Posted by Julie Bien
Just because you're Jewish doesn't mean you won't be attending your share of holiday events this December--from office parties to New Years Eve soirees, here are some tips on surviving the onslaught of food, alcohol and people.
1. Get your flu shot. Seriously. Not only does getting the flu really put a damper on your holiday plans (and ability to work) but if you get it, you can now expose other people to it, and that's not very nice. Sharing is caring, except when we're talking about a virulent flu.
2. Drink lots of water. I know, I know. Everyone and their mother tells you to drink water. There's a good reason! It will help you ward-off nasty headaches, frustrating colds, keep all that salt-induced bloat down and help you block a bad a hangover (provided you don't drink a handle of liquor by yourself.)
3. Carry antibacterial gel. With all the parties and shopping and travel, you're bound to run into a lot of germs that you wouldn't be introduced to otherwise. After touching something in public, use your anti-bac gel if you can't wash your hands. It might sound like overkill, but it's so much less of a hassle than having to blow your nose every 30 seconds.
4. Just say no. You don't have to do everything. You know the phrase, "choose your battles?" Well, choose your parties. Your number one obligation is to yourself--don't want to go to your holiday high school reunion? Then don't. No one will miss you (and vice-versa).
5. Wear flats. I cannot stress this enough. All these other guides tell you to bring a pair of flats in your purse. I say, just wear 'em to begin with. There are plenty of fancy ballet flats and sleek boots that have no heel. Don't you want to avoid misery? I do!
6. Carry tissues. Sometimes, the party host doesn't buy quite enough TP for the bathrooms. Or someone stole the rolls at the bar--or worse, threw-up on them. Unfortunately, us lady-folks can't easily work around the no-TP issue. Always have a mini-pack of tissues with you---think of it is a lightweight insurance policy.
7. Don't try to be perfect. Humidity will ruin your hair, you'll get red lipstick on your teeth and someone will inevitably spill something on your nicest silk dress. You can either let these things ruin your night, or you can shrug it off. Shrugging it off (even if it's difficult) is really the only way to deal.
8. Don't get super drunk (or 'wastey-face' as my roommate refers to it.) Now is the time to be a responsible drinker, despite the stress of the season. "Super Drunk" just isn't a good look on anyone. Maybe skip the Long Islands and stick with beer and club soda.
9. If you DID get wastey-face, don't drive. Really. There are great non-taxi taxi services like Uber that can take you back home--and you don't need any cash with you! Just sign up beforehand and consider it done. All you have to do is send an alert saying where you are. If that's not an option, spend the night on your friend's couch--I promise no one will tell you 'no' if you say you're too drunk to drive.*
10. Spend most of your party time with people you want to be with, not people you 'have' to be with. I, like most adult-types, get limited days off to revel without a care. I also have somewhat limited energy. I actively choose to spend my time with good friends and family. Just because you've been invited to 6 parties next weekend does not mean you have to go to every single one. Chances are if you do that, you won't enjoy any of them. Skip the bar crawl with peripheral friends and stick to the kick back with your best buddies. Not only does it take the pressure off of you to perform (your friends know you too well to ever convince them that you're cool) but you'll just have more fun.
*If someone is at your party and tells you that they're too drunk to drive, believe them. Set them up on the couch, or the floor--wherever they have room to conk-out, but don't let them drive. Now is not the time to lecture them on personal responsibility. You can wait til they're sober for that. Just keep them from being a statistic.
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November 27, 2013 | 11:25 am
Posted by Julie Bien
1. Since 1934, The Detroit Lions always play on Thanksgiving
Detroit radio station owner, George A. Richards, bought the Lions (then known as the Spartans) and moved the team from Ohio to Detroit in 1934. In the early weeks of the 1934 season, the biggest crowd the Lions could draw to a game was 15,000 people. Richards was desperate to find a marketing trick to get Detroit excited about its new football team, so he came up with the idea of playing a game on Thanksgiving. Since Richards' radio station was one of the bigger radio stations in the country, he was able to convince NBC to broadcast the Thanksgiving game on 94 stations nationwide. The Lions played the undefeated Chicago Bears (who went on to win the Western Division) and sold out their 26,000-seat stadium. Ever since then, the Lions play on Thanksgiving.
2. The first TV dinner was Thanksgiving leftovers
The first Swanson frozen TV dinner (which sold for a mere 98 cents) was produced in the United States and consisted of a Thanksgiving meal of turkey, cornbread stuffing, frozen peas and sweet potatoes packaged in a tray like those used for airline meals. Retired Swanson executive Gerry Thomas said he came up with the idea after the company found itself with a huge surplus of frozen turkeys because of poor Thanksgiving sales.
3. There are 3 towns named Turkey in the US
The three small towns — Turkey, TX, Turkey Creek, La. and Turkey, N.C. — each have fewer than 500 residents. However, the world's largest man-made turkey is in Frazee, MN.
4. The world's largest man-made turkey is in Frazee, MN
Weighing in at over 5,000 pounds, and standing over 20 feet tall, 'Big Tom' is the largest man-made turkey in the world. The turkey has roughly 1,000 pounds of steel reinforing its body, and there are an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 fiberglass feathers on the turkey--a task which took D.W.O. Fiberglass Company over 2000 hours to complete. The turkey took eight hours to assemble after three main pieces were constructed.
5. The night before Thanksgiving is the single biggest day for bar sales in the US
Thanksgiving Eve is the largest 'bar night' of the year. Not only do towns see an increase in population (mostly college students heading home to see their families for the vacation) but there's a built-in hangover day on Thanksgiving--complete with lots of comfort food. It also comes without the high price-tag of nights like New Years Eve where more places charge higher cover fees to take part in the revelry. Finally, it's one of the few chances each year that people get to reunite with childhood friends, most of whom have moved all over the country after high school.
6. The first meal on the moon was packets of roasted turkey
The first meal that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate on the moon was roasted turkey from foil packets. It wasn't Thanksgiving, but turkey does have a special sort of American je ne sais quoi.
7. The original Macy's Day Parade used live animals from the Central Park Zoo
1924 marks the first year of the Macy's Day Parade, which was formerly known as the Thanksgiving parade, held in Newark, New Jersey at Bamberger's (a store). For the first three years of the parade in New York, instead of using floats, Macy's used live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo in the spectacle. Over a quarter million people watched the first parade.
8. There are about 250 million turkeys raised annually in the US:
To put things in perspective, the population of Indonesia is just under 250 million people. Major turkey producers tell consumers to buy 1.5 lbs of turkey per person on Thanksgiving so that there's enough to eat with dinner and then enough for leftovers. Hence, many turkeys.
9. The average person consumes 4500 calories on Thanksgiving day--enough to gain 1.3 pounds
The average Turkey Day reveler consumes up to 4,500 calories throughout the day. It takes eating 3,500 calories to equal one pound of fat. A 160-pound person would have to run at a steady pace for six hours, swim for seven and a half hours or walk 45 miles to burn off a 4,500-calorie Thanksgiving day food-fest.
10. Green bean casserole was invented in 1955 by Campbells
The recipe was originally created for an Associated Press holiday food feature. The recipe supervisor at the New Jersey Campbell Soup home economics kitchen is credited with creating the ubiquitous Campbells Cream of Mushroom soup recipe. Campbells estimates that it sells more than $20 million dollars of that variety every year. And because the French's onions that top the casserole are fried, consider this dish your ode to Thanksgivikuh.
11. Lincoln made Thanskgiving an official holiday
Although George Washington was the first to create a national day of thanksgiving, it didn't become a national holiday (with a set date) until Lincoln officially made it the last Thursday of November. For the interim 74 years, each state scheduled its own Thanksgiving at different times. The original document that proclaimed the exact date of Thanksgiving was written by Secretary of State William Seward in 1863, and then sold a year later to benefit Union troops.
12. Jingle Bells was orginally a Thanksgiving song
The song was composed by James Pierpont in 1857 for his Sunday school class' Thanksgiving performance at their church. He wrote the song with simplicity in mind so that his students would have no trouble memorizing the tune. The song was so well-received at the Thanksgiving concert, that the children sang it again at Christmas--and that's how it became associated with that holiday rather than Thanksgiving.
November 20, 2013 | 10:43 am
Posted by Julie Bien
Recently, a friend of mine was visiting from Israel and extolling the virtues of American fast food as the most divine dining experience on God's green earth. I would argue that the most divine dining experience is an al pastor taco from a truck at 2am, but that's a debate for another time.
Either way, I started thinking about American fast food worldwide. It's been the subject of many anthropological studies like Melissa Caldwell's Domesticating the French Fry (an article I'd highly recommend reading if you're interested in "Americanization" of other cultures.)
One thing I've always found fascinating while traveling is the local take on American fast food. On one hand, I find it rather disconcerting to, say, march into a Pizza Hut in the Costa Rican jungle, but I also find it culinarily exciting to see how local cultures adapt "American" cuisine to make it, well, not as American---semi-defeating the "Americanization" issue.
I decided to see how Israel turns three American fast food staples into local fare:
The twist: The golden arches are well-known for their local versions of fast-food. In Israel, this includes the McKebab (kebab served on flatbread), McShawarma (same idea, but made with turkey), corn schnitzel sticks and Israeli salad (as optional sides.) For half of 2011, they also served a McFalafel, but it never took off.
It should also be noted that no pork products are served in Israeli McD's, and it's one of two countries where the burgers are barbecued on charcoal rather than fried (the other is Argentina.)
Not all Israeli McD's are kosher, but the ones that stay kashrut are closed on Shabbat and Jewish holidays, sell no dairy products (or sell them in a separate part of the restaurant) and have special Passover buns for the holiday.
Restaurant: Burger King
The twist: They remain the most untouched of the fast food chains. They keep their restaurants kosher (and are certified kosher for Passover) but that's really the only major change. Burger King in Israel also has a special limited Passover menu that includes fries, salads, chicken wings and hamburger patties without buns.
Restaurant: Pizza Hut
The twist: The pizzeria offers most of the same American staples, albeit with ingredients based on the local palette.
For example, you can get feta cheese on everything (pizza, bread, salads) and the house breadsticks are made with za'atar and sesame (also available as pizza toppings.)
There are a large number of eggplant dishes, as well as tuna and grilled cauliflower.
For dessert? Cheese blintzes.
Finally, there is a marked absence of any meat--one way to help ensure the restaurant stays kosher.
November 5, 2013 | 11:12 am
Posted by Julie Bien
1. About boyfriends
Me: So, what do you think of him?
Mom: It doesn't matter what I think. Are you happy?
Me: Yes. Very.
Mom: As long as you marry someone that's Jewish. That's important. Is your boyfriend Jewish? I just don't want you to get too serious if he isn't.
2. About my job
Mom: How's work?
Me: Good. I really love it.
Mom: Well I saw this ad for a job up in the Bay area. It looks like it's just up your alley and pays really well.
Me: That's great. But I love my job here. And all my friends are here. I'm pretty happy.
Mom: Just keep an open mind! You could still look. I just want you to be happy!
3. About grandchildren
Dad: Your mother and I want grandkids. Just so you know.
4. About my propensity for not always having a jacket
Grandma: You didn't bring a jacket? Aren't you cold? But what if it get's cold?
Me: It's 70 degrees outside. I'm comfortable.
Grandma: Well, okay. But what if the weather changes? Wouldn't you like to have a sweater with you?
5. On asking my food preferences when I visit
Mom: What do you want me to make for dinner?
Me: I don't care. Whatever you want.
Mom: You're the one visiting, what do you want?
Me: How about tacos?
Mom: I don't know about that...how about Moroccan chicken or pot roast?
Me: Okay. Chicken.
Mom: You know, I should use the pot roast soon.
Me: Okay, then pot roast?
Mom: Is that okay with you?
6. On wearing gifts
Mom: Do you ever wear the pink cable knit sweater I bought you?
Me: Yes. It's super cozy.
Mom: It's just that I've never seen you wear it. Does it not fit? Do you need it in another size? I can get it in another size!
Me: I wear it. * It fits. I promise.
Mom: You know, I understand if you don't like it
*FACT: I actually do wear it.
7. On my weight fluctuations
Mom: You're getting so skinny! Don't lose any more weight!
Grandma #2: (While out to eat breafast) Let me see your plate. (Silently proceeds to break fat off of slices of bacon--hands me back my plate with just the meat part.)
8. On the length of the drive to my parent's house
Dad: I know it's a 55 mile drive for you to see us, but it's longer for us to come and see you.
9. On the state of air conditioning in restaurants in Santa Cruz (a beach town)
Mom: I'm schvitzing. We can't eat dinner here. Why is there no air conditioning?
Me: Because it's a beach town.
Mom: I can't be in a place with no air conditioning.
Me: Unfortunately, none of the restaurants have air conditioning. It's a beach town. They rely on the water to keep things cool.
Mom: What do you mean none of the restaurants here use air conditioning? You need to find one.
Me: But they don't exist.
Mom: I'm sure there's one--how about the Mexican place?
Mom: The Brasilian place?
Me: Nope. None of them.
Mom: I don't care where we eat here, I just need air conditioning.
Me: But...eh, nevermind.
10. On what I do with my free time
Mom: You know, you need to travel while you're young.
Me: So mom, I'm going to Portland for New Years--just so you know.
Mom: Why are you traveling again this year? Haven't you done enough traveling? Don't waste your vacation days!
11. On ordering deli food
Mom: Should we get kishke? Nevermind, we're getting kishke. And corned beed on a kaiser roll with mustard. And delcos.
12. On tattoos
Mom: Did you see the tattoo that girl had? I don't understand why anyone would get a tattoo. You don't have a tattoo, right?
Me: Uh, sure mom.
13. On my hair
Mom: Why don't you pull your hair out of your face? Why don't you wear your hair down more often?
14. On my makeup
Mom: Why don't you wear more makeup? Why are you wearing so much makeup?
15. On my clothing
Mom: You know, a necklace would look nice with that! But why are you wearing that shmata?
16. On leftovers
Mom: Make sure you don't forget to take leftovers! But leave me some! Are you taking all of that?
October 31, 2013 | 10:27 am
Posted by Julie Bien
In the spirit of the season, I've compiled a glossary of the most well-known ghosts, demons and monsters in Jewish mythology. So next time you catch yourself wondering whether you're possessed by a Dybbuk or an Ibbur, or you find yourself wanting to create a Golem to watch your house while you're out of town, you can refer to this handy-dandy manual.
Dybbuk: The malicious ghost of a deceased person that possesses a host body in order to do harm, both to the host, and in general. It only leaves the host once it's accomplished its goal. Although this isn't a demon, per se, it acts in a similar manner--think along the lines of the possesion in "The Exorcist."
Example of a Dybbuk being carried by an unfortunate host
Ibbur: A benevolent spirit that incubates inside a host in an attempt to help the host body along. It's usually the ghost of someone who was very righteous or holy during their lifetime. These spirits choose people they deem worthy of their help, and 'possess' (in the positive, not demonic way) the host person and help them achieve their goals. They act more as a 'spirit guide,' albeit one that the host isn't aware of, more than anything else. The Ibbur just helps the person make the best choices to achieve their goals.
Just a little gentle Ibbur-guiding
Lilith: A demon queen whose descendants, Lillin, are serpant-like/humanoid demons (with wings) who kill children in their cribs or steal them from their families. The name "lil" is Sumerian in origin and means 'screech-owl'--reflecting the ancient association bewteen owls and the demonic world.
Lilith, hanging out in the Garden of Eden between Adam and Eve, wrapped around that evil tree-o-knowledge
Mazzikim/Shedim: These are your run of the mill demons (rather than ghosts). They are often associated with spoiling things (especially food) at inconvenient times. The word 'shedim' means 'foreign gods' and comes from the Akkadian word for demon. They tend to live in deserts, dirty places and ruins or dilapidated/abandoned buildings. Because they also enjoy hanging out in bathrooms, they pose a special danger to uncovered food and water. I bet you never knew that Saran Wrap was protecting you from airborne bacteria AND demons.
Just a pesky demon hanging out
Golem: The Golem is a creature created by a rabbi to serve the Jewish community when the community needed to be protected. The creature is made of soil or clay and brought to life by the use of alchemical-like formulas described in holy texts. The creature is not possessed by a spirit or ghost, but driven by the ritual to follow the rabbi’s commands and serve the community until he is not needed. The Golem is then called-off and put away. The stories of 'Golems-run-amok' are tales of Golems that did not stop once they were told to, but rather continued on wreaking havoc wherever they went. The most famous story about a Golem is that of The Golem of Prague.
Doesn't he look friendly?
Instructions for making a Golem courtesy of the 'Book of Formation' as described by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan:
An initiate should not do it alone, but should always be accompanied by one or two colleagues. The Golem must be made of virgin soil, taken from a place where no man has ever dug. The soil must be kneaded with pure spring water, taken directly from the ground. If this water is placed in any kind of vessel, it can no longer be used. The people making the Golem must purify themselves totally before engaging in this activity, both physically and spiritually. While making the Golem, they must wear clean white vestments… One must not make any mistake or error in the pronunciation… no interruption whatsoever may occur.
So by chanting the appropriate letter arrangements together with the letters of the Tetragrammaton (YHWH or JHVH--Yaweh or Jehovah), the 'creator' could form a very accurate mental picture of a human being. Once the conceptual Golem was completed, the spiritual potential would be transferred to the clay form and animate it.
October 28, 2013 | 2:59 pm
Posted by Julie Bien
I initially intended to do a music round-up of all my favorite Jewish musicians, but in light of Lou Reed's passing, at age 71, on Sunday morning (The Velvet Underground fans will understand the meta nature of that) I've decided to bring you a few of my (and my colleagues') favorite Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground songs.
If you haven't listened to Lou Reed or The Velvet Underground before, now's the time to start.
1. Sunday Morning (1970)
2. Pale Blue Eyes (1968)
3. Lady Day (1973)
4/5. Caroline Says I and II (1973)
6. Who Loves the Sun (1970)
7. Take a Walk on the Wild Side (1972)
8. The Murder Mystery (1968) *Make sure you listen to this one in stereo
October 23, 2013 | 3:45 pm
Posted by Julie Bien
Ladies and gents, guys and ghouls--in the spirit of Halloween, I'd like to present you with a guide to some of the best ghost-infested locales in the LA area. Although a few of these haunts are hardly hidden, most are not mainstream enough to draw a crowd--perfect for those of you who wish to mingle with the misty apparitions by yourself.
1. The Haunt: Brand Park, Glendale
The Ghost Story: The ghost of Leslie C. Brand, one of the founders and developers of Glendale, is said to roam the halls of the Brand Library at Brand Park. The spirirt of Brand, who is buried on the grounds under a pyramid at the family cemetery plot, can be seen walking up the stairs of the library, speaking to employees and visitors, and hanging about the tower, once Brand's private boudoir.
2. The Haunt: Suicide Bridge/Arroyo Seco Riverbed, Pasadena
The Ghost Story: Built in Pasadena back in 1912, the bridge gained the tragic reputation as a perfect place to commit suicide.The first of dozens of suicides was committed in 1919. With well-over 100 suicides since then, ghost sightings along the bridge and in the dry riverbed below have become common. Several spirits haunt the bridge regularly, including a man with wire rimmed glasses and a woman in a long flowing robe who is often seen throwing herself off of one of the bridge parapets. In the riverbed, which is also a park, people report hearing strange cries and unearthly sounds and seeing misty human forms glide by.
3. The Haunt: Gamble House, Pasadena
The Ghost Story: The Gamble House, perhaps the most well-known craftsman-style house in the country, was once home to the Gamble family (of Proctor and Gamble fame.) Aunt Julia [Huggins] was Mrs. Gamble’s sister who lived with the Gamble family in the house until her death in 1943 – long after Mr. & Mrs. Gamble passed away in 1923 and 1929 respectively. The Gamble House was designed in 1908 by the architectural firm of brothers Charles and Henry Greene. To this day, architecture students can live at the house as apprentices in preservation. Many have stories of late-night encounters with the ghost of Aunt Julia – a benign spirit that can be seen standing by her old bedroom upstairs.
4. The Haunt: Cobb Estate/Echo Mountain Resort Ruins, Altadena
The Ghost Story: Around the turn of the 20th century, Charles Cobb purchased the land and built a summer retreat in the mountains above the estate. The resort had a chalet, a 70 room hotel, casino, and zoo (among other attractions). A number of fires and landslides eventually destroyed the resort, but not the main house below. Cobb, who was an active Mason during his life, left the home at the base of the mountain to be used, after his death in 1939, as a Masonic Home. It was then was used as a retreat by the Sisters of St. Joseph. In the 1950s, the Marx Brothers purchased the estate and the main house was torn down by 1960--turning the land into a public park. People report negative feelings, being “watched” or even touched, strange lights, laughter, screams, along with tales of Satanic rituals and KKK gatherings in the "haunted forest" of the estate. The ruins of both the main estate and the old resort are accessible to hikers.
5. The Haunt: Santa Anita Race Track, Arcadia
The Ghost Story: The ghost of jockey George Woolf is said to haunt the world-famous racetrack. Woolf was known as the Iceman during his racing days because of his collected and stone cold demeanor before races. He rode some of the most celebrated horses of all time, including Seabiscuit and Whirlaway. Tragically, Woolf also met his demise at the track when he fainted--probably due to having untreated Type I diabetes-- and fell off his horse, suffering a severe head injury. He eventually died in the hospital. Riders, trainers, and visitors claim to have seen him wandering around the stables--unable to say goodbye to the place he loved.
6. The Haunt: The Hollywood Sign, Hollywood
The Ghost Story: In 1932, distraught actress Peg Entwistle, a resident of Beachwood Drive, jumped to her death from the H in the Hollywoodland sign. People who visit the sign after dark have reported seeing a young woman jumping from the H, and vanishing before hitting the ground. A mysterious woman matching her description, which includes wearing period clothes, has also been seen wandering along the Griffith Park trails, as well as walking up the path between the sign and her former home. The smell of gardenia, the perfume she wore, has been reported to linger near the places she appears.
7. The Haunt: Griffith Park Paco Feliz Adobe, Hollywood
The Ghost Story: The most well known ghost of Griffith Park is that of Doña Petronilla, often appearing as a young woman in a white dress who is sometimes riding a white horse. She often appears at midnight in the Paco Feliz Adobe. Doña Petronilla is said to have placed a curse on the land in 1863 after learning her uncle, a wealthy land baron, had left her nothing in his will. She swore that every new owner of the land would be cursed. Many locals involved with the land have met brutal ends. C.V. Howard, who negotiated sale of the land’s water rights, was shot dead in a local saloon. The next owner was killed by bandits on a trip to Mexico. In 1891, Colonel Griffith J. Griffith, the namesake of the park, managed to survive after a business rival shot him with a shotgun outside of a cemetery. Fearing that the curse would catch up with him, Griffith began giving large parcels of the land to the citizens of Los Angeles for free in 1896. Then, in 1903, Griffith shot his wife at a Santa Monica hotel. She survived, but Griffith was sentenced to San Quentin for assault with a deadly weapon. There, the once mighty man died of liver disease in 1919.
8. The Haunt: HMS Bounty, Koreatown, Los Angeles
The Ghost Story: The HMS Bounty, a nautical-themed bar, is on the ground floor of the Gaylord Apartments which was built in 1921 by millionaire, Gaylord Wilshire. Wilshire purchased the original city dump (and surrounding swampy area) at a low price and converted it into what is now known as the Miracle Mile. Before Wilshire gentrified this then-remote section of the city, it's been said that it was a popular spot to hide the bodies of murder victims. Tenants of this apartment building (both businesses and private residences) have complained of strange knocks on their windows and phantom footsteps in the empty halls. Most notably, there is a ghost that haunts the ladies’ room in the lobby of the building. Women claim to feel an invisible hand touch them, as well as see the reflection of a leering man in the mirror, only to turn around and discover they’re alone.
9. The Haunt: The Pioneer Cemetery, Sylmar
The Ghost Story: Located on a 3.8 acre site at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Bledsoe Street, the Pioneer Cemetery was originally a 10 acre burial ground. The cemetery was established in the mid-19th century and used until 1939. The cemetery is the oldest non-sectarian cemetery in the San Fernando Valley. Over 740 residents were buried there between 1892 and 1939. After the cemetery was determined to be legally abandoned in 1959, it was acquired by the Native Daughters of the Golden West, San Fernando Mission Chapter, and maintained as a pioneer memorial park. Only 13 headstones remain at the cemetery, despite the hundreds of unidentified bodies buried there. The spirits of the unnamed have reportedly been summoned in seances conducted to communicate with the former residents of the town.
10. The Haunt: The Abandoned Rancho Los Amigos Hospital, Downey
The Ghost Story: Founded in 1888 as the County Poor Farm, this hospital was a safe haven for the city’s poor and mentally ill. It sat on hundreds of acres of property that also included a farm, a dairy, a zoo and a pauper’s graveyard. In the late '50s, the farm, dairy and mental health wards were closed down, although no one knows why they were abandoned so suddenly. Old office furniture, files and even mummified body parts have been found in the abandoned buildings. In October 2006, U.S. Marines, who were using the buildings for drills, found a freezer in the morgue containing legs, feet and brain bits. Although the parts were probably from medical procedures like amputations, it was a disturbing find nonetheless. To add to the creep factor, even during daylight hours, the winding rooms in the complex are pitch black and the flooring is faulty.
*Note to readers: Please be aware that trespassing is illegal. Visiting any place that is closed to the public may result in legal action being taken against you by the owners of the property. As far as I know, the only place on this list that you cannot legally visit is the abandoned hospital in Downey. But just double check. Cool? Cool.
October 15, 2013 | 10:06 am
Posted by Julie Bien
Before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge that tattoos are a controversial subject--not only because they are forbidden under religious law, but mostly because of the weight they carry as signifiers of the Holocaust. This article does not in any way aim to diminish the very real suffering of millions of people. However, because tattoos are a large part of youth culture, both here and in Israel, I felt it was appropriate to cover it as just that--commentary on a cultural trend.
*This post is brought to you by the 'Oy Vey' Meter: 0% is kosher. 100% is OY VEY.
**This post is also brought to you by a Jew with two tattoos. I'm a veritable expert.
Kosher Pig: I actually think this one is kind of funny. I mean if you're going to go for some kashrut commentary, you might as well go all the way. Babe would approve. (Photo courtesy "Tattoo Jew")
Oy Vey Meter: 40%
Military Pride: Perhaps not the most original, but neither are military tattoos in the US. Kind of boring, but not bizarre.
Oy Vey Meter: 20%
Seeing Stars: Is it me, or do these look like badly placed pasties? I just...I can't get on board with these. (Photo courtesy "Tattoo Jew")
Oy Vey Meter: 75%
Hebrew for You: I actually think this one is pretty badass. The design, the eye, the sheer size of it--it's a winner.
Oy Vey Meter: 5%
The Menorah: This is what happens when you lose a bet.
Oy Vey Meter: 95%
Chai and a Star of David: It's a little cliché and a little boring. 'Meh' is about the highest ranking I can give it.
Oy Vey Meter: 30%
Mystical Ink: This tattoo gets points for being unique and nicely executed. It's not my aesthetic, but I absolutely think it's worthy of respect.
Oy Vey Meter: 15%
Chasidic Boy: WHY?????? This is so bad on SO many levels.
Oy Vey Meter: 100%
Gam Zeh Ya'avor: Simple. Delicate. To the point. The placement is a bit, uh, sensitive, but then again, if you're getting words inked onto your wrist or forearm (like myself) you've thought about that already. I dig it.
Oy Vey Meter: 10%
Eye See You: I'm also the proud owner of a hamsa, so I'm a bit biased. This is pretty cool. The red details are unique, and the eye is pretty realistic and disturbing. My mom would not approve.
Oy Vey Meter: 5%
Hamsa Chic: I love this. I want it on my back. NOW. The colors, the design, the placement--it's just lovely.
Oy Vey Meter: 1%
Don't Kotel on Me: The idea is unique--the execution is questionable. Those blurry red boxes behind the Star of David are supposed to be the stones of the Western Wall. I WANT to like this. But have you seen the Kotel? It's not red. White ink exists (I know because it's been used on me.) I just wish the artist had utilized it a bit more.
Oy Vey Meter: 35%
Holocaust Commemoration: I'm not sure that getting a backpiece is the best way to commemorate the worst genocide of modern times. However, I can't begrudge this human canvas credit for dedication. (Photo courtesy "Tattoo Jew")
Oy Vey Meter: 80%