Sunday, October 3, 2021

This trip to Los Angeles: Koreatown, Mulholland Drive and the Wax Trax! Cold Waves Festival

While the Great Bridge of San Pedro was not visible from my hotel window this trip, I did have a very nice view of the Los Angeles skyline and Koreatown down Olympic Avenue.

I spent all four nights in Koreatown and was surprised with just how large the Korean neighborhood is in L.A. They have developed an entire pocket of Los Angeles consisting of about three square miles just west of downtown. The place seemed centrally located, and I liked feeling that I was relatively close to many of the sightseeing locations Los Angeles is famous for.

I flew into L.A. on my birthday in hopes of encountering several days of rest there in the city. I discovered the Cold Waves Festival in conjunction with Chicago's legendary Wax Trax! Records was scheduled at the Mayan Theater during that time, so I picked up a ticket for that as well.

I wanted to spend some time at the beach again this visit, so I planned a trip out to the coastline via Mulholland Drive, a route I'd seen recommended in the past. I also took a trip up the Pacific Coast Highway through beach communities like Malibu and Santa Monica. I apparently visited just in time, as a massive oil spill came ashore the day I flew out of town, killing marine life and birds and closing some beaches along the coast.

The Leo Carrillo State Park is located in Malibu where Mulholland Highway meets PCH. I took several minutes to relax before heading up the coast. Folks were surfing, kids were frolicking and jumping excitedly in the sand, and there was even a group of people who set up a tent near the waterfront. Me? I just snapped some photos of the birds and the waves as they rolled in from the Pacific Ocean. That would be a fantastic place to camp.

I chuckled as I drove through Malibu on PCH and found a road sign that graciously instructed me where to turn to get up the hill.

During my drive on Mulholland, I found a scenic overview for the Universal City area of Los Angeles. The stop is one of several similar scenic lookouts along that particular stretch of road as it winds in the hills above the city. Someone placed a chair at the spot for visitors and passersby, and some empty wine bottles at the location indicated people like to hang out here and get a little silly from time to time.

A pretty impressive light and rear-projection show accompanied the Front 242 concert during this year's Cold Waves Festival at the Mayan Theater. 242 is one of the bands I began listening to frequently during the period right after high school, when I often found myself hanging out in Houston's progressive and alternative dance music nightclubs. The band sounded fantastic this evening, and I'll likely see them again on this tour in downtown San Antonio.

To borrow a term that Consolidated's Adam Sherburne used during their set, this type of concert lineup -- 80's industrial, particularly the Wax Trax! bands -- is a "nostalgia show" for me and would probably be enjoyed best at 300 Westheimer in Houston (a stage this band has stood on a time or two). However, I found the Mayan an extremely beautiful venue and a fantastic place to see a concert.

My immediate thought: Screaming ancient beasts in pools of murky water. I stopped by the La Brea Tar Pits one morning to check out the sites. According to Wikipedia, "Natural asphalt (also called asphaltum, bitumen, pitch, or tar; brea in Spanish) has seeped up from the ground in this area for tens of thousands of years." You can actually see gas bubbling up in the pond while you stand there staring at these old elephants. Smells like black gold. Texas Tea. You would think this type of place would be located somewhere remote, like out in the desert or some other secluded area, but these bubbling pits of blackness are actually at a busy Los Angeles intersection adjacent to buildings and businesses.

Although I'd been up to the Griffith Observatory on a previous trip out West, I'd never been able to take in this incredible sight at night.

This photo, taken with my cell phone, doesn't do the view justice. In fact, no photo could. You have to stand at that wall and look out over the city to experience this properly. A rather large crowd had congregated at the top of that hill Friday night (at least three or four times the crowd I'd seen there during a previous daytime visit). My best experience that evening was walking over to a more secluded area on the opposite side of the observatory to look out over the city for several minutes.

Check that place out after dark.  

Saturday, September 4, 2021

John Wayne's daughter shared memories at Briscoe Museum on the River Walk today

My first visit to the Briscoe Western Art Museum included a presentation and Q&A with Aissa Wayne, daughter of legendary actor John Wayne. You can watch the stream on the museum's Facebook page.

The program was part of an exhibit curently on display at the museum on Hollywood westerns. Aissa not only grew up with a Hollywood legend, often on set and frequently surrounded by her dad's famous friends and associates, she appeared on screen in several of his films. Despite dabbling in acting in her earlier years, she went on to pursue a law career in California and has since retired.

The curator, Andrew Patrick Nelson, asked an interesting question of Aissa during the presentation that actually hit upon something I often think about when I watch John Wayne on film. I'm paraphrasing, but he inquired about how much of the Duke's personality we see in the movies, and how much of what we watch on screen is actually the character he's playing.

John Wayne was so larger-than-life that he's really the only American actor I can think of who seems to always transcend the character he is playing. He was such a huge personality with a unique physical style and voice that no matter who he was portraying on film, or how great the performace was, the man you're watching on the screen is still John Wayne.

He seemed to even transcend the movies he starred in. The Searchers isn't just The Searchers. That's a John Wayne movie. True Grit isn't just True Grit. That's a John Wayne movie. The Train Robbers isn't just The Train Robbers. That's a John Wayne movie. And so on and so forth.

I still remember the day John Wayne died. I don't remember that day because I was a huge fan of his work back then. I was an eight-year-old kid at the time and had probably never sat through an entire John Wayne picture. I remember because of the reaction of my stepfather that evening. We sat together in the living room in Huntington Beach with the television on, when the broadcast was interupted by national network news announcing John Wayne's death. He was visibly upset, and for a moment I thought he was tearing up. I had never, and don't think I have since, seen someone react to the death of a stranger like that.

I've always remembered that evening and realized the immense impact John Wayne had on the people who grew up watching his movies. He was loved. As his daughter shared with us this afternoon, he was always a good guy with a big heart. And that certainly is communicated clearly when you watch him on screen, read something he crafted when putting pen to paper, or just see him spending time with friends and family in photographs.

I think I'm going to stream McLintock! this weekend. That's a John Wayne movie in which his daughter Aissa make a brief appearance.

Thank you to the museum, Aissa Wayne, and curator Andrew Patrick Nelson for hosting "Still in the Saddle" in San Antonio. I'm always looking for fantastic reasons to head down to that river.

Sunday, August 8, 2021

The demons have been put on notice: You will leave the lovely women of Los Angeles...NOW!

If you're anything like me, you are simply sick and tired of these demonic spirits tormenting the lovely women of Los Angeles County.

Thankfully, Pastor Kathryn Krick is holding meetings at a public park in that city to let these worthless demons know that we've had about all we're willing to put up with in terms of their shenanigans.

If you're unaware of what has been going on in L.A. in the spirit realm, you really need to watch these videos (you can click on either photo to watch the full video). Demons are manifesting and then getting cast into the toilet bowl of history by the power of the blood and the word of their testimony.

Satan, you are a goofy fruitcake and a liar and we will have no more of your nonsense. Loose these lovely women. NOW!

If you happen to be on YouTube and enjoy watching demonic spirits cry out in their final moments of tormenting humans, I thorougly recommend keeping a close eye on the channel of Apostle Kathryn Krick. People are apparently flying to Los Angeles from all over the U.S. to experience this. I may even visit the park during a future trip to L.A.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

COVID-19 antibody test results are back, and positive

The lab has posted the results of my COVID-19 antibody test following vaccination. I do have the antibodies in my blood, and I'm now ready to face the world without a mask or concern I might contract the virus.

I actually went back to the clinic for a second blood draw this past week, as the results of my first test showed very low levels or an inconclusive result.

This second blood sample produced a score of 10.70. Anything over .80 is considered a positive result, and I appear to be considerably over that level. I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 7. It sure looks like the vaccine works. Run out and get a shot today if you haven't already. All the cool people are doing it.

Thanks again to the folks at the Prestige Wellness - Oak Hills Clinic in the South Texas Medical Center. They were extremely pleasant and informative during my visits, and I appreciate what you all are doing to help fight the virus.

Friday, April 23, 2021

A vial of my blood now belongs to the scientists studying the Johnson & Johnson vaccine

When I rececived my vaccination weeks ago, I volunteered to return for an antibody test. This will determine how the vaccine is impacting my body's ability to fight the virus.

I visited the same clinic in San Antonio's South Texas Medical Center yesterday afternoon for a blood draw. The clinic will forward my blood to a lab which will have my results in about a week. I'll share the results here once I receive them.

I'll mention again that I received the vaccine more than 14 days ago, with no recognizable negative side effects. I was a little sore for about a day at the place on my arm where the needle went in, but other than that I've felt great.

If you are one of the folks apprehensive about getting vaccinated against COVID-19, relax and go get the shot(s). As a physician from New York University aptly stated shortly after the J&J pause began, statistically you're more likely to get blood clots from acquiring COVID-19 than from receiving any vaccination.

Let's see if the results I receive indicate the vaccine is having its intended impact on my immune system, or if it sheds any light on whether I've even had the virus already during the pandemic.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Fully vaccinated and looking forward to throwing my goofy mask in a trash can

Thanks to our friends in the South Texas Medical Center, I have now joined the one-in-four Americans fully vacinated against the deadly COVID-19 scourge.

I received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday afternoon at 5282 Medical Drive, Suite 160. That vaccine only requires one shot. It was painless and simple, and as far as I can tell has absolutely no side effects. I felt healthier within minutes.

Am I going to get Coronavius now? No way! That silly stuff may crawl around on my hands or my nose, and may even get into my lungs, but the evil microbe has been rendered powerless by the dedicated scientists and health care professionals working with the Johnson & Johnson company.

If you're having a difficult time finding an appointment to receive the vaccine, don't rely on one or two locations. For weeks, I checked the same locations and kept receiving a "no appointments available" notification.

Instead, go to VaccineFinder.org and simply enter your zip code. They will give you list of locations in your area that have the vaccine in stock, and you can make your appointment online.

Let's all get vaccinated so we can finally throw these goofy masks in a trash can, once and for all.

By the way, if you haven't had a chance to check out my incredibly important "Ponderings During the Pandemic" podcast, I encourge you to do so right now. I'll place part one below, but you can find links to all three instalments under the video.

Pondering During the Pandemic with John Tyler, Vol. 1

Pondering During the Pandemic with John Tyler, Vol. 2

Pondering During the Pandemic with John Tyler, Vol. 3

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Do you side with the sweet flying doggies, or do you side with the scumbags?

If you've ever thought, Things won't start improving in America until dogs fly, we might be closer than you think.

While a great number of demons have manifested and shown themselves as worthy advisaries in recent days, the future of our country will not rest in the hands of terrorists and maggots.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, or a great doggy rising crumpled and broken from its uncomfortable landing spot on a concrete parking lot, America will rise and rise again.

Scumbags will not define us, and they will not get the last word. They might threaten retaliation. They might claim they're lucky because our laws often protect the wrong people. But who gives a shit? America doesn't negotiate with scumbags and terrorists, and we surely don't give rat's ass what they think.

They're finished, without a hope and without a future, unless they get right with God (or they get the hell out of Dodge).

And for any sweet doggies that might have endured a difficult time in the past days, we extend our love and hope that all dogs truly do go to Heaven.

I look forward to petting you there, sweet flying doggie.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Spontaneous trip to L.A. last week puts Great Bridge outside hotel window

I drove west on I-10 Thursday morning hoping to see Los Angeles again soon and very soon. Using Priceline.com's Express Deals, I was given a hotel in San Pedro with quite a lovely sight out my window. I can literally pull from the hotel parking lot and drive onto that beautiful piece of engineering that spans the Port of Los Angeles within a minute or so. You'll probably remember that bridge from a previous post on this blog.

As the sun went down over the mountains somewhere in New Mexico or Arizona, I was reminded of that song from back in the day by The Orb, detailing the incredible beauty of clouds in the the desert sky. The sky actually does change colors out there in the desert in ways I don't often notice elsewhere. This photo was taken after many hours of driving, while fighting off a strange combination of weariness and jitters from way too much caffeine consumed during the day. A nap at a rest stop soon followed.

Once in California, General Patton greeted me at the summit. His museum sits at the top of a hill, nestled with a coffee shop, numerous tanks, and several pumps providing travelers with expensive gasoline. I recently saw the movie Patton again and marveled at how a man so famous for pissing off just about everyone every time he opened his mouth became lauded as a military hero. I loved when he shot those two jackasses because they were in his way and then ordered his troops to throw the dead animals off a bridge. True warrior.

Early morning drama at the gas station. I never actually figured out what was going on yesterday morning at the convenience store across the street, but plenty of San Pedro's finest showed up to sort the issue out. I've seen lots of police officers this past weekend out and about patrolling the neighborhood.

Having recently viewed a Youtube video on the history of Echo Park Lake, I decided to stop by and see the place on the way out to Hollywood Boulevard yesterday morning. This is a somewhat historic body of water in L.A. that has apparently been featured in numerous movies over the years, most notably the 1974 Jack Nicholson film Chinatown. I thought it might be cool to get on board one of those swan pedal boats and take some photos like Jack, but they appeared unavailable for use when I arrived.

It's difficult to share the experience without mentioning the homeless folks that have created a relatively large waterfront community along one side of the lake. While in one regard this is obviously a sad display of people at a very low point in their lives, there is also something strangely heartening about how some have decided to make this more than just your run-of-the-mill tent camp, using creativity and even a sense of humor in how they've constructed and decorated what we all hope is a temporary stop for them on the way to much better days.

Good morning, Gertie. From Echo Park, I headed off to Hollywood Boulevard, a stop I frequently like to make when in L.A. The street was strangely empty comparatively speaking, with many of the establishments still closed due to COVID-19. No Spider Man, as far as I could tell. No Edward Scissorhands. No Wonder Woman. Just the bearded guy from The Hangover with a baby strapped around his neck, waving at folks wandering past him on the corner. Memorabilia shops were open here and there, but for the most part Hollywood appears to be waiting out the virus like everyone else.

While Hollywood seemed relatively quiet, I did have an opportunity to photograph a celebrity dog. How do I know this dog is a celebrity? The guy who took off his leash and set him on the pavement for photos told us so. The dog looks like a celebrity, so I didn't question the guy. Several people on the street, including myself, stopped for a minute or so to take photos. I hope to see him in some feature films.

I finished up on Hollywood Boulevard around 11 a.m., much too early to call it a day. I decided to take the advice of the old Steely Dan song and drive west on Sunset to the sea. A very interesting drive that takes you past the Sunset Strip, through exclusive L.A. neighborhoods like Beverly Hills and Bel Air, and then winding in the hills to the sparkling Pacific Ocean. For someone like me who has lived on or near I-10 for most of his life in both Houston and San Antonio, it's great to see where that particular train runs out of track, so to speak.

I'll likely hang out here a couple more days before heading back east on that same stretch of road.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Cooling temps prompt an overnight trip to Enchanted Rock outside Fredericksburg

I took a short trek toward the Fredericksburg area earlier this week to check out Enchanted Rock. When researching possible camping spots around the Texas Hill Country, this place always seems to come up in the discussion.

And rightly so. A very unique outcrop of rock that sits in the middle of central Texas, surrounded by lots of wildlife and the natural beauty of the outdoors. There are several trails available to hike with varying lengths and levels of difficulty.

I chose the Summit Trail, which puts you right on top of the giant rock.

Your vantage point up there is spectacular, with a 360-degree view of the Texas landscape as far as the eye can see. I reached the top, took a few moments to look around a bit, and then headed back down to the camping area.

I picked site 23 of the walk-in camping area without ever having seen the place other than photos, and I was happy with the location. Plently of shade overhead all around the the campsite, with a fire pit and picnic table just to the right of my chair. I sat in that chair for hours as the sun went down and watched my campfire after dinner.

Thanks to several Youtube instructional videos, I found lighting and maintaining the fire easy and exhilerating. They sell bundles of wood for $6 at the gift shop, but I located plently of extra wood all around the site.

I chilled out until the fire was nothing but embers, and then retired to my tent to curl up in a sleeping bag because it sure does get chilly out there late at night. Bring extra blankets!

The temperature outside was finally cool enough for me to book an evening like this. The comfortable months in Texas are finally upon us. Camping is a good experience, but going alone isn't the best. If you've never been, you should plan a trip to Enchanted Rock. Schedule with the website ahead of time, as the campsites fill up several weeks in advance on weekends. I found booking an evening during the week quite easy. I'll likely meander that way for another visit someday.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Renewed passport arrived in mail, waiting out COVID-19 to make overseas plans

My expired passport is expired no more, and I'm looking forward to planning an oversea excursion in the not too distant future.

Hopefully. I had initially planned on doing some traveling on or around my birthday this year, but I really want to wait until the world isn't grappling with COVID-19 before spending the money on an airline ticket and hotel.

I don't want to drop a chunk of change to fly anywhere for pleasure when masks are still a requirement in public spaces, or there might even be another lockdown required due to further spread of the virus.

I had previously been looking at Sydney, having had a great time in Australia my first time around. Some potential spots in Europe seem exciting as well. I'll keep you updated here once I've decided and set the time and place.

Hopefully a vaccine will receive approval sometime next year and we can go back to life as usual.

A new podcast is likely coming soon. Keep an eye on my Twitter for the announcement.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Grand Canyon in Arizona is as spectacular as you've always heard

I drove from San Antonio yesterday morning around 7 a.m. and followed Google Maps instructions to arrive to at the Grand Canyon in Arizona early this morning.

I stopped for about three hours of sleep at an I-40 rest stop late last night and completed the trip to Grand Canyon National Park shortly after sunrise today.

That's just under 16 hours of driving time, plus any stops made for gas, bathroom breaks or meals along the way.

I shot some short videos on my phone that I may piece together and post on YouTube when I get back to San Antonio, if that is something y'all have interest in seeing.

The Grand Canyon is always described using superlatives that I will cease from repeating much here, but needless to say those descriptions are apt. It was well worth the drive to get here yesterday and finally see the place, and you should do the same sometime in your life if you haven't already.

One thing I found fascinating was how much of the canyon is free of guard rails or any sort of protection from missteps or loss of balance. You can literally fall into that thing if you're not careful. And I understand from some information online that every year people actually do.

But let's not focus on that. That's horrible. Let's focus on the vast majority of the people that visit each year and leave as healthy and uninjured as they arrived. As I did.

I found the Grand Canyon spectacular in its immensity and scenic beauty. I think you will as well.

I might stop by the meteor crater on I-40 on the way back to Texas, and I look forward to driving through Roswell, New Mexico, again as I did yesterday. I don't know about you, but I think it's just about time we found out for sure if that was a spaceship that crashed out there.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

'Kubrick Remembered' best documentary I've seen on legendary filmmaker's life and career

If you're a fan of classic movies and looking for something to do while cooped up in the house today, I highly recommend the documentary "Kubrick Remembered."

I'm not sure how I missed this previously, but I'm glad I finally streamed it last night after the film showed up as a recommended video on my Roku's YouTube app. You can currently stream the film free on YouTube.

The documentary not only features recollections from actors, friends and colleagues about his life's work, but also a great glimpse into his family and home life.

His wife of 42 years, Christiane, is prominently featured and portrays Kubrick as a man as strongly dedicated to his wife and children as he was to his art.

A fascinating look at his life that you should put on your "must see" list if you are a fan of his movies.