Sunday, April 23, 2017

Rock 'n' Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip outdoor exhibition...

Once upon a time (from the late 60s) one-of-a-kind hand-painted billboards of the world's greatest rock stars and musicians graced the infamous Sunset Strip, and photographer Robert Landau had the insight to record these amazing outdoor ads for posterity.

Rock n Roll Billboards of Sunset Strip outdoor exhibition
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the counterculture era of West Hollywood's Sunset Strip images from his 'Rock 'n' Roll billboards of the Sunset Strip' can be seen on display in an outdoor exhibition in one of the parking lots along the infamous stretch of Sunset Boulevard.
Rock n Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip exhibition
Regular visitors to my blog will know that ever since I arrived on these West Coast shores I've been slightly obsessed by all the eye-catching billboards, I even launched a dedicated Daily Billboard Blog seven years ago.
Rock n Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip Tommy billboard
They may not be hand-painted anymore and movie and TV offerings tend to dominate the skyline, but they are certainly creative and are always turning my head as I pass by.
Rock n Roll Billboards Sunset Strip Beatles Abbey Road
I bought Robert Landau's book when I heard about it, and I wish I'd been witness to some of these classic eye-popping examples from back in the day, and I would love the opportunity to do the same in the future with all the amazing billboards I've captured over the years since 2008.
Rock n Roll Billboards Sunset Strip public exhibition
If you're visiting the area or just passing by, or even parking your car in the lot, make sure you take a few minutes to check out some of the fantastic rockstar billboards that once filled the busy commuter route.
Rock n Roll Billboards Sunset Strip WEHO exhibition
To see more of these larger-than-life billboards in more detail you can also buy the book: Rock 'n' Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip

This was a such a clever way to brighten up another area of West Hollywood with some cool visuals and some historical nostalgia...

Thursday, April 20, 2017

An abundance of marvelous film costumes and props on display around L.A. this spring...

With costume exhibits around L.A. it's usually feast or famine, one day there's nothing to see and the next time you visit your local cinema there can be two or three exhibits to geek out over. Here's a collection of recent costume displays drawing back the curtain on Hollywoodland from the worlds of sci-fi, superheroes and more besides.

Gamora and Nebula Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 film costumes
at ArcLight Santa Monica cinema
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is soon to be back on cinema screens with more cosmic capers, humour and another awesome soundtrack and to help promote the sequel multiple costumes designed by Judianna Makovsky were on display at ArcLight Santa Monica and Hollywood in recent days.

Ego and Star-Lord Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 movie costumes
at ArcLight Hollywood cinema
Be sure to click through to my dedicated costume and props blog to get a closer look at the new 'Star-Lord', 'Gamora', 'Nebula' and 'Ego' movie costumes from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Alien: Covenant movie costumes
at ArcLight Hollywood cinema
Alien Covenant movie costumes
Speaking of sci-fi and the Alien horror film franchise is back this May with a new installment from Ridley Scott, Alien: Covenant.

Check out these cool costumes designed by Janty Yates and worn by Katherine Waterston and Billy Crudup in Alien: Covenant on display at ArcLight Hollywood cinema currently.

Original costumes and props from Ghost in the Shell
at ArcLight Hollywood cinema
Ghost in the Shell movie costume and prop exhibit
Before these science fiction exhibits, back in March the Manga and Anime-inspired Ghost in the Shell live-action movie starring Scarlett Johansson had this fantastic display at the Hollywood cinema.

With costumes by Kurt and Bart, I especially liked the robot Geisha animatronics by Weta Workshop on display. I thought the movie was visually interesting, but a little lacking in translation, but decide for yourself and take a closer look at these Ghost in the Shell film costumes and animatronics.

Original film costumes from Kong: Skull Island
at ArcLight Hollywood cinema
Kong Skull Island movie costume exhibit
I surprisingly enjoyed the new King Kong reboot (great CGI and imaginative monsters), and these costumes designed by Mary E. Vogt were on display at ArcLight Hollywood in March and I loved that the studio had some fun with the costume exhibit signage at the venue.

Make sure to get a closer look at these Kong: Skull Island film costumes worn by Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson.

Costumes and props from The Lost City of Z
at ArcLight Hollywood cinema
Lost City of Z movie costume and prop exhibit
Robert Pattinson fans would also be pleased if they went ArcLight's Hollywood location at the moment to see his costume (designed by Sonia Grande) and some cool props from the new exploration movie set in the 1920s, The Lost City of Z.

Free Fire film costumes at ArcLight Hollywood cinema
Free Fire movie costume exhibit
Speaking of Brie Larson, and another costume worn by the actress (designed by Emma Fryer) is currently on display at ArcLight Hollywood from the new 70s crime thriller Free Fire.

So as you can see, it's been a good time to be a fan of film fashion these past few months in L.A., let's hope the trend continues in the coming weeks...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Visiting California's wildflower bloom at Antelope Valley...

Following a political protest it's always nice to escape the city and clear your head, so on Easter Sunday we decided to drive out to Antelope Valley's California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster to disconnect and enjoy the wonder of nature.

Springtime in California
California wildflower poppy bloom Antelope Valley
After all the rainfall this season which has helped end most of California's drought conditions, the wildflowers are blooming and they are a beautiful spectacle to behold.
Parked cars Antelope Valley wildflower bloom
Obviously we're coming late to the party (as always) and the fields of poppies have become an Instagram and family portrait favourite, a bit like the mirrored Mirage House in Palm Springs, so there were lots of other visitors trampling through the flora.
California wildflower bloom Antelope Valley
There was a lovely soft, warm wind as we walked around snapping away with everyone else, trying to capture the perfect picture, but these photos don't really do the vibrant orange spectacle justice.
Poppy wildflowers Antelope Valley
Yes, this was the perfect antidote to politics, bombs, taxes and everyday life. You can keep Coachella, this was far more relaxing and reinvigorating.
Antelope Valley wildflower bloom
Sadly we'd read online that no dogs were allowed, otherwise we'd have taken Cooper (he was actually born nearby at a ranch in Acton), but that didn't seem to stop anyone else from bringing their pooches along.
Poppies Antelope Valley
In the past we'd have travelled thousands of miles to vacation in California and now living in L.A. all this beauty is right on our doorstep.

We really must try and stop and smell the poppies more often, and truly make the most of this beautiful place that we call home...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Marching with thousands to demand Trump release his tax returns at L.A.'s Tax March...

When Hillary Clinton didn't become the first female U.S. President I really worried that it would mean dire consequences for women's rights, LGBT rights, the environment, healthcare, education, gun control, the divide between the very rich and the poor, common decency and the safety of the world at large. Sadly Donald Trump's first 100 days in office have done nothing to assuage my fears.

Protesting LA Tax March
With concerns growing over his campaign's ties to Russia, his toddler temper tantrum bombings and the fact that he is the first U.S. President in decades to not have released his tax returns, I really felt the need to join the Tax March in Downtown L.A. to peacefully protest with thousands of others worried about the direction this country is headed in.
Sesame Street protesters LA Tax March
Whilst there weren't the millions that participated in the Women's Marches in January, there were still tens of thousands of people who came out to voice their concerns and demand transparency from the current administration.
LA Tax March signs
Regardless of whether Trump's tax returns show he is indebted to foreign powers and companies, which may sway his presidential decisions, on the campaign trail he actually promised he would release them if elected, so it just proves he's not a man of his word.
Downtown LA Tax March
Downtown LA Tax March sign
Some days it's hard not to despair listening to the latest executive orders or GOP sponsored legislation that is being past, rolling back protection for the environment, workers, consumers and voters.
LA Tax March
Downtown LA Tax March
That's why it's great to show up and participate in these highly visible protests, to be surrounded by like-minded people who are equally distressed by the current political and social climate.
Downtown LA Tax March
On a beautiful California day the crowd was filled with all ages, genders, ethnicities, professions, families, friends and people there on their own, all wanting to have they voices heard.
Tax March on LA City Hall
The hand-made signs, the costumes, the musical instrument players, the chants, the energy of the protesters, all help to lift you up as you walk the city streets united.
Tax March Downtown LA City Hall
Rather than simply moan and complain, railing at the TV screen daily, it makes the world of difference to show up, march, re-energise your determination for change, for justice, for liberty, for equality and for sanity.
Tax March signs
Who knows what the days to come will bring, I for one know that I can't take four years of this current administration and Trump's impeachment can't come soon enough, that is if he doesn't get us all blown up before then with a careless tweet.
LA Faux Russian Tax March protestors
At the end of the day if there's nothing to hide, release the tax returns, it really is as simple as that.
Tax March on LA City Hall
With all these protest marches I feel like I'm seeing more of L.A. than I've seen before, even running the marathon. Today for a change of pace we're off to enjoy the great outdoors and see California's wildflower super bloom in person.

Happy Easter and keep fighting the good fight...

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Getting crafty for the L.A. Tax March...

To paraphrase Edmund Burke, "Evil triumphs when good men do nothing". Ever since the last U.S. Presidential Election result that quote has been recirculating in my mind on an almost daily basis as the atrocities of this administration mount up, be it collusion with Russia, trying to repeal Obamacare with no viable replacement, stripping protection from the environment, ripping families apart via deportation, removing anyone that opposes or is investigating Trump, the endless lies and spin, it's just exhausting.

Tax March protest sign
Aside from continuing to support organisations like Planned Parenthood, Lambda Legal, ACLU, after attending the Women's March in L.A. in January I vowed I'd march again to make sure that this current administration (and the world) knows that what they are doing isn't right, or just, or fair to millions of Americans (and anyone who lives on this Earth). It really is time to make a stand, because if not now, when?
Making Tax March protest signs
Visibility and showing up really is the key, just look at what happened when people went to town halls and shared their personal health stories with their local representatives, and so this time around I am prepared, organised and crafty (arts and crafty, that is).
Tax March Sesame Street tshirts
I also have a theme for our protest, a group of us will be wearing Sesame Street character t-shirts to highlight our disapproval that this administration wants to remove funding for PBS (which is a drop in the ocean compared to forcing us to pay our taxes to provide security for a First Lady who obviously can't even bear to live with her husband).

What ties does Trump have with foreign governments and companies? Who to and how much does he owe? Just release your taxes is there's nothing to hide. Ae you scared we'll learn the truth?
Huntington Dog Beach Labrador fun
Anyway, I'm looking forward to exercising my rights to free speech at the weekend (especially after having just filed our taxes for another year).

After all that sign making (I'd forgotten how toxic those Sharpies can be), I thought it was time for a dog beach visit to clear my head and vent all that Labrador energy.
Huntington Dog Beach Labrador
At the end of the day this is the life I'm protesting to protect. To be openly gay, live without fear, visit a beach that isn't polluted by big businesses dumping toxic materials into the ocean and protect the future.

I'm not planning on having kids anytime soon (Cooper is my boy), but I believe in making sure there's a planet in the future where there's equality, justice, safety, peace, clean water, healthcare, opportunity and the chance to love who you want without prejudice.

If you believe in something, if you feel like this country is going in the wrong direction, it's time to take a stand. Otherwise when you have no rights left then you have no one else to blame but yourself...

Monday, April 3, 2017

Doug Aitken's mirrored Mirage house making a desert spectacle in Palm Springs...

A long weekend in Palm Springs seems to fly by these days, but this visit I'm so glad we got to see the new temporary 'Mirage' art installation in the desert making a shining spectacle.

Mirage desert art installation by Doug Aitken
Mirage mirror house Palm Springs
The mirrored house is the creation of Doug Aitken and part of the Desert X outdoor art initiative in the Coachella Valley and it certainly seems to have captured the imagination of visitors.
Doug Aitken Mirage house Palm Springs
We decided to visit the spectacle at sunrise on Sunday, although finding it was easier said than done as the only direction you get are coordinates and limited signage.
Mirage house installation Palm Springs
Even though we were early, as we arrived there were people leaving the site who'd already been there dressed up in their finest outfits, costumes and regalia.
Inside Mirage mirror house Palm Springs
The mirrored house has become an instant hit with the selfie-loving Instagram generation and you couldn't swing a cat for all the amateur photographers trying to get their best shot.
View from Mirage house Palm Springs
Fortunately the art installation had survived the strong winds on Friday, but it's already starting to show signs of wear and tear and heavy traffic.
Palm Springs Mirage mirror house
From a distance we couldn't see the house as we walked up the road, it just looked like a blue painted house, then we realized that was the reflection of the sky.
Palm Springs Mirage house Desert X
Up close the mirrored ranch house sculpture camouflages itself into the surrounding landscape, the rocks, the desert flowers in bloom, Palm Springs infamous windmills and the towering mountains behind it.
Palm Springs windmills view Mirage mirror house
The Frank Lloyd Wight-inspired dwelling clad in mirrors provides photography opportunity within and without.
Doug Aitken Mirage house Palm Springs
It's certainly a great escape from the fun and sun madness of Palm Springs, a bit of desert culture to break up all the drinking, eating and lounging by the pool.
Doug Aitken Mirage house Palm Springs
The house is open for visitors from 3:30pm to sunset weekdays and from sunrise to sunset on weekends through to April 30, 2017 (although it's closed to the public on April 3 and 4).
Mirage mirrored house Palm Springs
It's a wonderful concept so bravo to the artist and all those involved in building the mirrored sculpture.
Inside Mirage mirror house Palm Springs
This is certainly my kind of immersive art and will join my list of favourite outdoor sculptures that I've seen on travels.
Doug Aitken Mirage mirrored house Palm Springs
Those strong, high winds when we arrived on Friday certainly made for some spectacularly clear Californian skies for our visit.
Mirage mirror house Palm Springs
I wish I had more time to explore all the other outdoor art scattered around the Coachella Valley for Desert X, but there's always next time I'm sure.
Mirage mirror house Palm Springs
Now after all that relaxing and culture it's back to everyday life in L.A., our West Hollywood condo just won't feel the same without mirrors covering all its walls.

Farewell for now Palm Springs...

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