#ThursdayDoors: Hidden

This semi-hidden door actually leads to St. Augustines, a Catholic church which sits behind a wrought iron fence just off Waikiki’s main drag.  Its history dates back to 1850s when it was just a shack made from palm fronds and driftwood.  You can read more about the history here.

View from the street of St. Augustine’s statue.

The top of the church as visible from the fourth floor of the condo building next door.

As to why the church is behind a locked wrought iron fence, across the street is a beachside park that is home to many homeless people. They oddly co-mingle with tourists from around the world, primarily Japanese, taking selfies in the sunset. Some look as though they’ve spend the night in the piss-filled gutters of San Francisco even though there are public showers and restrooms along the beach. I guess it’s hard to panhandle if you look clean and neat and well-fed.

Just to the right and in front the church is a very common sight in Waikiki, an ABC Store.

It is not an exaggeration to say you can find one of these shops on every block.  You can find one of these shops on every block even though they all sell almost exactly the same stuff, which is basically everything but mostly cheap touristy trinkets.

Window of another trinket-filled store. The Hawaiian flag is similar to the Union Jack because many royals favored the Brits over the US.

You expect to see wonderful things when you travel but for me, the unexpected is what makes a trip special. This time it was a YWCA in the middle of Honolulu’s business and government district.

The Y is across the street from the Iolani Palace. From the outside it doesn’t look like much, however once past the reception area is an atrium with one of the most beautiful swimming pools I’ve ever seen.  I wanted to leap right in with this fellow.

The architect of this building was Julia Morgan, the very same Julia Morgan who designed Hearst Castle. But that wasn’t the best part of the surprise.  Inside of the atrium is the best restaurant we found in Honolulu.  It’s modestly called Cafe Julia.

One of unique things about this place, beside its menu, is the owner’s collection of whimsical liquor bottles. There were thousands but because they were behind glass, it was hard to get a picture of them. Here are a few:

So if you’re ever in Honolulu, check out the Laniakae YWCA and Cafe Julia.  Make sure to save room for the chocolate mousse! Check out other doors and unexpected delights over at Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors event.

#ThursdayDoors: Aloha

I’ve just returned from almost a month in Hawaii.  I didn’t intend to stay that long but my grandson was (as they say) on “Hawaiian time.” Finally on March 21st his chubby little cheeks emerged, followed by an equally chubby little body and thank goodness, he was healthy. So I waited until my grandmotherly advice caused my son-in-law’s face to twitch uncontrollably and then left on the next available red-eye.

In Hawaii many of the hotels, government buildings, and even hospitals have open air reception areas and atriums. They have no front doors.  Evidently the craze currently circling the planet thanks to Norm Frampton and the #ThursdayDoors peep-and-tellers hasn’t yet reached the Hawaiian Islands!

Above is the entry to the Hawaiian state capitol.  If you walk through these columns the legislative chambers are to the right and the government offices to the left.  If you look up through the sky light in the atrium, this is what you’ll see:

In front of the capitol is a statue of Father Damien, the patron saint of the Hawaiian Islands.

Religion has played a controversial role in paradise.  Before the missionaries arrived, the islands were ruled by warrior kings who often had several wives (some of them sisters) and maintained order via ancient superstitions and myths. The missionaries brought changes that benefitted the poor but they also brought sickness and doors.

Behind the state capitol is Iolani Palace.This palace was built around 1882 under the direction of King Kalakaua who felt he needed digs worthy of his lofty position.  At that time, many of Hawaiian’s royals were anxious to be accepted by their European counterparts thus Kalakaua’s palace could easily be at home in London or Paris.  Except for the banyan and palm trees on the front lawn, of course.

Ironically Iolani Palace would serve as a prison for the last member of the royal family to have any political power, Queen Lili’oukalani. She was no match for power hungry American businessmen who had the implicit support of the US government.

The doors to Iolani Palace were almost impossible to photograph from the bottom of the staircase on a hot day, but they seem like sad doors to me.

Happily we were also in Honolulu during the festival of Prince Kuhio, the last royal member of Congress and the founder of many civic organizations dedicated to preserving Hawaiian Culture.

More pictures to come. Aloha!

#ThursdayDoors: Marilyn Slept Here

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A warehouse door with obvious fire damage which a graffiti artist decided to cover up appropriately with a fire scene.  Downtown Reno Nevada

Paris has the Eiffel Tower and New York City, the Statue of Liberty. But poor old Reno Nevada’s iconic landmark is a sign spanning the main drag that reads “Biggest Little City in The World.”

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If you can’t figure out what the heck that means, don’t worry.  No one can. The slogan is the result of a contest won by “one G.A. Burns of Sacramento” who was awarded $100 for his brilliance by the “City Fathers.” That was back in 1927 when Reno was being run by railroad men, merchants and ranchers. They had officially approved gambling and the town needed some glitz. Thus, a sign was born.

As an aside, the town’s original name was “River Crossing” but it was changed to Reno in honor of a Civil War general who was killed by friendly fire and whose last words were “Sam, I’m dead.”

There is no downtown Reno any more. Not really. Unlike Vegas, the casinos and resorts are spread out all around town.

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Downtown Reno (seen from across the Truckee River) sometime in the 1960s

Once there was a downtown Reno, a stretch along the Truckee River where the casinos intermingled with banks, city offices and department stores.  Today some of the older casinos remain (Harrahs and the El Dorado), cramped in between pawn shops and check-cashing places. It’s four blocks square that hold all the joy of an abortion clinic unless the Hells Angels and their buddies are holding their yearly jamboree. Then it feels a bit like Armageddon.

The casinos try to woo potential gamblers by creating magical and surreal environments where no one could possibly lose all their money but to me they feel like neon-lit fish tanks where I am the fish.

But it wasn’t always that way.  Once upon time there was The Mapes.

The Maples Hotel had an old-fashioned coffee shop in its lobby. Red velvet booths and a counter where you could watch soda jerks create the greatest chocolate malts and floats.  And the french fries, oh my! Trust me, the chocolate malt you buy with hard-earned baby-sitting money at age thirteen will forever be the best one on earth.

But the hotel had another claim to fame.  For a stretch in the fifties and sixties it was a prime spot for catching a glimpse of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Montgomery Cliff and the Rat Pack (Sinatra et al).  Monroe stayed there with her husband Arthur Miller during the months of filming “The Misfits” which meant the hotel was always surrounded by news crews.

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I always thought the Mapes’ marquee (above) represented the town far better that a sign no one understands. I can remember hitches outside the casinos for cowboys who would ride into town on the weekends from one of the many nearby ranches.  Of course I’m not quite old enough to remember actual horses being attached to them.  But I do remember stepping in cow dung on my way across the field between my house and the school.

Unfortunately, the so-called “city fathers” had no sacred memories of chocolate malts and no desire to preserve the room wherein Marilyn Monroe slept. Despite the all-out efforts of preservationists, this was the Mapes’ fate:th-1

So famous was this building that it’s destruction was broadcast on the evening news here in San Francisco. I felt like I was watching an execution.

I have veered (as usual) wildly off Norm Frampton’s prompt of ThursdayDoors.

#ThursdayDoors: The Rent is Due

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This door is around the corner from Trump International Hotel in Washington DC.  Its message is ominous, don’t you think?

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From Bing images

In case you haven’t heard, Trump bought Washington DC’s Main Post office and converted it into a hotel.

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From Bing Images

Built in 1899 the Old Post Office is a 12 minute walk to the Capital. Before Trump decided to run for president, his plan was to make this building into the jewel in his crown.  Every head of state would want to stay in a Trump hotel, don’t you know? Lather in golden bubbles while munching on Trump chocolates and drinking Trump wine.  However early reviews are not glowing:

From the outside, it responds to a growing need, serves an audience, and looks quite grand. But on the inside, it is a complete disaster, mostly empty inside, riddled with nonsense. From Vanity Fair

Of course when he brought the property he was told if he went into office there would be a conflict of interest but I don’t think he thought he would get into office.  Now I’m sure he thinks the rules don’t apply to him.  After all, look at all he’s gotten away with so far.

Here’s a door of a different sort which I pray is never made into a Trump resort or golf course but in this crazy world, who knows?

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This is one of the many archways at the outdoor stadium in Arlington Cemetery where Memorial Day tributes to our veterans take place.  I didn’t take too many pictures at Arlington. I always find it such an overwhelming experience that snapping pictures seems wrong.

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From Bing Images

Anyway that’s the end of my contributions to Norm Frampton’s addictive #ThursdayDoors event for awhile.  I need to figure out the publishing business I’ve  been ignoring for the last nine months! The rent is due for me; it’s back to work I go.

ThursdayDoors: Blasting Off into 2017

Today’s door isn’t very pretty.discover

Well, if you’d been launched into orbit 39 times in the space of 27 years, you’d be looking a little funky too. America’s oldest space shuttle, Discovery, is currently in retirement at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center outside of Washington DC.  Udvar-Hazy is the Smithstonian’s air and space museum.  Besides Discovery, there are hundreds of planes and jets – both military and civilian – however, if you decide to visit do so on a full stomach.  The only place to get something to eat or drink is an overcrowded McDonalds.

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Puny mortals beneath the thrusters

 

Our guide was a retired Air Force pilot who peppered his dialogue with non-stop stories of famous generals and senators he’d flown hither and yon. I imagine his wife was quite happy to get him out of the house so she didn’t have to keep listening to them!

As we blast off into this crazy year, let’s hope like Discovery we return to an intact world safely.

Happy New Year everyone. Hop on over to Norm Frampton’s swinging pad to see other doors from around the world..

#ThursdayDoors: Carolopolis

On our final day in Charleston I decided to take a leisurely walk around the neighborhood where our hotel was located – the French Quarter – before packing up and calling an Uber for the airport. The homes in this area aren’t nearly as grand as those south of Broad street (the SOBs), probably because it’s home to the Old Slave Mart, the City Market (est. in 1790) and many restaurants and museums.

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When I first saw the plaque next to the above door I thought the name of the house was “Carolopolis” but I was wrong.  Every year one of these plaques is presented to a structure originally built in Charleston’s colonial days that has been properly preserved.  Carolopolis is a combination of Carolus, greek for “Charles” and polis meaning “city.”

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Also common are plaques which describe the historic significance of the structure.

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This salmon colored house is typical of homes in the French Quarter.  As you can see, the balconies are off to the side and draped to insure privacy. And of course, the garden is surrounded by a cast iron picket fence. (These fences made it difficult to trespass to get better pictures of the doors!)

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You see a lot of old gas lamps in the historic districts of Charleston. They’re quite romantic which is one of the reasons you also see a lot of advertisements for wedding venues.

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I’m not exaggerating when I say there are hundreds of historic structures in Charleston.  One of the reasons has to do with that dastardly War of Northern Aggression. Ironically, the city in which the Civil War began missed undergoing the fate of other southern cities, many of which were burnt to the ground by Union soldiers.

That’s the last of my pics from Charleston, a city which, if you want to visit, you’d better go soon.  It’s on a list of the 14 American cities that could soon be underwater as tides continue to rise.

Check out other doors from around the world at Norm Frampton’s addictive door event.

ThursdayDoors: The City of Facades

In Charleston South Carolina it takes a lot of money to be an SOB. You also have to be willing to live in a house that’s over 200 years old but which you cannot change the exterior of in any way other than to repair or repaint. And don’t expect to get around your neighborhood easily. You have to share the road with an endless stream of horse drawn carriages filled with people snapping photos of you in your bathrobe.

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Note the lady in pink on the balcony trying to escape my camera.

 

The SOB, which in Charleston stands for South of Broad (street), is an enclave of historic buildings on narrow sometimes cobblestone streets. Although there are strong restrictions concerning remodeling, they were built in a variety of architectural styles ranging from Queen Anne to Art Deco. Every effort is made to save these beauties, however sometimes they burn down or simply can’t be repaired.  Any new building must resemble one built two hundred years ago.  As you can imagine, that would be quite a challenge.

You can either take a guided walking tour through the SOB or a horse-drawn carriage. It was 85 degrees and humid so you can probably guess which one we chose.

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A Queen Anne given as a wedding present to the daughter of a Confederate millionaire.

I have to apologize for the quality of the photos.  We were at the whims of Jack, a horse who didn’t like to stop even when we were at a stop sign.

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Jack

But he is a handsome dude, don’t you think?   You would expect with as many horse drawn carriages as they have in the SOB the streets would be knee deep in you-know-what  but they’re not which led me to believe Charleston has an army of horse poop picker uppers who, like the street sweepers in Disneyland, work in stealth. The streets were always miraculously horse poop free though no shovelers were in sight.

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One of the few houses undergoing some sort of renovation

Characteristic of homes in this area are balconies that could host tennis tournaments.  Many face the street but along the waterfront, they face that vile reminder of Northern Aggression, Fort Sumter, which I talked about last Thursday.

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An example of pineapple gates

Another thing you see in the SOB is intricate iron work on gates, fences, and windows.  Their purpose was not entirely decorative.  They were installed as protection against slave revolts but of course they have to be lovely and not coarse and vulgar.  Racism in the south is laced with the nuance of genteelity.

During the Civil War, genteel Southerners surrendered anything made of iron to the Confederate Army to be melted into munitions so they could keep the right to own human beings. Those bullets and cannon balls shredded many an arm, a leg and heart but over the years they’ve been replaced.

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Washington/Heyward House

 

 

This is one of the oldest houses in Charleston, built in 1772 in the Georgian style by one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Heyward. Today this house is a museum primarily because George Washington once stayed here. There are a number of houses and plantations in the area built by Founding Fathers who themselves owned slaves and believed women shouldn’t vote. I don’t know what to tell you all but it’s sinking into the sea so if you want to visit the City of Facades you’d better visit soon because every morning the streets are flooded with seawater which the non climate change believers  have somehow accepted as normal.

No one can live in a house over two hundred years old without changing the exterior which it appears we in the USA might have to do.

Please skip on over to Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors event to see other doors from around the world.