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Sunday, December 31, 2023


Here we are before it all happened! Holiday fireworks burst above the National Mall and, from left, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol building. (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough) 


Muppet's beloved "The Count."


Saturday, December 30, 2023


 8 am to 5 pm daily. 

Across the street is the famed Broadway Angels Flight funicular, a hillside conquering train that was built in 1901. But if you’re looking for a true barista’s coffee bar cross the street to G&B Coffee inside LA’s Grand Central Market. It’s situated at the marketplace’s western entry. It’s always crowded but be patient. Grab a cup and wander through the market and add this to your bucket list of grand markets and great coffee bars. 

The picture above faces south. 

On the north wall is a fantastic neon sculpture sponsored by Bulleit Whiskey (a Diageo company) is a fund-raiser for the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale. Designed by Brendan Donnelly, the artwork was executed by Lisa Schulte, a longtime neon-art sculptor and member of the museum’s board. Here is how it works: Every time someone posts a photograph of this Bulleit Frontier Whisky sign on social media and tags it #FrontierWorks, the company will make a donation to the MONA for neon restoration purposes. So please feel free to copy the photo above and post it somewhere. Be sure to tag it!

Photo: Phyllis Adkisson Shess/

Friday, December 29, 2023



Kim Novak and her ‘50s leading men: 
 1959—Bell, Book & Candle With James Stewart 
 1959—Middle of the Night With Fredric March 
 1958—Vertigo With James Stewart 
 1957—Pal Joey With Frank Sinatra 
 1957—Jeanne Eagels With Jeff Chandler 
 1956—The Man with the Golden Arm With Frank Sinatra 
 1956—The Eddy Duchin Story With Tyrone Power 
 1955—5 Against the House With Brian Keith 
 1955—Picnic With William Holden 
 1954—Phfft --With Jack Lemmon


Novak, Sinatra at Hollywood Premiere of "Pal Joey."

Thursday, December 28, 2023


When the weather permits, Traxx Restaurant expands from its smallish interior to a more spacious Southern California terrace. Traxx is the main restaurant operating in Los Angeles Union Station. Visually, it has an art deco feel and a menu that won’t break the bank. 

In fact, the cuisine at Traxx is Americana and quite possibly the best train depot fare in the country. Give it a try next time your train takes you to LA. 

Traxx Bar & Restaurant since 1977. 

Inside Los Angeles Union Train Station, 800 Alameda Street 

Reservations text: 323.470.7094 

Restaurant Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 am to 8 pm Bar Hours: Noon to 10 pm, 7 days. 

Owners: Chris Nordstrom and Kristin Jensen (since 2019). 

Traxx bar is across the main corridor from Traxx, the restaurant. 

Traxx's' northside terrace 

Best drink: Anything resembling a margarita. This is California. 

Best dish: Posole Verde with fire-roasted tomatillos, roasted chicken, jalapeño and garlic with hominy, tostada, radish, red onion, avocado and cilantro. 

Best customer: Harry Bosch.

Best customer trait: diversity.  This is a train station after all. 

What's New: LA's relatively new subway lines Metro Rail B and D have their eastern terminus at Union Station sharing two tracks below.

What’s ahead? Jazz on weekend nights. 

Tourists like the inside patio, but there's also inside seating and outside terrace weather permitting.  Fantastic people watching perch.  This couple split a salad and a steak sandwich before taking the Pacific Surfliner back to San Diego.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023



 Philippe Starck designs refuelling station
that highlights the "nothingness" of hydrogen

GUEST BLOG / By Alyn Griffiths, writer, Dezeen online design and architecure magazine
—French designer Philippe Starck has created a hydrogen refuelling station featuring a mirror-polished stainless-steel casing and colour-changing dichroic glass designed to give it a futuristic feel. 

 Starck designed the dispenser for HRS, a leading European designer and manufacturer of hydrogen stations. 

 HRS by Starck is based on the company's high-capacity refuelling points, which can dispense hydrogen gas to power cars, HGVs, buses, boats, trains and construction machinery. 

 The prototype design is being presented at the COP28 climate summit in Dubai as part of the Green Zone – a hub dedicated to energy transition technologies, innovation and decarbonisation. 

 The refuelling station has a stainless-steel casing Starck explained that the design aims to be "almost invisible", in order to emphasise that the fuel it supplies takes the form of a colourless gas that offers an alternative to fossil fuels. 

 "Hydrogen is clean; it is nothingness, the ether," said the designer. "It is clear that HRS By Starck hydrogen refuelling stations should be dematerialised. No particular style or design, for an object, which, like all other smart devices, has already disappeared." 

Designer Phillipe Starck aboard his aluminium frame, yellow tire Pibal bicycle.

 The hydrogen station is contained within a polished stainless-steel box with a window that displays the interior. This glass panel features a dichroic treatment that creates a subtle colour-changing effect. 

 "HRS by Starck is elegant and intelligent energy, at the service of hydrogen, which is the minimum that gives the maximum, serving people and the future," Starck added. 

 HRS's modular and scalable refuelling stations are filled with highly compressed hydrogen gas that is stored and cooled so that it can be dispensed using the system's outlet points. 

 The various hydrogen stations are compatible with all types of vehicles thanks to their two available pressure settings (350 bar and 700 bar). 

 The products can be adapted to meet both professional and public needs, with examples already operating in several locations across Europe. The first of the HRS by Starck dispensers will be installed in 2024. 

 Hydrogen power is seen as an important alternative to fossil fuels as it has the potential to deliver lower-carbon, efficient and affordable energy at scale. 

 British airline EasyJet and engineering company Rolls Royce have produced a hydrogen-powered aircraft engine, while London design studio Layer has created a system of products for retrofitting vehicles to run on green hydrogen. 

 Starck has worked across many disciplines including product and furniture design, architecture, and marine and aerospace engineering. The designer recently told Dezeen in an interview that he has spent his career fighting against "macho products" targeted at men and called on the next generation to focus on creating a more "asexual" design aesthetic. 

 Visuals are courtesy of Philippe Starck


Monday, December 25, 2023


Palace of St. Nicholas 

In the Moon 

Christmas Morning, 1875 

MY DEAR SUSIE CLEMENS [age 3 ½]: I have received and read all the letters which you and your little sister have written me by the hand of your mother and your nurses; I have also read those which you little people have written me with your own hands--for although you did not use any characters that are in grown peoples' alphabet, you used the characters that all children in all lands on earth and in the twinkling stars use; and as all my subjects in the moon are children and use no character but that, you will easily understand that I can read your and your baby sister's jagged and fantastic marks without any trouble at all. 

 But I had trouble with those letters which you dictated through your mother and the nurses, for I am a foreigner and cannot read English writing well. You will find that I made no mistakes about the things which you and the baby ordered in your own letters--I went down your chimney at midnight when you were asleep and delivered them all myself--and kissed both of you, too, because you are good children, well trained, nice mannered, and about the most obedient little people I ever saw. 

But in the letter which you dictated there were some words which I could not make out for certain, and one or two small orders which I could not fill because we ran out of stock. 

Susie Clements

Our last lot of kitchen furniture for dolls has just gone to a very poor little child in the North Star away up, in the cold country above the Big Dipper. Your mama can show you that star and you will say: "Little Snow Flake," (for that is the child's name) "I'm glad you got that furniture, for you need it more than I." That is, you must write that, with your own hand, and Snow Flake will write you an answer. If you only spoke it she wouldn't hear you. Make your letter light and thin, for the distance is great and the postage very heavy. 

There was a word or two in your mama's letter which I couldn't be certain of. I took it to be "a trunk full of doll's clothes." Is that it? I will call at your kitchen door about nine o'clock this morning to inquire. But I must not see anybody and I must not speak to anybody but you. When the kitchen doorbell rings, George must be blindfolded and sent to open the door. Then he must go back to the dining room or the china closet and take the cook with him. You must tell George he must walk on tiptoe and not speak--otherwise he will die someday. 

 Then you must go up to the nursery and stand on a chair or the nurse's bed and put your car to the speaking tube that leads down to the kitchen and when I whistle through it you must speak in the tube and say, "Welcome, Santa Claus!" Then I will ask whether it was a trunk you ordered or not. If you say it was, I shall ask you what color you want the trunk to be. Your mama will help you to name a nice color and then you must tell me every single thing in detail which you want the trunk to contain. Then when I say "Good-by and a merry Christmas to my little Susie Clemens," you must say "Good-by, good old Santa Claus, I thank you very much and please tell that little Snow Flake I will look at her star tonight and she must look down here--I will be right in the west bay window; and every fine night I will look at her star and say, 'I know somebody up there and like her, too.' 

"Then you must go down into the library and make George close all the doors that open into the main hall, and everybody must keep still for a little while. I will go to the moon and get those things and in a few minutes I will come down the chimney that belongs to the fireplace that is in the hall--if it is a trunk you want--because I couldn't get such a thing as a trunk down the nursery chimney, you know. 

People may talk if they want, until they hear my footsteps in the hall. Then you tell them to keep quiet a little while till I go back up the chimney. Maybe you will not hear my footsteps at all--so you may go now and then and peep through the dining-room doors, and by and by you will see that thing which you want, right under the piano in the drawing room-for I shall put it there. If I should leave any snow in the hall, you must tell George to sweep it into the fireplace, for I haven't time to do such things. George must not use a broom, but a rag--else he will die someday. 

 You must watch George and not let him run into danger. If my boot should leave a stain on the marble, George must not holystone it away. Leave it there always in memory of my visit; and whenever you look at it or show it to anybody you must let it remind you to be a good little girl. Whenever you are naughty and somebody points to that mark which your good old Santa Claus's boot made on the marble, what will you say, little sweetheart? 

Goodbye for a few minutes, till I come down to the world and ring the kitchen doorbell. 

Your loving SANTA CLAUS Whom people sometimes call "The Man in the Moon" 


ABOVE: a peace mural showing a dove by artist Justus Becker is painted on a wall in Frankfurt Germany. Earlier at the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a branch in Ukrainian colors was seen on the mural, how it was changed and has letters reading “Peace for all Mankind.” Photo by The Associated Press/Michael Probst. 

 Justus Becker aka COR

When Justus Becker isn’t creating street art, he’s a commercial film director and creative director for advertising. 

Sunday, December 24, 2023


BUSY TRAIN.  Angels Flight, a popular funicular in downtown Los Angeles remains one of the busiest rail lines in the country since its construction in 1901.

All Aboard: Two Trains in One Day. 

By Thomas Shess with photography by Phyllis Adkisson Shess—We hopped aboard Amtrak to Los Angeles earlier this week for a fun daytrip. 

Left San Diego’s Santa Fe Station at 8:10 a.m. and returned at 6 p.m. 

Late fall proved to be terrific for those coastal views and sunsets! 

 Exploring the Los Angeles was a perfect afternoon. 

Suggest adding Uber to budget since time is a factor on a one-day trip. 

MUNI TREE. LA's holiday tree is lit up on City Hall's 3rd floor Rotunda level.

Quick visits to City Hall (3rd floor rotunda had a beautiful xmas tree and the Bradbury Building is a working office building so security guards forbid upper floor explorations. 

Aside from being a national architectural treasure, the Bradbury Building has starred in a few movie productions (Blade Runner and many others). I liked Blue Bottle Coffee having a shop in the Bradbury.  Across the street, the Million Dollar Theater harkens to old Hollywood, but lately its street level appearance is more like the $1.99 Theatre. A better view is a huge mural beautifully installed on Bradbury's W. Third side of actor Anthony Quinn.  Tony, you look terrif.

POPE OF BROADWAY. Across the street from the landmark Bradbury Building is the “Pope of Broadway,” the title of a 70-foot mural of legendary Mexican-born actor Anthony Quinn. Painted by Eloy Torrez on the Victor Clothing Building in 1984, the mural depicts Quinn dancing in his Oscar-nominated performance as the title character in Zorba the Greek.

ALL ABOARD. Angels flight is a 1901 funicular railway in downtown Los Angeles. It is located on Hill Street opposite the Central Market. It has two cars named Olivet and Sinai that run in opposite directions at the same time on shared cable tracks. The line covers 298 feet over a vertical slope of 96 feet. Capacity 28 persons per trip. 

LUNCH STOP. Tourists arrived for lunch at Traxx Cafe in Union Station. 

Travel Tips: 

--For ocean views to LA sit on the left side of the train and coming home for those sunsets sit on the right side. 

--Conductors will save the facing 4 seaters for groups. So don’t let dally Sally or Manspread take over the tables with computers. Don’t be shy to ask conductor to shoo them away because there are tons of solo seats with nice sized airline style trays available. 

--The iconic and artsy Olvera Street is adjacent to the train depot. Given time restraints we chose Grand Market as it had a wider ethnic flavor (in our opinion). 

--Take the later train home for more gawking in LA (so many things to see). We left for San Diego on the Pacific Surfliner (business class) at 3:10 pm. Very comfortable. If all goes well on the tracks, the trip is three hours one way, which is amazing given all the stops the Surfliner makes. 

--Yes, you can drive but why? Cost about $100 round trip per person and Amtrak served as part of the deal a decent Central Valley red wine with a snack pack that beats any Southwest Airlines offering. Speaking of airlines, train seating in Biz class is twice the space allowed by most airlines. 

One downside but not deal breakers: 

 --Sadly, the wonderful seating in the main LA Union Station is fenced off and security guards escort you to and fro to your seat. 

--One restroom for all of Union Station.  Staff does its best but sheer volume of those who wash in the basins make it impossible for comfort.  If you can wait until you board to use the train toilets.  You will thank me for the tip.

 --Yes, you can hike from train depot to Angel’s Flight (one mile plus) but lots of homeless encampments until you get to City Hall. After City Hall seeing the new LAPD complex and the LA Times buildings are worth the walk, especially if you go in a group. 

. This work of neon art while sponsored by Bulleit Whiskey (a Diageo company) is a fund-raiser for the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale. Designed by Brendan Donnelly, the artwork was executed by Lisa Schulte, a longtime neon-art sculptor and member of the museum’s board. Here is how it works: Every time someone posts a photograph of this Bulleit Frontier Whisky sign on social media and tags it #FrontierWorks, the company will make a donation to the MONA for neon restoration purposes. So please feel free to copy the photo above and post it somewhere. Be sure to tag it!

As aficionados of Spain's central markets like those in Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia, we discovered LA's Grand Central Market to be diverse, intricate, fascinating, and so much fun and well worth the trip. 

BADGE OF HONOR. A replica of the 1928 Art Deco LA City Hall appears on police badges since 1940. The distinctive tower was modelled after the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Architects of the 32 story are John Parkinson, John C. Austin and Albert C. Martin, Sr. The concrete in its tower was made with sand from each of California’s 58 counties and water from its 21 historical missions. Street post names all of LA’s Sister Cities.

Sand volleyball early morning San Clemente Beach

SPLASHY. Locals often take AMTRAK Pacific Surfliner trip to Los Angeles for granted. For example, here's how close the tracks are to the Pacific Ocean. Take the trip now before it becomes a submarine ride.

Solo surfer, North County, San Diego.

THE BIZ. Among the first to board Amtrak’s popular Pacific Surfliner business class section.

FAMOUS BRADBURY BUILDING. You might recognize this National Landmark building as the star of the acclaimed film, “Blade Runner” as well as other location cameo’s. Steampunk architecture is revered worldwide. From the outside, however, the brick building looks like a brown pea hen.

HOT STUFF. Terrific photo of the chili vendor inside LA’s Central Market.

Lagoon inlet north of Torrey Pines bluffs and beach, San Diego County.

City of Oceanside Marina mid-morning 

Miles of great views of So. Calif. beaches, like San Clemente, can be seen from windows of Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to San Juan Capistrano.  Best views: sit on the left side to LA and right side return.

COMMENTS from fellow travelers:

Media Guru, Wine Journalist Tom Gable: “Great day trip. I used it regularly when I had clients in downtown L.A. and Century City. We also like it for visiting Santa Barbara and wine country. Relax on the train and avoid L.A. traffic, rent a car in Santa Barbara, and detox on the ride home.” 

Silly Stuff.  Holden DeMayo travel gadfly: After arriving at the train depot, I caught myself waiting for the announcement: "Please keep your seatbelts on until we arrive at the gate..."

Lew Decker, Author of sailing novel"Alligator Food."  Wow, what a great trip.  I have to be honest it never occurred to me that hopping on the train for a day trip to LA could be special.  Obviously, it is!

Saturday, December 23, 2023


The island has a popular coffee house: --Smash Espresso Bar, 63 poon Saan Road. 

Christmas Island is an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, lying south of Java, Indonesia. A national park covers most of the 135 sq. km island offering rainforest hikes to wetlands and waterfalls like Hugh’s Dale. Native wildlife includes nesting seabirds and the red crab, a land species known for its late-fall migration to the sea. The island is ringed with snorkeling and diving reefs. 

 And one terrific indoor/outdoor restaurant: --Golden Bosun Tavern, Rocky Point, Gaze Road. 

Friday, December 22, 2023


People dressed as Santa Claus row during a Christmas regatta along the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy, December 17. REUTERS/Manuel Silvestri 

Ho, ho, ho. Brazilian Rodrigo Franca prepares for his role as “Papai Negro” or “Black Santa,” for a Christmas event at a school in the City of God favela in Rio de Janeiro. New eyeglasses have been added this year so Santa can better see who's been naughty or nice. Photo by Bruna Prado, Associated Press.  

Thursday, December 21, 2023


Drift Hotel, Santa Barbara, California

GUEST BLOG / By Starr Charles via Dezeen magazine
-- For the latest roundup in Dezeen's 2023 review the design & architecture blog out of the UK selected 10 of this year's most popular and evocative restaurant and bar interiors, ranging from a space-themed sushi bar in Milan to a beach-style eatery in London (as selected by DeZeen. 

 Also among this year's eclectic roundup of restaurant and bar interiors is a renovated 16th-century brewery in Poland lined with a bold interior of red brick and ceramic tiles, as well as a bar and restaurant informed by Japanese psychedelia and cabins in Canada. 

 Read on for Dezeen's top 10 restaurant and bar interiors of 2023: 

, Santa Barbara, US, by Anacapa Architecture US studio Anacapa Architecture transformed a formerly closed early-1900s building into a hotel – hosting a ground-floor bar and cafe for both hotel guests and local visitors. Located in central California, the rustic interior accentuates the building's historical character and is complemented by concrete and wooden furniture. Photo by Erin Feinblatt 

Ikoyi Restaurant, UK, by David Thulstrup Copenhagen-based designer David Thulstrup designed a copper and oak interior for the Ikoyi restaurant, situated within London's 180 The Strand building. Drawing on spice-making processes from sub-Saharan west Africa, the interior features ceilings clad with metal-mesh panels and walls lined with oxidised copper sheets. Photo by Irina Boersma 

Sando, Geneva, Switzerland, by Sapid Studio Sapid Studio used Japanese patchwork techniques to inform the renovation of a burger restaurant in Geneva. Named after the Japanese word for sandwich, Sando features a largely retained interior decorated with a corrugated stainless steel bar, patched up tiled flooring, and translucent tapestries. 


Tenczynek Brewery, Poland, by Projekt Praga Red brick, ceramic tiles and oak furniture define the Tenczynek Brewery interior, designed by Polish design studio Projekt Praga. Located outside of Krakow, the centuries-old brewery was converted into a bold-coloured restaurant and bar, with a self-service beer fountain occupying the centre of the historic brick-vaulted space. Photo by ONI Studio

Prada Caffè, UK, by Prada Located in London's luxury department store Harrods, fashion house Prada opened a cafe informed by one of Milan's oldest patisseries. Contrasting with Harrods' baroque facade, Prada Caffè's mint green latticed storefront references the brand's signature green hue, which extends to the interior walls, ceilings and furniture. 


Milk Beach Soho, UK, by A-nrd London-based design studio A-nrd brought a "beachfront feel" reminiscent of an Australian beach club to this restaurant interior in Soho, London. Milk Beach Soho's minimal interior has a neutral material palette featuring a polished terrazzo floor and art deco-style furniture and lighting. Photo by Charlie McKay

 Ichi Station, Italy, by Masquespacio Ichi Station, by Valencian design studio Masquespacio, is a dine-in restaurant in Milan that draws on sci-fi and space tourism. Designed to resemble a futuristic spaceship, the cylindrical restaurant interior has a material palette of glass and micro-cement along with rounded, custom-made furniture. Photo by Luis Beltran

 Matilde Cunha Cozinha das Flores, Portugal, by Space Copenhagen Located in a 16th-century building in Porto, Cozinha das Flores' interior is decorated by a ceramic mural created by Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza. Designed by Space Copenhagen, the rustic interior is lined with green and burnt orange tiles, along with oak furniture and brass accents.  Photo by Luís Moreira

 Corner, UK, by Holland Harvey London-based architecture studio Holland Harvey revamped Tate Modern's ground-floor cafe to be less "Herzog & de Meuron-y". Doubling as the gallery's first late-night spot, the interior is organised around a grey stone bar, while salvaged chairs and bespoke tables are used throughout the space. Photo by Jack Hobhouse


Hello Sunshine, Banff, Alberta, Canada, by Frank Architecture Situated within the mountains of Alberta, Hello Sunshine is a bar and restaurant informed by Japanese psychedelia and cabins in collaboration with Little Giant. Designed by Canadian studio Frank Architecture, the wooden interior features two raised fire pits accompanied by large flues clad with glazed ceramic tiles, along with paper lanterns and textile artworks. Photo by Chris Ama