Endeavour’s Final Flight Over Hollywood (Video)

I didn’t ever have an opportunity to see a space shuttle lift off into space or land right at Edwards Air Force Base. Until they changed the flight path, I use to hear the sonic booms when it flew over downtown, and once at about 4am I watched a shuttle come in from space and fly over my building on its way to Edwards, but that was like a very large and bright star traveling at an extremely fast rate of speed.

I certainly wanted to watch and document with my camera today’s historic last flight of the Endeavour as it flew over the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, it was hazy out, so the fly-over of City Hall was hard to catch, and I can’t see a darn thing in this digital camera’s viewfinder when I am outdoors because of the glare, and as a result the footage of the Griffith Park Observatory was just a lot of empty sky.

This, however, turned out okay. It’s a bit shaky (I tried to correct it with YouTube’s new Fix-it feature but that just made things worse), and very short, but I added some original music to make the clip a tad more interesting.

And straight from a roof in beautiful Hollywood, USA, here it is:


Farewell Summer: Death of A Peerless Storyteller

Ray Bradbury, one of the true masters of science fiction (or fiction period) has died. He was 91. He passed away here in Los Angeles, after what is described by his family as “a lengthy illness”.

Many years ago when I worked at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, each morning before reporting for duty I would stop at a delicatessen called Dave’s Table on the corner of N. Beverly Drive and Wilshire (it’s not there anymore-the deli, that is). Often Ray Bradbury would come in around the same time and get a cup of coffee and maybe a croissant or a bagel to go. I think he had an office in the building next door. No matter what the weather, he always wore the same thing: a pull-over sweater and white tennis shorts. He had these pasty pink and white legs that never tanned. Frankly, if I had been him, I would have thought about wearing pants, but that was his business. I never spoke to him, but I always wanted to (not about the shorts, of course).

In a 2010 CNN interview, Bradbury described himself as a “delicatessen religionist.” I guess he was really into delicatessens. He told the interviewer that he was inspired by both Eastern and Western religions. But he added,

I’m a Zen Buddhist if I would describe myself. I don’t think about what I do. I do it. That’s Buddhism. I jump off the cliff and build my wings on the way down.”

I rather doubt he was a practicing Zen Buddhist. By that I mean someone who engages in regular meditation. But you never know. He did write a book called Zen in the Art of Writing, but it was more about the latter than the former.

As much as Ray Bradbury’s mind soared to other worlds, he had feet firmly planted in the town that he loved, Los Angeles. He’d lived here since the 1930’s and in his interviews it was always great to hear him talk about “old” L.A. and describe things that aren’t around anymore.

Ray Bradbury was an immensely influential writer in the science fiction field. His novels included, The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. You can read about his life and work at Wikipedia.

There was a time, when I was a kid, summer meant three months of no school. I would spent most of that time reading. For some reason, those warm, carefree months seemed just right for science fiction, and I remember that for several summers in a row I read nothing but Robert Heinlein, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, and of course, Ray Bradbury.

There are those days which seem a taking in of breath which, held, suspends the whole earth in its waiting. Some summers refuse to end.

– Bradbury in Farewell Summer

Thanks for those endless summers, Ray.


Who Loves The Sun

In case anyone’s interested, I uploaded a new photograph to my About page. It’s me and my roommate. I’m the cute one.

In other news: What a difference a week makes. Last Monday it was 113 degrees, the hottest afternoon on record. and this Monday, only 66, the coolest afternoon on record (for these dates). And rain to boot. We haven’t had rain since April.

Thursday some monsoonal weather came up from the south and muscled in on the high that had squatting here for four or five days. Friday, I watched the sunset and got a couple of nice pics. Click on the photos to see them full size.

Downtown LA:

Hollywood Sign:

Below, virtually the same vantage points but taken yesterday. Personally, I think we have too much sun in California. It gets old. To me, this gray is simply beautiful.


Hollywood sign:

Who Loves The Sun?
Not Everyone.


More Scenes of Buddhist LA

Yesterday I visited Little Tokyo. Our second day of summer. I think it hit 90. It has been unseasonablly cool here in Southern California, and now everyone wishes the marine layer was still here.

Anyway, when I wasn’t busy wiping sweat off my brow, I took a few photos of the Buddhist temples in the area. They might have turned out better if I had been able to see the screen of my digital camera, but the glare from the sun make it next to impossible. That’s one thing I miss about traditional cameras. You can look through the viewer and only if you are pointed directly at light is there any glare.

The building that housed the Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple was built in 1924 by architect Edgar Cline.

Hompa Honwanji

Honpa Hongwanji was a real center of the community. During the 30’s they held Youth Dances, and during the 40’s it was both departure point for the camps and then a relocation center of sorts. Hompa Hongwanji closed in 1969 and was absorbed or transformed into Nishi Hongwanji.

Here’s a closer look at  the ornate entrance.

Hompa facade

I’m not sure when the Shingon Temple, Koyasan, came to Los Angeles, but it was definitely here in 1920. You can see a photo of the first temple on Central Avenue here.

There’s some other interesting Koyasan photos on Discover Nikkei. Check out the 1930 Troop 379. For some reason, the notion of Shingon Boy Scouts strikes me as pretty wild.

The present day KoyosanTemple has been in at least one film. This is almost exactly the same shot as Sam Fuller has in his 1959 film, The Crimson Kimono. A great film noir movie by the way.

Koyasan Shingon Buddhist Temple

You can view more pf my photos of Buddhist LA here.