney had to return home for her daughter’s soccer game. I then waited for my other friend Julie to join me. It was nice to be able to hang for a while and enjoy the entertainment at the two stages at the hub.

Koreatown Hub’s Oxford Stage

Julie and I continued towards Downtown and the Grand Avenue Hub. This was where the heart of the festivities was. Two big stages alternated entertainment. Food trucks and activity tents were lined up. Walt Disney Concert Hall, Broad Museum, and the mountains in the background provided an exceptional setting to the event.

Grand Ave Hub

After soaking it all in for as long as we had time, we headed back to the Metro station. Soccer obligations called for both us of. But my day on wheels wasn’t over. I took the Expo Line all the way to the end of the line in Santa Monica and made it just in time for my son’s soccer game. And then after the game, I rode my bike along the Expo Bike Path back home. It was a lovely day spent all over LA without a car.

For those interested, the next CicLAvia event is around the corner on Sunday, December 2, 2018, in the Heart of LA. The route has not been published yet, but it will include Chinatown, Downtown LA, and Boyle Heights. Mark your calendars!

Norwegian (and other Nordic) Films at AFI FEST 2017

Norwegian film has not been a stranger to Los Angeles these last few weeks, and its presence continues at American Film Institute’s film festival AFI FEST taking place now. AFI FEST is an annual celebration of international cinema “from modern masters and emerging filmmakers”. It takes place each fall in Hollywood and features nightly red-carpet galas, special screenings, conversations, and tributes. AFI FEST is free to the public.

This year two Norwegian films are on the schedule. The first one is Thelma written by Norwegian duo Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt and directed by Joachim Trier. It is a psychological thriller that takes place in Oslo, Norway. It is Norway’s Best Foreign Language Oscar submission. The second film is What Will People Say written and directed by Norwegian Iram Haq (Norwegian-born of Pakistani immigrants). Continue reading

Family Hike: Runyon Canyon

Runyon Canyon has been in the news a bit this summer due its recent facelift. It’s an extremely popular urban LA hike in the Hollywood Hills that is known as not only a great workout but also an interesting people watching place and “Instagram photo opp”.

Runyon Canyon east trail

It was closed for four months (April – July 2016) to replace a water pipeline and renovate the main trail. Now it has a newly paved fire road and new water fountains. It hadn’t been on my list of hikes I really wanted to do, but now that I had read about it in blogs and newspapers, I wanted to check it out – and I rallied the family to join me. Continue reading

Checked Off My California Bucket List: Hike to the Hollywood Sign!

A hike to the Hollywood Sign has been on my California bucket list for a long time. About two years ago, our family attempted, but we failed. It was a new area to us and we started our outing too late in the day. I chalked it up as being a reconnaissance mission for a future visit.

This past holiday season I finally had a chance to try again. My family was in town for the holidays, and my 11-year-old niece expressed an interest in getting a good view of the sign. Quickly, a little group was assembled for an excursion to the sign. We were my sister, my niece, and my father (in the best attire he had for a hike—slacks and loafers!).

The view as we drove up Beachwood Canyon Drive, approaching what we thought would be the start of our hike

The view as we drove up Beachwood Canyon Drive, approaching what we thought would be the start of our hike

We had a little hiccup in the beginning. I began by taking them to the trailhead at the top of Beachwood Canyon, which I had figured out on our reconnaissance mission was a good place to start. I knew there had been some issues between neighbors and hikers/tourists and faintly remembered that the trailhead had been closed for a while, but I thought that was over. Turns out it wasn’t. The parking at the trailhead was still closed, but there were handouts that suggested we go to Griffith Observatory and begin our hike from there. We had no time constraints so we headed over there. Continue reading

Barnsdall Arts Sundays, fun for the whole family!

Every month I compile a list of multicultural activities available around Los Angeles. I encourage readers to explore the richness of where we live, to travel the world without having to go very far. Some events are familiar to me at locations I already know; others are at brand-new-to-me venues in unfamiliar areas of the city. Last month I accepted my own culture challenge and ventured out and tried something new.

I took the whole family with me, which included visiting grandparents from Norway, to Barnsdall Art Park in the Los Feliz/Hollywood area. Every Sunday, they offer Barnsdall Arts Sundays, free family art workshops that focus on different cultures and use different media. That particular week the focus was printmaking with Scandinavian folk motifs. I was intrigued and the boys had no sports so I penciled it in our calendar, despite the fact that my parents would have just arrived from Norway and Christmas preparations would have to be put on hold.

The experience exceeded our expectations beyond a doubt! First of all, just visiting the area was interesting. I had no idea Barnsdall Art Park was on a hill. Seeing this hill of trees appear in the middle of the city was eye-opening. And the views from the top were fantastic as well. In one direction was a lovely view of Griffith Observatory and Hollywood Sign. In another direction was Century City and maybe the ocean if it had been clearer.Barnsdall View

We finally made it to the art workshop in the Junior Arts Center. The signage for us first timers left a little to be desired. We weren’t sure where to go until I asked a group that seemed to be coming from an art workshop. They guided us in the right direction past the Hollyhock House (Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Los Angeles project, under renovation now but might be worth a return visit), through a grove of trees, to the art studios.Barnsdall Grove

Immediately upon entering the studio we were all thrust into action! All three generations. No one had a chance to decline participation. Before we knew it, we were all sitting at a table holding a styrofoam card onto which we were to etch our designs. Shelah, the director, enthusiastically instructed us and we set to work.Barnsdall Etching

Barnsdall WorkingThe theme of the workshop was Scandinavian folk motifs, but not much emphasis was put on that aspect of the workshop. Papers with examples of designs were present, but we were encouraged to create whatever designs we wanted. The grandparents chose to do holiday themed designs, Doobie and Daddy created geometric designs, and Sonny creatively etched his name. I was the only one to attempt a Scandinavian design. It was tricky and took much longer than the others, but that’s what I came to do.

Once our styrofoam etchings were done, we colored our papers onto which the etchings would be printed. Then we inked our designs and laid them upon our colored paper and voilá, we had a cool print or two that we proudly took home.Barnsdall Inking

Final Printmaking Projects

Photo credit: Shelah Lehrer-Graiwer

I highly recommend an excursion to Barnsdall Art Park for a Sunday family art workshop. It’s a drop-in situation, but don’t arrive too close to the ending time because you may not have enough time to work on your project as much as you’d like. We arrived with 45 minutes left in the session and worked right up until clean-up time. We could have easily spent more time there making more prints of our etching. All materials are supplied and the instructors are very enthusiastic and helpful. All ages are welcome and encouraged to participate. The adults in our group weren’t really planning on getting involved, but we were glad Shelah insisted because we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

The workshops resume Sunday, January 11. Take a look at the schedule and your calendar and see when you can give it a try. After our visit, we had a lovely outdoor lunch at nearby Alcove Cafe and Bakery, which we had recently seen on a list of “great places to eat outdoors in Los Angeles” (which is a must-do when Norwegians are in town) and we recommend that as well.

Barnsdall Art Sunday Schedule

Family Hike: Hollywood Sign

first-day-hikesI was inspired by the suggestion of the California State Parks Foundation to explore more California state parks in the new year and then I came across the First Day Hikes initiative… So I suggested a family hike for New Years Day. We made plans to explore Griffith Park and the Hollywood Sign, an area I’ve been eager to hike for a long time. (It turns out the First Day Hikes initiative is actually guided hikes in certain state parks around the country, but hey, we were going out to a park in our state on the first day of the year, good enough for us.)

Our goal ahead!

I had two goals for us on our outing — to make it above and behind the Hollywood Sign and also to find possibly five geocaches that I’d picked out in the area. Neither goal was accomplished unfortunately, but it was still a fantastic outing, one that I want to try again now that I know the lay of the land. Continue reading

Dark Shadows Premiere and After Party

When people think of Los Angeles, what comes to mind is often movie making and movie stars. Along with that comes premieres and after parties. During my time of living in LA, and due to the fact that I married into a movie-making family, I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to attend a few movie premieres, the most recent of which was Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, and what an evening it was. Continue reading