Hello Dear Readers! Summer’s almost gone and pumpkins are on the way but there’s always lots to do; so let’s get started with a look at today’s topics:
Chinatown Summer Nights • Cruisin’ LA • The Missing CHOC DVDs • No More Chocolate • Citrus Celebration • Pizza Planet & The Truck • Disneyland Merchandise • October at the Walt Disney Family Museum
Though many of us, myself included, can’t wait for fall, pumpkins, and cooler weather, it’s still officially summer and still warm enough for nighttime fun. As soon as the sun goes down, LA’s Chinatown comes alive with gorgeous neon lights and this weekend would be a good time to check out how pretty that part of the city is during the last evening of Chinatown Summer Nights:
Part food event, part summer party, Chinatown Summer Nights presents an exciting hot spot for Angelenos. Taste the many culinary offerings of Chinatown and LA’s gourmet food trucks; sample the neighborhood’s wares; watch Chinese chefs perform cooking demonstrations; experience large-scale, outdoor video projections; take part in hands-on, Chinese cultural activities presented by local organizations and museums; sip on Chinese beer and dance in Central Plaza with 89.9 KCRW’s DJs.
Chinatown Summer Nights takes place on September 10th from 5 PM to Midnight in the Central and West Plazas between Broadway and Yale Street, from College to Bernard Street at Chinatown LA and entry to the event is free. For more information, visit this link.
We’ll stay with the subject of Chinatown for our next Pressing Matter too.
Last weekend I got to take a tour of Los Angeles, from Chinatown, to the downtown area, to Hollywood, and back — aboard the Neon Museum of Art’s Neon Cruise. And let me tell you, it was awesome. I can’t stress that enough, it really was awesome! Having lived in the Los Angeles area all my life, I thought I knew the town, but nope, the Neon Cruise taught me how very little I actually know about LA, and LA is so truly interesting.
Cruisers board an open-air double-decker bus in Chinatown and traverse the city with Eric Lynxwiler as their cruise director. Working through downtown, Eric’s almost encyclopedic knowledge of the city quickly comes into play as he starts spilling delicious little tidbits about the buildings most people whisk by without ever bothering to really look at. Contrary to the name of the tour, it isn’t just about neon signage. There is that of course, and it’s marvelous, but Eric also tells all about the city’s buildings, and people. From architect, to original use, to date of construction, to who owned it, and what they did with it, you name it Eric knows it.
Actually it was Wilshire...
Before I took the Neon Cruise, I thought the only way to get from the downtown high-rises to Hollywood was to hop on the 101 freeway. But do that, and you miss so much. You wouldn’t get to see Jesus’ neon heart on the side of a church, or the buildings that used to house Ed Wood’s offices. And if you never take the Neon Cruise, you won’t know why the neon mice no longer scamper on the façade of the Western Exterminator building, or why Canter’s Deli has a marquee-style sign. And the next time you glide down Wilshire Blvd., you might not bother to look up at those old streetlights near MacArthur Park. But you should, because if you don’t, you’re missing something special.
Most of all if you don’t go on a Neon Cruise, you’ll miss Eric Lynxwiler’s fabulous repartee and believe me, he’s what makes the cruise awesome. As he shouts at the Taco Bell line, “People, why are you at Taco Bell when the original Tommy’s is across the street!” and talks about the ironies of the decorative elements on the side of a building that used to house the Hays Office, he delivers information that could be so boring, in such an entertaining way that by the end of the night you’re filled with LA facts and all you want is more, more, more.
I want to do it all again. Soon.
The Museum of Neon Art is currently closed as they relocate to a new site in Glendale, but the Neon Cruise sails on each Saturday night. The cruise costs $55 (worth every penny) and meets at Chinatown at 7:30 PM. Remaining September cruises depart September 10th, 17th, & 24th. For more information, visit this link, or call 213-489-9918.
By the way, Eric is the co-author (along with Christopher Merritt) of the terrific book about the history of Knott’s Berry Farm, Knott’s Preserved, and Wilshire Boulevard; The Grand Concourse of Los Angeles (co-authored with Kevin Roderick).
Now we’re leaving downtown LA and Chinatown and heading back to Orange County to talk about our next Pressing Matter.
This one’s a little sad, but I have a feeling it’ll get a happy ending. If you’re reading this column, then you are probably familiar with CHOC, Children’s Hospital of Orange County. The hospital isn’t far from Disneyland and the two of them host the CHOC Walk at Disneyland every year to raise money for the hospital to do all the good work they do. Unfortunately, there are mean people in the world and recently some dastardly sort liberated around 300 DVDs from CHOC. Those DVDs provided entertainment for all the sick kiddies.
The yen to this yang is that someone wants to help. The good folks at Haven Gastropub in Old Towne Orange are trying to collect DVDs to replace what was stolen. Maybe you’d like to help out:
We've come to find out that some of our little friends down the street at CHOC Children's Hospital have had approximately 300 DVDs stolen! These DVDs provided G and PG-13 entertainment to sick children, and we're gonna do something about it (and "we" means you too)! Through Sunday, September 11th, bring in at least one DVD and Haven will take 10% off of every bill totaling up to $100 ($10 maximum discount for bills over $100). There is a collection bin at the end of the bar marked Haven4CHOC, where the DVDs are being collected, so bring in that old copy of "Toy Story 3" or "Harry Potter" that's gathering dust! While every donation is appreciated, please make sure they fit into the guidelines:
• Donate a new or gently used DVD
• Please, no burned copies
• Be sure that the MPAA rating is PG-13 or below (no R, for instance)
• Feel free to donate Wii or Xbox games, as long as they’re rated T (for “teen”) and below
These DVDs are significant in lifting the spirits and providing a distraction to many child patients who are restricted to a hospital bed, so please do what you can. Your generosity is always appreciated.
For more information, check out Haven Gastropub’s blog at this link. If you’re not familiar with Haven Gastropub, they’re not far from Disneyland and their food is beyond scrumptious. Trust me, you want to eat there, Chef Greg Daniels is a wizard in the kitchen. Just be prepared to wait, because everyone wants to eat there and there’s nearly always a line. And even if you don’t want to eat there, I doubt they’d have a problem with you just stopping by with a DVD or two for their collection, they’re the nicest folks around.
Haven Gastropub is located at 190 South Glassell Street Old Towne Orange, CA and their phone number is: 714-221-0680.
An Orange County spot near Disneyland that’s fun to visit is the terrific little museum, Muzeo. I’m mentioning Muzeo because their current exhibit, Chocolate: The Exhibition, closes soon to make way for a Steampunk exhibit that will open mid-October. This is your last chance to learn everything you always wanted to know about chocolate. Chocolate: The Exhibition closes Sunday, Sept. 11 Only a few days left to enjoy this delicious exhibition from The Field Museum, Chicago, and it's also the final days to enter MUZEO's Chocolate Art Challenge! Come on down this week and purchase your chocolate molding clay for just $1, create your sculpture and be entered to win great prizes!
Muzeo is located at 241 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, CA 92805 (just north of Disneyland off Harbor Blvd.) — the museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM. For more information, visit this link, or call 714-95-MUZEO.
We’re continuing on with an Anaheim theme, our next Pressing Matter is one to mark on your calendar for later this month. It also kind of continues the “get to know your town” theme like the Neon Cruise did, as well.
I really love going to old-timey events that harken back to the kind of celebration you might see in Pollyanna. My own city holds a harvest festival every year and it’s just loads of fun to see the town turn out to watch the kiddies parade down the street. Anaheim has just such an affair scheduled for the 24th. Come on out and have some old-time fun at the Citrus Celebration and get to know Anaheim beyond the Disneyland berm, Disney artist Kevin Kidney will be there:
Join the Anaheim Historical Society at the newly opened Founders' Park and celebrate the agricultural era for which Orange County is named. Come enjoy presentations by Jane Newell of the Anaheim Public Library's Heritage Services, Artist Kevin Kidney, and an exciting look at Anaheim's landmark Citrus Packing House project! Plus old-fashioned orange soda & vanilla ice cream floats provided by Ruby's Diner, fresh-squeezed lemonade from Anaheim lemons, and free tours of the historic buildings at Founders' Park!
Orange soda & vanilla ice cream floats! Who could turn that down? Anaheim’s Citrus Celebration is free and takes place on Saturday, September 24, 2011, from 2 PM to 5 PM at Founders' Park — 400 N. West Street, Anaheim, CA. For more information, visit this link.
Our next Pressing Matter is pretty interesting. It was first called to my attention on Twitter with an August 30th tweet from Toy Story 3 director, Lee Unkrich:
Help these crazy guys make a Pizza Planet truck.
“Say what?” That tweet intrigued me. I checked it out:
Our Story - The Road To Pixar is an independent student film which involves construction of a life sized replica of The Pizza Planet Truck as well as a road trip up the state of California.
Then I received an e-mail from MiceChat’s Dusty Sage, the Pizza Planet Truck boys are blogging all about the adventure right here on MiceChat:
Approximately a year ago we decided to begin our quest to construct an as close as possible within a budget a working replica of the Pizza Planet truck which is a running gag through almost all of Pixar's feature films. We would purchase an appropriate truck, paint it yellow, install a camper shell, put some customized lettering on the back tailgate, and hang some Little Green Men on it.
Originally the project was going to stay local, and we were only planning on driving around the Southern California area, after about a week of this and a few discussions later we decided that a road trip to Pixar studio would be a much better idea. A few weeks and much more brainstorming later we had our first crew meeting, where we formed the idea of our nostalgic road trip extravaganza.
I want to find out what happens, don’t you? We can all follow along here at MiceChat as the boys try to construct their very own Pizza Planet truck and then take it on the road to Pixar.
Turning our attention to Disneyland now, let’s talk merchandise. While I’m less than thrilled with Disneyland merchandise in general — it’s too generic, and everything is the same in each land rather than having area-specific offerings, we are coming up on the Halloween season and usually Disneyland has one or two things of interest.
Recently, I spotted a Mickey Ghost lantern in the Emporium. It’s just like last year’s Mickey Ghost popcorn bucket except it’s much smaller (about half the size), and it lights up so you can use it to illuminate the way as you trick or treat. Or ... you can give it to your Duffy bear, it’s kind of just right for him.
Now if Disney would just make Duffy Halloween costumes that don’t require the customer to buy yet another bear. I’m talking about that Duffy dressed in the pumpkin outfit that’s for sale in the parks right now. He’s adorable but sheesh! How many bears does a person need? Come on Disney, just sell us the outfits! But I digress — The Mickey Ghost lantern (which your Duffy would love to own) is $13.79.
There’s a furry Jack Skellington hat in the Emporium Jack fans are gonna want. It’s awfully cute, even if it does resemble a fluffy, white, sinister, cat, which now that I think about it, is part of its charm - $24.99.
And lastly, this fall no Disneyland fan is going to want to drive their car without the newest Halloween antenna ball, a slightly evil Mickey Jack-o-lantern - $4.95
And ... here are a few of the upcoming Disneyland Merchandise events to look out for:
• Nightmare Before Christmas Harvey’s bags product debut & signing with Special Guests Dana & Melanie Harvey. Saturday, September 10, 2011 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Disney Vault 28, Downtown Disney.
• Haunted Mansion Holiday and Halloween Time Product Release and Signing. Special Guests - Artists Brian Sandahl, Tim Wollweber & Linda Rick - Saturday, September 17, 2011 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM.
• Disney Traditions Product Release and Signing with Special Guest: Artisan Jim Shore on September 17 - 18, 2011. Signings will take place as follows:
Saturday, September 17, 2011 - 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the World of Disney Store, Downtown Disney, and Sunday, September 18, 2011 - 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM at China Closet, Main Street, U.S.A., Disneyland Park.
For more information on these events and more, visit this link.
Fall flies by and before you know it, it’s January, so Let’s wind up today’s edition of Pressing Matters with October’s events at the Walt Disney Family Museum - you want to get them in your calendars before it’s too late to plan:
• October’s FILM OF THE MONTH — The Great Locomotive Chase runs daily except Tuesdays and October 15th at 1:00 & 4:00 PM
• Sunday Night Sing-Along, October 2 from 7:00-8:30 PM in the Theater — Join in on a fun sing-along that will make you smile. A sing-along booklet and a drawing for a prize are included.
• Disney’s Love of Trains with Michael Campbell — Saturday, October 15 at 3:00 PM in the Theater: President of Carolwood Pacific Historical Society and a good friend of the Museum, Michael Campbell, will host a multimedia presentation on Walt’s love of trains.
• Look Closer: Walt’s Carolwood-Pacific Railroad with the Lilly Belle: Friday, October 21; Saturday, October 22; Sunday, October 23 at 1:00 & 3:00 PM in Gallery 9 — Free with paid Museum admission
• HallowScreen! — Saturday, October 29; Sunday, October 30; Monday, October 31 at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM & 5:30 PM in the Theater: Celebrate Halloween weekend with a special selection of haunted cartoon shorts such as The Skeleton Dance, The Mad Doctor, Pluto’s Judgement Day, and more. You’ll have a “howling” good time. Costumes welcome!
• Halloween Spooktacular! — Sunday, October 30 from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM in the Special Exhibition Hall: Calling all Ghosts, Ghouls, and Witches! Show up if you dare… for a Halloween scare! Come dressed in your best and surprise all the rest at The Walt Disney Family Museum’s frightfully fun event. Crafts, Costumes, and games ghoulore will be in store!
For more information on admission, all the events, and a listing of all classes visit this link, or call: 415-345-6800.
Want to know what I’m up to? Then you need to follow Pressing Matters on Twitter. You never know what you’ll find there — food, museums, shopping, Disneyland!
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I’ll leave you and say goodbye until next week when we meet again to discuss more...