#ThursdayDoors: Mystery Room

I was surprised to find these doors and the room they lead to in an art museum. 

Probably because the original purpose of this room is not equated with art, unless it’s the art of the deal.  If you have good vision you can probably read the writing over the door. If not, here’s another shot, this time from inside the room. 

Pretty fancy room, hey? Below is another picture which definitely gives away the room’s historic importance.In the 1970s the original Chicago Stock Exchange was in a building built in the 1890s and it was falling apart. However, due to the efforts of preservationists in conjunction with the Art Institute of Chicago the actual room where stock transactions took place was rebuilt in a new wing of the museum. Today, instead of being a place where fortunes are made and lost, this room serves as an event center.  Here’s is the story of how the room was reconstructed, if you’re interested.

Around the corner from the event center is a one story stained glass window installation by Marc Chagall. Check out other doors at Norm’s place and Happy Thursday!

#ThursdayDoors: Cloud Gates and Pierogies

I wish I could say that I start each new vacation looking forward to expanding my horizons, meeting new people, riding a zip line through the jungle, or even joining an archeological dig.

The Cloud Gate in Millenium Park – if you could find the “gate” where do you think it would lead?

But alas, I’m a person ruled by my taste buds and not my head. Before even heading for the airport, I’m thinking of all the food adventures awaiting me. You might deduce that I’m some sort of a foodie interested in haute cuisine.  However, nothing could be further from the truth.

From the original doors

I’d rather have Potato Pierogies and Gedadschde at a place like Berghoffs  (above) than nibble on an elegantly presented morsel of steak tartare served on ginger-roasted sea urchins. Berghoff’s Grill, one of the oldest in Chicago, is the sort of place where they don’t make you feel like old Aunt Nellie who lives on fried spam and canned peas if you ask about the ingredients. The matronly waitresses call you “honey” and it’s assumed you want a beer to go with that humongous Bavarian pretzel hanging in the middle of the table for sharing and dipping.

My favorite eatery in Washington DC is also a “grill:”  The Old Ebbitts Grill.Aside from its long list of famous regulars, this establishment (which claims to be Washington’s Oldest “Saloon”)  is famous for its decor. the game heads hanging on the walls were supposedly bagged by Teddy Roosevelt.

The Cabinet Room is famous for its collection of  paintings of tropical birds by Robin Hill.  However, it’s used primarily for private parties and thus we were unable to get a peak inside.

How about you – are you a pierogie or tartare sort of traveler?

Check out other doors at Norm’s place.

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ThursdayDoors: Loop-di-loos

Reflection in the galley window – SF Bay on a beautiful day.

For the last few years my only reason to leave the house seems to be to take pictures of doors and blog about them. Norm Frampton has saved me, and probably a bevy of other bloggers, from  permanent butt-spread with his #ThursdayDoors challenges. 

In the San Francisco Bay Area, early October means Fleet Week, five days during which the Navy comes to town. Among the many events are the Blue Angels air shows which can be seen (and heard) throughout the bay as they rehearse and then perform.

Several locations are ideal for viewing the air shows, and we’ve been to most of them, however this year we decided to view one of their “practices” from the middle of the bay aboard the San Francisco Belle.

Our friends and their grandkids in front of the San Francisco Belle

The Belle is a three story, mock paddlewheel steamer used primarily for parties, weddings and anniversaries. After boarding they feed you and ply you with champagne as they “paddle” to the middle of the bay and stop.

Beyond these modest doors is the grand staircase leading to the ballrooms.

After the show began, we walked up to the observation deck and watched as the jets pivoted through the skies at frightening speeds.  I’m not usually all in for military shows but my father used to teach Navy pilots aeronautical engineering in China Lake (Southern California) and he loved to do what I called loop-di-loos high above the desert floor to scare the crap out of me. He died on this day ten years ago so I’m feeling a bit sentimental for those loop-di-loos.

#ThursdayDoors: Sky Hearts

I haven’t been blogging or writing much lately.  The reason: the heat. The heat steals all my ambition and leaves me longing for short days and long nights, the rain, the fog and particularly the drizzle. Even when a cool breeze is blowing, being outside this time of year requires pockets full of Kleenex. Allergy medicine only renders me more useless. However today is Thursday Doors and so I have roused myself sufficiently to finally move on from Janis Joplin.

This is the entrance to American Conservatory Theater (ACT), also known as the Geary, in downtown San Francisco.  It’s a non-profit theater and acting school which has launched the successful careers of innumerable actors since it was built in 1910. The doors are not that fancy unless you look at the detailing around the portico.

The Curran Theater is right next door.

This theater hosts commercially successful plays and musicals whereas the ACT focuses on pieces that are meant to be discussed and analyzed.  There are, of course, hundreds of theaters in San Francisco but these two along with the Orpheum (which is further down Market Street) are the biggies. Of course, we were in the City to see a play so finding these theaters and their doors was something I expected to do. No surprise there. However it’s always the unexpected that is the most fun to share.

Like a plane forming a heart over Union Square. I have no idea why.  A marriage proposal?

And then after lunch we stumbled upon this interesting “window”?

A peace sign made of license plates.  On the other side of the wall is this most unusual conference room.

Sure beats the conference rooms where I spent way too many hours of my life. I don’t know why CEOs think something creative is going to come out of a boring, drab room with no windows but they do. We would not have discovered these two delightful places had I not had to pee. They were both in the basement of the hotel/restaurant where we’d chosen to have lunch: The Zeppelin.

If the heat’s not getting you down (or even if it is) head on over to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors event. Perhaps someone else has stumbled onto something unique while trying to find a place to pee.

#ThursdayDoors: The Camp Store

Options, options, too many options!

I haven’t been blogging much recently for a couple of reasons. First, I’ve been trying to figure out how to self-publish using Createspace.  Or perhaps that should be, how NOT to self-publish using Createspace.  Sheesh. Right now I’m at a loggerheads involving pricing and distribution and waiting for a callback from their support staff, so, why not skip on over and join Norm Frampton’s weekly doors event I thought!

The second reason for not keeping up my blogging schedule is, I’ve been down in San Diego helping take care of a two month old baby, my grandson. He lives with his family across the street from a state-run campground with a Five Star view. And how could it not?  It’s literally perched on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean. Below is a pebbly beach which almost disappears at high tide.

Although it’s location and view are Five Star, the camp is quite equalitarian. You’ll find million dollar, high tech Winnebagos sitting next to folks with just a tent and camp stove. I didn’t take any pictures (sorry Norm), because I figure people don’t go to campsites to be featured on #ThursdayDoors. However I did take photos of the stage (above) where camp rangers give presentations on ecology during the day and movies are shown at night. They have doors of a sort but I have no idea what’s beyond them.

And lest you wonder where the heck the real doors are – drum roll please – I present the camp store.

A place where you can purchase items you’ve forgotten such as toothpaste and aspirin.

After a long day of changing poopie diapers, getting spit up on, and making endless bottles, what better way to relax than watching the sun go down on a pebbly beach.  Have a lovely weekend everyone. It’s supposed to be hot, hot, hot here.  Rats!

#ThursdayDoors: Cheating Bigly

Doors leading to the outdoor sculpture garden.

This week for ThursdayDoors I cheated bigly.  I hopped on BART and took a ride to downtown San Francisco, where if you can’t find an interesting door to snap, there’s absolutely no hope for you.  However the purpose of my trip was not to take pictures but to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art.

For those who don’t know San Francisco, the MOMA is about three blocks south of Market Street which is about as close to a main drag as you’ll find in the City. Above is the Lotta Crabtree Fountain where every year on April 18th the survivors of the 1906 Earthquake and Fire are honored.

There are a many fine old doors in this area but to get good photos of them you’d have to have a death wish. Traffic is ridiculous. Above is the Hearst building which maintained its original doors although the building has obviously been modernized.

Next to the MOMA are the Yerba Buena gardens “the cultural center of San Francisco.”  Many of the gardens and restaurants in this two block complex are actually on the guarded second level and thus free of the homeless population known to panhandle in this area.

The Martin Luther King Memorial on a gray day. I like the solemnity of this memorial more that the rather grandiose one in Washington DC..

Across the street from the gardens is St. Patrick Cathedral originally built in 1851.  Although it’s dwarfed by the other buildings and hotels in the South of Market or SOMA area, it remains as they say “an island of calm and tranquility amidst chaos.”

And they do have a lovely door.  Hop on over to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors event to see other doors from around the world.

Oh – the exhibit was great.  If it comes to your town, do try to see it.

 

#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.