Kinnard Ave, West Los Angeles
21st Place, Santa Monica

We are visiting Los Angeles with our son this weekend for a campus tour of  UCLA and USC. It’s a memorable trip for me.

This is where mom and dad grew up — mom in Westwood, and dad in Santa Monica. It was the Golden Era in L.A. Both of them went to UCLA.

Mom went to University or “Uni” High (her classmate was Andy Williams, and she led Gov. Ronald Reagan around campus as a student leader) and dad went to Santa Monica or “SAMOHI” high.

Both of their parents worked (one grandma worked at Hughes Aircraft and another was a school teacher; one grandpa worked at Pac Bell, and the other ran a “mom and pop” grocer. Dad became an exploration geologist with Humble Oil).

Dad’s office was on Flower St. in downtown L.A. before it relocated to Avenue of the Stars in Century City, next to 20th Century Fox. He joked that one afternoon he looked out the window and saw actors running around in “ape suits.”  As it turned out, the street was closed for a filming of “Planet of the Apes.”

Their childhood neighborhoods were ideal: “location, location,” quiet, well-manicured lawns with sidewalks and so on. During WWII, their houses required “blackout curtains.”

These are still considered ideal neighborhoods — and the homes are much pricier now.

Awaiting the Miraculous Mandarin

“Awaiting the Miraculous Mandarin” (Tom Wudl, 1999)

The UCLA Meyer & Renee Luskin Conference Center on campus — our “home” this weekend — showcases some exceptional artwork from alumni, professors and students, some of whom are now famous.

This one was inspired by the one act, pantomime ballet that Béla Bartók composed. Wudl was a lecturer and a graduate student advisor at the UCLA Department of Art in the ’70s.

“Wudl’s work creates a realm where he explores the sense of mastery involved in composition — Bartók’s composition, the mastery of an instrument, and that of artistic composition representing by a modern painting, reminiscent of the work of Gottlieb, hanging on the wall of he room.”

Decision reached in collusion grievance brought by Colin Kaepernick against the NFL

“The collusion grievance filed against the NFL by former 49ers Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid was resolved Friday — not with a bang, but with a confidentiality agreement,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.

“A joint statement released by the league and players’ attorneys offered few details and concluded with ‘there will be no further comment by any party.’

“Financial terms were not released, but Bleacher Report’s Mike Freeman reported team officials throughout the league speculated it could be a $60-million to $80-million settlement. That figure is about twice NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s annual salary, which comes from the pool of contributions by all 32 teams.

“Kaepernick and Reid contended that they were blackballed because of their kneeling social justice protests during the national anthem in the 2016 season. Kaepernick opted out of his 49ers contract in early 2017 and hasn’t played since. Reid’s contract expired after the 2017 season. He was without a team until one month into the 2018 season when the Carolina Panthers signed him. He played 13 games for the Panthers and was recently rewarded with a three-year, $22 million contract extension.

“’Today, we were informed by the NFL of the settlement of the Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid collusion cases,’ read a statement from the NFL Football Players Association. ‘We are not privy to the details of the settlement, but support the decision by the players and their counsel. We continuously supported Colin and Eric from the start of their protests, participated with their lawyers throughout their legal proceedings and were prepared to participate in the upcoming trial in pursuit of both truth and justice for what we believe the NFL and its clubs did to them. We are glad that Eric has earned a job and a new contract, and we continue to hope that Colin gets his opportunity as well.’”

The rest of the article is here.

Returning to UCLA for a campus tour

WESTWOOD — I am spending the morning reading the Daily Bruin newspaper with a cup of coffee during a visit to UCLA this weekend. It is a celebration of our family’s past — and its future.

We are here with our son for an organized campus tour, part of our family’s ongoing visits to college campuses throughout California and elsewhere. We are here to explore for the weekend, also visiting — shhhh! UCLA’s arch-rival USC for a shorter visit. Our son is a STEM student, though he is enjoying his American literature course this semester.

We are staying at the UCLA Luskin Conference Center, a glorious new building on campus that features 254 hotel rooms, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, and more than 25,000 square feet of event space.

My mom and dad went to UCLA, so I grew up regularly visiting the campus, and attending basketball games at Pauley Pavilion (and football games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the site of the Olympic Games).

The visits to UCLA in my youth largely coincided with the era of legendary basketball coach John Wooden (AKA, “The Wizard of Westwood”). I went to the weeklong Wooden basketball camp one summer, a memorable experience.

My mom grew up on Kinnard Ave. in Westwood, not far from campus. She went to University or “Uni” high; one of her classmates was Andy Williams. Dad grew up in Santa Monica, on 21st Place. It was during what I’d call Southern California’s “golden era.”

Westwood has changed from the years when it was a more sleepy “village.” A bookstore we frequented, Campbell’s, is gone, along with the Hamburger Hamlet and other places. (Stan’s donuts is still around). But there are wonderful new additions to what is now a bustling metropolis within the metropolis of greater L.A.

A mix of old and new

The two-year-old Luskin conference center — named after generous UCLA donors — is located on campus. The walls of the handsome brick building are adorned with artwork and photos celebrating UCLA, from iconic Royce Hall to basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabar. The collection also includes nearly 60 pieces by artists who are UCLA alumni and faculty members.

The conference center even has its own robot, “Lara,” to welcome guests and give directions. The lobby includes a concert piano, with live music on some weekdays. The rooms have free, lightning-fast Wi-Fi, new flat-screen TVs, original artwork and wood paneling. There’s 25,000 sq. ft of event space, accommodating up to 960 guests. There’s also a gym, a business center and a campus shuttle.

The Daily Bruin is a robust mix of news, arts, sports and opinion. The UCLA magazine has a feature on basketball great Bill Walton (“still truckin'”) and a feature on the Ethnic Studies Center celebrating its 50th year.

The campus tours are led by students. They last about two hours, including a 30-minute admission presentation and 90-minute walking tour.

While here, we’ll also visit some other sites on campus, Westwood Village and the surrounding neighborhoods. I lived in Westwood during the summer of ’82 when I was working as a correspondent at Time magazine while I was a senior at UC Berkeley.

Along with Cal, UCLA ranks as one of the nation’s top public universities. The overall admission rate for 2018 was around 62 percent, but it was just 59 percent for in-state freshmen, down from 63 percent in 2017, as the Mercury-News points out. Just 12 percent of in-state applicants to UCLA gained admission in 2018, and just 17 percent of would-be Cal students were offered a spot, a decline from last year in both cases.

It is exciting to return to reminisce about the past, but also consider the future.


The Union columnist George Boardman’s blog posts about me are getting a little creepy

George Boardman
Credit: The Union

Earlier this week, I got an email that the Chevron station in Nevada City was the victim of a credit-card skimming incident. I emailed the information to Don Rogers and Brian Hamilton at The Union, and others might have too. It resulted in a news article — reasonable enough, and a good job.

But here’s how George Boardman, The Union’s weekly columnist, handled this news it in a blog post — a creepy angle, to be sure.

—”… the Chevron gas station and mini-mart in Nevada City, a business that’s within shouting distance of where he lives.” No, it is not within “shouting distance” of our home. Not even electric megaphone distance.

— “Well, we know the family likes to spend gas money down the hill at the Arco station in Auburn, so my guess is he buys most of his gas at the Arco station in Grass Valley.” No. We do not frequent either of those stations much. We mostly “gas up” at the Gold Flat Union station or one of several (never Arco) in Grass Valley. BTW, Auburn is not “down the hill”; it is “on the hill.”

—”It’s estimated that about 30 customers have been victimized to the tune of about $30,000. Was Jeffie one of them?” No; you could have checked with me.

— “Then there’s Pioneer Park, within walking distance for somebody in reasonable shape.” This is juxtaposed against an unflattering photo of me, taken without my permission some time ago by someone who has never identified themselves, that once appeared on Todd Juvinall’s blog. Are creeps following me around with a camera?

— “All of this crime may explain why he installed a security system in his home.” Too much information, George.

Small towns are a hoot!

Airbus to stop making A380 as original jumbo jet Boeing 747 turns 50

European aviation giant Airbus has announced that it is ending production of its jumbo A380 aircraft,” as India Today is reporting. “The announcement of the end of the A380, the world’s first fully double-deck passenger jet, comes in the same month that the original ‘Jumbo Jet’ Boeing’s 747 turned 50.

“The Airbus A380 had for long faced a lack of commercial interest. The aircraft was costly to make and not many airliners were interested in buying it. Airbus acknowledged as much in its announcement that it was ending the production of the A380.

“… we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years,’ the aircraft manufacturer’s CEO Tom Enders said in a statement. Airbus said that the Dubai-based Emirates, which has made A380 its flagship aircraft, is the only airline with which Airbus has an order backlog for the A380.

“Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021,’ the company said in its statement. ‘The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft,’ CEO Tom Enders said.

“The announcement brings to an end a grand European dream to build and sustain the ultimate long-haul aircraft. The A380, which can seat more than 500 passengers, was launched just a decade ago.

“A380’s end will definitely be a boost for Airbus’s American rival, Boeing. Boeing had managed to monopolise the long-haul market with its iconic 747, which first took to the skies five decades ago.

“The A380 was seen as Airbus’s answer to the 747, which, if you were not aware, is the plane the Indian prime minister flies on.

“A380, however, will keep flying, as Airbus CEO Tom Enders said. ‘… today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.'”

The rest of the article is here.