Monday, September 28, 2009
the bel air hotel

This is one of the most beautiful settings of any Hotel I've ever seen....just the placement of this very elegant yet comfortable Hotel, is quite amazing. And because it is mostly a one-story building--two stories here and there, you wouldn't even know it is there in the heart of a Residential area called Bel Air----probably the most beautiful Residential Area in Los Angeles....and one of the oldest and most expensive. There are a couple of gates leading into the Bel Air section with it's winding hilly streets. This is one of the Gates....Bel Air is an area that is next to Beverly Hills-Holmby Hills on the East side, and north of Westwood and UCLA, above Sunset Blvd., on the South side, and on the West side it stops just about where the 405 Freeway cuts through the Sepulveda Pass..... You cannot really tell a lot from the picture above, except that on the right side of the Freeway is where Bel Air stops. Most of it is not in this picture....... This picture above was taken from the new Getty Museum which is on the Brentwood side of the Freeway, West of Bel Air. You can't really tell much from this picture either, except that there are a lot of houses on the crest of that Hill.....Again, this is the West side view of the back section of Bel Air. And to the North are the Santa Monica Mountains and there are many homes that go up to the crest of the hill. The San Fernando Valley lies on the other side of that hill. Mulholland Drive is pretty much where Bel Air ends, although not completely...... This is one of the other gates to Bel Air, above.....And the first gate I showed you was the West Gate, so called because it is further West on Sunset Blvd.....These gates are what they call 'faux gates' because they are not closed or locked in any way, though Bel Air is patrolled as are many communities in the Hills..... The gates just kind of set off the area in a very elegant way.....The homes in lower Bel Air---the houses closest to Sunset Blvd.----are the most prized and 'dear', mostly because of their proximity to Sunset Blvd. and Westwood.
Most houses are behind walls and gates but of course, here and there, one can see the houses themselves, mostly as you go way up in the more mountainous areas.....Bel Air is a very rarefied area. The homes range in price capping out at $75mil. (and more....!) to some homes that sell for around $2 or $3 million, and everything in-between....Of course, these low end homes are not the most prized pieces of property.....Often people buy these homes because of the zip code, and the name of the area. I know that sounds pretty shallow, doesn't it? Well, one would have to say, it probably is. Bel Air is all residential except for two prime properties: The Bel Air Country Club, a 'private' club complete with Golf Course and all the amenities,.....and The Bel Air Hotel.I love this Hotel. I truly do. There is this beautiful Pond with the Swans swimming about, and the incredibly beautiful foliage that is planted everywhere.......I've never stayed in any of the rooms there but I have seen quite a few of them. Over the many years I have lived here in Los Angeles---since February 1st, 1961----I have had many Lunches and Dinners in the beautiful dining areas, which are really really lovely and all relatively small with an intimacy hard to find in most Hotels. The Hotel itself is rather small....Only about 91 rooms...(52 Rooms and 39 Suites---no two alike, either).....And over the years I have actually also Officiated at two Weddings on the grounds there---both of these Weddings were really lovely affairs, mostly because of the setting, which is so very very pretty.
Above is this lovely area right next to the Pond and The Swans, where both the Weddings I officiated at were held. The Bride and Groom stand under the Gazebo. It doesn't look very wide, but it actually seats a great many people. Here below, you can see it set-up for a Wedding. I know they can seat somewhere between two hundred and fifty to three hundred people in this very sweet area...... Then, there is another area where they have the receiving line and Cocktails and Hor's Deuvres right after the ceremony.....It too is very beautiful....lots of big trees and this great feeling of privacy---as if you were in your own backyard or a relatives back yard......
This area can be used for larger Weddings of more than three hundred people....But I think most people choose the Bel Air Hotel because of it's intimacy.....If one is going to have that many more people at one's Wedding, there are many other venues that are probably more appropriate
The building to the left in the picture above is where the sit-down dinners are held after the reception.....It too, has an intimate feeling and yet is large enough to accommodate a very large number of guests, plus the Band and the Dance Floor......And just from these pictures one has no real sense of the actual Hotel, accept for that sort-of small Tower in the background in the picture above.....And that is the attraction of the whole place.....It is truly a beautiful Oasis of calm in a city that is so very busy and crowded and hurried......
This Mission style Hotel is so secluded that you might think you are passing by a private home....But of course, there are the discreetly Tiled Entry's announcing where you are, as you see above in that very first picture......But the truth is, you could easily pass it all by without a second thought. Absolutely nothing about that setting screams "HOTEL" or even whispers 'hotel' either.....! And that is why people love it. It is very small and very private....perfect for people who want to stay in an out of the way yet very first class Hotel......









More To Come........


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Friday, September 25, 2009
emmys

I know I should have a lot to say about The Emmys, but I don't really. I am thrilled that "Mad Men" won for Outstanding Drama, once again....I feel it is well deserved on every level, and that it is not an accident that it was up for four of the five Writing Awards, and won that too. If you haven't seen it, do rent the first two seasons.....that is a great way to see this superbly-produced-in-every-way show.....I was very very happy that "Grey Gardens" won for Outstanding Movie Made For Television.....That was a category I voted in and it was a very difficult category because all five films were 'outstanding'......But after much consideration, "Grey Gardens" was my choice. Three of the five films were seen on HBO and so there were no commercials to interrupt the flow and build of the story....To see the other two films without the commercials that interrupted them when originally broadcast was really important for me because in both cases the films were much much better than I had thought they were when they were first broadcast. So once again, it convinced me that the interruption of commercials throughout a film is really a bad bad way to see that film, especially films that have a lot to say that is important....like "Prayers For Bobby".And I was very pleased that Jessica Lange came away with the Emmy for Outstanding Actress in a Movie or Miniseries Made For Television.....That was a very very tough category too, because of the extremely high quality of performances that were nominated. It made this second 'performer' category in which I voted, a very difficult one. Drew Barrymore was magnificent, too, in "Grey Gardens" as was Siqourney Weaver in "Prayers For Bobby", (a very very fine film, and very much worth renting)....and having to choose who was my first choice was a very difficult one. But it seemed to me, after careful and thoughtful consideration, that Jessica Lange had the most difficult of tasks of all these women, and was beyond brilliant in the execution of these tasks.....And, incidentally, I loved her acceptance speech, too!The other 'performer' category that I voted in was Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie.....for me, Shohreh Aghdashloo was the truly outstanding performance and she was my number one choice, in a very disturbing and difficult film to have to watch---The four hour Miniseries "House Of Saddam". I had not seen it when it was originally broadcast, by choice----the subject matter was rather abhorrent to me. But, having to watch this turned out to be a very interesting and fairly enlightening experience, plus, Ms. Aghdashloo's performance was so truly truly exceptional.....And I was very happy for Toni Colette, who won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. A "surprise" win, only because most people thought it would be Tina Fey, once again, for "30 Rock". That Toni Colette walked away with this Award for "The United States of Tara" was a hopeful sign to me that there was no 'rubber stamping' in this category. I personally like and admire all the actresses in this category, but I thought that Toni Colette's very complex job as an actress, playing a women with four or five personalities, was a tour-de-force. This was not a category I voted in so I was even more pleased with her 'win'.I loved Ken Howard's acceptance speech for his Emmy as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries Or Movie Made For Television....(Another "Grey Gardens" win....) He thanked the woman who gave him a Kidney nine or ten years before, allowing him to still be alive and to continue his career and, especially, to be a part of this outstanding project.....He also thanked his wife and said it was her Birthday, so this Emmy was her present. His words moved me. I worked with him many years ago in the series "White Shadow" in which he played the leading character who was a High School Basketball Coach...(one of my many tiny 'nurse' parts.....) So it was great to see him receive this recognition thirty three-plus years later.....And to think, if he had not been able to get that Kidney, he would not be here at all. That's real "drama" and very moving, too.On the whole, the rest of the Awards, with few exceptions, were fairly predictable---except maybe for Kristen Chenoweth (above), who won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in a show that is no longer on the air....Good for her and Good for The Academy Voters...In all honesty I hardly understood a word of her emotional speech but found her very honest heartfelt tears quite touching.....And Cherry Jones, one of the great actresses of this generation who is always outstanding in anything she does, won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for "24". Again, kudos to the Voting members for recognizing these two wonderfully talented women, both of whom are Tony Award Winners, as well. The 'Broadway stage' was where Cherry Jones made her name---on Broadway and on 'the road', too....I have seen her on stage and she is powerful....And very true of Kristen Chenoweth, as well....She starred in the Original Broadway Cast of "Wicked", and was utterly beguiling and absolutely delightful.....I thought Neil Patrick Harris was a fantastic breath of fresh air, particularly in the opening musical number which was brilliantly written and brilliantly performed by him. Having seen him 'Host' this past June's Tony Awards, I was not surprised at his wonderful talents and abilities in this hardest-of-jobs. But as to the overall show, I am in the minority in my feelings about it, from what I can gather, and that's okay with me....All of this is just my opinion anyway.......But, having said that.......I found the show very disjointed and it got off to a rough start for me...and it never did seem to get any kind of a real 'pace' going....it seemed to have three beginnings and every time it felt like they were off and running, it faltered with some unnecessary "bit" that really didn't work.....I did love that for the second year in a row, they have found original and amusing ways to tell us ALL the names of the many writers for A Variety, Music or Comedy Series.....These were great fun and another breath of fresh air, to me.I have said before that The Red Carpet part of these evenings doesn't interest me the way it does many many people....Oh, I love seeing what people are wearing but I don't need two hours of all that, so for me, it is The Awards that I want to see and that truly interest me. I was amazed that the whole show only went over-time by three minutes considering all the many so called comedy 'bits' that were thrown in the mix. I did find it very disturbing that the last Award which is considered the most important Award of the evening---Outstanding Drama Series----that that very last Award accepted by the incredibly talented Matthew Weiner creator of "Mad Men" and speaking for "Mad Men" was urged to 'wind it up' practically before he even started speaking! He was not going to do that. He went on, in spite of that, and good for him that he did.......For me, what people have to say when they win---These are the most important moments of the evening....for them and for us.....Give them and us their moments, please, please, please......! (Matthew Weiner below......)One last bit of carping on my part....I didn't mind the Orchestra being on stage---they all were dressed appropriately....(BTW: What is this new thing of 'no tie at all' that some of the men are doing....Uhhh?....Just for one night you could put on a tie, no???......) Back to the Orchestra: I really really hated that the Orchestra Leader/Conductor had a baseball cap on.....So, so, so not okay with me. Even when the band used to be in the pit and they would show the "leader", whoever it was, he always had a tux on and was dressed-up like everyone else, and no cap of any kind----PLUS, one more thing: The bells and whistles of all those colorful panels frantically moving about throughout the first musical number, OY!....So very busy......well, maybe it read better in the theatre.....Anyway....I'm glad that so very many people enjoyed The Emmys this year---and I certainly enjoyed quite a lot of it, myself. And I think Neil Patrick Harris should be the permanent host for the next umpteen years....Good Job Well Done, 'Doogie'.....! He really is an incredibly talented young man and can seemingly do anything and everything as a performer! Bravo Neil and BRAVO to The Television Academy......

Hmmmmm. I guess I had a lot more to say about all this than I thought....lol.......Well, That's Show Business!




More To Come.........


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Monday, September 21, 2009
lights out


When I was nine years old and in the Mount Sinai Hospital for three weeks with a life-threatening illness....my little radio---which my parents brought from home for me----saved my life. It was on the table right next to my bed and every day I would listen to the "Soap Operas".....THE ROMANCE OF HELEN TRENT, PORTIA FACES LIFE, OUR GAL SUNDAY, WHEN A GIRL MARRIES, THE RIGHT TO HAPPINESS. LIFE CAN BE BEAUTIFUL....etc., etc., etc......I would hang on every word of these 15 minute programs.....GUIDING LIGHT was one of those....It had been on the Radio maybe four years when I discovered it in early 1941. The thing is, I could lose myself in these stories and it would give me great relief from all the fear and worry and that terrible feeling of alone-ness that comes with Hospital stays and the unknown....especially when you are so young.....These programs literally saved my life, along with the doctors and the operation they performed. The voices of the actors were so soothing....the woman who played 'Portia', Lucille Wall, had this beautiful sound to her voice that made you just know that Portia was a very beautiful woman.....That's Lucille Wall, as "Portia" facing life for all of us to enjoy, over on the far right of the picture...

Time passed and though I still continued to listen to some of these shows as often as I could after I was well....I got over my 'addiction', to a degree.....In 1952, "GUIDING LIGHT" came to television.....I can remember the minimal sets to this day....Lots of black curtains and paintings hanging in space.....Charita Bauer (in the very first picture above) was one of the leading actresses on GL and stayed with it for decades, until her health failed. Her character went from being a really mean woman at the beginning to becoming a much more well rounded and beloved character......In late 1959, early 1960, I came down with a terrible case of Mono....I was so tired that even trying to hold a book was too much for me. Someone said, well, turn on the TV and watch the Soap Operas.....'Oh no!', I said.....'I cannot watch all that stuff.....', but turn it on I did, and in three days I was hooked on YOUNG DOCTOR MALONE, FROM THESE ROOTS, LOVE OF LIFE, AS THE WORLD TURNS, SEARCH FOR TOMORROW, (That's Mary Stuart as "Joanne" over on the left with Terry O'Sullivan....Mary, Searching, Searching, Searching, for Tomorrow....), ANOTHER WORLD, and you guessed it, GUIDING LIGHT......I was hooked so badly that even after I was 'well', I would go upstairs saying 'I have to rest', just so I could watch some of my shows....some were still 15 minutes as they had been on the Radio--like LOVE OF LIFE, but most were now a half hour long.....more of these wonderful stories to lose oneself in......And, incidentally LOVE OF LIFE is where I first became aware of Christpher Reeve....I think it was where everybody first became aware of him in early 1959-60. 'SUPERMAN' came waaaay after that! That's him over on the right.....Morgan Fairchild was on Love of Life', too....though that is not her in the picture.......

Over the years, I have gone through other periods of being hooked on some of these daily 'soaps'. For me, it always began with some heavy-duty illness, and there seemed to be a lot of that--pneumonia's, flu's, plus, bronchitis---my lungs already compromised from that illness at nine years old, and I would be temporarily hooked, again.

I remember back in 1974 after discovering the latest-newest 'soap' THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS, I got kind of hooked on that one, too, because it was all so 'new', in every way. And I remember thinking that The Bell's, the creators of this show, had changed Soap Operas forever....They brought beautiful sets, gorgeous costumes and lots of good singing to daytime....they brought true 'glamour' to daytime, and, they brought 'sex'. When one of the leading characters, played by Jamie Lyn Bauer, stood in her doorway with just a towel covering her body and the camera then went to her boyfriend standing at the door as he was leaving...we saw him look at her and his eyes scanned down a bit, and we knew he was looking at her body, and we also knew from the look on his face that she had dropped the towel to the floor, and then, he stepped back into her apartment and the camera then faded-to-black----well, that was the moment when I knew that 'sex' had finally come to daytime television....
Above, the cast of Y&R back the mid to late 1970's.....Jeannie Cooper down on the right---there from the beginning, and still there today, and David Hasselhoff way over to the left on the top row...He played "Snapper", (Great name, isn't it?) having taken over the role from William Gray Espy...it took a while to get over that change, let me tell you....Espy was a different kind of young leading man, at that time.....
All through these years, GUIDING LIGHT held it's place in the afternoon on CBS. It went from 15 minutes, to a half hour to one hour, just as most of the soaps did.....Somewhere along the way, I actually 'kicked the Soap Habit....And, it has never returned, but not before Reva and Josh became such an important story line on GL.The lovely Kim Zimmer is really a wonderful actress and she has won a number of Emmy's because of it, and deservedly so.....but, I guess at a certain point I got over the need to run to my TV at the appointed hour or turn on my VCR to watch it all later....That particular addiction is truly over.But, this past Friday, September 18th, 2009, GUIDING LIGHT played it's very last episode and just out of respect and some sentimental feelings, I watched that last episode. I really didn't know who any of the characters were at all....except 'Reva' and 'Josh', who seemed to be doing the same dance they have been doing since 1983! I just felt the need to somehow see this show finish up, forever----this 72 year old war-horse of a Soap, was canceled and was now about to fade into the memory bank.When I think of all the actors who have been on that show---especially in the early days.....Actors who went on to become big stars doing films and many stage appearances and television, GL has quite a wonderful history of great talent appearing in the show, as do most of the 'soaps'.That sometimes the story-lines were kind of preposterous, (I understand from reading some of the history that the character of 'Reva' was cloned at one point....help us...), and that some people married and re-married and died and came back to life more than once somehow was acceptable though it did stretch one's suspension of disbelief.....Still, GUIDING LIGHT held one's interest for a good many years---until it just didn't anymore.The death of GUIDING LIGHT, they say, is the beginning of the end for afternoon Soap Operas on TV. There was a time when Daytime television paid for nighttime---that is how important it was in terms of dollars.....This is no longer true. It is sad to think that the longest running Soap Opera ever---including it's Radio days----is, no longer. Goodbye GUIDING LIGHT, you gave me many hours of pleasure and helped me escape into your world many many times, giving me a surcease from my own 'troubles', and I thank you with all my heart for that. It was no small thing to me, believe me. So long, GUIDING LIGHT, many will remember you, forever........




More To Come.........

UPDATE: About the Emmy's that I voted on....my score is 4 out of four. Jessica Lange won OUTSTANDING LEADING ACTRESS IN A MOVIE OR MINI SERIES FOR "GREY GARDENS", and "GREY GARDENS" won OUTSTANDING MOVIE MADE FOR TELEVISION, and--this is terrible, but I cannot spell the name of the actress who won for OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A MINI-SERIES OR MOVIE----"Sadaam"....She was absolutely superb.....more about the 'Emmys', later....maybe.


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Thursday, September 17, 2009
nature sings

A Night Blooming Cereus Flower...unlike the others I have posted in the past. The shape of this flower is such perfection, in my eyes.....And to think it only blooms at night. Midnight being it's 'noon'.And, this flower that only blooms at night? It is just for one night only, like the other Night Blooming Cereus Flowers. It is so very delicate and yet, has a kind of strength about it. That this is a beautiful flower----well that goes without saying. All you have to do is take a look, and truly, it is obvious beyond words! I just cannot get over the exquisiteness of this very rare one-night flower.....It warms my heart and makes me forget, for a little while, that some kind of little pesky Beetles have invaded my house and threaten my sanity, along with everything else....If I seem off my rocker a bit these days more than usual---please forgive me.....So, I turn to the great beauty of other kinds of nature, for solace----all the while trying not to eat chocolate...... So very sweet.....So incredibly soft....so wondrously magical.....I love it, I truly do.....! There is almost a 'light' that shines from within this flower. Can you see it in that picture above? Looking at this flower I cannot help but quote Blanch Dubois from Tennessee Williams "Streetcar Named Desire", when she said: "Sometimes there's God so quickly....!" This is not the first time I have quoted her nor is it the first time I have felt that feeling myself when looking at the amazing unique flowers that exist in this world, and so much so in the Cactus and Succulent world....... A lovely side view. Feast your eyes. And here's more. I'll let this miracle speak for itself. It's like a beautiful delicate cup and saucer....That interior cup is such a perfect perfect shape! Sometimes I so wish these flowers lasted more than that one night because they are so very special.....And, if you aren't aware of the night they are going to open because you are distracted by all sorts of pesky things----well, then you have to wait for this miracle to happen again, the next year......I missed them this year. So, these are from September, 2008. It is so lovely to revisit them. They worked their magic on me as I knew they would. I hope you enjoyed them, too......







More To Come........






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