Moderators, this (and part 2) contain photos of quite a few places, please don't move it - thanks
So I finally made my way to California - specifically Southern California, and more specifically L.A. to celebrate my 40th birthday and see a taping of 'Hot In Cleveland'. For those who don't know, here's the premise of the trip (in addition to visiting in-laws who live in California); I hope this puts things into context:
I've been taking photos of Cleveland since the mid-1990s; one of the main reasons I joined SSP in 1997ish, and why I'm still a member is to take photos - mostly of Cleveland and share them with whoever might be interested. In 2006, I was working in downtown Cleveland and like I do, I had my camera with me - it was a nice spring day in April. On a lunch break, I decided to take a walk over to Cleveland State University where there's an ugly brutalist highrise but I figured that it would have a nice view of downtown Cleveland. Sure enough, it had a great view and so I took my camera, pointed it out the window and clicked away. One of the shots came out pretty well and I uploaded it to my site, clevelandskyscrapers.com.
Three years later in 2009, I got an email from someone who said that they were producing a sitcom and they were interested in using that photo for their opening graphic - mind you, they sent it from an AOL email address, so I was a little skeptical. Even so, I politely replied that they were welcome to send me whatever contract/licensing requirements they had, figuring that I might never hear from them again. A week later, I received a contract from Hudson Street Productions, a division of Viacom - my partner is an attorney and I was doing double and triple-takes and asking him "IS THIS LEGIT?!?" and sure enough, it was the real deal. Mind you, they didn't use the photo for any ads or previews so at one point I thought that maybe they decided to use a different photo, which would be understandable. But then the series premiered, and I saw the first episode and there it was - and I didn't know it at the time, but almost 5 million
people were watching that episode, setting a record for the TV Land channel's viewership. Since then, the show has gone on to be nominated for Emmys, SAG Awards, etc. and has (if memory serves me right) nearly 50 million viewers in over 170 different countries.
So fast forward to 2012, I get to the studios and the first thing I see are the dozens of monitors throughout the whole set and in the audience viewing area - and every single one of them has my photo (and the opening title graphic) on them. To someone from a very humble upbringing in Appalachian eastern Ohio, the whole experience couldn't be more amazing and humbling. Sorry if I'm blathering, but this whole trip was surreal.
Landing in LAX, downtown L.A. in the distance:
Yes folks, this is the 'Theme' Building (apparently most people don't know this has an actual name?)
For those who might be hoping for a thorough photo exploration of L.A.'s inner city... this is as close I got this time around:
Heading toward the Inland Empire (where we were staying with family):
Yeah, that's ONE house on the right - the pinkish stuff is floral groundcover:
Glad we didn't have to go through whatever the hell that smog cloud of doom was!
We made a quick stop near Lake Elsinore and were en route to San Diego for dinner in Old Town:
Palomar Medical Center in Escondido:
I *believe* that's San Diego in the distance:
Suburbia of San Diego:
Unfortunately, the only shot of downtown San Diego I was able to catch - bad weather and a hectic schedule were at fault:
Had a great Mexican dinner in Old Town - this place has the tortillas prepared in the storefront:
Immaculate Conception Church:
Two night shots of Old Town:
And unfortunately, a downpour prevented any photos of downtown San Diego. The next day, we headed over the mountains via the Ortega Highway:
I should have packed some Dramamine!
Great views, as long as you don't sh!t your pants around the sharp curves!
Fortunately there's a rest stop near the peak:
Heading down the other side, we pass through a little bit of home - well, the Cleveland National Forest:
More curves, more of me holding on to the car's 'oh sh!t' handles!
Fortunately, things evened out:
Close to the coast:
We had some friends who took us to some new construction along the water:
Yep, that's a dolphin!
It amazes me that people can actually grow these gorgeous Bird of Paradise plants outdoors (being from Cleveland and all):
Time to head over toward Laguna Beach - the coast was pretty much filled with these houses stacked on top of each other:
Lunch at Greeter's - apparently the 'Greeter' was a well known local back in the day:
Views of and from the Boardwalk:
Off we go to South Coast Plaza (helLO, gotta get some shopping in!)
The mall itself isn't much to look at, and of course it's surrounded by suburban office parks:
Although if you have to have an office tower in the 'burbs, this is a little more appealing than the rest:
Next up - L.A., Studio City, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood.