Welcome to the online blog for traveler/writer/photographer Steven Barber.
Come in. Relax. Take off your shoes and socks -- or any other article of clothing, this is the internet.
Have a look around. I hope to intrigue, amuse, entertain, and maybe provoke you just a little.
I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.
Too large to fully enter the inner harbor near the original queen (that's how much bigger she is), the QM2 floated in the middle of Queensway Bay, blowing her horn and receiving a blast from the original Queen in return.
Since this original visit, Cunard has made a tradition of new ships visiting and paying respects to the Queen Mary, including visits from The Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria.
By the time of the RMS Queen Elizabeth's visit, the cruise ship port next to the original Queen had been depend enough to allow her to dock next to her sister.
It's funny. I live in one of the most dreamed about spots in the world, and yet it's rare I think to post shots of Los Angeles and environs.
We all know the term Hollywood as it refers to a district of Los Angeles.
("What? I thought it was its own city!" Nope, sorry.)
What may surprise you further is that only one of the legendary film studios is actually IN Hollywood. Paramount Pictures. The other studio lots are sprinkled throughout the city and the San Fernando Valley.
The film LaLaLand partly takes place on the lot below. It's the Warner Brothers lot in the Valley, wedged between Universal and Disney. Behind it are the wilds of Griffith Park, and beyond the hill lies Hollywood proper.
In my travels, I have only been snowed in and delayed once.
I arrived in King of Prussia, not too far from George Washington's famous Valley Forge, a day before the Eastern Seaboard was due to be hit by a very strong snowstorm. I knew before landing that I was going to be in the area for a few extra days.
Five days and two hotels after the originally scheduled departure, we were wings up and I was headed back tot he much warmer climate of Southern California.
Doesn't look too bad in the shot below, taken from my hotel room window, but this was only day two of a three day deluge. Next time I know this is happening, I'm renting a 4x4.
Once again we've nearly made it to another weekend!
To get things off right, heres the Friday Martini, and a link to the sample chapter of my book. Some cool things happening on that front, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, enjoy this tasty little number courtesy our friends at Roxanne's Cocktail Lounge here in Long Beach. They have a wonderfully cool "Speakeasy" room in the back...authentic from the days of prohibition. Going to need to grab a drink in there one of these days.
This week's Friday Martini is temporarily supplanted by a wish for a
Happy Cinco de Mayo, or "Fifth of May".
It's really more of an American holiday celebrating Mexican culture than a Mexican holiday,
but it gives us the opportunity to get together and accent one aspect of the overall American Culture, which is, by design, a melting pot for other cultures and peoples.
In many ways we have lost our way and lost our pride in being that cultural stew.
As Travelers we learn to understand and value peoples who are different from ourselves, and appreciate what it is that they bring to the cultural canvas. As Americans we welcome them into our lands and our hearts, as is our cultural priority - at least as it is elucidated in our longstanding ideals.
We haven't ever really risen as a whole to the best that is in us, but in our past our ancestors showed us the way, and gave us the tools with which to be that "Beacon to the World" we imagine ourselves to be.
We've always strived to be better.
So, in celebrating the Battle of Puebla, we get the opportunity to
reach across the social divides and find what unites us instead of dividing us.
And since I don't have an easily-located photo of the Mexican flag, I'll opt instead for
a shell full of Mexican peppers in the colors of the Mexican flag. A toast to the spice of life.
Feliz dia de la Battalla de Pueblo. Feliz Cinco de Mayo.
Happy day of the Battle of Puebla. Happy Cinco de Mayo.
Over the weekend we watched the terrific film La La Land.
It's a beautifully shot, well acted, well written love letter to the City of Angels, as has been noted so many times before. I have lived and worked in the Los Angeles metro area for some 38 years at this point, starting in 1979 when I moved to LA from San Diego to study film and broadcasting at the University of Southern California.
The city has changed a lot since then, growing from what some writers* once called a bunch of suburbs in search of a city, to a strong and vibrant community of neighborhoods gathered around the central core and a handful of alternate downtowns**.
I actually live in the equally attractive Long Beach, a large city twenty three miles south of downtown LA. Our own metropolitan area, Long Beach and the South Bay form one of the several hubs which surround greater LA. Others include Orange County, The Inland Empire, and The San Fernando Valley (aka "The Valley").
It's a city I love and am proud to consider my greater metropolitan home.
And since some of the film's more iconic moments happen at the Griffith Park Observatory, here are two samples from my archives of this beloved structure.
* - The comparison has been attributed to Aldous Huxley, Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley and others.
** - LA proper has three: True downtown, Hollywood, and Century City. Surrounding cities Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Beverly Hills and other also have strong downtown cores. Perhaps the quote ought to be modified to be "multiple downtowns in search of a hub".