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Happy quasquicentennial, Orange County!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 11, 2014 03:00pm | Post a Comment
On this day in 1889, Orange County, California was born, making it 125 years young today. 


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Orange County

In early 1889, Pemberton Medicine Company (later Coca-Cola) incorporated in Atlanta, Colombia Phonograph (later Columbia Records) launched, Japan adopted the Meiji Constitution and the Eiffel Tower opened in Paris. Meanwhile in Southern California, the communities on Coyote Creek's left bank seceded those on the right bank and incorporated as the County of Orange. More precisely, on 11 March a bill was signed into law which allowed for voters to vote whether or not to approve the motion to incorporate -- which they did (2,509 to 500) on 4 June, 1889. But today's date is the one that is observed by most of Orange County's friends and family as its birthday.

It wasn't the first time county borders within California had changed. In the first half century after the US invaded and conquered Alta California from Mexico, the county borders have changed several times; San Bernardino County split from Los Angeles County in 1853, parts of Los Angeles County became Kern County in 1866, and in 1893 Riverside County was formed out of what had been parts of San Bernardino and San Diego counties. Several attempts were made and failed to establish Orange County in the 1870s and '80s.




Today Orange County includes the incorporated communities of Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, and Yorba Linda


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of North Orange County

Orange County's unincorporated communities include Coto de Caza, Cowan Heights, Emerald Bay, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, Lemon Heights, Midway City, Modjeska Canyon, North Tustin, Orange Park Acres, Rancho Mission Viejo, Red Hill, Rossmoor, Silverado, and Trabuco Canyon.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South County

Unlike Los Angeles County, which is usually viewed as comprising about twenty regions (unless you're one of those unfortunate bipolar "Eastside vs Westside" types), Orange County is usually just divided into two -- North County and South County -- and the dividing line between the two is considered by most to be California State Route 55.


DIVERSE ORANGE COUNTY 

Most peoples' ideas about Orange County probably owe more to television series like The OC (primarily filmed in Los Angeles's South Bay) and quasi-scripted "reality" series like Real Housewives of Orange County and Laguna Beach... or perhaps to films like Gleaming the Cube, Suburbia, Brick than they do to firsthand experience. Of course any sensible person knows better than to trust Hollywood when it comes to depicting the reality of Southern California so set aside our preconceptions and consider some facts. 

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Forbes
recently named Orange County one of the country's most diverse places (placing it above even Los Angeles County). There is no ethnic or racial majority in Orange County (or Los Angeles County, for that matter).  Roughly 44% of Orange Countians are non-Latino white, 34% are Latino of any race, 18% are Asian, 2% are black, and 1% are Native American. It's home to the largest Vietnamese-American community in the world and three widely recognized ethnic enclaves: Little SeoulLittle Arabia, and Little Saigon Additionally there are large populations of Armenian, Chinese, English, Filipino, German, Irish, Jewish, Lebanese, Mexican, Persian, Salvadoran, Scottish, and Taiwanese-Americans. 30% of Orange County's residents were born in another country and 45% speak a language other than English at home. Roughly 31% of Orange County voters are registered as Democrats (the same as the national average) and 42% are registered Republicans -- meaning of course that there's no political majority. 

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LITTLE SEOUL


Garden Grove's Little Seoul is indeed quite little although it's nonetheless the second largest Korean-American community on the West Coast, after Koreatown in Los Angeles. Although it emerged in the 1980s, at just three kilometers long, Little Seoul is still more of a Korean commercial corridor than residential enclave -- Buena Park, Fullerton, and Irvine are all home to much more of North County's Korean-American population, the county's second largest Asian-American population after Vietnamese-Americans. Little Seoul is home to offices of Korea Times; various Korean-American community services; an annual Korean Festival; and many Korean markets, BBQ, cafés, lounges, noodle houses, churches, plazas, and seafood restaurants.


LITTLE ARABIA 

Little Arabia, in Anaheim, is by some estimates the second largest Arab enclave in the country after the one in Dearborn, Michigan. It's also sometimes referred to as Little Gaza on account of the fact that many of its Arabs have roots in Palestine (as well as Palestine's neighbors Egypt and Syria) and that the neighborhood's original designation is Garza Island. There are numerous bakeries, beauty salons, halal butchers, hookah cafés, markets, restaurants and jewelry stores in the neighborhood today that reflect the Arabic community's presence, which began to flourish in the 1990s


LITTLE SAIGON


Orange County's Little Saigon is the largest Vietnamese-American enclave in the country. The neighborhood is also colloquially known as Bolsa, after the main thoroughfare (Bolsa Avenue) of the neighborhood's original borders, which contained a small overlapping area of Fountain Valley, Garden Grove, Santa Ana, and Westminster. Much as with Koreatown in Los Angeles, the Vietnamese-American population and character has since massively expanded since the original borders were officially designated in 1988 and now parts of Huntington Beach, Midway City, and Stanton also have a strong Vietnamese character. As of the 2010 census, Westminster's population was nearly 48% Asian-American (mostly Vietnamese) and Garden Grove's Vietnamese-American population exceeded 54,000. This translates to vibrant annual Tết Nguyên Đán festivities; more than 500 Vietnamese restaurants (time to move beyond phở and bánh mì); Euro-disco/Vietnamese New Wave; "ethnic" malls; lingerie cafés; and Vietnamese-language television stations, radio stations, and newspapers.


Of course "diversity" extends beyond humanity and Orange County is not just culturally diverse but extremely biodiverse, geographically diverse, and diverse in other ways too. Exploring its corners I've found faux-Spanish seaside villages (San Clemente), faux-Bavarian villages (Old World Village), faux-Utopian futurist villages (Irvine), Eichler tractsItalo-disco performers, great vegetarian Vietnamese food (Bo De Tinh Tam Chay and Au Lac), Isamu Noguchi's California Scenario, Pao Fa Temple, the Crystal CathedralDisneylandKnott's Berry Farmthe largest freestanding wooden structures on the planet (Tustin's WWII-era blimp hangars), Asian Garden Mall (Phước Lộc Thọ), Mission San Juan Capistrano, forests, city centers, parks, mysterious business parks, beaches, red-tile tract house tracts, chaparral-covered mountains, master-planned madness, and biker bars. 




URBAN ORANGE


Costa Mesa skyline

As with Los Angeles, Orange County is usually mischaracterized as a vast, sprawling, and completely flat collection of suburbs. However, thanks to nature (which such mischaracterizations conveniently ignore), Orange County actually rises rather dramatically from sea level at the coast to 1,337 meters high at Santiago Peak -- which positively dwarves cities more often characterized as vertical such as Hong Kong, New York, and Shanghai.


Newport Beach with the Santa Ana Mountains behind

Orange County's skyscrapers may provide no competition for height with the Santa Ana Mountains but there are more than of the towering structures in the region than the dated stereotypes suggest. Currently there are at least 27 skyscrapers rising above a height of thirty meters located in Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Garden GroveHuntington Beach, IrvineNewport Beach, Orange, and Santa Ana. What's perhaps more surprising is that according to the most recent census, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim area is the most densely populated region in the country. Orange County is also the sixth most populous county in the country (after Los Angeles, Cook County (Illinois), Harris County (Texas), Maricopa County (Arizona), and San Diego County).


ORANGE COUNTY ARTS


Segerstrom Center for the Arts

Orange County has a thriving and diverse art scene reflected in the presence of its many museums, art festivals, art centers, and art galleries. In addition there are numerous theaters, cultural festivals, culinary festivals, opera, and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. I'm sure that there are a lot more but off the top of my head I can think of several talented Orange County born-and-bred musical acts such as Social Distortion, Emily's Sassy Lime, Agent Orange, The K-nobsThe VandalsThe Adolescents, Jeff Buckley, Giant Drag.

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EXPLORING ORANGE COUNTY 


Orange County is home to one of the Southland's three international airports; John Wayne Airport (the other two are LA/Ontario International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport) which makes getting to it convenient. 



Once on the ground, exploring Orange County is becoming increasingly easy due to an expanding network of public transit options. The workhorse of the region is the Orange County Transit Authority (OCTA), which has existed since 1975 and currently operates 78 lines. Smaller local bus and shuttle companies include Anaheim Resort Transportation (ART), Irvine's iShuttle, and Laguna Beach Transit's trolley buses. 


Metrolink train to the sea -- source: AmtrakCal462

Orange County is additionally served by several commuter rail lines including Metrolink's 91, Orange County, and Inland Emp-Orange Co lines as well as Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner (which connects San Luis Obispo and San Diego). In the future (hopefully), Metro's 30 kilometer, planned West Santa Ana Transit Corridor will connect Santa Ana to Norwalk in Southeast Los Angeles County via light rail.


Ferries serving Orange County (from Santa Catalina Island) include Catalina Flyer, which connects with Newport Beach, and Catalina Express, which connects with Dana Point. There are also about 1,600 kilometers of bikeways in Orange County. Most of Orange County is also easily walkable although there sadly hasn't always been a lot of apparent thought given to pedestrians and frequently long stretches of unshaded sidewalk pass by commercial spaces constructed without walkers in mind. Hopefully that too will change as more and more people turn away from car-dependency for every single errand, which will make Orange County an even more vibrant place. 


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BLOGGING ORANGE COUNTY

In 2010 I expanded my blogs about local neighborhoods and cities to Orange County and ever since they've fairly dominated the poll. As I write this, Los Angeles's Glassell Park is in first place followed by the Orange County city of Anaheim in second and Yorba Linda in third. In Orange County I've so far explored and written about Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Orange, San Clemente, Santa Ana, and Tustin. To vote for more Orange County communities for me to explore and write about, click here


That's not amazing -- California's Gold, Huell Howser, has passed away

Posted by Eric Brightwell, January 7, 2013 01:49pm | Post a Comment

Huell in the Antelope Valley amongst California Poppies (source: Cameron Tucker)

I am utterly gutted to hear that Huell Howser has passed away.



I heard the news as I was writing about my exploration of Irvine for this blog, and simultaneously planning on exploring the route of the Expo Line Phase II tomorrow. If it weren’t for Huell, I may not have had the idea of doing either. (When I was approached about working for KCET, one of the names I proposed was California's Fools Gold, a self-deprecating homage -- they went with Block By Block instead). I’m sure he inspired a lot of other people to go on adventures in their back yards too (this page has a map showing the communities he visited). Even though I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I will miss him terribly.


Huell canoeing on Mono Lake (source: Cameron Tucker)

Back in November, Huell announced that he was retiring amid rumors that he was seriously ill. Just last week I was chatting about him with a customer at my shop and the customer expressed his dismay. I too was saddened by his retirement but expressed that he'd earned it and that even his biggest fans have, in most cases, hundreds if not thousands of episodes to catch up on. Still, the customer hoped that someone would soon fill his shoes. I expressed doubt that any single person could.


At the amazing Gourmet Cobbler Factory in Pasadena -- in the San Gabriel Valley (image: KCET)

It's impossible to know how many adventures Huell Howser inspired. I suspect that he's one of John Rabe's biggest heroes. (Check out Rabe’s episode with him here). I loved his earnestness, enthusiasm, unpretentiousness, boundless sense of adventure, energy, and intelligence. Despite the fact that Angelenos are constantly told that we are obsessed with celebrity, glamour, fame and fortune; Howser showed thankfully little interest in any of that. He even seemed to hint at a healthy disgust with politicians and ambivalence for authority.

Instead he championed the everyday, the immigrant, the ignored, the uncelebrated and in doing so showed what really makes California truly special. 


Huell's hometown

Huell Burnley Howser was born 18 October 1945 in Gallatin, Tennessee, a small town in the Upper South near the border with Kentucky. His name was a portmanteau of his parents' names, Harold and Jewell. He received a BA in history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.





After serving in the Marines he began working Nasvhille’s WSM-TV, where he traveled around the central part of the state and Kentucky in a motor home filming what he called "happy features." 

Huell with Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn in the 1970s


After spending some time at WCBS in New York where he hosted a show called Real Life! (and later, To Life!). In the age of Candid Camera, The Gong Show, Real People, and That's Incredible, New Yorkers seemed confused by segments on window washers and "turkey mavens." Howser was later told that New Yorkers were uncomfortable being touched. In 1981 Howser moved to hug-friendly Los Angeles where there's no shortage of people happy to be on camera. It was in Los Angeles that he stayed.


Huell Howser with the Del Rubio Triplets in 1987 (source: KCET)

His career in LA began with him reporting for KNXT (now KCBS). He then briefly worked on Entertainment Tonight which is kind of remarkable since when he next moved to KCET (then a PBS affiliate) in 1987 and began producing his Videolog segments, he showed himself to be a one man antidote to ET -- and the other shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Access Hollywood, Extra!, and all the other shows that seem so determined to make Los Angeles look awful.





The first episode I remember seeing was Visiting… With Huell Howser episode #903, in which he visited Iwasaki Images of America in Gardena to learn about how plastic food commonly seen in the display windows of Japanese restaurants is made (something I was and am fascinated by as well). The previous episode had been about visiting Cambodia Town in Long Beach. The following was about Downtown's LA Barber College. The most recent episode I watched was episode 104 of California’s Gold, “Cornish Christmas.” 


Howser with a construction crew underground in L.A. (source: Cameron Tucker)

In an interview with the LA Times’ television critic, Robert Loyd, he expressed “Let's explore our neighborhood, let's look in our own backyard, let's go down to Koreatown and buy some kimchee. We won't do a story on what it's like to spend the night in a $10,000 hotel suite.” I thought he had the best job in the world and the best attitude to boot. Though he once claimed to be a Methodist, he had the soul and outlook of Laozi.


Huell Howser in his former residence in Midtown's Hancock Park neighborhood (source: Kevin Hively)


Though outgoing, friendly, and on TV all the time, Huell was guarded about his private life – which I really respected. He was one of the few people on TV who didn’t seem interested in promoting himself as a celebrity, even though he was one. He never bothered to go out of his way to deflate tired, cynical stereotypes of California, he just ignored them. Likewise, he understood that Californians come in all shapes, colors and accents and in a culture where southern accents are almost always equated with stupidity and/or bigotry, he was not only proudly southern, but unprejudiced, and intelligent. 




He was often parodied albeit more-often-than-not, lovingly. I'd bet that all of his self-professed fans have an imitation of him. He turned up on The Simpsons twice, the Beverly Hills, 90120 episode "Jobbed," as well as Thoughts of Suicide on an Otherwise Lovely Day and Who Killed the Electric Car? He leant his voice to Winnie the Pooh, and was mentioned on Weeds. He has a hot dog named after him at Pinks, a honey ham & pineapple cheeseburger at Peggy Sue's 50s Diner (in Yermo), and his face on a bottle of milk from Broguiere's Farm Fresh Dairy (in the Southeast LA County city of Montebello).


He passed away at his Palm Springs home on 7 January 2013, aged just 67. We should all honor him by undertaking adventures at the next opportunity and keep our eyes open the what's amazing all around us. In 2000, Huell said "I have this theory that when I die, my tombstone will say, 'Huell Howser: he did the pig story,'" -- a reference to a profile he did of a 500-pound pet pig named Porky who then lived in a Powderly, Kentucky. In a 2003 story in Los Angeles Magazine he was quoted saying, "Seriously, what I want to do is to be saying 'Good night' and fall over dead in a sand dune and have the credits with the sand blowing over my body and the people at home just going, 'Well, I guess that's Huell's last show.' That is the way I would like to die." RIP Huell!

Click on this link to share your memories on KCET's page

*****

Nature's a language, can't you read? -- Seasons in the Southland

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 20, 2012 03:45pm | Post a Comment
A FEW GENERALIZATIONS ABOUT ANGELENOS

While I caution anyone attempting to make generalizations about a group as diverse and large as the 13 million or so people known as “Angelenos,” I have nonetheless made a couple of observations about a much smaller subsection, my Los Angeles friends, that I have to assume share more widely-held views with Angelenos with whom I'm not personally acquainted. Just one example; as far as I can tell, only in Los Angeles do people say things like “only in LA” about things that happen pritnear everywhere.

In this entry I'd like to address and reflect upon another completely nonsensical but widely held view – that Los Angeles (and presumably at least the entire Southland and possibly all of SoCal) has no seasons or weather.


Los Angeles's The Byrds weighing in on seasons...


IN ONE CORNER -- THE SPOILED BABIES


As far as most people are concerned, temperatures in Los Angeles are usually quite pleasant. The daytime average is 24 °C (75 °F). The warmest days rarely exceed 32 °C (90 °F) and rarely dip below 15°C (59 °F). When temperatures deviate from this narrow comfort zone, legions of thoroughly-spoiled (and acclimated) complainers express their indignation on various social media and to their friends. As someone who has truly suffered through 48 °C (118 °F) heat and -42 °C (-44 °F) I have little sympathy for our weather whiners -- we have it so easy!



IN THE OTHER CORNER -- THE BLIND HATERS 


The other camp express the exact opposite opinion. They complain about the lack of seasons and weather (to which they are seemingly either willfully blind and/or ecologically monolingual). When it’s hot in November, for example, they typically post things on Facebook like “Really LA? 85 degrees in November?! I’m so over this city!” They're continually threatening to relocate (or move back) to London, New York, Portland, or San Francisco but never seem to leave Los Angeles, instead remaining and inflicting complaints upon their friends year after pleasant year. This group whiners concerns me even more than the former because it's a bit like a monolinguist dismissing all languages other than theirs as meaningless noises. Both groups of fools need to get wise...



TIME OF THE SEASON 


Image from Matt Jaffe


There are all kinds of indicators of seasons to those with open eyes, ears, minds, mouths and noses. What vegetables are at the farmers' market, what sort of parties are happening, what type of movies are in theaters, what people are wearing, &c. There are also, of course, meteorological indicators but many people are maddeningly unable to recognize them.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I was often asked by friends back home if I “missed having seasons.” Sure, I miss breezy, cool spring days with flowers popping up through the fragrant, soggy, thawing soil and swimming in the just-thawed pond. I even miss sticky, sweltering summer nights spent drinking on a porch with a fan in the window and watching fireflies and heat lightning – and swatting mosquitoes. I miss the Rivendell-vibe of Autumn twilights, when cool winds carry dead leaves and the comforting smell of fireplaces -- perhaps following a visit to an apple orchard. I even miss the brittle, arctic chill of icy winters when I used to take deep breaths, play hockey, go camping, and go ice diving. Despite all of that and the fact that I rarely experience anything similar in Los Angeles, I don’t miss seasons. Mainly because I still have them. For that matter, everyone in every climate on Earth does. 


LEARNING TO READ 


When people visit California for the first time (including yours truly), they often remark with surprise that it’s a desert. The popular tropical icons of the region – palm trees – suggested to me that it would be more like the city in Florida where I briefly lived than the town in Languedoc where I did for an even shorter period. I was pleasantly surprised, mind you, by this surprise.

I had no interest in living in the glamorous, celebrity-obsessed, semi-tropical (or alternately gang-plagued war zone) that I’d seen depicted in film after film. I was pleasantly surprised that Los Angeles was more Latino, more Asian, more varied, more diverse, more cultured, and all around more interesting than I’d expected. I was also surprised that it was less black, less white, and less vertical than I’d expected, based on my experiences with other cities. I was absolutely grateful that it was less plastic, less violent... and not semi-tropical.


Having grown up in the South and Midwest, I didn’t arrive to Southern California fluent in the language of its seasons. I arrived in the summer and Christmas caught me off guard -- I hadn't noticed any snowstorms. When it started raining heavily almost every day I made an effort to learn the  native language.


CHAPARRAL

Image source: Larisa Stow


The lingua franca of the Southland is Chaparral (or Mediterranean). I’ve never really liked the term “Mediterranean” because it suggests to me that the climate found in parts of Southern California, Argentina, Australia, Chile, and Mexico is somehow a version of that found in sea between Europe, the Levant, and North Africa (as if Europe's climate is the original) rather than an indigenous phenomenon. It also suggests the kind of Eurocentrism that's gotten the region into serious trouble.



REMAKING SOCAL IN ANOTHER'S IMAGE


Image Source: Title Insurance and Trust / C.C. Pierce Photography Collection, USC Libraries


Today roughly 54% of Angelenos trace at least some of their ancestry to Europe. The largest European ethnicities in Los Angeles are SpanishGerman, Irish, English, Italian, and French. Of those, only two countries of ancestral origin (Spain and Italy) are dominated by a similar biome (whilst the southern parts of France have it too). In the past Los Angeles was even more European-American -- even sold as the implicitly Protestant "White Spot of America." European immigrants as well as American ones from the Midwest and the Northeast, often attempted to adapt the landscape to their tastes rather than adapt their tastes to their new home. Native plants were largely replaced by homeowners who desired thirsty, manicured, useless grass lawns and rose gardens like those of their temperate homelands. 


Image source: huval

Developers were crazy for palm trees -- only one species of which, Washingtonia filifera (the California fan palm) is actually native to California. Despite the fact that they further tax our already taxed water supply and provide little shade, they were popular as they gave the impression of Los Angeles being an "exotic" desert oasis or tamed bit of semi-tropics. The palm tree fad peaked in the 1930s and now many of the iconic trees are nearing the end of their lives (or being killed by weevils). Thankfully, the LADWP is now in the habit of replacing them not with more palms, but rather with more water-wise trees adapted to the chaparral.


THE NATURAL LANDSCAPE



The area occupied by the City of Los Angeles is not a desert although parts of Southern California and  the Los Angeles County are. The Mojave and Colorado Deserts are just over the hills. One of the reasons California is so-often miscategorized as a desert is because back in the day water barons wanted to justify their huge engineering projects that redirected water from other regions, casting themselves as the city's saviors in the process. Their projects did truly transform the environment. For example, the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys were mostly dry grasslands with trees mostly growing along the banks of streams and in the surrounding foothills -- although they'd by then been transformed by centuries of use by the Spanish as grazing pastures. Major transformation of the Southland's landscape began with the Spanish Conquest of not just the indigenous people but the indigenous environment. The Spaniards planted palms, eucalyptus, mustard and crops for both their animals, their slaves and themselves. 

The hills and much of the Los Angeles Basin are still dominated by sclerophyll shrublands. In other parts of the world this biome is referred to as fynbos, kwongan, mallee, maquis, and matorral. Although I'm thankful for the shade and water, they come at a cost. I'm even more thankful that (and hopeful because) many people are increasingly embracing native plants and at least water-wise xeriscaping which often utilizes non-natives but less thirsty specimens. And while I'm at it, why don't we have more extensive green roofs, permeable roads and river beds?

And now a look at the seasons of the Southland...


*****


CHAPARRAL WINTER


image source: Rodney Ramsey


There are several indicators of winter's arrival to SoCal. The year usually begins with a short but occasionally intense rainy season. A desert usually receives less than ten inches of rain whereas Los Angeles usually receives between fifteen and twenty. As a result of the rainfall, vegetation flourishes, the chaparral (and distant desert) blooms, and the pollen count rises – resulting in people with allergies becoming measurably crankier.

The air becomes amazingly clear and distant snow-capped mountains emerge. The nights are long and cold. Not inland cold, thank heavens, but legitimately cold -- especially if you don't have a proper coat in your possession. On average the temperature drops to about 9°C (48°F). The record low, −6 °C (21 °F), was recorded on 20 January, 1922.

Winter begins with the Winter Solstice, which comes between 21 and 22 December and the sun sinks beneath the horizon around 16:45. For the indigenous Chumash, Winter Solstice meant honoring the sun with several days of feasting and dancing and it was the biggest religious ritual of their people. Winter solstice also marked the beginning of the calendar of the Tongva, who arrived some 10,000 years later. 

California grows about 80% of the USA's vegetables and fruits. In winter, asparagus, avocados, blood oranges, cabbage, carambola, cardoons, collards, grapefruit, green peas, kale, kiwis, kumquats, leeks, lemons, lettuce, Medjool dates, mushrooms, mustard, navel oranges, passion fruit, pears, pommelos, rutabaga, satsumas, scallions (good year round), spinach, strawberries, sweet potatoes, tangelos, tangerines, treviso, and turnips are all in season.








CHAPARRAL SPRING


image source: LA Observed

As winter transitions into spring, the days begin to grow warmer, longer, and usually drier with most rainfall ending around April. The first day of spring is the Vernal Equinox, which occurs around the 20th of March. Like autumn leaves elsewhere, in Los Angeles we get colorful, falling spring flowers (and flower-like spring leaves) from Bottle BrushesBougainvilleas, and Jacarandas which add a pastel beauty to the landscape yet are received with moaning from haters of beauty for the "mess" they make... on the ground... in nature. 

Around the middle of the year, in late spring, the cold waters of the Pacific current known as the California Current meet a high pressure formation known as the California High. The result is a thick, sticky marine layer known colloquially as June Gloom (as well as, depending on the month: GrayprilMay GrayNo-SkyJuly, or Fogust). The weather is typically hot but the sky is overcast although rain is fairly uncommon. Instead, the thick marine layer usually burns off later in the day.

Many crops remain in season but are joined at the market by newly seasonal apricots, Asian pears, artichokes, arugula, basil, black-eyed peas, cherries, cucumbers, fava beans, fennel, fiddle heads, figs, grapes, green beans, green garlic, maize, melons, mint, morels,  nectarines, nettles, new potatoes, okra, parsley, peaches,  peppers, radishes, ramps, raspberries, rhubarb, snap peas, snow peas, spring onions, strawberries, summer squash, sweet onions, tomatoes, and Valencia oranges.

 







CHAPARRAL SUMMER


image source: Ricardo DeAratanha for the Los Angeles Times

Summer begins on the Summer Solstice, which falls between the 20th and 21st of June. At Burro Flats in the Simi Hills is a painted cave that served as a gathering place for the Chumash, Tataviam, and Tongva. As the sun moves across the sky on the longest day of the year, a notched sandstone peak casts a shadow across a carving of a bear claw surrounded by carved indentations. To the south, the Acagchemem looked to the stars of Orion's belt and the Pleiades to forecast summer's return. 

Summers tend to be long, dry and hot… hot but usually not that hot. Summer highs average in the high 20s  low 80s °F) although the inland areas and valleys especially are usually quite a bit warmer than the coastal areas. At night it can be surprisingly cold -- well, cold if you've acclimated to a climate where high teens (low 60s °F) counts as "surprisingly cold." Not too bad really and probably the reason a large percentage of the population has chosen to live here for thousands of years.

The days are sunny and long, ending in some beautiful sunsets and moonrises. Under those long sunny days, bell peppers, blackberries, boysenberries, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupes, carrots, cherries, chickpeas, chili peppers, cilantro, figs, eggplant, garlic, gooseberries, limes, marionberries, onions parsnips, pineapple guava, Plums, pluots, radicchio, ramps, sapote, shallots, shelling beans, soybeans, sweet peppers, tomatillos, and zucchini (and zucchini blossoms) flourish.







CHAPARRAL AUTUMN



Fall begins with the autumnal equinox, which occurs on the 22nd or 23rd of September. For the Chumash it fell during the month of Hutash, and was observed with a harvest ceremony which seems to have been marked with a degree of solemnity. 

In autumn, the dry, hot, violent Santa Ana Winds sweep across Los Angeles as the nights grow longer and more orange. Fires are common – caused by both lightning and firebugs. Some years the hillsides burn on all sides, the sky turns ashy and it begins to feel like something from the imagination of  Dante Alighieri or Hieronymus Bosch. When the winds finally subside, the less-feared Santa Ana Fog often replaces them.

Although many are available in other times of the year, Autumn is when apples, a second crop of artichokes, Belgian endive, broccoli, carambola, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, cherimoyas, daikon, escarole, fennel, a second crop of figs, frisée, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kohlrabi, lemongrass, persimmons, pomegranates, potatoes, pumpkins, quinces, and rapini are all at their best. 



Tom Russell - "Santa Ana Winds" (live)








...and, as seasons are cyclical, winter returns. So to repeat my earlier statement, I do miss the seasons of my youth but I don't miss seasons. I'm enjoying them every day.

*****

Happy Birthday, Los Angeles!!!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 4, 2010 06:27pm | Post a Comment

Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Los Angeles County

Happy Birthday Los Angeles. The City of Angels turns 229 years young today (sort of). Back in 1781, so the story goes, 44 Spaniards from Mexico established El Pueblo de Los Angeles. Of the Spaniards, 26 were black, sixteen were Native or mestizo, and two were white. The city has grown even more diverse in the past two centuries and now L.A. boasts the greatest ethnic and cultural diversity of any city not only in the known universe, but the known space-time continuum.


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's bird's eye attempt at a Middle Earth style Southland map

Los Angeles also boasts more food trucks, Scientologists, playhouses, Angelenos, lowriders, smog and miles of freeway than any city in the US. A host of surrounding towns put the "great" in "Greater Los Angeles." Any regular readers will know that I like to explore the Southland, in an attempt to entertain and uncover the music, movie, culinary, cultural histories the many and varied communities of the great sprawl -- sort of Los Angeles' extended family.



If interested, please take a look at the list below and click here to vote for more LA neighborhoods, here for LA County communities, and here for OC communities to be the subject of future blog entries. 



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's Map of the Angeles Forest region (Angeles Forest Facebook page)

A

Acton, Agoura, Agoura Hills, Agua Dulce, 
Alamitos Beach, Alamitos Heights, Alhambra, Aliso Viejo, Aliso Village, Alondra Park, Altadena, Anaheim, Anaheim Colony, Anaheim Hills, Anaheim Island, Angeleno Heights, Antelope Acres, Arcadia, Arleta, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Arlington Park, Arroyo Seco, Arroyo View Estates, Artcraft Manor, Artesia, Arts District, Athens, Athens on the Hill, Atwater Village, Atwood, Avalon, Avocado Heights, Azusa...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Antelope Valley (Antelope Valley Facebook page)



B

Balboa, Balboa Highlands, Balboa Island, Balboa Park, Balboa Peninsula, Baldwin Hills, Baldwin Hills Estates, Baldwin Park, Baldwin Village, Baldwin Vista, Bassett, Bay Harbor, Beachwood Canyon, Bel-Air, Bell, Bell Gardens, Bellflower, 
Belmont Heights, Belmont Park, Belmont Shore, Belvedere, Benedict Canyon, Beverly Crest, Beverly Glen, Beverly Hills, Beverlywood, Big Canyon, Big Mountain Ridge, Big Pines, Big Rock, Bixby Hill, Bixby Knolls, Bixby Village, Bluff Heights, Bluff Park, Bouquet Canyon, Boyle Heights, Bradbury, Brea, Brea-Olinda, Brentwood, Brentwood Circle, Brentwood Glen, Brentwood Hills, Brentwood Park, Broadway Corridor, Brooklyn HeightsBrookside Park, Buena Park, Bundy Canyon, Bunker Hill, Burbank, Byzantine-Latino Quarter...



Detail of Pendersleigh & Sons map showing LA County's Channel Islands (Channel Islands Facebook page)

C

Cahuenga Pass, Calabasas,  California Heights, Cambodia TownCameo Plaza, Cameron Woods, Canoga Park, Canterbury Knolls, Capistrano Beach, Carlton, Carroll Park, Carson, Carson Park, Carthay, Carthay Circle, Carthay Square, Castaic, Castaic Junction, Castellammare, Castle Heights, Central Area [Long Beach], Century City, Century Palms, Cerritos, Charter Oak, Chatsworth, Chesterfield Square, Cheviot Hills, Chinatown, Citrus, City Terrace, Civic Center, Civic Support, Claremont, College Park, College Park West, Commerce, Compton, Cornell, Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Coto de Caza, Country Club Island, Country Club Park, Covenant Hills, Covina, Craftsman Village, Crenshaw, Crestview, Crestwood Hills, Cudahy, Culver City, Cypress, Cypress Park...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Downtown (Downtown Facebook page)


D

Dana Point, Del Aire, Del Lago, Del Rey, Del Sur, Del Valle, Desert Relief, Desert View Highlands, Diamond Bar, Dove Canyon, Downey, Downtown Industrial District, Downtown Long Beach, Drake Park, Duarte...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Eastside (Eastside Facebook page)



E

Eagle Rock, East Anaheim, East Compton, East Irvine, East La Mirada, East Lake, East Los Angeles, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, East Village, Eastmont, Eastside [Long Beach], Eastside/Circle Area, Echo ParkEl Dorado, El Dorado Park, El Dorado Park Estates, El Dorado South, El Modena, El Monte, El Pueblo, El Segundo, El Sereno, El Toro, Elysian Heights, Elysian Park, Elysian Valley, Emerald Bay, Encino, Exposition Park...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of The Harbor (The Harbor Facebook page)



F

Faircrest Heights, Fairfax District, Fashion District, Figueroa Corridor, Figueroa Terrace, Financial District, Fletcher Square, Floral Park, Florence-Graham, Flower District, Foothill Ranch, Fountain Valley, 4th Street Corridor, Franklin Hills, Freemont Place, French Park, Fullerton, Furniture & Decorative Arts District...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Hollywood (Hollywood Facebook page)


G

Gallery Row, Garden Grove, Gardena, Garvanza, Glassell Park, Glendale, Glendora, Gorman, Gramercy Park, Granada Hills, Green Meadows...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Inland Empire

H

Hacienda Heights, Hancock Park, Hansen Hills, Happy Valley, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, Harbor Pines, Harvard Heights, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Hel-Mel, Hellman, Hermon, Hermosa Beach, Hidden Hills, Highland Park, Hillside Village, Historic Core, Historic Filipinotown, Hollywood Dell, Hollywood Heights, Holmby Hills, Home Junction, Huntington Beach, Huntington Harbour, Huntington Palisades, Huntington Park, Hyde Park...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Mideast Side (Mideast Side Facebook page)


I

Imperial Estates, Industry, Inglewood, Irvine, Irwindale, Island Village...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartpgraphy's map of Midtown (Midtown Facebook page)


J

Jefferson Park, Jewelry District, Juniper Hills...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of North Orange County
 

K

Kagel Canyon, Kenter Canyon, King Estates, Kinneloa Mesa, Kinney Heights, Kite Hill, Knollwood, Koreatown...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Northeast Los Angeles (NELA Facebook page)


L

La Brea-Hancock, La Cañada Flintridge, La Cienega Heights, La Crescenta-Montrose, La Habra, La Habra Heights, La Marina Estates, La Mirada, La Palma, La Puente, La Tuna Canyon, La Verne, Ladera Heights, Ladera Ranch, Lafeyette Park, Lafeyette Square, Laguna, Laguna Beach, Laguna Canyon, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Laguna Woods Village, Lake Balboa, Lake Forest, Lake Hughes, Lake Los Angeles, Lake View Terrace, Lakewood, Lakewood Village, Lancaster, Larchmont Village, Largo Vista, Las Flores, Laurel Canyon, Lawndale, Leimert Park, Leisure World, Lennox, Leona Valley, Lido Isle, Lincoln Heights, Little Arabia, Little Armenia, Little Bangladesh, Little Ethiopia, Little India, Little Osaka, Little Saigon, Little Seoul, Little Tokyo, Littlerock, Llano, Lomita, Long Beach, Long Beach Marina, Longwood Highlands, Los Alamitos, Los Altos, Los Angeles International Airport, Los Cerritos - Virginia Country Club, Los Feliz, Loyola Village, Lynwood...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Northwest County (Northwest County Facebook page)



M

MacArthur Park, Magnolia Square, Malibu, Manchester Square, Mandeville Canyon, Manhattan Beach, Mar Vista, Maravilla, Marina Pacifica, Marina Peninsula, Marina del Rey, Marquez Knolls, Mayflower Village, Maywood, Melody Acres, Melrose District, Melrose Hill, Memorial Heights, Mesa Verde, Midway City, Miracle Mile, Mission Hills, Mission Viejo, Modjeska Canyon, Monarch Beach, Monrovia, Montebello, Montecito Heights, Monterey Hills, Monterey Park, Morningside Circle, Mount Olympus, Mt. Washington...




Penderslieigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Pomona Valley (Pomona Valley Facebook page)

N

Naples, Neenach, Nelie Gail Ranch, Newport Beach, Newport Coast, Nichols Canyon, North El Monte, North Hills, North Hollywood, North Industrial District, North Laguna Hills, North Long Beach, North University Park, Northridge, Northwood, Norwalk...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the San Fernando Valley (Valley Facebook page)
 

O

Oakwood, Old Bank District, Old Lakewood City, Olinda Village, Olive, Olive View, Olympic Park, Orange, Orange Hills, Orange Park Acres, Outpost Estates...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the San Gabriel Valley (SGV Facebook page)
 

P

Pacific Palisades, Pacoima, Palisades, Palisades Highlands, Palmdale, Palms, Palos Verdes Estates, Panorama City, Paramount, Park Estates, Park La Brea, Park Mile, Pasadena, Pearblossom, Penninsula, Picfair Village, Pico-Union, Pico Del Mar, Pico Park, Pico Rivera, Placentia, Platinum Triangle, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Plaza, Point Fermin, Poly High, Pomona, Porter Ranch, Port of LA, Portola Hills...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Santa Monica Mountains (SMM Facebook page)

Q

Quail Hill, Quartz Hill...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the South Bay (South Bay Facebook page)
R

Rancho Estates, Rancho La Tuna Canyon, Rancho Palos Verdes, Rancho Park, Rancho Santa Margarita, Redondo Beach, Regent Square, Reseda, Reseda Ranch, Reynier Village, Ridgewood-Wilton, Rolling Hills, Rolling Hills Estates, Rolling Hills Highlands, Roscomare Valley, Rose Hill, Rose Hills, Rose Park, Rossmoor, Rowland Heights, Rustic Canyon...


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South LA's Eastside (South LA's Eastside FB page)

S

Saint Mary's, San Clemente, San Dimas, San Fernando, San Gabriel, San Joaquin Hills, San Juan Capistrano, San Juan Hills, San Juan Hot Springs, San Marino, San Pedro, Santa Ana Heights, Sandberg, Santa Ana, Santa Clarita, Santa Fe Springs, Santa Monica, Santa Monica Canyon, Santiago Canyon, Santiago Hills, Sawtelle, Seal Beach, Sepulveda, Shadow Hills, Shady Canyon, Sherman Oaks, Sherman Village, Shoreline Village, Sierra Madre, Sierra Vista, Signal Hill, Silver Lake, Silverado Canyon, Skid Row, Solano Canyon, South Brentwood, South Carthay, South Central, South El Monte, South Gate, South Laguna, South of Conant, South Park, South Pasadena, South Robertson, South San Gabriel, South San Jose Hills, South Shores, South Whittier, Spaulding Square, Spinnaker Bay, Spinnaker Cove, St. Andrews Square, Stanton, Stearns Park, Stevenson Ranch, Stonehurst, Stratford Square, Studio City, Sun Valley, Sun Village, Sunland, Sunny Hills, Sunrise, Sunset Beach, Sunset Heights, Sunset Hills, Sunset Junction, Surfside, Sylmar...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South LA's Westside (South LA Westside FB page)



T

Talega, Tarzana, Tehrangeles (Little Persia), Temple-Beaudry, Temple City, Terminal Island, Thai Town, The Gardens, The Village, Three Arch Bay, Toluca Lake, Toluca Woods, Tonner Canyon, Topanga, Torrance, Toy District, Trabuco Canyon, Trabuco Highlands, Traffic Circle, Tujunga, Turtle Rock, Tustin, Tustin Foothills, Tustin Legacy, Tustin Ranch, Two Harbors...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of South Orange County

U

University Hills, University Park, University Park Estates...




Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of Southeast County (SELACO FB page)


V

Val Verde, Valinda, Valley Glen, Valley Village, Valyermo, Van Nuys, Venice, Venice Canals, Ventura Business District, Vermont Knolls, Vermont Square, Vermont Vista, Vernon, View Heights, View Park-Windsor Hills, Villa Park, Village Green, Vincent, Vinegar Hill, Virgil Village, Vista del Oro...


Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of The Verdugos (Verdugos Facebook page)



W
 
Wagon Wheel, Walnut Park, Walnut, Warner Center, Watts, Wellington Heights, Wellington Square, West Adams, West Alameda, West Athens, West Carson, West Compton, West Covina, West Garden Grove, West Hills, West Hollywood, West Long Beach, West Park Terrace, West Puente Valley, West Toluca, West Whittier-Los Nietos, Westchester, Westdale, Western Heights, Westgate, Westlake, Westlake Village, Westminster, Westmont, Westridge Heights, Westside Village, Westwood, Westwood North Village, Westwood, Village, Whalers Cove, Whitley Heights, Whittier, Wholesale District, Willmore City, Willowbrook, Wilmington, Wilshire Center, Wilshire Highlands, Wilshire Park, Wilshire Vista, Windsor Square, Windsor Village, Winnetka, Woodbridge, Woodbury, Woodland Hills, Wrigley Heights, Wrigley North, Wrigley South...



                      Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Westside (Westside Facebook page)



Y

Yorba Linda, Yucca Corridor...



Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography map of The County of Los Angeles


Z

California Fool's Gold -- Orange County Here We Come...

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 14, 2010 03:32pm | Post a Comment
 
A hand drawn and hand painted map of Orange County from Pendersleigh & Sons

OK, since the Los Angeles neighborhoods (click here to vote) and Los Angeles County communities (click here to vote) polls have gone down a right storm, I'm making a poll for Orange County communities and neighborhoods (conflated). After all, Orange County was just another part of Los Angeles County until March 11, 1889 when it became a separate entity.

Please vote here for as many as you'd like to see become the subject of a future blog entry. Thanks! Oh, and if I've forgotten any, kindly get at me. If'n yins 'r' rude yis'll get treated like a you-know-what. 





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