Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Off the Beaten Path... TCM Festival Must Sees!

The TCM Festival is almost here! For us classic film die-hards this time of year is like Christmas, but like all holidays, it can get a little overwhelming. I realize most folks coming to town spent a small fortune to take part in all the great things TCM has planned, but if you get the urge to veer off the beaten path or see some of our hidden treasures, here's a list of awesome (and for the most part, cheap) things to do if you need a breather from the throngs of people on the Blvd.

1. The Hollywood Heritage Museum
2100 N Highland Ave  Los Angeles, CA 90068
(323) 874-4005

Just a few blocks north of the blvd on Highland, you don't get a better education from anyone 
but the folks at the Heritage Museum. Inside Cecil B DeMille's first ever studio lies a fascinating collection of golden age goodies. They are even giving discounted admission with your TCM passes and tickets. 5 bucks!

2. DeLongpre Park

1350 N Cherokee Ave  Los Angeles, CA 90028(323) 644-3599

Hit Mel's Diner or Skooby's, get your food to go, and walk a few blocks south on Cherokee to
 DeLongpre Park. 
Inside sits a little known shrine to Valentino that was com
missioned by the 

city in the 30s, stolen, found, and eventually resurrected.

3. Tours, tours, tours!
There are so many great local tours, both walking and driving, that I hope if you partake in any
of them you steer clear of the corporate versions (*cough* Starline* cough*). A few of my faves:

http://www.felixinhollywoodtours.com/ Felix in Hollywood

http://www.hollywoodtours.us/?event=offer.detail&offerId=2728 Dearly Departed

http://lac.laconservancy.org/site/PageServer?pagename=walking_tours LA Conservatory
theater tours - locations vary.

4. Runyon Canyon
2000 N Fuller Ave  Los Angeles, CA 90046(323) 666-5046

Errol Flynn's tennis court, Frank Lloyd Wright ruins, star gazing, and a beautiful nature preserve

Not for the weak of heart (or weak of knees!) but a neat place to walk around if you feel like 
getting closer to nature and 90210's finest.

5. The Red Line
Seriously, don't be afraid of our local transportation. it gets you where you want to go! From the 

North Hollywood Arts District to Union Station, the Red Line is kind of it's own little tour. You 
can take it from Hollywood straight into downtown (take the Pershing Square stop) and see our 
stunning old theater district (Broadway), The old Angel's Flight railway on Hill, Union Station, 
LaBrea Tar Pits, the LA Library, and so much more. Cheap, easy, and no damn highways. :)

6. The Lot and Jim Henson Studios

The Lot is on Santa Monica and Formosa, Jim Henson studios are on LaBrea and Sunset. The 

Lot was the very first movie studio and production hub in Hollywood started by Mary Pickford 
and Douglas Fairbanks. See it while you can, the city is fighting locals trying to tear it down.
Jim Henson studios were the studios Chaplin built in the late 30s and they've really kept it up.


7. Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA

(323) 469-6349

Peter Lorre, Cecil B DeMille, Valentino, Marion Davies, and on and on and on. Not to mention
it's a beautiful place. i always try to bring bread for the ducks...

8. Griffith Observatory
2800 E Observatory Ave  Los Angeles, CA 90027
(213) 473-0800

Trails, a great panoramic view of the whole city,  the closest you can get to the 

Hollywood sign without hiking,and one of the largest telescopes in the country. 
What's not to love? Oh, and it's free!


9. Grauman's Theater Court before 8am
6801 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, California, 90028

If you are a morning person, grab some coffee and come sit here and watch the city wake up while having
the footsteps of the stars all to yourself. You can thank me later.

10. Chili Dogs.

Pinks (Walking distance from the Blvd at 709 LaBrea), Skooby's on the Blvd, and Carney's (
8351 W Sunset Blvd ). You can't go wrong.


Also, keep your eyes peeled for our wonderful bookstores. Larry Edmunds on the Blvd deals almost specifically with classic-related

No matter where you end up, I hope everyone here has a wonderful weekend!

Friday, February 8, 2013

All Hail the Water Rats.

I have been seriously slacking on the blog front so far this year. Sometimes life gets in the way of things we do for fun, I guess. But then I came across a secret society in a Peter Lorre biography and had to investigate.

Charlie Chaplin. Peter Lorre. Peter Sellers. Danny Kaye. Laurel and Hardy. All members of an English society called the Grand Order of Water Rats.

The pin each member wears

Their motto is "Philanthropy, conviviality, and social intercourse". Formed in 1889 by music hall performers Joe Elvin and Joe Lotto, the two began with race track winnings to form a society that supported local up-and-coming artists and gave them a forum in which to perform, assisting in funding, bookings, and publicity.

Laurel Hardy and friend proudly displaying their pins

 According to past King Rat Charlie Chester, It all started with a pony named Magpie. Upon Elvin and Lotto telling of a run in they'd had where they were walking one of their race horses home in the rain where a passing bus driver had commented that it looked more like a water rat, friend Hal Pink proclaimed:

   'That's it ... that's what we've been looking for ... Water Rat ... the most unloved little creature of all ... and we'll make it respected. Don't you see', he went on, 'if you turn the word Rats backwards ... the word Star is revealed ... we'll elevate the lowest to the highest in the firmament of good fellowship and charity. A Rat is a Vole and Vole is an anagram of Love and that's what we'll be ... a Brotherhood of Love.' So, in the summer of 1889 they went to a pub in Sunbury on Thames and formed The Grand Order of Water Rats, and to this day that pub has a plaque to commemorate the event. The name of the pub itself was taken from the little pony and called - 'The Magpie'. 

There can only be 200 members at a time. Getting nominated to join is a delicate and arduous process where a person has to be voted, seconded, and agreed upon by the other Rats. They have a full government set up within the Order, and there is a secondary group of companion rats who, while not actually in show business, have been allowed to join as an outsider for their support to the group or the arts.

Where the Rats congregate today

I find it fascinating that this order has been around for so long, with such huge names, and such little attention. Maybe they are a big deal across the pond. I hope they are. I had never heard of them, but am glad to have stumbled on a neat part of entertainment history. A charity formed by entertainers for entertainers. Similar to what Pickford and the rest of the original United Artists folks set up with the Hollywood fund and Hollywood Home, but apparently not corrupted by modern greed. 

You can learn more about, or support the order, at their site here: http://www.gowr.net/index.html   

                                                   2002 Photo of past and current King Rat.