• Karen Seiger

Big Surprises I Found While Researching 111 Places in LA That You Must Not Miss


Laurel Moglen is the co-author of our newest guidebook, 111 Places in Los Angeles That You Must Not Miss, which is being released next Tuesday, September 27th, 2016! Our authors do a lot of research to sleuth out the most intriguing, unusual, and out-of-the-way places for our books. So we asked Laurel to share some of the most surprising things she learned about while she and Co-Author Julia Posey were researching and writing their book. This story is one of two essays with Co-Author Julia Posey.

I never knew Amelia Earhart lived in LA! (I wrote an entry about her that didn’t make it into the book.) She shared a Spanish-style home in Toluca Lake, with her husband, George Putnam. She was obviously a trailblazing aviator, but signs of shirking convention started young. At age seven, she defied proper female etiquette by sledding down a hill belly-down and head-first, instead of sitting politely upright. She was later kicked out of finishing school for walking on the roof in her nightgown. Before marrying, she wrote to her soon-to-be groom, “… I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself bound to you similarly.” Whoa, that’s major for 1931(ish)! It was out of the (now) Burbank Airport where she began her ill-fated and final flight.

I found out about The Weisman Foundation by talking to a stranger at a restaurant I rarely visit. She had recently visited and was blown away by the concentration of late ‘80s/early ‘90s pieces. The docent that led my tour said it’s mostly Europeans that know about the collection, and rarely do Angelenos swing by. Weisman’s widow, Billie, an art conservator, still lives there. Besides my source at the sushi bar, I have not met a soul that’s known about this time capsule of a living art museum.

Going out at night, alone, can be fun! The evening I planned to visit the awesome bluewhale jazz club, I asked seventeen people to go with me, and they all said, “no”! (I didn’t take it personally; the people I asked were parents. Maybe I should have taken it personally?). Whatever the excuse is, kids or no kids, scratching the itch of curiosity is so satisfying. I was happily surprised that going out solo, can bring on a different kind of adventure. At bluewhale, the vibe is super down-to-earth, and very much about enjoying the high standard of musicianship, so you can sit in the shadows and suck up the sounds in relative privacy, or strike up a convo with the people next to you. I met this couple from Spain, who didn’t speak a word of English, so I translated for them, and helped them find a cab after the show!

The story of Biddy Mason was utterly unknown to me. This foremother of Los Angeles was a survivor and thriver. Hanging out in the pocket park dedicated to her life, where she built her home in the 19thcentury, ruminating on the incredible life she lived, was super cool.

It was years ago when I passed by the inconspicuous sculpture of Sugihara Chiune. I had just slurped up some ramen nearby and unexpectedly, decided to pause and check it out. In truth, I really just wanted to keep walking. That 60-second derailment was a revelation. Chiune sets a standard for courage when he bucked cultural and political imperatives, risked his life by saving the lives of others, and ultimately lost his cherished diplomatic career.

Look for 111 Places in Los Angeles That You Must Not Miss online in bookstores near you! It is already an Amazon #1 Best Seller for California Travel!

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