Category Archives: Life

Remembering Marineland (Or Not)

I don’t remember much about Marineland of the Pacific. It was an ocean park/aquarium like Sea World that operated near Los Angeles for several decades, closing in 1987. I know I visited at least once, with my grandparents, but all I remember is:

  1. The view from what I assume was Palos Verdes Drive, as the car crested a low summit, brown hills rising to the right and falling gently toward the ocean on the left. The park stood on a promontory jutting out into the ocean. I haven’t been able to locate the spot, but that could just mean the road’s been moved.*
  2. A sign saying “CAFE” visible from the parking lot, which I misread as rhyming with “safe.” (Evidently I was very young at the time.)
  3. That’s about it.

You’d think I’d remember the sea life at least a little, though I suppose it’s possible I’ve misattributed some memories to Sea World (which, come to think of it, I don’t remember super-well either).

Not much of Marineland remains aside from a few names at Terranea Resort, which now occupies the site. But a piece of that history is coming back. In 2014, a 35-foot whale statue from the park entrance was found in a maintenance yard. The city has approved plans to place the statue at Point Vicente Park just up the road.

Apparently the decline and closure of the park was rather sordid: HBJ, the textbook company that owned Sea World at the time, had tried to buy Marineland’s star orcas. They weren’t selling. So HBJ bought the park in December 1986. Late in January, they secretly loaded Orky and Corky onto trucks in the middle of the night and drove them down to San Diego. A week later, they announced the park would close in March. They shut it down halfway through February, and by May they’d sold off the property to a real estate developer. Plans for a conference center were never realized, and the site was abandoned for 20 years until construction began on Terranea.

*Update: My dad pointed me to the Wikipedia article, which led me to a post at Modern Day Ruins, which led me to the California Coastal Records collection of aerial photographs. I found one from 1986 that indicates that Rancho Palos Verdes Drive is in the same spot as it was back then, but the housing developments on either side to the east of the turnoff weren’t there at the time. That’s probably why I didn’t recognize it. Or the road I remember could be the one down to the parking lot.

Wildflower Superbloom in Anza-Borrego (Photos)

Anza-Borrego Wildflowers

The kiddo had a day off from school in mid-March, so I took a vacation day and we all drove out to the desert to see the spring wildflowers. After the endless suburbia of Los Angeles, northern Orange County, and Corona, we drove past hills green from the winter rains, then into the similarly-endless suburbs of Temecula. It’s been years since I took Highway 79 south, and the city has grown a lot, but after a few miles the strip malls and housing developments disappeared, the road shrank to two lanes, and we drove through green hills with oaks, bushes, and the occasional patches of poppies, mustard and lupins. Fences, dirt roads and gates indicated ranches and wineries. Continue reading

Vote Local!

Remember to vote in local elections.

Initiatives, council and school board members, judges, etc. affect you and your community directly. It may not be as exciting as the Presidential race, but it determines who makes decisions in your town, who passes and enforces city laws and regulations, local taxes, which services are offered and how. If the national government wants to drop the ball, states and cities are going to have to step in, and local elections impact how it gets picked up — or doesn’t.

It impacts national politics too: the people elected locally go on to build the pool of state and national candidates. If you care about 2018 or 2020, get out and vote locally to get the ball rolling!

Voter turnout is always lower in off-years than in Presidential election years, and it’s even lower in local elections. That means your vote makes a bigger share of the result than it does when you vote in November – even in an off-year.

So get out there, register to vote if you haven’t, and help make decisions at the local level.

AAAAAA! 😱

Artist Nathan Sawaya recreates Edvard Munch’s The Scream in LEGO, on exhibit in The Art of the Brick.

Perhaps it’s a cliche, but I’ve rather liked The Scream since I first saw a print of it somewhere. (Well, one version of it, anyway, as the artist created four of them.) Maybe it was in an art book, maybe it was a poster. Maybe it was one of a zillion pop culture references to it. (Heck, it’s got its own emoji now.) I associate it with college, but I also associate it with the crowd I hung out with in high school, so it’s hard to say.

And of course growing up in the 1980s means I have a lot of fond memories of playing with LEGO.

I got to see the full exhibit at the Fleet Science Center last week. (It’s there through the end of January). The first two rooms are mostly recreations of famous paintings and sculptures — Starry Night, the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and so on — and the rest are original works. Some are realistic, while others are outright surreal. Almost all of them are done using standard rectangular LEGO bricks and tiles.

Sadly, the 6YO was not impressed by the subject matter, the creativity, or the craftsmanship (he was much more interested in building in the play area afterward), and tried to leave several times before we got through the whole exhibit. Then we got to the the dinosaur skeleton. That one he liked, as well as the crowd walking along a street that, when viewed from the right angle, lines up with the markings on the wall to form the image of an eye.

Happy New Year

“What do you mean? Do you wish me a happy new year, or mean that it is a happy new year whether I want it or not; or that it is a new year to be happy on?”

“All of them at once.”

— With apologies to JRR Tolkien. (Though I suspect it’s only going to be the first….)