Signs That You Are Still A Tourist In LA

Signs That You Are Still A Tourist In LA

Los Angeles was the kind of place where everybody was from somewhere else and nobody really dropped anchor. It was a transient place. People drawn by the dream, people running from the nightmare. Twelve million people and all of them ready to make a break for it if necessary. Figuratively, literally, metaphorically — any way you want to look at it — everybody in L.A. keeps a bag packed. Just in case.” Michael Connelly

You honk your horn in traffic.

You shop at the mall on Hollywood and Highland.

You are at the Fairfax Farmers Market on a weekday morning – hopefully not wearing cargo shorts and a fanny pack.

You haven’t worn jeans to a nice restaurant or the theatre yet. You haven’t been to the theatre in LA yet.

You still dress seasonally – wool in winter, white in summer.  You haven’t figured out that its scarves, boots, flip-flops and tank tops all year round.

You haven’t been downtown or to a museum that isn’t the Getty .

You are still having lunch at the Ivy for celeb sightings. The food is not as good as it used to be. You get excited when you see Richard Dreyfus at the drug store, Meg Ryan at Barneys or Madonna at Kabbalah. i have to admit I was happy when I saw Elton John having lunch with the kids.

You get excited when you see Tyra Banks online for the bathroom at the Arclight. You do go to the Arclight and not the “Graumans” Chinese  theatre right?

You don’t have a favorite Mexican restaurant.

Everyone knows the driving shortcut you have just found.

You rarely use valet parking and prefer to find a spot on the street.

You have not yet been on a juice fast.

You are not worried by the lack of rain.

Words like Santa Anas, fire season, earthquake kits and did any one feel that? are not part of your regular vocabulary yet.

You leave your car on South Beverly Drive and walk to Rodeo Drive. You still leave your car in one place and walk to all your errands if you can. You attempt to live somewhere where you are near public transportation.

You have not perfected your spray tan color yet.

You have barbecues in the winter. You still get a bit sad that there is no snow on Christmas.

You have not bought a winter coat even though there are days you need it.

You still prefer to eat in the restaurants that have a view of the ocean even though others are better and less expensive.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Things That I Have Learned In Seattle, Washington

Things That I Have Learned In Seattle, Washington

“Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it.” Kimberly Kinrade

Seattle is ranked the most literate city in the country. Everyone reads here. The Seattle Public Library system has the highest percentage of library card-holders per capita in the country.

The city has the highest percentage of residents with a college degree or higher.

Seattle is the birthplace of grunge, has summer rock concerts in the zoo, a Jimi Hendrix memorial and a Kurt Cobain memorial (his old house).

It was the first city in the US to play a Beatles song on the radio.

Edgewater Hotel is where the Beatles stayed on their first tour to America. It is the famous photo of them fishing from their room.

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Bumbershoot is the music and art festival of the year for kids growing up in the Pacific Northwest.

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The festival takes place over Labor Day Weekend. Bumbershoot means umbrella so you know that there will be rain. It is held near the EMP Museum and Space Needle so there is an eclectic mix of rockers and tourists around.

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It’s all good. Especially because marijuana is legal in the state of Washington. You can definitely smell it. The law states that if you are over 21 and have an ounce of marijuana not open in a public place it is legal. You cannot smoke it anywhere cigarettes are not allowed. The police are still finding their way so be careful.

Seattle was the first American city to put police on bicycles.

The EMP Museum is dedicated to science fiction, music and pop culture.

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The Experience Music Project  was designed by Frank Gehry and created by Paul Allen who was one of the founders of Microsoft.

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Seattle-based artists Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana have galleries there.

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There are interactive music galleries that the kids will love. Play any instrument, dj or make a video.

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Music videos are on constant loops through out the museum. (props from OK GO, This Too Shall Pass, my favorite music video).

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There are impressive instrument collections as well.

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The sci-fi and horror film section has something for every nerd. Even a non-fan will be impressed with the displays and technology.

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Constructed on the grounds of the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Space Needle was inspired in part by a flying saucer. With its domed top (always a rotating restaurant and observation deck) it has appeared in Sleepless in Seattle and Austin Powers The Spy Who Shagged Me.

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At 76 stories and 937 feet Columbia Center is Seattle’s tallest building and is 12th tallest building in the country.

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The Seattle Great Wheel built in 2012,  is the largest observation wheel on the west coast. It is 175 feet tall and can hold up to 300 passengers at any time. The wheel is open year round. There are fully enclosed gondolas and a covered waiting area, so the rain can’t stop the wheel from spinning.

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The world’s first gas station opened in 1907 on East Marginal Way in Seattle.

The Washington State Ferry System is the largest in the country and the third largest in the world, carrying over 25 million passengers annually.

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Seattle’s Pier 52 is the busiest ferry terminal in the U.S.  It is a 35 minute ferry trip across Elliot Bay to Bainbridge island.

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Bainbridge Island is almost 28 square miles, and has a population of just over 20,000. If you have the patience to wait on the ferry lines and bring a car over, it is a good way to explore the island. If you happen to be going to a wedding there, it is best to walk on.

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Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour in Pioneer Square takes you beneath Seattle’s streets where there were once roadways and storefronts.

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The Underground Tour leads us through obscure doors and urine filled alleys.

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This was the original area for saloons and brothels and “the sewing circle”- a group of ‘seamstresses” who knew “not to sew without a thimble”.

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It was interesting to learn how the city was leveled and rebuilt after the fire of 1889 to accommodate constant flooding and poor sanitation.

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Tales of rats and sewage are a big part of an underground tour if that is your thing. (Notice  that the early water pipe  is made from wood.)

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Our tour guide was funny, informative and a great story-teller. There is a lot of history under those streets. http://www.undergroundtour.com

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The Seattle Architecture Foundation does tours around Seattle. I was there on a day that they did a downtown tour. Check the website for the tour schedule. It was raining but being a frustrated architect I got to learn all about the architectural styles and public/private space buildings around downtown. Hearing the history from the underground tour and seeing the modern, beaux-arts and brutalist buildings pulled the Seattle story together for me. http://seattlearchitecture.org/tours/downtown-tours.

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I always take advantage of a concierge at a hotel. Keith Dowsing at the Alexis in Seattle was especially knowledgeable, helpful and fun. Before I arrived he had taken care of great dinner reservations, tours and a hair appointment on a Sunday. He is the ultimate insider and knows everything going on in Seattle. He made my kids feel special when they arrived as well. He is a valuable resource and definitely added to my Seattle experience. Thanks Keith.

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Another great thing about the Alexis is that  on your night table there is a copy of a book for purchase written by students in the writing program at 826 Seattle. I volunteer in the writing program at 826 LA so I thought that was very cool.

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People in Seattle are used to rain, always have a Plan B, don’t usually carry umbrellas, have plastic for their cameras and a good hooded rain jacket. I am not from Seattle and knocked into a lot of people with my umbrella and couldn’t take photos in the rain. Living in LA for so long I need to brush up on my weather skills.

Fly Safe,

JAZ

Top Ten Movie Locations That I Would Like To Visit

    Top Ten Movie Locations That I Would Like To Visit

 “There is something particularly fascinating about seeing places you know in a piece of art – be that in a film, or a photograph, or a painting.” Sara Sheridan

Some of my favorite movies and movie scenes did not take place on a Hollywood set or in a studio. Ordinary and extraordinary places were transformed forever in cinematic history. I see Holly Go Lightly at Tiffany’s in New York and Sylvia and Marcelo in the Trevi Fountain in Rome. Movies bring their stories to places in the world . Here are the top ten movie locations that I would like to visit someday.

1. Stanley Hotel “The Shining”

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado was the inspiration for Stephen King to write The Shining. Though it was not in Stanley Kubrick’s film, it was used in the television miniseries. Kubrick’s feature film is on a continuous loop on all guest room televisions. The best time to visit the Stanley Hotel is during the Stanley Film Festival April 30 – May 3, 2015. The Stanley Film Festival showcases classic and contemporary horror films and interactive scary experiences all weekend. It is the perfect horror vacation weekend. Don’t miss it if being scared is your thing.  http://www.stanleyfilmfest.com

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2.Baseball Field “Field of Dreams”

The homemade baseball field in the middle of an Iowa corn field is really in Dyersville Iowa. 65,000 people visit a year. You can show up, walk around, play some catch and melt into the corn. It is kept up like the movie. Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa.http://www.fodmoviesite.com

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3. The Apartment “Amelie”

Most of the Fabulous Destiny of Amelie Poulain is shot in Montmartre, Paris.  It is here where she decides to change the lives of those around her while she struggles with her own isolation. The grocery store is Au Marche de la Butte Rue De Trois Frères at Rue Androuet. The entrance to the apartment is just around the corner at 55 Rue de Trois Freres. Not far away is the Lamark – Caulaincourt Metro station with the beautiful double staircase. The Cafe des 2 Moulins  at 15 Rue Lepic where Amélie works is a real place.

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4. The Place “Whale Rider”

This film tells the story of a 12-year-old Māori girl and her family’s struggle to accept her ability to lead, despite the tribe’s tradition of being guided by men. But it is the spectacular little visited Eastern New Zealand scenery that captures us as well. Whale Rider was shot in Whangara, New Zealand, which is 10 hours from Auckland by car. The Māori village with thirty residents wasn’t prepared for the hordes of fans. The land is private, so book a guided visit through the Gisborne Visitor Information Office (gisbornenz.com). You may be able to book Hone Taumaunu. He is one of the film’s cultural advisors who leads a two-hour tour: Walk on the beach where Pai’s namesake landed 1,000 years ago, see the house where the movie was shot, and learn about the Ngati Konohi people.

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5. The Bench “Forest Gump”

The bench was located on the north end of Chippewa Square Park at the corner of W. Hull and Bull streets in Savannah Georgia. It was situated near the one way sign.   Forrest told his life story on that bench to anyone who would listen. It was there only for the filming of the movie and is now in the Savannah Museum down the street – which makes the tourists and fans of the film very sad. The benches in the park are replicas of the “Forest Gump” style.  You can sit down on any one of them and try to tell a stranger your life story. (the original)

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6. The village, bamboo forest ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”

Most of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was shot at Hengdiang Studios which is equal to Universal Studios in China. You can visit the the studio and sets. There are hotels, restaurants, and tours. It is now the largest film studio in the world. The village where Wudan master Li Mu Bai has gone to retire and meditate is Hongcunzhen in Anhui province. The 900 year old village is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. The village is supposed to resemble the outline of an ox. Water flows through or around  every house in the village to keep the yang and insure eternal prosperity. The tree top fight between Li and Jen was shot in the Anhui Bamboo forest near the village. It is the largest bamboo forest in China and also has a bamboo museum nearby. Jens flashback with outlaw Lo was filmed in the Ghost City in the Gobi Desert in China. It is hauntingly beautiful but not much tourist infrastructure so you will have to be adventurous if you go.

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7. Park Hyatt Hotel “Lost In Translation”

The Park Hyatt is located in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. A lot of the movie was shot in Shinjuku and Shibuya. Bob spends most of his nights in the New York Bar on the top floor. There is a one night “Lost In Translation Package” which includes the spa (also in the film) and a free drink in the New York Bar. It is still glamorous with great views of the city.

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8. The Deli   “When Harry Met Sally”

The famous fake orgasm scene in this movie was shot at Katz’s Delicatessan 205 Houston St, NY, NY. Growing up in NY, I would have the pastrami on rye but you may want to have what she’s having.

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9. The bookshop “Notting Hill.”

Trying to recapture the magic of Anna Scott and William Thacker while walking around Notting Hill is not hard to do. The blue door is at 280 Westbourn Park Road, just off Portobello’s Fruit and Vegetable Market. Interestingly, this was the flat at the time of the film’s screenwriter Richard Curtis. The interior was a film studio. London flats are not usually that large. There used to be a “Travel Bookshop” off Portobello Road on Blenheim Crescent, which inspired William Thacker’s bookshop in the film. It is now open again as The Notting Hill Bookshop at 13 Blenheim Crescent. The Travel Book Company owned by William Thacker doesn’t exist.

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10.The steps “Rocky”

Re-enact Rocky’s run up the 68 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA . Try not to hum ‘Gonna Fly Now’ too loud.

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Any more?

Gonna Fly Safe.

JAZ